2019 Lenten Devotional

The only key to an effective prayer is prayer itself.  John 15:4

Our prayer as you join in this daily Lenten devotional is that you discover Jesus in a deeper way. 

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March 6, 2019

Allison Jean

Ash Wednesday is an important day for us as Christians. We are called on this day to pick up our cross and begin the journey towards Good Friday and Easter, purposefully walking in the way of Christ. We are reminded to "Repent and believe in the gospel." Many times we try to distract ourselves from our mistakes or sin, rather than facing them head on. Lent is a time when we are called to empty ourselves of sin and shame so we can be filled with hope and life on Easter. You cannot fill a cup that is already full. We cannot carry our crosses and everything else too. How can you empty yourself and let go of distractions during the next 40 days?

Scripture: Matthew 10:38

Those who don’t pick up their crosses and follow me aren’t worthy of me.

Response

Lord, help our behavior to be intentional in our perseverance toward you. Help guide our hearts and minds to focus on living in the way of Christ.

Prayer Focus

March 7, 2019

Robert Hasley

"The Roman soldiers led Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem to be crucified. They forced a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross of Jesus. Many stories about the conversion of Simon of Cyrene into a follower of Christ have grown out of this brief encounter. However, there is no concrete scriptural evidence to support this viewpoint. From personal experience, compelling someone to serve Jesus or anyone else does not have positive results. Force tends to breed resentment. When Jesus reached out to offer a relationship with the Lord God Almighty, He never twisted arms. Instead, Jesus extended an invitation to love and serve God by choosing to help carry the burdens of others. What is your response to Christ’s invitation?"

Scripture: Mark 15:21

Simon, a man from Cyrene, Alexander and Rufus’ father, was coming in from the countryside. They forced him to carry his cross.

Response

Today pray that you will be tenacious in your response to Christ's invitation in your life. Also take some time to pray for those who feel unwanted to grow spiritually and to find a home here at St. Andrew.

Prayer Focus

March 8, 2019

Candace Winslow

How often, as a mother, have I found myself in an audience observing one of my children? Whether it be a ballet recital, sporting event or choir performance, I have experienced the blessing of watching my children in moments that were meaningful to both them and to me. Yet as I read the reflection of those gathered around Jesus’ cross in today’s verse, I can’t help but think of the heart and mind of Mary, His mother. While perhaps Mary’s view of her beloved son was too painful to witness, how powerful to remember that the meaning of the cross reigns eternal for both her and for you. May we continually remember the infinite meaning of His love for us this Lenten season.

Scripture: John 19:25

Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross.

Response

Lord, today we pray that each and every neighbor would know the love and grace of Jesus Christ through the words and the actions of our volunteers and staff at the Storehouse.

Prayer Focus

March 9, 2019

Arthur Jones

We often hesitate to tell others about Jesus because we do not think that we are worthy. We do not think that our words are eloquent or powerful enough for the gift that Jesus gave us on the cross. But this is not how the cross works. It excels in our weaknesses; it thrives in our struggles precisely because the Cross has power enough. In fact, if you were to rely on being eloquent you wouldn't be relying on God. Consider these words from the spiritual hymn, Balm in Gilead: "If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say he died for all." That is powerful enough.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:17

Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news. And Christ didn’t send me to preach the good news with clever words so that Christ’s cross won’t be emptied of its meaning.

Response

Gracious God, may those who feel unworthy find courage in the Holy Spirit to lead them. May they know that their strength is not their own but that of their creator.

Prayer Focus

March 10, 2019

Scott Engle

Bethlehem lies a few miles south of Jerusalem and is actually in the West Bank. There are plenty of places in the Holy Land where I’ve had a powerful moment. Sadly, Bethlehem isn’t among them. The busyness of Nativity Square is calm compared to the shoving and pushing inside the Church of the Nativity, as crowds queue up to view a shrine that marks the spot remembered as the place of Jesus’ birth. Yet, even with the noise and the crowds, I still knew that below the marble and stone of the Basilica was the ground upon which Jesus was born. I was there, in that place, among the hills just south of Jerusalem where Mary gave birth to our Savior. How can you find holiness in the chaos this week, even when you do not “feel” it?

Scripture:

Response

Lord, show us how to be still this week. May we also desire to learn more about you and find the resources our hearts are seeking.

