Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Anticipating More"

Today’s reading: Acts 9: 7 – 9 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

We know in yesterday’s scripture reading that Saul had an encounter with Jesus because they spoke to one another. In these verses the men only heard they did not see what was seen by Saul, but it is safe to say they saw (witnessed) what happened to Saul as they led him on into Damascus. Verse 17 which we haven’t read yet, confirms that not only did Saul speak with Jesus, he saw Jesus as He appeared to him.

Phil and I have two dogs, both boxers that we adopted through a rescue organization. I love them both, they have a way of getting really close to you, love on you, shake that hind end of theirs, perk up their ears and you just know they depend on you for everything in their life. That is a great relationship and a great friendship to have.

Jesus has great relationships and friendships also. He gets just close enough to you, whispers He loves you, tells you He died for you, shakes with delight when you speak to Him, perks up His ears when you pray to him and you just know He depends on you to accept the love He has for you.

We have the opportunity to see Jesus in the scriptures. We also see Him in the love of others, in their actions and in their spirit. We must get up off the couch to see Jesus, if we aren’t getting up earlier on Sunday for worship, perhaps we should.

Relationships take work; each must give 100% to the relationship for it to flourish. We just can’t have a great relationship with only part time investment. Saul, a non-believer in Jesus as the messiah, was serving God as a Pharisee in the only may he knew how. His friends were now assisting him down the road towards a relationship that will forever direct the Christian faith.

Anticipating more!

Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, MO.

Friday, October 09, 2009

“Suddenly – death – prayer”

Today’s reading: 3As he (Saul) neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Tons and tons of rain just kept coming and coming across Missouri all day yesterday and all night last night. Heavy downpours drenched every speck of dirk and filled every sink hole and the James River has overflowed its banks into the driving range across the highway. Some reports say up to 9 inches and more fell in 30 hours. That is a ton of rain bringing havoc to everyone.

The rain turned into thunder storms around 10 PM and sky began to light up. I don’t believe that is the type of storm Saul was experiencing however. He was traveling, so most likely it was day time. The word suddenly takes on meaning here; it means this light from the sky (in Saul’s mind) came out of no where for now reason – bam – it was there. It shocked him so much he fell to the ground.

With the storm yesterday also came sudden death, three young teens were killed in an auto accident due to the slick pavement. I imagine as friends and family began to hear this sudden tragic news, they fell to the ground. I know I would have if it had been my children or friends. I was stunned not even knowing them.

One moment our lives are moving right along and the next moment, suddenly everything changes in an instance. Forever changed! There are probably a lot of questions of ‘why’ being lifted upward in the aftermath of this storm. Saul had every right to ask ‘who are you Lord” because he was stunned and thrown to the ground and heard a voice - something he never expected.

The families and friends of these teens need our prayers. I pray that they will look to the Lord for their strength and question him when they feel the need. Not only question why but question the Lord to help them, to ask Him to stand beside them, to carry them through this awful storm and tell them what to do. The Lord is our light from heaven, we know that, but not everyone does. Saul didn’t know yet when the light suddenly came out of nowhere. As a result of this tragedy in southwest Missouri, it is our responsibility to pray them through this time.

In offering my prayers I fall to the ground.

Dorothy Drago Brucks

Aldersgate UMC

Nixa, MO.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Breath of God"

Today’s Reading: Acts 9: 1 – 2 1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Have you ever been on a rampage to get something done on time? Or perhaps you have watched an episode of Bridezilla? Or you have received an ugly, hateful phone call from someone you don’t even know, yelling and threatening you.

People want control. People think their opinions are right and sometimes will barrel right through another person to get their point across wanting things their way. Have you sat at an athletic event when the fans don’t like the referee’s call on the final play? Choice words come firing out the mouths of parents, friends, community members, students with some of them breathing fire like dragons. (Remind you of Saul?)

