Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:1-8
Psalms: Psalms 95, 102
New Testament: Romans 8:28-39
Gospel: John 6:52-59
Evening Psalms: Psalms 107:1-32

DEVOTIONAL

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;  let us shout aloud to
the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, 
the great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth, 
and the mountain peaks belong to him.  The sea is his,
for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”
(Psalm 95: 1-5)

My wife and I love Shenandoah National Park and often go up on Skyline Drive to spend a few days and nights soaking up the raw beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Sitting on the edge of a rocky cliff on a clear sunny day watching a hawk far below us floating on the updraft of air, making gentle loops as it silently slips across the tree tops, is an experience I’ll never forget. Equally memorable was the day two years ago when the mountain shook during an earthquake and the night last summer when the gales of a very strong thunder storm made our cabin creak and groan as the huge oak trees outside bent in the wind.

I also recall a fishing trip in January a couple of years ago with some friends from Church. We went out on a charter boat with our favorite captain and had an unbelievable day catching and releasing many large rockfish, or as we New Englanders call them, striped bass. We were fortunate to have several hump backed whales breach and blow spumes of water right next to our boat (smelled fishier than the rockfish!). The combination of smooth quiet motion and the whales’ huge powerful bodies was such an incredible and humbling example of sea life and creation all around us.

What a blessing it has been to experience these times of total peace and the sheer power of the beautiful and complex world God has given us in which to live.

GOD, thank you for the beauty and power of this world YOU have given us live in. May we always appreciate this gift and do everything we can to keep and preserve it. Amen.
DJB (3/20/15)


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

READING


OLD TESTAMENT: JER. 22:13-23
GOSPEL: JOHN 6:41-51
PSALMS 69:1-38, 73

DEVOTIONAL


Romans 8:12-27 "The Spirit will help us in our weakness "

On September 11, 2001, Americans and the world shared a collective sorrow as our world was seemingly turned upside down. On September 12, 2001, I suffered my own personal sorrow and grief when I received a call from the Humboldt County coroner informing me my dad had passed away, an apparent suicide.

The surge of pain was immense. I was overcome with sadness, guilt, and anger. Sadness, for the loss of a man I loved and adored and for the fact that he would never meet my wife (my girlfriend at the time). Guilt, for not knowing he was in such a sad and deep state of depression. And anger, at the illness that had plagued him for his life and led him to this demise.

However, during this moment of weakness, and perhaps the saddest point of my adult life, I felt an overwhelming peace. My faith carried me through it all. I came to realize that I will not always understand God's plan, particularly in moments like these, but I know the Spirit is always with me, right by my side, to carry me through.
Nine years have passed. I see my dad daily in my son's beautiful eyes and in my daughter's rambunctious spirit. One need not look far to find God. My experience has proven to me that the Spirit is always with us, even in our darkest moments. My faith has only grown stronger, and I thank God for my blessings each day.

CJL (4/7/11)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Genesis 50:15-26
Psalms: Psalms 101, 109, 119:121-144
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel: Mark 8:11-26
Evening Psalms: 119:121-144

DEVOTIONAL

“Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand?...’” (Mark: 8:17)

As a young married couple, we took a trip to Big Bend National Park. Upon arrival, we decided to take a short hike before dinner. We selected a short circuit hike and headed out without snacks since we planned to enjoy dinner on our return. As it turned out, the trail was a longer hike that shared the trailhead. As we hiked along enjoying the stark beauty of our surroundings, our stomachs began to growl. Unaware that we were on a longer journey than we had anticipated, we continued on, thinking we would soon be back at the lodge and a well-earned dinner.

Eventually, my hunger started to get the best of me, and we stopped to check the map to see how much further we had to go. I was more than a little panicked to see that, not only were we on a different trail from what we had intended, but we were just getting to where the trail turned back toward the lodge. There would be no benefit to backtracking at this point. I mostly wanted to sit down and throw a fit, as I was not only worried about being hungry, but also about having enough energy to get back. So, we continued on while I alternately grumbled about not bringing snacks and prayed for energy to make it back.

Just as I was reaching the point where I thought I had too little energy to take even one more step, I noticed something small and red in the middle of the trail. It was a red Jolly Rancher, or so I thought because it was unwrapped. For me, it was a prayer answered. That slightly dirty piece of cherry candy (my favorite flavor by the way) tasted so good.

To this day, I obsess a little more than the rest of our family about having snacks with me even when we go on short hikes. I was reminded of this hike while reading Mark 8:11-26 where the disciples are worried about forgetting to bring bread. Jesus reminds them of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and asks them if they still do not understand.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for this reminder that You provide me all I need. Even though I plan ahead for future needs, I have faith that You will always provide for me.


SGH (3/9/16)










Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 17:19-27
Morning Psalms: Psalms 97, 99, 100
New Testament: Romans 7:13-25
Gospel: John 6:16-27
Evening Psalms: Psalms 94, 95

DEVOTIONAL


“Wretched Man that I am! Who will save me?”
(Paul, Romans 7:24)

Paul’s plea is, I believe, no mere rhetorical exercise. When he wrote this, he truly felt disheartened by his ongoing struggle with sin. The scars of that ongoing struggle were likely the same that many of us bear and deal with on a daily basis: despair, discouragement, shame.

The last 5 years have been a struggle with advancing middle age. I now medicate for hormone levels, blood pressure, and depression. They are almost certainly inter-related in a complex way, and finding balance in them, as with other types of balance in life, is tricky and probably never final. I have made painfully slow progress in some spiritual disciplines; each Lent seems to offer an opportunity to ratchet up the ladder. But I keep my expectations contained.

Paul’s affirmation of the saving facts of Christ’s sacrifice probably represents something he had to tell himself repeatedly: Thank you Lord, you’ve done for me what I could never do for myself. I am eternally grateful that your love for me, even when I didn’t deserve it, is greater than any failing in me.

