First Presbyterian Church of Merrillville
Friday, June 23, 2017
Go and Make Disciples!
Kergyma Bible Study, Wednesday at 10 AM in the Gathering Room - January through May; vacation June through August, then September through December.
 
 
 
Lenten Devotional
     
 First Presbyterian & Dyer Presbyterian
                            2017
 
  Dear Brothers and Sisters:
 
This devotional is intended to enhance your Lenten Season by providing a selected scripture passage, followed by a reflection written by a member from one of two church families, First Presbyterian and Dyer Presbyterian. Our hope is that you will find words or phrases that touch your heart and give you perhaps new insights into each of the passages. You might consider writing down your own thoughts on the passage as a keepsake of this holy season. A word of prayer after each day’s reading has been added to help to bring you closer to God and to his Son, Jesus Christ, who came to cleanse us of our sins and to make a place for us with him in eternity.
 
Rev. Paul and the Bible Study Team would like to thank those who took the time to study a passage and share their thoughts with us.
 
In the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
 
 
 
Rev. Paul and the Bible Study Team
          Cathy Moore, Chairperson
          Cathy Hundt
          Carolyn Meinbresse
          Nancy Morosin
          Karen Moore
 
 
March 1 -- Ash Wednesday
Jonah 3:1-4:11
Mary Lee McFarland
 
Jonah knows that God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Yet, Jonah gets mad because of God’s compassion shown toward the evil inhabitants of Nineveh. Jonah had been warning them of coming destruction and they took him seriously, turned from their evil ways, and God did not execute the destruction he had planned. With God, there’s always another chance . . . to do the right thing, heed a warning, follow God’s will.
 
Prayer: Dear Father we ask that you continue to be gracious and merciful to us as we struggle to follow your will and not our own. Amen.
 
 
 
 
March 2
John 1:29-34
Pam Barnett
         
This passage brings to us the introduction of Jesus’ mission to the world. It is also the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s mission. It is a call to us to recognize the gift of salvation and the responsibilities we have in receiving this gift. Knowing who Jesus really is can keep us strong when difficult circumstances may cause us to doubt. 
 
Our Bell Choir has played a piece entitled “The Lamb” a number of times. To me, it is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard or played. We don’t usually sing the words so I’d like to share the first verse:
 
                             “The Lamb, the Lamb, O Father, where’s the sacrifice?
                              Faith sees, believes, God will provide the Lamb of price.
                             Worthy is the Lamb whose death makes me His own!
                             The Lamb is reigning on His throne!”    (Gerald Coleman)
 
 
Prayer: Father, we thank you for sending us “the lamb” and when we doubt, help us to remember whose death has set us free. Amen.
 
 
 
 
March 3
Deuteronomy 7:12-16; Titus 2:1-15; John 1:35-42
Nancy Morosin
 
These three passages remind us of God’s efforts to reach us and have faith that He is who He says He is. In Titus, Paul tells us to teach the sound doctrine that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men. Not some men, but all men. So, what makes us recognize this truth?  Why do we lose sight of this?  Why do we not see the answer right in front of us?
 
I was thinking that it is like those of us who are parents want the best for our children and not only provide them with necessities, but also offer sound advice. When they choose to ignore our wisdom, in spite of repeated efforts on our part, they “learn the hard way” and may miss out on the goodness that could have been theirs.  As frustrating as that is for us, imagine being God and having His children repeatedly failing to grasp His covenant that He will love us and bless us and grant us His grace.
 
As we search our hearts this Lenten season, we can hope that we can see God’s truth and can say along with Andrew, “We have found the Messiah.”
 
 
Prayer: Loving Father, we give you thanks for loving your children and for comforting them when they chose the “hard way”. Keep us always in the light of your truth. Amen.
 
March 4
Deuteronomy 7:17-26; Titus 3:1-15; John 1:43-51
Nancy Morosin
 
In John 1, Nathaniel asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Isn’t this a great line in the Bible that sums up our judgmental attitudes to disparage someone or something that comes from some place we think is undesirable?
 
We of course know that the greatest gift from God came from Nazareth and that God gives His love and mercy to all of us, regardless of where we are or where we came from. Paul’s letter to Titus adds to yesterday’s lesson that we receive the love and kindness of God through no works of our own, but solely by His mercy. It is through the gift of Jesus Christ that we hope for eternal life as heirs to God’s promises.
 
God does not give up on us, no matter where we come from. He has continually extended a hand to us and waits for us to grasp it. Jesus said, “Follow me.” The men who would become His disciples recognized Him as the Messiah. He continues to ask the same of us—that we take His hand and receive His grace.
 
 
Prayer: Father of all, continue to hold your hand out to us as we walk through the trials of this worldly life and give us the faith to hold on tight. Amen.
 
 
March 5
Mark 2:18-22
Pam Barnett
 
To the Pharisees, the fact that Jesus’ disciples weren’t observantly fasting called into question their devotion to the prevailing “Ceremonial” laws. And it wasn’t the only instance of “insurrection” amongst Jesus and his followers, for example, Jesus healing on the Sabbath. 
 
