Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday - Mary's Song

Prayer:   We thank You Lord for all the wonderful experiences we have had in our lives.  Help us to recognize Your hand in our lives so that we can truly say, “we are blessed”.  Our soul praises You,  Lord God of Hosts,  from this day forth and forever more.  Amen.

Read St. Luke 1: 46 – 56

The writer Luke calls these next ten verses Mary’s Song.   Upon arriving at Elizabeth’s house and hearing Elizabeth bless her,  Mary bursts forth into song and prayer. 

The ancient Church began to call Mary’s  Song,  “the Magnificat”.  Magnificat is a Latin word meaning “praise”…. really really big praise.    The Gospel According to Luke is the only place to have “the Magnificat”,  which means Luke must have had a direct link  to Mary the Mother of Jesus… or at least to her family.  

Go find a couple of different translations of the Bible and read this Magnificat.  What is similar about the song and what is different?  As you read the Magnificat,  remember that Mary was an early teenager.  What joyous words to come from one so young.

Remembering that Hymns are prayers put to music,  it is interesting that a lot of composers have put the words of the Magnificat to music.    Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a score of the Magnificat.      In our current Presbyterian Hymnbook,  the Magnificat is Hymn 123  “My Soul Gives Glory to My God”.  On Sunday,  read through this hymn.  

What song would you burst into praise if God called you to a special task?
May we live every day knowing that we are in the  presence of God.

Prayer:  Our souls praise You,  O Lord,  and our spirits rejoice that You are God our Saviour.  You have done mighty things for all generations and Your name is Holy.  Your mercy extends to those who love You with whole hearts and minds and souls.  Blessed are we in Your presence.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tuesday - a Blessing

Prayer:  O God, the giver of all good gifts,  we thank You for all the blessings which You have given us.  Give us always contented minds, cheerful hearts, and ready wills, so that we may spend and be spent in the service of others after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  (FMP 1964).

Read St. Luke 1: 39 - 45

Mary gathered up her things and went to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Elizabeth and Zechariah lived in a town in the hill country of Judah.  While we don’t know the distance to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s  house,  it was a distance where young girls did not travel alone.  Mary would have had someone travelling with her.   Or she would have found a group travelling to this town in the hill country of Judah.

The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth and in a loud voice she exclaims to Mary:
1. Blessed are you among women
2.  blessed is the child you will bear
3.  Why am I so favoured that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
4.  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

Right there,  Mary must have found a sense of relief.   This older woman,  Elizabeth,  is saying that Mary is blessed.   And Mary is blessed because of her belief in what God said to her. 

A blessing is a understood to be a communication of life from God.  With life comes vigour and strength which brings one peace of mind.  God is the only one who can bless.  Priests bless by being God’s representative.    Yet,  here is Elizabeth blessing Mary.    For Luke to write this down at all was amazing!    This is an amazing statement of faith from Elizabeth.   We certainly know that she had a tremendous faith in God. 
Prayer:   Divine Healer,  move through every part of our bodies and our minds dissolving all feelings, thoughts, and patterns of frustration, irritation, and aggravation so that we can turn our frustrations into inspiration and enthusiastic action.  Help to steer us in the direction where our actions will become actualize so that we can share the love and joy  of Christ with others this day.  Amen. 
Many blessings!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Monday - ready to serve

Prayer:  We give You thanks and praise O Lord,  for Your holy name which You have made to dwell in our hearts and for the knowledge, and faith, and ever lasting life, which You have given to us through Your son,  Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read St. Luke 1: 34 - 38

Mary asks Gabriel how she will become “with child” since she is a virgin.   Ooh, wouldn’t you have loved to have been the Lord’s Messenger that would have to answer that simple question!     Fortunately,   Gabriel does not have to give Mary a lesson in biology and reproduction.  Gabriel replies that the Holy Spirit will come down upon Mary.  It means "to betroth." The betrothal was much stronger than an engagement. It was a legally binding promise of marriage. The woman who was betrothed was regarded as though she were already married. The only way to be released from a betrothal was to go through divorce proceedings.   The betrothal usually lasted for an entire year. Yet,  unfaithfulness on the part of the bride was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23-29).
Then Gabriel tells Mary some exciting news – Elizabeth is in her sixth month of pregnancy.   What a delight. 

Mary’s  response is one where we discover Mary’s  faith, humility, and obedience.  She replies, “May it be to me as you have said.”     Nine simple words.    But could any of us today have answered the Lord’s Messenger with this phrase?    I am ready to serve.   Did Mary have the opportunity to say, “no thanks.  Not for me.”  Of course she did.  But instead she said that she was ready to serve God.

