The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

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Last week’s reading from Judges told about Samson’s very special birth and calling on his life. Though God calls each of us before we are born, there are only a few persons in the Bible where one’s birth is spoken about in some detail. Samson is one of them, and of course, so is Jesus.

Samson was given a very special gift of strength to win victories over the wicked Philistines. While he was physically stronger than any other person, he had one big weakness. He craved and lusted after foreign women, such as today’s story about the mean and crafty Delilah. The story is so intriguing to read that a famous movie was made out of it in 1949 entitled, “Samson and Delilah.”

Verse 20 made me very thoughtful. “He did not know that the Lord had left him.” How sad! He needed to have stayed close to another Bible verse that I love: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Touch here for today’s reading – Judges 16


Tuesdays are dedicated to the Writings in the Hebrew Scriptures, those books with the exception of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible)
the Prophets and the Psalms.
In the season of Advent to Epiphany this year, we read Judges and Proverbs, 4 to 6


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

Warmed by the Fire of the Spirit

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2017 was a year of violent hurricanes in United States and the Caribbean. Families went without electricity for a very long time; in the case of Puerto Rico, large parts of the island were without power for many, many months after Hurricane Maria in September.

This is what happened to Babylonia and its capital, Babylon. This wicked city boasted for a long time in its power over the Hebrews. God’s people were forced into exile in Babylonia. However, like a great power failure, the Babylonians became very weak before the greater power of King Cyrus of Persia. In 539 BCE, Cyrus entered the city and almost completely destroyed it. He freed God’s people to return home to their own land.

Unlike Babylon in verse 14, with “No fire to sit by,” the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in your heart is the greatest power there is. Sit in the quiet and be warmed by the fire.

“Carry so much quiet inside you that you have some extra calm to share…” Safiyah Fosua

Touch here for today’s reading – Isaiah 47:5-15


Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets
In the season of Advent to Epiphany this year, we read Isaiah chapters 40 to 55.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

The Whisperings of God

Touch here for today’s reading – John 1:43-51

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Have you ever played the Telephone Game? This is the one where you sit in a circle as one person begins by whispering a phrase very fast into the ear of the next person. That person tries to figure out what was said, passing it on to the next person, and so on. It’s fun to see what the last person thought was said, comparing it to the actual phrase that the first person used.

I thought of the telephone game when I read about one new disciple of Jesus telling the next one who Jesus is. Rather than weakening the sense of who Jesus is, with each new introduction of Jesus, some clearer and more wonderful statement is made about Jesus, finishing with “You are the Son of God!”

When we stay close to the Word of God each day, who God is for us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, becomes clearer and more wonderful. Listen to the whisperings of God in your heart, telling you of God’s love for you.


Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels, in Year B, the Gospel of Mark


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

The New Passover

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The tenth and final plague against the Egyptians is about to happen: the Angel of Death will soon fall upon the houses of Egyptian families and kill the first born boys. How will death know the difference between the homes of Egyptians and those of the Hebrews? Today’s reading tells what Hebrew families are to do. Hyssop, a lovely shrub that grows around the world, is to be dipped into the blood of the lamb to be eaten and then smeared on the doorposts of Hebrew houses so that death will “Passover” those homes; thus came the name for this celebration of freedom.

Hyssop was dipped into vinegar and smeared on the lips of Jesus on the cross in John 19:29. St. John wants us to feel the connection with the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the Hebrews and the vinegar smeared on Jesus’ lips. The Resurrection of Jesus: the New Passover.

Touch here for today’s reading – Exodus 12:14-28


Saturdays are dedicated to the Torah Portions
read along with synagogues throughout the world.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

 

 

God’s Great Plans for You

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Twelve power-packed verses take us to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. First, his baptism in the Jordan where Jesus “links arms” with our Jewish ancestors remembering how they marched to freedom through the Red Sea. Second, a time when Jesus was all alone with temptations coming against him in the desert; he trusts only in God, his Father. Third, the meeting of the first disciples as they leave their fishing nets to fish for people.

Jesus wants to spend today and every day with you as you become more and more his dearest friend. Being Jesus’ friend is so wonderful! Think about Jesus being with you and His Spirit inside you. God’s got great plans for you!

All day today, know that God is saying to you: ““You are my dearly loved child, and you bring me great joy!”

Touch here for today’s reading – Mark 1:9-20


Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels.
In this year B in the three-year cycle, we read the Gospel of Mark.
In the season Epiphany, we read the first three chapters.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

Sifting through the Silence

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It was my very first day of class in seminary, toward the start of the twelve-year long course of studies to ordination. We sat with wonder and excitement as one of our teachers came into the classroom. What was he going to say? How would our journey of learning begin?

His gentle voice filled the silence of our waiting. “Remember: the only teacher of your soul is the Holy Spirit.” Then he simply walked out! There we were at our first class that lasted about a quarter of a minute!

John today speaks about “discerning the spirits.” As though sifting soil, the Holy Spirit gently shakes our soul like soil, teaching us about how to sort out moods, attitudes, feelings and what others say, to see where God is present and where God is not. Take some time to sift through the silence and listen to the Spirit speak.

Touch here for today’s reading – 1 John 4:1-12


Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament except the Gospels.
In the season of Advent to Epiphany, we read the letters of John and Jude.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

 

 

The Great Kite

Touch here for today’s reading – Psalm 54

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The writer of this psalm has big problems. Like a tornado, his mind spins with thoughts about his enemies and how they are getting to him. Yet greater than all his enemies put together, he rejoices in the power he finds in the name of the Lord. So awesome is this power, that Jews refuse to pronounce the sacred name of God.

With Jesus, we don’t need to be so careful. He urges us to speak out his holy name in prayer. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is right here for you. Like a great kite that we can ride high, the wind of the Holy Spirit blows strongly, lifting us from the effects of any mean people in our lives—and even protects us from our own bad moods!

This prayer and all the psalms are prayer-links for Jews, Moslems and Christians—for everyone in the human family. Pray with longing that harsh tensions and hurts in world religions be healed.

 


Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms: one a week over the three-year cycle.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick