Lenten Devotionals

 

Annetta United Methodist Church

2836 West FM 5, Annetta, Texas 76008

817-599-7950 

www.annettaumc.org

annettaumc@att.net

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Bethel United Methodist Church

3196 Bethel Road, Weatherford, Texas 76087

817-596-3418

www.bethelumcweatherford.org

info@bethelumcweatherford.org

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Devotionals for the Season of Lent, 2015

 

 

Copyright © Annetta/Bethel United Methodist Church 2015. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Annetta/Bethel United Methodist Church, 2836 West FM 5, Annetta, Texas 76008 or 3196 Bethel Road, Weatherford, Texas 76087.

 

Editor: Sela E. Finau 

 

Scripture quotations and translations/versions were chosen by each of the contributors, otherwise the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was used. 

Some of the devotions were written by members of the Annetta/Bethel Charge. Other devotions and prayers were written either by the editor or used with permission. 

Any errors or misprints found in this booklet are unintentional, thereby we ask for grace. You may, however, address any concerns with the editor.  

 

Contents

 

Foreword      

 

Introduction     

 

History of Lent

 

Devotions

 

Foreword

 

 

Thank you to all members who were very gracious with their time, and willing to dedicate some time and thoughts to writing these beautiful devotionals. What a wonderfully gifted church family that serves an amazing God. May you be blessed with these wonderful inspirational stories and devotionals written by your Annetta/Bethel family members, as they share their God stories with you. May the Love, Peace, and Grace of Christ journey with you this Lenten season and beyond! May we firmly hold on to our faith and hope that binds us in the power of the resurrection.

