Day 259 | Thursday, 3 December 2020
Good morning. I hope all of you are remaining well and are finding ways to cope with the continuing rise in the COVID-19 cases. Yesterday I was hearing reports from some states that there were no more ICU beds available in their state. I also heard that some were saying that some hospitals had absolutely no beds available. Advent is a season of HOPE. There are many in our country who are finding it difficult to hope due to being ill with the corona virus. Hope is in the good news of vaccines which could begin to be distributed later this month. Yes, it is too late for some who have died because of the Virus. Today, I have gone back to day 5 and repeating what I shared then.
I am using another familiar Psalm - 121 from the CEB.
"I Raise my eyes toward the mountains,
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
God won't let your foot slip.
Your protector won't fall asleep on the job.
No! Israel's protector
never sleeps or rests!
The Lord is your protector;
the Lord is your shade right beside you.
The sun won't strike you during the day;
neither will the moon at night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
God will protect your very life.
The Lord will protect you
on your journeys -
whether going or coming -
from now until forever from now."
This is a song of trust in God's protection. The psalmist believed that wherever he goes, God will provide protection. We need to maintain the faith of the Psalmist that God will continue to provide protection through these uncertain times. God's protection may come in many forms and ways. Of course, we are to use all the gifts God has given us to protect ourselves and our loved ones as well. I believe that God expects us to use our wisdom to be alongside God's love, guidance and protection. This is a great Psalm of assurance that God is watching over us, always.
Protecting God, we sometimes forget that you are watching over us in our journeys, our comings and goings. Help us discover, today, the different and varied ways you are protecting us. Lord, we give you thanks and praise for your protection. Today, we ask you to watch over community, our friends, our families and loved ones. May we all feel the warmth of your love. Amen
Today's prayers: Protection for those who are suffering.
Day 258 | Wednesday, 2 December 2020
A History of Advent
“Advent was developed as a season of the church year in the late fourth century. It was widely practiced across Christian churches worldwide by the sixth century.”
“The church developed Advent primarily to provide an alternative time for the final preparation of candidates for baptism. The normal three-year preparation period included a final forty days of intense preparation during Lent. Baptism would follow at Easter.”
“A second season was needed after the Roman Emperor Theodosius made approximately 15% of the Empire was Christian. After 380, the vast majority of citizens sought to become Christian. A single season could not accommodate all of those preparing for baptism.”
“Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of Advent is on Christian life now in light of the culmination of all things at Christ’s second coming. By focusing on last things, baptismal candidates were reminded of the need for Christ to come again to make all things new as they prepared to begin their new lives in Christ.”
“Baptism would typically occur at Epiphany, the end of the Christmas Season when Christians remember the coming of the Magi and celebrate the baptism of Jesus. This is why many older baptismal fonts include depictions of the Magi bringing gifts.”
“Similar to Lent, Advent developed as a penitential season of varying lengths. By the eighth century, Advent was generally observed for six weeks in the East (as it is to this day) and seven in the West. By the 12th century, it became shortened in the West to four weeks.”
“Advent was part of the practice of the Church of England when John Wesley was a priest. When he revised the liturgical calendar for use by American Methodists in 1784, he kept Advent and its four Sundays. So, Advent was part of Methodist ritual from the beginning.”
Doug’s note- most churches have an Advent candle arrangement during the Advent season with three purple candles, a pink candle and a white candle in the center. The candles are quite often labeled – Hope, Joy, Love and Peace. The pink candle is often referred to as the candle for Mary and is usually lit on the third Sunday of Advent. The white candle in the center is the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some denominations have gone to royal blue for the four advent candles for the royalty of Christ.
Hymn “People, Look East” words by Eleanor Farjeon, 1928, a French Carol
1. “People look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year. Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. People, look east: Love, the Guest, is on the way.”
An Advent Prayer
“Merciful God, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may celebrate aright the commemoration of the nativity, and may await with joy the coming in glory of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.” The Book of Common Prayer; alt. by Laurence Hull Stookey
Day 257 | Tuesday, 1 December 2020
The COVID wave is getting larger for many Americans and their families as our nation approaches nearly 14 million cases with nearly 270,000 deaths. In Chautauqua County, there were 42 new cases over Saturday and Sunday. As of 4:30 pm on November 30, 2020 the total cases in the county were at 1,675 with 19 deaths. There have been 431 cases in zip 14701 with 32 active 43 cases in Lakewood, 352 in Dunkirk and 322 in Fredonia.
