2017 Lent Devotional

Devotions will be posted daily or you may download a full PDF of the devotionals.

 

lent devotional 2017

“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” Nehemiah 4:14


A product of the community of Redeemer; for the Glory of God.

Special thanks to everyone who made this devotional possible: God, for giving us His words to read and eyes to read it with and minds to comprehend, the devotional writers, whose names are in the table of contents, and the editor, Tracy Stouffer.
I am honored and blessed to work alongside of you!

Sincerely,
Trevor Hughes


“May The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

 

April 16 - Easter: What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Kathy Zimmerman

Scripture: John 20:1-10. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
Easter—Resurrection—Sunday; what a glorious morning that first Easter Sunday must have been when they finally understood that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead! What a glorious day it is when we understand that Jesus has truly risen and is alive and with us today!

Trevor asked me to share a story of Christ’s resurrection power with you from my days as a pediatric (children) oncology (cancer) and HIV/AIDS nurse. Very early on in that career, at the National Institutes of Health, I started taking care of a young boy, 2 years old, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, and was started on an experimental protocol. His name was Roger, not really, but let’s say it was, just for grins and giggles. Roger would change my life forever!

He was a bright boy that enjoyed all things boy…hunting, cars, trucks, dirt, He-man, GI Joe, etc. The first part of his 3 year treatment was a 3 month stay on the ward where he would get very sick when he received his chemo and then get serious infections because of the effects of the chemo. He and his parents were such troopers! They always had a smile, a funny story, and Roger was a typical little boy who always was laughing and playing. Roger, his family and I grew very close over those first three months as I cared for him on almost a daily basis. As Roger and his family would be at the hospital for treatments we would sometimes talk about faith, but his parents would say they “weren’t into that Jesus stuff”.

As Roger’s treatment continued past those first three months I continued to be his primary nurse at the hospital where he was receiving his ‘experimental’ treatment and he and his family and I created a very close bond. When he was able to be at home we would often chat with each other (the days before email) and visit. I was also in contact with his home hospital and his preschool to help them with the nuances of caring for a child with this form of cancer.

About a year after Roger’s treatment ended (he was about 6) he had a relapse of his cancer. It was back and now it was in his spinal fluid. Roger would receive another line for making blood draws easier and he also received an Ommaya reservoir, which allowed us to access his spinal fluid without having to do a painful lumbar puncture (which sometimes he would need at 5 minute intervals). He would begin what would be a 16 year journey of being treated for this disease. He had many side effects and the treatments were often painful. But Roger kept a sense of humor, a sense of hope and had an infectious personality that encouraged and lifted those around him. Roger had a passion for life. As he grew he desired to become a police officer and would go along on calls with his local small town police officers. He loved hunting and farming and was involved in the local hunting group and the local Future farmers of America. He met people from all walks of life and was an inspiration to them all.

Roger was also close with his grandmother; a grandmother with a strong faith in Christ. As he came into his teen years he came to ask questions about life, about his disease and the outcome of it and about death. He always had such good questions for me and we often had awesome discussions about life, death and this person his grandma told him about, Jesus. He had great questions and was never afraid to ask them. One day when he came into the clinic for a treatment, it was just he and I for some time in the room. He excitedly shared with me that at a church service the week before he had gone forward and accepted Christ as his savior (he was about 16). He was to be baptized the following week. How happy I was for him! Oh the joy I felt knowing that when his all too short life ended he would be with Jesus! Roger and I would have many wonderful talks after that about his walk with Christ, something ‘new’ he had read in his Bible and how he was trying to live for Jesus and to be strong so others would be able to see ‘the light’.

A few months later Roger was in for a checkup and was having a lumbar puncture. I was helping to hold him in the proper position, something I had done with Roger many times. But this one was particularly difficult…not a good sign. It was also very painful…also not a good sign. I remember vividly holding Roger, praying for him, whispering a prayer in his ear and trying to encourage him, and Roger, for the first time in all those years, crying. When the doctor was able to get some spinal fluid for a test, he took out the needle and gave me a look. That look, the one that confirms the feeling in your gut, said it all. My heart sank. Roger waited for the doctor to leave and sobbed. When he had finished he looked at me and said “I know it’s not good. I just want to make it through graduation.” I encouraged him, comforted him and hoped against hope that he would be able to do that. Later that day, lab results confirmed what we all suspected. His cancer was back again, and with a vengeance. We did what we could to get him to his graduation.

