Wednesday Hebrews 12:1-3

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us the courage and the faith to stand up and be counted for your Word. Amen.

 For the sake of joy

 Jesus…for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross…(v. 2)

It is Holy Week—the week of Easter and the celebration of the sacrifice and the redemption of all mankind. As our devotion writer concludes, many people understand that sacrifice for future success result in greater rewards. Jesus teaches through His example that suffering and sacrifice was necessary for His purposes and as a result we have been granted a place with Him and the Father.

 Certainly we have not suffered the kind of sacrifice that Jesus did, but we can see that sacrifice is often necessary. Graduation, obtaining a degree, getting a license, raising children earning a living require sacrifice…or not doing what we would rather do in order to succeed. Jesus, on the other hand knew that the ultimate sacrifice and the resurrection and the ascension were necessary to guarantee all who believed in Him to have life with Him by grace.

Our devotion writer explains; “As we journey through Holy Week, we remember that Jesus endured punishment and death on the cross for the sake of the joy that was sent before him. And yet the joy was not his alone. The joy of God’s forgiveness of sin and eternal life is joy that opens up a future for you and me. ‘Consider him who endured such hostility against himself for sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart’ (v. 3).”

Prayer: “We praise you, O Lord Jesus, for your great love and sacrifice for our sakes. Fill us with your joy today. Amen.”

 

Hebrews 12:1-3

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Example of Jesus

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday John 12:20-56

Prayer: O God, give us wisdom through your Word, which we can use to teach others about you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Seeking wisdom

 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

 What do we think we seek when we pray to God for wisdom? Our devotion writer reminds us that Jesus’ form of wisdom was counter to the wisdom of man. The Greeks who sought Jesus had heard of Jesus’ teachings and miracles so they were curious to learn more as the Greeks tended to do.

 Our devotion writer writes; “But the wisdom of Jesus is not of this world. His teaching has the character of paradox—it is truth derived from contradiction. Jesus gives us a metaphor of grains of wheat that die in order to produce fruit. This is another kind of truth; he is talking about himself. The Greeks sought glory in wisdom. Jesus teaches that his glory will appear when he is lifted up on a cross.”

No wonder we struggle sometimes to see what God’s plan is. The wisdom we seek should be the wisdom of God so we may better understand and appreciate His Wisdom

 Our devotion writer summarizes; The wisdom of Jesus creates a ‘real presence’ in the bread and wine of Communion. The Greeks sought abstract knowledge. Jesus gave them and gives us the bread of life in his body and blood. We ingest his glory.”

 Prayer: “Suffering Redeemer of the world, create in me a clean heart, so that I may receive you in the bread and wine. Amen.”

  

John 12:20-50

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Jesus Speaks about His Death

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

The Unbelief of the People

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. 37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“Lord, who has believed our message,     and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes     and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes,     and understand with their heart and turn—     and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. 42 Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Summary of Jesus’ Teaching

44 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47 I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49 for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday Psalm 36:5-11

Prayer: Teach us, O God, through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Love of creation

 …you save humans and animals alike, O Lord. (v. 6)

 Today our devotion writer writes that God has a love for all His creation. St. Francis of Assisi dedicated his life and ministry to the love of all creation including animals. For some of us, it is hard to imagine that our pets would not share in our lives in the next life. Some are so close as to be considered family. Others have saved lives and are trained to protect those humans with blindness or hearing problems. Others bring cheer and joy to many. Certainly God’s love for His creation includes animals and pets.

 Our devotion writer explains; “St. Francis know that God loved all creation and not only human beings. He caught the spirit of God’s magnanimous love and cared for people who were poor and the animals who were his companions. Perhaps this psalm inspired Francis to love and care for every living thing. May it inspire us to do the same!

 Prayer: “Great Creator, inspire us with the example of St. Francis and lead us to love and care for every part of your creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  

Psalm 36:5-11

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,     your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,     your judgments are like the great deep;     you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!     All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house,     and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life;     in your light we see light.

 10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,     and your salvation to the upright of heart! 11 Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me,     or the hand of the wicked drive me away.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday Matthew 27:11-54

Prayer: Show us your example of how we are to live, O Christ, through your Word. Amen.

 Palm/Passion Sunday

 …they compelled this man to carry his cross. (v. 32)

 There is so much in today’s text. So many pieces of scripture to talk about. Examples of the Passion of Christ from the trial to His death on the Cross. It is a story of commitment, of leadership, of sacrifice, love, how to behave when persecuted and how to die with dignity and grace.

 It is all a familiar story that most of us have heard from our youth. That God came and lived among us and loved us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place so that we can have the eternal life and be with Him in heaven.

 Our devotion writer speaks of the ‘via cruces’ where many reenact the walk of Jesus from the trial to the cross. They reenact in Jerusalem as well as in other places around the world. He reports it as a moving experience. He especially points out the example of how Simon of Cyrene is enlisted to carry the cross for Jesus. This example is our calling to pick up the cross and follow in Jesus’ footsteps to the resurrection.

 Our devotion writer explains; “I believe we are invited to see ourselves as Simon of Cyrene. We each have moments when we carry the weight of worries and concerns that afflict the human condition. We experience suffering in some form or another. Simon shows us that when we help our neighbors in their time of need, we are serving Christ in the World. That is what it means to be a priest; it is who we are as the priesthood of all believers. Let us go and serve Christ in the World!”

 Prayer: “Blessed Savior, assist me to be like Simon of Cyrene, who walked the journey of the passion with you. Amen.”

 Matthew 27:11-54

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Pilate Questions Jesus

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Barabbas or Jesus?

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday Philippians 2:5-11

Prayer: Fill our minds, O God, with wisdom from your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Mindful living

 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

 We should act as slaves as Jesus did. A slave had no free will, he/she was owned completely by the master. A slave had to do every bidding of his master, and so Jesus, God in human form, became as a slave and obedient to the Father. Obedient, even to death.

 So what does it mean then for us to have the same mind as was in Christ Jesus? How do we act? Think? As a child of God we are asked to submit ourselves to God in Christ. That is to live as servants, no, as slaves to our God and King. We live our lives with Jesus as the center and serve Him by serving others.

 Our devotion writer writes; “Jesus obeyed when he chose bo become as a slave and surrender his will to the Father. He chose this role to leave us an example. This was Jesus’ way of teaching that if one seeks to be great in the reign of God, one must live to serve others. Even earthly kings and queens who have been consecrated to God in great cathedrals are called to serve humankind in ways that honor the Creator of all. We may not be royalty, but we are servant leaders in the way of Jesus of Nazareth, who emptied himself so that we might know the mind of Christ.”

 Prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to serve others as you have serve me. Amen.”

  

Philippians 2:5-11

 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,     did not regard equality with God     as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,     taking the form of a slave,     being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,     he humbled himself     and became obedient to the point of death—     even death on a cross.

 Therefore God also highly exalted him     and gave him the name     that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus     every knee should bend,     in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess     that Jesus Christ is Lord,     to the glory of God the Father

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Friday Psalm 31:9-16

Prayer: Help us remember your mission for us through your Word, O God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Cracked pots

I have become like a broken vessel. (v. 12)

 King David is accredited with writing the first seventy-three psalms. Our devotion writer tells us that no one knows which ones David actually wrote, but it is known that he loved God and as a shepherd boy, he composed songs while tending his sheep. King Saul asked him to sing for him when he was troubled.

 

David and Saul and we have come to know troubles in our lives. When we have sinned and in our guilt seen the hurt of others or the pain we have experienced for ourselves. A feeling of being a cracked pot, a broken vessel. That feeling of despair or loneliness or sorrow.

 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.

 All Christians are “cracked pots!” We are a broken yet made whole by the grace of God. We sin and we are imperfect, yet in God’s eyes we are made whole with His forgiveness and mercy.

 

Our devotion writer summarizes; “We appear as broken vessels when we look in the mirror. The good news is that god is not willing to leave us in that broken condition so that we, like David, may have a new song in our hearts!?

 

Prayer: “Loving God, lead me in the way of truth and justice and love of neighbor. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 Psalm 31:9-16

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;     my eye wastes away from grief,     my soul and body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow,     and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery,     and my bones waste away.

11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries,     a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances;     those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;     I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many—     terror all around!— as they scheme together against me,     as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;     I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand;     deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 16 Let your face shine upon your servant;     save me in your steadfast love.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday Isaiah 50:4-9

Prayer: O God, show us how to be a light to the darkness through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Teaching witness

 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,

 Our devotion writer points out that today the church celebrates Bishop Mikael Agricola of Finland 1510-1557. He was joined the Reformation after meeting Martin Luther and proceeded to translate the Bible into Finnish as well as hymns and liturgy. He was one who brought light to darkness in a big way. He was a pastor and teacher.

Teachers have been a part of our lives since our beginnings. Some are special people in our lives. Some teach us history, which is important in knowing where we have been. Others teach us the present and help us learn how to live. Others prophecy the future and teach us about preparing for the future.

Some of us, no most of us are teachers to others. Children, friends, neighbors and people we meet. We teach through our actions and words and especially when we let our light from God shine. Our devotion writer writes; “Each one of us has the power to teach another. We have within our own families or traditions of proverbs and sayings that impart holy wisdom. Bishop Agricola taught his community the wisdom of the ages that was a part of his generation. You too can impart the faith as you have learned it from others. Be a witness for Christ!”

 Prayer: “Loving God, help us to be teachers of the faith to people we know and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Isaiah 50:4-9

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication

The Lord God has given me     the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain     the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens—     wakens my ear     to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear,     and I was not rebellious,     I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me,     and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face     from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me;     therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint,     and I know that I shall not be put to shame;     he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me?     Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries?     Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me;     who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment;     the moth will eat them up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment