Not Just My Feet, John 13:9

“Then Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and head as well”.

Daily Reflection

Think of a time when you sat down with a friend and shared a cup of coffee and some quiet conversation. The sharing of your time and the enrichment of your relationship were what was important; the coffee was just a means to that end.

Peter misunderstands the value of the foot washing believing it to be used for its cleansing power so he wants his hands and head to be washed, too. But Jesus is using the foot washing as a way to draw his disciples into a closer relationship with him. Jesus shares a loving, supportive relationship with the Father, and he wants to share that type of relationship with his disciples as his “hour” approaches.

Jesus wants each of us to share in the same loving relationship with him. The foot washing is Jesus’ way of inviting you to draw closer to him through a shared love. Will you sit down and share that cup with him?

Daily Prayer

Loving Jesus, may this season we call Lent, especially this week we call Holy, be a time when we seek any opportunity to have a closer walk with you.  Amen.

~Marilyn Ward

My Love May Be in Them, John 17:25-26

25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Daily Reflection

These verses mark the end of what is known as Jesus’ Great Prayer.  In this dark hour, just prior to Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, and his arrest, Jesus prays for the disciples as they gathered around him in complete uncertainty and confusion.  It is a prayer of intercession for them, and for us.

 This “father” language for God in John’s Gospel is unique.  It conveys a relational vitality and depth between Jesus and God.  It’s relational.  God is Father because Jesus is God’s Son; it is the language of intimacy and family.  Jesus wants the disciples, and us, to have that same intimate relationship that will result in our knowing the love of God, intimately.

Can you read these verses and feel yourself prayed for by Jesus?  Let these words of Jesus just wash over you in love, as he prays that we will be wholly known by God and that the same love that he knows in relationship with God will be known by us. This is not an intangible love, or a love that remains words and thoughts.  This is a heart-felt love that expresses itself through Jesus’ whole being. As you ponder these words, perhaps you can experience a deeper understanding that you are called into wholeness, a wholeness and a closeness that you have yearned for. So let yourself come into a rich, new understanding of God’s unfathomable goodness.

Daily Prayer

Bless me, Lord, in this holiest of weeks, and give me the grace to know your loving presence more intimately.  Amen.

~Lorrie Skinner

Waiting for Divine Redemption, Psalm 130:2-3

Out of the depths to Thee I raise… the voice of lamentation; Lord, turn a gracious ear to me, and hear my supplication.  If thou should count our every sin, each evil deed or thought within, O who could stand before thee?

   From a hymn by Martin Luther

Daily Reflection

O God, tonight I seek for You

out of a heart full of guilt

and a mind full of bewilderment and frustration.

You have heard me before

and responded with grace and mercy.

Now I seek you again.

I know I am guilty, O God;

but if You kept account of man’s failings and fallings,

no one could ever face You again.

I reach for You because You look with loving mercy

upon my wretched soul. You will accept me

and forgive me and reinstate me in Your purpose.

Thus I plead with you to focus your faith on God.

You will find love there—and salvation.

And He will cleanse you of your sin and restore you to His loving heart.                                                                                                                         

                     Leslie Brandt

Daily Prayer

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,

Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome pardon and relieve

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

~Diane Kearney

Return to Me with All Your Heart, Joel 2:12-13

12“Even now”, declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning”. 13 Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Daily Reflection

I’m sure that at one time in your life you’ve felt grief that was crushing and all encompassing. You cry, pray and try to carry on with daily tasks, but feel like you’re underwater. Feelings of loss are different for each person you grieve.  Therefore, I was stunned that this time my grief turned to anger; anger at the insidious disease you fought against, that separated us in the end; anger that I didn’t get to say good bye to the one friend I shared HS, college fun, graduations, weddings, and then each other’s children with; anger I’d never hear the reassuring voice of my friend who knew me at my best and still loved me at my worst.

As I held this grief inside it ebbed and flowed much like the tide crashes onto the shore and gently rolls back out to sea.  What struck me was that my grief had turned to anger with God.  Why had he allowed this person to be taken? Why couldn’t he save him?  I still needed him in my life, as did his family.  I still grab for my phone on Sunday nights for our weekly “life catch up call“, but he’s not there and so the anger grows. This anger blurred all I had believed and had been taught about God’s comfort in times of hardship and sorrow.  So I took my anger and disappointment and turned away from God.  I was sad and lonely for a long time.  A good friend shared with me that I could keep being angry and alone or let that anger go by giving it to God and letting him carry my grief. I understood in my head what she wanted me to do but my heart still felt hollow.

Later that month my 11 year old son wanted to know why we didn’t go to church anymore and why I didn’t pray with him at night before bed. When I told him it was because I was angry with God because I had lost my best friend.  He looked at me and asked “do you think your friend would want you to lose God too”?   Suddenly I knew that although it would not be easy, I must return to God’s compassion and abounding love”. I was quick to anger but God is not.  He is gracious.

Daily Prayer:  Help me today to remember that even in the pain of loss you are there and that I may “return” to you and feel your healing grace.  Amen. ~Anonymous

As a Deer Longs, Psalm 42:1

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Daily Reflection

As the deer longs for flowing streams, don’t we all yearn for “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? Daily, sometimes hourly, we all call upon the Almighty to right our (and all mankind’s) sins of omission and commission, that we continue to perpetrate non-stop.  Sad to say, we all continue to mourn the sometimes horrific, “bad things that happen to good people”.

However, Christians, being implacable confirmed optimists, have unshakable HOPE and FAITH in God’s will and plan to continue to make “His will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven”.  It is readily apparent that, at least since AD01 (and long prior to that date), God’s world is evolving for the better on all counts.  He has been, is, and continues to give us the wonderful fruits of His will to be done here “on earth, as it is in heaven”.

As in most families, I have my own special tragedy in that I lost a beautiful daughter at age 11 from Leukemia.  My wonderful gift from God since that time is that now at least 90% of children that contract Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia of childhood are long term survivors and hopefully cured.  I like to think of this as my proof that yes, God, Your will is being done and your kingdom is coming; it’s on its’ way right now, as I write this, “as it is in Heaven”!

Daily Prayer

Re-create us, O God

That in our work and play

We may know the new life

Which you give us and all people

In Jesus Christ

-Anonymous

Trust in the Lord, Rely Not on Your Insight, Proverbs 3:5-7

5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Daily Reflection

I worry about everything and often create things to worry about.  I worry about things I’ve said to people. I worry about my job. I worry about my kids – even when my kid’s lives are seemingly great. My husband has accused me of only being happy when I worry. But how can I be happy when worrying makes me so sad?  I still wake up every day, my bills are paid, my kids are fine, we’re relatively healthy.  On top of all the worries I have at least a little control over, I’m anxious over things I can’t control.  So what to do? I’ve been trying to bucket my worries. I have three things that have already happened that I wish I could have done differently: (regrets); things I CAN control; and finally, things I can’t control but wish I could. Bucketing only helps a little.  How about if I turn my worries over to God? Maybe for a nanosecond that sounds reasonable, but do I really think God is listening to me? Not really, if I’m being honest – although I do pray every night, but I don’t think that’s turning over my worries to God because I still worry after I pray. 

Does submitting to Him and allowing Him to make my path straight mean I shouldn’t look at the big picture? Instead just focus on today? Is that realistic? How can I not worry about retirement, my kids, my aging which I’m fighting tooth and nail? Does God not want me to worry at all? Does constant worrying mean I don’t trust God? Does it mean that I’m trying to control my own destiny?  If I choose to worry about things I can control and turn everything else over to God, what would that look like? I’m not sure, but while I continue to try and turn my worries over to God, I will also try not to overlook all the good things in my life. I’m going to try to be realistic, since I worry a lot about things that probably will never happen and I can’t change the past, I will try to relax and take life one day at a time. I will take action on those things that I can control, but I will also try to listen to God’s word. I will try to believe that all the problems I face in my life are making me stronger.

Daily Prayer

Lord help me to remember the words of Proverbs and submit to Him who will make my path straight.  Amen.

~Donna Keoppel

Same Mind and Love as Christ, Philippians 2:1-2

1Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Daily Reflection

The dynamic of our relationship with God moves between grace and acts. We aren’t compelled to act for our salvation, we receive it whether we act or not (we must though, choose to accept it!) But the measure of how much our heart has been moved is demonstrated on how we respond.

First, we receive from God: the Father’s Love and through Christ, His Grace. It comes to us with no strings attached. Before we were even born, our Lord knew us. The father moves through our lives, often without us knowing. How then shall we respond?

In this passage from his letter to the Philippians, Paul is preaching to the believers to act humbly and faithfully, just as Christ would.

The bar here is set low, any encouragement, any comfort, any sharing of the Spirit. If we see any of those signs from God’s presence, then we have that power to share them with others. Just as Christ spoke about how the faith of a mustard seed was enough to move a mountain, we don’t need much to start acting. As members of the faithful, we’ve already recognized God moving in our lives. Now just remember one of those times, care for it in your heart and share it with another.

In the world, how would our relationships with others change if we took any bit of encouragement from them and responded in kindness and they did the same with us? This divine chase of grace upon grace, where would it lead? God knows.

Be encouraged to act. Don’t obsess over your weaknesses, take the strength that comes from God’s love or compassion or tenderness and share that with others.

Daily Prayer

Father, give me the insight to see you moving in my life and grant the Spirit to embolden me to share your blessing with others.  Amen.

~Dan Keoppel

Let Us Lay Aside Every Weight, Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

Daily Reflection

When I think of a cloud of witnesses, I imagine the massive group of on-lookers at a marathon race, who provide water, great urging, and encouragement for and to the runners as they pass.

We have also been enveloped by family members, friends, colleagues, mentors, and children, who are good people following Christ’s teachings and cheering us on in good times, and in our trials and tribulations.

As we struggle forward, we must be willing to drop the weights and sins that stand between us and God. These separate us from Him, so by putting sin aside we can abide with Christ and run a lighter, easier race toward the end that God has meant for us. We’re able to do this because we believe in His love for us.

Because my being lives through song, I say:

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Daily Prayer

Dear God, when I am shaken, frightened, confused, or doubtful, please remind me of all the joy, caring, strength, and love you have provided in my life. Remind me that I am never alone or forsaken, and that you are with me wherever I go. Thank you.  Amen.

~Lynn Ware

Search Me God and Know My Heart, Psalm 139:23-24

23Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts;24and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

Daily Reflection

God knows me best.  He knows what is in my heart; my anxious and calming thoughts; my tears and laughter; my joys and sorrows; my selfishness and my loss of control, but still I question: does He really know me and forgive me or is it that I want to believe that He does?  Are these sinful thoughts on my part or am I asking too much of God for forgiveness?

I ask Him to show me signs that cause Him pain, so I can do better and walk the path He wants me to walk – the path of righteousness.

I know I have caused much pain in God’s eyes for not following His “plan for me” but it is not because I intentionally desire this, but because I become too busy in my own selfish ways.

I believe God has a vision for my life and is involved in every part of this life.  I feel Him close and He is continuing to lead me to an everlasting journey.  Am I worthy of His (God’s) loyalty?  Pray that I am!

Daily Prayer

Be near me, O God.  Stay close and free me of my sinful ways.  Lead me through each day and night, so I may walk with you on this everlasting path to righteousness.  Amen.

~Arlene Langdon       

April 8

Disturbing God, your generosity of grace knows no bounds,

it is unfathomable in depth, immeasurable in breadth.

You disturb me, provoke me, challenge me to do the same—
to offer my resources,
my gifts,
my passions
to make right relations,
to feed the hungry,
to resist evil,
to stand for justice,
to work for dignity for all.

I pray that you soften my heart and open me wider to serve You

with energy and imagination.

I pray now for all the brokenness that I am aware of in this world…

(take a moment of silence)

I pray now for those who suffer from illness of all kinds…

(take a moment of silence)

I pray now for the concerns that simmer in my heart…

(take a moment of silence)

I pray now for the prayers that I have no words for…

(take a moment of silence)

I offer these prayers in the name of Jesus, my brother, my teacher and my redeemer, Amen.