Tu’a ‘Ofa atu  ~sela

~~~

 

 

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Introduction

 

Welcome to Lent and Blessings to you!

 

As we begin this season of Lent, I encourage you to spend time in prayer not only for our families and friends but also pray for our surrounding communities, our country, and the world. Take time out of your regular, daily schedule to pray and reflect on God’s grace and love.  Spend some time looking at your life and the course of living you are on and ask God to lead and guide your life more directly each day.

We hope that these Lenten Devotionals will enable you to have a joyous and growth-filled season as your journey moves closer each day to Holy Week and ultimately Easter.

Welcome to Lent 2015!

Rev. Sela Finau

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History of Lent

 

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. The First Sunday describes Jesus’ temptation by Satan; and the Sixth Sunday (Passion/Palm Sunday), Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion and death. Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent should be tempered with joyful expectation of the Resurrection. 

 

Somber colors such as purple or ash gray and rough-textured cloth are most appropriate for paraments, stoles, and banners. 

 

You are invited, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. 

 

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Week 1

 

Day 1: Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 

An Ash Wednesday Prayer for Meditation

 

Purifying Mystery, your light exposes in us all that we hide.

Awaken us and all your Holy Church to spiritual combat.

Lead us to purity of soul and body in these forty days.

Fortify us to take an honest look at ourselves 

and to name our secret sins and our ruts of disobedience.

Let abstinence from our addictions free us for prayer and the fire of love.

Perfect us by steady gaze toward your pure mercy and grace 

so that we may come to the Passion of Jesus 

and the Holy Pascha* in pure joy. 

In confidence we commend ourselves and all our passions 

and cares to your never failing mercy.

We intercede for the world and the church:

Especially for those we have hurt by our preoccupations …

For those who live sacrificially so that others 

may know your justice and compassion …

For a just peace in and among nations …

For professionals who help others stand in the light …

For the church in every place …

For the concerns and cares of our lives …Amen

* Easter

 

Adapted from a prayer in The Daily Office: A Book of Hours for Daily Prayer 

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Day 2: Thursday, February 19, 2015

 

Inclusive God, merciful God, God of the inner heart, lead us beyond mere external religion and ‘blowing of trumpets’ that merely exalts ourselves. Teach us instead to love you, you who alone are good, and in every good. You make us good in spite of our denials and defenses and turn us toward you in this season of Lent, that we might love you more completely. Amen.

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Day 3: Friday, February 20, 2015

 

Patient God, our questions and worries turn to complaints, and you know the struggles of our lives -- 

Layer upon layer of needs; 

List after list of demands; 

Pile upon pile of letters to answer and bills to pay;

Constant noise from TV, traffic, background music;

Phone messages beeping at us;

All penetrating our eyes and maybe our souls --

Information overload, constant stress.

O God. Clear your way in us to see what is important.

Toss out resentment and grudges.

Lift worry from our brows. Help us carry our burdens gently.

Heal our vision and memory. Lead us into this holy Lent. Amen.

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Day 4: Saturday, February 21, 2015

 

Our Lord and Savior, In this Lenten season, we confess our reluctance to confess our sins -- to you or to one another. You know us, all about us, without our telling you; and we do not want our neighbors, our friends, even our loved ones to know everything about us.

Remind us, most patient God, that there is no real relationship without trust and honesty, no healing forgiveness without confession. Save us from the Pharisee's self-righteous pride. Give us, rather, the courage of the publican, who knew he needed forgiveness and a fresh start and did not care who might be watching him pour out his heart to you.

Help us to make proper use of our Lenten opportunities for worship and self-searching. Assist us in our ongoing struggle for integrity. And grant us courage to right the wrongs we have done and to make up for the good we have left undone.

We implore you to hear us, for Jesus' sake. Amen

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Week 2

 

Day 5: Monday, February 23, 2015

Sue Standlee

 

Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Devotional: Two years ago, I came to a rough spot on my Journey.  As always throughout my life, God put someone in front of me with

 a book to help guide me through it all. It was a "Count Your Blessings" book.  And not just count them, but write every one down and number them.  What! I thought.  I'm supposed to be GRATEFUL for this?  Who among you have ever had time in your life when you went looking for a miracle? Well, the main theme of this wonderful book is: Eucharisto ALWAYS precedes the miracle. So I began to read and think about my blessings and write them down. And now, two years later, I have written 1000 blessings in my Journal.  I plan to keep going.  I found that doing this totally changed my outlook.  I began to see beauty and joy everywhere I looked. Fear was gone. When I look back over what I've written, some of the blessings will seem silly to someone else reading them, but they are not silly to me. Because they were a sincere offering, I do not believe they will seem silly to God.  Jesus has promised that he will walk beside us on our path that climbs every upward. Upward climbing is hard, but knowing He is with me, I can be secure of the path and can actually enjoy the happenings along the way.  If we ever feel alone on the journey, you can be sure that it is because we have moved away from Him. So we must look around and find Him again and proceed ahead with hope and gratitude.

 

Prayer:  Lord, we thank you for this time of centering and preparation called Lent, and for this time to move closer to You. Amen

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Day 6: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Verety Braymen

 

Finding Peace

 

Scripture: Psalms 119:10-12 (New International Version) I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your words in my heart.  

 

Devotional: I have observed for many years, different situations where we, as Christians, try to find our path through life. We try, we fail, we try again. All the while, we are searching for peace, through understanding that still, small voice that lives in our hearts and souls. The gift of peace is my constant yearning, and happiest realization when it resides in me.

 

The Lenten season reminds us of the sacred trust Jesus offered us through His life, death, and resurrection. The example of a perfect life sacrificed for us.

 

Who could not take this magnificent and holy gift?  Knowing God through Jesus is the key to a life of fulfillment and peace. During this holy season many people give up something to honor the life, given up and offered up for the atonement of our sins.  I would like to suggest something that has been meaningful to me. I want to give up negative thinking and look at all circumstances through a filter of love and compassion. We get chances daily to see what is wrong in our world.  Maybe our best hope is using the filter, freely given to us through the life of Christ. Then can we see clearly what our purpose is on this earth.

 

From the words of a senior citizen, I hope this Easter that negative thinking will become a thing of my past and that I can bless others in many different, positive ways. Let us find our own perfect peace.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the ultimate gift of loving us just the way we are. Thank you for the gift of being our friend and wanting to know us intimately. Thank you for being there when we seek you out. Thank you for sacrificing your own Son just for us. In loving thanks, Amen

                βœš

 

 

Day 7: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tommy Williams

Scripture: Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Devotional: Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

