It Depends on Faith

When you are at your darkest moment and you open your eyes in the morning and all you see is crushing despair, how strong is your faith?

Friends who are saddled with the unrelenting sadness of failed marriages, family members involved in criminal activity, terminal diagnoses, and watching a mother waste away in hospice are currently experiencing this right now. Maybe you are, too.

In the bleakest of our circumstances, Paul advises us to look to God’s promises to counter-balance the hopelessness that we feel. God’s promises are real. God’s promises are steadfast. God’s promises are eternal.

The promise made to Abraham in the form of a covenant of God’s abiding presence with his descendants is one of the most comforting promises we can rely on in times of trouble. God promises to always be WITH us, having claimed us for himself. This promise is not based on any law, but based solely on God’s faithfulness to his people.

Romans 4 (New Revised Standard Version)

13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 

The promise rests on grace. Hallelujah! It doesn’t rest on performance on our part, it doesn’t rest on the law, but solely on the grace of God. We understand grace to be the unmerited favor of our Lord. You can’t earn it, so you can’t lose it, thanks be to God. God’s grace is guaranteed.

18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 

And so we must be like Abraham, and hope against hope. No matter how awful your circumstance is, grace can come in such a way that your head will spin. God often does the unexpected in answer to our fervent prayers and unwavering faith. Even old Abraham and geriatric Sarah conceived a child!

20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

May we have the faith of Abraham as we encounter the terrible. May we have the righteousness of Sarah as we pray for the impossible. And may we be raised in Christ as the final proof of our hope that “with God, all things are possible.”

New Mercies I See by Michelle Robertson

By Any Other Name

Do you know what your name means? Were you named for someone in the family? Parents take great care to give their children names they hope they will live up to and live into. Ask any son who is a “junior.” The association with names and meaning is strong. No one here would name a child “Poured Concrete.” No one here would name a pet “Ground Meat.” If we were shopping for clothing, we would be loathe to purchase a garment from “Lepers, Inc.” Indeed, we associate things with the names they are given. Names have meaning, and we pay attention to that.

In our lectionary reading this morning, we see two people who receive name changes from the Lord himself. The changes are slight variations of the names they already have, but they signal to the community that a divine intervention has occurred and life will never be the same:

Genesis 17 (New Revised Standard Version)

 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

So Abram becomes Abraham and is now to be known as the father of all nations. He has become the patriarch of EVERYTHING that follows. As the song goes, father Abraham had many sons; I am one of them, and so are you. This stunning intrusion of God into human history turned the world on its ear. In this singular moment, God’s covenant with his people is established, one that will be continued all the way to the cross and beyond.

15 God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Barren Sarai’s life also takes a drastic turn. Don’t miss the fact that she becomes the “Mother of All Nations,” and her offspring live out the covenant even to this day.

If you were to be given a new name from God, what would you choose?

“Redeemed?”

”Rescued?”

”Joy?”

“Beloved?”

”Harmony?”

”Forgiven?”

Every day, we have a chance to “change our name” in the eyes of God. Choose well today. God’s offer of covenant is yours for the asking.

Feathered Hope by Kathy Schumacher

Step By Step

“Step by step, inch by inch…” this phrase from an old Three Stooges movie reminds me of how some people approach faith. There is nothing wrong with a methodical process, says the Methodist minister! The blessing of pursuing incremental progress toward a goal ensures that you continue to move forward, and that’s always a good thing.

In his book based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “Because of This, I Rejoice,” writer Max Vincent leads us to find joy in our Lenten disciplines as we participate in the serious work of moving step by step, inch by inch toward Easter.

In discussing Paul’s approach to prayer in his letters, Vincent neatly breaks it down into four discernible steps. See if you can spot some of them in this passage:

Philippians 1:1-11 (Common English Bible)

I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10 I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 

11 I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.

Paul used a four-step method, starting with THANKSGIVING. This is key, as it focuses us on God’s activity in our lives and in the lives of the people for whom we pray. When we concentrate on thanking God for the blessings he has poured out first, it helps us focus on God’s POWER before we even begin with our list of wants and needs. Giving thanks at the beginning of each prayer puts us into a spirit of praise, joy, gratitude, and humility. By starting our prayers with words of thanksgiving for all of our blessings, we remind ourselves of how good God is.

The second step is INTERCESSION, where we petition God for the needs of others and ourselves. We ask God to intervene in our lives and our situations to bring healing, mercy, comfort, and grace. We are reminded here that we exist in fellowship and connection with others. By putting the needs of others even before our own, we again focus on the power of God, and practice the type of humility Jesus taught from the cross.

The third step is CONFESSION, a necessary part of every prayer. We confess our distance from the righteousness to which we are called. We confess our willfulness. We confess our sins. We confess it all in the sure and certain knowledge that God hears our confessions and cleanses us of our sins.

And then we finish our confession with the doxology, or a word of PRAISE. God is worthy of our praise every day, and it’s important to let him know that! We praise God, from whom all blessings flow, and that moment reminds us that we are not self-reliant, but indeed we rely on God for everything that we have and need.

Try this pattern in your prayer time this week. Remember that God ALWAYS answers our prayers, so be persistent. Prayer changes things…mostly it changes US.

Step by Step by Kathy Schumacher

In the Desert

Name something that tempts you….as in, REALLY tempts you. Something that causes you to go weak in the knees trying to resist. Money? Power? Fame? Immortality? Gossip? Drama? Chocolate-covered caramel bars? CHEEZE??

The Greek myth of King Midas comes to mind when I think of temptation. He loved and worshipped gold. Gold was his kryptonite. He was granted a wish that everything he touched might be turned into gold. What joy! What bliss! Until the very food that he needed to survive was turned into gold and he couldn’t consume it. He cursed his power then, and sought relief from that which had once tempted him so strongly.

Today we read about Christ’s forty days in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. This reading falls in the first week of Lent for a reason. We are challenged to face the things that tempt us and have the power to pull us away from observing a Holy Lent.

Mark 1 (Common English Bible)

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

An oversimplification of this passage would point out that God finds happiness in all of his children at the moment of baptism. He experiences joy when we commit to a life of resisting evil in all of its forms and promise to walk a righteous path. Temptations don’t come from God. He is not trying to ensnare us, but rather will send angels to take care of us in those moments of weakness….if we allow it. Sometimes our addictions block us from receiving help.

These 40 days of Lent are an exercise against temptation…the temptation to give up on our Lenten disciplines. The temptation to step off the path of righteousness. The temptation to succumb to evil in the form of gossip, sin, anger, betrayal, and shutting out God. The temptation to withhold forgiveness.

14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Jesus calls us to something better. He invites us to change our hearts and lives. We are encouraged to trust the good news of his life, death, and resurrection. Don’t be tempted to do anything less….that’s how Satan wins.

Wilderness Wonderland by Mary Anne Mong Cramer

Teach Me

We are officially in the season of Lent. This 40-day time of solemn preparation for the celebration of Easter Sunday is often marked by “giving something up.” This is always a good practice for those of us who have slipped into a spiritual lethargy since last Lent, methinks! I encourage the plus/minus form of Lent-making. In other words, don’t just give something up, but add something new in its place.

This year I decided to teach a Lent Bible Study in my congregation. It is my own personal “adding to.” I know that the discipline of preparing for class each week will add to my own discipleship and shake me out of my complacency. Our first lesson is on prayer, and already God is working in my spirit to teach me things I need to learn about prayer.

So imagine my joy when Psalm 25 came along in today‘s lectionary. Not only is David’s psalm a prayer, but it also teaches us about prayer! Let’s find those teaching points together today.

Psalm 25 (New Revised Standard Version)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

We can’t enter a conversation with the Lord without lifting up our soul. This first sentence reminds us that we need to be deliberate in seeking and entering God’s presence. To lift up one’s soul is to expose everything we are dealing with in our hearts and minds to him. We enter a sacred chamber and wait, trusting God’s immediate presence. Through prevenient grace, we know that he is already in the chamber. We wait for OUR spirit to catch up with his presence.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

So often our prayers are mere lists of needs and wants. Indeed, God inclines his ear to hear our wailing, but David reminds us that if we pause our litany of woes long enough, we can also be taught and led into God’s ways and his truth. The difference is LISTENING. God gave us two ears and one mouth. They should be used proportionally in prayer. Speak once. Listen twice.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Reminding God of his goodness is a psalmist’s trick to remind the reader of God’s mercy and steadfast love. When we remember those truths, our prayers are more honest and forthcoming. And remembering that God forgets our sins gives us permission to also forget them.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

The Psalmist ends with more references to instructing, teaching, and leading.

What are you learning about prayer today? How will your prayers during Lent be different than before? Being humble in your approach to God is the first step. Humility calls us to be listening learners rather than loud demanders.

May we all rejoice in practicing listening, and may we celebrate a Holy Lent this year.

Our Prayers Take Flight by Michelle Robertson

Re-Lent

It happens every year. We just get past the overindulgence of Thanksgiving gravy, Christmas pie, New Years’ toasts, Super Bowl snacks, Valentine’s chocolates, and BAM. Lent happens. This 40-day period of self examination is not designed to punish us for our self-indulgences, but rather it provides an opportunity to grow closer to God by focusing on the things that realign our priorities and our time. It is a chance to re-center our thinking. It is a chance to re-do our to-do lists and put God at the top. We worship a God of second chances, and Lent is our chance once again to shift our lives back toward God.

But more than that, Lent is about our mortality. The ashes we place on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday remind us that from the earth we have come and to the earth we return….ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This sobering season begins when the alarm has sounded, the assembly has gathered, and the day of darkness is upon us:

Joel 2 (New Revised Standard Version)

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
    nor will be again after them
    in ages to come.

We are invited to return…..and repent:

Yet even now, says the Lord,
    return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     rend your hearts and not your clothing.

The promise is offered: if we return to the Lord, he will relent from punishing. As we re-Lent, he will relent.

Return to the Lord, your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
    and relents from punishing.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
    and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
    for the Lord, your God?

The call is urgent to come to the altar quickly. The time is upon us to begin this process. Even the bride and bridegroom are summoned from their bedchamber to be about the Lord’s business.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
    assemble the aged;
gather the children,
    even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
    and the bride her canopy.

17 Between the vestibule and the altar
    let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
    and do not make your heritage a mockery,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

Many of us will not be able to gather in an assembly tonight due to the pandemic. Some of you may have obtained ashes from your church and will participate in an Ash Wednesday service online. In any case, you are invited to contemplate taking on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, scripture reading, self-examination, repentance, meditation, and penitence. You may choose to give something up for the next six weeks so that you can focus on God in its absence. You may choose to add a new practice that would take you deeper in your discipleship. I hope reading this daily devotional will be part of your commitment! If you don’t have access to ashes, you can use water and make the sign of the cross on your forehead as a mark of your sincerity.

I pray that you will join me as we observe a Holy Lent.

Gracious and Loving God, be with us today as we contemplate those things that have pulled us away from you. Help us to return. We hear your call and we desire nothing but a right relationship with your Son. Grant us a meaningful Lent season, so that when Easter morning dawns, you will find us to be new people, made more like him and less like ourselves. AMEN

Dust to Dust by Becca Ziegler

Saved by Water

The rain on the OBX has given us a one-day reprieve as we read again about the saving of Noah’s family from the flood. I haven’t seen the surface of my street for days and I am beginning to envy the passengers on the Ark. They didn’t get their feet wet everyday. But did you ever stop to think about the many times we are not only saved FROM water, but saved BY water?

Our United Methodist baptism liturgy has this beautiful section:

Eternal Father:
When nothing existed but chaos,
you swept across the dark waters
and brought forth light.
In the days of Noah
you saved those on the ark through water.
After the flood you set in the clouds a rainbow.
When you saw your people as slaves in Egypt,
you led them to freedom through the sea.
Their children you brought through the Jordan
to the land which you promised

In the fullness of time you sent Jesus,
nurtured in the water of a womb.
He was baptized by John and anointed by your Spirit.
He called his disciples
to share in the baptism of his death and resurrection
and to make disciples of all nations.

In our lectionary passage today, we see echos of “saved by water” in 1 Peter 3:

1 Peter 3 (Contemporary English Version)

Christ died once for our sins.
An innocent person died
    for those who are guilty.
Christ did this
    to bring you to God,
when his body
    was put to death
and his spirit
    was made alive.

19 Christ then preached to the spirits that were being kept in prison. 20 They had disobeyed God while Noah was building the boat, but God had been patient with them. Eight people went into that boat and were brought safely through the flood.

It is understood that the imprisoned spirits referred to are demons. Note that God’s patience extends even to them.

21 Those flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22 Christ is now in heaven, where he sits at the right side of God. All angels, authorities, and powers are under his control.

Baptism is indeed more than just washing your body. It means your conscience is washed clean through the shed blood of the atonement. It means that your heart is made ready through the confession of sins and the clean slate offered to you by the Redeemer. It means you are welcomed home by the God of second chances.

Christ did all this to bring you to God. Today you are invited to wash again, turn to God, and bask in the waters of salvation and hope.

Come to the Water by Kathy Schumacher

Rainbow Covenant

I love everything about living in the Outer Banks except January and February. Don’t get me wrong, if you love the color GREY, this is the place to be. But the days upon days upon days of rain do me in after a while. Walking the dog becomes a challenge of finding how far up our neighbor’s front lawns we have to go to avoid puddles that take days to clear. Winds make umbrellas impossible, if not somewhat dangerous!

I know, first world problems. But I really miss the sun and the blue skies.

One of the rewards of the rain, however, is an abundance of rainbows. Probably because we enjoy “big sky” in every direction, rainbow spotting is a common occurrence. As the rain begins to taper off and the sun (finally) emerges, the perfect conditions are created for these beautiful reminders of God’s promises.

Today’s lectionary takes us to that very moment when God established the bow as a sign of his protection:

Genesis 9 (Common English Bible)

God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, 10 and with every living being with you—with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. 11 I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

We understand the word covenant to be more than just a promise. It is an ironclad agreement brought about through the relationship of God and his people. It has the force of law, and is unbreakable. It is a contract that is signed by the very word of God.

12 God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember the covenant between me and you and every living being among all the creatures. Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”

Later would come a contract that was signed by the very Word of God. Jesus is our final Covenant, and when we receive him into our lives, we have an ironclad guarantee that we will find refuge, shelter, forgiveness, and protection under his wings.

Where have you broken your side of the covenant with God? Have you willfully walked away and set aside all of his promises for the fake promises of the world? Are you guilty of turning away from what God has called you to do, say, think, or repair? Perhaps this is the moment to return. The best thing about God’s promises is that they are always available to the repentant seeker.

God is our great Covenant-Maker. He sent Jesus as the final signature on the contract. You can bet your life on it.

Colington Rainbow

A Double Portion

If you could have a double portion of anything in the world, what would it be? Fame? Fortune? Vacation time? A new house? A carefree lifestyle? Cheesecake?

In our continuing story of the prophet Elijah and his apprentice Elisha, the moment has come when Elijah is called up to heaven in quite a dramatic way. Elisha has been dreading this moment, as we all do when a loved one is on the verge of leaving us. What was on Elisha’s mind in the moment of this reality?

2 Kings 2 (Contemporary English Version)

Fifty prophets followed Elijah and Elisha from Jericho, then stood at a distance and watched as the two men walked toward the river. When they got there, Elijah took off his coat, then he rolled it up and struck the water with it. At once a path opened up through the river, and the two of them walked across on dry ground.

