Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 21, 2020
Daniel 6:25-28
Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity!  I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:  For he is the living God, enduring forever.  His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end.  He delivers and rescues, he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth; for he has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”  So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

What happens when power becomes us?  The backstory to this is that King Darius was so self-absorbed that he didn’t realize he was being tricked to get rid of Daniel.  He wanted people to worship him so much that when those aspiring to kill Daniel came to King Darius with a decree that everyone should worship him, he gladly signed.  He didn’t realize what this would mean for Daniel.  It nearly cost Daniel his life.  We worship God and God only.  As followers of Christ, we can’t allow any other person or idol to steer us away from the truth love we have through Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Gracious God, we know that you are a good God and we pray for the times in which we fail to see you as the ultimate.  We pray for your forgiveness when we place things and people and even ourselves above you.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 22, 2020
Psalm 1
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.  They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do, they prosper.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The entire book of Psalms opens up with a choice.  Each one of us has a choice.  Which direction do we want to go?  The way of the LORD or the way of the wicked?  It seems like the answer is simple.  Yet, as the book of Psalms will explore, it is often easier to follow the ways of the wicked and we must constantly find ways to resist.

Prayer: Gracious God, show us your path and only your path.  When the wicked stand before us beckoning us to come, keep us strong.  When we ourselves get in our own way and try to go a different direction, steer us back to you.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Fun Friday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 23, 2020
Numbers 22:23-30
The donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand; so the donkey turned off the road, and went into the field; and Balaam stuck the donkey, to turn it back onto the road.  Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyard, with a wall on either side.  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it scraped against the wall, and scraped Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck it again.  Then the angel of the LORD went ahead, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it lay down under Balaam; and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff.  Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”  Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me!  
I wish I had a sword in my hand!  I would kill you right now!”  But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day?  Have I been in the habit of treating you this way?”  And he said, “No.”
First of all… God is obviously against animal abuse.  Second… I think what strikes me more about this passage of the talking donkey isn’t that God made the donkey be able to communicate with Balaam in Balaam’s language, but that Balaam actually talked back.  What was going through his mind?  “Oh Look!  My donkey can talk!  I guess instead of running away out of fear, I’ll just have a conversation!”

Prayer: Gracious God, you may wild things happen!  We turn to you with believing hearts knowing that you can do all things!  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 26, 2020
Deuteronomy 6:1-9    Now this is the commandment – the statutes and the ordinances – that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long.  Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.  Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This commandment is not about knowing.  It is about living out and proclaiming for all!  The scripture tells us to recite love to your children.  Think about loving God and what that looks likes and means when you go to bed and when you wake up.  Hang love from your home and mark yourself with love.  That is what we are called to do!  Not hide from society our love and care but proclaim it for all to see.

Prayer: Gracious God, show us the ways you would have us to love others and love you, O LORD.  We give thanks that you have continually cared for all your people and we ask you use us to do your will and work.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 27, 2020
James 2:14-19a, 22-26            
 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?  Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You believe that God is one; you do well. You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.  Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Can you be saved without good works?  According to James, no.  According to Jesus, yes.  Jesus says he is the way and the only way to salvation.  So, if we put that aside, we ask ourselves another question.  Why would we not want to do good works?  If we love Jesus so much and we recognize God’s love for us, why would we even think about NOT doing all of the great things that Jesus calls us to do?

Prayer: Amazing God, we can do no good apart from you.  We need you in our lives for the purpose of our salvation but also to lead us into the good things you call us to do.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 28, 2020
Matthew 19:16-22                                                                                                                                                      Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only one who is good.  If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”  He said to him, “Which ones?”  And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

When we hear this passage, we often think it is a scripture about giving away our money and possessions and giving to those who have less than us.  While this isn’t a bad thing to do, it isn’t what Jesus is referring to.  Jesus is specifically talking to someone who cannot imagine his life or his faith without his wealth.  A man who has placed his wealth above following Jesus.  What in your life do you need to get rid of so that you can follow Jesus more clearly?

Prayer: Precious and giving God, we know that you can do all things.  We ask that you remove from our lives whatever might hold us back from living into you more fully.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Weekday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 29, 2020
Joshua 1:1-7
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead.  Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.  From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory.  No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 

Sometimes, no matter how much work we do and how much we love and try, we will not see the promised land.  Moses did everything right he could do.  He wanted for his people to experience the land that was promised.  But he never saw it.  Hear that again, but he never saw the promised land.  In our families and in the church, we often believe that if we try hard enough, if the program is big enough, if there is enough money, that we will see the fruit of our labor.  But God does not promise that.  Instead, he promises he will walk with us in the desert as we keep trying.

Prayer: Almighty God, walk with us always.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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Fun Friday Devotional for Second Presbyterian Church - October 30, 2020
Genesis 18:10-15
Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”  And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it has ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?”  The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too wonderful for the LORD?  At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”  But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid.  He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

When you get caught by God…. Normally, I would say that God has a sense of humor.  But in this case, God didn’t find much funny about Sarah denying God’s abilities and God’s words.

Prayer: Almighty God, we know that you are a God of all things.  Help us to believe in you and not doubt you.  But also we give thanks for the ways you give us humor when we need it.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
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