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John 12:27-33 March 26, 2015

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Jesus had been teaching about glorifying God. How to do that?¬† By giving up our will and letting God do God’s will. By letting go of our life, like Jesus would on the cross – like a flower dies and goes to seed in order to bring forth new life.

God responds to Jesus’ prayer to glorify God’s name, by speaking “from heaven” so that people wondered if they heard thunder. God said, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

By dying, Jesus glorified God and brought thousands of believers to God. M.Thomas Thangaraj, the devotional¬†writer, states that God’s glory is revealed when communities of peace and justice emerge. He refers to a new venue of obedience when we offer ourselves as God’s instruments of peace.

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Jeremiah 31:31-34 March 24, 2015

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God promised “a new covenant” with the ancient Jews long after the one they broke after rescuing them from Egyptian slavery. God now writes God’s laws on our hearts instead of on stone tablets. No longer do they have to be passed on from person to person. God meets each of us individually, forgiving our individual sins when we are open to looking at ourselves with God’s help.

M.Thomas Thangaraj, the devotional writer for this selection, notes this is the only instance a “new covenant” is mentioned in the Bible. God’s relationship is steadfast, like a permanent marriage relationship. It can’t be broken but can be renewed.

Exodus 20:1-17 March 15, 2015

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Verses 4-6: God commanded the people not to make or worship idols, in any form. God described himself as a “jealous” God who would punish idol worshippers as well as 4 generations of their children. But to those who love and obey his commandments, God promised “steadfast love” to the 1000th generation!

Bill Dockery, the devotion writer for this section, brings up an interesting bit of trivia I didn’t know. Those granite Ten Commandments monuments in front of hundreds of courthouses around the country?  They were part of Cecil B. DeMille’s publicity for his 1956 movie! Those same statues that are church/state political fodder were all a publicity stunt!  Perhaps this was a form of idolatry, since, as Mr. Dockery points out, “these principles from God should be posted in the individual heart” and used to guide our actions toward God and the world.

The Ten Commandments are our code for living with God, ourselves and family, and everyone else.

Dockery brings up another interesting fact: it is not only short, with the exception of not worshipping idols, it does not list specific punishments for breaking the laws.

Live life following God’s commandments and grow closer to God.

Psalm 19:1-6, 7-14 March 8, 2015

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The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

We’ve been singing a version of these words for weeks as both our church and CSUCI have been singing the music from Haydn’s Creation.

There is so much in this 14-verse psalm, no wonder the devotional divides it in two.

We’re in Kings Beach for 4 1/2 days of skiing and visiting with Sam and John & Judy. We’ve been blessed over and over with the beauty and awe of starry skies, majestic snowy mountains and calm lake sunsets. Creation does wordlessly celebrate “the glory of God!”

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After praising the awe inspiring creation, the second half of this psalm praises God’s laws and commandments. May our words and thoughts be “acceptable” to our Creator.

The heavens, waters, flora and fauna live as they were created to be. We humans regularly go off-task, destroying and maiming the rest of creation as well as other humans. We need to follow God’s laws and precepts in order to bring about God’s kingdom.

We ask God to “clear me from hidden faults” and to help us become “innocent of great transgression.”

Added to this reading is Exodus 20:1-17, the Ten Commandments. Here’s our basic “code of conduct”: how humans should relate to God, how to take care of ourselves and family, and how to live with other people.

If we would all ask for – and follow – daily guidance, and that our actions, words and thoughts be “acceptable” to our rock and redeemer, what a better world it would be!

Mark 8:31-33, 34-38 March 4, 2015

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Jesus told his disciples how he would be tortured and killed. But when Peter told him he should try to avoid this path, Jesus rebuked him as he had done to the devil during temptation in the desert.

0ur worldly life can’t understand God’s ways much of the time. Jesus said we have to give up our lives in order to gain the life God promises. Sacrifice for others is what we should strive for. It’s what Jesus modeled.

The devotion writer tells of the time her husband was sick with leukemia and I can relate a bit with Sam’s recent critical time in the ICU. When there is nothing you can do but depend on others, particularly upon God’s grace, THAT’S when you appreciate life most!

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