How do you greet your morning? Do you say, “Good morning Lord” or “Good Lord it’s morning”. No matter the circumstance we should always be thankful God has given us another day with our family and friends. God has always been faithful to us, we should see what happens when we are to Him.

Prayer: Thank you God for always keeping you word to us your children. Help us in keeping our promises to you. Amen

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Day 8: Thursday, February 26, 2015

Arleen Atkins

 

Unanswered Prayer or Perfect Healing?

 

Scripture:  Matthew 26:38-39:  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (New International Version)

 

Devotional: Cancer is a terrible disease that has certainly taken its toll on my family.  My father died with cancer when I was a young adult, and my great niece died when she was barely 30 years old and a new mother to a one-year old daughter.  My mother has had serious bouts with cancer twice—at ages 60 and 87—but she survives today at 96 years of age!

 

In all cases when those close to me were suffering, I prayed for healing for them. Entire churches were praying for them.  With my father and great niece, the outcome was not that for which we had hoped.  Sometimes God’s answers to our prayers are puzzling and disappointing.  However, my mother was miraculously healed, and we rejoiced!

 

During Lent, I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow.  He was innocent, yet he faced the most horrific death possible on the cross.  He asked his Father to take this cup—a symbol of deep sorrow and suffering—from him.  Jesus knew that his Father’s will would be done.  Whether his Father would spare him unimaginable suffering or fulfill His larger plan for human-kind through death on the cross, Jesus submitted his will to God

 

Because Jesus suffered and died for us, death’s sting is gone.  Death in Christ and our promise of eternal life is perfect healing and fulfillment of God’s plan for us.  As difficult as it can be, sometimes the answers to our prayers are not what we had hoped but rather God’s larger plan for our lives or the gift of perfect healing through eternal life.

 

Prayer:  Our Dear Heavenly Father, we humbly thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we may receive the gift of perfect healing and the fulfillment of God’s promise through eternal life.  Amen 

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Day 9: Friday, February 27, 2015

Barbara McKenzie

 

Devotional: How could we not want to be like Jesus? Isn’t that what we should strive for, long for, hope for, and pray for? The following excerpt is from a very recent Annetta UMC Bible Study and it really spoke to me.

 

“May you believe in God. But may you come to see that God believes in you. May you have faith in Jesus. But may you come to see that Jesus has faith that you can be like him. A person of love and compassion and truth. A person of forgiveness, and peace, and grace, and joy, and hope. And may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi, Jesus.”

 

Just think what could the term “covered in the dust of your rabbi” could mean to all of us. 

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Day 10: Saturday, February 28, 2015

 

Spiritual Discipline

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

 

Devotional: I have learned over the years that spiritual discipline is a necessary element of the Christian faith, and I can see why. Yet it is not an easy thing to do. It is supposed to help us trust our personal experience with ourselves, which is, in a way also an experience of God. Sometimes we are amazed that the two experiences coincide. However, when we know God, we also know and accept our own humanity; when we meet and know ourselves at deeper levels, we also meet and know God. Thus it can be said that we don’t have any real access to who we are except through God, and we don’t have any real access to God except through knowing ourselves through our humanity. 

    Many of us nourish our spirits through a variety of ways, and we all need to find a spiritual discipline that works for us. Regardless of what spiritual discipline we currently use, we need to find what works best for us as individuals for the sake of an overall healthy mind, body, and spirit. I learned at a recent retreat that one way to nourish my spirit is to bring in culture awareness and being mindful of what is happening around us. For example, our current ecological situation and how the Christian faith needs to play a bigger role in examining how we practice spirituality and our view of nature. At the spiritual retreat I participated in last Fall, we noticed how a nearby river bank had dried up. I thought, is that nature doing on its own or did we play a role in it? Perhaps as Christians, we need to be mindful of how we can respond to God’s world supportively and lovingly. Spirituality does not have to be an escape from the material world, rather spirituality can embody nature and God in the world. 

    During Lent, may we find the time to practice spiritual discipline by spending time away from our everyday work, our everyday surroundings, and allow space for God to clear our mind, relax and simply be at peace with God and with ourselves. May this Lenten Season allow us to refocus and be renewed in our faith.

 

Prayer: Holy God, may your spirit come and dwell in me. May your spirit lead and guide me with every breath that I take. Amen

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Week 3

 

Day 11, Monday, March 2, 2015

Bill Braymen

 

The Plan of the Master Weaver

 

Scripture: For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan of the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:9-10 (RSV)

 

Devotional: I love this poem (author unknown). Many of you may be familiar with it, but I think it is a good one to ponder during the Lent season.

 

The Plan Of The Master Weaver

 

Our lives are but fine weavings,

That God and we prepare,

Each life becomes a fabric planned

And fashioned in His care.

We may not always see just how

The weavings intertwine,

But we must trust the Master’s hand

And follow His design,

For He can view the pattern

From the upper side,

While we must look from underneath 

And trust in Him to guide.

 

Sometimes a strand of sorrow

Is added to His plan,

And though it’s difficult for us,

We still must understand

That it’s He who fills the shuttle,

It’s He who knows what’s best, 

So we must weave in patience

And leave to Him the rest…

 

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why—

The dark threads are as needed

In the Weaver’s skillful hand

 

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you that you have a plan for each of us for the fullness of time. Help us to be obedient to your will. Amen

 

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Day 12: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

 

Companionship

 

Scripture: Luke 24:13-15, 28-29

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] 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, 

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.

 

Devotional: There are times when we all long for the companionship of Christ. When we are facing some deep loneliness that seems to darken the brightest day, some great sorrow that has broken our heart and changed our lives, or some heavy burden that comes through no action or fault of our own. At times like these we long for the presence of the one who speaks our name, understand our plight, and can break the hold of loneliness, sorrow, despair, and burdens we bear. 

    There are other times when we are at the peak of our powers and all is going well that we want someone to walk with us, to share the challenge, excitement, and reward of the path we have chosen. We desire a companion who can appreciate the challenge and victory of life in the days when all is well.

    There are still other times when we need a companion to whom we can say thank you. There are those times when we are overwhelmed with gratitude. We know that the goodness we enjoy is not just the result of our good work but that someone else had a hand in our well-being, comfort, and success.

    At times like these it is good to remember that the risen Christ walks beside us—awaiting our invitation to stay with us, break bread with us, interpret life for us, give us hope, and share in our thanksgiving. 

