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What’s the Point?


SUNDAY, August 21
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

We are living during the “Great Resignation” as many people have quit their jobs in the past year. The reasons are varied, but often they are seeking a different situation where they can be better compensated and/or more fulfilled in their work. Dissatisfaction and restlessness abound. In today’s passages, Solomon too was experiencing these emotions. Though he had worldly wealth and God-given wisdom, he was asking, “What’s the point?” 

Although I don’t have the wealth and wisdom of Solomon, I too sometimes find myself asking the same question. Facing a lengthy to-do list, I can feel that I am spending my days “chasing after wind” (1:14). The solution? “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, NIV). When I focus on honoring Jesus, there I can finally find wisdom.

Lord Jesus, help me to find my purpose in serving you. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: STILLNESS TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE

 

Worthless Wealth


MONDAY, August 22
Luke 12:13-21

Malcolm Forbes once said, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” Wins what? After all, when we die, what do we take with us? Only ourselves, and we will stand before Almighty God and answer for the choices we made. Our “toys”—cars, homes, furnishings, boats, clothes, electronics, collectibles, and so on—will have absolutely no value once we are gone. 

Jesus reminds us that accumulating wealth is foolish. When I recently downsized, I gave away antiques and other items, donated three carloads of “treasures,” and threw away almost a dumpster of garbage. It felt amazing! I have found that spending ten minutes on the beach talking to God brings more contentment than all the possessions I discarded. 

It’s easy to gather more than we need, isn’t it? Jesus is ready to help us resist the temptation, showing us how to store up treasure that truly matters in heaven.

Lord Jesus, please show us how we can please you with our choices today. Amen.

 

Rotten Roots


TUESDAY, August 23
Psalm 49:1-12

Yesterday, we read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Here’s a famous corresponding quote: “He who dies with the most toys still dies!” This is helpful to me when I am bothered by the wealth that some people have. The psalmist writes, “No ransom avails for one’s life” (v. 7, NRSV). In other words, when we die, we cannot buy our way into heaven.

Paul writes to Timothy, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money and possessions are not the problem; being obsessed with having them is the concern. When we are driven to buy what we don’t need or hoard money, we can succumb to evil. Jesus taught us to take care of the poor, giving freely to others. Perhaps today we can ask him to show us a step to take away from our selfish desires and toward showing his love to others.

Jesus, please save us from our love of money. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SAFETY FOR SCHOOLS AND CAMPUSES

 

 

Nation Under God


WEDNESDAY, August 24
Psalm 49:13-20

Once again, we examine the reality that in God’s eternal perspective, worldly wealth is worthless. Do you realize that as Americans, most of us are wealthy in the eyes of the world? Most children don’t starve. Most of us have roofs over our heads. Most have clothes to wear and can drink clean water. Could the psalmist’s words apply to a nation?

Our nation is rich. Are we meeting the vital needs of the world, or are we hoarding our wealth? How many times is our generosity based on political and economic gain? Perhaps we can support truly humanitarian leaders in our country or get involved with our churches or mission organizations to live out our responsibility to the rest of the world. After all, what will our riches get us in the end? 

Lord, guide our nation to share with the world. Amen.

 

Discarded Clothes


THURSDAY, August 25
Colossians 3:1-11

After seeing the futility of worldly things, we turn now to what actually is important. Paul reminds us that in Christ, our earthly self has died. Rather than focus on the passions of the world, we turn our eyes to Jesus. I love the practicality of this passage. Paul gives us a challenging list of what not to do, and he goes beyond the love of money. Anger, hurtful words, lies—these have no place in a Christ follower.

I love the image of clothing here. Have you ever rejected a garment and stuffed it into the donation bag? Picture a quilted jacket where
each square depicts anger, meanness, lies, yelling, and ugliness. Now imagine unzipping the jacket and stuffing it into a bag or even into a
fire. How would that feel? I can’t help thinking that I would go shopping for a new one. 

Lord, please help me take off the old self. Amen. 

PRAYER FOCUS: COVENANT GLOBAL PERSONNEL IN ASIA 

 

 

A Brand-New Coat


FRIDAY, August 26
Colossians 3:12-14

Yesterday we discarded our old coat. Today it’s time to put on a new one. Before we do, let’s take a moment to bask in the knowledge that we are Christ’s beloved. He chose each one of us, even while we were wearing filthy clothes. Isn’t that amazing? What does our new coat look like? This time let’s picture a new quilted coat with bright, colorful squares. On each square is written one of these words: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience. The thread of the coat is love, and the result is perfect. 

What are we like when we wear this garment? Forgiveness pours out from us, as does peace and gratitude. More and more we become like Christ, spreading his love. Everyone wants to know where we got the beautiful coat. We have an answer, don’t we? With a smile, we tell them about our tailor, Jesus. 

Jesus, thank you for the new coat. Help us to wear it well. Amen.

 

 

Say So!


SATURDAY, August 27
Psalm 107:1-9, 43

When was the last time that we shared with someone how God has blessed us? On Sunday mornings I lead a time of prayer in my congregation. Folks are invited to share “praises and prayers.” The list
I make to include in the prayer is often long and almost always comprised of what we want God to do for us or others. Praises are
more rare. 

The psalmist writes, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (v. 2, NRSV). How often do we say so? What would happen if we designated a week, a month, or a season where we only allowed ourselves to pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise, both privately and when worshiping together? It would be a great way not only to honor God, but also to help us to focus on blessings. Are you game? Let’s do it!

Lord, let me simply say thank you. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SCHOOL COUNSELORS

About the Author

  • Mary Hendrickson

    After living and serving in the Pacific Northwest and New England, I am currently pastoring a retirement community church in Venice, Florida. In addition, I serve as the director of missional vitality for Start and Strengthen Churches, and it is a privilege to bring hope and tools to our established churches. I received my graduate degrees from Fuller Seminary and was ordained to Word and Sacrament in 2005. Prior to that, I taught music in public schools for over 20 years. Besides doing ministry, I love visiting my three sons and their families in the Northwest as often as possible. At home, I spend time on the beaches nearby and especially love bringing my dog, Patches, to play with me in the surf. I enjoy cooking and reading, as well as creating art from seashells. My role in missional vitality gives me the opportunity to travel often, which also brings me joy, as I love history, nature, and adventures in new places.

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