Thursday, June 21

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are doing well this morning. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are:

Morning – Psalm 97 & 147: 12 – 20           Evening – Psalm 16 & 62 

Our Old Testament reading for today is Numbers 12: 1 – 16. Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses for his marriage to a Cushite woman. God heard their criticism and defended Moses, speaking directly to them in the tent of meeting. 

So Moses cried to the Lord, “God, please heal her!”

Numbers 12: 13                 CEB 

The story of the Israelite journey in the wilderness is challenging to read. While it steps on our toes, in that it depicts the weaknesses of the human condition, it is perhaps most challenging because of the characterization of God. God is the executor of harsh judgment. There is no denying this fact. 

In the midst of that challenge, there is something more. It does not alter the reality of a time when God openly punishes sinners. It adds to it, and it has particular bearing on every child of God on the other side of the cross. 

Aaron and Miriam openly criticized Moses. Their criticism related to his apparent disregard for religious law. After all Moses had done in leading the people, they criticized him openly. God heard it and was furious with Aaron and Miriam. 

Moses’ first response to God’s calling out of Aaron and Miriam was to beg God to forgive them. God makes the case for the punishment delivered, explaining the rationale for it. In spite of that, Moses remained rooted in God’s grace and mercy. 

One thing we learn in our reading today is what God calls us to do in times of strife. Regardless of the circumstance and / or the justification for punishment, we are to appeal to the healing power of God above all else. If ever we are wronged, we should seek God’s mercy above God’s judgment. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s. 

This will be the last installment of daily devotion emails for this week. The readings for tomorrow are:

Psalm: Morning – Psalm 51 & 148              Evening – Psalm 65 & 142             Numbers 13: 1 – 3, 21 – 30

We are headed to Cheaha State Park later today for a short camping trip. See you Sunday!  


Wednesday, June 20


Dearest church family, 

God morning to you. I hope your Wednesday is going well thus far. I made it back from St. Louis safe and sound last night. Thanks for the prayers. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 89: 1 – 18 & 147: 1 – 11               Evening – Psalm 1 & 33 

Our Old Testament reading for today is Numbers 11: 24 – 33. God responds to the Israelites’ complaints. The Spirit of God descended upon Moses is distributed among the Elders. God sends the blessing of quail. 

Moses said to Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the Lord’s people were with the Lord placing his spirit on them!”

Numbers 11: 29                 CEB 

The incidents of the Israelites quarreling with Moses and God in the wilderness are excellent examples of the relationship between God and God’s children. God makes God’s presence known and provides for the needs of God’s children. God’s children sometimes heed God’s direction and accept God’s provision. Sometimes they do not. This is true for all of us. 

Sometimes we welcome the presence of God and follow God’s lead. Other times, we ignore or simply fail to recognize God’s presence. We follow our own lead or the lead of others

Sometimes we accept God’s means of provision. We give thanks and recognize the blessing. Other times we are unsatisfied with God’s means of provision. We grumble and complain of our unmet wants. 

The amazing truth is this. The presence of God and the means of God’s provision are unconditional. Our acceptance and / or recognition of God’s presence and provision are entirely up to us. Strive to accept and recognize. That is all! 

Peace,

Jonathan


Tuesday, June 19

Dearest church family,

Greetings from St. Louis! Following a
day of cancelled and delayed flights, I finally made it here
around 10:30 last night. Pray I have better luck on the
trturn trip!

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are:

Morning - Psalm 42 & 146           Evening - Psalm 102 & 133

Our Old Testament reading for today is Numbers 11: 1 - 23. The people complained against God and Moses. Their concern focused on the lack of meat in specific and the lack of leadership from Moses in general. God became angry and Moses prayed to God on behalf o the people.

Now our lives are wasting away. There is nothing but manna in front of us.
Numbers 11: 6   CEB

Early in the wilderness journey, the Israelites complained. They were angry with Moses and God. They longed for the provision they enjoyed during their time of captive slavery in Egypt.

This is the human condition. We long for what we once had, even when we know it was lacking. The familiarity of slavery is just that...familiar. We know it is lacking, but we remain drawn to it because we understand it. 

Fear of the unknown causes us to often miss God's ongoing revelation. The Israelites did not have everything they wanted in the wilderness, but they had everything they needed. Manna again? Yes indeed.

We all do well to remeber that God provides for our needs, not our wants. There is nothing wrong with having wants, but faithful discipleship means trusting God's means of call and provision for the journey.

peace,

Jonathan


Monday, June 18

Dearest church family, 

Good Monday morning! I do hope everyone is well as the work week starts out. 

Our readings for daily devotion this week will be the Old Testament selections from the daily lectionary. We will be reading portions of Numbers. I will also include the daily Psalm readings. Adding the reading of at least one Psalm daily to the practice of daily devotion has significant benefit for spiritual growth. 

The Psalm readings for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 5 & 145              Evening – Psalm 29 & 82 

Our Old Testament reading today is Numbers 9:15 – 23 and 10: 29 – 36. God provides Moses with instruction for observing the Passover feast. Following the first observance, the Israelites set out for God’s Promised Land, The ark of the covenant goes before them. 

