Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lenten Devotion for March 31, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 13:1-23

In Mark 13:1-23 Jesus is telling his disciples of the end that is to come. He tells his disciples not to lose heart and to be prepared for the oncoming trials and tribulations. Jesus also tells his disciples to be on their guard against false prophets.

Question: How are we supposed to respond to the worldwide suffering that we hear reports about everyday?

Prayer: Dear God we ask you to help us to be prepared for whatever you wish to happen. We also ask you to gaurs our hearts against and falsities that may come our way and that we would meditate on your word. Amen.

Sr. High Students

 

Lenten Devotion for March 30, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 12:35-44

In this verse the wealthy people were willing to give a lot, but in comparison to the widow who did not have as much they only gave a little. When the widow gave everything, she was not in control to provide for herself she had to trust God to provide.

To some having less can mean having more. Because as long as you have your faith and continue to grow in your relationship with God, material things like money shouldn’t matter Like the widow we should all faithfully trust Jesus to provide for our needs.

Challenge: Step out of your comfort zone and try to give more today. Take a leap of faith and give what you have and trust God to provide the things you need.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for all you provide. Please help me to trust that you will provide for me. Help me to step out in faith and give with out holding back when you call me to. Amen.

Angela Morrison, Krystal Buzard

 

Lenten Devotion March 29, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 12:13-34

We always need to remember to put God first. Often times, we forget about doing that and act on what is on the forefront of our minds rather than what is on our hearts or what we know is the right thing to do. Out of honoring and loving God, we find the ability to share our love with our neighbors. Sometimes, even though we may not want to feel that way, we need to have caring actions and make a conscious choice to show love. Challenge yourself to start your day off by thinking “How can I honor the Lord one action at a time?”. Perhaps, you need to break the day down into hours, five minutes, or every minute, but no matter what your time frame, start making the conscious decision to honor the Lord by showing His love all day long. A small prayer: “Dear Lord, show me a place in my life where I can love you more and show your love to others more often”

Emily Berger and Jessica Proctor

Lenten Devotion for March 28, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 12:1-12

Jesus has already cleared the Temple of its money changers and traders only to find His authority questioned.  He answered them with a question and then began to speak in parables.  On this occasion a very special parable called an allegory.  Parables have one main point, but an allegory is much closer to reality.  Each element of the story relates to events that unfolded just days before Passover.  The cast includes:
Owner of vineyard = God

Servants of owner = Prophets, John the Baptis

Vineyard= people of Israel

Son/Heir of Owner = Jesus

Tenants= religious leaders

It was apparent that Jesus had spoken against the religious leaders.  Let’s ask the same question they put forth many years ago; “By what authority do you judge us?”

The vineyard was a familiar image and everyone knew the owner had to receive goods from his tenants in order to retain legal ownership.  They refused to give him anything and wanted to claim it for themselves.  Let’s remember that God, as creator of the world, His world, has every right to judge us since all was His to begin with.  God shows incredible generosity, trust and patience as seen in the character of the Owner.  The tenants had everything they needed and were trusted with a responsibility.  He forgave many times, as the tenants continued in their greed and wickedness, but His judgment and justice would prevail in the end.

We may feel that people get away with injustice, oppression and even murder.  God’s messengers continue to be rejected, mocked and experience many hardships.  Jesus knew who he was and why he had come.  God knew what would happen to him, and yet he still came to bring us back to our Owner, the Loving Father who never gives up on us.

“Lord, we’re reminded that you have the authority to be our judge.  You are also a patient and saving judge.  You declare us guilty then come and pay the penalty in our place.  We offer our thanksgiving and ask for the power to follow you more closely than ever.”

