Tag Archive | God

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 5, 2015

by Kate Morrison

ScriptureJohn 20: 1-18

It’s here! Finally, Easter is here! Through this Lenten season, it sure has been a roller coaster of emotions. We have followed Jesus throughout the final days of his ministry. We have cheered triumphantly as he entered into the city of Jerusalem. We have partaken of the Last Supper. We tried to stay awake with him as he prayed in the garden, jeered as he was arrested and handed over to Pilate. And we wept bitter tears as Jesus was crucified and buried. We have waited in the uncertainty, scared, not yet understanding what Jesus was trying to tell us in his last days. 

But now, now we understand. Jesus is alive! Jesus has risen from the grave! Jesus has overcome death! No more crying. No more sadness. If we cry, let it be with tears of joy because our Savior has had the final say. Death rules no more. Let us rejoice on this triumphant day! The Lord has risen! Alleluia and thanks be to God!

Prayer: Lord, on this Easter day, we thank you for sending your son, Jesus, the Christ, into the world to overcome death and redeem the world of our sin. We are so grateful to you and for your infinite love of your people. Thank you God! Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 4, 2015

by Deanna Dennis

Scripture“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.  Let us then 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 4:15-16

This is perhaps the darkest day of the Christian year. Jesus has been crucified. He lies silent in the tomb. He is dead. Yet this day of silence, which we often pass over in the story of Easter, is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus could have tap-danced and jazz-handed out of the tomb immediately after He was interred. “See, you fools! You couldn’t kill the Son of God!” But this day of darkness and sorrow affirms his physical, human death.

We can’t pretend we don’t already know how the story ends. Death is overcome. Love wins! But Holy Saturday proves that all of our own darkness, shame, self-doubt, and grief will be overcome. Tomorrow holds the assurance of the rebirth of our fully human, fully divine Christ. We are saved!

Prayer: Thank you, three-in-one God, for knowing us. There is nowhere we go, physically, spiritually and emotionally, that you don’t know us, hold us and love us. Give us the faith that throughout our struggles, the promise of our own rebirth through your mercy and grace is true. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 3, 2015

by Don Clarke

ScriptureJohn 18:1 – 19:42

All through these many years, on this day of death and darkness, the lyrics from a folk rock musical continue to haunt me as, once again, I consider and contemplate the tremendous love and sacrifice Jesus made for me. I cannot get these words out of my heart and my head.

JUST TO THINK OF THE CROSS
Long ago in a faraway place
Rough rugged timbers were raised to the sky
There hung a man suspended in space
And though He was blameless
They left Him to die
Just to think of the cross
Moves me now
The nails in His hands
His bleeding brow
To think of the cross
Moves me now
It should have been me, It should have been me,
Instead I am free, I am free!
He put an end to my guilt and despair
Turned bitter hating to sweet peace and love
Even the men that put Him up there
Were offered forgiveness and life from above

Just to think of the cross
Moves me now
The nails in His hands
His bleeding brow
To think of the cross
Moves me now
It should have been me, It should have been me,
Instead I am free, I am free!

“Just to Think of the Cross” by Kurt Kaiser from the folk musical “Natural High”

Prayer: O Christ of the Cross, on this day may I once again allow the haunting horrible story of your death move me to holiness, propel me to service, and ignite me to embrace with your transforming love all persons who I meet who are hurting, crying, yearning, groaning and even dying.   Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 2, 2015

by Pam Buzbee

ScriptureExodus 12:1-14

In early January, I had lunch with a friend. During the conversation, I asked about her children. One lives in Athens, GA, with her family. She said, “This is a really busy time of year for them right now because their ewes are having their babies. They sell them for Easter and Passover when they are 3-4 months old.”

My mind started whirling thinking about these baby lambs and their moms. She said the ewe would have one or two lambs and sometimes needed help with the delivery. Sometimes a mom would reject her baby and another ewe could be tricked into taking on the feeding of a second one. And then these precious little fluffy, white babies would be sold, “sacrificed,” whether for a kosher ritual for Passover or to become someone’s Easter dinner.

In Exodus 12, we hear the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. They are told to first take a lamb “without blemish” and “slaughter it at twilight.” The blood from this lamb was to be placed on the doorposts and lintels on the houses so the angel of death “will pass over you.”

