Lent Daily Devotional: What a Gracious Act! What a Selfless Response!

Maundy Thursday, March 29


WHAT A GRACIOUS ACT! WHAT A SELFISH RESPONSE!

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!
— Luke 22:20-22 (NIV)

    The strangest thing happened at the end of the last supper. The disciples were still with Jesus in the upper room. Jesus had just taken the bread and the cup on the table and had given it new meaning. We know it as the Lord’s Supper/Communion. His body broken. His blood shed. Jesus emptied and humbled Himself — and then it happened! The disciples began to discuss, converse, and argue about which of them would be the greatest. How absurd! How foolish! We’d never!

    And yet, in some of the most sacred times, we find ourselves doing the same thing. at weddings and funerals, people often say and do crazy and absurd things because they feel they are entitled to something. Forget about the couple making a grand commitment before God and others. Forget about a loved one who has passed and their families who are grieving. People show some unflattering colors at some inappropriate times. maybe you have seen it too. So sad.

    There is a better way. may we have the grace, strength, and character to live out our faith in ways that build others up and not tear them down. may we do for others and think of others rather than just worry about ourselves. God sent His Son that all may have life, joy, and peace, especially in a world that is full of sadness, pain, and emptiness. may we each choose to walk in
the ways of our Lord, who emptied Himself, who took on the very form of a servant, and who was obedient even to death.

    It’s funny (ironic), that emptying ourselves leads to life and fulfillment. But that’s the story of our faith, our God, and hopefully our lives. Thanks be to God!


Gracious God, help us to embody your spirit and presence by showing your love and grace to others in all of our days. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pastor Paul Melson
Trinity United Methodist Church

Lent Daily Devotional: Encouragement

Wednesday, March 28


ENCOURAGEMENT

But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging, and comfort.
— 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NIV)

    One day while I was at my physical therapy session, I met Jesus in an elderly lady named Jenny. Jenny was bent over and used a walker, but she was so happy and thankful to the therapist who worked with her. as my therapist worked with me, Jenny said we were doing a great job. She was
encouraging to everyone.

    Jenny left before me, but when I left she was still waiting in the lobby for her transportation. So I stopped to talk to her and asked, “Jenny, what church do you go to?” She told me she went to a local methodist church. I said, “I knew you had Jesus Christ in your heart.” She laughed and said that she hopes He stays there. again she told me what a good job I did at physical therapy. I thanked her and told her what a blessing it was to meet her.

    I was so happy the rest of the day because I had been shown love and encouragement from a woman who wanted to share it freely with everyone.

Heavenly Father, please help me to have a heart like you that loves all people unconditionally.

Kim Tortella
Pitman United Methodist Church

On Thursday evening of Holy Week, it is thought that Jesus had His last supper with His disciples. It was a reflective and tender hour of fellowship when Jesus shared some of His greatest insights with them. In many churches, the holy communion service on Thursday evening is held in memory of Jesus’ last supper.

Sometimes the day is called maundy Thursday, from the Latin word mandatum, which means mandate, and refers to the “new commandment” that Jesus gave his followers, “that ye love one another.” another explanation for the name comes from the Latin words, mandatum novum do bovis, which relate to the custom of carrying gifts to the poor in maunds (hand baskets).

The German name for Holy Thursday is grundonnerstag, which is translated as “Green Thursday.” It was also known as “The day of Foot
Washing” because the Gospel often read is the account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
— MAUNDY THURSDAY -Matthew 26:17-30

Lent Daily Devotional: The Good Steward

Tuesday, March 27


THE GOOD STEWARD

... So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
— Luke 16:2 (NKJV)

    Webster gives us a definition of steward as a manager or trustee. The Bible sometimes even expands it to include servant.

    In our Bible verse, the rich man asked his steward/manager to give an account of his actions to counter the claim he heard that this steward was wasting the employer’s goods. His steward was serving himself, not his employer.

    How can we be a good steward of what God has entrusted to us? In thinking about this, we can consider four things He has given us: our souls, our bodies, our possessions, and our talents.

