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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Happy Mother’s Day! by Karen Maio

     Whether she is Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, or Ma, the second Sunday in May is dedicated to honoring the women blessed to be called as such.

     As little children, we look to her for nourishment and care, playing with us, snuggles and bedtime stories. We may not realize that she is daily teaching us new things and praying for us. God instructs us to obey and honor her. (Ephesians 6:1-3)

     As some of us become moms ourselves, we assume these responsibilities. We teach our kids Christian values and life skills so they can be independent. Most important is teaching them about Jesus and all he did for their salvation, regularly worshiping God and feeding their faith, and living their lives for him. It’s no big deal if your child overcooks the chicken, but it is if she strays from the faith. I concur with the apostle John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4 NIV

     Sometimes life comes full circle and we need to care for our own aging mothers. Being part of the “sandwich generation” is not always easy, but what better way to honor the mothers who cared for us?

     And for those whose mothers are gone, I pray for God’s comfort. For strained mother/child relationships, I pray for forgiveness and love. For those whose children have strayed from God, I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring them back. For those with empty arms, I pray for God’s healing and comfort and for patience and strength as they wait for his perfect plan to unfold.

 
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Keep pedaling! You can do it! by Karen Spiegelberg

     In springtime, the rubber literally meets the road for young children with new bicycles. I enjoy seeing the little ones out on their shiny bikes with training wheels. Eventually, they graduate to two wheels. That’s when the parents get physically involved! They’ll run alongside as the bike wobbles down the road. They huff and puff trying to keep up and cheering, “Keep pedaling! You can do it!” There will be joy when the child masters that bicycle, but there will also be agony in the process including a few bumps and bruises. In either event, the parent is there with a happy hug or a boo-boo kiss.

     That young child’s experience reminds me of my faith journey on earth! Thankfully, the Lord is like that caring parent running alongside me. When life’s challenges are few, he whispers, “You see… with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). When the curves in the road throw me into uncertainty, he whispers louder, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). And a confidence in his purpose for me serves as a way to take away the pain. As I persevere in wheeling down the road of life attempting to always live for him in thanks for what he has done for me, I hear him yelling ever so loudly, “Keep pedaling! You can do it! ‘And surely I am with you always…’” (Matthew 28:20)

 
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Homecoming by Carolyn Webb

     What comes to mind when you think of "homecoming"? Some might think of their homecoming dance or coming home from a business trip. The most emotional homecomings I can think of are for soldiers who are safely returning from their tour of duty.

     Jesus’ ascension is like that. He had been away from home for 33 years tirelessly fighting for our freedom from Satan, sin, and death.  His death and resurrection won our freedom; and forty days later, it was time for this victorious warrior to go home. Can you imagine the homecoming celebration in heaven?

     Jesus’ homecoming is reason for us to celebrate too. Before he died, Jesus spoke to his disciples about his ascension: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3 NIV)

     Eventually, we will be able to go to the heavenly home that Jesus has prepared for us. That will be greater than any homecoming we have experienced!

     There at my Savior’s side – Heav’n is my home -

     I shall be glorified; Heav’n is my home.

     There are the good and blest, Those I love most and best,

     And there I, too, shall rest; Heav’n is my home.

     (I’m But a Stranger Here, CW 417-vs.3)

 
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Pack Rat Brain by Janet Gehlhar

     With all the media programs about hoarding, I am getting a peek at how others live. Hoarders save everything they can--including worthless stuff--for no reason. A pack rat saves something because they might need it again.

      “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth…store up treasures for yourselves in heaven…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 EHV)

     I have a hoarder’s brain. I store many worthless things like regrets, shame from forgiven sins, past hurts, reminders of things not done. I’m weighed down, worn out. I want a pack rat's brain, instead, to remember all the lessons I’ve learned, so I can recall them when needed.

     It’s brain cleaning time. I want to sort out all the memories: discarding the worthless ones, saving the good, and gleaning wisdom from the sad memories. Not as easy as it sounds! The ones I want to get rid of seem to stick and haunt me. What’s the answer?

     “We make every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 EHV)

     As I view past sins, I will rely on the Holy Spirit to remind me of Jesus’ forgiveness. When bombarded with relics of hurt and injustice, I will turn to Jesus and put them in His capable hands. That's how to take thoughts captive and keep them from overwhelming me. Lord, give me strength!

 
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Acknowledging the Power of the Spirit by Diana Kerr

     I don’t normally go about my day conscious of the fact that my heart is pumping, but it is. I also don’t tend to journey through the day constantly aware that the Holy Spirit is dwelling within me, but he is.

     Whether I pay attention to these things or not, they’re happening at all times. I don’t need to be conscious of my beating heart to receive the benefits it provides, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, I’m missing out if I forget he’s with me. Yes, he’s by my side even when I’m not thinking about him, but when I am thinking about him, the moments of my day-to-day look very different.

