Grow – Pray – Study

Our pastors write a short daily devotional each week that accompanies the sermon series. The weekly list of scripture, devotion, question to ponder and prayer are printed in Sunday’s bulletin and posts here daily.

Click the GPS menu in the left column for the latest reading.

GPS – Week of November 21, 2022

Monday, November 21 — Ezekiel 34:11-16

Shepherds play a prominent role in the biblical story. There are more than 100 references to shepherds in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus’ ancestor, King David, was a shepherd (1 Samuel 16:11). Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his flock (John 10:11). While we may not want to think of ourselves as sheep, knowing that Jesus is our shepherd is very good news.

    • The fact that we have someone to care for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep is meant to be comforting. Is it a comforting image for you? What Biblical stories or images comfort you?
    • Prayer: Comforting God, thank you for caring so deeply about me. Thank you for loving, protecting, and guiding me, even when I wander astray. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22 — Luke 15:1-7

Jesus had a reputation for spending time with the “wrong kind” of people.  According to the conventional wisdom of Jesus’ day, a “good person” should not associate with tax collectors and sinners. Luke tells us that the religious leaders were grumbling about Jesus. In response, he told them three parables, starting with one about a shepherd looking for a single lost sheep.

    • What do you think about Jesus’ parable? Does it seem irresponsible to leave the flock to search for a single sheep? How would you feel if you were one of the ninety-nine? How would you feel if you were the one?
    • Prayer: Seeking God, forgive me when I grumble about the breadth of your grace. Help me remember that I am a sinner who has been saved by your love and grace. Amen.

Wednesday, November 23 — Matthew 25:31-46

In his parable about the last judgment, Jesus describes the shocking discovery that we meet Jesus when we care for the needs of others, specifically “the least of these who are members of my family” (Matthew 25:40). He said the righteous are the ones who cared for others, even though they did not realize they were caring for Jesus himself, and that we are accountable for the way we treat people.

    • If you took this parable seriously, would it change the way you look at others? If you took this parable seriously, would you change the way you treat others? Do you take this parable seriously?
    • Prayer: God of Judgment, forgive me when I fail to take you seriously. Forgive me for not seeing others the way you see them. Help me see you in every person I meet. Amen.

Thursday, November 24 — Psalm 100

Even on the worst days, we have much for which to be thankful. If we look carefully, we can see the many ways we have been blessed by God. We too easily take life’s blessings for granted. We too easily start to believe that we have earned or deserve God’s blessings of grace and mercy.

    • On this day of Thanks-Giving. Find a few minutes to catalogue the blessings you have received from God. Set aside your complaints long enough to give thanks and praise to God. Also, take time to thank the important people in your life. Let them know what they mean to you.
    • Prayer: Merciful God, I am thankful for all the ways you have blessed my life. Thank you for being more generous than I deserve. Today I give you thanks and praise. Amen.

Friday, November 25 — 2 Corinthians 1:1, 8-11

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful, especially during difficult days. Yet the witness of Scripture is that it is possible to give thanks, even in the midst of suffering. Paul and Timothy tell the Corinthians that even though they have suffered, they are blessed and can give thanks. For Christians, thanks-giving is an act of faith and an act of obedience — not simply an emotional response to a positive experience.

    • Do you find it difficult to be thankful during difficult days? What helps you give thanks to God even when you don’t feel very thankful? Ask God to help you be thankful today.
    • Prayer: Loving God, it is all too often easier to complain than to give thanks. Open my heart and mind to experience your presence. Help me be thankful every day. Amen.

Saturday, November 26 — Isaiah 40:1-11

The prophet Isaiah offers comfort to God’s people by way of a promise. He promises that even though human life is fragile, God is faithful. He promises that God will provide, like a shepherd feeds his flock, and he calls the people to be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

    • It is easy to fall into a state of despair and wonder, “where is God?” Starting tomorrow, we will prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord. Are you willing to believe that God does care for you and will come into your life?
    • Prayer: God of Hope, when I doubt, remind me of your promises. When I am weak, grant me your strength to keep going. Prepare me for the coming of Jesus. Amen.

GPS – Week of November 13, 2022

Monday, November 14 — 1 Chronicles 29:10-19

From beginning to end, the Bible describes thanks-giving and praise as two of the primary responses to God’s presence and God’s might acts of salvation. In today’s reading, King David and the “whole assembly” blessed the Lord and gave thanks and praise to God’s “glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:1, 13, 20). Note David’s acknowledgment that everything comes from God. When we affirm that everything we have and everything we are comes from God, we will follow David’s example and offer our own praise and thanks-giving to God.

    • Are you able to affirm that God has provided everything you have? If not, what is holding you back? Ask God to help you take this next step in your faith.
    • Prayer: God of Abundant Life, help me to affirm what I know to be true, that everything I have has come from you. I will bless your name with praise and thanks-giving. Amen.