    Our soul is an immortal spirit that is us forevermore. We are made in the image of God! The world is always telling us to be happy and do what we want, but we will be much happier and more blessed by doing God’s will. In Philippians 4:7 (KJV), Paul says, “The peace of God ... shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer, Bible study, and church attendance are foundations for keeping our souls heaven bound.

    Our bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) with many members and abilities. We have our five senses, our hands and feet, our speech, and more. However, our tongue is one member of our body that can do instant harm or instant good. The tongue is a member that we have to constantly guard.

    Each of us is entrusted with possessions. Some of us have very many things, others not as much. Compared to most of the world, we are truly blessed with many things. But these “worldly goods” can overwhelm us and keep us from seeing God in our lives. Luke 16:8 suggests that worldly people are often more “shrewd” about their earthly interests than Christians. We
are to be good stewards of our possessions that we may give a good account.

    Finally, we have our talents. In our church body, God has provided each person with a talent to help fulfill the needs of the body. It is wise to be a good steward of your talents for the betterment of your church or any situation where you may find yourself.

Dear God, you have reached out to us. We pray that we will reach back to you and be good managers of all that you have given us.

Tom Bennett
Pitman United Methodist Church

Lent Daily Devotional: The Abundant Life

Monday, March 26


THE ABUNDANT LIFE

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
— John 10:10-11 (NKJV)

    A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a Wesleyan Women’s retreat in southern Florida. The key speaker was Mrs. Gloria Gaither. She started her talk by telling us that she had invited a daughter and grandchild to travel down with her. during the night the child became ill and sleep was no more for them. Feeling she might lose her train of thought, she thus began by telling about the time she and her husband had to go to the home of an aunt, newly deceased, to start cleaning out her belongings. She told us about the old hats and other items of long ago that they found.

    I began to wonder what this had to do with a spiritual emphasis. Then she let us have it by asking us, “What will your family find when they go through your things?” Good question indeed, and one for thought. What will our families find that tells who we really are?

    Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus died all that the people found was an empty tomb? Give that some thought this Lenten season.

    He gave His life that we might have life and have it abundantly.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving your life that we might have life abundantly. Help us to see how great our lives really are because of your gift to us. Amen.

Carol Phillips
Trinity United Methodist Church
United Methodist Communities, Pitman

The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.
— Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest"

Lent Daily Devotional: Let God Be True

Sunday, March 25


LET GOD BE TRUE

Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
— Romans 3:4 (NIV)

    In essence, this scripture verse is saying that we must allow God to be true in our lives. In other words, we must yield to His truth in every circumstance. What does this mean, and how do we do it?

    To allow God to be true in our lives, we have to believe once and for all that God says what He means and means what He says. as long as we put our faith in God’s Word, His Word will always produce results because God is not a liar.

    How do we allow God to be true in our lives? By simply taking Him at His Word and acting on it. For example, since He says in Psalm 103:3 that He heals all our diseases, then He means exactly what He says: He heals all our diseases. Since He says in 1 John 1:9 that He is faithful to forgive our
sins when we confess them, then He forgives our sins when we confess them.

    If someone were to imply that God does not tell the truth, we would immediately protest. Then why do we ourselves have so much trouble believing that God is telling the truth when He says that we are healed, that we are prosperous, that we are forgiven? The reason, I believe, is that we have not heard enough of what God says nor have we heard it often enough. Faith in God’s Word — belief in what God says — comes only from hearing over and over what God says.

    Remember: God says what He means and means what He says. If you want to experience victory in every area of your life, believe this and live your life as though it were true — because it is!

Lord, forgive us when we don’t believe what you tell us so clearly. Open our hearts and minds to your truth. Amen.

Dr. Maryann Diorio
Calvary Assembly of God, Pennsauken, NJ

Used with permission from the Daystar Devotional by Maryann Diorio, copyright 2016.

Lent Daily Devotional: Renew, Restore, Repurpose

Saturday, March 24


RENEW, RESTORE, REPURPOSE

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
— Psalm 51:10-13 (NIV)

    My Senegalese friends have a gift for taking something that would otherwise be discarded and finding a new use for it. old clothes become new diapers, empty jars become storage containers, egg cartons become fire starters, and paint buckets become shopping carts. each old item is given a new name and purpose.