Roger was able to do that and much more in the next year and a half. It was like he was on a mission. He made it to prom, he got his driver’s license, he went to many Senior year events where everyone spoke amazing words about him and gave him awards, and commendations. And he graduated. He shared the graduation events with me on a clinic visit. His parent’s so proud of him. Roger told me that at the graduation he received a standing ovation….he was so shocked at this. But he told me that he stood up and told everyone there why he had made it….because of Jesus Christ and if anyone wanted to hear more to come see him. And they did. And Roger told them of Jesus and what He had done in his life.

He had been sharing the good news everywhere….with everyone he met. The whole little town that he lived in knew who he was, as did those in the little towns around him. And he told them all. He was living like he was on a mission…and he was on a mission…Jesus was his mission.

I would only see him a couple of more times after that. He would always talk to those in the waiting room and the treatment room about his life. He would encourage all of those around him with his life. And then he would point them to the One who gave it to him. Roger’s death came quickly, peacefully, and although those of us who love him and are left behind were in pain, Roger no longer was. Roger was now with his Lord and Savior, hearing those amazing words…”well done, good and faithful servant.”

Roger’s funeral was such a celebration of life. There were farmers, bikers, police officers, hunters (I could tell because they were the ones in camo) and military. There was a military flyover, a military salute, his parents were presented with a flag. The bikers had a special ceremony at the gravesite (it was a long and joyous funeral!). I had an opportunity to talk with many of the people there. Many of them recounted how they had met Roger and what he had meant in their life. And many told me that he told them about Jesus and wanted to know if I knew Jesus. You see, they wanted to be like Roger and tell others about Jesus, to be brave like him, to live like him…..on a mission for Jesus.

I personally can’t think of a better resurrection story; a better story of how someone wants to be a light in a dark world. I want to be like Jesus and shine light where the darkness is, I want to be like Roger, I want to be brave, I want to live my life like I’m on a mission for Jesus. Will you join me? Will you shine the light of Christ in a dark world….wherever that world takes you?

Prayer:
Father God, we pray that You will allow us to see Your light in the corners of our dark lives. That You will enable us to find Your joy, peace and love so that we may go out into all the world and share that light, love and joy with others. May You be the reason we give for our joy in times of darkness. Allow us to be brave and courageous for You! Thank You Jesus!

April 15 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Reader

Scripture: Joshua 4:1-7. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
I trust that just like the Israelites in this passage, God is at work in your life. In some way or another, God has brought you through something or has remained faithful to you or has spoken to you. Or you could ask this question, how has God transformed you this Lent? The Israelites created a monument to remember the works of God. In this devotional time, you will create a monument also. Pray and reflect over 12 things that God taught you/showed you/transformed in you/or is working in your family and friends from this Lenten year. (Write down those things inside the stones below)

april15 image

Prayer: Write down a prayer of thanks to God for what He has done in you and your friends.

April 14 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Read SOAP Reflection

Scripture: Luke 23. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
Please don’t skip this devotional. Today is Good Friday. Today we remember Jesus going to the cross. As your read Luke 23, watch how Christ suffers for the good of his family, close friends, nation and the world. Please do a SOAP study of this chapter and share it on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RedeemerJesusMovement/) or with a friend.
Scripture Write down the verse or verses that stuck out to you in your reading. You can show the verses and even have them read to you with the click of a button. No copying and pasting blocks of text.


Observation What did you observe about the scripture that stuck you? This can be one sentence or a whole book.

 

Application How can you apply the observation so that it affects your life today?


Prayer Write out a prayer to God based on what you just learned and ask him to help you apply this truth in your life.

April 13 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Anonymous

Scripture: Nehemiah 7:1-3; 66-69 Nehemiah 8:1-6. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
What a journey we have been on…I think! These first 6 chapters of Nehemiah have described the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem, or for us the restoration of our most important relationships, hopefully. In preparing to write this devotion I spent some time trying to discern what the Holy Spirit wanted me to write, and I kept coming back to the fact that that depended on what I had done in the previous weeks….but I hadn’t done them, because it hasn’t happened yet So I then spent some time trying to imagine what the Holy Spirit would do in me the previous weeks were I to have made this journey prior to writing the devotional. I will try to share with you the outline of where I think the Holy Spirit will have me go during lent this year as I take this journey with you….but I can’t be sure. Then I can tell you what this week’s focus is speaking to me at where I think I might be when I get to this point. Is that all clear as mud? It is difficult sometimes to write devotions at the end of a series when you haven’t gone through the series yet! I thank you in advance for my wordiness.

Week 1: When I ask God, the Master Builder, what relationships I have that need repair; He points me to a most painful one, the relationship with the family member who sexually abused me as a child. Really Jesus, do I need to go there again? I keep answer because I do not like the answer I hear…can you relate? I have spend so much time over the years addressing this and the problems it has created…the nightmares, the flashbacks, the physical problems, the marriages issues, the parenting issues. Ugh. Okay, if You go with me, I’ll go…

Week 2: Father, what is it that you ask me to look at now? Where do I need to stop blaming the person who harmed me and accept the responsibility for the mess I have created? What cracks do I need to see, to allow You to repair? I still find that after all these years and all this time and all this work that there are so many times when I feel such great anger, no hate, deep hate for this person. And I must admit that I feel entitled to this anger….hatred. This hatred wells up in me at time and I take it out on those around me, the cashier at the store, the post office, my spouse, my children, myself. I am not entitled to this hatred and this anger….the enemy wants me to feel this anger and hatred so that I cannot carry the light of Christ to others, so that my other relationships will falter and I will become apathetic to God, unusable to the One I love so much. Father, help me to truly forgive. To let go of this anger and hatred that sometimes so deeply takes root in me.

Week 3: How does one learn to handle THIS well? there isn’t any part of my life that it hasn’t touched; no relationship it hasn’t tarnished. The wall of my life is strong in so many places, and yet, there are still parts where it is crumbling apart…this person is no longer in my life, well not much, and yet sometimes it seems that they are everywhere. I have confronted, I have forgiven, they have admitted, but they also have admitted that they don’t see the wrong in what they did. Father, help me to take on only what is my responsibility to take on. Help the other person to deal with what they must. This is all I know to ask. Father, when the hatred and anger seem so deep in me, help me to see that it is the small child in me that is hurting that needs attention. Help me to allow you to heal those places in me that still ache, that still hurt.

Week 4: Forgiveness. I ask it of you, for those I have hurt; I ask it from those around me I have hurt when I have lashed out in anger and pain. I ask you to soften my heart. I ask you to prepare me for that day when my abuser might ask of me to forgive them….I pray that I am able to be humble, and to offer the forgiveness that you so richly bless me with.

Week 5: What bad habits related to this do I have Father that you want to change in me? What needs to be transformed in me? I know that in the midst of the still present nightmares and flashbacks, in the midst of the anger, hurt, self pity and lack of forgiveness, I need to turn to you more, to trust in you and to lean on your word.

Week 6: so now we get to the focus of this devotion: What if I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me? Parging the walls with a protective coating.

Nehemiah 7:1-3 talks of what was done to now protect the newly walled city of Jerusalem from those who would do it harm. God instructed this to occur so that Jerusalem to return to the state it was in before….God wants the same for us. Once we have gone through all this with Him we wants us to stay this way…He doesn’t want the evil one to have his way with us. Jesus wants to be our Gatekeeper, He want to let us know what to let into our lives and what to keep out; He wants the authority in my life. He also wants us to worship Him, not because He needs it, but because He knows the benefit we receive when we give ourselves totally to Him when we do. And He wants us to be people of godly character and to surround ourselves with those who have godly character so that they can hold us accountable. The rest of chapter 7 includes a list of people and their belongings pointing to how important people are to God, that their ( and our) place in history masters and that your understanding and commitment of God’s purpose for us matters to Him. The first 6 verses of chapter 8 point to the great importance of God’s word in our life, that for us to continue to be spiritually renewed we need to reverently hear God’s word expounded, we need to humble ourselves and worship the Lord.

For God to be my Gatekeeper I need to give Him authority in my life. I need to be mindful of those things that will cause me to have nightmares and flashbacks (not that I can control it all of the time. Sometimes it just is what I have to live with). I need to let Him protect me, to shield me so that the anger and hatred doesn’t seep in, and when it does I need to go to Him with it. I need to be honest with Him and let Him know that I need Him, every second of every day so that the hatred and anger does not cause me to sin. His Word must dwell richly in me. (Col 3:16) I must read it often, daily, and study it so that I can let it wash over me and strengthen me. I must lean on it so much that there is more of it than me. I must let His word speak to me so that I can forgive when I don’t feel like forgiving; love when I don’t feel like loving; to change when I don’t feel like changing. To claim the reality He wants for me. The reality of living into a life of love and forgiveness, for the ones who have cause harm and for me, for the sin I commit. To worship Him and thank Him for the life He has given me, for the good and the bad. He didn’t what happened to happened, but I know that He has used it for good, and will continue to use it if I allow Him. Does all of this fix the relationship with the family member that abused me. No, no it hasn’t, and it may not this side of Heaven. But I do know that Jesus is my protector, my shield, my provider, and my ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Jesus asks for us to be a people of good character and to surround ourselves with those of good character. Hanani and Hananiah were such people. People who were faithful, feared God and who were watchful. God has put so many people in my life who have been faithful to guide be to respond rightly to my past, who love me when I am at my worst. Those who understand when I am tired because I have only slept 6 hours in 3 days, or who see when I am struggling to pay attention because some image has taken me to a place I shouldn’t be. He has blessed me with people who help to fill in the trust lost because of the broken relationship, He has given be people who fear Him and who hold me up in prayer and are watchful over me so that I will not lose faith. They allow me to stop dreaming and to live into the reality that God has for me.

Parging was a new word for me. But these verses so clearly make me understand the meaning of my need for it. The guiding verse for this Lenten season is Nehemiah 4:14: Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” The parge for our relationships is Christ, His Word and worship of Him and surrounding ourselves with those He blesses us with that speak His truth into our lives and live out His truth with us. When I rely on His word I am so much stronger. When I join in worship I feel His presence more deeply. When I receive Him in Holy Communion I am more aware of His forgiveness. Where do you need this parging in your life? Reach out to Him and allow Him to give you new life in your relationships.

Prayer:
Father God, I thank you that you are God and I am not! I thank you for your love and mercy! I thank you that your word is living and healing. And that you and a just and merciful judge. I thank you that you love us so much that you do not which us to stay in the mess that we are in and that you want us to not only heal but to stay healed. Thank you for helping us to rebuild the foundations of our human relationships and that you restore us in relationship to you. You have paid such a great place to restore us to relationship with you. Help us Father to live into the reality that you have for each of us. Enable us to see where we need to heal, to grow and to give. Father, we love you and ask that you would continue to give us a hunger and a thirst for your Word, a desire to more fervently worship you and a longing to receive You in communion. Father God, be our parging material and protect us from the evil one. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

April 12 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Steve Ellis

Scripture: Colossians 3:12-14, Titus 2:6-8, Mark 10:29-30 . (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
So I’m sitting in Trevor’s office chatting and I start telling him about a young man at the Frederick Rescue Mission that I started walking with a few weeks ago. Next thing I know, he’s asking me to write a devotional. I’m thinking, you’ve got to kidding, but then I realized that I was supposed to be talking to Trevor at exactly this time telling him exactly this story. So I agreed. My next thought was I must be insane.

Anyway, here we go:

I don’t know this young man’s whole story by any means. I will call him John for the sake of anonymity. He is 27; he was born addicted, raised in foster care and adoption. The first time I saw him he looked totally defeated, lost and hopeless. From a physical stand point he appeared to have reached his bottom. That night he shared in the group and didn’t say much, but what he did say was God’s cue for me to reach out to him. He shared enough to let me know that he wanted and was ready to accept help. I don’t think he has ever experienced the grace. I don’t think he has ever had anyone really listen to him. I don’t think he has ever been able to trust anyone enough to start opening up and confess who he is. I think his whole life has been spent in fear, a fear so devastating that it lead him to drugs and alcohol as the only way to experience any kind of peace.

I was not adopted, so I can’t relate to that, but I came from a very dysfunctional family and never felt like I had anyone to talk to. Nowhere to turn. No one to turn to. Several years ago it was suggested to me to reach out and invest in young men. I believe all my failures, mistakes and personal addiction give me an ability to understand and reach out to these guys. I don’t judge them. Instead, I reach out in grace.

Back to the story. There is still a lot of John’s story to be lived. I know that the Mission and CR at Redeemer have offered him a family that he has never experienced. I get to see him four times a week and he shares with me his successes and failures, with no fear, and asks me how to deal with people so that he doesn’t hurt them and isn’t affected by their hurtful actions. We are developing a bond that can only be made through Christ. It seems like he has grown 2 or 3 inches just because Christ is starting to lift the weight of the world off of his shoulders. He has an insatiable hunger for God and knowledge on how live a spiritual life. There is a gleam in his eyes and a smile on his face all the time. Hope abounds in him.

There is a group of us who go to the mission every Sunday night and meet with the guys there. This group of guys and some of the young men at the mission are also becoming part of John’s family. We all share our successes and failures with each other as we grow in Christ. In fact we can only do this because of Christ. It is an awesome thing to be a part of and there are no words to describe the joy of witnessing the transformation taking place in John’s life.

But John is not the only one. About three and a half years ago I met an 18 year old who we will call Buster (Phil). He had also decided to change his life. Little did he know that he would end up in a recovery house and have an old man walk with him. He came from a tough family situation and after some time realized that his family wasn’t safe for him. Part of the problem was that Buster wasn’t safe for his family. Over time, as he walked with Christ, he started to realize that he couldn’t change his family but he could be changed. Now Buster is walking with the homeless 2 or 3times a week in Frederick. Goes to the mission a couple of times a week to break bread with people and is involved in a spiritual retreat 3 times a year and, among other things, he is studying to become a pastor. What may be the most wonderful thing is that his relationship with his family is being renewed and his family has started to change. What was unsafe for him has become one Christ’s most powerful victories.

I can go on and on about these victories and transformations. My experience walking with guys has revealed to me a common theme in most all of their stories. They had some kind of dysfunction in their families or no family at all. They were or are missing the love, unconditional love, that only Christ can give and only people who walk with Christ are capable of offering. I wasn’t taught nor did I experience this kind of love at home. I learned it and experienced it from the mentors I have had who have come from various backgrounds and spiritual beliefs. My mentors have been Catholic, Lutheran, non-denominational, non-believers and agnostic among others. But I am convinced that God can use anyone to carry His message, so I pay attention and look for Him everywhere. Because of this I have a family that is beyond words to describe. I love and I am loved. Thank God.

Prayer:
I pray to Jesus that we all will get to know Him and become a part of His family and come to know the truth, the peace, and the love that only comes from a relationship with Him. I pray that He will open us up to be shown how to love and be loved by Him and others. That we can come to trust Him and to grow to be more like Him.

I thank Jesus for the endless blessings He has given me in walking with all these guys.

In Jesus name.

Amen
Steve Ellis

April 11 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Aaron Ochs

Scripture: Matthew 4: 18-22. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
What if I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me? Would I be okay? Where would I end up? Would I end up doing something I’m scared of? Would I be happy? I ask myself these questions on a daily basis. It is a daily struggle to commit to the Lord; each day I must make the decision to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. It is quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. To live a life different than what the world expects is extremely difficult. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a life of following Jesus will be easy, in fact it straight up says it will be hard. Matthew 7:14; “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” That is the worst part for me, knowing that no matter what I do and how far I chase Jesus, it will never be easy; to be honest, though, if we truly love Jesus we shouldn’t care. The older I get the more I learn that the more I love Jesus, the more he molds me into the man he wants me to be, taking away old fears and making them into new joys. How many of us would chase after our husbands/wives or girlfriends/boyfriends or children or best friends to the ends of the earth? If we are willing to chase them no matter what the cost, shouldn’t we love Jesus so much more? Being willing to lay our lives down at any moment for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ?

The more we devote ourselves to Christ the more he makes us into the men/women he wants us to be. I can feel the Lord calling me towards people, and if you know me that is funny because you would know that I’m not a huge fan of people. I don’t like crowds and my dream is to own a ranch somewhere in Montana far from a city. I’m socially awkward and introverted, but the Lord is changing me into a more intentional and driven person with a heart for being intentional about getting to know the people around me. I have so far to go, I fall short of the mark everyday, but I take heart in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”, this means that instead of having to focus on changing 100 things about myself, I have to focus on one single thing, following God, and he will take care of the rest.

The entire gospel is built around people and relationships. Claiming the reality Jesus is offering me means being a servant to people, continually putting others before myself, and making others more and myself less. The love of Christ is shown through servitude, showing love to somebody who doesn’t deserve it, going to extra mile when it wasn’t asked of you, being so intentional about caring that it hurts. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends,” I see this so often as dying for the sake of someone else, but that’s not always the case. It’s not often, at least in America, that we are threatened with life or death, so I can lay down my life in other ways, by loving first, serving first and giving all that I am for someone else.

It is so hard for me sometimes to think of others before myself; naturally, I am a selfish person. However, claiming the new reality that Jesus is offering me means taking up my cross every single day and following him. No, it won’t be easy, yes, I will mess up, but I am forgiven! I have been redeemed! Sin no longer has any control over me! When I claim the new reality, I am walking in a life of victory, and a life showing others what that victory can look like if they were to accept the reality Jesus is offering them as well. I’ll finish with my life verse, Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For me, living means living a life that represents Christ and his victory over sin in my life, and to die for that cause means gaining so much more in a heavenly life with Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray that each and every day I may devote more of myself to you, that I may give you more time out of my day, and devote more of my energy to searching out who you are. I pray, Lord, that I may not fear the plan you have for my life but that I may find comfort in embracing a God that loves me and wants the best for me. I pray that the plan I have for my life may become the plan you have for my life. I pray that I may love you more every day. I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

April 10 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Pam Blodgett

Scripture: Nehemiah 4:14, Nehemiah 6:15-16 . (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:
Several years ago I studied Nehemiah with a small group of women. Our style was to go slow and steady through the book. It didn’t take too long to discover that what we were reading each week was applicable to where we were in life. There were many takeaways but one that remains with me is this; there were enemies inside and outside the wall. Ever since then, when there is a conflict or struggle I remember that takeaway and ask myself is the enemy inside or outside the wall. Outside the wall meant to me there were things going on around me and I was being affected by someone else’s choice, or inside the wall meant there was something going on inside of me, that could be a character issue, temptation or spiritual warfare.

The wall that God had directed Nehemiah to rebuild was for protection of those who lived inside the walls and a symbol of power for the enemies who lived outside. There were three men who are mentioned in the book, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. They were men of influence and had access to Nehemiah. They did not want the wall rebuilt. They used many tricks to prevent the reconstruction, including mockery, fear, discouragement, false friendship and threats. In spite of their efforts Nehemiah knew his assignment and trusted the Lord.

At the same time I was studying Nehemiah I was also in a Step Study through Celebrate Recovery. During this year long study I was really digging into an issue in my life that was no longer manageable. Although someone else had done harm, I discovered I had a forgiveness issue. Forgiveness is meant to protect, and all I felt was defenselessness and vulnerability. I could say I had forgiven and would go through the motions but it wasn’t sincere. I had enemies inside my walls and they were unforgiveness, resentment and anger; and I had given them access to my heart. As you can imagine the condition of my heart affected my family and friends. My denial only made it worse and the longer I held onto these “friends” the more the damage multiplied. I’m so thankful for God’s correction. I was able to release the problem and a relationship had been revived. Attending the Step Study was a worthwhile fight to reclaim God’s design for relationships. It was a battle but in the end the right wall was built. A woman in a Sunday school class shared this: love without truth isn’t loving. And truth without love is hard to accept. The wisdom of these words are like the parging of the wall; they protect and foster healthy God pleasing relationships.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you know each of our struggles and how they interfere with your design for thriving relationships. Please help us to recognize there is an enemy who wants to destroy what you want to protect, and restore. Give us courage to fight the right fight, depending on you for strength and perseverance. Amen.

April 9 - What If I stopped dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering me?

Pastor Ray

Scripture: John 14:31, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. (Look up and mark up passage in your own Bible)

Reflection:

In Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, he writes about “ The Initiative Against Dreaming.” May I quote a few sentences from his Feb 20 devotional.

“Dreaming about a think in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when it should be done is wrong.”

“When we are getting into contact with God in order to find out what He wants, dreaming is right; but when we are inclined to spend our time in dreaming over what we have been told to do, it is a bad thing and God’s blessing is never on it.”

You see… “If you are in love, you do not sit down and dream about the one you love all the time, you go and do something for him; and that is what Jesus Christ expects us to do.”

“Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.”

Well, on this Palm Sunday, which makes its way through the Lord’s Holy Supper, Good Friday, into Easter Sunday, may we say it simply…What if we stopped our dreaming and claimed the new reality Jesus is offering us.

And what is this new reality…

Jesus is calling you to follow Him somewhere in your life. Where is Jesus calling you? This will only become real if we stop dreaming and just obey our Lord.

Prayer:
This is a tough Lenten prayer

My Lord and my God; Thou seest how much of hypocrisy and falsehood dwells within me, in my worldliness as well as in my piety. Thou seest how I spurn thy love by spurning those to whom thou dost send me, and how I thereby deliver Thee anew to death and the cross. Lord, forgive me! Lord, convert me! Lord, prepare me for a true Easter. Amen.

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