    As we continue with our walk this Lenten Season, may we, like the disciples before us, have our eyes opened to recognize Christ as he comes to walk beside us this day. 

Prayer: Oh God, forgive us when we fail to recognize you, when we fail to recognize you in others. Continue to walk with us and help us to see. Amen

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Day 13: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

 

Hope

Scripture: Romans 5:2-4 through whom we have obtained access[a] to this grace in which we stand; and we[b] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we[c] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Devotional: As children, we may have dreamed about what we would be when we grew up. As we got older, we continued dreaming of what our life may look like and it may have changed from one day to the next. We continue to imagine ourselves as being successful in whatever career or positions we held. As an adult, we eventually begin a vocation and a career that we think will last us the rest of our lives.

    However, the problem is that the rest of our lives may change quickly if we lose our job. Terrible things happen in life and may leave us feeling hopeless. An illness may prevent us from working. An accident may leave us distraught. A natural disaster destroys our home. Unexpected events shake every bone in our body. Our trust in the goodness of life vanishes. We’re suddenly set adrift, with nowhere to go and nowhere we want to go. We imagine that life has been unfair to us and God has left you. 

    Whatever the circumstance that bring a loss of our life direction, there is still reason to maintain a sense of hope. This kind of hope is built on trust, not in ourselves or others, but in God. Our hope rests on the awareness that God is in control. The same God that calls us by our first name and knows the number of hairs on our heads. God hold us up and has a plan for our life. God has your present and your future in hand. Take comfort in that knowledge. He will plant new seeds of hope to your heart. Trust in God. 

Prayer: Dear God, life is not easy. Help me in the right direction. It is in your mercy that I am able to do the things today. I can do nothing more than trust in you. Please help me to grow through this process and comfort me and all those who suffer a change in their life plan. Give us the strength and courage to continue hoping. Amen

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Day 14: Thursday, March 5, 2015

        

Friend

Scripture: Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times,

Devotional:    Pets are great. Of course, I am talking about dogs. If you have other pets, for instance cats, well—I can only hope they are as great as dogs. Pets are great additions to a family. They love unconditionally, putting all their trust in those who care for them. They eat and play freely because they know they are safe in their own domain. They live with almost a child’s faith, that God could only hope for from human beings.

    Pets truly become a part of our lives. They never make us feel uncomfortable about who we are. They never ask us to change or be more of what they hoped we might be just for them. They never judge our actions or activities. We live in a relationship with total acceptance and grace. What an amazing gift!

    God created these amazing companions to give solace, to guide the broken, and to offer a kind of love that cannot be had in any other way. Pets are such a cause for celebration and joy. What a blessing to have such an experience!

Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the amazing gift of pets. That you for building into the nature of pets a sense of assurance, peace, and love, and trust. May we learn from this relationship with have with our pets and to completely trust in you and to love unconditionally.  Amen

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Day 15: Friday, March 6, 2015

 

Lord, when we wonder whether anything in this life is important, please help us change our direction. Help us to think about things that remind us of your goodness and of the possibilities that exist all around us. Remind us that an attitude adjustment may be a s simple as starting the day with a prayer and a smile. Comfort us when we lose hope in ourselves and draw us close enough to you, to breathe in a new perspective and a new attitude. Amen

 

Day 16: Saturday, March 7, 2015

Love and Challenges

Scripture: Luke 6:27-45

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

 

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.[a] Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

 

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

 

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[b] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your neighbor,[c] ‘Friend,[d] let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[e] eye.

 

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

 

Devotional:  I know, you are thinking, why did I include so much of the Biblical texts? Why did I not just reference it? The truth is I know that you would probably not take the time to look up the passage. Or for some of you, you may even skip through the pasted Scripture text thinking you already know what it says. Who are we kidding, we all do that. But studying and meditating requires that we re-read and re-read God’s words many times over. Our understanding of Scripture may be different today than a year or two ago. It is not that Scripture have changed, it is us who have hopefully changed as we grow in faith and knowledge of God. 

    This passage is very important. Jesus said to love our enemies and to do good things for those who dislike or hate us. Essentially Jesus challenges us to be different, that is, to love like God. God is merciful and kind even to the wicked and ungrateful. Anyone can love his or her friends. But how do you treat someone well who has hurt you? How do you give without expectation of return? That’s love as God loves.

    Similarly, Jesus said not to judge others but to first examine ourselves and deal with our faults while not being critical of others. We feel good about denigrating others. We talk about people behind their backs. We speak harsh words and expect the person just to take it. The Bible instructs us to correct one another when necessary but in a spirit of gentleness. Criticism is not a fruit of the Spirit.

    Jesus cautions us about the attitudes of our hearts. It’s one thing to say, “That person stole money and needs to be appropriately punished.” It’s another to say, “That person stole money and ought to be strung up by his thumbs and horsewhipped.” People who hurt us and arouse our moral outrage are, unfortunately, difficult to love.

    Jesus said, “No good tree bears bad fruit” and “the good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good…for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks”. If we want a good gauge for our spiritual health, we need to listen to the things we say, not only to other people but also in private about other people. Our words reflect our relationship with God as well as with others. 

    During the season of Lent, may we all take the time to meditate on the word of God and study Scripture, have self-examination, sincerely repent, and be prayer. 

Prayer: Oh God, sometimes it is difficult to love those who have hurt us. May you help us to be merciful and gracious as you are. Help us to forgive and love our enemies. Amen

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Week 4

 

Day 17: Monday, March 9, 2015

Arleen Atkins

 

To the Moon and Back

 

Scripture:  Luke 7: 44-48:  Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I came into your house.  You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.  Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (New International Version)

 

 Devotional: In an effort to describe the magnitude of love from parent to child, the whole “I love you to the moon and back” popularity was born.  My daughter and her son have an inside joke between them where she names the furthest thing, and then her six-year old son says something like “okay, I love you to my door knob and back.”  They often engage in this bedtime ritual with her naming the furthest thing and him naming the closest thing.  One night after the joking went on for a while, he said “seriously, mommy, I love you through a thousand clouds and moons and galaxies and whatever else is out there!”

 

When we find it difficult to comprehend God’s love and forgiveness for us despite the many ways we disappoint him, it helps to compare his love for us to that of parents toward their children. And what did Jesus expect in return for that love?  He told us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves—not always easy!  Perhaps we could learn from the purest, always forgiving love of small children toward their parents.  

 

Showing love to the “least, the last, and the lost” can be difficult in our human condition.  Even the Pharisee believed that if Jesus were a prophet, he would have known the woman who washed his feet was a sinner and he would not have let her touch him. But Jesus knew the woman’s repentant and loving heart and forgave her sins because “she loved much.”  Lent reminds us of Jesus’ unfailing and unending love for us, and the forgiveness he offers to those who show his love to others.

 

Prayer:  Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank you for the love you show us each and every day.  We pray that you will help us to show your love to others through our words and actions.  Amen

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Day 18: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

 

Forgiveness 

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Devotional: Sometimes we attend church in an individualistic way. We like a church that meets our needs; and if something at church offends us, we go elsewhere. In Jesus’ teachings, we all have a responsibility for one another. He is especially present when we’re gathered with other Christians. He commands Christians to make the effort to forgive and uphold one another. In this context, Peter poses a famous question: How many times should we forgive? 

    Jesus’ response was 7 times 70 times. You just forgive, and you never stop forgiving. We gain strength and freedom when we forgive. We find strength to keep moving in our lives. When we forgive, we are able to refocus our emotional energies; and we are able to grow closer to God. When we grow in forgiveness, we begin to understand the heart of God. Forgiveness is a gift of God. God already knows our feelings and still loves us. God can work healing power in our lives when we admit to God our deep feelings of hated, hurt, and anger. Forgiveness is a powerful sign of our life together, not only in specific instances of forgiveness but also in Christian fellowship. If love and trust are present in our fellowship, we can discuss our painful feelings with one another. We are called to express an attribute of God in our life together. We are called to forgive as God forgives. 

 

Prayer: Oh Merciful God, we give your thanks for love and grace. Help us to show mercy and compassion to others as you show us. Help us to become more like you. Amen

 

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Day 19: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

 

Commandments

 

Scripture: Exodus 20:2-17 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before[a] me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.[c]

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

 

Devotional: Growing up, the Ten Commandments was the rule in our house. In fact, it seemed that my parents added a lot more to the Ten found in the book of Exodus and Deuteronomy. I learned early on that following the rules from the Bible was critical as a Christian. Later, I would learn that being a Christian is not just about rules, it was also about accepting the free gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We rely on God’s power to guide us and we accept God’s grace by keeping the commandments, not out of obligation but out of love. The Ten Commandments are a gift from God that guides us in our life together as God’s people. They are timeless ethical principles and are a part of God’s covenant with us. The Ten Commandments gives us a guideline to our responsibility toward God and one another. 

    As we journey in the season of Lent, may we reflect and examine our lives to see if we are living out this gift of the Ten Commandments from God. If not, what can we do differently to live more closely to this gift from God. 

 

Prayer: Holy God, you have given us a gift of how to live rightly with you and with others. Help us to be faithful followers in both word and deed. Amen

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Day 20: Thursday, March 12, 2015

 

Love Your Neighbor

 

Scripture: Leviticus 19:18New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

 

Devotional: We often hear Jesus saying to love God with all of our hearts, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor. Jesus also said that loving God and neighbor were the greatest commandments of all. What we don’t often hear is that these words reiterated by Jesus also show up in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Who is our neighbor? Everyone. How we show love to everyone can be challenging, particularly with those whose choices we dislike, whose lifestyles we disapprove of, or anyone that’s too different from us. When we encounter people whose race, culture, or religion is different from our own, the challenge to love them increases. God, who created and loves all people, calls us and empowers us to love one another. We are called to love God with our whole selves, and we do this by loving one another and our neighbors. 

 

C.S. Lewis once said, “Do not waste your time bothering about whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did…When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him.” 

 

In this season of Lent, may we seek God’s guidance in helping us to grow our love for our neighbor.  

 

Prayer: Holy God, you are always merciful and loving. May you continue to help us grow in our love for you through loving our neighbors. Amen

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Day 21: Friday, March 13, 2015

 

Prayer

 

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

Lord, may I not so much seek

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

Because it is in giving that we receive,

in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

 

Saint Francis of Assisi

 

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Day 22: Saturday, March 14, 2015

 

Who Is My Neighbor?

 

Scripture: Psalm 133:1 (NIV)How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 

 

Devotional:    Let’s have some real talk, “Who is my neighbor?” While the question may be a rhetorical one, some of us really want to know who are our neighbors. Are we talking about those people that live on our street? Are we talking about people that live in our neighborhood? Are we talking about people in our community? Are we talking about people in our city? 

    Growing up in the islands, I thought of neighbor as those people that lived across the street or next door and maybe the homes in our surrounding areas. As neighbors, we knew that we could count on each other if we ran out of small things like sugar to needing something more serious, like being there in tough times and beyond. 

    Today, defining “neighbor” has become an individual thing and not quite so easy to define at times. Through technology, we have changed our definition of “neighbor.” We can now consider someone who lives in another state or another country our neighbors. When a natural disaster occurs or we see hungry children and families around the globe, we realize that we are part of a much bigger neighborhood. We are indeed a global family with global neighbors. Thankfully we have a global God as well. 

    During this season of Lent, expand your definition of “neighbor.” Is God calling you to be a neighbor to someone in your own community, in another state, or across the world? Maybe it’s all of the above. 

 

Prayer: Gracious God, help us to be good neighbors not only to those in our immediate surroundings but also those who are far away. Help us to open our eyes, mind, and heart to those neighbor we may otherwise miss. Amen

 

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Week 5

 

Day 23: Monday, March 16, 2015

 

What Does God Require?

 

Scripture: Micah 6:6-8New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

Devotional: One of my favorite memorized passage comes from the prophet, Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” It speaks to me on so many levels. Serving God and God’s people can be difficult and sometimes discouraging. Yet, this passage reminds me that we can never do enough for God through sacrifices, burnt offering, calfs, rams, rivers of oil, and human sacrifices. These things are not required of us. What God requires is for us to simply do justice, love kindness, to walk humbly with God. As God is just, we as God’s people are also called to be just. As God is merciful and offers kindness, we as God’s people are also called to be merciful and show kindness. As God is humble, we as God’s people are also called to humble ourselves as we walk with God.

 

