Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 90 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day ninety of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have read the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible for old time's sake you can follow this link:



Day 90 Readings: none (grace day)

So we have completed our journey through the Bible--stem to stern, soda to hock, A to Z, Alpha to Omega, soup to nuts, Dan to Beersheba, etc., etc. We have consumed an enormous amount of history, instruction, law, grace, prophecy, exhortation, etc., etc. We are not the same as when we began.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it years seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:9-11, NIV


For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything that is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:12-13, NIV

My hope and prayer is that your life, your faith and your times of devotion will be richer for having invested yourself and your time in this discipline of the Christian faith. Thank you for your efforts and your faithfulness. You may be asking yourself what you might do next. One possibility is to hone in on a part of scripture that caught your attention as you zipped by. Another possibility is that you would join a small group and continue to maintain a discipline of immersing yourself in scripture. You might even go back to stem, soda, A, Alpha, soup and/or Dan and start again. You need not rush through this time. However you invest yourself into scripture you will be availing yourself of God's work and God's purposes. Wise investment.

If you have found this exercise to be good and helpful I would ask of you two requests:

+ Find others who might be open to this discipline and encourage them to do it or, better yet, do it with them.

+ I would love a note or some form of feedback about how this discipline affected or blessed you. It would be nice to have some testimonials to share with others considering this endeavor. You are welcome to send them to

Have a blessed day. e-vos will return to their more regular midweek emphasis focusing on the upcoming Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) texts beginning next week.

God, thank you for this time in your word. Accomplish your purpose in us. Bring your living and active word to bear in our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 89 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-nine of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have read the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible for old time's sake you can follow this link:



Day 89 Readings: none (grace day)

We have finished. Well done. It seems only fitting to quote St. Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV

When I ran cross country and track in high school I didn't often find myself at the very front of the pack. Winning wasn't something that I was able to claim. But finishing, yes indeed. I never dropped out of a race. It might have taken a while but I was able to finish the race (and often even to claim I fought the good fight).

We have been on a tear through the pages of scripture. The goal, as evidenced by the name, was to get through the Bible in 90 Days. I took more like 97. I didn't win any races but I finished. Hopefully you did too. If not, keep going. Keep going.

We don't win things by reading scripture, nor by praying properly or often enough, nor by attending the right church or attending often enough. We don't win. The winning took place on a dark Friday long ago. The winning took place through an empty tomb on a joyous Sunday long ago. We don't win. But we are called and invited to follow after the one who conquered sin, death and the devil. We follow after the one who won.

We follow by taking up our own crosses. We follow by singing, prayer, learning and acting. We follow step by step, day by day, mile by mile. Eventually we will receive a crown of righteousness from Jesus. And what shall we do with that crown? Perhaps we can take a cue from the elders in Revelation 4 and cast them at the feet of Jesus. He deserves honor and praise. He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith. We receive his reward. It is only fitting we return it back to him.

God, thank you for carrying us through your Word and through this life. Help us always give praise to you. Amen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 88 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-eight of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Revelation. (66 down, 0 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 88 Readings: Revelation 18:1-22:21

Included in today's reading is the following:

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Revelation 22:17, NIV

The point of these 90 days of reading is to lift up the promises and goodness of God. God says "Come!". Those who hear are invited to echo the call to "Come!"

Our thirsty and parched world is invited to slake their spiritual thirst.

Our own thirsty and parched selves are invited to slake our spiritual thirst.

The gift is offered to us freely but it was not free. It came at great price paid by Jesus. We ought never to forget what it cost (and thereby diminish the cross). We ought never try to supplement the payment (which also would diminish the work on the cross).

When Jesus said "It is finished." he meant just that. The work is done. The reward is ours. God is good. Our thirsty souls need thirst no more. Thanks be to God!!!

God, quench our thirsts. Help our refreshed souls cry out in thanksgiving and joy that all who might would come. Amen.