So long as I’m walking on earth, my struggles will continue. I am bound to have more days when I wonder, even aloud, what good may be served by my perseverance in the face of my past record of defeats. At such times I will do well to say, Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, because what I could never do He has done once for all and for all time. And the blackness and bleakness of my despair will lift so that I can become a little more like Him.
MLB (3/12/13)


Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Genesis 49:1-28
Psalms 89:1-18, 19-52
1 Corinthians 10:14–11:1
Mark 7:24-37

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever, with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. (Psalm 89:1)

My grandfather, “Mack,” took my brother and me to church most weeks when we were younger. I have very fond memories of Grandfather Mack. I’m so happy he was a faithful Christian and took his grandkids to church. My parents divorced when we were very young, and my mother remarried another very faithful Christian, and we went to church every week. Because my parents were very involved in the church, it spilled over to more than just Sundays. I remember loving going to church, and then, when I became a teenager “loathing” going to church (most of the time). I have amazing memories from my church as a youth -- church camp, youth group meetings (once I got there), 24-hour famines, ice skating, 1st loves, …

However, the most important thing I got from “growing up in the church” was getting to know God and his amazing love.

No matter how far I strayed from the church, I always had an

amazing relationship with God, and He never stopped loving me.

I know how much God loves me.

I want my children to know and experience that love.

Heavenly father, I pray I will always remember how important it is for your love and faithfulness to be “known through all generations” and what that means to my family and to those I touch in this life.

--EAC (3/15/10)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Genesis 48:8-22
Psalms 19, 46, 66, 67
Romans 8:11-25
John 6:27-40

When I was in college, I had a sweet Friday night job – to show movies in the large common living room of my dorm. Part of this job entailed picking the movie up at the student union sometime during the week. To save an unnecessary trip, most of the time I would call first to make sure the movie was available for pick up. One week the featured movie was Dr. Zhivago, so when I called the office and said who I was, I figured the lady answering the phone knew I was calling about the movie. So I asked if Dr. Zhivago was there yet. The reply was, “I don’t know, I’ll ask.” What I heard next was a muffled yell (her hand obviously over the phone), “Is there a Dr. Zhivago in the office? Dr. Zhivago! Dr. Zhivago!” As Dr. Zhivago did not himself answer, I thanked the lady, hung up, and stopped in the next day. I just made sure to mention I was asking about the movie….

I was reminded of this anecdote in reading John 6: 27-40. In this passage, the crowd is hearing Jesus but not listening. They’re taking his words literally. It is something I’m sure I do on a regular basis. It’s so easy to hear what is being said but often times we have to step back, quiet ourselves, and quiet our souls to be able to properly listen. This is an important message John shares with them (and us); it would have been (and still would be) a pity to miss it.

Dear Lord, please helps us to remember to take the time to quiet our souls, so that we can listen to your words of wisdom and truth and let them bring peace to our day and to our lives. Amen.

--LML (3/14/10)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 13:1-11
Morning Psalms: Psalms 87, 90
New Testament: Romans 6:12-23
Gospel: John 8:47-59
Evening Psalms: Psalms 136

DEVOTIONAL


“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”
(Psalm 136)

Contemplating today’s readings left me with a deep longing to talk to my mother. She was a Presbyterian minister’s daughter and grew up in the church (almost literally). She was the one who really taught me about God and would have relished the chance to help me embrace Him through scripture. Sadly that’s not an option now, as I lost her long ago; but I think I know what she would have focused on…
 
“His love endures forever.”

We would have discussed God as a teacher, the wrathful God, the cryptic messages, the deep meanings; but it would always come back to…
 
“His love endures forever.”

She would have argued that really the printers made a big mistake; they missed the exclamation point, and she would probably have chanted several times, over and over, until she found the most pleasing notes…
 
“His love endures forever!”

I lost Mom when I was 22, and her presence in our lives has been sorely missed. I would always say it was way too soon, but I wouldn’t have said that I lost her when I was ‘young’. Our son’s 21st birthday will have passed by the time you are reading this. I’m struck anew by how young I really was when she passed and by the sudden realization that I’ve now lived more than half my life without being able to be with my mother. The only real comfort to the enduring sense of loss is the sure and certain knowledge that, like Our Father’s love and because she is with Him…
 
“Her love endures forever.”

JWS (3/9/13)





Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Genesis 47:1-26
Morning Psalms: Psalms 88
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 9:16-27
Gospel: Mark 6:47-56
Evening Psalms: Psalms 91, 92

DEVOTIONAL


I would like to think of my faith journey as different from others. I convinced myself that my brother’s accident on March 29, 2001, in which he was hit by a drunk driver and from which he still suffers from brain and physical injuries, was the trigger for my transformation from a person of faith to essentially an atheist. Now, I realize that it wasn’t my brother’s accident that changed my faith; it was my laziness and complacency in college.

In high school, I was involved in all aspects of Catholicism: Eucharistic Minister, retreat leader, daily mass attendance, monthly confessionals, etc. I thought that “involvement” alone would carry me – that I could coast on my spiritual journey.

What I didn’t learn until around 2010, after nearly 10 years of having no real spiritual guidance or direction, was that my faith takes daily effort. It is a constant struggle. It’s easy when church is available on your campus, but it’s much different in the “real world.” When I left high school, I left my community, and without community, I felt isolated, alone, even lonely. What I also realized, though, was that my spiritual foundation from high school had never left me.

Yes, my brother’s accident was terrible, but he is actually a happier person now than he was before the accident. While I was lonely before, I’m a much happier person now because I know what loneliness and isolation feels like. I now have a community and spiritual family, an amazing wife, and wonderful friends. What more could a person ask for? Whether it be a simple smile, a hug, a joke, a shoulder, I now do these things not just as a happy person. I do these things with a true sense of spiritual foundation, and it’s this foundation that has made my life so much more meaningful.

