Saturday 16 June 2018

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor – Ecclesiastes 4:9

 

Scuba divers use the buddy system. The kids in the youth group need to have someone with them when we travel. Whenever I climb a ladder I want someone with me. Getting a proper perspective on the issues that confront us in life requires that we share our thoughts and ideas with someone else. King Solomon, one of the wisest people to walk in the world declares that two are better than one. God creates us for community. God calls us to be in a close relationship with Jesus. God gives us others so that we will not go through life solo. Two are truly better than one. Who is the person in your life that gives you the strength of two? This person is God’s gift to you.

 

I am on vacation from Monday 18June – Sunday 30 June. The Daily Faith Builder will resume on Monday 2 July.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric 

 

Friday 15 June 2018

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3 

 

Placing a stole around my neck in June of 1994, Bishop Minnick ordained me as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Each Sunday as I put on my stole I remember that by God’s faithful love I have life in Jesus. Every morning God gives us the gifts of His unconditional love and steadfast faithfulness. What can you put on to remind you of God’s love and faithfulness? Could it be a necklace, a neck tie, buttoning a collar, putting on a shirt? Please take some time today to make something a sign for yourself that you have been bound to Jesus who fills you with His love and faithfulness. “Lord Jesus Christ bind Your love and faithfulness to me so that I may possess a heart that loves You faithfully. Amen.”

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 14 June 2018

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2:12-13

 

Because Rahab has shown kindness to the Israelite spies, the scarlet rope in her window will serve as a sign to the other Israelites that her home and family are to be kept safe during the battle for Jericho. There are times in our lives when we need God’s people to keep us safe from harm, from disbelief, or from unhealthy behaviors. Sometimes we need a brother or sister in Christ to rescue us from loneliness, depression, deep grief or fearful uncertainty. Who are the one or two people in your life to whom you can go for safekeeping? And who are the people for whom you are the one providing safety? Jesus calls all of us to be people who can offer someone a place of safety and restoration. 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 13 June 2018

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2:12-13

 

Outsmarting Egypt, the strongest nation on earth. Crossing the Red Sea between two walls of water. Rahab and the citizens Jericho know well the amazing care God has given the Israelites. Caught between the hatred of her leaders for Israel, and the need for God’s people to pass through the land, Rahab fears for her life. Because she has risked her life for the Israelite spies, Rahab insists they promise to protect her and her family. We make promises to family, friends, employers, our church and others. Jesus promises us that that if we chose to love Him we will enjoy a life that is satisfying, meaningful and everlasting. Because Jesus keeps His promise to us, we can make good on our promises to others.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 12 June 2018

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. – Joshua 2:4

 

When the Israelite spies enter Jericho and are looking for a place of protection, a woman named Rahab offers them shelter. Rahab risks her safety and her life by providing hospitality. Offering hospitality and creating an environment of welcome involves risk. When Jesus welcomes tax collectors and other sinners to live life with Him, people accuse Him of compromising God’s way of living. Who do we need to welcome into our lives as individuals, and as a Church Family?  The welcome may involve risks. But Jesus is with us. Rahab received God’s blessing of protection for welcoming the Israelites. We receive Christ’s blessings when we take the risk of offering hospitality. 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 11 June 2018

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. – Joshua 2:1

 

Before making the Promised Land Israel’s home, Joshua must first occupy Jericho. Before occupying Israel, Joshua needs to develop a strategy, which requires that he learn about Jericho by sending some spies into the city. If someone were to observe all that we do today, all day, without us knowing they were watching, what would they see? What would we prefer they not see? What weaknesses would they suggest we give to God? What strengths would they say God has given to us? What thoughts, decisions, attitudes and beliefs are we keeping from God? What areas need to change so that we can more fully enjoy the abundant, joyous life that Jesus has for us?

