Tag Archive | Lent

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 16, 2015

by Sylvia Goggin

ScriptureMark 7: 24-37

This passage in the gospel is eye-opening to me.  It lets me see that Jesus, in his state as a man, may have grown weary of His work.  That is not to say that he wasn’t busy with the Father’s business, but that on this occasion, He just needed a break.

When the passage begins, He had just been to Gennesaret and healed many in the region. Then his interactions with the people were questioned by the Pharisees, he preached to the multitudes, and He tried to give understanding of His parables to the disciples.

When Jesus got to a home on the border of Tyre and Sidon, He didn’t want anyone to know He was there. I believe all Jesus wanted to do was to be out in the country in the company of His Jewish friends and just “chill out.”  But Jesus was seen. The woman with the afflicted daughter asked for healing and so did the friends of the deaf mute, and Jesus, being our loving Savior, healed them all.

As a special education teacher, I know all about wanting to take a break from work and thinking. I even know about longing to heal without the ability and only faith to sustain me. This passage has meaning to me because I deal with the same disabilities that the people who Jesus healed were dealing with.  I see the anguish of mothers who can’t get through to their children and I see children who can’t be understood and become more frustrated with each effort.  And some days, when things aren’t going well, I want to sit down with a friend and not even think about work; I want to hide out. But that isn’t the way life happens. So each morning I pray that God will get me through another day and that, in my own way, I may be able to add meaning to the lives of those I touch.

And, just as those who saw Jesus’ acts of healing and said, “He hath done all things well,” I hope that one day Our Father may be able to say the same of my small efforts as a teacher.

Prayer: God, grant us strength to do your work and to help those around us.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 15, 2015

by Josh Noblitt

ScriptureEphesians 2:1-10
“It’s God’s gift from start to finish…We neither make, nor save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving.” (MSG)

I always used to think that Lent was a time that I needed to be somewhat somber and reflect on all of the ways that I needed to “do better” in my spiritual walk as well as in other areas of my life.  I would take on some unrealistic hardship for Lent, only to see myself not be able to stick to my commitment and then feel like I had done something wrong.  For a while there, it served to remind me more of the distance I felt from God as opposed to enriching my relationship with God in every aspect of my life. 

Somewhere along the way, I realized that the goal was to feel closer to God and to seek out new ways to have life more abundantly.  The scripture passage today reminds us that God is the one who created us and who saves us.  Salvation is a free gift from God.  We don’t have to do, say or be anything in order for God to surround us with love, sustenance and redemption.  Being reminded of this helps me shift my focus from all of the ways I have fallen short and have done wrong, to focusing more on the infinite ways that God loves me and loves us all.  I’ve discovered that when I pay attention to that love and really feel it, I find myself naturally “doing better” and showing more love to everyone I come in contact with.  Abundant life is a life overflowing with love of God, self and neighbor.

This Lenten season, may we all look for new ways to recognize God’s love in our lives so that we may experience it to the fullest and share it with those around us. 

Prayer: Holy One, Thank you for the infinite love you have for us all.  Help us to focus on your love today and everyday, so that we can share that same love with everyone we meet.  Amen

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 14, 2015

by Jill Lee-Barber

ScripturePsalm 143

Mature spirituality seems to require having a good memory about who God is and how God relates to humanity.  It also seems to require a willingness to engage with God in our times of need and to ask for God’s powerful help, even and especially when, in the words of the psalmist, we have a “weak spirit and a mind that is numb.”  

I don’t know about you, but at times my life circumstances do leave me with a weak spirit and a mind that feels numb.   I am grateful to have had saints in my life who taught me and showed me that God is good and everlasting, and who encouraged me to seek God, as the psalmist did, as a refuge. 

To take it another step, this passage reminds me that I need to grow in my willingness to go beyond being sheltered and defended by a good God. I need to move from that sheltered and defended respite to actively asking God each day the following words, used as a prayer from this Psalm:

Prayer: “Show me the way I should go, because I offer my life up to You.” Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 13, 2015

by Amanda Lockhart

ScriptureMark 6:47-56

When someone does the impossible or seems to be perfect, I will often say that they “walk on water.” I rarely use or think about it in a religious context even though it comes from today’s scripture. 

In this reading, the disciples were doing what Jesus had told them to do – taking a boat to the other side of the lake. These experienced fishermen struggled to complete this seemingly simple task as we are told they were “straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” There was no mention of a storm, just this great wind which was an obstacle to them. Even with all of their experience, they were struggling to overcome it. Jesus came out onto the water, walking toward them. He got into the boat with them and “the wind died down.” At this point everything was calm and the traveling across the lake continued.

It is here we learn one of our most valuable lessons: There are times when it does not matter how much training, knowledge, or preparedness we have, we will come up against obstacles in which we will “strain against the oars.” When this happens, we need to check to see who is in our boat. Do we trust God to help us through these tough times? Because it is only with him that the winds will die down and we will be able to overcome the obstacles that we face.

PrayerLord, thank you for being a calming presence when life seems to be spiraling out of control. Thank you for knowing my thoughts and concerns even before I speak them, and for being willing to listen as I struggle to put my worries into words. I will continue to put my faith, my trust and my hope in you, and I know you will never abandon me. I am grateful for your faithfulness. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 12, 2015

by Jason Henderson

ScripturePsalm 126

During Lent we remember Jesus’ ascent into Jerusalem, His sacrifice, and His victory. Psalm 126 is a song of ascents.  It is a psalm reminding us of liberation and blessings. The period of captivity is over and life seems like a dream. Joy and laughter have replaced sadness and tears.  

How do we handle life’s challenges and trials? God’s first words were, “Let there be light.”  This was not a one-time proclamation of creation. God is still bringing light to those in darkness. When the light has returned to our lives, do we focus on the hurt and weakness of the past or are we able to celebrate our present blessings? We should live in this light and joy so that others will say, “The LORD has done great things for them.”  

I love to hike. Ascending a mountain can be arduous and tiring but the reward of standing at the peak is worth all of the sweat and struggles. I love the view from the top because it helps me get a different perspective on where I have been and where I am going. I can see the majesty of creation and I feel peace knowing that I am a part of that creation.

Prayer: Loving Creator, you bring light into our lives. May we see that light and share it with others. Bless our tears so that they will one day bring forth sheaths of joy. Jesus has ascended above it all. Help us to follow in the ways that lead to life eternal.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 11, 2015

by Eric Norman

Scripture1 Corinthians 8: 1-13 (This passage speaks of the relationship between knowledge and love, and how we might perceive their value and their use.)

Love is a funny thing.  Our concept of love seems to morph into different things when we think about it. The concept itself is difficult for us to hold in our minds – it’s slippery, mercurial.  What is love?  How do we know it exists?  We seem to be able to describe love not as it might be given or received, but as the characteristics we can associate with it.  For instance, we can describe love as being overwhelming, or perhaps we might say love is pleasing or elusive.  Sometimes our awareness of love is strongest when we feel its presence or absence.  I’ve often found myself saying things like “I know it when I have it” or “I’m not feeling the love today”.

I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately.  I have love for my wife, my friends and (parts of) my family, although the love I have for my friends is very different than the love I feel for my wife.  And though they are quite different, I know these feelings are real.  I also know I am loved.  There is no doubt in my mind that my wife and my friends love me. It’s something I carry with me whether I’m with my wife or my friends – or not. 

Interestingly, the dictionary lists love as both a noun and a verb.  And though the definitions are very similar, I am convinced that love is active, much more a verb than a noun.  In my view, we feel love most when we give it; and the love we feel is amplified by the love we allow ourselves to give.

Prayer: Lord, I pray you grant us each the unending capacity to love.  And in this way you create and recreate each of us in your image. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 10, 2015

by Scott Becker

ScriptureMark 6:1-13

God has charged us with spreading his message of love. He gives us the strength to rebuke evil in his name. By our faith, we bring his message to those who would listen and hear the word of God in order that those of us who didn’t witness, nor know Jesus, have a stronger faith in him. We believe without seeing.

