For the Beauty of the Earth

As I woke up this morning and the sun was creeping into the day, I noticed the beauty of some trees. The color was fantastic. Immediately I broke out into a hymn that is one of my favorites. My prayer for you today is to stop and appreciate the glorious creation God has given us. The hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth” was written by Folliott S. Pierpoint in 1864. Pierpoint was 29 at the time he wrote this hymn; he was mesmerized by the beauty of the countryside that surrounded him. May the lyrics be a prayer for you today.

For the beauty of the earth; For the beauty of the skies, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night, Hill and vale and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child, friends of earth, and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine to our race so freely given, Graces human and divine, Flow’rs of earth and buds of heav’n: Lord of all to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.

Scripture to Remember

For those who have been in church the past two weeks, you have received the memory verse to work on. All week when you are about to confront someone, get upset with someone or are worried about the words you might use, I suggest you first recite the Scripture below. It has helped me prepare the way I speak to someone and allows for the Holy Spirit to help me speak more out of Christian love.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Be Like the Confirmation Students

It was another wonderful evening with the Confirmation students. I learn so much from them and am so grateful to be leading this group. Heading into this year I was wondering what the year would be like. Unlike previous years, I did not have a good feel for this years’ students. In fact, I was a bit nervous about how the group would get along. It is by far the most diverse group of students I have ever had. Unfortunately, I am not speaking of racial diversity (it would be nice if churches could figure out a way to be more racially diverse), but of personality and thinking. I knew it would be a challenge for us as we began the year. Would the students get along? Would the personality differences trump any learning? Could I teach such a multitude of learning styles? It took exactly one week for me to discover that Christ was in our group and the students were responding to His love. Our 8th graders accepted the new 7th and new 8th graders into the group. The youth were happy to be paired up with people they did not know. Every single student has jumped right in and felt comfortable enough to share openly and deeply. What I thought might be a click has really opened itself up to the others. They have listened to one another, challenged one another and supported one another. Each and every Wednesday night form 7-8pm I live in the Acts 2 Church. I challenge Flowing Grace United Methodist to live in such a way as the Confirmation students are living it on Wednesday evenings!

Life among the Believers

43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. – Acts 2:43-47

Don’t-Mean-It Sins

Don’t-Mean-It Sins

Leviticus 4:27–35

If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect.
Leviticus 4:27–28

Everyone roared with laughter at Maggie’s story about Brad’s klutziness in fixing the car. Brad was mortified.

Thad had been paying bills online and then, without ever really planning to, he found himself deep in pornography. Melanie walked in and found him viewing images he had no business seeing.

Arthur and Gabriela thought they were just getting together with some friends from church, but then they found themselves caught up in an angry coup to get rid of the pastor. Six months later, the church was in shambles, and Arthur and Gabriela were wondering how they let themselves get involved in the mess.

Sometimes we sin without meaning to. We aim for righteousness, honor and wisdom, but we miss by a mile. Leviticus 4:2 introduces a Hebrew word for sin that means “to miss the mark.” George R. Knight, professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary (Berrien Springs, Michigan), explains, “You have missed, not because you are wicked, but because you are stupid, silly, careless, inattentive, perhaps lazy, or more probably because you do not possess the proper aim in life.”

Add to that Hebrew word for sin the word “unintentionally,” and it suggests someone wandering away like a silly sheep or someone who isn’t thinking. We sometimes feel we ought to be given a break if we didn’t really mean to sin. But the Bible doesn’t cut us any slack. Whether we mean it or not, sin damages our relationship with God and with others. Anyone who is married knows that unintentional hurts, such as teasing about someone’s weaknesses or being chronically late or missing a birthday, can do a lot of harm.

Leviticus 4 shows that God takes unintentional sins seriously. Forgiveness is available, but it doesn’t come cheap. No quick, “Oops, sorry. Guess I wasn’t thinking.” Specific instructions were given in Leviticus 4 for how different groups were to deal with these kinds of sins. While the details differed a little from one group to another, the basic corrective steps were the same for each situation: bring an offering, then have it sacrificed to atone for the sin.

Today, we who confess Jesus Christ as Savior are grateful that we don’t have to go through the laborious and gruesome atonement rituals of the Old Testament. Still, as we read through the requirements in Leviticus, we realize how the sacrificial system illustrates the seriousness of sin. These sin sacrifices did not overdramatize the sinner’s situation; rather, they underdramatized it. The blood of animals could never pay for sin, whether unintentional or not. God mercifully accepted such sacrifices until his plan could be carried out to give his one and only Son, Jesus, as the complete sacrifice for sin.

