Devotion for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

April 1, 2018

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; I Corinthians 15:1-11; John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” John 20:1-2

And the message is . . .

In the Disciple class I have the privilege to lead, we’ve just completed the Old Testament, and one of the lessons we’ve learned is how God called unlikely messengers to carry his Word – Moses thought himself a poor speaker and tried to argue God out of being His instrument.  Jonah refuses God’s call and tries to take ship to the opposite end of the known world.  In John 20 verse 18 God again chooses an unlikely messenger to convey his Word as Jesus commissions Mary to be the first to share the glorious news that He has risen. Mary became the first evangelist in Christian history. This at a time when women were not considered reliable witnesses in court, and Mary’s past as one possessed of demons made her even less credible. Why did He choose Mary (and all those reluctant prophets of the Old Testament) to carry the Message? I think because it is always about the Message, and never the messenger. It is about the majesty, authority and the love of God who sends the Message, and not the authority of the one delivering the message. God so often works through the weak, the unlikely, and the meek, and thus His Love shines through all the brighter.  We are all God’s unlikely and sometimes reluctant messengers, yet we, too, can carry His Message of love through His Grace.  God’s love triumphs over all the woes of this world, even death. I pray we all have the opportunity to share that message.

Prayer:  Ever living God, inspire our witness to Jesus Christ, that all may know the power of His forgiveness and the hope of His resurrection.   Amen

Brian Henderson

Devotion for Good Friday

Good Friday

March 30, 2018

Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19,42

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 52:5

Obedience . . .

To read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, it becomes painfully clear that our understanding of obedience and Jesus’ understanding of obedience aren’t really in the same ballpark. To be truthful, they aren’t even in the same solar system. Our earthly understanding is certainly well intentioned, but there are “catches” that often go unspoken, but we know they are there. Putting ourselves in harm’s way is one of those catches. Conversely, Jesus’ understanding of obedience is laser-focused. There are no catches, no stipulations, no “as long as …” And putting himself in harm’s way is not only accepted, but Jesus demands it. Jesus said, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” For Jesus, it is crystal clear. The scriptures provide the blueprint, the Father reinforces His Divine plan, and Jesus’ task is to fulfill those expectations. Whatever the cost. We dabble in obedience, but we won’t take it too far. We listen for God’s voice, but we’ll only act on that voice if it fits into the neat little box we have constructed for ourselves. But, true obedience does not recognize boxes or boundaries. True obedience is extravagant. May we all find the strength to be extravagant.

Prayer  Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.  Amen

Doug Burian

Devotion for Maundy Thursday

Holy Thursday

March 29, 2018

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; I Corinthians 11:23-26;

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.
 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 

Psalm 116:1-2

Remember. . .

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Lent is the Bible story of Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days, and other stories. He was tempted and said no.  He was obedient to God.

Fasting is giving up something.  I know some people who give something up for the 40 days of Lent.   Fasting by itself means nothing.  Fasting should bring you closer to God.  But, why not do something new, not give something up?  Do something in remembrance of God to bring you closer to God.  Do something that you might not usually do, like helping in a mission project.

Become closer to God and remember.

 

Prayer :  Loving God, help me be closer to you.  Amen.

 

Sydni Rivero

In conversation with Rev. Lynn Nulton

Devotion for the 6th Sunday in Lent

Palm/Passion Sunday

March 25, 2018

Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16;

Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”  Matthew 21:1-3

 

Hooray . . .

“A parade!”  “Let’s make a parade!”  “Me first!”  Children are so easily motivated –  much like, I suspect, the first people that formed Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade were.  Everyone joined in the celebration without being fully aware of all the working pieces.  Coming from one direction, the Romans astride horses, the source of power.  Coming from another direction,  Jesus on a donkey, the source of quiet authority.  The Romans were bringing fear, the threat of war.   Jesus was bringing peace and joy.  Players in a scene that has been played out time and time again.  The passion of Christ – his last week.

Palm Sunday, a day to remember when Jesus entered Jerusalem, obedient to his Father, thus fulfilling the prophets’ visions.  It started so happily, so joyously, who could not participate in a parade?  This was the beginning of a series of events that would end with Jesus’ death – and his resurrection!  Thus we begin the week that was, the week that causes us to cling to the empty cross, the empty tomb, Christ resurrected.  Our reason for joy, Christ resurrected!

 

Prayer:  We love you, God.  Thank you for loving us.  Amen

 

Donna Brackins

Devotion for the 5th Sunday in Lent

Lent 5
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5: 5-10; John 12: 20-33.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:8-10

Just a thought . . .
Our devotional theme in Week 5 is and remains Obedience to God. The season of Lent leading us to Easter and the resurrection is no different certainly than all the other days and weeks of the year. As God said in Jeremiah “know the Lord…” It is funny that we must be reminded of this covenant, even though inwardly we know that our prayers for forgiveness were answered long before we ever asked. Therefore, each of us is “restored…” with the joy that only God can and does provide when we reach out to him for forgiveness. Raising our voices in prayer is, after all, the most important, albeit, supreme gesture of obedience to God, is it not?

Just as Paul made “obedience to God” a focal point of his writings in Hebrews, so too did John in his teachings. Jesus reminds us in those teachings that “if any man serve (him) let him follow me and where I am, there shall also my servant be…” Each of us longs for that precious eternal life after death, yet we fall short in our daily role as an obedient servant. Lent enables each of us to do a “mid-course” correction so to speak. Corrections are often needed in life as we are apt to stray from the azimuth laid out at birth. Therefore, take a moment in these days leading up to the cross and the resurrection to reflect on your azimuth as a servant and a disciple of Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we strive during this Lenten season to re-educate ourselves to the wonders you brought forth, and to re-dedicate ourselves to your obedience. We are so undeserving and frail, yet your sacrifice on the cross reminds each of us that “ (you) are the resurrection and the life…” Truly, by only believing in you, shall we live and never die. These solemn words ring loudly, Lord, as a reminder of your covenant–never broken. During Lent, we give thanks to your many wonders, your many sacrifices, your enormous love, and to a life of service to one another through which we honor and serve you, Lord. Amen.

Arch Galloway II

Devotion for the 4th Sunday in Lent

Lent 4
Sunday, March 11, 2016
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

Read Psalm 107
“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever..” Psalm 107:1

Love . . .

When our son Teddy was an infant, newly arrived from Russia, Don and I brought him to the pediatrician for a thorough examination. Teddy was thin and sickly, but he had a smile that could melt stone. Don and I fell in love with him the moment we first saw his picture. Teddy required a number of vaccines at that first doctor’s visit. As Don tried to hold Teddy still and the nurse administered the shots, I fled crying from the room, unable to witness Teddy’s distress. His anguish was like a knife to my heart.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist tells us of when the Israelites were sick and tired of wandering through the desert. They complained about their plight, criticized God’s bounty, spurned His laws, and turned to sin. Again and again they “cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” God does not abandon us no matter how ungrateful we are, no matter how many times we turn away from Him. His steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer Thank you, God, for your steadfast love which never abandons us. Amen

Linda Thomsen

Devotion for the 3rd Sunday in Lent

Lent 3

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; I Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:18

Reflect . . .

Lent is a time of reflection, a time to meditate and pray. Indeed, it is also a time of self-denial and seeking closeness to God. The reflections and meditations must therefore focus on what the Lord is telling us. Obedience is key to getting close to God. Obey the Ten Commandments, which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ simplified for us. Love one another as Christ loved you. These are times of preparation. Preparing our souls to be in oneness with God. Jesus goes to the Temple and drives out the money changers and those doing business there. He informs everyone that if the temple was destroyed, he will build it back in 3days – predicting his death and resurrection. This is the ultimate sacrifice and greatest redemption.  All these were done because he loved us. Therefore we should strive that the words that proceed from our mouths and the thoughts from our minds will reflect the goodness of the LORD during this sacred season.

 

Prayer 

Heavenly Father, at this precious time of lent, teach us Lord to remember your commandments and to keep them. Guide our thoughts, our speech and our actions. Let us remember that you are perfect and we are not. Let your wisdom guide us away from our foolish ways. In your mercy, bring us back into the safety of your bosom. Teach us Lord to trust in you at all times and when afraid, strengthen our faith. We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

Dr. Leke Ogunmefun

Devotion for the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Lent 2

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Genesis 1:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

Mark 8:35

Obey . . .

The word conjures up images of dog training or, perhaps, parental scolding. Usually the one required to obey is of lesser rank, power, or status. No wonder we bridle at the mention of obedience. You’re not the boss of me! Yet, the Bible upholds obedience to God as a virtue. Even Jesus was obedient—unto death.

I think obedience has gotten a bad reputation in the modern era. Let’s try to recast our understanding of it. Why do people obey? Out of fear, duty, reward? If so, usually not for long. No, more often people obey because they recognize the authority of the one asking and trust in this authority’s intended good for us. I can’t help but think of horse training as an illustration. The horse that is forced to obey through harsh punishments will lose respect for the rider, question authority, develop distrust, and eventually act out in disobedience, sometimes violently. Conversely, a horse trained with loving guidance learns trust and submits his will to the rider without losing anything of himself in the bargain. I think we must likewise submit our will to God, recognizing His authority, and trusting in His good plan for us. Then we, too, can look forward to a brilliant performance in life.

Prayer: God, please give me the faith to trust and the trust to obey.

 

Lisa Trovillion