Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Read: Isaiah 50:1-9a
This passage from Isaiah presents us with the picture of the Lord, who suffers willingly and innocently. He faced physical torment and verbal abuse without running away from it. God is our helper. God gave Jesus the strength to endure all of his suffering.
The Lord wakens us morning by morning, wakens our ears to listen like one being taught. Also, we can lean on, talk with, walk with, and be sustained by his word, by the breath of his spirit. He gives us hope for today and eternity. Sometimes, because we are so blessed, we forget our reality is not the reality that so many others face each day.
Prayer can change things and make the impossible become possible. Through prayer, we know what it is to be strengthened day by day and we know the joy of not walking alone. If we continue to follow God’s plans, we cannot be assured that there will not be trials, but we are assured that there will be success!
Sometimes we ask the question, how is it possible to remain indifferent to Jesus and all that he has done for us? Who other than Jesus would do all of this for us? During Holy Week, Jesus did not withdraw from First Church members. We have to turn back to the Bible and we are assured that Jesus will never leave us. Remember that God’s words do not go unpunished. Jesus is asking us why do you serve me on Sunday and the other days you forget about me and serve other gods. Jesus was wrongly unpunished. Others will say that he was punished because it was just for our sins.
Jesus was the perfect disciple. He relied on the Lord God by learning from God. We look to Jesus. God opens the servant’s ear and gives him words to share. But the servant chooses how he will react to the word. He is obedient to speak it. Jesus said that his burden is easy and his yoke is light. The Lord Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps. Christians are followers of Jesus not only because they believe in him and trust him as their Savior and king, but because they seek to imitate him in their daily living.
Dear Lord, help me listen to you, so that like Jesus Christ, I can be a blessing to those around me. Amen.
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Read: Matthew 21:1-11
In today’s verses, Jesus and his disciples have just arrived in the city of Bethphage during the Jewish time of Passover, representing the remembrance of God delivering his people out of Egypt and giving them freedom. He requested his disciples to bring him a donkey saying “If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” (Matthew 21:1b-3) Jesus knew who He was, and that if He said “say that the Lord needs them”, he would find faithful, “immovable” citizens who knew the word of the Lord would inspire them to action. We notice too that Jesus didn’t arrive on a horse -which in this era was often used for, or represented war. Instead, he would arrive upon the colt, a symbol of peace. And His arrival fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) as Matthew 21:5 declares, ‘‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
As you reflect on the passage, you can shout and praise in your heart along with the people: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9) Whisper it aloud or shout it. But we need to honestly recognize our need to join the intercession of 'Hosanna' in our hearts. The word Hosanna translates in Greek to ὡσαννά, or in Aramaic ʾōshaʿnā, meaning “God save us!” Proclaim the truth in your heart, you have need of a savior. We cannot do life on our own. Hosanna!
Again, we reflect on Jesus’ entrance, and learn that the people had “cut branches from the trees and laid them in the road” and lay down their coats for His donkey to stride on - doing this all before asking “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10). In fact, the people had not yet discovered the name of Jesus, but knew He was King, sent to deliver them. By no coincidence, this message connects to 2 Maccabees 10:7 where at the re-dedication of the temple they carried palm branches and shouted praise to the King for the purification of the temple.
Family in Christ, we reflect during Lent annually for this very purpose of re-dedicating ourselves, our temples of the Most High God to the desires of Christ the King, to 'fast' or abstain from ways that draw us apart from each other, to be led by God towards justice, compassion, righteousness and agape love.
Beloved Savior, Jesus, we ask that you renew us this Lenten season that we may re-dedicate ourselves to you and your kingdom to come; help us each day that we may live with a spirit of peace, unity, and compassion towards one another knowing we have need of you. In Your name we pray, Amen.
(from 2020 Lent Devotional Book, updated 2023)
Monday, March 27, 2023
Read: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
I don’t know if it is because I work in the construction industry or because I am a great believer in repurposing and reusing, but I have always liked this scripture. Like many scriptures and stories throughout the Bible, it says to me that we often do not recognize God’s plan. Throughout the scriptures, we read stories of unlikely “heroes” and “sheroes”. So many of the people God uses - Moses, Joseph, David, Ruth and Naomi, Mary, even Jesus - are people who are not in the upper echelons of society. They don’t have great wealth or connections. They are young, scared, sinners, poor, or have handicaps such that most people of their time would have counted them as nothing. But God see differently than we do. Where we see thrown-away people, God sees builders of the kingdom.
Dear God, help is to see others - and ourselves - through your eyes. As Jesus taught is, help us to always recognize the worth of every one of your children, regardless of the status our society places upon them.
Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 26, 2023
Read: John 11:38-45
As I was reading this passage what struck me was how often we do not perceive when things which look dead still have life left in them or are truly dead. This time of year there are many examples from the natural world of plants and animals which go dormant. I have an orchid that was given to us when my mom passed away. It had beautiful blooms for several months before they faded and died. I thought that would likely be the end of blossoms but kept giving it a little water once a week and about a year later buds appeared. I have had other plants that seemed dead and gone but with a little care and attention they began to thrive again. Other plants I really have managed to kill and I have given them lots of time and attention beyond the time when I should have let them go. Some people, too, experience “little deaths” as we lose our contact with sunshine and the outdoors but we perk up as we start to have warmer weather and more hours of sunlight each day.
The same can be said about relationships or ever organizations in our lives. When something seems to be all but dead, how do we discern whether we should let it go or give it all our care and attention? How can we tell when pruning is needed? This is something I certainly struggle with.
