Monday, March 21, 2016

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71: 3

The way I understand it, no matter how bad life gets you can always count on God. Whatever obstacle you have to overcome, no matter the result, God is there. When you have that bad day when you think nothing in the world will help, our “fortress” is God. With faith in God, everything is possible. God is always there to care for us and protect us.

Prayer: God, we give you thanks for being our rock and our fortress always. Amen.

Joseph Smith

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19: 39-40

It seems unlikely that many people would readily identify the story which contains the two verses above when they are standing alone. So, least we interpret this reading out of context, a little background is helpful. It won’t take much! To simply say that it is a scene from that first Palm Sunday will immediately tell most Christians all that they need for background.

At this point, Jesus is mounted on a donkey; his supporters have already strewn his path with their garments and palm fronds; and the crowd has become loud and joyful, except, of course, for the Pharisees, who are there seeking to bare false witness against Jesus that they might have him put to death,.

The conditions seem to be just right for the Pharisees to achieve their objective when Jesus’ followers begin to praise him with many shouting: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The Pharisees interpreted this as heresy.
The Pharisees then demand that Jesus order his followers to Stop! Jesus not only does not do so, but confirms his agreement with their actions. Jesus obviously knew well the words of the prophet Zechariah who, more than 650 years earlier, wrote:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

I, as most of you, have read or heard the story scores of times, yet I had given little thought to the subject verses. A careful consideration of these verses has led me to a more complete understanding of their importance. Among them are:

  • Jesus’ public acknowledgement of his kingship
  • The fulfillment of prophecy
  • Demonstration of how one part of the Bible confirms another
  • That each time you read or reread a passage you are likely to learn something new

Prayer: Most high God, we are thankful for your word. Help us to consider each and every passage in the Bible. Prompt us to read and reread, so that we might glean a more complete understanding of your nature and intentions. In our Savior’s name we pray, Amen.

Walt Rudisill

Friday, March 18, 2016

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

We obsess about the difficulties in our lives; allowing fears and anxieties to take over our thoughts. They impact how we feel, how we interact with people around us, and our happiness. Some of us will post our thoughts on social media, but often, that only fuels our anxieties. Meanwhile, our loving God, who is always with us, has the strength and compassion to bear the burden of our worries and our sorrows. He is stronger than we will ever be, and through his grace, he has blessed us by lightening our load. When we open our hearts and lay our anxieties on him, he gives us the blessing of peace – we breathe easier, we love more readily, and we more fully enjoy this life that God has given us. Each day, rather than allowing our worries to drag us down, we should open ourselves up to pass them off to the Lord. We must remember that he will carry us through our difficulties if we rely on his strength and grace. His love for us – easily seen in the many blessings in our lives – is so great that he would rather take the burden himself than we struggle under it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray now for peace. Lord, I know you see me struggling. Please help me by lifting my worries, help me to feel your refreshing love rather than the pull of these anxieties. Thank you, Lord for the love and lessons you provide to me each day. Amen.

Yvonne Shealy

Thursday, March 17, 2016

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

In this verse Paul tells the Colossians how they were supposed to act as Christians, so they knew how to display their faith to others. I cannot speak for all Christians, but for me, I definitely need my guide book- i.e. the Bible. Being a good Christian doesn’t mean being perfect. Far from it. All we can do is try living the best way we know how and to take the teachings of Christ as a standard of living. Our deeds can be small or LARGE. Whether it be picking up a few extra cans of food at the grocery store for Micah’s Backpack, singing with the choir, playing in the praise band, teaching Sunday school, traveling across the country for a youth gathering or halfway around the world to help dig wells in Africa…We all play a part in spreading God’s GRACE.

And we must not forget to look around and rejoice in what God has done for us…the life that he gave us. And thank him for that. I know that I am very thankful for everything he has bestowed upon me…being able to work, blessed with wonderful friends and family(including my church family) and most of all my children. We all have different things we are thankful for and just a simple acknowledgement is all he needs.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Let us fill our lives with your word and represent the pureness of being a true Christian. Teach us to show mercy, kindness, humility and patience to all. We give thanks for all that you do for us on a daily basis even though we may not notice. We also give thanks that you sent your only Son so that we may eternal life. Amen.

Kristen Kessler

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jesus called to the crowd along with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. Mark 8:34

I often find myself a bit more attentive when I hear actual quotes from Jesus, thus my love of the four Gospels. His words are so powerful. In this passage, Christ is asking any and every one to make this “choice” to follow him. “Following him” does not simply mean being a part of the crowd, as he describes….. “let them deny themselves and take up their cross”. Many of us might say we have taken this vow, but are we 100% committed? Jesus Christ was committed, as he indeed took up his cross in order for us to survive in his Father’s kingdom. God gave him to us knowing we would fail, but also knowing we could still be saved. I find in today’s world, so many say they believe, but very few actually live it. I see it at work, with friends, and even here at St. John’s. I am humbled by my own transgressions, but also take comfort knowing Jesus is with me.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your gift of Jesus and your amazing grace! Let us continue to follow him in our walk of faith, even with the burden of the cross that each of us carry. May we all know your love and accept it freely. Amen.

John Roney

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:9

Before I begin to write a devotional, I read the entire psalm and check several translations to help me determine the meaning of the specific verse assigned to me. That process didn’t help me with the answer to the question I have about verse 9.

The Lord is good to all? Thieves? Murders? Drug dealers? While all of us make mistakes (sin), not many of us fit into categories like the ones I have questioned. In all of the translations that I checked, the one word that was consistent was “compassion”. So, my next step was to consult Webster’s dictionary:
Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Alleviate : Relieve, lessen; as to make more bearable; to partially remove or correct.
That’s the key to verse 9! God loves everything he created and wants all of us to repent.
Repent: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone really tried to be compassionate to each other and, by following the teachings of Jesus, lived together in peace.

“For the love of God is broader than the measures of our mind; And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the head.

‘Tis not all we owe to Jesus; it is something more that all;
Greater good because of evil, larger mercy through the fall.
Make our love, O God, more faithful. Let us take you at your word.
And our lives will be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.”
From the hymn “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” Amen.

Mary Ward