Wednesday 30 November 2022
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. – Acts 15:36-38
 
Overcome with homesickness, young John Mark drops off his trip with Paul and Barnabas and goes home. Barnabas, who specializes in encouraging people, wants to give John Mark a second chance. Paul does not. Sometimes the greatest encouragement we can offer is a second chance. Our God is a God of second chances. Jesus comes into the world at Christmas to give creation a second chance. Forgiveness and hope live at the center of every person who receives Jesus’ second chance. Who are the John Marks in our lives? How can we offer them a second chance?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 29 November 2022
19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. – Matthew 14:19
 
Upon receiving word that His beloved cousin John the Baptist had been killed, Jesus goes off to a lonely place, only to discover 20,000 people waiting for Him. Filled with compassion, Jesus welcomes the crowd, heals those who are sick, and multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed everyone. Jesus our King is filled with compassion for us, offers us healing of body, mind, and spirit, and gives us food to eat. Today please offer yourself Jesus and feel His compassion renewing you, His healing touch restoring you, and His providing care supplying your every need.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 28 November 2022
17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. – Psalm 7:17
 
We experience God’s righteousness through promises kept, patience with us, and Jesus’ commitment to nurturing a relationship with us. God’s righteousness gives us good reason to be thankful. When we follow Jesus, the Lord lives His life through us and grows us into people who are faithful to our promises, patient with people, pets and circumstances, and committed to nurturing healthy relationships. As people experience the beauty of God’s faithful, patient, and nurturing righteousness in us, they too will grow in thankfulness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 

 

Saturday 26 November 2022

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17
 
Following Jesus is all about doing everything in Jesus’ name. Jesus calls us to offer everything we do to Him. If we are doing something we cannot offer to the Lord, perhaps we ought to stop. Loving Jesus is using our lives as grateful declarations of love for Jesus by loving others. When we offer everything we do to Jesus, we are living lives of thanksgiving. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 25 November 2022
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6-7
 
Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord happens when we place our trust in Jesus, accept Christ’s call to follow Him and allow Jesus to shape our lives. As we live in Jesus, we more fully experience a spirit of thankfulness. This means that thankfulness is not an emotion, but a way of life. Thankfulness is the fruit of our relationship with Jesus who lives with us, within us, and loves us always.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thanksgiving Day 24 November 2022
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
 
Spending time in prayer gives us spirits that perceive God’s blessings, minds that appreciate God’s blessings and hearts that enjoy God’s blessings. This watchful ability to perceive, appreciate and enjoy God’s blessings, even in tough times, is the fruit of our fellowship with Jesus and makes us a people of thanksgiving. Whatever you are experiencing in life on this Thanksgiving Day, please know that Jesus loves you, Jesus is with you, and Jesus who enjoyed great good and endured great pain is filling you with His spirit of thanksgiving.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thanksgiving Eve 23 November 2022
17 Mattaniah son of Mika, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer – Nehemiah 11:17a  
 
Mattaniah is the great grandson of Asaph, Israel’s director of thanksgiving and prayer. What a wonderful job! We are all blessed with people who are our directors of thanksgiving and prayer. People who show us God’s blessings, God’s goodness, God’s joy. People who bring us through the difficult days. People who keep us close to Jesus. Who are our directors of thanksgiving and prayer? Let’s start Thanksgiving by giving thanks for these special people, who inspire us to be directors of thanksgiving and prayer for others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 22 November 2022
30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30
 
Giving thanks glorifies God, the giver of every good gift we enjoy. On Sunday, Tom Martin closed the First Meriden service with a beautiful arrangement of “Simple Gifts”. Think of the simple gifts we enjoy each day: delicious food; hugs from friends; kindness of drivers who let us into streams of traffic; music; time with our pets. What are some  simple gifts that make your heart happy? Give thanks to God for these blessing that make life beautiful.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 22 November 2022
30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30
 
Giving thanks glorifies God, the giver of every good gift we enjoy. On Sunday, Tom Martin closed the First Meriden service with a beautiful arrangement of “Simple Gifts”. Think of the simple gifts we enjoy each day: delicious food; hugs from friends; kindness of drivers who let us into streams of traffic; music; time with our pets. What are some  simple gifts that make your heart happy? Give thanks to God for these blessing that make life beautiful.
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Monday 21 November 2022
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
 
After studying God’s word, Governor Nehemiah encourages the Israelites to give thanks to God by enjoying delicious food, and by sharing some with those who have none. We experience the joy of the Lord through tasty food. As we begin this week of Thanksgiving, Jesus calls us to enjoy choice food and sweet drinks. Whether we eat with others or alone, Jesus is with us, inviting us to taste God’s love through delicious food. And Jesus invites us to share with those who have nothing prepared so that all may taste and see that the Lord is good.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 19 November 2022
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. We talk to Jesus about your fears, flaws, failures and the things that trip us up time and again. We talk with Jesus about our hopes, dreams, and expectations. We talk to Jesus about our blessings. On Friday my Gram said she was feeling blue, but she was going to work through it by thinking of all the blessings she has. This kind of watchfulness is always a blessing.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 18 November 2022
 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. – Isaiah 9:1
 
A few weeks ago, while preparing two presentations to bring before a district committee, feelings of anxiety welled up in me. Then I remembered the joy of the Lord is my confidence, peace, and strength. No matter the results of my presentation, I did my best to God’s glory. Is something filling you with gloom, anxiety, or distress today? Offer your gloom, anxiety, and distress to Jesus. Receive in return the joy of the Lord, which is our confidence, our peace, and our strength.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 17 November 2022
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” – Isaiah 6:5
 
Through a vision of God’s glory filling the temple, Isaiah is called to be a prophet. God’s bright splendor shines a light on Isaiah’s shortcomings. In the light of Jesus’ love, we see our shortcomings. Like Isaiah we are people of unclean lips. But Jesus never allows our wrongs to keep us from experiencing God’s forgiveness and love. While we live in a world filled with sin, we also live in a world filled with God. When we offer God our wrongs, Jesus receives them, cleanses us and offers us a new beginning. Jesus’ love always cleanses and heals.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 16 November 2022
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. – Acts 11:22-23
 