Dennis Cesare

 

Lenten Devotion for March 27, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 11:26-33

The scene is a familiar one.  As Jesus walked through the Temple courts he was stopped by a group of elders, chief priests, teachers of the law.  Once again they intended to challenge him, hoping to discredit or embarrass him before the crowds of people that were so naturally drawn to him.  But Jesus was a master at thwarting them as he had proven  many times during his ministry.  Once again they walked away without accomplishing their mission. But their embarrassment grew as well as their hatred, and they resolved to kill him.

Why were the Pharisees so committed to opposing this man?  On the surface it makes little sense.  Jesus was a gifted speaker who spoke not only with authority but with a thorough knowledge of God’s word.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and treated the most down trodden in society with love and compassion.  He spoke of love for enemies, kindness, repentance, redemption, of not abolishing the law but fulfilling it.  But they could or would not see Jesus as the Messiah; the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption and hope.  And so instead they became the instruments of God’s plan of redemption but also the target of His judgment.

Unfortunately the pattern of opposition and persecution did not stop with the Pharisees and Jesus death on the cross.  The early church experienced horrendous persecution, often at the hands of religious leaders like Saul of Tarsus, who would be converted on the Damascus Road.  Around the world today many Christians have experienced intense opposition and have been tortured, imprisoned and killed because of their faith.  Even here, in the USA, a country founded on the principals of religious freedom and Godly guidelines for living, believers are experiencing growing opposition that often results in legislation designed to curtail even the expression of our beliefs.

Challenge:  Let us be aware of situations at home and around the world that put believers at risk because of their faith and uphold each other in prayer and extend any other support that would be helpful to these fellow members of God’s family.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to be strong in standing up for you, to be aware and prepared when encountering situations that are clearly or subtly opposing you.  And help us to show your love to all of those who we come into contact with.

Karen Witt

 

Lenten Devotion for March 26, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 11:20-25

This passage contains some wonderful insights about faith and prayer that we should take to heart and meditate on.  But it was another sight that kept my attention and I could not help but return time and again to gaze at the withered fig tree in verses 20 and 21.  The morning before Jesus had done something quite unusual.  Hungry and drawn to a fig tree in full leaf beside the road, he had looked for something to satisfy his hunger.  And when he did not find any fruit he cursed the tree.  “May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” he had said and the disciples heard him.  Now the following morning Peter remarked that the fig tree had withered.  Usually it takes some time for an old or diseased tree to die and the speed with which it had died was remarkable.

This is not a comfortable story. Is this not the same Lord who created a magnificent world with all of its flora and fauna?  Is this not the same Jesus who told his disciples not to worry because God feeds the birds and creates such beautiful lilies that even Solomon in all of his splendor was not arrayed as one of these? (Luke 12: 22-34)  It was not even the season yet for the main crop of figs.  For a gardener, used to watering, fertilizing and pruning it seems a harsh action indeed.

As we know though, Jesus was a master illustrator, and some commentators believe that Jesus used this incident as a warning of the harsh judgment to come, when in A.D. 70 Jerusalem and its temple would be utterly destroyed.  Or perhaps it was a prophesy concerning the fate of the Jewish authorities who were about to reject the Messiah.  But maybe this should be more personal.  If  we as believers are living out a vital,  dynamic faith we should be bearing fruit for the Lord.  If we are not, it may be time to spend more time with Jesus, studying, praying, worshipping, loving.

I think I’ll go check my branches!

Challenge:  It is easy in a world of busyness and care to neglect the tending of our spirit and our relationship with our Lord.  Let us not forget to check from time to time how our “fruit” is growing.

Prayer:  Lord, the pruning is sometimes painful, but the watering is always refreshing.  Thank you for your word and for your love that keeps us growing for you!

Karen Witt

 

 

Lenten Devotion for March 25, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 11:1-19

Jesus entered Jerusalem like a returning, victorious king. This was not an accident but by design as he sent the disciples ahead to borrow the colt for his very public entrance. As he entered the crowds gathered and praised the coming king and shouted praise to God for sending the promised savior from the line of David. This seemed right to those who were looking to Jesus to save Israel from the Roman occupation. This was a day long anticipated by the faithful; their victorious king was here!

