Thursday: Jan. 4  

Read Psalm 8

from X. Rae Browning, Cumberland, MD First Christian Church

I love to read. Sometimes I get so involved in reading that I feel I am right there in the middle of it. Well, I’ve been reading this book entitled, “Great People of the Bible and How They Lived,” a Readers Digest book that was given to the Cumberland First Christian Church. It begins stating that the story of how life began as we know it was passed down by word of mouth. And as time came communication developed into writings. Then, being more interested, people wanted proof of the past and truth in the writings. So, genealogy evolved. God is an awesome God all the time. Through His Word, the Bible, God fills us with life as it was and how it is to be today. From the very beginning of time, in the garden of Eden, there has been inquisitiveness and that has created consequences for actions, as well as help for human growth in truth.

As I keep reading, I find that life today seems to be as it has always been. Through all ages, God has been and is in control. I never thought of the time Jesus was born as anything but a beautiful time, and I still do. But to think that Jesus and his family had to live through times of hard work, oppression, wars, and painful times just doesn’t seem to fit the Christmas spirit as we want it to be. But knowing, then and now, that God is in it with us, provides life for all who believe.

Our God is an awesome God! As in the song by Sandi Patti, “let us magnify the Lord, let us praise His Name.”

How majestic is Your Name, O Lord! Amen

—————————-

Prayerscapes for Advent is published by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  WV and PA Disciples ministers have given themselves to this wonderful project, which ends for this season on Sunday.  Lenten Prayerscapes will be coming soon, so please share the word with others who would appreciate receiving them, and direct your friends to https://prayerscapes.wordpress.com.  They also will be published daily on our Facebook pages.

All of this is made possible because of your faithful support of Disciples Mission Fund, and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries.  Please consider how your gifts will help us continue our work, and encourage others toward generosity in this vital mission.

Advertisements

Read Psalm 84

from X. Rae Browning, Cumberland First Christian Church

Lent is a time of repenting and remembering how much our Savior loves us, but most of all it is a time where we acknowledge we are traveling. Meditating on Psalm 84 reminds us to look ahead to the time where we come before the God of all. As the Psalmist states “blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” Praising God in our everyday lives no matter what we are going through builds spiritual strength and character. Let us not forget that as we pass through our time on this earth our minds and hearts come to know Jesus, God’s Son, who gave everything that we may dwell in the house of the Lord.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord. All the time God is good. God is good all the time. Praise God!

We would always be praising you, O God.  Now draw us into your dwelling, and fill our hearts with praise!

Wednesday: Dec. 3         Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!

You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.

Stir up your might, and come to save us!

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

O LORD God of hosts,

how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

You have fed them with the bread of tears,

and given them tears to drink in full measure.

You make us the scorn of our neighbors;

our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,

the one whom you made strong for yourself.

Then we will never turn back from you;

give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

 

from Rev. X. Rae Browning

First Christian Church, Cumberland, MD

It seems lately that I have been remembering more and more of my dreams. And last night the dream was of family gathering together. Some had been enslaved, and some who stayed on private grounds had not. To keep this dream story short, families enslaved and those who were free banded together, though they were surrounded and outnumbered by the captors of the enslaved ones. Because this smaller group of people believed in God and called on God openly, God’s presence prevailed.

Believe in Jesus Christ our Savior: God is alive today. As in the Psalm, we can be objects of derision and mocked by others, but we will not lose if we openly call on God. Don’t fret over little things these Holy Days. When someone wishes you “Happy Holidays,” be happy. Christ will always be with you, whether “Christmas” is the spoken word, or not. Nothing can separate us from God, for Jesus Christ is our Shepherd.

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;

make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Amen.

Read Romans 4.1-5, 13-17

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due.  But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.  If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.  For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) –in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

From Rev. X. Rae Browning, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Cumberland, MD

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner).

This ancient prayer comes to me as I read Roman 4. Abraham believed and was credited as righteous. Believing is the key to the Kingdom. God sees our salvation through our believing, our gift of faith being built, growing. Our works are not to gain favor in the eye of God, for righteousness comes in believing. Our inheritance is through believing in Jesus Christ.

