Archive for February, 2013

Luke 24:38-47

February 28, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Vanessa Patterson.  Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

 

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if He were going farther, but they urged Him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And He vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.  Luke 24:38-47

 

With places to go, people to see, and things to do, life is busy! How often is it that we run through our day without looking for Jesus? Slowing down and making a conscious effort to find the Lord is something we all struggle with, up against all of life’s distractions and noise. 

 

God is always with us; he desires that we allow him to reveal himself and show us the beauty of his fellowship. Much as with the disciples, our eyes are truly opened when we can recognize the Lord. In fact, the most

life-changing things happen when we do! Here, Jesus warms the hearts of the two disciples through the Scriptures and teaches them to crave a blessing on every meal. The disciples were left feeling hopeful and inspired, and they left to spread the good news. It is the duty of those to whom he has shown himself, to share with others what he has done for them. Is this something you can commit to?

 

So, instead of running obliviously through your busy day, make it a habit to look for Jesus, listen, trust, and follow him, then be a blessing to others by proclaiming your Faith. When you share the Lord’s Supper be conscious to recognize His presence.

 

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father,  I confess that I can often get rushed and miss the opportunity to welcome the Savior into fellowship. I appreciate your patient work in my life and for making meals sacred moments with your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Advertisements

John 4:7-15

February 26, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Clayton Faulkner.  Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

 

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”  John 4:7-15

 

Jesus had this knack of doing conversational fly-bys. He would say something to someone at a profound and deeply spiritual level, and they would hear it nowhere near the level he was communicating. Jesus told the woman he had spiritual water that would take away an eternal thirst, and the woman thought Jesus was talking about never needing a well again. Right over her head. It is also possible that she understood what Jesus was implying, but was uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was headed, and decided to avoid the spiritual probing of Jesus’ inquiry.

 

Water holds an important place in the rituals of the Jewish people. Ritual washing was part of the spiritual preparation for participation in the community. Houses and synagogues included a mikveh, a pool in which one immersed their whole body to be cleansed from impurities and touching the unclean. As priests, the sons of Levi had to be ritually purified using water before they carried out their religious duties. Even when a Gentile converted to Judaism, his final act was to go through the immersion of the mikveh.

 

What is this living water the woman inquires about? What is this “eternal life” water that Jesus speaks of? It is the Holy Spirit, gifted to us at our baptism, a constant companion throughout our baptismal journey of death, resurrection, and new life in the Jesus way.

 

Let us pray:  God, pour out your Holy Spirit on our thirsty land, creating streams of living water in the dry ground of our lives. Wash away our sin and prepare us as inheritors of your glorious kingdom. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Genesis 18:1-8

February 25, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Sally Hargrove.  Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

 

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet,  and rest yourselves under the tree.  Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. Genesis 18:1-8

 

“…Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them….”

 

What an elaborate feast Abraham and Sarah prepared for their Lord who came to them as three men.  I’ve often imagined how great it would be to see God face-to-face!  How much surer of my faith – but, maybe not.  Faith means trusting God knows what we need better than we do.

 

I experience God’s presence through the people God places in my path.  When I attempt to please God by trying to love and serve real people, I often feel God’s presence and approval.  There are times when I am preoccupied with my own agenda. Then I can miss the opportunity to feel God’s presence in the everyday loving and caring for each other.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, give us the wisdom, patience, and willingness to treat our neighbor (and our own family) gently and lovingly, knowing you have made us in such a way that we experience joy sharing your love with others. Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:3-11

February 22, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Bill and Leslie Parkan.  Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.  1 Corinthians 15:3-11

 

What a gift!  God’s grace.
I have always been amazed by God’s grace, so much as to name our daughter after it.  Abigail Grace does not yet know the significance of her name, but she will one day.

 

We are at a place in our lives where we look at our days and wonder where the time went.  Having a two and a three year old keeps us busy.  We don’t always have time to do those things that we know we should or would like to do for God, but we do try to share God’s grace in our everyday moments/tasks.

 

Sharing a smile or hello with a stranger at the grocery store, rejoicing on a beautiful sunny day, or in seeing the yellow flowers on the side of the road (some call those weeds, but yellow flowers are Samuel’s favorites, so we enjoy finding them).  We forgive quickly, give thanks in bedtime prayers, and help others.   All we have is ours but by the grace of God.  We know we can’t work hard enough to earn God’s grace, for it is a gift. . . freely given.  We strive to share that grace with others and in turn share the gift.

Let us pray:  God, we thank you for your gift of grace.  Help us show others that your grace comes freely, and with it we can grow closer to you.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Acts 3:1-10

February 21, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Michael Farner. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said,

“I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10
Imagine this picture. You are driving home in your car after a long day of work.

You just can’t wait to get home. You pull up to a red light and out of the corner of your eye, you see a homeless person begging. You quickly roll up your window before he gets to you. You make your best efforts to ignore him. You want to help him, but you are afraid to give him money out of fear for how it will be used. So instead you do nothing, and are left with the annoying, nagging feeling of guilt for not doing more.

 

It is not always money or food or other kinds of obvious nourishment these people seek. And you can help them, through nothing more than a kind word, a blessing.

 

The world can seem a dark and dangerous place to a homeless person. They feel abandoned and alone, cast out and unwanted. Sometimes all they need is to know they have a friend. You may not know it, but just saying a simple phrase like “God bless you” or “I’m praying for you” can make their day. Like Peter and the beggar, we can never underestimate the power that our words can have on another person.

 

How do I know?  I have been actively involved in the work of our church’s homeless ministry since it began. And I have grown to understand that the ministry is about more than the food we bring these people. It is about reaching out, and letting them know the world hasn’t forgotten them. The people always seem more thrilled by us telling them “God bless you” or by exchanging names so we can pray for each other, than they are when we hand out food. For these suffering people, a friend can make all the difference in the world. So never underestimate the power of a kind word of blessing. You never know, it may just make a lame person jump up for joy.

