Saturday, October 31, 2009
Today's reading - Acts 10:44-48 (NIV): 44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47"Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
When friends at church say they haven’t seen me lately, I tell them to look up, that I am normally perched upstairs at the media desk. I lead the media worship team and enjoy developing graphics & visual worship elements to enhance the theme of worship and message that our pastor has chosen.
What I like most is watching the Holy Spirit at work through our pastors, or the singers or the worshippers. This scripture tells us that the believers with Peters were astonished the Holy Spirit poured out even on these gentiles. Some Sunday’s I am in awe and astonished seeing the Lord at work! The spirit is working in hearts, for prayer and tears and smiles and nods of heads all occur each week.
From my view upstairs, I see the newness of life in every age group. When the young man about 12 years of age in the ‘traditional’ service goes to pray at the altar and then brings his offering to the table I am witnessing powerful work.
When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon people, they are changed, and can’t be kept hidden. Holy Spirit people are the light of the world, the messenger of the great ‘I Am’ and the ones entrusted with speaking in whatever tongue that is needed to exclaim salvation is ours because Jesus Saves.
Step away from the worship service sometime, or climb up into the balcony and just watch how God works through all elements of worship. Know every aspect of the service is anointed, don’t rely on the sermon alone to please you, or the hymn or song that is sung, or the scripture passage that was chosen. Ask for and rely upon the work and power of the Holy Spirit to anoint your pastor and your congregation so that all that come will be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Dorothy D. Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, MO.
Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 29:11-14a NIV
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
When our youngest son David was living at home, we used to spend hours together putting puzzles together on our kitchen table. Whenever I work a puzzle, I think about all the time we hovered at the table, searching for that one missing piece. Have you ever felt that way about your life? Have you ever wondered why some things happen the way they do? Is there one missing piece you are struggling to find to complete your life’s puzzle?
Sometimes, God’s plan for our lives and our own life plans do not seem to match up. Our David had a lot of health issues to overcome in the first few hours of his young life. This was not a part of my pregnancy plan. I wanted David to be born healthy and strong. Yet, he became very strong amid the physical adversities he endured. We do not always realize that our struggles will give us the spiritual muscle we need to survive and thrive in a world that doesn’t always listen. I admire our son’s tenacity in the midst of adversity today. I hate it when he struggles with his health, but I love his inner strength and endurance. This can only come through the resilience that is borne from pain.
The prophet Jeremiah spent forty years in the wilderness of Judah, beating his head up against a brick wall, trying to get the people to listen and repent. He was obedient to God’s call, even in the midst of his own personal suffering. Trapped within the captivity of human complacency, tormented and rejected by his neighbors, friends and family, Jeremiah never gave up on God’s plan for his life. His future and hope was planted in God’s Word alone. From a human perspective, I’m sure it must have been hard for Jeremiah to see. Yet, he knew if he continued to call on the Lord and pray with a sincere heart, that God would hear and answer his cries for help. Only God can bring you out of the personal captivity you find yourself in today, and into His eternal provision.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a little like a captive under house arrest, waiting rather impatiently for my body to mend after surgery. When I look at my life’s puzzle, I realize that God’s plan for my life and my own personal plans do not seem to match. I realize the Lord will give me the strength I need for each new day, and this puzzle will fit together beautifully when I am able to fully let go and trust Him completely for my future and hope. He is strengthening my faith muscle today. This finished work of art may not look the way I had imagined it, but in the Master Artist’s eyes, it will be perfect.
This is my prayer for today – to let go completely and trust God to complete His work in me in whatever shape and form He wishes. Will you join me in praying for God's will to be done?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
© Copyright 2009, Deb Spaulding
All rights reserved
Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today's reading - Acts 10:42-43 (NIV): 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Peter has been speaking truth in the verses we have covered over the past few days and including today’s selection. Here, Peter is telling the disciples that God appointed Jesus Christ as judge and they are to preach this message to the people. They must be wondering how this message would be received by those who were not yet believers and rightly so. This message was not new, it had traveled ahead of them and stories had been told and some had faced much opposition, persecution and even death.
I was raised to think for myself but also to respect authority; an example would be to respect the decisions of the leadership within the congregation of which I am a member. I may disagree with a decision or program that is new or changed, but I should respect those in leadership roles that were willing to make the tough decisions. The disciples know that God had been speaking to and working with Peter preparing him for their new assignments and by listening they are beginning to respect him as a result.