Maybe my faith journey isn’t so different from most people’s…
KT (3/28/14)


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 10:11-24
Psalms: Psalms 42, 43
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21
Gospel: John 8:21-32
Evening Psalms: Psalms 85, 86

DEVOTIONAL

wake from my slumber in my tent, wrapped in the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag, to the sound of the birds welcoming the day. I slip out into the cool, crisp morning, not a soul is awake, but the world is alive; the light of a new day crests the peaks of the mountains, lighting the tops of the trees like candles on the altar. I marvel at the works of God.

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, And in the night his song shall be with me- A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42: 7-8)

The hustle and bustle of my daily life, days filled with scurrying from school to work, appointment to appointment, activity to activity, frequently from sun up to sun down, limits my ability to fill my heart with God. I am driven by a culture of success and the need for more, drowning out the call of the Lord.

But sometimes less is more. At least once a month, I take time off, stop the hectic pattern of my life in this day and age, to take a group of Boy Scouts camping. I turn my scurrying into providing a service to others, teaching them skills they can use to be successful in life as well as how to be reverent. I teach them it is important to be quiet, literally and figuratively, to hear and see the wonders that God has provided. More importantly, I share with them something I believe: when we take the time to stop, reflect, listen and look around, our eyes are opened. We see more, hear more, feel more; and that is when I realize the Lord has been with me all along.

Lord, help me to remember that my success is not reflected in what I accomplish in the least amount of time possible. That I need to stop and listen to Your word and direction, take time to reflect, and have my eyes opened to the wonders that You have provided.

“…For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you.” ( Psalm 86:4-5) Amen.
SPC (3/12/15)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 8:18-9:6
Morning Psalms: Psalms 119:97-120
New Testament: Romans 5:1-11
Gospel: John 8:12-20
Evening Psalms: Psalms 81, 82

DEVOTIONAL


“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character;
and character, hope.”
(Romans 5:3-4)

As one of Christ’s earliest followers, Paul defined a lot of Christianity. Paul’s affirmation that suffering brings hope through the love of God is something that the church taught me early on, but that I didn’t understand until years later.

Shortly after I began to be homeschooled, my mom had a stroke. As you might expect, this made my education a bit more complicated, and life at home drastically changed. But through all of it, she never stopped trying to be the best mother she could be. With all the pressure on her, with the medical bills and the homeschooling and the house and my dad’s busy schedule, she never once gave up.

And she might have had moments when she felt defeated and almost lost hope, but I never saw them. She stayed strong for us. Because of that, we grew stronger as a family, and I grew as a person. I think Paul is right. It might be in the hardest times that we grow the most.
JF (3/6/13)


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 7:21-34
Morning Psalms: Psalms 78:1-39
New Testament: Romans 4:13-25
Gospel: John 7:37-52
Evening Psalms: Psalms 78:40-72

DEVOTIONAL


It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received
the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through
the righteousness that comes by faith.”
(Romans 4:13)


This faith Paul speaks of is also for me, for I believe in the One who raised Jesus from the dead. This scripture reading reminds me to trust in God, an all-loving father who always has my best interests at heart.

Last February my dad was diagnosed with leukemia that is incurable. After my parents told me about this, I was unable to sleep well or to concentrate. I was filled with worry and dreaded the worse every time I talked to them over the phone. I called them almost every day. Finally, I realized I was driving myself (and them) a little crazy.

In a quiet moment of prayer, I came to understand that only God has the power to solve a problem as large as this one was for me. So I asked Him to take care of my dad, and I put all my faith in His power (that His Will be done). The relief I have felt since that moment has been liberating. My heart and soul have been refreshed, and my peace of mind has been restored. I have made a personal vow to have more faith in God and to trust Him more.

Remember, even when all seems lost, God is there. Trust Him.

DE (3/5/13)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Genesis 44:18-34
Psalms 77, 79, 80
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Mark 5:21-43

As I read Mark 5:24-34 I am reminded of a similar time of my life. It was a moment that I’ll forever remember, and cherish.

I had completed two months of cancer radiation treatment, and the cumulative effects were at their worst. All of the medicine I took was not helping ease the pain and discomfort. I had tried everything from soaking in a hot bath to walking in circles. There was nothing my doctors or I could do to make it better. After days of agonizing, I prayed to our Lord and told Him I could take it no longer. Just as the woman in the gospel story did, I put my life totally in His care. And then it came. I could feel God’s Peace come over my body. It had been a long time since I had relaxed like this. I gently slipped into the peaceful slumber that had eluded me for days.

Just as the woman in our gospel reading reached out, touched Jesus, and felt his power, I reached out through prayer and felt the power of God entering my body. What an awesome feeling! God wants us to know and feel His presence in our lives. He wants to help us and will help us if we ask and have faith.

I pray that all of you might experience the miraculous sensation of God’s Peace and Love entering your being. There is nothing else as heartwarming and comforting. Amen.

--PFH (3/8/10)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 6:9-15
Psalms: Psalms 93, 96
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20
Evening Psalms: Psalms 34

DEVOTIONAL

“But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.”
(Psalm 34:16)

I read somewhere recently that 30 percent of adults claim to regularly daydream about being celebrities. What a surprising number, no? Only 30 percent? I would have thought it was well over 50. Perhaps I'm biased, what with a lot of my friends being the notorious self-documenting, 20-somethings who popularize phrases like, “YouTube Famous." I think we really are edging closer to Andy Warhol's "everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" future.

