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Lessons of Lent

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by AngelAmidala, Feb 13, 2002.

  1. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    I used to do this at the King's Tavern, and I hope that it will be well-received here. :)

    My church hands out a Lenten Devotional, and I would like to share with you the daily readings. Each day I will add a new post to this thread with the day's readings. Fridays I will make a post with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's readings so if you aren't able to get here on the weekends, you get a chance to do the reading. I hope that you all enjoy this and that the time is very meaningful for you.

    Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Repentance - Turn, Turn, Turn

    "Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." -Joel 2:12

    One of the first lessons we learn in Lent is the lesson of repentance. Repentance means turning away from our sins and turning toward our God. Turning away from our sins can be the most difficult task we ever have to face. Sinning is so enticing, so tempting, so exciting, so fun. But sinning is also so deadly. "The wages of sin is death," the Bible says (Romans 6:23). When we
    fail to turn away from our sins, the only sure thing we have to look foward to is death. On the flip side, turning toward God and sincerely confessing our sins to him allows us to look forward to a much different future. Forgiveness, grace, hope and everlasting life await those who turn to God. Lent makes us realize that by his dying on the cross for us Christ has made possible this relationship with God and this future of bliss.

    Prayer: This Lenten season, help us, O God, to turn to you in faith confessing our sins and receiving your forgiveness, for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
     
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  2. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Repentance - Spiritual Healing

    "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."
    -Luke 5:32

    Many of us fail to go to the doctor, even when we know we should. Something inside us (like fear, pride or denial, for instance) stops us from making that appointment and getting the help we need.

    The same thing takes place between us and God. We know we should go to Him to repent of our sins, but for some reason (fear, pride or denial, perhaps) we don't. In Luke 5 we read that God's Son, Jesus, came to earth to call all sinners to repentance. He came close so that we would recognize how important it is for us to lay aside our hesitations and lay before our Father all that we have done to disobey His will. The health of our souls depends on it.

    Prayer: Oh God, our Great Physician, we come to you as sinners, ready to repent. [Pause for a moment of silent reflection.] Grant us your spiritual healing, made possible to us through the death of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
     
  3. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    This post will include today's readings plus the ones for Saturday and Sunday. :)

    Friday

    Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Repentance - A Life-Saver

    "The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to cmoe to repentance." -2 Peter 3:9

    "Patience is a virtue" we often hear. But when it comes to God, patience is much more than a virtue; it is a life-saver. God gives us plenty of time to repent and be saved. God waits and waits for us to repent because he wants us to live with him.

    It has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Since that time, people on this earth have had chance after chance to repent. Each day provides us with an opportunity to repent, to change our ways, and live according to the will of God. We are welcomed by our God to take advantage of the times He has granted us to come to Him and be renewed and
    restored in our life of faith.

    Prayer: You have been so patient with us, O God. Help us this season to waste no time in coming to you to repent and receive the eternal blessings given to us through the blood of your Son. Amen.


    Saturday

    Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Repentance - Joy In Lent

    "Jesus said, 'I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righeous person who need no repentance.'" -Luke 15:7

    Lent is a somber and solemn time becaus we are remembering the death of our Savior. But it is a time of great joy as well because of what Christ's death means to each one of us. Like the angels above, we should be rejoicing each time a person recognizes the need to be forgiven by God and then goes to God
    for that forgiveness.

    For each time this occurs, we can see the power of the cross at work. We can see people's lives being transformed in a positive way because of the salvation Christ won for us. We can see faith being strengthened because Christ has released us from the burden of sin. And we can see the power of the devil, the world and our flesh being diminished with each confession and each commitment to follow Christ.

    Prayer: Each time we repent, O Lord, give us joy in the transformation that takes place in us. Amen.


    Sunday

    Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Like Sheep Without A Shepherd

    "As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things." -Mark 6:34

    "He had compassion on them." What a comforting sentence for us to hear this Lent. For we also are "like sheep without a shepherd." We often seem to have no direction in our lives, or we are heading in the wrong direction. We find ourselves vulnerable to attacks from our predators. We can be easily confused and frightened.

    But our Good Shepherd has come to us with His compassion. He revealed that compassion most strinkingly on the cross. It was there that He poured out His love for us by dying for us so that we might have forgiveness. Because of His cross of compassion, we can look at the many places where He takes us, not as scary places, but as places where we are fed and nourished by our Savior, places where we are loved and cared for, and places where we can share the Good News with the many who are still out there wandering aimlessly, "like sheep without a shepherd."

    Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to see how desperately we need your compassion, and help us to look upon others more and more through your eyes of compassion. Keep teaching us many things. Amen.
     
  4. ZooMom

    ZooMom Thanks for the memories...

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    These are wonderful! Thanks! :)
     
  5. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Reaching Out

    "Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the man. Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured." -Mark 1:41-42

    Throughout His time on earth, Jesus did not just feel compassion, he showed compassion. He did not just say to the man with leprosy "My heart goes out to you" and continue on His way. He "reached out and touched the man," the Bible says. He demonstrated his compassion by healing the man of leprosy.

    Jesus teaches us that compassion that is merely felt cannot make a difference in other people's lives. But compassion that is shown makes a great deal of difference in the lives of people. This season is a time for us to reach out and not pull back. This is a time for us not to turn inward, but to stretch ourselves outward to others, just as Christ did.

    Prayer: O Lord, may our compassion for others not remain bottled up inside, but flow out from us in acts of Christian love. Amen.
     
  6. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Just A Little Love

    "'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'" -Luke 13:7-9

    In the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas television special, Linus tells Lucy that a tin, withered tree "just needs a little love." The caretaker in Jesus' parable wants to give his tree just a little love, too, to help it along. Much like that scrawny Charlie Brown Christmas tree and that fig tree in Jesus' parable, we are not producing fruit of the Spirit the way that we should. We are not growing as much as God would want us to. We deserve to be cut down.

    Yet Jesus, in his compassion, gives us what we need to be productive plantings of the Lord. He provides us with His Word, which nourishes and strengthens us. He works the soil of our souls to make us more receptive to the presence of God. And he allows himself to be killed so that w might never have to be cut
    down because of our sins.

    Prayer: O Jesus, our Compassionate Caretaker, we thank you for giving us a fighting chance and for making it possible for us to flourish in our faith. Amen.
     
  7. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    Um...apparantly I didn't post yesterday when I thought I had. My apologies. This post will have yesterday's reading and today's. :)

    From: Lessons in Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - The Hug Of Love

    "So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him." -Luke 15:20

    Many fathers would have wanted to run up to the Prodigal Son and say, "You idiot!" But the father in this parable didn't. He ran up to his son and gave him a hug. The compassion the father felt for his son was so strong that no wrongdoing could take it away. The compassion that Christ has for us is just as strong. Though we take advantage of his love, though we run away from him time and time again, though we squander what he has given us, he sill loves us and wants to be near us.

    He went down the road to Calvary to make his compassion known to us. All we need to do is accept that love and let that love become a part of who we are as sons and daughters of our God.

    Prayer: Thank you for never letting our sins diminish your love for us, O Lord. Embrace us with your compassion day by day. Amen.


    From: Lessons in Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Moved By Loss

    "When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit." -John 11:33

    A close friend dies. The family gathers. Friends and neighbors stop by to give their condolences. We have all been a part of this series of events in one way or another. Imagine if Jesus himself came to pay his respects as well. In the case of the death of Lazarus, he did. When Christ came to visit the grieving in Bethany, his compassion was clearly evident. He felt the pain for
    the loss Lazarus' sisters were experiencing. He was so moved by their loss that he did something to reverse what had happened. He raised Lazarus from the dead.

    Christ's compassion moved him to reverse what was happening in our lives as well. He saw how sin was destroying our lives, so he sacrificed himself to destroy the power of sin in each one of us. Not only that, but because of what Jesus did, death no longer has the sting it once did. Christ has converted the pain of losing someone into the joy of knowing that our loved ones are safe in heaven with our God.

    Prayer: Comfort us in our sorrows, O Lord, with the assurance that eternal life with you awaits. Amen.
     
  8. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    The readings for today, tomorrow, and Sunday. :)

    Today
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Loving Your Enemies

    "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" -Luke 23:34

    One of the hardest lessons Jesus spoke to his disciples was this: "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44) In our limited way of thinking, we wonder how anyone could actually follow through on that command. Yet we see this command carried out in remarkable fashion by our Savior. While on the cross, he looked upon the people who had put him there and said, "Father, forgive them." His enemies had tried and convicted him, even though he was innocent. Yet he still loved them. His enemies had put a crown of thorns on his head and whipped his back. Yet he still loved them. His enemies had mocked him and spat upon him. Yet he still loved them. His enemies had nailed his hands and feet to two planks of wood. Yet he still loved them.

