MORNING WATCH DAILY DEVOTIONS
July 9-15, 2017
The third of our goals for this week together is to “enable us to live in Christian community, with worship as a key part of our week.” With that in mind, we begin and end each day with worship. Each morning by 7:40, we are all out of our trailers and in a private, quiet space to have at least 10 minutes of devotion time using the following guide. It has scripture for each day, as well as a guided reading to spur your prayer and thoughts. Our themes each morning come from the daily programs for our Day Camp this week. Each of our lessons talks about how God empowers and equips us for our daily ministry, enabling us to be the servant people that we are called to be. And then at 7:50, we gather at the pavilion for our morning worship. Let this time enrich your week and your growth in faith.
“How majestic is your name in all the earth!” ~ Psalm 8:1b
Click on “more” for the daily Devotions
GOD’S HEROES HAVE HEART
Monday “Samuel Anoints David” 1 Samuel 16:1-12
God sees things differently than people do. People are critical, often making judgments based on ignorance and superficial values. But God looks at each of us differently, God looks at the heart. As we begin our week of ministry, it’s a good time to remember that we too must look beyond the surface, into the depth and breadth of the people that we will be meeting. The story of God’s people is full of examples of God choosing unlikely heroes. Moses was a fugitive on the run from Egyptian authorities who described himself as a poor speaker. Jacob, father of the entire nation of Israel, received God’s blessing despite being younger and physically weaker than his twin brother, Esau. Gideon was the youngest in his family, the weakest clan in the unremarkable tribe of Manasseh. This trend is ongoing throughout Scripture in the stories of Jeremiah, Mary, Paul, and many others… God’s people come from all over the world and look and speak differently. God invites us to look beyond the surface, to delve deep into the heart of those we meet, reminding us that each of these people are the face of Jesus. Think about the relationships that are formed this week as you meet new people from home and here in Sunset Gap, your home for the week. How will these relationships create new and lasting memories for you? Where will you see Christ today? How will you share God’s love? Trust in God’s presence to be with you as you pray for all those you come in contact with today and in the week ahead.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
GOD’S HEROES HAVE COURAGE Tuesday“Abigail Saves the Day” 1 Samuel 25
Being courageous for God doesn’t always look like what we might think of as ‘heroic.’ There’s no superhero who comes in and saves the day just in the nick of time. In today’s story, Abigail becomes an unlikely hero by being courageous and using her resources to protect others and resolve conflict. Similarly, God invites us to notice our own gifts, to have confidence and faith to use them even when that means doing something different or unusual, perhaps even counter to the norm. As we read through the story, we notice that Abigail doesn’t think about the consequences of what she is doing, instead she trusts in God’s presence and knows that justice will be served. God helps us through struggles and challenges, sending people to care for us and help us through those dark days. Our life experiences change us, they give us courage and strengthen us, helping us to be people of faith, people of the Family of Faith. God helps us see who we are by those we come in contact with here in Tennessee, by members of our Ministry Team, and throughout the ministries that we share as people of faith.
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you…”
~ 1 Samuel 25:32-33
GOD’S HEROES HAVE WISDOM
Wednesday “Jesus Goes to the Temple” Luke 2:41-52
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, which was a Roman province in what is currently northern Israel. The heart of Jewish religious life at the time was the Temple in Jerusalem, about seventy miles on foot to the south. Jewish families who had the means would travel to Jerusalem for major religious festivals. Jesus’ family made a pilgrimage there each year for the Passover, the largest Jewish religious celebration. When Jesus’ parents lost track of him, they panicked, as any parent would. After spending a full day searching for him, they began the journey back to Jerusalem. After three days, they found Jesus in the Temple, talking with the teachers there. Jesus impressed everyone with his wisdom, his level of understanding, and his inquisitiveness. While we understand that Jesus was being faithful to God’s plan, he no doubt gave his parents quite a scare. He told them they should have known he’d be in his “Father’s house,” but they didn’t understand. By saying this, he reminded them that while he loved them, he also had a special relationship with and responsibility to his Heavenly Father. Jesus’ wisdom didn’t stop with his deep knowledge of Scripture, it also encompassed his value of relationships, both with his parents, and with God. God sends people into our lives who teach us and help us gain wisdom. We are brought together here to learn from one another – from our friends in Sunset Gap and from New Jersey. Look for someone who might teach you something new today. Try to help others learn about your faith and about Christ’s mission as you share God’s love on this day.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years,
and in divine and human favor.” ~ Luke 2:52
GOD’S HEROES HAVE HOPE Thursday “Beatitudes” Matthew 4:23-5:12
