Devotionals

Devotionals

Thank you for joining us for these weeks of Lenten and Easter devotionals.  We hope and pray they have been a blessing to you!  Please enjoy this final one in the series, and stay tuned for upcoming devotional series.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 18, 2020 Devotional

The Anvil

THE WORD:

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. (Psalm 22:1)

THE FLESH:

For not being much more than a chunk of metal, an anvil is an interesting metalworking tool. It is a heavy, cast or forged steel block, with a broad, flat face and a rounded horn that comes to a point, designed to be good at shaping the smith’s workpieces efficiently with each hammer blow. The blacksmith uses the mass to help forge the piece of metal into its intended final form. There are many types of anvils, depending on the particular need of the tradesman, each one specially crafted to help produce the desired outcome. One type of anvil might be used for crafting armor, while another might be used for making chain.

It seems God has been using anvils since long before the metalworker. Though never made out of steel, these formidable devices enter our lives as tools against which we are pressed and formed, turning us into creations with new shapes and textures. We don’t tend to call them anvils – we name each one more specifically, with a title such as virus, illness, or death. Perhaps you have called it abuse. Some have called it divorce. It has been known as war, unemployment, addiction, or famine. The list is as long as our sufferings. But the one thing they all have in common is that they all operate as God’s anvil.

God uses the biggest challenges and the hardest hurts in our lives to fashion us into the people He intends for us to become. Though these things are all a result of sin that entered into this world and are the product of the enemy’s work within, God is sovereign over these things and He can and does take these horrible and painful things and turn them into good things. His word promises us so! (Romans 8:28). Even when we cannot imagine how, God can and does do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).   He sanctifies us through our trials and develops perseverance in us (James 1:2), which in turn produces character and gives us hope (Romans 5:4). He uses these massive anvils – our hardest trials – for our greatest good. And the enemy doesn’t want us to know that.

The enemy is going to do everything he can to try to convince you otherwise. The adversary is going to be the voice that tells you that you are alone, and that you are forsaken. He is the one that wants you to believe that God doesn’t care. He will try to convince you to be afraid of that anvil. In fact, he will try to convince you that the anvil is the metalworker, and that it is in charge, instead of at the mercy of the crafter.

But hear the good news! Because Jesus, on that cross on calvary, cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” we will never have to cry out those same words! Jesus, the night before, had begun his walk towards crucifixion with betrayal at the Garden of Gethsemane, spent the entire night on trial before the Jewish council and then Pilate, and suffered brutal beatings and abject mockery and humiliation in front of the crowds, before ultimately being nailed to a cross for our sin that morning. As Jesus suffered there on the cross, he “cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’”(Matthew 27:46) And the sky went dark. Though it was the middle of the day, even nature testified to the separation felt by Jesus as he took the weight of my sin and your sin upon himself and experienced the literal separation from the Father that came from bearing that burden for us. Shortly thereafter, it was finished. His work here was done. “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51). Did you hear that good news? That which once separated us from God – being forsaken – was permanently removed the moment that Christ bore all our sins on that cross and paid the penalty with his life. He took our forsakenness so that we might never again have to feel abandoned. We will never again be separated from the love of God, for “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39).

So why do we sometimes have those feelings today, when life becomes nearly unbearable: when a loved one dies, when we feel alone and isolated, or when a virus seems to spiral out of control in this world? Again, we go back to that voice of the enemy, trying to convince us that Jesus’ work wasn’t good enough and that we don’t deserve it. It’s the voice trying to tell us that we need to fear that anvil, so we forget to fear the Lord. And for as long as he can distract us with fear, he can feed us the lie that we have been forsaken. Dear friends, it is time to put on our armor from God, stand up to the adversary and proclaim the Truth. Jesus is the victor! God has made a way! And we will never be forsaken! Hallelujah!

THE CALL:

Merciful God, I thank you, that I never have to fear that I am forsaken, and I trust that when I cry to you for help, you hear me. I trust that, no matter what comes my way, you are working all things for my good. Mold me into the kingdom-minded person you have designed me to be. I trust you, Jesus, that no matter my life’s circumstances, you will walk with me each step of the way. I put on the armor that you have crafted for me, Lord God – the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit – and I stand before the enemy to proclaim Christ’s victory over my forsakenness. I praise you and your glorious name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Friday, April 17, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 17, 2020 Devotional

My Strength and My Song

THE WORD:

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation (Psalm 118:14 NIV)

THE FLESH:

I was thinking about this verse this beautiful morning when my husband and I were on our walk. I gave thanks that I had the health and strength to take a walk and for the sunshine and signs of spring (oh, the joy of hearing the birds sing and seeing tiny buds on the trees) that certainly put a song in my heart. But this very direct and succinct verse goes so much deeper than that. And it truly speaks to us loud and clear while we are surrounded with fear, anxiety and uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is assumed King David wrote this Psalm as he did so many others. David, even as king, gives his Lord and Savior all the glory and ascribes nothing to himself. He knows it is the Lord that strengthened him, who helped him during his time of fear and anxiety, including giving him victory over the Philistines. And David is emphatic that he holds a song in his heart, offering praise and thanks for God’s unending grace. He is solid in the glory and knowledge that the Lord is his salvation.

The Lord is giver of strength, both natural and spiritual, for all of us. He is the “strength” of the hearts and lives of his people. He is the source of our strength and therefore the subject of our unending praise, our song. Our Lord strengthens our hearts with his graces and gladdens our hearts with his comfort. What an important reminder to trust these words during these uncertain and trying times we face today with COVID-19.

And looking beyond our strength and song for today, what greater joy than to know that we live because Jesus saved us through his death on the cross and He has promised us eternal salvation? His being our strength is our protection to salvation and his being our song is a foretaste of the salvation.

What do we need every day, but especially today? We need physical and mental strength. We need to be able to feel and express joy for our emotional well-being. Where and how do we find both the strength and the joy? We take to heart the valuable lesson from David and go to the only true source…our Lord and Savior.