As we continue in our journey in Lent, may we be reminded of these words from the prophet Micah, to do justice, to offer kindness, and to be humble people of God.

 

Prayer: Holy God, thank you for your words as spoken through your prophet Micah. May we continue to grow in your likeness, to do justice, to offer kindness, and to walk humbly with you as our God. Amen

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Day 24: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

The Prayer of St. Patrick

 

I arise today 

Through a mighty strength, 

The invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness 

Of the Creator of creation.

 

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven;

Light of the sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of the wind,

Depth of the sea,

Stability of the earth,

Firmness of the rock.

 

I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me;

God's might to uphold me,

God's wisdom to guide me,

God's eye to look before me,

God's ear to hear me,

God's word to speak for me,

God's hand to guard me,

God's way to lie before me,

God's shield to protect me,

God's hosts to save me

Afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude.

 

Christ shield me today

Against wounding

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

 

I arise today

Through the mighty strength

Of the Lord of creation.

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Day 25: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

 

Worrying

 

Scripture: Luke 12:22-32 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[a] 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;[b] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his[c] kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

 

Devotional: For the most part, we worry about some things. How much time we spend worrying, may depend on various factors including our family background and our exposure to things. Yet God calls us to have no anxieties about anything as we give God all of our worries and burdens.

 

However, we may be mislead to think that if we seek God all else in life will fall rightly into place. This is simply not true. Sometimes we are seeking God, and life is totally chaotic. In the long run however, God is faithful. It has been my experience that God is always faithful and has never failed me. Whether we are conscious of it or not, God is at work in our lives. Our troubles and worries may come and go, but God’s love remains faithful.

During the season of Lent, may we turn over all of our worries and burdens to God and let God show and provide us with answers. May God give us comfort and peace.

 

I am reminded of the hymn, “I Surrender All:”

“All to Jesus I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,

I surrender all;

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.”

-J.W. Van Deventer

 

Prayer: Holy God, we surrender all. We give to you our worries and burdens so you be in control. Amen

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Day 26: Thursday, March 19, 2015

 

Freewill

 

Proverbs 16:9 The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.

 

Devotional: One of the greatest gift of God to humanity is freewill. We are able to choose our own attitude and direction in life. Sometimes we don’t always make the right choice. We rush to make decisions or have the wrong motives. We even sometimes choose not to choose and the consequences haunt us for our indecisions.

Sometimes the problem with choices is that there are too many and no clear understanding of which way is right and which way is wrong. Other times, we may feel that we have no choice. God gave us the gift of freewill so we can make wise choices. Through guidance from the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we should be making the right choices. When we feel we have made the wrong choice, we can ask God to help us choose again and direct our steps. We do not have to be stranded in the desert or in the middle of nowhere. We can always find hope in asking God to direct our steps and to bring us back on the right track.

 

During the season of Lent, if you are on the wrong track, simply ask God to redirect your steps and help you get back on the right path.

 

Prayer: Holy God, we give you thanks for gifting us freewill. As we make plans for our life, help us to stay on course. Amen

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Day 27: Friday, March 20, 2015

 

Prayer

Jesus, help me to spread your

fragrance wherever I am.

Fill my heart with your Spirit and your life.

Penetrate my being and take such hold

of me that my life becomes a 

radiation of your own life.

Give your light through me and remain

in me in such a way that every soul

I come in contact with can feel your presence in me.

May people not see me, but see you in me.

Remain in me, so that I shine with your light,

and may others be illuminated by my light.

All light will come from you, Oh Jesus.

Not even the smallest ray of light

will be mine. You will illuminate

others through me.

Place on my lips your greatest praise,

illuminating others around me.

May I preach you with actions more

than with words, with the example

of my actions, with the visible light

of the love that comes from you to

my heart. Amen

 

Cardinal Newman

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Day 28: Saturday, March 21, 2015

 

Gray Hair

 

Scripture: Psalm 39:7

“And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.

 

Devotional: Growing up, I was privileged to always be surrounded by older folks, including my grandmother, Ana, and numerous aunts and uncles, and then my parents. I remember as they got older, they were dealing with aches and pains of old age. 

 

The years flew by for this older generation as they dealt with health issues and not being able to get around quite as easily as before. They were suddenly faced with their own mortality. On Ash Wednesday, we were confronted with our own mortality, remembering that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” 

What does God expect from people of this older generation? What do they expect from God? The truth is, no matter how gray your hair gets, God always sees you as a child of God. God sees your potential and possibilities until the day you die. God’s on your side every step of the way, even when you don’t walk and move as fast as you did twenty years ago.

 

The gift of aging is the one called life. We have the opportunity to grow in awareness, wisdom, and experience. We have learned things that others need to know and God gives us the chance to share those things with those around us. May you share your hopes, dreams, fear, and love with others. May you share your wisdom and experiences with those around you. May you share your God stories with all those that you encounter.

 

In this season of Lent, remember that your age is a number that reflects the number of years that God has blessed you and gifted you life. May you share your life stories with others. May you remember these words from Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”

 

Prayer: Dear God, as we age, we may experience fear, loneliness, and other emotions, help us to remember that we are never alone but that you knew us before we were born, knows us by name, and you will continue to be with us until you call us home. Amen

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Week 6

 

Day 29: Monday, March 23, 2015

 

Fasting

 

Scripture: Daniel 9:3

Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

 

Devotional: It has been said that regular fasting at its most basic level may well be the most effective way to deal with all the appetites and compulsions that rule us. So many saints throughout history have practiced fasting religiously. Combined with prayer, it is a critical means of making ourselves available to the cleansing, restoring, and empowering grace of God. 

    Growing up, I often witnessed my mom and aunts carry on this tradition. Although I would be invited to participate, I never took it seriously and don’t recall taking part. It would be later in my seminary life that I was taught the importance of fasting.

