Tuesday 18 December 2018
 
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! – Isaiah 30:18
 
God fulfills His longing to be gracious to us on the morning that Jesus is delivered in a barn by his step-father Joseph who cuts the umbilical cord connecting Jesus to Mary and lovingly holds Jesus in his arms, so Mary can see her beautiful baby boy. This infant, who is God in human form, is raised up, and from that moment on He shows God’s compassion to the world. Compassion shown through an invitation to shepherds to be the first invited guests to meet God in human form. Compassion that comes in the form of a life filled with promise – a life that gives our lives promise if we but take the time to wait for Jesus to come to us this Christmas.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Monday 17 December 2018
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. – Isaiah 11:10
 
Jesus Christ who comes to the world on the first Christmas is the Root of King David’s Dad, Jesse. Christmas is so wonderful because Jesus stands as a banner for all people of all races, places, cultures, orientations and times. In Jesus, God comes as a human being to save all humanity. Jesus’ banner is the banner of everlasting joy, peace, strength and life. And Jesus’ resting place – Jesus’ tomb is glorious because Jesus rises from the dead to everlasting life. As you prepare for Christmas, please allow Jesus, to be your root – the One who holds you firm giving you strength, stability and life.
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 15 December 2018
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. – Isaiah 11:6
 
Christmas changes everything. Jesus is born into the world to transform relationships. Natural enemies become friends under Christ’s transforming reign. What wolves are chasing you this Christmas? What leopards are running you down? What lions are hunting you? Offer these predators of peace to Jesus, and allow the Baby born on Christmas to transform the forces seeking to devour you. Also, please take time to offer yourself to Jesus and be assured that the One who comes to us at Christmas is remaking our minds, hearts and lives so that we will know Christ’s protection, peace, and transforming love in ways that bring transformation to our relationships.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Friday 14 December 2018
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; – Isaiah 11:3b
 
Jesus, the King of all creation, comes on Christmas to be the One who does things differently. Outward appearances matter little to Jesus. After all, God the Son chooses to be born in a barn. Because Jesus never judges by outward appearances, the Christian Faith is not concerned with superficial fluff. In other words, God doesn’t care about what we wear, the size of our home, the make of our car, or the prestige of our positions in life. Jesus cares about our hearts. Christmas decorations are more than external adornment. Christmas decorations point us to Jesus, who loves us so deeply that He becomes one of us to fill our innermost places with His love, His healing, His beauty and His life. 
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Thursday 13 December 2018
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. – Isaiah 11:1
 
Jesse is the king of Israel’s second king – King David. Deciding that King Saul (Israel’s first king) is an unfaithful leader who no longer has Israel’s best interests at heart, God sends the Prophet Samuel to find a new king among one of Jesse’s children. When Samuel is convinced that the tall and handsome Eliab should be king, God reminds the prophet that the Lord looks not at outward appearances but at the heart. So, David the youngest and most unlikely of Jesse’s children to become king is anointed and begins preparing to lead Israel. Appearances never deter God. Stumps look dead. But the shoot that eventually comes from Jesse’s seemingly dead family tree (long after David has come and gone) is Jesus. Whatever stumps are littering your life – please do not let appearances control you. Jesus is bringing life and healing from those stumps. This is why Christmas is so wonderful.
 
Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 12 December 2018
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:7
 
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace whose government is not limited by geography, governmental systems, politics, religion, race or culture. Since Jesus’ government is not bound by barriers, Jesus’ reign shall be one of Peace. Jesus is born to us at Christmas to free us from (as Charles Wesley writes in “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”) our fears. When we are free from fear, we are free for peace. Jesus’ great government of Peace comes to us at Christmas. His office is a stable, his audience is a group of shepherds. Unpretentious. Unexpected. Unrelenting peace.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Tuesday 11 December 2018
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
 
What gift do you need for Christmas? Do you have decisions to make or life directions to discern? Perhaps you need Jesus to give you the gift of His Wonderful Counsel? Are you tired, ill or overwhelmed? Ask Jesus to be your Mighty God who gives you the gift of His Mighty Strength. During this Most Wonderful Time of Year the loss of loved ones can leave us experiencing deep loneliness. If this is where you are, Jesus will come to you and give you the gift of a relationship with God, your Everlasting Father, who will hold you close, be your Companion and never leave you lonely. Maybe you are anxious, worried or wearied with burdens. If this is where you are Jesus our Prince is coming to you this Christmas to give you the gift of His Peace. Which of these four gifts do you need Jesus to give you?  Ask and you shall receive. 
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Monday 10 December 2018
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. – Isaiah 9:2
 
Christmas is so wonderful because Christmas is God’s way of enlarging the Kingdom of God. Jesus is born to call all people from all places and times to Himself. Jesus enters the world to enlarge God’s kingdom and Jesus comes to increase our joy. Joy is deep inner happiness that comes from knowing God loves us, God is with us, and God is making all things well. This inner happiness is not determined by external circumstances because it is a gift from Jesus, who fills us with God’s presence, God’s forgiveness, God’s glory and God’s life. How is Jesus increasing your joy? 
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric 
 
Saturday 8 December 2018
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. – Isaiah 9:2
 
The world was walking in darkness when Jesus was born. Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, comes to us at Christmas to bring the warming light of God’s guidance, God’s forgiveness, God’s healing, God’s hope and God’s love to our lives. Each of us has dark places within us that need of Christ’s light. As we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we should take time to offer those dark places within us to Jesus, so that the light of Christ may warm those places within us and fill them with His guidance, forgiveness, healing, hope and love.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Friday 7 December 2018
 
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14
 
When we try God’s patience, God does not lose His temper. Rather God responds with love. God invites faithless and selfish King Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses. But God decides to give one anyway. It comes many years later. And this sign from God is wonderful. The sign of God’s commitment to us, the sign of God’s love for us, the sign of God’s decision to rescue and restore us comes through a virgin named Mary, who gives birth to God, the Son, and gives Him the name Immanuel. Immanuel means “God with us”. During Christmastime please take some time to look for the signs God gives you to assure you that Jesus is with you and you are His beloved. 
 
Sincerely,
Pastor Ric
 
Thursday 6 December 2018
 
13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? – Isaiah 7:13
 
King Ahaz of Judah is threatened by invasion from Israel’s evil King Pekah, who aligned himself with Aram’s King Rezin. God says to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign…” But Ahaz who did not love the Lord rejects Divine assurance that God will care for him. It is at this point that the prophet Isaiah says, “Will you try the patience of my God…?”  When was the last time someone tried your patience? When was the last time we tried God’s patience? When I am honest with myself, I realize that I probably try God’s patience many times during a single day. Still God loves me. Thankfully, God never loses patience with us. God’s inexhaustible patience is a wonderful Christmas gift that fills us with hope.
 
Sincerely,
Pastor Ric
 
Wednesday 5 December 2018
 
Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. – Psalm 43:3
 
“Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” was one of President George H.W. Bush’s favorite quotes. At 89, upon discovering one of his secret service agent’s children had leukemia, President Bush shaved his head to show support. He considered his greatest success to be that his children still came home. His favorite titles were husband, father and granddad. When his children said, “I love you,” his response was “I love you more.” President Bush believed in forgiveness (President Clinton became another son to him), faithfulness (he named all his boats “Fidelity”) and the freedom that democracy brings (serving as the youngest Naval aviator in WW 2, and being rescued at sea after his plane was shot down). May George H.W. Bush enjoy God’s dwelling place forever.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Tuesday 4 December 2018
 
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18
 
Jesus invites us to settle the matter of the sins that stain our conscience, the sins that weigh us down with guilt, the sins that separate us from God and the sins that make us feel less than loved. We settle the matter of sin by offering all our wrong doing to Jesus. Christ comes into the world at Christmas to settle the matter of sin once and for all. Christmas is God’s great way of saying I am with you to bear the burden of your sin by cleansing your conscience, lifting the burden of guilt and repairing your relationship with God. As we travel to Christmas may we allow Jesus to be born anew in us so that we may experience the wonderful cleansing and renewing power of Christmas.  
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Monday 3 December 2018
 

17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

 
Christmas happens because we needed to learn how to do right. Christmas comes because we could not seek justice.  Christmas exists because we needed a father. Christmas comes because we were unable to faithfully care for those who lost their spouses. Christmas is not a sentimental celebration. Christmas is God’s great rescue operation that restores us and makes it possible for us to offer Christmas care and Christmas hope. When Jesus is born in us, we receive the desire, resolve and ability to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed, care for the parentless and advocate for the widow. Christmas is receiving God’s great care in Jesus, so that we can care greatly for others in Jesus’ name.
 
Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 1 December 2018
 
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
 
On Wednesday we discovered that the heat was not working at the church, so we needed to move Thursday’s choir rehearsal to the parsonage. Through this disruption, I experienced the wonderful way God works through people to bring about good. Steve delivered and set up twenty-four chairs. Dorothy called her piano-tuning friend Debbie, who miraculously had an opening. Sue gathered the choir folders and delivered them. The rehearsal was wonderful. Obstacles offer us opportunities to remember that God works through all trials, challenges, disasters and difficulties to bring about good in our lives. Jesus comes at Christmas to work everything for our good. No obstacle is too great for Jesus!
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 

PS – Please join me this Sunday four our 10:00am Hanging of the Greens service at First UMC, Meriden.

 
 
Friday 30 November 2018
 
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. – Isaiah 40:3
 
My favorite worship service of the entire year is the Hanging of the Greens service which happens on the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Throughout this special service we celebrate the meaning of all the Christmas decorations that fill our lives each December. In the wilderness of sadness, busyness, fearfulness and the general bleakness of winter, God speaks to us through Christmas lights, wreathes, trees, poinsettias, manger scenes and mistletoe. Through Christmas decorations God brings beauty to life’s wilderness and prepares us to welcome Jesus into our lives. Through Christmas decorations God assures us that Jesus comes to heal, restore and forgive.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 

PS – Please join me this Sunday four our 10:00am Hanging of the Greens service at First UMC, Meriden.

 
Thursday 29 November 2018
 
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 15:5-6
 
I walked into the Farmington Avenue Dunkin Donuts at 5:59 yesterday morning to buy a dozen donuts for my church newsletter collators. Handing me my box of donuts, the man looked at me and with a smile said, “God bless.” “God’s blessings be on you,” I replied. My heart filled with encouragement. When we least expect it, God sends people into our lives who, through kind words, a smile and a warm spirit fill us with encouragement because in these people we experience the encouraging love of Jesus. Jesus will come to you today in an unlikely place through an unexpected person to fill you with encouragement. Be on the lookout! And be that encourager for someone else.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Wednesday 28 November 2018
 
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, – Philippians 2:9
 
Jesus is the King whom God exalts because Jesus’ method of ruling is wonderfully different. Jesus shows His lordship by becoming a servant to all people. Jesus expresses His power by elevating the powerless through forgiveness, healing and inclusion. Jesus is a ruler who makes Himself accessible to all people so that everyone might experience His kindness, grace and care. This Sunday we begin the season of Advent – the time for preparing to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. That baby born in a feeding trough is the King of kings who rules in a way that is wonderfully different. Today please receive the inclusion, kindness and care of Jesus our wonderfully different King.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Tuesday 27 November 2018
 
But you…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith…I charge you 14 to keep this command…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords – 1 Timothy 6:1,12, 14-15)
 
World leaders, corporate leaders, church leaders and other leaders are can be intimidating, and we sometimes wonder if they are committed to our wellbeing. The best leaders are filled with God’s Spirit, and therefore live lives of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Regardless of who leads us, there is one Leader who is committed to our wellbeing: Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords is our ultimate Leader. Jesus gives us the strength to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, so that we are always making peoples’ lives better and the world more beautiful. Leaders come and go. But the good ways of Jesus, the King of kings, are forever.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Monday 26 November 2018
 
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12
 
What does God look like? When we love one another, God lives in us so God looks like us. Or, more accurately we look like God. When we love one another, we show each other what God looks like. As Jesus lives His life through us, He makes it possible for us to love each other faithfully by enabling us to do what needs to be done for each other’s wellbeing. Sometimes that love looks like unconditional acceptance. Sometimes it looks like holding each other accountable. Sometimes it looks like giving comfort and support. Always God’s love looks like Jesus. When we love one another, God’s love which is made complete in us makes us look like Jesus. 
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Saturday 24 November 2018
 
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe – Hebrews 12:28
 
The kingdom that God gives to all who receive Christ’s invitation to love and serve Him an immovable kingdom. Nations are shaken by economic recessions and depressions. Lands are shaken by floods, droughts, quakes, fires and storms.  Countries are shaken by hatred, greed and war. Peoples are shaken by famine and poverty. But the Kingdom of God cannot be shaken. Nothing can harm God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is the final home for all who place their trust in Jesus. On those days when you are shaken, give thanks to God for the unshakable kingdom that will one day be yours – and let this reality give you an unshakable strength and hope for today.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Friday 23 November 2018
 
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
 
Thankfulness requires watchfulness. Taking note of our circumstances and our surroundings grows our gratitude. When we are watchful we are not complacent. Complacency leads us to take things and people for granted. Complacency leads to complaining. But watchfulness requires us to take note of the people and things God brings into our lives. The more we take note of our health, our family, our friends, our homes, and all of the wonderful things we enjoy, the more thankful we become for them. Because thankfulness requires watchfulness thanksgiving takes work. And it is work that is well worth doing.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Thanksgiving Day 2018
 
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. – I Chronicles 16:34
 
After much time and many difficulties, the Ark of God’s Covenant with Israel, arrives in Jerusalem where King David places it in a special tent. After giving his offerings to the Lord, David instructs Asaph the worship leader to give thanks to the Lord who is good and whose love endures forever. In many ways, some small, some monumental, you have experienced the goodness and love of God. And in many ways, some small and some large (all of them significant), God is calling you to be the vessel through whom His enduring goodness and love flows to others. There are people who can give thanks because God brought you into their lives. I am grateful to God for you!
 
Thanksgiving Blessings,
Pastor Ric
 
Wednesday 21 November 2018
 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6
 
One of the best ways I remove anxiety from my spirit is by praying prayers of thanksgiving. When I take time to thank God for all of the good things I enjoy: my home, my cars, my workout room… When I give thanks to God for always being with me no matter what’s going on in life… When I thank God for all the food I have enjoy, the beautiful people who fill my life and the love of my family, my anxieties begin to dissipate. While the situation may not change my attitude does, because I know that Jesus, who showers gifts upon us, is with us, and Jesus is somehow making all things well. What good things, good foods and good people has our good God brought into your life? Spend time giving thanks for them and your anxiety will wash away.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
P.S. I would love to spend time with you tonight at our 7pm Thanksgiving Eve service. Join me for a Thanksgiving worship celebration and then enjoy pie, cider and coffee in Rogers Memorial Hall. Feel free to bring a pie to share! – Ric
 
 
Tuesday 20 November 2018
 
The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. – Isaiah 51:3
 
Zion is another name for the city of Jerusalem which was conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and then by the Romans. During both invasions the temple of the Lord was destroyed, and people endured terrible hardships. There are times in life when we feel as if we have been invaded by enemies – sickness, sadness, depression, anxiety, death, conflict, worry, unemployment, debt, and on the list goes. During difficult days please remember that Jesus looks upon you with compassion and He is restoring your life so that you may experience again a time of thanksgiving.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 

P.S. Tomorrow night is Thanksgiving Eve. Please be with your First Church Meriden Family at 7pm for worship and then pie and cider in Rogers Memorial Hall.

 
Monday 19 November 2018
 
17 Mattaniah son of Mika, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his associates; and Abda son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. – Nehemiah 11:17
 
When Governor Nehemiah was working to bring the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem from Persia, he created the position “Director of Thanksgiving”. Mattaniah’s job was to help God’s people discover and enjoy God’s good gifts and then lead the Israelites in prayers of thanksgiving. Director of Thanksgiving – what a wonderful ministry! Each of us has a “Director of Thanksgiving” in our lives. That person who helps us to see God’s blessings even during life’s toughest times. Who is the person in your life that is always filled with gratitude? Please take some time to give thanks to God for this special person. In preparing for Thanksgiving please ask God to direct you the people or are filled with thanksgiving.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 

P.S. – Please join me for our 7pm Thanksgiving Eve service. We’ll enjoy pie and warm cider after worship. Bring a pie to share!