THE CALL:

Dear Heavenly Father, Be with us today, as the world around us churns in uncertainty and chaos. Turn our focus to you, our source for strength and comfort and let our hearts sing with joy, knowing you are our hope, yesterday, today and forever. In your name we pray, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 16, 2020 Devotional

The Tree

THE WORD:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

THE FLESH:

My grandpas were farmers in a time before Google, smartphones, the Internet, or computers. They needed to be in tune with the world around them and understand its patterns. I loved walking around the farm with each of my grandpas because they always helped me learn something about the weather, nature, and, ultimately, God. As I read Psalm 1:3, the words of my grandpa echoed in my mind. He said, “A healthy tree has a root system that should reach just as deep into the earth as it reaches into the sky.” He pointed out that a healthy tree needs to have a healthy root system so it can weather the storms. Little did my grandpa know that he was teaching a valuable life lesson.

Psalm 1 reminds us that the tree is us. In order for us to be heathy, we need to have a firm foundation in our Lord. When we are well rooted in God, then we will not wither. When the storms of this world come, we will bow and bend but will not snap as we are rooted in the good foundation of Christ. We will yield fruit: our actions will benefit others when our rooting in Christ becomes evident to those around us and we share Christ’s love. We will prosper not in the way of earthly standards, but by God’s standards as we reach our branches towards heaven.

Let us continue to grow in the light of the word and drink from the living water of His Spirit through prayer, devotion, praise and worship, today and every day.

THE CALL:

Dear heavenly Father, Please continue to help us to grow in your word so that, as the storms of this earthly world come, we might blow here and there but will not wither. Lord, continue to shower us with your love to give us strength and wisdom to handle the changing world around us. Continue to remind us that we know that our treasure is not in this world but in heaven to come. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 15, 2020 Devotional

Help From Above

THE WORD:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

THE FLESH:

What picture comes to your mind as you consider the first two lines of these verses? My thoughts turn to an army floundering in battle with soldiers gazing desperately into the distance hoping for reinforcements to save them. Or maybe a traveler who is lost looking for direction or someone to guide him or her. We have all probably experienced physical danger or have been lost, and certainly we have all needed help in many different ways throughout our lives.

Getting specific about what type of help is needed doesn’t really seem to be the psalmist’s point, however; what he really desires is to declare with all confidence that his help comes from his sovereign Creator. In fact, he knows that recognizing God as the helper makes the specific need for help unimportant. God knows exactly how to help in any situation; the creator intimately knows what the created needs.

But it can be intimidating, this reality of God as creator. The great expanse of creation, the power of billions of stars and the vast stretch of time all race beyond our ability to take them in. How could it be that a being so far beyond our comprehension wants to have a personal, one-on-one relationship with us? Yet, there it is. The being that wove nebula and black holes comes to humanity as a baby in Bethlehem and delivers us from our rebellion in abject humility on a Roman cross at Calvary so that we can have that relationship with him.

So, how do we respond to those around us knowing what God has done for us? Paul says with strength and knowledge of the love of Christ as we are strengthened with power from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-21).

THE CALL:

Almighty God, When we look to our own abilities and lose sight of your majesty, our problems can be overwhelming. Send us your Spirit so we can recognize your daily help. For as you promise in your word to us:

You will keep us from all evil;

You will keep our lives.

You will keep

Our going out and our coming in

From this day forth and forever more.

Amen.

(Psalm 121:7-8)

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 14, 2020 Devotional

Looking for Angels

THE WORD:

For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…(Psalm 91:11, NIV)

THE FLESH:

Do angels really exist?

Wow, that’s a big question! And here’s the easy answer: God’s word says that they do, so they do! In the Bible, they are often proclaiming God’s message to us, or providing us with His protection. They are His heavenly servants sent to earth.

However, when times are hard and our fears are great, we may falter and question God’s existence and the existence of His angels.

So that’s why I entitled this, “Looking for Angels.” When we are weak, we need to look for God’s messengers of hope and protection, and focus our eyes on what they are doing and our ears on what they are saying.

The angel said, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings (news) of great joy, that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior; He is Christ the Lord[!]” (Luke 2:10-11, KJV/NIV)

Our peace comes from knowing that we have a Savior who will always be with us on this earth and in heaven. Thank you to God for using His angels to deliver this wonderful news!

Have you ever felt the protection of God’s angels? Perhaps a close call while you were driving, or while experiencing a serious illness?

Of course, illness is on all of our minds right now, but in the midst of the stress, look for God’s angels protecting us, guarding us, and God’s loving hands working through the lives of many people coming together and showing His love.

Every night, before going to bed, try asking yourself, “Where did I see God’s angels at work today?” It makes me smile; maybe it will make you smile, too.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)

THE CALL:

Thank you Lord, for the angel’s announcement that you had sent your son to be our Savior, so that we can live with you in heaven. Help us to listen for their voices today. And thank you for commanding the angels to guard us in ALL our ways. Help us to see them at work and smile at your glorious love. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 13, 2020 Devotional

Have No Fear Little Flock

THE WORD: 

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

THE FLESH:

During these times of uncertainty and turmoil we likely find ourselves in circumstances that we have never experienced before. We are often fearful of change, rejection, misunderstandings or loss. Fear is a natural emotion of human beings. It is likely connected to losing things we love most: our parents or children, our jobs, our homes. Usually, if we are vigilant and work hard, we can allay these fears. Perhaps our fears are connected to our personal well-being: health, both physical and mental, anxiety over earthly things, depression about things we cannot control, serious illness. These are common, and they are also difficult.

Right now, however, we are faced with circumstances so overwhelming, situations so uncertain, and disruptions to our lives so all-encompassing that we may have reached a whole new level of hopelessness and fear. It seems that all of this chaos makes us feel small, our capacity to figure things out feels diminished, we are fearful like a child who wants to hide under the bed because he doesn’t understand what is happening. And in many ways that is exactly who we are. Children, who can’t control what we want to, so are left with fear and anxiety.

So where do we turn? The hymn that we recently sang comes to mind: Have No Fear, Little Flock.

Based on Jesus’ words in Luke 12: 32 this hymn (LBW 476) tells us:

FEAR NOT – Jesus gently reminds us, don’t be afraid.

LITTLE FLOCK – We are not part of a numberless herd, but rather an intimate flock where God knows each of us by name as one of His children. He knows our worries. All of them.

FATHER – We are chosen by The Father who loves us, protects us, heals and restores us.

KING – That Father is also Sovereign King who can and does deliver on every promise He made to us, including eternal salvation. Nothing on earth or in heaven can stop Him. All enemies are powerless. He’s got us covered!

