WholeLife Daily Reflections

May 2021

Preparation for worship on May 29

Transitions: Navigating Change

Changing Belief in an Unchanging God - Speaker: David Banks

Friday, May 28

Devotional: On Facing the Dark Uncertainty

Today’s devotional was written by Tatiana Perez-Oh, AdventHealth Chaplain

 

I’ve heard it said that it isn’t change that people fear. It’s the uncertainty that comes with change that makes people resistant to change. This makes me think of one of my favorite sermons from Pr. Andy several years ago. In it he said that the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. And, if it’s impossible to please God without faith, then, it would stand to reason that we need to be willing to embrace a certain level of uncertainty in order to exercise and grow our faith. For us humans who crave safety, stability and certainty, embracing the uncertainty of life, being willing to let go of the need for control, can be scarier than jumping off a plane. But, "Jesus did not come to make us safe. He came to make us brave” (Gary Haugen).

 

Working in the hospital as a chaplain I’m constantly a witness to some of the greatest moments of uncertainty and change that people go through. And, I’ll admit, entering some of the rooms can be very scary, even if it’s not me who is suffering the illness, loss, death, or future with no guarantees. There’s a verse in the Bible that has become immensely significant to me in my ministry. You might say it’s my motto as a chaplain. 

 

“And the people stood afar off, but Moses entered into the thick darkness where God was.”  - Exodus 20:21 

 

This is the famous chapter where Moses receives the 10 Commandments. I used to concentrate on the verses with the commandments. But then I realized that in order for Moses to receive this timeless and revolutionary message, he had to muster the courage to approach the thick darkness that surrounded Mt. Sinai. He had to get past the darkness in order to enter the blinding light of God’s presence. He had to be vulnerable in order to be present for the blessing. I suspect that the only way he had the confidence to do this was because, unlike most of the Israelites, he’d already had a personal encounter with the great I Am. Perhaps Moses already knew that even though God wasn’t safe, He was good.   

 

When I go into the rooms, I try to remember this. Often I’m called to enter rooms where most people want to run out of. The grief is often too painful to witness. The tears seem endless. So, in the midst of the darkness of uncertainty, of loss, of grief, of death; in the midst of the questioning, “Why? Why me, God?” I remember to be still. I remember that God is in the midst of the thick darkness. And, if I can walk with a person through their dark cloud, even for a little while, I remember that I’m walking on Holy Ground. 

 

So, I encourage you to embrace the uncertainty of change in your life. Be willing to walk into it, not because you feel safe, but because you can trust that God is there. Not because you’re unafraid, but because you’re willing to lean into your fear and embrace courage. And, maybe, just maybe, the greatest revelation from God for your life is just on the other side of that thick darkness. May you “enter into the thick darkness where God is.” May you walk on Holy Ground. 

 

Isaiah 43:2-3

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

 

Light of the World, you dispel darkness. You are present when the battle is fierce, and you are on the side of the weak and powerless. Your strength and your love provide refuge in times of loss and desperation. I believe you are with me at all times, and I will rest in the holy ground of your mercy. Amen.

 

Music: So Good

 

Thursday, May 27

Devotional: Christian Questions

 

Hebrews 6:11-12

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

 

Shub Nephesh, Renewer of Life, you are a God of freedom and generosity. You are not intimidated by questions, and you encourage your children to taste, seek, search, and explore. You desire faith to be fresh, understanding to be evolving, and relationships to flourish. Help me to shed the unhealthy barriers that keep me from fully embracing your grace. Amen.

 

Music: Pocketful of Faith

 

Wednesday, May 26

Devotional: The Unclean Spirit of Already Knowing Everything

 

Proverbs 1:5-7

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

 

Unexpected Savior, you were not what anyone had anticipated. You broke social norms, amazed your followers, and frustrated those who thought they knew everything. Every word you spoke and step you took was from the heart of a God who seeks to love and redeem. Help me to be open to new avenues of uncommon grace today. Amen.

 

Music: Heaven

 

Tuesday, May 25

Devotional: Jesus the Learner

 

Proverbs 18:15

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

 

Holy Teacher, you have all knowledge, and so much of it is unimaginable to the human mind. You delight in revealing yourself in new and unexpected ways. There will never be enough days in eternity to fully comprehend your love and mercy. Share a bit of your wisdom with me today for the purpose of enlightening my world with your grace. Amen.

 

Music: Heart and Soul

 

Monday, May 24

Devotional: What Does “Loving God With All Your Mind” Actually Look Like?

 

Proverbs 18:1-2

Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense. Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

 

O Lord my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see you, where and how to find you. You have made me and remade me, and you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess, and still I do not know you. I have not yet done that for which I was made. Teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, or find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking. Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you. Amen.

