the book as a PDF - Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church

Photography by Becky Tolbert
Lenten Devotional
February 18, 2015
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and
whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
2 Corinthians 9:10
There is nothing sweeter than the face of a child, and I have found
children in India no exception. During our recent mission trip to India,
our team taught the children’s version of Christian to the Core. This
program is designed to teach children what it means to be a Christian
and how to live out their faith.
In Patna, India, our teaching started with children in an after-school
tutoring program. The audience was 70% Hindu and non-English
speaking. While the Bible stories, games, and songs seemed well
received by the children, we were not sure what was being absorbed.
Luckily, God controls how these seeds of faith are received. Even
knowing this, it was hard not to question if our sharing was effective.
The local Christian pastors there reminded us that the key to India’s
Christian revolution is to teach the children.
The next location for our program was a Christian orphanage run
by missionaries from Romania and Korea. God has his hand on these
children, and their Bible knowledge and faith is very strong. One of
the first subjects in our program is to understand our identity in Christ.
Each of the children is given a sheet of plain white paper with a squiggly
line on it. The objective is to create a picture using the line. The different
pictures are then shared, and we use them to teach that God created
each of us uniquely. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The children in the orphanage ran to their rooms for pencils. We were
floored by what they drew. One of my favorite pictures is on the left.
Drawn by an eight-year-old boy, there is a hill with a cross. I asked him
who the person was in the front of the picture. He said, “That is Jesus
alive.” I was awed by God in that moment. Yes, without the part where
Jesus became alive again, we would not have salvation. This Easter
message was shared by a young Indian boy who has very little, by
worldly standards, but has huge faith. He is alive!
Becky Tolbert
Lenten Devotional
February 19, 2015
“…I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom
of God unless he is born again.”
John 3:3
How many times have I, have we, read that Bible verse? I never really fully
grasped the meaning of the verse until I was reborn as a follower of Jesus.
My rebirth did not come as a thunder clap. It started on a mountaintop
in Kenya. I was part of a mission team six years ago. We were completing
our trip, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. While the team was
standing together, I was patting myself on the back thinking what a
wonderful thing I had done.
Well, God smacked me upside my head and reminded me in clear
undeniable English that I really didn’t do this trip on my own. He also
told me, again very clearly, that He was not done with me.
I look back on that day and realize that is when my rebirth started.
Rebirth is very significant to me. Up until six years ago, if anyone started
talking about being born again, I would not have walked away, I would
have run! Starting on that mountaintop in Kenya, God has placed incredible
people in my path. People who had been born anew. People who showed
me what it means to be born again in Christ Jesus. People who through
their actions hold me accountable for mine. Thank God for rebirth!
Dear God, thank you for your son Jesus, our Rock and our
Redeemer. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for rebirth.
Ben Hornsby
Lenten Devotional
February 20, 2015
Luke 18:9-14
(The Pharisee and the Tax Collector)
What is the difference between being “righteous” and being “self-righteous?”
That’s the discussion some first, second, and third graders were having
after having read the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
“The Pharisee raised his arms high and said ‘I thank you, God, that I am
not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t
commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a
week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’”
“The Tax Collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes
to heaven as he prayed (emphasis mine). Instead, he beat his chest in
sorrow, saying, ‘Oh God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’”
“Jesus then says: ‘I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home
justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’”
As I prepare myself during Lent, am I being “righteous” or “self-righteous?”
Am I allowing God to take control of my life, or am I trying to control
everything in my life? Do I humble myself, or am I boastful about my
accomplishments or am I a complainer (to my friends and family) about
my shortcomings? Is it all about me, or is it all about Him?
Each and every day I have to prepare myself to be humble and to ask
God to guide me. Each day I have to prepare myself by reading His Word
and talking with Him so that I can respond willingly. If I respond with a
“yes” to His requests for my life, amazing things happen! If I ask God to
help speak through me in a lesson I might give in Catechesis, the Holy
Spirit shows up and engages the kids in amazing discussions! It’s not me;
it’s Him. If I let God take control of events in my life, things happen that I
would never even think of, and even more people are blessed!
During Lent, I want to remember to continually prepare myself for the
Kingdom of Heaven by listening to Him, by responding with a “yes,” and
by giving Him all the glory. That’s all He asks of us. It’s not about me; it’s
about Him.
Lord, as I start a new day, let me pay attention to all the
things you want me to know and do. Give me the courage
to do those things you ask of me. During this season of
preparation we call Lent, let me not boast about my own
accomplishments but give You the praise for using me for
your glory! Amen.
Betsy Brown
Lenten Devotional
February 21, 2015
“Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say rejoice.”
Philippians 4:4 “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and
be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
“We can complain because roses have thorns, or rejoice
because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln
I want to start by clarifying something. We hear this word rejoice all the
time, and I want to make sure everyone knows what it means. Rejoice
means to feel happy or glad for something. I found this definition on
Urban Dictionary, which is a modern dictionary of what words mean.
The first time I really realized what this word meant was when I was on
a mission trip in Belize. When we got to Belize, we found out that we
would be working with children in the villages. So that meant we were
supposed to play, worship, pray, and just hang out with these amazing
children. The first night we got to the village, we went to a service with
the children of this amazing village. We started by worshipping, and at
that moment you could feel the Holy Spirit moving. You saw the Holy
Spirit working through the children because they rejoiced in the Lord’s
name when they had nothing. As the week went on, we got to know
some of the children who we were working with, and we were able
to see how they lived. These children had nothing compared to our
community, but they were glad and happy and ready to rejoice
whenever they walked into the church.
So often, we forget why we rejoice because we are so focused on what
we don’t have. We are so focused on the negative aspect and not a
positive aspect. That is not how we are called to rejoice. As sons and
daughters of the almighty Father, we are called to a higher standard.
We are called to always rejoice because the Lord has put us in this very
moment for a purpose! If that is not a reason to rejoice, I don’t know
what is. I know that it is difficult to rejoice always like the Lord calls us
to, but when we turn to Him, He will help us. So during this season
of Lent, let us focus on rejoicing in the Lord, not complaining about
something that we have to give up. PRAYER
My prayer for each and every person is to be able to see the
glory of the almighty God who we serve and that we, as a
body of believers, want to rejoice because of what He has
given us. I pray that each person who reads this knows that
God is here to help us through a journey as we walk with
Him. I pray that we will rejoice in the Lord even in the hard
situations of life but also know that we can praise Him
when things are good in our life.
Cassidy Phillips
Lenten Devotional
February 22, 2015
Matthew 26:49-53
You have probably read the story many times. Jesus betrayed by a kiss.
It is one thing to read about it, it is another thing altogether to experience
it. Jesus allowed Judas into the inner circle, shared meals with him, spent
day and night with him, and even shared words with him and the other
disciples who no one else had been allowed to hear. And then he was
betrayed with a kiss, a cultural sign of affection and friendship. The pain
for Jesus must have been deep. If there were ever a time for anger, a
time to lash out, then this was it. But Jesus had something in him that
was even stronger than the feeling of betray, hurt, and anger. Jesus had
a desire to do the Father’s will. Rather than lash out, Jesus simply said,
“My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” He knew that this
was part of the Father’s plan, and this betrayal would open the door for
the power of all betrayals to be broken. The sin that had destroyed so
many would finally be conquered. Every person who had been betrayed
or betrayed another would have a way to be set free. Jesus tells us that
it would have been easy for Him to call “a thousand angels to protect
him,” but that was not the plan. He wanted to fulfill the scriptures, so
we might know that the prophecy was true and just a few days after
this gut wrenching betrayal, the power of sin would be broken.
We have all known the hurt of sin and the pain of betrayal, in one way or
another. There are people who have let us down and even intentionally
inflicted pain. Worse yet, sometimes we are the ones who have betrayed
and hurt the others. The good news is that God offers us a way out.
Because death has been conquered, we can choose to put our faith in
him. God is looking for those faithful servants who in spite of the pain
of sin and the kiss of betrayal, will seek God and His way of love. As we
enter into the Easter season, God invites us not to simply accept His gift
of grace but to walk though the pain and sin of this life with Him and by
His blood come out on the other side, not bitter, not cynical, but as a
living example of what it looks like when the power of sin and death is
broken. Whatever scars of sin we maybe caring around, God invites us
to be cleansed and healed. Then we can be exactly what he wants us to
be, another story of what God’s grace looks like. And then someone may
see our story and see Christ in us and choose to become a story
of redemption as well. That is what Easter is all about.
Dear God, Forgive me for the times I’ve let you down, and give
me the strength to forgive those who have let me down. Help
me to never become a person angry or one who is cynical, but
remind me of your sacrifice in love, despite the betrayal that
came to you. Lord as we remember the forty days leading us to the
cross and resurrection, remind us what it is really all about.
We are people who’ve been given new life when we didn’t deserve
it. Help us to pass that gift on to others and in so doing
break the cycle of sin and pain and replace it with your love.