The angel then left Mary.

This day,  remember the phrase “I am ready to serve”.   And do!

Prayer:  Great God,  I am ready to serve You this day.   Great God, I am ready to do Your will.  Open my heart and mind and ears so that I may hear Your call.  Amen.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sunday - a rest and sheltering tree

Prayer:  Great God,  You did say to Your people, “Come into a desert place and rest awhile.”  Great God,  we ask that You provide a rest and a sheltering tree for the Missions that provide  this same rest and shelter for people from the storms of life.  We ask that You continue to uphold in the palm of Your hand the work and mission of Winnipeg Inner City Mission,  Kenora Fellowship Centre,  and those Churches that provide food for the hungry and clothing for the needy.  Grant that Your love may be found by all those who cry out to You.  Sustain those who work and labour so that all may be clothed, and fed, and sheltered and the Ministry may not become overwhelming.   Inspire us all to reach out our hands and give aid to Your People.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2012

Two Coloured Wedding Quilt

This Black and White quilt is a wedding quilt for some great friends who married and then moved away to attend school in Ottawa Ontario.

The black and white focus fabric is from the Mark Lipinski's  "Califon" collection by Northcott Fabrics.  It is beautiful fabric to work with and quilt.    The solid black fabric and the solid white fabric are Kona Cotton... equally as wonderful to work with and quilt.

We knew that the married couple were moving away at the time of their wedding,  so I quilted words of encouragement that are needed in any marriage.  Yup,  there are a lot of "I forgive you's"   and "I am so sorry"   followed closely with "I love you".... and peace,  joy,  hope,  enthusiasm,  laughter,  compassion,  gentleness, self-control,  kindness,  good health,  and many blessings.    The quilt block is the traditional Log Cabin -- a reminder for the wedded couple that their home is anywhere they are together.     The centres not only represent the hearth and home but also includes fabric with shades of gray.... as not everything in marriage can be seen as black and white.  In any argument, and especially when two people are newly wed,  there are often moments of shades of gray.   

Quilt Statistics:
Size:   50" x 60"
Quilt Block:    Log Cabin
Quilted by myself on a Brother Nouvelle 1500
Picture taken:  windy day in our backyard :)

Thanks so much to Amy for hosting and creating the Blogger's Quilt Festival!   Wow,  what beautiful quilts are already on her blog.  Thank you so much Amy!!!

And,  I am extremely computer challenged so don't know exactly how to link up to Amy's  Blogger's  Quilt Festival.   
So,  just hop on over to

Many blessings!

Brandon Manitoba

Saturday - Reformation and Preparing our hearts

Reformation Sunday tomorrow.    Reformation.  It seems so long ago in our Church life.  Yet in perspective,  it wasn't that long ago.  And shamefully,  we are dealing with almost the same issues today as way back then.    People working on Sundays and not able to get to Church.   Reformer John Calvin said to the Session that the Church must offer the Word of God to all.... so Worship on Sunday was at 5am (before the Servants needed to start the fires and cooking of breakfast for their Masters),  9am,  Noon,  and then again at 3pm.      Oh if we could have this passion for leading Worship for all God's people today.   We frequently think that the Reformers were just focussing upon the Church and the Sacraments.  We forget that the Church was part of the community.   For instance,     John Calvin  also said that we must educate people.  Calvin stated that everyone needed to learn how to read and write.... and he suggested that there needed to be some sort of grading system and promotion so that people didn't get stuck in the same ol' education.   Today,  how will you become a Reformer?   Look at your community and see what needs doing... then go forth with the love of God to help!   

Prayer:  Almighty God,  our heavenly Father,  You are the only Source of light and life.  Send down upon our Theological Schools – Knox College,  Presbyterian College,  and Vancouver School of Theology—the rich gifts of Your Holy Spirit,  that in them Your truth may be sincerely sought,  effectually received,  and obediently followed.  That in growing measure they may become centres of inspiration and servanthood.  Surround their teachers with wisdom,  zeal and patience.   Inspire their Scholars with the spirit of truth, honour, and humility.  Grant that from all members of the Church which they serve, there may be willing and generous support.   Be with congregations who are seeking  Summer Student Ministers for 2013.   Bless the congregations and missions for the work of Dennis at Knox Winnipegosis, Christian at Kenora Fellowship Centre,  Sampson at Knox Geraldton last summer.   Be with these three in their studies and in their callings.   For the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday - saying Yes to God

Prayer:   Great  God,  we thank You for the birth of Your son.  We thank You that Mary said,  “yes”  to You.  Help us this day to say “yes” to all the taskings that You give us. This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Read St. Luke 1: 26 – 33

Yesterday we read about Elizabeth being pregnant for five months.   In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,  God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth to a girl named Mary. 