     Second Timothy 1:7 says that “the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Um, don’t you want all those blessings in your corner during the day? I do.

     I’m realizing more and more that God’s power within me isn’t as effective if I completely ignore it and try to be strong enough on my own. Ask me how good I was at avoiding stress eating or standing up to fear when I tried to accomplish them with my own strength. (Not so good.)

     Acknowledging the Spirit’s strength and power within me not only takes some of the pressure off of me, but it empowers me to know that I am stronger than I realize, only through him.

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

 
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Shrink Down to Size by Christine Wentzel

     Many people imagine our Triune GOD as He has every right to be seen—too large for the likes of us mere mortals. Perhaps this is because if we were a god, we’d act too big to bother with any one below our divine station. Our sinful pride wouldn’t have it any other way. But wait! Don’t we already act like this? Our world tells us to not shrink down to size. Don’t live a humble, subservient life. Don’t even think that way. That is not how to become a success, a Somebody.

     Then along comes our too-big-for-His-britches Lord to mess up that temporal pursuit of happiness.

     Indeed, let this attitude be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Though he was by nature God, he did not consider equality with God as a prize to be displayed, but he emptied himself by taking the nature of a servant. When he was born in human likeness, and his appearance was like that of any other man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 EHV)

     The Maker of the Universe, unaccountable to time and space, shrank down to the size of a finite, frail human body. Then the King of Kings shrank down even more to allow false accusations, torture and death overtake Him. Why? Because that’s Love, baby!

     …that you would be able to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19 EHV)

     To ensure this our Triune Lord sent shrank down to size once again in the person of the Holy Spirit. Now our Comforter—our Advocate and Guide—deliberately lives in our hearts and minds through the gift of faith. Why don’t we spontaneously combust? Because that’s Love, baby!

      “I have told you these things while staying with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you." (John 14:25-26 EHV)

     So go ahead and don’t be afraid to take this leap of faith. Joyfully shrink down to the size of our Servant-Leader. Eagerly humble yourselves to those around you even to the point of being labeled a fool. Willingly serve them knowing they are just as treasured as you are. Why? Because that’s Love, baby!

    Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of every kind of bitterness, rage, anger, quarreling, and slander, along with every kind of malice. Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:30-32 EHV)

 
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How Would YOU Explain the Holy Trinity? by Emily Krill

     One of my sons has Autism (along with four other disabilities). However, God has blessed him with the most incredible faith and insight that I usually feel like I’M the one with disabilities between the two of us. For example:

     Out of the blue the other day, he asked me if I wanted to know how he would explain the Holy Trinity to someone. Ummmm… YES!?!?! Who wouldn’t want to know that?!

     He went on to explain that he thinks that the closest he can come to understanding and teaching someone else about our 3-in-1 God is by talking about conjoined twins. As he understands it, conjoined twins share some parts of their body and even some organs, depending. But they each have their own head and their own brain and their own thoughts, emotions, and dreams. That’s a lot like our God (except it would have to be conjoined triplets). Our Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are - at the same time - one and three, just like a conjoined triplet would be.

     I was floored. What an awesome train of thought! Not only did that explanation help me better visualize what an incredible miracle our God is but it also challenged me in another way.

     It challenged me to remember that our God is the same God who created the rainbow and giraffes and a strand of DNA. Our God is a God of unfathomable creativity and imagination. Even my biggest thoughts and wildest dreams can only understand a fraction of who he is. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t try…

     What if - instead of letting my lack of understanding lead me to doubts - they led me to dream instead? What if my questions about the Holy Trinity led me to read more of my Bible and ask my Pastors and other Biblical scholars more questions?

     What if the Holy Trinity inspired me to find the reflection of God in every walk of life here on earth?

     This week, in honor of our incredible three-in-one MIRACULOUS God, I want to spend more time meditating on all the creative ways he bends the laws of nature - the same nature that he created out of love for us.

“However, as it is written:

‘What no eye has seen,

    what no ear has heard,

and what no human mind has conceived’—

    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV)

 
A WORD for Women

Say Something Nice Day by Karen Maio

     “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Maybe you heard that when you were young. Our parents knew the power that words have and the impossibility of taking spoken words back.

     June 1st was National Say Something Nice Day. It originated in 2006 to counteract the growing bullying and the lack of common courtesy in our world today and to encourage kindness. It’s a great opportunity to make the day a little more pleasant for everyone.

     This was God’s plan well before 2006.

     “Pleasant words are like honey from a honeycomb—sweet to the spirit and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24 GWT)

     “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1st Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

     Simply put: be kind. Lift others up; don’t put them down. Offer sincere compliments and words of appreciation and encouragement. Make it a daily habit and not just a one day celebration.

     Hopefully, it will be infectious and we’ll all continue to ‘say something nice’ every day.

     Holy Spirit, Help our thoughts today be excellent and praiseworthy and our speech be gentle and kind. In Jesus’s name. Amen

 
A WORD for Women

A job well done, what is it worth? by Kathy Schreiner

     I confess, I have little patience with people who do not do their jobs.  Why is there such apathy when it comes to a job well done? Poor job performance has a snowball effect.

     I am dealing with physical issues that cause me a great deal of pain and stress so sought medical treatment.  It took seeing three different surgeons to get to the bottom of fixing the source of pain. The first doctor was dismissive and uninterested. Loved ones prompted me to get a second opinion. I sought a second surgeon who turned out to be patient and knowledgeable, but referred me to his associate who was more skilled at the surgery I would need. This doctor took time to patiently explain things, and answer my questions. He gave me a goal and offered to help—a date for surgery was scheduled right away. What a difference when someone does their job!

     Now my job was to show up for pre-op appointments and continue to work on getting in shape for surgery; namely to stay on course losing some weight. 

     After I had my blood drawn, I received a call from my doctor's office saying the lab didn’t run the requested tests.  I had to go again. It is not easy to draw my blood.  I often tell the lab techs that a butterfly needle is always needed to get to my veins.  What I know is a helpful suggestion is often taken as me telling them how to do their job. That ends up with them pushing around the needle in the veins of both arms until they finally (mercifully!) use the method I suggested. It’s a painful, uncooperative, and unnecessary way to get the job done. 

     These failures to do the job got me to thinking.  What if Jesus had not done His job of saving us?  Or, what if He had only done it part way?  What if there was something we needed to do to ensure our salvation?

     Thank God, literally, that Jesus did His job.  Jesus did everything that needed to be done perfectly.  He ensured our salvation so we never need to have any doubt about it. 

     In John 19:30 Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished."  His work for our salvation was complete.  Thank you, Jesus, for a job well done!

 
A WORD for Women

Blessed by Friends by Janet Gehlhar

     I have been blessed with wonderful, supportive, loving friends.  My friends show up when it isn’t convenient, are willing to listen, and love me for who I am.  I see each one as a blessing from God while I’m here on earth.  And yet, no earthly friend can totally meet all of my needs. 

     Jesus is my bestest friend.  Poor grammar, but the point is clear. 

          Jesus is always with me, listening 24/7, never in a hurry…(Matthew 28:20)

          forgives instantly…(I John 1:9)

          loves me unconditionally…(Psalm 57:10)

          and is preparing a room for me in heaven for eternity…(John 14:2-3)

     The most important thing Jesus did was to die on the cross for my sins.  He sacrificed his perfect life for my sinful one.

          No one has greater love than this: that someone lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 EHV)

     I’m awed once again at how much Jesus loves me. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to work in my heart so that I may reflect Jesus’ love to everyone I meet.  My prayer is that everyone would know and treasure Jesus as their bestest friend.

 
A WORD for Women

Gifts of the Spirit by Carolyn Webb

     Have you ever tried to learn a new language? 43% of the world’s population is fluent in two languages. Less than 1% can fluently speak five or more languages.  I can only speak one language. I have made feeble attempts to learn a new language and gave up due to the time commitment needed to master this skill.

     Jesus had given his disciples the great commission to make disciples of all nations. That would be extremely difficult for men with no training in foreign languages. Their work started in earnest as visitors with diverse languages came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost harvest festival. With a special gift from the Holy Spirit, the disciples were instantly able to communicate with all of them. Peter told the crowd, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, NIV)

     What is your gift?

     We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 7:6-8, NIV).

     The gift of the Holy Spirit is unique for each of us, but the purpose is the same – Go make disciples!

 
A WORD for Women
 

A Father's Love by Karen Spiegelberg

     This Sunday, we will all in some way recognize Fathers' Day. For me, it will be bittersweet as our precious Lord took my dad's hand and led him home to heaven this same week several years ago. Whether you have or had a great dad in your life, or have someone who has fit that role, there is something special about that male love and support for us, as girls and women. A great dad will love you unconditionally through your childhood tantrums, your first car accident, and your bad choices of boyfriends. He will show patience as you grow into the adult God will have you be, and will be there whenever you need him. How great is the love of a father!

   1 John 3:1 tells us, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

   Imagine, through that passage, that our heavenly Father and his love are even more precious than an earthly father! He forgives the tantrums, and accidents, and poor choices in life and uses them for our good and to his glory. He is not only there whenever we need him, but he has done the ultimate that any father could do-sacrificed his own son for the sins and sake of us, his other children, that we might have eternal life and live at "home" with him and in his presence and glory forever.

   My own dad now enjoys that reward. He is at home with his Father and my Father. That is something beautiful to imagine for my dad and to look forward to for myself, because he and I are both children of God who have been lavished upon with the love of the greatest Father! Oh, I thought this would be a bittersweet Father's Day, but now that I think more about it, it will be very sweet, very sweet indeed.

A WORD for Women