Prayer Focus

March 11, 2019

Rachel Kortum

What would Jesus do? In this Lenten season as we prepare for Easter, Paul’s words to the people of Phillippi are a great reminder for us. I am often asked advice on situations and many times I turn the question back to them by asking, "What would Jesus do in that situation?” Paul challenges the Phillipians to model Christ-like behavior for others to see. As situations arise today, ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" Dear Lord, I want to model the behavior that your Son, Jesus, brought forth on the Earth. Help me to show others His ways though me. Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 3:20-21

Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself.

Response

Take some time today to pray for our church. Pray that the construction among us will create incredible spaces and experiences where we can model the love of Christ for others.

Prayer Focus

March 12, 2019

Josh Miller

Silence is not my natural state, but so often silence is necessary for us to receive instead of give. We are often tempted to “perform” for the salvation and grace and mercy that is available to us, but the reality is - what God wants from us is just US. Our presence, our willingness, and our hearts. It is hard to perform in silence - instead, let’s take that moment to sit, be present, and receive.

Scripture: Zephaniah 1:7

"Hush before the Lord God, for the day of the Lord is near! The Lord has established a sacrifice; he has made holy those he has summoned."

Response

Loving God, give me the willingness to be silent and to listen and receive. May I be surrounded by your grace in this process.

Prayer Focus

March 13, 2019

Rev. Jimmy Decker

There's a Japanese tradition called kintsugi. It's the process of taking broken pottery and repairing them, specifically repairing them with gold or silver. It's awesome. What's wonderful in this is that it recognizes the brokenness of the pot, but sees how it can be made even more beautiful now. As we come to terms with our imperfections through Lent, we come to God broken. As we come to God in this state, we can feel hopeless. What's important to remember is that Christ takes our brokenness and makes something new out of it, something even more beautiful. We are remade into something so much greater than we thought possible.

Scripture: Psalms 51:17

A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God. You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.

Response

As we come to God in our brokenness may we be reminded of our remade beauty, finding our home not only within God but here at St. Andrew as well.

Prayer Focus

March 14, 2019

Rev. Kim Meyers

As we journey towards the cross this Lent, Hebrews reminds us to look towards our cloud of witnesses. The first and foremost example is Jesus. This is a time to notice what is weighing you down. I have a problem of too often saying YES! I noticed that some of my YES’s were to please others, which led to filling my time with tasks and meetings, and taking time and energy away from my faith and my family. It has been a freeing practice to pause and think...will this YES help me become stronger in my faith, which makes me a stronger wife, mother, pastor, or friend? Or will it take away from what I am called to be the most? Lent allows us to pause and refocus.

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2

So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

Response

Take time today to pray that new families will feel welcomed here at St. Andrew. Pray that they can call this place their home and deepen their family's faith through this cloud of witnesses.

Prayer Focus

March 15, 2019

Krista Miller

Parenting is hard. It’s also wonderful and rewarding. Throughout childhood, there are many lessons to learn; one of the biggest lessons is learning to love and treat others with respect just as you would want to be treated. That is a huge concept to grasp as a child! Especially when I myself continue to struggle with this. I try to remind my kids (and myself) that above all, one needs to make choices that reflect happy hearts because everyone is a child of God. If you do this, then you are spreading the love and message of Jesus.

Scripture: Galatians 5:13-14

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Response

Pray today for our students. Pray for those who may be transitioning across grades, schools or emotional and social milestones. Pray for them to feel God's presence every step along the way.

Prayer Focus

March 16, 2019

Defae Weaver

Walking. I love to walk our neighborhood and reflect on the world around me. The birds singing, the scent of honeysuckle wafting through the air, the squirrels dashing here and there, even the wind blowing the leaves on the trees all remind me of God’s wonderful creation. It also reminds me I’m here for a purpose – a purpose to walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us. Greeting neighbors while walking by, calling out the name of a child in the hallway on Sundays to say hello, or sharing a smile at the grocery store all speak love. We have the opportunity to share Christ’s love wherever we go. Do they know we are Christians by our love?

Scripture: Ephesians 5:2

Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.

Response

Lord, help me love others as you love me. Remind me of my ability to share Christ's love with all who I come into contact with.

Prayer Focus

March 17, 2019

Scott Engle

In contrast to Bethlehem, I remember vividly the first time I arrived in Jerusalem. We were riding in the bus making our way to the Old City. As I sat there, Scripture passages flew through my mind and tears formed in my eyes. There is the Temple Mount . . . there is the Mt. of Olives . . . there is the Kidron Valley. The whole experience is emblazoned in my memory. We stopped on the Mt. of Olives overlooking the city and then made a short drive up to the top of the hill so we could look out over the Judean Wilderness to the east – a stark, lifeless moonscape with the Dead Sea in the distance. How is God calling you to more deeply experience the story of Scripture this week?

Scripture: Jerusalem/Wilderness

Response

This week may you not only deepen your relationship with the story of scripture but may you deepen your relationships with one another as the community God calls us to be.

Prayer Focus

March 18, 2019

Forrest Pool

I know intellectually who Jesus is, but am I ready to truly embrace that understanding in my heart and to risk what that would mean for my life? Declaring proudly who He is and loving Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength looks different than the way most of us live our lives. I often wonder, "Am I ready?" and I often find places in my life where I'm not. God, grant us the fearlessness to name who you are in our lives and the hopeful passion to follow that calling with all of our might.

Scripture: Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.

Response

Gracious God, may those who are passionately following you know that St. Andrew is a safe place to ask questions and to grow with one another in faith.

Prayer Focus

March 19, 2019

Phillip Haworth

As a kid, I remember my grandfather listening to a radio program, “The Rest of the Story” presented by well-known announcer, Paul Harvey. Paul told back-stories of famous people, offering a fresh and eye-opening perspective, culminating with, “And now you know the rest of the story.” In terms of Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, what do we know of the rest of the story? Are we stuck on what might appear as foolishness; a man who simply suffered and died on a cross? Or are we living as ones who know something more; that the Son of God conquered sin and death and brings us new life? How can you best live out “the rest of the story” this day?

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:18

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.

Response

Today recite the Lord's prayer, truly listening to the words you are saying about what you believe. This is the rest of the story.

Prayer Focus

March 20, 2019

Holly Blais

The crowd mocked Jesus because He didn’t meet their expectations. They demanded that He save himself even though many never really thought he could. The fact that He remained on the cross just confirmed their suspicions that He was a fraud. If only they had stuck around for three days, they would have seen He was not only able to save Himself…but He was able to save them as well. They demanded that Jesus act the way they wanted Him to, not the way He needed to. How often do we do that? Trust Jesus to work in your life in the way He needs to, not in the way you expect Him to.

Scripture: Mark 15:29-30

People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself and come down from that cross!”

Response

God give me the strength to relinquish myself to you, to trust you in ways that I never have before.

Prayer Focus

March 21, 2019

Isaac Harris

How many times in life have we told ourselves that we deserve something or have a right to something? “I can lie on my tax documents because I deserve that money,” or “I can skip out on church this weekend because I deserve a few days at home.” We believe we have the right to something and therefore our selfish desires are front and center. If anyone in the history of mankind had a right to live, it was Jesus. Jesus willingly became human flesh, was obedient to death and died in an excruciating way…for all for us. Think about the things you believe you “deserve” or “have a right to” in your life. Jesus deserved life, yet he gave it up to serve other people.

Scripture: Philippians 2:8

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Response

Take time today to pray for our high school students as many of them are wrapping up their high school careers and quickly preparing for the transition into college life.

Prayer Focus

March 22, 2019

Rev. Allison Jean

Simon of Cyrene: Jesus' last helper. I have never considered what it might mean to be the last person to help Jesus in his ministry, and yet this is what Simon of Cyrene does in this scripture from Luke. He is the last one that is invited to participate in Jesus' ministry by helping him carry the cross. We all receive invitations from the Holy Spirit throughout our lives to participate in the ministry God is already doing in the world. Most of the time, it is not pretty, clean, or easy work, but messy and seemingly impossible. When have you been asked not only to carry your own cross, but the burden of others? When have you walked away rather than taken the harder path?

Scripture: Luke 23:26

As they led Jesus away, they grabbed Simon, a man from Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside. They put the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Response

Lord, help me to be a faithful follower, walking with others during the easy times as well as the hard times. Give me strength.

Prayer Focus

March 23, 2019

Melissa Adams

While on our mission trip to Houston last summer I met an amazing pastor of a local church named Jamie. In the short 3 days we spent together I probably heard him say, “Love God, Love People” over 70 times. I felt as though he had some sort of magical power to connect people and make them truly feel loved. He didn’t question people’s past or why they were in the situation they were in. He simply showed them the love of Christ. At some point during our time together he said, “Thank God we don’t have to earn our salvation.” This statement solidified the fact that what he was doing for the people he served was just part of who he was.

Scripture: Hosea 6:6

I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God instead of entirely burned offerings.

Response

Lord, we pray that we will provide for our neighbors in ways that they are not expecting. And through the process of serving, we pray that both neighbors and volunteers will be drawn together as one community.

Prayer Focus

March 24, 2019

Scott Engle

Nazareth is a bustling city of 80,000 in Galilee, a couple of hours north of Jerusalem. It is about 70% Muslim today and has a Muslim mayor. Loudspeakers dot the city, shouting out the Muslim call to prayer five times a day. But in the city also stands the majestic Church of the Annunciation. It is of recent design and construction and sits atop the ruins of the ancient village of Nazareth. Underneath the soaring sanctuary is a cave-like structure remembered as the house Jesus grew up in. Sometimes when I’ve been there, Mass is being held. There are paintings, murals, and mosaics from around the world, all devoted to the adoration of the Christ-child. How will you express your devotion to Christ this week?

Scripture: Nazareth

Response

What does it look like to you to be a Christian? Do your best to embody this spirit throughout this week as you find new ways to express your devotion to Christ.

Prayer Focus

March 25, 2019

Robert Hasley

The Apostle Paul writes to the followers of Christ in Galatia, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone...”(Galatians 6:10b). Paul believed that we are saved from sin by God’s grace as received through the gift of faith. Sin is the condition of being separated from God and therefore separated from our neighbor and our God-created selves. Salvation is the restoration of our relationship with God and therefore our neighbor, and ourselves. Once we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, if time and opportunity allow, we are to manifest our salvation through good works of piety and mercy. Works of piety include worshiping, praying, studying scripture, etc. Works of mercy include serving those in need. How are you manifesting your salvation during Lent?

Scripture: Galatians 6:9-10

Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

Response

God, open my eyes and my heart to recognize your grace freely given to me. Strengthen my desire to manifest our salvation this Lenten season.

Prayer Focus

March 26, 2019

Candace Winslow

What does belief in Jesus Christ bring us “near” to? I suspect the answer may vary from believer to believer: eternal life, peace, hope. I would affirm all these responses and add one more: reconciliation. Jesus’ death on the cross brought us near to God, or said another way, reconciled us unto the Lord. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of our faith is to believe that we are seen holy and blameless by God. Often, when people wrestle with this idea, I suggest it is because they are looking too much at themselves versus the act of ultimate love given to us by Jesus. In these days of Lent, may we reflect on the limitless gifts that belief in Jesus gives us for today.

Scripture: Ephesians 2:12-13

At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Response

Gracious God, here we stand undeserving and broken all the while we are seen holy and blameless by you. Help us to see the limitless gifts that our faith in you can, has, and will continue to bring us.

Prayer Focus

March 27, 2019

Rev. Arthur Jones

The sign of Jonah is a direct reference to the suffering of the prophet Jonah when he was in the belly of the whale. It was something that was seen as bad (who wants to be swallowed by a large fish?) and yet it turned out to be a good thing - a promise of hope and redemption. It also means that Jesus' death is connected to every other death and suffering. Any time that you feel like the world is not good and that you are suffering, either justly or unjustly, know that Jesus is suffering too. This is my story - in my worst moment, the cross let me know that I wasn't alone and that even through my hell there was redemption.

Scripture: Matthew 12:40

Just as Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, so the Human One will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

Response

Thank you for the cross. We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song! Amen.

Prayer Focus

March 28, 2019

Len Wilson

It has been said that pride is the chief of all sins, and the sin from which all sins grow. The moment when we begin to think to ourselves that we alone deserve credit for our good deeds or for any good thing that has happened in our lives, is the moment when we begin to separate ourselves from the true source of all goodness. The idea that we are somehow good enough is delusional, anyway. The only person we fool is ourselves. In our boasting, either out loud or within the echo chamber of our heart, we turn ourselves into fools. The only thing worth boasting about is the cross of Jesus. In its truth we find true strength.

Scripture: Galatians 6:14

But as for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through him, and I have been crucified to the world.

Response

Pray today that the new spaces in Student Ministries will be a place our students can call home, where they feel they belong, and a place where they can find a community of friends at St. Andrew.

Prayer Focus

March 29, 2019

Krista Miller

Leading worship for the body of Christ is so special, but it also comes with challenges. As a worship leader, I try my hardest to be a vessel through which God can communicate His love to the church. One of the most important messages He has given me to create in worship is this: it is because of Christ and the blood that was shed on a cross that we are able to approach the divine throne of God. He took on the cross so that everyone and all things would, and will one day, be reconciled to Him. Peace and grace were given and peace and grace we must also give.