Carey Akin
Painting by Nancy Lee
Lenten Devotional
February 23, 2015
“My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in
your weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Paul directed his first Letter in 1 Corinthians to all people. He spoke
with simplicity to move the human heart and fear with trembling
anxiety to perform duty and gain results by the Spirit and power
of God. He spent much time confronting these people warning and
correcting these new Christians. Our world today is filled with cults,
“isms,” and ideologies, all claiming to provide the way to God.
2 Corinthians was a difficult letter for Paul to write because he had
to list his credentials as an apostle. He reminded his readers his
relationship to them. He used words of love and exhortation. He
was deeply committed to the truth of God’s word and prepared
these converts to reject all false teachings.
In our journey in life, we may “lock” ourselves behind closed doors.
We may be behind the locked door of pride or selfishness. We may
be harboring bitterness, hatred, or negative fear in our heart that
cannot be repaired unless we open the door of our heart and claim
Romans 5:5 allowing the Holy Spirit into our heart with love. Paul is
saying, “no one can unlock this stuff from the outside.” It takes work
of the Holy Spirit, and we must ask for His help. God is capable of
barging in your locked door, but He won’t do this. He waits patiently
outside the door of your heart, until the day you ask Him for help.
At this Eastertime, I pray for our Country, the greater gifts
and blessing that God gives us, and salvation. May today be
all you need it to be. May the peace of God and the freshness
of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams
tonight, and conquer all your fears. May God manifest Himself
today in ways you have never experience before. I pray for true
undying love for God and to keep “work in progress” to give
assurance with the “world” that they can unlock that door
only from the inside.
Cindie Wertz
Lenten Devotional
February 24, 2015
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man
looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the
heart.” I Samuel 16:7
When was the last time you went to the junkyard and brought home
a dilapidated, rust-covered car for your family to use? When was the
last time you went out to dinner to a five-star restaurant wearing a
T-shirt and worn-out jeans that you just wore when you changed the
oil in your car? When was the last time you walked up to a homeless
person, and said to him, “You are beautiful!”? When was the last time
you woke up, walked to the bathroom, looked at your reflection in
the mirror and said to yourself, “You are beautiful!”?
Let me tell you where I’m going here. This is the season of Lent –
a season of reflection, wherein we turn our focus more sharply
towards our creator. And, hopefully, in this season, we learn more
about ourselves, our families, and our relationship with God – or
lack thereof. Oops, sorry.
In our scripture today, God sends Samuel to the house of Jesse to find
or choose the next King. Jesse has several sons, with many fine “exterior
appearances” that could possibly sway Samuel’s choice. Indeed, it
was God’s plan for the youngest son, David, to be the chosen one.
God knew that Jesse would present all the older sons for consideration.
But God says to Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man
looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at
the heart.” You see, God knew David’s heart, closed deep within the
chest of the young boy. And that was the heart God wanted for the
next King.
I opened with these random questions, but in truth, they weren’t random
at all. It is my prayer that in this Lent season, we realize what is going
on around our homes, our community, and in our own lives. You see,
in today’s culture, we have become so accustomed to “exterior
appearances” that too often we miss seeing the beauty or potential within.
Oh, and by the way, when you got up this morning, looked at yourself
in the mirror, and made that funny face at yourself when you saw your
reflection, do you know what God saw? Something beautiful. He saw
your heart. Keep it close to Him.
Living it Challenge: This next week, every day, go up to someone
in your family or to one of your friends and tell them that they are
beautiful to God! And to you!
Dianne Hylton
Lenten Devotional
February 25, 2015
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth
comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children
of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to
frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the
one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will
be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into
the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Romans 8:18-21
On June 26, 1964, I celebrated the wedding of my 24-year-old sister
Priscilla at our church in Columbia, South Carolina. Six months later,
I returned to the same church for her funeral. This tragedy unfolded
quickly as Priscilla was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia
on Monday and died the following Friday. She was so young and just
embarking on a new life with her husband. How could this happen?
When Priscilla learned that she was dying, she said, “I feel so calm. I
don’t want to die but don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t make me a hero.
I’m not anyone special. Let’s make this a happy time.” From that
moment on, Priscilla ministered to everyone who came in that room.
Her brave, calm assurance, her lack of fear of the unknown, and her
complete trust in the goodness, mercy, and love of God so affected
the hospital staff, the doctors, and nurses that they went away from
her room being ministered to. “We’ve never known anything like this,”
they’d say, and the witness of faith was passed from person to person
throughout the hospital. What they witnessed was a vision of death
being swallowed up in victory.
Priscilla was not a saint; she had her share of problems as we all do,
but she had the assurance that there was more to life than the present
time with its trappings of wealth and position. She knew, “For now we
see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I
shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians13:12).
This is the promise of Easter, for Christ sacrificed Himself that we all
might experience eternal life with the Father if we only believe. I am
not afraid to die because I have been privileged to witness the death
of a Christian. God in His mercy grants us that peace that passes all
understanding. I have a deposit in heaven that will welcome me when
my time comes. May our lives witness to the world that peace and
promise that God gives us.
Heavenly Father, help my life to give you glory in all that
I do and say that others might come to you with an open
heart and receive your grace. Amen
Betty Hornsby
Artwork by Riley P.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lenten Devotional
February 26, 2015
“He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and
prayed this prayer: Father if You are willing, please take this cup of
horror away from me. But I want Your will, not mine. Then an angel
from heaven appeared and strengthened him, for he was in such
agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops
falling to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly.”
Luke 22:41-44
What are you giving up for Lent?
I always get this question. Giving up something for Lent and eating fish on
Friday were common, unquestioned elements of growing up in a Catholic
family. But when I became an adult and a mom, I began to question traditions
like these because I had to explain them to my kids, whose favorite question
is “Why?” And the older I get, the more I also want to know why.
Lent, established by the Council of Nicea in 325, is designed to be a time for
repentance, fasting, and preparation for Easter. It’s a time of self-examination
and reflection. About 17 percent of U.S. adults “give up” something for Lent
as a form of penitence or to show that we feel sorrow or regret at having
done wrong. We also give up vices and add spiritual disciplines as a way
to grow closer to God or to make room in our daily lives for Him. The most
common items to give up, according to the almighty Twitter feed, last year?
Food and technology (including Twitter itself)!
Something in me responds deeply to the part about self-examination. If the
purpose of giving up is to get closer to the Lord, what in my life is preventing
me from getting closer to God? For me, it’s not about chocolate or Twitter,
but the intangibles like worry about my children, perfectionism, false security,
busy-ness, and distraction. These are the vices that the enemy uses to
separate me from God, and I allow them to take shape and form in my life
daily. Why? Because they help me in my quest to avoid looking earnestly
into the face of pain, discomfort, sacrifice, and fear. I don’t want to embark
on a journey of self-examination. Who does?
But look at Jesus! He looked directly into the face of pain, discomfort, sacrifice,
and fear in the Garden of Gethsemane: Luke 22:41-44.
Anything I use to avoid the Lord has its polar opposite, which I can actually
use to grow closer to Him. To make room for Him.
What’s the opposite of worry? Trust. (Romans 8:28)
What’s the opposite of perfectionism? Acceptance. (John 3:16)
What’s the opposite of chasing after security and control? Faith. (Hebrews 11:1)
What’s the opposite of busy-ness? Stillness. (Psalm 46:10)
What’s the opposite of distraction? Prayer. (Luke 18:1)
Not as simple as giving up coffee, I’ll grant you. But it’s something worth
trying because we are emulating Jesus in the process. How about you? As
you approach Lent, what would it look like for you to draw closer to Christ?
Erica Rountree
Lenten Devotional
February 27, 2015
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but
Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galations 2:20
I am sitting in my home as I write this devotion with Christmas decorations
all around, my favorite music in the background, our daughter Annie
home from Kenya, and only days away from celebrating the birth of
Jesus. This is my second most favorite time of the year, and there
cannot be a more perfect time to reflect on my most favorite, Easter,
when the “whole” story of Jesus is revealed.
If God’s son coming to earth as fully human, fully God, born of a
virgin, to walk with, serve sin-free, and reveal to mankind God’s very
nature, is not beyond our ability to fully fathom, then certainly His
dying on a cross for a sinner, a rebel like me, is many times over much
too wonderful to be true or comprehensible. But praise God, it is
true! He is risen indeed and, moreover, I have the promised gift of
the Holy Spirit dwelling in me and can proclaim with Paul the “wonder”
of Galatians 2:20.
Easter is the time when the plot thickens, and God reaches down and
gets real personal: it’s when God’s greatest gift is for one child at a
time; it’s when He reveals that it’s my name that’s written in the palm
of His nailed scarred hand; it’s when He says, “Ferrell, if you were
the only person in the world, I would have gone to the cross just for
you!” Christmas is joyful and all together wonderful and, for sure, the
Coppedges celebrate it with gusto! But at Easter, my heart is tender
and broken as I gaze at the cross and truly weep in praise as I hear
the Hallelujah chorus and celebrate MY Lord’s resurrection! The gospel
is not just good news, but it’s the penultimate news to mankind in all
the sweep of history and eternity, but God’s greatest gift of redemption
must be “received,” by faith.
