Past Daily Devotionals
Holy Thursday: March 28, 2013
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15)
Earlier this Lent we heard Jesus remind us that we must take up our cross and follow him. One of the ways to take up our cross and follow Jesus is to serve other people, to “wash their feet” by doing what needs to be done, even if the task is not pleasant. Take out the garbage. Scrub the bathroom floor. Care for someone who is sick. Such things are ways to do what Jesus did—and does—even for the weakest and the neediest among us.
O Lord, Teach us to serve through your love. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 27, 2013
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
Peter’s heart was in the right place: he loved Jesus and wanted to stay with him. But when his own life was at risk, Peter was scared. He turned away from Jesus in order to save himself. Jesus knew what Peter was going to do, so he warned him. Even when Peter failed, Jesus never stopped loving him, and that love would one day make Peter a new man. Let us never be afraid to love Jesus, even if we sometimes fail to live up to that love.
Lord, strengthen my faith in you for all times and all places. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 26, 2013
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:36-39)
The last Sunday was Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn time when we remember how Jesus suffered, died and was buried for our sakes. As Jesus invites us to “stay awake and pray” with him, we might consider reading and praying with a portion of the Passion reading from the Gospel of Matthew 26:17-27:60 each night at dinner time or before bed. Whatever we do, these are special days when we remember that Jesus accepted death out of love for us, and our heavenly God would glorify him on Easter morning
Lord Jesus, may we draw near to you this week, mindful especially of your passion and death for our sakes
Lenten daily Devotional: March 22, 2013
Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
What makes a person holy? Why are we so fascinated by those who have led lives of selfless service to Christ and the poor? It’s not a matter of what they accomplished, even if they were able to do some wonderful things like building hospitals or teaching people about Jesus in remote corners of the world. But if they had boasted of their achievements as the Pharisee in the Gospel story did, they would have been off track.
Christians know that the real source of holiness and joy is God’s love and mercy. God makes us all saints through our belief in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Lord Jesus, may we never fear to say, “Lord, be merciful to me.” Amen
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 20, 2013
The policeman pulls me over for making a right turn without a full stop. I'm guilty, but will he give me a free pass this time? The Apostle Paul, the lawyer, used the Biblical concept “justification” to express how final, complete, is God declaring us “not guilty” for Christ’s sake. It is as if the policeman only warns me, and I drive away free. The incident is over.
Or a better example would be that a judge knows I’m guilty of the illegal turn. The law must be upheld, but the judge in his mercy pays the fine for me. I m guilty, but the judge pays the fine so that I'm “justified,” free to go. That’s what God does in Christ, except it’s not a traffic fine but a death sentence, and what is free for me, costs God his son.
“Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23-24) Since we approach Holy Week, it is this awesome transaction that we witness and worship. God in his mercy justifies us and declares us not guilty as Jesus sacrifices himself for us.
Help me trust your righteousness that I don’t deserve and could never earn for myself. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 19, 2013
Peter said to Jesus, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” (Matthew 26:33)
Was it the wine that gave the disciples their false confidence? Perhaps! “Don’t worry, Lord, I will stand with you, and die with you, too, if necessary.” Peter swore with great bravado. “And we will, too,” the other disciples chimed in.
It was a promise made in the relative safety of the upper room. No doubt, Peter and the others had the best of intentions, but it is one thing to make a promise and quite another to carry it out.
The Christian faith is about promises. God promises to be our God. God promises to make us his own people in Baptism. God promises to give us eternal life. We promise to serve God with the commitment of our lives. We know God keeps his promises.
How good are we at keeping ours?
Loving God of promise, give me such faith that I might keep all my promises to you. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 13, 2013
Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
“We’re number one,” fans like to chant when their favorite team is on a winning streak. The mother of two of Jesus’ disciples came to Jesus asking that they be ranked number one in his kingdom.
Once again, as he often did on many other occasions, Jesus turns conventional wisdom on its ear. The people under Jesus’ kingly rule who are in first place will not be those who have accomplished great things or have taken charge and exercised strong leadership or have an inside track through political intrigue for position.
On the contrary, the number one spot under Jesus' kingly rule is reserved for those who take on the role of servant to others. Servanthood is the primary mark of those whom Jesus installs in first place. The place of honor belongs to those who are the least interested in obtaining it.
We have a strong model of what it means to be a servant in the Promised One, who “came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” This Lent, look for ways to serve others, for it is in being a servant to others that we really serve Jesus Christ our Lord.
O Lord, let me walk with you on the lowly path of true service. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 12, 2013
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
At a wedding the pastor says, “… and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one.” Over the years, though still individuals, they have been woven together into each other's life. In football training camp the players practice until they don’t have to think about the plays: they just do them. The plays become part of them.
As we live on the spot where our life with God and our life with the world cross, the line of separation blurs. So the Apostle Paul wrote, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the love of God who loved me
and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
When dealing with God, we’re dealing with mystery, not like a mystery book with a solution at the end, but life’s mystery where the deeper we look, the more there is to wonder at. As you practice your Christian life, who's doing it? Is it you or Christ who has become part of you? Or both!
Breathe on me, O Breath of God, until with you I will do what you would do! Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 11, 2013
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Lk 9:23)
When Jesus commands us to “take up our cross,” are we on the look-out for a once-in-a-lifetime sacrifice like he made? Like a soldier throwing himself on a grenade or a fire fighter confronting a blazing fire? The word “daily” in “take up their cross daily” steers us in a different direction.
My cross today might be the struggle to remain honest and sacrifice the advantage 1 think I’d have if I cheated on the math test or the business deal. In a family argument it might be to absorb the hurt without striking back and so “redeem” a bad situation and “reconcile” folks. In this sense Luther spoke of our being “little Christs” for those around us.
Positively, a “cross” may be to risk loss or to sacrifice time to help someone. We’ve spoken of the power of love to do what needs doing in spite of our fears. Our cross may be enduring the struggles of life--persisting in the face of uncertainty, enduring pain, being courageous in the face of what awaits us this day. Jesus knows our sacrifices are seldom and world-shaking, but they are “daily.”
How do you want me to act in this moment, Lord? Help me bear any cross necessary to do your will. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 7, 2013
We have grasped the completeness of God ’s free gift to us when we ask, “Then does it matter what I do?” Let me make a suggestion. Write, “How do I get right with God?” on a piece of paper.” Now draw a line and below it write, “What should I then do?”
When it comes to you and God, Jesus has done it for you and offers his gift for you to rely on totally. Don’t let anything cross the line and take the place of what Jesus did.
Below the line remain all sorts of good and important things you should do--for the right reasons! Don’t give up smoking to make God love you. God already does. Quit for your health and your family. Don’t teach Sunday School to impress God. Help children learn about their Savior. Sing in the choir, keep the financial books for the Board, volunteer at a hospital or local community center for the sake of the help you can give others.
So yes, we are free from having to earn God s love for ourselves. But sense how that frees us to love others for their sake. “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom for self-indulgence, but through love become servants of one another.” (Gal 5:13)
“God loves me” is a half-truth. The other half is “God loves my neighbor as much as me.” Help me live the whole truth, Lord! Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 6, 2013
One of the first experiments in chemistry class uses a strip of litmus paper to tell for certain whether a fluid is a base or an acid -- one color, a base; a different color, an acid. No doubt! For the Apostle Paul the cross is the litmus test for the Christian faith. Either you rely on what God did in Jesus Christ on the cross, or you rely on something you do (or don't do) as the basis for your right relationship with God.
This was the crucial question underlying the heated fights in the early church between the circumcised and the uncircumcised. What ultimately matters that makes us right with God -- our self-reliance or our reliance on God? We need to ask, “Can even the best of my good deeds equal the cross, so that 1 would substitute my works for Jesus' sacrifice?”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is a gift of God — not the result of work so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) For himself Paul proclaimed. “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal 6:14) To humbly and gratefully accept God’s gift is to be his forever.
O Lord, my hope it built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Amen.
Lenten Daily Devotional: March 5, 2013
If I invite my kids out to dinner, it’s on me. I ask for the check. When it comes to our salvation, our Heavenly Father pays. So when we talk about the “Plan” of God, we should say, “Gracious Plan.” Our redeemed life with God is a gift! God picks up the check. Nowhere in the preaching of the early church is there any sense that an angry God is being paid off by us humans.
It is God who so loves the world. It is God who gave his only begotten son. (John 3:i6) It is “God who is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” It is God who doesn't count our trespasses against us. (2 Cor. 5:19)
In God's gracious plan it is God who does the redeeming. Jesus offers himself as the sacrifice that “pays” for the wrong that is done. “You are bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:20) That Jesus is God's precious only son means that God is paying the bill with the one he loves the most.
Martin Luther wrote, “All he does out of pure fatherly and divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness on our part.” For God so loved the world!
Standing in awe, all I can do is, Lord, thank, praise, serve, and obey you. Amen
Lenten Daily Devotional
March 1, 2013
“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)
It was a "tempting" offer. The devil took Jesus—weak, hungry, barely able to stand after 40 days and 40 nights in the desert without any food—to a mountaintop and showed him all the nations of the earth. This could all be his in exchange for one slight, easily excusable indiscretion.
“Show off yourself by jumping off from the top of the Temple After all, you are the son of God, aren’t you?” “Why do you have to work so hard to earn a living? You can turn this stone into a loaf of bread without even lifting a finger.” “Just one small act of worship and I will give it all to you,” Satan said. “God knows you are doing this for him. God will understand.”
Satan was here offering Jesus a shortcut. Jesus could avoid all the suffering and rejection, all that awful dying on the cross and achieve the same goal. It made sense. It sounded good.
Attractive as the offer was. Jesus turned it down without a moment’s hesitation. The world will be won for God, but it will be won by the way of sacrifice, the way of suffering love, the way of the cross. How else would we know for certain that at the very core of God there is a heart heating with love for us?
(Prayer of the Day) Lord, save us me in the time of trial and temptation. Amen