Jesus begins his ministry of teaching, proclaiming the good news, and healing throughout Galilee in fulfillment of prophecy. Today’s reading is perhaps the best known and the greatest inspirational speeches ever. The Beatitudes, as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, are a call to all of us to follow, to be motivated and empowered, and to remember that no matter what challenges we face, we have hope because of our faith and the love of Christ. In almost each of the phrases used in the Beatitudes are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the sermon Jesus gives them new meaning. Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility and echo the highest ideals of Jesus’ teachings on spirituality and compassion. Jesus tells us “happy are those who are humble…who show mercy…and who make peace.” They encompass for us the ideals of Christian teaching as a way of life. The Beatitudes offer hope to those who need it most, to each of us. They fill us with strength, with purpose, and with vision so that we might live each day fully, encouraged in knowing that what we do is for the sake of God’s people, for the sake of God’s world, and for the sake of all creation.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” ~ Matthew 5:11-12
GOD’S HEROES HAVE POWER Friday “Pentecost” Acts 2:1-41 On this last day of camp, we are reminded that we are workers together in God’s kingdom and given awesome responsibility to do the work of Christ, to be the hands of Christ, to be the face of Christ, and together the body of Christ in the world. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on Pentecost, the Church was born and the power to change the world was placed in our hands. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the believers in Jerusalem to share the good news of God’s love and redemption in a diversity of languages, the Holy Spirit empowers each of us to share the good news in uniquely powerful ways. God’s love is one that engages us to be part of community – the community of Sunset Gap in Cosby, Tennessee and our Family of Faith in New Providence, New Jersey. God’s family, the Church, is called to love and nurture one another just as Jesus loved and nurtured his disciples. We are called by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and sent to care for God’s kingdom, just as Jesus shows us and teaches us. Our daily spiritual walk with God enables our faith to grow and flourish. As we look back at our week, try to recall where we have been, how far we have come, and where we have yet to go, with the words of the Servant’s Prayer: “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through challenges unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“…All of us are witnesses.” ~ Acts 1:32
FAITH Saturday On the bus and heading home. It was faith that brought us here in every sense of the word. The faith that God has given each of us. The Family of Faith that organizes this annual pilgrimage. And now its time to thank God for this week. For those who have touched our lives and those whose lives we have touched. For new friends we have made and for relationships that have grown. For the gift of being able to live in this special Christian community for a week. In the quiet of the bus ride today, take some time to thank God for these gifts and for the special blessings you have encountered. Pray for those we are leaving and understand that ministry always involves movement. Praising God always involves movement. Movement to familiar and unfamiliar places. Places like Tennessee, like New Providence, like Newark, like Tanzania, and countless other places. Like Jerusalem, where the world was forever changed. It is with An Attitude of Gratitude that we thank God for each day, for the gift of Easter and the gift of hope and new life. Thank God.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful.” ~ Colossians 3:15
Our Family members back home will receive copies of these Devotions
and are invited to join us each morning for prayer at 7:40.
Sunset Gap, Cosby Tennessee
This is a ministry that was begun with seed money provided by Faith Nursery School. In 1998, the first ministry team was sent for a more than 12-hour long bus ride from New Providence, New Jersey to Cosby, Tennessee in the heart of Appalachia. We went there because we wanted our folks to see that poverty transcends geography and race, and that is endemic to greed and selfish economic policy. We wanted to take a large, intergenerational team. We wanted to do construction and to run a day camp. And, we wanted to live together in Christian community in the sparsest of facilities. And Sunset Gap in Tennessee, in the deep South, was the closet place that met our criteria. We have had an interesting relationship there over the years. In our first year we were known as the “damn Yankees,” and now we are called “kin.”. There have been hundreds of folks of all ages from our Family who have made this journey. Dozens of construction projects started and finished. Hundreds and hundreds of children have heard the Gospel with a new accent. Lives have been forever changed. Lives will be forever changed. In Tennessee and in New Jersey. No matter where we go, we have opportunities to share the Gospel. We have opportunities to speak a word of hope, to share the gift of love that gives witness to our Easter gift. Tell the story. Share the Faith.
Faith Lutheran Church
The Family of Faith is a Christ-centered servant community that strives to be loving, forgiving, healing and affirming, as it continues to seek new opportunities to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Sustained by the Holy Spirit, we worship, serve, learn and grow together by sharing God’s gifts of our time, talents and treasures.