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 9 June 2018

10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” – Joshua 1:10-11

 

After God calls Joshua to be brave and courageous and assures him that wherever he goes, God will be with him, the Lord tells Joshua that he will lead the Israelites across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Leading the Israelites through a river and into the land of the mighty Canaanites will take courage, strength and much faith in God. What huge challenges are confronting you today? What in your future is filling you with fear? Be assured that God is with you and God will give you the all strength and the courage you need to meet the challenge, faithfully navigate the tough times and enter a place of blessing and peace that Jesus has for you to enjoy.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Friday 8 June 2018

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

 

After Moses dies, his protégé Joshua becomes Israel’s new leader. For forty years Moses served as the leader of God’s people. No one knew any leader but Moses. Transitioning from a military leader to the leader who will bring his nation into the Promised Land fills Joshua with fear. As he assumes leadership, Joshua receives a word from God that sets the tone for his tenure as Israel’s leader. “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…”  On the days when the challenges confronting you are overwhelming, during the nights when you lie awake worrying, please remember God’s word to Joshua, and know that it is God’s word to you. Through the grace of Jesus, you shall be strong, you shall be courageous, you shall be at peace because Jesus is with you.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 7 June 2018

11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11

 

Who are the people you thoroughly enjoy being with? Who are the people, that when you are with them you feel good about yourself, and you feel better about the world? Who are the people who restore your hope, renew your strength and rejuvenate your perspective? These are the people through whom the presence of Jesus comes to us. These are the ones offering us glimpses into God’s kingdom of joy. Jesus lives through these special people to show us the path of life. Through their joyous lovingkindness God keeps us on life’s path which is filled with sacred pleasures to be enjoyed in this life and in God’s kingdom. Praise God for these great people! How wonderfully good is our Great God!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. – Psalm 16:9-10

 

Happiness is determined by external circumstances. Joy is a deep inner happiness that comes from the assurance that Jesus is loves us, Jesus is with us, and somehow Jesus is bringing good out of every situation and circumstance we experience in life. This deep inner happiness is rooted in the reality that God will never abandon us. Happiness decays, but joy is everlasting because our joy comes from Jesus who never defeated death’s decay. Joy is present within us always because Jesus is in us filling us with a gladness that no one and nothing can take from us. 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 5 June 2018

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8

 

Distracted driving is dangerous – leading us to suffer near misses, causing us to scare others, forcing us to take evasive actions that would otherwise be unnecessary. Distracted driving can lead to car crashes, injuries and even death. Distracted living is dangerous too. Distracted living leads us to make poor decisions, creates stress within us and others, strains relationships, causes regret and multiplies our problems. Distracted living can lead to life crashes that bring injuries and even death. Distracted driving happens when we take our eyes off the road. Distracted living happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. Keep your eyes on the road. And turn your eyes upon Jesus! 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 4 June 2018

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. – Psalm 16:7

 

When our desire is for God to guide our contemplations, inform our decisions, shape our desires and direct our actions we open ourselves to the Lord’s wonderful counsel. God’s guiding, informing, shaping and directing presence instructs us during the day through our thoughts and activities. And God’s guiding, informing, shaping and directing presence instructs us while we sleep as the Lord uses this time of stillness to mature our perspectives. Whether awake or asleep we are never left on our own. We live all of life under the loving care of Jesus. Such wonderful assurance gives us good reason for praise and peace. 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 2 June 2018

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. – Psalm 16:6

 

Sometimes life is mundane. Sometimes life is going wonderfully well for us. Occasionally things go terribly wrong in our lives. But in all times Jesus is with us to strengthen us, comfort us, and keep us in His perfect care. Regardless of the circumstances we face in life, Jesus is with us to give us abundant life that is rich with God’s love, God’s strength, God’s peace and God’s promise of life that lasts long beyond the years we spend in this world. Surely we have a delightful inheritance!  When we place our trust in Jesus our lives are good in ways that no bad can ever overcome. When we are in Christ the boundary lines of our lives fall in pleasant places. 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Friday 1 June 2018

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. – Psalm 16:5

 

God is our portion – working through nature, friends, family and circumstances to supply our needs. God is our cup – quenching our thirst for forgiveness, for belonging and for a meaningful life. God is our security – assuring us that though sickness, stress and the aging process can harm our bodies, we are forever safe in the arms of Jesus who tells us that He has power over all that exists. As you go through your day, please be assured that Jesus is your portion, your cup and your security forever.

