Devotion Archives 2021, April - June

 

The Feet of Holy Week by Julie Luetke

The first feet of Holy Week belonged to a donkey stepping on coats and palm branches. He carried a king as people shouted, “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:1–11)

 

Early in Holy Week, the angry feet of Jesus rushed in to clean up God’s temple throwing out the money changers. Jesus declared the temple a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12-17)

 

Mary tenderly washed the feet of her Savior with tears and dried them with her hair. She understood Jesus’ role as the sacrificial lamb. (John 12:1-8)

 

In the middle days of Holy Week, many people sat at Jesus feet to hear him teach them in parables and of the widow who gave all she had. (Mark 12:41-44) 

 

Before the Passover meal, Jesus knelt over a basin washing twelve pair of dusty feet belonging to His disciples. (John 13:1-17)

 

After Jesus gave His body and blood in bread and wine, feet walked with Jesus to a small olive orchard called Gethsemane.

Disciple feet slept while the Master prayed. (Matthew 26:36-46)

 

Feet marched to Gethsemane on orders to arrest the man called, Jesus. (Matthew 26:47-55)

 

The disciples’ feet fled in fear at Jesus capture. (Mark 14:48-52)

 

Thirty pieces of silver were thrown at the feet of the Pharisees by a remorse filled Judas. (Matthew 27:3-10)

 

The trembling feet of Peter stood by the fire in a courtyard as Peter denied he knew the man from Nazareth. (Luke 22:54-62)

 

Pilate’s feet stood in the judgment hall giving in to the crowd, setting the feet of Barabbas free and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. (Matthew 27:15-26)

 

On Friday morning, the feet of a man from Cyrene were forced to walk the road to Calvary carrying the cross of his stumbling Savior. (Mark 15:20-21)

 

Nails were pounded through the feet of the innocent God-man. It was not the spikes, but love that held His feet to the cross. (Mark 15:24-26)

 

How beautiful on the mountains

    are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

    who bring good tidings,

    who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

“Your God reigns!

(Isaiah 52:7 NIV)

 

Dear Father in heaven, make my feet beautiful, proclaiming peace and bringing the Good News of salvation. In Jesus' name, amen.

A WORD for Women

Betrayal after Betrayal by Janet Gehlhar

(Matthew 26 EHV)

     Peter had a tough night. When Jesus predicted his denial, Peter was adamant that he would never fall away (v33). Next, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was sorrowful and troubled and asked Peter to watch and pray, but Peter fell asleep (v40-41). When the soldiers arrested Jesus, Peter deserted him (v56). While waiting in the courtyard, Peter denied Jesus three times (v75). After that he wept bitterly. I would have cried too.

     Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. How deeply his betrayal must have hurt Jesus! And I can only begin to imagine how sick at heart Peter felt. 

     What was Jesus’ response to all of this? Jesus extended love and forgiveness. He knew Peter would betray him, and he used that experience to help Peter grow in his faith.

     After Peter had denied Him, Jesus looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered what the Lord had said (Luke 22:60-62).

While we don’t know what the “look” was, we can be confident it was just what Peter needed in that moment.

     After the resurrection, the angel told the women to tell the disciples, specifically mentioning Peter by name (Mark 16:7),

showing Jesus’ concern for him. Jesus knew how awful Peter was feeling and wanted to offer him reassurance.

     I am always with you. (Psalm 73:23 EHV)

     Jesus does the same for us. We mess up on a daily basis and He continues to forgive us and love us, working all of our poor choices for our eternal good.

Photo by Michelle Engel

 
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Carrying Thoughts by Emily Krill, Messy Worship

“…And they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.” Mark 15:21 NLT
___

I never really thought much about Simon of Cyrene.

 

He’s only referenced three times in the Bible – Mark 15:21, Matt 27:32, and Luke 23:26 – all for the same reason. He was chosen randomly from the crowd and forced to carry Jesus’ cross for him when Jesus was too weak and weary to carry it.