Gabriel greeted Mary not with the traditional greeting of “Fear Not”  but of “Greetings, you who are highly favoured.  The LORD is with you.”   Wow.  What a greeting.   God is with Mary and Mary is highly favoured by God.  Wow! 


Mary is concerned as she knows that the only response to such a greeting is faith,  humility,  and obedience.      Gabriel sets her mind at ease by saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary,  you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”   Wow! 

God has given granted His favour upon Mary.


The Messenger, Gabriel,  then tells Mary what will be happening.  She will be with child.  And the name of the child will be Jesus.  And Jesus will rule the house of Jacob forever.


Throne of David hearkens back to King David and his glorious reign (well,  almost glorious reign) of bringing Judah and Israel together to live in peace. 

The House of Jacob image hearkens back to the dynasty of Jacob.  The tribes of Israel (Jacob’s name after wrestling with an angel)  were named after the sons of Jacob.  Jacob had quite a unique life.  He certainly was not perfect by any means but from his family came the faith family of the Israelite peoples.   God’s chosen people. 


Prayer:  Bless the Lord,  O my soul and all that is within me,  bless Your Holy Name.  Bless the Lord,  O my soul, and may I never forget You.  You forgive my iniquities and You heal all our diseases.  You satisfy our desires with good things so that our souls are renewed live the eagles.  Bless us O Lord so that we may make known Your ways to all peoples.  Amen.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thursday - waiting for a blessing

Prayer:  Divine Healer,  we thank You for Your mercies which are new every morning.  For health and strength,  for this day with its fresh opportunities of work and service in Your love.  Bless each one of us, and hold us together in Your love.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Luke 1: 21 - 25

Picture this image …..  the people (men) are waiting outside the curtain for the Priest of the day to come and given them a blessing.  The people are standing with heads bowed waiting for the Priest.    And they wait. And they wait.  But the Priest does not come.   Now these people can not go up to the curtain and yank it open to see what was happened to the Priest, they must wait.   Nor can they call out,  “You whoooo,  are you in there?”  They must wait.
When Zechariah finally came out, he could no longer speak.  He made hand gestures to the people (men) waiting to be blessed and they realized that Zechariah has a problem -- He can not speak.  They then all say that he has seen a vision from God.    
So Zechariah had to spend the remainder of his Priestly duties not speaking (one Sabbath to the next Sabbath).    For you and I,  we wouldn’t think this a bad thing at all but for a Priest (or Minister) that uses their voice,  this would have been an exceptional hardship. 
While prayers can be said internally,  prayers for the people need to be said out loud. 

And when Zechariah went home,  he would not have been able to speak either.  (heh,  heh,  in Elizabeth’s mind,  this might not be a bad thing that Zechariah can’t speak J  )
Then Elizabeth,  Zechariah’s  wife,  becomes pregnant. She remains in seclusion for five months.     Why mention seclusion for five months?    There are no rites concerning the length of time a pregnant woman needs to stay in seclusion.    Sometimes our translation from the Greek is confusing.   The Greek word used is “perikrupto”  which means to conceal or hide.   The word also means “to put something around it”.    As we know that Elizabeth was a woman of faith,  perhaps the five months meant she surrounded her  pregnancy with prayer.  (We will find out tomorrow what happened in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.)
Elizabeth says, “The LORD has done this for me.  In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Prayer:  We pray for Your help this day, O Lord,  as we face the duties that are to be completed this day,  decisions to be made, the temptations that may visit upon us,  the disappointments that may await us. Guide us,  strengthen us,  keep us, and grant that in all things we may act worthily of our Christian calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wednesday - listening with open hearts

Prayer:    Creator,  Sustainer,  Redeemer  You are our joy and our delight.  In You we live and move and have our being.  What ever we are to do this day,  may we do it in Your name.  What ever we are to say this day,  may we say words in Your name.    This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Luke  1: 18 – 20

Zechariah  listened to all the angel has said concerning the name of his son—John.   Zechariah has listened to the angel tell of   the characteristics of his son—a joy and delight and great in the sight of the LORD.  And finally Zechariah has listened to the angel tell of  the vocation of his son—prophet. 

Then Zechariah responds, “But how can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”   Zechariah questions the word of God.