The ewes may have gotten help in giving birth to their baby, but Mary had only Joseph. The ewes may not have known when their lambs were taken, but Mary did.  This year on Maundy Thursday I think of Mary. On this evening, her baby boy, her perfect lamb, had gathered with his disciples to celebrate the feast of Passover. The next day her son was to be the “lamb without blemish” who gave his life as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. Where was Mary during this meal? Did she know who her son had grown up to be? Did she know what was to happen the next day? We know how the story ends but for Mary, Good Friday became the darkest day of her life. Her lamb had been sacrificed.

Prayer: Lord, when we are in the depths of pain and sorrow, help us to remember that we may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 1, 2015

by Susan Wilson

Scripture: “Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay”. Psalm 70

When I found this Psalm in my NIV Women’s Devotional Bible I couldn’t help but notice underneath the Psalm title these words:
For the director of music. Of David. A petition“.  Could God be speaking to me in this psalm today perhaps?

On days when I feel stressed why is it that I forget to call on God to come help me?  What about when life seems unmanageable?  Instead of trying to carry the load alone, why don’t I call on God to lend me support?

It’s very simple really. God is present and here. If I silence my voice and still my body and open my heart, he will be known.  As simple as it sounds, it’s hard to do those things.

We all get caught up in the duties of the day and fail to slow down long enough to listen to God’s voice. Have you carved out time during this Lenten season to do just that? Have you found a corner to seek quiet and peace?

I challenge you to continue the practice of seeking God on a daily basis in a quiet space. He is here and all he asks is that we open our hearts and minds and listen. This hymn text, taken from Hymn No. 358, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” , speaks to this quietness. It can also be used for centering as you prepare to pray.

Prayer:

Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our
souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm.”

 Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 31, 2015

by Jay Varnedoe

ScripturePsalm 71: 1-14

Over MLK weekend, I was driving my 92 year old grandmother to church. On the way she started talking about the Lord, and she said, “Jesus is my rock, and with him I shall never fall.” I thought, “For 92, she is so full of wisdom.” For most of my life, my grandmother was a quiet woman who didn’t talk about religion with me. However, in the past few years, she has opened up more to me and it has been nice to connect with her on a different level. When I sat down to write this devotional and I read these verses, there was an immediate connection to her.

In Psalm 71, the psalmist is declaring the message that the Lord is my rock and in him I have no shame. This message not only spoke to me on a personal level because of the recent conversation with my grandmother, but it also spoke to me as a member of the LGBTQ community. So many of us have been taught to be ashamed of who we are due to the religious views of others. However, in this verse I read that in him I have no shame. I choose to favor this verse over the negative views of others.   I also feel that this is a primary reason that most of us are drawn to St. Mark – we realize and celebrate that we don’t have any shame for who we are. This is part of what makes St. Mark unique, a quality that we should share with the rest of our community.

Prayer: Lord, let us realize that we are created in your image and we should have no shame. In times of trial or tribulation, let us come to you as our rock and our refuge. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 30, 2015

by Kenneth Baggs

Scripture2 Corinthians 1: 1-7

Nearly twenty years ago, my mother passed following a losing battle with cancer. The year prior to that, my partner of nine years was killed in a car accident. The year following Mom’s death was tough. I went into a depression, although it was not something I was willing to admit to myself at the time. I went to church because I knew that Mom would want me to be there. However, my depression kept me from the joy of church – my friends, the music, God’s word and fellowship. I went through the motions of going to church and to work, but all I really wanted to do was to be home watching movies on TV with my terrier lying beside me. 

About a month before I reached the first anniversary of Mom’ death, I received a flyer in the mail for a grief support group that was forming at a local church. As I read that flyer, I recognized myself as they described the life of a depressed person. I knew I needed to go to that support group, to help me to get out of the fog into which I had fallen. In the group, as I listened to others tell their grief stories and as I shared my grief story, I began to heal. On the anniversary of her death, I opened my house to friends to celebrate her life, and to mostly thank them for being there for me as I went through her illness and death. It took time, but in receiving the comfort of others who had gone through the same suffering as I had, I was able to overcome the depressed state I had entered.