Heavenly Father, I pray that during this Easter season, Christ
would be more real and beautiful than ever and that for
those who truly do not “know” Him, this would be the time
that Jesus becomes their Lord and Savior. We ask this prayer
in the name of our risen Lord. Amen.
Ferrell Coppedge
Lenten Devotional
February 28, 2015
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members
of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’”
Psalm 46:10 Cross references: Psalm 46:10; Dt 4:35; 1Ki 18:36, 39;
Ps 100:3; Isa 37:16, 20; 43:11; 45:21; Eze 36:23; Psalm 46:10;
Ps 18:46; Isa 2:11
Staying involved in a group Bible study is a priority for me because
the homework keeps me in God’s Word. I know that spending time
with my Savior is important. One of the books I am currently reading
challenges the reader to spend five minutes of quiet time with God
each day. You can read scripture before the five minutes, but the
idea is simply to be quiet and alone with God. This has proven to
be a very different experience from “doing homework.” Even though
five minutes is a short interval, I set an alarm to keep myself from
looking at the clock. (Yes, it’s sad that I need to set an alarm to stay
focused, but this is what works for me.)
It is difficult to explain what happens during my five-minute sessions
with God, but rest assured that He always shows up and reveals
something deep and tender about Himself. Sometimes we cry and
sometimes we laugh. Sometimes I am called to action or repentance
while other times I simply sit in awe at one of His attributes. Sometimes
I even ignore the alarm. Nonetheless, the most beautiful part about
our time together is that it ends with my being filled and overflowing
with thankfulness for a God who wants me to know Him intimately.
This Lenten season, I challenge you to “take five with God.”
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Spirit living in me and
teaching me about you. Amen
Genia Crane
Artwork by Emma S.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Artwork by Sarah S.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lenten Devotional
March 1, 2015
This morning, I was reading Psalm 17 for my devotional time. It suddenly
dawned on me that David was talking directly to my need as a disciple
of Jesus Christ to keep my eyes on the goal of becoming more like
Him. This psalm particularly spoke to me because during the season
of Lent, we are encouraged to confess and repent of our sins and
shortcomings. As I meditated on this psalm, I began to realize the
things for which I needed to ask forgiveness, but the most important
message I received from the psalm was the ways to keep me in the
will of the Lord. Here are some of the things that I will be using to
keep me on the straight and narrow so that I may be able to become
more like Jesus in my personal, private, and public life that come
directly from Psalm 17. 1. The psalmist says we are to watch our heart. In verse 3a we read, “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing.” We must determine what we think by making sure that we follow the guidelines of Philippians 4:8 that instruct us to “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable --- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy --- think about such things.” It is important for the disciple of Jesus to not allow the stinking thinking of the world to determine our thoughts. We are to make
a positive move to think about good things.
2. The second thing the psalmist instructs us to do is to watch our words. Verse 3c says “I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who are accusing Him of being Beelzebub and He says, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” When we watch our heart and put into
our heart those things that glorify God, our mouth gives us away
because we speak good and lovely things. 3. The third thing we must do is watch where we go. Verse 5b says “My feet have not slipped.” We must watch where we go. Of course, if our heart is right with God, our mouth is going to speak truth
and our feet are going to carry us to those places God would have us go. The best way to observe Lent is to grow closer in your relationship
with God and walk in His footsteps. I once heard someone say, “I want
to follow Jesus so closely that I will be covered with His dust.” Know
Him, love Him, and share Him with others. Rev. Glenn Ray
Lenten Devotional
March 2, 2015
“And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center
of your life.” Psalm 62:10
As humans, when our wealth increases, it is hard not to focus on it.
The focus of the world we live in today is wealth. People around us
are practically screaming, “MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!” Yet, some
might say, “Oh I’m not rich; I don’t have a lot of money. This verse
does not apply to me.” However, that’s definitely not the truth.
Wealth is more than just money. Wealth can be the opportunities you
receive, the career you have, or even the relationships you maintain.
These factors are important parts of our life, but we cannot put our
sole focus towards these things. God calls us to devote our attention
to Him.
So when you get that sleek new Jeep Wrangler after working hard
for years, don’t invest too much time in it. Or that new boyfriend
or girlfriend you managed to pick up that just seems so perfect;
do not make them the center of your life. During this Lenten season,
I challenge you to lay aside your wealth and focus your attention
on God, for He is the one thing that matters.
Jenni Ayash
Lenten Devotional
March 3, 2015
“Is not this the fast that I choose: Is it not to share your
bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into
your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not
to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light
break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up
speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory
of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call,
and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say,
‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:6-9
Lent is a time to repent, to turn from your sinful life and to turn to
Jesus and His gift of salvation. This doesn’t require earth-shaking
actions. It does require making small changes that improve your
relationship with the Lord through helping His children.
In Kazakhstan, especially in the winter, widows often are forced to
spend long hours sitting in the snow asking for money. They have no
family and no other means of support, so the alternative is starvation.
A quarter ($0.25) would buy a loaf of bread or several potatoes.
In one area downtown, three or four widows could often be found.
They weren’t in the way, and they never said anything, but when you
gave them something, they always said, “God bless you.”
We do not have this level of need, but many of our brothers still are
needy. Jesus said, “You always will have the poor with you” (Matthew
26.11). It is none of our business how a person became “poor.” It is
none of our business what a person does with the money or the
goods we give to him. The important factor is we take just a small part
of our excess and give it to someone who is in need. By so doing, we
are earning our own salvation and possibly showing the way of
salvation to someone else.
Dear Lord, help us to always be aware of the needs of our
brothers. Whether it be food or clothing or salvation,
show us how to give to them as You so freely give to us.
In Thy holy name we pray, amen.
Joan Althaus
Lenten Devotional
March 4, 2015
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd
of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight
that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us
up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set
before us.” Hebrews 12:1
In middle school, I truly believed that I had found my place. I was
comfortable in my friend group and with the path that my life was
going on. However, this path was not a Godly one. I did not treat
people how they deserved because I truly believed myself to be
better than them. With this supposed “power” that I thought I had
came great insecurity. I was constantly worried about falling off of
my pedestal and near the end of middle school I realized that I no
longer wanted to live with this fear.
Going into freshman year, I decided that I desired to change my path.
I had not come to a Godly path quite yet, but I knew that I did not
want to be involved with the crowd that I currently was in and what
better a time to have a new beginning than my first year of high
school. I started to make new friends and take a new course on
which I was truly comfortable in my position in life.
It was not until DNOW of 2014 that I found my true comfort in God’s
love. I realized that the only way I was ever going to be comfortable
with my life while still feeling empowered was if I claimed my rightful
place as a daughter of Christ. However, I did not feel worthy. I despised
who I was in middle school and partially in the beginning of high
school. I felt as though the way I treated people and the things that
I did were holding me back from being able to be totally comfortable
at God’s right hand.
But when I looked to God for solace in this, He quickly reassured me
of the irrelevance of my past with Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we
are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that
so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God
has set before us.”
I realized the importance of giving up my grave clothes, and on Lent
I hope to encourage others to give up their grave clothes as well.
Dear Lord, I pray that you may comfort those of us who are
troubled by our pasts during this Lenten season. I pray that
you help others to give up their grave clothes in your name
and find comfort in you. I pray that there may be a great
welcoming of those who seek to leave their past and find
a future with you. Amen.
Julia Kostakos
Lenten Devotional
March 5, 2015
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by
His great mercy that we have been born again, because God
raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great
expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and
undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through
your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you
receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the
last day for all to see.”
1 Peter 1:3-5
Have you ever made a promise you couldn’t keep? We’ve all been
there. My mind is flooded with countless times I’ve told my children,
“We’ll work on that craft today,” or, “We’ll go to the park this afternoon,”
only for it not to pan out. Sure, these are trivial broken promises, but
they are broken nonetheless. It’s so easy to change your mind when
the day starts going downhill or you get overwhelmed or you just
plain don’t feel like following through. When I think about the greatest
promise of all – the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ – I am
speechless. We are given a promise of an inheritance so precious that
it is held in heaven by God Himself. Our Lord is so amazing in that He
always follows through, never compromises on His plans for us, and
feels that we’re so valuable that He was willing to sacrifice His only
son for you and for me.
Heavenly Father, we come to you humbled and grateful for
your enduring love in the midst of our sin. Lord, forgive
us for putting things of this world above you. Remind us
daily of the ultimate sacrifice you gave on our behalf, and
help us to walk with you in all we do. Lord, we invite you
into our lives to transform our hearts into servant hearts,
showing your love and shining your light to everyone we
meet. We give thanks and praise to you, Lord. In your precious
and Holy name, Amen.
Karen Sutherland
Lenten Devotional
March 6, 2015
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep
pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a
robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his
sheep…He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…
his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
John 10:1-5
King David was a lowly shepherd boy when God announced through
the prophet Samuel that someday David would be king over Israel.
As a shepherd, he learned how important the shepherd was to his
sheep. They knew his voice and depended on him for their very life.
Later as King of Israel, he wrote the wonderful Twenty Third Psalm
which showed his understanding of the need for the Lord as his
shepherd and that he would, one day, “dwell in the house of the
Lord forever.”
