lent devotion 2016

The Good News of Freedom! - Matthew 28:7

The Good News of Freedom! - Matthew 28:7

Easter Sunday March 27

The Good News of Freedom! - Matthew 28:7 (NIV)

“Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead’ . . . “

 

“I was like a ball of twine, all wound up to the point of physical pain.  I had so many emotional secrets I hid behind the mask that everything was ok … but through (teaching and group work), the ball has started to unravel to God’s freedom”.  Another person said, “I could literally hear the chains pop” in explaining her inner sense of freedom.

One Hour - Mark 14:37

One Hour - Mark 14:37

Holy Saturday March 26

One Hour - Mark 14:37 (NIV)

 "Then [Jesus] returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?"

 

I have lunch with the elders of our community on a weekly basis.  On this particular day, I sat near an elder who began to admit his shortcomings to me.  He knew the Law of God quite well, and in a way, he had been and still was convicted by it. 

The Thief on the Cross - Luke 23:43

The Thief on the Cross - Luke 23:43

Good Friday March 25

The Thief on the Cross - Luke 23:43 (NIV)

"…Today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

People respond to the sufferings they endure in life in different ways.

Some blame, even curse God for their circumstances much like the unrepentant thief. Others, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that they are sinners deserving of their fate and look to Jesus for forgiveness. We see this in the way the repentant thief acknowledged to his partner in crime, “We deserve what we are getting.” Those who would be saved know they are sinners in need of God’s grace.

God's Will Be Done - Psalm 40:8

Maundy Thursday March 24

God's Will Be Done - Psalm 40:8(NIV)

“I desire to do your will, O my God---"

 

The night Jesus was betrayed, Scripture gives us a clear picture as the events of that night unfold.  Jesus is praying to His Father and asks, “Father if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.”  Only in Luke’s Gospel does it say an Angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him as he prays in anguish.

Knowing that the things to come that night were not going to be pleasant, He still yielded Himself to the will of God the Father.

We try to understand what the weight of that “cup” must have been to bear, but we can never fully comprehend it.  He was to pay for my sin, your sin, and the sins of world, and this would be brought to completion as Christ would take every vile sin and pay its price. He was beaten, mocked, and hung on the cross.

There is comfort in prayer.  Even in the very worst times of our lives, when we are struggling, there is comfort in prayer. 

But, how many times do we sincerely pray, “Not my will, but yours Lord?” 

Sometimes we want to pray for the outcome, and it tends to be our outcome.  Even in our most anguishedprayer, we come away with peace and comfort, knowing that God hears us and he strengthens us. We can rest assured, God’s Will will be done.

After Jesus is finished praying in the garden that night, he gets up and is fully ready to finish the work His Father sent Him to earth to complete.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for always hearing and answering our prayers even though they aren’t always answered the way we want. Teach us to pray for Your will, not ours.  Most of all, thank you for the comfort and peace You give to every circumstance when brought to You in prayer.  
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Deaconess Cathy Benzler (Cherokee) - Olympic Peninsula, Washington


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Still “Thee Light House” - Psalm 27:1

Still “Thee Light House” - Psalm 27:1

Wednesday March 23

Still “Thee Light House” - Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

“The Lord is My Light and my salvation --- whom shall I fear?”

 

High above Lake Superior at almost ten thousand feet the view was spectacular.  Far below we could see a big freighter pushing its way toward the harbor at Duluth.  We had just circled the Apostle Islands at lower altitudes and were in wonder of God's beauty. 

It is Finished! - 1 Corinthians 15:55

Tuesday March 22

It is Finished! - 1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV)

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

 

Recently I was visiting a friend who has studied Luther's works but was raised in another prominent faith. During our conversations about many things including health care, the presidential election, family dysfunction, and our failing bodies, she jokingly said, "Well, after I am reincarnated, I'll get it right the next time around." Which, of course, brought on more discussion.

How often do we think we will finally get a handle on our life?  How endless is the struggle over bad habits, the untamed tongue, and poor choices that hurt ourselves and others? 

Without Christ, our outlook is utterly hopeless!  Like the apostle Paul wails, "Oh wretched man that I am!"

But thank God, Jesus has taken care of our sin. Every day, we can find ways where we have failed miserably to honor God and serve our neighbor. But every night before we close our eyes, we can remember that we are a Baptized child of God. We can come to Him daily in Bible study and prayer. We can gather weekly to hear the Word preached, be assured our sins are forgiven, and receive the Lord's Supper.

Through Christ, our Savior, our future is secure.

 How wonderful to know that Jesus' words are as true today as they were two thousand years ago.  When Jesus said from the cross, "It is finished!" He meant it.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you that through Jesus you have given us the gift of eternal life. In spite of our trials here on earth, help us to realize what Good News this truly is. Help us to share with others that “hope that lies within us”.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Rosemary Sternbeck - Fairbanks, Alaska


If you enjoyed these devotions, please consider a donation
to help spread the Word to Every Native American Nation.

Time to Awaken - Matthew 26:41

Monday March 21

Time to Awaken - Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

 

Many times in our busyness, we get too familiar with the same thing.  We begin to play the same music and may read the same Scripture passage over and over again without contemplating its meaning.  We get caught up with doing, and we begin to get lazy.  We might even skip a reading or just listen to the music and not really listen to the words of a hymn. 

Instead, do we allow the music and words to really minister to our spiritual man instead of our natural man? 

Sometimes we get spiritually lazy, or we get tired of waiting for the promise that the Lord has given us.  It has happened in my life on occasion and when it does, I have to rebuke the spirit of slumber and declare that I choose to be alert and read the Word of God.  I get up and begin to walk around reading the Word.  Even when I listen to the same song repeatedly, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me to worship Him in spirit and truth.  I speak to my flesh and say “Flesh, you are not going to rule me,” and I submit my will to be lead by the Spirit of God.

I think about the time when Jesus was praying in the garden with Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.  Jesus gave them clear direction to keep watch with Him.  It seemed like an easy assignment but instead they fell asleep on the job that Jesus had given them.  I understand since I have done this, too. 

Sometimes our assignments from God are long and hard, and our flesh does get weak, because we are human beings.  But I pray that we would wake up and begin to see the hour that we are living in.  

Have we, the church, fallen asleep at this hour? 

I pray that we would wake up and say yes to Jesus.  “I will be faithful and obey you.”  It is time for me to quit being spiritually lazy on the job that God has given me.  I repent and say, “Jesus, wake me up to finish the task that you have given me.”

During this Lenten season, allow the Spirit of God to awaken you in a new, fresh way.

Dear Father God,
Awaken our spirit to be renewed and refreshed by your Word, to face our daily tasks and the work you would have us do for your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.

 

Patricia Main (Cree) - Lawrence, Kansas


If you enjoyed these devotions, please consider a donation
to help spread the Word to Every Native American Nation.

Punishment and Peace - Isaiah 53:5

Palm Sunday March 20

Punishment and Peace - Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

"…upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."

 

Pontius Pilate used a familiar tool of the powerful over the powerless at the trial of Jesus: the whip. “I have found in him (Jesus) no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” (Luke 23:22 ESV) It is an episode of the Passion story that still confuses us. After declaring Jesus to be guiltless, Pilate turns around and has him flogged. What kind of “innocence” is this?

Isaiah’s prophetic eye gives us the insight: this is “the chastisement that brought us peace.” Punishment and peace. How does the one lead to the other?

In the history of nations, punishment brings peace only by driving one power into submissive surrender. And it is not always a foolproof strategy. The governments of North America, motivated more by fear and ignorance instead of justice, thought that the way to deal with the “savages” that comprised the Native Tribes was to simply punish them into submission.

When we follow Jesus, we see how our greatest victories are accomplished through submission; even submission to our enemies. Jesus allowed the Powers of Darkness to have their way with Him. He was tried, convicted, and executed on the Cross, despite Pilate’s assertion that “I find no fault in him.” Jesus willingly brought the punishment of countless sinners squarely upon Himself. By taking our punishment, Jesus produced the peace; peace between God and sinners, accomplished by enduring infinite punishment, which only God becoming flesh was capable of doing. Jesus has done this, for you. His punishment brings you God’s peace.

Lord Jesus,
Your loving obedience to Your Heavenly Father brought You to the Cross. Your victorious Resurrection brings Your victory to each of us. Bring us to that saving faith today.
Amen.

 

Rev. Robert Gebel - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

​Don't Give Up! - Psalm 135:14

 

Saturday March 19

Don't Give Up - Psalm 135:14 (NIV)

“For the Lord will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants.”

 

When I visit the Native Reservations on the Olympic Peninsula, one of the first things I notice is houses in need of paint and repair and broken down cars.  But I also notice that the people are always friendly and easy to talk.  When you take the time to listen to their stories, you may find out the truth about living a Reservation life day by day.

One of the reasons for the broken down cars and homes in ill-repair is that the income per family is about $700 a month, and often times even less. Many of the Reservations are isolated, and there are no jobs available. In spite of this, they remain loving people who typically have a good sense of humor - even though many of them are living with generational depression, due to traumatic events from the past. Drugs are easy to get.  Suicide is higher on the Reservation for young people than the national average, because of addiction, broken homes, and the feeling of hopelessness.

But many of the elders are believers in Jesus, and they have a strong relationship with the Lord, and by having them as a big part of the family and community helps the children and youth on their journey through life.

Jesus died on the cross for all of us, not just some of us, and because of His sacrifice and love, we all have hope and eternal life forever in Him.

Lord,
I am always thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who You have sent to us to teach us each day of our lives. 
In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Deacon Tom Benzler (Ioway) - Olympic Peninsula, Washington

The Unfathomable Love of God - Romans 8:32

Friday March 18

The Unfathomable Love of God - Romans 8:32 (NIV)

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  

 

We have two natures. One born of sin as a result of our connection with our earthly parents, Adam and Eve. It is earthly, it is flawed, and it will die. Then there is our Divine connection with God, who because of the sending of Jesus, means we are eternal. We take on an eternal nature because God in Christ has reconciled us to Himself.

This is so profound. How is it that God would love us so much that He would send His Son to die a horrific death on the cross? And why would He do this while knowing from before the foundations of the world that we would reject Him?

That, however, is Divine love. That is how God commends His love towards us even while we reject, spite and ignore Him. And so the question is, “How will He not, with Jesus, freely give us all things?” God’s graciousness ever abounds to every one of us no matter our life circumstances, no matter how we feel or whatever may be our current state. The evidence is in what He has done in sacrificing Jesus for us.

While this unfathomable love of God is beyond our human comprehension, we can find comfort and assurance knowing that God intends good for us and freely offers to meet our temporal and eternal needs.

If God so loves us, may we in turn, through His grace manifest in our lives, demonstrate that same love to our neighbor and even those who may despitefully use us.  This kind of love is unnatural, unusual, and unfathomable. It is a reflection of the Divine.

Gracious Heavenly Father,
We give You thanks and praise for sending Your Son Jesus to save us. Grant us the confident assurance that through Him You will freely provide all that we need so that we
might in turn love others as You love us.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Rev. Dr. Don Johnson - Executive Director