Fruitland First United Methodist Church
Sunday, March 07, 2021
317 SW 2nd Street Fruitland, Idaho

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40 Days of Lenten DEVOTIONs - click on the speakers below to hear the audio

 

DAY 19   

Repent and Believe

By Jim Hardenbrook

“The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15

Jesus’ message was perplexing, yet simple: The kingdom of God is available, but repentance and belief are required to enter that kingdom.

Sometimes I’m perplexed by Jesus’ insistence that we believe. Of course, we believe! But do we? I wonder. Jesus often asked those closest to him, “Do you still have no faith?” Yet he was surprised when he observed faith. Remember his reaction to the Roman commander in Luke 7:9?

Do we believe what Jesus said about worry, or forgiveness, or loving those who curse and hurt us, or commitment, or material possessions, or eternal judgment.

Maybe that’s why repentance is linked with belief. When we get close enough to observe and hear Jesus, we clearly see that he proposes a life radically counter to our culture and nature. If we believe him, change (or repentance) is mandatory. Eugene Peterson wrote, “[Repentance] is always and everywhere the first word in the Christian life.” The hardest thing to change is the way we think. That change, essential if not easy, inevitably leads to a changed lifestyle.

Lent is a time of repentance. Years ago I had a cancerous tumor removed. Because of surgery the cancer was survivable. But without surgery, it would have killed me in five or six years. Sin and unbelief are survivable, but only when repentance enters the picture. I had to submit to the advice and scalpel of my surgeon. When will we submit to the call and command of Jesus, “Repent and believe?”

Lord Jesus, thank you for making God’s kingdom available. In this season of repentance, reveal whatever is keeping us out.

Who do you hang out with?

By Pam Hardenbrook

 

Let your gentle spirit be known to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

I remember a sweet saint named Mary Glover. She was in her late nineties when I met her and we remained friends until she left this earth in her 104th year.

Mary hung out with Jesus. Many times at church she would grab me or another sister or brother for a hug, and she would whisper in our ear. When that happened, I was never quite sure if she was talking to me or to Jesus. Her sentences were often interspersed with prayer.

Her last years were spent in a retirement home that had lots of corridors. She turned those hallways into prayer walkways, praying for everyone she knew every day. Mary could no longer sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, or lead her ukulele band. But because of her closeness to Jesus, her whole life was a prayer.

Like Mary, I want my best friend and confidant to be Jesus. I want to hang out with him because he is the one who calms my storms, soothes my soul, and gentles my spirit. Hanging out with Jesus is the key to my joy and peace of mind.

Prayer: Just a closer walk with Thee! Grant it, Jesus is my plea. Daily walking close to Thee – let it be, dear Lord, let it be. Amen.

 

DAY 17  

Bread of Life
By Kay Haley
 

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35

Sometime last year after being in lockdown during the pandemic, I started watching cooking shows and became very interested in making bread. It sort of became an obsession. I was 72 years old and I had never baked a loaf of bread. I studied recipes, stocked my kitchen and finally was ready to bake bread. One morning after mixing a batch of sourdough bread, I sat down to read my morning devotional about faith and thought, “Baking bread is an act of faith.”

From Genesis and continuing to Revelation you will find scriptures relating to bread. In fact, bread is referred to 472 times with many different meanings. Bread is mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer, God provided manna in Exodus 16, and in Matthew 26 the broken bread symbolizes His broken body on the cross.

My baked bread today will be nourishment for my family, and Jesus’ nourishment is the bread of life. If we choose Him we can experience the fullness of life and God’s grace.

Oh Lord, you are my spiritual bread. Thank you for the scripture that comforts me and reminds me of Your promises. In Christ name, I pray. Amen

 

Soon our Race will be run
By Kathy Day
 

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is a crown waiting for me. It is given to those who are right with God. The Lord, who judges fairly, will give it to me on the day he returns. He will not give it only to me. He will also give it to all those who are longing for him to return. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

My grandfather, Jesse James May, was born on August 21, 1888, in Durant, Oklahoma. He married Viola Awilda Peacock in 1911 in Carrizozo, New Mexico. Eventually they moved to Fruitland, Idaho, where he lived until his death in 1978.

Grandpa was a man of faith, and to me he was the best grandpa ever.  I especially loved his stories. This poem is an example of the wise words he shared with me and all of his family.

Soon our Race will be run

Just a few more days for toiling;
Just a few more nights dark and cold,

Then our tents will be folded forever.

We shall trade them for mansions of gold.

Just a few more thorns with the roses;

Just a few more heartaches and tears,

Then we shall behold him in splendor

When the King in his glory appears.

Just a few more days in this prison

To serve as a sentence for sin,

And the angels will welcome us in.

Just a few more trials and testings;

Just a few more errands to run,

Then we’ll hear the King say, “Come up!

Thy toiling forever is done.”

Thank you, Lord, for the people who have shown us how to walk by faith, especially people such as your servant Jesse James May. Help me to "run my race" in ways that honor you and bless your people. Amen.

DAY 15 

Humbled
 
By Jim Hardenbrook
 
See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
Obadiah 1:3-4 (TNIV)

Some years ago spoke at a youth conference in Virginia. The conference theme was “Humbled by His Presence.” Not being a “humility expert,” I began reading Bible passages that focus on humility and pride. It was quite a task!
Both Testaments are filled with challenges and corrections to our prideful approach to life. New Testament passages focus more on personal relationships, often dealing with church conflict. The older testament has some of that but, especially the prophets, focuses like a laser on leaders – religious and political.
Take a look at 1 Kings 21:27 and Jonah 3:6. (Two mighty rulers heard God’s warning, dressed in “robes of sadness,” and humbled themselves before God.)
Rulers who wrapped themselves in religious practices but ignored God's guidance were called out. “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you: even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.” Isaiah 1:15-16 (NIV)
C. S. Lewis warns us in Mere Christianity that “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.” A page or two later Lewis asks, “How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious?” He comes to the conclusion that such people “are worshiping an imaginary god.”
How would we respond if our faith leaders and those asking for our votes called for fasting, humility, and prayer rather than greatness, vengeance, and partisanship? Perhaps we should consider the humble wisdom of Abraham Lincoln as he authorized, with these words, a National Fast Day in 1861:
When our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals to humble ourselves before him and to pray for His mercy.
Maybe there is a better path than the one we are on.

Almighty God, you are the Potter, we are the clay. Mold us and make us. Change our hearts, O God, may we be like you. Amen.
 

DAY 14  

Dad’s Reveille

By Pam Hardenbrook
 
…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

As a young adult, my father met Jesus - and became a joyous, enthusiastic disciple. It was his fondest hope to be alive at Christ’s return. However, when Dad died in 2009, that desire wasn’t realized. After musing about this for several months, I came to realize that surely, Dad was not disappointed. My reflections resulted in the following poem.

Throughout his life of faith on earth, one longing he held dear:
“To see Christ coming in the clouds –that trumpet sound to hear!”
Eyes keenly focused on the sky, with yearning he gazed at the blue.
Would this be the day that the firmament rends, and joyfully, Jesus steps through?
Ears expectant and eagerly open, he’d anticipate Gabriel’s tune.
“May your ‘glorious appearing’ mark the end of my days. 
Come, Lord Jesus; yes, please come soon!”
But early that morning he left us. All was quiet; dozing near him we stayed.
No trumpet sounded to our ears, but to his – was a reveille played?
Or the angel band – was it jamming, rehearsing their song for That Day?
Maybe Gabriel tuning his trumpet was the sound that called Daddy away?

But that last trumpet solo, he’ll hear it! And the limbs of that great redwood tree
will shake as he jumps up to answer that call – just imagine with me!

Alive on this earth or asleep when Christ comes – where I’ll be, I really can’t say.
Dad would tell us, “Just watch and be ready, 
For you may hear that trumpet today!”

Thank you, Lord, for your promise: that at Jesus’ return, I will reunite with my loved ones – and I will finally see you face to face. How these words comfort me! Give me watchful eyes and listening ears, and prepare my heart for my own reveille. Amen.

 

DAY 13  

Trees

By Joyce Turnbaugh

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with the rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

- Joyce Kilmer, 1886-1918

This was my mother’s favorite poem and it was written in 1913, the same year she was born. I was named after the author, Joyce Kilmer. I have always loved trees, flowers, and other plants.

Have you ever wondered how it is possible to plant a small brown seed into dull brown soil and have bright orange carrots, or vibrant yellow sunflowers emerge? I can prepare the soil and provide the water necessary, but only God can make the seeds grow and infuse the plants with all the colors of the rainbow!

Planting our humble little seeds of faith, kindness, and God’s love works very much the same way. When our beloved Savior, who gave his all for us, takes over from there, just stand back and watch them grow!

Heavenly Father, give me grace to plant seeds of  faith, kindness, and love in your world and give me humility and patience as I trust you to bring those seeds to life. Amen

 

 

 

DAY 12  

Note: You may want to print out this devotion before listening to it. It has an interactive graphic that will enhance the devotion’s meaning.  


The Labyrinth

By Kay Haley
 
 
You have made known to me the paths of life; and you will fill me with joy in your presence. Acts 2:28 NIV
 
One summer a couple of years ago I spent five months in the mountains at Sawtooth Methodist Camp. It was the epitome of the phrase “God’s country.” A very special place for me was the labyrinth. I once read that a labyrinth turns a simple act of walking into a peaceful journey with God. The labyrinth at camp was my silent retreat. As I entered I felt peace, and as I walked I talked to God and he helped me with all my heartaches, fears, and joys.
 
During this Lenten season, a wonderful way to spend time in meditation is with this printed labyrinth. Follow the path with your finger or color your way to the center. As you follow the lines ask God to walk with you. Stay in the middle and just be still with God. Then as you follow your way back, thank God for all the joys in your life. 
 
Dear Lord thank you for using this time to pull me closer to You. By your grace, I will walk by faith and not by sight. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

DAY 11   

Borrowing from Jesus

By Pam Hardenbrook

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

When my daughter was a teenager, she would often borrow clothes from me – and sweaters from her dad. She had many nice outfits of her own, but access to her parents’ closets greatly expanded her wardrobe! And we were glad to share – it pleased us that she wanted to wear our things and, in a way, resemble us.

          My friend, Karen, has been wearing clothes from her mother’s closet. Just after her mother died, she and her sister sorted through their mother’s clothing and decided to keep some of her things to wear. “Wearing her clothes is comforting,” Karen said, “because the scent of Mama’s perfume lingers in the fabric.”

          Scripture admonishes us to be holy – to be like God (Lev. 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16).But as I try to resemble my Heavenly Father, I find that my own spiritual wardrobe is sadly lacking. Clothed in my own virtues, my apparel is tattered and soiled. However, Jesus offers me a whole closetful of clean, freshly pressed, holy garments and when I am dressed in his righteousness, I catch a whiff of his gracious aroma. Maybe those around me will sense it, too.

          I am so glad that Jesus lets me borrow from his closet.

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I try to be righteous on my own. Teach me to rely on your holiness. Help me to grow to resemble you and to share the aroma of your grace. Amen. 

 DAY 10   

How Much God Do You Want 
 
By Jim Hardenbrook
 
I hate, I despise your religious feasts: I cannot stand your assemblies. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:21 and 24
 
This passage is about repentance not justice. Read all of it (5:21-24) and you will see what I mean.
The people who received this message were religious.  They obeyed the prescribed tenets of their faith.  Their worship services and prayer meetings were right in line with the tradition they inherited.  Everything seemed just fine. Everything, that is, except God. God was not fine.
 
He hated their worship experiences and their prayers.  That’s what it says!  A lack of holiness and fair play provoked God’s angry response to these people’s religious traditions.

 

With penetrating sarcasm Wilbur E. Rees writes:  I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.
How much of God would you like? Be careful with your answer. God does not take our commitments, or His, lightly.
 
Prayer: Lord, I repent of my desire for a comfortable, unchallenging, self-serving faith. Open my eyes to opportunities you place before me. Transform my life so that I will act justly, seek mercy, and walk humbly with you, my God. Amen.
Here I am, Lord
 
By Sharon Wada 
 
Scripture: That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Philippians 3:10
 
When I hear the hymn: “Here I am Lord” (United Methodist Hymnal, #593), I can’t get through the song without crying because I have heard You, Lord calling me in the night. Faith, belief, and trust all are interchangeable but although I hear You I don’t know what to do. It is my hope that from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday during this time of reflection and repentance I will have an epiphany. I have heard You more than once and yet I do not hear; open my ears and my eyes and heart that I may be awakened. Although I try to be more pleasing to You, I stay conflicted and unmotivated. I think of many things I could do to be of service but I am paralyzed.
 
I have experienced the power of prayer during these past months while I recuperated from my accident. Even my surgeon was surprised that the operation was as uncomplicated – after putting my jaw together – since the fracture was in two places. He said, after setting the first break, that it’s unusual for the second break to slide into place. I told him of my faith and all the people praying for me. Maybe just maybe, I heard you calling me onward, “holding your people in my heart.”

Prayer: Lord I know I have your wisdom to guide me and I will go where you lead me. Through your death I know I will have eternal life. Amen

DAY 8  

 God’s unfathomable peace

 By Pam Hardenbrook
 

Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood. Philippians 4:6-7

A few years ago I became friends with a woman I quickly grew to love and appreciate. Her story has had a profound influence on my life.

In the 1960s, she and her husband started a manufacturing business that involved using hazardous materials.

In the late 90s, the Environmental Protection Agency filed suit against them, which led to their home and business being condemned and their eventual bankruptcy. Then, her husband developed terminal cancer and died shortly before we met her.

Despite all this, I never met a more joyful person. Her attitude didn’t make sense according to the way the world views such tragedies. The key to her joy was her commitment to prayer and her faith in God.

She told us that while her husband was dying, many of her friends prayed for his healing. She said she appreciated their prayers, but that her requests were different. Instead, she prayed for three things: that she and her husband would have good conversation (about what was happening and what her future would be), that their love would grow, and that she would have no bitterness. My friend was quick to say that her prayers had been answered, and that as a bonus, God gave her unfathomable peace and joy.

When I grow up, I want to be like this faithful follower of Jesus.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you for the examples of your servants and for their testimonies of your faithfulness. Protect my spirit from anxiety as I bring my needs to you with a grateful heart, and may your unfathomable peace and joy flood my soul. To the praise of your glory, Amen.

DAY 7   

OFF TRACK

By Larry Haley

 

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Luke 19:10 NIV
 

I used to teach Idaho Hunter Education to youth. I also went hunting each year with a small group of friends. One lesson I taught was what to do if you became lost. This included a discussion about how being lost would feel – panic, fear, anxiety. If left unchecked one could make bad decisions and possibly make the problem worse. To counter this I taught them a process to “chill” out. The process: Sit down, build a little campfire, eat and drink something. This would give them time to relax and be able to think and plan what the next step would be.

 

One hunting trip my friends and I split up with a plan to meet at a certain point in the late afternoon and be picked up by another to drive back to camp. About mid afternoon I realized I wasn’t where I thought I was. Immediately those feelings I had taught about were happening to me! But I knew what to do. This calmed me down and I was able to get back on track and reach the meeting point on time.

 

We’re always getting off track, lost, even with the best-laid plans. There are many things in life we don’t control. But there is one who is in control, our God, who has laid out a path for us and provided a spiritual guide and a written guide for us. When that “off track” feeling hits us we can immediately go to our spiritual leader and our written guide for help.