Scripture: Colossians 1:19-20

Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him, and he reconciled all things to himself through him— whether things on earth or in the heavens. He brought peace through the blood of his cross.

Response

Focus today on extending peace, grace and the love of God to everyone you encounter, especially those who may not know it otherwise.

Prayer Focus

March 30, 2019

Rev. Jimmy Decker

The internet is rough sometimes. There is so much anger, sadness, and hostility - pretty much the opposite of joy. It’s why my general rule of thumb is to stick to watching movie trailers and videos of puppies being awesome. But in looking at how the world can live out our worst tendencies on the internet, I am struck with a reminder that Jesus came not just for you or me, but for the brokenness of the whole world. We are all in need of that love and grace, and I find hope when I realize that Christ got up on the cross for not just the world 2000 years ago, but the world today as well. That is something that should bring us joy.

Scripture: 1 John 2:2

He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world.

Response

Stay off the internet today. Instead of skimming social media, go for a walk, spend time with family and friends, maybe play with a pet. Find joy in these things all while remembering the joy we receive through Christ's love.

Prayer Focus

March 31, 2019

Scott Engle

I love the Sea of Galilee, walking along its shore, seeing the sun rise over it, gazing at the distant shores, even cruising across in a “touristy” boat experience. Every time, I have to pinch myself that I’m really there, on the water where Jesus walked and calmed the stormy waters. I’m always struck by the fact that the Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level and is surrounded by starkly rocky and often steep slopes. The Mt. of the Beatitudes on the northwestern shore is green and so well cared-for. We once sang in the round in the church atop the mount. Do you have places that make you feel especially close to God? Can you set apart time to visit one this week?

Scripture: Sea of Galilee

Response

May somewhere on the St. Andrew campus be a place where you feel closer to God. Pray today that deep relationships can be formed here at St. Andrew, not only with God but with one another.

Prayer Focus

April 1, 2019

Holly Blais

There are times when God calls us to do something we don’t want to do. Even if there is no compensation, we are to do it anyway. Even if it benefits someone who doesn’t deserve it, we are to do it anyway. Even if we get no acknowledgment, we are to do it anyway. Even if it takes us out of our comfort zone, we are to do it anyway. Even if it inconveniences us, we are to do it anyway. Even if there is no obvious blessing for us, we are to do it anyway. Like Simon from Cyrene, we are called to carry each other’s burdens despite the cost to ourselves. Whose burden is God asking you to carry?

Scripture: Matthew 27:32

As they were going out, they found Simon, a man from Cyrene. They forced him to carry his cross.

Response

Trust that God is ever present and guiding you. Focus on relinquishing the desire for awknowledgment and listen for how and where God is truly calling you.

Prayer Focus

April 2, 2019

Michael Agnew

We are all born sinners. We are all born with a debt of sin that we could never pay off. Every day that we live, our sin debt continues to grow. The incredible truth of the Gospel is that Jesus paid for all of our sin - past, present and future. Through this act of humble sacrifice, Jesus abolished all of the rules and requirements to enter heaven’s gates. He flung open those gates for all to come in, regardless of the amount of sin debt that we have accrued. We just need to accept this free gift and remember that Jesus will never reject us. Think about the significance of the Cross and how it destroyed the debt that we owed.

Scripture: Colossians 2:14

He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross.

Response

Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Prayer Focus

April 3, 2019

Defae Weaver

When I accepted Christ as an eighth grader at Sky Ranch, I had only begun to learn what it was like to “deny myself and take up the cross and follow me” as Christ instructs. To save our life we must lose it. We must take the focus off ourselves and turn our life towards Christ. This was best magnified while attending a mission trip with our Student Ministry in Nuevo Laredo. While building a 12’ x 20’ house for a family, we learned this home would change their family significantly for future generations. Our students poured out their lives for others—and even generations of families they will never meet. Where can you find ways to lose yourself for others in the name of Christ?

Scripture: Mark 8:34

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.

Response

Think of a time when someone else has put your needs before their own needs. How can you be more focused on passing that intentional care along to someone else?

Prayer Focus

April 4, 2019

Forrest Pool

Jesus' experience during this entire Lenten season seems to be opposite of how the world thought it should've gone. From arriving on a donkey to this verse when He is being humiliated and crucified alongside the lowest of the low, this was not then or now a worldly vision of a conquering king. To me this makes it all the more spectacular and revealing that His kingdom, our kingdom, is larger than what we currently see or expect. My prayer is that we can all experience and show the surprising love and grace of Jesus Christ in some way this season to help bring that kingdom one step closer to now.