Let these truths quiet our fears. God offers help for today and hope for the future. Let us find solace as we trust in Jesus as our Shepherd, who cares for each of us as part of His Little Flock. If we believe that God has given Himself for us, we have nothing to fear from an unsettled world or our personal failure to control our lives. Our fears can be quieted and give way to hope. Think of it this way. When we are fearful, we move closer to God and then we know that He is on our side on earth. AND we can rest easy in the promise that one day He will take us home to be with Him in heaven where there is no fear.

THE CALL:

Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer everyone’s prayer? Some say Heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me when I pray. Speak, He is listening, He hears what we say. Lord, when the world has lost her way Don’t let us hide in the dark. Instead raise our eyes to look for your Light. Help us shake off our fears and face uncertainty. Give us confidence and hope, knowing that you are in charge. Grow our faith stronger than it has ever been. Teach us to be a reflection of your Light to whomever we meet. And so, Thankful hearts raise to God, For he stays close beside us, In all things works with us, Thankful hearts raise to God!   [Paraphrase of The Child’s Prayer – Kapp-Perry (paragraph 1) Have No Fear, Little Flock (paragraph 3)]

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Click Here for the Holy Week Devotional Booklet

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Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday Devotional

The Stone

THE WORD:

Early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the tomb?” (Mark 16:2-3 NIV)

THE FLESH:

What stone do YOU need to have rolled away?

We all encounter obstacles and difficulties in our lives. Some can be quite painful. It may be a health issue, loss of a job, a relationship issue, a family member issue or a truly personal issue. We all face them at one time or another. We even anticipate future problems and search for solutions. Some are resolved quickly and may be more like a pebble or a rock in our shoe. But some seem to linger! They can fester and grow and suck the joy out of our lives. They become a heavy stone. We fret; we worry; we develop plan A, then plan B. We try to take action, to take control. We want to see ourselves as strong and capable so we try harder, try something different. Maybe we turn to friends for advice or help. Or maybe it feels so personal or shameful, we can’t bring ourselves to even share it. Or perhaps we feel beaten down, like the problem is impossible to resolve…it feels like the stone is immovable.

The women in our Bible verse were worried. They had a serious problem. Who was going to roll away the heavy stone at the tomb? All the while they were walking, they did not come up with an answer. But when they arrived… YES! The stone had already been rolled away. Contrary to their worry, they did not have to solve the problem on their own! The Lord knew their problem and He provided an answer.

Have you been working hard to roll away a stone in your life? Or have you become discouraged and given up trying? Do not give into joyless living by letting this stone weigh you down. Turn to your Lord. Ask Him to help roll away your stone. There is no stone too heavy for our Lord. He has unlimited resources. He wants us to have a joyful dependence on Him. What He did for the women coming to the tomb, He would love to do for you. You are fully known to our Lord. He already knows what your stone is and He is waiting and wanting you to ask for His help. Pray and pay attention.

THE CALL:

Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for your love. Teach us to turn to you in times of trouble, to trust You. Then strengthen us and quiet us so we may see the way we should go. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 11, 2020 Holy Saturday Devotional

The Seal

THE WORD:

“Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”….And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. (Matthew 27: 64, 66 NASB)

THE FLESH:

Today we hear a lot about seals: Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, seal of quality, the Great Seal of the United States, guarantees for life, etc. How strange in the context of this passage is the way we use this term today.

This Saturday, which is called Holy Saturday, was set aside by the church as a time of contemplation and reflection as we come to the end of Holy Week and prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

As we look at this passage, we see the Jewish leaders almost in a state of panic. They had heard Jesus speak of these events when He said, “I will destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” Of course, the text says Jesus was speaking of His body. The Jewish leaders implored Pilate to seal the tomb and put guards around it because they thought the disciples might come and steal the body away. Surprisingly, there are still people today who would deny the resurrection with all kinds of strange ideas about what happened to Jesus.

For us as Christian people, seals play an important part of our Christian faith. The cross and the empty tomb stand at the heart and center of our faith and life. Paul says, “If Christ is not raised then our faith is in vain.”

But Christ has been raised and the seal has been broken, not only of the tomb, but of sin, death, and the devil. We are sealed through our baptism in faith to follow in the steps of Jesus.

THE CALL:

Heavenly Father, as we contemplate on this Holy Saturday let us live in the light of the Cross and Resurrection following in the steps of Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 10, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

Ordered? Willingly!

THE WORD:

There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.  They made him carry Jesus’ cross.  (Mark 15:21 The Message)

THE FLESH:

He was just on his way home from working in the fields. 

Simon, originally from Cyrene, a coastal town in northern Libya, west of Egypt, was walking past the commotion of another Roman execution soon to take place, when he was ordered by the Roman Guards to carry Jesus’ cross (likely, the heavy cross beam).  He was “just on his way home,” but his life changed as he encountered Jesus.  He had two sons, Alexander and Rufus.  (Rufus is also mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13 and apparently had become a church leader.)

Though Jesus was forced by the Roman Guards to submit to crucifixion, he did not struggle against them.  He went as a lamb to the slaughter (Isiah 53:7).  Simon was coming home from work; Jesus was going to finish his work of salvation for us all.  Simon must have been moved as he saw Jesus close up.  Are we moved by that life changing experience of seeing Jesus close up? Do we let him into our hearts and lives as we realize he completed the saving work of salvation for us, and truly acknowledge that we can do nothing to earn it for ourselves? He rescued us by bearing the full price to atone for our sins and died in our place!  Praise God, IT IS FINISHED!

THE CALL:

Forgive us, Lord Jesus, for our self-centeredness and open our eyes and hearts to see the staggering weight of the world’s sins that you bore on your cross on Calvary.  Then, cheer us as we look ahead to your glorious resurrection of Easter! Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 9, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

From Treason to Triumph

THE WORD:

The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. (Mark 14:21)

THE FLESH:

“But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Wow. Those are some harsh (yet honest) words!

In this passage, Jesus was foreshadowing that Judas would betray him with a kiss in exchange for silver. Judas would hand Jesus over to the chief priests for his eventual crucifixion. And then Christ went on to declare it would be better for Judas if he had not been born.

This statement was implying that the eternal suffering in hell that awaited Judas for committing such an unthinkable, horrendous crime against our Lord and Savior would be so dreadful, so treacherous, so painful that it would have been better that he never even existed at all.

Sadly, this eternal punishment awaits all the unbelievers of the world. It would be better to have never come into this world than await hell’s eternal judgment.