When the chest set out, Moses would say, “Arise, Lord, let your enemies scatter, and those who hate you flee”. When it rested, he would say, “Return, Lord of the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”

Numbers 10: 35 7 36       CEB

The life of faith involves constant movement. It always has. God calls creation to go out and to come back. The message of return to me is ever present in the constant call of God.

Complacency is a human trait. Our human nature constantly seeks familiar structure, ritual, and practice. This is part of the reason the institution of the church continues to survive. In many ways, the life of the church speaks to our human need for the familiar, but complacency is never God’s intention. 

Our text today reminds us that God is with us at all times. God is present in our comings and our goings. God sends us out and brings us back. We do not need to carry the ark of the covenant in front of us to insure God’s presence. We carry God’s covenant in our hearts. It is all the protection any of us ever needs. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s.

I am traveling to St. Louis for a meeting today and tomorrow. The church office is open during regular hours this week. I will be back in the office Wednesday morning. Wednesday Bible Study will meet as scheduled




Friday, June 8

Dearest church family, 

Good morning. I do hope your Friday is the blessing God intends it to be for all. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 88 & 148            Evening – Psalm 6 & 20 

Our final Gospel reading for this week is Matthew 14: 22 – 36. The closing portion of this chapter contains Matthew’s account of Jesus walking on the water. Peter walks on the water as well until his limited understanding caused him to begin to sink. 

When Jesus sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone.

Matthew 14: 23                 CEB 

Jesus walking on the water is seen in some aspects as another example of a miracle performed by the Son of God. The version we find in our reading today reminds us that it was not a miracle at all. Matthew records the event as continued witness to the unmatched power of God available to us all. 

At the beginning of the story, Jesus provides what is perhaps his most significant and consistent witness to any and all who would claim to be his follower. After feeding a mass crowd and dismissing them with full stomachs and souls, Jesus also dismissed the disciples and went to the mountain to pray. The movement of the Holy Spirit is established by Jesus in the flesh. 

God continually calls us to engage and retreat. These moves have powerful meaning in the hands of God. The Holy Spirit calls all children of God forward at times. At other times, it calls them away from the action. This is God’s means of filling us with the Holy Spirit so we can share it in great abundance. 

Jesus never went out on his own. Jesus understood that in order to faithfully follow where God leads, one must regularly be refilled. This kind of filing happens in many ways, but it happens most powerfully in quiet moments alone with God. 

Often times we feel filled by the Holy Spirit when in the presence of others. God uses that setting well as a filling station. At the same time, there is no substitute for the filling God provides during alone time. If we do not make the time to be replenished by God, what we have to offer in witness has the potential to come from some other source. 

How will you make time to be alone with God? 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s.

This is the last daily devotion installment for a week. I will be taking some vacation time next week. Daily devotion emails will return Monday, July 18. You are all encouraged to visit www.pcusa.org next week to find daily devotion material. Links to two different sources can be found at the bottom of the home page. I will see you at church this Sunday. Be blessed and be a blessing!


Thursday, June 7

Dearest church family, 

God morning to you all. I hope you are doing well this morning. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 143 & 147: 12 – 20        Evening – Psalm 81 & 116             

Our Gospel reading for today is Matthew 14: 13 – 21. Having heard the news about the death of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew from the crowds to  a deserted place. The crowds followed him and Jesus met them with compassion. 

He said, “Bring them here to me.”

Matthew 14: 18                 CEB 

The feeding of the five thousand is one of the best know miracle stories. If you asked a random person to tell you the story of Jesus feeding a massive crowd gathered in an isolated place as the day drew to a close, you would likely get a good sense of the message. Most people get confused about the meal. “Was it two loaves and five fish or five loaves and two fish?” Other than that detail, most folks, Christian or not, know the basic story. 

The story is rich in meaning, and its message covers a lot of ground when you consider all the perspectives of it. Reading the story from the perspective of the disciples provides one message, while the perspective of the crowd provides another. Jesus’ own perspective adds another layer of meaning. 

For those of us who have heard the story many times and are very familiar with it, there is at least one message we should always remember. Regardless of the perspective we may be reading the story from, the message remains the same. God in Jesus Christ calls us to bring whatever we have and uses it to meet the needs of others.

That is not the end of the story, but it is perhaps the most significant aspect of it for the life of faith. All of us deal with feelings of inadequacy and lack when it comes to serving others in the name of Jesus. No one has any valid reason for ever feeling inadequate according to the word of God. 

Jesus shares this message in a variety of ways during his earthly ministry. Time and time again, the word of God reminds us that we are to bring whatever we have as an offering to God and entrust it to God’s means of provision. No one goes hungry or thirsty when this happens. 

Death from starvation and dehydration remain reality in the earthly kingdom. You and I must not allow that reality to question the essential truth of the word of God. That reality belongs to the human condition, not to God. When those feeling called to help others give what they have to God, God meets every need with leftovers to spare. 

Peace,

Jonathan