There's a little-known phenomenon among actual hyper-famous celebrities: they don't understand social media. Just for example, Rapper DMX doesn’t know how email works, and Julia Roberts thinks twitter happens on a pager. It makes me think that there's a connection, and that we're all striving for the same thing, regardless of age or number of Instagram followers: we want to be noticed and remembered. I’m not sure fame is inherently bad, but for the blip in time that we all get to be on Earth, I feel like it can't be that important. My Facebook wall is probably not evil, but it will almost certainly not be remembered. What is worth remembering and searching for is almost always found in friendship and prayer.

LORD, Help me to pray like a foodie tweets: constantly. I promise not to clog up your feed with complaints about the line at the bank. Rather, I promise to be honest, and to be myself. Help me to avoid things that would have you turn your face away in sadness. Help me to honor the memory of your Son through my actions remembered. Amen.

TB (3/8/15)





Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 5:20-31
Psalms: Psalms 75, 76
New Testament: Romans 3:19-31
Gospel: John 7:1-13
Evening Psalms: Psalms 23, 27

DEVOTIONAL

“I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.”
(Psalm 27:6)
 
A friend recently posted on Facebook that she had become “stale” in her prayer life. She believed that God was calling her to pray boldly and unceasingly for miracles and healing. My first thought was, Yes! She is absolutely right. Why are we so often timid when we approach God? We pray for others’ needs. We pray for friends, but gosh darn it, why do we so often forget to pray “boldly” for our own needs? As I pondered this, I scrolled down to the comments. There were several likes. There was only one comment, one short comment from our mutual friend, Leslie*, who had recently been diagnosed with Stage Four cancer.

Our neighborhood rallied together for Leslie. During prayer vigils, we prayed for peace, wisdom and discernment for Leslie’s doctors, strength for her family, and comfort for Leslie. Interestingly, and my friend’s Facebook comment helped me realize this, not one person prayed for healing. Surely, these prayers were not bold enough to bring healing to Leslie, but then I read Leslie’s comment: Yes, but don’t forget to give thanks. My heart stopped when I read her comment. What could Leslie possibly be thankful for? Her four children are faced with the prospect of losing their mother. Her family may have to endure the pain of her loss. The scenarios in my head were of unending loss and grief.

On reflection though, I believe that by offering thanks to God, Leslie is finding another way to cope with her illness. She is focusing on the abundance and beauty of God’s eternal love: the neighbors who stepped in to help care for her family, the friend who drove her to chemo, the changing seasons she witnessed from her deck, and her beautiful family. If I had to deal with a similar situation, would my prayers be words of thanks? Would I be filled with the love, light, and peace of our Lord? I pray that I would be like Leslie - trusting God, and taking to heart the above words from today’s Psalm.

Lord, I thank You for the gift of this earthly life. More importantly Lord, I thank You for the gift of eternal life – a gift made holy by the sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
MN (3/7/15)
* Name changed for privacy


Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Genesis 43:1-15
Psalms 69, 73
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Mark 4:35-41

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to the disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:35-41)

Our world, as children, revolved around a small harbor on the South Shore of Massachusetts. To say that we went sailing before we were born is not an exaggeration. Children of sailors, we had a small boat, almost as wide as it was long, to sail around the harbor and begin to learn the skill of racing. Each Sunday afternoon in winter one sibling would crew for Dad in Frostbite Races inside the harbor, conveniently scheduled to begin after the local church services had concluded. The family spent many summer days out sailing on the ocean in our larger sailboat, quite comfortable at sea.

My brother and I finally convinced Dad that we were skilled enough to race our 15” Mercury sailboat outside the mouth of the harbor, on the ocean! The breakwater had always been our limit; we were never to leave the mouth of the harbor without Mom or Dad. As perhaps young teenagers with two lifetimes of experience sailing, we were quite confident in our skills. We were sure our only challenge was to live up to the family name and win the race. It didn’t take long before we knew a couple of kids were no match for the Atlantic Ocean. The sea became choppy and the wind changed direction. We had to at least finish the race, but we were both more concerned about how we were going to get back inside the mouth of the harbor. Neither of us wanted to admit that we had somehow failed to inherit Dad’s seemingly innate skill at handling a sailboat and reading the wind, weather, and surface of the water. We did not share our fears; we lacked faith and each did not want the other to know of our self-doubt. It was perhaps forty years before my brother and I reminisced about that day and found that we both had been gripped by exactly the same fears. I can feel the disciples panic as the waves broke over their boat. Fortunately, God was with us also as we made our way past the Coast Guard (another symbol that God was, indeed, watching over us) and rocky breakwater, safely into the harbor.

--MDB (3/5/10)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

READING



Old Testament: Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28
Morning Psalms: Psalms 70, 71
New Testament: Romans 2:12-24
Gospel: John 5:19-29
Evening Psalms: Psalms 74

DEVOTIONAL


In you, LORD, I have taken refuge
( Psalm 71:1a)

Recent events have led many of us to believe that we are not safe anywhere. As I write this, the events of December 14th are on my mind. People are asking, “Isn’t there any place that is safe?”

Children, administrators, and teachers went to school one morning, to a place thought to be safe – after all, they had safety measures in place. A young man’s mother slept in her bed, where she thought she too, was safe. On that terrible morning, none of them were in a safe place. We seem to live in a day and age, where no physical place is safe – not our shopping malls, movie houses, schools, workplaces, places of worship, or homes.

As a result of this tragedy, and others similar to it, there is an ongoing dialogue about how we can protect ourselves and our children. As Christians, scripture provides us with an assurance that the world cannot – the Word of God.

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go;
(Psalm 71:3a)

Refuge is defined as a safe haven, sanctuary, shelter, protection, place of safety, or asylum. My faith provides all the refuge I need to navigate through the challenges life presents. Knowing that God is still in control and has promised never to forsake me allows me to live my life without fear.