The First Commandment establishes that we are to depend on God
only for our very life. We as humans, need to remember that we
cannot depend on ourselves or others. When we do this, we depend
on other gods and even worse ourselves. We like sheep go astray.
We need to depend on the Good Shepherd and to be thankful for the
blessings and protection that come from faithful following and service.
Kathy Hoppe
Painting by Kathy Hoppe
Lenten Devotional
March 7, 2015
“That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, ‘Let
us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they
took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also
other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the
waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke
Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be
still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still
have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who
is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’”
Mark 4:35-41
Sometimes anxiety-filled thoughts can take over our minds, such as
“How is that fair?” or “Why me?” or “What if something bad happens?”
– be it a major life situation or something small that is eating you up.
We’ve all played out scenarios in our heads and become full of fear or
despair, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Then we ask God why He’s not
watching out for us. But Jesus says that if we experience such fear, we
have no faith.
Think of situations in your life that cause you to be anxious or fearful.
Write them down, and then say them out loud to God. Be forthright
and speak the details. Be yourself in His presence – He knows what
you are thinking anyway. Bring your questions to Him. It is okay to
ask, worry, or cry to Him. Then ask for the peace and understanding
of the Holy Spirit. Breathe in, breathe out, and have faith that God
has it under control.
And don’t let this be a one-time thing – make this exchange with the
Lord a regular conversation. With the peace of the Lord, you’ll be
able to sleep while a storm is raging around you, in the comfort of
the Father’s arms!
Dear Lord and Savior, our Prince of Peace, we seek the peace
and understanding that you had in the boat with your
disciples. Please fill our hearts with faith, confidence, and
joy in the midst of our problems, knowing that you are
in control of everything. Help us be anxious for nothing
but be still and know that you are God. We revere you and
honor you. We thank you for our many blessings and ask
for more. Amen.
Lane Friel
Artwork by Breyton H.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lenten Devotional
March 8, 2015
In the book of Mark, Jesus used the phrase, “follow me” four times
(Mark 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21). In each instance, the request has a deeper
meaning than just a formal student/teacher relationship. Each request
suggest absolute surrender – to surrender all that you have and all that
you are and follow me. In the first three instances, the request is met
by similar responses – reckless abandonment of their former ways of
life. Even more in 8:34, the reader is left to assume the request will cost
them their old way of life and maybe even cost them their very life!
However, the reader finds a unique response in 10:22. Jesus’ offer
remained the same. And His love for this man was equal. Jesus wants
this man to be on board. He wants this man to join the itinerant group
of His closest disciples. All this man had to do was follow suite and
respond by dropping everything and following Jesus. We read in v. 21,
22 what makes this scenario look different than the proceeding ones.
It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he
said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this point the man’s
face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
Jesus has called each of us to “Follow me.” In each of these callings it
is costly. In some, it cost us the worship of wealth. In others, it’s a calling
to allow Christ into our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. For some, it’s even
a calling that will cost our very life. Discipleship is not exclusive in what
it requires. It is equally costly to all.
As you read the first three accounts, I assume you feel energized,
uplifted, and enabled. How do you feel after you read 10:17-22? When
reading, all I could feel and think is how this man missed an amazing
opportunity. I felt sorry for him and certainly had no desire to emulate
him. Scripture tells us this man walked away sad. Isn’t this telling!
During this season of lent, what is holding you back from following
Jesus? What area do you need to surrender? I’m sure you would agree
with me...”I don’t want to walk away sad.” God’s love is so great and
he has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us…no matter
the cost!
Thy will be done! Yes, my adorable Lord, strip me of every
penny. Bring me not only to poverty, but what I far more
dread, to insolvency. Yes! Strip me even of reputation. Let me
be as ‘filth and offscouring of all things.’ Only let me have
thy approval, and all shall be well. Yes, I will praise thee for
all, and most for the severe.
Mary Fletcher, The Life, 79
Kelly Brumbeloe
Lenten Devotional
March 9, 2015
“In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been
destined according to the purpose of Him who accomplishes
all things according to His counsel and will, so that we, who
were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the
praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you had heard the
word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed
in Him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy
Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption
as God’s own people, to the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:11-14
A couple of years ago around the time of Lent, our family was going
through a hard time. You know when things don’t go just like you
had hoped or planned? We had invited a couple of family members
to live with us, but the road was a little rockier than we had expected.
Daily, and sometimes moment by moment, we were having to give
our thoughts and feelings over to God. During this hard time, I had
a favorite Pandora radio station that played hymns. I remember
clinging to the hymn, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” This hymn
gave me renewed hope that even when times were hard or were
not going as I expected, I could still trust in Jesus. I especially loved
the refrain that says,
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!
The line about proving Him over and over, spoke volumes to my heart.
Every time I would feel discouraged about the situation, God would
provide an opportunity for communication, relationship building, and
hope. He opened up doors for Christian movies to be shown in our
home and enjoyed. Even strangers would speak up at the most perfect
of times, with encouraging words.
I give thanks for the many times in my life that God has proved Himself
worthy to be trusted. I often try to write them down just so I can
remember His faithfulness. When I think about this season of Lent,
like many of you, I think about the cross and the resurrection. God has
already proven Himself worthy of our praise by his overcoming death
and rising to life. Jesus also traveled rocky roads and overcame them
with new life. For this reason, I give God the glory for all that He has
done in my life. On both the rocky and smooth roads, He has proved
Himself over and over. May we continue to put our faith in Him. PRAYER Father, thank you for proving yourself over and over in
my life. I give you the praise for for all that you have done!
I pray that daily I would put my trust in you instead of my
own abilities. I love you God. Amen.
Nicole Taylor
Lenten Devotional
March 10, 2015
“And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a
vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that
they that enter in may see the light.” Luke 8:16
My husband and I volunteer for an older adult respite program.
Through the years, we have been mightily blessed by our interactions
with the program’s participants and volunteers. There is a 94-year-old
participant who has especially touched my soul. He is a godly man
whose very life is a testimony to Jesus’ love. He is always upbeat and
positive, accepting and compassionate of everyone and, most of all,
a man of faith. His reflection can be seen in the lives of his children
and all those who come into contact with him. As he lies in assisted
living with hospice care, I am sad that soon I will not see his smiling
countenance every week, but I am consoled by the truth that his light
will illuminate my heart until we meet again.
Dear Lord, help us to be a light in this world. Amen
Randi Brooks
Artwork by Riley D.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Artwork by Matthew G.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lenten Devotional
March 11, 2015
“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow
the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”
Joshua 3:5
As we prepare for living in the Resurrection, it may be helpful to
prepare for amazing things. Every day God works wonders in our
lives, and if we don’t slow down and take notice, we may miss some
pretty spectacular episodes of God’s mercy and grace.
To prepare for amazing things, we are reminded by Joshua to
“consecrate yourselves” (via NIV version). Other versions say to
purify, sanctify, and make yourselves holy. This process takes our
time and effort, but the reward of seeing the work of a loving God
is an awesome enticement. The process of consecration may require
us to separate ourselves both physically and mentally and tune in
to the Holy Spirit. Prayer, fasting, and meditation are useful ways
to consecrate ourselves. Worship, music, and Bible reading can also
be part of your process.
The process of consecration allows us to be aware of ourselves and
our relation to God. We begin to separate ourselves from sin and
darkness and to walk in the Light.
True followers of Christ are in a continual process of consecration.
It is easy to lose focus in our busy world, but we are reminded that
God is at work at all times, and we sure don’t won’t to miss any of
the amazing things that God does for us.
Dear Lord, “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a
right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the
joy of your Salvation, and uphold me with your free spirit.”
Amen (Psalm 51).
Susan Preece
Lenten Devotional
March 12, 2015
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,
Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for
a righteous man, though for a good man someone might
possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for
us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8
For a very long time, I believed that I was unwanted by God - not
needed for the Kingdom. What use was I to God while I was imperfect?
Perhaps some combination of godly-friends, unblemished church
attendance, hours of community service, and tithing would create in
me a pure heart. I climbed and stumbled through this regiment with
no possibility of reaching the mountaintop. I was not alone; crowds
of others pulled and dragged each other, seeking any validation that
we were doing something right.
But the chaos was too much and somehow I felt farther away. Not
understanding, I begged to know who Jesus really was - to know how
He saw me. Grace whispered to me, and a place that had long been
dead staggered to life. The sharp inhale of the Spirit was just enough
to fan the flame within me. I didn’t know how, but there was only
Jesus, and He was more than enough. Through time and trust, He
is gently teaching me the boundless love and desire He has for me.
Why is there a need to complicate redemption? Jesus did not wait
until humanity was clean and complete to come. Jesus came when
we were all at our darkest, when we were powerless and ungodly.
Would we trust His love for us if He died for a perfect and righteous
people? He loves us unconditionally with no expectation of reciprocation.
He hung on the cross with a love so fierce that it would cover the
imperfections of eternity and that it would cover a people who
stumble and plan and earn so that they could rest in Him. Take a deep
breath and listen to the whispers of the Spirit. Allow Him to awaken
you from the chaos and to know His restoration. He loves you passionately,
even at your darkest.