When the Jerusalem church learns of the great things happening in the Antioch church, they send Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) to encourage these new Christians and nurture their relationship with Jesus. God has also blessed us with people who nurture our faith and encourage us to remain true to Jesus. God also sends us to specific people to be their encouragers. Who is your encourager? Who is encouraging you?  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 15 November 2022
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
 
We do more forgiving during an average day than we realize. We forgive those who are rude or dangerous in traffic. We forgive people who get into the express checkout with more than twelve items. We forgive colleagues who fail to complete their work. We forgive family and friends who hurt us. Often the person we have the toughest time forgiving is our self. But no shortcoming or failure is beyond God’s forgiving love. When Jesus takes the punishment for our wrongdoing upon Himself, God settles the matter. The Cross assures us that we are clean, we are forgiven, we are free. So, forgive yourself – after all, God has forgiven you.

 

Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 14 November 2022
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
 
Because we are created in God’s image, we have a built-in desire to do what is right, to love what is good and to appreciate all that is beautiful. Doing what is right means defending everyone who is oppressed. Who are the oppressed of our day? Jesus calls us to be their protectors and encouragers. Doing what is right is offering parental protection and care to those without parents. Doing what is right means making sure that people whose life partners are in God’s kingdom find in us generous friends. The more we enjoy God’s love the more joyously we commit to doing right.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 12 November 2022
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
 
My 1974 a green leisure suit, multi-color green flecked nylon wide collar shirt and saddle shoes are out of style. Physical clothing styles are always changing. But the spiritual clothing of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience are always in fashion! To wear these timeless fashions, we give our lives to the ultimate clothier – Jesus Christ.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 11 November 2022
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. – Hebrews 2:1
 
When we are distracted while driving, biking, or walking we drift off course. Life’s distractions lead us to take our focus off Jesus. Drifting off course leads us to places of anger, anxiety, fear and sorrow. These emotions are the warning signs that we are drifting away from Jesus and His love, grace, strength, provision and peace. Keeping our focus on Jesus, through prayer (talking to Jesus throughout the day), songs of faith, Bible reading, and praise to God for all Jesus gives us, keeps us on course and out of trouble.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 10 November 2022
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7
 
Walking in the light is being in a growing relationship with Jesus. A growing relationship with Jesus is marked by friendship with Jesus, trust in Jesus, love for Jesus, and desire to please Jesus. Our growing relationship with Jesus is also marked by our growing relationships with other people in our church family. We love Jesus better as we come to love one another better. It is through our fellowship with one another that we grow in our ability to receive and offer the forgiveness of Jesus that makes us pure.
 
Sincerely,
Ric

 

Wednesday 9 November 2022

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14
 
When Jesus fills our hearts with His presence, He heals the wounded places within us, brings strength our places of weakness, shines light on the dark areas in our minds, warms the coldness in our hearts, and softens the calloused corners of our spirits. When Jesus fills our hearts, the meditations of our minds are pleasing to God because God inspires our meditations and leads us to speak words that are gracious, loving, kind and good.
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Monday 7 November 2022
40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:40
 
Jesus – God the Son – comes into the world as one who is fully human, inviting all people, everywhere to enjoy everlasting life through Him. We who love Jesus are the ones through whom God works to bring God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to others. With every interaction we have today, we are given opportunities to show others what Jesus’ loving presence in this world looks like. What a wonderful privilege!
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
 
Saturday 6 November 2022
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 9:17
 
Standing at the door of the Straight Street house where Saul, the notorious persecutor of Christians is staying causes Ananias’s heart to race. Soon Ananias is standing before Saul. Placing his hands on Saul, Ananias says something extraordinary: “Brother Saul…” Trusting that Jesus has transformed Saul’s heart, Ananias welcomes him into the Family of Faith. “Brother Saul…” The words send Saul’s spirit soaring. Through Ananias, Saul experiences the welcoming, forgiving, and freeing love of Jesus. Who in our lives needs to experience the welcoming, forgiving and freeing love of Jesus?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 4 November 2022
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:3
 
Whenever little Ricky was scared, I would jump into bed and hide under my blankets where I felt safe. As grownups we know that hiding under blankets will not protect us from life’s challenges, trials and losses. But there is a hiding place that is better than the coziest blanket. Jesus. Whenever life’s challenges, trials and losses threaten to overwhelm us, we can hide in Jesus Christ’s strength, love, safety and provision. Hiding in Jesus gives us the courage to face all of life’s challenges, trials and losses with joy, confidence and peace because we know that Jesus is with us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 3 November 2022
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 havens of blessing and peace. When Jesus is the center of our cities we craft communities that are beacons of Christ’s providing care, protecting love, forgiving grace and loving kindness. When Jesus is the center of our churches, our churches are centers of welcome and vitality that offer Jesus to all. When Jesus is the center of our hearts, our lives become declarations of God’s saving love, joyous strength, calming peace, and beautiful blessings. Today let’s all invite Jesus to be the center of our homes, cities, churches, and hearts.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 2 November 2022
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. – Acts 9:10-11
 
Saul is on his way to Damascus to arrest, terrorize and possibly kill Christians when Jesus appears from heaven, knocks Saul off his horse and blinds him. Experiencing a change of heart, Saul starts loving those whom he literally hated to death. Ananias finds out about Saul’s transformation through a vision from God, who calls Ananias to welcome Saul and heal his blindness. Ananias is frightened. Has God ever called you to do something frightening? Whenever Jesus calls us to a task that we believe is too big for us, Jesus always gives us all the courage, wisdom and companionship we need.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 1 November 2022
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 who are shining beacons of God’s love. Saints 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. Today we delight in the memories of the saints who are in heaven and celebrate the saints who live with in this world.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 31 October 2022
Reformation Day
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 Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Through this large list Martin Luther detailed the practices of his beloved church that he believed to be unbiblical. At the heart of Martin Luther’s angst was the church’s dismissal of the critically important truth that faith in Jesus brings us into a right relationship with God. We cannot work our way into heaven. Nor can we buy our way into heaven. The way to enjoy forgiveness and everlasting life is through faith in Jesus. Reformation Day reminds us that we do not have to earn salvation. Rather, we receive and enjoy Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and everlasting life. The way to receive and enjoy this great gift is through Faith in Jesus. Reformation Day Blessings!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Saturday 29 October 2022
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. – Acts 9:1a
 
