Sunday Luke 24:13-35

Prayer: Gracious God, open our eyes and hearts to know when You are present, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Third Sunday of Easter

Our devotion writer calls The Walk to Emmaus is “one of transformation…It is a walk from grief and despair to joy and new possibilities.” The two disciples were heartbroken and suffering from the grief because their vision was destroyed the person whom they believed the Messiah, was killed. The future was changed.  But Jesus’ meeting with them helped them to see the real purpose of the Messiah, and their faith was restored and their vision changed.  They were revived and inspired to tell others of what they now knew.

We all have had shattered dreams…unfulfilled promises that caused us grief.  In these times, to say “but we had hoped,” are not the final words.  Death does not have the final say.  It is not “final.” The final story has not been seen because of Christ’s transforming presence we have hope for our future life, and the inspiration to share with others as we journey on our road to Emmaus.  Jesus walks with us and often we don’t see Him, because we are caught up in our own griefs. But our vision is reset when we realize that Jesus has been with us all the time.

Our devotion writer writes; “May you sense Christ’s transforming presence as you journey on your road today. And may your heart be afire as Jesus walks with you, promising you life.”

Prayer; ‘Dearest Jesus, bless you for loving me and promising me life with you now and forever. In Your name I pray. Amen.”

 

Luke 24:13-35

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Walk to Emmaus

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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Saturday 1 Peter 1:17-23

Prayer: O God, let Your Word move me to better serve You, in Christ. Amen.

Catherine’s faith

21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead…

Peter speaks of this gift of grace which is more valuable than silver or gold. It helps us “trust in God’s goodness and believe in God’s promises.” As our devotion writer puts it; “With glimpses of resurrection and new life around us, we journey on with a living hope through life’s joys and challenges. Trusting in the promise of our own resurrection because of Christ, we walk by faith through times of souring and suffering.”

Catherine of Siena, is recognized today in the church calendar.  Catherine was a theologian of the church and lived the grace and peace as 1 Peter describes.  She joined an order which did not require her to live in a convent, so she lived in the community. She prayed and worked to help the poor or imprisoned, and had a large following of people whom she influenced because of her faith.

Our devotion writer requests; “May the faith that gave Catherine hope be alive and active in you today as you share a gift of grace and love with someone who needs it. And may it be a glimpse of resurrection and new life for you as well.”

Prayer: “Risen Lord, thank you for your grace that helps us to trust and gives us hope. Amen.”

 

1 Peter 1:17-23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

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Friday Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

Prayer: Creator God, praise and thanksgiving to You for Your Word, let us rejoice in Your promises, in Christ. Amen.

The darkness is gone

I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord. (vv. 3-4)

In our lives we likely have had more than once experienced life events which seem like the end of life as we know it. Critical illness, job loss, divorce, home foreclosure and death of loved ones.  It may seem at times that the world is broken and darkness has settled in.  So, we turn to God for His help.  As our devotion writer puts it; “We turn to the Lord for healing, calm, and peace. We do so, trusting that God will act to deliver us now, just as the Lord has saved in the past.”

Today’s Psalm is a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s saving grace. The threat has passed and the new light of day shines brightly once again. Darkness has gone and we bask in the joy of healing and new opportunities.

Our devotion writer proclaims; “As the sun shines, we join the psalmist and countless others who have been renewed and restored in singing our song of thanks and praise to the Lord.”

Prayer: “Saving God, thank you for hearing my cries and delivering me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Psalm 116

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 116

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness

I love the Lord, because he has heard     my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me,     therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me;     the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;     I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord:     “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;     our God is merciful. The Lord protects the simple;     when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest,     for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,     my eyes from tears,     my feet from stumbling. I walk before the Lord     in the land of the living. 10 I kept my faith, even when I said,     “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my consternation,     “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the Lord     for all his bounty to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation     and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord     in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord     is the death of his faithful ones. 16 O Lord, I am your servant;     I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.     You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice     and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord     in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,     in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

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Thursday Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may Your Spirit move me to learn from your Word. Amen.

A promise kept

39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

It is Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. The disciples were “drunk with the Holy Spirit.” The scene would have been remarkably exciting about the promises God and the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and the resulting resurrection and ascension.  God has shown that He keeps His promises.

Similarly, our devotion writer tells of Mary keeping her promises from her wedding day.  She sits everyday with her husband who now lives in a nursing home.  She sits and prays and gives a “gentle smile and a soft touch” to brighten his dark winter days, “reminding him he is loved. Mary embodies the light and love of Christ in this promise kept.”

How are we called to keep our promises and to show the world around us that Jesus’ resurrection brings the fulfillment of promises to us and to all whom Jesus calls?  We are called to share and to live our lives as examples of the promises kept and that nothing will break them. “May we live in the light and love of Christ as a promise is kept.”

Prayer: “Keeper of promises, thank you for the gift of being in the presence of your love, now and always, through Christ Jesus. Amen.”

 

Acts 2:14-41

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,     and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,     and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,     in those days I will pour out my Spirit;         and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above     and signs on the earth below,         blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness     and the moon to blood,         before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,

‘I saw the Lord always before me,     for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,     or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life;     you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

‘He was not abandoned to Hades,     nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The First Converts

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

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Wednesday 1 Peter 1:13-16

Prayer: Wonderful God, let Your Word touch us as never before, in Christ. Amen.

Hope that lives

13 …set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

Hope! How many times have we set our hopes on things of this world, only to be disappointed, let down, or like hung out to dry? You might think we would learn that the only hope that we can depend upon is the hope in Jesus Christ. This truth is the only thing we can depend upon, and our reason for living.  God gives us grace that redeems us.  Our devotion writer writes; “God’s gift in Christ, given as a free gift, is grace that forgives, grace that loves, grace that repairs what is broken, grace that restores, grace that renews, and grace that redeems.”

This grace we enjoy has immense power…the power to roll away stones and open tombs. It unlocks doors and breaks away chains.  It unlocks hearts of stone and overcomes fears and doubts. It is with this hope that we can go out into this world and live lives that show how we live our faith, forgive and love, restore and renew and show how Jesus has changed our lives. Our devotion writer declares; “Today, may you experience the power and freedom of the grace that Jesus gives, and may it help you to trust in Christ—the ground of our hope.”

Prayer: “Loving God, your grace gives me hope and helps me to love and serve. Thank you for this gift, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

1 Peter 1:13-16

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Call to Holy Living

13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

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Tuesday Mark 1:1-15

Prayer: O God, let Your Word shine through me today. In Jesus name. Amen.

Mark, Evangelist

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Today the church calendar remembers Mark.  Mark’s gospel is short and to the point. It begins with John the Baptist and quickly moves on the Jesus’ ministry.  Our devotion writer explains; “For Mark, the good news of God’s love made known in the person of Jesus Christ was only the beginning of the story. The good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, continues with all who believe today, including you and me.”

Just as Easter represents resurrection and new life, we begin with the beginning of Jesus ministry. In fact, each day is a new day and a new life to begin again and hopefully make it better than the day before. Our devotion writer asks; “How will the story of Jesus and his love begin again in your life today?”

Let us proclaim in our lives and our actions and our words, the story of Jesus’ love. How will the Holy Spirit work in your life today to help you share this love?

Prayer: “Author of life, thank you for including us in the story of Jesus and his love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

 

Mark 1:1-15

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,     who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:     ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,     make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Jesus

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Temptation of Jesus

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

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

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Monday 1 Peter 1:8b-12

Prayer: Gracious God, I need your guidance and counseling through your Word. Open my mind and my heart to serve as you have called. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Joyful reunions

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…

How was your relationship with your grandparents? Was it one like our devotion writer, where he remembered the joy of the loving presence of his grandparents.  “Looking toward…anticipating the good times that would come with I was in the loving presence of my grandmother and grandfather. They were times of grace and life.”  I don’t have that kind of memory with my grandparents one either side.  I guess I should just leave it there.

In today’s text from 1 Peter we are again reminded of the memory passed to us from the apostles and other places in scripture, of the grace and life we see in the resurrected Jesus. Even though we have not seen, we have become witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ and the promise of life now and forever. We can share with others this new beginning and embrace this truth and the joy not only for today, but what we are promised in the future.

Prayer: “Dear Lord, help us to help others live joyfully, trusting in your promises, through Christ. Amen.”

 

1 Peter 1:8-12

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, 11 inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look!

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