Believing in God’s promises is life-saving. I recently received a note from a dear person who calls herself, “Jane’s Antique Aunt.” She is in her nineties. She is a true prayer warrior, as well as a worker of the Lord. Her faith continues to grow even in her late years. She wrote how excited she was in entering into a Bible study on “Heaven.” She said, “It is exciting to search the scriptures to unveil all God has promised us if our names are on the Book of Life.”

She also added in this note that she prays for me, my family and our church, and added this… “Even if the numbers are small, that church can still be a pillar of God’s strength and be a witness in Cumberland.”  No matter how small we are, we belong to God through believing.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner).

Help me grow in faith throughout life that righteousness may be declared.

Wednesday: December 4     

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.

As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you–in person, not in heart–we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you–certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again–but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?  Yes, you are our glory and joy!

 

from X. Rae Browning, First Christian Church, Cumberland, MD

            Being left behind, separated, unable to touch another physically, can leave us in excruciating pain. But being left behind with no future of seeing face to face is far worse than any pain imaginable. Waiting is seldom one of my more successful endeavors, but holding on faithfully, remembering Christ’s teachings helps deaden such pain for me.

St. Paul demonstrates a love for those whom he couldn’t see.  He knew that if they held on to the Word of God as they were taught, there is a promise of a future of seeing face to face inevitably. Praise Christ, our blessed Redeemer! This text reminds me of the hymn:

Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;

            Here would I touch and handle things unseen.

Remembering is the key.  Our future lies in remembering Christ’s love for us, even when waiting isn’t our strong suit. Christ our Redeemer is coming.  As we await him, let us remember that there is a future, even when we feel all is gone, because the promise lies in Christ Jesus himself.

Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done

and for those who remind us

that there is joy and glory in Your Word.

__________________________________

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund,

the Annual Fund of the Christian Church in West Virginia,

and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry,

all of which makes this project possible.

Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org

for other publications and information about our ministries.

© 2013  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.

All rights reserved.  These devotions may be copied  or linked for non-profit distribution with attribution to the authors and the copyright notice above.

Mar. 11 – Monday                             Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, 16-19

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling–if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

 

from X. Rae Browning, First Christian Church, Cumberland, MD

            Oh, what a glorious day!  Sometimes a new body sounds so good. I remember my Grandma saying “I just don’t know what God is waiting for; I’m ready, for this ole body is wearing out.” Sometimes living in the new body sounds so great; especially when serious or terminal illnesses are attacking. Sometimes these tents create difficulties that become so burdensome, and some even fall to self destruction.

Calling on Christ in our lives and daily prayer brings us close to God, giving us strength even in times of pain, sadness and sorrow. When our hearts are heavy and these tents seem to swallow us whole, we are never alone. Supporting each other brings both the supporter and the supported comfort. Reach out to God and to one another. Take comfort in God’s promise through His Son, Jesus Christ knowing there is forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thank you Lord, Jesus for your love,

 and for the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation.

 

Prayerscapes for Lent is presented by the Order of Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.  ©2013.  All rights reserved.  Duplication and distribution for profit is not permitted. 


Colossians 3:12-17 —

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

from Rae Browning, First Christian Church, Cumberland, MD

This time of year is truly a blessed time of year; if only the season of Christmas was as apparent all year long.  Oh, I don’t mean the season of hustle and bustle, buying and baking (haven’t lost all the results of last Christmas baking), decorating of homes, etc.

As a child, I remember hearing my parents speak of my uncles overseas during the war, and that the war was on hold for Christmas day. All firing and battle had ceased so peace could be observed for that one day for our troops. Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Christmas season “can” be apparent all through the year if we but follow the Word. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I can attest when someone causes you a deep pain that sucks the life out of you, it holds you hostage. That’s the time to call on God, and learn what “life” really is. I learned forgiving is not placing one’s self in harm’s way to be trampled on over and over, again and again, but calling on the love of Christ that sets us free.  In doing so, there is a whole new way of living ahead.  Then one can really know what living is all about and can truly say, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

Then and only then, is Christmas year round and celebration of the season is followed as doing “all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

May Christmas be apparent all year long, O God,

not just for a  day, and may your love and peace

 fill our lives throughout the year.