It is human nature to judge what we think should or should not be done, whether something is right or wrong or form personal opinions of others when we don’t know the total picture. Here the disciples are being told Jesus is the ultimate judge anointed by God. Their assignment is to preach it! Jesus will forgive sins but if people don’t know that they have no opportunity to believe it. Spreading the good news begins with this assignment, one spoken by God to Peter.
Looking forward to my assignment.
Dorothy Drago Brucks
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Today's reading Acts 10:40-41 (NIV): 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
The fall leaves are flying around Raintree Street with fury. They were so pretty for a few days and now they are wet, in our gutters and on the ground. That means Saturday we have work to do. When I pulled into our drive way this afternoon and saw the overflowing gutters I just cringed.
Fall is bitter sweet in my opinion as I love the aroma’s, the memories of marching band festivals and opportunities to snap a beautiful photo of nature vs. the huge leaf piles and clean up work that has to take place. Seems like the leaves never end and they are everywhere.
The same is true with God; He is everywhere and He never ends! Jesus also had bittersweet moments. The joys of seeing people believe in Him as their savior vs. the bitterness He must have tasted while on the cross. People flocked to Jesus all in a fury and He experienced storms on the Sea of Galilee to the soldiers hunt in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The disciples had many memories of his fall, just as I do for the leaves that have fallen. Jesus took the fall for us at the end of a powerful ministry that changed the world forever. The disciples must have cringed as they faced the empty tomb. Who is going to clean up this mess on the roadways in Jerusalem they may have been asking each other. Some of them saw only misery ahead rather than remembering the sweetness of His presence.
Then there were those that God chose to see Him - the beautiful, colorful risen savior that took the fall for us. Perhaps this weekend as you clean out your gutters the leaves will remind you of the wetness and dampness Jesus took away when he died. He left his chosen ones the sight to see and understand. He has chosen us to see and experience Him.
What do you see when you look at the fallen? (Leaves or Jesus either one)
Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, Mo.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Today’s reading - Acts 10:39 (NIV): 39"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,
As I was preparing this evening to read the scripture and begin to write this devotional, the very first verse in the next section took my breath away. As I kept reading to select the passage to write about, I kept going back to only one verse. My breath was quickened again with the next reading.
Although the second sentence stopped me in my tracks, I believe that I am to focus on ‘we are witnesses of everything he did’. Imagine, you and I as witnesses to all the good that is done in Jesus’ name in the world today. Everything that the Lord does in the universe, you and I are witnesses to! This is powerful, because the scripture can speak to us and be valuable in our lifetime.
If the Lord allows me to be a witness to all of His goodness that is in my sphere of influence, then I have a debt of gratitude to offer to Jesus Christ. Gratitude that multiplies 10 fold in me deepening and growing a burning desire to tell people about the goodness that Jesus offers us.
I know that the Lord lives and works in my life, but I also know that I fall short of sharing that witness with others. I am going to begin to pray about that. I am going to begin to ask God to use me to share the love of Jesus with someone else. I am going to do this because ‘they killed him by hanging him on a tree.’
What have you witnessed today that you need to tell someone?
Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, MO.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Today’s reading - Acts 10:34-38 (NIV): 34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
The devil does have power. There is plenty of evil in this world, way too much actually. Christian believers can Rejoice however, for God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit power and sent him into the world to conquer evil. We can Rejoice!
The grave has been conquered and the power of the risen Lord fights evil on our behalf. This good news is for ALL – God sent His message to all people of Israel, missing no one. We are challenged today to spread the gospel to all so that they may hear it. We must Rejoice in knowing the message did not die or fizzle out in those first few decades and the message is still clear and we are the messengers. We must take it to all to hear, Rejoicing as we go.
Dorothy Drago Brucks
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Today's reading - Acts 10:30-33 (NIV): 30Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.' 33So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
Times are changing in Israel and so are the minds and attitudes of people, including Cornelius and his family. For Cornelius to even believe let alone say “we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us” is a huge change.
Having faith means going beyond beliefs and ideas and rituals, it means actively living life as God directs. It means to respond to God’s calling to live as a Christ like servant. We must seek to be in the presence of God every waking moment. Is that even humanly possible? As we seek the Lord let us keep praising Him, let us not leave Him, let us put our faith into action and discover the true blessing of the presence of God.
Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, Mo.