 

Sincerely,

Pastor Ric 

 

Thursday 31 May 2018

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

 

There are morning people. There are people who have to get up in the morning. Which are you? I’m a morning person. I love mornings! Yesterday I woke up at 3:45 filled with anticipation for my first early outdoor run of the season. By 4:52 there was enough light out for a safe run. The pink horizon, the birds singing, the squirrels and rabbits jumping about, the full moon on the western horizon and the damp morning air fueled my wonder and inspired my prayers. Whether you are a morning person or a person who has to get up in the morning, take two minutes this morning to be in a solitary place where you can converse with God, and receive the new beginnings He has for you on this new day.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 30 May 2018

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” – Jonah 2:9

 

For two weeks I endured laryngitis. While struggling to speak, I realized how unappreciative I was of God’s gift of voice. It’s easy to take things for granted. Growing closer to Jesus grows our gratitude for the many gifts God daily gives us: People who love us unconditionally and friends who like us; we are surrounded by beautiful springtime flowers and their fragrances – the rhododendrons and azaleas are beautiful; homes that give us a place for rest and renewal. Please take time to appreciate the gifts. Appreciation always leads to enjoyment. Enjoying God’s good gifts always fills our hearts with grateful praise.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 29 May 2018

45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. – Psalm 119:45

 

“Some people carry their prisons wherever they go,” Chirrut Imwe tells Rebellion soldier Cassian Andor, in the movie “Star Wars – Rogue One”. We may be free to come and go as we please, but often we find ourselves imprisoned by fears, regrets, guilt, bitterness, sorrow or worry. The author of Psalm 119 enjoys freedom that comes discovering God’s way through God’s words in the Bible. Every day throughout the history of humanity God gives Himself to us with a love that forgives, heals, saves and brings freedom. Jesus does not want us carrying our prisons with us wherever we go. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! What imprisons you today? Please offer it to Jesus and walk about in freedom!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 28 May 2018 – Memorial Day

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again. – I Samuel 7:12-13

 

By God’s grace and through God’s strength the tiny Israelite army defeats the mighty Philistine army. To commemorate the Lord’s protecting care, Samuel sets a stone as a monument and calls it Ebenezer. Ebenezer means “stone of help”. On this Memorial Day we give thanks to God for the women and men who gave their lives in service to our Nation. God worked through these courageous servants to bring us His help and protecting care. They are our Ebenezers. Through the parades ceremonies, and gravestones that mark of this sacred day, God calls us to remember those who gave their lives for us, and to renew our love for Jesus, the Solid Rock upon whom we all stand.

 

Memorial Day Blessings,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 26 May 2018

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” – Isaiah 40:8

 

Last Wednesday evening my son Jonathan told me that his class was visiting Conard High School so that they could be familiar with their soon to be new school home. How did my youngest child – born twelve years after our firstborn – become a high school student?! Life goes by quickly. Sometimes it feels as if the weeks are only three days long: Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Because our days pass rapidly, it is important to make every moment count: enjoy your home; linger over the sights and scents of Springtime; enjoy your family and friends; take in all that Jesus gives you to enjoy. Take nothing for granted. Cultivate a God-inspired appreciation for life. This will not slow down the clock, but it will make every moment meaningful.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

P.S. We’ll have a wonderful time together tomorrow at 10am worshiping God and celebrating our Memorial Day heritage.

 

Friday 25 May 2018

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. – Song of Songs 2:1

 

The flowerbed in the backyard of my childhood home was filled with lily of the valley flowers. Their rich, perfumelike fragrance and delicate beauty is captivating. I’ve brought some of these lilies to each place I’ve lived. These beautiful lilies of the valley trace their lineage back to my childhood home. They remind me that the beauty and sweet fragrance of Jesus’ love has been with me all my life. Like the love of Jesus, lilies of the valley are unobtrusive, easily overlooked, and always changing the world for the better. If you have the privilege to breathe in the sweet smell of a lily of the valley, you are breathing in the love of Jesus.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 24 May2018

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. – Acts 28:7

 

The smell of roast beef and gravy filled the air. Sitting down to dinner with Lisa (now my wife) and her parents for the first time was a delicious experience! Even more wonderful was the welcome Lisa’s dad gave me each time I came to see Lisa or showed up for work (as his carpenter’s apprentice). “Hello Richie!” he’d say with a big smile and warm enthusiasm. Warm heartfelt welcomes make us feel special. After suffering a shipwreck on Malta, the Apostle Paul experiences the warm welcome of Publius. Sincere, heartfelt welcomes transform the worst of days into good days. Who blesses you with warm welcomes? Please offer warm welcomes today so that lives will be brightened with the love of Jesus.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 23 May 2018