Our scripture today encourages us to share our affliction with others, so that we may receive the comfort of God, but also to bring comfort to others. Sometimes we comfort others by sharing, other times we comfort by listening, and sometimes we bring comfort simply by being there beside them. Don’t be afraid to share your suffering with others, as you never know how God will use it. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to reach out to others, to comfort them as you have comforted me.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 29, 2015

by Brenna Lakeson

ScriptureIsaiah 50:4-9a

In Biblical scholarship, these verses are often ascribed to a figure called “the suffering servant.”  While this title never actually appears in scripture, it seems to be an accurate label.  “The suffering servant” is representative of God’s relationship to us: past, present, and future.  A “servant,” Biblically speaking, is one called by God, as reflected in ancient Israel, in Christ, and in ourselves.

For the Jews of ancient Israel, the suffering servant was a figure of hope.  After many years in exile from the Promised Land, the suffering servant showed them that their suffering was not in vain. They were living in a strange land, separated from God’s promise for them, but this situation wouldn’t last forever.  The suffering servant proclaimed, “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”  Even though they are in exile, they know the story isn’t over.

For Christ, these verses speak to both his humiliation and justification.  “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.”  Christ displayed ultimate humility and humiliation.  But, just like the nation of Israel, this wasn’t in vain.  “He who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.”  Despite the shame and pain of the crucifixion, God stands against the adversaries.  There’s hope present in our past, present, and future because of the victory of the cross. 

So, on this day of palm waving, celebrate the coming victory with anticipation.  Mourn the coming pain with tears.  Let these words of the suffering servant speak into your pain and speak into your joy.  Let them give you hope of a resurrection past, present, and future.

Prayer: Lord of glory and of dirt, prepare our hearts to journey with you. Today we celebrate your triumphant entry. Hosanna in the highest! Let our hearts exalt you in everything we do. Amen

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 28, 2015

by Audra Dial

Scripture: “They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days.  But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:23

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Today’s scripture passages speak to light as the awareness of the presence of God.  As I write this devotional, the sun has finally come out after a week of heavy, grey skies that made it hard to recognize the presence of light.  The sun’s presence has made a marked difference in the attitudes of people I see in my daily life.  What a difference light makes!

So, too, is the case with the internal light we experience as Christians.  When we are filled with His love and grace, we have joy, peace and confidence.  We experience life in a different way and can recognize the bigger picture and not get so upset by life’s everyday struggles.  The passage from 2 Corinthians reminds us to focus on the unseen, as it is eternal.  It can be difficult in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to remember to take time to center ourselves, but when we do, it can enable us to find our internal light and live in a way that reflects our Christian faith.  Just as the sun coming out helps energize and encourage us to think more positively, reflecting on our internal light can provide us with the energy and courage to live in the example of Christ.

Prayer: Dear God, Please help us to see Your light and to live our lives in a way that reflects our inner sunshine from its presence.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 27, 2015

by Cara Cassell

Scripture2 Corinthians 4:1-12

In this passage from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we see the passion that God has given Paul and his fellow ministers. Paul writes, “Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” The way is tough.  

Others distort the gospel truth. The ministry itself, the source of their persecution, encourages Paul and the others even as they suffer and perhaps feel temptation to take an easier way. Paul writes that their suffering enables them to carry in their bodies the death of Jesus. In carrying that death, they also carry God’s light.  Their commitment to the God-given ministry gives them “heart,” or courage. For these ministers, the calling to this ministry protects them from crushing despair.  Yes, they suffer. They must accept their imperfect “jars of clay” and know that those humble vessels are sufficient to carry the very light of God. God has made it so. God has called them. They are persecuted, not abandoned, and struck down, not destroyed. In these contrasts, we hear Paul’s gratitude. 

In a few short days, we, too, may feel struck down as we experience Good Friday. In humanity’s darkest hours, we crucified the Savior. The truth of our betrayal nearly crushes us, even as the dawning resurrection restores us. Like Paul, we realize that light comes not from our good works, but instead through the mercy of God. This light frees us to fulfill the calling that God places in our hearts. In whatever place God puts us, we have a purpose to fulfill. Our clay vessels have been formed by God to have strength enough.

Prayer: Thank you, loving God, for staying beside us always. Please help us to heed your calling to allow your light to live in our hearts. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church