Disaster for Jerusalem

Imagine what is would be like for enemies to completely surround your house, banging on every door and window, trying to get in to hurt you and your family. Think what it would be like for a whole city to be surrounded by enemies!

This was going on for two and a half years, as enemies tried to break through the wall surrounding Jerusalem. Finally on July 18, in the year 586 before Christ, the city was captured by mean and evil people from Babylonia, a neighboring country. Jeremiah, sometimes called “The Weeping Prophet,” had been telling God’s people that it was because they were not following God’s ways that they became weak before their enemies.

Many sad things happen in these three chapters. Hope begins with the verse for today for a small number of God’s people saved from being killed and allowed to return to Jerusalem. But this little group gives way to revenge; Ishmael plots to kill the new Governor who really wants to leave God’s people alone.

Not until Jesus will we ever learn what it is to love our enemies and to wish good upon those out to hurt us. As you read these stories, may your heart tilt toward Jesus and his love…just as we read in Jesus’ sad expression over Jerusalem in yesterday’s reading.

Jeremiah 39:8-18

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
Being safe when trusting You v. 18

This is the Second Week in Lent, Year C
Mondays in Lent are dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Like Father—Like Son

There is an expression, “Like father—like son.” Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, wants to have Jesus killed just his father did when Jesus was an infant. The older Herod brutally killed all the children under two years of age in the hopes that Jesus would be one of them. Now his son is filled with the same pride, arrogance and fear. He thought to himself: “What if people go after Jesus and forget me?” He decides it’s time to get Jesus.

Fear, jealousy and self-interest drive Herod Antipas; courage, desire to heal and love urges Jesus onward. The clash of all these power is going to take place in Jerusalem, the sacred city. In the verse for today, Jesus likely goes up a hill so he can see the whole city at a glance. There he pours out his great sadness about how the people don’t want him as their savior. What a beautiful image of a hen gathering her chicks under her wing!

Jesus: “Like Father—like Son! Will you be like Jesus and do what his Father wants as intensely as Jesus wants to do it?

Luke 13:31-35

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
As a hen gathers her brood v. 34
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the Second Week in Lent
Spring in the north.  Year C
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Sweet Gifts for Sour Sins

Then the priest must remove all the goat’s fat
in the same way the fat is removed from the fellowship offerings.
He must burn it on the altar as a smell pleasing to the Lord.
In this way the priest will remove that person’s sin so he will belong to the Lord,
and the Lord will forgive him. v. 31

Today’s reading is a sample of the kinds of sacrifices performed when certain sins were committed. We no longer make gifts or offerings out of slain animals and sweet-smelling smoke rising to God, yet we do something similar when we want to make things right with someone we have hurt. We want to do something “sweet” to make up for the “sour” in what we did. We give candy, flowers…some gift to the other that reminds them that the there is a new freshness in our love which sometimes means “I’m sorry.”

It is the same with God. While we don’t use animals in this way any longer, we do need to do something to show God that we are sorry for when we go against God’s love and the plans God has for us.

Since Jesus died for the smallest and the greatest sins, there is nothing that is not covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross. So bring your sins and wrongs to the cross and lay them there. Jesus loves you and wants to have you back into close union with him. The blood of Christ shed for you turns your sorrow for sin into a sweet smelling smoke rising from the cross.

Leviticus 4:27-31

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Love as a sweet-smelling smoke
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Power Over Death

 

Jesus does a most amazing thing: he commands his dear dead friend Lazarus who was in a tomb for four days, to rise from the dead…and he does!

What great power Jesus has to be able to do that! But the religious leaders become very jealous at all the attention being given to Jesus, thinking that they are going to lose power over others. How dumb! They think that they can kill someone who has power over death! Dah!

The Gospel of St. John is one that often has two meanings when John shares about Jesus. It’s something like the first joke I ever heard as a kid. “Why did the moron through the clock out the window? He wanted to see time fly!” That simple joke is funny because there are two meanings to the idea of time.

So it is that the verse for today has two meanings: the religious leaders think how good for them it will be if Jesus dies, as they jealously say that if they put Jesus to death, the nation will benefit from it! Now read it in the positive way that St. John intends—by the death of Jesus, we are all saved from having to die in our sins.

As always in the stories of Jesus, imagine that you are there, a silent witness in the crowd, watching all that is going on. Notice the feelings that are stirred up inside you when you do this!

John 11:45-57

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
One to die for the people v. 50
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First Week in Lent
Spring in the north.  Year C
On Fridays in Lent and Easter we read the Gospel of John.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

A Light to Show the Way

My daughter game me a birthday gift that is one of my favorites: its’ a light for my forehead. For some time, I was thinking how good it would be for such a light—like miners have when they work in the dark, deep places gathering coal or precious metals from the ground.

The letter of St. James that we will read chapter by chapter the Thursdays during Lent this year, is something like that light. James’ words will be like beams of light to show you, not only the ways to be especially good in your life, but will be a light to shine when there are times you are confused about what to do, and tempted to do the wrong thing.

I find that each verse is special. Read today’s chapter very slowly…maybe a few times in the course of the day so that the light in these words will be bright, clear and pointed in the direction where you are called to go.

James 1

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Quick to listen, slow to speak v. 19
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the First Week in Lent
Spring in the north.  Year C
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament Letters.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

God’s Words and Yours—the Same

 

One time our family visited the caverns in western Virginia. They were dark, deep, cold and filled with echoes when anyone spoke. Sometimes someone would really call out to see how loud the sound and echo could be: it very strong.

The writer’s need for God is so great that he is calling out from way inside his soul as though it were one of those deep, empty caverns. Just as his prayer, his voice sounds clear and strong as it wells up from way down inside him.

There must have been something scary and dark going in his soul. Besides, it’s night and the psalmist can’t get to sleep with all the anxious thoughts he is having. It seems as though he is feeling strong guilt for his wrongs and he’s begging God to forgive him. His guilt feelings seem to be simply too strong to bear for whatever he has done that is so terrible. He longs for night to be over, just as a night security guard who can’t wait to see the light of dawn when it will be time to go home.

It’s really a beautiful prayer, with all its intense emotions expressed. Catch the energy of the psalm as you pray it and link up to the writer in anyway that might seem similar to your own life. In that way, God’s words and your words will be exactly the same!

Psalm 130

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

Out of depths I cry to You. v. 1

For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First Week in Lent
Spring in the north.  Year C
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Gems from Suffering

AnimFireStarterThe book of Job (pronounced with a long “o”) is about a very good man who suffers some terrible things one after the other. You might want to find out what happened which you’ll find in chapters 1 and 2.

Most of the book is a three-part series of conversations with Job and three others who say they are his friends. But they’re not very friendly at all! Instead of comforting Job for the terrible events in his life, they keep testing Job to see what he did that would make him responsible for the bad things. But Job refuses to fall into the trap. In this week’s episode, Job examines his heart and finds that he did nothing to bring about such things.

Highlight the golden gems in Job’s words in chapter 23 that rise up from his suffering. Job has some harsh ideas about God that aren’t really right; these come toward the end of the chapter. Thanks to Jesus, we know differently! Jesus suffered in a terrible way too, so that we would not have to!

Job 23

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

Your words kept in my bosom 23:12

For more about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First Week in Lent
Spring in the north.  Year C
Tuesdays we read from The Book of Job.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…