Traditionally, fasting in the scriptures was a sign of disaster or a voluntary abasement. Jesus tells the Pharisees that going without food is the OLD way of doing things. Instead, they should be celebrating, much like guests would celebrate the bridegroom at a wedding by eating the feast set before them. 
 
Our faith should change our life, moving away from “duty” to JOY. That joy is for the good life we have with God through Christ.
 
Prayer:  Dear Father, help us to always come to the table celebrating our Lord and Savior. Amen.
 
 
March 6
Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Mary Page
 
Do not forget your promises to the Lord. Discipline is important and very rewarding. We all must learn it and teach it to our children. Remember, the rewards are the most blessed, highest and most satisfying.
 
Hebrews 2:11-18
 
Jesus was made like his brothers. His sufferings and temptations were obvious to all. His atonement was also visible to mankind. He is our mentor!
John 2:1-12
 
When you volunteer to work or play, give it your all. Jesus made an example of this when he created wine from water for a wedding banquet and it was declared “the best.” His mother had come to him because they ran out of wine.
 
 
Prayer: Father, we do not always keeps our promises to you but we know that when we fail, you are still there for us. For this we give you thanks. Amen.
 
 
 
March 7
Deuteronomy 9:1-12
Mary Lee McFarland
 
The Israelites are about to cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land promised to their ancestors. This would be a dangerous undertaking since the land was held by nations stronger and mightier with large cities, big walls, and strong, tall people. But, the Lord goes before the Israelites to destroy and subdue these people
 
Moses is warning the Israelites not to pat themselves on the back and think that it is because of their righteousness that God is helping them out. The Israelites have been a stubborn, rebellious people ever since their escape from Egypt. God goes before them into the Promised Land because of the evil of the nations that inhabit it – God wants to drive these people out, not reward the Israelites for good behavior. God keeps his promises! In whatever ways we’ve been blessed, we should not think blessing is connected to our behavior. We can never be righteous enough or good enough. Thankfulness for God’s provision should be our perspective – not pats on the back for deserving behavior.  
 
 
Prayer: God of abounding grace, for the ways in which our lives have worked against your purpose, we ask that you pardon us, cleanse us and receive us back again. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 8
Deuteronomy 9:13-21; John 2:23-3:15
Karen Gulliver
 
The message of these passages is related with the entrance of Moses presenting the two tablets of stone and of Jesus telling us how we will be saved. We all know that comparison as we recall what the Ten Commandments said, and what Jesus said about how we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
Moses comes down from the burning mountain holding the two tablets of stone – the Ten Commandments. We also see the comparison as Moses lifts up the bronze snake on a pole to the Son of Man being lifted up to the Father.
 
Jesus tells us that we have to be born again with water and the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. During the Lenten season, we must remember that just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake – Jesus was lifted up into heaven – so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
 
 
Prayer: Father, You lifted your Son up to sit by your side, lift us up as well to live eternally with you. Amen.
 
 
March 9
Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5; Hebrews 4:1-10; John 3:16-21
Karen Highsmith
 
Even when we do not follow or obey God’s law and we sin, Deuteronomy tells us of the blessings and curses and the mighty power extended to us with outstretched arms. Courage to follow the Ten Commandments and forgiveness of our sins with faith, hope and love that we may inherit the kingdom promised in Jesus Christ with everlasting life.  We will rest on the seventh day. Through wisdom, strength and courage, we will follow his ways taught through the Gospel so we might not fall short of the grace of God our Father.
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we also strive to follow your Commandments gaining strength and courage from our faith in you and in your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
 
March 10
Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Bertha Harms
 
When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, it was to remind the people he rescued them because he loved them. He wanted them to walk in his ways and love one another. What God wants is still true today. The choice is ours. Are we doing what God wants?
 
Hebrews 4:11-16
 
God wants us to do his work but he also wants us to rest from our labors in order to pray and restore our belief in him. It is important to do both in God’s Holy Name.
 
John 3:22-36
 
John’s people are confused because Jesus is also baptizing in another place. John explains by telling them he was sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the way and it is God’s Son who must come first.
 
 
Prayer: Father, today as I walk through the hours, help me to find ways to love my fellow man. Amen.
 
 
March 11
John 4:4-26
Stephanie Kinkade
 
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well teaches us that God loves us no matter what has or is happening in our lives. God seeks us and wants us to know him by studying his word through scripture and in conversation with him. This gives us eternal life. 
 
The Samaritan woman at the well realized through speaking with Jesus that she wanted to be cared for when not even her own people cared for her and had outcast her. As Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He offered her the gift of salvation. He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”.    We can receive eternal life by worshiping Him in spirit and truth.
 
One can realize salvation and their desperate need for a spiritual life by obtaining the living water and by spiritually quenching their thirst. They can confess and repent their sins and forgiveness.   The only thing that can satisfy our souls is having a relationship with God. When we follow Jesus, the relationship with God begins. We go to Jesus to satisfy our souls.   We do this by inviting Him to be a part of everything we do and by reading the Bible and praying. Our souls thirst for His word and way.
 
