Pastor Tim’s Devotional
Fruit of the Spirit: Patience
Colossians 3:12-14 NRSV
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Google dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
If there is a fruit of the Spirit that I have struggled with my entire life, it’s patience. In every personality test that I have ever taken I have come up as Type A, and I couldn’t help but shake my head and laugh at this image that I found in an article on simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html. For those who do not know, rock climbing is my favorite hobby. And, why anyone would want to take a nap at the base of perfectly good mountain is beyond my comprehension!
The article says that type A personalities “experience a constant sense of urgency, they always feel like the clock is ticking, and often quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time.” Amen! I have always been envious of my type B sisters and brothers who are naturally relaxed, patient, and easy going. Envious and…impatient! Which brings me back to St. Paul’s list of Spiritual Fruit. St. Paul knew that patience is essential for life together, and in his chapter on love in 1st Corinthians 13, the very first words that St. Paul uses to describe love are patient and kind (1 Cor 13:4a). In our passage from Colossians 3, St. Paul is describing the marks of the Christian community, “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,” linking patience with bearing with one another, and forgiveness.
As Pastor Dave pointed out yesterday, all of the Fruit of the Spirit come back to the biggest fruit of them all, love. They are all characteristics of God’s love. In my life, as a Type A personality, I can’t say that the constant sense of urgency that I feel has been diminished. I still love to climb the mountains. Becoming more patient for me has been all about how I respond to situations that make me feel impatient. When we think of impatient people, what we most often think of are the unkind ways that they treat others due to their lack of patience, which in my experience, really comes down to a lack of love. What I have experienced in the Holy Spirit’s work in my life is that “patience” has come about through the growth of becoming gentler and kinder, and more loving of others, even when that clock in my head begins to tick. The Holy Spirit has tempered my sense of urgency with love. The Holy Spirit has helped to shift my focus from myself and what I’m feeling, and I what I want (for things to happen right now), to the needs and feelings others. This is how I have experienced the Holy Spirit bring about the fruit of patience in my life.
God Bless You,
Pastor David’s Devotional
The Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Galatians 5:22
Between now and Easter, Pastor Tim and I are doing a series of devotionals on the Fruit of the Spirit. As a reminder, the Fruit of the Spirit are characteristics of the Christian life. As we grow in our faith, increasingly these are the kinds of words that will be used to describe us! Each of these characteristics are something God wants for our lives. So, as you look over the verse listed above, you see ways God is working in our lives—growing us in the Fruit of the Spirit. As you can see in the verse, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to grow us in this way. As we try to be faithful, living out our promises to God, the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, little by little growing us up in our faith, and in the Fruit of the Spirit.
As I look over the list of the Fruit, I can see that there are some of these characteristics that are already a part of my life and some that are still growing within me. Lacking one or more of the Fruit of the Spirit simply indicates that God is not finished with us yet—there are areas of our lives that God is still working on. Know this: what God has begun, God will complete!
Today, I begin with the first of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love. The Fruit of love is the biggest of the fruit in that love includes all the other Fruit. Love is patient and kind, St. Paul once said. Love can also be gentle and good. Love practices self-control and is committed to the well-being of others (peace). And, love gives reason for joy. So, love is the most basic of the Fruit of the Spirit, and the remainder of the Fruit of the Spirit give us some of the qualities of this love, some of the ways love shows itself.
With this in mind, what are some ways that we can express love today? The easy answer would be through acts of kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience, peace, goodness - all giving reason for joy. But, let’s get more specific. Right now, where you are, in this specific time, with all that is going on around you, what are some specific ways you are demonstrating God’s love? Think about it. If asked to describe you, would others say “you are showing great love?
Thinking of the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit as aspects of love, what are aspects of love that you struggle with—characteristics of your life still needing the Holy’s Spirit’s help?
Lord God, we thank you for the working of your Spirit in our lives. We ask that you continue growing us in love. Inspire us to act in ways that give witness to the Holy Spirit within us as we reach out to others in love. Amen.
God bless you and stay well!
Pastor David’s Devotional
On Monday, I was able to take some much needed time off. During the day, I was able to spend some time with Geri and our children still living at home. I took a bike ride to get some exercise. We checked in on Geri’s parents—they are doing well. I enjoyed the spring flowers now blooming in our yard. And, I was able to celebrate news from Andrew and Ali. It was announced at Red Mountain UMC, where Andrew is currently appointed as their Associate Pastor, that on July 1 Andrew will be appointed as Pastor of St. Johns UMC in Kingman AZ. Monday was a great day full of blessings.
Of course, outside of taking some time off, Monday wasn’t unique—every day has its blessings. Although, there are days when it is easy to miss the blessings. The news of the spread of Covid-19 can overtake our minds. And, instead of counting our blessings, we count our provisions and worry about our loved ones. At times like this, it is all the more important to pause and give thanks.
Offering our prayers of thanksgiving can usher us into an awareness of the presence of God in our lives, no matter the news of the day. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, God’s courtyard with praise.” Prayers of thanksgiving make us more aware of the presence of God. And, in times like these, an awareness of God’s presence is just what we need!
Thank you, God, for time to enjoy family, to check in on loved ones, to enjoy spring flowers and to celebrate. Thank you, God, for your presence throughout this day, whatever the day will bring. For, in you we have life and have it abundantly. Thank you, God. Amen.
Pastor Tim’s Devotional
1 Peter 1:3-6 NLT
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. 6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.
In January of 1736, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in England, set sail for the recently established Colony of Georgia. Thirty-two-year-old Wesley was an ordained Anglican priest and Oxford professor who had answered the call to serve the new community. Wesley, who had feared the sea from his youth, had never been on a ship before and during the three-month journey the ship encountered terrible storms at sea that left Wesley terrified that he would die. In his journal Wesley wrote about his experience during the worst of the storms, when sea water, “poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.” During this experience Wesley observed that while he, along with the other English passengers were screaming out in terror, that a group of German Moravian Christians, gathered together and quietly sang a psalm.
When I think about this famous story from Wesley’s life, I like to imagine myself sitting with the Moravian Christians, calmly singing a hymn as the sea rushes in, but I know that it is far more likely that I would be screaming out in terror along with John Wesley. While I have known a few Christians in my life who seem to possess a peace that always passes my understanding, I have found that most, like me, experience both times of blessed assurance and times of fear and doubt. The believers in St. Peter’s day were no exception, and I take great comfort in the fact that he opened his letter to them, by assuring them, and us, of the eternal hope that we have in Jesus Christ. St. Peter knew how easy it can be in the midst of the storm for fear to rob us of our peace and to cause us to cry out.
As we begin a new week in the face of the pandemic, I encourage you to meditate on this passage that has inspired and encouraged Christians throughout the ages. Write it down and keep it with you. Pull it out and read it if you feel fear starting to creep in. Let it be a reminder to you that no circumstance of our lives can ever change what God has already done for us in Jesus Christ.
God Bless You,
Pastor David’s Devotional
March 27, 2020
Yesterday, I was agonizing over our Easter plans and asking myself if it was time to cancel public Easter services. Though the idea of not gathering in person on Easter morning breaks my heart, I prayerfully made the decision to do just that. Within moments after making the decision, I received an email from our Bishop asking all churches to cancel Easter worship. I guess misery likes company, and his email brought me some comfort that I was making the right decision.
This morning as I sipped my coffee, remembering yesterday’s decision, it struck me that it has not even been two weeks since cancelling our public gatherings. Wow. It seems so much longer! But it also strikes me that we have made it through almost 2 weeks, and with God’s help we will make it through a few more.
In my devotional this morning, I picked up our hymnbook, and just happened (or maybe it was the Spirit guiding me) to open to Psalm 105:4-5 where we hear these words: “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek the Lord’s presence continually! Remember the wonderful works God has done.” This was just what I needed to hear today. How about you?
“Seek the Lord’s strength” for the Lord’s strength is sufficient, the Lord’s strength will see us through this time of hardship and the day will come when (as we hear in Psalm 126) God will restore us and we will proclaim “the Lord has done great things for us!” In the meantime, we rely upon the Lord whose strength will see us through.
Psalm 105 continues: “remember the wonderful works God has done.” Have you ever thought about how often the Bible says this? We are told frequently to remember all that God has done for us. Let’s take a moment to remember - to remember prayers answered, times when your heart was strangely warmed and you knew God was near, healing that has come to you, the joy of knowing you are loved, the times God has guided you and provided for you. Take a moment to remember. As we remember all that God has done, we become more aware of the presence of God with us now. And, it is this awareness of God’s presence that strengthens us for whatever it is that today will bring.
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek the Lord’s presence continually! Remember the wonderful works God has done.” I don’t know what the rest of today will bring for you, for me, but this I know: with God’s strength we are ready and able to do what faithfulness requires. Even in (especially in) difficult times like this.
God bless you, and I will see you online!
Pastor Tim’s Devotional
March 26, 2020
“Hope, Trust, and Trials”
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Hope and trust are intimately related in the Christian life. In his work, Theology of Hope, Jürgen Moltmann describes Christian hope as, “nothing less than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God.” To say it another way, Christian hope springs forth from our trust in the promises of God. In this passage St. Paul observes how hope and trust work together in the life of the Christian to form our character. He observes that this is especially true when we encounter problems and trials. It is during trying times when things do not go as we had hoped they would, that our faith is tested. Trials always present us with a choice. Will we endure, and continue to trust in the promises of God? Or will we lose hope, and abandon our faith?
What St. Paul learned through the many trials that he faced, was that endurance strengthens our Christian character, imbuing it with the distinctive qualities of Christian hope. A hope, that we come to learn, will not disappoint us because it is based on nothing less than the love and promises of God.
God Bless You,
Pastor David’s Devotional for March 25, 2020
In Hebrews 12:1-2 we hear that we are to “run the race that is set before us…looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Of course, the race that the author of Hebrews is speaking of is life itself—our lives as we seek to be faithful.
In recent days, the race we are running has certainly taken an unexpected turn. A few weeks ago, we all had our routines: our ways of serving in ministry, of caring for ourselves and others, of being about the race that was our lives. Now, much of how we spend our time has changed. And, how we live out our faith is changing.
I think about the changes to how I use my time, and they are significant. It is probably the same for you. Yet, one thing that hasn’t changed is the race. This is our lives. That hasn’t changed. We are trying to live faithfully. That hasn’t changed. We look to Jesus who has gone before us and knows where he is leading us. That hasn’t changed. Rather than thinking of this time as a time of change, how about we think of it as a time of new opportunity. Right now, running the race set before us is filled with new opportunities to connect with people, to care for people, to pray for people, to keep our eyes upon Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
As I think about the race that we are running, questions come to my mind: with the race having taken this unexpected turn, how do we best serve one another? Where is Jesus leading us now? What does faithfulness as a disciple of Jesus Christ look like today—for you, for me? Think about it. And while you are thinking about it, here is another question: How can you, how can I, be a blessing to someone else today? Maybe the answer to all these questions is the same.
God bless you, and I will see you online!
After logging on to my computer, the first thing I see is a slide show of pictures taken while at our place bordering Zion National Park. This morning, the first picture I saw reminded me of something I wrote one summer evening:
“It was late in the evening when we arrived at our Zion property. The moon was new, so the sky was especially dark. At 7000 feet elevation, the stars are spectacular. I stepped out of the truck and couldn’t help but notice the Big Dipper; it was right in front of me and appeared to be ever so close in the night sky. To my left, I could see the red hue of Mars. Saturn was close by. Directly above me I could see the Milky Way—the center of our Galaxy. Seeing thousands upon thousands of stars, it is unimaginable that we see but a fraction of the stars in our home galaxy. Some 200 Billion stars call the Milky Way home. Unimaginable!
Looking upward toward the stars, I think back to the Psalmist who, a long, long time ago looked up at the stars and seeing what I now see wrote these words:
“O Lord, our Sovereign
How majestic is your name in all the earth…
When I look to the heavens, the work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars that you have established;
What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
Mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God
And crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm8:1, 3-5)
Our lives matter! Looking upward at the vastness of creation, when it would be easy to begin to think that our lives are insignificant in the grand scope of things, the Psalmist reminds us that our lives matter because God says so. And, God—who created the Milky Way by speaking a word: “let there be,” continues to speak:
You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased. You did not choose me—I chose you! You are beloved children of God, beautiful to behold. God wants us to know our lives matter—we matter to God.”
I am so grateful to have been reminded of this message this morning, especially given all we are going through right now. So many of our folks are confined to homes. All of us are experiencing great changes to our everyday living, and it is disconcerting if not downright scary. The corona virus has impacted our lives in countless ways. But, as concerning as the virus is, and as big of an impact as it has had on our lives, it does not have power over God or God’s word to us: our lives matter!
The night sky is beautiful—so very, very beautiful. But, never be mistaken, and never forget: so are you! So am I! Created in the image of the One whose creation brings me to a sense of awe, Almighty God knows us and has great hopes and dreams for our lives.
The stars above give witness to Almighty God, a little of whose light dwells in us.
Thanks be to God.