Prayer: Our heavenly father, thank you for giving us power over demons and the ability to heal those in need. By our faith we listen to your word and try to live as an example of your light. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 9, 2015

by Jason Lowery

ScripturePsalm 121

The 121st Psalm is one of the most well read and comforting passages in all of the Bible.  Particularly at this time of reflection during the season of Lent, these eight verses can truly show us the love that God the Father has for his children.  The author of the Psalm is expressing the certainly that we should all feel – that the Lord is the source of our help, the source of our strength, and that this devotion knows no bounds or no end.  It is “now and forevermore.”

Lent is, among many things, a time of prayer, atonement and repentance of sin.  The Psalmist reminds us that though none of God’s children are perfect and we all fall short of his glory, He is the rock on which we lean.  In verse three, the author tells us that “He will not let your foot slip; He who watches over you will not slumber.”  

Let us follow this example.  As almsgiving is one of the traditional customs of Lent, let us watch over our fellow man just as God watches over us.  When we “lift up (our) eyes unto the hills,” what a joy it is to know that our help comes from God, and that we can follow this example of giving.  As we move towards Holy Week, may we all be mindful of those around us who could use this assurance of the Living God.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, watch over and guide us, your children, and help us to be a guide to others.  We are grateful, Lord, for your love and protection and for the promise that you will be by our side, today and for all times.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 8, 2015

by Kim Sorrells

ScriptureJohn 2:13-22

I saw an internet meme some time ago that stated, “If someone asks you ‘What Would Jesus Do,’ remind them that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.”  While a humorous thought, maybe even suggesting that we can do that to those who make us mad, the reality is Jesus got angry and sometimes we should too.

Jesus was mad at the injustice he saw.  Of course, this was only made worse by the fact that it was in God’s temple. The “money changers” were financially taking advantage of people by creating an unfair rate of exchange into the acceptable temple coins.  People were forced to be taken advantage of in order to purchase animals for the sacrifices they needed to make. 

This, or course, begs the question: What tables would Jesus flip over today?  When do we see our brothers and sisters being taken advantage of? When is it our job to stand up for them and speak out in anger? When are there things in our own lives and hearts that need to be turned over?  When do we live unjustly? What dispositions of our hearts, minds or spirits need to be changed and overturned? 

During Lent, we take a look at the things we need to change in our lives and our world.  Just as Jesus cleansed the temple, during Lent we aim to cleans our lives and our world.

Prayer: God, help us to overturn the tables of sin and injustice – in our hearts, in our lives, and in our world. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 7, 2015

by Robert Fortenbery

ScriptureGenesis 43:16-34

This scripture gives Joseph a chance to forgive and to regain the trust of his brothers and family. He asked his brothers about their father to see if he was living and also to find out about Benjamin. Then he left to find a place to weep for joy. Later he served them a feast. Joseph was not ready to reveal himself yet, so he ate alone.

During this time of Lent, it’s the time of preparation for me to acknowledge what God did for the world including me. This past year and a half, I have had many trials including the loss of my friend of 42 years and partner of 27+ years. This year, Lent is the preparation of a new beginning and a new walk for me with God. He has given me the greatest gift in his Son, Jesus Christ, and sends his Holy Spirit to help me find peace and comfort during this time.

I am fortunate to have so many close friends, St. Mark and family members who are standing by and supporting me through this loss. God has led me back to St. Mark because of the genuine joy, love, and spirit of this family. They have prayed for me and helped me during this time of hardship. I have decided to give God extra time in meditation and prayer. I don’t feel that I’m giving up time on the computer or TV, but rather gaining time to spend with God. I know that I’ll be better off during this season as the time I spend will help heal my spirit, soul, mind, and strength. This is my season for renewal and healing.

Prayer:  Lord, let my time I spend with you help me heal and renew my faith. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church