Thank you God, for the refuge you provide. You have promised always to be with us in the midst of all that occurs – the good and the bad. Thank you for that assurance.
SWG (2/28/13)


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Genesis 42:18-28
Psalms: Psalms 72, 119:73-96
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8
Gospel: Mark 4:1-20
Evening Psalms: 119:73-96

DEVOTIONAL

“Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.” (Mark 4:7-8, The Message)

Today’s Gospel reading about the scattered seeds makes me uncomfortable. In this story Jesus compared people to seeds that fall on different soil and experience different outcomes. I’m pretty sure that if I took the Facebook quiz on this I wouldn’t like my results. I have an uneasy feeling. With the busyness and distractions in my life, I am much like a seed that falls into the weeds and cannot produce a good harvest.

I’m writing this as the year 2015 is drawing to a close. I look back and see that, indeed, I had a busy year. Like every year. Like everyone else. I think Jesus was pretty clever using the weeds choking analogy because just like the weeds that seem to never stop popping up, so does the stuff of everyday life.

In the last few years, I have found myself drifting away from the good earth by being too caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. It’s easy to think that “someday” I won’t be so busy and “someday” I’ll get around to it. The problem, of course, is that “someday” never happens. Oh, I attend church services regularly and pray daily, but it seems as if I never get around to much more.

So what happens now? How do I get myself back from the excuses of “someday”? This year, right now, I have set goals for my spiritual life, goals which include spending time in service to others and in daily Bible reading – two things from which I had found myself drifting away. With God’s help, I can turn “someday” into “now, today” and find myself on fertile ground, away from the weeds of life.

Lord, help me to focus on my spiritual life. Help me to commit to reading Your Word and in serving others as You have called me to do. Help me to harvest a full life in You. Amen.

MRL (2/24/16)


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 2:1-13
Psalms: Psalms 61, 62
New Testament: Romans 1:16-25
Gospel: John 4:43-54
Evening Psalms: Psalms 68

DEVOTIONAL

“And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. ‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’ The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus replied, ‘You may go. Your son will live.’ The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” (John 4:46-50)

My son Henry, who just turned two, is at that high-mobility/low-fear stage of life. If I’m walking up the stairs while he is heading down, he’s likely to fling himself into my arms without warning. Sometimes while I’m holding him, he’ll suddenly flip over backwards, dangling from my arm like a furiously giggling 26-pound bat. My parents tell me I was much the same at his age and had a similar bravado concerning a certain swimming pool near our apartment in Georgia.

This part of life is so fleeting, when we have complete faith that we’ll be caught, held, rescued, and comforted. That an all-powerful caregiver will always be there to keep us from harm and make things better.

In the passage from John, the government official who sought help from Jesus wouldn’t be dismissed, asking Jesus twice to come and heal his son. But when Jesus told him to go, that his son would be well, he took Jesus at His word… and simply went. What was it about Jesus that gave the official the feeling that all would be well? Something in His voice? His eyes? His general way of being?

Lord, please help me to put my complete trust in You, and to take You at Your word. Amen.

RBP (3/3/15)


Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Genesis 41:46-57
Morning Psalms: Psalms 56, 57, 58
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 4:8-21
Gospel: Mark 3:7-19a
Evening Psalms: Psalms 64, 65

DEVOTIONAL


Papa God,

Above all, I give thanks for this Lenten season and the opportunity to grow closer to you.

I know it seems like a cold, grey, and overall forlorn couple of months, but this time that we take each year to focus on our relationship with You is a blessing that I will always give thanks for. It’s not easy, living in this world as a follower of Christ. As a flawed individual, I have trouble overcoming my own perceptions of my flaws and the flaws of others, which hinders my efforts to do Your will. I doubt, fail, worry, guilt, and struggle. But God, please remind me every day that You created me exactly the way I was meant to be.

In today’s Gospel reading, Mark tells us who Jesus appointed as His apostles. Mark does this in such an interesting way because he doesn’t say, “John, who was the highest selling tradesmen in his area,” or “Paul, who could diagnose any illness from a brief glance.” This tells me that it didn’t matter to Jesus what these men had accomplished, or even what flaws they had. I live in a world where a name is only as good as its accomplishments. God, please give me the peace to know that You don’t care about what I’ve accomplished, but that You just care about me.

And Papa God, today I ask that You accept me in Your discipleship. I come before you flawed, under-accomplished, and broken. Help me strip those insecurities away so that I can help build Your kingdom and continue the work You have lovingly entrusted us to do, the work that You are lovingly entrusting me to do.

 In Christ our Lord,
Amen.
LA (3/17/14)


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Genesis 41:14-45
Psalms: Psalms 24, 29, 8, 84
New Testament: Romans 6:3-14
Gospel: John 5:19-24
Evening Psalms: 8,84

DEVOTIONAL

Today’s gospel reading reminds me of when I was but a tiny baby, helpless and totally dependent. There was nothing I could do without my parents. As I grew up, my actions reflected how my parents raised me. I find that how I think is very similar to how my parents think. In some regards, that is how it is with my friends and their parents.

“So Jesus answered them by saying, ‘I assure you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself; but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way.’” (John 5:19)

If not for the father, I would not be here
If not for the mother, I would not be here
It is the connection of the two that I have no fear
That I am who I am, not just as I appear
But also as I am, as a guy
That there is no goal that is too high
It begins with what is taught
And ends with plenty of conscious thought
Parents are the ones with the master plan
To change you from a boy, into a man
Whether it be memories, of friends, of holidays, or even at playing ball
Your parents are the ones who are the center of it all
As this poem comes to an end
Try to remember this my friend
That in the same way your parents love you
Jesus loves you too

“The Father dearly loves the Son and discloses to Him everything that He Himself does. And He will disclose to Him greater things yet than these, so that you may marvel and be full of wonder and astonishment.” (John 5:20)


A K L (2/21/16)


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 11:18-28
Psalms: Psalms 55
New Testament: Hebrews 5:1-10
Gospel: John 4:1-26
Evening Psalms: Psalms 138, 139 

DEVOTIONAL

 “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” 
 (John 4:7-10)

You never know when God will test you. This past summer one of my employees broke the law, was arrested, and sentenced to 90 days in jail. He made that choice, and he had to deal with the consequences. Human Resources wanted to terminate him. He was just a name to them. But I knew the man. I knew that he was a great and conscientious employee. I also knew that he had a family and a young daughter and that this job was an important part of any small amount of financial security he might have. 