 

What an emotionally layered act. On the one hand, Simon was able to provide the tiniest big of relief to Jesus in his final hours. On the other hand, he helped carry the thing that Jesus was about to be executed on. I can only imagine what must’ve been going through Simon’s head.

 

  • Was he grateful for the opportunity to relieve Jesus of a tiny bit of suffering?

  • Did he consider throwing the cross to the ground and fighting the whole death procession – protesting Jesus’ unfair punishment?

  • Did he catch Jesus’ eye as he walked with him and his cross? Did they exchange a grimace?

  • Was any part of him resenting the heavy, dirty task he got dragged into because of Jesus?

 

I wonder which of those thoughts I might’ve had if I were Simon that day.

 

You know what, though? Every time I feel rejected, misunderstood, falsely accused, or experience suffering of any kind because of my association with Jesus, I am Simon. I get to experience a tiny piece of what Jesus’ suffering was for being associated with us. I have a chance to feel a sliver of the weight Jesus fell under as he dragged his cross.

 

  • Do I feel grateful for the chance to understand Jesus’ suffering – the suffering he took willingly because it meant saving me?

  • Do I become amped up to fight for the widows, orphans and distressed in Jesus’ name?

  • Do I take a moment to just meditate on the fullness of his love for me – that he would be tortured and killed all for me?

  • Do I resent being misjudged, bullied or looked down upon because of my association with Jesus?

 

These thoughts could lead me to one of two conclusions: Guilt or Gratitude.

 

Guilt: I couldn’t have done what Jesus did. I’m not sure I could’ve even done what SIMON did. Jesus didn’t deserve that and I don’t deserve his grace. Jesus’ cross makes me feel shame and guilt – I don’t want to think about it. I’m a horrible person. 

 

Gratitude: I WAS a horrible person. I couldn’t have done what Jesus did. I’m not sure I could’ve even done what Simon did. Jesus didn’t deserve that and I don’t deserve his grace. Jesus’ cross makes me see and feel incredible, super-human unconditional love – I want to think about it. I’m an incredibly valuable, deeply loved person. 

 

I know which one of those two things God wants me to think. I also know which one of those two things the devil wants me to think.

 

This week my prayer is that we all can spend every moment GRATEFUL, not guilt-ful, for the cross that we have all been touched by.

___

Dear Lord, you know how easy it is for me to feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame. It so quickly consumes me and all the opportunities you’ve given me to feel gratitude instead. You died because you love me; you don’t resent me for that. Please make me strong in the battle against guilt. Flood my soul with gratitude. Help me live the full life you died to give me. Amen.

__________

Blog used by permission from Messy Worship

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 
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A Day to Remember by Carolyn Webb

     The past 24 hours had been terrible. Today Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t have work to  distract them from the horror they had just witnessed. God, in his infinite wisdom, planned the sacrifice of His Son so the next day would be a Sabbath Day. Women had to put their plans for Jesus’ proper burial on hold. Saturday was a day to remember their friend, their teacher, the man who healed the sick, drove out demons, and raised people from the dead. Now he was dead – brutally executed.

     How could God let such a thing happen? Perhaps some of the disciples were even remembering words that Jesus had said in the days before he died:

  • Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)

  • They will condemn the Son of Man to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:18-19)

     What did it all mean?

     Heavenly Father, we have the benefit of knowing the full salvation story, yet we often question how you can let terrible things happen and what it all means. Comfort us with the knowledge that you have plans for our eternal good. As we remember Jesus’ life and death, give us confidence to say:

God indeed is my savior;

I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.

(Isaiah 12:2) 

A WORD for Women
 

He is Risen! by Karen Maio

     After weeks of somber focus on Christ’s suffering and death on the cross (all because of our sins) we now joyously celebrate Easter, focusing on the miracle of Christ’s resurrection and what that means for us.

     It was all part of God’s gracious salvation plan: God’s son, Jesus, would become one of us, live a perfect, sin-free life (that we could never live), be sacrificed on the cross to pay for our sins, and after three days, rise triumphantly from the dead. Eyewitnesses watched as Jesus was betrayed, beaten, nailed to the cross, and died. After three days they saw his empty tomb, and they saw and touched their risen Savior.

 

Jesus lives! The victory’s won!

     Jesus successfully defeated Satan, sin, and death with his own death and resurrection. God approved and accepted all that Jesus had done for our salvation and showed it by raising Jesus from the dead. All are justified; all sins were forgiven. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25 NIV)

     To all who believe in Jesus as their Savior, God gives new life, both the power and desire to live for him here on earth - “...just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4 NIV) - and also the promise of our own miraculous resurrection and eternal life with him in heaven. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25).

 

Alleluia! Praise the Lord!

A WORD for Women

Happy Siblings Day! by Carolyn Webb

     Did you know that National Siblings Day in the United States is April 10th? I wasn’t aware of this myself until recently. If God has blessed you with a good relationship with a sister and/or brother, you might already enjoy celebrating Siblings Day.

   Some of you might feel that this holiday doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you are an only child. Maybe you don’t have a good relationship with your siblings. While this holiday was established to celebrate the special relationship between natural siblings, I think it gives all of us the perfect opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

   Through Jesus all believers are brothers and sisters. “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11 (NIV) Throughout the New Testament there are 124 references to believers in Christ being brothers and sisters. Many of these verses are exhortations for how we should live together as Christians.

   Whether it relates to siblings by birth or siblings through rebirth by baptism, Siblings Day can be a day to reflect on the gift of relationships that God has given us. “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

     Happy Siblings Day, Sisters!

 
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Praise with Conviction! by Julie Luetke

     The season of Easter lasts for a number of weeks. During that time we continually celebrate a victory, the victory over sin and death, won by Jesus rising from the dead.

     When we witness a victory, or any big event, we speak about it with confidence. Our stature is tall, we don’t mumble when sharing the details. We speak clearly, because we know it really happened just the way we are telling it. We make no effort to hide the excitement in our voices or in our body language. Telling and hearing the same story over and over keeps the thrill alive. Some of us even put up signs to tell our friends and neighbors.

     The Easter story is especially joyful because the good guy won in a hands-down landslide! Even better, Jesus won it for us. His win is also our win. He reigns alive in heaven and so will we.

     Thousands of years before the tomb was found empty, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25 NIV)

     He didn’t say, “It looks like he lives.” or “All evidence points to it.” Job knew it and he said it with conviction. Like us, Job was not an eyewitness. God the Spirit had filled his heart with faith to believe the promised Savior would come. God the Spirit fills our hearts with faith to believe the promise was fulfilled 2000 years ago.

     Think about it: you know Jesus is alive. That hole in the rock is empty.

     Now it is time to praise with conviction. Hold your head up high, stand up straight, sing, dance, shout, and put a sign on your house!

     Praise with conviction:

     I know that my Redeemer lives!

     What comfort this sweet sentence gives!

     He lives, He lives, who once was dead;

     He lives, my ever living Head!

(I Know that My Redeemer Lives, Samuel Medley, 1738-1799)

Photo by Julie Luetke

 
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Beauty Before Me by Tracy Hankwitz

It’s happening again.

I’m doing what I said I wasn’t going to do-

let life get way out of balance.

I love what I do and don’t consider it a job because I enjoy it so much.

But I let it consume me and my time, especially in the spring.

It’s something I’ve struggled with for what seems too long.

I even started this year with a new resolve:

to balance family, home, work, church, but, sigh . . .

A friend recently asked if my Lenten roses were blooming.

Oh no! Had I missed the first blossoms of spring?

As a self-proclaimed beauty-seeker, I was mad at myself.

How had my schedule become so full and my focus so narrow that I had forgotten to really see?

I ran out with camera in hand, hunting for beauty, and found it.

There on the hillside covered in lovely blossoms dangling downward - Lenten roses.

Such a good reminder to live life slow and take time to seek and see the beauty that’s right before me, and thank God for each gift.

Time is one of those gifts,

and though it seems there is never enough of it,

every morning I need a reminder that God has given me enough time.

It’s how I use it, not how it uses me.