Determined to destroy Jesus’ followers and convinced that the Christian way of life should be annihilated, Saul enthusiastically works to terrorize and arrest anyone who is known to be a follower of Jesus. The newborn Church lives in fear of Saul. But God loves Saul too much to leave him lost in hatred. God works to transform Saul’s insecure, arrogant, and hate-filled heart into a heart of grace, humility, and love. And God succeeds! God is still at work transforming hearts with the healing power of Jesus. As bleak as things may appear, please never lose hope. If God can transform Saul, God can transform anyone.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 28 October 2022
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters – Colossians 3:23
 
At last night’s New Room Music Night celebration of saints, I thought about Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Do Everything”. “Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you; Because He made you to do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face Tell the story of grace with every move that you make, And everything that you do.” Jesus invites us to offer everything we do to Him. When we offer all we do to Jesus, we feel God’s pleasure in everything we do.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 27 October 2022
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. Relationships devoid of forgiveness are like car engines running without oil. Forgiveness is not something we create. Forgiveness is something we receive. We receive forgiveness from Jesus. When we receive forgiveness for our wrongdoings it becomes possible for us to offer forgiveness to others. We can forgive because we are the forgiven. When Jesus forgives us, He frees us from the penalties for our wrongdoing, and the power our wrongdoing has over us. When we forgive others, Jesus releases us from bitterness, anger, fear, and hatred. Forgiveness brings freedom.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 26 October 2022
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 saving love for us, constant care of us, and continual presence with us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 25 October 2022
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. – Acts 8:30-31
 
Faithful teachers are gifts from God who grow us into thoughtful people. Be it science, math, literature, writing, history, music, technology or the Bible, teachers grow our knowledge, wisdom, and commitment to thoughtful analysis. The Christian life is a journey of continuous learning and teaching and learning. Every day God offers us opportunities for sharing what we’ve learned and for learning something new.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 24 October 2022
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
 
Redemption means recovery, renovation, improvement. Jesus recovers us from death, renovates our lives and improves our perspectives. Jesus does all of this for us through His great gift of forgiveness. What recoveries, renovations and improvements has Jesus has brought you, through His gift of forgiveness? We receive Jesus’ forgiveness by forgiving others. Who is it that you need to forgive? When we forgive others, we are free from the bitterness, control, and pain they inflict upon us. Such freedom is a wonderful mark of recovery, renovation, and improvement from Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 22 October 2022
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
 
As one of the smallest kids in elementary school I last to be picked for sports teams, and at first to be chased by bullies. So, I learned to run – fast! No matter our height, we all have days when we feel small. Times when feel like a speck in the universe. When I discovered how important sparrows are to God, I learned that small is not insignificant. To God, small is precious, small is beautiful.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 21 October 2022
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
 
Last Saturday afternoon’s beautiful weather was the perfect opportunity for an autumn run. Trees filled with leaves of brilliant yellows, warm red and deep purple filled me with appreciation for God’s loving creativity. God who sends rain and color each autumn, fills our lives with beauty that assures us we are God’s beloved children.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 20 October 2022
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
 
Have you ever decided to call someone “out of the blue” only to discover that your call was just what they needed? This is because God is speaking to you by placing these good ideas in your mind. When God speaks to us, audible words are not necessary. The Holy Spirit places thoughts in our minds that us down roads which connect us with others at just the right time.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 19 October 2022
23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. – Leviticus 10:23
 
We show God’s glory when we bless people, animals and situations with God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Just as Moses and Aaron offer what they receive in the tent of meeting, we offer what we receive from Jesus and others. God’s glory appears to others when we offer love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control of Jesus our Savior and our God.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 18 October 2022
12 I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. – Psalm 56:12
 
Do you remember drawing pictures as a child? I drew pictures of houses, cars, and the beach. I love it when children draw pictures for me. With great happiness I display their art on my desk or refrigerator. These beautiful thank offerings fill my heart with happiness. We are God’s beloved, beautiful and treasured children. Each day God gives us opportunities to draw beautiful pictures of grace, kindness, contentment, and joy. Our life-pictures fill God’s heart with happiness. Maybe God even has a giant refrigerator filled with our thank offerings to Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 17 October 2022
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. – Acts 5:41
 
Upon their release from prison, these Christians give thanks that they could suffer for Jesus. This seems strange. We avoid suffering. Periods of pain make us feel like God has abandoned us. But suffering is integral to our faith. Jesus who suffers on the cross, says to us “When you suffer…” When suffering crashes into our lives – and it always does – our suffering Savior calls us to remember that God works through our suffering to bring about something good – always. The cross brings us forgiveness. Good Friday brings us Easter Sunday.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 15 October 2022
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
 
Encouragers are the people who show us how to live life with hope and positivity; help us discover our strengths and make it possible for us to believe that we really can do anything we set our minds to doing. These positive people bring out the best in us. Barnabas – the encourager who supported his church, took Saul of Tarsus under his wing and enabled Saul to become the Paul who changed the world. What a great encourager! Praise God for our encouragers!  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 14 October 2022
14 If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. – Job 14:14
 
While mourning the loss of his health, his family and his wealth, trusts that a time of renewal will come. Job waits for renewal because even though life has become horrifically painful for him, Job trusts in and loves God. Job waits for renewal not because his faith is dependent upon what he gets from God. Job’s faith is dependent upon his relationship with God. When life is difficult and painful, faith means choosing to wait for our renewal to come from the Jesus, who loves us, and whom we love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 13 October 2022
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. – Daniel 1:17
 
King Nebuchadnezzar forces four young Judeans to live in Babylon (which is modern-day Iraq). In their new home, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaria are forced to adopt new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They spend three years training to serve as the king’s advisors. There are times in life when it seems everyone and everything has control of our lives but us. No matter how out of control life seems, Jesus is with us, and Jesus caring for us just as He cared for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 12 October 2022
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
 