Tuesday, November 15 — Psalm 28

Many of the Psalms that have been attributed to David are psalms of thanks-giving, including Psalm 28. Reading and praying the Psalms teaches us about God, about ourselves, and about our relationship with God. We learn to pray as we regularly pray the Psalms. (It is an important spiritual discipline.) Take some time today to read, pray, and reflect on what Psalm 28 can teach you.

    • What stands out for you as you let Psalm 28 speak to you? Which words seem important and especially meaningful?
    • Prayer: Eternal God, open my heart, mind, and spirit to hear and understand what you want to teach me today. I will give thanks when I hear of your goodness and mercy. Amen.

Wednesday, November 16 — Psalm 116

Psalm 116 is another psalm of thanksgiving. Like Psalm 28, the 116th Psalm uses the language of salvation to describe God’s response to the psalm-writer’s “voice and … supplications” (Psalm 116:1). The words “save” and “saved” both make an appearance (verses 4 and 6), along with salvation references like “delivered my soul from death” (verse 8), “the cup of salvation” (verse 13) and “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones” (verse 15.) The point is this: when we know that we are saved from the power of sin and death, we give thanks.

    • Reflect on the breadth and depth of God’s love and grace. Do you believe that God has saved you from sin and death?
    • Prayer: God of Grace, help me accept that I need your saving grace. Help me accept that you offer saving grace. Help me live my life as someone who is being saved. Amen.

Thursday, November 17 — Ephesians 2:1-10

The Letter to the Ephesians contains one of the clearest statements of the Christian Gospel. It is so important that it is repeated two times “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5) and “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). It makes clear that the salvation that we all need and the salvation that we seek is God’s doing. It is not something we can do for ourselves, no matter how hard we try to make it all about us.

    • Many people find it hard to accept that we are saved by grace through faith. What helps you acknowledge your need for salvation? What helps you accept that you have been saved by grace?
    • Prayer: Merciful God, forgive my reluctance to acknowledge my need for grace. Forgive my persistent desire to take credit for my salvation. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

Friday, November 18 — Luke 17:11-19

By the 17th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we know that Jesus has both the intention and the power to cure lepers and return them not only to health, but to the community. Remember that lepers were removed from the community for as long as they were labeled as unclean. (See Leviticus 13:3 and Numbers 5:1-4.) In a striking statement, Jesus insisted that lepers being healed was a sign that he was God’s Messiah (Luke 7:18-23). So, we are not surprised that Jesus cleansed the lepers in today’s reading. What is surprising is the way Jesus responds to the one (a Samaritan) who returned to thank him. he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19). An alternate translation of what Jesus said is, “your faith has saved you.”

    • Thanks-giving and salvation go together. When we discover what God has done for us through Jesus, all we can do, like the Samaritan leper, is to say, “thank you.”
    • Prayer: God of Saving Grace, thank you for the undeserved gift of Jesus. Thank you for saving me through his death and resurrection. Thank you for making me whole. Amen.

Saturday, November 19 — 1 Timothy 1:12-17

The 1st Letter to Timothy expresses the same sentiment that we find in Jesus’ healing (saving) of the Samaritan leper in Luke 17:11-19: gratitude for God’s mercy. When we can accept and affirm the Good News “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), the only possible response is thanks-giving. Thanks-giving and salvation cannot be separated.

    • What commitment will you make today to live a life of thanks-giving, not only in the month of November, but always?
    • Prayer: Loving God, continue to transform my life by the power of your love and grace. Cultivate in me the desire to live a life of thanks-giving for all my days. Amen.

GPS – 11/12/22

Saturday, November 12 — 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

The familiar words of institution used in Christian worship are taken from Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians. They didn’t start with Paul, as he says, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you …” (1 Corinthians 11:23). These instructions have been passed from generation to generation, through ordination of pastors by the laying on of hands. Paul’s teaching and the witness of Scripture is clear that the giving and receiving of the elements of Holy Communion are done in the spirit of thanks-giving.

    • For what are you most thankful today? How do the practices of faith and the traditions of the Church (Holy Communion) inspire thanks-giving in you?
    • Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the gift of your grace. Thank you for the Church. Thank you for faithfully sharing the Good News from generation to generation. Amen.

GPS – 11/11/22

Friday, November 11 — Acts 27:33-38

Like the references to “the breaking of the bread” in Acts 2:42, the description of Paul’s actions in Acts 27:35 has Eucharistic overtones. Paul blessed the food in the same way pastors preside at the Communion Table: taking the bread, blessing or giving thanks for the bread, breaking the bread, and then sharing and eating the bread. The setting of this holy act is striking. In the middle of a violent storm, Paul invoked God’s saving grace and sustaining presence. All 276 people on the ship were encouraged by sharing the bread (Acts 27:35-37).