    In this passage, I am reminded that as we submit ourselves to God, He takes our heart and makes it pure. He takes our weak spirit and renews it by His spirit, making it steadfast. When we are lost, He redirects us and draws us into His presence and refills us with His Holy Spirit. In our despair and brokenness, He restores us and reminds us of the joy we experienced when we first knew Him. In our rebellion, He gently molds our heart and spirit to be willing to seek Him and follow Him and be sustained by Him.

    As a result of God’s transforming work in our lives, we are given a new purpose and name. We are called, as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “new creations,” as the old has passed, the new has come. In this newness, we have been given a new purpose to go out from a place of His strength to show others the path from darkness to light, death to life, and despair to hope.

Lord we thank you that you receive us exactly where we are and that as your life flows through us we are renewed, restored, and repurposed for your sake. We give ourselves to you in this Lenten season to be used by you, for you, and for the furtherance of your Kingdom until you come again.

Joanna Beske
Trinity United Methodist Church
Missionary To Senegal

Lent Daily Devotional: Children are a Blessing

Friday, March 23


CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
— Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

    One of my greatest blessings is being a Sunday School teacher to the nursery class. I have always strived to be as good a teacher to these precious children as my dearest friend and mentor, Jean young, who taught for over 50 years. I have been teaching now for more than 25 years and doubt I will make it to 50, but I would like to think I have helped to bring the children I have taught closer to God in some small way.

    The children are always so full of energy and eagerness to learn each week. I can’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm and love for learning. They love to sing and listen to the Bible stories and do crafts. It is such a joy to spend time with these precious “gifts from God.” They come into our room with such big smiles, and it thrills me to see how happy they are to come to Sunday School. Sometimes they run to me and give me a great big hug ... and oh my, that just melts my heart! During story time in our story circle, I love to look at their sweet, innocent faces. They are so excited to learn all about Jesus.

    My hope is that I am teaching them how much Jesus loves them and that He is their very best friend. They, too, teach me how much fun it is to learn about Jesus. It is a win-win for the children and me. Jesus loves me, this I know ... Jesus loves the little children ... He sure does, and I am so
thankful for that. Praise be to God!

Dear Heavenly Father, we are so blessed and honored to teach and influence your precious children. Give us guidance as we look for opportunities to make a difference. Amen.

Beverly Guy
Evangelical United Methodist Church

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the one who is leading.
— Oswald Chambers

Lent Daily Devotional: Reduce your Mulligans

Thursday, March 22


REDUCE YOUR MULLIGANS

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
— LamentationS 3:22-23 (NIV)

    The golfer steps up to the first hole, tees up his ball, and proceeds to hit it 10 feet in front of himself! He looks at his playing partners and says, “I’m going to take a mulligan.” He then tees up his ball again and hits it 200 yards.

    A mulligan is a “do-over” in golf. Some golfers take only one per round (18 holes), but they can take more if allowed by their playing partners. It’s not a legal move in professional golf, but it is popular among recreational golfers. The group, especially if they play together often, will already have informal rules about using mulligans, such as how many and where they can be used. Some golfers make use of the mulligan, while others decline. Where in your life would you have loved to have taken a mulligan?

    I said an unkind word.
          I should have softened my comment.
    I sent a snarky text message.
          Why didn’t I choose better words or wait to reply?
    I made a selfish decision.
          There were others to consider before I acted.
    I lied (white lie of course), gossiped (it’s only sharing).
          I need to be honest. I need to be a better friend.
    I ignored someone in need.
          Why did I pretend I didn’t notice?
    I showed an ill-timed display of anger.
          Couldn’t I have waited until I cooled down a little before reacting?

    In the game of golf, the number of mulligans is limited. However, in the game of life, God gives us an unlimited number of mulligans. He also plays the course with us, coaching us and showing us how to be more like Him, so that we can reduce our need for mulligans. and even when we get off course, He lets us start playing with Him again. every game — every morning — is a new start, and great is the faithfulness of the one who has never needed a mulligan.

Lord, you promise us a fresh start when we mess up. Help us learn from our mistakes. Thank you for being a God of second chances.

Claudia Cuddy
Trinity United Methodist Church