Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meeting Face to Face

Today's reading: III John

...Instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. III John 14 NRSV

There is something wonderful about writing this blog and knowing folks from all over the world can be touched or inspired each day. However, the written word can never replace a face-to-face meeting.

A couple of years ago, I participated in a clergy support group through a ministry called Plowpoint. We were clergywomen from all over the United States and we met bi-weekly via conference call. We did this for a year but our biggest complaint was not being able to see each other's faces. Then, when the year was over, we were given the rare opportunity to meet together all in one place with our coach. What a weekend we experienced! And what joy and powerful grace was felt when we were all able to talk together face to face.

There is nothing like meeting and talking face to face. We may not see each others' faces but I pray for you all and hold you in my heart!

God, thank you for the gift of blogging, especially when it gives us an opportunity to spend more time with you. Help us to appreciate when we meet with other believers face to face. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking in the Truth

Today's reading: II John

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we have been commanded by the Father. II John 4 NRSV

I don't know how old the "elect lady's" children are at the time of this letter. But the writer of II John has obviously met her children. Some of these same children are following Jesus. The implied message is that not all of them are doing so. Perhaps also some of these same children are believers in Jesus but are following a different teacher who would be called a deceiver.

As a parent, I struggle with helping my own child follow Jesus. I do all I can as a pastor but sometimes I wonder how well I am doing as a parent. There have been some teachable moments but am I doing all I can to make sure my child is praying, reading scripture and learning more about the Christian life? Helping with a class of sixth graders has made me realize that our children know little about church, believing or the bible by this age. What can I do as a parent to change that?

What can you do to help children you know walk in the truth?

God, I don't have the answers. I need your help to guide the children I know and care about. May you provide the means and ways for me to teach them your truths. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Go Ahead and Ask

Today's reading: I John 5

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
I John 5:14 NRSV

What kinds of requests and petitions should we be making to God?

According to today's scripture, we have three guidelines in helping us know for what we should pray.

The first is our boldness in Christ. In believing Christ, we have life. This life is what helps us to love one another. This life also gives us assurance and confidence to approach the throne of grace at all times and in all occasions.

The second is that we must ask anything. Nothing is too small or too insignificant to pray about and petition God. Just go ahead and ask God. We don't have to wait for a major request to pray.

The third is the rest of the second guideline: according to God's will. We ask anything according to God's will. However, do any of us really know God's will? We may think we do and we may strive to do God's will (hopefully we are all striving to do so). However, I don't think any of us truly know God's will. That said, I believe that it never hurts to go ahead and pray. Ask. Anything. And know that if it is God's will, God hears our request.

Let's try this now!

God, we approach you with boldness today. We want to ask you: _____________________________. We know that if it is your will, you will hear our petition. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Love One Another

Today's reading: I John 3-4

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. I John 3: 11 NRSV

If only Christians would follow this simple message.

Imagine what ministry would take place through such loving relationships! What happiness would be found as one grew up in the church -- who would want to leave such a loving atmosphere? If Christians loved one another as they have been commanded to do, there would be less comments in the media about how hypocritical church members and churches are to one another. In fact, if we Christians spent more time loving one another we would work more together and possibly have less denominations and splinter groups.

If we loved one another, folks would be lining up in droves to be visitors and we would have no end to new members. Our love would shine out of our hearts and be seen clearly by those on the outside.

However, we don't really love one another. We are too busy gossiping, criticizing, judging and ignoring each other. We are only interested in our own agendas rather than kingdom building. And when we do participate in ministry, we don't do it in a loving manner.

But this is the message we have heard from the beginning: that we should love one another.

Let's start today.

God, help us to love one another. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Today's reading: I John 1-2

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. I John 1:5 NRSV

God is light. No darkness in God at all.

We need to remember this on such a day as Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day when folks are full of high carbs and sugar, don't sleep much and stand in line for hours in order to discover the bargain they wanted is sold out. Tempers are high and anger is just on the verge of erupting. People end up feeling miserable rather than satisfied.

If that isn't darkness, I don't know what is.

Yet, God is still light.

God still beckons us to what is truly important.

And it has nothing to do with Christmas shopping.

God, you are light and in you is no darkness at all. Help us to focus on your light rather than the light of stores with special sales. May we recall what is really important. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be thankful this day and all days!

Blessings, Amelia

P.S. Decided to take this day off and enjoy time with my family!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remaining Stable

Today's reading: 2 Peter 3

You therefore, beloved, since are you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried way with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 2 Peter 3: 17 NRSV

How do we remain stable?

