Give It Up! 2016 Daily Lenten Devotionals

ASH WEDNESDAY- FEBRUARY 10TH Psalm 51:1-12

The beginning of our Lenten journey starts in the Psalms as we reflect on our own human mortality and recognize that we are a sinful people and need to repent before God. Through these next 40 days, many of our devotions focus on spiritual discipline, giving up or fasting from things that we truly love, and focusing on Jesus and his time here on earth. As we begin this journey together, what will you give up? What is holding you back from a stronger relationship with Jesus? What is holding you back from growing in your faith? And, what can you do in the next 40 days to bring you closer to God? Join us this Lenten season as we “Give It Up” and draw closer to God during this holy time.

Join us for the imposition of ashes in the Sanctuary from 6-9am, and join us for our Ash Wednesday service beginning at 7pm.

FEBRUARY 11TH Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When my children were infants, I remember feeling like the period of no sleep would never end. Living in a fog, catching little moments of sleep here and there, and trying to get to know this new little human who had been placed into our lives felt like an eternity of sleepless nights. People kept telling me to enjoy it, that soon they would be running around and telling me “no” all of the time, and yet I couldn’t quite picture that day. And then just like that, the time of diapers and burp pads was over. That season was gone in my life. Instead, I was constantly running after them, playing with cars and trains, reading books, and hearing the word “no” all of the time! And then that season was over, replaced by… well I think you get the picture.

There are so many seasons that happen over the course of our lives. And Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time and season for everything. There is a time for mourning and a time to dance. There is a time to search and a time to give up. There is a time to tear down and a time to build up. There is a time to plant and a time to uproot. Where do you find yourself during this Lenten season? Do you find yourself in a desert time, feeling like God is nowhere to be found? Or do you find yourself in a time flowing with milk and honey, God’s blessings abounding in your life? Do you find yourself actively seeking God? Or do you find yourself in a time where you have no motivation to even pray? Whatever season you are in, embrace it, for God is in every season. Remember to look for God’s guiding hand through it all, and be ready, for soon this season will pass and a new season will be upon you. 3

FEBRUARY 12TH Exodus 40:1-15

When I was little, we had a carefully orchestrated routine of preparing to go to church on Sunday mornings. It most often started off with a shower or a bath, followed by picking out and wearing our nicest clothes and shoes. We would often collect coins or a few dollars from our piggy banks to put into the offering plate, grab our Bibles and then head off to church. It not only helped prepare us to look our best, but it also helped us center our minds and open ourselves up to set aside time to be with God.

The Bible tells us that the Tabernacle had a specific place and purpose for everything. It might have felt repetitive to those having to put everything it it’s place, but it helped prepare the people for an encounter with the Almighty. And it helped the people understand what it meant to come into the presence of The Holy.

What do you do to prepare yourself for holy time? Do you put on soft worship music in the background or do you turn everything off so that the room is silent? Do you light a candle or pull out a journal to write in? Maybe you have done the same thing for years, or maybe it is time to start something new. This Lenten season, make sure to take time to prepare yourself and open yourself up for an encounter with God.

FEBRUARY 13TH Romans 12:1-2

As we come to the end of our first week, what are some things that you need to give up this Lenten season? Maybe you have really been struggling with something and need to let it go. Maybe there is something that is holding you back from being a better you and having a stronger relationship with God. Or maybe it is time to give up control and let God handle things. Maybe it is time to let the God of true peace in and rule your life. Take time to reflect on your life and your relationship with God. How will you Give It Up this Lenten season?

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Independence. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

FEBRUARY 15TH Proverbs 3:5-6

Do you have a life scripture, one that speaks directly to you in many of the situations which you have encountered throughout your life? Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of those scriptures for me. It seems to speak wisdom at just the right times in my life that I most desperately need to hear these words. And it helps me remember to set aside my own desires and to trust God that he will provide me with exactly what I need. I need to know that my understanding is only a small glimpse of the full picture, and that God knows exactly what I need and what I need to do. I need to be reminded to acknowledge God, and He will guide me.

What are you having a hard time trusting God with? Where do you need to depend more on God? And in what ways do you need to remember that God is there, wanting to have a relationship with you, and asking you to just trust?

FEBRUARY 16TH Exodus 33:1-6

God had rescued the Israelites from slavery by performing some huge miracles. God had not only sent plague after plague to change Pharaoh’s heart, but had also parted the Red Sea to bring the Israelites safely into the desert. God showed with great and mighty works that He was a God that they could trust. And yet, wandering in the desert brought many Israelites to question if they could really depend on God. The Israelites kept making mistake after mistake, idol after idol, yet God kept providing without fail. No wonder God called them a “stiff-necked people”. Have you ever been there? Has God showed up in mighty ways in your life only for you to be wandering in a desert questioning if God really cares?

The beautiful part of this story is that God stays present with the Israelites. God says that he won’t leave them out in the desert forever, but that He has a land flowing with milk and honey for them if they would just trust and follow him. The same is true for us. God will not abandon us in our desert times. God will stay with us and lead us to better places. But we as a people need to trust that God will always keep his promises to us. Are you in a desert place right now? God is with you! You can trust God!

FEBRUARY 17TH Jeremiah 17:5-8

It is so easy for us to put our trust in others. In many areas of our world it is a necessity. We trust doctors to know what is best for us and how to best treat our ailments. We put our trust in our government to do what is best to keep us safe and secure. But when we look at the past, we can also see times when our trust in people and leaders has led us to moments of broken trust which leaves us depleted. We search for someone whom we can trust unconditionally, only to find ourselves alone and completely dry and broken.

As a people of faith, we are called to put all of our trust in God. Perhaps a scary thought but God will not disappoint us. God will not lead us astray or put us in harms way. God keeps his promises. God’s love will never fail us. If we trust in God, we will be fed from the streams of living water, bringing fruit into our lives and not leave us wanting. So where have you been putting your trust? Have you been placing your trust in man, hoping that this time will be different and you will not be disappointed? Or are you placing your entire trust in God, whom will never let you down?

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on depending on God.

FEBRUARY 18TH Psalm 105:1-15, 42

I am often forgetful. Specifically, when things are down in my life, or I am going through a dark season, I forget the past good moments and victories and I only remember the bad and the failures. As a result, I heap bad memories upon bad experiences and begin to think of the world in a negative light. It is hard to remember the times when someone has spoken words of encouragement and shone light into my darkness… hard to remember all of God’s blessings… hard to focus on good instead of the bad.

“Remember the wonderful works that he has done.” Sometimes it is hard for us to remember what God has done in our lives and how God has been faithful. Today’s scripture tells us to remember the ways that God has been faithful in our lives. Can’t remember how God has been faithful in your life? That’s okay because we can remember God’s faithfulness in the lives of so many before us, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and hold those examples tightly as a reminder of God’s promises kept. God has been faithful and will continue to be faithful. Our job is to remember and to share with others, so that they can see God at work in your life, and as a reminder of how God has been faithful to them as well.

FEBRUARY 19TH Psalm 63:1-8

Years ago, I was out for a long run, preparing for a half marathon. It was going to be a warm, summer day, and about half way through my morning run, I was beyond thirsty and had drank the last of my water miles before. Since I had run out of water miles before, and I was feeling desperate to find something to help quench my dry mouth. As I passed by a little puddle of water leftover from the sprinklers the night before, I actually momentarily considered taking a tiny sip to help me get through. (Don’t worry, I came to my senses and I passed on by without taking a drink).

Has your soul ever been in that place of thirst? Desperately yearning God to speak into your life? Maybe it was a dark time that you remember from your past, or maybe you are there right now. Wherever you may find yourself this Lenten season, I encourage you to thirst after God with a thirst that drives you to seek God in new and filling ways. God can be your oasis and satisfy all your needs, all you need to do is cling to him. Where in your life are you feeling parched, and how can you seek after God and let God fill your needs?

FEBRUARY 20TH Philippians 3:7- 4:2

When I used to play basketball, I remember hours and hours spent at the free-throw line. There I would practice over and over shooting free-throws, preparing for the time when I would be able to use the practiced skill in a game. And finally, the moment that I had prepared for came. I got fouled during an important game against the Erie Tigers. We were down by one, and I needed to make the shots in order for us to pull ahead. As I stood at the line, readying myself for my shots, all I could think about was my missed free-throws in the first half of the game. How was I going to make these shots when I knew that I had already missed the others?

God tells us that we need to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. But many of us get stuck in those past mistakes and moments that held us back in the past. We can’t seem to let them go. But God not only forgives us but wants us to forget the past and keep our eye on the goal ahead of us, the goal of having a strong relationship with God and doing the work that God has called us to do. So friends, let us leave the past in the past, and focus our eyes forward, striving to have that strong relationship with God and bearing good fruit while we do our work.

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Sin. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

FEBRUARY 22ND Exodus 32:7-14

The Israelites had been through a lot with God. God had saved them time and time again, performing huge miracles right before their eyes. But a little time wandering in the desert had made them restless, malcontent, and untrusting. So they built an idol, a golden calf, to worship. Looking back we often can’t believe the sins and unfaithfulness of the Israelites. How could they build a golden calf to worship after witnessing God and the miracles that were performed, like the parting of the Red Sea? How could they turn away from God who had promised them a land of milk and honey?

We, too, build idols, especially in our wilderness times. When we feel like God has forgotten us and we are left wandering in the desert of our lives, we often turn to other comforts. We turn to things that make us feel good or comfortable for a short time, but never make our lives feel full and complete.

When you find yourself wandering in the desert of your life, what idols do you build? Do you often turn towards food or maybe buying things? Do you put your faith in others instead of trusting in God? What golden calf do you need to repent of? And how can you let go of those golden calves in your life and turn to the One True God who loves you unconditionally and always keeps his promises to bring to you the promise land?

FEBRUARY 23RD Luke 15:1-10

Most children have a story about being lost in a store. You feel safe and so you wander just a little further than you should from mom or dad, you take a wrong turn, and then all of a sudden you look up and find that you are alone and have no idea how to get back. You start to walk the aisles of the store, shouting out for dad or mom, panic creeping in more and more as you start to feel like you will never find your parents again. Maybe tears start to flow as you feel more and more hopeless at being found. And then mom or dad appear before you, and you run into their arms, promising to never wander away again. Can you relate?

There are often times in our lives where we become lost. I am not talking about not being able to find your way in a strange city. I mean spiritually lost. We get really comfortable in our lives, go down a path that we shouldn’t or make a wrong turn, and all of a sudden, we find that we are lost. Sometimes we have no idea where we are and how we even became so lost. Some of us try to find our way back on our own, but in doing so become even more lost and confused. Panic starts to creep in and we feel like we will never find God again. But God promises to always come and find us. No matter how lost you are, know that God is looking for you. And when God comes around that corner, you can run into the arms of God and be safe in the love that will never leave your side. Are you lost this Lenten season? Stop running and let the God of love come and find you and bring you back into the fold.

FEBRUARY 24TH Psalm 32

When I was young, I remember doing something to a friend that hurt them very badly. I hid in shame from them, hoping that they would just forget or that magically the past would be changed. The longer I went without asking for forgiveness, the more pain and guilt I felt for my actions. When I finally talked with this friend and said that I was sorry, she forgave me right away. The joy that filled my life was so much better than the shame I had carried for over a week.

Sometimes it is hard to ask for forgiveness. We feel too much shame for what we have done or feel that there is no way we can ever be forgiven. But if we go to God when we have done something wrong with a true and repentant heart, God forgives us and forgets about what we have done. Think of the joy that fills your heart knowing that you are forgiven! Is there something this season that you need to repent of? Take time to sit with God and repent, and then rejoice in knowing that God forgives you completely.

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on giving up sin in our lives.

FEBRUARY 25TH 1 John 2:1-6

Children are really good at having someone as a go-between. When they do something wrong, they often will try to have someone go and defend them to the person that they have wronged. We see the same thing happen when we grow older as well. Adults often find a go-between, or an advocate, especially when it comes to a court of law. We call these advocates lawyers. And it is a lawyer’s job to defend their client and help them make right any wrongs that they have committed.

We also have a great go-between. If we know God and abide in God, then we sin, we have an advocate, Jesus, who fights for us. His sacrifice is the reason that we can have atonement for our sins. What an amazing gift that we all have been given! We did nothing to earn an advocate, nothing to earn forgiveness from our sins. Yet Jesus went before us, taking care of our payment by making the ultimate sacrifice, and making sure that we have restoration and forgiveness when we do sin.

FEBRUARY 26TH Revelation 3:1-6

One of the things I hear couples struggle with the most is the passage that says “do not let the sun go down on your anger”. Most claim that they need a few days of clarity before they can settle an argument. However, couples will also tell you that you should always go to bed saying “I love you”, even if you have to say it through teeth that are grinding. There is something about not knowing what the next minute will bring that makes us want to make sure to make things right and to let others know how we truly feel.

In this scripture from Revelation, we are reminded again that we never know when God will come for us. We never know when it will be the last time to make things right with people in our lives. We never know the hour or the day in which it might be our last or the last day of someone that we love. Therefore, let us repent today of all that we have done wrong. Let us ask God search us and find sin in us, and then let us repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. And if we have wronged someone else, let us go to them right away and ask for their forgiveness.

FEBRUARY 27TH 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

A few years ago, Disney put out a new animated movie called Frozen. If you haven’t seen it yet, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! In Frozen, Queen Elsa is alone in an ice castle after running away from the town’s people and her sister who are afraid of her abilities to freeze things. As she starts to break out in a song, Let It Go, she starts to realize that she needs to let go of all that she has held on to for so long and leave things in the past. While the song is one that I wish I could “let go”, it has some sage advice for all of us.

I bet if we were to sit down and talk about the things in our past, I would find that you have many things that you still have a hard time letting go, just as I do. There are things from our past that are hard to completely let go of and forgive ourselves for what we have done. Yet, we are a new creation in Christ. When we have asked for forgiveness, we have been reconciled with God, through Christ, and our past is now forgotten. So my friends, let go of those things that hold you back. Let go of the past that you are ashamed of. Hold on to the promise that you are now a new creation in Christ Jesus!

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Hate. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

FEBRUARY 29TH Psalm 59

Third grade is rough! I remember being picked on in third grade, and now I am watching the same thing happen to my oldest. It seems like it is the year where kids are starting to struggle with where they fit into the world and in so doing so, say some pretty nasty things to each other. The truth is this phenomena doesn’t stop in third grade the problem is that since we are a broken people who sin, we encounter those people throughout our lives.

Relationships are tricky, and as we grow older, we know that there are times where people are just going to be anti-you. They are going to not like you, tell lies about you, try to turn others against you. But how do we deal with those people? Do we fight back, using hate to combat hate? Do we remove ourselves entirely from the situation, running away because we just don’t know how to handle it?

God also calls us to use love where there is hate. God promises to be our deliver, shield, and safe place in times of persecution. We are called to forgive when others hurt us or do wrong against us. God calls us to be the peacemakers. Who do you need to be delivered from this day? And who do you need to extend love and forgiveness to today?

MARCH 1ST Matthew 5:38-48

If you sit back and watch a room full of 2-year-olds, it doesn’t take long to see our naturally human tendencies. One child steals a toy from a friend only to have it stolen from another. One child hits another and the injured child usually hits back. And no matter how hard parents or teachers try to correct these behaviors, the next time a child does something to another, that child will retaliate. Continued on the next page…

Our human tendency is to strike back when someone does something to us. We want that person to hurt like we have hurt. We want them to suffer like we have. We want them to feel what we feel and know the pain that their actions have caused. Yet God calls us to do something completely different. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” God calls us to live into our birthright as children of God. God calls us to love our enemies, to extend love to those who hurt us, and to pray for them. Who do you need to pray for today? And how can you claim your birthright and live a life of love to those who hurt you?

MARCH 2ND Romans 2:1-11

In 2006, a man named Charles Roberts went into an Amish school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot 10 young school girls, killing 5, before turning the gun on himself. The world reacted in anger–wondering what kind of man would do such a thing–by throwing anger towards his family. The Amish community reacted in a very different way. That evening, Amish neighbors went to the house of Charles Roberts and extended forgiveness and showed compassion to his family.

We are called to live out a life of forgiveness and compassion for others just like that Amish community did that day. Can it be difficult? Most definitely! But God calls us to a life of love, for God is love. God extends to us all grace and forgiveness, and we are called to do the same thing. In a world where judging others for their sins is rampant, let us choose to live a life filled with love, forgiveness, compassion and grace.

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on giving up hate.

MARCH 3RD Isaiah 54:1-17

People are really good at waging wars. Just take a look at our history, and you will see it littered with war after war. Not only have there been countless wars over land, materials, power, etc., but there have also been wars waged against systems, against nature, and wars waged against God. We are a people who often live lives of wars.

Our God is a God of peace. In fact, even though we wage war against God, God has made a covenant of peace with us. God tells us that we are forgiven, and that God will not abandon us, but will shower us with love and compassion. If we love God, we no longer have to be a people of war. So let us choose peace! Let us be a people who are the peacemakers, who show love and forgiveness to those who wage war against us. Let us live a life of peace in a world filled with war!

MARCH 4TH Luke 6:37-42

When I talk with young mothers, one of the things they will consistently share with me is that they struggle with is the judgment that comes from others. They hear others judging them on what they are feeding their children, what schools they enroll their kids in, what extra-curricular activities or sports they are involved with. This judgment doesn’t just come from other moms, but comes from family, from people in grocery stores, from people in their neighborhoods. It seems that everywhere they turn, they run into people passing judgment on how they are doing as moms and how they are raising their children. These moms struggle in huge ways because they feel that they can do no right. All they want is a safe community where they can come and ask for help without being judged.

We live in a very judgmental world. We are constantly judged by how much money we earn, what kind of job we have, what kind of clothes we wear, what kind of car we drive and house we live in, how our kids act, and the list goes on and on. And it is hard to not get caught up in that world of judgment! It is hard to not look around and judge others. I don’t know about you, but I certainly can get caught up in all of that judging. I know there is plenty wrong in my own life that I need to fix and that I have a pretty big log in my own eye, yet I often find myself looking at the speck in my neighbors eye, judging them for what they are doing or how they are living. It is easier to point the finger at someone else and how they are living than to deal with what I know I need to in my own.

What logs do you need to take care of in your own life? And what can you do to extend a hand of love and mercy to your neighbor instead of a hand of judgment? Let us vow to be a safe community, offering a safe place where people can come just as they are with whatever they are struggling with and know that they will find a place of love and acceptance. Let us not live a life of judgment but a life of love, a life of safety, a life of grace.

MARCH 5TH Romans 12:9-21

It seems like everywhere I turn these days, I see people fighting, putting each other down, throwing insults back and forth, and tearing each other down. This morning I turned on the news to hear yet another story about a politician calling another politician names. I flipped the station and heard about another protest and the hate-filled words that were being thrown back and forth between the two sides. And then I turned around and saw my children pushing each other and yelling names.

Paul shares with us in this passage from Romans that the marks of a true Christian are to love one another, to live lives of hope and joy, and to extend forgiveness and peace to all, even those who hurt us. Can you imagine what our world would look like if we lived this way? If we truly loved and we truly forgave? Maybe I could turn my TV on in the morning and feel good for once. Maybe the world I live in would be just a little brighter. But I know that it starts with me. It starts with us. Will you join me and choose to live a life of love, the life of a true Christian? Let us start today!

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Fear. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

MARCH 7TH Daniel 3:19-30 (Fiery furnace)

During World War II, Jews were being rounded up in their neighborhoods and taken to concentration camps. But many people took in Jewish refugees, hiding them in their basements or other secret rooms to try and keep them away from the Nazis, but in return risking everything. One of these families was the ten Boom family. The ten Booms housed Jews and others running away from the Nazis in a secret room in their house, even though they knew that it could mean death for them if they were caught. When they were eventually discovered, the family suffered mightily by being sent to a concentration camp. And when the war was finally over, only Corrie ten Boom was left to tell the story of her family and their faith.

Holding tight to our convictions in the face of adversity can be a very difficult thing. But what if it were to cost us everything? Could we still hold on to our beliefs? Could we still stand strong even if faced with death knowing that we were doing what God is calling us to do?

The story of the fiery furnace and the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family show us how God is faithful even in the midst of those difficult times. If we are called to stand strong, then God will be in the fiery furnace with us. God will never leave our side, even in those moments of the most dire circumstance. And God will use our faith in those moments to strengthen the faith of others around us. So do not be afraid, for God goes with you, even into the fiery furnace!

MARCH 8TH Isaiah 43:1-7 (do not fear, God is with you)

“Do not fear” is one of the most used commands in the Bible. It is said to a variety of people in a variety of situations, but is meant to recognize the that fear exists, then reminds that God is always in charge. We hear these words to Abraham when God makes his covenant with him. We hear these words spoken to Mary when the angel appears to her to tell her she will have a son. We hear these words again when spoken to the disciples while they are on a boat being whipped around by turbulent seas.

So what are the things that you fear? Do you fear for the safety of you and your family? Do you fear a calling that you hear from God? Do you fear that you won’t be able to handle something? What are your deepest fears? In every single one and in every single place, God is there with you. God is in control and will not let you be consumed.

MARCH 9TH Psalm 27 (God is our refuge)

Growing up in Nebraska, I remember several times where the clouds looked dark, the sirens would ring, and we would have to take shelter in our basement. The winds would howl, the clashes of thunder would be loud and continuous but I still felt completely secure sitting safe in the protection of our basement. I just knew without a shadow of a doubt that if a tornado hit, my family would be protected by the cement walls built beneath the earth.

That is how it is with our faith. There are times in our lives where the winds are going to howl and the thunder is going to be loud and frequent. There will be storms going on all around us, and yet we can know without question that we are safe and secure in God. God hears our cries when the storms blow, and God speaks into our lives “Come and I will be your shelter.” If the storms are blowing in your life, know this: You can trust God to be your shelter, and when the storms pass, a beautiful rainbow will be waiting for you.

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on giving up anxiety and fear.

MARCH 10TH Joshua 1:1-9

The first day of school for any child can be one filled with anxiousness and fear. For Jackson this year, it was no different. He was scared to start a new school and scared to meet new friends. As most good mothers would, I told him that there was nothing to fear, that he would be just fine, make tons of friends and love his new school. Of course, I knew deep down, that might not happen for him. He might have hated his new school and not found one friend. But I held onto that hope for him that things would be good and this new beginning would be filled with great promise.

Joshua also found himself in this place of new beginnings. Moses had died, and Joshua found himself in charge of the Israelites who had been wandering the desert for years and years. And finally, it was time to lead the people into the Promised Land. Of course, this Promised Land already had people living in it and could have been a dangerous place for the Israelites to settle. But God spoke into Joshua’s life, and Joshua trusted that God was with them and would be with them wherever they would go.

Are you on the verge of something new? Do you feel anxious or fearful about something in your life? Hold onto this hope and this promise: God will be with you wherever you go, so be strong and courageous!

MARCH 11TH Matthew 6:25-34

When you turn on your TV or check your news apps for the latest news, you find stories of war, of terror attacks, of sliding stock markets, of weak economies, of violence happening locally… and the list goes on and on. News stations actually show more bad news than good. If it bleeds, it leads. Ratings go up when they report tragic news stories; showing just how much we are drawn to it watching others’ real pain like a movie on a screen. Recent studies have found that focusing on too much bad news can actually lead to depression, deeply rooted in feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and loneliness.

God knows that our tendencies as a people are to focus on the bad and to get caught up in the hopelessness of everything. But with God, there is only hope. With God, there is only promise. And so God tells us not to worry. Don’t worry about what you will eat, don’t worry about what you will wear… don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet, or things that might come. But instead, seek God and his righteousness. Stay focused on God, even in the midst of troubling times and troubling news, seeking him in all things. Put your trust and hope in God and know that God treasures you and will take care of you.

MARCH 12TH Psalm 39 (hope in God)

You may have heard the story before about a little girl who needed a blood transfusion or else she would die. Her brother happened to be a perfect match, and so the doctors talked with the little boy to get him to agree to give blood to save his sister. When the transfusion began, the little boy asked quietly, “Doctor, when am I going to die?” The doctor than realized that the little boy believed that in order to save his sister’s life and give her the blood that she needed, that he would die.

Hope is a powerful thing and can lead us to do things we never thought possible. Even in the midst of the darkest times where we feel that there is no hope for our earthly lives, hope can lead us to not being afraid no matter what we face. Hope can help us to be brave in the face of adversity or danger, hope can lead us to take a stand where needed, and hope can even help us to sacrifice everything so that we can stand firm in God. We have hope in God… hope that God will deliver us from all of our sins, hope that God will deliver us from our enemies, hope that no matter what happens in this life, that we will be with God in the next. So put your hope in God, my friends, and watch what amazing things can happen in your life and the lives of those around you.

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Doubt. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

MARCH 14TH James 1:2-8

When you have young children, you know that there are two stages that are the worst stages to go through. I like to call these stages the “what” stage and the “why” stage. Let me give you an example of the “what” stage: “Mom, what is that? What is that? What is that?” This stage is filled with your young darling trying to figure out what everything in the world is. It is followed closely followed by the dreaded “why” stage which sounds something like this: “But why? Why is it green? Why is it a dog? Why why why?”

We know that as Christians, we also have a “what” stage and a “why” stage. These stages are so important for us in our growth as Christians, but can really challenge us in our faith. And sometimes, we aren’t given the answers. But God gives us this promise: “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you.” So friends, when we have those questions, ask for wisdom! Just like small children, we can only grow in our faith by asking that which we don’t know.

MARCH 15TH Matthew 7:7-11

Those who know me well know that I hate to ask for anything. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me nervous. But every time that I have reached out of my comfort zone and asked, I have found this one truth: it never hurts to ask. If I have a question or don’t understand something, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If I am in need of something, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If I really want something to happen, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

The same is true in our faith. It doesn’t hurt to ask. In fact, God tells us that we need to ask. We need to ask the questions that we have… we need to search for meaning and understanding… we need to seek God and understand more about who God is and how we are called to live. And God promises us to not only answer, but to give good things to those who ask. So what do you need to ask God? What do you need to seek out? It never hurts to ask!

MARCH 16TH Hebrews 11:1-40

The hardest question that my children have asked me is this: “How do you know that God is there since you can’t see him?” It is a legitimate question and one that makes me think, “how do I know?” Faith is such a hard thing to explain to someone, let alone understand for yourself. It is hard to understand and believe in something that we cannot see. And yet that is exactly what having faith means.

The fact is that yes, we cannot see God in a physical body right before us. But we can see God present in others’ lives and in our lives as well. We can read about the faith of Abraham and Moses and see how God was present and active in their lives. And we can look back at our own lives and see where God has been present as well. God is alive and present in the world. God loves us and is active in our lives. And God has promises for you and for me! All we need to do is have faith and hope, and looking to others when we doubt.

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on giving up our doubts.

MARCH 17TH Luke 24:13-40

From an early age, I heard many stories from the Bible. I have read certain passages over and over, studying them and trying to understand what they mean in my life and in my faith. And I have found that there is nothing more exciting than when a veil has been lifted and suddenly I understand a passage or a story in a new or different way.

Can you imagine how these men felt as they were on their walk to Emmaus? Can you imagine what it was like for them when all of a sudden they realized that Jesus had been walking with them through their journey, speaking truth into their lives? God still appears to us today through his word and through others that are placed in our lives. But many times we miss it! We miss that the one that we are searching for is right before us, speaking to us. We will never recognize Jesus in front of us if we aren’t seeking him with our whole heart.

What questions do you have for God? What are you struggling with? And in what ways do you need God to lift the veil and appear in your life? Keep your eyes open and keep seeking for God. Jesus might be right before you, speaking into your life, and you don’t even know it yet.

MARCH 18TH Exodus 6:1-13

The Israelites were in a very tough spot. They were being held in slavery, and because their master, Pharaoh, was upset with Moses, he was making their lives even more difficult by requiring them to make their quota of bricks without using straw. The Israelites were hurting and angry, and they turned their anger towards Moses and their disbelief towards what God had promised. But God continued to be faithful. God promised deliverance for the Israelites.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been stuck in a tough place where there seemed to be no way out? Have you ever felt abandoned by God? Have you ever doubted that God would come through for you and deliver you? In those dark places and times in our lives, it is hard to remember that God is with us and that God will deliver us. But remember this, God keeps promises! God will deliver you from whatever you are struggling with. Hold on to that promise, God is coming!

MARCH 19TH Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

As we reflect on Jesus and his journey to the cross, it is hard to pass over all of the troubles that were about to befall upon him. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to know the path you were traveling on would lead you straight to a terrible death at the cross. And yet, Jesus kept one foot in front of the other, each step leading him closer and closer to the ultimate sacrifice of love.

In our own lives, we know that trouble will come our way. We know that hard times will happen. We know that there will be moments of weeping. And in those moments, it is so hard to remember how God is faithful, despite the pain. But God has a promise for each of us. If we focus on loving God, God will never leave us, no matter what trouble comes our way. Did you hear that? God will never leave us! What an amazing promise from a God who loves us more than we could ever begin to comprehend.

Join us on Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we talk about Giving Up Death. And join one of our many Sunday School classes at 9:30 or 11:00.

MARCH 21ST Exodus 12:21-27

The Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians for years and God was ready to bring the last plague upon the Egyptians, forcing Pharaoh to free God’s people. This was a pivotal event in Jewish history where God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and to cover their doorposts with it’s blood. When the Israelites covered their doorpost with the blood of the lamb, the angel of death would pass over their house and not kill the firstborn. The night was filled with cries in the night, but the Israelites had been spared because they trusted God’s word and prepared themselves.

As we begin our journey through Holy week, let us prepare ourselves, as the Israelites prepared themselves that night, for the journey that lays before us. Let us remember the journey of Jesus as he sacrificed himself for us so that we may be reconciled with God. Let us ask for forgiveness for those things that bring death to our lives, and let us praise God as we reflect on the life eternal that we are promised.

MARCH 22ND Luke 18:31-34

Can you imagine knowing the future, knowing what was about to happen to you, and not having anyone believe you or understand what you are even talking about? It must have been a lonely path that Jesus walked as he neared Jerusalem with his disciples. Jesus tries again and again to explain to the twelve what is about to come, and yet they cannot grasp what Jesus is telling them.

What I love about this passage is that I always get caught up in Jesus predicting his death. If a friend were to tell me that they would have these horrible things happen to them, I wouldn’t be able to get past those words. And if we stop right there, then we miss the most important part of the entire story. Jesus doesn’t just tell his disciples that he will be killed, but then he tells them the best part: he will rise again! As we prepare ourselves for remembering the last days and hours of Jesus’ life and all the pain and agony that he went through, let us also hold onto that best part: Jesus will rise!

Bring your family and join us for Journey With Jesus, an Easter family event, from 5-6:30.

MARCH 23RD John 11:45-57

Nothing feels worse than knowing that you are being betrayed by people that you care about and that they are plotting against you. I can’t imagine that it felt any different for Jesus. These people who are plotting to kill him are people that he loves. Many have been there witnessing the miracles that he has performed. Many have heard the words that he has taught to the multitudes. And yet here they are, plotting for his death and betraying the love that he has for each of them.

Are there ways in which you betray Jesus with your actions and words? Are there times where you join together with others, sharing words of disbelief that God really cares? Are there times where you turn your back on the miracles that Jesus has done in your life? Remember that for all of those people who betrayed him that day and plotted for his death, and for all of us since who have betrayed Jesus and turned our back on him, Jesus still loves each of us and died for all of our sins.

Join us for our Lenten Study at 1:00pm or 6:00pm as we continue to reflect on Holy Week.

MARCH 24TH Luke 22:7-23

Each time that we come together, breaking bread and drinking from the cup, we remember what Jesus did for us. We remember how his body was broken and his blood was spilled so that we may be reconciled with God. And when we come together, we join in communion with God, once again opening up ourselves to the great mystery and seeking to follow God wherever we are called. Today as we remember this great supper, let us offer thanks for Jesus and the sacrifice that he gave, let us repent of our sins and turn back to God, and let us go out into the world, sharing the love of God with all that we meet.

Join us at 7:00pm for the Living Last Supper.

MARCH 25TH Psalm 22

There are many times in our lives where we have said these same words. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Maybe we were going through the loss of a loved one. Maybe we were dealing with an illness or continued pain. Maybe we were dealing with more than words could ever say. Whatever we were going through, it felt like God was far away and wasn’t listening to our prayers, and that the darkness would continue on forever.

Knowing that Jesus spoke these same words on the cross brings me comfort, for I know that God knows the desperation and anguish that hard times can bring us. And in the midst of that deep darkness and pain, we can look to Psalm 22 and know how to cry out, and how to praise God in the midst of the darkness. Even if God feels far from us, we have the promise that God will never leave our side, no matter what we are going through. And we know that God will bring light where there is darkness, good where there is bad, and life where there is death.

Join us at 7:00pm for Good Friday service.

MARCH 26TH Isaiah 53:1-12

In the darkness that this day brings and as we think about Jesus lying in a tomb, let us remember the journey that has led us here. Let us remember all of the things that we are giving up so that we may have life. Let us remember that we are a broken people living in a broken world where we desperately need a Savior. And let us remember that if we seek God with our whole heart, we will find God and be filled. Let us be changed by these last 40 days. Let us remember that no matter what happens, what struggles we face, what sins we commit, and what darkness comes into our life, God’s steadfast love will never leave us. The grace and forgiveness of Jesus the Messiah fills our lives, and the Holy Spirit will guide us from this day forward.

Join us Saturday night at 5pm or Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 or 11:00 as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior! And make sure to invite your neighbors and friends!

0 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.