These are hard words to hear, but thankfully the grace extended by God through Christ’s ultimate sacrifice of his own life offers hope to the entire world – that salvation is a free gift and available to anyone willing to accept it.

So now, let’s take a moment to reflect on the non-believers or the skeptics in our lives. What do they need?

They need love.

They need compassion.

They need prayers.

They need Christians to reflect the unconditional love of Christ into their lives.

They need to hear God’s Word.

They need Jesus.

The Good News is that Judas’s betrayal led to Christ’s ultimate triumph over death, and salvation is available to every single person on this earth.

Let us pray for them now:

THE CALL:

Father God, today we pray for those who do not know you, for those who will not accept your Son into their hearts. We pray for you to give us as Christians the right words, the right scripture, the right opportunities to speak the message of your grace and mercy into their lives. Please guide our hearts, minds, and actions to reflect the unconditional love that you offer. We praise you for the gift of salvation, for Christ’s sacrifice, for fulfilling your promise of a Savior. May we share these gifts on your behalf with all those who need to know you, Lord. In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Holy Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 8, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

Beautiful Things

THE WORD:

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mark 14:6, NIV)

THE FLESH:

Mary shows incredible devotion for Jesus throughout their time together. When we read about her in the New Testament it is clear to us how loyal she was.

Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. The disciples were harsh with her, but they were being shortsighted. Mary’s act of devotion is praised by Jesus. Soon, he would suffer pain and torment and be executed like a criminal, who didn’t receive the same care after death. Mary was showing respect for Jesus’s sacrifice before it even happened.

We all have people in our lives that we are devoted to. Perhaps it is our parents or a teacher that draws our loyalty. Parents are entirely devoted to their children. We would do a lot for the important people in our lives, even if it meant sacrificing something valuable in order to express our devotion.

When my grandfather was sick with cancer, my mother devoted a majority of her time to make sure she was there for him, that he had everything he needed, and that he was comfortable. Between work and her dad, she sacrificed her personal and family time to honor her dad with her loyalty and devotion. Just like Mary, she gave her dad all she had of herself.

Jesus is our all in all. He is deserving of our devotion and worship.

THE CALL:

Dear Heavenly Father, You sent your Son to walk the difficult road to glory so that we can walk the easy road. Help us to be devoted like Mary. She placed material and earthly possessions aside and put Jesus first. Help us to do likewise. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Holy Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 7, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

Tough Love

THE WORD:

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord Our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NASB)

THE FLESH:

It all comes down to love.

Love God. Love your neighbor. That is all we have to do. And, funny enough, it’s all we really want, isn’t it? I mean, who among us goes around in life not yearning for somebody to speak kindly to us, to tell us how much we mean to them, to extend a hand when we’ve fallen, to cheer with us when things go well, or to grieve beside us when we’ve suffered a loss? From the very beginning, God created us to be in community. Isn’t it interesting that the only thing He said was not good at creation was that Adam was alone (Genesis 2:18)? Even though Adam had all of creation and was face-to-face with the Lord, in His sovereignty, God created another being for Adam, and the future commandment to love your neighbor became necessary.

And, yet, not even then were we humans good at loving.

No, very quickly, Eve demonstrated how sin gets in the way of love. And then Adam. And then Cain. And, oh, how difficult it is for us to do even this simple thing – the thing which we so deeply desire for ourselves and know in our heart of hearts is right and good – on our own.

And that is why I cling to Jesus today. Because, alone, I cannot love those whom I desire to love. In fact, I don’t even desire to love them in the way they deserve to be loved. But with Jesus, my heart begins to change, and I am filled with compassion for people I don’t even know in ways that I never before thought possible. The previously unlovable suddenly become lovable. I begin to see others in what can only be through His eyes, and I am given a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” (Mark 12:34).

So, today, let us go out into the world and help others see a glimpse of that kingdom, too.

THE CALL:

God of Love, We know you command us to love, and we so deeply desire love, yet we so greatly fail at loving in our communities. Even in our own families, we prioritize ourselves over those around us. We ask for your forgiveness and for your help. Give us eyes to see others as you see them and give us hearts of compassion for all your people, so we may be better stewards of the relationships in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Holy Monday, April 6, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 6, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

The Cleansing of the Temple

THE WORD:

And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a Robbers’ Den.” (Mark 11: 17 NASB)

THE FLESH:

Whenever I leave home for a vacation, I love to clean everything in the house thoroughly, partly for the joy of later coming home and having everything looking so nice.

Jesus, knowing He would not have many days left before His passion, also worked to leave His house cleaned and in order.

The outer temple area, called the Court of the Gentiles, was intended for them to gather in for worship and prayer. It was, however, being used by merchants who had set up animal pens and money tables for selling doves for sacrifice and for exchanging local currency for the half-shekel, which was required for the temple tax. The merchants were known to charge exorbitant rates and grossly unfair prices, and even to use unfair balance scales and sell inferior products.

Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the court. He then began to teach and tell them that “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a Robbers’ Den.”

We, too, need to heed these words of Jesus. Paul says in I Cor. 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Our lives, too, as temples of God, need daily cleaning and prayer.

Luther discussed “daily contrition and repentance” when teaching the significance of baptism. We are daily to cleanse our lives of our sins by coming to the Father in prayers of repentance and devotion. The blessings of forgiveness and a cleansed heart—oh, what a Joy!

THE CALL:

Lord God, thank You for sending Your Son to remind us once again of our needs for repentance and cleansing. Forgive us for all our wrongdoings. We praise You for Your death and resurrection so that we too can be cleansed. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 5, 2020 Holy Week Devotional

Savior

THE WORD:

Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted:  

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest heaven!

(Mark 11:9 -10, NIV)

THE FLESH:

The people shouted praises of adoration in recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, on his triumphal entry to Jerusalem.

Is there a time in your life that you fully recognized Jesus as your Savior?

After a very challenging time in my life, I remember that I started calling out to Jesus, as my Savior, in my prayer life. A person accused me of something I did not do. As I attempted to defend myself, I had great fear that I might lose many things that were important to me. In much anguish, I cried out, “Jesus, please save me! Please reveal the truth! Please forgive me for any part I had in adding to the misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the truth.”

Thanks be to God, I was later redeemed. The accuser even came forward and stated that she made the whole thing up. I was overwhelmed with gratitude towards Jesus, the Son of God! I knew He was the one who saved me that day!

