Saturday 1 John 3:1-7

Prayer: O God, share with us the wisdom of your Word.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

May I see some ID?

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.

We are often asked for some piece of ID to prove we are who we say we are.  It is done to protect the merchant against loss in case a someone tries to impersonate us with our credit cards or bank accounts.  We hear about identity theft all the time and more than just a few of us have suffered because someone has used our name for ill-gotten gains.

So when we are asked for ID when we try to enter a church what do we have to show that we are a Child of God?  Of course it does not work that way.  All and anyone would be invited into our church.  However, what we sometimes forget is we are truly children of God and “that is what we are.”  If we have been baptized we are a child of God. No ID is necessary.  No one can take that away from us.

Our devotion writer explains; “In the transforming, life-giving love given in the waters of Baptism, we are given a new identity. Then it is our joy to go out and prove what we are through words and deeds that reflect the Holy One who has made us children of God.”

Prayer: “Guide me today, dear God, so that others may see what I truly am: your child. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

1 John 3:1-7

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

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Friday Psalm 4

Prayer: O God, teach me through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

A good night’s sleep

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

How often do you lose sleep because of some conflict you had during the day?  How many lose sleep over the concern that the events in the Middle East are plunging us towards  more war in the area.  What if these events are signaling the end of days?  The time when Jesus returns for us in the air.  Some would say good!  Some will say No! Not yet!.

I heard a prophecy a couple days ago that was comforting.  He said that when all the armies of the world are surrounding Israel at the battle of Armageddon, we should be reminded, that God has promised that He will not allow Israel to be destroyed.  He will destroy the armies that oppose Israel.

But how do we deal with conflicts that we experience over and over again while we try to sleep?  Our devotion writer writes about today’s text; “The psalmist is heading for bed, it would seem, for the prayer ends with confidence of a peaceful night’s rest.  The enemies that have been troubling the writer remain unnamed, but their power is nothing compared to the strength of the Lord, in whom the psalmist trusts. That the enemies have no name is all the more helpful for us, for we can understand those enemies to be anything that might keep us awake at night.  Regardless of their strength, these enemies are nothing compared to God, who is our true safety.”

Yes well easier said than done sometimes.  I can vouch for that.  Sometimes our trials are meant as teaching times for us.  What can we learn from them?  Maybe how to turn them over to Jesus?

Prayer: “O God, guard me this day from any words or deeds that I might regret tonight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Psalm 4

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 4

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!     You gave me room when I was in distress.     Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?     How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?Selah But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;     the Lord hears when I call to him.

When you are disturbed,[a] do not sin;     ponder it on your beds, and be silent.Selah Offer right sacrifices,     and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!     Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” You have put gladness in my heart     more than when their grain and wine abound.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;     for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

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Thursday Acts 3:12-19

Prayer: O Gracious God, teach us through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

The power of a name

16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

It happens in the name of Jesus! Jesus’ name is powerful. The Jewish people that Peter speaks to are thinking that these men healed that man who was lame from birth. The perceived them as evil doers because ordinary men did not have the power to heal people who are lame from birth. So it could only be God or the Devil.

But these Jews missed the point, they missed the name that Peter invoked in order for the man to be healed. What power there is in the name of Jesus. “By faith in the name of Jesus, Peter explains.”

Our devotion writer reminds us that we close prayer “in Jesus’ name.” We offer prayer and seek His guidance, in Jesus’ name. Are we maybe a little unaware of the power of Jesus’ name? I mean we don’t often see the lame made to walk in an instant, but we do know Jesus’ healing in other ways. He helps us overcome worry, doubt and fears. And I think too we sell miracles a little short when we limit their possibilities. I think we don’t look closely enough in come cases.

Our devotion writer continues; “To call upon Jesus’ name is to link our lives to the one who overcame every obstacle, even death, that we might know new life. It is to submit our pryers to Jesus’ authority and to his good purpose, which is for wholeness and peace.”

Prayer: “In entrust my prayers to you, O God, for I offer them all in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.”

Acts 3:12-19

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,

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Wednesday Acts 3:1-10

Prayer: O God, teach me through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

More than you hoped for

But Peter said, “… what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”

I am sure we can all have had situations where we received less than what we envisioned.  Our devotion writer had a vacation planned which was somewhat ruined by circumstances he couldn’t control.  I suppose we are used to having expectations that are too high.

The lame man at the gate to the temple in today’s text was lame from birth.  Everyday his friends dropped him at the entrance to the temple and he begged for money. But Peter gave him healing, not money.  Our text tells us that the man was not disappointed, but received greater than his expectations.  By invoking the name of Jesus, Peter changed the man’s life forever. Instead of earning a living by begging, the man was free to work for his living.

How has Jesus given us more than we expected?  Has he often surprised you with giving you far more than you dared to wish for?  Our devotion writer writes; “Jesus still surprises us with much more than we dare to hope for.  And with the surprise comes our new identity—a life changed by Jesus’ grace, charged with his love.”

Prayer; “Precious Lord Jesus, help me give your life-changing love to everyone who reaches out to me. Amen.”

Acts 3:1-10

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar

3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

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Tuesday Daniel 6:1-28

Prayer: Almighty God, let us have faith as your prophet Daniel.  Faith enough to learn to stand firm in your Word so the light of your Kingdom will shine through. In Jesus’ name. Amen,.

Questions

20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?”

What would you say if your neighbor asked you if your God was real.  If your God saved you from harm?  First, your neighbor would have to know if you were a believer, I guess, but what would you say?  Does this question have another question behind it?

Our devotion writer raises the issue; “Questions can be more important than answers. Questions can reveal the concerns bouncing around in people’s minds and hearts.”  It could mean there is a deeper question beyond.  Daniel’s king asks Daniel if his God had saved him.  But the real question may be “Is God alive?”  Can God save?”  “Does faith make a difference?”

Like the parishioner our devotion writer writes about, who he visited in the hospital after a routine surgery.  “Oh, no! Am I dying, Pastor?”  The parishioner was so surprised to get a visit from the pastor that he thought there was something he hadn’t been told by the doctors.  I guess that would be a shock.

So when people ask you if you go to church, or where you go to church.  Is that the real question? Or, are they asking because there is a more important question behind it?  Are they looking for reassurance, or maybe something deeper?

Prayer: “God, guide our lives so others may see your Spirit at work in and through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Daniel 6:1-28

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Plot against Daniel

6 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, stationed throughout the whole kingdom, and over them three presidents, including Daniel; to these the satraps gave account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom. So the presidents and the satraps tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel in connection with the kingdom. But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption, because he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption could be found in him. The men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. 11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. 12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 17 A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Daniel Saved from the Lions

19 Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. 20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity! 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:

For he is the living God,     enduring forever. His kingdom shall never be destroyed,     and his dominion has no end. 27 He delivers and rescues,     he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth; for he has saved Daniel     from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

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Monday Daniel 3:1-30

Prayer: O God, increase our faith with the guidance of your Word. In Christ. Amen.

The Strongest Word

…we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up. (v. 18)

Do I have the faith to stand firm in the face of pressure like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?  We know the story from today’s text. King Nebuchadnezzar built a statue of himself and insisted that everyone bow down and worship it.  The three Jews would not do it and they were thrown into the furnace, but God protected them.  And because of their survival King Nebuchadnezzar later rethought his order.

Our devotion writer explains; “Because of their faith in God, these three said, ‘No!’ and faced a fiery trial….Holding on to our faith in God does not ensure that everything will go smoothly in our lives.  Rather the Spirit gives us the courage to stand firm in faith, no matter what we face.”

I think about the Christians in the middle-east who are being killed and tortured because they are Christians.  God give them faith and us as well to stand up and be counted.

Prayer: “Give me courage, gracious God, to stand firmly in my relationship with you, through Christ. Amen.”

Daniel 3:1-30

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Golden Image

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent for the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to assemble and come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When they were standing before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, you are to fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Accordingly, at this time certain Chaldeans came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, shall fall down and worship the golden statue, 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These pay no heed to you, O king. They do not serve your gods and they do not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought in; so they brought those men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. 17 If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”

The Fiery Furnace

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, 20 and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 22 Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

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Sunday John 20:19-31

Prayer: O God, let your peace fill my heart from the reading of your Word, in Christ. Amen.

The Second Sunday of Easter

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (v. 19)

In our world today Christmas is more of a holiday celebration than Easter, but Easter is the greatest, most important day in the Christian Church.  Even with the celebration of Easter, the true message of Easter can be overshadowed by the Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs and so on.  As our devotion writer explains; “Jesus’ resurrection is God’s victory over death and the devil; it makes possible, for all who believe, a life filled with hope.”

Our devotion writer point out that there are many other serious things that also tend to hide the promise of Easter from us, like Sickness, loneliness, anger, worry, or despair. Emotional and physical problems can steal away the joy of Easter. Look at Jesus’ disciples.  They were in hiding behind locked doors.  Jesus came to them while they were hiding away grieving over their loss.  Jesus came to them anyway to turn them around and offer them peace and take away their fear.

Jesus offers this peace to us also today.  The truth of the resurrection is the proof that Jesus has conquered death and that our lives do not end with death, but we go on to where there is no more pain, or grieving, or sickness, or despair.  In fact, even now He fills us with hope and promise so we can experience the joy of Easter.

Prayer: “Mighty Lord of life, break through the locked doors of our hearts and give us your peace. Amen.”

John 20:19-31

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

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