I spoke with him several times while he was in jail. He was clearly hurting emotionally. I wanted to help him, but this was hard for me. Going to battle with HR over him could have real consequences for me, my own job, and my family. So, I prayed, “God, what would you have me do?” Ultimately, I decided to take on this fight. When he had served his sentence, my employee was able to come back to work for me.

Although this episode was over, I ask myself if I would do it again. More importantly, would I take the same actions if it was just a name, and I did not know the person? I believe that would be infinitely harder for me. If this was a test from God, I credit this as an easy one. I pray that as the tests get harder, that I will accept God’s living water, follow the teachings of Jesus, and act according to His will. Amen.

DRR (2/28/15)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Psalms: Psalms 40, 54
New Testament: Hebrews 4:11-16
Gospel: John 3:22-36
Evening Psalms: Psalms 51


DEVOTIONAL

“Let us approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:11-16)

A little over a year ago, church wasn't a part of my life. I'd always believed in God, but just turned away from the church. I had stopped praying a decade before that -- after my father's death. I just didn't have space in my life for God, church, or anything else that resembled religion. During that time, there were many struggles in my life, but I just muddled through, never asking for help or guidance, never praying. I thought about it a few times, but I honestly didn't think I deserved help. Since I hadn’t done my part, I thought it was selfish to ask; and so I didn’t.

About a year ago, that changed. My 10-year-old dog, Jack, got cancer. He was given one month to live, and I was devastated. For the first time in a decade, I asked for help. I was lost, deeply sad, and I felt alone. In return for that help, I would "try" church again.  

Jack went into remission and lived. I was given more than another year with my boy, and I'm so thankful for that time. I miss him terribly, but I know he brought me here, to this place with God, and I am forever grateful for this gift.

A year later, here I am, fully immersed in a church and loving it. Without realizing it at the time, I received mercy and found grace in a desperate hour. It was so much more than that, though. God knew something I didn't: that I needed more. I needed a place to feel relaxed and comfortable, a place where I could experience the sense of community that I so badly needed, but didn't realize, a place that was welcoming and that would encourage me to do more, try a bit harder, and find my faith again. This was never about God helping me because of my sick pet; it was about His love and wisdom in giving me exactly what I needed when I was ready to receive it.

Lord, thank You for your mercy, guidance and grace. Thank You for seeing things in me that I forgot existed. Thank You for your patience and assistance with my journey back. And thank you for Jack. Amen.
TK (2/27/15)


Thursday, March 09, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Genesis 39:1-23
Morning Psalms: Psalms am: 50, 59, 60
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15
Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
Evening Psalms: Psalms 19, 46

DEVOTIONAL


As I read the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man, I was struck by the lengths to which the man's friends were willing to go to get him to Jesus. Nothing was going to stand in their way of getting their paralyzed friend what he needed.

I think of strength when I reflect on this Gospel passage. All of us should be so lucky to have people in our lives who care enough, who are strong enough to help us when we need it the most. It's good to have friends who are physically strong (especially when there's furniture to be moved). Clearly the paralyzed man's friends had the physical strength to carry and hoist him onto the roof. But the strength I'm admiring here is inner strength, the strength of love that led this man’s friends to do whatever needed to be done to help him. I want to be strong like that. And sometimes I have been. Other times, not so much. There have been times in my life when the opportunity to be strong presented itself, and I've folded, given in to fear, doubt, and insecurity. Instead of the strong helper, I became the person who was paralyzed. Fortunately, I don’t have to look very far to witness examples of inner strength in my own life, examples I can follow. It’s amazing what members of St. Matthew’s do to help the hungry, the homeless, and the hurting in our community. Their regular acts of kindness and generosity are inspiring; their strength, heroic. Yes, I want to be strong like that.

The good news is I can be strong like that because the Gospel shows that the paralyzed are healed. Our love for one another, my faith in Christ, and His forgiveness of my failings make it possible to tap into my own inner strength to do His good works. And for that I am grateful. Amen.
MB (3/13/14)


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

READING


Old Testament: Genesis 37:25-36
Morning Psalms: Psalms 119:49-72
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 2:1-13
Gospel: Mark 1:29-45
Evening Psalms: Psalms 49, 53 

DEVOTIONAL


My mother made our childhood home a wonderful place full of fun, laughter, visitors and good food. Mom didn’t have a lot of money to decorate our home and didn’t care anyway. When her friends redecorated in the latest styles she would gladly accept the older style. Warmth and comfort was her priority. She had the gift of not judging people; many friends and neighbors found comfort in our home.

Since my childhood I have lived in many homes that have been a place of refuge. Some homes are temporary, like a tent, or dorm. One summer of mission work I lived in a shack at the end of a dirt road. It came with an outhouse with two seats. That was living (also a place of love, laughter and refuge at the end of the day).

When I left home to make my home in Africa for a year I felt like I was leaving everything familiar. I had little idea of what life would be like for me. I don’t recall seeing a photo of my job site. I did not know where I would live, exactly or who my family would be. I chose Psalm 119:54 to remind me that God’s word would be my comfort;

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.”
 
My current home is a refuge at the end of the day, a peaceful place to be with my family.