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…” – Acts 2:14

 

During Jesus’ trial, Peter denies three times that he knows Jesus. When Jesus is on the cross, a fearful Peter is nowhere to be seen. After Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb, Peter goes back to fishing. Fifty days after Easter, Peter and Jesus’ followers are locked in a room when the Holy Spirit comes through closed doors, filling all present with the presence and power of Jesus. Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus now stands before thousands of people, explaining that Jesus is the Savior of the world. What in your life makes you afraid? Offer that place to the Holy Spirit. Feel the Holy Spirit filling that place in you with the courageous presence of Jesus, who is bringing you the same transformation He brought to Peter.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 22 May 2018

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:1, 4

 

Jesus loves us so much that He goes to the cross for us – taking upon Himself all our wrongdoing. We matter so much to Jesus that He rises from the dead to bring us life that lasts forever. The Lord values His relationship with us so deeply that He promises to send us the Holy Spirit. Fifty days after the first Easter, the Disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. As Jesus comes alive within the Disciples, they are filled with Christ’s presence, power and love. Today, take a moment to place your palms up and feel the Holy Spirit filling you, and making Jesus come alive in you in ways that will bring strength to your heart, joy to your spirit and vitality to your life.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Monday 21 May 2018

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:3-6

 

Yesterday, 20 June, when seven young people stood before their First United Methodist Church, Meriden Family and gave their lives to Jesus, God began a good work in them. The good work God began in them is being in a growing relationship with Jesus; enjoying Jesus’ love for them; desiring to share Jesus’ love with others through kind and joyous service and living good and faithful lives. When did God begin this good work in you? For me it was in 1981. Because Jesus begins this work in us, He will carry it on to completion. All we need to do is daily receive Christ’s presence and enjoy His love. Jesus is doing the rest.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 19 May 2018

 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. – 2 Timothy 1:5

 

Experiencing the presence and love of Jesus through his Grandmother and Mom, leads Timothy to Faith in Jesus. Tomorrow a group of young people will give their lives to Jesus and join First United Methodist Church, Meriden. Our commitment to loving Jesus is the key to nurturing their Faith and keeping them within the joy, guidance and love of their Church Family. All of us have a Lois and a Eunice in our lives – women who led us to Faith in Jesus and nurtured our commitment to Jesus. God calls us to be people who live the love of Jesus in ways that lead younger generations to see our Faith and place their trust in Jesus. Whether we are women or men, there is some Lois and Eunice in all of us!

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Friday 18 May 2018

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. – Acts 4:36-37

 

Hearing the good news of God’s love in Jesus fills a faithful Israelite with such joy that he sells his field and gives the money to First Church, Jerusalem. Joseph is so joyous and helpful that the Apostles give him the nickname Barnabas – son of encouragement. Barnabas is one of my favorite Bible people. After answering the call to love and serve Jesus, Barnabas gives generously, mentors the Apostle Paul (Paul would not be who he was without Barnabas), and he gives a young Christian named John Mark a second chance when Paul refuses. When Jesus lives in us, He fills us with encouragement that brings us strength, joy and gracious lovingkindness.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 17  May 2018

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” …Then he said to him, “Follow me!” – John 21:17, 19b

 

When my children were young and my career was new I thought, “When they are older, life will calm down.” Wrong! Life happens. We get busy. Really busy. As busyness, disappointment and stress pile up, Jesus’ place in our life sometimes diminishes. This is what happens to Peter. This inner-circle disciple gets stressed out by Jesus’ death and decides to go his own way. But Jesus will not let Peter go. He loves Peter too much. “Follow me,” Jesus says again to Peter, just as He did years earlier. Whenever busyness, stress and disappointment fill our lives, Jesus comes to us, and says to us once again, “Follow me.” Whatever is happening in life Jesus loves you too much to let you go.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 16 May 2018

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” – John 11:43-44

 

Trudging through life’s trials brings us to places where our strength, our hope, our joy dies. All seems cold, dark and lonely. We are living but we do not feel alive. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, His dear friend Lazarus is four days in the grave. Standing at Lazarus’ burial cave, Jesus says, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus rises from the dead. When we feel like dead people walking, Jesus comes to us and calls us from our tombs of sorrow, despair, hopelessness and loneliness. Jesus calls us, and with His life-restoring power Jesus resurrects our strength, our hope, and our joy. Whatever life’s trials, we will always hear Jesus calling us and bringing us new life.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 15 May 2018

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:8-11

 

It’s the end of a frustrating workday for Peter, James and John when they meet Jesus. While cleaning their fishing nets after catching nothing, these fishermen hear Jesus saying to them, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” The only thing keeping them from telling Jesus to get lost is the fact that he is a Rabbi. Out of dutiful respect they do what Jesus asks. The catch is huge. Suddenly they feel unworthy. Jesus’ response is, “From now on you will fish for people.” Jesus comes to us when we least expect Him, often when we are tired or frustrated and He invites us to follow Him, not because we are righteous but because He knows we need His loving, restoring and guiding presence.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Monday 14 May 2018

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. – 1 Corinthians 15:6

 

On the first Easter Sunday, the risen Jesus shows Himself to the women who came to His tomb to prepare His body for burial. Throughout Easter Sunday and for thirty-nine days after, Jesus appears before His followers – teaching them, eating with them, encouraging them. When Jesus ascends physically into heaven, he has spent time with 500 people. Five hundred people see the risen Jesus. Jesus wants the world to know that He really is alive. On those days when you feel weary, blue, overwhelmed or alone, please remember that Jesus is alive, He is with You, He is taking care of you, and He is working through everything in your life to bring you to a place of joy.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 12 May 2018

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. – Acts 16:14-15

 

Lydia is a savvy business woman whose company specializes in high end purple cloth. Purple was a luxurious color because it was very rare. The “Color Matters” website says that in ancient times it took 12,000 shellfish to make 1.5 grams of pure purple dye. Lydia brought her wise tenacity to her faith. After the Apostle Paul leads Lydia to place her trust in Jesus, this wonderful businesswoman convinces Paul and his colleagues to stay at her home. Lydia’s financial and business support make it possible for Paul to start the Philippian church, which becomes the most faithful, joyous and loving church in the ancient world! And it’s all thanks to Lydia. Praise God for the women whose tenacity and business savvy make life better in the name of Jesus for so many around the world!

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Friday 11 May 2018

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. – Matthew 15:21-28

 

From the beginning of Israel’s existence, the Canaanites worked to wipe Israel from the earth. But this Canaanite Mom is different. Jesus tests her faith by saying that He has come only for the children of Israel. Knowing with all her heart that Jesus has come for everyone, this woman of Faith answers Jesus’ seemingly heartless pronouncement with words that show her deep trust in Jesus. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs…” All she needs is a little bit of God’s grace to heal her daughter. Her huge faith leads her to say that a tiny bit of grace will be sufficient. This woman’s great trust in Jesus brings healing to her daughter. There are women in our lives whose great faith in Jesus brings God’s healing to us and others!

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 10 May 2018

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them [Mary, Joseph and Jesus] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38

 

Anna loved the Lord with everything in her, and spent her life enjoying God’s love. Elated to see her infant Savior at the Temple, Anna shares the great news of God’s entrance into the world with everyone. Anna’s love for God fills her with a joy that brightens the lives of all who spend time with her. God blesses us with women whose deep joy brightens our lives and strengthens our spirits. My Great Grammy Hanse showed me the joy of Jesus. Her deep love for Jesus and beautiful smile radiated the joy of the Lord. Praise God for the “Annas” in our lives, whose joy in the Lord brings us strength.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 9 May 2018

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. – Judges 4:4-5

 

After Moses and Joshua, and before the kings, Israel was led by rulers called judges. Deborah is one of Israel’s great judges. Deborah is a woman of wisdom and a great military strategist. When the Canaanites sought to wipe Israel from the world, Deborah shares a strategy with General Barak that will defeat the Canaanites. Barak depends on Deborah for confidence and success. Who are the wise women in your life whose strategies guide you to places of confidence and success? These women are gifts from God. Their wisdom and confidence are rooted in their relationship with Jesus. Whether living in this world or God’s Kingdom these great women of God are continually guiding us.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. – Exodus 2:5

 

Refusing to abandon her baby brother, Miriam runs along the riverbank following the basket until it comes to rest in a reed bank. Seeing the Princess of Egypt cooing over her newfound treasure, Miriam bravely approaches her asking, “Shall I get one of the Hebrew women to nurse your baby?” “Yes.” Miriam returns with Moses’ mother! The Princess pays Jochebed to nurse Moses until he’s old enough to live with her in the palace. Miriam’s courageous commitment to her brother’s wellbeing is inspiring. Sisters are gifts from God who can be real lifesavers! Some sisters are members of our families. Many more of our sisters are women in our Church Families. Who is that special sister in Christ who has courageously worked for your wellbeing? Give thanks to God for her! And be sure to thank her as well.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

P.S. – The laryngitis continues. I am still your voiceless Rev. Praise God for email and text messaging!

 

Monday 7 May 2018

59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam. – Numbers 26:59

 

This week we’ll celebrate faithful women who show us the love of Jesus. Let’s spend today with Moses’ Mom Jochebed – a clever woman of courage. The king of Egypt has issued a decree that any boy born to a Hebrew woman be thrown into the Nile River to drown. After giving birth to Moses, Jochebed hides him for as long as possible. When she can no longer conceal her baby, Jochebed weaves a basket, waterproofs it with pitch, places the boy in the mini ark and sets the precious cargo adrift on the Nile river. Jochebed’s courageous cleverness gives Moses a chance at survival. While thinking about Jochebed today, let’s celebrate the women in our lives whose clever courage has blessed us.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 5 May 2018

36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. – Isaiah 37:36-37

 

Faced with the annihilation of his people, and seeing no other nation coming to his aid, King Hezekiah begs God to protect his beloved nation of Judah. God, who has a special place in His heart for the persecuted and oppressed, sends an angel of the Lord into the Syrian army camp, and in a single night, one angel kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Bad things happen to us, and we do not understand why, but Jesus is always with us, holding us, protecting us, giving us a life that lasts long after we leave this world. Whenever you feel trapped and all seems hopeless do not fear because God will make a way.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Friday 4 May 2018

18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God. – Isaiah 37:18-20

 

After receiving word that Sennacherib of Assyria is planning to destroy Jerusalem a fearful King Hezekiah begs God to protect his beloved nation. Rather than turning to his generals, Hezekiah turns to God. Who and do we turn to when we are filled with desperate anguish? Do we turn to Jesus? The hymn declares, “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear…” When life is difficult please turn to Jesus. Please give your fears, your anger, your sorrow, your anguish to Jesus. Jesus loves you, He is with you (whether or not you feel Him) and He is taking care of you. Jesus has brought me through the terrible times and I know He is doing the same for you.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 3 May 2018

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Mark 12:28-29

 

God is perfect unity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are so perfectly united that they are one. Unity is life. Unity is joy. Unity is health. When all of the parts of our bodies enjoy unity, we are healthy. When our families at home and at church enjoy unity, there is a wonderful love we have for one another – a love that grows health and life. Disunity in our bodies brings disease. Disunity in our families brings dysfunction. But disunity is never stronger than unity.  Because God is perfect unity, God is working to bring the health and life that are found in unity. What within your life needs unity? Please offer it to God who is One and who is restoring unity in, to and for you.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. – Isaiah 35:1c-2

 

The bloodroots are blooming in my back yard. Henry and Madelyn Woods who built and enjoyed the home Lisa and I now call home planted these wonderful flowers. During the cool cloudiness of Monday, the bloodroots did not open. But the sunny warmth of Tuesday caused them to burst into bloom. One of my favorite hymns declares, “Joyful, joyful we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” Through the bright beauty of springtime’s bursting blooms feel the love of Jesus shining on upon you and melting the clouds of sin and sadness as your heart opens to God the Son who loves you.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

Bloodroot Flowers

 

Tuesday 1 May 2018

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. – Isaiah 35:1-2a

 