After having quite a conversation with Zechariah,  the angel says, “I am Gabriel…”   The name Gabriel  means God is strong.  Zechariah would suddenly know that this messenger of God is the same messenger that interpreted the dreams for Daniel.   This messenger is indeed from God.  Now Zechariah must be quaking in his boots because he just asked a messenger of God for a sign that what God says will be true.  Oopsie.    To ask God for a sign is to deny God.   Oopsie.   To question God is to doubt God.  Oopsie. 

Because Zechariah questions Gabriel (and most importantly,  questions the word of God),  and asks for a sign that what Gabriel has said will become true,  Zechariah is given a sign.   He can not speak.  

Prayer:   Great God,  when You give us a task may we not say, “we don’t want it”.  Merciful God,  when You give us an opportunity to share the love of Christ with others may we respond in joyful praise.  May we listen for Your voice today with open hearts!  Amen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tuesday - An Angel in his midst

Prayer:  Great God,  we thank You for the times of surprise when we acknowledge Your presence in our midst.  Great God,  in whom we live and move and have our being,  we humbly pray that You guide and govern us by Your Holy Spirit.  That in all the cares and occupations of our daily life we may never forget You,  but remember that we are ever walking in Your sight. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Read St. Luke 1: 11 – 17

On probably the happiest day of his life  as a Priest,  something astonishing happens.  Before Zechariah  can leave the Alter of Incense and go bless the people,  an angel of the LORD appears to him.      The angel stands on the right side of the altar of incense. 
When Zechariah sees the angel,  Zechariah is startled and gripped with fear. 
The angel says, “Do not be afraid!”     We often think that angels,  messengers of God,  are cute humans with wings.   Indeed this is might not be the case.  When angels appear before anyone,  they always say, “Do not be afraid!”    Now, whether that is for the sudden appearance into a room or what the Messenger of God  physically looks like we don’t know.
Then the angel announces that Zechariah’s  prayer has been answered.  He and Elizabeth will have a son.  In the Jewish understanding,  having a son means a continuation of one’s name.   A son also was legally responsible for all the father’s  property at the time of the father’s death.   To have a son was a special blessing in Jewish understanding. 
The angel continues that the son’s name will be John.  This is unusual  as sons were frequently named an ancestral family name.  The sons were named at a naming ceremony which was just after the ceremony of circumcision.  A Hebrew name would have been announced at the time.   The name “John”  is   of Hebrew origins and means “God is gracious”.  The angel saying, “His name will be John”,  takes away the tradition of the father (and family) choosing a name and making public this name in a ceremony.
Yet, the angel also includes a list of instructions of the character of John.
List here the characteristics of John that the angel has stated:

And finally the angel ends by telling Zechariah the vocation his son will have.   John will be in the spirit of Elijah before God by turning the hearts of the people back to God.  John will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.   Wow!   To know all about your son even before he is conceived!

Prayer:  God,  You are gracious to us.  Holy God, You are gracious to us.  Mighty God, You are gracious to us and we give You thanks.  Amen

Monday, 22 October 2012

Monday -- the Blessing

Prayer:  Heavenly God,  we thank You for our father and our mother and our home.  Bless us all and help us to love You and in love to serve one another as Jesus taught us to do.  Give us strength to do what is right today, and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This we ask in the name of Jesus.   Amen. (FMP 1964)

Read St. Luke 1: 8 – 10

Luke continues writing that Zechariah’s  division was on duty.  As a tribesman from the tribe of Aaron (the priestly tribe),   Zechariah was serving as priest before God.  His tasking for this particular day was to go into the temple and burn incense.  Now this just doesn’t mean getting one of those sticks of incense,  lighting it,  sticking it into a sandy pot, and saying a few prayers.   Burning incense in the temple meant creating a fire in a specific altar made out of a specific wood,  placing in the resin of frankincense, all the while saying prayers continually.  
The incense altar was made out of acacia wood.  The altar measured one cubit long and one cubit wide and one cubit high (1 ½ feet long and wide and 3 feet high).    The incense altar had to have horns.  Then the whole altar was overlaid with pure gold.    The altar also had to have two gold rings to hold the poles used to carry the altar.  The altar was put in front of the linen curtain that was before the ark of the Covenant  (Exodus 30: 1 -10)
Incense used had to follow the recipe in Exodus 30: 34 – 36.  No substitutions were allowed!     This recipe was only for temple use.  
Frankincense is a resin from the Boswellia tree (shrub).  The resin is created by workers slashing at the branches of the shrub (trees).   Then resin will slowly drain out of the trees (shrub) and form into hardened tear shaped drops.    The clearer the resin,  the better quality it is for incense. 
After the Priest offered prayers to God,  the Priest would come out from behind the curtain and bless the people.    We know this blessing today as the “Aaronic Blessing”. This is the blessing that is usually sung when a child/person has been baptized.  In actual fact,  this should be known as the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim – Hebrew).   For the people of Israel,  this Blessing is directly from God.  Priests can not bless,  the blessing they give to the people of Israel is directly from God… the priests are just the transmitters.  
There were so many priests during the time of Zechariah,  that this tasking would probably have only happened once in each priest’s lifetime.  So this day had special meaning for Zechariah!
Read Numbers 6: 22 – 27.  This is the Priestly Blessing.  The LORD bless you and keep you.  The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. 
The people do not look at the Priests while they are saying the blessing for two reasons.   First,  the people would look down at the floor so as not to be distracted by the Temple or the Priests (or what they were going to have for supper….).  Second,  the Divine Presence would be shining on the fingers of the Priest as they blessed the people.  And no one is to look upon the glory of God. 