Scripture: Matthew 27:39-40

Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.”

Response

Cast out your prior expectations and lean on the present love and grace of God. How can you exhibit God's kingdom today, right now?

Prayer Focus

April 5, 2019

Phillip Haworth

I think it can be easy to think of sin simply as something we have committed; a wrong that we have done. While this is true, sin can also refer to our overarching condition and in that, we find ourselves separated from God. Yes, God forgives our sins, no doubt about it. But it’s important to remember that God is also calling us into a right relationship with Him. He’s not just addressing issues at hand, he’s also looking at the bigger picture. This passage in Romans reminds us that through the sacrifice of Christ, a free gift from God, we have been justified and brought back into relationship with God. Thanks be to God for this amazing love shown to us through Christ!

Scripture: Romans 3:24-25

but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before,

Response

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!

Prayer Focus

April 6, 2019

Rev. Jennifer Powell

I do not think we have to die, as Jesus did, to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else’s needs before our own. I am reminded of our Cabècar friends in Costa Rica. Pastor Valintìn made a personal sacrifice by offering the use of his home as our initial clinic. Other churches and groups had made promises to the Cabècars that were not kept. In spite of that, Valintìn put his people’s needs ahead of his own and allowed us to use his home for our clinic. As we continued to be a life saving presence for the medical needs of the Cabècars, Valintìn gave us land to build a clinic. Thanks be to God!

Scripture: John 15:13

No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.

Response

Lord, help me to be a better friend like Pastor Valintin, willing to put the needs and interests of others before my own.

Prayer Focus

April 7, 2019

Scott Engle

When you visit Galilee the first time, it becomes apparent why most of Jesus’ ministry happens at the Sea of Galilee. Venture inland to the west and the terrain quickly becomes hilly and difficult. No easy walk from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of the Galilean hills, Jesus took his closest disciples up a mountain where Jesus’ glory was revealed. Do we know exactly which mountain or hill? No, but Mt. Tabor is a good candidate and is often remembered as the Mt. of the Transfiguration. There are several wonderful look-out spots that give amazing views of Galilee, enabling you to take in the big picture. How does Lent figure into the bigger picture of your own life? How can this Lent be different from any that have come before?

Scripture: Hills of Galilee

Response

God, give me eyes to see the bigger picture especially during this Lenten season.

Prayer Focus

April 8, 2019

Isaac Harris

This section of Scripture highlights one of the most important conversations between Jesus and His disciples; He shares with them for the first time His coming death and the resurrection that will proceed. It was simple -- if you were to follow in Christ’s footsteps and be a follower of Him, then you too must deny yourself and take up your own cross daily. For the disciples back then, it meant a literal suffering and death. For us today, it means putting our selfish desires aside and placing His purpose for our life at the forefront. It means that we are to belong to Him on a daily basis. Are you truly denying yourself and carrying your “cross” on a daily basis?

Scripture: Luke 9:23

Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.

Response

Lord, show us how we can give honor to you. Teach us how to live a life of covenant.

Prayer Focus

April 9, 2019

Rev. Allison Jean

The world admires strength, defined as those who seem unaffected by their circumstances and other people around them. Yet being unattached from everything around you does not require strength, just indifference. A life that requires strength and bravery is a life that is open and vulnerable to the hurts that others can inflict. A brave life is one that is involved, connected, woven together with human beings who have the potential to hurt you. Others expected Jesus to be "strong" in the first way: to be detached, separated, impenetrable. But Christ has shown us true strength: to know the pain and struggle of others so intimately that it became His own. Would others describe you as strong? What kind of strength do you choose to live out?

Scripture: Matthew 27:42

“He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him.

Response

May you be strong in spirit like Christ, knowing that you are capable of being hurt in big ways but also of loving in big ways.

Prayer Focus

April 10, 2019

Melissa Adams

Someone once asked me if I was afraid of death. My initial reaction was, YES! Then I was challenged with, “But aren’t you a Christian?” My response was also, YES! I started thinking...I guess I was afraid of the possible physical pain that would come and fear of the sadness my family would be burdened with. However, with death comes new life in Christ. From that day on, I’ve tried to live my life with a new sense of peace. I love my earthly home, but ultimately, I’m waiting for Christ and the abundant life He offers.

Scripture: Hebrews 9:28

In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Response

God, at times when I may be full of questions and fears, fill me with the peace and comfort of a new life in you.

Prayer Focus

April 11, 2019

Len Wilson

A sign usually accompanied Roman prisoners as they hung on a cross. Pilate didn’t care about Jesus either way—he had it made because he was interested in power. By mocking Jesus as King, Pilate was telling the Jewish people that there would be no insurgency that day. Why the focus on power? It’s because power is what sin teaches us. In our brokenness, we see God as weak and distant, and when God has no authority, we fear. We focus on our own power, which means removing it from others. Power is a zero-sum game—it never ends. Jesus knew better. Seizing power would just perpetuate the sin of the world. The only way to break it was through sacrificial love, even if it meant death.

Scripture: John 19:19

Pilate had a public notice written and posted on the cross. It read “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”

Response

The Greek word, agáp_, and variations of it are frequently found throughout the New Testament. Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love.

Prayer Focus

April 12, 2019

Rev. Arthur Jones

God has given each of us gifts.  We are made fearfully and wonderfully with talents and skills.  We are amazing!  And yet the question the season of Lent requires us to ask is – where do we find our value?  In our position?  In our skill sets?  How do you know where you find your value?  Jesus shows us how:  if we have skills and talents and gifts, they are nothing compared to the skills and talents and gifts of the one that made us.  Yet Jesus gave up that position to be with us.  This Lent, may we practice being Jesus.  May we be like Jesus and value others more than any attribute we may have.

Scripture: Philippians 2:6-7

Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human,

Response

Gracious God, help us to be brave and to love and forgive one another the way you do.

Prayer Focus

April 13, 2019

Rachel Kortum

When you first read this verse it seems like a riddle from a troll in a fantasy book. The troll sits under the bridge and says, “If you want to cross my bridge you must figure out my riddle.” It is not a riddle. Jesus is talking with the disciples. He has told them of His coming death and He is asking them to give up more than they already have. We are Disciples of Jesus and we can respond to His call. We can share the Good News and call others to be followers of Jesus. Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us your Son, Jesus Christ. Please help me to be a disciple of His and share the Good News. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 9:24

All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them.

Response

Pray today for our church staff, that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit to feel and fulfill the needs of our community.

Prayer Focus

April 14, 2019

Scott Engle

Jesus probably entered Jerusalem to waving palms through the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount, making His way up to the vast Temple courtyards. I have been up on the Temple Mount only once, as it is under Palestinian control and often closed to Christians. What struck me the most was the sheer immensity of the place. The temple that Herod built was twice the height of the Dome of the Rock that sits there today. Jews coming from the countryside to be part of the major festivals would surely have been overwhelmed as they climbed the monumental Southern Steps. They recited the Psalms of Ascent as they made their way upward. What rituals and prayers mark your life of faith?

Scripture: Entering Jerusalem

Response

Whatever those rituals or prayers may be that mark your life of faith, take some additional time and focus while doing them today, then share them with another person in your life.

Prayer Focus

April 15, 2019

Josh Miller

1 John 4 paints a beautiful picture of what Christians are charged to do: love. We are reminded that we did literally nothing in order to earn or deserve this love and salvation that is gifted to us, and BECAUSE of the miracle of that love, we have a responsibility to share love. The complexity of this is something we spend our lives attempting to figure out. But the reality is this: we aren't meant to look at this from the standpoint of our lifetime; it is meant to be approached daily, and practiced daily, and then we try and do it even better tomorrow.

Scripture: 1 John 4:10

This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.

Response

"Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment. It is not only the first and great command, but all the commandments in one." - John Wesley

Prayer Focus

April 16, 2019

Rev. Kim Meyers

This Bible verse is one that we have seen and heard throughout our lives. It can quickly lose the depth because it is used in so many different environments. We see it on high school letter jackets, professional athletes use it often, and Christians might learn to quote this verse before they fully understand what it means. God walked with us in the garden and Jesus came to walk with us again and be our example of how to live into being a Child of God. This verse reminds us of who we are and the gift that God has given us - freedom from our sin and our redemption to become who we are called to be: children of God.

Scripture: John 3:16-17

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Response

May every individual realize that regardless of their numerical age, they are a child. A precious, beloved child of God.

Prayer Focus

April 17, 2019

Michael Agnew

When I think of Jesus, I often think about how loving and holy He was, but what I often forget is how much He suffered. That He left His position in Heaven to experience more pain than any of us could imagine. Yet, I can often distance myself from God whenever I suffer or feel like I have been mistreated. This passage says that we are not alone in our suffering today. Jesus has been there and walked in our shoes and He is here for us right now. We just need to call out to Him. Jesus, thank you for doing what I couldn't. Thank you for living a life in suffering so that I could live in an eternity of perfection.

Scripture: Isaiah 53:4-5

It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented. He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed.

Response

Lord, you are so merciful, let us not forget what you have done for us.

Prayer Focus

April 18, 2019

Rev. Jimmy Decker

Today is an important step in the path to Easter: Maundy Thursday. Maundy is a ceremony of washing another's feet. While we don't do this often in the Christian life anymore, this was the ultimate sign of respect in Jesus' day. To serve someone in this way was to show the way you valued them; as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He showed them their value. In Luke, we are told that we must take up our cross, and in many ways, to do so we must be willing to realize the ways we've failed God and others. Then we must be willing to get on our knees, and serve others by washing their feet: valuing them as God values them.

Scripture: Luke 14:27

Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Response

Let us strive to love one another in this way daily; valuing the people we encounter as God values them.

Prayer Focus

April 19, 2019

Rev. Robert Hasley

On the day we call Good Friday “Pilate delivered Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified. So they took Jesus and he went out, bearing his own cross, to...Golgotha (John 19:16-17). Not unlike Adam and Eve’s betrayal of God in the Garden, the people betrayed Jesus. They turned on Jesus. Then, they turned away from Him. However, Jesus did not reciprocate. He did not seek revenge upon those who betrayed Him. He did not become bitter. He did not turn away from them. Instead, Jesus turned in love toward those who sought to end His existence. He even cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Remember today, “You are loved and forgiven by Christ Jesus.”

Scripture: John 19:16-17

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. The soldiers took Jesus prisoner. Carrying his cross by himself, he went out to a place called Skull Place (in Aramaic, Golgotha).

Response

Repeat this to yourself as often as you remember today: you are loved and forgiven by Christ Jesus. You are loved and forgiven by Christ Jesus. You are loved and forgiven by Christ Jesus. You are loved and forgiven by Christ Jesus.

Prayer Focus

April 20, 2019

Rev. Jennifer Powell

On my recent trip to Costa Rica to visit our clinic, I met a young Cabècar man, Gilberto. He works each day for his father and has a wife and baby boy. At the end of each day, he walks for hours in search of children who have been infected with Leishmaniasis, a disease caused by parasites through the bite of sandflies. He takes photos, sends them to our medical personnel at the clinic and obtains the necessary medicine. He became trained on giving the required injections to the children which involves one injection a day for 20 days. He sacrifices time with his family to serve his people, not only in his village, but faraway villages on the mountain. Thanks be to God!

Scripture: Isaiah 52:13-14

Look, my servant will succeed. He will be exalted and lifted very high. Just as many were appalled by you, he too appeared disfigured, inhuman, his appearance unlike that of mortals.

Response

This is sacrificial love. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers!

Prayer Focus

April 21, 2019

Scott Engle

There are two places in Jerusalem that mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. One is the confusing Church of the Holy Sepulchre, over which six denominations have argued for centuries (sad, but true). In it, you find the rock of Golgotha, Jesus’ burial tomb, and more. The church is almost certainly over the place where Jesus was buried and risen. Northward, there is the Garden Tomb, a beautiful garden with an early tomb, rolling stone, and more. It is almost certainly not the place – but it sure feels like it. I tell the pilgrims on our trip to put the two together in their minds and hearts and they will have it just about right. What makes Easter right in your own mind and heart? How can Easter feel more real for you this year?

Scripture: Garden Tomb

Response

Don’t forget to reflect on the gift of resurrection. Easter is so much more than a single Sunday. Invite someone with you next week as we continue the journey as Easter people.

Prayer Focus

Prayer strengthens our faith and love for Christ. If you’re unsure about the practice of prayer, ask God to help you, and consider one model, below:

Adoration

Spend time praising and worshiping God. Acknowledge who God is. Praise him for his attributes of faithfulness, goodness, power, mercy, and love.  - Psalm 35:10

Confession

Confess your sins to the Lord, because we are always forgiven. Confession is a daily cleansing exercise. 1 John 1:9

Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the Lord for the many blessings that have been given to you. Thank God for the large and small things in our lives. These are the blessings that we easily take for granted. - 1 Chronicles 16:34

Supplication

Present your requests to God. God is our Creator and is delighted when we come to him with our requests.  - Philippians 4:6

Submit prayer requests to the church at by clicking here. Church staff will pray over every received request.