Sin is terrible—even when it’s unintentional. Praise God that Christ’s death provides forgiveness for us and that his indwelling Spirit gives us the strength to aim straight at godliness.
Lee Eclov


Things I Cannot Say

I cannot say OUR if I live only for myself.

I cannot say FATHER if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child.

I cannot say WHO ART IN HEAVEN if I am laying up no treasure there.

I cannot say HALLOWED BY THY NAME if I am not striving for holiness.

I cannot say THY KINGDOM COME if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful event.

I cannot say THY WILL BE DONE if I am disobedient to His word.

I cannot say ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN if I will not serve Him here and now.

I cannot say GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD if I am dishonest or seeking things by subterfuge.

I cannot say FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES if I harbor a grudge against anyone.

I cannot say LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION if I deliberately place myself in its path.

I cannot say DELIVER US FROM EVIL if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say THINE IS THE KINGDOM if I do not give the King the loyalty due Him from a faithful subject.

I cannot say THE POWER if I fear what others may do.

I cannot say THE GLORY if I am seeking honor only for myself.

I cannot say FOREVER if the horizon of my life is bounded by the things of today.

– Author unknown

The Lord’s Prayer

Lead us not into temptation.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. – Mark 14:38

But deliver us from evil.

The lord is faithful, and will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. -2 Thessalonians 3:3

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

I pray that honor and glory will always be given to the only God, who lives forever and is the invisible and eternal king. – 1 Timothy 1:17


Amen. So be it. -Numbers 5:22

Lord’s Prayer-Daily Bread

Give us this day our daily bread

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. – Psalm 145:15-16

And forgive us our trespasses (sins, debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Have mercy on me, O God according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. -Psalm 51:1-2

Lord’s Prayer Continued

Once again I invite you to meditate on the individual lines of the Lord’s Prayer as it is accompanied by Scripture. The hope is that this series of devotions will help enrich your saying and hearing of the Lord’s Prayer and Church and wherever you say it.

Thy Kingdom Come.

The Lord has established a throne in heaven and God’s Kingdom rules over all. -Psalm 103:19

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

The Lord’s Prayer

For the next few devotions, we will be breaking apart the Lord’s Prayer. I invite you to read the Scriptures and meditate on it to more fully understand the Lord’s Prayer.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of the heaven and earth. – Acts 17:24


Praise the Lord, O My soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. – Psalm 103:1


What If?

One of the greatest gifts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s reconciling with God’s creation (with us). It is also one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other.

Here are some nice thoughts by Melissa Spoelstra:

“What if” are two words I battle to get out of my mind. “What if” something bad happens to one of my kids? “What if” things never get better in this relationship? “What if” my husband loses his job?

I wonder if Joseph’s brothers struggled with their own “what if” questions when Joseph invites them to dine at his house on their second trip to Egypt. Can you imagine their fear escalating as they wait for him in his home? Perhaps they thought, What if he won’t give us food? What if he kills us all? After all, this ruler had been harsh to them last time, even accusing them as spies. No wonder they were reluctant to return.

I can relate. There have been times when I have been tempted to think I have reached the point of no return in relationships, believing that too much time has passed to reconnect or reconcile.

Have you ever thought that it was too late to reconcile a relationship?

There is no statute of limitations on reconciliation. Reconciliation itself takes time, and it is never too late to make it right. It may seem impossible, but we know that nothing is impossible with our God.

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Though good things are happening circumstantially for the brothers, there is still a missing piece — authenticity. While they eat and celebrate together, there is a big elephant in the room that hasn’t been addressed. Not only is Joseph’s identity still hidden, but also the brothers have not repented. Repentance must precede reconciliation. Let’s consider two important cautions we learn from this scene:
•First, we must be careful not to measure success in relationships by a lack of conflict or difficulty.
•Second, we must not confuse counterfeit happiness with the lasting joy of reconciliation.

Once we move beyond our paralyzing grief and board the ride toward reconciliation, we find ourselves enjoying the climb but we must not let the roller coaster ride of reconciliation end superficially. God calls us to go deep in working toward authenticity in reconciling relationships.

What if we are able to renew relationships we thought were lost forever through authenticity, clear communication and repentance? What steps might God be asking you to take to get beyond surface conversations to go deeper in one of your relationships?