    He still loved them because he knew that they, too, were created by God, and they, too, could be saved through the events that were unfolding on this tiny hill called Calvary.

    Prayer: Enlarge our hearts to love even our enemies, O Lord, just as you did. Amen.


    Saturday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Compassion - Talking To Bandits

    "'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" -Luke 23:43-43

    On the cross Jesus was engaged in a conversation with a common criminal, a "bandit," according to one Bible translation. Here was someone most people would not really want to get to know. Here was someone who had truly committed a crime and was being punished for it fairly according to the law. Here was
    someone we would think Jesus would have nothing to do with. But here was someone who received the greatest measure of Christ's compassion. This bandit would be with him in paradise, Jesus said. It was Christ's compassion that saved this repentant bandit from the fires of hell.

    We may not consider ourselves bandits, but in light of God's Law, we are. We have broken commandment after commandment. We have been found guilty of sinning. And we do deserve to die. But Christ remembers us anyway. From the cross he says to each one of us, "You will be with me in paradise." Our conviction under the Law has been overturned by our Savior.

    Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, for remembering us even in the midst of our sinfulness, and for making room for us in paradise. Amen.


    Sunday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - A Lowly Donkey

    "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
    -Zechariah 9:9

    Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey. That our Savior chose to be carried into Jerusalem by a donkey shows how humble he is. He did not draw attention to himself. It was the people who drew attention to him, laying their garments in his path, waving palm branches, and shouting, "Hosanna!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

    Can we follow the example of both Jesus and the crowds as we encounter other people in our lives? Like Jesus, can we enter into situations with less pride in ourselves? And like the crowds, can we start any endeavor by singing praises to the One "who comes in the name of the Lord" - before singing the praises of anyone else?

    Prayer: Blessed are you, O Lord. Your entrance into Jerusalem has given us great insights into what it means to be humble. May we give you all the glory for whatever we have been able to accomplish. Amen.
     
  9. AngelAmidala

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - Humble Duties

    "Carrying his own cross, Jesus went out to The Place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)." -John 19:17

    Jesus bore the burden of the cross on his shoulders. Carrying the cross was demeaning, painful and hard work, but it was a job that Jesus did anyway. Life presents us with an abundance of jobs we would rather not do, work we often feel is beneath us, not worth our time or effort or energy. The pride inside us says, "Can't someone else do it?" But it is very often the voice of God inside us that says, "You do it!"

    That is when we need to set our pride aside and grab hold of whatever task it is that God has asked us to do. Remembering that Jesus humbly carried the cross on our behalf will give us the strength to complete our humble duties for the Lord.

    Prayer: O Lord of the cross, inspire us by your humility to do those things that we find difficult. Amen.
     
  10. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - A Humble Demeanor

    "Learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." -Matthew 11:29

    We learn from Christ how to be gentle and humble. Humble people are those who put the needs of others first. Humble people seek to lift the burdens of others before lifting their own. Humble people provide rest for others before finding rest for themselves.

    Learning to be gentle and humble in heart allows us to sharpen our ability to be care-givers as well as care-receivers. Christ has helped us to see that life can become richer when our concern for others supersedes our concern for ourselves.

    Prayer: Your gentleness and humility, O Lord, teach us so much about how we should act toward one another. Help us to be just as gentle and humble toward others as you have been to us. Amen.
     
  11. AngelAmidala

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - No Boasting

    "The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. ...But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat ihs breast and said, 'God, have mercy on my, a sinner.'" -Luke 18:11, 13

    Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector demonstrates how humility plays a part in our relationship with God. The Pharisee spent more of his time boasting to God than praying to God. His head held high, the pharisee put himself in the center of his relationship with God. The tax collector, on the other hand, approached his God with his head held low. The tax collector quietly revealed that he knew he was not the center of this relationship, God was.

    When we recognize that God should be at the center of our lives, we come closer to understanding that only Christ can make us right with God. No boasting or gloating on our part will do us any good. Only pleading for mercy and clinging to Christ's cross will make it possible for us to go home justified by God's grace.

    Prayer: In our prayer life, O God, may we more fully come to terms with our sinfulness and may we more fervently seek the salvation that can only come through your Son. Amen.
     
  12. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - Power To The Humble

    "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." -Matthew 5:5

    Jesus utters these words about the meek as part of his Sermon on the Mount. They are words that bring courage and hope to us at a time when it seems that the strong and ruthless are the ones inheriting the earth.

    The meek and humble can indeed do great things. The most compelling proof of that fact is found in the person of Jesus himself. He was born in a tiny stable, yet went on to bring down rulers from their thrones and lift up the humble, through his suffering and death on the cross. Christ, who once was meek, is now the King both of heaven and of earth. And we who once were weak because of our sins, have now inherited his kingdom.

    Prayer: Open our eyes, O God, to the many ways in which Christ is giving power to the humble. Amen.
     
  13. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

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    Today, Saturday, and Sunday's readings. :)

    Today
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - Attitude Check

    "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing." -Philippians 2:5-7

    How is your attitude these days? Are you doing anything purely out of selfish ambition or vain conceit? Are you considering yourself to be better than others lately? Are you only looking out for yourself?

    If so, St. Paul says it is time for an attitude adjustment. We need to adjust our attitude to that of Christ Jesus. When God the Father asked Christ to go to earth to save us, Christ did not object. He did what his Father told him to do. He allowed himself to become human. He left his throne behind to get dirty and bloody on the cross for us. He let himself become something less
    than he was in heaven, so that we might become something more, namely, forgiven children of God.

    As sinners, it is so easy for us to have a "high and mighty" attitude. But Christ helps us to take on the attitude that we are nothing without God. With this new attitude, we are able to let go of our egos and take hold of God's guiding hand.

    Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to replace our selfish attitudes with an attitude of devotion to you. Amen.


    Saturday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Humility - Don't Look Down

    "Jesus said, 'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest and the one who rules like the one who serves.'" -Luke 22:25-26

    As Jesus rose in popularity, his twelve closest disciples started to argue with one another over which one of them was the greatest. Because of their association with Jesus, his teachings and his miracles, they were beginning to act like kings among ment. Jesus was quick to put a stop to their escalating ego trips. He made sure that they understood that in the kingdom of God, even those who might seem to be kings among men are no more valuable than those who might seem to be lowest on the totem pole.

    When we learn that we are all equal in the eyes of God, we are better able to work together to bring progress and growth to this kingdom founded by our God and preserved through the life and death of our Savior, Jesus.

    Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, rid us of any feelings of superiority in our dealings with one another, and help us to combine our efforts in the common goal of telling your story to all the world. Amen.


    Sunday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - A Servant Event

    "See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high." -Isaiah 52:13

    Isaiah 52:13 foreshadows the crucifixion of our Lord: "My servant...shall be...lifted up." When Jesus let his body be lifted up on the cross, he was doing it to serve us and all who came before us and will come after us.

    What happened on Calvary was a servant event in the truest sense of the word. What happened there required all the energy and strength God's Servant could muster. What happened there was done solely for others. And what happened there was most definitely an Event (with a capital E) because it would change the lives of everyone forever.

    Prayer: O Suffering Servant, as you are lifted up on the cross for us, help us to see how you are fulfilling the prophecies of old in this single, remarkable act. Amen.
     
  14. AngelAmidala

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - Service Clothes

    "Be dressed ready for service." -Luke 12:35

    We like to categorize our clothing. When we look into our closets, we see our work clothes, our church clothes, our winter clothes, our weekend clothes, our workout clothes and our play clothes. But what would you consider to be your "service clothes"?

    Jesus tells us to "be dressed ready for service." Being "dressed for service" may mean something different to each of us. It could mean sweatpants. It could mean jeans and a T-shirt. IT could mean a suit and tie. Whatever our
    attire may be on any given day, Jesus wants us to be ready to serve. Jesus himself served us in several different outfits. Soon after coming to earth to save us and serve us, he wore swaddling clothes. When he served as a foot-washer for his disciples, he wore a towel around his waist. And on the way to the cross, he wore a regal purple robe over his shoulders.

    The next time you take a look into your closet, take a moment to consider what services you can perform in Jesus' name as you wear the many different clothes you see before you.

    Prayer: No matter what garments we may wear, O Lord, clothe us with a desire to serve you and those around us wholeheartedly. Amen.
     
  15. AngelAmidala

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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - Doing The Dirty Work

    "Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet." -John 13:5

    Washing people's feet was a dirty and messy job. It was degrading and disgusting at times. People weren't knocking down doors to get themselves disheveled like this. That Jesus chose to do this very unflattering task shows us how willing he was to be our servant.

    Many times our service for the Lord requires that we get "down and dirty" as well. We are often called upon to bend down to help someone who is struggling to get up. Our hands often must get covered in grit and grime in order to help those in need. And we often must buck tradition in order to serve most effectively. By letting the account of Jesus' footwashing sink deep into our consciousness, we can become more open to new avenues of service that may have never crossed our minds before.

    Prayer: O Lord, may we never shy away from serving you and others in new and different ways. Amen.
     
  16. AngelAmidala

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    Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday's reading yesterday. So in this post will be yesterday's and today's readings. :)

    Yesterday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - Serving Or Being Served?

    "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." -Matthew 20:28

    People in our society are seeking to be served more than they are seeking to serve, it seems. And, though we may be hesitant to admit it, we very often are among those people. Jesus helps us to see that serving is preferable to being served. Jesus could have come to earth and let people wait on him hand and foot. He certainly deserved the
    royal treatment. But he came to earth wanting to serve. He found joy in healing the sick and forgiving the sinner. He loved giving more than receiving. And he saw how turning his life over to others turned the lives of so many people around.

    When we see why Christ chose to serve rather than to be served, we have a better grasp on why our desire to be served should take a backseat to our calling from God to serve other people.

    Prayer: O Jesus Christ, remove any urges we may have to always be served, and move us to serve as often as we can. Amen.


    Today
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - The Only Master That Matters

    "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth." -Matthew 6:24

    Who is your master? Work? Peers? Family? Money? The only master that should matter to us is God. Our time and energy should be dedicated to God first and foremost. We should give God the final say on what we decide to do. And we should allow God to be the ultimate driving force of our actions.

    Jesus himself looked beyond the lures of fame and fortune to serve his Father, and by letting God be the master of his life, Jesus was able to bring salvation to us all through his suffering and death. So when we let God have mastery in our lives, we are assured that we will have a future in heaven that will last forever.

    Prayer: O God, our Master, dominate over all other forces in our lives, and give us the foresight to see that serving you is the best way to go. Amen.
     
  17. AngelAmidala

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    Readings for Today, Saturday, and Sunday. :)

    Today
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - In Close Contact

    "Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." -John 12:26

    Serving the Lord keeps us in close contact with him. When we serve the Lord, we are following him. When we serve the Lord, we are dwelling with him. And when we serve the Lord, we are honored, as Christ is, by our Father above.

    Yet how can we maintain this close contact with our Savior as we serve him over time? One way is to see the face of Christ in each person we are called to serve. For Jesus said, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40) Another way is to pray to Jesus as we serve. Talking with him about what we are doing will help us to grow to know him better. A final way in which we can keep in close contact with Christ as we serve is to adorn ourselves with reminders of him. Each time something like a cross necklace or a "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet touches our skin as we serve, we are nudged into remembering that Christ is an active participant in eveyr act of service we do in his name.

    Prayer: O Jesus Christ, may your constant presence with us as we work for you enrich all our service experiences. Amen.


    Saturday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Service - No Looking Back

    "Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" -Luke 9:62

    We can be a very capricious people. We can be quick to change our minds. We second-guess so many of the decisions we make. And we are prone to swiftly getting ourselves out of certain situations.

    But we cannot vacillate when it comes to serving our Savior. Jesus makes it clear that once we have made the decision to work as a servant in his mission field and spread the Gospel, there is no looking back. Serving the Lord needs to be something we are deeply committed to doing. And it needs to be a commitment that concentrates on tackling the future instead of rehashing the past. As servants of the Lord, we have an obligation to move forward with confidence and certainty. The final harvest of souls is at stake.

    Prayer: Help us, O Lord, never to waver in our service for you, but always to set our sights on the days to come. Amen.


    Sunday
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - What's The Point?

    "He...became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross." -Philippians 2:8

    Jesus obeyed his Father to the point of death. He could have obeyed to the point of being betrayed by Judas. He could have obeyed to the point of being declared guilty of blasphemy, and then walked away from his accusers. He could have come down from the cross when the thief on the left said, "Save yourself!" (Luke 23:39)

    But Jesus chose to obey his Father to the point of death. And this was no ordinary death. This was death on a cross - one of the cruelest forms of execution known to humankind. The points of nails pierced his hands and feet, and the point of the spear in his side made his death official. Because Jesus obeyed his Father all the way to the point of death, we know that we will be saved when we
    reach the point of our own deaths.

    Prayer: O Jesus, our Savior, we glorify you for obeying your Father to the very end. Help us to obey our Father just as fully. Amen.
     
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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - Obey All The Way

    "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." -Hebrews 5:8

    Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. In his trials and tribulations, Jesus learned to rely on his Father for guidance. Jesus learned to submit to the wishes of his Father. He learned to offer up prayers and petitions to his Father when times got tough, just as his
    Father had told him to do.

    It is through our sufferings that we learn a great deal about obedience, as well. In the midst of our sufferings, we learn that reliance on God is the only way for us to survive. We learn that reading God's Word and doing what it says gives us a sense of purpose even when there is chaos all around us. And we learn that praying to God, listening to him, and responding to what he says enables us to be enriched and fulfilled on the inside even when parts of our lives seem to be falling apart on the outside.

    Prayer: God, our Father, may we be obedient to you, even in our sufferings, just as your Son, Jesus, was. Continue to teach us why obedience to you is so important to our physical and spiritual well-being. Amen.
     
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    This has the readings for Today through next Monday, as I will be away from my really great T3 connection at work as I go on vacation. :)

    Tuesday, March 12th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - A Reversal Of Consequences

    "For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." -Romans 5:19

    Adam ate the fruit from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was the only tree that God told Adam not to eat from, and Adam ate from it. He disobeyed. and all of his descendants (that includes us) have been disobeying God ever since. We have partaken of so many "forbidden fruits" and have failed to consider the consequences of our disobedience.

    But God did consider the consequences. He knew the consequence for our disobedience would be death. So he decided to do something about it. He decided to send his Son, Jesus. This one man's total and complete obedience would cover over all the disobedience against God that had
    taken place since the day Adam ate that fruit. Jesus suffered the consequences that we should have suffered. He suffered death, so that we might have life.

    Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank and praise you for sparing us from God's wrath and making us righteous through your amazing obedience. Amen.


    Wednesday, March 13th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - A Test Of Wills

    "And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.'"
    -Matthew 26:39

    In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus found himself in the midst of a monumental test of wills. His own will wanted the cup of suffering to be taken from him. But God's will wanted Jesus to drink from this cup, no matter how bitter it might be. It was Christ's obedience to God that ultimately proved more powerful than his own personal will. Jesus drank the cup of suffering that God had asked him to drink, going all the way to the cross and the grave so that we might be freed from sin.

    Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we face a test of wills, as well, nearly every day of our lives. Our own personal wills often want to go directly against what God's will wants us to do. In the end, though, we must come to terms with the fact that God knows what is best for us. Our
    obedience to his will is a necessary part of being a child of God, and it will surely be eternally beneficial for us.

    Prayer: May your will be done in our lives, O God, just as it was done by your Son in his life and death. Amen.


    Thursday, March 14th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - Hear And Obey

    "He said, 'Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!'"
    -Luke 11:28

    Jesus seems to know us pretty well in this verse. He doesn't just say, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God." That would be easy enough for us. We can hear the word of God at church or at the dinner table. We can even hear it on tape or on TV, on the radio or over the phone. It doesn't take much for us to hear the word of God these days.

    But obeying it is another matter. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it." There is where it gets tough. Obeying the word of God means that we have to go out and talk to people about Jesus and his salvation. Obeying the word of God means that we have to
    treat one another in the same manner in which we treat ourselves. Obeying the word of God means that we must strive to live according to the Ten Commandments. And obeying the word of God means that we must ask for forgiveness when we fail to follow God's demands. Jesus never said it would be easy to obey the word of God, but he did promise blessing to all those who do.

    Prayer: O Jesus, our Savior, give us the strength and courage to not only listen to, but obey the word of God, so that your saving deeds may be known to all. Amen.


    Friday, March 15th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - Staying Connected

    "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my live, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." -John 15:10

    Obedience keeps us connected to Christ and shows how much we love him. Christ shows us how much he loves us by giving us new commands to follow. In the upper room on Maundy Thursday, Jesus declared, "A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34) And later Jesus would tell Peter, "Feed my sheep," a command that would inspire Peter to become a bold witness for Christ. (John 21:17) Unlike many other types of commands, these new commands of Christ are not given to punish us or make us feel inadequate. They are given to keep the connection strong between us and one another and between us and God. Christ has put great confidence in us by sharing these commands with us. It is our privilege to obey them.

    Prayer: Out of great love for you, O Lord, may we boldly and joyfully carry out your commands to love and be witnesses to one another. Amen.


    Saturday, March 16th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Obedience - Do What You Say

    "Jesus said, 'There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work today in the vineyard." "I will not," he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, "I will, sir," but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?' 'The first,' they answered." -Matthew 21:28-31

    It is one thing to say you will do something, but another to actually do it. That seems to be the gist of what Jesus is saying in this parable about the two sons. It is a lesson we need to learn, because what we say and what we do are so often dissimilar. We are masters at putting up a
    good front for our Father, then doing the exact opposite or nothing at all.

    We need to put a stop to this pattern in our lives, and start a new pattern of obedience. This new pattern of obedience should involve following through on the promises we have made to God. And it should involve making honesty and integrity our primary priorities.

    Prayer: Forgive us, O God, for not always doing what we say we will do. Guide us as we strive to obey you both in speech and in action. Amen.


    Sunday, March 17th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Perseverance - Staying Awake

    "Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, 'So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?'" -Matthew 26:40

    Jesus reprimands his disciples for not staying awake with him for a single hour. In that moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can sense Christ's disappointment in his disciples. And we wonder what it was that his disciples were lacking in this situation. In a word, they were
    lacking perseverance. They were lacking the wherewithal to continue on, even though it had been a long day. They were lacking the presence of mind to support and comfort a Friend in need, even though they were struggling themselves. They were lacking the wisdom to pray to God in
    the midst of this difficult time.

    We can learn a lot about perseverance from what happened in that garden. We learn that Christ desires that we continue on, no matter how long and hard the journey. We learn that we should not let personal circumstances prevent us from being there for a friend. And we learn that we should
    never forget to pray when the problems of our lives are bearing down on us.

    Prayer: Help us, O Christ, to persevere through tough times by staying alert to your presence with us and wtachin gout for one another. Amen.


    Monday, March 18th
    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Perseverance - Fighting Through The Anguish

    "In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground." -Luke 22:44

    What has led you to be in anguish lately? Physical ailments, financial struggles, and problems at home or on the job are only some of the circumstances that may be causing you anguish right now. As we agonize over the difficulties in our lives, it is good for us to envision this scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. We need to remember that Jesus persevered in his anguish - an anguish that must have been extraordinarily more painful than any anguish we might experience. For the sins of all people were upon him.

    It was with all this pain stirring within him that Jesus persevered. He got up from this agony in the garden to face the mob that was coming to arrest him. From there, he went on to be tried, convicted and killed for our redemption. Envisioning what Christ went through helps us to persevere through our anguishes and come out on the other side of the pain ready to praise our God.

    Prayer: Strengthen us, O Lord, so that we might be able to fight through the anguishes in our lives and carry out your plans on earth and in heaven. Amen.
     
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    From: Lessons of Lent
    By: Mark Zimmermann
    Perseverance - With Patient Endurance

    "But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance." -Luke 8:15

    In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus explains what being a "good soil" believer is all about. A "good soil" believer is one who "holds fast" to the word of God. And a "good soil" believer is one who bears fruit "with patient endurance."

    Like any soil on this earth, we must endure a lot in order for the seed planted within us to bear fruit. We have to find ways to continue to let the seed of God's word thrive even in dry conditions (like when money is tight or jobs are scarce). We must protect the seed of God's word from
    being destroyed when we are being trampled upon by enemies of God. And we must let the seed of God's word pull through the thorns of life (like illness or pain) which try to choke the life out of its message.

    Bearing fruit "with patient endurance" can take its toll on us, to be sure. But what Christ helps us see is that the joy of producing an abundance of great gifts for him will far outweigh any struggles we had in getting there.

    Prayer: O Lord, may we continue to produce good fruit for you with patient endurance. Amen.
     
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