Devotions for August 8-14, 2016
Matthew 6:9-10; 26:36-46
Monday, August 8, 2016
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9a).
Seth Jones had a loving father who worked hard to provide for Seth, his mother and his sister. Seth’s father’s love didn’t stop at simply providing for his family. Seth’s father also wanted to be involved in Seth’s life; to spend time with him. Seth had joined a youth soccer program and his father had started taking Seth to practices and watch Seth’s games. Knowing that he had a loving father, gave Seth the boldness to wake his dad up from a nap and ask him to kick the soccer ball around with him. Seth was soon practicing his new soccer skills with his father.
As disciples of Jesus, we have a loving father. Following Jesus’ example we address the God of all creation as “Father.” Such a practice stresses the relational character of the Christian faith. Living in a close, loving relationship with our heavenly father, we are able to approach God boldly and share our wants and needs and those of the people around us with God. What a privilege and blessing it is to have a relationship like this with our God.
Loving Father, thank you for your love and for your desire to be intimately involved in our lives. Amen.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
“Hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9b).
The ring wasn’t encrusted with diamonds and gold. It was rather a simple ring, hand crafted with a small diamond. The ring was a family heirloom and it had been handed down from generation to generation. It held an honored, almost holy place in the family’s history.
Unlike the heirloom ring, God is holy independent from our thoughts, words and actions. As disciples of Jesus, though, we want God’s holiness to be evident not only to ourselves but to everyone around us. We do this by words that thank and praise God, and with lives that honor God and reflect God’s love and grace. We live this way not because we want God to think well of us, but because of our love for God.
Holy God, release the Holy Spirit to move in and through our lives so that your holiness will be experienced by all. Amen.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)
There’s a lot of talk about the coming of God’s kingdom. One branch of Christianity believes that Jesus will return at any moment, rapturing believers into heaven and beginning a period of tribulation and the end times. Other Christian expressions have the return of Jesus in their official documents, but don’t spend much time talking about it or speculating when it will happen. Many other Christians wait for God’s kingdom by working to establish it on earth today.
When Jesus walked among us, he said that the kingdom of God had come and called on people to repent and to believe. Jesus demonstrated the presence of God’s kingdom by healing the sick, casting out demons, stilling storms and feeding the hungry. We spread God’s kingdom today by continuing Jesus’ ministry. We seek justice for the oppressed, include the marginalized, feed the hungry, strive for equality and stand against evil. As followers of Jesus we not only live in God’s kingdom, we live so that others may experience the kingdom of God in the world today.
King of kings, empower us that we may use the blessings that you have given us to spread your kingdom in the world. Amen.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
“He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated” (Matthew 26:37).
There are times when the will of God is challenging. Jim Elliot felt God’s call to be a missionary. Jim and his wife travelled with a friend to Ecuador so that they could begin a ministry to the Auca people. Jim and four other missionaries made contact with the Aucas. Together the missionaries accomplished something that they couldn’t do alone. The missionaries began to build relationships with the Auca people, but they were martyred for their efforts by Auca warriors.
Jesus’ confrontations with the religious authorities and Roman powers were increasing. He knew what lay ahead. The cross was something he had to do alone, but Jesus still surrounded himself with his disciples on that fateful Thursday night. As he wrestled with God’s will, he brought with him Peter, James and John.
God’s kingdom is spread and God’s will is done when followers of Jesus join together. Combining our gifts and talents we are able to live out God’s will more effectively than we can individually. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and to work together and to accomplish the tasks that the Holy Spirit sets before us.
Three in One, thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Use our talents together to accomplish your will and to share your love and grace. Amen.
Friday, August 12, 2016
“I am deeply grieved, even to death” (Matthew 26:38).
Death and life are involved in following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” We might have to die to old habits, pet sins and prejudices. Changing job, communities where we live and comfortable lifestyles may be involved in following God’s call and accomplishing God’s will. Death is never easy; it hurts. Death is also scary, because we don’t know what’s on the other side.
Yet with death there comes new life. Bad habits are replaced with good habits. New jobs bring with them new opportunities. Changes in our lifestyles may bring a new zest for living.
Grief is okay. Grief is a part of being followers of Jesus. Still, grief isn’t everlasting. There is also thanksgiving, praise and joy as we live to accomplish God’s will and share God’s love and grace.
Comforting God, don’t allow our grief to prevent us from following you. May our obedience both accomplish your will and bring new life. Amen.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want” (Matthew 26:39)
Our will is often at odds with God’s will. Ed and Carol Baker were active members of their congregation and comfortable middle class Americans. One fall their pastor preached on the subject of Christian stewardship. The Holy Spirit moved through the pastor’s words and Ed and Carol felt called to increase their giving to a tithe. It wasn’t a simple decision, though. To give at that level would force them to alter their lifestyle and there was a part of them that did not want to make the sacrifice.
Carlos had a good paying job as a bank executive. In his spare time he worked with immigrant families teaching them how to practice good financial management. As time passed he became more involved in his volunteer activities. Carlos began to sense that the Holy Spirit was guiding him to expand his work with the immigrants and work full-time. Such a move would require many changes to Carlos’ life and to his family. Carlos struggled many months with this call to do God’s will in a new way.
Life as followers of Jesus is abundant and free. It is also challenging and often requires sacrifice. We are frequently reminded that life is not about us, but rather about doing God’s will and serving our neighbors. The Holy Spirit is patient with us when we struggle to follow the Spirit’s leading. As with the rest of our lives God is by our side as we wrestle with God’s will. God never leaves us even when we are hesitant to follow.
Holy Spirit, lead us and enable us to follow you so that God’s will is accomplished in and through our lives. Amen.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:42).
Jesus had struggled. He had asked God to take the cup away from him and to help him avoid the cross. That was not God’s will, however. The cross was part of God’s plan. In the end Jesus yielded and accepted God’s call. Jesus walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane at peace, both strong and confident that whatever happened God’s will was being accomplished.
Saying, “Yes,” to the leading of the Holy Spirit brings peace. We may be unsure as to what the future holds. We still may be apprehensive. At the same time, we are able to rejoice that no matter what happens God will be with us and God will see us through.
Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief. Amen.