Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 19, 2023
Read: John 9:24-41
In these verses, there is conversation between the Pharisees, the man that was healed of congenital blindness and Jesus. The Pharisees were unhappy with Jesus because that spectacular healing increased Jesus popularity and it was done on the Sabbath. They criticized Jesus and called him a sinner because, according to their beliefs, he was not of God. They even expelled the man from the synagogue because he supported Jesus. The Pharisees questioned all the details of the healing in their search to find a reason to condemn Jesus. However, the man was happy to be healed and was very grateful to Jesus. He believed that Jesus’ power to heal him demonstrated that Jesus came from God. When Jesus heard that the man had been dismissed from the synagogue, Jesus revealed himself as the Son of Man and asked whether the man believed him. The man accepted Jesus and worshiped him. Jesus explained that he would separate believers from unbelievers. Again the Pharisees questioned Jesus whether he would categorize them as blind. Jesus answered that because they claim to have spiritual knowledge and did not accept him, they were spiritually blind, but those who did not have such knowledge could not be blamed for their unbelief.
Jesus still asks us to accept him. We see miracles every day. Do we see them as the work of Jesus in our lives and in the world? Are we thankful? Do these miracles strengthen our faith? Please bear in mind brothers and sisters what Jesus said to the Pharisees who claim to have spiritual knowledge, we will be judged based on our knowledge or lack thereof. Are we different from the Pharisees, or are some of us who know about Jesus, allowing skepticism to invade our hearts?
Father we thank you for the lessons of the gospels and for the gift of your son who taught us about your love for us. Help us to accept your miracles in the world and in others around us and keep us from following after unbelievers and blind leaders. Cure our spiritual blindness that we may say like the blind man who was healed “Lord I believe in you and your word,” and mean it. Amen
Saturday, March 18, 2023
Read: John 9:1-23
The neighbors were amazed to see the man that used to beg can now see. The asked how he’s able to see and he narrated his miraculous encounter with Jesus. The information got to the Pharisees. The man’s parents were called to be questions about this. They simply say the man is of age and questions should be directed to him. They know anyone who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah would be banned from the synagogue. The blind man was called and questioned. When he was asked how he is able to see, he is also told to speak the truth before God, because we know this man (Jesus) is a sinner. The blind man replied “whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know. All I know is this. I was blind and now I can see.”
The Pharisees were clearly in denial that Jesus was God-sent. They dried to discredit his miracle, finding fault with performing a miracle on the Sabbath.
Question: How many of us in our own homes will not cook in the kitchen to have a nice meal on a Sunday? Isn’t that working on the Sabbath?
The blind may obeyed Jesus’ instructions to go and wash in the pool known as Siloam. His faith made him see for the first time in his life. How many of us obey whenever the silent voice is talking or instructing us to on not to do certain things we’ve planned.
I pray, during this Lenten season, that God grant us faith and courage to see the light and obey.
(from 2011 Lenten Devotional Book)
Friday, March 17, 2023
Read: Psalm 23:4-6
The political climate in this country has become so toxic that the country is left deeply divided. Corrupt officials no longer show any degree of shame when their dark deeds are brought to light. Instead, they seem to take pride in what should be their shameful acts.
On January 6, 2021 the world watched as a mob attacked the United States Capital, while the elected officials were conducting their constitutional duty. They attacked innocent police officers who were doing their jobs (killing some), and did damage to the Capitol building. To the world’s horror, executive leadership who did nothing to discourage the assault on democracy, felt no shame in saying these are good people.
Our scripture today asks us not to secretly get involved in negative and destructive work. Whatever we do should be done aboveboard with full disclosure and transparency. So let's not be asleep to what is happening around us and let's stay informed and uphold the right. Let us not just sit back and be dead to what is happening around us, let us wake up and rise up and let the light of Christ shine through us as we call for justice, peace, and righteousness and give hope that there is still good and we can achieve it together in love.
Dear God, there was no promise that our life would be without challenges, so when the cares of life makes us feel boxed in and ebbs away at our hope, we ask you to revive us with new strength to rebuild our confidence in you, and raise our hope as we continue on our faith journey. Amen.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Read: Ephesians 5:8-10
Walk As Children of Light
For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. Live as children of light (v.9) for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.
When we trust Christ, and walk in his way we become children of light, and our lives bear the fruit of the light. As we journey through this Lenten season, how many in the dark are we ready to bring to light? How many are we ready to lift from the valley to the mountain top? How many are we going to put smiles back to their lives? Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16.)
Jesus further explained that no one lights a lamp just to hide it under a basket. A lamp is meant to be placed on a stand to give light to everything around it. Whether you're timid or outgoing, you're called to be a light to the people around you. Live so that others give glory to God. And live so that others see your life, hear your word, observe your works, and give glory to God.
Thank you, father, for your unconditional and everlasting love towards us. May we continue to grow more and more to be like you so that we can bring many in darkness to your light for the glory of God the almighty father, amen
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Read: Psalm 23:4-6
The Divine Shepherd
In today’s reading, the psalmist David is comparing his relationship with God to that of a good shepherd and his flock. According to David, a good shepherd knows where to lead his flock and often generously provides these things for each animal’s needs: nourishment, guidance, shelter, and protection. The qualities that God has that the human shepherd does not possess, however, are God’s continuous presence and spiritual guidance in our lives.
God’s continuous presence and spiritual guidance in David’s life has helped him in times of great dangers that may have led to his physical or/and spiritual death. The psalmist/David says that God or the Divine Shepherd “restores my soul” and “leads me in right paths for His name’s sake.” These statements affirm that only belief in God’s omnipotence can truly heal the body and soul of humans.
David also alludes to God’s continuous presence in his life when he states, “I will fear no evil for you are with me.” God was certainly with David when he faced and defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. Though David’s life had many ups and downs, he still felt that God had not forsaken him when he ends the psalm with these words: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”
How else could any of us stand up to the Goliaths of this world if we are not confident in God’s continuous presence in our lives? Who else could we ask to deliver us from evil and the temptations of this world and to give us our daily bread, keep us on the right paths, give us shelter from the storm, or cure our sick bodies and deteriorating minds? The Divine Shepherd is the only one who can fulfill our needs and can lead us to the life eternal-- if we truly want it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your tenacious pursuit of us through your continuous loving presence in our lives. Help us to feel your presence and love in the smallest of circumstances and to model our lives after the life of the Divine Shepherd. Amen.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Read: Psalm 23:1-3
Psalm 23 is one of the most recognized scriptures in the Bible. Many of us learned and memorized it in Sunday School. During the different stages of our life, we should reexamine scriptures because they speak to us in different ways as we change and grow in our relationship with Christ.
With all the societal ills in the world, it is sometimes hard to believe that God is near, which makes it a perfect time to revisit this scripture. Each morning, when we listen to the news, it reminds us of the sinful nature of how some people are living. Do not be dismayed because God still offers hope. He remains our shepherd. He still watches over us in this chaotic world. He is always with us in the good and bad times. Listen closely to hear his voice. He is there. He continues to be a beacon that leads and guides us.
He guides us but we also have role to play in this relationship. Each day, read the Bible, pray, and look for the good. Doing these three things helps refresh and feed our souls.
God is still performing miracles all around us. You see his work when you wake up and breathe each morning, the joy in your child’s eyes, the love of your family, new opportunities, or a beautiful day. Every day, God performs big and small miracles. Keep believing because the Lord is our shepherd. We thank him for his continued grace and mercy.
Monday, March 13, 2023
Read: I Samuel 16:1-13
Lent is the Christian observance of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert.
Jesus is the son of God and king for himself and like Jesus David was provided as king for “Myself”(1c) Again, David was anointed for “Me”(God’s) and like Jesus “This is My beloved Son”(Matthew 3:17).
Based on the above and God’s chosen Ones in the Bible, we find these people are usually the humble, lowly, unnoticed ones, the outcasts, undesirables and most times even rejected by their own BUT chosen by God Himself(1 Peter 2:4) This could be a picture of God’s Redemption of the human race.
We all fall into sin but all who choose to have a heart of Faith & Repentance are chosen by God like David. Therefore from this Lent season & beyond, let us be like David. Let us work diligently wherever we are positioned looking towards pleasing God and our fellow human beings even when we are not being compensated, acknowledged, favored, or noticed. Our God who does not look at our physical appearances BUT our hearts will justify and reward all our efforts for his glory for himself, Amen.
Third Sunday in Lent, March 12, 2023
Read: John 4:5-42
Guess Who Passed this Way
This story is about Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman who eventually changes her past life into a brand new life. How did this happen? Jesus has a way of showing up in unexpected places. This particular day, he met this woman at Jacob's well. She often came to draw water there when no one else was around. Treated as an outcast by Jews, and ignored by the women in her village, she avoided those who looked down on her. However, a stranger appeared at the well and asked her for a drink of water. She was surprised by his presence and was even more curious about because he knew every detail of her life. Our lives are left bare and wide open to God to whom we will have to give an account. Looking at him strangely, she did not hesitate to confess her dreadful past when Jesus said she would never be thirsty again.
He clearly knew her need which was not physical but spiritual. God's timing is never a mistake. She wanted the water Jesus offered. She told Jesus that she knew about the Messiah, the Christ coming to her village. Isn't it ironic how she looked forward to Jesus' coming soon, and right then and there he appeared before her eyes. Jesus said "I am He!" She was very excited. She realized that although she was excluded by many, Jesus never excluded her. Jesus never excludes anyone.
As they talked, the disciples who came back from getting food realized that Jesus was talking to this woman. They did not interrupt his conversation with her. Jesus wanted the Samaritan woman to worship him in spirit and in truth. So he knew by reaching out to her and giving her this spiritual water it would change her and encourage her to share her experience with others. She would become a living testimony. So she left Jesus and told others about a man who knew all about her and gave her a brand new life.
The disciples were trying to encourage Jesus to eat the food they had brought back from the city; but he told them his food was to do the will of the one who sent him. He also told them that the "Harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few!" There are so many people who need to know about salvation, and we as Jesus' followers must reach out to them. There are so many who want to say "somebody saved me and gave me a brand new life!" God has the power to use anyone if we will allow ourselves to become instruments of his love. Today somebody is suffering! Today somebody is hungry and thirsty. Our work is for today. Yesterday has gone and tomorrow has not come. We only have today to reach out to those who are lost. We see them on buses, trains, on our jobs, in our neighborhoods, hospitals, everywhere. Jesus gives us the opportunity to reach out to them, no matter who they are and no matter what their background is. It is up to us, wherever we go to share the good news about Jesus. Oh what a savior he is!
Most gracious father, open our hearts, minds, eyes and ears to those who are crying out for a word from you. Help us to forget self and see those you have been placed on the path before us. Lead us and guide us to do your will because it is not about us, it’s all about you! Jesus the one who never changes, but changes everything! Amen.
Marshallyn & Marilyn Whittington
Saturday, March 11, 2023
Read: Romans 5:6-11
The chapter begins by describing some of the benefits we receive when we put our complete faith in God. As we put our faith in God we should have peace. Our sufferings are temporary. God has declared and proved his love for us.
Adam brought sin and death to the world but Jesus Christ brought hope as he died for our sins, and with God’s grace all those who believe are offered the gift of grace.
Paul acknowledges that as we hope and trust in God, we will never be disappointed or put to shame. Christ died for us while we were weak. Salvation is free, and nothing about who we are earned us that right. Christ dying for us, really shows God’s love for us. Christ died to save us from our sins.
God chose the right time for Christ to be born, to live amongst us, died, and was resurrected. During this period, let us ponder at God’s amazing grace and love and let us strive to love each other, citizens of the world. Let us strengthen our faith and our hope in God, no matter what we are going through, knowing that our sufferings are indeed temporary.
Friday, March 10, 2023
Read: Romans 5:1-5
Peace and hope that will not fail.
Anytime you turn on the news channel these days all you see and hear is violence, disasters, wars and injustice and all kinds of negativity. This can be overwhelming and some believers can be having doubts. This is not new. The early believers in Rome were having doubts and uncertainties about the new faith. Therefore, if you are going to preach hope to those living under uncertain situations as we are now, you had for sure better know what you are talking about.
Just as the early church, we cannot afford to have glossy and empty promises. We cannot tolerate false hopes because it can only make already bad situations much worse. Our hope is on a solid rock, Jesus and the finished work he did on Calvary and that hope will not put us to shame. As believers let us not allow worry to edge out our hope. Also, as we are justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us put our faith in the one who died to give us hope and life everlasting.
Praise be to the Lord. for the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods. The sea is his and the dry land. Let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Amen.