He is our Savior.

THE CALL:

Dear Jesus our Savior, Thank you for coming to earth to rescue us from our sin and to save us from evil in the world. Empower us, through the Holy Spirit, to acknowledge you to others as the Messiah. To encourage others to be drawn to your saving grace.   In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 4, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Troubled? Call God About It!

THE WORD:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, NIV)

THE FLESH:

Do you have troubles? I sure do! Things like anxiety, sadness, and guilt follow me around. They nag at me. They tempt me to stray from the path where Jesus walks. They want me to forget that I have a gracious and loving God who is on call 24/7 for me and for you.

Take a look at this pseudo-crossword. The word “trouble” is spelled vertically. However, when you insert the words “God,” “refuge,” “help,” and “strength,” the word “trouble” is virtually obliterated. We can count on God to obliterate our troubles when we call on Him!

          

There is another way that I like to think of God’s strength, and that is as a big hug. This speaks to me and says, “I love you no matter what!”

Take a moment to call to God and say, “I’m in trouble, please help me.” He’ll open His arms and hug you forever.

THE CALL:

Thank you, God, for answering my call when I am in trouble. Thanks for hugging me with your strength. Please use me as your servant to share your love with everybody. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 3, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Cry Out to Jesus

THE WORD:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice, Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Psalm 130:1-2)

THE FLESH:

I have sinned. My sins keep plaguing me. Satan keeps tempting me. I have fallen again, and again, and again. My sin has taken control of my life. It consumes my thoughts in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Satan stands over me and shakes his finger of condemnation over me. At the bottom of a dark, deep well I cry out, “God help me!” “Please God, hear my cry for mercy”

v.3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of my sins, O Lord, who could stand?

The evidence of my sin would surely convict me in a court of law. I don’t stand a chance. My family won’t forgive. No, my spouse will not forgive. My children won’t speak to me. My boss won’t forgive me. I can’t forgive myself. I am guilty.

v.4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

God, will you? Will you forgive my sin? Your Son said on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus stretched out his arms in love and died on Calvary’s Cross for the forgiveness of the world’s sin, my neighbor’s sin, my family’s sin, even my sin. Lord, even my sin? Yes! Yes, even my sin! As far as the east is from the west you have cast off the cancer of my sin.

v.5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. v.6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

I wait patiently and confidently for you. I trust you are coming to rescue me. I may be lost right now, but I know I will be found. You will come and find me in my sin and despair. You have promised forgiveness in your word. (I John 1:9) I am in sorrow for my sin tonight, but I will wait all night ‘til first dawn’s light. Then I will see you riding in righteousness. Lord, I will wait for you.

v.7 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.v.8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Dear friend, put your hope in the Lord. He forgave the sins of his children Israel. He has forgiven my sins. He will forgive your sin. Cry out to Jesus. He is your Help! Jesus is your Hope! Wait for Him!

THE CALL:

Lord, out of the depths we cry to you. We are sinners in need of your mercy. We wait for your redeeming grace and full forgiveness. Thank you for coming to our rescue on the cross and rising in victory from the grave. We are forgiven. We put our trust in you. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 2, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

A Taste of Hope

THE WORD:

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

THE FLESH:

Have you ever had someone describe an experience to you and you just couldn’t relate? Maybe you’ve later been able to experience that same thing and suddenly it all made sense?

That is exactly what God, through the words of David in this Psalm, is inviting us to do. Taste and see…experience me for yourself. Get to know me on a personal level. Get to know me on a very real, intimate basis.

 God does not want to be some distant, remote idea. He wants to be someone who is real to us, someone we can be close to. When we experience God for ourselves, we can see how much he loves us, how he cares about us and for us in a very real, deep, and personal way.

So how can we get to know God that way – how can we “taste and see” him?

I believe he shows himself to us through his creation. We only need to look at the wonder of our own beings and the intricacies of the world around us to see what a wonderful God he is.

Secondly, God invites us to talk to him directly through prayer. We can bring all our joys, our worries, and our concerns to him.

Most of all, he shows himself to us through his word – the Bible. This is God’s “love letter” to us. There is no greater evidence of God’s goodness than his gift of salvation to us through his son Jesus.

In this time of uncertainty we need to get to know God more deeply – to know and trust that he is most certainly a good God, that he loves and cares for us, and that he is a refuge for our hearts and souls.

THE CALL:

Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for inviting us to know you and for revealing yourself to us. Help us to come to know you more deeply and to draw closer to you each day. Thank you for showing us your goodness through your gift of salvation through Jesus, our Savior. We do want to take refuge in you. We come to you for safety, for comfort and peace. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Click here to listen to the April 1, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Unfathomable Love

THE WORD:

He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying ‘They will respect my son.’   (Mark 12:6, NIV)

THE FLESH:

…but they didn’t respect Him…why…?

In this parable of the tenants, the owner of the vineyard keeps trying to send his servants to collect some of the fruit from his vineyard, but the farmers/tenants selfishly keep the fruit and severely beat or kill the servants. Sending his son was saved for last, and they killed him figuring that with the heir to the vineyard out of the picture, they would be able to keep his inheritance.

Yuck! This is a messy and disturbing parable and I had a really hard time reading it!

But maybe that is the way it’s supposed to be: disturbing.

How often do we find ourselves selfishly meeting our own needs, and insensitively missing the needs of others, to the point that we don’t see how they might be hurting?

What God did for us, sending the Son whom He loved to suffer and die for us, is truly unfathomable! The suffering that Jesus experienced is supposed to be disturbing, and feeling awful is a natural part of that. If we don’t have those feelings, then sometimes it may be worthwhile to ask ourselves if we are too caught up in our own stuff or worldly desires, or if we have just become desensitized to those around us.

Furthermore, nothing that we have belongs to us, so why do we become so protective of it as the tenants did? Power and control are awful human conditions that take us away from respecting and loving our Lord. We are afraid that we will be without, so we hold tighter to things of this world.

I believe God knew his son would not be respected because of our sins. He already knew His plan to save us. It’s important to stop what we are doing, feel awful about our sin, and then take great joy in understanding that God is love, and He alone can save us from those deep-down yucky feelings.

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NIV) and Paul writes, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b, NIV)

THE CALL:

Lord, please help us to truly acknowledge those yucky feelings, so we can come to you, ask your forgiveness, and then experience your unfathomable love and the joy of knowing you alone are our Savior! In Your name, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 31, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Hope by Design

THE WORD:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14, NIV)

THE FLESH:

Today, because of technology, we are able to view life formed before our very eyes.  Ultrasound helps us to clearly understand these words of the Psalmist, “I know that full well.”

Luther’s Small Catechism puts it this way:  I believe that God has made me and has given me my body and soul, my eyes, ears, reason and senses, and protects me from all evil and guards me from all danger.  Why does He do this?  All out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it.

Notice, it says not because we deserve it.  He knows us, our comings and goings, and He is familiar with all our ways.

We dwell in God’s security and, most of all, His love.  We are in a relationship with God because of our relationship with His son, our Savior Jesus.  This knowledge is too wonderful for us to understand.  It is created by the cross and the empty tomb, which guarantees us life, new life, and life everlasting. 

All of which prompts Paul to say that neither death nor life nor angels or demons, neither present or future, or any other power or anything else can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ our Lord. 

Let us remember these truths, meditate on them and live them, for we are wonderfully made and redeemed through Christ. 

THE CALL:

We thank You, our Creator, for being with us in the past, even as we were formed, the present, and the future.  Be with us, walk with us, beside us, behind us, and lead us. Now and forever, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 30, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Hope in the Stillness

THE WORD: 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7)

THE FLESH:

King David said that we should be still before the Lord. In being still before Him, I realize that he is still our Holy Father, He is still our redeemer, still our creator, still sovereign over all, He is still our great I AM, He is still the way, the truth, and the life, and He is still our all-in-all. When we come to this time of understanding, in our silent time, we can do nothing but to fall on our knees and give all praise and honor to our Lord and Savior.

David also said that we should wait patiently for our Lord when we find ourselves in times of turmoil and stress. In these times of anxieties, we have a very hard time being patient. We need to remember that patience, being a fruit of the Spirit, comes from God through prayers and faith. David goes on by telling us that we need not stress over those who seem to get ahead in life by doing selfish and evil deeds. Paul said in Romans 2:16 that God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus, so we need not get ourselves bent out of shape. We just need to give these worries over to our Lord. We just need to have faith in His promises. We need to believe in and obey His words when He says in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,” and in John 14:27, “Let not your heart be troubled, nor afraid.” Further, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 to take His yoke upon us for it is easy and His burden is light, and in so doing we will find rest.

Yes, there is much hope in the stillness.

THE CALL:

O holy and merciful God, You have taught us the way of Your commandments. We pray that You will pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in His steps until we possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven. We pray these things in your holy name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 29, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Heart of Hope

THE WORD:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, ESV)

THE FLESH:

For decades, congregations sang this verse following the sermon. 

Yes, “wash me, Lord, and I will be as white as snow.” 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed my transgressions from me.” 

You have forgiven them all, and I start with a clean slate.  And yet, the devil nags at me, “What about _________? Do you think God has really forgiven that one?” 

So, I cling to and trust His Word, “It is finished,” as Jesus said.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Come Holy Spirit!  Restore me to know to the depth of my being that I am your precious, redeemed child without spot or blemish!  Fill me with clean thoughts and right desires; breathe holiness into me.  Cover me with your wings and replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh, filled with love for you and others.

THE CALL:

Lord God, Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Amen.  

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 27, 2020 Psalms of  Hope Devotional

Hope on the Path

THE WORD:

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105, NASB)

THE FLESH:

What parent has never been awakened in the middle of the night by a crying child, afraid of a bad dream, afraid of a monster under the bed, or afraid of the dark? Often, a word of comfort and an assuring hug are all that is needed to calm the crying child.

We, too, have fears. When our lives are looking really bad, when we are afraid to go on, when we can’t see a way out, our God comes to us to show us our way. He offers us forgiveness for our sins, comfort for our fears, and hope for our lives. He shows us His promises and assures us in His word.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).

“I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 20:20).

God’s word is the light that shows us, in verse after verse, in Old Testament and New, over and over, that He loves us and is with us.

Whether it is the Coronavirus, or a loved one with cancer, or an addiction that is taking over our lives, or sadness, or loneliness, God is there, in His word and with His Spirit, to strengthen us, be with us, show us the way, and lead us as we walk with Him through the darkness. As shown in His word, God is not only the light at the end of the tunnel but at the beginning, the middle, and with every step along the way.

THE CALL:

Lord, Thank you for Your word and Your promise to be with us.  Thank You for Your love and guidance. Be with us in these days when we are worried and scared, when our lives are disrupted, when we miss our loved ones, and when we feel like we are in the dark. Give us your strength to trust in You and follow your path. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Click this link to listen to the March 25, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Answer Me

THE WORD:

And they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mark 11:28 ESV from Mark 11:27-33)

THE FLESH:

What things were the religious leaders talking about here? Jesus did a lot of things on his road to the cross; teaching, praying, healings, miracles…but they were likely speaking of a recent event that, for them, hit very close to home. Just the day before, an impassioned Jesus brought all commerce in the temple area to a halt by flipping over tables, driving out money changers and pigeon merchants and teaching that this house of prayer had been made into a den of robbers (Mark 11:17). Reacting with fear to Jesus’ ability to amaze the crowd, the religious authorities proceeded directly to seeking a way to destroy him. Without any apparent pushback as to Jesus’ allegations (Jesus, of course, was right), they attempt to fabricate fatal evidence by challenging his authority, hoping to trap him in his words.

Although scripture provides reasons for the leader’s destructive action, at a personal level, I wonder what produced their apparent disregard for the possibility that Jesus might be the messiah who he claimed and demonstrated himself to be? Had they become so cynical that they stopped believing that a real messiah was even possible? Were they so wrapped up in their day-to-day lives that they couldn’t address a question that didn’t have to do with the immediate world in front of their eyes? Whatever blinded them, their object was clear – get the evidence by any means and destroy Jesus. An injustice was born this day which Jesus would bear to its conclusion on Good Friday at Golgotha where he would use it for mankind’s salvation. But giving the religious leaders what they wanted was not in his plans this day. As quickly and surely as he set the wheels in motion for his journey to the cross with his triumphal entry and the temple cleansing, Jesus checks the leader’s questions with but two sentences. Cutting through their agendas and self-centered concerns with divine clarity, he forces them to consider the real spiritual question at hand and frustrates their efforts to be rid of him. Instead, they are left embarrassed in front of the crowd knowing that they have no answer as to the sanctity of John’s baptism or who it was that his baptism foretold (Matthew 3:11-12). In this confrontation and those that follow throughout holy week, Jesus brilliantly reveals his divine, eternal understanding and authority every step of the way. It is satisfying that Jesus’ response disrupts their plans to get rid of Him with such apparent ease, but His reply seems devoid of triumph and he demands “Answer me” (Mark 11:30) – words that echo down through history to us today.