If you keep an Advent calendar, today is the first day to hang an ornament or open a door. With the beginning of the Advent season, I want to share some Advent prayers.
“A voice crying in the wilderness, a word needing to be heard: Prepare the way. Get ready all hearts, create a quiet place. Listen. Listen deep. A voice shouting in the desert: Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, make ready the world. To receive the Good News that Christ is coming. Rejoice!”
An Invocation for Advent
“O God, who loved the world so much that you sent your Son, Christ, to reveal the height, breadth, length and depth of your love, we come to worship you. Prepare our hearts that we may rightly approach your throne of grace and reverently receive your revelation for us. Amen.”
A Prayer of Confession for Advent
“So soon, God, too soon. We are hardly picked up from Thanksgiving, and here it is Advent with Christmas coming soon. So soon. It is hard to shift gears so fast. We are not ready. Where did the time go? How could the year pass so soon?
Yet, it is into such a world as this and such a time as this that you choose to enter. Again, and again, you visit us in the darkest times of life. Again, and again, you surprise us in the midst of hectic schedules and frantic lives.
Holy God help us keep alert in this Advent season. Help us be ready to see you in the midst of ordinary tasks. Help us be ready to slow down for prayer, for children, for our family and friends. Help us be ready to stand up for peace and justice, for Jesus comes to bring new life to us and our world. O God help us be ready to receive you again. Amen.”
An Advent Prayer
“In this private place, in this quiet moment, let us catch our breath, connect to your Spirit and let love, joy and hope take root in our hearts. Walk with us these days in joyful anticipation of your birth. Amen.”
A Benediction for Advent
“Christ has come in the past, he is coming today, and he will come again at the end of time. May you go through this season surrounded by the power, the presence and the peace of our everlasting Lord.
Hymn - O come, O come, Emmanuel
1. “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Antiphon 1 “O EMMANUEL, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord, our God.”
Day 256 | Monday, 30 November 2020
We have reached the end of another month with today’s thoughts. Some of us may still be eating Thanksgiving leftovers and enjoying them a bit less than we did on Thursday. I found the meditation of Giving Our Best – on Our Daily Bread with a reflection on giving God our best not our leftovers.
Malachi 1:8-14; 8 If you bring a blind animal to sacrifice, isn’t that evil? If you bring a lame or sick one, isn’t that evil? Would you bring it to your governor? Would he be pleased with it or accept you? says the Lord of heavenly forces. 9 So now ask God to be gracious to us. After what you have done, will he accept you? says the Lord of heavenly forces. 10 Who among you will shut the doors of the temple so that you don’t burn something on my altar in vain? I take no delight in you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I won’t accept a grain offering from your hand. 11 Nevertheless, from sunrise to sunset, my name will be great among the nations. Incense and a pure grain offering will be offered everywhere in my name, because my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of heavenly forces. 12 But you make my name impure when you say, “The table of the Lord is polluted. Its fruit, its food, is despised.” 13 But you say, “How tedious!” and you groan about it, says the Lord of heavenly forces. You permit what is stolen, lame, or sick to be brought for a sacrifice, and you bring the grain offering. Should I accept such from your hands? says the Lord. 14 I will curse the cheater who has a healthy male in his flock, but who promises and sacrifices to the Lord that which is corrupt. I am truly a great king, says the Lord of heavenly forces, and my name is feared among the nations.
Giving Our Best By: Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread
“He will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness. Malachi 3:3
“We stared at the piles of donated shoes as we entered a local homeless shelter. The director had invited our youth group to help sort through the heaps of used footwear. We spent the morning searching for matches and lining them up in rows across the concrete floor. At the end of the day, we threw away more than half of the shoes because they were too damaged for others to use. Though the shelter couldn’t stop people from giving poor quality items, they refused to distribute shoes that were in bad condition.”
