Archive for April, 2014

Luke 7:1-10

April 10, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions.  Today’s writer is Joann Welton.

 

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. Luke 7:1-10

 

Serious illness is truly the universal leveler – it doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, young or old, a centurion or a servant?  So, what do we do, when someone we care about is ill or in danger?  Do we feel abandoned and alone? Do we only pray for God’s healing presence, if our friend or loved one, is a Christian?  In the miracle at Capernaum, Jesus reminds us that God’s love and healing presence is universal and knows no political or ideological boundaries.  Jesus answered the compassionate pleas of the centurion to heal his ill servant, not because he was a recognized disciple, but because of the centurions unbending faith that Jesus, and Jesus alone, had the power and authority to heal the sick. 

 

Every week, people arrive in Houston hoping for a medical miracle.  Like the centurion, do we truly believe in the healing power of Jesus?  Faith House, our blood drives, and the prayer chain, are but a few of the ways that we show those in need that they are not alone.  Show your love for Jesus, by praying, sending a card, or volunteering to help those struggling with illness or addiction in your community.

 

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, bless the medical professionals and caregivers who each day make a difference in someone’s life.  Continue to watch over them and give them the strength, wisdom, and compassion to heal the sick.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Matthew 5:1-11

April 9, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions.  Today’s writer is Kathy Patrick.

 

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:1-11

 

Blessed are you when nothing goes the way you expect, when no one expects you amount to anything much, when nothing about your life meets the world’s expectations for power, wealth, or status.  When you expect nothing—and seem to amount to nothing—then you are blessed.  Huh? 

 

In this passage, as in so many of his teachings, Jesus turns our expectations upside down.  By setting out blessings, Jesus implicitly names as sin the shimmering, glittering, empty promises of the world.  Jesus’ blessings remind us of what is broken:  he calls us to repent of making idols of the world’s expectations and our own.  Jesus calls blessed the circumstances and predicaments in which we have no choice but to rely on God alone.  And we tremble and flinch at his words, because this is not who we are. 

 

Let us pray:  Lord, help me surrender to your will for my life.  Show me that “my” gifts are not mine, but yours.  Remind me that “my” work is not mine, but yours.  Bless me with the understanding that “my” life is not mine, but wholly and only yours.  Give me the blessing of relying always, and only, on your love and your grace.  In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

Mark 1:16-20

April 8, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions.  Today’s writer is Stephanie Huwyler.

 

16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:16-20

 

The disciples were going about their business, doing what they did every day; mending nets, casting them into the sea, and hauling them back again in the hopes of a catch. And this man comes along and says to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

 

“Immediately, they left their nets and followed him,” they left behind their ways, security, and family to follow this man on the strength of a promise. Ok leaving behind a comfortable living to become a fisher of men would be hard for me. To let go of what I have and trust someone I hardly knew to follow their ways would scare me a little. I wouldn’t know what to do, say, or even how to act. After a while I would realize, “Hey, I’m doing something great for others and I like following this stranger preaching the good news.”

 

Jesus molds us to follow his ways and share his work of redemption and reconciliation. As we cast our nets in our daily lives of faith, we could be doing something simple as inviting a friend to church with us.

 

Let us pray:  Dear God, Guide us to follow your ways and teach those in need of your guidance that you may show them to become fishers of men. In your name we pray, Amen.

Mark 1:9-15

April 7, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions. Today’s writer is Gina Castillo.

 

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

 

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:9-15

 

When we join God’s family, we believe that we are safe. There is usually a celebration, with all the bells and whistles. God is pleased but Satan is not. He watches and waits in the darkness. We are sent out into the world and life goes on. We go to school, do our homework, follow the rules, come to church or put in a good day at the office. Life is good! And just when we think we have it all together, Satan peeks in. (He loves to crash a good party) The ‘wild animals’ appear and try to steer us in the wrong direction. “Go ahead”, you think to yourself. “Skip that class, you don’t need to study for that test”, or “Call in sick to work today, you need a day off!”

 

The balloons have popped and the bells aren’t ringing. Temptation is upon us and Satan is pleased. God watches from the light. Then the Holy Spirit whispers, in his still small voice, “It is your choice now.” What will you choose? Will God be pleased?

 

We are always safe when we keep our eyes on the prize, our Lord God. When we listen to that still quiet voice, the Holy Spirit, and when we walk hand and hand with our Savior Jesus! Believe the good news!

 

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, I often get tempted as I travel through life. I pray that when the Holy Spirit whispers to my soul that I listen and It guides me to make the right choices even when I am thrown into situations where I am unsure or afraid. Please remind me to remain strong in my faith and remember that I am safe, that He is always with me, that He loves me and I please Him. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Isaiah 43:1-7

April 4, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions. Today’s writer is Kendolyn Pope.

 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; 6I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth—7everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:1-7

 

On a Wednesday last October, I went in for a routine ultrasound and ended up delivering my baby through an emergency C-section an hour later. She was very sick. She had heart surgery at 12 days old and remained in the NICU for one month. Those were scary days, days when I felt that I was passing through deep waters and being burned by fire all at the same time. Seeing my 4 pound baby in pain and connected to so many machines overwhelmed me and constituted the hardest of trials. But God . . .  

 

As a person of Faith, I knew that God was in the NICU. While I was often scared by what the doctors told me, I knew that God would not let us down. My baby is not only precious to me but is precious to God, so He keeps her safe even now. While there are moments as a new mom when fear peaks in, God commands us, “Do not be afraid . . .” and I work every day to live as He commands.    

 

Let us pray: God, thank you for the reassurance that you are with us and that you will always protect us. Help us to find peace in knowing that you are near even during our darkest hours.   In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Nehemiah 8:9-12

April 3, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions.  Today’s writer is Greg Funchess.

 

9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:9-12

 

Has Sunday become not such a fun day?

Is the holy day a go out and eat guacamole day?

Do we sometimes get lost in thoughts,

leaving our stomach’s in knots,

searching for something that is pointlessly sought?

Are there times of doubt,

washed down with a stout?

 

We all do this I bet,

but we must not forget,

that Sunday is the Lord’s day,

a day to go out and play.

We need not be sad,

rather we should be glad,

for this is a day to celebrate,

a day to commemorate,

the life of Christ.

 

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, let your joy fill me and give me strength to release my burdens, trusting you to guide the way. Lord let your love fill me and work through me to be a blessing for others in need. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Ezra 6:16-18

April 2, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions. Today’s writer is Greg and Staci DeKunder.

 

16The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.17They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18Then they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses. Ezra 6:16-18

 

In the preceding verses, the King ordered a search for old documents decreeing that the temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt. After finding the scrolls, the leaders made certain that the construction was completed according to the specifications outlined in the historical documents. Upon completion, the people celebrated with joy, and obediently dedicated the temple to God through worship as taught by Moses.

 

During the four years that our family lived in Belgium, we were blessed with the opportunity to visit many beautiful cathedrals. One of our favorites is the unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Construction began in 1882, and completion is predicted for the mid 2020’s. Despite the fact that construction is in progress, the cathedral is amazing to behold. The facades tell the nativity and crucifixion stories in incredible detail through Gaudi’s architecture and sculptures. Inside, the beautiful stained glass windows and soaring arches filled us with awe. Seeing the cathedral evoked feelings of joy, gratitude and humility. I can only imagine that the people of Jerusalem felt these same emotions. Verses 16 – 18 remind us to worship joyfully and with obedience. A wonderful reminder as we prepare for holy week and the most joyous resurrection.

 

Let us pray: Dear God, It is with gratitude that we prepare our hearts and minds to journey through holy week to Christ’s resurrection. May we be filled with joy and obedience to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Nehemiah 4:15-20

April 1, 2014

During the Lenten season, members of Faith Lutheran Church have written our daily devotions. Today’s writer is Paul Hodde.

 

15When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, 17who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon.18And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:15-20

 

In the text, Nehemiah and the Israelites are constructing a wall in order to defend themselves. Just as each one of them had a role in the wall building process, so do we have a role in our faith life. Each role may vary, but they are all necessary for the greater good. In order for the wall to be great, each person has to fulfill their role to the best of their ability with an understanding that every portion is vital, and able to hear the trumpet.

 

By knowing that we our connected through Christ, our goal of building the wall becomes easier. It is always important to keep the common goal in mind so that when the trumpet sounds, the Lord with be present with you.

 

Let us pray: Dear God, please let us to keep on the path that you wish for us to follow. Allow us to fulfill our roles in order to contribute for the greater good and unsure that we will hear the call that you send out whenever that time may be. We ask all these things in your name, in Jesus’ name. Amen.