Sunday John 9:1-42

Prayer: Open my eyes, most wonderful God, show me the path You have laid before me, in Christ. Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

One lesson we can learn from today’s text is not overlook the facts. Our former blind man didn’t.  What does the event tell you? Why would a sinner want to make someone blind to see?  The pharisees were quick to judge that Jesus and the blind man were sinners.  Because he was blind, the man and/or his family must have done something sinful to deserve blindness.

However, Jesus did not see it the same way. He viewed the blind man as an individual, as a child of God; one worthy of love not deserving judgment.   He was a man abandoned by others especially religious leaders. How do we see the poor and the disabled? Are they being punished for some gross sin? Do we pretend to not see them and walk to the other side of the street when they come toward us?  How many ways are people that are not like us excluded from our activities, or ignored?

Jesus finds people like us who may have been discarded by others and says we are worthy of His love and His healing and His grace.  He says we, and they, are worthy and valuable regardless of what we look like.  Isn’t worth our time and efforts to look at others in the same way?  What gifts have these strangers been given that will help us see God’s love in everyone?

Prayer: “Help me to view other people with your love, Lord. Amen.”

John 9:1-42

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We[a] must work the works of him who sent me[b] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus[c] to be the Messiah[d] would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Spiritual Blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[e] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir?[f] Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord,[g] I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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Saturday Psalm 23

Prayer: Thank you, gracious God, for still waters and Your love, in Christ. Amen.

Chased and caught

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

Like most of us, I had to memorize Psalm 23 in Sunday School.  Many people whether churched or not can remember some of it.  Our DW tells us that it is often used in funeral services, and that it is not just about life after death.  It has a lot to do with our lives now.

Our DW explains; “God is our devoted shepherd during out time on earth. God attends to our every need, guides us through our lowest and scariest times, and fills us with good things. Our enemies may surround us, but they are powerless in God’s presence.  In fact, we are no longer pursued by our enemies—instead, we are pursued by goodness and mercy.  A more accurate translation of follow is the idea that goodness and mercy are integral to God’s character.  God never gives up on us, and we can never outrun the faithful love and tender mercy of God.”

What is more perfect than that?

Prayer: “Loving Shepherd, refresh my soul with your promises; pursue me with your tender mercy. Amen.”

Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

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Friday 1 Samuel 15:22-31

Prayer: O God, may You give me half the faith of Samuel to follow Your Word, in Christ. Amen.

To be continued

31 So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

Saul was commanded my God to completely destroy the Amalekites. But Saul stopped short and made his own decision to spare many of them.  He was not totally committed to God and God began to feel sorry for anointing Saul king of Israel.  Maybe Saul thinks he knows better than God.

God sends word to Saul through the prophet Samuel and Samuel is also mad at Saul because of Saul’s disobedience.  So Saul repents and asks forgiveness.  He doesn’t complain or argue or promise to do better.  He just begs Samuel to stay with him.

God forgives and Samuel relents, and Saul worships God. But the decision has been made and soon David is anointed king. 

Reflecting on this story, do I sometimes fail to follow through with God’s guidance for me? Do I fail to complete the actions He lays before me?  Am I sometimes halfway committed to God? Today’s text is a story of God’s love and forgiveness, as well as God’s insistence that His will, will be done maybe in spite of me.

Prayer: “Holy God, strengthen my commitment to you. Amen.”

1 Samuel 15:22-31

22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination,
    and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has also rejected you from being king.”

24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” 26 Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant[a] or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.” 30 Then Saul[b] said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

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Thursday Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Prayer: O God, could I have the faith of Joseph? Thank you for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Joseph, Guardian of Jesus

20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife…

Matthew’s account of Jesus birth doesn’t reference angels singing, shepherds or mangers.  If we used this account, our Christmas programs would be quite different. In the same way, Joseph is perhaps not given the credit he deserves.  He had committed to do the “right thing” by sending Mary away to protect her, and his, reputations.  Yet after the angel’s message, he changed his mind and with faith took the more difficult path.  In addition, he took charge of his new family and took care of them after all the glitter and the riches of the kings from the East had gone away.

Our DW points out; “One of the amazing things about Joseph is that he listens to his faith rather that his fear and follows the command of God, even when the path to which God has called him is not quite as pristine as a Christmas-card scene.”