As we move through the season of Lent towards Resurrection Sunday, I believe this is an excellent time to take stock and pray for guidance about where in our lives pruning is in order and where we need to focus our care and attention.
(from 2020 Lenten Devotional Book)
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Read: John 11:1-37
Jesus encounters crucial events in Jerusalem
If Jesus had been with Lazarus during the final moments of Lazarus sickness, he might have healed him rather than let him die. But Lazarus died so that Jesus’ power over death could be shown to his disciples and others. The raising of Lazarus was an essential display of his power and the resurrection from the dead is a crucial belief of the Christian faith. Jesus not only raised himself from the dead but he has the power to raise others.
Friday, March 24, 2023
Read: Romans 8:6-11
This scripture deals with two categories of people. Those who are dominated by their sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. It warns that persons who are led by their sinful nature will face death since they are dominated by sinful things, hostile to God, and disobey his laws. On the other hand, those whose minds are governed by the Spirit, and belong to Christ, will have life and peace.
The Holy Spirit is God’s promise or guarantee of eternal life for those who believe in him, that he is the son of God, and that eternal life comes through him. Christ knew that the Holy Spirit would always be with us everywhere we go, leading, and guiding us. He also knew that we would need help to understand his plan for us. So, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us as our guide, comforter, teacher, counsellor, and advocate. The Spirit is within us by faith, and by faith we are certain to live with Christ forever. Because Christ is righteous, and we are in him and he in us, even though our bodies are subject to death because of sin, the spirit will give life to our mortal bodies. The Holy Spirit therefore plays an essential role in our salvation.
Thus, once we have said yes to Jesus, we should continue to follow him since his way brings life and peace. We must consciously choose to center our lives on God by using the bible to discover God’s guidelines and following them. In addition, we must trust and obey the Holy Spirit in us, resting in the knowledge that in him we are becoming more like Christ in everything God planned for us.
Thank you Jesus for sending us the Holy Spirit to guide us, and to help us stay in a steadfast communion with Christ. Amen.
Agnes & Ray Beache
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Read: Psalm 130:5-8
Patience is a virtue. Good things come for those who wait. Patience surpasses learning.
We’ve been informed about the significance of patience. In our lives there will be incidents and events that will challenge us. Some will frustrate us, some we can laugh about and some will have us wondering why. But the circumstances will require us to be patient.
Patience is a gift from God particularly in a teaching moment. Yahweh may desire our attention on something we had done, or building us up for the next step to his glory. It is a gift for grace and mercy from our heavenly father which is a must for us as sinners.
The test of patience is inevitable and according to the word can help lead us to repentance. Allow God to test our love for him by being patient and accept the teaching moment while not falling into frustration and despair.
Father, please allow us the patience to wait on you and the strength to endure the wait. Amen
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Read: Psalm 130:1-4
The Psalm is written by King David of Israel. It is referred to as "A Song Of Ascent" because, many scholars at the time believe that the title indicates that these Psalms were sung by worshipers as they traveled the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals. The Psalm expresses deep sorrow for sin and asks God for help and forgiveness. God is our only source of forgiveness for those who wait on him.
It is a delightful and privileged feeling to believe that relief is on the way from heaven. When we cry out to God in time of need, we expect quick answers. We forget that he is never late. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
We call upon God in times of sickness, pain, depression and mental health. We should be thankful that God does not respond on the basis of our worthiness. If he did, we would receive nothing but judgment. We are a sinful people but regardless, God is our refuge and he responds just by calling our on his name. He forgives us for our sins so that we can worship him with a thankful heart.
We pray for the sick and the needy. We ask for relief in the morning Lord. You promised that the storms will come but that you will be with us to ride over the waves. Wait on the Lord, He will send you relief in the morning, amen
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Read: Ezekiel 37:9-14
There are times in our lives when it seems that we are lost and without any hope for our future.
Something had happened to change all the hope that we once had for ourselves. Reading this passage makes me flash back to my hard life in college. Things were very tough for my husband and me because both of us wee in college at the same time. We didn’t know how we were going to finish college, or what our future looked like. The dried bones in this passage represent our hope that we thought had perished. We were young and at that time prayers weren’t so heavy on our minds, but thanks to our inner voice that we sometimes listened to, I joined a pray group in college that met twice a week for prayers together. Gradually my hopelessness in my future became hopeful. God has opened the graves and brought me up from them. With God and prayers everything in life is possible. When we are bones in the graves he will lift us up and put his spirit in us and we will live.
This Lent season, let us as Christians put our trust in our God, the he sent his only son to die for you and me. Lent is a time for us to reflect on what we have done wrong in our lives and pray for forgiveness so we will have a better Easter this year.
Heavenly father forgive us for what we have done and said in our life that is against your commandments. Make us a better person this Lent season and forever. Amen.
(from 2011 Lenten Devotional Booklet)
Monday, March 20, 2023
Read: Ezekiel 37:1-10
This is a scripture that brings back memories of a song from my childhood about dry bones. But if we look closer, we find a reminder that “God, only you know…” More importantly, God has “no limit.” We can make seemingly impossible things happen with God.
More than making things happen, we need to tell people about it. We need to “prophesy.” This army of resurrected dry bones brought back to life through our no limit God reminds us that our churches can be brought into new life. We need to prophesy to those dry bones outside our walls.
We are in the middle of Lent and we are being reminded that we must share our story, the story of our god of no limit, our God who sent his son to earth to save us. Jesus died to take away our sins.
Dear God, help us to bring your word to others and always to remember the sacrifice of your son. During this season of Lent, may we always remember what is ahead, that we share the story of others. All this we ask in the name of your son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
(from 2011 Lenten Devotional Book)