 

Music: Defender

 

Sunday, May 23

Devotional: All This Change, All This Transition

 

John 1:14

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

 

God Made Flesh, you chose to leave the perfection of Trinity to make clear your character and intention. You walked this world in a consistent pattern of humility, grace, and compassion. You did not regret your sacrifice because you would go to any length to redeem the relationship severed by sin. Thank you for your unfailing and unsurpassed love. Fill me with the Spirit of your kingdom today. Amen.

 

Music: King of Love

Preparation for worship on May 22

Transitions: Navigating Change

Something Old, Something New - Speaker: Adonna Andino

Friday, May 21

Devotional: When Things Are Not As They Should Be, Yet Still Good

 

Exodus 34:5-6

Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

 

Yahweh-Channun, God of Grace, you are beyond expectation. The human mind cannot comprehend the extent of your love or the depth of your mercy. Your heart rejoices in redeemed relationships and mourns when those you created are in pain. I will trust that you are good, that you are faithful, and that your grace offers me a fresh start every day. Amen.

 

Music: Never Lost

 

Thursday, May 20

Devotional: The World After Easter

 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

 

Prince of Life, you reestablished your kingdom through death and resurrection. You opened minds with the reality that you are a God of inclusion, acceptance, and mercy. This is the story you tell through Scripture and through the lives of those who embrace your gospel of grace. Open my eyes to your new creation possibilities today. Amen.

 

Music: Glory, Honor, Power

 

Wednesday, May 19

Devotional: Faith or Fear

 

Isaiah 43:1-4

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.

 

Compassionate Guardian, you encourage and protect; you challenge and redeem. You lay out a path that nurtures and offers growth. You have instilled a spirit of adventure that can be fully realized because you are a God who can be trusted. Help me to not be held prisoner by my fear but to have confidence in your presence today. Amen.

 

Music: War Cry

Tuesday, May 18

Devotional: New Every Morning, New Every Moment

 

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

Eternal God, nothing with you is old, and nothing with you is new. You have been, are now, and forever will be. Your sight and your work are not limited by time constraints. Your grace and your love remain full and fresh. Help me to realize each new day is a gift and to live this day in the light of your mercy. Amen.

 

Music: Morning by Morning

 

Monday, May 17

Devotional: Remember to Forget

 

Hebrews 11:8-10

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

 

Lord of the Dance, you create with a soundtrack of grace. You compose life with innovation, freedom and brightness. You will never leave. You are faithful and just, and your promises are new every day. Guide me to step in to the fresh melody you have prepared for me today. Amen.

 

Music: Promise Keeper

Sunday, May 16

Devotional: Ring Out the Old

 

Isaiah 43:18-19

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

 

Maker of All Things New, you rejuvenate and restore. There is nothing that passes without your notice, nothing that ends without a fresh beginning. You are the Creator of Life, and in and through you all things realize their purpose. As I experience changes in my life that are sometimes confusing and difficult, help me to trust in your strength and love. Amen.

 

Music: Already Done

 

Preparation for worship on May 15

Transitions: Navigating Change

Hard, Scary, Important, and Beautiful Change - Speaker: Jo Newell

Friday, May 14

Devotional: God is Our Refuge—Not Our Fortress

 

Psalm 91:1-2

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

 

God of Jacob and Rebecca, you are faithful through all generations. You are all-powerful and do not need defending. You have commissioned your people to share your words of hope, your acts of justice, your presence of peace. Give me the courage to live out your kingdom in my life today. Amen.

 

Music: Refuge

 

Thursday, May 13

Devotional: Exhortation

 

Romans 15:13

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Spirit of Strength, you are stability in silence and power in stillness. You break through barriers of fear and offer hope and healing. You bring restoration when changes threaten instability. You are my solitude and refuge, and I will find rest in you. Amen.

 

Music: Holy Ghost

Wednesday, May 12

Devotional: God is Immutable

 

Jeremiah 31:3

Long ago the Lord said to Israel, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

 

Eternal Lover, there are no restrictions on your affection. You are consistent and faithful in your care for those you created, and you do not experience fatigue in your mercy. Your grace is as constant as the rising of the sun. Open my eyes to see you in the changes of my life, knowing you are present through them all. Amen.

 

Music: Your Presence is a Promise

Tuesday, May 11

Devotional: Awareness of the Sacred

Today’s devotional was written by Tatiana Perez-Oh, AdventHealth Chaplain

           

Genesis 28:16-17

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘how awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’”

 

            My (then) 3 ½ yr. old daughter witnessed me throwing the last bite of her discarded snack into the bushes outside our house. As a matter of explanation, I told her, “I threw it out so that the animals can come and eat it.” She looked at me quizzically and said, “The animals? The animals are in the zoo. They’re not coming.” And while I laughed at her reasoning, I thought, “you know, I would have never thought of it that way. She has a point.” Sometimes life is all about perspective.

            One of the greatest gifts/blessings that I have received from working in the hospital has been the ability to develop a better awareness of the sacred—the presence of God in the ordinary. Some of the most sacred moments that I have witnessed have been the birth of a child. Some have been the death of a person. Other moments have been those unexpected hallway conversations with a staff member asking for prayer, or a long visit where the person bares their heart, unloads their burdens, and in that honest moment, invites God into that space. I’ve often walked away from those encounters with my heart on fire, feeling that I had truly experiences the sacred presence of God. The more I experience these moments, the more awareness I have of the little things that are sacred in my life: hugging a person, saying “thank you,” being a witness of tears shed. Sometimes life is all about perspective. 

            The story of Jacob, found in Genesis 28, tells of a time when he was at his most shameful, vulnerable moment. He was running away in fear of his life, guilty of deceit, sad because of the separation from his family and home. He got tired and took an ordinary rock as a pillow so he could sleep. That night God revealed Himself to Jacob, and in the midst of his shame, in the midst of his brokenness, in the midst of his grief, God reminded him of His presence and grace. When Jacob woke up, he saw that rock, that ordinary object among so many others, and saw it as extraordinary. The rock then became part of a sacred altar that would forever be a reminder to Jacob of God’s promises and love. Sometimes life is all about perspective.

            Jacob’s story gives me great hope because I can trust that God is there with me even when I’m struggling with my shame, guilt, pain, fear, despair. There have been moments where I haven’t even felt worthy or able to come to God. And, yet, I’ve seen how God has come to me. Those moments have been some of the most sacred, grace-filled, and transformational encounters that I’ve experienced. This also gives me hope in the work that I do as a chaplain. I have the privilege of encountering people who are experiencing some of the most painful, fearful, shameful moments of their lives, and an ordinary encounter can turn into an extraordinary reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the person’s despair.

            I had a meaningful conversation with a high-risk pregnant mother who had to be hospitalized for the last part of her pregnancy. She was sad because she had to be away from her family and the ministry that she loved in her father’s church. As we talked about what God might want to be telling her during this time, she came to the realization that perhaps this was God’s way of saying that her plans, and what she thought was in it for her future, might not be God’s plans for her after all. She became aware that God might be calling her into something else, something outside her comfort zone, something greater. Suddenly, her hospital stay became more than just a way to keep her and her baby safe during the rest of the pregnancy. Suddenly, it was a way for her to hear God’s voice calling her even closer to Him and providing guidance for her future. Sometimes life is all about perspective.

            It has been my experience that having the awareness of the Sacred in my daily life creates more meaning to the mundane, turns the ordinary into extraordinary, and causes joy to spring forth from the earthly. May we cultivate that awareness of the presence of God in all that we do. May we be in awe of the holy ground that we walk on. After all, it’s all about perspective.    

 

Sacred Sovereign, you are supreme over all things and constant in your love. Your forgiveness leaves no room for guilt. Your mercy covers shame. Your hope removes fear. Your presence brings purpose. Open my eyes to the heavenly perspective of your amazing grace in my life. Amen.

 

Music: Not Going Back

Monday, May 10

Devotional: God Still Has a Plan

 

Psalm 46:1-5

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.

 

Holy Refuge and Protector, only you have the power to turn things around when what is evil seems to have the upper hand. Only you can give comfort when dreams crumble and night seems to never break into dawn. Only you are holy and good and just. I will trust only you for my life, my hope, and my peace.  Amen.

 

Music: Into the Sea

Sunday, May 9

Devotional: Fearless Faith

 

Psalm 34:4

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.

 

Fear Slayer, you are the Almighty God who reigns above all. Nothing is impossible for you, and your greatest desire is for justice, love, and mercy. You are building your kingdom through kind words and selfless acts. Sometimes my world brings me to a place of dissonance. Fill my heart with a peace that passes all understanding so that my life reflects the serenity of your Spirit. Amen.

 

Music: Fear Not

Preparation for worship on May 8

Transitions: Navigating Change

Find Peace in Who I Am Becoming - Speakers: David & Jordan Vargas

Friday, May 7

Devotional: The Only Constant in Life

 

Colossians 3:3

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

 

Anchor of Hope, you provide identity and purpose. You are a refuge for the broken and a sanctuary for the lost. The path you lay out leads to kindness, justice, and mercy. I will embrace the changes in my journey that lead me closer to you. Amen.

 

Music: To The End

Thursday, May 6
Today’s devotional was written by Tatiana Perez-Oh, AdventHealth Chaplain

 

On Being in the Nothing

 

“Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep.” (Gen. 1:2a)

        

             Sometimes it takes being in the nothing for creation to take place.
   
   We are often in a rush to read past the first couple of verses of the creation story. I used to think that creation didn’t start until God said, “let there be light.” But I think I was wrong. I need to go back. Way back.

    “In the beginning God.” Ah, yes. That’s where it starts. Remembering that God has always been there and will always be. 

    It starts with being.

    Then the being spills over into the doing. God the Creator. It’s who He is. 

    I wonder how long He sat with the formless and empty earth. I wonder how long His Spirit hovered over the dark waters.

 

    He’s not in a rush.

    He knows what He’s doing.

    He knows what’s coming.

        It takes being in the nothing for creation to take place. 

    Why are we so afraid of the nothing? 

    Why do we aimlessly strive to fill our days, our thoughts, our actions, our being, with anything and everything, just so we don’t feel like there is nothing?

    Perhaps because it’s scary as hell.

    And when something is scary, do we fight? Or do we fly?

    Or… is there a possibility of an alternative?

        Can we embrace?

    If God is there in the meaningless, shapeless void of our lives, can we stay?

    Perhaps we need to be brought to a place of nothingness so we can remember the Great I Am.

    God, give me the courage to embrace the nothing in my life so Your creation can take place. 

Music: Authority
 

Wednesday, May 5

Devotional: Four Decisions That Will Change Your Life

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 

Sovereign Guide, you created with free will and do not dictate life direction. You offer your presence throughout life’s journeys and give blessings in unexpected ways. Your grace is not dependent upon a singular path, but in a willingness to be led by you. Give me clarity as I seek your will today. Amen.

 

Music: King of Love

Tuesday, May 4

Devotional: Leaving the Weeds

 

Psalm 22:3-5

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

 

Master Gardener, you know what makes things grow and flourish. You nourish seed with rain and lungs with oxygen. Your breath is life, and your touch opens hearts. O Lord, I do love control. Thank you for your patience as your grace eases my firm grip off of my life in surrender to you. Amen.

 

Music: Breakthrough

 

Monday, May 3

Devotional: My Scary Airplane Story

 

Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

 

Good God, you go before your people and direct their paths. You understand fear, and you are compassionate with those who fall under its weight. Your plans are for life in its fullness, filled with bold hope and uninhibited joy. Fill me with your peace as I surrender to you today. Amen.

 

Music: Even If

 

Sunday, May 2

Devotional: Come Die With Me

 

Galatians 2:20

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

Gracious God, you gave yourself for all of creation. You walked this earth, engaged with the broken, healed the hurting, and displayed your unconditional love in human form. Your death proves the depth to which sin has taken humanity as well as the extent to which you will go to redeem those you love. I will walk by faith in my world, joining in the kingdom work of mercy and grace. Amen.

 

Music: Abide

Preparation for worship on May 1

Transitions: Navigating Change

The Winding Path - Speaker: Chad Hess

Friday, April 30

Devotional: Lord, Prepare Me to End Well

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

Sovereign Guide Through All Seasons, you have plans for your creation. You instilled seasons of growth and harvest, flourishing and stillness. There is an order and a purpose for all living things. Give me strength through adversity and trust in times of doubt. Amen.

 

Music: Doubt

 

Thursday, April 29

Devotional: Adulting to the Glory of God

 

Psalm 18:1-2

I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

 

El Chaiyai, God of My Life, you are Maker and Redeemer, Creator and Savior. You placed your kingdom in the heart of children, and you are seen most clearly in the trusting and bold love of the innocent. As my life moves forward, may each year draw me more fully into dependence upon your grace. Amen.

 

Music: Child of Love

 

Wednesday, April 28

Devotional: When You’re Living a Life You Didn’t Choose

 

Acts 1:7-8

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Surprising Savior, you offer so much to so many. No one could imagine a God so full of power and grace. You are the Sustainer of life and the Provider of peace. So much of life is messy, but the thing I depend on most is your unexpected love and mercy. Thank you for these things that give me hope for each day. Amen.

 

Music: Fear is Not Welcome

 

Tuesday, April 27

Devotional: Showing Kindness to Myself

 

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

Maker and Redeemer, you instill purpose and value. The universe is your canvas, and you continue to paint your story of grace over your creation. Your sovereign presence allows fear to be repurposed into hope. I sometimes find myself agonizing over my inadequacies. Please speak kindness to my heart as I am reminded of your great love for me.  Amen.

 

Music: Dancing on the Waves

 

Monday, April 26

Devotional: How to Actually “Let Go and Let God”

 

Psalm 9:10

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

 

Music: Alabaster Heart

 

Sunday, April 25

Devotional: Why Certainty Can Be So Dangerous to Faith

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 

Omniscient God, you know all things because you created all things. There is nothing out of your purview or out of your care. You see the end from the beginning, and following you is the greatest wisdom. When I lack understanding, increase my trust that you are with me. Amen.

 

Music: Another in the Fire