Desert days. From time to time we experience periods in life when our spirits are dry, our hearts feel weary, and we are worn out. God feels far away, and we wonder if we really do have a Friend in Jesus. During these dry spells when enjoying God’s love does not come easily, we must choose to love Jesus and talk with Jesus – even though we don’t think He’s listening. During these desert periods we need to do the work of believing – not because we feel Jesus, but because we know that regardless of how dry we feel, Jesus is with us, Jesus is holding us, Jesus is loving us. During those desert days please know that Jesus loves you and He is bringing you to a place refreshment, peace and healing.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 30 April 2018

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5

 

Most of us believe that we must have it all together if we want to be successful in life. When we take this conventional “wisdom” to heart we go through life working to keep control over our lives. Don’t you find this exhausting? Eventually we come to the place where we are unable to keep it all together. How wonderful it is to serve a God who does not expect us to have it all together. Through Faith, God lovingly shows that it is impossible for us to have it all together – to be perfect. True wisdom is accepting our limitations and allowing Jesus to come into every place of our lives that is out of sorts, so we can receive Christ’s healing, renewing, strengthening love which always leads us to places of peaceful joy, no matter the circumstances.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 28 April 2018

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

 

Think of the many ways God has been good to you. God has blessed you with: Wonderful memories of times enjoyed with family and friends; days of health and strength; food to enjoy; friends with whom to enjoy life; perseverance that brings you through trying times; a home in which to live; skills; creative outlets for your passions. Please take some time to think of the ways in which you have experienced God’s goodness. When we think of the ways God has been good to us our hearts fill with joyful songs of praise to God.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Friday 27 April 2018

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – Psalm 13:2 

 

Thoughts flood our mind all day, every day, day after day. Thoughts that don’t get thought out during the day work themselves out as dreams in the night. Our thoughts are a great mixture of good, bad, happy, morose, peaceful, anxious, selfless, wrong and righteous. Some thoughts we would happily share with others. Other thoughts we would prefer God not know. Have you ever wrestled with your thoughts? Living a life of faith involves wrestling with our thoughts. Whatever our thoughts are, when we invite Jesus to be present in them we do not have to wrestle with our thoughts on your own. Jesus will be with us to redeem, renew and work through our thoughts.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 26 April 2018

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a

 

“Happy Birthday Philip!” I exclaimed on 2 April while speaking with my brother. “Thanks Bro! I am finally buying a Cadillac! I figured that I’d get one for my 49th birthday.” I was thrilled. Wonderful memories of riding with my Pops Mercaldi in his De Ville’s filled my mind. “Philip, the last time a ‘Phil’ in our family had a Cadillac was in 1975,” I said with tears in my eyes. When our call ended, I realized in a new way that the people who showed us Jesus’ and His love while they lived in this world are now cheering us on from the Kingdom of Heaven. Please know that each and everyday Jesus surrounds us with people who are cheering us on from heaven. Look up, feel their encouragement, and keep persevering!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 25 April 2018

The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. – Psalm 33:5

 

Human anger, hatred, bitterness and greed scar the world in which we live. Sometimes we are saddened, overwhelmed and even depressed by the bad that surrounds us. Whenever such darkness encroaches please remember verse three of “This Is My Father’s World”. “This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!” Jesus returns human hatred with God’s extraordinary, life-restoring love when on the cross, He prays for those who persecute Him unto death saying, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” Our God Jesus Christ, rules in love. Love and life always triumph!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7

 

One of God’s blessings in spring is the wonderful symphony of birdsong that greets us each morning. God’s songbirds remind us that the Lord who treasures the seemingly most insignificant of birds (sparrows) treasures us far more.  Through the singing of the sparrows, the tweets of the cardinals and the calls of the blue jays God assures us of His great love for us.  As Maltbie Babcock declares, “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair; in the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.” Enjoy God’s conversation with you today!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 23 April 2018

12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. – Psalm 50:12

 

This verse is one of several Scriptures that inspired Maltbie Davenport Babcock’s famous song, “This Is My Father’s World”.  When the Presbyterian pastor lived “in Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook’s panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario, telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world.” (Wikipedia)  Please enjoy verse one as you enjoy God’s gift of Springtime.  “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.” 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 21 April 2018

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:4-5

 

We all experience times of weeping in our lives. These are the difficult days, weeks, months, years, when the trials of life make us feel small, inadequate, ineffective, sad, overwhelmed, lost and lonely. When we are in the thick of these dark times we feel like we’ll never see the light of better times. But darkness is never permanent. Morning always arrives. Looking back at the terrible trials I have experienced in my life, I see clearly that morning does come, and with the daylight of new beginnings there is always healing, there is always rejoicing. Joy comes in the morning! Back in 1982 a new musical group called “Glad” recorded a great song based on Psalm 30. “Joy Comes In The Morning” always assures me that there is far more rejoicing in our lives than there is sorrow. During your dark days, please remember that a day of rejoicing is coming for you!

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

 

Friday 20 April 2018

16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. – Isaiah 32:16-17

 

Did you know a hammer can be righteous? So can a car. A furnace can be righteous too. When hammers are used to drive nails, they are righteous. Cars that reliably get us to our destinations are righteous. Furnaces that keep us warm on these cold spring mornings (and days and nights!) are righteous. Something is righteous when it is doing what it is designed to do. God is righteous when He creates, loves, forgives, frees and sustains life. We are righteous when we enjoy God’s love. We are designed to enjoy God’s love by being in a close relationship with Jesus. When we enjoy God’s love, the presence of Jesus quiets our hearts and fills us with confidence. When we do what we are designed to do the quiet, confident peace of Jesus carries us through every situation and season of life.

 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 19 April 2018

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. – Psalm 108:1

 

What is your favorite style of music? Or are you like me and enjoy many styles? I love hymns (my favorites are “O God Our Help In Ages Past”, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee). Choral music feeds my spirit (“Simple Gifts”, “Gloria” by John Rutter). Forties popular music brightens my days (“Midnight Sun”, “Sing, Sing, Sing”). And jazz shows me the richness of God’s beauty (“Inside” and “Pent Up House” by George Shearing, “Maiden Voyage” by Bobby Hutcherson). Music is one of God’s great gifts. Music touches our souls, stirs our emotions and shows us the love of Jesus in ways no other medium can match. When we enjoy music, we are enjoying the love of Jesus, who fills us with songs of praise to our God.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 18 April 2018

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

 

Opening a new bag of coffee, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the aroma! The soothing waters of a hot shower on a cold April morning delighted my soul. Hearing the early morning songs of birds in my back yard made me smile. Enjoying a slice of pie during a good meeting with great people on Monday evening filled my heart with happiness. Listening to my son describe a story he is writing refreshes my spirit. One of my favorite songs is “Simple Gifts” Everyday God lovingly surrounds us with simple gifts. These good gifts nurture our hope, sustain our joy, strengthen our spirits, warm our hearts and put smiles on our faces. Today Jesus is pouring His love on you through simple gifts. Please be sure to enjoy them!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 17 April 2018

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:27
 
“Ben Hur” with Charlton Heston is one of my favorite movies. Years ago, I wanted my teenage daughters to experience “Ben Hur”. Making them watch a four-hour movie was not a good idea! Last week I asked Jonathan if he’d like to watch “Ben Hur” with me in small segments. “Sure!” he said. We watched an hour a day. “How did you like it?” I asked, when “The End” covered the screen. “I liked it!” he said. Being invitational is always best. Jesus never forces Himself on us. “Follow me,” is never a demand or a command. It is always an opportunity. Just as Judah Ben Hur’s life changes for the better when he accepts Jesus’ invitation, ours does too!
 

Affectionately,
Pastor Ric

 

Monday 16 April 2018

11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11

 

Looking out the window before going to bed last night I was surprised to see glistening sleet covering the yard and street. While I am ready for the warmth of spring, the sleet does not dampen my spirits because it is temporary. Through this springtime sleet storm God reminds us that joy does not come from sunny days or times of ease. Joy – the deep inner happiness of Jesus – comes from the everlasting pleasures God gives us every day. The sleet may last for the day, but God’s unconditional love lasts forever. The cold may chill our happiness, but the forgiveness of Jesus is permanent. Disappointment, loneliness and sorrow may cool our happiness, but the friendship and healing we receive from Jesus and others who love God will warm us with joy that lasts. God’s eternal pleasures are strong and last forever.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric