February 2018


Wednesday, Feb. 28

Read Psalm 95

From Larry Grimes

Bethany, WV

Check it out—you are 30 seconds into morning prayer.  Singing yet? Getting the words up to a high hum? Any joyful noise coming out?

So, you’ve told God about Sally’s upcoming thyroid surgery. Good. And put in an order to lift darkness from DeAndre’s soul, and take the needle from Grace’s arm. Good.

Are you singing yet? Beginning to moan? Any noise coming out—a dash of joy, a tad of praise?

And the government—how to pray for it? Folly upon folly. Fool upon fool. You are 5 minutes in now. The list is long—Milly, Herbert, Jefferson, the Twins, and Myanmar and Libya, and hunger and poverty, earthquake, wind, fire and flood—and you, of course, you.

Keep it rolling, but is there a beat yet, a ground bass, something to put a melody over, a place to sing?

Time to take a knee, don’t you think, if you haven’t already? Maybe two. And a breath, a deep one, make sure you draw it down deep into your diaphragm and let it out slowly. Maybe tighten the vocal cords as the air passes. Feel the hum of it? Get the shine from it, it glow, the glory in the dark.

Shape a word around it. And another, and another. Push the phrase. Find the praise beyond the long list of sorrow. Shout the song. Joyful noise. You’ve got it now. And soon the knees rise and the dance begins.​

 

Teach me to pray, O God.  Lift me in praise! Amen.

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Tuesday, Feb. 27

Read Romans 1.1-15

From Donald Snyder

Beckley, WV First Christian Church

The New English Bible subtitles chapters 1-8 of Romans as “The Gospel of Paul.” From the first words of this letter, the Apostle lays forth both his understanding and proclamation of the Gospel of salvation. He summarizes this Good News as being about the One, who truly is our Immanuel (God with Us); who is also a true heir of David; who became our Paschal Lamb, resurrected from the dead; with the result that the door to God’s grace has been opened to all of humanity. With the entire world before him, Paul does fear the wise, and he is at home with the foolish.  Since Jesus is neither the author of the Gospel, nor simply the main character, but rather embodies its message, the Apostle knows that the divine order of peace has been established for those who believe the Good News. Believers, as part of their call to faith, must also embrace the call to service, i.e., heralding the Gospel in word and work. What is imperative, though, is that every generation of Christians remember that is the only permanent source of our security and our salvation.

 

 

Our hope, our salvation, our future, and our security

all are in your able hands, O God.  Help us to trust you alone. Amen.

Monday, Feb. 26

Read Psalm 62

From X. Rae Browning

Fort Ashby, WV

My Daddy said I was born late and ever since then I’d probably be late with everything, and I have been and sometimes still am. But, I have always felt there is a reason for everything and every time. God has a plan and it’s His plan that counts most.

I just received word of a very dear friend that is making his final journey and will rest in the presence of God whom he has trusted truly as God’s child serving his Lord. Life will not be the same without him, but his faithfulness sets example for me as to hold onto God our Rock. The words and call in this Psalm are spelled out for all of us so profoundly. I only pray my life examples serve others as my friends has for me and many others.

You see God is my rock, but sometimes I need a reminder. The busy business can sometimes get in the way. Many years ago, I had attended a study session and was given a little rock that was to remind me that God is my rock. I placed this little stone where I’d see it first thing every morning and often throughout the day. This psalm reminds me that the world we live in is not what is important, not wealth, oppression, worries or even other people are the most important. Only God and our future are what counts.

So during this time set aside in Lent let us prepare for our future. Let’s put aside all the worldly things and place ourselves calling on the mercy of God, repenting and putting ourselves in the hands of the strong Rock—God who holds our salvation in his hands. That God is my rock. Verse 8–My refuge is in God, trust in him always you people.

 

God, I praise your name. Help me to remember and hold onto your promises for you are my salvation. Amen.

 

Second Sunday in Lent, Feb. 25

Read Mark 8:31-38

From Sarah Webb

New Martinsville, WV First Christian Church

Whether we want to face it or not, Jesus’ great suffering, and rejection, and death on a cross was a pivotal part of God’s plan for salvation.  Peter speaks for us when he wants there to be another way.  For whatever reason, the Gospel, the good news of salvation, doesn’t keep us feasting on loaves and fishes, it also takes us directly into the belly of suffering.  The rubber meets the road when we realize the decision to follow Christ involves the denial of self and taking up the cross.

Frederick Buechner writes: “The place God calls [us] to is the place where [our] deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” And wherever there is hunger, injustice, and suffering in our world, the heart of Christ is already there.  Jesus instructs us to set our mind on divine things.  By taking up his cross, perhaps it will be to accompany another into the depths of their suffering.

 

God, grant us your grace as we follow your will

and bring ourselves to the needs of the world.  Amen.

Saturday, Feb. 24

Read Romans 4:13-25

From Jamie Gump

Huntington, WV Madison Avenue Christian Church

His family urged him to go to the doctor.  But the man felt he was too sick, and wanted to get better before he went.  Silly, right?  When ill is when we need the doctor.  Not when we get better.  Yet too many use that silly logic with their faith.  I once asked a group of Christians to raise their hands if they believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and had faith in God.  Every hand shot up.  Then I asked if they were sure they were going to heaven.  Only about 1/3 raised their hands.  The remaining 2/3 shared that they didn’t raise their hands because they weren’t sure they were good enough (…they thought they were too sick to go to the Doctor.)

Only after we put our trust in and enter into relationship with the Divine Physician will we gain the strength to follow Christ’s teachings and feel the Healer’s touch moving us toward perfection.   This promise of relationship comes from God as a “pure gift.”  “That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. …Abraham believed…, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do” (Rom 4:16,18, The Message).

That same promise, that gift, is ours.  May we live out our faith, not wondering if we’ve done enough to earn God’s love, but instead living in God’s love and looking expectantly toward what, with God, we will do.

 

Your grace is amazing, O God!

Help me to receive it with joy and live in it daily. Amen.

Friday, Feb. 23

Read Psalm 22:23-31

From Ashley Stansfield

Butler, PA Oak Hills Christian Church

Have you ever been in the depths of despair and never thought that there could possibly be a way out? Then suddenly, the relief you have longed for, that you struggled for and that you prayed for comes. After much searching you find yourself out of the dense clouds of despair and into the bright sunshine of hope long yearned for!

Out of his deep trust of the Lord, a Lord that keeps His word the psalmist can say, I will constantly praise you. He knows that He has not ignored the needy, He has not walked away. He has listened to their cries. He is a Faithful God! In firm assurance David can say: He will because indeed God will.

The poor will eat. All who seek the Lord will eat. All who seek the Lord will praise Him. Their hearts will rejoice. All the ends of the Earth will remember and turn to Him. All families of Nations will bow down before Him. Future generations will also serve Him. His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn. They will hear all He has done. For He will do all of this for He is faithful.

 

Thank you Lord, that in the day to day struggle of our humanity, you have indeed identified with us and you are there!

You have promised never to leave us…never to forsake us!

For this we will praise you, our everlasting Saviour. Amen.

Thursday, Feb. 22

Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-17

From Roger Curry

Diaconal Minister, WV Region

The text is about God’s call to Abraham to found the new nations of Israel.  God doesn’t say please.  He doesn’t say it will be difficult.  God doesn’t even supply details.  He says do it, and Abraham does it.  And from the “begats” thereafter, Abraham satisfied the full measure of the Lord’s command.

The Father’s Son also was not real subtle.  To Simon, later to be called Peter, he said come and I will make you – and 11 others – fishers of men.  He didn’t mention that only one of the 12 would die in bed, one would suicide and the rest would be martyred because they believed in Him.

God’s commands to us are fairly subtle, but He expects us to be equal to whatever task we are given.  Johnny Cash sung a song about “talking to the Man from Galilee,” and his deep feeing “when He says John, go do my will!”  

How do we simple humans tell if we are ordered to do God’s will?  I’m not smart enough to tell you definitely, but I have some clues.  If God’s will is expressed with the words “hurt, hate, or take,” it’s doubtful that God is talking. But if it starts with “help, love, give,” more than likely, that’s the Voice of God calling.

See, our God is a loving God.

 

Father, please give me a hint when you’re calling on me to do something.  And then I’ll do my level best to to it.  Amen.

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