Once he made it to the temple in the center of the city, what did Jesus do? Did he turn to the crowds who had just participated in this public celebration? Did he address them and pronounce the coming salvation of the Lord, or set forth his agenda for his coming reign? Did he even drop a cryptic hint as to what would unfold in the coming week?

No.

Instead, look at verse 11. He looked around at everything. He looked around, and then he left. On the one hand he absolutely told the world who he was by seeking the entrance of the king, but then, instead of giving them his inauguration speech he leaves, almost declaring through the loudness of his silence, “I am the King, but not the one that you expect.”

Picture yourself as one of those celebrating Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. How would you have felt after such a celebration to see him look around and then just leave? What does this say about how we view Jesus as our king? Are we capable of placing expectations on God to be the king of our own design? Are we celebrating and worshiping our Lord with our own expectations?

Heavenly Father, we thank you that Jesus is so much more than just the victorious king who would lead his nation from political oppression. Thank you that your son Jesus was sent to begin a kingdom that reaches far beyond Roman times. Thank you that we know that Jesus is the king who saves us through his giving of his life and that we are part of your kingdom that lasts forever. Amen.

Middle School Students

 

 

Lenten Devotion for March 24, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 10:35-52

“For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This verse stuck out to us. Jesus’ purpose was not to gain attention, but instead to glorify God. He wanted to show God’s love by serving others. For most people, it is not their nature to think of others before themselves. Like wanting the biggest piece of cake. The message of the passage is that Jesus sacrificed for our salvation.

Challenge: Get yourself out there and do an act of kindness for those you don’t know.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that you will help us remember daily the sacrifice you made for us. (and to put our cell phones down  ) Amen.
Kelsey McClernan and Lauren Herman

 

Lenten Devotion for March 23, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 10:17-34

In this reading, we find the rich man who wants to know how he can inherit eternal life. While he acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God and therefore part of the trinity, he fails to acknowledge that he is indeed a sinner in need of a savior. When Jesus asks him about following the law, the man states he has followed the law since he was young. We know that as humans, as much as we try to follow the law we still disobey because we are imperfect. Jesus overlooks this denial and seeks to learn where the man’s heart lies by telling him to give up his possessions and follow him. Jesus shows the man he loves him by challenging him to take a real look at his heart and see what is more important to him, his possessions, or eternal life. Regrettably, the man is unable to give up his possessions, and then Jesus explains to the disciples that it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Why, because once man becomes self-reliant he finds materialistic things to fill the void created by leaving God out of his life; thus giving up eternal life. Wealth is man-made and when it is put before Christ it leads to spiritual poverty. Conversely, faith is Christ-based and leads to eternal life.

Challenge: What are you putting before following Christ?

Prayer: Lord, I admit I am a sinner and need your grace and mercy. Help me to give up the things of this world and focus more on you and the riches you provide.

David Riddle

 

Lenten Devotion for March 22, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 10:1-16

Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce rings as true today as it did then. In today’s culture where so many marriages end in divorce and even more relationships never make it to the commitment of marriage that God intended, we need to listen closely. Jesus tells the Pharisees that the reason Moses told them they could give their wives a certificate of divorce was because of their hard hearts. It was not that God approved the ending of a marriage commitment, but that their hard hearts did not make true commitments, just like today.

Jesus explains how God created us, male and female, to hold fast, to become one flesh and to not tear apart what God has joined. Jesus strong teaching on marriage and divorce shows his expectations for those who stand before God and make a commitment to each other. God blesses that commitment as we honor it, both to each other and to Him. Let us not take our commitments lightly.

Lord God, lead us in marriages that honor you. Help us to hold strong to our commitments and to realize that when we are weak, you are strong. Help us to uphold your teachings and to not water them down. We thank you for your forgiveness and for fresh starts and strive to follow you in our lives.

Janine Fleming