We face many changes in our lives. Our physical home may change. Life circumstances may change. Sometimes we’re in a good place and sometimes not. Sometimes we need comfort. God’s word is the one home I never leave, my constant place of comfort and refuge. My Bible is a daily part of my life and I am so thankful for it.
LAM (3/12/14)


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 9:4-12
Psalms: Psalms 45
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-11
Gospel: John 2:13-22
Evening Psalms: Psalms 47, 48

DEVOTIONAL

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.” (Psalm 47:1-2)
 
 I am watching my favorite football team. The quarterback throws the football, straight into the hands of the receiver! The receiver rushes past all of those linebackers, shaking off their attempted tackles, and runs into the end zone! I go wild – cheering, yelling, clapping. Those guys are awesome!

I love music. I get in my car, turn up the volume and sing and dance away! I don’t care if the person in the next car thinks I’m weird -- I’m loving the music! I think about the artists -- they are awesome!

I read Psalm 47, and it hits me. Here I am cheering and clapping for football players, dancing and singing for music and musicians. Why am I not doing those exact same things for God?

Maybe I need to be more like my Dad. There were times Dad was just embarrassing, and the last thing I ever wanted was to be like him. There was one thing that Dad did right, though. Dad would cheer, clap and yell. He would pump his fist toward the sky. He would sing out loud. Only, Dad didn’t do those things for football players, or for musicians. Dad did those things for God. Dad would make up and sing songs about how wonderful and amazing God is. He would praise God for everything. Dad, with no reservation at all, truly and totally loved God with his whole heart and whole being. If God has cheerleaders, Dad is the squad leader!

Yes, I need to be more like my Dad. I need to clap my hands and shout for the joy of God. I need to make up songs and sing out loud about how awesome God is. I need to love God without any doubt, or hesitancy, or reservation at all. I need to truly and totally love Him with my whole heart and whole being. I want to be God’s cheerleader, too!

Please God, remind us that we need no excuse to hold back our songs and praises for You. Drive us to fully embrace You in our hearts. Help us to be Your cheerleaders. Amen.

“Sing the praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King,
sing praises.” (Psalm 47:6)



 
EKC (2/24/15)


Monday, March 06, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Genesis 37:1-11
Psalms 41, 44, 52
1 Corinthians 1:1-19
Mark 1:1-13

Jealousy. Now that’s something I understand all too well. I’ve felt that rage and resentment that boils up inside from the bottom of your stomach as you watch someone get a promotion that you wanted, receive a gift that you really hoped for but your family couldn’t afford, or have their college tuition paid for by a parent while you struggle and pray that you’ll receive financial aid that won’t take a million years to pay off.

Yes, I “get” jealousy. I understand his brothers’ anger and resentment towards Jacob. Though I’ve never actually planned someone’s demise because of my jealousy, however, I’m sure I’ve envisioned and maliciously savored, in the deep, dark recesses of my mind, his or her downfall. But, in the end, where does that get me? Where has it ever gotten me? I’ll tell you. All it’s ever done is made me a wretched person, and if I don’t change my course, I will ultimately lose all that’s really important to me. That’s a huge price to pay for my choice to focus only on myself and not on loving God and those around me. And it is not one I’m willing to pay. I am so thankful that Yahweh has provided us, that He has provided me, with His Grace and forgiveness through Jesus.

Dear Abba, thank you so much for the sacrifice your son made for me. Thank you for loving me even when my repugnant behavior makes me difficult to love. Please help me to stay focused on you, and to truly become a person worthy of your grace.

--KLR (2/22/10)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Daniel 9:3-10
Psalms: Psalms 63, 98, 103
New Testament: Hebrews 2:10-18
Gospel: John 12:44-50
Psalms: 103

DEVOTIONAL

“…For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, He flourishes like a flower of the field; The wind blows over it and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting The Lord’s love is with them who fear him….” (Psalm 103:14-17)

On my 60th birthday I was in the ER, and a few days later, I was in ICU in a coma.  I remember gradually coming out of the coma to see all the machines around me that kept track of every possible vital sign.  I thought I should get a picture of this; I had never seen so many screens and wires and tubes.  I thought I was in the pilot seat of a jumbo jet.  And then I started to realize what happened to me, and I tried to remember where I had just come from.  This was really frightening.  All I could remember of my experience was a pure, silent darkness….nothingness.  

This horrified me.  Is this death?  Is this what I have to look forward to, an eternity of dark nothingness?  I cherished the white of clouds, the green of grass, the feel of a breeze, the expansive horizon with mountains, rocks, trees and rivers. What could possibly be the purpose of life if in the end all these pleasures are revoked forever?  

I held onto this fear and frustration for days.  And then, somehow, one day this gloom was completely eradicated.  I realized that before I came into this world there was God’s love.  And for this brief moment in eternity while I am here alive, the Lord’s love stays with me, and I will do all I can to explore and share this love.  Finally, when I am no longer in this world, I feel the love of God will continue just as it was before I was born.  I am convinced I will continue to exit in His love.  I should not worry about the end of this life; instead I should cherish the realization that from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with me.  

I regret that it took such a harrowing experience to bring me to this realization, but now I am thankful for each new day and also for the warmth of His love that I feel will be there when these days are no more. I no longer consider the darkness of death.

RH (2/14/16)


Saturday, March 04, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Old Testament: Eze 39:21-29
Psalms: 30, 32, 42, 43
New Testament: Phil 4:10-20

Jesus in Father. Father in Jesus. Them in Me. Me in Them. You in Them. Perfected in Unity.

In the swimming pool I settle my eyes level with the surface. I poke my fingertips up through the skin of the water and wiggle them. Are they “five”? Sort of. But invisible from this angle; under the surface, they are all part of one hand. Their separateness is real, but only a part of the bigger story, and all it takes is a change of angle to see that.

