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Daily Devotions

Devotions - February 20-26, 2011

By, Faith Circle Member
First, Gladstone

Sunday, February 20
By, Betty Froberg

(v. 25-27) I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:15-27 NRSV

During our Bible study one morning the question was asked: Could we think of a time when we experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit? We know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit dwells within us as a gift from God, though we may not always be aware of His presence. Yet there are times when the Holy Spirit manifests itself with great clarity and power. One such time occurred when I attended a three-day cursillo retreat.

The cursillo movement was born on the island of Majorca, Spain, in 1948. Hence the Spanish terminology. The title of the movement is cursillos de Cristiandad or "little courses in living Christianity." The retreat endeavors to give one an experience in Christian community, and to re-establish or reinforce a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Each day's study and activities ended with worship in the chapel. We prayed with outstretched arms like Christ on the cross. With lights dimmed, we gathered around the altar for more prayer, song and benediction. There I experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit moving among us with such power that I felt lifted up out of this world. Of course, we cannot sustain such a splendid "high." The Holy Spirit grants us a mountaintop experience, then brings us down to work his will in our communities.

On the fourth day, the retreat ends. The fourth day lasts for the rest of our lives. Our endeavor is to continue our relationship with the Lord. We are committed to witness to Christ's gospel and to be an example of His love in our community. Being weak and sinful, we often fall short of our commitment. Yet through faith Christ grants us forgiveness and strengthens us through the gift of the Holy Spirit to serve Him in our church and community.

Heavenly Father. Guide me each day to live according to your will. Amen.

Monday, February 21
By, Lynn Thomas

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
Listen to me. Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom! Job 33:33

At this time of year, many people begin to long for spring. Yet, winter is the ideal time to be still and clear our minds. If we step into snowy woods and listen, we will hear…silence! The snow muffles sound and we are given a chance to experience the hushed tranquility of nature. What a perfect opportunity to open our hearts, keep silent, and meditate on God's goodness. Embrace the last of winter and take time to listen for God's presence in the gentle stillness. The woods in winter are a holy place – God is exalted indeed!

Creator God, Savior, Spirit, send your peace upon me. Help me to be still and let go of my concerns so that I may listen for your wisdom. Amen.

Tuesday, February 22
By, Cindy Sjoquist

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Galatians 5: 22-23

This is my second devotion. I composed one last year. It is good for me to do this as I find it a challenge. I can talk about dogs and animals forever, but God or myself or to compose a prayer – difficult! I feel like I have to be original and produce something deep and spiritual. I've spent a lot of time (for me) reading and "researching", much of it going through the Prayfaithfully archives (thank you all); it seems that for me, keeping it simple is best. God's messages ARE simple and bear repeating in whatever way, shape or form works best for the deliverer.

That being said, my devotion is about my great-nephew who was born in 2010. He is cute as a bug. I was not around to watch my nieces and nephews grow up. Now I think I have a small inkling what it must be like be a parent – I am a doting Great Aunt. I thank God for letting me know him. What a lucky little guy he is to have such a great mom and grandparents. I hope I live up to this Bible verse and pass on some of its value to my great-nephew, as well as others.

Dear Lord, let me live wisely and be a good example to future generations. Help me live a life filled with love for others and do good works. Amen

Wednesday, February 23
By, Dolly Salmi

Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.
Luke 4:8

These words spoken by Jesus to Satan while being tempted (Luke 4:1-30) also need to be our focus for living. Dealing with temptation is a daily occurrence. It is much more than saying no to the sweets we give up for Lent! Jesus was hungry. He could have turned the stones into bread. But that would have compromised his position as God's obedient son. We also are tempted to make our physical needs and cravings (food, shelter, love, etc.) a priority in our lives. We must meet those needs in God's way. Dishonesty, cheating, stealing, and telling lies do not justify any means to satisfy them.

Who among us doesn't enjoy instant gratification? Get satisfaction now, look the other way, and worry later about consequences, feed the ambitious streak in us. We must always question our motives in our dealings and decisions, and remember that we can't "serve two masters". We also revel in praise when we do wonderful, virtuous, and charitable acts for our own recognition. Again, it's the wrong motivation. "Do not put God to the test".