Prayer: “Jesus, calm my worries and guide my path, even in the midst of my fears. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Matthew 1:16-24

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.[a]

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,[b] fourteen generations.

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[c] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,

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Wednesday John 7: 14-31,37-39

Prayer: Almighty and Creator God, let Your love flow like water through me, in Christ. Amen.

Streams of life

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me

God’s salvation is revealed through water:  “The Spirit hovering over the waters of creation; the rainbow over the receding floodwaters; the parting of the Red Sea allowing the slaves’ liberation; Moses striking a rock to get water in the desert for the thirsty Israelites; Jesus’ baptism by John in the river; Jesus turning water into wine; the woman meeting Jesus at the well; the water flowing from Jesus’ side at his crucifixion.”

In today’s text, it was the Festival of Booths and Jesus announces himself as the source of living water.  And He has come to quench our thirst for truth.  He came to teach, heal, and show us the depth of God’s love as one of us humans.  Jesus wept real tears as he experienced grief.  From the cross He cried “I thirst.”  And He knows our troubles and our struggles and our need to drink from the river of living waters.  Let all who thirst come and drink!

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, fill me with your living water and refresh my soul. Amen.”

John 7: 14-39

14 About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning,[a] when he has never been taught?” 16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17 Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Is This the Christ?

25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?[b] 27 Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah[c] comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” 30 Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah[d] comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”[e]

Officers Are Sent to Arrest Jesus

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

Rivers of Living Water

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As[f] the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart[g] shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit,[h] because Jesus was not yet glorified.

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Tuesday Psalm 81

Prayer: O God, fill me with Your Spirit.  Let it show to everyone.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jesus loves me, open wide

10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Our DW reminds us of Bible Camp.  I never went as a camper, but I did as a counselor.  It was a heart-warming experience.  I saw that the campers, for the most part, had a wonderful time and a spiritual experience.  Some of the kids went to camp every year back in the day.  Some required special attention and camp helped them forget their limitations and focus on Jesus.

Jesus loves everyone and it is especially good news for children with limitations that they face every day.  Bible camp was a great way for us to learn about Jesus’ love and to teach us compassion and love for all, even those who are not like us.

Jesus uses us to share with those we meet and to open our hearts and our mouths to share His love. If we trust Him and open our mouths either to sing or praise Jesus, He will fill our mouth with words or song to reach out to others.

Prayer: “Jesus, fill my emptiness and open my heart to love all your children generously. In you I pray. Amen.”

Psalm 81

God’s Appeal to Stubborn Israel

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.

Sing aloud to God our strength;
    shout for joy to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song, sound the tambourine,
    the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel,
    an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
He made it a decree in Joseph,
    when he went out over the land of Egypt.

I hear a voice I had not known:
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
    your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you;
    I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.Selah
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you;
    O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you;
    you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
    Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
    Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
    to follow their own counsels.
13 O that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,
    and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
    and their doom would last forever.
16 I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
    and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

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Monday 2 John:1-13

Prayer: Merciful God, teach me Your truth through Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Watch your step

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth

Our DW was raised on a farm in rural Wisconsin. If one has ever lived on a farm one knows to be careful where one walks.  Our DW quotes a sign that read; “Don’t follow in my footsteps—I think I stepped in something!”  Whose steps did we follow? 

If we were lucky, we were raised in a family where church was an important part of life.  It was where we learned about trying to follow God’s commandments and to treat our neighbor as our selves. It was a time where one or both of our parents insisted that we attend church, youth groups, and Sunday School.

In 2 John, we read a letter written to a church and its people. The writer was pleased to know that many had learned well from the apostles and were well versed in the truth of Jesus.  By learning the truth and observing what they were taught.  The children, so taught, were to grow to be leaders and teachers after observing their parents and elders so they could teach their children in the same way.

And so it is with us…as we grow and learn we become teachers, guides, and leaders for the children around us, so they can continue sharing God’s love.

Prayer: “Loving God, guide my feet to walk in your commandments and truth always, through Jesus. Amen.”

2 John:1-13

Salutation

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from[a] Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

Truth and Love

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist! Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we[b] have worked for, but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; 11 for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person.

Final Greetings

12 Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister send you their greetings.[c]

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