Day 87 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-seven of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Jude. (65 down, 1 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 87 Readings: Jude 1-Revelation 17:18

Included in today's reading is the following:

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude 20-21, NIV

The exhortation is for the reader to remain in God's love. Where do we find God's love? How do we keep ourselves in it? Perhaps that is like the questions of the Reformation when they were trying to decide what was necessary for church to be acceptable.

Article VII of the Augsburg Confession says:

1 It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among who the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.

2 For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. (Tappert).

God's love is found in the right and healthy practices of the church: in Word and in Sacrament.

As we linger in God's Holy Word (and not just a 90-day sprint at a time but over a lifetime) we are reminded of the good and faithful promises of a loving God that find their enthusiastic answer in Christ.

As we are baptized into the cross and the empty tomb we are brought into the fullness of God's love. It was for that very love that God sent Jesus to the cross. It was through that very love that God emptied the tomb and attached us to the resurrection promise.

As we come to the holy meal we are reminded that Jesus' body and blood was given for us and for the forgiveness of sin (see Luther's Small Catechism). God's love heals, restores and renews our faith every time we partake of the meal.

Lastly, we find expressions of God's love in the gathering of God's people. Where two or more are gathered in Jesus' name Jesus is there too. When we pray and sing and encourage one another (even when stammering and off-tune and inelegant) God's love is to be found. We continue to gather and all the more as we see the Day approaching (see Hebrews 10:25)

God, keep us in your love. Pour your mercy into our lives again and again even unto eternal life. Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 86 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-six of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John and 3 John. (64 down, 2 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 86 Readings: James 3:13-3 John 14

Included in today's reading is our source of confessional liturgy:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make [God] out to be a liar and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10, NIV

There is a world view that wants to regard all people as good through and through. We were perhaps fashioned that way but things have deteriorated. We no longer purely and solely reflect the image of God. The image has gotten scuffed and broken along the way. Our intentions aren't to delight God and to love the rest of humanity with pure affection. We have fallen and we cannot fix ourselves.

All the self-esteem in the world can't cover up sin. Our best intentions are insufficient. Left to our own efforts and understandings we will surely self-destruct.

We are given a way out. When we confess our sins God will forgive. Just as the thief on the cross when we cry "Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom" Jesus responds with an invitation into paradise. Jesus kingdom will surely come with finality and resounding triumph at the end. But for now it comes too. Jesus' kingdom entering into this broken world moves us closer to paradise.

Denial of our broken nature makes God a liar and leaves us stuck. Abiding by God's rescue plan sets us free. We are being made free from the bondage to sin. Thanks be to God!!!

God, thank you for speaking hard truths into our broken lives. Help us confess and be made new. Amen.

Day 85 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-five of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Hebrews. (58 down, 8 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 85 Readings: Hebrews 1:1-James 3:12

Included in today's reading is a marvelous passage that helps me keep other-minded:

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:1-2, NIV

A glossary:

"loving each other as brothers" (in Greek "philo + delphia" literally "love of brother", where the city gets its name)

"to entertain strangers" (in Greek "philo + xenias" literally "love of stranger or alien")

"angels" (in Greek "ahngelohs" literally "messengers")

The message is to love those we know (those in the family) and to love those we don't (those who aren't in the family yet?). Perhaps it is to love others period regardless if they might become part of the family or not. In so loving all, particularly the alien ones, people have encounters with the messengers of God (think of Abraham with the visitors at the oaks of Mamre and think of the sheep in Matthew 25 who encounter Jesus in every far-flung, cut-off, afflicted person they help).

If we want to know God, love God and hear from God then we ought to be serious about loving those made in God's image (those we know and those we don't). It is too easy, too shallow and too restrictive to love only those who will love us back (Jesus says even the pagans do that in Matthew 5:46-48). If we want to be closer to perfection (as our heavenly Father is perfect) then we need to allow Hebrews 13:1-2 to be brought to bear on our lives.

God, thank you. Help us love and help us hear. Amen.