Jesus knows who we are and he cares for us. The woman at the well wasn’t cared for by anyone, the Samaritans had outcast her, but by listening to Jesus the Messiah she realized that Jesus knows all about you, your circumstances and cares for you. He can change your life, too. No matter how much you may have faltered, Jesus still loves you. 
During this time of renewal and rebirth, we can look forward to worshiping God with renewal in spirit and truth.
 
 
Prayer: Loving Father, we invite you into our lives opening our hearts to you and to your word. May we always follow in the footsteps of our Savior. Amen.
 
 
March 12
1 Corinthians 3:11-23
Cathy Moore
 
In Jesus Christ we can find three things: forgiveness for past sins, strength for the present, and hope for the future. Without the foundation of Christ, we can have none of these things.
 
As Thomas Chisholm wrote in his hymn: “…strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow: blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness…”
 
 
Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for the foundation of Christ that through him we have forgiveness for our sins, strength for the present and lasting hope for the future. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 13
John 4:27-42
Linda Eich
 
How absolutely amazing that almost 2,000 years ago a woman who was from a group of people who were shunned by the Jews played such an important role for her people. Women then were considered property; they were not even thought of as second class citizens so it was no wonder that the disciples were astonished that Jesus was speaking with a woman and a Samaritan woman to boot!
 
When the Samaritan woman returned home, she obviously had very compelling testimony for so many from her city to believe in Jesus without ever speaking to Him. Jesus was then invited to stay with the Samaritans (who were considered unclean under Jewish law) which He did for two days. These same “unclean” people believed that Jesus was truly the Messiah even when the so-called holy men of the Temple couldn’t.
 
 
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes and our hearts so that we may know you as our Messiah. Amen!
 
 
March 14
Jeremiah 2:1-13, 29-32
Bertha Harms
 
 
The people of Judah have forgotten all that God did for them in rescuing them. They are now worshipping idols and God sent Jeremiah to remind them of his love and they should return to him. This was not an easy thing to do.
 
We still have to make choices today. Are we doing what God wants?
 
Romans 1:16-25
 
In Rome, Paul stands up for Jews and Gentiles. He says God’s love is for all who have faith and believe and all who are not ashamed of their love for God and his teachings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
John 4:43-54
 
Jesus is not honored in his own country. He leaves there and goes to Galilee where he spreads his word. He heals the son of a royal official in Capernaum. This is the second miraculous sign showing us that he is Jesus, the Son of God.  
 
 
Prayer: Lord, May your Spirit, the Spirit of truth and wisdom and power, help us to use our lives as you would have us use them. Amen.
 
March 15
Romans 1:28-2:11
Cathy Moore
 
In Romans 1:28-32, we read what happens to those who reject God. People bring a judgment on themselves when they leave God out of their lives. There is a long list of dreadful things which follow such rejection.
 
In Romans 2:1-11, Paul is directly addressing the Jews, who always considered themselves in a special privileged position with God. Paul reminds all of us that glory, honor and peace will come to everyone who does good things. There is no favoritism with God.
 
 
Prayer: Lord of all, forgive the arrogance of the strong and the resentment of the weak. Help us to do good things for the glory of your name and not ours. Amen.
 
 
 
March 16
John 5:19-29
Denise Swinehart
 
I didn't really appreciate or connect with these verses until I read the beginning of Chapter 5, so that I saw that this was the response from Jesus to the critics of his healing a man on the Sabbath.
 
He goes over and over why his father GOD has given him this power and authority for healing, judgement, etc. 
 
The gospel writer has inserted several "Truly, truly I say to you..." sentence starters which make this a more poetic and memorable passage.
 
 
Prayer: God of love, make us sensitive to the needs of others and help us to use the gifts you have given us to serve them as Christ served. Amen.
 
 
March 17
John 5:30-47
Karen Moore
 
Jesus is in perfect unity with God.  He cannot act by himself.  Jesus also has four witnesses to prove that he is who he says he is:  God, John the Baptist, the scriptures, and Jesus himself.
 
Unfortunately, many people today still don't accept (and maybe never will accept) Jesus.  It seems as if people today would rather worship and believe in someone who has no proof or witness.  However, there is plenty of proof throughout the Bible on whom Jesus is, as well as the four witnesses mentioned in this passage of scripture. 
 
 
Prayer: Father, help us always to take the time to study your word through the scriptures and give us faith to live by your Word and not the words of this world. Amen.
 
 
 
 
March 18
Romans 3:19-31
Kay Taseff
 
Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. We are saved by faith in Christ and not by the things we do. We need to obey God’s laws. Only when we trust Jesus, can we truly obey him.
 
 
Prayer: Loving Father, help us to trust in you always for the peace, joy and love that all of us are seeking. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
March 19
Mark 5:1-20
Linda Eich
 
Christ cast out two hundred demons from the afflicted man in the tombs. But, are there demons today? Look around you; can you not see people who are hungry, homeless, mentally ill, disenfranchised, lonely, poor, physically ill, powerless, poor in spirit, hopeless, and more? Then how else can we explain that these sufferings exist today?
 
What can we do? We can become more Christ-like in our dealings with those people who are suffering. Our faith and faith statement challenges us to recognize and to take action to rectify these oppressions.
 
 
Prayer: Lord, help us to work to make life better for all our brothers and sisters. Amen!
 
 
March 20
Jeremiah 7:1-15
April Thorne
 
The people of Judah had followed a worship ritual but maintained a sinful lifestyle.  It was religion without commitment to God.
 
It is easy to fall into a ROUTINE of attending church, participating in worship, taking communion and going to bible studies.  So often, once we leave the church doors, all of our other activities and responsibilities take over our lives and consume our time and attention.   Before we know it, God takes a backseat until the next Sunday.
 
 
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to commit our lives to you and carry the presence of God with us throughout the week. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 21
Romans 4:13-25
Craig Meinbresse
 
God’s Promise to Abraham
 
Abraham did not falter through disbelief when regarding God’s promise that he (Abraham) would be the Father of many Nations. It was by Abraham’s Faith, and not the Law, that granted him righteousness in the eyes of God.
 
For those who have Faith in God, who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, will also pass over death and rise to a new life.
 
 
Prayer: Father, we thank you that you have forgiven us for being what we are and that you sent your Son to make a new kingdom in which we will have eternal rest with you. Amen.
 
 
 
 
March 22
Romans 5:1-11
Carolyn Meinbresse
 
God is so absolutely amazing! How can we ever begin to understand his grace? He created a beautiful world for humans where they walked among the holy and all they had to do was to stay away from one tree and its fruit. Sadly, it did not take long for humans to fall to temptation. And, once fallen prey to sin, disappoint him time and time again, straying from the path of goodness. Don’t you wonder that even with our sinful humanness, he created a way for us to be forgiven so that one day, we will return to that place of wonder, love and beauty? But to do this, he had to sacrifice his Son. He sent his son, Jesus, not only to save those who worked to live a sinless life, but to save all mankind from the smallest sinner to the biggest sinner. 
 
Even more wonderful is that all we have to do to be “justified by his blood” is to proclaim our faith in him and in his Son. I do not know your mind or hearts but I know that my mind and my heart belong to the Lord and I pray that when he calls me home, I will be embraced within the warmth of his love, forgiven for my sins and once more a sinless soul.
 
 
Read the words of one of my favorite hymns:
 
1 Alas! And did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I!

2 Was it for sins that I have done
he suffered on the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

3 Well might the sun in darkness hide
and shut its glories in,
when Christ, the great Redeemer, died
for human creatures' sin.

4 But drops of grief can ne'er repay
the debt of love I owe;
here, Lord, I give myself away;
'tis all that I can do.
 
 
Prayer: Father, we thank you for your amazing grace in sending your Son, Christ our Savior, so that we may be washed clean of our sins. Help us to resist evil temptations and to walk each day with you. Amen.
 
 
 
 
March 23
John 8:21-32
Beverly Binder
 
 But, it only confuses the people because he says that he is going away and they will not be able to follow him. After these rather confusing and shocking statements, Jesus tell them that he that he is speaking not for himself, but the words God, his Father, has instructed him to say. They seem to have missed everything that Jesus has said about God being his Father. They’re not ready to accept that Jesus is the unique, special, one and only, Son of God. In this 8th chapter of John, he clears up a lot about the relationship between the Father and the Son. 
 
 Lord of love, for all that you have given us in the past, for your unbroken fellowship with us, for all that you are revealing to us in our own time, for all the splendor as yet unrevealed for us and, above all, for the proclamation of your truth in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus our Lord, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.
March 24
Romans 6:1-11
Craig Meinbresse
 
Do Not Let Sin Rule Your Life
 
We, who have been baptized into Jesus Christ, were also baptized into his Death. We have become similar to Christ in his death and will also be similar to Him in His resurrection.
 
Christ died to end sin once and for ever and the life He now lives is to God the Father.
 
We can now consider ourselves dead from sin but alive to Christ. We also can look forward to living a new life.
 
 
Prayer: Father of us all, you have given us the gift of life itself through the baptism of Christ’s death. May we remain ever faithful to his name. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 25
Richard Binder
 
Very simply put, we cannot be slaves to both sin and righteousness. If we have professed to be under God’s laws, then we must and should be obedient and not give in to the temptations of sinning. We cannot think that since Jesus died for our sins we don’t need to worry about sinning again – for whatever we do, we will be forgiven. In living our lives, we need to ask for strength and courage to be diligent against wrong doing so we can find eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice.
 
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to be diligent against the temptations of sin and forgive us when we fall victim to their lure. Amen.
 