    While fasting is not all there is to a Christian life, it creates enough space in us so that God can engage us. The most popular fasting is abstinence from food, but this alone cannot be experienced as spiritual until it can be joined with the sense of acknowledging God’s love and responding by loving others. Fasting is not primarily a discipline through which we gain greater control over our life, but one through which God gains access to redirect and heal our body, mind, and spirit.

    Fasting and prayer are traditional disciplines for the season of Lent. May we earnestly make space and clear the way for God so that we can be restored and discover more fully the spring and desires of our soul. 

 

Following is an author’s definition on fasting that is appropriate.

    “Fasting is cleansing. It cleans out our bodies. It lays bare our souls. It leads us into the arms of that One for whom we hunger. In the Divine Arms we become less demanding and more like the One who holds us. Then we experience new hungers. We hunger and thirst for justice, for goodness and holiness. We hunger for what is right. We hunger to be saints.

    Most of us are not nearly hungry enough for the things that really matter. That’s why it is so good for us to feel a gnawing in our guts. Then we remember why we are fasting. We remember all the peoples of the world who have no choice but to go to bed hungry. We remember how we waster and squander the goods of this world. We remember what poor stewards of the earth we have been. We remember that each of us is called to b bread for the world. Our lives are meant to nourish. Fasting can lead us to the core of our being and make us more nourishing for others.” -Macrina Wiederkehr 

 

Prayer: Holy God, We come to you in the emptiness of our body and soul and ask that you fill it with your love. Amen

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Day 30: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

 

        Destination?

Scripture: John 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 

Devotional: Many of us know the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We remember Alice’s conversation with the Cheshire Cat during her journey through Wonderland. When Alice came to a fork in the road, she asked, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cat replied, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice said, “I don’t much care where.” The Cat replied, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

    Do you know where you are? Do you have a sense of direction of where you are going? Are you lost and cannot find your way? When we know where we are and where we are going, it makes a big difference how we get there and when to get there. We may not be on the same exact path, but it makes a difference that we know where we are heading. Jesus told his disciple to, “Follow me!” Like them, we want to follow. But if we are honest with ourselves, we often feel like Thomas, who said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 

    Our destination as disciples who are on Jesus’ path is a life centered in loving God and loving others. Are you on this path? If not, what changes do you need to make to get on this path? During our journey in the season of Lent, will you ask God to help you get on this path. Trust, follow, and ask God to be your guide and vision.

 

The following is the first stanza from “Be Thou My Vision.”

    “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

           Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

            Thou my best through by day or by night

            Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light”

-Eleanor Hull

 

Prayer: Gracious God, when we are lost and can’t find our way, help us to see and be our vision the rest of the way.  Amen

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Day 31, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

 

Making choices means…

 

“Choosing to love, rather than fear.

Choosing to smile, rather than frown.

Choosing to build up, rather than tear down.

Choosing to persevere, rather than quit.

Choosing kind words, rather than gossip.

Choosing to heal, rather than wound.

Choosing to give, rather than take.

Choosing to act, rather than ignore.

Choosing to forgive, rather than grow bitter.

Choosing to pray, rather than despair.

 

How will you choose to live your day today?”

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Day 32, Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bill Braymen

 

Living in the Light

 

Scripture: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. II Corinthians 3:18 (RSV)

 

Devotional: When we live our lives by thinking continually of the glory of the Lord and thanking God for all of our blessings, we are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another. In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In John 1:4, John states “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The Lenten season is an opportunity to live our lives in such a way that our priorities include serving others. We can live in the light by seeking God through prayer and establishing a commitment to pray every day. We can pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We can do a kind deed for someone that we may not feel kindly toward and, in the process, replace darkness with light. We can look for the good in others instead of judging. Living in the light results in healthy fellowship with each other and with God. A person is happiest when he walks in the light.

 

In the last verse of the hymn, Love Divine, we sing “Finish, then, thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be. Let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee; changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

 

Prayer: Dear Father, help me to live in Your light so that I will see Christ in others and they will see Christ in me. Thank you for your immeasurable blessings. Amen

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Day 33, Friday, March 27, 2015

 

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have

made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and

make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily

lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission

and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever

and ever. Amen.

 

— Book of Common Prayer

 

Oh God, Make us worthy to serve our brothers and sisters who are scattered all over the world, who are poor and live and die alone. Give them today, using our hands, their daily bread. And, using our love, give them peace and happiness. Amen

-Mother Theresa

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Day 34, Saturday, March 28, 2015

 

Serving

 

Scripture: Matthew 25:35-36 I was hungry and you gave me food…I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me. 

Devotional: Our mission work as Christians and as a Church is based on these words of Jesus. We are to provide food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, shelter for the homeless, and care for those who are unable to care for themselves. While providing food, clothes, and shelter are visible needs, sometimes loneliness often goes undetected and we fail to provide care.

     When I visit assisted living and nursing home facilities, many times I notice people in the front looking out the window or observing the front door. I noticed this more as I frequently hold Bible Studies at assisted living facilities in Weatherford. A few residents are always waiting for someone to come visit them or pick them up for the afternoon. Some dream of a son or daughter, a member of the family, or a friend walking through the door to visit them. 

    Mother Theresa said, “Loneliness was an expression of their poverty, the poverty of seeing themselves abandoned by relatives and friends. The poverty of having no one coming to visit them is the poverty that older people feel the most.” 

“As far as I am concerned, the greatest suffering is to feel alone, unwanted, unloved. The greatest suffering is also having no one, forgetting what an intimate, truly human relationship is, not knowing what it means to be loved, not having a family or friends.” Mother Theresa

Prayer: God, help us to continue serving and providing for those who are in need. Amen

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Week 7 Holy Week

 

Day 35: Monday, March 30, 2015

 

Prayer

 

Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

 

Devotional: Many people are not comfortable with public prayer. One reason is that they were never taught how to pray. Even the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. He, then, taught them the Lord’s Prayer. But prayer is more than a formatted prayer. Prayer is not simply asking. Prayer is not a monologue. Prayer is more than a conversation. Prayer is also listening and putting ourselves in the hands of God at God’s disposition, and listening to God’s voice in the depth of our hearts. 

 

    I am reminded of the five finger prayer, the easiest way to remember who to include in our prayers. 

  1. The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. 

  2. The next finger is the index or pointer finger. Pray for those who teach you and points you towards God. This includes your pastor and teachers. Always keep them in your prayers. 

  3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the President, Congress, State and Local Officials. Also pray for world leaders. They all need God’s guidance. 

  4. The fourth finger is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those afflicted with problems. They need your prayers. 

  5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

 

Prayer: God, continue to teach us how to pray and who to pray for. Amen

 

 

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Day 36: Tuesday, March 31, 2015

 

Our Lord and Savior, In this Lenten season, we confess our reluctance to confess our sins -- to you or to one another. You know us, all about us, without our telling you; and we do not want our neighbors, our friends, even our loved ones to know everything about us.

Remind us, most patient God, that there is no real relationship without trust and honesty, no healing forgiveness without confession. Save us from the Pharisee's self-righteous pride. Give us, rather, the courage of the publican, who knew he needed forgiveness and a fresh start and did not care who might be watching him pour out his heart to you.

Help us to make proper use of our Lenten opportunities for worship and self-searching. Assist us in our ongoing struggle for integrity. And grant us courage to right the wrongs we have done and to make up for the good we have left undone.

We implore you to hear us, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

 

“Do all the good you can. 

By all the means you can. 

In all the ways you can. 

In all the places you can. 

At all the times you can. 

To all the people you can. 

As long as ever you can.” 

-John Wesley

 

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Day 37: Wednesday, April 1, 2015

 

Foot Washing

Scripture: John 13:5-8

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

 

Devotional: A couple of years ago when I was a student at Perkins School of Theology at SMU, we had a foot washing worship service. I was intrigued by what this service would offer since I had not experienced one prior, so between classes I attended this service. I was surprised to see that many of my professors and the Dean were present. I thought to myself, “Oh this would be interesting.” When it came time for the foot washing ceremony, we simply got in line and made our way forward. There were two basins of water and clean towels for the two lines we formed. The person in front of me would wash my feet, and I in return would wash the person’s feet that was behind me. The person in front of me was one of my professors. The experience played out in my mind that this professor was my teacher and is similar to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus had set an example for his disciples to follow. 

    Yet, so many of us would probably feel uncomfortable in carrying out Jesus’ teaching literally. Foot washing was a sign of hospitality in the ancient world. The host provided water and cloth, and then the guests washed themselves or allowed a servant to wash them. Jesus’ point of foot washing is serving one another out of love. He called his disciples to a deeper level of love, humility, and service. Jesus calls us to love him and be willing to serve one another with humility and complete love. 

    In this season of Lent, may we humble ourselves as Jesus did and offer hospitality and love to others by serving them. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your gift of love and service. Continue to teach us your ways so that we may also do likewise. Amen

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Day 38: Thursday, April 2, 2015

 

A Maundy Thursday Prayer for Meditation

 

“MAUNDAY” is derived from the Latin word for commandment, “mandatum.” It was on this day that Jesus gave his disciples what he called a “new command”: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus imparts his understanding of this commandment by instituting the Eucharist. In John’s Gospel he demonstrates it by washing the feet of the disciples. We will receive the sacrament of Holy Communion on this sacred day.

We praise you, O Lord, for your gift of Christian community, and we thank you as we humbly, and with reverence, celebrate Christ’s initiation of our communal Eucharist. May we never fail to be grateful for the diverse people who make up the body of Christ, and sustain our faith in each other at times when we disagree. In the face of disappointments and betrayals keep us thankful for the new commandment Christ has give us, and help us to better love each other as he has loved us, with a sacrificial and unconditional love. As we struggle with doubts and fears, help us to trust that you will always provide the nourishment we need. We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.

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Day 39: Good Friday, April 3, 2015

 

A Good Friday Prayer for Meditation

 

We praise and thank you, Lord, for the gift of yourself on the cross. On this somber day of remembrance, as we contemplate Christ’s suffering for us, help us find meaning in the wounds we endure and in the travails of the world you created. You have called us to accept our common mortality, and to serve one another in love, keep us firm in our faith as we are called to suffer for others. You have called us to keep telling the story of your salvation in the unjust and violent world we live in, help us see past the limits of our vision to your limitless love, which transcends death. In the prophecies, gospel stories, and witness of scripture may we always find consolation and hope, never faltering in our certainty that you are the God of a kingdom of justice and the author of everlasting life. Amen.

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Day 40: Holy Saturday, March 4, 2015

 

"Lord Of The Dance"

 

“I danced in the morning when the world was begun

I danced in the Moon, and the stars, and the Sun

I came down from Heaven and I danced on Earth

At Bethlehem I had my birth.

 

Dance then, wherever you may be

I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be

And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

 

I danced for the scribe and the pharisee

They would not dance, they wouldn't follow me

So I danced for the fishermen James and John

They come with me and the Dance went on:

 

I danced on the Sabbath and cured the lame

The holy people, they said it was a shame!

They whipped and stripped and then hung me high

Left me there on a cross to die!

 

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black

It's hard to dance with the devil on your back

They buried my body and they thought I'd gone

But I am the Dance and I still go on!

 

They cut me down but I leap up high

I am the Life that will never never die!

I live in you if you live in Me

I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!”

-Sydney Carter

 

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Easter Sunday, March 5, 2015

 

Easter Prayer

 

We praise and thank you, Lord, for the gift of your victory over death, for the gift of holy awe that comes upon us as we enter into our Easter joy. Christ has passed from death to life, may we always know you as our way through the desert, our food and drink as we thirst. You are our safe passage through treacherous waters and the home that awaits us at the end of all our journeys. In our doubts and in the pressures of our busy lives, we seem to lose you. Help us remember that you are always with us and that your way is always before us, we have only to pay attention to hear you call us by name. Teach us to recognize you in one another and with deep gratitude continue to bear witness to the life and hope with which you sustain the world. Amen.

 
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