We are glad you are joining us as we journey toward the death, burial, and resurection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each of these Lenten devotions were written by a church member. The scriptures are taken from the day’s reading in our 2 Year Bible Reading Plan.
 
All Bible quotations, unless otherwise marked, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Subsequent quotations marked ESV.

 

March 16 – Devotion

Date: March 16, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 68

Blessed be the Lord,
    who daily bears us up;
    God is our salvation. (Ps. 68:19, ESV)

As a young college graduate in the summer of 1983, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Uganda for a two-month mission trip. Deciding what to pack (and how) was quite a challenge! Needless to say, walking through several crowded airports with two large, full suitcases was an interesting experience. It gave new meaning to the term burden.

We often go through life carrying many heavy burdens. Many of us are overwhelmed with stresses such as worry, anxiety, grief, anger, jealousy, resentment, or heartache. Today’s scripture expresses the beautiful truth that God daily bears our burdens. He desires to daily take our burdens and to replace them with his benefits.

It’s interesting to note that God’s benefits to us are not few or light, but they are “loads.” The King James Version of this verse reads, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (KJV). His benefits are not just every now and then, but they are daily. His benefits are not just for a few of his children, but are for all of us who call upon Him. God daily and fully supplies us with what we need.

This scripture reminds us that God wants to take the overwhelming burdens that we carry and to replace them with loads of His goodness—joy, peace, rest, grace, mercy, love, and salvation!

Prayer for the Journey: Thank the Lord today for the ways in which He daily bears our burdens. Be reminded that in releasing the stresses and worries, we allow God to replace them with His blessings and benefits. Thank Him for daily and fully supplying us with all that we need. Blessed be the Lord!

Prepared by: Shelia Stanford



March 15 – Devotion

Date: March 15, 2017

Scripture: Ezekiel 34

“And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people,” declares the Lord God. “And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God.” (Eze. 34:30-31, ESV)

The shepherds, or leaders, of the exiled people of Israel were focused on their own self-interests. They ate the fat, clothed themselves in wool, and did not feed the sheep. The shepherds did not strengthen the sick and weak sheep.They did not seek out the strayed. Because of the shepherds’ selfishness, the sheep were scattered, hungry, and abandoned.

Whoa. That’s depressing. The sheep were lacking guidance, provision, and security. And what’s worse is that they were then scattered from one another with “none to search or seek for them” (v. 6, ESV)!

Verses 11 and 14-16 say:

For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out… I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down,” declares the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak. The fat and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

The Lord sought out His sheep that had been scattered and brought them back home to Israel. He would judge the sheep: those that pleased Him He would keep secure and bless them. The other, self-interested lot who are unconcerned about others would be judged.

The same is true for us today. The Lord God seeks us out. He provides for us in abundance, He protects us with His great might, He gives us rest in the joy of salvation—salvation in Christ Jesus. John includes in chapter 10 of his gospel Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep… I know my own and my own know me” (v. 11,14). The shepherds in Ezekiel 34 are selfish and have abandoned their sheep for their own personal benefit. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. He is the Good Shepherd. We are Jesus’ sheep.

In addition to being sheep, since we as Christians are called to live like Christ, we are challenged to be a “shepherd” to others. Whether in the workplace, church, school, or home, we have a responsibility to love as Christ so willingly loves. This is the role of the Church in the world: to encourage the brokenhearted, befriend the lost and forgotten, pray for our enemies, and love the unlovable. We do this joyfully, of course, because God first loved and shepherded us.

Prayer for the Journey: “Heavenly Father, thank You for being my shepherd. Thank You for seeking me and for giving me peace and Your love. Today, help me actively love others sacrificially just as Christ unconditionally loves me.”

Prepared by: Grace Pratt



March 14 – Devotion

Date: March 14, 2017

Scripture: Ezekiel 33

So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. (Eze. 33:7, ESV)

What do you think of when you hear the word watchman? Do you picture an officer surveying the yard from a tower above the prison? Do you imagine a sailor carefully searching for icebergs perched in the crow’s nest? Do you see a security guard patrolling around a college campus? Despite what you may imagine, watchmen share one thing in common. Watchmen are entrusted with something—whether it is the security of a prison or the safety of a ship or a campus. Watchmen keep watch because they have a responsibility.

Ezekiel’s responsibility was the nation of Israel. Judgment had come and was coming after years of idolatry and not obeying the Lord’s command. God gave Ezekiel a job. He was to address both the exiles and people left in Judah of the judgment coming—the fall of Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 33, the Lord reaffirms Ezekiel’s responsibility to Israel as the “watchman of Israel.” That is quite a responsibility! “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (33:7). These passages show us the seriousness of Ezekiel’s call.

Has the Lord entrusted you with something? Yes! Everyone who follows Christ has been entrusted with the gospel. We are responsible for sharing the gospel and teaching others how to obey God and turn from sin. It is easy to justify not sharing and making disciples of others because we assign that job to someone else. God has entrusted ALL of us with a task: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:19-20, ESV). The question remains—will you be a watchman for those around you?

Prayer for today: Lord, thank you for entrusting me with the gospel. Help me to take advantage of the opportunities to share this week. Make me aware of ways I can be making disciples in my city.

Prepared by: Christy Dawson



March 13 – Devotion

Date: March 13, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 65

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. Psalm 65:9

It’s always been easy for me to stop and see the beauty in God’s creation. At my age, it can be easy to appreciate the good things in life if you don’t have anything to worry about, and up to this point I haven’t truly had many things to “worry” about. My grades are important and the people in my life are important, but I wouldn’t say I deal with worry. I would say I deal with being a busy-body. I selfishly keep myself occupied so that I won’t have to deal with thinking too deeply.


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March 12 – Devotion

Date: March 12, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 64

Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
  and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!

Ps. 64:10

The psalmist David pours out his heart to God in Psalm 64. He recognizes the magnitude of his enemies: the “throng of evildoers” “who whet their tongues like swords,” “shooting from ambush at the blameless” and will “hold fast to their evil purpose” (vv. 2-5). Their wits and words often become weapons to do their evil intent.


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March 11 – Devotion

Date: March 11

Scripture: Ezekiel 28

All who know you among the peoples
    are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever. (Ezek. 28:19)

Ezekiel 28 is a harsh passage, but valuable and instructive for all of us. The passage begins by describing the heart arrogance and rich physical magnificence of the King of Tyre. Careful details convey how rich and powerful he was, with amassed silver and gold in treasuries. His skills in trading made his coastal kingdom famous for trading in rich goods with the nations. Ezekiel was used by God to deliver a message to the King of Tyre (and his city) about how his world would change. He would be brought down “to the pit” (v. 8) and would “die a violent death” (v. 8).

The horror of his predicted death contrasts most shockingly with his former glory. “You were the signet of perfection,/full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (v. 12,ESV). He was adorned with jewels (v. 13, ESV), and, even more: “You were blameless in your ways/from the day you were created/till unrighteousness was found in you” (v. 15, ESV). Like Adam in Eden, the King of Tyre had everything. He was once a holy figure who lost favor in God’s eyes.

Because of the king’s unrighteousness, God was about to take his whole kingdom and riches away by an invasion of a foreign force. The King had started to believe and lead his people to believe that he was a god. He began to believe he was in control over everything and that he brought riches and prosperity to his kingdom.

At points in our lives, everything can seem to be going extremely well. Perhaps your job is good, and your family and relationships with friends are going stronger than ever. Your health is good, and it seems like you don’t have a worry in the world. You feel you can sit back and just look at what it seems that you yourself have done. I’m guilty of it, of believing that I had control over what was going on in my life and believing I was the one that brought all this greatness into my life. Then just as he prophesied to the King of Tyre, God sent something into my life that humbled me and made me look to him. As Christians we recognize that God is behind anything good we do. God is in control of everything. Even those small things we think are up to us to take care of, God gives us the power to do. Our lesson is to look to the Lord in thankfulness, then, in the good times and bad.

“Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. Painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” ― Rick Warren

Prepared by: Nathan Walker



March 10 – Devotion

Date: March 10

Scripture: Psalm 62

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2, ESV

Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.

Psalm 62:11-12, ESV

Psalm 62 was probably penned by David, but it could be written today by any Christian who has placed his or her complete trust in the Lord. As Christians, we know the personal comfort and hope that rests in God alone. As verse 7 states, “On God rests my salvation and my glory;/my mighty rock, my refuge is God” (ESV).


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March 9 – Devotion

Date: March 9, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 61

 Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
 from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint. (Ps. 61:1-2, ESV)

Do you ever feel overwhelmed or overcome by life—by the daily tasks, others’ expectations, or even the best of intentions? In verse 2, David cries out from “the ends of the earth” with a faint heart. This is a spiritual experience that we can share from any location of geography or time. We are there when we feel that we are far from God’s attention and help. What an agonizing call—for God’s protection, provision, and favor.


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March 8 – Devotion

Date: March 8, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 60

In 2 Samuel 7:9-10, God says to David, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel.

And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” In 2 Samuel 8, we are given an account of great victories that David won over the Philistines, Moabites, and Edomites. 


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March 7 – Devotion

Date: March 7, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 59

O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.(Psalm 59:17, ESV)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where terrible, hurtful things were said to or about you? Or have you found yourself in a situation where there were those who may have wanted to physically harm you? Have you heard the phrase, “You reap what you sow?” These two ideas are linked in my mind.


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