Archive for February, 2015

February 27, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Sara Karow.

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52

In modern American life, physical blindness is treated with compassion, with myriad programs and educational opportunities created to enable the sightless to participate as fully and independently as possible. But it wasn’t always so.

In Jesus’ day, blindness was not only a disability rendering a person unable to support himself or herself, but the blind were often outcasts in a community that believed physical flaws were manifestations of sin. But the beggar Bartimaeus, even in his blindness, saw Jesus and recognized His healing power.

Our spiritual and emotional blindness comes in so many varieties. We can be blind to our own shortcomings, blind to the needs of those in our families and circles of acquaintance, blind to the hungry and homeless, blind to the unspoken prejudices we might harbor toward those who are different from us in race, religion, politics, or economic status. These forms of blindness put us at odds with God’s will that we love one another as he loves us.

The Good News is that through Christ we are offered an endless stream of opportunities to be healed of our many blindness’s and to share His healing touch with others. Our eyes and our hearts can be opened. And, like Bartimaeus, all we need do is ask.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father and Healer of all, help us to recognize the parts of ourselves that are blind and broken. As Jesus healed Bartimaeus, heal our own hearts and minds that we may live to bless others with the Good News of your love and compassion. Amen.

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Mark 10:41-45

February 26, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Lauren Holmes.

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:41-45

Jesus died as an example of how we should live, be selfless, serve others. Serving yourself and living to gain power will not fulfill your life. In serving you will find riches.

In a world of “things” it is easy to get caught up with only looking after #1. It gets easier to drive by those in need. It gets easier to only worry about yourself. It grows difficult to look at the bigger picture.

As a Kindergarten teacher, I want my students to do kind things, help their friends and family and develop a servant’s heart. I want them to see that they do not need “things” as a reward for doing the right thing and I want them to feel how it makes themselves and others feel when they serve. I believe the best way to teach others how to serve is through example. The energy that serving gives you is contagious.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, please help me to remember the value in serving others and allow me to plant the seed of service through my actions. Please help me to see the opportunities you lay before me to serve. Amen.

Mark 10:13-16

February 25, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Staci DeKunder.

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

I like this verse because it reminds me that we do not have to make things too complicated.  Jesus says that we should have the faith of a child.

A few years ago, I was teaching Sunday School to 3 and 4 year children.  I was teaching the story of God providing manna from heaven for the Israelites.  I asked the children to pretend to go to sleep in a “tent” made from a card table covered with a sheet.  Then, I spread popcorn all over a sheet on the floor, and I asked them to wake up and see the “manna” that was provided for them.

They were thrilled to see the popcorn, as if it were a real miracle.  They knew that I had placed the popcorn on the floor, but they did not complicate the story by pointing out all the flaws in my reenactment.  I believe that they all left that day understanding that God will provide for their needs like he did for the Israelites, and they enjoyed the popcorn treat.

This experience reminded me that children develop faith without all the skepticism and questioning that adults might have.  Sometimes, letting the children come to Jesus is as simple as telling them a Bible story with a little imagination and a bag of microwave popcorn.  And then we can follow their example of faith and trust.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, Thank you for the wonderful blessing of children in our lives.  Please help us to teach them about your love, and learn from them how to be joyful and faithful to you.  Amen.

Mark 4:35-41

February 24, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Myra Condit.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41

The Sea of Galilee was known for having unexpected storms. So too are our lives filled with many storms. Just as the disciples thought that Jesus did not care, we too have these same doubts at times in our lives.   We also ask Jesus, “Why are you letting this happen to me?”

The disciples had only been followers of Christ for a short time. They had seen him drive out demons and heal people who were sick, but they did not yet know who Jesus really was. They had wondered many times who He was as he taught about how to live. People were drawn to Him by His teachings, and they too had felt that same magnetism. When the storm came up, they thought they were going to die. They asked Him, “Teacher don’t you care about us?”

We know who Jesus is by reading the Bible. He is the Son of God who died on the cross for us. When the storms of life come crashing in on us, we put our trust in Him. At our baptism God calls us by name, claims us as His own, and will not leave us no matter what happens in our lives.

Let us pray: Heavenly father, we so often fall short in our love and trust in You. Help us to always remember that you are there with us in everything we do, and to call on your Holy Name rather than try to bear everything ourselves.   We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen

Psalm 147:1-3

February 23, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Jason Houlihan.

Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:1-3

In the Psalms the heartaches of humankind are lifted up, but also the praise for a God who is still dealing in restoration.

Contextually, this Psalm is believed to have been written after the exile and is a psalm of praise, much like Psalm 145. Behind these words in an acknowledgement that we live in a difficult world, a broken world, and we live with pain, and all of us live with some degree of questions. We all wake to the human condition, some of us still in exile, and others singing praise.

Homes all over Houston and our world are filled with questions and cycles that seep into life and aim to stay. God, and the Israelites, knew pain is real. They had spent decades in exile but it was their privilege here in the Psalms to suggest that hope and help are also real.

Beyond the scope of the text is a vision for community, hope, and help that would replace secrets and silence. The vision is of people putting down violent political conviction, blades, and bottles to instead intentionally open the door to healing. Healing is a process with a vision toward better stories.

Let us pray: Healer, open us up to get the help we need. Let us call upon you and our community in the lows of life that will certainly come. God walk with us and lead us into the best days we know are ahead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Chronicles 7:14

February 20, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community. Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.” Today’s devotion comes from Jason Houlihan.

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Christians, especially those who believe in American exceptionalism, take this verse to mean that if believers in this nation would humble themselves and pray then God will fix our nation. Before you get upset at the newest staff member for implying that this is not what this verse is about, ask yourself, “What is the context of this verse?” We’ve got about 150 words left to check this out, so let’s take a quick glance at context.

The first temple in Jerusalem had just been completed. King Solomon led a massive weeklong celebration (basically Solomon knew how to party), to dedicate the temple. As per tradition, the walk of shame often proceeds intense partying, so that’s how we get to this verse. God, then speaks to Solomon, the king of Israel, and promises Solomon that if the people of God; humble themselves, pray and ask forgiveness, seek God continually and repent, then God would hear those prayers and heal their land. Those are the principles by which we Christians live.

Repentance is little more than returning our hearts to God. We too walk in shame, we too deny our true self and this Lenten Season, God is saying rest my beloved and return to me.

Let us pray: Abba, let us see that we cannot do everything, and feel the liberation of that statement in our bones. Let us give our hearts back to you as our minds wonder throughout the day. God, give us the strength, to be open to resting in this season and find healing in trusting your embrace. Amen.

Exodus 15:26

February 19, 2015

Throughout the season of Lent our daily devotions have been written by members of the Faith Lutheran community.  Our theme this Lent is “Jesus Our Healer.”  Today’s devotion comes from Pastor Junfeng Tan.

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

“I am the Lord who heals you.” The story behind the saying is the miracle of the bitter water. Israelites wandered in the wilderness of Shur for three days and found no water. Finally they saw a pool of water when they got to Marah. But they could not drink the water because it was bitter. The people complained to Moses, who then cried out in prayer to God.

God pointed him to a stick of wood. Moses threw it into the water. Lo and behold, the water became sweet.

This miracle story was used by God as a teaching tool. God told Israelites then and us today that the roadmap to health and healing is trusting God and obeying God’s commandments. Jesus says that the two most important commandments that God gives us are: first, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”; second, love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:30-31). Therefore, love is the best medicine.

When love of God and love of one’s neighbors are absent in life, diseases and illness will move in and take control of our mind, body and spirit. Egypt was inflicted with diseases because there was too much violence, injustice, and oppression going on in that country. Israelites left the disease-ravaged land of Egypt and were led by Moses to the Promised Land of milk and honey. If the Promised Land was to remain clean and prosperous, Israelites had to dedicate themselves to the love of God and love of neighbors.

The same principle applies to our land and every land in the world.

Let us pray, Lord, you are the living water that makes life healthy, sweet, and beautiful. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, My God.” (Psalm 42:1).