In the 1963 movie “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World”, just before kicking the bucket, Smiler Grogen tells a group of strangers that he buried $350,000.00 under the “Big W” in Santa Rosita Park. At first, the group works together, but soon it becomes “every man for himself.” Things go quickly wrong. When it comes to tasks at home, in church, and in life, two are always better than one. God blesses us with people who come alongside of us to share our workload. Even when we think we are working alone, Jesus is with us. Two are always better than one.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 11 October 2022
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? – Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
 
We spend much of life eating, drinking, and working. What a blessing that God gives us tasty foo, good drinks, and satisfying work (whether paid or volunteer). When we eat, we are tasting God’s goodness. When we drink, we experience Jesus’ refreshment. When we work, we enjoy God’s satisfaction. Please spend today tasting God’s goodness, experiencing Jesus’ refreshment, and enjoying God’s satisfaction.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 10 October 2022
This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” – Zechariah 13:9
 
Trials and difficulties in our lives are agonizing but never pointless. God works through our difficulties to purify our thoughts and motives, deepen our dependence on Jesus and strengthen our joy. Jesus who experienced agonizing trials, is with us in our difficulties, bringing us through. Jesus, who redeems the cross, redeems our trials.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 8 October 2022
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” – Acts 3:6
 
When the paralyzed man sees Peter and John, he asks them for money. Having no money Peter gives him something far more valuable – healing in the name of Jesus. When we come across people who ask us for money how do we respond? We may not have money to give. We may not – for good reasons – want to offer cash. But we can always offer a smile, encouragement, and our prayers. When God brings us to people who ask something of us – be they strangers, family, or friends – we are receiving opportunities to receive them as priceless treasures created in God’s image.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 7 October 2022
The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him. – Proverbs 31:1
 
The closing chapter of Proverbs is filled with wisdom from King Lemuel’s Mother. The equality between men and women in the Judeo/Christian Faith is a wonderful blessing from God. All of us have several women in our lives who are our mothers in the Faith. These wonderful women share their wisdom with us and help us navigate life’s challenges. How have these extraordinary women in your life taught, cared for and guided you? Praise God for faithful and wise women!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 6 October 2022
“‘If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the Lord an animal without defect. – Leviticus 3:1
 
In Moses’ time, people showed their friendship with God by cooking food at the Tabernacle and offering it to the Lord. Thanks to Jesus who is the perfect fellowship offering, we do not have to do this. But each time we pray over our meals we are making a fellowship offering to God. One of the best places of fellowship is the place where we enjoy meals with others. Each time you sit down to enjoy tasty food, offer that meal to Jesus, and invite Jesus to be present.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 5 October 2022
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. – Acts 2:29
 
Standing before a gathering of over five thousand Israelites, the Apostle Peter says, “I can tell you confidently…” Only fifty-three days earlier Peter disowned Jesus. But on Pentecost, Jesus fills Peter with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit removes Peter’s fears, filling him with confidence. Where do you need the confident security that comes from the Holy Spirit? Invite the Holy Spirit to fill fill you, remove the fear and fill you with the secure, courageous confidence of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 

Tuesday 4 October 2022

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
 
Enjoying delicious food is a wonderful way to taste God’s love. Sharing a meal with someone special makes good food taste even better. After Easter, Jesus spends forty days enjoying meals with His close friends and followers. Over tasty food Jesus assures them that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit. Food nourishes our bodies and feeds our souls. Enjoying delicious meals with people we love gives us the encouragement we need to navigate difficult days. Each time we enjoy food with special people, we taste God’s love as we enjoy those meals with Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 3 October 2022
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” when God assures the Israelites that He will be with them wherever they go. Jesus loves us so very much that He is with us wherever you go.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Saturday 1 October 2022
But [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” – John 20:25b
 
Thomas is absent when the risen Jesus first appears to the disciples. Though they tell Thomas, still he refuses to believe. The Bible’s wonderful honesty assures us that it is not a human invention, God-inspired and trustworthy. When we, like Thomas doubt God’s power, Jesus comes to us through songs, good friends, family members, nature, the Bible, delicious food and brings us to a place of renewed faith.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 30 September 2022
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
 
It was a beautiful fall day for my kindergarten pumpkin patch field trip. Wanting the perfect pumpkin, I walked far out into the patch. After much searching I found that pumpkin. Wanting to tell someone about my find, I turned around and discovered – no one. I sat down in the field and cried. I needed a rescue. There are still times as a grown up when I need a rescue. Is the same true for you? Fortunately, Jesus always rescues us. Always.  From what darkness do you need Jesus to rescue you? Jesus is on His way, and everything will be fine.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 29 September 2022
15 Jesus asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
 
Ricky Boy. Little Ricky. Ricky. Rich. Richie. Richard. Ric. Whenever I hear these names, I answer. Our names are central to our identity and our relationships. Mary does not recognize the risen Jesus until He speaks her name. Jesus knows your name. Today please know that Jesus is speaking your name directly to your heart. Jesus is speaking your name, assuring you that you are loved, cared for and always in God’s saving care.  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 28 September 2022
Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first 
month. – Exodus 40:1-2
 
Thirteen of the forty chapters of Exodus are dedicated to the creation of the Tabernacle – a portable sanctuary where God would live with the Israelites. God’s priority was being with the Israelites as they traveled through the desert on their forty-year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. When Jesus comes into the World, God’s Tabernacle is no longer a tent, but a person named Jesus (which means God with us). Today God’s tabernacle – the place where Jesus lives – is us!  Jesus lives in you! Feel His presence filling you with beauty, strength, joy, forgiveness, and love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 24 September 2022
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33b
 
Our faith in Jesus does not prevent us from experiencing tough times. In the midst of difficult times, it is tempting to think that God has abandoned us, or that Jesus does not love us. But ease of life is never tied to God’s love for us. Nobody had a closer relationship with God than Jesus. And no one suffered more than Jesus. So, when we suffer, we can take comfort in knowing that God understands our suffering, because God knows suffering. Jesus our Suffering Savior is always with us in our trying times, assuring us that suffering never has the final say. After the cross, comes resurrection – the place where Jesus is the overcomer. No matter our trials, Jesus is with us, giving us strength to overcome every trial.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 22 September 2022
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22
 
As Jesus’ friends agonize over His impending death, Jesus assures them that their sorrow is temporary. Sorrow never has the final say! Are you experiencing sorrow? Feel Jesus holding you, comforting you, and caring for you. No matter how deep our sorrow, nothing robs us of our joy because our deep happiness is in Jesus. Jesus assures us that because He rose from the dead, sorrow never has the final say.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 21 September 2022
They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. – John 16:1
 
Shortly before His arrest, Jesus warns His followers that they will encounter people who believe that harming others offers a service to God. Throughout human history religion has brought harm to people. But from the beginning of human history Faith has been elevating, restoring, rescuing, and embracing all people by offering love that is unconditional and restorative. Anything less than love offered freely by God’s people is never a service to God who offers us the ultimate service – the gift of Jesus, whose love saves us so that we may enjoy lives of love that last forever.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 20 September 2022
22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. – Exodus 35:22
 
To build the Lord’s tabernacle required gold and precious jewels. Neither God nor Moses pressured the Israelites to give to the Tabernacle building project. This shows us that God is not religious. Religion and Faith are very different. Religion guilts people into giving. Faith offers opportunities for giving. Jesus invites us to give our love, trust and dedication to Him not because we have to but so we can enjoy a life that is satisfying and joyful. Praise God that the Christian Faith is not religious!
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Monday 19 September 2022

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. – John 16:13
 
My Grandparents Hanse always gave me good advice. When I followed his counsel, things went well. When I didn’t, I got in trouble. Because Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit of truth, we are never left to figure things out on our own. Whenever we don’t know what to do, where to turn or which way to go, the Holy Spirit is guiding us through faithful people whose wise counsel keeps us in the center of Jesus’ plan for our lives.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Friday 16 September 2022
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. – Exodus 33:19
 
As God and Moses grow their friendship, Moses desperately wants to see God. Before coming before Moses, God assures Moses that He is merciful and compassionate. Through the mercy and compassion, we receive from others, God is revealed to us. My Gramma told me a story of how my dad invited a girl to his sixth-grade dance who was shunned by most everyone. Gram said they had a fun time together. What a beautiful picture of God’s compassionate mercy. For whom can we be the mercy and compassion of Jesus today? What will our compassionate mercy look like?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 15 September 2022
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. – Exodus 33:7a, 11a
 
The first building designed for worshiping God is a tent. In the tent of meeting God and Moses develop a close friendship. Today a tent of meeting is any place we set aside for speaking with Jesus. A church sanctuary is a tent of meeting. A tent of meeting can be a den, a walking path, a gym, a park, and any other space where we go to enjoy being with Jesus. Today hear Jesus inviting you to spend time with Him in your tent of meeting.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 14 September 2022
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. – Psalm 126:1
 
Jesus’ resurrection from death to indestructible, everlasting life is God’s declaration to the world that He is all about restoring fortunes. God brings us through sorrow to happiness. God brings us through anger to forgiveness. The Lord leads us from envy to contentment. God walks us through anxiety to places of peace. God is always working to restore our fortunes. If you are at a place where you are enjoying restored fortunes, be like one who dreams. If you are experiencing a time of trial, dream of the good place to which Jesus is leading you. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 10 September 2022
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:5
 
In Jesus’ day, washing feet was a job consigned to the lowliest of servants. When Jesus gets on His knees and washes His followers’ feet, we receive a picture of God’s servant love. What jobs do you detest doing? What tasks feel beneath you? For me it was cleaning the kitchen grease trap in a church I served. The smelly, disgusting grease trap. But when I got on my knees and started bailing that foul water, I so profoundly experienced the love of Jesus, that the lowliest and smelliest of jobs became for me a way to experience God’s amazing love. Through dirty, smelly, lowly service we experience the love of Jesus as we become more like Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 9 September 2022
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. – Exodus 31:12-13
 
Holy means “set apart”. When we set apart a day for rest, we are giving our bodies, minds and lives a break from life’s stresses. Sacred rest is also our declaration of trust in Jesus. When we step back from life’s busyness, we admit that everything depends on God, not us. Declaring that everything depends on God, not us sets us apart from the world. Do you need a Sabbath? As we head into the weekend, please be sure to take a Sabbath.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 8 September 2022
Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything… – Exodus 31:6a
 
Whenever God calls us to a task, we are never expected to go it alone. Jesus always raises up people to work with us. Bezalel leads the Tabernacle construction project with a team of talented people to whom God has given skills and abilities. No matter the task, God never expects us to complete it alone. At work, in school, at home, in the New Room – God always gives us the gift of others with whom we can do great things. Whenever God calls us to a task, God always supplies the team!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Labor Day Monday 5 September 2022
37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” – John 4:37-38
 
According to the U.S. Department of Labor website Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday 5 September in New York City thanks to the Central Labor Union. On 21 February 1887, Oregon was the first state to pass a law, making Labor Day a holiday. On 28 June 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. Jesus calls us to use our skills and abilities to make this world a better and more beautiful place. We enjoy the blessings of laborers who have gone before us. On this Labor Day, please celebrate their accomplishments and commit to doing the work required to honor Jesus by working to make this world a better place.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 3 September 2022
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. – Exodus 30:11-12
 
No matter how strong, smart, or fast we are…No matter how beautiful our home, family, and things…No matter how good our job…There is always someone who is stronger, smarter and faster. There is always someone whose home, family and things are more beautiful. There is always someone who has a better job. Comparing ourselves with others leads to arrogance or disappointment. Our comparisons are our personal census. God has no use for such censuses. God wants us to find our worth not in how much we have but in who we are. Through Jesus Christ, we are God’s beloved children. created to enjoy and share God’s saving love. Enjoying God’s love frees us from captivity to comparison living.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 2 September 2022
46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. – John 12:46
 
Early June mornings are wonderful. Daylight is peaking over the eastern horizon, painting the sky in deep blues and purples. Early September mornings are dark. During an early September morning run a large, beautiful fox crossed my path. Fear filled me. But I gave my fear to Jesus, who transformed my fear to peaceful appreciation. Jesus calls us to give Him all our fears. When we do, Christ’s light dispels fear’s dark forces, restoring our peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 1 September 2022
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – Psalm 143:10
 
When I was a new pastor fresh out of Duke Divinity School, I was convinced that I knew most of what I needed to know to be a great pastor. Nearly thirty-one years later I am humbled by how much I have yet to learn. We graduate from school, but we are always learning. “Teach me to do your will,” is one of my favorite prayers. This prayer keeps us open to learning God’s will for our lives, our families, our church and our world. Like astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, as our understanding of the universe grows, the circumference of what we don’t know grows. God has amazing things for us to learn today!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 31 August 2022
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. – John 12:3
 
Martha and Mary host a dinner to honor Jesus, who recently raised their brother Lazarus from the dead. Martha cooks delicious food. Mary anoints Jesus with the most expensive perfume money can buy. Aromas of delicious cooking and rich smelling perfume fill their house. When we offer our cooking to Jesus, the good smells that come from our kitchens are offerings that enable others to taste our love for Jesus. When we put on fragrances, those pleasant perfumes and colognes are offerings to Jesus, who fills us with a desire to live faithful lives of humility, kindness, and love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 30 August 2022
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. – Psalm 143:8
 
I have always loved mornings. As a teenager, I had an early morning paper route. As a church custodian, I started my day at 6:00 in the morning. One of my favorite songs is George Shearing’s “Very Early” Mornings bring new promises of God’s love, new possibilities of excitement and adventure, new opportunities to make the day count, chances to brighten the corner where we are, and new experiences in which to enjoy Jesus. Whether you are a morning person or a person who must get up in the morning, please know that with every morning Jesus gives us a new portions of His saving love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 27 2022
The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. – Psalm 143:2
 
Who are our enemies? To our nation there is Kim Jung Un of North Korea and Vladmir Putin of Russia. Our personal enemies can be people who have betrayed us, those who have led our children astray, and people who have stolen from or lied to us. But there are other enemies in our lives whose work is for more insidious: Depression, despair, fear, hopelessness, isolation, addiction, loneliness, perfectionism. Whenever we are being pursued by one of these life-crushing enemies, we must call out to Jesus, our protecting shelter, our refuge, our strength and our light.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 26 August 2022
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. – John 11:43-44
 
I have a long list of people I wish Jesus would bring back from the dead – like He did with Lazarus. But if Jesus brings the ones I love back to life in this world, they will no longer experience life in the Kingdom of Heaven where everything is perfect. There are however deceased places in all our lives that need Jesus’ life-restoring touch: Dead relationships, deceased hopes, expired confidence, lifeless dreams dormant faith. What in your life needs new life? Please offer it to Jesus who will breathe new life into that place in your life.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 25 August 2022
45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. – Exodus 29:45-46
 
God has never been content to live far up and away in the heavens because God loves us deeply. “I’m Glad There Is You”, is a wonderful song that Natalie Cole (one of my all-time favorite singers) sang so beautifully. “In this world of ordinary people, extraordinary people, I’m glad there is you. In this world of overrated pleasures and underrated treasures, I’m glad there is you. I live to love, I love to live with you beside me.”  Please hear God saying these words to you.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 24 August 2022
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
 
Resurrection is God bringing the very best out of the very worst. Because Jesus is the resurrection, the terrible things we experience in life shall never have the final say over us. Because Jesus is life, death never controls our destiny. When the very worst threatens to undo us, remember Jesus is working through the bad to bring us something wonderfully good. When the cold harshness of death confronts us, remember that death is powerless before Jesus, who destroys death. Because Jesus is resurrection and life, we experience the triumph of abundant life that lasts forever.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 23 August 2022
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10
 
When the Bible speaks about fearing God, it means being filled with awe over God’s greatness and power. The more awestruck we become over God’s greatness, the more open we are to learning from and experiencing God’s powerful presence and, great love. The more we live in awe of God, the wiser we become.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 20 August 2022
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above.Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. – Psalm 148
 
Do you remember the eclipse of August 2017? We made cereal box eclipse viewers and took them outside at 2:40 p.m. on Monday the 21st to catch the eclipse. While the skies did not darken completely, it was exciting to see the moon eclipsing the sun for a few minutes, and to celebrate the extraordinary precision of God’s creation. The moon follows a path created by God; the sun is precisely the perfect distance from earth to sustain life. This extraordinary precision is the result of God’s great love for all creation.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 19 August 2022
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” – John 11:5-7
 
Mary, Martha and Lazarus were dear friends to Jesus. When Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick, rather than rushing to Lazarus, He waits two more days before heading to Bethany. There are times in our lives when we feel like Jesus is terribly slow in responding to our needs. Why is this? I believe it is because Jesus wants to teach us patience and trust. Through waiting, we grow closer to Jesus who in our waiting brings us insight, wisdom and healing we would otherwise never experience.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 18 August 2022
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. – John 10:17-18a
 
When Jesus dies on the cross, He does not die as a victim of the world’s punishing cruelty. Jesus chooses to give up His life. The cross is not a sign of God’s weakness. The cross proclaims God’s power. Jesus chooses to give up His life because Jesus loves us so deeply that there is nothing He would not do for us – even give up His life for us. What powerful, beautiful, amazing love!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 17 August 2022
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. – John 10:16
 
Anytime we played softball, baseball, or kickball in elementary school the teachers would choose two team captains. The rest of us lined up as each captain chose team members. The strongest and best players were always selected first. Then there were the rest of us. Jesus is a Captain who has a special place in His heart for the “others”. Jesus treasures every person who is an overlooked, undervalued “other”.  
 
Affectionately,

Ric

 
Tuesday 16 August 2022
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – John 10:14
 
Jesus knows us intimately because Jesus loves us deeply. Through His interest in every detail of our lives Jesus shows us the depth of His unconditional love for us. Nothing about us, or our lives is too small to escape Jesus’ knowledge and care. Jesus always has time for us. Jesus is always interested in listening to us. Jesus always enjoys spending time with us. What a great Good Shepherd!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 15 August 2022
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life and have it to the full. – John 10:10
 
What thieves steal our contentment, peace, health, well-being, and happiness? The thieves have many names: anxiety, fear, disease, scarcity, and hatred, to name a few. When these thieves break into our lives their goal is to rob us of our relationship with Jesus. Whenever these thieves are lurking at our lives’ doors, we need to invite Jesus to stand guard who watches over our mind, our body, our heart, and our life. With Jesus protecting us, we shall enjoy lives filled with God’s contentment, peace, health, well-being, and happiness.
 

Affectionately,
Ric

Saturday 13 August 2022

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. – John 10:9
 
On a bitterly cold winter’s day, or an oppressively humid and hot summer’s day, it feels great to come through my front door and into my home, that saves me from the weather. Jesus is our front door who brings us into the protection, care and safety of God. Whenever the weather of life wilts our hearts and exhausts our spirits, we can enter a place of safety and peace through Jesus our Front Door who saves us. Each time we walk through our front door, we will feel the love of Jesus surrounding and saving us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 12 August 2022
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
 
Following Jesus, we clearly see the dangers that lie before us, the obstacles to avoid, and the pitfalls to sidestep. Jesus our Light enables us to make faithful decisions because His light exposes what’s false and illumines what is right, good, and beautiful. Whenever life fills us with uncertainty, or causes us to stumble, Jesus is lighting our way, guiding us and keeping us in the warmth of His care.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 11 August 2022
“Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel 10 in the order of their birth—six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. – Exodus 28:9-10
 
The onyx stones remind the nation Israel of their history and God’s presence in that history. We all have a history. Our pasts are filled with people, events and places that make us who we are. The onyx stones remind Israel that God is always with them. Jesus is always with us, bringing good out of every part of our pasts so that in the present we can receive the strength and healing that will make us into people with hope-filled futures. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 10 August 2022
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. – Proverbs 4:24
 
The content of our character can be seen in the saltiness of our speech. By salty speech, I don’t mean speech laced with expletives. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to His followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt is a preservative that keeps food from rotting, and it’s a flavor enhancer. Salty speech is speech that enhances the beauty of God’s world, and preserves a culture of grace, kindness, and love. How will our speech be salty today?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 5 August 2022
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:37-38
 
What’s your favorite drink on a hot summer’s day? Mine is a glass of seltzer with lots of ice. What do we do when our spirits thirst for Jesus? Pray? Sing a hymn or inspiring song? Read the Bible? Spend time with our church family? Attend worship? These are the ways we quench our thirst for Jesus and His love. Which spiritual practice do you find most refreshing?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 8 August 2022
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23
 
“You are what you eat.” We’ve heard this truth all our lives. Eating nutritious food helps give our bodies and minds the best possible chance and staying healthy. “You are what you say, think and do.” The words we speak, the thoughts we think and the things that we do determine the health of our hearts and lives. Just as junk food abounds, junk talk, junk thoughts, and junk activities are plentiful. How well are we doing at keeping junk food out of our hearts? What is one lifestyle change we can make today to better guard our hearts?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 6 August 2022
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3
 
Love is doing whatever needs to be done for the wellbeing of the beloved. Faithfulness is honoring our promises. Lovelier than a beautiful necklace and more stunning that a first-class dress or suit are the love and faithfulness that our lives display when we are filled with God’s presence. To be people who practice love and faithfulness we need to daily receive a full measure of Jesus’ love for us and Jesus’ faithfulness. The best way I know to receive Jesus’ love and faithfulness is by spending time each day thanking Jesus for loving us and asking Jesus to give us strength to keep our promises.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 5 August 2022
23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? – John 7:23
 
Sabbath is all about healing and restoration. Healing comes when we take time to open our minds, hearts, and bodies to the restoring love of Jesus. While God gives us a Sabbath day, God also invites us to experience the healing of Sabbath every day. Sabbath moments are ones that bring Jesus’ healing love to our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our spirits. Jesus has some wonderful Sabbath moments in store for us today. Enjoy every one of them!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 4 August 2022
For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. – Psalm 149:4
 
What fills you with delight? For me it’s good coffee, my home, my family, a beautiful sunrise on a cool summer morning, worshiping Jesus and enjoying fellowship with my New Room Church Family. When was the last time you experienced feelings of sheer delight? Wasn’t it wonderful! Did you know that God delights in you? We are God’s delight. We are God’s three scoop ice cream sundae. We are God’s beautiful sunrise. We are God’s precious, priceless, beautiful children. God delights in you!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 3 August 2022
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. – Ephesians 1:3
 
The spiritual blessings we enjoy are forgiveness of sin, freedom from sin’s power, joy, and abundant life that lasts forever.  As our understanding of these blessings grows, we more fully enjoy them and more generously offer them to others. Every day God lavishes the forgiveness, freedom, joy, and life in Jesus upon us. Every day Jesus invites us to forgive, release, share joy and offer life in Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 30 July 2022
20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. – John 6:20-21
 
The disciples are alone in a boat on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee. Fearing for their lives in this terrible storm, their terror grows when they see someone walking towards them on the water. “It is I, don’t be afraid,” Jesus shouts to the disciples, who immediately recognize His voice. As we navigate life’s storms we can become so consumed with fear, that we fail to recognize Jesus. When we fill with fear, Jesus speaks to our hearts saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 28 July 2022
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. – John 4:49-50
 
The saddest day in my life happened the morning I realized that I was out of ideas and resources for helping my precious daughter who was going through a terrible time in her life. On that awful morning of despair my late Grandfather Mercaldi’s favorite song, “Moon River” played three times within a half hour on the radio. Jesus was assuring me He was holding my girl. The road to healing is long and difficult. But Jesus brings us the people, places and resources that lead to healing
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Wednesday 27 July 2022
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. – Psalm 145:18
 
Whenever we feel like God is far away, I promise you that this is not our reality. Each time we call on Jesus in truth, He is near to us. We call on Jesus in truth every time we seek His guidance, wisdom, healing, forgiveness, comfort, strength, and will for our lives. As children, we were blessed to have at least one adult who cared for our wellbeing. Each time we called to that grown up she or he was there for us. That grownup modeled God’s faithful and attentive love. Call on Jesus. Whether you feel His presence or not, Jesus will be with you.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 26 July 2022
10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. – Psalm 145:10
 
Extoling God is happily celebrating God’s creativity when we look at all the varieties of birds, fish, animals and people. Extoling God is wholehearted thanksgiving to Jesus for God’s blessings – a home, a family member who cares for us, a great Church family. Extoling God is thanking God for being a God of forgiveness, unconditional love, healing and care. Please take some time today to extol God. I promise you that whatever is happening in life, your spirit will fill with joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 21 July 2022
In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:4
 
Jesus is the Light who illuminates our lives with the brightness of His love, the radiance of His forgiveness and the brilliance of His life. Jesus the Light overcomes the darkness of loneliness, the dimness of depression, the gloom of sin. The light of Jesus illuminates our hearts, minds and lives, overcoming every darkness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 20 July 2022
The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. – Psalm 93:3
 
Whether it’s swimming, boating, the beach, or a pool, time with water is one of God’s summertime blessings. At the water we make memories, we find shelter from the heat, and we experience God’s beauty, peace, and power. The water shows us that God’s creation is active, moving and praising its Creator. If possible, please spend time by the water during these hot days of summertime, and experience the refreshing love of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Tuesday 19 July 2022
Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. – Psalm 93:2
 
Everything in our lives has a beginning. Almost everything in our lives has an ending. When we trust in Jesus, we receive abundant, meaningful, satisfying life that never ends. Our address changes from earth to heaven, but our life in Jesus continues. Jesus who is from everlasting, gives us new beginnings that last forever.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 18 July 2022
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. – Psalm 93:1
 
Days come and go, seasons change, and years continue because God loves this world. Our world’s existence is firm and secure because every day God says, “Let there be life.” Our world’s existence assures us that our God is mighty, gracious, merciful, and loving. We more fully enjoy God’s love and experience Jesus’ presence when we care for God’s world and love God’s people.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 16 July 2022
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. – Ecclesiastes 7:20
 
Except for Jesus, everyone who has ever walked in the world has sinned. No one person is better than any other person because every person is a sinner. Owning this reality frees us from the arrogant delusion that we are better than others. We all need Jesus to save us from death, heal our brokenness and restore our relationships with God, ourselves each other.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 15 July 2022
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. – Ecclesiastes 5:15
 
We bring nothing into the world but ourselves. When we leave this world, we take nothing before God that we have earned. We stand before God with no accomplishments, no accolades. We stand before God with only our self and our faith in Jesus. Neither is something we create or earn. God makes us who we are. God gives us faith in Jesus. It is liberating to know that abundant, eternal life is not what we do for Jesus but what Jesus does for us. “Nothing to the cross I bring, only to the cross I cling.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 14 July 2022
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. – Ecclesiastes 5:2
 
Do you ever feel like there’s too much talking? We live in a culture where everyone is expected to talk. Even when we are listening, we are often talking to ourselves – trying to come up with a good answer. Growing closer to Jesus involves improving our ability to listen. When we listen, we learn. Real listening requires patience, humility, and faith. Jesus is speaking words of love, wisdom, and life to us. People are speaking words of counsel and kindness to us. Are we listening?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 13 July 2022
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
 
God calls us into community with Jesus and with each other. Neither people nor congregations are meant to live in isolation. Through our New Room Church Family, we receive the support, encouragement, and friendship of a community designed by God to welcome us, love us and keep us close to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Because we are One in Jesus we will always help each other up.  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 12 July 2022
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. – Psalm 90:4
 
Because a thousand years is as a day to the Lord, God is never in a hurry. God is always available to spend time with us, enjoying our company, and hearing our prayers. God has time to hold us whenever we need support. God is never too busy to cheer us on. I love that God always has plenty of time for us. Every day of our life, our God Jesus Christ takes time to be with us because He loves us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 

PS – There’s a wonderful hymn called “O God, Our Help In Ages Past” that’s based on Psalm 90.

 
Saturday 9 July 2022
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. – Psalm 104:10
 
Whenever we feel insignificant, overlooked, or unimportant, we need to remember that we part of God’s beautiful creation, bringing God’s life-changing love to others. Without us, God’s majestic and beautiful work is incomplete – just as springs without waterfalls and rivers are incomplete. Our presence in this world matters greatly to God and to others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 8 July 2022
He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. – Job 26:8
 
It’s amazing how fluffy, floating clouds can hold millions of gallons (and millions of tons) of water vapor. God is doing amazing things in our lives. Though we may not feel it, or be aware of it, God is working in our lives, filling us with love, strength, grace, wisdom, resilience and peace. Just as God wraps the waters in clouds, God wraps us in the caring, renewing, healing love of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 6 July 2022
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
 
Cold lemonade on a hot summer day is a gift from God. Ice water in the heat of the afternoon refreshes our spirit. Jesus is water for our souls. Jesus quenches our thirst for unconditional love, new beginnings, and belonging. Much in life dries up our joy and parches our spirits. Jesus is living water who restores and refreshes our hearts, souls and lives.
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Thursday 7 July 2022
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. – Psalm 19:7a
 
God’s law is not a list of rules we follow so God will love us more. Following God’s law opens us to God’s love. Jesus tells us that God’s law is summed up in two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. The more deeply we love God, the more fully we enjoy God. The more fully we enjoy God, the more faithfully we love each other. On a hot summer day there’s nothing more refreshing than God’s love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Tuesday 5 July 2022
19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19
 
One of my favorite jazz artists is vibraphonist, Bobby Hutcherson. His song “Maiden Voyage” says in music, what Jesus is calling us to as the New Room. Jesus is doing a new thing in, for and through us. Our journey into uncharted waters is exciting, scary, invigorating and unnerving – all at the same time! As we journey together, we will experience the presence, grace, guidance, love, and power of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric