Praying With Jesus: Good Friday

Today is one of the most important days of the year. It is Good Friday the day Jesus died on the cross. I am always asked by the kids in chapel why is this day called good, when the most terrible thing happened? Here is the answer.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I remember a story told by St Jerome who was an early translator of the Bible. As told by him he went to Jerusalem and Bethlehem for a time of study and prayer and one night he had a dream. In this dream Jesus appeared to him and Jerome gave him everything he had. Jesus did not want those things. Then Jerome gave him all of his money. Jesus did not want that. What would you like? Jerome asked. Jesus replied, “Your sins.”

The day is called ‘good” because we find that Jesus takes our sins upon himself so that we might have the righteousness of God. In ways we do not always understand Jesus became our sin so that we might know the amazing love and grace of God.

Thank you for this day Jesus. For all that you did for me I am amazed by the magnitude of your grace. This day truly is good.

Pastor Dave

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Praying With Jesus: God’s Timing

Can you keep a secret? Can you keep a secret from God? Absolutely not. Jesus knew of this plan and took steps to make sure it did not disrupt his plans.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)

One of the most unusual actions of Jesus, that follows this in the Gospels, is when the disciples on the next day ask where they are going to celebrate the Passover? Jesus tells Peter and John to go into town and they will see a man carrying a water jar, follow him and that will show you where we are going to meet. Prepare everything there. Is there more than one person carrying a jar of water in Jerusalem? Of course, but Jesus does not want to tell the group where they are going to be eating this evening because that would be the perfect place for Judas to tell the guards to come and arrest Jesus. Jesus wants to make sure he has time to wash the disciple’s feet, teach them some last few things, and then most importantly, Institute the Lord’s Supper. That Passover celebration had to happen without interruption, so Judas would later lead the guards to Jesus when they stopped to pray on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus knows the timing of all things. Judas was looking for the first opportunity without the crowds around Jesus and this meal would have been perfect. Some things have to happen in a certain order for God’s will to be done. We always need to remember that when we pray. In life I have had so many prayers answered but not on my timetable. When I have to wait I sometimes wonder and question God. But this passage reminds me that God always has in mind what is needed and important. His knowledge of the future is better than my knowledge of the past. We are often told to live by faith. Today I also want to remind you to pray with faith. Knowing that today, tomorrow and all eternity is in God’s gracious hands.

Thank you Lord, for knowing the timing of all things. Help me to understand your plans for me so that I may grow in faith and trust. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Turn Me To You

We have started Holy Week and one of the things Jesus did this week caused quite a commotion in the Temple.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it `a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:15-18)

Have you ever been challenged on something you are doing? The chief priests were taken aback by the boldness and the words of Jesus. Was it a den of robbers? Jesus found that the Temple had lost it’s way and became an institution and not a house of prayer. We always have to take these words to heart and be reminded that the church is here to be a house of prayer. That is connecting people to God in the various newer methods of today and the tried and true ways that have worked in all of history. Lent is in fact one of the oldest seasons of the church year and goes back way before people celebrated Christmas. This week reminds us that faith is never business as usual. Sometimes church and our lives walking with God can get stuck in a routine. Maybe there is a table in your life that needs to be flipped. It looks to be messy but it can open up new ways of seeing Jesus in faith and how he impacts your daily life.

Jesus, you turned many things upside down. Turn me so that my life is filled with your presence and help make my life a life filled with prayer.

Pastor Dave

Praying with Jesus: Strong Enough Faith?

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

Yesterday, we looked at how we can ask God to help us when we struggle to believe. This verse speaks to another reality as well…whether God responds to weak faith.

Some people have made the claim that if we have super strong faith, God will do super amazing miracles, but if God doesn’t do what we asked it was because we had too little faith. The Bible tells us otherwise. This father had little faith, but Jesus did a big miracle in driving the demon from the boy.

We can ask God for all kinds of things, big and small, amazing and ordinary. God’s answer, whether it is to do what we asked or not, comes from His grace, mercy, and love, not as a result of whether we have enough faith to earn God’s action. Even with faith the size of a mustard seed, the Bible tells us we could move mountains.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for hearing our prayers and answering them, even when our faith is weak. Lead us to what we should be praying for. Embolden us to ask, as a child would ask a father they know loves them dearly.

Amen

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

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Shocking Faith – New Testament Thursday

11980090_a8d8b7d400_zA few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
-Mark 2: 1-12

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Gathering Discussion: Daily Devotions

Scripture

  • Matthew 4:1-4 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
  • Mark 1:35 “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
  • Luke 5:15-16 “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Why do we do it?

  • Focus on our minds on Christ or being Christ-like
    • Transform our minds (Romans 12)
    • Sword of the Spirit
  • Communion with God
  • Ask for guidance
  • Learn about God and learn the Word of God
  • Grow in faith (faith comes from hearing)

How do we do devotions?

  • No set way
  • Prayer
  • Word
    • Topical
    • Read through a book of the Bible (a little or chapters)
    • Bible in a Year
  • Study (optional)
  • Prayer
    • Pray from heart
    • Pray pre-written prayer
    • Prayer journal
  • Individual or as a family
    • Deuteronomy 11:18-19 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
    • Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

When to do devotions?

No set time, but…

  • Morning tends to be best because you are starting your day, setting the tone, focusing your mind, etc.
    • If you don’t feel like you have time in the morning, just pray, maybe while driving to work and maybe listen to the Bible on your phone. Then find time later in the day (the earlier the better) for more dedicated time.
  • Bookend your day.

Conclusion

Read Ephesians 6:10-20 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

The Theme of Faith

faithOver the past week our class has been looking at the first three parts of the Catechism, the Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.  As always, there’s ton of great stuff that I could talk about with this, but one of the greatest is the theme we see throughout the Lutheran Catechism. [Read more…]

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