 
March 26
John 6:1-15
Carolyn Meinbresse
 
Remember the old saying “What’s in your basket?” We know that from the disciples view, Jesus was asking them to do something totally impossible – feeding 5,000 with what! They had not money and they certainly could not run down to the local market so how could they find food for such a crowd. Hasn’t this happened to you? Faced with a huge problem, you go down all the known paths and once you have exhausted all you know you simply give up? Just like the disciples. Oh, but with faith, we can turn these huge problems over to the one that can work miracles in our lives. We can pray and then listen for God to give us help and direction. 
 
There is a second dimension to look at – there was a boy in the crowd who had prepared himself. He had a basket with five loaves and two fish and he both eager and willing to hand it all over to Jesus. You see, it doesn’t matter how much or how little we have, if we turn it over to be used by God, it will be worth so much more. If we turn over our gifts to him, great things will happen in our lives. We will be able to better serve others as Christ has asked us to do. Do everything in a celebration of God’s presence in our lives and include him in all of our endeavors. Life will be richer, you’ll see!
 
 
Prayer: God of grace, help us to use the gift you gave us wisely for the good of all mankind. Help us to learn to turn our troubles over to you and then to listen for your direction. Amen.
 
March 27
John 6:1-15
April Thorne

What impossible things has Jesus placed before you? 
 
We live in economically troubling times.  He asks us to face the future without worry about money, without being consumed with financial plans or with making that penny stretch. 
 
When faced with pain, illness or disease, he asks us to bear it patiently. When faced with the loss of a dear friend or loved one, he asks us to persevere. When insulted or mistreated, he asks us to return kindness.  When wronged, he asks us to forgive.
 
Jesus teaches us that no matter how little we have (even if it was just 5 loaves and 2 fish), we have all that we need if we have him.
 
When faced with the impossible, entrust it to Jesus.  Pray, "I can't, Jesus, but you can.  I trust You to work Your way in me.  I won't refuse where You lead.  I will listen and follow though I don't see or understand the outcome.  Your way, dear Lord, not mine. Your will be done, not mine."
 
 
Prayer: Dear Lord, may I always choose your way and not my own; may I always listen with an open mind and heart and may I always follow where you lead. Amen.
 
 
March 28
Jeremiah 17:19-27
Mary Jo Neely
 
As I read this scripture, Jeremiah 17: 19-27, I realized even though our world is constantly changing, along with the people in it, the message will always remain the same!
 
Jesus asks us to observe the Sabbath as a holy day, to hear the word of the Lord and to rest on this day doing no hard labor.  He asks us not to bring any misunderstandings or grudges against our friends and/or neighbors with us on this day.
 
 
 
Of course, this is not always an easy task.  We certainly attempt to carry out this message, but we are not always successful!  Yet, we will not give up, we will continue doing our best and this is all the Lord asks from us.
 
In doing so, when our time has ended here on earth, may we be rewarded with eternal life as Jesus has promised.
 
 
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the hope we have of your kingdom, and for the privilege that is ours in being part of Christ’s body, the Church.  Amen.
 
 
March 29
Romans 8:1-11
Mary Lynn Wallace
 
There is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ Jesus. God has done what no man could do. He sent his own Son in likeness of sinful flesh in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
 
Essentially what I think it is saying is if you take in Christ’s spirit and even if you are sinful, Christ is in us and he died to save us.
 
 
Prayer: Father, bring us safely to our destiny, by whatever paths you know in your wisdom to be right and necessary for us and when our time is over, guide us home to live eternally with you. Amen.
 
 
 
March 30
John 6:41-52
Katy Quin
 
The Jews complained about the words, “I am the bread which has come down from heaven.” Jesus did not describe himself as the bread which has come down from heaven, but only as “the bread of life.” John is proclaiming the Christ of faith, more than the Jesus of history. That is, he is proclaiming what we believe about Jesus more than of Jesus.
 
The Jews did not understand where he came from. The Jews understand his origins to have been from Joseph and Mary. Others see him as only coming from Nazareth. These are people who have an improper or inadequate faith.
 
Jesus indicates that Jesus has been sent by God that he is “from God” and that he has come down from heaven. These are elements of proper faith. For John, that is a central theme in his sermon.
 
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to remember always that when we take the bread and wine we are celebrating the gift you have given us of the risen Lord! Amen.
 
 
March 31
John 6:52-59
Jim Hundt
 
John 6:52-59 said to me that the Jews did not know about the meaning of the communion table: food and drink. So they had to be taught what was meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
 
 
Prayer: Loving Father, as we enter into Communion each week, may our hearts be touched with the love it took for your Son to willingly lay down his life for our sins. Amen.
 
April 1
Jeremiah 23:9-15
Evelyn Elliott
 
Jeremiah is heartbroken over the devastation brought on his people and his homeland by the lies and false teachings of the prophets. Because of the sinful behavior/example of the prophets, the people have turned away from God and have followed them into paths of sin and wickedness. God is angered by not only the prophets but that they have led their followers astray. God promises to punish them and holds them responsible for the “ungodliness” that has spread throughout the land.
 