Day 84 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-four of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon. (57 down, 9 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 84 Readings: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-Philemon 25

Included in today's reading is a marvelous passage that has been good for me over the years when tempted to get covetous:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. Fro the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:3-5, NIV

Now I will grant that this is a much more palatable verse as one who was born into a wealthy country as a person of privilege into a family with the ability to provide for me. I would be leery of preaching this verse carelessly at someone in a much different situation. God cares very much about those without on the fringes and on the brink. How we treat such folks and such situations says much about how we treat Jesus. Matthew 25 and James 2 have much to say to us in those regards.

But for myself this verse convicts me. It is easy to look at what the neighbors have and want some of that. I have so much food at my disposal (and in my disposal but that is another matter). I have sufficient clothing. I have a roof over my head. I have people who love me dearly. I have so much more than I could ever deserve. They all come from the hand of our gracious God. How sad if I spend my time and thoughts desiring what I don't have rather than being exceedingly grateful for what I do have.

Rather than seeking a share of what someone else has I would spend my time much better seeking what I do have with those in need.

When we pray for daily bread it is not just for us. That bread is sufficient to share (see any of the loaves and fishes examples).

We are so blessed. A spiritual discipline of contentedness a worthy goal. Perhaps that will bring into our lives measure of the godliness that is so needed.

God, thank you. Stir us to thank you all the more and share deeply of your bounty. Amen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 83 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-three of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. (51 down, 15 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 83 Readings: Galatians 3:26-Colossians 4:18

Included in today's reading is a marvelous passage that sustains me and comes to mind often:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-6, NIV

Paul's letters, as many letters of this time apparently, always had a section with thanksgiving just after the greeting. Paul has a deep love for the church at Philippi. He considers them partners. He sees them as having a long-standing work together. The work was given by God and will be brought to completion by God. This deep and abiding communal work is the basis of their relationship.

You and I (and all Christians) are partners in a deep and abiding communal work as well. We ought to thankfully remember one another in prayer to God. We ought to pray joyfully for one another. We were partnered in the gospel at the baptismal font. God began a good work in us when we were joined to Christ (clothed in Christ it says in Galatians 3:25). Our lives are marked by the cross. We are set free and called into the work of the gospel. When we die we are still clothed in Christ (whether there is a pall on your coffin or however your remains are disposed). God is faithful until our dying day bringing to completion the work begun in us in baptism. And when we are resurrected in Christ (joined to the empty tomb as much as to the cross) God's work in us will be complete. God will not let go of us until that day.

Since our futures are secure (up to the grave and beyond) we are free to joyfully serve. To joyfully serve with each other. To thankfully lift one another to God. Our confidence isn't found in us or our synod or our pastor. Our confidence is in God who declared us worthy and set us on a path that will be completed. God will never forsake us. God will never stop loving us. God has made us God's own.

I am thankful for you. I am thankful for your partnership in the gospel. God will complete what God has begun in you.

God, thank you. Continue your work. Amen.

Day 82 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-two of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed 1 and 2 Corinthians. (47 down, 19 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 82 Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:1-Galatians 3:25

Included in today's reading is a marvelous passage that even inspired the name of a Christian musical group:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, NIV

I have a study note in my Bible that talks about how people would hide their valuables in earthen (clay or terra cotta perhaps) vessels so that thieves would not easily find them. This is not quite what Paul is talking about here. Although the image is a nice familiar thought from which to spring.

Back in the garden of Eden God formed all things. Part of the forming of all things was forming Adam out of the dirt. His name sounds like the Hebrew word for ground. Eve was formed from one of Adam's ribs. Adam and Eve are earthen vessels. As are all of us. We are made out of common elements. The ingredients that form us are nothing special. Yet God chose to form us all in the image of God. The treasure of God's likeness is put into vessels of earth and clay.

We will be pressed upon; hard pressed at times. But we will not be crushed. God's image will persist as will we. We may find life puzzling and confusing at times, perhaps often; and at times even perplexing. But we need not despair. The mysteries of all things are most assuredly no match for the one who created all. We will be treated unfairly and unjustly; perhaps even to the point of being persecuted for our faith. No matter what happens to us, self-inflicted or afflicted from without, God will not abandon us. We will be knocked down and trampled; perhaps even struck down. Mortality will win the day, at some point, in all of our numbered and sin-stained lives. But we will not be destroyed. God's resurrection hope and the empty tomb are our hope as well.