I have been taking a class on the Bowen Theory of Family Systems. In this theory, Bowen proposed that we all are basically unstable, easily swayed by our emotions. In fact, our class has discussed that the only one who could possibly be considered stable would be Christ himself.

The writer of 2 Peter is suggesting that we can remain stable by not getting caught up in lawlessness. I am interpreting lawlessness as not only being sinful behavior but also silly, meaningless behavior that can lead to sinfulness.  We hear in 2 Peter where many are being misled by false teachers. Former followers are seeking paths of incorrect truths and therefore are becoming unstable. So, lawlessness would also include wandering from the truth of Christ.

Have you ever been unstable? How did you get there?

Have you ever been stable in your life and faith? What kept you balanced?

How can we avoid the things that keep us off balanced in our lives and our faith while embracing that which helps us remain stable?

God, help us not to be carried away with the error of lawlessness and lose our stability. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Masters You?

Today's reading: 2 Peter 2

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 2 Peter 2: 19 NRSV

For people are slaves to whatever masters them.

What masters you?

The Internet? Facebook perhaps?


Video games?




Or is it alcohol? Pornography? Drugs?

Perhaps your job is your master.

Or your family.

There are good masters and bad ones. But we can become slaves to whatever does master us.

God, we want the freedom that Christ has bought for us. Save us, Lord, from slavery to the other things in life that have become our masters.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Precious Faith

Today's reading: 2 Peter 1

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.... 2 Peter 1:1 NRSV

Your faith is as precious as the faith of the original disciples.

Can you imagine that? Your faith is just as precious in God's sight as the faith of Simon Peter - the one whom Christ himself asked to lead the church.

Peter was special. Even when he denied his best friend and teacher, Peter was still the recipient of the authority of the risen Christ. Peter was a personal witness. Peter was a leader and received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Peter was exceptional, loved, lauded and given much power by God.

And you are no less special, exceptional, loved, lauded and powerful.

Your faith is no less wonderful in God's sight.

You may think Peter is going to be interviewing you at the pearly gates but I think you will simply be seated next to him at the heavenly banquet. And what a celebration that will be!

Don't waste any of that precious faith you have. It is special -- and so are you!

God, I thank you for every one who reads my thoughts today. They are indeed precious, honored and loved in your sight. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Be Alert

Today's reading: I Peter 5

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5: 8 NRSV

Anytime I am walking to my car in a parking lot, I am especially vigilant. I have my keys out and ready to unlock my door. I notice who is around me. Does anyone seem suspicious? What car is going to back out without looking to see if I am behind them?  Does my car look okay? As I open my door, is anyone trying to approach me? I listen carefully and get in quickly, locking my doors.

I suppose I sound kind of paranoid. But I would rather be vigilant than a victim of crime.

In the same way we are to be on the alert for the devil. I Peter tells us to be disciplined. When I hear that word I think of being steadfast in praying, reading scripture, going to worship, being around other Christians, receiving communion, tithing and serving. Some folks might also add fasting or being hospitable or more loving.

What keeps you disciplined?

How can you be more vigilant?

God, help us to stay alert and discipline ourselves. Set up a hedge of protection around us even as we are drawn closer to you in our actions and thoughts. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Speak, Serve, Glorify

Today's reading: I Peter 4

Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. I Peter 4:11 NRSV

If you speak, speak as if you are speaking God's words. I suppose that would put a stop to many things I want to say! And I don't think this is just about preaching or teaching. This scripture says that when you open your mouth, make sure that is something that God would say. I am not naive enough to believe that there aren't quite a few folks who think that their own opinions are also God's opinions.  But I think it is enough to begin with what we ourselves are saying.

When you serve, serve with all the courage, energy and enthusiasm that God will give you. Don't act like you are a martyr or no one else can do it like you can. Do all you do in service as though God is in your hands and feet. Don't worry about the attitude of those serving at your side -- just ask God for the strength to serve.

If you do these things, God will be glorified.

Let us pray: To God belongs the glory and the power forever and ever. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, November 19, 2010

Repay with a blessing

Today's reading: I Peter 3

Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called - that you might inherit a blessing. I Peter 3:9 NRSV

This sounds like good Christian advice, doesn't it?  Don't repay evil by doing evil. Don't abuse if you have been abused. Instead, bless those who do evil to you and abuse you. Then you will be blessed.

Enter the real world.

Abuse hurts. It's ramifications can be physical, mental and psychological.

Evil is such an overwhelming force that it is easy to succumb to revenge or depression.

Who can repay with a blessing in those types of circumstances? Well, perhaps those who stand to inherit a blessing can bless in those circumstances. Certainly a mature Christian, one whose faith is deep and wide, could do it. A believer who allowed the Spirit to protect, guide and give courage could do it.

Many Christians at the the time this letter was written suffered more abuse and evil than most of us can dream or imagine. But they were able to stand firm in their belief, pray for their enemies and inherit the blessing.

So, it isn't impossible. We just have to really want to inherit the blessing.

God, many of us suffer abuse and evil. You instruct us to return blessings not cursing on those who cause our suffering. Help us, Lord, to do so at all times and places. It is through the strength of Jesus that we pray this prayer. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Message to America

Today's reading: I Peter 2

As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. I Peter 2: 16 NRSV

We talk a lot about freedom in the United States. But sometimes I wish we would define freedom. Our forefathers desired religious, governmental and economic freedom. Today we see freedom as simply the right to do whatever we want. For many Americans freedom means no boundaries, no accountability and no care for others.

I Peter speaks of Christians as free people. That is, Christians are free from worshiping Caesar. Christians owe their allegiance to God. However, they are not to use this as an excuse to live as anarchists. Believing in God does not mean that one can do whatever the heck one feels like. Owing no allegiance to the ruling power does not make an excuse for not obeying laws or refusing to be a good citizen.

Perhaps we should listen to I Peter! We do not owe our allegiance to America. We owe our allegiance to God. However, that doesn't mean we should break laws or not pay our taxes. What it does mean is that we must first strive to be good Christians. Then we can be good citizens. There is no law against that!

God, you want us to live as those who are free from slavery to sin and death. Yet, we often live as though we are completely free of any rules or obligations. Help us to sort in our heads what is of you and what is an excuse just to do as we please. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holy People

Today's reading: I Peter 1

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. I Peter 13 NRSV

How can we prepare our minds for action?

What does it mean to discipline ourselves?

What does setting all our hope on Christ really mean?

I Peter goes on to explain all of these. The main point is that we are called to live as holy people. And being holy means to be set apart, different from those around us. Jesus has paid the price for us all and through belief in him we are made pure. In our lives of salvation, we are called to live in a different manner. That is what we must think about and how we are to set out minds for action, discipline ourselves and set out hope in Christ.

We are called to think about how we should act as holy people. We are called to discipline ourselves as believers in Christ. We are called to set our hope not on earthly things but upon Christ.

Let us set our minds, bodies and hope on our calling this day.

God, you call us to be holy people. May we think, live and act as your holy people today and always. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are any among you sick?

Today's reading: James 5

Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5: 14 NRSV

It seems like when November begins, all the illnesses begin to spread around from group to group. I hear of sick children home from school, folks in the church absent because of illness and how to prevent the spread of germs in the media. And I begin to dread the holiday season because I just know I am going to catch something. I suppose it is because I get highly stressed and very tired, making myself especially vulnerable to diseases.

Well, James gives advice but not on how to avoid getting sick. Instead, we are told that those that are sick should ask for the elders of the church to come pray over them and anoint them with oil. In reality, I know that sick folks rarely ask for folks to come pray over them or anoint them. Usually they ask for prayer from the congregation as a whole. But they neither ask for nor expect hands-on "live" prayer. It is interesting that the congregation is not told to go pray over them but for the sick person to ask for the prayer. And not just prayer but anointing of oil, which we do infrequently in my own congregation.

How often have you asked for prayer when you have been sick? Have you asked to be anointed with oil? To be prayed over by a group from a church?

God, when we are sick please help us to ask for prayer. And give us courage to ask for a laying-on of hands and anointing of oil in the name of our precious Lord. We pray in his name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planning Ahead

Today's reading: James 4

Yet, you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4: 14 NRSV

I find this verse a bit depressing. I'm a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes? Not very promising. Yet, it does remind me that the world does not revolve around me. It is a humbling verse.

What it means is that I am not in control. Boasting about what I may do or not do in the future (as it says in the proceeding verse) is simply not of God. I don't think it means not to plan ahead but perhaps to add the phrase: if the Lord wills it. It is all about accepting the fact that you and I are not in control; God is.

So, what are your plans for today and tomorrow? Next week? Christmas holidays? 2011? Perhaps you and I should spend some time praying about our immediate and distant futures.

God, we have such plans for our future! Whether it is for this very day or the next year, we sometimes believe that it is up to us to carry out these plans. We forget that you are the one in control. We overlook the understanding of your will. We do not trust your plans for us, plans for our welfare and not for harm, to give us a future with hope. Forgive us, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Watch your mouth!

Today's reading: James 3

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
James 3: 10 NRSV

Watch your mouth!

Do you find yourself complimenting a friend or family member one moment but within the next hour screaming at your kids? Or do you say, "God bless you!" when someone sneezes yet find yourself cussing like a sailor when you injure yourself?

James says that we cannot use our mouths for both. Either we will be blessing or cursing. And James seems to indicate that we most likely will be doing the latter.

This is because we do not keep our tongues in check. It is like walking a dog. If you walk a dog and let the dog lead then the dog is walking you. This means you will stop when the dog wants to stop, go when the dog is pulling you down the street, and head into the direction that you most likely do not want to go.

It is much more pleasing to lead the dog and have the dog walk by your side. Not only do you feel good about the walk, but you have probably made all your neighbors feel pretty good as well.

Let's learn to curb our tongues!

God, you have created our tongues to speak and you want us to speak your word and your blessing. But, Lord, so often we use our tongues for malice or hurt or cursing. Forgive us and help us to curb our tongues. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

Today's reading: James 2

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." James 2:8 NRSV

James is in the midst of trying to convince folks in the church not to show favoritism to those members who are wealthy, good-looking, powerful, etc. He is trying to get them to see that loving your neighbor as yourself includes the poor, dirty, smelly, ethnic and different-looking folks. He says that if a person judges others with love, that person will be judged by God with love. Likewise, if we judge someone harshly or on our own expectations, we will be judged by God in the same way.  If you really loved your neighbor as yourselves, you would not have this favoritism problem, James argues.

You and I need to take a good look to see if we are truly loving others as ourselves, especially in the worshiping community. Do we show favoritism to those who work harder, give more money or have positions of power in the church? Do we speak more often to those persons who like us and favor us? Do we welcome God's guests who look more like us rather than those who look different?

Spend sometime today thinking about whether you show prejudice or love on Sunday mornings.

God, I pray that we all will love our neighbors as ourselves on Sundays... and the other six days of the week. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today's reading: James 1

...For your anger does not produce God's righteousness. James 1: 20 NRSV

I know I have written about anger before. It happens to be one of my many weaknesses. I realized that again last night when I lost my temper with my dog, my son and anyone else who was in earshot.

Nothing good ever comes of getting angry and acting upon it.

Certainly James teaches that anger is not going to produce a right relationship with God.

It isn't going to produce a right relationship with anyone else, either. Even if that anyone is a pet.

What does anger do then? Well, anger in itself is not bad it is simply an emotion. It is when we let anger take over our minds, bodies, mouths, and, quite possibly, our souls that relationships are destroyed. That is the hard part because anger is the one emotion that I can easily give free reign in my consciousness. I simply let anger take over. Easy to do. Not so easy to pick up the pieces afterwards. Sound familiar to you?

Why do we give anger so much power and control?

I am constantly trying to answer that question. Haven't yet come up with anything. Perhaps you can answer that question. I pray we can prevent our anger from taking over!

God, help us to prevent anger, or any one emotion, take over our thoughts and actions. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Request for Prayer

Today's reading: Hebrews 13

Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. Hebrews 13:18 NRSV

I would appreciate your prayers as I attempt to follow God's vision and nudging for my blogs. As many of you may know, I have this devotional blog and an additional blog in which I review books from a faith perspective. I would like to keep this blog pretty much as it is, with only some superficial improvements. However, I would really like to expand my other blog. Or I should say God is nudging me to do so.

As a non-technical person and a busy pastor, wife and mother, that is quite a challenge! I appreciate your prayers that I can remain true to the purpose of my blogs and "act honorably in all things."

Thanks for your prayers!

May God bless you this day.


Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The conviction of things not seen....

Today's reading: Hebrews 11-12

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

This bible verse is on my wall in my office. I mean literally on my wall! I ordered these words through a website (thanks also to a general friend) and stuck them on the wall. Many people think I have actually painted theses words on the wall. So, this verse is really powerful for me.

This verse is also very challenging for me as well. I am the type of person who likes to be in control and know where she is going. That means visualizing my destination. The surprising part of this verse is that we should hope for something we cannot see. This makes no logical sense to me. However, Hebrews highlights the faith of many Old Testament heroes, who followed God yet never reached the part of salvation through Jesus Christ. They were faithfully following even when they could not see the end. They continued to do as God asked even though there was no clear road of salvation for them.

Do you, also, feel more comfortable when you can clearly see your goals? Do you think your faith is made stronger when you know where you are going? Or do you think your faith could use a bit more trust in something you cannot see?

God, I don't have the answers to my questions I am asking folks in this devotional. I do know that you have something even better planned for us than we could even ask for or imagine. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eagerly Waiting For Him

Today's reading: Hebrews 9-10

...So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28 NRSV

I always have pictured the second coming of Christ as this sort of horrific picture of Christ blazing through the sky with red eyes and a really mean look on his face, swinging a sword. It is a frightening image, probably brought about by my own imaginative interpretation of Revelation. And I find it especially frightening because I wonder if I am really going to be among the sheep or the goats. Am I too much a Pharisee and not enough of a sinner to qualify as one of God's chosen?

But Hebrews puts it all into perspective for me.

Christ has already died for sins. And for the sins of many. This means being a sinful Pharisee, too! When Christ comes again, he is not going to be dealing with the sinful. Christ is coming to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

So, the best question for today is, are we eagerly waiting for Christ?

Are have we become complacent and satisfied the way things are in our lives and our world?

Are we looking forward to Christ coming in judgment, to punish others?

Or are we looking forward to simply being in Christ's saving presence?

God, help us to eagerly look forward to Christ's coming. In his name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, November 8, 2010


Today's reading: Hebrews 7-8

Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:27 NRSV

The Jewish faith outlined the process of atoning for sin through sacrifice of animals. This applied to the people and the priests. This was also a daily, weekly, yearly process. There was no once-and-for-all sacrifice.

How different this was from other cultures around them when sacrifice was often human and in order to appease a god's anger or to get what you wanted! This sacrifice was to receive absolution for sins committed against God and others. But the sacrifice was cyclical or seasonal in nature which emphasized the sinfulness of God's people.

Then along comes Jesus, who was not of the priestly class/ the tribe of Levi/a descendant of Aaron. Jesus breaks this whole chain of sacrifice and intermediary. In addition, Jesus had no sin to atone for; his death was for other sinners, not his own sin.

Jesus did it once for all for all of us. May we live as forgiven people.

God, thank you for Jesus' sacrifice for my sins. I am so glad that he does not continue to have to die on the cross for my mistakes. Help me to live as a forgiven person and not wallow in or repeat my sins. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Going on to perfection

Today's reading: Hebrews 5-6

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teachings about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2 NRSV

Let us go on toward perfection...what does that mean, exactly? We have these images of being perfect or like Jesus. But the writer of Hebrews is trying to get us to go on and be mature in our faith - not perfect in the faith! Hebrews tells us that we don't need to be spending time on the basics like repentance and faith, how to do baptisms, when to heal or pray, nor what will happen after our death. Those are basics and need to be left behind for the mature life in faith.

The question for us this morning is: how mature am I? Do I still struggle with understanding the basics of Christianity? Or am I ready to go deeper, learn more and be complete?

God, you call us to go on to perfection or maturity. You want us to be beyond the basics and fully committed in our relationship and life with you. Help us to grow up in our faith, Lord! In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Exhort One Another

Today's reading: Hebrews 3-4

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3: 13 NRSV

I used to think the word "exhort" was something negative, as though you would only exhort someone with whom you dissagreed. Thus, this verse would read: Make sure you criticize and correct your brothers and sisters in Christ everyday so that no one sins! Pretty harsh, isn't it?

However, when I was leading a class on Spiritual Gifts, I learned that the gift of exhortation means to have the supernatural ability to encourage others. These are the Christians you know who always have something complimentary to say to you (whether you are able to accept this is another story). Those with the gift of exhortation will always remember your birthday and anniversary, with a card or special acknowledgment. These are the people you like to have in your cheering section because they will be behind you every step of the way.

So if the word exhort means to encourage, what this verse is saying is: Take time each day to encourage one another in the faith so that no one will become jaded or disappointed.

Now that we know what this verse says, let's take some time today to give at least one Christian we know words of encouragement.

A prayer for you:
God, I thank you for each person reading this devotional. Each one is special to you and I pray that today's message may encourage each of them to encourage someone else this every day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drifting Away

Today's reading: Hebrews 1-2

Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NRSV

Quick! Name one sermon topic or idea that you heard in the last week. Month? Year? Lifetime?