“The Israelites struggled with giving God their damaged goods too. When He spoke through the prophet Malachi, He rebuked the Israelites for sacrificing blind, lame, or diseased animals when they had strong animals to offer (Malachi 1:6–8). He announced His displeasure (v. 10), affirmed His worthiness, and reprimanded the Israelites for keeping the best for themselves (v. 14). But God also promised to send the Messiah, whose love and grace would transform their hearts and ignite their desire to bring offerings that would be pleasing to Him (3:1–4).”
“At times, it can be tempting to give God our leftovers. We praise Him and expect Him to give us His all, yet we offer Him our crumbs. When we consider all God has done, we can rejoice in celebrating His worthiness and giving Him our very best.”
Reflect & Pray: “Why are you sometimes tempted to give God your leftovers or damaged goods? In what ways will you give Him your best today?”
“Mighty God, please help me place You first and give You my best.”
Lord our God, as we come to you today perhaps still recovering from our Thanksgiving celebration, let us remember that our best is to be given to you because you gave your best to us. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Day 255 | Sunday, 28 November 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for this the first Sunday in Advent are: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 and Mark 13:24-37.
24 “In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. 25 The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Human One coming in the clouds with great power and splendor. 27 Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.
28 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. 30 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
32 “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 33 Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. 34 It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35 Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”
When we read texts like Mark 13, it’s so important to remember to be on our best reading behavior. First, fearsome as the texts are, we have to remember scripture itself is God’s word to us meant to inspire joy and love, not fear. Second, and most importantly, scripture is always about Jesus, and the church being joined like limbs to a body with him as its head. We see these things about the sun and the moon and the stars being darkened and immediately we’re thinking of natural disasters, signs and wonders, all kinds of natural fireworks. When this passage is spoken by Jesus, in a book, the Bible, that’s all about Jesus, designed to lead us, Jesus’ body, closer to our head, who is also Jesus. If our reading is about when the world will end or scaring some poor hormonal teenager or telling our political enemies they’re going to get it, something has gone very, very wrong. On the other hand, if we read the text with reference to Jesus, even if we get things wrong, we’re still in the right universe.
There’s another key rule for reading scripture that this passage will not let us forget. Scripture is always about Jesus’ return. There’s a relentless, forward-looking posture to Christianity.
We Christians have to admit these sorts of passages have put us on some of our worst behavior. Believing Christ is coming soon, many of us have done foolish things, given up everything, told others they’re off to unpleasant places – neither of which is suggested here. On the other hand we’ve overreacted against that by thinking Jesus isn’t coming at all, growing cold, not minding if we’re arrogant or selfish, but just going on as usual, unconcerned about the poor or God’s coming judgment on our sin. Mark 13 was written for us: “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.” The secret here, it seems to me, is like the secret with good cooking. You have to use heat, or the thing won’t cook. But if you use too much, or don’t stir enough, your food will burn and the feast is ruined. As Christians we have to keep the heat on – Jesus is coming and bringing his judgment, a foolish thing or two is not out of the question. But we can’t keep it on too hot or we’ll burn up, or burn others out. A 2000-year slow boil called church. Who knows when the Lord will decide it’s time for the banquet, at which all have a place, the poor at the end, the haughty at the end?
Day 254 | Saturday, 28 November 2020
Continuing the Thanksgiving theme for another day, I want to share with you a Hymn written by Jane Marshall in 1980. It is titled “What Gift Can We Bring”.
I used Psalm 65 on Thanksgiving Day. Here it is again only this time from The Message.
An Affirmation of Faith: Abundance and Blessings
(Genesis 1:11-12, 29; Leviticus 27:30; Philippians 4:12-13; 2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
“We believe that God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.
We believe that the earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
And we believe God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food."
We affirm that all tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the LORD'S; they are holy to the LORD.
We believe that in our Lord we can know what it is to have little, and we can know what it is to have plenty, because we can do all things through him who strengthens us.
We believe that he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply our seed for sowing and increase the harvest of our righteousness, and that we will be enriched in every way as we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit called generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”
Day 253 | Friday, 27 November 2020
We hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving Day even though it may have been much different from previous years. As the Virus continues to affect more and more people in our country, it is more and more difficult to keep positive. Although we are blessed and have much for which to be thankful: however, the pandemic, the unemployment, more families struggling with needing food; the stress on doctors, nurses, support staff, first responders; the loved ones who were not here this year to observe Thanksgiving; the lack of compassion from many politicians; the uncertainty about the near future; the missing of family gatherings during this season and beyond – all weigh on our hearts and souls.
