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Devotions from Pastor Glen - the week of 6-21-20

6/26/20

Psalm 118:8-9
New Revised Standard Version
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in mortals. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

I wish I were perfect. I wouldn’t hurt others and would never have to worry about mistakes. No apologies needed. That would be a much easier path through life. The Psalmist agrees. It is better to put confidence in God than in imperfect mortals. Mortals will let you down, sooner or later.
What about princes? We don’t have many princes in the world these days, but we have plenty of dictators. The only difference between princes and dictators is some princes are good, but you seldom have a good dictator.
If all rulers were perfect, you could put your confidence in that prince or dictator and it would always be okay. Actually, the best, most efficient way to rule a country is by a king or dictator, as long as that ruler is good. No messy city council meetings, state legislatures, and no congress needed. Just rulings from the top. It would save a ton of time. The problem is, not many rulers are good, let alone perfect. God alone can rule perfectly, because God alone is perfect.

Perfect God, let me take my refuge in you, and not in any earthly ruler. Amen.

6/26/20

Psalm 116:5-7 (NRSV) Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The LORD protects the simple; 

Thanksgiving is a key to bountiful living. Thanksgiving leads to optimism. Optimism, studies show, leads to a longer healthier, happier life. To be sure. Optimists are not always right: sometimes life throws you a curve, like it has with the coronavirus. But if you are thankful and optimistic, you are more likely to focus on the good you can find in any situation. Too often, Americans have been overworked. We take less vacation time than many other countries. We go, go, go. But with COVID-19, life has been more like “Pause, pause, pause,” unless you work for Amazon or essential services needed in our situation. Many sports season are shortened, or on hold. Movie theaters are shut (unless it’s a drive-in). Parties and other gatherings are more difficult. We as a country must mostly pause, reflect and move carefully. Today’s psalm is a simple assurance, that even as we are brought low as a country, that God will deal bountifully with us. If we trust in God’s goodness, and believe.

We thank you, Lord, for the ways you have preserved your people in the past. Help me to rest in your goodness. Amen


6/25/20

Psalm 115:3-4 (New Revised Standard Version)
3 Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.

At first glance, these verses have little to do with us in modern times. Not many people these days make idols and pray to them, but it apparently happened quite a lot in Old Testament days. The Hebrews wandering in the wilderness made a golden calf. In Isaiah 44, those who make idols and worship them are mocked and despised.
But if we think for a minute, the verses above have everything to do with modern times. There are surely idols today. There are those who treat science as God, or money or power or pleasure. Any good gift from God, if pursued too far, can end up being our God. People live for that thing, and that thing alone. It, rather than God, gives meaning to their lives.
That’s why there are so many sad people in the world. Only God is truly God. Everything else, if we make it God, will disappoint us and in the end even destroy us.

God, Only True God, keep us from making any good thing in your world into an idol. Remind us to worship only you. Amen.


6/24/20

Psalm 115:3-4 (New Revised Standard Version)
3 Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.

At first glance, these verses have little to do with us in modern times. Not many people these days make idols and pray to them, but it apparently happened quite a lot in Old Testament days. The Hebrews wandering in the wilderness made a golden calf. In Isaiah 44, those who make idols and worship them are mocked and despised.
But if we think for a minute, the verses above have everything to do with modern times. There are surely idols today. There are those who treat science as God, or money or power or pleasure. Any good gift from God, if pursued too far, can end up being our God. People live for that thing, and that thing alone. It, rather than God, gives meaning to their lives.
That’s why there are so many sad people in the world. Only God is truly God. Everything else, if we make it God, will disappoint us and in the end even destroy us.

God, Only True God, keep us from making any good thing in your world into an idol. Remind us to worship only you. Amen.

6/23/20

Psalm 113:5-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

Are you needy? I am. I find myself falling far short of who I want to be on most days. Every morning I ask for God’s wisdom to be good, and every evening I ask for God’s forgiveness when I wasn’t. It isn’t comfortable to be needy, but consider the alternative: never being needy, or rather never feeling needy (in reality, far from perfect, we all are needy, always). We would live our lives blustering and bluffing through our mistakes. Never admitting fault, never admitting weakness, yet knowing deep down inside that we fall far short of our best selves. I know people like that, and though they seem powerful, they are miserable inside. Our Bible teaches, (and I’ve finally realized), it is better to feel needy and be lifted up and encouraged than to be proud, be brought low and discouraged.

God Above Us, look down on us and lift us up when we feel inadequate. Amen.


6/22/20

Psalm 112 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Blessings of the Righteous 1 Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD, who greatly delight in his commandments. 2 Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

When I was little, I would look up at my Dad and Mom and they were amazingly tall (they were- Dad was 6’2” and Mom was 5’11”). It seemed like my head would tilt back forever and my eyes had a long, long journey to meet their gaze. They were all-powerful and all-knowing. They taught me how to be good.
As I got older my opinion of my parents changed. They seemed to shrink before my eyes. I grew taller than either of them and I could look down on THEM. They no longer seemed as wise.
Then later still, they began to stoop and even shrivel before my eyes. They both got hunched over and seldom sat or stood tall. When I last saw them, they seemed almost child-like.
I feared my parents, then I loved my parents, then I let them go, and there are days when I miss them terribly.
God is like my parents, but in some ways completely different. God never shrinks, God only grows. The older I get, the bigger God gets, the more powerful and the wiser. There is no end to God’s power, or wisdom or love. If we strive to know God, and live God’s way, we will be blessed.

Father and Mother God, I thank you for giving me parents to learn from. Help me always to learn how to be good and wise from you. Amen

6/21/20

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.

Are you afraid of God? I am, a little. I respect God a great deal, and it is hard to respect someone without fearing, a little, what they could do to you. But why is that respect the beginning of wisdom? I think because pride is one of our biggest, if not THE biggest, dangers and sins. If we respect someone as more powerful than us, then it is harder to be prideful, because we admit that someone is greater than we are. But how do you practice fear of God? Do you decide to quake in your boots every morning at 7? No, but recognizing every morning that God is God and we aren’t is not a bad idea. Those who do have a good understanding of their place in the universe. Why not give it a try?

Powerful God, we respect who you are and what you do. Help us to avoid pride and serve others with humility. Amen.



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