Holy Tuesday, Mar. 27

Read Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

From Douglas McDaniel

Bluefield, WV First Christian Church

Having worked for my father for many years, I identified that with all of his gifts and talents, one attribute stood out among the rest – my father was and is a generous man. Maybe misunderstood at times and far from perfect as is his eldest son, my father paved a road of generosity for me to witness and to be shaped by. Food and rides and the occasional twenty-dollar bill, a hardy handshake, a huge infectious smile, and always and I mean always, laughter! He met people where they were and as best he could, he seemed to always show them some level of generosity. I remember so many times people asking my dad, “Doug, how can I ever repay you?” Well, isn’t that what we’re supposed to say after someone shows us kindness? Isn’t that what the Psalmist is saying? But it seems more than just idle words. Could it be that his words are driven from a grateful and overwhelmingly thankful heart? The Psalmist doesn’t ask, “How can I repay you?” He said, “I will.”

 

Father, I thank you for your generosity,

and “I will,” by the power and equipping of the Holy Spirit,

to honor you with the whole of my life. Amen!

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Tuesday: Jan. 2  

Read Matthew 25:31-46

from Douglas McDaniel, Bluefield, WV First Christian Church

I stepped into a maximum-security prison for the very first time in 2008. It was while I was delivering a message on the “Purpose – Promise – Plan of God” that I came face-to-face for the very first time with a reality that somehow had always escaped me until that time. The reality happened to be twofold: 1) I was living in my own prison that I desperately needed to be delivered from and 2) I too was “one of the least of these” that Matthew spoke of. It was when Brother Dan (a lifer) told me that the he would begin to pray for me because of all the obstacles that were ahead of me on the outside.

I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to be encouraged by an inmate like I was that night, but iron really does sharpen iron! My friend Dan will likely never step foot outside the prison walls, and he may be known as a D.O.C. number the remainder of his natural life, but understand this; that night Brother Dan introduced me to freedom in the most unlikely place of all – a prison. What a mighty God we serve! I credit the Lord for His sovereignty and His purpose, promise and plan for my life. Little did I know that I, too, was “one of the least of these.”

To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty,

dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen

Thursday, Dec. 29       Read Hebrews 1:1-12

from Doug McDaniel, First Christian Church, Bluefield, WV:

In this westernized culture I have bought into and perpetuate, the driving idea is that bigger is better. I go for the biggie fry and the ultimate colossal extra ginormous burger with extra crispy bacon, and extra secret sauce, and extra jalapenos. It doesn’t matter to me that it is 10,000 calories, and that eating it will leave me with a week’s worth of heartburn and acid reflux. It’s bigger and it’s better, and I had a dollar off coupon for goodness sake, and I’ve got to have it! But, is bigger really better?

 

Our Hebrews passage speaks to the enormity and the sheer vastness and not to mention the awesomeness of our Savior, and it leaves me challenged during the Advent Season. In my own craze for bigger and better, have I, in turn, minimized the One that sits at His appointed position? Jesus is from eternity to eternity; and I have to ask myself, what could I possibly know about bigger and better? Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

 

Open my eyes, Father, that I may see the Son. Amen.

Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

from Doug McDaniel, Bluefield First Christian Church

Do you remember the song Father Abraham? (Father Abraham had many sons – many sons had Father Abraham – I am one of them and so are you – so let’s all praise the Lord.) If you remember at the end of each verse the song writer gave a command to motion “right arm – left arm” and by the songs end we were moving our arms, feet, chins, turning around and finally sitting down. Jess and I have sung this at least 7,000 times with our four children.

The text tells us that Abraham (Abram) was without child. He so desired to have an heir, but he and wife Sarah (Sarai), well, they were just too old to have a child, and it looked as if time was running out. But God had made a promise!

What are we worried about? We know good and well that the Bible is packed with countless God promises, and He has delivered on every single one of them. Father Abraham had many sons, and I am one of them, and so are you! So let’s just praise the Lord!

Father, find us praising you for you are faithful, and

find us praising you in anticipation of what you have promised.

Read Philippians 3:1-11

from Pastor Doug McDaniel, First Christian Church, Bluefield

A business associate of mine had a blood clot burst in his eye a few years ago. I remember him telling me how it had really brought additional struggle to the game of golf that he loved. He said that when he focused on the ball, he in fact saw three golf balls. My always energetic and optimistic 75 year old friend exclaimed, “I just try to hit the one in the middle!” The thing that stood out to me was that he realized that to continue to play golf, he’d have to learn to look at the ball differently.

Paul tells his friends at Philippi that what he once valued so greatly was now nothing more than rubbish in consideration to his spiritual gain found in Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to celebrate another Advent Season and look forward in anticipation to the second Advent, maybe we too, should consider looking at this life through a “spiritual mind’s eye” and less through our “physical mind’s eye”.

Join me and let us focus on the surpassing greatness found in Christ and Him alone. All these other things, well that’s just it, they are things, and they will fade away.

Open my eyes, O God. Turn me toward you.

 

This is the final installment of Advent Prayerscapes for 2014.  If you are subscribed to follow this blog or are following us on Facebook, you will see our regular daily devotions appearing again on Ash Wednesday as Lent begins.  Thank you for your support of the Christmas Offering and of Disciples Mission Fund throughout the year, which makes possible this publication and other vital ministries of the Regional Church!

Read Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

 

from Pastor Doug McDaniel

First Christian Church, Bluefield

Christmas 2014 has come to a close, and my new assortment of ties hang neatly in the closet and I will proudly wear them all. Oh no, I won’t! Who in their right mind is going to wear a neon green tie that barks, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Not me! Oh, and that plaid thing that Granny sent me from Sheboygan, I think she re-gifted a tie that Pop wouldn’t wear from the 40’s. Don’t these people know what I need?

Gracious sakes! Aren’t we a fickle bunch? God sent us the Greatest Gift of all time, because He knows our need. The question is, do we need His gift? For some of us, Jesus is like that tie that still hangs in a dark closet where it can’t be seen or worn. He knows we are starving to death and in need of nourishment. He is well aware of our thirst and our need of a quench. Christ is our all sufficient portion! Jesus is still calling us to take up our cross and follow Him. Take time to adorn yourself with Christ!

When we fail to know our need of you, Lord,

reveal yourself again,

so that in finding you we will learn anew

the greatness of your saving grace. Amen.