Thursday, June 1, 2017

devotion

I have this sweet side gig that pays me lots of money to write. Hahahahaha!! Good one, DeNae. Rather, I relish the opportunity to write for our church's daily devotions that get sent out by email every Monday through Friday. The devotion writers are told which verses they are to write on, but that's pretty much the only criteria. It is a wonderful opportunity to write and dig a little deeper into some bible verses. I love to read what others write, and I really appreciate the chance to write periodically. I figured I would share my devotions on the blog, too.

Without further ado, today's devotion.

Thursday, June 1, 2017
 
DeNae vanWestrienen, Sugar and Spice Sister in Christ
 
OPENING: An appropriate beginning to each day is to remember your baptism by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.  Dip your finger into a bowl of water, make the sign of the cross on your forehead and say the words "In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen."
 
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 3:8-11 (from The Message)
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless-that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here's what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth.
 
A BRIEF THOUGHT ABOUT THE LESSON:   There are plenty of bible verses that I pore over 20 times, and they still leave me scratching my head as to what they really mean and how to apply them to my life. Then there are verses like 1 Peter 3:8-11. The apostle Peter laid it out plainly here in a letter to persecuted Christians throughout the ancient world, and I actually find myself wishing for a little uncertainty. But, but. . . all of us? No exceptions? No sharp-tongued sarcasm? No retaliation? Like ever? Impossible! Bless? Only bless? No holding grudges or mumbling sarcastic jokes? How can God really expect that of us?
 
If I'm honest with myself, I'm a generally loving, optimistic, and generous person with a bitingly sarcastic streak and a penchant to hold a grudge. Therefore, these verses are speaking to both the "sugar" and "spice" aspects of my personality. And, continuing with the honesty theme, when my days are spent retaliating, using sarcasm as an insult, and speaking hurtful words, I do not leave space in my day to welcome love and peace and joy. I'm too busy focusing on anger and hurt and difficulties. On the other hand, when I look for love, peace, and joy, when I "run after peace for all (I'm) worth," I find it. In fact, I find it right in front of me, where God had it all along.
 
After reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, I purchased a sign for our living room wall that reads, "eucharisteo always, always precedes the miracle." In plain English, that means thankfulness always comes before the blessing. The blessings are waiting for us, but we can only see and receive them when our eyes are open to them. As believers of Christ, we are called to be different from the world. We are set apart because of the love and grace of our Savior. All of us. No exceptions. Even when we're having a bad day. Even when the baseball game starts in 30 minutes and the uniform is soaking wet in the washing machine. Even when we get a flat tire on the way to that doctor's appointment it took 4 months to get. Even when the world crashes around us and leaves us gasping for air and grasping for hope.
 
We bless and we are blessed. We let go of our anger and sarcasm and evil and run toward peace and redemption and love. We don't do it once and consider it done. We do it again and again, day in and day out, dying to our flesh and leaning on our perfect God. All of us. No exceptions.
 
QUESTIONS TO PONDER: How can you make more space in your day to receive and make note of the blessings in your life? What are the "sugar and spice" parts of your personality that these verses speak to?
 
PRAYER: Glorious and ascended Lord, give us your Holy Spirit so that we can be your faithful witnesses in all the world. Lead us to be observant to all of the beautiful blessings around us so we can more eagerly serve as blessings to others. Amen.
 
MEALTIME PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for loving us, feeding us, and caring for us. Your praises we shout, and your name we bless. Amen.
 
A BLESSING TO GIVE: May God make you complete, steady, strong, and firm as you witness to Christ in the world. (1 Peter 5:10)

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