Archive for March, 2015

Mark 1:29-31

March 17, 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 Ida Medlin.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. Mark 1:29-31

To whom do we go for reliable information and reasonable answers to our personal dilemmas? In this narrative, the disciples quickly sought out Jesus who immediately healed this woman and enabled her to resume her appointed role in her family.

Today, astounding breakthroughs in medical technology and miracle drugs are coupled with sobering caveats or disturbing side effects. There are no dangerous side effects with Jesus! Jesus, a man of action, did not hesitate to help this woman, yet at times, we wait till the last minute to seek his council. Is it our mindset that “God helps those who help themselves” or that our problems are too insignificant to warrant his attention?

We often hear people say: “we tried everything and nothing worked, so all we can do now is pray.”

The hymn: “Borning Cry” says it all: “I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old… When the evening gently closes in and you shut your weary eyes, I’ll be there as I have always been, with just one more surprise.”

God, through Jesus, is our blessed sanctuary, the only constant in this world; our infinite source of strength, security, wisdom and peace. Follow the disciples’ lead and ask for God’s help, first!

Let us pray: Blessed Savior, remind us to include you in every facet of our lives for you were with us at our beginning and will shepherd us to the end. You are the Alpha and Omega, timeless, unchanging and enduring and will never leave us comfortless. Amen.

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Psalm 103:1-5

March 16, 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 Paul Baerenwald.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—

who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

It always seems easier to criticize than praise; to complain about what we don’t have than to give thanks for what we have. How often do we thank and praise God for all He gives us? Here we are reminded of all that God does for us and are urged to thank and praise Him.

Number One on the list? We are forgiven! God is merciful and forgiving. We are redeemed from the pit of hell. The psalm reminds us that He doesn’t just forgive some of our sins, or sometimes – He forgives ALL!

He heals our diseases. When we are sick and recover, God was with us. But we remain mindful that although sickness and disease may ultimately take their toll on this mortal life, God’s ultimate healing comes when we are raised to be with Him when this temporary life ends and our infinite life begins.

God provides the ultimate healing. He satisfies us with good. We need nothing else. Our reward is not here, but with our heavenly Father. He has prepared a place for us where we will have what we need and can soar like an eagle. We will have immortal youth.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help us to be ever mindful of all the blessings that you bestow upon us. Let us not be critical or complaining about what we think we want or need, but instead help us to remember your forgiveness, your mercy, your healing, your love. We bless your holy name! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

March 13, 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 Wes Daoust.

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:17-22

This Bible reading reminds us that we shouldn’t take advantage of what we have. Just as we think we have everything, it does not mean that we do. Eternal life cannot be bought, but rather given as free gift.

One of the great things in life is to give to others and to spread our wealth and see the joy on their faces. There is always somebody out there that needs it more than you do. Spreading your wealth does not necessarily mean money, but rather a talent that you have.

Every person is talented in different ways and can help the church and/or the world by using their training, education, and natural gifts. It takes everybody and their individual gifts to make the church / world function, not just a few people.

This reminds me of Pastor Kerry’s lesson on membership and discipleship. A member becomes a disciple when he shares his gifts with others, despite personal sacrifices, to make this a better church for all of us and to make this world a better place to live.
Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for all that you do for me. I feel very blessed for all that I have in my life. Thank you for letting me find the ways to share my talents with the church and the world. In your name we pray, Amen.

Mark 7:17-23

March 12, 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 Brian Taylor.

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:17-23

We can only be defiled by what comes from our hearts. Thank goodness God loves us. He knows we have sinful hearts, but he forgives us and blesses us with tools which can help us avoid our sinful thoughts and actions.

Our tools are our faith in God, God’s Word, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and regular thoughtful prayer. We can all be better at using these tools that God has given us.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to live my life in ways which please you. I know I can’t do this on my own. Thank you for my faith and providing me with tools which help me maintain a clean heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Mark 2:23-28

March 11, 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 Joann Welton.

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28

The Pharisees were the elite liberal Jewish power group of their day. They believed their mission was to uphold the man-made rules of the synagogue regarding the Sabbath. Enter Jesus (who was described as a Pharisee), he often hung with the “wrong” crowd (sinners) and stressed God’s love and forgiveness, over the established rules of the day. Therefore, it is not surprising that he was perceived as a threat, by the self-righteous rule followers.

In today’s world, with our Tweets and You Tube, seemingly trivial events, like the eating of a shaft of wheat on the Sabbath, can polarize the world.   Jesus reminds us to use common sense, be tolerant of others, and not overact to unnecessary man-made rules. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. God’s love and compassion is our salvation and his son Jesus, is truly the lord of the Sabbath.

 

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, bless this troubled world and help us to become more tolerant and accepting of others and their beliefs. Guide our leaders so they make thoughtful and just decisions that transform our world into the place of harmony and peace we all desire. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Mark 2:15-17

March 10, 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 Melinda McGouldnick.

And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

Jesus outrages His critics by calling Levi (aka Matthew) the tax collector, to follow Him, then eats with a houseful of equally “defiled” people . Entering a Gentile’s house brought uncleanliness to a Jewish person, which made it impossible for that person to participate in the Passover.

Jesus was showing by example that there was to be a new standard of holiness based on faithfulness and mercy rather than ceremonial law. He did this to prepare the way for people of all nations to enter God’s kingdom. This story invites you to consider “Am I more like the ‘sinners’ of this story or like those who criticize Jesus’ openness to be with the unworthy?”

Either way, you have something to reconsider as we seek to learn by Jesus’ example. Thankfully, Jesus brings healing and forgiveness to all, even sinners and the judgmental.

Let us pray: Lord, help me to refrain from passing judgment and to be open to and accepting to the possibility of the power of grace for all. Amen

Psalm 107:19-22

March 9, 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 Lenora Ohlenbusch.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress;

he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.

And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. Psalm 107:19-22

In Psalm 107 David tells us that no matter what our problems are, we need to let God know what our needs are and He will take care of us. And we in turn must be thankful, recognize what He has done for us by giving ourselves and treasures joyfully and by doing so we are sharing with others. This, to me is saying, open yourself up to God, let Him know our concerns, questions and problems, He is there to help us work out the answers.

I could not read this passage from the Old Testament without seeing Jesus as he walked on earth fulfilling this promise. Jesus heals us and rescues us by dying on the cross. Now we give thanks for what He has done for us. We give of ourselves and tell the world what He has done and continues to do every day through our efforts.   The most important part of this passage is to be Thankful!

Let us pray: Dear God, Thank You for being there for us to bring our problems to and hearing us. Help us to never forget that You are there and that You sent us the Greatest Healer, Jesus Christ, since it is only through him that we are healed. Give us the open hearts and minds to recognize this and above all never let us forget to give thanks and tell of Your good works with songs of joy. Amen.

Mark 14:3-9

March 6, 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 Roxy Funchess.

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Mark 14:3-9

How would you feel about this woman pouring perfume on Jesus’ head?  Would you agree with the chief priests and teachers of the law that she was wasting it?  Or would you realize, like Jesus did, that she was showing him love by giving him something precious to her; that she was showing him love by taking time from her life to share what she had with Jesus?  This was the best way in her eyes to show her love toward Jesus.

Jesus was always doing great things for people.  Here was a chance for him to be the receiver of love.  He allowed her to be the giver and therefore she was able to feel the joy of doing something special for someone else.

Do we seize the moment to show our love to others like this woman?  Or will we later regret the missed opportunity when our friends or family are gone?  Jesus reminds us that it’s important to take time to show our love to others–that it’s OK to not always do the most economical thing because this chance may not be here tomorrow.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help us remember to show love to those around us as they may not be here tomorrow.  Remind us to allow others to do things for us so they will feel the joy of giving as well. In your name we pray.  Amen.

Mark 9:17-29

March 5, 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 Don Hodde.

Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him.

When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Mark 9:17-29

Wow! There is so much in this text, where does one start? Start by rereading the verses above. How is God speaking to you through these words?

For me, God is reminding me first and foremost, to trust Him in all things, because with God anything is possible. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. Sometimes our challenges seem so extreme! Physically, emotionally, the stress and pain seem too much to bear. Our faith runs weak. In these situations, Jesus says sometimes the only thing one can do is pray, because there is simply nothing we as humans can do overcome the burden ourselves.

Jesus taught us how to pray, many of us have been taught through life to pray, to trust God, to turn over our challenges to Him. Yet just as Jesus was clearly annoyed by the lack of faith in the people of his day, their willingness to trust Him, I imagine his confidence in us today is not much better. “How long am I to bear with you?” he tells the crowd. Don’t feel too bad; the disciples didn’t get it either!

Do you rely on God, through prayer? Sometimes that’s all you can do. And that will be enough.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we are taught to be independent, self-reliant, strong, courageous. But we are human. Many times those things just will not be enough. Give us the faith and confidence in You that we need to take our trials to you in prayer. “Help my unbelief”. Because You will always be enough. In Jesus name, Amen.

Mark 2:1-12

March 4, 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 Jim Rollinson.

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

My Bible subtitles this section of Mark, “Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man.” That occurs in these verses, but I wonder if we might make a mistake in how we read that subtitle.

Jesus is presented with a paralyzed man, and instead of healing the man’s body, he forgives the man of his sins. In doing that, Jesus heals the man’s spirit. Jesus saw what the man truly longed for and gave him his desire. Jesus saw the man’s heart and called him to forgiveness. The healing of the paralyzed man’s body is almost incidental to Jesus’ relationship with the man.

The physical healing takes place simply to show to Jesus’ skeptics that he has the power to forgive…and the power to heal.

What is really great about this passage is that the subtitle is true regardless of whether Jesus physically has the paralyzed man get up and walk or doesn’t.

Often when we read the Bible it helps our understanding when we put ourselves in the place of various characters in it. When we do this with the subtitle, it says it all. “Jesus Forgives and Heals Me.”

Let us pray: Jesus, Son of God, forgive me. Jesus, Son of God, heal me. Amen.