THE CALL:

Jesus, you were so deliberate about each of your steps to the cross. Your responses to all of your challengers highlight your divine mastery of every situation and a consistent love for all, even those who reviled you and put you to death. Almighty God, of everyone you demand an answer. But gracefully, to all you provide the answer in your son Jesus. Give us faith to believe in you and send your Holy Spirit to clear away the clutter of our oftentimes self-centered lives and provide us a clear view of Jesus and your love in our daily journey with you. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Monday, March 23, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Hope in the Valley

THE WORD:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

THE FLESH:

From where I’m standing, it sure looks like we’re in a valley.

It’s interesting how valleys don’t have the greatest reputations. Nobody says, “I want to spend time in the valley.” No, we yearn for the mountaintop experiences. We hope for bull markets, world peace, and perfect health. And when one or all of these things start to create a landslide in our lives, sending us cascading down the mountains and into the valley, it can be easy to assume the end is near, to forget Truth, and allow fear to take hold. Let’s name the fear today: it’s called COVID-19.

As Christians, we know and have faith in Christ. We know in our heads the words of scripture and the truths we have been taught. And, yet, with the voices of the media and the world around us, it’s hard to keep away from the panic. It’s hard to not be afraid. So what is going on here?

Martin Luther, actually, explained this best in his letter entitled, Whether One May Flee From A Deadly Plague:

He is such a bitter, knavish devil that he not only unceasingly tries to slay and kill, but also takes delight in making us deathly afraid, worried, and apprehensive so that we should…have no rest or peace all through our life. And so the devil…tries to make us despair of God…and, under the stormy and dark sky of fear and anxiety, make us forget and lose Christ, our light and life, and desert our neighbor in his troubles. We would sin thereby against God and man; that would be the devil’s glory and delight.

 The devil delights in our fear. When we are afraid, we forget that we are to love one another more than ourselves. We forget to be thankful for the many blessings we have, and we jump on the bandwagons of complaint. We forget that we are supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds – not conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), and we begin to look more like everybody else, instead of set apart, as we are called to be (Romans 8:30). We forget that, while it is OK to have the feelings of fear, we don’t have to hold onto them, because Jesus is in charge and he’s already won the victory; we can release our fear to Jesus. So, what can we do when we are in the valley to prevent fear from settling in and stealing our hope?

We can stop, take a look around, and notice that this is where there is growth. This is where we see vegetation, where streams and rivers flow, and where life is abundant. Though the mountaintops look good from a distance, they lack the things we need for healthy daily living. The trees don’t grow on the mountaintops. The water doesn’t flow. The air is thin. It’s in the valley where we find the lushness of growth, and it’s here where God will grow us spiritually, too. In the valleys of life, amidst this time of pandemic, we need not fear, for our hope is still found in Christ Jesus.

Let us pray in the manner that Martin Luther encourages when the enemy threatens to overcome us with fear as we consider ministering to our neighbors in need.

THE CALL:

Get away, you devil with your terrors! Just because you hate it, I’ll spite you by going the more quickly to help my sick neighbor. I’ll pay no attention to you: I’ve got two heavy blows to use against you: the first one is that I know that helping my neighbor is a deed well-pleasing to God and all the angels; by this deed I do God’s will and render true service and obedience to him….[H]ow could any fear of you cause me to spoil such joy in heaven or such delight for my Lord?…If you can terrorize, Christ can strengthen me. If you can kill, Christ can give life….Get away, devil. Here is Christ and here am I, his servant in this work. Let Christ prevail! Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Undefeated Prayers

THE WORD: 

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have it and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

THE FLESH:

There are two factors that will defeat the result of our prayers.

First is the lack of trust in efficacy, producing a desired result, in a prayer. There are many needs such as financial, health, relations and wants, that we bring to our Lord in prayer, but we tend to lack assurance. We exhibit hesitation and fear as to the outcome. We seem to not believe in Christ’s words that every prayer in faith is heard. It could be that our Lord’s answer to our prayers may not be the one we were hoping for. It might be yes or no, or may not be answered at the same time we pray. We just need to keep our faith strong in believing his words.

The second factor is the condition of our hearts. There cannot be in our hearts any enmity, hatred, rancor, ill will, or any other unfriendly feeling, which is at variance with the demand of God. A forgiving spirit must dominate our action. We need to be filled with forgiveness towards all men. By not forgiving, we erect a wall, an insurmountable obstacle between God and us. This means God’s forgiveness of our sin is impossible and God will not hear our prayers. If we refuse to forgive our neighbor, we will shut ourselves out from God’s mercy and goodness, which will render our prayers ineffective. We need to choose to forgive others, and to receive God’s forgiveness, so that we may live in closer relationship with Him who hears and answers all our prayers.

THE CALL:

Gracious Heavenly Father, we give you all honor and glory for you are our all-in-all. We pray that you will give us strength and wisdom to keep our faith strong in you. We pray in your name Lord Jesus, Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Den of Robbers

THE WORD:

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17, NIV)

THE FLESH:

But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’

I first interpreted this part of the verse as a customary criticism.  It is understandable that Jesus is upset with his house being used as a house of trade. In the past I would gloss over this story and move on, but I find my eyes trained on Jesus’ words: “Den of Robbers.” An interesting statement…why did he put those words together? I was moved to search a dictionary to clarify the definitions and meanings:

  • Den is essentially the lair or shelter of a wild animal, especially a predatory mammal. (Interesting to note that humans are part of the mammal family.) Also, I looked up predator: one who injures or exploits others for personal gain or profit.
  • A robber is someone who takes something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence; steals from or deprives (someone) of some right or something legally due.

So, Jesus was calling these people predators and robbers. It seems harsh, but looking at it closer, it makes sense.  These “predators” were only out for their own gain and were essentially depriving the faithful their rightful sacrifice they desired to give to the Lord. These “robbers” were out to make a profit, which usually means cutting corners and creating a less than desirable sacrifice, putting the faithful at risk in not offering their best.

Also, when I look at the word den, I am reminded that Satan is represented as a snake in the Bible and find it interesting that some snakes curl up in a huge mass, in a den they robbed from a mammal. The image of the temple courts teeming with numerous tradesmen yelling and haggling to get a deal comes to mind. It would make the temples look like a hissing, withering mass of snakes, who are predators…robbers…instead of the view Jesus wants to see: prayer with incense, love and peace to all in attendance, and complete devotion to the Lord.

Wow…definitely not just a customary criticism.

THE CALL:

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for watching over places of worship and desiring our pure and sincere sacrifices. Thank you for reminding us of your deep love for us and ultimate sacrifice, your blood for our sins.  Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 4, 2020 Lenten Devotional

An Ordinary Donkey

THE WORD:

Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it…’” (Mark 11:2b-3)

THE FLESH:

Do you sometimes feel inadequate or unqualified to play a role in God’s plan of salvation?

Perhaps we see ourselves somewhat like the donkey in our story. We may think Jesus really should be looking for a racehorse or a thoroughbred, not just a plain old donkey. But no, “The Lord needs it.” God was able to use an ordinary donkey in his grand story of salvation. Notice that Jesus didn’t ask the donkey to be or to do anything that it wasn’t, just to serve exactly as it was.

So, too, can God use us exactly as we are, with all our “ordinariness.” That’s not to say that we can’t stretch and strive to be more or better than we currently are. But God can and does use us as we are. We should never think we can’t serve because we aren’t as smart, as “spiritual,” as someone else. God can use our skills and abilities, our kindness to others, our generosity, our words to share his love, our service, to reach others and share his love and his gift of salvation.

God isn’t asking us to save the world, only to be faithful and let him use what we have for His glory. “The Lord has need of you…”

THE CALL:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us exactly as we are. Thank you for your gift of salvation. Help each of us to be open to your calling, to hear the words “The Lord has need of you.” Help us to use the gifts you have given us to reach out to others in love and share the good news of salvation with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Sunday, March 1, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Made Well

THE WORD:

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:52)

THE FLESH:

The story of Bartimaeus receiving his sight in Mark 10:26-51 (echoed in Matthew 20 and Luke 18) invites us to pause and reflect. This isn’t a simple story about a miraculous healing. It’s a story that teaches us how our faith can persist despite active discouragement from those around us. About how Jesus hears us crying out and listens to our prayers. About how the Son of David makes us well.

The story opens with Bartimaeus begging by the roadside outside Jericho when he becomes aware that Jesus is passing by. He yells after Jesus repeatedly, calling Jesus the Son of David and begging Jesus to have mercy on him. People hush Bartimaeus. He’s making a scene.

But Bartimaeus persists. He cries out even louder: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48).

Jesus stops. He calls Bartimaeus to Him. He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).

Bartimaeus wants his sight returned. The phrase the ESV uses is “recovered.” Think about that for a minute. It implies that Bartimaeus has not always been blind. He remembers and yearns for the better days of the past, when he could see. What do you yearn for Jesus to recover for you?

A childlike faith?

A healthy marriage?

Strong friendships?

Passion at work?

Our Jesus is a deliverer of recovery. He heals us – our past, present, and future – so that we can go our way. There is nothing we have done, are doing, or could do that can separate us from His love. It’s when we are covered in his love that we experience made-well moments. Our faith – or rather, the person in whom we put our faith (Jesus!) – makes us well.

Now go your way so that others may see that you are well – and glorify God because of it.

THE CALL:

Jesus, thank you for coming and making us well. Thank you for giving us faith that persists despite active discouragement from some of the people and situations in our lives. Thank you for stopping and calling us to you and listening to our wants. Help us to show others proudly how you have made us well as we go our way so that in all our interactions, we would bring glory to Your Name. In your Name we pray, amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Ash Wednesday

February 26, 2020

Click on this link to listen to the Ash Wednesday Devotional

The Road to Glory?!

THE WORD:

“We’re going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)

THE FLESH:

Our journey together begins today.

The journey will not be easy. It will be hard.

We will experience joy but not without struggle, suffering, and even death.

Together we will reach our destination. Heaven awaits! Jesus is there!

Listen in now and take in these many days of devotions to follow Jesus and his disciples on “the road to glory.”

Jesus took his disciples aside for the third time to tell them what would happen to him. He told them he was “going up to Jerusalem.” “Going up to Jerusalem” was a literal going up in elevation and a spiritual going up to the Holy City of God. The people of God at that time would make an ‘aliyah’ or “journey of ascent” to the greatest of all cities, the City of God, Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Worshippers would go to draw close to where God is in his Holy Temple.

The Passover was near. Jesus went ahead his disciples following to Jerusalem. Christ was making this trip for the last time for a purpose.

According to the Bible, 8 things happened on the long road to glory.

Jesus is betrayed to the chief priests and rulers by one of his own disciples. A fake trial would be held at night and he would be unjustly condemned to die. The religious leaders would not kill Jesus. He was turned over to the Romans. Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, would give the death sentence and hand him over to the soldiers. They would mock him, whip him, spit on him, and take him to Golgotha Hill for crucifixion and kill him.

But that’s not all. On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. He is alive!

The road Christ traveled was done for all people. His journey was God’s plan to solve the problems of the human heart to bring us life – eternal life.

Christ made the journey out of his deep love for you and all people. His death paid the price for our sins and gained for us a new life today and hope for tomorrow with him in the glory of heaven. (John 3:16)

Walk the road with Jesus this season of Lent!

THE CALL: 

Lord, I walk the road with you. I no longer walk without you. Lead me today, tomorrow, and forever down your road to glory. Amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Click on this link to listen to the Introduction.

Welcome to our Lenten Devotional Page!  We are working hard as a congregation to assemble a thoughtful and prayerful collection of devotions to read together with all who come to visit this space. Our goal is that this would be a place for you to come to meet Jesus in His word, reflect upon His message, and share with others in Christ. We will publish a devotional entry each Wednesday in Lent starting with Ash Wednesday, and then have a daily entry each day during Holy week all the way through Easter Sunday.  We hope that you will come here to join us on our Lenten devotional journey on February 26!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotional. To request prayer or to respond to this devotional go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

 

Golden Valley Lutheran Church
5501 Glenwood Avenue
Golden Valley, MN 55422
763-544-2810