So we end off the devotion today with the people standing with heads bowed,  waiting for Zechariah to come out of the temple and bless them.

Prayer:  Great God,  our heads are bowed in prayer knowing that You have already blessed us through the gift of Your Son,  Jesus Christ our Lord.  Help us to love every one we meet this day and may they discover in us the light of Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Saturday - asking for guidance

Preparing for Sunday.  This week we have been studying the beginning of the Gospel According to St. Luke with the birth story of  John the Baptist. And who doesn't love a good story about how one was born!   The Gospel is the very foundation of our faith.  The Good News of Jesus is what we must share with others..... but I found this week that anger gets in the way of people receiving the Good News.   I've been on the receiving end of anger this week.  Just a couple of words and phrases,  but they hurt to the quick.   This is where prayers of forgiveness come into our lives.   We can keep those ords and phrases in our hearts and become very sad OR we can give our relationships and situations up to God and ask for release from this anger.    Make some time today to hand over all those things in your life that have made you sad or discouraged.   Gratitude is our key to a life lived in wholenes with God.    And we can only live in gratitude when we hand over all the saddness and discouragement.    

Prayer:  Almighty God,  we pray for the guidance of Your Holy Spirit as we seek a new Minister for St. Andrew’s Brandon,  St. Andrew’s Thunder Bay,  First Church Thunder Bay.  You know each congregations special needs and the task that lies to the hands of the Elders and Board and congregation.  In the search,  direct each Committee and give them insight to perceive the leader that You would choose for each congregation.  We ask, O Lord, in this time of waiting that each congregational member may devote themselves afresh to Your service so that nothing be lost of the faithful work of the past but rather that it may be brought to a rich harvest in the years to come.  This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Holy God,  we lift up to You today all the saddness and discouagement that we have burdened ourselves with this week. Be with those who have caused us to be sad or discouraged.  Give to them Your peace and Your love.  Cleanse these thoughts and emotions from our bodis so that we may be filled  with Your strength,  Your love,  Your healing,  and Your gratitude.  This we ask in Jesus name.   Amen.  (adapted from Forward Movement Prayers 1964).

Friday, 19 October 2012

Friday - God continues to Remember

Prayer:  Great God,  let Your Love be so set before our children by lives of love and Your holiness by good examples of virtue,  that the children may be led to love and serve You all their days.   Let Your love be set before the children and youth in Sunday Schools across this land.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read  St Luke  1:  5 – 7

Luke begins the Gospel not with the birth of Jesus but with the birth of John the Baptist.
This is important as right away,  it answers the question of the Messiah being foretold.  Foretold by what prophet?   Foretold by John the Baptist  who announced the coming of the Messiah.  
Luke even gives us the era in which John the Baptist was born and the tribe that he was from.   In the time of Herod,  King of Judea,  there was a priest named Zechariah (the name Zechariah means “Yahweh has remembered”).

Priests were divided up into divisions for the work of God in the temple.   Luke tells us that Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah.    Immediately,  we know that Zechariah came from the tribe of Aaron (the Levites who were all priests).  Each division would take their turns doing the ministry of prayers and sacrifices  in the temple.

