The Holy Spirit

Be still, the dawn is breaking, listen as the blackbird sings
Find a heart to share your journey together for all life brings
The hunger and the longing, the wonder and the will
Your world is enchanted, when your mind is still
Be still, be still, be still

From Celtic Woman, Ancient Land

 

The morning is my favorite time to read devotions. The house is quiet. The day hasn’t begun. What a perfect way to begin the day and get my focus on God and not on problems, deadlines or other worries. I especially like it when the sun is shining, the weather is warm enough so I can have the patio door open and hear the birds in the backyard chirping as they gather at the feeders.

I am reminded of the song that Celtic Woman sang in their recent PBS special, Ancient Land entitled Be Still. This is the perfect time to “be still”.

This is the time of day I am particularly thinking of the Holy Spirit. I feel the wind moving and coming in through the open windows. I see the wind moving the trees. The presence of the Holy Spirit is all around me, which is comforting. The Holy Spirit was a gift that Jesus left with his disciples (and us) before he ascended into heaven.

This is a time to get in touch with nature and recognize the Holy Spirit in everything and everywhere. Letting go of the TV, computer, yes, even your smart phone and listening. Thinking about the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Thinking about how the Holy Spirit is talked about all through the Bible – beginning with the creation story when God breathed into the nostrils of Adam and gave him life. Life depends on breath.

When I think about how we have been entrusted with caring for God’s creation, it saddens me to look around seeing how we fail. Man-made pollution is in the oceans, air and land.

How do we turn this around? One person at a time. When you feel the wind on your face, think about God’s Holy Spirit, thank God for this gift and find ways to show your thankfulness by being a positive force in taking care of the creation – land, water, animals – that God left to us.

Joyce Pauly

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for leaving the Holy Spirit as a Helper that is with us always. (John 14: 15-17) The Teacher who will teach us all things. (John 1:26) The Intercessor who helps us in our weakness. (Isaiah 11:2) And the gift giver who gives us spiritual gifts to accomplish God’s will. (1 Corinthians 12: 1-11). Help me to feel the Holy Spirit moving over the earth and to remember that your Spirit lives in me. Amen.

May 15, 2019

Psalm 23 is one of my favorite readings in the Bible. My Sisters and Brothers and I sang it at my Mom’s funeral. This psalm was also a favorite of my Mom’s too!

We had pictures surrounding us in our home of the Lord as a Good Shepherd and another picture of Jesus knocking on the door. My Mom wanted us to feel God’s love as well as invite others to know him and his endless love.

 

We are so blessed to be a sheep and a part of the herd. Apart from our SHEPHERD, we are helpless. Let us be reminded of his promises today. 

   * Having God in your life is MORE THAN ENOUGH!!

   * God will ALWAYS strengthen us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He rest us in green pastures, THE BEST type of grass to eat!

   * God gives us instructions. God WANTS THE BEST FOR US!

   * God will protect us when danger comes. Life is not always tranquil or a mountaintop experience, we become more aware of his love and protection in the valleys of our life.

   * God will provide the best table for us filled with joy, and anoint us with the purest oil.

   * God rewards those who follow him. This psalm ends where our lives are headed-

GOD’S HOME!

 

God is ALWAYS WITH US!

Blessings to all the herd!

 

Jacque Ortegel

Jacque Ortegel - April 24, 2019

Today my Sister Annette would be turning 60. She was called to her heavenly home at age 43.

17 years have past and we all miss her dearly. She is enjoying her new home, I’m sure.

My faith reassures that for me. Our Lord’s resurrection assures that for me.

The POWER of the RESURRECTION.....even those who were close to Jesus didn’t understand at first. Jesus called his disciples at times “little of faith”

Today, let go of that “do-it-yourself” attitude and let the POWER of the RESURRECTION live through you and guide you!

Feel that EVERLASTING JOY and the HOPE of tomorrow!

Let us pray;

Dear Lord,

Thank you for dying on the cross. Thank you for the POWER of YOUR RESURRECTION!

You live eternally to save, to grant us rich supply, to guide us with your eye, to bless us with your love, to help us in time of need, to grant us daily breath, to prepare Our mansions, to help us in times of need, to love us to the end. Thank you Lord! We know that OUR REDEEMER LIVES!!!

And ALL GOD’S CHILDREN SAY

AMEN!

Blessings

Jacque Ortegel

Denise Marnen-Jirka - Word of the Week, April 23, 2019

One of my favorite Easter hymns is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and I have an expectation on Easter Sunday to sing it. Many Easters that expectation is met, like this one, and sometimes not. In our reading for Sunday Mary Magdalene and others had an expectation that they would be anointing a dead body and they of course did not. They did not expect to see to men in clothes that gleamed when they entered the tomb. They did not expect to find no body in the tomb. They probably did not expect to be the messengers that Jesus has risen from the dead.

The disciples did not expect this fabulous tale the women told them to be true (although Peter checked it out). They did not expect Jesus to appear to them. I also have to believe they did not expect at that time to travel and preach the Gospel as they did. There were a lot of things that first Easter morning that no one expected to happen or what was about to happen. That is the thing though expect the unexpected from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and amazing things will happen.

 

Prayer: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Amen. (Psalm 118:26-29).

Jan Barker - April 16, 2019

Isaiah 53: 3-6                                                                                   John 10: 30-33

 “The Jews took up stone again to stone him.  Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?”  The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”

A few years ago, a young teen girl was taking a piano lesson from me.  I asked her if she was going to attend a particular event that our church (at that time) was planning for the upcoming week.  She got very quiet and I could tell she wanted to say something but did not know how to say it.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said, “I need to tell you something, but I know you will hate me when I tell you.”  I said that no matter what she had to tell me that I would never hate her but only love her as always.  Then, with much hesitation, she told me that she did not believe in God.  As somewhat shocking as this was, because her family was very active in the church, I said a quick prayer to as God to guide my words.  I took her hands and looked directly into her eyes.  I said, “I am glad that you told me and no, I do not hate you.  What you believe (at this time in your life) is how you feel.  I will respect that and not think any less of you.  I can only tell you why I do believe in God.  When I look around me and see the beautiful blue sky, green trees, gorgeous birds, darling animals, sweet babies, insects, and daily miracles, I know that God exists and is still working for us every day.  I know that He loves me unconditionally and that I can talk to him anytime and anywhere I want to.  He is my best friend who will never, ever leave my side.”  She listened intently but said nothing.  A few months after this, she quit piano as her teen life was getting very busy.  I am no longer at that church so do not see here anymore.  I can only hope and pray that she has experienced some special times in her life that have brought her to God.  I hope that perhaps she will remember what I said.  I feel as if God spoke through me that day and I hope it was the right things to say.

The Jews wanted to stone Jesus, not for the good deeds he did in the name of God but rather because He was making Himself God.  They did not realize that God had sent him as His son to show the people what God can do.  I would add that if you are ever in the same situation that I was in, just tell that person why you believe in God and of the things that God does that we, as humans, cannot do.

 Dear God, thank you for being inside of me and guiding me in what to say to my young “doubting Thomas”.Please watch over her throughout her life and make yourself known to her along the way.Keep her safe and happy.Thank you for the wonders you give us every day that only you can give us.Amen

Mary Beth Frederick - April 11, 2019

I am about to do a new thing;
                                          now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

                                                            Isaiah 43:19

 

 

One week before Holy Week and I have hit rock bottom.  Cream sneaked its way back into my coffee about week two. A  4 a.m. wake up call and the rest was history.  My fifteen minutes of silent contemplation lasted a bit longer. Two weeks on the road in other peoples homes with dogs, relatives and  children as my near constant companions that fifteen  minutes was hard to find and I too quickly gave up looking. When I was younger my Lenten practices required heavier lifting and I rose to the challenge. No Caffeine. No potatoes ( hey, I'm Irish and German!). Daily bible study guides. Weekly Wednesday night services without a miss. Am I old, lazy or have I drunk the water of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined “cheap grace”?  That is to say, “Hey it's OK, God will forgive me so no big deal. “

 

Today's verse from Isaiah speaks hope and renewal to me.  God says, “ I am about to do a new thing...”  It's true that God does not care about the coffee or potatoes.  God, however does care about the Spirit within and how that Spirit manifests itself in his kingdom. How do my actions reflect the depth and width of the love He has bestowed on me?  Today, like every other day, by God's grace I have the opportunity to perceive and be a part of that “ new thing”.  I can be a little different, more Christlike, than the day before.  So today will I be a “new thing”?   I'll have to finish my coffee first.

Word of the Week, April 8, 2019

Paul’s trip to Athens Greece (highlighted in our reading from Acts: 17: 16-25) takes place on his second missionary journey which was from 50-52CE. Paul made three missionary journeys in his lifetime, walking into all sorts of situations. In our reading from Acts his first dialog is with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. The Epicurean’s believed in gravitating to things that were pleasurable and avoiding pain. They were interested in the finer things in life and God for them was just some being out there not very interested in the world. The Stoics believed that virtue was the highest calling and that one should use logical reasoning to control their emotion. Hearing about Jesus, discipleship, and taking up the cross not to mention having faith didn’t appear to play well with either group. Despite this Paul continued on and learned from the experience.

Paul would have walked past the Acropolis, and the towering buildings of the Parthenon and Erechtheion. Even at Paul’s time these buildings would have been built 450 years before his arrival there. He also would have walked past many pagan temples and one even dedicated to the “unknown God” (talk about keeping your bases covered). For Paul Christianity was not narrow, he met these people where they were. He recognizes that the Athenians are a religious people he does not ridicule their Gods, he was able to use the “unknown God” to tell them about our God and about Jesus. He tells them that how our God is present in the world and cares for his people. Paul shows us that we need to meet people where they are, if we hope to have dialog with them, about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.

April 4, 2019 Devotion

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

 The elder brother had every right to be stunned at the sudden turn of events.  The younger brother arrogantly had demanded his inheritance in advance of their father's death. Their father was sorely grieved, but had agreed. The portion his brother took had depleted the family's wealth and removed assets that might have continued to appreciate prior to their father's death and increased the elder brother's eventual inheritance. Now his penniless brother had returned and his father had lavished him with gifts and thrown a party in his honor. Not only that, but the party started before the elder brother had even returned home from work.  Why had he not been consulted?  Why was his love, loyalty and hard work not recognized in a similar way?  Or in any way, come to think of it? No, he was left standing on the outside looking in as if he didn't matter at all.

His father had come out and tried to explain it.  Your  brother was lost, but has been found, has returned.  It is a time to rejoice. Come on in and join the celebration, he said.   I have love enough for both of you because you are my sons. Everything I have I share with you.  As he remained in the darkness outside looking in, the elder brother pondered the implication: My father's love is his to share. He loves his sons because we are his sons, regardless of what we do or say. Merit is irrelevant. All that he has he will share with his sons, but my father will lavish gifts as it suits him.

Did the elder brother join in the celebration and reconciliation?  Or did he remain outside looking in? I wonder.

 

Mary Beth Frederick

April 1, 2019 Word of the Week

“My God, My God why have you forsaken me”? We are all familiar with this Good Friday lament. The Story of Job many consider a parable rather than actual history, that is a story to teach an actual spiritual lesson. In the story Job we me Satan, but this is not the Satan of the New Testament. In the Hebrew we meet ha-Satan, "the Satan.". Many bible translations omit “the”, and what we really have here is more of “the office of”. Satan translates here as “the accuser”, The accuser says to God, he is faithful when things are going well, would that be true when they are not?

The story debunks the idea that good things happen when we are good and bad things happen when we are bad. We would like to think that those who are corrupt, dishonest, or bad will get their just deserts, but that is not always true from our perspective. We also like to think that good people will be rewarded and that is not always true from our perspective. The story is about having faith through the bad and the good. Later in the story of Job we find that God has a much wider view than just little old me, more may be at play. We also know from the New Testament that God is with us, Christ is with us and the Holy Spirit are with us. Bad things and suffering may happen, but it is faith that will get us through those times.

 

Prayer: I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Amen. (Psalm 121).

March 27, 2019

We have all been in the footsteps of the “Prodigal Son”, the Brother and even the Father.

Remember the time when you felt ashamed, all alone, or so far away?

Remember the time when you saw and felt with your heart someone in your life who was ashamed, all alone, or so far away? These times brings tears to my eyes.

The feeling and empty hole of being lost. Each day being a struggle to return to some type of normalcy, whatever that is.

Thank God for people in our lives to be Christlike in those times. The ones who will help you lift your head, be there for you in your lost times, pray with you, and offer grace. Those are the “Welcome Home” times in our lives.

Blessings and love,

Jacque Ortegel

Waiting...

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14

 

 

“When God closes one door, He opens another.”  Notice the old adage stops there and fails to mention that in the meantime one is in the corridor.  “Corridor” as in hospital, school, office – that dimly lit place where one waits. And waits. And in turn may grow impatient, get angry or fall into despair.

 Psalm 27:14 dispenses with the candy coating and delivers a daunting simple directive: “Wait for the Lord”. The psalmist knew his Bible stories.  Abraham who was promised fatherhood of a nation was a 100 years old before he held his child.  Joseph suffered decades as a slave and prisoner until this childhood vision came true. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before entering the Promised land. Noah and his crew sailed through 40 days and nights of rain to wait who knows how long for the waters to recede and the olive trees to recover sufficiently to produce a branch a dove might pluck.   Waiting, the psalmist warns, is a lifestyle.

While waiting in life's corridors it is good to remember Jesus's promise to never leave nor forsake us. We can take heart in that.  God fully knows the human emotions of impatience, anger and despair and takes no offense.  He appreciates authenticity.  He listens to prayers of frustration and desires as much as those of thanksgiving and praise. God can use the time in the corridor to draw us more closely to him as he did Abraham and Joseph, if we are open to his touch.  Through his mercy and grace He will grant us the strength needed await the next open door.

Mary Beth Frederick

"Love is Found Within"

While watching one of the Hallmark channel’s Christmas movies (yes, I enjoy them) one of the song lyrics stuck in my head, “Love is found within.” The phrase just wouldn’t leave my head. As I thought more about what the phrase meant to me, I realized that is how I feel when I walk into church for worship. We have a great Gathering Area that is full of smiling faces, people who greet you and care about you. I definitely feel the love within my church. Who wouldn’t want to come to a place where you are surrounded with love and caring?

The phrase also means the love that is found within our own hearts. When we are surrounded by the outpouring of love from our Christian family, how can we not be filled up with the love that Jesus gives to all of us? In fact, we are so filled up that it pours out of us in our actions. We love our neighbors, not just because this is what Jesus commands us to do, but because we can’t help but share this overwhelming love that overflows from our hearts to others.

Blessings on your day and spread the love within,

Joyce Pauly