A new resolve stirs to slow and be in the moment,

to balance, but always seek Him first,

and to be tuned in to the grace-shower that follows.

Now is the time to seek the Lord,

that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

– Hosea 10:12NLT

Photo by Tracy Hankwitz

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Worth the Effort by Diana Kerr

   Take a second and think about your prayer life.

   How’s it going? Do you find plenty of time for daily prayer, or do you sometimes rush through a busy day and barely spend a quality moment with God?

   Our lives are full of endless tasks, meetings, and activities, most of which make it on our calendars or to-do lists.

   Do you schedule 1-on-1 meetings with God?

   I know, it feels weird to plan out something as beautiful and spiritual as prayer. Prayer should just happen naturally, right?

   But if it doesn’t happen naturally, or if you don’t intentionally make time for focused prayer, what’s at stake? Many of us can attest to the fact that the strength of our prayer life often directly correlates with our emotional strength as we navigate the daily challenges of life.

   Our Lord lived here on earth way before smartphones and e-mails, but he still knew what it was like to feel the pressure of others’ demands. And yet, he knew what he had to do to make sure that even he got his “God time” in each day. “Crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15,16).

   Even with a lot going on, Jesus intentionally fit in his alone time with God. If the benefits of prayer were worth the effort for Jesus, they are certainly worth our effort as well.

   Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit Time of Grace

 
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Easter Light by Janet Gehlhar

     Things often look better in the morning. This encouragement was given to me by my mom after particularly hard days when I was weighed down and couldn’t bear the thought of facing the next day. I’m thinking Peter needed that pep talk, too.

   After denying Jesus, I imagine Peter spent the night sick at heart, crying, and wondering how he could have messed up so much in a matter of hours. The overload of guilt and shame of his actions were unbearable. On top of that, his beloved teacher/friend had died on the cross. What? Wasn’t Jesus going to be an earthly king and save them from the control of the Romans? So much confusion!

   And then came Easter morning. A new day. Jesus had risen! Everything was changing. Peter saw the empty grave (John 20:6-8). Mary Magdalene told him she had seen Jesus and shared what He had said (John 20:11-18) And then later that evening, Peter saw Jesus for himself. Joy filled his heart.

   On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together… Jesus came… and said to them, “Peace be with you!” … he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20 EH)

   I’m picturing myself standing next to Peter, experiencing the overwhelming excitement of seeing resurrected Jesus and I’m awestruck, speechless. Today my heart is light as I rejoice in my risen Savior.

 

Photo by Michelle Engel

 
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A Border Prayer by Julie Luetke

     People are suffering along the southern border of the United States. Pointing fingers does no good. Let us pray.

 

Give justice to the poor and the orphan;

uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.”

Psalm 82:3 NLT

Our Father in Heaven,

   We praise you for paying the price of all sin. You are worthy of our thanks, praise and prayers. You have promised to listen. We bring you our petitions on behalf of those suffering to enter the US in search of a better life. Nothing is too small or great to ask of you, the almighty God of all.

   Forgive us for apathy towards the people seeking refuge; forgive the poor judgment of leaders and refugees. Forgive the sins of the traffickers while changing their hearts to be merciful.

   Lord Jesus, move our leaders to true solutions to the border crisis. Bring common sense into every level of government. Bring justice to the cartels stopping all abuse and wickedness. Rescue the families and individuals both young and old who have entered the country and those still trying to get to the US. Reunite children with their parents or other adults who will give good care and nurturing. In your wisdom, return those that should be returned to their home country, and establish those who will honor the US and their community into permanent homes.

   Every refugee will take the trauma of these days with them. Heal the pain of the broken hearts and abused bodies. Protect them and give each person hope and knowledge of your son, Jesus. 

   Thank you for showing us we cannot turn our backs on the downtrodden. Thank you for all of the workers who are doing all they can to help the refugees. Thank you for local, state and federal law enforcement. Protect and heal them from the evil they are witnessing. Thank you for bringing us to prayer.  Make each individual a priority in your heart.

 

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen

 
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