Because we know, honestly, who we are and whose we are we can carry ourselves differently in the world. We can endure the worst the world has to offer. We can turn the other cheek. We can pray for those who hurt us. We can carry a washbasin and towel and wipe the feet of those who walk all over us. We can pray with Jesus "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing." And even if they do we can still pray "Father, forgive them anyway."

You see we carry in our earthen frames the truth and hope that this dying world so desperately needs. We can bear life to them.

God, thank you for your abiding love that you shower upon us and invite us to shower upon the world. Amen.

Day 81 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty-one of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Romans. (45 down, 21 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 81 Readings: Romans 15:1-1 Corinthians 14:40

Included in today's reading is Paul's discussion about divisions in the church (see 1 Corinthians 3:15-15). Just a few days ago (Day 77) we had Jesus prayer for unity among believers. How is it that we are so quick to choose sides and factions and favorites in spite of the prayer of Jesus and in spite of the counsel of Paul?

Have you had someone (or some people) in your life who have truly and profoundly demonstrated Christ to you? Perhaps it was in the way they loved? Perhaps it was in the way the shared (generosity of things or experiences). Perhaps it was in the way that they spoke or how well they held their tongue. Perhaps in how they prayed or cared or lived. In some way the way they carried themselves carried Christ to you. Thanks be to God. If you can, I would encourage you to thank them. You must hold them in a special place in your heart. You would be rather inhuman if you did not.

Now suppose that another comes into your life and in some way takes their place. Perhaps it is a new pastor in place of the one who touched you so. Perhaps it is a new roommate replacing the one who showed you Christ so clearly. Some how, some way, by virtue of office or time or exposure or community this new one has come who, in your estimation, doesn't model Christ so clearly.

Isn't this how it happens? We make a profound connection with the one. With the other we find difficulty connecting. It may be something real. It might be something we create or perceive in our imagination. It might be that God has sent the second into our life as well but we would rather be where we were comfortable than where God has intentionally placed us.

The point is this. God is the one at work in us. If God chooses to work through people (as God so very often does) then that is God's choice but our reverence, allegiance and deepest affections are to be for God. If a church or a community or a relationship with God is built so squarely on a person (other than Jesus) so that when the person leaves or disappoints us (as will so often happen) the structure collapses than it was built on sand not solid rock.

That is Paul's point. That is Jesus' prayer. That is how we ought to be.

God, thank you for those who have shown us the way. Help us never allow others our ourselves to undermine or obscure The Way--Jesus. Amen.

Day 80 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eighty of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Acts. (44 down, 22 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 80 Readings: Acts 28:17-Romans 14:23

Included in today's reading is one of the great promises in all of scripture:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, NIV

The promise is not that everything that happens to us will be good (as if God would or could shelter us from every consequence of this sinful and broken world or our sinful and broken selves). The promise is not that in some things God will be concerned and work towards the redemption of us (as if the smaller or more trifling or less holy parts of us are somehow beyond God's concern). No, the promise is much stronger and better than those.

The promise is stated explicitly for those who have been called according to God's purpose (which you have, refer to your baptism). The promise is for those who love God (which you do). Our love for God is not complete and consistent and thorough. That is a work in promise. We love because God first loved us and that responsive love is alive and well in you. God brings to completion the good works that God began. Your love for God will come to completion.

In the meantime you do love God and you are called according to God's purpose. Therefore, God will work all things for the good. That doesn't mean that everything that happens to you is good or God ordained--clearly it is not. But that means that God can be at work in whatever happens and bring to bear redemptive and healing power. No matter what comes your way God can bring from it for you and through you. That is a deep and abiding promise. Lean into it.

God loves you and the world so much that even the hard, painful, bad things aren't beyond redemption and the building of a better world. God is at work in your life. For your sake and for the sake of the world God is at work in and through your life. You will suffer some hard and undeserved things. You might question if and why God sent something your way (see Job and his friends). You might feel set upon beyond your ability to bear. In the midst of those times I hope and pray that you know God's love, peace, comfort, presence and the surety of all of God's promises including Romans 8:28.

God, thank you for your redemptive ways no matter what comes our way. Amen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 79 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-nine of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 79 Readings: Acts 16:38-28:16

Included in today's reading is perhaps one of the greatest preaching moves in all of scripture. In Acts 17 Paul is in Athens. He finds himself at the Areopagus (aka Mars Hill) talking to some of the thinkers of the day. He tells them that as he was admiring the city he found an altar to an "UNKNOWN GOD" and that he was about to make known to them that which they worship as unknown. Absolutely brilliant.

How many of us take the time to get to know the mission field around us? Do we study its nooks and crannies hoping to find ways to reach out to them? Do we take the time to talk to any and all who would hear about the hope we have and hope that they would have in Christ Jesus? Do we have the courage to speak not for our own sake but rather for the sake of the other?

How do the folks in our culture (and even us at times truth be told) worship a god who is unknown to us? Do we help people come to know that God or do we heap judgment on them and us? What might we learn from Paul in this sermon tucked away in Acts?

There are many who don't know God. Will we let the Holy Spirit stir us to pass along the faith?

God, help us to know you and to make you known. Amen.

Day 78 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-eight of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 78 Readings: Acts 6:8-16:37

Included in today's reading is Peter's daydream vision on the rooftop. He is sleeping around lunchtime. Three times he has a vision of a giant sheet being let down with all manner of animals--clean and unclean. A voice calls out to him "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." He refuses to avoid eating anything unclean. The voice says back that Peter should not call unclean that which God has declared as clean.

Before Peter could sort out this bizarre vision he is led to Cornelius' house (a Gentile's house) and it becomes clear that the vision wasn't about food at all but rather about expanding God's grace to include even the Gentiles. God is declaring that all people are invited into the good news of the Gospel. It is good news for us, as well, that God expanded the kingdom to include us.

We might protest that we're not worthy of God's grace and mercy (and we'd be correct) but God would say to us "Do not call anyone (even yourself) impure that God has made clean." In baptism we are made clean. God's grace poured out into our lives brings cleansing and healing and saving. God has laid a claim on our lives.

Were Peter here today he might well say to us "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation who fear God and do what is right." We are forgiven and made clean. May we all know that joy and extend that good news to all who would hear. May we, who were once unclean ourselves, never declare others unclean but rather pray that all may know God's mercy and love.

God, thank you for declaring us clean. Help us do the same to all through the goodness and grace of the good news of the gospel. Amen.

Day 77 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-seven of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We are now done with John. (43 down, 23 to go) If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 77 Readings: John 15:18-Acts 6:7

Included in today's reading is Jesus' prayer for unity among the believers. John 17 records Jesus praying immediately prior to his arrest. He prays for his disciples but then he goes on to expand to pray for those "who will believe in me through their message" which would be all of us. Jesus, God incarnate, prays for us.

Jesus doesn't pray that we would be wealthy or particularly healthy or that we would have ever desire of our hearts. Jesus prays that we would be one with other believers. I am sure his prayer for protection from the evil one for the disciples would apply to us as well. But that is the prayer. Jesus does not pray for the things we so typically pray but for us to be safe and to be one.

The prayer for safety is one we would all generally accept. The prayer for unity might be a different matter. We don't get to pick who follows Jesus and who is acceptable to Jesus. If we grant Jesus' prayer for unity then we are accepting whoever Jesus might choose to accept as one with us. That has proven difficult over the years as demonstrated by wars, denominational rifts and family feuds. But THAT IS Jesus' prayer. The last words he uttered before his passion began in earnest in the gospel of John.

God, thank you for making yourself known to us through Jesus. Protect us from the evil one and grant that we may live into the unity Jesus desires. Amen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 76 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-six of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 76 Readings: John 6:1-15:17

Included in today's reading is the woman taken in adultery (although it is not in some of the earliest manuscripts as well as others). At some point it got included in the manuscript and eventually settled in this location.

Jesus was teaching and a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery was thrown down before Jesus. She was probably not clad with much. She was noticeably missing her partner in crime (hard to commit adultery without another person). She was guilty and trapped and liable to being stoned to death as per the Law through Moses.

The teachers of the Law are trying to trap Jesus. Either he teaches contrary to the Law or he lacks the compassion and care that was his reputation. This is akin to when people tried to trap Jesus with if he paid the Temple tax or not. Jesus writes in the sand (much speculation about what he was writing) and then invites the one without sin to throw the first stone.

Jesus doesn't take himself up on his own offer. He refuses to condemn the woman. Others, realizing their own sins, have also left her alone as they shuffled away.

Jesus doesn't ignore the sin but he does allow forgiveness and restoration to trump the harsh application of the Law. This is a foreshadowing of the transaction on the cross.

God, help us to find ways to let your mercy and grace restore others. Teach us to seek not to condemn but to restore. Help us accept your forgiveness and leave our own ways of sin through your power. Amen.

Day 75 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-five of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have completed Luke (42 down, 24 to go). If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 75 Readings: Luke 20:20-John 5:47

I have always liked the encounter between Jesus and the Sadducees about marriage and the resurrection. The Sadducees don't believe in the resurrection (which is why they are sad, you see) and so decided to put Jesus to the test with their thought experiment.

Moses taught that if a man died without a son his brother was to marry the widow and help carry on the name (see Deuteronomy 25:5). They tell Jesus about a man who was married and died without a son. His brother married and also died without bearing a son. All seven brothers were married to this woman (I would think about four brothers in the other brothers would become wary and maybe even make some sort of black widow comments). After all sever brothers have died the woman dies too. The question is whose wife is she since all were married to her.

The Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus with human understanding and human wisdom about heavenly things. Jesus answers them by making the case that God is the God of the living and not the dead but that marriage will not persist as we understand it.

We do like the Sadducees. We decide what we think to be true and we try to bend and twist Jesus into our expectations. We try to make God into our own image rather than let God continue to shape us into the divine image. Just as every culture creates images of Jesus that look like them every person tries to form Jesus to think, act and respond like them. God must laugh at our folly when it isn't enough to bring forth tears.

God, help us to be open to how you are calling us to be and where you are calling us to spend eternity. Thank you so much for the resurrection hope. Continue to stir us to life and be our God oh God of the living. Amen.

Day 74 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seventy-four of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 74 Readings: Luke 10:1-20:19

The appointed lessons for today include Luke 15 (the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son which some (including Lutheran music group Lost and Found) refer to as the lost chapter of Luke).

The story of the son who takes all of his inheritance, squanders it, comes home in desperation and receives a joyous reception is all of our stories. We have all received so very much from God. We have all allowed our gifts and inheritances to be squandered poorly--often in self-serving ways. At some point, hopefully, we recognize the bankruptcy in our lives. We can come to the place of returning to God seeking whatever might come our way. God opens the floodgate. God runs up the driveway to meet us. God gives us more than we could ever imagine or deserve. God throws us a party when we deserve so very much less. Thanks be to a gracious and generous God who lets love and reconciliation trump justice and just desserts.

The story of the broody older brother is all of our stories. We have seen others who seem to be let off the hook too easily. We never got that special treatment. No one threw us a party like the one our reprobate brother got. If being in the party means being with the likes of "those people" we'd rather stay outside pouting thank you very much. God will plead and beg with us to be more like God and the father. We might or we might not. The end of the story of the older sibling isn't spelled out so clearly.

God never forgets us as we wander nor as we brood. God desires peace, love and reconciliation. Will we enter more fully into God's good plans?

God, teach us to seek you when we lose our way. Help us lean hard into your mercy and grace. Shape our hearts that we might celebrate when our wayward siblings stumble home too. Amen.