Devotion for the 1st Sunday in Lent

Lent 1

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1Peter 3:18-22;

Mark 1:9-15

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Psalm 25:10

Grace . . .

I had recently asked myself the following question – How would I define God’s grace if asked?  Unable to provide myself a satisfactory answer, I later found the following description that closely parallels today’s verse: “The love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it.” Our Lenten journey calls for us to honor the sacrifice of God’s greatest act of grace, the gift of His Son.

Even though His grace is freely given, He does long for our love, faith, and obedience in return.  The commitments we make to our family, friends, jobs, school, leisure, and many others, all distract us from returning God’s love.  Lent is the season where we should attempt to simplify our lives, reduce our distractions, and return God’s love in abundance.  We would be well put to recall Wesley’s “means of grace,” which included prayer, daily Bible study, participation in Christian community, and works of mercy.  Is it so much to ask of us to daily take a few minutes to thank God in prayer, read and study a daily devotional or participate in a Bible study class, attend church regularly, and find an opportunity to help those around us?

I would like to close with a quotation I recently read from Dr. William Willimon that I feel meaningfully portrays both our struggle with faithfulness and God’s unwavering grace: “I do not always feel like a child of God.  I do not always look like a child of God.  God knows I do not always act like a child of God!  But I am. I am one of God’s children not because of what I did or because of who I am but because God chose me…I am owned.”

Prayer:  Dear God, forgive us for the times we fall short in returning your grace.  We are so very thankful for your abundant mercy and the gift of your Son.  Help us to find the strength to resist the many temptations we face, and rededicate ourselves to be your faithful servants.  Amen

 

Craig Lee

Ash Wednesday Devotion

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; II Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

About five years ago, we purchased a really good camera.  We finally moved from the point and shoot version, to one with so many settings the hardest part when not in “automatic” mode was keeping things in focus.  What is your focus each day?  Joel tells us, ‘Blow the trumpet in Zion!’ (Joel 2: 15) and yet, in the Gospel, Jesus says, ‘Do not sound a trumpet before you’ (Mt 6: 2).   Joel and Jesus are talking to different groups of people.  Jesus is talking to those distracted by the things of this world who sound their trumpet before themselves when they enter a house or give to the poor. Joel’s focus and perspective are quite different.  Lent is a time for us to refocus our lives on Christ, to make him the center of the picture. We do this by various practices of obedience like prayer, fasting and almsgiving mentioned by Jesus himself in today’s Gospel, which remind us of what is (and is not) really important. And yet we can still miss this message: we can make our doing of these things about ourselves and not about Christ who seeks a changed and contrite heart for each of us. As we receive ashes today or see them on the foreheads of other, we are reminded that ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return’: in the end there really isn’t much to blow our own trumpet about. Instead, may these forty days of lent help us orient our focus on Christ, so that we can sound with joy the trumpet of his Easter victory, because in the end . . . He is the door to salvation.

 

 

Prayer:  May the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of his holy spirit, I may abound in hope.  Open my heart and guide my focus so that I may experience Christ in my world.  Amen

 

Adam Nucci

 

 

 

 

Adam Nucci