Why is it that when we think we are ‘right’ some just keep pushing other people’s buttons? Control! Saul continued his murderous threats against the Jews who had become Christians, he sought the help of the high priest so he could arrest them and takes them as prisoners to be tried and killed. The determination and zeal of Saul in these two verses must be turned around, it simply isn’t right. We should be exclaiming the good news as profoundly as we do our complaints.

To put this scripture to work in our lives, let’s take a moment and think about the unchurched in our communities. We could ask a friend to mail an encouraging letter to someone; we could seek the support of the congregation to invite the unchurched to visit some Sunday morning. Instead of trying to be right all the time, we could pray Father; forgive me, for I have not introduced anyone to you this week.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must tell about our relationship with God, remember our spiritual gift of kindness when talking to difficult people, draw on our relationship with Jesus to make right choices, think spiritually and converse encouragingly with those around us. We should breathe the breath of God in our everyday conversations as strongly as Saul did his threats.

Dorothy Drago Brucks

Aldersgate UMC

Nixa, MO.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Transforming Power"

Today’s Reading: Acts 8:36 - 40 36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

The Holy Spirit is God’s greatest gift to us as believers in Jesus Christ as our savior. When we receive the spirit we receive the giver also. The eunuch wanted more than to believe, he wanted a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Notice he did not ask Philip to baptize him, he asked him why shouldn’t he be baptized? Totally different question.

So Philip did not hesitate, he went to the water and baptized the eunuch and the spirit was present as they came up out of the water. Philip did not deny him baptism because of who he was or where he was from, for baptism is for all believers. Baptism of the spirit connects us forever to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we are given the gift of eternal life.

On a personal level, I know with certainty that I am a different person because of the holy spirit. He is constantly guiding me and helps me through the struggles of life and he brings joy into my life. My mother passed away two years ago at the age of 88. She had been healthy and had every memory imaginable until a virus attacked her intestines as a result of high doses of antibiotics. It was a senseless virus that took her earthly life.

She was a believer, loved the Lord and knew she would be seeing Jesus soon, she just needed to let go of me. That night, I crawled into the hospital bed with her, I told her I knew God would take care of me, so we prayed out loud together, asking the Holy Spirit to come and to take her to Jesus. I found out later, that earlier that day she had asked three people that visited her to be sure to take care of me.

You see, the power transforms us, takes us through our lives and teaches us to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Although I didn’t see the Holy Spirit take my mother I sensed his presence and he assists me every day so that I can go on rejoicing in the Lord, just like he did for the Ethiopian eunuch in this scripture.

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"Teachable hearts"

Today’s reading: Acts 8:30-35 (NIV) 30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."

34The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

To some degree there is a teacher in me. I seem to be drawn into starting groups or studies, get them on their feet and then God calls me in another direction and off I go. Example, I had felt the calling to start a new Sunday School class a few years ago, so I began to process of choosing a topic, getting a couple people interested, advertised and began the class. It took three different launches to get off the ground but we made it and the core of that group is still together today.

As the class grew, it filled with men and women, couples, widows, singles and they were all older than me. I found the age thing a bit strange as I felt most of them were much more capable of teaching than myself. I soon found out the people had hearts ready to hear the gospel. We used the bible as our studying, usually a particular book.

There was one particular retired woman in the class who knew the scriptures well and always contributed. One day she told the class that she had never been baptized and wanted to know what everyone thought. Out of that discussion it was decided they wanted to study the trinity. So I sat out to study and prepare and four weeks later we were taking on the trinity. The class was somewhat like the eunuch, having read the word but not yet understanding how some parts fit together.

God provided a spirit-filled Philip to help the eunuch to understand the coming of the messiah. When a person is ready and open to listen to scripture, God provides them a way, a friend or leader to help instruct them. God also provides the means in which to prepare, study and teach. As we take the opportunity to admit we don’t understand, we are taking another step in our spiritual journey with our savior. It is essential to learn of the savior and to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. How would we have known if we had not heard? How would we have heard if someone had not read? How would we have read if someone had not listened? Take a few minutes today to read and then another few minutes to listen and another few minutes to tell.