Below are two passages that are key to the hymn that follows. I want to focus on being thankful as well as being mindful of our circumstances this year.
Mark 4:26-29 The Message
26 Then Jesus said, "God's kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man 27 who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows - he has no idea how it happens.
28 The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. 29 When the grain is fully formed, he reaps - harvest time!
Matthew 13:36-43 The Message
36 Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, "Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field." 37 So he explained. "The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
40 "The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, 42 pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen.
43 At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
"Are you listening to this? Really listening?
Hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” words: Henry Alford, 1844
1. “Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin. God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied; come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.”
2. “All the world is God’s own field, fruit as praise to God we yield; wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown; first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.”
3. “For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home; from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, giving angels charge at last in the fire that the tares to cast; but the fruitful ears to store in the garner ever more.”
4. “Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home; gather thou they people in, free from sorrow, free from sin, there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide; come, with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.”
God of Grace and God of Glory, on your people pour your power – grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour; grant us courage, for the living of these days. Be present at our tables, Lord, be here and everywhere adored. Bring comfort to all those who suffer and surround us with your hope, peace, love and joy. With thankful hearts, even in the midst of uncertainty, receive our prayers. Amen
Day 252 | Thursday, November 26, 2020 - Thanksgiving
Have a Blessed Day from Doug & Judy
Psalm 65 CEB (assigned for Thanksgiving Day)
“God of Zion, to you even silence is praise. Promises made to you are kept—you listen to prayer—and all living things come to you. 3 When wrongdoings become too much for me,
you forgive our sins. 4 How happy is the one you choose to bring close, the one who lives in your courtyards! We are filled full by the goodness of your house, by the holiness of your temple. 5 In righteousness you answer us, by your awesome deeds, God of our salvation—you, who are the security of all the far edges of the earth, even the distant seas. 6You establish the mountains by your strength; you are dressed in raw power. 7You calm the roaring seas; calm the roaring waves, calm the noise of the nations. 8 Those who dwell on the far edges stand in awe of your acts. You make the gateways of morning and evening sing for joy. 9 You visit the earth and make it abundant, enriching it greatly by God’s stream, full of water. You provide people with grain because that is what you’ve decided. 10 Drenching the earth’s furrows, leveling its ridges, you soften it with rain showers; you bless its growth. 11 You crown the year with your goodness; your paths overflow with rich food. 12 Even the desert pastures drip with it, and the hills are dressed in pure joy. 13 The meadowlands are covered with flocks, the valleys decked out in grain—they shout for joy; they break out in song!”
“Give thanks to God, for God's creation is amazing. The sun warms our day, the moon lights our nighttime way. The earth is filled with bounty, a cornucopia of plenty. Give thanks to God, for God's love is everlasting, a constant source of comfort, a companion in hard times. God is my strength and song, so my heart is filled with praise.”
A Prayer of Confession for Thanksgiving
“Wondrous and generous God, you have blessed us with gentle rains, glorious sunsets and sun-warmed days. You bless us with loving families, kind friends and caring churches. Let us receive these gifts with thankfulness and humility. We cannot earn nor do we deserve such generosity, but we graciously open our hearts and hands to receive.
Forgive us when we are hardhearted and tight handed, when we don't let your goodness flow through us, when we hide our talents and turn away from the needs of the world.
Release us, Holy One, from fear, and create a contagious spirit of giving that touches the world with hope. Amen.”
A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day
“God of peace and plenty, with awe and wonder we thank you for the beauty and abundance of our land and its people. Our ancestors came from many lands, for many reasons, but by your mercy they found grace in the wilderness. Your grace has supplied Our Daily Bread without fail. We thank you. Your grace has provided the raw materials of success, as well as the wit and will to use them. Thank you. By your sheer grace we can indulge ourselves in loveliness, steep ourselves in learning, renew ourselves in leisure and rest in safety. Thank you, Lord.