Prayer: Look on us with forgiveness, O Father, as we confess our shortcomings and sins: how prone we are to evil, how slow to do good, how easily deceived by the values of this world, how easily led astray by self-indulgence and how slow we are to blame ourselves. Amen
 
April 2
It must have been very difficult to tell his disciples and followers that in order to save us, he had to suffer greatly, facing humiliation and rejection. Even thinking about it, knowing that you would have to go through such a horrible death, would make the strongest man weak. Harder still would be having one of your best friends get in your face about what you were doing, like Peter did to Jesus. But, of course, Jesus just rebuked Satan and not Peter saying that he was not talking about the things of this earth but of things above and beyond human understanding.
 
Finally, Jesus instructs them to “take up the cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it.” These are not unfamiliar words but one that we may tend to forget more than we remember. To follow Christ, we need to reject the world, we need to be servants and not served and we need to love one another as he loved us.
 
 
Prayer: Father, help us to serve each other with glad hearts, to love one another as we love ourselves and to walk humbly in the ways of our Savior. Amen.
 
 
April 3
John 9:1-17
Cathy Hundt
 
This scripture reading is about the blind beggar gaining his sight from Jesus. There were many people who believed the miracle and others who did not. The blind beggar assured everyone that he was the same person. The saying “seeing is believing” strikes a chord here. Many of the people who did not believe it was the same man would probably have to have seen the miracle happen to believe. 
 
When we pray, we believe through faith. Sometimes, we don’t physically see the change we are praying for, but we feel it in our heart and mind and soul.
 
This miracle performed on the blind beggar was done on a Sabbath day. This confused the Pharisees as it is a sacred day of rest. This did not matter to Jesus as he saw it as a way to open the eyes of many to the love of God.
 
Prayer: Our Father, even when we do not see give us the faith to believe that your word is the truth, the way and the life. Amen.
April 4
Jim Shimek
 
This scripture relays the story of the blind man who had his sight restored by Jesus. And even though he verified such to the Jews, they did not believe him. They did not want to believe in Jesus and that he was the Son of God. Our blind man though, he believed and never wavered from his story – that’s my story, Pharisees, and I am sticking to it.
 
How hard it is for us to believe in miracles. How many of us are guilty of “spiritual blindness?” Even those of us who study the scriptures, go to church, worship and pray, sometimes find it hard to keep our faith. I just love Jesus’ response to the Pharisees when they ask him “Surely we are not blind, are we?” and he answers, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
 
We as Christians have seen so we must keep away from sin – fight temptation so that we may be delivered from evil. Listen to the words from the second verse of the hymn “O God of Every Nation”:
 
From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night,
from pride of race and station and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation, eternal God, we pray.
 
 
Prayer: Loving Father, keep ever before our eyes the vision of Jesus and his love and mercy, his fearless courage, his firm assurance and faith and his purity and truth. Amen.
 
 
April 5
John 10:1-18
Jim Hundt
 
This scripture said to me, we as sheep go to the gate. If we know His voice, we can enter. Inside the gate, we are saved because Jesus is the gate and once we know His voice and enter through the gate, we are save for good.
 
Prayer: Lord of all, we ask that you open our ears so that we can learn your voice and on hearing your words, follow where you lead. Amen.
 
 
 
 
April 6
John 10:19-42
Virginia Tennant
 
As we look at the Gospel of John during another Lenten Season, we are reminded of how some of the people around Jesus admonished him for what they described as “blasphemy”… How dare he say that he is God!
 
It was then that Jesus advised them to look closely at the WORK that he was doing. This should prove that he is the son of the Father. He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.
 
We would do well to remember this passage today. How often we may see the Father in the good and loving actions of people that are around us. It is at times such as this that we truly know and believe who Jesus was. Through such acts of concern and kindness we see that we are blessed by a loving Father.
 
 
Prayer: Father, increase our faith that we may find our true confidence in thee who never changes, increase our hope that we may never be daunted, nor doubt the victory of your kingdom and increase our love that we may ever seek to overcome evil with good through Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
April 7
John 11:1-27
John Tennant
 
 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”   (John 11:25-26)
 
This story of Lazarus is power and poignant. It is from this story that we see the emotions of Jesus displayed as we are told “Jesus wept” when he arrived in Bethany and was confronted by the mourners and his dead friend Lazarus. Jesus has already made the great declaration about his resurrection and life and the promise that held for those who believe. But that knowledge did not preclude an emotional response in the face of death and mourning. The pain of death is not eliminated in the promise of resurrection.
 
 
 
The promise of faith is not a removal from the pain and suffering of the world around us. It is the promise that as we go through the pain and suffering, the joys and triumphs of this life, we are not alone. We have One who will stand with us and weep as weep, join us in our sorrow and celebrate with us in our triumphs. The ultimate promise is that this world with all its suffering and death will be transformed in the resurrection of the dead and coming Kingdom.   Then the victory will be won and death will be no more. And in that kingdom there will be no more weeping, crying, or pain. Do you believe this?
 
 
Prayer: Dear Father, as we walk through the valley of pain and suffering help us to fear no evil; restore our soul and lead us in the paths of righteousness. Amen.
 
 
 
 
April 8
John 12:37-50
Gordon Bolt
 
In verse 42, we read that many of the Jewish leaders believed in Jesus but would not admit it because of their fear of being put out of the synagogue. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Do we at times fall into that same trap? Do we not speak up for Jesus because we are afraid of what people will think or say? It is easier to say nothing. We are afraid that we will be vilified because we are Christians. Our heart and mind tell us to speak up but fear takes over and we miss an opportunity to share our faith in Christ.
 
Let us make a diligent effort in the coming weeks to speak up for Jesus when the
opportunity arises.
 
 
Prayer: Eternal God and Father, you create us by your power and redeem us by your love: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves in love and service to one another and to you with our heads held high; in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
April 9  -- Palm Sunday
1 Timothy 6:12-16
Bob Shoemaker
 
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
 
We have all been given the gift of forgiveness (salvation) by our Savior Jesus Christ. We are called to respond to that gift with good deeds toward others. There are many ways to respond.  Let me mention some of them.
 
“Feed the Flock”, “Visiting, or sending a card to the sick or the elderly”, “Giving gifts of remembrance for no reason”, “A meal in a bag to the Food Pantry”, or “A delivery of a meal as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels”.
 
Remember, we are called by Jesus, our Savior who gave his all to be “Rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share.”
 
 
Prayer: Father, your love reaches out to all mankind, and you have commanded us to follow your Son our Savior. We ask that you give us grace to do your will, and to share in the Church’s mission to proclaim the gospel of your love to all the world through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
April 10 -- Holy Week
John 12:9-19
April Shoemaker
 
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him.
 
Besides giving himself to become our savior, Jesus performed many miracles. He calls on us to be a part of his miracles by leading a “good” life as best we can and doing good deeds in his name. By doing so we can be a “Light on a hill” to others causing them to want what we have. Possibly they may open their hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit and be saved. What joy we will have by being a part (small though it may be) of guiding even one person to a relationship with Jesus.
 
Prayer: Dear God, help us to continually seek a deeper relationship with you each day and guide us to that one person who is looking for a power greater than this earth to heal their sin-sick soul. Amen.
 
 
April 11  -- Holy Week
John 12:20-26
Bobbie Bolt
 
I sometimes wonder how the Church in Jerusalem and beyond grew so quickly. I know the disciples preached to many and Jesus had a wonderful ministry, but without phones and emails the growth was phenomenal. In this scripture passage many crowds have come to see Jesus because of the miracle of Lazarus. Many more came because it was the time of the Passover.
 
Jesus had just recently entered Jerusalem on a donkey to the praise of the multitudes. Jesus knows his time to die is very near. He tells the people that the time has come when he will be gloried and states that a kernel of wheat must fall into the ground and die before it will grow up again and bear many seeds. As Jesus died, so must we die to the world. We must give up our life for Christ, dying to the world so that we can live eternally. Jesus as Christ arose, and so shall we. What a glorious promise.
 
 
Prayer: O God, we come before you with the many blessings that you have bestowed upon us. Accept them as in Christ your accept us. Use what we bring, so that others can shout, “Hosanna, Christ reigns!” Amen.
 
 
April 12   -- Holy Week
John 12:27-36
Rev. Paul Anderson
 
 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name.” (John 12:27)
 
The gospel accounts make the point that the mission of Jesus has always be pointing to this end, to be delivered into the hands of sinful men and suffer the ignominious death on the cross. The week arrived with great fanfare as Jesus was welcomed into the Holy City, riding on the donkey, a sign of victory only to become painfully aware that the tide was turning against him. It appeared that hostile forces were being arrayed against him and if he did not flee his life was endangered. It would be most natural for him to appeal to God and ask to be spared from the great ordeal.
 
But that would not work. Jesus said, “For this purpose I have come to this hour.” Jesus was not stumbling into this hour, or ending up in this situation as the result of bad political advice or unfortunate timing. It was the purpose of his life, the end of his mission, and the goal of his coming. The forces of evil that had plagued the world, the sin which enslaved humanity, and all that was antithetical to rule and reign in the kingdom of God had to be dealt with and overcome. The hour had now come for this great confrontation and Jesus rather than shrink from it or be spared chose to embrace his mission and face the reality of redemptive suffering and death. It is in that suffering that the victory was won, the victory for us and the world.
 
Prayer: Father, you give us tongues to speak comforting words to those who are weary. Each morning you awaken us to the words of new life. Open our ears that we may hear of your redemption; open our lips that we may confess Christ as the source of all righteousness and faith. Amen.
 
April 13  -- Maundy Thursday
1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32
Rev. Paul Anderson
 
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
 
On this day, Holy Thursday, during the last week of Jesus’ life, he gathered the Twelve in an upper room and broke bread in a covenant meal that would be done from then on “in remembrance of me.” Paul tells the Corinthians that the cup that is blessed and the bread that is broken is a participatory event. Partaking of the cup is participation in the blood of Christ; the sacrificial blood of the lamb slaughtered to take away the sins of the world. The bread that was broken, distributed and eaten as a participation in the body of Christ; the body broken in death for the redemption and salvation of the world. 
This meal, which now we call the Holy Eucharist or Communion, is not ancient history that we remember by some kind of symbolic recall (something like a reenactment of a Civil War battle or other historical event.) It is something we participate in by doing now, by taking bread and eating it, by taking the cup and drinking it, as a participation in the great historical event of Christ’s suffering and death. The whole of our senses, sight, touch, smell and taste, as well as our mind, are involved as we participate in this holy meal. It is not to be eaten casually or irreverently, but with a somber awareness of the gift given and the sacrifice made by Christ, remembered in the meal, and through which we participate in the grace of God offered to us in Jesus Christ.
 
Prayer: O God our creator and redeemer, in your wisdom, you made all things and sustain them with your power. In your mercy, you did not reject us but claimed us as your own. You sent your Son to be the way to eternal life. Therefore, we join our voices in praising you with all the faithful of every time and place who forever sing to the glory of your name. Amen.
 
 
April 14  -- Good Friday
1 Peter 1:10-20
Rev. Paul Anderson
 
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
 
The central premise of the Christian faith is that God has done something wonderful for us in Jesus Christ; something that we could not do for ourselves and something that had a great price. Through the centuries theologians and bible scholars have reflected on the meaning of this day and the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. These theories of the atonement, as they are called, have caused fierce debate among the faithful with the validity and acceptance of one’s faith dependent on holding to the proper theory. But the cross of the Christ, at its heart, is a divine mystery; something that lies beyond our ability to analyze, rationalize or fully comprehend. It is best accepted by faith, trusting in the work of a good and gracious God, who loved us and the world so much that he “gave his only-begotten Son so that whoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.” On this most holy day, may we remember with Peter the ransom paid for our empty, sinful life, by the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, and life.
 
 
Prayer: Father God, we know that whoever is in Christ is a new creation – the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All of this from you, Father, who through Christ reconciled us and gave us the ministry of reconciliation and in his name we come asking for forgiveness. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
April 15  –  The Great Vigil of Easter
Hebrews 4:1-16
Rev. Paul Anderson
 
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.   (Hebrews 4:14-16)
 
The role of the priest was to stand in the place of the people and represent them before a holy God. The priest was to be set apart, that is made holy, by his life and actions. He was not to be like everyone else, engaged in common activities and doing the things that common people do. The priest followed a prescribed ritual, according to the instructions (Torah) of God, so that he would not be common but holy and enabled to stand before God. However, the priest, no matter how ritualistically separated from the rest could not overcome his flawed humanity. In other words, the commonness remained and the holiness was incomplete.
 
But now in Christ we have a great High Priest who proving his faithfulness to the end by enduring the suffering and pain of the cross stands as our priest before God, interceding and representing us before God. What was incomplete and insufficient has become for us, “by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, forthe sins of the whole world.” We approach the holy throne of God, with confidence, because our great High Priest has gone before us; there we receive mercy and find grace.
 
 
Prayer: God of amazing grace, having called us in Christ, send forth your Spirt to watch over the course of our journey. May what we do be cause for rejoicing, and who we are reflect the radiance and glory of your promise and hope. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
April 16 – EASTER
Luke 24:13-35
Rev. Paul Anderson
 
They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Luke 24:23
 
One of the problems for us when we look at an historical event is that we know what happens afterwards. This leads to a feeling of inevitability; all the things that took place following the event were inevitable and we cannot imagine a very different situation unfolding. So, in light of this, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its impact on those of his closest followers has an air of inevitability. But the reality was very different.
The gospels clearly indicate that the Twelve and others were completely befuddled by the crucifixion and its impact. They were behind locked doors out of fear that what happened to Jesus would happen to them. They were terrified, confused, disappointed and heart-broken. The One they loved had been taken from them.
 
But, then the news came, from the women who had gone to the tomb, that Jesus was alive. The tomb was empty and they had been told that Jesus had risen! They were still befuddled, confused and in a state of disbelief. “Could it really be true?” And, “if it is true what does it mean for us?” They would be convinced beyond any doubt that it was true, Jesus was raised from the dead and was alive forevermore. They would then begin to realize all that it meant; it was the dawn of a new day and everything would be done. In a very real way, the kingdom had come, the Messiah reigned, and death no longer held sway. Upon reflection, it was not inevitable and no one could have imagined the incredible gospel/good news that emerged from the events of Friday. But that gospel and the power of his resurrection changed the world.
 
Christ is risen! The victory is won! Let the celebration begin! Alleluia!
 
Prayer: God of salvation, you have rolled the stone away and the tomb is empty. Nothing can defeat your love for humankind. The night is passed and with dawn comes new creation; Christ is risen to being us new life. We herald with gladness your anointing of Jesus and rejoice in your promised redemption from sin. Hear our shouts of glad adoration as we enter the courtyard of your redeeming love. Amen.