Father, we pray that you breathe your life into us. We pray
that you awaken our hearts to your love. Give us the
strength to forgive ourselves and each other as you
have forgiven us. As we prepare to celebrate your life and
resurrection, we celebrate the restoration you have given
us in our own lives. Teach us more of your heart. Amen.
Sallie Holloway
Lenten Devotional
March 13, 2015
“Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will
my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as
seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven
times, but seventy times seven’.”
Matthew 18:21-22
“I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good
to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray
for those who abuse you.”
Luke 6:27-28
It’s not easy to love and forgive those who have hurt us. People do
horrible things to each other that will take a lot of time and healing
before forgiveness and redemption can even be a thought. As Christians,
we strive to forgive just as He forgave us - easier said than done.
At the end of the day though, forgiveness is what keeps us for God.
Forgiveness is like a huge glass wall that is blocking us. We can
see God - even have a relationship with Him (hence glass and not
concrete wall), but until we truly forgive those who have done us
harm, we can’t really understand the power of God’s Grace for us.
Forgiveness is what is standing in the way of you and your Heavenly
Father. Forgiveness also looks different for everyone. For some, it
will be a verbal, “I forgive you for .....” to the person face-to-face. For
some, it will be letting go and freeing you from that burden and pain
(because sometimes you need to forgive yourself too). For others, it
will be literally leaving your baggage and pain at the “altar.” However
you do it - just forgive - free yourself from the pain, just as He forgave
us by taking the ultimate sacrifice and pain.
During Lent, invite a friend or friends to join you for a meal. Together,
invite Jesus to your table. Discuss forgiveness, hope, and love.
Challenge one another to forgive someone.
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to understand
forgiveness because Jesus did the ultimate forgiving!
Shirlee Matta
Lenten Devotional
March 14, 2015
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord
will hold me close.”
Psalm 27:10
Years ago, I attended my first foreign mission trip. It was a trip to
Honduras, one of the most impoverished countries in the world.
I experienced God working in my life, the lives of our team members,
and in the Hondurans we served with. Lives were changed; just what
you pray would happen on a mission trip. My trip ended with a little
surprise when I got home very late at night. My young daughter
Morgan was sitting on our front porch awaiting my return, a couple
of hours after her bedtime. It was an unexpected opportunity for
me to hold my daughter close and share my experience in Honduras
with her.
I didn’t expect that Morgan was beginning a journey with Christ that
today has brought her to become a full-time missionary in Honduras.
She is serving over 500 of God’s precious children at Orphanage
Emmanuel in Guaimaca. Emmanuel’s theme verse is Psalm 27:10
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me
close.” God continues to hold on to His children through the many
unexpected experiences we all are confronted with. Let us all pray
that we will know and understand His hands holding us close no
matter our circumstances.
Steven Worch
Lenten Devotional
March 15, 2015
My Mom taught me so much. I was prepared for life, because she
showed me how to do so many of the necessary tasks: how to cook,
do laundry, care for my family, all while working outside the home.
She would say, “You won’t need me, but you’ll want me.” So many
times this phrase has come back to me since her death over 20 years
ago. There have been many days that I wanted her to be with me, but
I always felt she taught me all I needed. I have great confidence in my
abilities because of her.
As a child of God, I learn so much daily from my heavenly Father
about how to live. I want to have his presence with me, but more than
that, I NEED him. In 1Timothy 1:15-16 Paul writes, “This is a trustworthy
saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the
world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had
mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of
his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize
that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”
So I need Jesus to save me, for I am unable to save myself. I crave
his presence; I want to know him better and to have a real personal
relationship with the one who loves me more than I deserve – with
the one who gave his life as payment for my sin so that I can receive
eternal life.
This Easter we need to acknowledge our NEED for a Savior, for Jesus.
Only through Christ can we be righteous and have the ability to come
into the Father’s presence. Will you acknowledge your real need for
Him, for a Savior? In what way will you express this need? Will others
see their own need for a Savior through your transparency? How will
you express your desire for Jesus to be the focus of your life?
I am reminded of the hymn, Every hour I need Thee – let this be our
prayer this Easter…
I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine,
Can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, Savior,
I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour,
Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power,
When Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Kim McGarr
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
Photograpy by Donna Lachance
Lenten Devotional
March 16, 2015
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will
save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you
by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
A few years ago, I attended a women’s retreat at my mother’s church.
They asked us to make a list of all the significant events that had taken
place in our lives over the past two years. Just for our eyes, they said;
our lists would not be shared. I had no trouble in filling up several pages
with moments - some were triumphant, some were challenging, some
were major life events, some were pretty trivial.
Then the leader told us to go through our list and mark down the times
when we believed God’s hand was at work. As I went over the list, I had
to say that I could see God’s hand at work in every single item I’d written
down! Obviously, I felt God’s blessing in the happy times, and God’s
comfort in the times of sadness. But it was more than that. As I looked
back over the small moments in my life, I saw God working in my life
at every turn. It was pretty overwhelming, and it led me to a new step
in intimacy with Him.
I started to keep a prayer journal, doing it with photos, the medium I know
best. Every day, I try to capture a moment, and post it with a short
story. Then I use my recent photo-stories in my daily prayer life, to
remind myself to “catch” God at work in my life and my world, and
thank Him for all He has given me.
Whether you do it in writing or with pictures, take the time to pay
attention to God’s work in your life. He’s here in our midst; you just
have to see Him!
Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us in all moments
of our lives. Please help us always to see your grace working
in us. Help us to give praise for your blessings, to learn
from your corrections, and always to know that you are
there to comfort us.
Donna Lachance
Lenten Devotional
March 17, 2015
“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into
a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 118:5-6
I came across this verse tonight. It hit me right between the eyes.
There is power in realizing that our God is with us, and, because of
that, we have nothing to fear. I’m guilty of valuing a man’s opinion
and not taking time to seek out God’s. That is no way to live. To
quote A.W. Tozer, “The esteem of the world is not worth the effort”.
The world’s opinion is always changing. What’s cool one week is lame
the next. Don’t believe me? The Black Eyed Peas were the biggest
band in the world five years ago.
Seriously though, why do we worry so much about things that don’t
matter? Who would you rather please, a person or your God? God
never changes, “I the Lord do not change” Malachi 3:6. What He
valued in the beginning of time, He still values. What He said, He
still means. The Lord is with you; do not be afraid. Nothing compares or even
comes close to how He loves us. Rest in that and do not be afraid.
Corey Shores
Lenten Devotional
March 18, 2015
Art by Dave Askeland
The Kobolzell Church has been a central part of the Tauber River
fishing village since the 14th century. Fishing is found throughout
human history. Archeologists have discovered fishing tools associated
40,000-year-old Paleolithic cultures. Leviticus 9:11 defines which fish
are acceptable to eat.
Whether using nets or hooks, fishing has changed very little over time.
Successful fishing requires knowledge, skills, and patience.
In Matthew 4, Jesus meets Simon-Peter and Andrew fishing on the
shore of Galilee and bids them to follow. Their “fishing” resume was
important for their success as disciples. Today, as in Jesus’ time, being
a successful “fisher of men” requires knowledge (from scripture), skills
(guided by the Holy Spirit), and patience.
Heavenly Father, I pray that with Your blessings and guided
by the Spirit my “catch” for Your Kingdom will be abundant
and pleasing to You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Dave Askeland
Lenten Devotional
March 19, 2015
My heart feels such remorse and pain.
Unworthiness prevails.
I can’t imagine how He felt
When they drove in the nails.
Yet the anguish of that moment
His omniscience could foresee.
His mind and body were prepared
To die for you and me.
Besides the piercing of His flesh
(That never had known sin),
He now was taking on the filth
And wretchedness of men.
To mortal man this sacrifice
Rends wide the human heart,
Knowing that He would die for us,
So we’d not be apart!
By loving Him our sins are purged.
Our souls have been set free.
We know that we will join our Christ
For all eternity.
There never was a greater Gift,
A sacrifice so dear,
As Jesus dying on the cross
So He could have us near.
Shout Hallelujah to the King!
Our praise and love we send
To our redeemer Jesus Christ,
Our Savior and our friend.
May you feel the joy of His love and redemption on this Blessed Easter!
Janet Hagerman
Lenten Devotional
March 20, 2015
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but to set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct,
in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12
It not easy growing up in a world that is constantly judging every
step you take, especially for teenagers. I grew up thinking the best
thing for me was to fit in and to not stick out - try to be what society
called “normal.”
Soccer was the sport I grew a love for, as I started my career here at
Mt. Bethel at a very young age. My dream was to grow up and play
soccer for a living; however, God had a different plan for my life. In
2010, God changed my heart at DNOW. I had grown up in a Christian
home and had no doubt in my mind that He was real, but I had finally
made the step to make a relationship with Christ. God told me that,
although I may be young, I can do anything I put my mind to. “Don’t
let anyone look down on you because you are young, but to set an
example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and
in purity.”
God called me to quit soccer and to set an example for others my
age so that they might take a leap of faith, no matter their age.
That same year, I started a non-profit to raise money to provide
people with water all around the world. There are rough times
and excellent times, but God is always there every step of the way.
Sometimes we just have to step out on faith and God will take us
amazing places. We may all have a plan of how we would like for
our lives to go, but I guarantee God has a better plan. Sometimes
all it takes is a leap of faith and trust in God to see it.
I would like to encourage the youth these days to not let society tell
them they aren’t able. God makes us able at any age. He is the judge
in the end, not the world. God has a plan for everyone, we just have
to be willing to take risks trust God.
Julia Miller
Painting by Kathy King
Lenten Devotional
March 21, 2015
When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light
of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)
When Ira asked me to submit one of my paintings with a short message
to go along with it for our Lenten devotions, we were in the midst of
preparing for our Christmas concert, Illuminate. The lyrics in every
song referred in some way to Jesus as “The Light.” Ira requested
(umm…insisted maybe!) that we memorize eight of the eleven songs.
Wow! Not an easy task for me! I was constantly listening to my CD
trying to memorize them. I went to sleep singing them. I woke up
singing them, and these words were the ones that seemed to be stuck
in my brain most often, “He is light, He is love, He is grace, born on
Christmas Day!”
One day while painting at my easel (listening to our rehearsal CD!) it
occurred to me that an artist spends so much time trying to capture
the light in a painting. The light is the difference between a good
painting and an awe inspiring painting. To accomplish this we take
lessons, we study other artists’ paintings, we read art books, we paint
often because the more we paint, the better we become. There’s so
much to learn! Where is the light source? Where are the shadows?
Is it warm light? Is it cool light? I get so excited when I’ve finished
a painting and see the light that I so wanted to capture.
So I’m thinking! As a child of God, the same is so true in our everyday
lives. Our good days and our bad days can become awe inspiring days
just by finding our light source! This painting was done from a photo
that my daughter-in-law took at the end of a very busy day! “We just
had to stop,” her note said! I’m so happy she did. She turned a good
day into an awe inspiring day! For in her photo, I see God; I see Light;
I see Love; I see Grace.
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you
seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
(Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV)
Thank you, Dear God, for sending your Son to be my light.
Thank you for loving me so much that you would let Him
die on a cross for me. Thank you for your gift of grace
that has saved me. Amen
Kathy King
Lenten Devotional
March 22, 2015
John 20:1-2
If we were to look at this passage and focus on Mary, we have to
ask this question, “Why was Mary so intent about going to the
tomb?” This is what we know about Mary. Mary had been around
long enough to know that Jesus was divine. She had heard the
stories of how Jesus called the twelve Disciples - that they immediately
left what they were doing and followed Jesus. She had heard the
story about Jesus and his disciples ministering to people until they
could hardly stand up. Then Jesus told them to get into a boat and
go to a deserted place for rest. But as they went in the boat, people
saw them and ran by foot the place that they were. Mary knew that
Jesus was contagious. People were drawn to Him. How about Mary’s own life? We read in Luke that Mary once had
seven evil spirits living in her. But she experienced Jesus, and her life
was radically changed. She literally owed her life to Jesus. I believe
we can safely say that Mary was seeking Jesus. She was drawn to
Jesus and couldn’t stand not being in his presence. I believe Mary is a fine example of how Jesus draws people unto
himself and then radically changes their lives. This Easter, take a
few moments and focus on how you were drawn to Jesus and how
He changed your life by offering salvation.
Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for being contagious and drawing me into
a relationship with you. Amen
Steven Brumbeloe
Lenten Devotional
March 23, 2015
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.”
Psalm 71:20
“We’re going to have to let you go.” What?! Surely I heard something
different. I was being let go after nearly 17 years, working for a staffing
company that had grown from eight local branches to over 80 nationwide.
How did I not see it coming? What would I do now? I hadn’t interviewed
in 17 years, and I hated interviewing! I silently packed up my office, still
in disbelief, and needed help transporting all my “stuff” to my car.
The next day, I called my dear friend and neighbor, Linda. Her family
and mine had moved into our neighborhood within six months of
each other and had bonded from the very beginning. Linda and her
husband, Steve, had been through some very tough times and had
shown great faith throughout their ordeal(s). I needed her advice.
How was she able to go through so much and still have a thankful
heart? She put it very simply: “When I try to do everything myself,
and be “in control,” oftentimes things don’t go well (i.e. the way I
want it to). It’s when I throw up my hands and say, “God, please take
this burden from me, I’m turning this mess over to you.” That’s when
miracles happen!” Sounded simple enough.
That night, I prayed for God to take the burden and pain of losing
my job away and to show me a new path. I made an appointment
to go see the president of the company, and he agreed to let me
work on temporary assignments, while receiving my severance. A
two-week temp job led to a ten-month position with the state. On
my last week there, I received a call from Rev. Wil Parker asking me
if I was still looking for full-time work. Was I?! I interviewed and was
hired almost immediately. Although I am no longer working at Mt.
Bethel, my experience there led me into a new career path in the
non-profit sector, which I love.
God, please help me to remember that when life falls apart
and dreams become undone that you are still the One in
control. Lord, I lay my burdens at your feet. Amen.
Amy Thomas
Lenten Devotional
March 24, 2015
“Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was
dressed like one of these.” Matthew 6:29
The pink dogwood in the background represents Christ’s cross.
The lily is signifies the burst in the spring of new beginnings. Painting
these flowers in the winter with a look toward a fresh new season on
the horizon gives hope with new blessings.
Dear God, we know that you are purity. The joy of this lily
exceeds all other flowers. It shows us your purity as well
as refined beauty. We thank you for this Easter season.
Linda Randolph
Paintings by Linda Randolph
Lenten Devotional
March 25, 2015
One Sunday, a catechist (Sunday school teacher in Catechesis)
was discussing Prophecies of the Old Testament with 1st through
3rd graders. We talk about five prophecies: the Prophecy of the
Light, “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great
Light,” Isaiah 9:2; the Prophecy of the Names, “For to us a child
is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his
shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,“ Isaiah 9:6; the Prophecy
of the Mother, “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear
a son, and shall name him Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14; the Prophecy of
Bethlehem, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little among
the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to
be ruler of Israel,”; the Prophecy of the Star and Scepter, “A Star
shall come out of Jacob and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel,”
Numbers 24:17b.
The children were synthesizing these prophecies, which they really
like to do, and came up with some very interesting and very insightful
comments. Somehow the conversation turned from looking back
in time to the proclamations of Jesus’ coming to the second coming
of Christ at parousia. One child spoke up and said, “I wonder if it will
be on the news: Jesus Is Here!” He waved his hand in the air as if
demonstrating a scrolling banner on Times Square.
This child understood our culture – everything in on the news! But
he understood the Good News even better – Jesus is Here! Children
often have a different perspective than we do as adults. Sometimes
I think we are so removed from the essentiality of our faith, that we
have forgotten the simple truths Jesus taught. Children only think
about the essential. As Jesus said: “…unless you change and become
like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever
becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven.” (Matt.18:3-4)
In listening to God with children (which is what I do instead of
teaching children) is how God has spoken to me and stretched my
thinking and brought me closer to Him. Spend some time listening
to a child, wonder with them, and be prepared to have your perspectives
changed for the better. God will be speaking to you through that
child. Jesus is Here!
Betsy Brown
Lenten Devotional
March 26, 2015
Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I were married. From the time I
was old enough to think for myself, I knew what career I wanted to go
into, but more than that, I knew I wanted to be a mother. Just as I had
planned, I did go into my desired career, and I did, in fact, get married
and planned to begin motherhood right away. Everything was “by the
book,” (my book anyway) except for one major factor: six miscarriages
later, I was still without a child. I asked, promised, and basically “pleaded
my case” to God for a child, promising that I would do everything in
my power to raise him/her right if He would only grant me a child.
As time went on, I did become pregnant, and as things were looking
pretty great, at around four months as my husband and I were traveling
to a job-related trip, something went obviously very wrong. We rushed
to the nearest hospital only to be told that our baby was fine, but that
he had, unknowing to us, a twin. We found out a couple of years later
through a genetics study that I have an “over-active” antibody which
attacks foreign materials. My body treated each pregnancy as foreign
- something that did not belong. The other pregnancies would have
never survived. Because our son had a fraternal twin, the twin was
“attacked,” and, therefore, didn’t survive. As a result, our son lived.
As I said before, I had laid out a plan for myself early in my life. Once
again, according to my plan, I was to have two children. After praying
and pleading to God time and time again, I became pregnant three
more times - the tenth pregnancy ending way too early on with a set
of twins. At this point, I was done, mentally and physically.
We’ve heard many times, “God’s time” and “our time” are not necessarily
the same. Shockingly, after I had decided I was content with having
one child, I found out I was expecting. I called my best friend, who I
call my “Sparkling Angel,” and asked her to please pray for God not
to delay the passing of this baby for very long. I was expecting one
child; according to science, there was no possible survival for this baby.
My prayer every day was, “God, please take this baby early. Please
don’t let this drag out; I don’t want to go through this again. I know
he/she is not going to make it.”
What I found out was that I basically knew very little. I had a problem-free
pregnancy and now have a beautiful eight-year-old daughter, who I
often refer to as, “Angel.” My obstetrician told me that other than the
fact that he and his wife added me to their prayer list the night we found
out I was pregnant once again, there is no scientific explanation for
this child to have made it and to have thrived in this world. He and his
wife had proven to be angel warriors for me as well as my unborn child.
Why do we underestimate God? For that question, I have no answer.
My “Sparkling Angel,” gave me a plaque upon the birth of our daughter.
That plaque remains up in our house until this day. It simply reads,
“Miracles Happen.” (Continued on next page.)
Lenten Devotional
With our son, one died so that another could live. That was the same for
Jesus Christ. He died so that all of us may live. Did a miracle happen that
Easter morning? Most certainly! Do miracles happen even today? I believe
more so than we could ever imagine.
I propose two challenges for each of us. The first is that we never underestimate
the power of our Almighty God and Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father, who
can raise the dead and loves us enough to send us His only son who gave
his live to save us, is capable of and wants to do miracles in our lives. The
second challenge is to not only be earthly angels to others but also, when
needed, allow ourselves to graciously receive the love, prayers, and support
of others who not only want to, but who are commanded from God, to be
angels for us as well.
We come face-to-face with people every day with smiles on their faces and
who appear to have everything on their side. The truth of the matter is, those
smiles may just be hiding lots of hurt. Hurt that can only be healed by God
and His “Earthly Angels.”
One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 13:2—“Be not inhospitable to
strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.” I’ve been blessed with the greatest
of earthly angels. I can only hope and pray that I can give back to others just
a portion of what’s been given to me.
God, please help me to give back to others by allowing me to
passionately care for and love others the way I have so graciously
been loved. Please help me to be the angel for others as many
have so unselfishly been for me. Amen.
Artwork by Katherine C.
4th Grade
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lenten Devotional
March 27, 2015
“For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love
of the Most High he will not be shaken.”
Psalm 21:7
He will not be shaken. Wow, what a powerful phrase! Something that
will not be shaken is solid, firm, unmoving. When I think about having
faith so bold and so strong that I will not be shaken, I am excited. I
crave for such boldness that I am able to look past the trials, tribulations,
stresses, and anxieties of life because Jesus is my rock. I read this as
a reminder each day to give up and surrender the things that cause
me to stumble and fall. The Christian band Building 429 has a song
called, “We Won’t be Shaken,” and I find it so interesting that the
first line says, “This world has nothing for me, this life is not my own.
I know you go before me and I am not alone.” This line reiterates
exactly what Psalm 21: 7 says. When you are able to fully rely on the
Lord, the hardships of this world just don’t seem as big because you
know your future rests in heaven. As a high school senior trying to
determine where I will spend the next 4 years of my life, I am pulled in
hundreds of different directions. It is so easy to let the world pull me
and sway me to choose my path for my future, however, to truly have
faith that won’t be shaken, I must completely trust in the plans of the
Lord. I get excited thinking about how incredible our world would be
when we all have the boldness and faith to not be shaken.
Father, thank you for who you are and thank you for who
you have shaped me to become. I pray that you would give me
the boldness and the strength to live a radical life on fire
for you. I pray that you would be the roots that ground me
and my faith would be unshaken in you. Let the distractions
and pressures of my day be insignificant compared to my
faith in you. Amen.
Bethany Lake
Lenten Devotional
March 28, 2015
Romans 8:35-37
I think that this verse speaks volumes to everyone, young or old. We
all need to have this mindset that nothing can separate us from Christ’s
love. The passage concludes with the idea that we have victory in
Jesus and that anything is possible through Him if we let Him have
control of our lives. As a high school student, putting Jesus above
everything else is a difficult feat. We have schoolwork, sports, work,
friends, and family that all need equal devotion time as well. I know
that in my life personally I have a very busy week and reading my
Bible becomes a chore, and I lose sight of the importance and
substance I am truly trying to get from scripture. In this verse though
it says that Jesus conquers all of our “distractions” from Him, and
He will always win out. This is also not to say that we cannot bring
glory to God through all of the things we are involved in that we call
distractions. As a student, there are countless opportunities for us
to show Jesus to people. When life gets crazy and a little difficult,
I think it is important to keep your eyes fixed on God and, even
through those trials, praise Him and give Him all the glory in what
you are doing. I believe that is one of the best ways to further
His kingdom.
Lord, I pray for people to realize their true potential in what
they can do in the lives of people around them. Through the
hard times and the good times, let us forever be praising You
and Your name and remembering to further Your kingdom in
all we do.
Taylor Jarvis
Lenten Devotional
March 29, 2015
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God
is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own
Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along
with him, graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:31-32
This verse comes to mind when working toward a goal that God has
put on my heart or when praying and believing for a specific request.
We are educated concerning two key components of God’s powerful
love. The first is that if God is on our side, we cannot be stopped
by opposition. Often times we stop short of our goal or give up on
a promise because we fear the opposition. That may be envious
co-workers, spiteful friends, or even angry family members. We fear
what they might do, and we miss the opportunity to live out our
calling and fulfill our dreams. The special nature of this verse is that
it provides a message of confidence in that our walk with God protects
us from those who seek to come against us.
Romans 8:32 also gives us insight into God’s incredible generosity.
It states that He will graciously give us all things. We have the ability
to ask for our dreams and the protection and support to pursue what
we have requested. Mark 11:24 says “all things for which you pray and
ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted
you.” This confirms the claim in Romans 8:32 that God is willing to
give us anything we request. If he would give up his only son, surely
he would grant our prayer requests. What an amazing truth to realize.
We have access to a God who can grant all of our requests, giving us
all things and ensure that no one can successfully come against us!
Lord, we pray that you would hear our requests. As we
pursue our dreams and set out to accomplish our goals,
help us to remember that it is all from you. Strengthen
our resolve as we walk in faith believing that if you are
on our side, we have nothing to fear. We thank you for
such a powerful promise as we pledge to walk in
confidence in the future. Amen
Tony Phillips
Lenten Devotional
March 30, 2015
Ok, so imagine it.
I’m hangin’ with the most high immaculate,
And this whole time I thought He was just this carpenter from Nazareth.
I didn’t look at Him as a Savior,
But just someone who could maybe do me some favors once in awhile.
My image of Him was distorted,
Like my eyes were the ripple in the clearness of His water.
I failed to see the immensity of His importance,
My body looked like an acrobat the way it was contorted.
In order to get just the right angle to view how much of this ridiculous
sounding fortune that I’d stumbled upon,
Would I be rewarded.
I would look grace in the eye and tell it hi and bye as if He were no
more than just some other famous name in the sky.
And In my eyes He was nameless because uttering His true name
would force me to remove the blameless nature that I’d grown for myself.
I was shameless.
I mean we all have our seasons,
of not believing in Jesus,
but where does that always leave us?
Kneeling in the ground pleading,
as we make up our reasons,
of how we’re not part of the treason,
and how it wasn’t our sins that left Him beaten and bleeding.
Like we had no part in the king of kings screaming.
I’ve never seen a king leave His throne and offer it up to a fool.
Even a fool with his failures atoned for doesn’t deserve to rule.
So to be at the right hand of He who made the rules,
Makes absolutely no sense.
But all my senses know,
That this immeasurable gift can’t be bought with my handful of cents.
My pennies and dimes I continually try to throw at all of my mind.
Just to put even a crack in the enormous wall of my crimes,
Are worthless. Because as I tried to climb the stairway to Heaven,
I missed all the road signs.
And oh my God,
How You took my sins up, bought and paid for.
Leave me clueless as I wonder why I’m worth enduring pain for.
I was a stranger and not a friend.
A danger in the end.
My very nature rebelled against You. (Continued on next page.)
Lenten Devotional
And yet You still felt compelled to offer Yourself as a sacrifice,
And I don’t know about You but I feel like anyone who’s ever been
in paradise.
Wouldn’t leave just to satisfy the souls of those from whom he’d been
continually rejected and denied by.
This is the poem of the guilty,
Cause sometimes I feel guilt for how You took away my filth which is
a lot cause personally I’ve never seen anyone more filthy.
I used to lay awake in bed at night and conspire on how I could keep
You and sin both in my life,
And beads of sweat would roll down my neck as I perspired knowing
that there’s no way a liar, can outwit the one who’s so much higher.
Or maybe You’re just hovering right over me,
Never smothering but intently focusing.
And I can feel you.
You called me away from all my mind’s disbelief and wreckage,
With Your message of confession,
And a promise that You will be faithful when we come to Your table.
If I’m just able to grasp all of that,
That despite all my addictions and obsessions,
My transgressions that seem way too many for me to be personally
You have grace.
So as long as I can see You for You,
Who You really are and not mistake Your face,
For another in the ever-growing crowd of false pleasure and fakes,
You have grace.
My sins are erased driven far away from this place,
Of hasty judgments and self-righteous mistakes,
You have grace.
You have grace.
And at last I can say hallelujah my Savior and my ashamed face can
rise for the suffering He claimed and replaced.
Ryan Akin
Lenten Devotional
March 31, 2015
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of
those who love Him, who have been called according to His
purpose.” Romans 8:28
Last year, around the end of second semester, my classmates and I
were deciding which elective classes to take during senior year. I was
very excited because I had room in my schedule to take classes that
I actually wanted to do. Out of the many different paths I could have
chosen, I decided on taking Senior Psychology with my friends who
had taken psychology with me my freshmen year. I got a parent signature
on the form and turned it in, excited about the year to come.
This excitement did not last long though because a couple weeks later
during physics, someone called me out to see the counselor due to
scheduling conflicts. I walked down to her office, and she gave me bad
news. There had not been enough students to take Senior Psychology,
so those who had signed up for it had to choose a new elective. I
begrudgingly chose Current Issues, disappointed that I would not be
able to take Senior Psychology.
This experience taught me that God has a purpose for everything,
even the small things. I could have decided to be upset all semester
that I was not in the class I wanted to be in. Instead, I took it in stride
and made the best of my time in Current Issues. God provided new
friends for me and the chance to build stronger relationships with
old friends. He also provided me with an outlet to learn and speak
on issues pertinent to my life and to be able to learn about subjects I
was passionate about. God had a purpose for this insignificant event
in my life because I pursued Him in it. We have to remember that He
promised to do great things in our life because we love Him, even if
they aren’t necessarily in our plans.
God, please give me understanding and patience when I
don’t know what You are doing in my life. Help me remember
that You desire for me to live a life full of abundance and
goodness. Help me also to remember that You have a purpose
for all that You do, even the small things. Thank You for
all Your doing in my life currently. In Jesus’ name I pray,
Meg Morrison
Lenten Devotional
April 1, 2015
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake
of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the
surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his
sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as
rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Philippians 3:7-8
Athletes have a phrase they often use to describe their intensity of
play. It is “Leave it all on the field.” The idea is to give it all you’ve got.
All the conditioning, weight lifting, and studying the playbook have
brought you to game time. Preparation is over; it’s time to give 100%
on every play the entire game. There is no holding back or saving it
for later.
Most of us would not recognize the Apostle Paul as an athlete, but
in the game of life he was one on those who left it all on the field.
He chose to abandon popularity, position and power to gain an
eternal prize.
The American Heritage Dictionary renders this meaning for the word
abandon: 1.To forsake; desert. 2. To surrender one’s claim or right to; to
give up. 3. To desist from. 4. To yield (oneself) completely, as to emotion.
What better word could describe the life of Paul? What better word
could describe a person whose one desire is to live a life of worship?
Paul went on to say in Philippians 3 that he counted all his gain as
rubbish that he might know Christ. His one desire was to have intimate
fellowship with Christ.
A life of worship has deserted all other ways of living to have an
intimate relationship with Jesus. It has forsaken all that is familiar
to walk by faith. It has surrendered all rights to have its own way
and has yielded control to the one who formed it.
Once we have abandoned our old way of life we are called to abandoned
worship. What is abandoned worship? When abandoned is used as an
adjective it means shameless; thus, we have shameless worship.
God is calling us, his bride, to a life of abandonment - to set aside all
inhibitions we have about the way we live and respond to his love.
God is calling for abandonment when we get up every morning and
go about our daily lives. He is calling for abandonment every time we
gather with believers to worship him. No more “playing it safe.” It’s
time to be reckless with our lives and with our worship. It’s time for
the bride of Christ to leave it all on the field.
Chuck Newman
Lenten Devotional
April 2, 2015
Looking at his disciples, He said: “Blessed are you who are
poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who
hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who
weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people
hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject
your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that
day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received
your comfort.Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will
go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn
and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for
that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
Luke 6:20-26
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23
Sometimes when we think of prayer, quiet time, or Bible study, the
words joy or laughter are not the first words to come to mind. Sure,
we fellowship and have a good time together at church and in small
groups, but what about spending one-on-one time with God? Do you
ever laugh?
Scripture tells us that God desires for us to laugh - to be filled with
joy and to rejoice! This can come from the delight of understanding
something He’s trying to tell you or experiencing God’s joy firsthand.
Many times it’s in the little things we become attuned to when we
walk with Him! Start by thanking Him for specific blessings in your
life and His creations around you. Then include Him in your thoughts
constantly. He will reveal Himself to you in a wonderful way.
God desires for us to be filled so much with joy that we rejoice in the
Lord always!
Dear God of Hope, please fill us with joy and peace in believing
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in
hope. Reveal yourself to us each day in your joyful and
loving way! We love you and rejoice in your name! Amen.
Lane Friel
Lenten Devotional
April 3, 2015
“Whoever, does not take up their cross and follow me is not
worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please
him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing
in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10
We at Mt. Bethel UMC are very blessed by the messages our ministers
deliver. I remember in particular a story Senior Minister Randy told in
his sermon several years ago. It made a big impact on me, and I would
like to share it with you.
A slightly older couple had a son late in life. They loved him dearly
and raised him to be a fine young man. Their son volunteered to serve
his country and soon found himself in battle. One day during fierce
fighting, one of his comrades was seriously wounded. Under heavy
gunfire, the young man carried the wounded soldier through the
jungle to medical help. In so doing, he was severely wounded himself
but pressed on to save the other man. The parents received word that
their beloved son died from his wounds but had saved the life of another
before dying. They were forever changed by the loss of their son but
were proud and heartened by the knowledge of his gallant act of
bravery and unselfishness. Several years later, they were near the town
where the man lived that their son had given his life to save. Wishing
to meet him, they found his address and soon discovered it was in a
not-so-nice part of town. When they arrived at his residence, they
found a drunken and disrespectful mess. They tried to make conversation
with him and soon realized that he didn’t even acknowledge the
sacrifice of their son. As they walked away, the mother turned to her
husband and said, “Our son died for him?”
Dear God, I pray that I will live my life every day in a manner
worthy of the suffering and death your Son, my Lord and
Savior, paid to save me! May I honor him in all I do. Thank
you for your gift of salvation and eternal life for all who
bow down to Him. In the mighty name of Christ, Amen.
Mary Allphin
Lenten Devotional
April 4, 2015
Matthew 4:4
Ever since I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I have had
the hardest time reading the Bible. Whenever I tried to read the
Word, it rarely came to life for me. I just could not understand how
God could be speaking to me through this book or how one could
live by His Word when it so often felt like just a book of rules and
laws. Then the Lord opened my eyes and heart to this idea: the Bible
is His love letter to me. The more I thought about it, I realized that
when I get a letter or note from someone I know, I immediately imagine
that person’s voice and personality in the words; they are talking to
me. The same is true for the Bible! God’s personality, voice, and soul
are poured all over the pages of the Bible. Even more, He sacrificed
his one and only Son to get this love letter to us! It is that important!
So important for us to read that, even after hundreds of years of
people ignoring and rebuking His love letter, he never stopped writing.
He is an intentional God that has so much to tell each of His children
and is waiting eagerly for us to listen (or read, rather). Why would
you not want to read what the King of the universe gave everything
for you to hear? We should look at reading His Word with excitement
and joy. He has something different to tell each child of God. Dive
into it! He never disappoints.
Lord, thank you so much for who You are. The fact that you
have written me a personal love letter amazes me, and I am so
thankful. Lord, help me have such a desire to read Your word
that I look forward to it every day. Open my heart to what
You have to say to me, for I know You gave Your life for me to
hear it. In Your name I pray, Amen.
Parker Esoda
Lenten Devotional
April 5, 2015
The Day
There are good days and bad days. Some days seem short and others
long. We each have our code names for some days, like “blue” Monday
and “over the hump” Wednesday.
Then there are the momentous days of history. That day in October
1929 - the day the stock market crashed; or December 7, 1941 - “a day
that will live in infamy.” Jim Bishop, the author, capitalized on some of
the history-changing days in his series of books: “The Day Christ Was
Born,” “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” and “The Day Kennedy Was Shot.”
For Christians, the day of days is Easter. It is not Christmas, as
wonderful a day as that is. It is not the day Christ died, as significant
a day as Good Friday is. It is Easter - the Day of Resurrection - that
is the pivotal day in the life of the Christian believer. All other days
fall after that. Early Christians abandoned the Sabbath, or worship
on the seventh day, in favor of Sunday, the first day of the week,
also called the Lord’s Day, commemorating His resurrection. Paul
considered Easter a fundamental fact of faith: “If Christ has not
been raised, your faith is futile” (I Corinthians 15:17).
Easter, to the early Christians, was known as “the great day” and
the “day of days.” It was the day that changed all their other days.
It was the day new hope dawned in their hearts, the day evil was
conquered, and the day the sting of death was taken away forever.
It was the day the Lord made for them, and they rejoiced and were
glad in it.
Easter has been doing that for centuries, and it’s still doing it today.
Easter is the great day in the history of the world. Today, we exclaim
as of old, that this is the day the Lord has made . . . we, with the
saints before us, are glad and rejoice in it!
Happy Easter!
Randy Mickler
4385 Lower Roswell Rd. Marietta, GA 30068 /