 
Saturday 17 November 2018
 
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
 
Safe drivers are watchful drivers, who look ahead, anticipate dangers, and never take for granted that other drivers will do what is right. Navigating the dangers of everyday life in a world filled with terrors, temptations and tragedies requires us to be watchful. The best way I know to be watchful is by spending time in prayer. Taking time to talk to Jesus is central to watchfulness. Talk to Jesus about your fears, your flaws, your failures and the things that trip you up time and again. Talk to Jesus about your hopes, joys and dreams. The more we talk to Jesus the better we will be at hearing Jesus speaking with us.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Friday 16 November 2018
 
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, – Isaiah 55:10
 
I spent yesterday moving my daughter into her new apartment. By God’s grace we finished before the snowstorm. I love snow, but the thought of loading a pickup truck and two cars nine times in a snowstorm was unpleasant. For as much as I love snow, it shouldn’t matter when it comes. But yesterday I kept hoping the snow would fit into my schedule. While spending time walking in yesterday’s storm, I realized that life is not about convenience. Life is about faithfulness. Our mid-November snowstorm is an inconvenience that gives us opportunities to slow down and see God’s beauty, to give thanks that we are not experiencing a drought, to appreciate our warm homes. I think I’ll head out to shovel now – a wonderful inconvenience that gives me an opportunity to enjoy God’s creation!
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Thursday 15 November 2018
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. – 1 John 4:9
 

God longs for us to be free from the prison of despair and death. The Love God has for us is so strong, so deep and so courageous, that God shows His love for us by sending His pride and joy – His only Son. Jesus comes into the world calling us to place our trust in Him so that we might enjoy life. Sadly, people decide to murder Jesus. But killing Christ does not ruin our chances for life in Jesus. In His amazing love and extraordinary power, Jesus transforms the cross – an instrument of hatred, death and destruction – into a bridge that spans the chasm separating God and people. The cross of Christ makes abundant life a lasting a possibility for all people. All we have to do is receive God’s gift by loving Jesus.

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 14 November 2018
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9
 
I have a large inner world. I wonder why things are the way they are and why things happen as they do. “Whats” fill my mind too. What can we do to more faithfully care for God’s world? What can we do grow kindness in our culture? “Hows” also take up my brain; space. How can we be better Christians? How do we make God’s love known? Then I think about how God’s thoughts are different from my thoughts. God’s thoughts are unconditional love and complete forgiveness. God thinks about grace, kindness, and beauty. God thinks about how to bring good out of bad. God’s thoughts are so wonderfully, beautifully different from ours. I want God’s thoughts to be our thoughts too! What do you think?   
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric  
 
Tuesday 13 November 2018
 
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. – Isaiah 55:7
 
On Halloween, skeletons, ghosts and devils decorated yards. Trick-or-treaters dressed as grim reapers and other ghoulish monsters. Our culture depicts evil as ugly. Wickedness that is obvious (murder, meanness, thievery) is ugly. But much unrighteousness looks strangely normal: a parent who lets busyness deprive a child of a nurturing relationship; turning a blind eye to someone in need; not listening carefully to someone speaking; excluding people of different cultures, races orientations and perspectives. Such ordinary unrighteousness is in each of us. Turning to our merciful God for pardon is something we need to do daily – just like brushing our teeth. Pardoned people are gracious people.  
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Monday 12 November 2018
 
There [in Capernaum] a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” – Luke 7:2-5
 
The people of Capernaum (in Northern Israel by the Sea of Galilee) were blessed with a Roman soldier who valued their culture, respected their faith and built their synagogue. Clearly this soldier has a deep commitment to and love for the people to whom he has been sent. As we observe Veterans Day today, it is important to give thanks to God for the women and men, who throughout the history of the United States have faithfully served our nation by defending our safety, and showing the world a courage, care and kindness that embody the very best of who we are as one nation under God. Thanks be to God for our veterans!
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
 

Saturday 10 November 2018

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
 
Forgiveness is the oil of relationships. Forgiveness is essential because along with life’s guarantees of taxes and death comes the guarantee that we will disappoint each other. The disappointment fractures relationships. Forgiveness brings healing. Forgiveness brings freedom. Forgiveness takes time and work. The center of our faith is the cross. And the cross is God crying out, “I forgive you!” 
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
 
Friday 9 November 2018
 
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. – 1 John 3:23
 
Believing in Jesus Christ enables us to love one another. Believing in the One who first loved us creates an openness within or hearts and minds that provides room for Jesus to live His life through us. When Jesus lives His life through us it we love one another with a love that does whatever it takes to ensure the wellbeing of that other person. Such love requires patience (also called long-suffering), forgiveness, honesty and commitment. Such love is rarely convenient, never easy, always time consuming. Such love builds relationships that that are strong, healthy and grace-full.
 
Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

Thursday 8 November 2018

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. – Isaiah 55:6
 
We go to Church because we are seeking God. What worship spaces connect you with Jesus? The soaring windows and sky-blue ceiling of First United Methodist Church, Meriden bring me close to Jesus. The huge cross at West Hartford United Methodist Church draws me to Jesus and His love. Through the beautifully intricate stained-glass windows of Duke Chapel, I see Jesus. Sacred spaces of worship are special because they are destinations for God seekers. We go to worship spaces seeking God. And we expect to find God when we arrive. Our expectation will always be met because whether they are silent or singing, empty or filled – sanctuaries are places where God embraces us with His saving love.
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 7 November 2018
 
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. – Isaiah 55:3
 
“Ric, God gave you two ears and one mouth. Listening is twice as important and should happen twice as much as speaking,” my mentor Dr. Wallace Kirby told me. Listening is central to a joyous, faithful life. Our bodies are healthiest when we listen to them. Our relationships with partners, family and friends are at their best when we work to listen carefully. Our Faith is stronger when we listen to God, who speaks through the Bible, through creation, through others, through songs of Faith. Listening creates a safe environment in which we can come to better know and more deeply understand ourselves and others. Two ears and one mouth – we are designed to be listeners. Listening brings life.
 
Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 

Tuesday 6 November 2018 – Election Day    

  

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
 

 

On 6 January 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt closes his State of the Union address with a declaration of the four freedoms all people in all the world should enjoy: Freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of every person to worship God in their own way. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. These principles guided America through World War 2 and informed the creation of the United Nations. Central to securing these freedoms is doing the work of democracy which includes voting. Please be sure to vote. And then live into the freedom Jesus has for us. A freedom which gives us the courage to work so that all people can enjoy freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear – throughout our great nation and the world.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
 
Monday 5 November 2018
 
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. – Isaiah 55:2
 

 

New becomes old. Novel becomes tedious. We spend time and energy looking for the next new thing or relationship, the next cutting-edge process or product, and the next entertaining experience. We live life looking for what’s next. Not fully living in the present keeps us from truly savoring and enjoying the good gifts God has already given us. What if what we have right now is enough? The foods we eat, friends we have, things we own, homes we live in and families we love are good gifts from Jesus. Faith in Jesus causes newness to give way to comfortable familiarity, novelty to become something that satisfies in the long run, and the exotic to be found in the ordinary. Faith leads to a life of grateful contentment.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 3 November 2018
 
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. – Psalm 127:1
 

 

When Jesus is the center of our homes, our homes are centers of blessing and peace. When Jesus is the center of our city we craft communities that are beacons of Christ’s providing care, protecting love, forgiving grace and loving kindness.  As we approach Election Day this Tuesday, please commit to voting. Voting for those whom we believe to be people of integrity is one of the ways we work to let the Lord build the house (community) in which we live. Voting, praying for elected officials, and being community members who embody Christ’s providing care, protecting love, forgiving grace and lovingkindness are ways we work with Jesus to build our beloved nation into a shining beacon of God’s gracious love.
 

 

Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 

 

P.S. – Remember to turn your clocks back an hour tonight. Enjoy the extra hour of sleep!

 
 
Friday 2 November 2018
 
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. – Song of Songs 2:4
 

 

When Francis Scott Key sees his beloved Star-Spangled Banner flying over Fort McHenry on the morning of 14 September 1814, he knows that the British have failed to take the fort and mount an attack on Baltimore. When King Solomon’s new wife writes Song of Songs 2:4, she knows that the wedding banquet is a great declaration (a “banner”) of Solomon’s love for her. Jesus Christ is God’s banner of unconditional love for us, constant care of us, and continual presence with us. Through blue skies, cloudy skies and the starry night sky, Jesus assures us that He is our Banner and His banner over us is love – love that gives us healing, strength and joy,
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Thursday 1 November 2018
 
As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight. – Psalm 16:3
 

 

Today, on All Saints Day we celebrate the people in our lives and throughout history who are shining beacons of God’s love. Saints are those who live God’s love in Jesus. These are the noble people who love Jesus by loving others unconditionally, building relationships fearlessly, serving those in need joyously, and living lives of humble integrity. Many saints are in God’s kingdom, and many are living in this world. Whether living in heaven or on earth, the saints are cheering us on, encouraging us to be shining beacons of God’s love. Who are the saints in your life?  Please take time today to delight in the memories of your saints who are in heaven, and to celebrate the saints you live with in this world.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 31 October 2018
 
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. – Romans 3:28
 

 

On 31 October 1517, a German Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Through this large list Martin Luther detailed the practices of his beloved church that he believed to be less than faithful. At the heart of Martin Luther’s angst was the church’s dismissal of the central truth that faith in Jesus brings is all we need to enjoy forgiveness and a good relationship with God. We cannot earn or buy our way into heaven. The way to life that lasts forever is through faith in Jesus. Reformation Day reminds us that we do not have to earn salvation. We simply receive and enjoy Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and everlasting life. Reformation Day Blessings!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 30 October 2018
 
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. – Isaiah 55:1
 

 

“You get what you pay for.” This is not always true. When it comes to abundant, satisfying, joyful life, we never get what we pay for. We get what Jesus paid for. Jesus gives His life so that we who thirst for forgiveness, love and meaning can be satisfied. Jesus comes into the world and gives Himself so that we who hunger for friendship with God and life that lasts forever can be filled. Jesus pays the debt. We get what He paid for – soul quenching, spirit satisfying life that is filled with God’s unconditional love, and the steadfast friendship of people, who with us, are working to enjoy God’s love and share God’s love with all people. We get what Jesus paid for.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Monday 29 October 2018
 
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
 

 

When Ashley was born, I held my daughter in my arms and sang “Unforgettable” to her. Ashely is my Priceless Unforgettable. The Natalie / Nat King Cole song was at the top of the charts in March 1992. You are God’s Priceless Unforgettable. God who loves you with an everlasting love is singing the words of “Unforgettable” to you today. Unforgettable that’s what you are. Unforgettable though near or far. Like a song of love that clings to me, How the thought of you does things to me. Never before has someone been more Unforgettable in every way And forevermore that’s how you’ll stay. That’s why darling it’s incredible that someone so unforgettable Thinks that I am unforgettable too.
 

 

Whatever happens in life always remember that you are God’s Priceless Unforgettable.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 27 October 2018
 
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:1-3a
 

 

Our bodies and spirits are inseparably connected. When our body is refreshed our spirit is vibrant. When our spirit is refreshed our body is strong. Jesus our Good Shepherd is with us every day to refresh our spirits. On this Saturday, Jesus is inviting you to relax with Him in a special green pasture place of refreshment. What does this green pasture look like for you? On this rainy day please feel Jesus calling you to slow down and spend time with Him in that special place where you experience rest. While you are enjoying that green pasture place, Jesus will quench your thirst with the quiet waters of God’s refreshing love. 
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 26 October 2018
 
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
 

 

We are God’s priceless, beloved treasures. Because God loves us, God delights in giving us His great gifts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. God’s patience with us in inexhaustible. God’s gentleness with us is boundless. God’s humility comes to us through Jesus, who came into the world not to be served, but to serve and to give His life so that we could have life that is satisfying, and everlasting. God’s kindness with us is never ending. God’s compassion toward us is genuine and permanent.  Please take time today to receive and enjoy these great gifts God gives us. But these gifts are even more wonderful when we share them with others.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 25 October 2018
 
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:15-16
 

 

The leaves on the dogwood tree at my driveway’s edge are a deep burgundy. What a great gift from Jesus! All that exists is not only created by God the Father, but also by Jesus Christ – God the Son. Jesus creates all that we see, taste and touch. Creation as an expression of God’s great love for us. In this wonderful season of autumn please be sure to enjoy the colors of the leaves. Through beautiful colors, cooling temperatures and the shorter days, Jesus assures us that the beauty of October is an expression of God’s great love for us. When the beauty of Jesus’ autumn love touches our souls, we face each day with serenity of spirit, and unconditional love for each other.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Wednesday 24 October 2018
 
12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. – Exodus 17:12
 

 

Sometimes we pray and pray, and it feels like our words are evaporating into some great void. We pray for healing, strength, protection, provision, change, and nothing happens. Like Moses, we grow tired. When prayer is frustrating we need to share our prayer concerns with others. We need our “Aaarons” and our “Hurs” to hold up our prayer arms. Who is someone you can share your prayer concerns and frustrations with? A friend? A pastor? A partner? God always answers our prayers – but God answers in God’s time and in God’s way. This can be frustrating and exhausting for us. So be sure someone is holding you up by offering your prayers to Jesus for you.  
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 23 October 2018
 
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. – Exodus 17:10-11
 

 

Facing the Amalekites, Joshua knows he needs God’s help to defeat the army hoping to wipe Israel off the map. Looking over the battle from a hilltop, Moses lifts his arms to hold Joshua and the Israelites up to God in prayer. When Moses prays the Israelites do well. When Moses stops they falter. Holding people up to God in prayer is one of the most important things we can do. From 1981 through 1998 I prayed for my Dad to quit smoking. It took 17 years of prayer! Since they were in the womb until today I hold my children to God in prayer. Every week I pray for my Church Family members. Today God is calling you to hold someone up in prayer. And your prayers will make all the difference for them.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric  

 
Monday 22 October 2018
 
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” – Exodus 17:8-9
 

 

When Joshua is fighting the Amalekites who are attacking Israel, he and his soldiers will have all the courage, strength and tenacity they need to win the battle because Moses is on the hill holding them up to God in prayer. We all battle our own “Amalekites” – those forces, circumstances and situations that make us fearful and anxious. Whatever it is that attacks our peace and wellbeing, we must always remember that we never enter these battles alone. Each of us has a Moses in our lives holding us up to God who gives us the courage, strength and tenacity we need to be victorious over whatever seeks to undo us. The battle may be fierce, but someone is always holding us up to God.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 20 October 2018
 
23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. – Joel 2:23
 

 

As our autumn days grow cooler and shorter and 5:30 in the morning looks like the middle of the night, I make two of my three weekly runs in the afternoon during my lunch break. Running during daylight hours gives me the chance to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall. Brilliant yellows, warm reds and deep purples assure me that God loves us so much that He gives us colorful leaves to enjoy. Sometimes I stop, pick up a leaf and carefully put it in my pocket. Our God who sends rain and color each autumn, fills our lives with His beauty. How is God filling your life with beauty? Please take time to enjoy the colors God is giving us on this October Saturday, and through the autumn colors see God saying, “I love you.”
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric 
 
Friday 19 October 2018
 
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” – Acts 8:26
 

 

While in my office on Tuesday evening I noticed a man removing bottles from our trash and recycling barrels. “Give him the money in your desk,” I kept thinking. Have you ever “out of the blue” felt the need to call someone or help someone, only to discover that what you did was just what they needed? These thoughts that pop into our minds are really God speaking to us. When God speaks to us (through angels or the Holy Spirit) He does not need words because God speaks directly to our minds. God speaks to us so that we can offer Jesus’ love to others. Back to Tuesday evening: With cash in hand, I went outside, gave it to the man while looking in his eyes and saying, “Thank you for your work!” I wonder what God will say to us today!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 18 October 2018
 
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. – Psalm 139:4
 

 

Who knows everything there is to know about us? Which people know our past, our secrets, our sins, our weaknesses? Who knows the dreams, and hopes we have? With whom are we 100% transparent? The list of those who know us this well is very short! Why? Mistrust and fear. We are afraid that if someone knew everything about us they would abandon or betray us. But the Lord knows everything about us, accepts us as we are, and loves us where we are. You can trust God. Please spend time telling God about yourself. God is interested and will never betray us. The more we tell God about ourselves, the greater will be our enjoyment God’s extraordinary, unconditional acceptance of us and love for us.  
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 17 October 2018
 
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-14
 

 

“LeSabre Custom by Buick”, declares the badge adorning the dashboard of the 2000 car my daughter now drives. “Human Being by God”, declares the badge inscribed in each of us. Every person walking in the world is designed and built by God. People are wonderfully complex, and beautifully intricate creations. Wherever we live, whatever our culture, age, race, gender, orientation or economic status, we all built by God to enjoy God’s love and love God and people. One of the best ways I know to enjoy God’s love is to see the beauty God designs into every person. When we look upon others and appreciate that they are built by God we discover that enjoying God’s love is all about loving each other.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 16 October 2018
 
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24
 

 

Our thoughts make up our large, complex and wonderful inner world. What do we think about? Children? Finances? Health? Sometimes our thoughts are anxious. There are times when our minds think upon things that make us angry, resentful, jealous. While we are filled with thoughts, we don’t take much time to examine our thoughts – to ask ourselves, “Why am I thinking what I’m thinking?” When we look at why we think what we think, we become better acquainted with our motives, our moods and our priorities. Today, please take time to pray, “God, why am I thinking what I am thinking? Why do I believe what I believe?” When we invite God to examine our minds, we come to know ourselves better.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Monday 15 October 2018
 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:16
 

 

Before our birthday, God knew the number of days we would walk in His world. Our God, Jesus Christ walks with us through each day of our existence. There is not a single second when we are apart of Jesus. Because Jesus is always with us, He is always speaking to us. To hear Jesus, we need to take time to ask, “Lord what are you saying to me through today’s events?” In everything we experience Jesus is with us to give us insight, bring us wisdom, offer us a new perspective, exercise our faith, give us opportunities to forgive, and bring us blessings of unconditional love. Please take time to reflect on how Jesus is speaking to you through everything that happens today.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 13 October 2018
 
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
 

 

In the midst of your Saturday chores and responsibilities please be sure to take some time to rest. Hear God speaking your name and saying, “Rest in me.” When we allow our soul to rest in God our mind and our body are restored by God.  When our soul rests in God, the Lord brings us deep refreshment at core of our being.  This refreshing restoration spreads outward giving our minds renewed ability and our bodies renewed strength. Resting in Jesus our God saves us from the stress of weariness and exhaustion. So please take fifteen minutes or a half hour to rest in God by putting your feet up, relaxing in silence and maybe even taking a Saturday nap.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 12 October 2018
 
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:3
 

 

The Lord has done great things for us. Jesus has given us strength to get through times of trial. God has forgiven our sins.  Jesus has saved us from death and never-ending incarceration in the devil’s prison. The Holy Spirit fills us with wisdom. God supplies our needs when we are convinced that we have come to a dead end. Jesus gives us friends and church family members who love us, support us, encourage us, and walk with us through life. And with every sunrise, every cozy pillow, every delicious morsel of food and every good thought, Jesus gives us the assurance that He loves us with a love that lasts forever. The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!   
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 11 October 2018
 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” – Psalm 126:2
 

 

When we look over our lives we discover times when God blessed us beyond our greatest expectations. These blessings often come through other people. There are people in our lives who walked us through difficult days, celebrated our special occasions, laughed with us, and made us feel special. Remembering these blessings fills us with gratitude, laughter and joy.  Today, please ask God to lead you to someone for whom you can be a blessing – someone you can encourage, celebrate, support and encourage. It could be a spouse, child, friend, colleague, or even someone you’ve yet to meet.  Because of your life they will say, ”The Lord has done great things!” 

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 5 October 2018
 
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. – Psalm 126:1
 

 

The Israelites sang Psalm 126 while climbing the hills leading to the Jerusalem Temple for the Passover celebration. Some traveled to the temple amidst difficult times in life. Others climbed the hills filled with happiness. Whatever their circumstances, the Israelites remembered times when God gave them restoration. What in your life has God restored?  Think back over the times when Jesus restored your peace, your strength, your endurance, your perspective, your finances, your family, your faith. Jesus who restored our fortunes in the past is restoring our fortunes today. Because Jesus is restoring us we can be the ones who dream great dreams because Jesus is restoring our fortunes.
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric
 

 

P.S. I will be on a continuing education break. The Daily Faith Builder resumes on Thursday 11 October.

 
Thursday 4 October 2018
 
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5
 

 

Eating tasty food is so enjoyable! Jesus finds eating enjoyable too. After rising from the dead, Jesus spends forty days enjoying meals and fellowship with His friends. Over tasty food Jesus assures His followers that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and everything will be well. While good food gives us physical nourishment, it also feeds our souls. Delicious meals enjoyed with people we love bring joyous strength to our spirits, minds and bodies. Each time we partake of good food with good company we are tasting God’s love and experiencing a foretaste of Heaven, where we will sit down and enjoy a wonderfully delicious dinner with our Lord Jesus and with the Saints who live in God’s Kingdom.
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric
 
Wednesday 3 October 2018
 
38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. – Exodus 40:38
 

 

At least once a month my Granny Mercaldi would take me to Friendly’s for dinner. For dessert I would order a Jim Dandy and Granny would have a Happy Ending Sundae. I always loved the name of that dessert! A Sundae is definitely a happy ending to a tasty meal with someone special. The final verse of Exodus is a “Happy Ending Sundae.” Exodus closes with God assuring His people that He will be with them wherever they go. Please know that Jesus loves you so very much that He is with you wherever you go. Feel Him in your heart. See Jesus in the love of others and the beauty of creation. Taste Him in the delicious food you enjoy. Jesus’ presence is even more wonderful than Granny’s Happy Ending Sundae!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 2 October 2018
 
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:3
 

 

The Lord does so many great things for us. God gives us clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, delicious food to eat, friends and family who love us, homes that shelter us, and memories that bring happiness to our hearts. This is a very short list of the great things God has done for us. The greatest thing God does for us is forgiving our wrongdoings and giving us the gift everlasting life that is satisfying and very good. What is one great thing God has done for you? Please think about that great thing throughout the day. God is working through this great gift to give strength to your spirit, joy to your heart and healing to your mind. The LORD has done great things for us!
 

 

Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
Monday 1 October 2018
 
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves – Colossians 1:13
 

 

Wanting to find the perfect pumpkin on my kindergarten field trip, I walked far out into the patch. After finding the perfect pumpkin I turned around and discovered everyone was gone. They were back on the bus, and I was all alone. Sitting down in the field I cried. There are still times as a grown up when I need a rescue.  Fortunately, Jesus always rescues us. By giving us inner strength, inner joy, and the support of people who love us, Jesus always comes to our rescue. From what do you need Jesus to rescue you? He is on His way and everything will be fine.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 29 September 2018
 
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
 

 

In the midst of your Saturday chores and responsibilities please take some time to rest. Hear God speaking your name and saying, “Rest in me.” When we allow our souls to rest in God, the Lord brings restoration to our minds and bodies. When our soul rests in God we are allowing the Lord to refresh to the essence of who we are. And that restoration spreads outward giving our minds renewed clarity and our bodies renewed strength. Resting in Jesus saves us from the stress and distress of exhaustion.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 28 September 2018
 
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven – Daniel 2:19
 

 

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a disturbing dream. Insisting that his wise men should be able to tell him what the dream is, the king refuses to disclose the dream. Furious that no one is wise enough to reveal his dream and its meaning, Nebuchadnezzar orders the execution of all his wise men. Rather than panicking, Daniel prays. During the night God reveals the king’s dream to Daniel, who reveals the dream and its meaning to the king. When the impossible is confronts you do not panic – pray! Keep connected to Jesus who gives us what we need to face the impossible. Jesus who lives within you did the impossible when He rose from the dead – and Jesus has been doing the impossible ever since.
 

 

Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
Thursday 27 September 2018
 
16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” – Isaiah 51:16
 

 

Being examined by the Board of Ordained Ministry was a grueling process of written and oral exams before four groups of examiners. My mentor, Wallace Kirby was on the team examining my preaching. Knowing Wallace was there calmed my spirit and gave me confidence. Whenever we experience trying times God is with us, calming our spirits and giving us confidence. God shows His presence through shadows. Whenever we feel unnerved, the shadow cast by a tree, assures us that God is our strength; the shadow of a home assures us that God is our shelter, and the shadow of a person assures us that Jesus is our Friend who is with us always.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 26 September 2018
 
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10
 

 

Enjoying God’s love is spending time talking with God about everything that is on our minds, listening to God through the Bible, music, conversations and creation, and resting in God’s loving care. Enjoying God’s love is wonderful! When we enjoy God’s love we become good at loving each other. The best picture I know of this love is painted by people who look for and celebrate the good qualities in other people. People who enjoy God’s love naturally enjoy building other people up. When I want to know how close I am to Jesus I ask myself, “How am I doing at building other people up by celebrating their good qualities?” Who in your life should you celebrate today?
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 25 September 2018
 
12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass – Isaiah 51:12
 
When we feel small and weak, life’s challenges, trials, sorrows, disappointments, struggles and temptations loom large. Soon we feel overwhelmed, distressed, and like we’re hanging on the edge of a thousand-foot cliff and our fingers are slipping. The difficulties may be big, but our God who loves us is bigger! Jesus in His great strength beats up death when He rises to new life on the first Easter. This same Jesus is with us, giving us hope, strength and comfort that brings us through our struggles. There is no need to fear anyone or anything because our great big Savior Jesus is with us, and He is making everything well!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Monday 24 September 2018
 
Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. – Isaiah 51:9a
 

 

“No matter how much weight lifting we do, we Hanses will always be small,” my kindhearted, big-muscled brother Stephen once told me. We all have days when we feel unusually small and weak. Those limp, “wet noodle” days. Whether it’s sleep deprivation, stress, sadness, a huge life change, or disease, life sends us situations that weaken our spirits and bodies. When those times come, please know that God is our strength. God clothes His arm with strength that flows into our minds, bodies and spirits, giving us all we need to carry the burdens of each day. We may be small, but our great God always clothes us with His strength. “Awake, arm of the Lord and clothe me with your strength!”
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Saturday 22 September 2018
 
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, – Colossians 1:10
 

 

Living a life that pleases the Lord does not mean earning God’s love. Think of the people who love us just the way we are for who we are. These are the people we enjoy being with. They are the ones who renew our strength and fill us with self-confidence. And we never have to earn their love. We do things to please them not to earn their love but because they already love us. We do things to please God because God loves us. We want to please God simply to show the God how much we love Him. Living a life that pleases God in every day is something we do so we can more fully enjoy God’s love.  What will you do today to show God how much you love Him?

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 21 September 2018
 
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7
 

 

Love comes from God. Every day God is giving us love. God’s love comes to us through the Bible and good songs of Faith. God’s love comes through good friends, good food and good memories. God’s love comes to us through blue skies, starry nights, rainy days and autumn colors. God’s love comes in countless ways. God’s love comes to us through Jesus. We can love one another because God gives us love enough to share. And God loves us with a love that is wonderfully extravagant. Please spend today enjoying the many ways God says, “I love you,” to you. 

 
 
Sincerely,
 

Pastor Ric  

 
Thursday 20 September 2018
 
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:6-8
 

 

What do you love doing? What are you good at? When we use the skills and abilities God has given us we are happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. When we share our skills with our Church Families, the people we live with, our neighbors, colleagues and others we become shining beacons of God’s love. So, what do you love doing? How are you sharing your skill with others? God gives each of us skills to share with the world. Whether it’s putting up walls for people whose homes have been flooded, offering hospitality to someone, or putting together a book group, we all have gifts to share. And when we share them we are shining beacons of God’s love for the world.

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Wednesday 19 September 2018
 
“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.” – Isaiah 51:7-8
 

 

As children and teenagers, we worried about what others thought of us. When we grew up things changed. Or did they? We still want people to like us. Fear of rejection can lead us to do and say things that compromise our integrity. The Christian Faith is all about freedom. When we discover how much God loves us, we are free to do what we know is right, good and beautiful, regardless of what others think because we know that Jesus loves us. When we live out Christ’s love there will be some who think we’re weird. But many more will be touched by our kindness, honesty, grace, and patience.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Tuesday 18 September 2018
 
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:4
 

 

Our bodies, which God designed and created are wonderfully complex, intricate and integrated. While running last Saturday I was thinking about everything my knees, hips, heart, lungs and eyes, inner ears were doing together to make my run possible. The Apostle Paul’s comparison of the Church to a body is wonderful. Every Church Family is like a body. In Jesus we are a single Church, and we are made up of many members. Each member has gifts, skills, abilities, tasks temperaments, and perspectives, we use to make the Church. We each have a different function in the Church, but we are one in Jesus, and we belong to each other, working to care for each other so that together we can care for the world.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Monday 17 September 2018
 
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. – Romans 12:3