By the way, 2 years later, at age 77, she was baptized in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit!

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"Go - and stay near it."

Today's reading: Acts 8:26-29 (NIV) 26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

Earlier in Acts we read that the good news would be spread to the ends of the earth. Biblical commentary tells us that it was believed that Ethiopia was to the ends of the earth. I wonder if Philip knew how far he was to go, the scripture doesn’t say, it only tells us that Philip received a divine direction to head down the desert road. And so he did.

Philip was willing to do this for Jesus. He wanted to give his all to Jesus and carry the message of salvation to everyone; it didn’t matter to him where or when, only for whom mattered. Philip trusted the Lord to give him the Holy Spirit to understand the message of scripture and the message of salvation. Philip was living in God’s will, he was free from repression, quilt, sin in his life, he was living for Jesus.

Communion Sunday is a day for me to take a deep look at who I am and what I do before I ever step up to the altar to accept the gift of Holy Communion. I want Jesus to be the person in my life that I look to as the only example of what I should be. I want my ambition to be His ambition for me. I must be living in God’s will so that I can be free to accept the elements of Holy Communion.

Jesus, gave everything for me, all that I am and all that I have or desire to become must be based on living my life for the Lord. In hearing the divine calling to come to the table of communion is much like Philip’s calling. He sets out on his way and it isn’t long before he see’s a man in a carriage reading scripture and the spirit spoke to Philip saying ‘go to that chariot and stay near it.’

God calls each one of us to the table and desires us to accept the gift of his body and blood. He wants us to stay near him, and he made a way for us to do that. He also wants us to understand His love for us. Receiving communion is a spiritual act of acknowledging Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. I am called to the table to lay myself down at his feet, share with him my frailty and seek forgiveness for my sins. I am like the Ethiopian Eunuch; I have come to worship and am moved to read the scripture. It is at this table of Holy Communion that we receive the spirit in yet another way. Go to the table and stay near it!

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

"In Peter and John's Footsteps"

Today's reading: Acts 8:18-27 (New International Version) 18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

24Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me."

25When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

Simon must be a bitter man. Something or some situation in his life inflicted him with evil spirits of jealousy and cold heartedness. He is wanting it all and is willing to offer money for whatever it takes to be in power. Some people just don’t get it, and that is truly sad.

I love watching “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” and tonight’s episode was especially meaningful as the home was built for a local family here in southwest Missouri. The family on the receiving end of the gift was in need and I admire that builder and all of those people that put in their time, goods and equipment for free for this deserving family they had never met. They get it!

Peter told Simon that he needed to pray for forgiveness for money can not buy God’s work. He still hadn’t faced the fact that the Lord was graciously giving the Holy Spirit to those that became believers with sincere hearts. Each one of us is given the opportunity to share God’s love and how He has blessed us. Giving of our time and energy and resources does make a difference. The disciples were making a difference by continuing Jesus’ ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit.

You and I can begin to breakdown cycles, the cycles of poverty, hunger, inadequate housing, and families with no electricity or water. The United Nations has chosen this Monday, October 5th to be World Habitat Day - a day to stand up and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere. By writing about this in today’s devotional is to raise awareness about this global problem. It is my first step in making sure that everyone in my realm of influence knows there is a way to assist and see that everyone everywhere has a safe and decent place to call home.

John and Peter kept preaching the gospel message because the Lord sent them; where ever the Lord sends you to assist others, go, take the step to share your heart and your time, God will bless your endeavors however large or small they may seem to be. Most of us will not be able to build a home for someone in 7 days for free and pay off mortgages and give full college scholarships, but we can give where the Lord wants us to. Blessings to you as you continue in Peter and John’s footsteps in sharing the gospel to many.

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, Mo.

If you desire more information about Habitat for Humanity check out their website: