Through the Desert to Life

The First Week in Lent, Year B

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Thousands and thousands of poor people in Mexico and the countries in Central America have tried to make dangerous crossing into the United States. Once they got there, what faced them is not the security of a warm bed and food, but rather, desert sands stretching before them as far as the eye can see. Very many die along the way. Places are marked where they passed away from starvation and thirst.

Jesus began his ministry in the desert. He wanted to be just like the poor in loneliness, suffering and rejection. The devil took advantage of all this to tempt Jesus to let go of his love for the poor, offering him riches and fame. Of course, the devil could not give Jesus any of these.

Close your eyes… Feel the silence as though you too are in a desert. Six weeks of Lent stretch before you like a journey through the desert to life. Jesus walks with you, taking you all the way through His death and resurrection.

Mark 1:9-15


Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels, in Year B, the Gospel of Mark


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

A Place to Find God

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I’ll bet you never went camping in a tent like the one that God told Moses to build in the desert! This was to be the first holy place where God wanted to be adored and worshipped by God’s people as they went from Egypt to the Promised Land. They would be in this desert wandering for forty years. Now that’s a long time, so God thought it would be good for them to have a kind of portable “church” called a tabernacle where they could pray when they had rest stops on their journey.

Do you have a special place in your house where you and your family pray? Now don’t put up your tent–that’s for vacation! Why not get your family together and figure out a spot in your house? Set it up in a special way so that you will sense God’s presence when you go there. How about finding a special time to read God’s Word each day and to pray with your family.

Here’s an idea. This Bible passage is hard to picture, so you might check out BiblePlaces.com for a full size model of this sacred tent.

Exodus 26


Saturdays are dedicated to the Torah Portions
read along with synagogues throughout the world.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

 

 

Happiness in Jesus’ Love

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Everyone daydreams at times. Your eyes are looking straight ahead, yet you are not thinking about what you are seeing, but rather, you’re looking at a kind of video in your mind. The imagination is a gift that God gave us to go beyond what is right in front of us at the moment, to do some traveling in time and place. So let’s do that with this Gospel reading.

We are in the house of Levi after Jesus called him to follow Jesus. (Levi is also called Matthew by the other evangelists.) Look at the happiness of the sinners and tax collectors who are eating with Jesus! They love Jesus, because Jesus loves them so much and they are healed from all kinds of sickness. Now picture the Pharisees over on one side of the room whispering and criticizing Jesus for hanging around with people hated by the Pharisees. Listen to Jesus’ words. What do you feel way inside as you listen? Jesus accepts and loves you. No matter who may be complaining about you, Jesus never stops loving you. Feel peace and joy in knowing this.

Mark 2:13–28


Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels.
In this year B in the three-year cycle, we read the Gospel of Mark.
In the season Epiphany, we read the first three chapters.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

Dipped in Holy Oil

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A little hand-painted sign in a country store reads: “A candle begins as a piece of string dipped again and again into wax. With each dipping, more and more wax forms about the string, so that in the end, a light may be lit that burns softly and brightly.”

If each day you dip yourself into God’s Word, this soaking in the holy oil of the Holy Spirit will mean that the spark I offer in these Firestarters will set the fire of God’s love in your heart and keep on burning. So be careful about what you dip into. Let’s drop into Jesus so that nothing but Christ’s love burns within us.

By the way: today you will read a whole Book of the Bible in a minute or so!

2 John


Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament except the Gospels.
In the season of Advent to Epiphany, we read the letters of John and Jude.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion.  An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

 

 

It’s Not Fair!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday!

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Wow! Is David angry! While he is very upset at what’s happening to him, he is especially angry at the way that so many are treating God’s people—not caring about justice. It’s Not Fair! They fail to honor and love God. He knows in his heart that God will take care of God’s enemies; David doesn’t have to. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35).

David is like Jesus. Jesus pours out his anger, not when something is done to him alone, but when His Father’s glory is at stake. For example, worldly business got into the temple during special holidays. Jesus turned over the tables of those exchanging money. Imagine having a lemonade stand right up next to the altar in church, turning the attention of the congregation away from worship!

When we get very upset at the way others are abused, it’s important to turn our anger into prayer, just as David did. Then God will show us what we need to do to make sure that justice flows out…and not just our anger.

Psalm 58


Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms: one a week over the three-year cycle.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion. An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

 

 

Light Shining on Your Path

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As you read these verses, listen to them coming from the most wonderful, tender, loving teacher of your heart: the Holy Spirit. Each verse is like a shining light that guides your path from morning to night.

Verse 23 especially moves me. “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.” The brain is like the command center of a space craft. It’s what God uses to guide our thinking, our feeling, our choices, ideas and plans in life. Protect your brain by eating food that truly nourishes it and all the organs in your body. Your body is the sacred vessel that God gave you so that God and God’s love can become real for others through you. Just as you wear helmets in some sports to protect your brain, the Apostle Paul reminds us to put on the “helmet of salvation.” This will protect our minds with the joy of the salvation Jesus won for us on the cross.

What are the thoughts that come to your mind as you slowly read each verse of today’s reading? Jot them down so that you will remember and share them with your family.

Proverbs 4:18-27


Tuesdays are dedicated to the Writings in the Hebrew Scriptures, those books with the exception of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible)
the Prophets and the Psalms.
In the season of Advent to Epiphany this year, we read Judges and Proverbs, 4 to 6


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion. An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick

Singing Isaiah’s Song

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Isaiah sings out the third of four “Songs of the Servant.” His voice celebrates a special servant of God who will remind of Jesus, the loving and faithful servant of God. Verse six will remind you of the suffering of Jesus when he was mocked and beaten by the soldiers during the great suffering of Jesus we call the Passion.

You are a very special person whom God has called to serve and help others. Read this song placing yourself when you read “I” and “me.” Maybe you have been hurt by others or perhaps bullied just like the servant in these verses and just like Jesus. God is always there to love and protect you. St. Paul expressed it this way: “If God is for us, who is against us? (Roman 8:31) It’s like saying, “I have God on my side: I dare anyone to roll up his sleeves and take on God!” God will see to it that fairness and justice will surely come through. Just trust the Holy Spirit of your brother Jesus and wait for this to happen. Sing Isaiah’s song in your heart.

Isaiah 50:4-9


Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets
In the season of Advent to Epiphany this year, we read Isaiah chapters 40 to 55.


This is a sample of a new version of The Bible Through the Seasons as a daily family devotion. An ebook is planned. I’ll keep you posted! –Pastor Nick