    • How does the Sacrament of Holy Communion sustain you amid the storms of life? What helps you give thanks (to God) on bad days as well as good days?
    • Prayer: Loving God, help me trust more fully the promise that nothing can separate me from your love and grace. Encourage and sustain me today. Amen.

GPS – 11/10/22

Thursday, November 10 — Acts 2:37-47

The 2nd chapter of Acts describes the descent of the Holy Spirit, birth of the Church and the outline of Christian life practiced by Jesus’ first-century disciples. Pay close attention to the outline of Christian life described in today’s reading. Note the repeated references to bread. The disciples devoted themselves to “the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42) and they “broke bread at home” (Acts 2:46.) These references point to both Christian fellowship (we love to eat!) and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The early disciples took seriously Jesus’ command to, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

    • Are you devoted to “the breaking of the bread”? How important is it for you to regularly receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion?
    • Prayer: God of Grace, thank you for the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Thank you for sustaining me through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

GPS – 11/9/22

Wednesday, November 9 — John 6:1-15

In The Gospel of John, we don’t find an account of Jesus breaking bread and sharing wine at his final meal. Instead, we read that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and taught them about being a servant and loving one another. However, the account of Jesus feeding the multitude in John 6 is filled with eucharistic images. The primary image being that Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks before distributing them to the gathered crowd. Then after the meal, Jesus builds on the theme by saying, in John 6, verses 35 and 48, “I am the bread of life.”

    • Read John 6:25-59. Think about how Jesus is “the bread of life” for you. Think about how Jesus is bread of life for the world. How are you sustained by “the bread of life”?
    • Prayer: Live-Giving God, remind me once again that you provide everything I need to experience abundant and eternal life. Feed me with bread of life today. Amen.

GPS – 11/8/22

Tuesday, November 8 — Luke 22:14-20

According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus was gathered with his disciple to celebrate the Passover meal, when he broke the break and shared the cup with them. He told them that the bread was his body, and the wine was his blood and that they were signs of a new covenant God was making. The terms of the covenant were the same, but this would be a covenant for all people. Holy Communion is called The Eucharist in many traditions. “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving” and refers to Jesus “giving thanks” before breaking the bread and sharing the cup.

    • Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion (The Eucharist) is an act of thanks-giving. In prayer, give thanks for the gift of God’s saving grace through Jesus.
    • Prayer: God of Salvation, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the sacrifice of his body and blood. Grant me the courage I need to live fully and faithfully every day. Amen.

GPS – 11/7/22

Monday, November 7 — Exodus 34:10-28

The Passover was the defining moment for the Israelites (see Exodus 12). They were instructed to observe the Passover “a day of remembrance for you … as a festival to the LORD.… Observe it as a perpetual ordinance” (Exodus 12:14). To this day, the Jewish people gather to celebrate the Passover and remember that God saved them. In the Passover, they remember and renew the covenant that God made with them. In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we follow the example of the Israelites. We remember that God has saved us, and we renew the covenant that God has made with all of creation.

    • The covenant is this: God promises to be our God; we promise to be God’s people. How are you keeping your part of our covenant agreement with God?
    • Prayer: Covenant-Making God. When I remember that you have sent Jesus for the salvation of the world, I am thankful. Help me keep my part of the covenant. Amen.

GPS – 11/5/22

Saturday, November 5 — 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The conclusion of the apostles’ fund-raising efforts is focused as much on God as it is on the Corinthians that the apostles are trying to influence. It is about God’s blessings and the Corinthians’ relationship with God. Ultimately, the Corinthians’ generosity — and ours — is an act of worship. We glorify God when we trust and obey. (That’s why we receive tithes and offerings in worship services.) Take special note of 2 Corinthians 9:11-12, which includes this promise: “the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God (emphasis added.)

    • Reflect on your whole life, including your giving. How does your whole life glorify God?
    • Prayer: Glorious God, at my best, I give you all the glory. Grant me the courage I need to glorify you with every aspect of my life, including my financial resources. Amen.

GPS – 11/4/22

Friday, November 4 — 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

Another reason that Paul and his associates are receiving a collection for the saints in Jerusalem is that it is a ministry (see 2 Corinthians 9:1). We often think of financial contributions to the church from a transactional perspective: paying for a service we receive. But generosity is not only a spiritual discipline, it is also a ministry. Like other kinds of ministry, God uses our generosity to change lives — including our own.

    • How has your life been changed by someone’s generosity?
    • Prayer: Almighty God, sometimes I forget how powerful you really are. I forget that you can use my gifts to change the world. Help me to remember and trust you with my life. Amen.