Tuesday, April 4
Psalm 121 I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth! (vv.1-2)
Part of our summer vacation was spent at Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. The mountains (and valleys) there are awesome-some sheer rock, others covered with many trees, all many hundreds of feet high. Our Creator God has made us a planet of much beauty and grandeur! The psalmist continues, reminding us that “The Lord himself watches over you The Lord stands beside you as a protective shade” (v.5). What a great comfort! As we traveled out west and saw many cattle and wild animals, we also witnessed a double rainbow. My two grandsons were so excited and tried to take pictures with their cellphones to remember this happy event. Everywhere we looked we were reminded of our everlasting God and His wonderful love for us.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for keeping watch over us as we come and go, both now and forever (v.8).
Jeremiah 25:8-17; Psalms 120, 122, 123; Romans 10:1-13; John 9:18-41
Wednesday, April 5
Psalm 119:145-176 I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure. (v.162)
It is such a blessing to read Scripture and experience how each time one reads a passage new meanings emerge. The psalmist expresses so many emotions-if you are sad or upset or happy you can find your feelings expressed in Scripture.
The Psalms assure us that those who love God’s law have great peace (v.165). Through reading the Bible I receive the discerning mind God promised (v.169). We are reminded of God’s great mercy (v.156) and are assured that all His commands are true (v.151). As we study His word, the Holy Spirit guides our understanding and increases our faith.
Prayer: Thanks for the treasure we have in our Bibles, dear Lord.
Jeremiah 25:30-38; Romans 10:14-21; John 10:1-18
Thursday, April 6
John 10:19-42 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.” (vv.27-28)
Jesus uses this illustration to assure his hearers that they will be safe in his keeping. He will lead them to green pastures (Psalm 23:3). The hired man will run away if he sees a wolf coming, but Jesus gives his life to care for his sheep.
Today’s reading and the story Jesus told in yesterday’s reading (John 10:1-18), was something his followers could easily understand. I’m sure many 21st century pet owners can also understand the loyalty of the animals and their master toward one another.
We are blessed to have a Savior who cares about all the big and little events of our lives and wants the best for us. He wants close fellowship with us and will protect and care for us. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we need fear no evil, for he is with us (Psalm 23:4)
Prayer: Thank you, Good Shepherd, for loving and caring for each of us.
Jeremiah 26:1-16; Psalms 131, 132, 133; Romans 11:1-12
Friday, April 7
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (v.11)
The prophet Jeremiah writes this letter to the exiles in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar, to let them know they will be able to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it after 70 years of captivity.
Jeremiah’s words are also for those of us living in the 21st century chaos with wars, killings, rebellion, and violence. His words are for the high school student trying to decide which college to attend, for the recent college grad trying to decide on a career path, for the young married couple trying to decide how many children to have, for the mid-career couple trying to plan for retirement, and for those of us in retirement coping with health issues.
Recall the reminder from Psalm 23: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake” (v.3b). We need only to commit our ways to the Lord and He will direct our paths.
Prayer: Thanks, Lord, that You promised that when we pray You will listen and when we look for You in earnest we will find You (v.13).
Psalm 22; Romans 11:13-24; John 11:1-27
Saturday, April 8
Psalm 144 He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. (v.2a)
We all need love-from our spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, and even pets! God teaches us how to love.
I see love in our church between couples who have been married many years and still look at each other with loving eyes. I see love in the young couple proudly bringing their new-born for the sacrament of Baptism. I see love in the friends and family bringing their loved one in a wheelchair to our healing service. I see love in the Sunday school teacher gathering the boys and girls to learn a story about Jesus and then having fun doing arts and crafts. I see love in our “Love Wins” team packing and delivering boxes of food each month to almost 100 needy families. I see love in the beautiful flower arrangements at the altar each Sunday, made by our Flower Guild. I see love at each worship service by the messages brought by our clergy as they faithfully study and preach God’s word.
Our church is a love-station-we come to be filled with God’s love each Sunday so we can take His love out into our hurting world.
Prayer: Thanks for teaching us how to love, dear Lord.
Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 137; Romans 11:25-36; John 11:28-44
Sunday, April 9
1 Timothy 6:12-16 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called... (v.12a NIV).
You and I are going to have to fight this week. We are going to have to fight to remember that we are in the midst of a particularly sacred time-Holy Week.
The world around us will not be helpful. It will encourage us to go about our daily tasks as if this is just another wonderfully normal April week. But it is not. Don’t let yourself be sidetracked. For the Christian, this is the holiest of times. It is in this week that we see echoes of ourselves in the actions of the crowd-hailing, then cursing. We see ourselves, too, in the actions of the disciples who pledged their very lives one moment only to flee when the chips were down in the next moment.
But more importantly, this is the week that we observe the path of Jesus to the cross. We are given the opportunity to re-experience that journey and consider again what our salvation cost. We are able to see anew just how great the love of God is for His people.
Fight for this week.
Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalms 24, 29; Matthew 21:12-17
Monday, April 10
John 12:9-19 “Look, the world has gone after him” (v.19b).
Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time. He enters in triumph, being hailed by the people. The Pharisees are indignant and frustrated that the world seems to have been taken with Jesus.
But if you notice, the crowds have largely gathered because of the raising of Lazarus (vv.17-18). They were impressed by Jesus’ power but, as we will observe, they had missed his personality. They were star-gazing, wanting to see a great man, but they were missing the deeper truth of Lazarus’ miracle-just who it was in their midst.
It would take the disciples time, following the resurrection, to understand these events. They were in the presence of power. They were in the presence of a king. They were in the presence of true greatness. They only had a hint, however, of what greatness and power they were witnessing.
As Holy Week gets underway, ask yourself if you have perhaps underestimated God’s power and greatness. When we stop and consider just who it is riding that donkey, we might find ourselves stunned with awe as we stand Friday at the foot of the cross.
Jeremiah 12:1-16; Psalm 51; Philippians 3:1-14
Tuesday, April 11
John 12:20-26 “If anyone serves me, he must follow me;” (v.26a)
One of the biggest lies in popular Christianity is that it is easy. In an effort to appeal to the masses, many people have said, “Become a Christian and your life will be better and more secure. Your business will prosper; your house will be full of nothing but happiness and your social circle will always be full.” In whatever form this approach comes, it is a lie.
Jesus says that those who serve him must follow him. So, where was he going? Calvary. Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior, was heading for a brutal death on the town garbage dump. This is where he says we are to follow-to the place of sacrifice.
The Christian life is a bit of a paradox. Yes, life is better as a Christian-I wouldn’t want to go through life without the love and grace of our God. However, Christianity is demanding-Jesus is demanding. Nothing less than all of our life is required. And, as Scripture reveals, nothing else but true life is gained.
Jeremiah 15:10-21; Psalms 6, 12; Philippians 3:15-21