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Beautiful Gifts

Posted in Daily Devotions

Make vows to the LORD your God, and perform them; let all who are around him bring gifts to the One who is awesome. (Psalms 76:11)


If you were asked to buy the tackiest gift imaginable, what would you buy? Martin Marty was once invited to a postnuptial party. He was asked to bring “a gift in the worst possible taste.” The purpose was to embarrass the newly married couple. They would open their gifts standing in front of their family and friends and “ooh and aah” as they opened each tacky item.

Marty found a Dollar store and began his search for the tackiest gift. To his delight he discovered a yellow plastic dove with a silver beak hollowed to hold a small plant and chained so it could be suspended. This was the perfect gift for the occasion, he thought. No one would have a more ratty gift than his. Then, an amazing thing happened. Expecting to be embarrassed at the checkout counter, he was instead surrounded by shoppers. They wanted to know where he had found such a beautiful object. Several of those doves got sold that day.

We have lots of options on how we use our gifts, and talents, but none of our gifts are ugly. Just like the shoppers who admired the plastic bird, our gifts are beautiful in God’s eyes when our talents are used for good.


God of all gifts, bless me as I use my talents for sharing of your love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Death & Taxes

Posted in Alternative Custom Weddings

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)


The foolish bridesmaids in our scripture reading today were not ready. They went to get more oil for their lamps. Meanwhile, the wedding had already started. Matthew 25:11 says, “Later the other bridesmaids came also saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” The bridesmaids were not allowed to enter the wedding celebration.

We also will not be allowed to enter God’s kingdom unless we are prepared. We have all heard the phrase–there are two things in life that are certain–death and taxes. In our American culture, it seems to be a taboo to talk about death. We often talk about people passing away. People don’t pass away. People die. Death is often is a gift. For some, death is a relief from a hard life. For others, death is freedom from physical pain. And for still others, death is a rebirth into a new life that is eternal.

Life is such a fragile thing at best. We should be ready to meet God in this life and the life to come. Matthew 25:13 says, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”


God of all things, may I not live in fear of death, but may I be ready for my time to come to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Be Prepared

Posted in Daily Devotions

Look! Here is the bridegroom! (Matthew 25:6)



Matthew 25:5-9, “As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” The foolish bridesmaids were not ready for the delay of the bridegroom. They were not prepared for the unexpected.

How about us? Are we prepared or ready to deal with the unexpected turns and twists of life? I am convined that if, as young people, we had written a book aount our life we could never have forseen the paths -both good and bad – we have ultimately taken. Life certainly has not gone as I would have predicted. Many of us can tell similar stories and many of us can share some very painful unexpected experiences.

Jesus Christ will help us deal with the unexpected if we allow him to walk with us everyday of our lives.


God of all people, please let me never walk away from your Son, so that I can have him at my side when dealing with the unexpected. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Doubts

Posted in Daily Devotions

Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38)


In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown and Linus are walking over the baseball field to make sure everything is ready for the new baseball season. Charlie Brown goes over to the pitcher’s mound and says, “My pitcher’s mound looks great.” Then Linus and Charlie Brown go to the back stop, “Our ol’ backstop seems to be in good shape.” Charlie Brown asks, “How about the outfield?” Linus replies, “All mowed, Charlie Brown, it’s beautiful! And we’ve raked the infield so it looks better than ever.” Charlie Brown says, “Then all we have to worry about is the sound system.” Linus says, “The sound system?” Just about that time Lucy belts out, “This year let’s try to get the ball over the plate, you blockhead!” Charlie Brown concludes, “The sound system is still working.”

I’m not sure that Charlie Brown and Linus really believed the sound system was working, and the disciples also had a hard time believing that Jesus was alive. Luke says, “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and they thought that they were seeing a ghost.”

The disciples were having a hard time believing. The disciples were trying to sort out the meaning of Jesus’ death and the reports about Jesus’ appearances. Was it a hoax? They were not completely immune to superstition. Perhaps it was some kind of ghost. Suddenly it happened. Jesus himself stood among them. The disciples were startled and frightened. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself…”

The response of the disciples is a sermon in itself. Luke tells us that they “disbelieved for joy…” It was simply too wonderful to be true. He was alive and he was with them–right there. It was too good to be true.

Some of us may have a hard time believing. Will we allow Jesus to take the doubts away?


Heavenly Father, please take away my doubts.  In Jesus Name, Amen.


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Help or Hinder

Posted in Daily Devotions

Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 15:38)


In our scripture reading today, Jesus was at the height of his popularity. People were following him everywhere he went. It was difficult for him to get away even to spend some quality time alone in prayer or with his disciples. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and people flocked to him. This attention excited the disciples. Jesus’ ministry was booming. Everything was running smoothly. At least that is what the disciples thought.

The disciples had been with Jesus for a long time. Now, Jesus felt it was time to tell them what would happen next. He gathered the disciples around him. He said to them, “[I] must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering, be killed, and the third day be raised.” Wow! The disciples were not expecting anything like that. They just looked at each other, too shocked to say anything. The disciples thought Jesus would come to power, and they would hold positions of importance in his kingdom. They never thought he would suffer and die.

Leave it to Simon Peter to speak what the other disciples were thinking. Peter took Jesus aside and said, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Peter spoke harshly to Jesus.

Has anyone ever said something to you that reminded you of someone else, or of another experience? When Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus heard the voice of the tempter. trying to temp Jesus as he had done in the desert at the start of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block for me.” Ironic that Peter the Rock was also a stumbling stone for Jesus.

Do we help or hinder God’s work?


Heavenly Father, through your inspiration, may I do more to help than hinder your work.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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