 

Prayer: Lord, we your sheep are always getting lost. Watch over us and give us that push and prod that we need to get back on track. Amen

DAY 6   

Be a Light 

By Leslie Ward

In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 

I grew up in a church with the most amazing, kind, loving, and graceful people. No matter what the circumstance was, someone was always there to help; to show the way. As a kid I didn't understand the time, effort, and sacrifice it took to be the “someone there.” My parents were incredible role models. Church on Sunday, helping with the work days at church, teaching Sunday School and writing devotions to share as a deacon or deaconess, arriving early to prepare communion, and helping with Church Camp in the summers. That took a sacrifice of time and resources to help improve the bigger picture. 

 

Jesus knew the sacrifice. HE KNEW! And yet, he still did it. Even to this day the thought of how much he loves me - how much he sacrifices for me – is overwhelming. 

 

As an adult, I get the time, energy, and resources it takes to be “the someone who is there.” Is it worth it? Yes, I believe so!

 

We could never be the light that Jesus was but we can be a light. Listen to Thomas Rhett’s “Be a Light’ (Lyric Video) and then go BE a Light.

 

Dear God, Thank you for your Son, thank you for the Light! Help me to reflect it in any way I can. (Link to Be A Light (Lyric Videohttps://youtu.be/8YuWAZmD0aU

 
 
 
Think about excellent things

 

By Pam Hardenbrook
 

Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Philippians 4:8

Jim and I were serving our first full-time pastorate in Bellingham, Washington, and had completed our first year. It was time for the church board to review Jim’s salary package. I think they were paying us $600 a month and a motion was on the table to raise the salary by $50 a month. We really could use the raise. We were renting a dumpy little house with hot and cold running mice, and our first baby was on the way. I wasn’t at the meeting, but Jim told me all about it afterwards.

One of the deacons on the board was a grouchy old miserly fellow. You could always count on this deacon to be negative and argumentative in most situations. Long story short, he convinced the board not to increase our salary.

After that board meeting, Jim came home hurt and angry. He had a fomenting dislike of this man, and I could see that it could ruin his ministry. So we prayed about it and came up with a plan based on Philippians 4:8. We decided to apply that teaching to our attitudes about that deacon. We began to look for any true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy characteristics in him. It took some doing, but we came up with some. The deacon was faithful. He attended every worship service and event at the church. He was a hard worker and offered his muscle and expertise whenever something needed moving or fixing. We began to thank God for those attributes, but we also told him what we appreciated about him. I’d like to say that he became sweeter, kinder, and more generous, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was that WE became sweeter, kinder, and more generous toward him. His cantankerousness didn’t steal our joy.

Do you have a cantankerous person in your life? This Lenten season is a good time to examine your thoughts and attitudes. Try applying this passage to that person; focus on things in that person that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise. Maybe God can use that troublesome person to transform and purify you.

Holy Lord, open my eyes to the true, noble, right and pure characteristics of people in my life. Instead of dwelling on negative things, help me to think about what is lovely and worthy of respect in the lives of others. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, give me the grace and boldness to speak of those things. To your eternal glory, amen.

 

DAY 4  

 
Thou art with Me
 

Written by Doris Homan

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23
 

January 1, 2021 my sister, Mary Ann Crawley of Decaturville, Tennessee died. She was 88 years old and had been in poor health for the past couple of years.

A few months ago she was taken to the hospital and tested positive for Covid. While hospitalized she was having trouble with her memory and was very confused. One day as I was trying to talk to her by phone, she began to recite the Twenty-third Psalm. It was word by word and from beginning to the end. When she got to verse 4 (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…) she slowed and emphasized every word. I was shocked and pleased.

Mary Ann recovered somewhat but eventually died. My relatives informed me she had recited the psalm to some of her children and grandchildren, as well.

At the end of her graveside service, her pastor ended the service by having everyone recite the Twenty-third Psalm together.

Since that time I have had a copy of the psalm in the front of my Bible so that when I do my devotion each night I can clearly recall her reciting it – especially verse 4.

 

Loving heavenly Father, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Amen.

 

 

Day 3  

How Does Jesus Speak to You?

Written by Letha Essinger

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes may not die but have eternal life. John 3:16   (Good News Bible)

I can't remember when my love of music wasn't there. My older sisters always sang harmony while doing dishes. In our one room school in Kansas, music was a bright spot every day. I could memorize anything set to music! In that same one room school we had Sunday school, and learned “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!” I could hardly wait for Sunday! What a wonderful experience!

As an adult, singing in church and in church choirs has blessed my soul. How much I miss singing in church during this COVID shut-down! So I will be singing to myself all the beloved hymns of Lent and Easter. One that I particularly love speaks of Jesus love for each of us. It's one of the hymns that bring me peace. Sometimes I sing it in my mind as I'm going to sleep, or when I'm undergoing a medical procedure.

O How He Loves You and Me 
 
O how He loves you and me! O how he loves you and me!
He gave his life, what more can he give?
O how he loves you; O how he loves me;
O how he loves you and me!
Jesus to Calv'ry did go; His love for sinners to show.
What he did there brought hope from despair.
O how he loves you; O how he loves me;
O how he loves you and me!

 

Take a deep breath, breathing in God's Spirit and calm,

let the breath out slowly, releasing all that distracts you

Read or sing the words of the song in an attitude of Thanksgiving,

Thank you, Holy Lord, for your wonderful gifts of love and grace and eternal life. Amen

 

Day 2 

A Trip to the Dump

By Jim Hardenbrook

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8


I do enjoy a trip to the landfill or “the dump,” as we used to call it.  As a youngster, I saw those trips as great adventures! I never knew what I would find or whom I would see.  Some folks turn up their noses when you mention a landfill, but not me.


However, something about a landfill never changes: a certain odor is part of the experience.  Now don’t get me wrong – the folks who operate our local landfill do a great job, but it still has that certain smell.  The smell is not as bad as it was in the old days, but it is still there.  That is just the price you pay for having garbage around – even for a little while.


It is the same way with moral garbage.  It stinks.  The longer you keep it around, the more it stinks. Garbage such as “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language” piles up in our hearts and pollutes the whole environment around us.  That kind of garbage not only smells bad, it injures families, neighborhoods, offices, churches and communities.


How do we get rid of moral garbage?  Some can be recycled, but that takes special handling. Some should be buried, and some should be destroyed, but the best approach is to haul it off to someone who knows how to deal with it.


As a Christian, I believe that Jesus knows best how to handle the moral garbage of my life – and yours.  However, that doesn’t happen automatically.  We don’t just “get better.”  It starts with seeing garbage for what it is, and then deciding to get rid of it.


How about a trip to dump?


 

Dear Jesus, take the garbage of my life and haul it away. Recycle my experiences – even the bad ones – and use them to teach me to be a better disciple. Amen.

  

DAY 1   

 

The Sacrifice  

By Kay Haley

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice of God. Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

April 8, 2011, I was building two large stage props for a passion play to be performed at our church for Good Friday. To construct the props, I was forming wire mesh into the shape of a life size figure of Jesus, to hang on a tall cross in the church yard. As I was finishing up and was amazed of how lifelike he was, I realized my hand was bleeding. I had cut it on the rough edges of the wire. I wasn’t in pain but I felt at that moment I needed to sit down, not because I was bleeding but because I was profoundly shocked at the realization of the sacrifice that was made for me. It was as if time had stopped. I remember repeating this verse several times throughout the following days of working on this project: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

Each year during the time of Lent, 40 days before Easter, I recall this emotional time in my life. Today when I think about the Lenten season I give thanks for this season to focus my walk with Jesus and where I am going with Him this year. It’s a time to look at all the opportunities to grow, to learn, to pray, to sacrifice my “cluttered life” for a more meaningful God centered life.

Lent is our opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the cross. The cross is where we can place our faith, our salvation, and our hope fully in God’s hands.

Loving God, Help me to open my heart and let everything I do come from you. Help me to be aware and thankful for the many ways you reach out to me to help me each day. Lead me think beyond my own wants and fill me with the desire to do your will, Amen.