Because Satan was victorious in his temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, we inherited these same struggles. But because Jesus overcame Satan's temptations, we can claim the same tools Jesus used for victory, i.e., the Spirit and the Word. We can surrender our lives to the will of God in prayer, and we can use the Bible to learn more of what that will entail.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for breaking the power of the devil. Keep us mindful that temptations are necessary for growth in the Spirit. Help us in overcoming temptations. Amen.

Thursday, February 24
By, Pam Chouinard

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow, is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:30-33 (New International Version)

Worrying! Unfortunately worrying has always been a part of me. Raising children being the number one reason for the dreaded disease of "Worry." However, does worry change any circumstances? No it doesn't. What worrying does do is to take away our valuable time from God, and we don't get that back. So I've come up with 4 reasons not to worry. Hopefully, we can all put this into practice, including me.

Four reasons not to worry:

1. Worrying Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing
a. With our busy schedules who honestly has time to worry! And worrying is a waste of very precious time. It won't help us solve a problem or even bring a solution, so why waste our time and energy on it?
2. Worrying is Not Good for You.
a. Worrying creates stress! And as we all are aware stress is the leading cause of numerous health concerns.
3. Worrying is the Opposite of Trusting God.
a. As Matthew 6:30 states: If God cares for the grass in the field, he will certainly care for us. Shouldn't we be more trustful? Worry-replaced by PRAYER equals TRUST.
4. Worrying Puts Your Focus in the Wrong Direction.
a. When we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember who is really in charge of our lives. God has a wonderful plan for us, which includes taking care of us. "We can put our trust in the Lord and focus on his Kingdom."

Life is more than food and clothing. God has reminded us of that throughout the Scriptures. Jesus reminded us of it when he faced temptation from Satan.

Remember: worrying doesn't change things, big or small, except to make those problems appear worse than they really are. So why let ourselves get so worked up into a frenzy over "big things?" Let's cast our cares on God and then trust in his providence.

Dear Heavenly Father, Give us the strength to face each day with our focus on you and not on worrying about the things we can't control. Amen.

Friday, February 25
By, Dorothy Westerback

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:4-7

Last December the Lutheran Women Today Bible Study was on the gifts of the spirit. It discussed the purpose of spiritual gifts and that we seek the confidence to recognize our gifts and become grateful for them. We must then decide how to use them. We might not speak in tongues or be able to interpret tongues, but we recognize other gifts like compassion, hospitality, listening, patience, teaching and generosity. God gives us gifts so we can be a benefit to the community.

Our occupations can be used in spiritual ways. Teachers can teach Sunday School. Nurses can volunteer as parish nurses. Accountants can give financial advice. Doctors and dentists can go to countries that need them for three week mission trips. Construction workers can use their abilities with Habitat for Humanity. Cooks can work in soup kitchens.

Abilities can determine how we use our gifts. The musically talented can sing in the choir. Good listeners can visit nursing homes. Sewers can quilt for Lutheran World Relief.

Paul is telling the Corinthians and us to use our gifts. They are given by God to build the body of Christ, the church. We must remember God loves us, we love God and we love his people.

Dear Heavenly Father, the giver of all good and perfect gifts we thank you. Remind us of our gifts and how we should use them. Help us to share our blessings, so that others learn of your promises. Amen.

Saturday, February 26
By, Pam Durbin

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22 (NRSV)

I love to read books. If pressed, I'd have to say my favorite type of book is a good mystery. The thing about reading mysteries is I'm not even tempted to peek at the ending ahead of time. I'd rather read all the clues along the way and try to figure out the ending for myself.

I don't have the same feelings about Lent. Shortly we face Ash Wednesday and our journey to the cross of Jesus begins. I must admit this is one mystery I'd rather skip the details and get to the end. I'd rather not walk the journey and experience this mystery filled with sorrow.

In my Bible, this verse is in a section labeled "Sorrow Will Turn into Joy" and I have found comfort and strength in this promise of Jesus. Whether my sorrow comes from illness, job loss, disappointment, death of a loved one or the forty day journey through lent, I am strengthened and comforted by the words of Jesus, "… but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."

Heavenly Father we thank you for the mystery of your saving grace. We thank you for the opportunity of lent to walk through the pain and sacrifice of your Son, our Savior and we thank you for the ultimate joy of eternal life in your presence that no one can take from us. Amen.


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