Holy Week 2020 – Thursday

Read John 14:1-7, Mark 14:17-31, Luke 22:39-46, and Matthew 26:47-56

What a roller coaster of emotions. As we spend quiet time together today it’s time to really focus in on Jesus’ final hours with his friends, those closest to him. Jesus knew all along this day was coming, yet now that it is here there was so much to say. His disciples still didn’t seem to understand fully the importance of what was about to unfold. We can see clearly, yet do we still grasp what is happening? We’ve read the words, but what is happening in our hearts?

Each of these passages reveals something we can hold on to as we journey through our own dark night. There are beautiful promises. How often have we questioned something happening our lives, in our world? Jesus’ words in John, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” Like Thomas, we’re still not sure, we want more assurance, more information. Jesus calms our fears when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus is our answer. When the tempests of life try to overwhelm us, we need only rest in these words. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who does know. Now we can find peace in the Father.

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Holy Week 2020 – Tuesday

Read Matthew 26:6-13 and John 12:1-8

How did Jesus spend his last days? All these years later, what do his final words say to us? We have entered into Holy Week. In pastoral ministry over the years, this has been one of the busiest weeks of the year. Easter morning would often arrive and the week before would seem only a blur of preparations. How can you celebrate the resurrection joy when you haven’t taken time to feel the agony and desperation of Jesus’ final hours?

This year, in 2020, the whole world has been given a notice to isolate, to “socially distance” from co-workers, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. No church gatherings will take place. There are plenty of people feeling the agony of loss and the desperation of the unknown. Yet for this week, I want us all to try and focus on Jesus. Let’s set aside the craziness of the world’s events and just be in the presence of Jesus. Walk with him in his final days. Feel his passion. Sense his strength. Hear his promise that death has no power.

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Luke 17:1-10 – Faith & Forgiveness

Read Luke 17:1-10

How much time do we spend talking about sinfulness? It’s a subject we don’t like to think about because we expose ourselves, our faults and our wrong doings. But without exposure, how can we be cleansed. God sees our hearts no matter how much we try to cover up our messiness. When we do face our sin so that we can prayerfully ask for forgiveness, do we look beyond ourselves and pass blame?

We might say something like, “I wouldn’t have done it if so and so hadn’t made me.” We want to pass the blame torch, somehow lessening the guilt or shame we feel for our own sin. Rather, we should flat out admit we messed up and move on toward forgiveness. That is such a better place to be. Continue reading “Luke 17:1-10 – Faith & Forgiveness”

Luke 10:38-42 – Are you Martha or Mary?

Read Luke 10:38-42

If Jesus was coming to your house for dinner, would you be frantic about the details or would you be excited to hear his stories? I’m sure Martha was both, but her focus on details kept her from enjoying all that her sister was clearly experiencing.

For me, I would want everything to be perfect, just like Martha. I would only later feel regret I wasted so much time stirring the soup or setting the table that I missed even one story from Jesus. What about you?

As you evaluate yourself, remember it is not Mary vs. Martha. We should be Mary + Martha.

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Luke 1:57-66 – John is Born

Read Luke 1:57-66

John arrives, and Zechariah can speak again! What strikes me here is the obedience of this couple. God told them to name the child John, and that’s what they did, despite what others wanted or expected.

We know how easy it can be to “go with the flow”. It takes a strong will at times to persevere and do the right thing. There is so much temptation all around, to stay strong and focused on God is the best way but not always the easiest.

Earlier in Luke, we learned that Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in the eyes of God. They handled their responsibility as God had intended. He knew they would. Yet Zechariah had questioned, so God taught him a lesson, so to speak.

What I thought interesting in this passage today is that the people used hand signals to try and communicate with Zechariah. I thought it was only his speech that was affected, not his hearing. Why didn’t they just ask him what he thought? I don’t know that there is any significance here, but it was something I noticed. (If you know something about the significance, please share in the comments.)

Elizabeth is no longer disgraced in the eyes of her contemporaries, she has a child, a son. And this son isn’t just another newborn. God has distinct plans for John, as was told to Zechariah. Now the people get a glimpse.

“What will this child turn out to be?” The people were curious. The events surrounding his birth had all been so unique and different. Elizabeth had been barren all her life, and suddenly she was with child. She had secluded herself we’re told, so she wasn’t out and about rejoicing. And, her husband couldn’t speak. That had to be the strangest phenomenon of all.

“For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.” Indeed.  John would bring many people back to the Lord. He would prepare the hearts of all to receive Jesus, their long awaited savior.

God’s hand is on each of us as well. We have a divine purpose, too. Maybe our birth wasn’t as memorable, but God does have a plan for each one of us. It is our job to recognize God working inside us. He is there, alive and ready to work through us. Do you feel him? Do you sense his leading?

Let’s pray. Lord of lords I come to you on bended knee. Forgive me when I forge ahead and don’t wait to listen for your voice. I thank you that you have worked with the messes I have created in my life when I didn’t listen to you first. Looking back, I see where you tried to correct me, but I didn’t pay attention like Zechariah and Elizabeth did. Forgive me. Looking ahead I see a vibrant path you have laid before me. I trust you will walk with me along the way. Thank you that your hand is upon me, too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.