It seems to me that Jesus said it again and again, every way he could think of until he was blue in the face. I am the Vine, you are the branches. (I am the hand, you are the fingers?) Change the angle of your gaze and realize that you are One – one with me, one with the Father, one with each other. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I wiggle my fingers and think, (it’s not ‘love your neighbor the way you love yourself.) He is saying your neighbor is your actual Self.”

Jesus taught this over and over using parable and metaphor. Apparently people weren’t catching on. Finally, here in the farewell lesson, he comes right out and says it plain as day. "I am one with the Father. Wake up and realize that you are too. I am one with you. Wake up and realize that you are also one with each other."

I think of the rare fleeting moments I have felt that unity, and felt that we are not alone, never isolated except in imagining our lack of wholeness.

It’s a start.

DF (2/25/12)

Friday, March 03, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Morning Psalms: Psalms 95, 31 
New Testament: Philippians 4:1-9
Gospel: John 17:9-19
Evening Psalms: Psalms 35

DEVOTIONAL


I’m not a person who enjoys spending a lot of time outside. It’s hot in the summer (and sticky in Virginia), my allergies kick into high gear, and there are bugs and snakes and other critters that I prefer not be in my space. But my Dad loved spending a lot of time outdoors with us. Whenever he was home and wherever we lived, Dad took us on outings. We would fish, hunt, or just camp in the mountains, hunt for rocks in the desert, look for shells on the beach. So, even though I didn’t inherit the love-of-the-outdoors gene, I had many opportunities to learn to appreciate and to grow to love the beauty and the majesty of nature.

I remember starting our fishing trips before the sun had risen and how the mountains loomed up in front of us, vast, velvety, and dark. We’d drive up and up, but still there were higher snow-covered mountain tops in the distance. Then, down a dirt road, we would pull up into the middle of a wide meadow filled with tall swaying grasses and delicate colorful flowers. The lake was like a mirror, with its dark glassy surface only broken by the jump of a fish... and then by our boat. It was so quiet that I think we would have whispered even if we hadn’t been trying our best to not scare the fish.

These images come to mind when I read Psalm 95:

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” (verses 3-5, NIV)

What a great gift He has given us!
 
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” (Verse 2)

SKR (3/7/2014)


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Habakkuk 3:1-18
Psalms: Psalms 37:1-18, 37:19-42
New Testament: Philippians 3:12-21
Gospel: John 17:1-8

DEVOTIONAL

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…..Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-21)

Life has thrown many curve balls my way. One of the biggest was in March 1989, when my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She passed away the following year, and from that point forward, my world was never the same. Even with all my family and friends surrounding me, I lived in a fog for a full year. I felt alone. I felt like an orphan. I felt like my world was colorless. My mother was the very element in my life that brought light into my world. The memories used to haunt me and send me into a downward spiral.

At some point something clicked, and I realized that the light she brought me was now living inside of me. I realized that it was up to me to take all she taught me and make my own way in the world. I learned how to take those amazing memories of her, turn them into positive motivation, and allow them to lift me up. I still miss her terribly each and every day. I still cry, like while I’m writing this. But the tears don’t last as long or sting as much.

The past couple of years have been particularly challenging for me for a variety of reasons, and I’ve taken the same approach that I took all those years ago. I’ve mourned what was lost, and I’m moving forward, focusing on what lies ahead and not behind me. I’m working on recreating myself, creating a new me. Dwelling on the memories of what was and mourning the loss of the future I’d planned is an essential part of the healing process. But just as I did when I lost my mother, I’m choosing to let go of the past and focus on what lies ahead.

Thank you, Lord, for sending your Son into this broken world to save us from our sins. Thank you for sending me an amazing mother as a role model for grace, strength, forgiveness, and beauty. May I be that same role model to those You bring into my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
MKR (2/11/16)


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017


READING

Old Testament: Jonah 3:1 - 4:11
Psalms: Psalms 95, 32, 143
New Testament: Hebrews 12:1-14
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Evening Psalms: Psalms 102, 130


DEVOTIONAL

“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Years ago, one of my neighbors was invited to participate in a Special Olympics track and field event. Kevin was born with Down Syndrome, and he never spoke. But Kevin understood everything, and he had the most incredible imagination. A laundry basket instantly became a row boat; a baseball cap transformed him into a homerun hitter; the William Tell Overture had him galloping like the Lone Ranger!

With his father’s help, Kevin prepared for the running event. Every evening, he practiced starting at the sound of a whistle, and every day he ran just a little bit farther. 

One day, Kevin didn’t want to practice. He shook his head and adamantly refused. Having anticipated this, his father showed Kevin a video of one of the races in Chariots of Fire. That’s all it took. Kevin not only wanted to run, he wanted to run fast! After that, he willingly and faithfully practiced, and on the day of the event, Kevin was ready. At the sound of the whistle, he took off running as fast as he could. Soon, he was way ahead of the other runners! 

It must have been the noise. First, he simply slowed down. Then, he stopped completely. Facing the cheering crowd, Kevin started to bow. Turning from one side of the field to the other, he bowed. His father ran down the sidelines calling his name, urging him to continue running. Snapping out of his victorious reverie, Kevin ran toward the finish line. He did win, but just barely. 

Though my limitations are different, my challenges are similar to Kevin’s. Sometimes I allow the noises in my life to distract me from staying the course. Sometimes I adamantly refuse to work any harder, thinking I’ve done enough, prayed enough, believed enough. That’s when my coach intervenes.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending a coach to teach me and to guide me, to snap me out of my reverie, whether it be one of comfort, anger, self-pity, or self-righteousness, regardless of the life event behind its cause. I pray that I may use the Lenten days before me to listen… in silence, through prayer, and by reading your Word, as I attempt to run with perseverance the race marked out for me…fixing my eyes on Jesus. Amen.
MO (2/18/2015)