 

Let us pray:  Dear God, please be with all who are suffering, especially those in poverty and homelessness.  Let them know that the world has not forgotten them, and they are not alone.  Let the kind words and caring acts of a stranger brighten their day.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Acts 1:6-11

February 20, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Elaine Gabriel. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11

 

When will Jesus return and end our mortal existence on earth?

 

Why do we concern ourselves about the impending date of the second coming?  Why do we stand around looking up in the sky for it?

 

I have actively ignored anyone who claimed to know when the world was going to end out of fear and anxiety. What a waste of energy and effort the world has spent on this.  The Bible tells us that no one but God knows the exact time or date.  It does not say that a prophet or chosen one will be sent to prepare us by letting us in on when it will happen.  Since no one knows, we are called to live each day as if it were our last.  The best way to live is to follow Jesus with every step we take.

 

As we study the life of Jesus, we see the way he lived.  This is not always the easiest or most pleasant way to live but it is what God wants for us. Some of us even get into trouble for it.  It is the way to real freedom and happiness.  It is our way of having Heaven on Earth.

 

Remember, WWJD?!!!

 

Let us pray:  Dear God, please show me the way to follow Jesus.  May I step in his footprints and bring everybody I can with me. He is our truth and Life. Amen.

 

February 19, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Doug Elsen. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

 

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

 

I become so busy during the year that I feel I lose contact with God at intervals during the year.  I discipline myself to exercise daily, yet I put my relationship with God as a Sunday morning worship exercise.

 

The Lenten season forces me to structure my relationship with God. Once a week at the end of the day I am able to sit in the sanctuary participating in the evening service.  The Lenten service is full of symbolism:  penance, a reminder of what God has done for us.

 

When Easter has passed, it is incumbent upon us to understand that God’s Son has died for us.  We know that in the verse from Romans God has assured us of his love, no matter where we are in our lives. Each day we must take a few minutes to renew the Easter season.

 

Let us pray:  Lord, let us continue the Easter season throughout the year.  Each day help us confirm our love for you.  Amen

John 14:1-7

February 18, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is by Hal Talbott. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.  John 14:1-7

 

I just got word that a friend passed away very unexpectedly. He was only 52 years old.

 

However, as I read the Bible verse above, I see that age doesn’t make any difference. When God has our house ready he comes for us, regardless of age or anything else. So as we have been told many times, we need to lead our lives in such a manner that we are ready at any time he calls.

 

We may think we don’t know the way for us to get to know the Father. So as I interpret the above Bible verse, we can all get to Heaven to be with the Lord by living the truth from our hearts, not just “being a good person,” which can be very superficial. Even though we may feel that we don’t know the way, God will find us when he is ready for us. Not our time but his.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious God, please walk with each of us throughout this day and every day. Show us the way you would have us travel and do the things that you would have us do, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 51:1-12

February 15, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s devotion is by Barbara Balius. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:1-12

For those who think grace was a concept born of the New Testament ministry of Jesus, THINK AGAIN. If ever there was an example of God’s grace in the Old Testament it was the story of David and his shenanigans with Bathsheba. David messed up, and big time!

The short story: David saw a beautiful woman bathing, Bathsheba. Her husband was away at war. David ‘lay down’ with her. She became pregnant. David couldn’t convince Uriah to claim the baby as his own, so David sent him back to war where he was killed. When the baby was born, it only lived for a week. This psalm is David’s cry of “I messed up, and I’m really, really sorry.”

It is a prayer for mercy and grace. God’s grace is not so simple.

David is not just given a “free pass” without any consequences. There are always consequences for one’s sins—guilt, shame, and all of the other ‘natural’ consequences that come with messing up. Through all of what he went through, David knew where to go. It took him a while but it was God, and only God, who could deliver him from his horrible situation. David was faithful.

Let us pray: Dear God, help me! I mess up daily, and I keep messing up. Grant me mercy and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Matthew 6:16-21

February 14, 2013

Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s devotion is Carl Watson. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:16-21

 

In these verses from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has already spoken of giving and praying. He now speaks of fasting and, just as he did when he spoke of giving and praying, he uses the words “when you fast,” meaning he expects us to fast as a normal part of our Christian life. The purpose of denying ourselves food (denying the flesh) is to focus the time we are not eating on getting closer to God by communing and praying and filling ourselves with the Holy Spirit.  Fasting for today’s Christians is rarely preached about or practiced; it is more like an ignored spiritual discipline.  It has been said fasting is opening a door to a deeper, more intimate, and stronger relationship with God.

 

Jesus also says, “do not look somber as the hypocrites do.” The hypocrites would go to the extremes and make a big deal of their fasting to the public to show man how holy they were. They went so far as to fast on the second and fifth day of the week to commemorate Moses getting the law from God on the Mount on those days. It turns out those days were market days when the produce would come to town, so they would have a larger crowd to play to. They would mess up their hair, wear ragged clothes and make up to look pale and weak. They have their reward says Jesus, the praise of men and not the good graces of God. He does not like their false worship.

 

When Solomon wrote the books of wisdom for Israel, he made the point of a cord or rope braided with three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). So it is also true, when giving, praying, and fasting are practiced together in the life of a Christian believer,  it creates a threefold cord that is not easily broken.

 

As our Christian duty we must learn to give and pray and fast. Jesus is teaching us. We must listen.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious heavenly Father, teach us to be stronger Christians by using the words Jesus has given to us. Help us to be closer to you by following the ways presented in them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.