The table is set. Happy Thanksgiving!
Full reading: Psalm 105:1-6
Verse of focus: “Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered.” Psalm 105:5
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“Remember” is one of God’s frequent commands.
- “Remember the Sabbath day.”
- “Remember the Lord your God.”
- “Remember his wonderful deeds.”
- “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt.”
- “Remember the days of old.”
- “Do this and remember me.”
- And many, many more.
Why are we commanded so often to remember? Simply because we are forgetful!
And not just the where-did-I-put-my-car-keys kind of forgetful, but the oh-no-I-forgot-how-much-God-loves-me-and-how-much-he-has-done-for-me kind of forgetful. So we retell stories, reread our journals and diaries, and rehear about the incredible miracles and works God has done among us at Hope.
The way the Bible uses the word remember has a deeper meaning, too: not just recalling the past. We are “members” of the body of Christ, so to “re-member” is to let God re-connect us, for God to call us to re-commit, to re-join, to let God make the stories of the past become our stories too. To remember is to get washed up in the whole history of Lutheran Church of Hope, and the church of all time, in order that God might beckon us into the wild and beautiful future he has in store for us
Take a moment today to remember all God has done for us!
Prayer: God who calls me to remember, I confess I am forgetful person. Write your command on my heart so I may live a life of thanks and praise. Amen.
Full reading: Psalm 104
Verses of focus: “These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” Psalm 104:27-28
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Have you taken a moment to look at your surroundings lately? Take a drive outside of the metro and see what you observe. Nature is robust this time of year. Fall’s vibrant colors are only one reminder of God’s great masterpieces.
Psalm 104 brings our attention to all of God’s great creation, from the grass of the field to the stars in the heavens. When we acknowledge and name the amazing works of God, we quickly realize how big and remarkable God truly is and some of the things that trouble us begin to melt away in comparison.
The Lord’s Prayer beckons us as a church body to this adventure of naming God’s goodness: “Hallowed be thy name” is another way of saying, “God, you are holy and remarkable, all of your creation shows us that!” And when we ask that God would “give us this day our daily bread,” we look to God to provide for all of our needs, as he has done for all of creation since the beginning of time.
During our Building Hope Together campaign, may we trustingly look to our Father to provide all that we need to continue to fulfill the mission he has set before us – reaching out to the world around us and sharing Jesus’ incredible love.
Prayer: God of all creation, help me to name all of the ways you are remarkable! Help me to see your goodness and the abundant ways you have always provided. Open my eyes and my heart to ways I can continue to receive your daily provision and, in turn, offer it up for the world around me. Amen.
Full reading: Psalm 104:1-13
Verse of focus: “From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.” Psalm 104:13
I love pushing back from the Thanksgiving dinner table completely satisfied – satisfied with a (too) full stomach, satisfied with the family gathered around the table, satisfied that the harvest is over and satisfied with the blessed life I’ve been given. The psalmist here writes that even the Earth itself feels satisfaction because God supplies its most basic needs: water, and as a result, the Earth yields fruit, harvest and abundance, and even the Earth returns praise and thanksgiving to God.
Sometimes life goes well. We see the world around us is well-watered, full and satisfied. Sometimes life seems like it’s on a sure course for destruction. We see a violent and hurting world, and our souls cry out with discontent.
Are you satisfied or do you harbor discontent in some corner of your soul? Discontent itself isn’t negative – it often points us to places in our life where we need to make changes. A holy discontent is one way God can get our attention. Our lives should encompass both satisfaction for the God who creates and provides, and a holy discontent until all people have learned of this loving God.
Where is God calling you to channel your holy discontent, to give, love and serve, to engage one step deeper with the body of Christ?
Prayer: Lord who is Creator and Provider, plant in me a deep satisfaction for all that you do and provide for me and for the world. Plant also a holy discontent that drives me to want to share this amazing news with others in my life. Amen.
Full reading: Isaiah 55:10-13
Verse of focus: “…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
Have you ever tried playing with a boomerang? No matter how hard you try to throw it, no matter how far away it seems to travel, it always returns to your eagerly awaiting hands.
Our God goes to the furthest reaches of the universe for his one and only purpose – to gather his people and claim them as his own, bringing them into his fold. God will and is most definitely completing what he’s set out to do – reconciling the world back to himself through a relationship with Jesus. God’s purposes will not return to him empty, and each of us is invited to be a part of that mission wherever we are today.
What can you offer to further the kingdom of God? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, God has given you a purpose, his purpose in reconciling the world to himself, and his hands will not be left empty. Keep your eyes open to those everyday encounters that are holy encounters, God’s purposes in sending you into the world to share his love.
Prayer: God of reconciliation, give me the passion and desire to be a part of your holy purposes, the purposes that you have set out long ago. Help me to see your Kingdom opportunities in my everyday life as I join you in your mission. Amen.
Full reading: Malachi 3:8-12
Verse of focus: “‘Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.’” Malachi 3:10
God loves being held to his promise!
Interesting challenge God is laying out, isn’t it, to put him to the test? In other biblical stories when the people test God, he is none too happy about it (Psalm 95:8-11). But here God is encouraging his people to discover whether or not he will keep his promise to be an abundant God.
Also interesting is that God does not promise his abundance to us and let us remain simple observers. He calls us into the game. He calls us to trust. He calls us to risk. God will not let us pray, “God provide for me!” and at the same time leave us trusting ourselves to provide for our own need. If we want in, God wants us all in. If we want God’s provision, he wants to provide it all!
No prayers like: “God, my salary gets me this much, you do the rest.” “God, my spouse fulfills me mostly, you do the rest.” “God, my achievements provide most of my satisfaction, you provide the rest.”
Instead, “God, all I have has never been mine, but is yours, and it’s wildly more than I ever would need. Show me who I might bless by sharing it!”
Whatever meager things we give, God will multiply abundantly, and you will be free to practice joy-filled giving because you’ve discovered God will always provide at the right time, in ways that will always surprise you.
Prayer: God of abundance, I accept your challenge to learn to trust you more so I may see the overflowing blessings you want to bestow. Amen.
Full reading: Romans 15:7-13
Verse of focus: “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
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Have you seen a great action-packed movie lately? One that has a suspenseful plot and draws you in to its twists and turns? The movies I love the most are the ones I can’t quite figure out how they will end. The characters and the plot keep me guessing!
The apostle Paul’s life would make a great action-packed movie on my list. There is no doubt his life turns would keep anyone guessing! He goes from persecuting Jews to preaching the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection to them. Then he opens the invitation wider to the Gentiles. In the midst of these crazy twists and turns, Paul experiences persecution and imprisonment.
Paul’s life was filled with turmoil, yet he had a joy and a peace that transcended it all and a hope that never failed. How on earth could he be sustained through such surprising events? He explains when he prays for his fellow believers in Rome: “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Paul’s trust in the risen Jesus helped him navigate through life as the plot thickened. May we always keep our trust in Jesus, the only one who can bring us joy and peace, no matter the twists life’s plot may bring.
Prayer: Lord and Author of my life, help me to trust you more fully, so that I can be filled with your joy and peace and have a hope that is active through all of life’s adventures. Amen.
Full reading: Hebrews 13:1-16
Verse of focus: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
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The most common words from a 2-year-old? “No!” and “Mine!”
Learning to share is one important skill parents and preschool teachers focus on teaching their young.
Most of us know this skill but may still struggle with practicing it. Maybe we’re not sure we have anything of value to share. Maybe we’re afraid we don’t have enough to spare. More likely, we simply don’t see the grand abundance all around us – the rich treasures that lie within us – none of which we’ve accumulated for ourselves, but which God, for joys’ sake, pours out with extravagance.
No one ever became poor because they gave. In God’s kingdom, it’s just the opposite. Often, when we feel we need something, we work and work to gain it, but come up empty. Instead, give to someone else the very thing you need, then you’ll really see God work and fill your life.
Prayer: God of abundance, help me to see my life as a life of abundance I can share with others. Amen.
Day 12: Friday, Nov. 15
Full reading: Romans 12:9-21
Verse of focus: “Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13
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Don’t you love being invited to someone’s house for a meal or a party? Do you have the same love for preparing your own home for a dinner party or cooking a meal for friends? Probably not. Isn’t this an interesting phenomenon many of us experience?
Those who study our culture have noted that we as a society get together much less than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Our fast-paced world often leaves us eating fast food in our cars instead of meals around the table with family, friends and neighbors, let alone strangers! But Paul knew that the act of preparing a meal and inviting others into our lives slows us down and makes us attentive to the people around us like nothing else can.
Paul reminds the Christians in Rome to continue to invite people to share meals and life together as a normal, regular practice of life. This reminder pertains to us as well. So break out the good china or paper plates, order a pizza or grill a steak. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but invite someone to share life with you – people you know and people you don’t. Pull up a chair and share some stories around the table. Make this a habit in your weekly rhythm. Your life will forever be changed.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, remind us of all the invitations you extended to strangers in your midst. Help us to make a habit to gather for meals together and extend invitations to unlikely people as a witness to your presence and your Kingdom on earth.
Full reading: Acts 9:36-43
Verse of focus: “So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.” Acts 9:39
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Have you ever wondered whether anyone notices the little things you do to show that you care?
In this story from Acts, a woman has died and is deeply mourned by the whole community. Why? What was her great work among them? Preaching to thousands? Baptizing the masses? Leading with charisma, the great movement of the early church?
Nope. Nothing like that. She was beloved for making clothing and sharing it among a few widows. So often it goes in the kingdom of God. God takes small things like clothes and demonstrates his life-changing, eternity-altering love through them.
We are tempted to believe it is only the few who do out-of-this-world large things who do great things. But over and over, God shows us and calls us to the small things. So believe, and do with all your heart the small things.
You’ll be surprised one day in heaven when someone unexpectedly taps you on the shoulder and says, “Because you smiled at me; greeted me; invited me; prayed for me; listened to me; hugged me; donated food, clothing or money to me; or any of the other quiet behind-the-scenes acts of service you’ve done, I am spending eternity in heaven.”
Prayer: Lord of unnoticed things, keep me mindful that the only audience I need to have acknowledge my efforts is the Audience of One – YOU. Amen.