Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Read: Genesis 12:1-4
In Genesis 12:1-4, God called Abraham to leave his homeland and settle in a new country, Canaan. God promised that a great nation would be founded. Not only would the nation be blessed, but other nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s descendants. God promised to bless Abraham and make him famous, and all God required of Abraham was for him to be obedient and do as asked.
In spite of his knowledge that his wife, Sarah, was barren, Abraham obeyed God. He did not show any doubt or disbelief but instead took his wife and his nephew, Lot, walked away from his home, and went to the land that God would show him. Through his obedience Abraham demonstrated his faith in God and God’s promise of great blessings in the future. It takes faith to let God lead us where God wants us to go especially when, like Abraham, we don’t know what lies ahead.
God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him. Don’t let the comfort and security of your present situation cause you to miss God’s plan for you. Like Abraham, be obedient! You see, through Abraham’s family tree, Jesus Christ was born to save humanity. And through Jesus Christ we can have a personal relationship with god and be blessed immeasurably. So we are called to trust and obey. There is no other way.
Heavenly father, thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed on us, your children. I hope and pray that we, as your children, would be obedient to your call and guidance as Abraham was. May we always remember that all things are possible with you, father God if we trust and obey.
(from 2020 Lent Devotional Book)
Monday, February 27, 2023
Read: Psalm 121:1-4
This Psalm, along others (120-134), is labeled “A Song of Ascents.” Scholars think this referred to ascending the temple steps during the three yearly festivals when Jews were supposed to return to the temple. Then presumably any or all of these would be recited during pilgrimage to Zion.
In verses 1 and 2 the question and its answer are not rhetorical since there is a wrong answer. Some hills had poles signifying Baal worship but the Lord is to be worshiped only on the hill of Zion where the temple was.
In verses 3 and 4 we are reminded that the Lord is always with us and that he/she is constantly alert. This may have reminded the Jews of when Elijah confronted the priests of Baal. When they could bring no fire to their altars, Elijah taunted them by suggesting that perhaps Baal was sleeping or had gone on a journey. (I Kings 18:27)
Lord God, our Father/Mother, we thank you for your constant, continuing alertness to the needs of your people. Amen.
First Sunday in Lent, February 26, 2023
Read: II Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Did you know you are an ambassador? I hear you saying “who me, an ambassador?” No, not me, nobody ever made me an ambassador to anything!! Oh but alas I am here to tell you that Paul tells you differently. II Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors of Christ. So now you are saying okay if I’m an ambassador to Christ just what it is I am doing that makes me an ambassador. Well let me see if I can shine some light on this, the definition of being an ambassador of Christ means that God has given us the approval to be entrusted with the gospel, to take the word of God and spread it all over the world, we are not representatives of this world but are representatives of heaven.
For me this means we must share our testimony, now, today because the time is right. We need to let others know that yes we are going to have troubles, hardships, illness but when we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior joy will come, we will get through it all and will have everything we need. I can testify that I have survived alcoholism, homelessness, hunger, and poverty because I allowed Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and he ensured I had all I needed to get through it all. We must not be ashamed of what we may have done in our past instead we must be proud to be ambassadors of Christ, to share our story and the story of all the good Christ can and will do. So go out, be an ambassador and shout the good news of Christ from the oceans to the mountains - God is good all the time and all the time God is good!!
Precious Lord thank you for entrusting us to be your ambassadors, help us to never be ashamed to spread your word wherever we go. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Certified Lay Servant
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Read: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Jesus Teaches About Giving To the Needy and About Fasting
When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it like the hypocrites. Their actions may be good but their motives are hollow. These empty acts are their only reward but God will reward those who are sincere in their faith.
When you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you that is the only reward they will get.
Jesus Teaches About Prayer and Money
When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners where everyone can see them. I assure you that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, and pray to your father secretly who knows all secrets, and will award you.
Storing treasures in heaven is not limited to tithing but is accomplished by all acts of obedience to God. There is a sense in which giving our money to God’s work is like investing in heaven. We should seek to please God not only in our giving, but also in fulfilling God’s purpose in all we do.
Friday, February 24, 2023
Read: Psalm 51:1-17
The first time I heard or read the word “repentance” was in a movie and in Scripture. These words were uttered by John the Baptizer and forerunner of Jesus Christ. The thought, when I received my assigned devotional reading for Lent was about David, who would be anointed King of Israel. He was a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Most Christians know this story well. David’s life was spotty, with sin. But, the word says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, we thank God for his amazing grace and mercy!!! Although David sinned more than once, he was quick to repent! He was a worshiper and sang praises to our mighty God. With Godly sorrow David repented of his sins.
The word says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. That to me is good news. God loves so much that he’s not willing that any should perish, but come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. As we live, breathe and have our being, let us come, just as we are, to a God who loves us so much that he gave his only begotten son, that we who believe in him, would have a right to eternal life.
Dear Lord, we give you all honor, glory, and praise for your goodness and mercy. Thank you for loving us so much that you sent your son to redeem us from a world for sin and shame. We trust and believe in Jesus the Christ as our Lord and Savior. Amen and Amen.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Read: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Who is Joel and what do we know about him?
Joel, whose name in Hebrew means “Yawheh is God,” is one of several divinely appointed prophets called by God to deliver a message of warning and repentance to the southern kingdom of Judah. Judah had been in a state of disarray and decline for years, both economically and spiritually due to attacks from various surrounding nations.
This reading begins by exclaiming: “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!” as Joel promises that this day is coming like no other appearance as before. “a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.” Joel 2:2
God has given us many physical signs and wonders of the earth as a reminder of God’s sovereignty and coming judgment in this first scripture. It may be difficult for some of you to think of the judgment of God versus the unconditional love. This vivid description of a great army, yet to come seems ‘unloving’. Yet, we know that a parent who is full of love is often called to judge their children’s missteps and call them to correction.
Joel returns our thoughts to God’s love for us and his desire for the people to return to him with yet another trumpet sounding. This trumpet calls the people to remember God and his ways. The priests are called to pray, lament and encourage God’s people to respond with faithfulness so that no one will ask, “Where is their God?’ ” Joel 2:17
Lord, as we, the people who have heard the trumpet’s sound, yield to your judgement and steadfast love, that calls us to remember with gratefulness your goodness. Let us remember our sisters and brothers who were disconnected from your ways in Judah and how you called them to return to you. Yesterday, as we observed, Ash Wednesday, a holy day of prayer and fasting, the sound of the trumpet called us to you and you only God. In this Lenten Season, we are grateful to be called your people who seek you today, tomorrow and forever, for you love us all. Amen.
Certified Lay Minister
Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Read: Isaiah 58:1-12
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time of reflection, introspection, and resolute decision making. The name Ash Wednesday came from the practice of Persons’ putting Ashes on their foreheads as a sign of repentance for sins.
Isaiah 58:1-12 points to and exposes us of the exterior piety we profess publicly by Fasting while oppressing the marginalized around us. God does not value our Fasting if we continue to commit acts and participate in systems that harm other people.
Lent calls for repentance and true repentance is the Fast that God wants. And what does the Lord require? But to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. We do this by freeing the oppressed, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked. Lent is preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and our own resurrection in Christ.
Gracious God, by the mercy of your son Jesus Christ and the leadership of your Holy Spirit, enable us to live lives of sincere worship that lead us to care for the oppressed, to share bread with the hungry, to shelter the homeless, and to loose the bonds of injustice. Amen
Rev. Dr. E. Allen Stewart