Good Crops

SUNDAY, August 20
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
Psalm 85:8-13

At some point in our lives each of us has probably wondered if our prayers are having any effect. Is anyone out there? I know I have asked that. This is where we hold on to the promises of God. The psalmist writes in today’s passage, “Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him….Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase” (vv. 8-12, NRSV).

As a farmer I do rejoice when the land yields its produce. There is nothing like bringing in a good crop. Do you notice the intimacy in this text? We may feel distant, but God’s salvation is near. It is hard to get closer than a kiss. The clear story of the Bible is that God intends good for us, and even the tough times are redeemed.

Gracious God, lovingkindness, truth, and righteousness flow from you. Thank you for being near, even in our darkest days and for redeeming our lives with an abundant harvest. AMEN.


God of Redemption

MONDAY, August 21
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

I have had some bad days, but no one ever sold me and threw me in a pit! Admittedly, Joseph had been a little indiscreet, and his brothers definitely intended him harm, but God had other plans.

We see from the beginning that God is a God of redemption. Adam and Eve messed up, and God did not incinerate them. Joseph’s brothers meant him harm, but God had other plans. God used Joseph to save two nations from famine. We see God redeeming lives from Genesis to Revelation: Job, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, Elijah, the woman at the well, Peter, and Paul. The list goes on. 

We see redeemed lives as we look across our churches on a Sunday morning. The world can be a rough place. In the community of the redeemed we find others who have found healing, peace, and grace from our heavenly Father. 

Gracious God, we give you thanks for who you are—a God of redemption. We give you thanks for your gracious touch and shalom in our lives. AMEN.

God’s Wonders

TUESDAY, August 22
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” (v. 5, NIV).

Theologian Robert Webber wrote that worship is “the remembrance of God’s saving deeds through the proclamation and the enactment and the eager anticipation for God’s rule over all creation.” He called us to do what the psalmist says: “We remember God’s wonders which God has done, (and) God’s marvels.” 

Like ancient Israel, we have all experienced God’s wonders in our lives. Like Joseph and ancient Israel, we have experienced ups and downs. What is the constant in it all? God’s enduring love for his people. God did not leave Joseph alone in the pit or in prison. God did not leave Daniel alone in the lion’s den or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego alone in the fire. God has not left us alone. This is the God we worship, a God of redemption.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for being present in the high points and the low points of our lives. AMEN.


God’s Provision

WEDNESDAY, August 23
Matthew 14:13-21

Elijah is my favorite prophet. The day after he called down fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, we see him running for his life. I have never had to run for my life, but I have felt dejected and alone. How does God respond? He sends a snack and tells Elijah to take a nap (1 Kings 18-19). When I am down, that is the kind of help I need. 

In the Gospels, we see Jesus care for the needs of his followers. The crowd follows him and he “had compassion on them and healed their sick” (v. 14, NIV). When evening comes, he takes five loaves and two fish, blesses them, and multiplies them so no one goes hungry.

God provides for us even when we cannot provide for ourselves. God cares about our bodies as well as our souls. We are encouraged to pray for our daily bread.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for who you are and what you do for us. In an infinitely large and intricate universe you care about my daily needs. I cannot thank you enough. AMEN.

Eternally Out of Date

THURSDAY, August 24
Isaiah 55:1-5

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your earnings for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food” (v. 2, NRSV).

We sure get distracted, don’t we? On our morning walks when the dogs see a rabbit or a coyote, they are gone. We are the same way, aren’t we? I cannot help but think of C.S. Lewis’s comment, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” We spend a lot of our lives on things that are eternally out of date. I suspect that is one of the reasons we get into some of the trouble we do.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for the days of our lives. We pray that we would spend those days delighting in you and the work of your kingdom. AMEN.


Our Eyes on Jesus

FRIDAY, August 25
Matthew 14:22-33

When could Peter walk on water? When he kept his eyes on Jesus, and not on the storm around him. When we have bad days, we learn to keep our eyes on Jesus, even in the storms.

My practice for years has been to study and pray for half an hour before going out to work. But some days on the farm I got shot out of the cannon. Some of those days everything would be going wrong at the same time. It was usually about 2 pm that I would stop and wonder, “What in the wide world of sports is going on here?” Then I would realize I had skipped my morning time with the Lord. I would stop what I was doing, pull over to the side of the field, read Scripture, and pray for a while. My day might not have gotten better, but I was better. 

Gracious God, author and perfecter of my faith, help me keep my eyes on you, day by day and with each passing moment. AMEN.

Are You There, God?

SATURDAY, August 26
Romans 8:28-30

When I read this passage at age 18, my response was, “That is quite a promise. Sure. Sounds good. (What do I know? I am only 18.)”

Reading it at age 63, I respond differently. A lot of miles on bumpy roads. I have lived through grief, bitter disappointment, physical trials, financial disasters. I have prayed into the darkness and asked, “Are you there, God?” I have the scars and the miles, but I have seen how things have worked out for good. Now, I do not just believe, but I know our God is a God of redemption. God has redeemed the suffering and disasters in my life.

I am beginning to get it. I would not have learned the lessons of life I have without the tough days. I have kicked and screamed, whimpered and whined. It has hurt along the way. But now I know by experience, that all things do work together for good because we are in God’s loving hands.

Gracious God, I do not always understand in the middle of things when my life is upside down. But I give you thanks for being there and redeeming each moment of my life. AMEN. 

Lord Jesus Christ, you are everything. AMEN.



  • Paul H. Betancourt

    I am semi-retired after farming 765 acres for 38 years. I teach civics at the college level part-time, and I am a staff pastor at La Vina Covenant Church in Kerman, California. I am restoring an old Jeep and recently started learning how to do stained glass. My wife, Sheryl, and I have been married for 43 years. Our daughter is a schoolteacher, and our son works at Colonial WIlliamsburg in Virginia.

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