Is there a bible verse going around in your head today?

Did you learn something recently in a bible study that really impacted your journey with God?

What has been your favorite devotional in One Minute Devotionals this year?

Do you remember any sermons, lessons, bible verses or studies that you could tell me about right at this very moment?

The writer of Hebrews wants us to pay more attention to what we are hearing so that we don't drift away from it.

Are you in danger of drifting away?

Are you already out to sea?

Think about these things.

God, help us to pay more attention to what you are trying to tell us through scripture, sermons, bible studies, devotionals and words from our Christian brothers and sisters. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sharing Your Faith

Today's reading: Philemon

I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. Philemon 6 NRSV

Have you ever shared your faith or your faith story with someone else?

How did you feel? What was their response?

Paul writes a letter to his friend Philemon in order for him to receive back the slave that had run away. Paul begins the letter by telling Philemon that he has been praying for Philemon. Specifically, Paul gives thanks to God for Philemon and asks that Philemon's sharing of his faith may be effective. Paul seems to be saying that Philemon will be more effective or motivated to share his faith with others when he sees what good he can do for Christ. Paul goes on to explain that Onesimus, the slave, is now a Christian. The idea seems to be that it has been because of Philemon's own sharing of his faith in his own household that his slave is now his brother in Christ. Paul says, "Philemon, don't punish him because of all the good Christ is going to do in Onesimus' life just as you have done good in your own."

We become more effective and motivated to share our own faith stories when we see the results in the lives of those to whom we have already shared our faith.

God, show us those who have been led to you because, among other things, they heard our own faith testimony. May we be motivated to share more because of the good we see Christ doing in their lives. In His name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Avoiding Stupidity

Today's reading: Titus

But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3: 9 NRSV

Paul is giving Titus, whom he left in Crete to establish some order in the local churches, advice on how to handle divisions and arguments in the churches. This seems to have been specifically involving Jews and Gentiles. In the above verse, Paul is saying, "Don't even start to argue about the scriptures with someone. It just becomes a stupid waste of time." Paul goes further on to say that, after trying to get someone to stop arguing on two different occasions, stop having anything to do with them. It is pointless and can quickly become sinful.

People within and without the church have started arguments and controversies over scripture. That is one reason we have so many denominations today! The same controversies may be one reason so many claim to be Christian yet don't belong to a worshiping congregation. In the end, however, no one really "'wins." People just get angry, stubborn, hateful and vicious. People stop loving one another and invest themselves in being right and hateful.

That indeed is unprofitable and worthless.

God, help us to avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law or any scripture. Help us to see how unprofitable and worthless it is to argue about such things. Fill our hearts instead with peace, love, and contentment. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Proclaim the Message

Today's reading: II Timothy 3-4

...Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. II Timothy 4: 2 NRSV

There was an expectation that people would soon be following whoever preached what they wanted to hear, so that Timothy was given the instruction to use any and all occasions to share the gospel. The fear was that people would turn away from the true gospel and begin following made-up stories that suited their own desires. Timothy was told not to wait until the time seemed right, but to share the message with a constant patience.

I know many people who follow belief practices that fit their own desires. Yet, I often wait until the time is right before proclaiming God's message. Convince, rebuke, and encourage? Possibly. But do I wait until I am in the pulpit? Is it just preaching and in my devotionals? What do people see in the rest of my life?

How are you proclaiming the message? Are you persistent in your words? How about your actions? Your lifestyle? What encouragement do you need at this time?

God, convince, rebuke and encourage us to share your message and your love. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wrangling Over Words

Today's reading: II Timothy 1-2

Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. II Timothy 2:14 NRSV

Avoid wrangling over words.

Stop arguing about what this or that truly means.

Especially if you are sharing the gospel.

If you have more than one person trying to bring someone else to Christ and they are not quite on the same page with what something means, it is better if they don't argue over what words have what meaning. Is that going to touch someone's heart? No, it will just turn them away. Who wants to be a part of something that no one can agree on?

This is better said than done. I am always going to want people to see it my way (which is the right way, of course : ) ) rather than keep my mouth shut. Perhaps I will wait until I can get that person alone. Then I can explain the real truth. That will lead them to Christ, right? Or will that just send them running away?

This is true with current believers as well as converts. Stop wrangling over words! It only ruins whomever is listening.

God, you don't want us to argue over meanings as much as you want us to love one another. Help us, Lord, help us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims