Blog Archives

Lent Devotions

lent

March 27, 2016: Christ Is Risen!

Luke 24:1-12

He is not here, but has risen (v. 5).

Everything we treasure most about the Christian faith hangs on the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus rose from the grave it is proof positive of all the staggering claims he made about himself and all those that have been subsequently made about him. If he did not burst the bands of death as the gospels report, then our treasured faith is as silly as a sitcom episode, our sins are in fact the controlling reality of our sorry lives, and those whom we have loved and lost are nothing more than smudges on the window of our fading memories. All of this was the logic of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins [and] those also who have died in Christ have perished” (vv. 17-18).

Think about this for just a moment. The women who first came to the tomb finally grasped the significance of the new life that was breaking in on them when they remembered what Jesus had taught them: “Then they remembered his words” (v. 8). You might say they moved forward by looking back. Christians interpret their experiences through the word, and not the other way around. Remember that, please, the next time your personal experience is at odds with the expressed teaching of scripture. Revelation always trumps experience.

Prayer: Give us the grace to interpret our lives through the promise of your word.

Today’s devotional was written by Tim Brown, president and Henry Bast professor of preaching at Western Theological Seminary. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

March 23, 2016: Counseling

Luke 22:31-34

Simon, Simon, listen! (v. 31)

Jesus’ warning to Peter that he would betray him is a commentary on a verse from Proverbs. There the wise man says, “Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). How painful it must have been for Peter to have his beloved Lord level such a terrible accusation. How hopeful it must have been for Peter to live into Jesus’ promise to him of restoration.

I learn three things from the Lord Jesus that I need to bear in mind if I am ever called to speak to a friend in spiritual trouble. First, speak personally. Jesus calling out “Simon, Simon…” counteracts the evil one’s dehumanizing ways. Peter was a real person, headed for a real fall, but he still belonged to the Lord.

Second, speak truthfully. Speak the truth in love, but by all means speak the truth. “Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat…” Peter would be pitted against the Prince of Darkness and Jesus told him so.

Third, speak hopefully. A world of hope must have dawned in Peter’s hurting heart when Jesus said, “And when once you have turned…” Our failures, however terrible they are, are never final! Human failure is temporary; God’s grace is eternal.

Is there someone you need to speak to this way?

Prayer: Lord, help us speak the truth in love!

Today’s devotional was written by Tim Brown, president and Henry Bast professor of preaching at Western Theological Seminary. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

March 20, 2016: The Needs of the Lord

Luke 19:29-40

“Why are you untying the colt?”
And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” (v. 33-34, RSV)

“The Lord has need of it.” Isn’t that a curious thing? The God of all glory has needs, and in this instance, he needs the services of a lowly donkey. In order to accomplish the extraordinary, God chose to yoke himself to the ordinary. While I cannot explain the mystery, I cannot escape its implication either. If the Lord needed a donkey to fulfill his gospel work, then maybe he needs me and you to do the same thing now!

I have a friend with a lovely gift for singing and teaching. She regularly visits local nursing homes to bless the residents with her uplifting voice and keen insights into the Word. She regularly concludes her teaching with this challenge for the elderly folk seated before her: “Friends, tomorrow morning when you wake up, I want you to open your eyes and look around. If you are still in your room and haven’t yet been taken to heaven, I want you to say out loud, ‘The Lord has work for me to do today.’ And then I want you to get up and get it done!”

Her words echo Jesus on that first Palm Sunday: The Lord has need of it.

Prayer: Living God, give us your grace to fulfill your purposes through Jesus.

Today’s devotional was written by Tim Brown, president and Henry Bast professor of preaching at Western Theological Seminary. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visitwww.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

February 29, 2016: Someone Despised

Luke 7:36-50

A woman…who was a sinner (v. 37).

Here’s another lesson about the universal reach of the good news, featuring another Simon (Luke mentions at least seven different Simons or Simeons!). This one is another Pharisee with whom Jesus crosses swords.

In this case, strangely, you might almost say the Pharisee and the Savior are in agreement. The woman “who was a sinner” was probably a prostitute, and was certainly notorious in the area. But what mattered was simply “her sins, which were many,” rather than what kind of sins they were. You may be a gentile, a leper, a tax collector; none of those facts will exclude you from the company of God’s people. But sin will. On that, Jesus and Simon were agreed.

How wrong Simon was, though, to assume that Jesus didn’t know about the woman’s sins! He did know, and also knew her desire to be rid of them, her awareness that Jesus could forgive them, and the gratitude she expressed in bathing and anointing his feet.

“Follow the logic, Simon,” Jesus seems to say. “What keeps people outside is sin—your kind of sin as much as hers. I am the only person who can deal with it. She knows that, and loves me for it. How about you?”

Prayer: Remind us, Lord, of how much you have forgiven us, and how much we should love you.

Today’s devotional was written by Michael Wilcock, a retired pastor in the Church of England. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

February 28, 2016: Honest Doubts

Luke 7:18-35

John…sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (vv. 18-19)

John the Baptist earlier introduced Christ to the world as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But in today’s Scripture, we discover that doubts have entered his mind. He sends his friends to Jesus with the question, “Are you the one who is to come; or shall we look for another?” John’s question almost disillusions us.

But notice Christ’s reaction. He does not heap judgment upon John’s head. Rather, in the presence of John’s friends, he performed many miracles and then said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard” (v. 22). These miracles prove that he is the one who was to come.

John’s experience teaches us that there is nothing sinful about having honest doubts. John had good reason to question Jesus. He was languishing in prison and the expected revolutionary transformation had not yet taken place. John wondered whether he had been premature in his announcement of the coming of the kingdom.

In his bewilderment, he did the right thing. He went right to the source and asked Jesus, and he received the answer he was hoping for. His faith was bolstered. We need never be ashamed of the doubts and fears that creep into our hearts. If we bring them to Jesus, he will banish them with words of assurance and encouragement.

Prayer: Lord, help me to have a greater faith.

Today’s devotional was written by the late Pierce Maassen, a pastor in the RCA. It was originally published in 1967. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

February 25, 2016: Rules and People

Luke 6:1-11

And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” (v. 9)

Customs, rules, and regulations are necessary and should be obeyed. We must attend church regularly, keep the Lord’s day holy, and observe the speed limits when driving.

But people are more important than regulations. That is the Lord’s teaching in today’s Scripture. The Jews were very good at keeping rules but poor in showing compassion to the needy. They thought it was more important to keep the temple regulations than to feed a starving man. The presence all around them of the hungry, the sick, and the spiritually bankrupt did not particularly bother them as long as no one broke the Sabbath. That same temptation confronts us. We may be so concerned about keeping our worship dignified that we shut out those who need the gospel. Jesus did not win followers by legislating to them about keeping the Sabbath day holy.

Jesus’ approval of David’s action in eating the holy bread despite temple regulations does not mean that we can therefore disregard completely our responsibilities toward worship, the church, or the sacraments. Likewise, his healing the sick and picking grain on the Sabbath do not mean that we can revert to a Sunday “business as usual” policy. The holy things of our religious lives must be safeguarded, but a regulation or tradition must never stand in the way of an opportunity to do good unto someone in need.

Prayer: Lord, give me a heart filled with love.

Today’s devotional was written by the late Pierce Maassen, a pastor in the RCA. It was originally published in 1967. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visitwww.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

February 20, 2016: Naaman

Luke 4:14-28

None of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian (v. 27).

As Jesus burst upon the local scene and quickly became famous throughout Galilee, how proud his neighbors and friends and relations were of him!

But it didn’t last. He saw through their excessive praises to their hard, unbelieving hearts. In the early part of that synagogue service in Nazareth “all spoke well of him.” We can imagine the approving nods, nudges, and whispers around the congregation. They were puzzled by what he said about those verses from Isaiah, but it sounded good. When, however, he turned their attention to an earlier part of their Scriptures, the stories of Elijah and Elisha, their real attitudes were exposed. For their own Bible demonstrated how often God’s blessings had been rejected by his people Israel and given instead to gentile outsiders, like the Sidonian widow who fed Elijah, and the Syrian general Naaman whom Elisha healed. Likewise, Jesus’ own neighbors were in danger of losing out to people they despised.

We too need to beware of enjoying the nice bits of Scripture and rejecting what makes us uncomfortable. But we can also put ourselves in Naaman’s shoes rather than those of the Nazarenes, and be hugely thankful that the gospel’s blessing has come to us, outsiders who had no claim on it.

Prayer: Lord, is my attitude to the good news more like Nazareth’s or like Naaman’s?

Today’s devotional was written by Michael Wilcock, a retired pastor in the Church of England. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

February 17, 2016: Tempted

Luke 4:1-13

…for forty days he was tempted by the devil (v. 2).

When I reread the story of Jesus’ temptation, two things seem obviously true and a third seems inconveniently true. The first thing that is obviously true is that we have an adversary whose intentions for us are no good. When Jesus had fasted forty days and was famished, it was just then, at that precise moment, that “the devil came to him.” The devil’s timing is impeccable!

The second thing that is obviously true is that Jesus has gone before us to show us what to do when we are tempted. What a kind and gracious Savior we have! So how did Jesus respond to temptation? Not once, not twice, but three times he repelled the devil with the Word. And let me remind everyone that he wasn’t carrying a Bible with him. He repelled the evil one with the word hidden in his heart. The most basic of all spiritual disciplines is the discipline of scripture memorization.

The one inconveniently true thing is that the devil has a kind of steadfast devotion of his own. “He departed from him until an opportune time” (v. 13). This is why Peter counsels us in his first epistle, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert…your adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Until our journey on earth is done, we must necessarily deal with this enemy at home, at work, and at play! Discipline yourselves; keep alert!

Prayer: Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Today’s devotional was written by Tim Brown, president and Henry Bast professor of preaching at Western Theological Seminary. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.

Lent Devotions

lent

February 16, 2016: Adam

Luke 3:21-38

He was the…son of Adam (vv. 23, 38)

Simeon and Anna cherished the promises made to Israel far back in the past. But as Luke begins to describe the adult life of Jesus, he goes even further back. Matthew’s Gospel traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham, the ancestor of the Hebrew nation; Luke’s traces it right back to Adam, the ancestor of the whole human race. (John’s goes even further, back to the eternity in which the divine Son was with the Father: “Before the world was created, the Word already existed.”)

Even though you probably just skimmed this list of names, your eye may have caught some of them. David, Jacob, and Abraham are all real historical people. Jesus comes on the scene as an equally real person, and one who belongs, like them, in the history of Israel. But more than that, Luke wants us to see him as a member not just of the Hebrew race but of the human race. He was born as a person, in order to save humankind.

Out of the Jewish background (that is Matthew’s emphasis) grows something intended for all nations (that is Luke’s emphasis). None of us can say, “This is not for me.” As Luke’s friend Paul puts it, all who are in Adam die, but all who are in Christ will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Today’s devotional was written by Michael Wilcock, a retired pastor in the Church of England. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org

Lent Devotions

lent

February 15, 2016: Jesus Changes People

Luke 3:15-20

John’s task was to “prepare the way.” Jesus’ task was to be “the way.” John’s task was to call people to repentance, to change on the outside. Jesus’ task was to invite people to relationship with God and to change on the inside.

A little girl had been naughty. Her exasperated mother finally told her to sit in the corner until her father came home. The little girl stomped over to the corner, folded her arms defiantly across her chest, pouted angrily, and refused to sit down. At this point her mother came over and literally forced her to sit. When the father arrived home he asked his daughter what she was doing in the corner. She replied, “On the outside I’m sitting, but on the inside I’m still standing.”

We can relate to that. On the outside we can make changes, but until we are changed on the inside it makes little difference. Jesus changes people from the inside out. That’s what excited John the Baptist! That’s why John called Jesus “the One more powerful.” That’s why John pointed away from himself to Jesus, the one sent from God to set people free from self-centered living. Jesus is still in the business of transforming lives from the inside out. Open your heart to the master and he will shape you into the beautiful person he knows you can be.

Prayer: Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Today’s devotional was written by Anthony Vis, a retired pastor in the RCA. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.