Zechariah is married to Elizabeth.  What is even more astonishing here is Luke gives the reader an explanation of Elizabeth’s  heritage.   Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.     Why is this important?   Both parents of John the Baptist were from the tribe of Aaron.    And Luke notes that both parents were upright in the sight of God and observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 
But,  even in all their holiness… they had one major problem.  They had no children.  In the Jewish understanding,  this means that somewhere in their past either they or their parents or their grandparents had committed a sin.  The first blessing uttered upon man in the creation account was to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill the earth.  A large family was a blessing from God.    To not have children, in the time of Zechariah and Elizabeth, meant their family was cursed and they lived in great sorrow.  (Phew!  Good thing we no longer believe this today!!!).

Prayer:  O Lord Jesus Christ,  who did take children into Your arms and bless them,  we pray that You keep our children ever enfolded into Your love. Help them to grow into love of You,  save them from evil and strengthen them against the impulses of self-will.  Inspire all children to a high sense of truth and of the duty of human service.  Give the children grace to follow day by day in the steps of Your most holy life.  Amen. (FMP 1964).

Many blessings!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Thursday - What is in a Gospel?

Prayer:  We give You thanks O Lord for those who wrote Your Holy Word.  We thank You that we can read Your Holy Word any time and any where.   Bless us as we read and study Your scriptures.  And from this study and mediation may we hear Your call to go out into the world and be a light to all peoples.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read  St. Luke  1: 1 – 4

The beginning of the Gospel According to St. Luke is one we don’t not frequently read.     From these first few verses,  we learn many things.    Luke wrote the life story of Jesus for his patron,  Theophilus.     We only know the name of this patron.  We do not know what Theophilus did…. was he a wealthy patron who wanted the life of Christ and the work of the early Church preserved for all to read? Biblical  Scholars do not know.   Was Theophilus a Sadducee who after the death and resurrection of Jesus had a conversion experience and wanted Luke to write down the life of His Saviour.   Biblical Scholars do not know this either.
The most important things to remember is a gentleman asked Luke to write down the life of Jesus Christ and the beginning work of the early Church.      Today,  the writings of Luke are divided into two books;   The Gospel According to St. Luke   and The Acts of the Apostles.
And what of Luke?   Was he a believer or just a scribe writing down Theophilus’ words?    We know that Luke read the Gospel According to St. Mark as his writings are influenced by this Gospel.     We also know that Luke was not a disciple.  Luke did not know Jesus personally but he certainly had read the Torah… the Scriptures of the Jewish faith.    Luke was a Gentile who through the writing of the Gospel wanted others to know and love God in the person of Jesus Christ.   Luke probably lived in Antioch.   What did Luke do for a living? We don’t know.  Luke might have been  a scribe  or a writer.  Frequently we assume that Luke was a Doctor as he includes many scenes of health and healing and food.  It was an ancient Church Father,  Irenaeus, who started the rumour that Luke was a Physician.  Irenaeus thought that this Luke was one of Paul’s  companions.  That Luke,  Paul’s companion,  was indeed a Doctor.    It was Biblical Scholar Henry Cadbury that really sought out if Luke was a physician and Paul’s  companion.  In the end,  Prof Cadbury said that we don’t really know who this Luke was who wrote the Good News of Christ.   What is truly important isn’t what Luke did for a living but the most important thing Luke did was to write about the Good News of Jesus Christ and the beginnings of the early Christian Church.
By writing these two volumes,  Luke stands out as a man of faith who was willing to write down the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ so that all may believe.  This is what is important!

Prayer:  Almighty God,  by the Holy Spirit Your people have been guided to share the light of Christ with the world.  We thank You for those who continue to make available the Bible in all languages and for every nation.  For the work of the Canadian Bible Society.  For the work of each Church that hosts Bible Studies.  Grant to all wise judgement and adventurous faith so that they may lead us forward to greater service and advancement of Your Word.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Wednesday - Withdrawing to pray

Prayer:  Eternal God,  who by Your Son Jesus Christ did establish the family of Your Church in all the world,  breathe upon it anew the gifts of Your Holy Spirit so that ever awake to Your call,  we may go forth in service so that the whole world knows of Your Great love. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

We have been reading about time and time wisdom and remembering to seek out God each and every day so that our hearts are prepared for worship on Sunday.

Yet even with the prioritized lists for getting projects out of the way,  or breaking up HUGE projects into smaller do-able tasks,  we look to the Gospels to find out how Jesus prepared his heart to worship God.

Read  St. Luke  5: 1 – 16

Jesus withdrew to pray. Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed.    We are not told how Jesus prayed or what he prayed about, but here is our example.  If Jesus took time away to pray,  then we must too.

Stephen Cherry asks the question of how do we make sure that we take time each day for prayer and scripture?   For some people,  early morning before anyone gets us it the best time.  For other people,  late evenings is the best time to spend in God’s presence.   For yet others,  standing waiting for the bus is the best time to spend in God’s presence.  No matter what you choose,  make sure that you use this time every day.   Be consistent.   Make time each day for prayers and reading of Scripture. 

Prayer:  Holy God,  remind us that we too need to withdraw to places to pray.  Make us thirsty for Your living word.  Inspire us to rely upon You in all things.   May we live and pray in Your name and for Your sake all day long.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tuesday - of Prioritizing and Blessings

Prayer:  Teach us,  Good and Loving God,  to serve You as You deserve.  Teach us to give and not to count the cost.  Teach us to fight and not to heed the wounds.  Remind us to toil and not to seek for rest,  to labour and not to ask for any reward,  save that of knowing that we do Your will.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (FMP 1964).

Prioritizing.   Most if not all time management courses state that one can manage time better if one prioritizes one’s  projects and events.   Prioritizing means making a list of what needs to be accomplished.     For a lot of people,  this is a great tool and helps us figure out what is the most important project to tackle first and which project to tackle second.   But this is a tool that is  a chronos tool…. it provides us with time limits.   Sometimes our time limits become a burden.  The same way,  not making a list of prioritizing means suddenly burdening other people at the last minute when you can not accomplish your project all by yourself.
The comedian,  Jeanne Robertson,  has a wonderful skit about prioritizing.   She begins her skit by saying where she lives,  when someone gets sick or dies,  food is taken over to the family.  Jeanne specializes in making pound cakes.   One day a friend is sick and Jeanne goes to the freezer and alas,  there are no pound cakes in the freezer.    So Jeanne sends her husband to the grocery with a list of items to make pound cakes.  The only thing that her husband said was he had an important meeting that day so he wanted to be able to check out all the items on the list through the Express check out.
Finally after a very long time,  her husband returns from the grocery store with bags and bags of groceries.   She can’t figure why he is bringing in bags and bags of groceries when her list would have fit into only two grocery bags.  There were only seven items on her grocery list.  
As her husband keeps shuffling bags of groceries into the kitchen,  she finally finds the grocery list that she had given him with the list of pound cake items.
Jeanne finally realizes that for once and only once in her life,  in her eagerness to make sure that her husband could get through the express lane and get to his meeting on time,  she numbered the items on the grocery list.  There were seven items on the grocery list.  Unfortunately,  her husband purchased the number of items on her list in quantities.   One pound of butter.   Two bottles of Vanilla.  Three pounds of lard.  Four dozen eggs. Five bags of sugar.  Six bags of flour and seven bottles of 7-Up.
While this is a hilarious story,  it also is a wonderful example of what happens when we prioritize and the prioritizing takes over our life.   This is a wonderful example when making a list becomes overwhelming.  All one’s energy is used up in writing the list and then initiating the list.

Read Psalm 62: 1 – 8
My soul finds rest in God alone.  My salvation comes from God.  …. Trust in God at all times and pour your hearts to God, for God is our refuge.

In all things and in all listing making and prioritizing,  God is our refuge.   Our salvation comes from God.  

Today,  pour your heart out to God as  you prioritize your projects.    God is with us in everything that we do and say.

Prayer:  O God,  pour into our hearts a Love that only You can give.  Pour into our hearts a joy and only You can give.  Pour into our hearts the knowledge of the scriptures so that we remember that You are our refuge and our strength.  For this we say, Thank You.  Amen.

Many blessings.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Monday - Prayer of Protection

Prayer:  Help us,  O Lord,  to keep guard over our lips.  Save us from words that hurt,  from gossip and slander and lies.  Let us speak only encouragement and cheerfulness and to keep people on their feet so that all our words may minister grace,  to Your honour and Glory.  Amen.  (FMP  1964)

The busy-ness of Drama.    We watch shows on TV because they are entertaining.   Reality TV shows  entice us to watch them because we can not believe what is said or lived.   Yet,  these shows are all about drama.    Drama is rather like gossip….  one doesn’t want to hear it nor see it but something entices us to have just one look.  Okay,  maybe two looks.  Okay,  maybe we have to watch that show again just to make sure it wasn’t as horrifying as we thought. 

Do you have friends who seem to have a lot of drama in their life?   By drama,  we are not talking about a High School Musical nor the Stratford Festival.    The drama we are talking about here is what our friends and family tell us about their lives that seems to go to the extreme.   Drama… broken relationships,  the car died,  the house payments are behind,  a job is lost,  clothes no longer fit,  someone comes down with pneumonia,  a son or daughter is failing in school.  And on and on. 

We listen to the drama of people’s lives and suddenly our shoulders start to get burdened with not only our own  loads but our friends’ and families’  loads.    Before long,  you realize that your friend’s/ families’  drama is dominating your life and you can’t think about anything else. 

This is where daily prayer and a very specific prayer called the Prayer of Protection come into our lives.     Prayer not only is our relationship with God but is also a way of giving our burdens to God so that we can live a fuller life in God’s presence. 

Read  Psalm 5

Read especially verse 11.   Meditate upon this verse all day today:  “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You!”  (Psalm 5: 11   NIV).

How will you take refuge in God today?  How will you ask God for protection over you so that you don’t get loaded down by the burdens or drama of others?
Prayer of Protection…..Great God we ask for Your protection to be about us today in all that we do and in all that we say.  Through the word of the Living Christ,  we claim the cloak of light for our protection and place myself and all those with me this day under Christ’s light and guidance.  We remember that Christ is the only source of power and nurture in our lives and it flows to all who need it.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Friday - Hearing the Voice of God

Prayer:  Creator God,  to whom all hearts are open and all desires are knows.  From whom no secrets are hid,  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love You and worthily magnify Your Holy Name.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (FMP 1964)

Stephen Cherry,  in his book Beyond Busyness,  says that there are two critical principles for HUGE projects.   First,  we will only get a big project done if we plan it into our day before we put in the little things (like watching TV or Facebook).   Second,  if a project is OVERLY HUGE,  then it will need to be broken up into smaller chunks.    Completing smaller chunks of a project means the OVERLY HUGE project suddenly isn’t as big anymore.
But the beginning of any HUGE or even OVERLY HUGE project is to start with an adequate amount of time and prayer… with prayer being first J.

How often do you hear of people staying up to all hours of the night writing Sunday’s  Sermon or getting the Powerpoint Presentation completed for tomorrow’s  Conference or in November trying to knit the family all scarves for Christmas?
Too frequently. 

Time wisdom says to take small steps with lots of time before the deadline and the project will become smaller and manageable.     This allows the Holy Spirit time to give us advice and counsel.    If we are too busy trying to get everything completed,  we frequently do not listen to the voice of God. 

What is the biggest single task you have ever had to face?  How did you work through the task?    Did you call upon God for help?  Was the task completed or did it overwhelm you?

Read  Matthew 7: 24 – 25

Today,  how will you hear the Word of God?     And how will you put the Word of God into practice?
And God waits everyday for us to seek out God.   How neat is that.

Prayer:  Open our ears this day to Your Word,  O Lord.  Open our hearts to Your calling.  Open our minds to Your love so that we may seek You out each and every day.   Make us ready for what You provide for us.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thursday - delegate

Earlier this week,  Mr.  Colin Wasacase received the Ontario Lieutenant Governors Award for his dedication and work serving the community of Kenora.  Wow!  An amazing honour for an amazing man.    Congratulations Colin!

Prayer:  Lord,  be with us as we go about our work this today.  Help us to be faithful in our duties,  and honourable in all our dealings.  Give us self-control in speech and temper.  Let us be a good example to others of Christian humility and thoughtfulness.  May I glorify You forever.  Amen.

How do we take a moment of opportunity (that Kairos time) when we  have projects that are HUGE.   Like moving.   Like finding new employment or call.    Like being a caregiver to a child or parent.    
How do you continue to prepare your heart for God when there is a HUGE project placed in your lap and all you can see is the HUGE project?

Read  Exodus  18

Jethro was an amazingly wise man.   He watched how Moses lead his people and finally said, “If you continue counselling the people all by yourself, you burn out yourself AND the people.  Listen to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.”  
Jethro instructed Moses to select wise men who fear God and appoint them as officials over the tribes.    This is where our understanding of Elders is based.  Those who are wise and seek God’s guidance and help in caring the ministry to all God’s people. 

We are never alone.  Today look at all the projects you have that are HUGE… and ask God for guidance.

When we become overwhelmed with HUGE projects,  we forget about praying to God and reading scripture.   We must never forget to pray and read the Scripture for this is our lifeline to God.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  let our tasks be eased by the knowledge of Your presence and by Your loving care.  Give us the desire to do all things for the love of You.  Grant us strength to meet without complaint the trials of the day and with thankful hearts  at the end of the day,  we come to You  in glory and praise.  For all Your mercies O Lord,  we give thanks.  Amen.   (adapted from FMP 1964).

Many blessings.