“You have freely blessed us with more than we could ever earn. You have sustained us in bounty we do not deserve. Our people have abused the land, robbed the heritage of indigenous peoples and imagined ourselves to be the source of our own blessings. Despite all this, you have promised to love your people with an everlasting love, and so we are bold to seek your mercy.
Help us respond to your infinite grace through generosity to those in need, understanding for those in dismay, courtesy toward those who oppose us, forgiveness for those who wrong us and compassion toward all who need us. As we gather with family and friends (perhaps not this year), help us speak freely and naturally of your gracious love so that our holiday table may abound with thanks as well as with food. Through this time of Thanksgiving and rest, lead us to continue in thankful living and giving, for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
Day 251 | Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Isaiah 12 Hymn of trust
“You will say on that day: “I thank you, Lord. Though you were angry with me, your anger turned away and you comforted me. 2 God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” 3 You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. 4 And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” 6 Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.”
Giving Thanks Always By: Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Isaiah 12:4
“In the seventeenth century, Martin Rinkart served as a clergyman in Saxony, Germany, for more than thirty years during times of war and plague. One year he conducted more than 4,000 funerals, including his wife’s, and at times food was so scarce that his family went hungry. Although he could have despaired, his faith in God remained strong and he gave thanks continually. In fact, he poured his gratitude into “Nun danket alle Gott,” the song that became the well-loved English hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”
“Rinkart followed the example of the prophet Isaiah, who instructed God’s people to give thanks at all times, including when they’d disappointed God (Isaiah 12:1) or when enemies oppressed them. Even then they were to exalt God’s name, making “known among the nations what he has done” (v. 4).
“We might give thanks easily during harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving, when we’re enjoying an abundant feast with friends and family. But can we express our gratitude to God in difficult times, such as when we’re missing someone from our table or when we’re struggling with our finances or when we’re locked in conflict with one close to us?
“Let’s echo Pastor Rinkart, joining hearts and voices as we give praise and thanks to “the eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore.” We can “sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (v. 5).
“Reflect & Pray In times of hardship, how do you turn to thanksgiving and praise? What role does God through His Holy Spirit play in this?”
“Father God, I thank You for Your amazing work in my life. You love me unendingly, more than I can even express.”
Hymn – “Now Thank We All Our God” words: Martin Rinkart, 1663; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1858
1. “Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands an voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”
2. “O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us still in grace, and guide us when perplexed; and free us from all ills, in this world and the next.”
3. “All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given; the Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven; the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore; for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”
Day 250 | Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Matthew 6:25-34 Worry about necessities
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Taught by Turkeys By: Adam R. Holz, Our Daily Bread
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
“Do you know what a group of turkeys is called? It’s called a rafter. Why am I writing about turkeys? Because I’ve just returned from a weekend at a mountain cabin. Each day, I marveled at the train of turkeys parading past our porch.”
“I’d never turkey-watched before. They scratched fiercely with spectacular talons. Then they hunted and pecked at the ground. Eating, I assume. (Since this was my first turkey-observation time, I wasn’t 100 percent positive.) The scrawny scrubs in the area didn’t look like they could sustain anything. Yet here were these turkeys, a dozen of them, all of which looked delectably plump.”
“Watching those well-fed turkeys brought to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus uses God’s provision for seemingly worthless birds to remind us of His care for us. If a bird’s life matters, how much more does ours? Jesus then contrasts fretting about our daily needs (vv. 27–31) with a life in which we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (v. 33), one in which we’re confident of His rich provision for our needs. Because if God can care for that rafter of wild turkeys, He can certainly look after you and me.”
“Reflect & Pray Where have you seen God provide for something that you were worrying about? How might remembering and reflecting on His provision in the past help you not to be anxious in the future?”
“Father, sometimes I get scared. I worry. I struggle to trust. Thank You for Your care for me. Help me to remember Your provision in the past so I’m better able to trust You with future fears.” Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
COVID-19 update: number of cases in the county has increased to 1,510 as of 11/23 at 4:45PM with 149 active cases, 1,191 in isolation or quarantined, 398 in zip 14701, 38 in Lakewood, 328 in Dunkirk and 302 in Fredonia. There were 47 new cases over the weekend.