After they had reached the other side, Elijah said, “Elisha, the Lord will soon take me away. What can I do for you before that happens?”

Elisha answered, “Please give me twice as much of your power as you give the other prophets, so I can be the one who takes your place as their leader.”

It may seem self-centered that Elisha would request a double portion of Elijah’s prophetic power. But it reflects a healthy awareness that Elijah is indeed on the way out, and Elisha will have to put on the mantle of being the prophet for the people. Life goes on, and Elisha is hoping to be as prepared as he can while Elijah is still with him in these final moments.

10 “It won’t be easy,” Elijah answered. “It can happen only if you see me as I am being taken away.”

11 Elijah and Elisha were walking along and talking, when suddenly there appeared between them a flaming chariot pulled by fiery horses. Right away, a strong wind took Elijah up into heaven. 12 Elisha saw this and shouted, “Israel’s cavalry and chariots have taken my master away!” After Elijah had gone, Elisha tore his clothes in sorrow.

Now equipped for the task ahead, Elisha demonstrates the true measure of his condition by tearing his clothes in sorrow. But the next day he will get up and do the work of the Lord in Elijah’s name, having been made ready for the task at hand.

I have a friend who lost her husband. On the one-year anniversary of his death, she made some changes in her environment and in her heart. She still grieves, and will always grieve, but she has taken a great step forward in being ready for the work to which she is called. Her example is a beautiful reminder that even in the midst of crushing sorrow, God still has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

God has a plan and a purpose for you, too. Like Elisha, I pray that the sorrow that has caused you to rend your clothes in grief will subside, and that your sense of purpose will take over so that you can move forward with doing the work to which you are called.

And know that you are NEVER alone.

Gone The Sun

Don’t Leave Me

Today we travel back to a time in the Old Testament to observe the close relationship between Elijah, the great prophet, and his apprentice Elisha. I once served in a church that had a youth program called “The Elijah Project.” It paired youth with willing adults in our congregation with the intention of one-on-one mentoring. The project lasted about six months and mentors were instructed to be in touch with their students at least once a week. Some of those relationships lasted well beyond the scope of the program. At the end, we held a banquet where youth and their partners got to share their stories. One of the adult partners stood up at the banquet and hobbled over to the mic on crutches. He had broken his ankle while inline skating with his mentee. Now that’s dedication!

You will see in the following passage that the relationship between Elijah and Elisha is more than just mentor-mentee. Indeed, there is an intimacy here that sounds more like a father-son relationship. Anyone who has lost a loved one will be able to relate to the urgency of Elisha’s responses to Elijah’s imminent departure.

2 Kings 2 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Not long before the Lord took Elijah up into heaven in a strong wind, Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “The Lord wants me to go to Bethel, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Bethel.

A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”

“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”

Who among us, knowing that someone we love is dying, hasn’t said the same thing? Like Elisha, we cry out “I will go with you until the end, but don’t leave me.” We resist hearing that our loved one is soon to depart, for the pain is too much to bear. We don’t want to be reminded of it.

Elijah then said, “Elisha, now the Lord wants me to go to Jericho, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life, that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Jericho.

A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”

“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”

Elijah then said to Elisha, “Now the Lord wants me to go to the Jordan River, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will never leave you!” So the two of them walked on together.

We will finish the story in tomorrow’s devotional, but for now, ponder this: everyone you know is dying right now. Everyone you know has accomplished one more day on earth and is moving toward that certain day when they will leave you or you will leave them.

How will you spend this time together? Will you make extra efforts to be present with them…and not just physically present, but emotionally present, spiritually present, present in giving your full attention to them…or are you looking at your phone?

Having lost both my parents, I can tell you that I wish I had been more present. I wish I had more time. But what I can do now is make the extra effort to be with the rest of those whom I love.

God calls us into HIS presence every day. Are you paying attention to him, fully aware of his presence as you go about your tasks, or are you distracted by worldly things?

Time is running short. Don’t miss a minute to be with people you love. It’s time to re-prioritize.

Basking in His Presence by Michelle Robertson