Embed or link this publication

Popular Pages


p. 1

Devotions for Lent 2018 Berkeley County Cluster of United Methodist Churches Rev. Dr. G. Edward Grove, Editor

[close]

p. 2

Introduction For disciples of Jesus Christ, the Season of Lent is a holy time of preparation, repentance and reflection. It is characterized by the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, reading and reflection on holy scripture and holy reading. This Lenten Devotional for 2018 has been created by followers of Jesus in the United Methodist Churches of Berkeley County, West Virginia to provide a resource for these disciplines. It is our prayer that the United Methodist Community, and all those who would chose to join with us, would use this Lenten Devotional 2018 to prepare ourselves for the glorious moment of the resurrection of our Lord. May the scripture text, the personal reflections, and prayers of your United Methodist neighbors be a blessing for you as you proceed through the days of Lent, to the passion and finally at the resurrection. Peace+ Ed Samantha Albright Donna Barbour Claudia Bentley Rev. Danny Breidenbaugh Brooke Cantley Rev. Mike Cantley Linda Carter Chet Cole Gula Engle Roger Engle Connie Grosjean Rev. Dr. G. Edward Grove Marybeth S. Grove Contributors St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC Bunker Hill UMC St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC Greensburg UMC St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC Greensburg UMC Greensburg & Mt. Wesley UMC Greensburg & Mt. Wesley UMC

[close]

p. 3

Jim Holland Jeff Hollis Cliff Huie Rev. Dr. Dennis Jackman Helen Lavigne Beth LeMaster Ray Miller Rev. Mark Mooney Pastor Dawn Reidy Rev. Edgardo Rivera Tracy Rohrbaugh Pastor Gary Sieglein Daris Smith Pastor Lynn Wilson Rev. John Yost Calvary UMC St. Luke’s UMC Greensburg UMC Hedgesville UMC St. Luke’s UMC St. Luke’s UMC Paynes Chapel UMC Otterbein UMC Paynes Chapel UMC Frederick District District Superintendent St. Luke’s UMC Gerrardstown UMC Calvary UMC Calvary UMC Retired

[close]

p. 4

February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday Blow the horn in Zion; give a shout on my holy mountain! Let all the people of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is near. -- Joel 2:1 Ash Wednesday is one of the most interesting Christian holidays. We come together for this solemn occasion where ashes are placed on our forehead and our pastor reminds us that we’re going to die someday: “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.” And from there we enter into a period of fasting and meditation, a time where many “bury the Alleluia” as they refrain from singing songs with that say Alleluia until Easter. Ash Wednesday can be a start very somber season. But it is also the start to a joyful time as well. We as Christians know that, even though pain and suffering still exist in the world, even though Christ will suffer and die on that cross, that is not the end of the story. Christ will rise up, and through Him we will rise up as well. Jesus brings a hope, peace, and light that is greater than the darkness that surrounds us. So blow the horn, shout it on the mountaintops! Christ is coming and indeed has already come into our lives, let us praise God every day this Lenten season even while we set this time apart for prayer and fasting. Prayer: Most holy God, I praise Your name! Be with me each day this lent as I ponder and reflect on the amazing sacrifice of your Son. And, amidst that, to praise your name every step of the way. Amen. Rev. Danny Breidenbaugh Bunker Hill UMC

[close]

p. 5

February 15, 2018 The First Thursday of Lent The LORD utters his voice at the head of his army; how vast is his host! Numberless are those who obey his command. Truly the day of the LORD is great; terrible indeed—who can endure it? -- Joel 2:11-12 Many times in our lives we tend to think that we can run the show on our own instead of turning to God in prayer and waiting on the leadership of the Holy Spirit to guide our paths. After we have made a mess of things we then decide to take it to God in prayer. When will we learn that “turning to God with all our hearts” is the first thing to do and not the last? When we turn to God first we make far less mistakes. We are also reminded in this scripture that God already knows what is in our hearts. God already knows if what we are doing is for our glory or for God’s glory. The show may impress others but God knows our intent before we even begin. So when we do what we do, it is important that the “doing” is for the right reason. It wouldn’t be good if we were called from this life while we were tooting our own horn. This line from the hymn “Trust and Obey” is right on, “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” I encourage all of us to begin everyday with trusting our God to provide for all we do. Pastor Lynn Wilson Calvary UMC

[close]

p. 6

February 16, 2018 The First Friday of Lent Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! -- Psalm 51:1-2 Read the Scripture through again…and then one more time. It can be hard at times to humble ourselves before God like this Psalm is asking us to do. And yet, there is that reminder there that God is merciful, God is faithful, and God is love. Put your trust in this God of new beginnings who says that we don’t have to be the same person today as we were yesterday. Receive this gift of forgiveness and purification this Lenten season, allow it to wash over you. Be transformed, so that we can live up to our communion covenant which says “that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.” Prayer: Forgiving God, today we offer this Scripture as our prayer. Wash me, mold me, and guide me during these days of Lent so that I may become a new creation wholly serving you. Amen. Rev. Danny Breidenbaugh Bunker Hill UMC

[close]

p. 7

February 17, 2018 The First Saturday of Lent 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. -- Psalm 51:15-17 (NRSV) We have started our Lenten season reflecting on this Psalm where David with a repentant heart shared his heartfelt regret for his actions to the one and Holy God he knew and loved. Verses 15-17 point to the questions: What is considered an acceptable sacrifice by God? What are God’s expectations from God’s people in similar circumstances? The law required an offering or a ritual sacrifice to amend for the sins committed. David’s reponse beautifully addresses this matter by pointing to the character of God; a gracious God who is merciful who embraces a humble and contrite heart. David was truthful and sincere about his transgression. He understood that they sparated him from God and accepts full responsibility. A sincere confession and repentance provide what is needed to be free to declare God’s praise and a renewed relationship with God. Paul in his letter to the Romans encourages us to offer ourselves as a holy and living sacrifice. In doing so, we are able to experience true inward transformation consistent with God’s will for our lives in a way that is pleasing and acceptable to God. If our present state have silenced our will to follow and to praise God, then it is only God who can open our lips. We cannot sacrifice our way out of the consequences of sin, because only a heart that has turned toward God in repentance and supplication is an acceptable offering. PRAYER: Compassionate God, help us to honestly look at our individual and communal spiritual lives in the light of the sin that has separated us from your holy presence. Help us too, to lay that sin and pride on the altar of our worship, even as we thank you in anticipation of your mercy. Gracious God thank you for your Grace that is greater than all our sins. Amen. Rev. Edgardo Rivera Frederick District

[close]

p. 8

February 18, 2018 The First Sunday of Lent God said, “Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. -- Genesis 9: 12-13 We love rainbows! How often do we look for one after a rain storm? As the rain comes to an end and the sun shines again, our chances of seeing a rainbow are greater. A rainbow is caused by the refraction and reflection of the rays of the sun shining on falling rain. Refraction is the change in direction of the spread of the sun’s rays due to a change in its transmission medium. In the case of a rainbow, a change in the denseness of a medium (air to water), cause the light to bend as it slows down, yet its frequency remains constant. The passing of the light through the water droplets results in a spectrum of color. God’s people are like a denser medium, challenging and slowing down his direction in our lives. We have God’s light shining toward us, guiding, providing, uplifting, encouraging, calming, embracing and loving. It’s a 24/7 covenant made with us in mind. Even in our darkest days, God spreads his ray of light and love into our lives. We might slow it down, but his light and love remain constant. The rainbow is a symbol of God’s faithfulness and mercy. The beauty that is provided by the refraction of his light into our lives only can be seen by others if that light is dispersed and reflected. So, when the rain storms come into our lives, remember that the light of God is there too. Just be patient and wait for his rainbow to appear and then, share his faithfulness and mercy with others. PRAYER: O Lord, sometimes I’m rather “thick” and I just don’t get it! Please be patient with me. You have shaped your light and turned it into a beautiful rainbow promising always to love me. May I reflect your beauty and the light of your love toward those I love, as well as toward those I am indifferent to. Amen Marybeth S. Grove Greensburg and Mt. Wesley UMC

[close]

p. 9

February 19, 2018 The First Monday of Lent Make your ways known to me, LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long. -- Psalm 25:4-5 Some use this season of lent as a time to take something out of their lives, to fast. Whether that be soda, chocolate, Facebook, bad habits, whatever it is. But the more important aspect of that fast is that we are to be replacing those items with things that will help draw us closer to God – Bible study, prayer, worship, service, etc. I can remember many times in my life asking that question, “God, where are you taking me,” or, “God, what is it you want me to do?” But if we’re not willing to put in the time to listen then how will we ever hear God’s response? God is ready to lead us to truth, to teach us, to make God’s ways known to us. All God asks is that we be willing to spend the time to listen and reflect on where we are being called to go and what we are called to do. Prayer: God of all hope, guide and teach me each day. Give me an open heart and open mind to hear and discern your call on my life. Amen Rev. Danny Breidenbaugh Bunker Hill UMC

[close]

p. 10

February 20, 2018 The First Tuesday of Lent The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. -- Psalm 25:8-10 In this season of Lent, as we ponder what Jesus’ sacrifice means to us, we can reflect on these 3 verses, which define the true character of God. They tell us that God is good and faithful; that he does what is right and provides direction to those who go astray; and that his love is unfailing and faithful to those who keep his covenant and obey his demands. Does this mean that he will only be loving and faithful to those who are obedient? Of course not. This passage should be incredibly reassuring to all of us, because it tells us that, not only does God lead with “unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands,” but also, according to verse 8, “he shows the proper path to those who go astray.” He does this for us, because he loves us. Why does the Psalmist emphasize, in verse 10, the unfailing love and faithfulness that God will show to those who keep his covenant and obey him? Because God wants us to be obedient to him. It reminds me of the passage from John where Jesus reminds us to show our love for him by being obedient to him: If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15 God loves us even when we go astray. He proved his love for us, by sending his only Son to save us from our sins, because he knew we would go astray. But he wants us to be obedient to him because we love him; and, in return, he promises his unfailing love and faithfulness. PRAYER: Lord God, I know that you are a loving and faithful God, and that you will love me and guide me, no matter how I may fail you. But because I love you Lord, I ask for your help in remaining obedient to you and your will for my life. Amen. Tracey A. Rohrbaugh St. Luke’s UMC

[close]

p. 11

February 21, 2018 The Second Wednesday of Lent “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,” Peter 3:18 Visiting the shore has a special place in my heart and of all the shorelines I get to visit, the Outer Banks has some of the most interesting features I have ever experienced. Last Fall I was invited to go to Cape Hatteras with some friends to fish and enjoy the shore. We were up before dawn and because we had the permit and a four wheel drive truck we went all the way to the point. As we fished through the day (catching nothing) I took a walk across the small divide between the point and a newly created Shelly Island. There I found all kinds of shells of all shapes, sizes and condition. I even found many nearly perfect conch shells, a type of shell that is usually very difficult to find except for bits and pieces. Among all the shells, I picked 5 that really caught my eye. Each was unique; each had flaws, damage and imperfections from the journey up from the sea floor. Today’s scripture notes that Christ suffered for our sins, our flaws and our damaged parts of our lives. He sees our beauty in the midst of our brokenness and for that, we can all be grateful. Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for your love for each of us. We know that we are not perfect but that you see beauty in our brokenness, character in our damage and you are there for us every day and in every way. Amen. Jim Holland Calvary UMC

[close]

p. 12

February 22, 2018 The Second Thursday of Lent At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” -- Mark 1: 9-11 Of the most beloved and treasured birds to the feeder area in our side yard, among the cardinals, yellow and red finches, and the occasional messy blue jay; are the mourning doves. Their long drawn out “whoo-oooo-oo” representing almost a lament, or sound of empathy to anyone listening, never cease to bring my heart joy and peace just knowing they are close by. The symbol of the dove in the Bible can be seen in much the same way, as the dove in the story of the flood when Noah sends out the dove to check for dry land, and she returns with the olive branch in her beak. (Genesis 8:11). Symbolically, the story of Noah’s dove tells us that God declared peace with mankind after the flood had purged the earth of its wickedness. The dove represented His Spirit bringing the good news of the reconciliation of God and man. In the Gospel reading of Mark today, it is significant that the Holy Spirit was pictured as a dove at Jesus’ baptism, thereby once again symbolizing peace with God as the gentle Savior ultimately brings eternal salvation to mankind through His sacrifice. My treasured cooing friends hold a high place of distinction, it turns out in regard to their frequent appearance in scripture. I am so grateful that they have chosen to take up residence at our home to remind me each time I hear the power of their song, of the compassion, suffering, and love of our Lord for each one of us. PRAYER: How great is your love for us O Father, that you have set into place among us the wildlife, creatures of sea, air, and land; to remind us of your infinite presence and concern for us all each and every day throughout every moment of our life—all our life long. Amen. Connie S. Grosjean Greensburg UMC

[close]

p. 13

February 23, 2018 The Second Friday of Lent “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him”. -- Mark 1:12-13 The Gospel writer Mark wants us to fully understand that this God-man Jesus, while fully divine, is profoundly and completely human. He is, like us, subject to the enormous temptations offered by the forces of evil in the world. This is the only way that Jesus could fully understand the challenges and reality of being completely human. If he did not totally take on all the characteristics of humanity, then he could not identify with our human condition. Otherwise, he would stand outside of our human reality, even sympathize with us; but he could not emphasize, fully understand and feel, the vulnerability of humanity. One can imagine that Satan would see Jesus’ giving in to temptation as a significant victory. If Jesus could be weakened, then all of humanity would easily fall prey to his suggestive temptations. If Jesus gave in to the temptations offered up by Satan, the divine work of salvation would have been over before Jesus began his ministry. This is heady stuff. Mark, the Gospel writer, waste no time engaging us in the divine struggle. It is the first round of cosmic battle over the souls of humanity. Jesus, the God-man, is squared off against the powerful forces of sin that have enslaved men and women since the fall of Adam and Eve. As this holy battle rages, we see no winners. It is a draw. Jesus does not yield to temptation, and Satan lives to fight another day. Mark hopes that his readers will understand the full impact of this holy fight. Jesus, the God-man, is sent into the desert to confront the worst of temptations imaginable, and he withstands the over-powering confrontation of Satan. Jesus emerges from this desert arena weary, tired and perhaps bruised. But he is not defeated. Notice the last phrase of verse 13: “…and the angels waited on him.” Jesus would continue the fight that began in the desert, he will finish it on the cross. PRAYER: Holy God, who sent your Son into the world to conquer sin. We praise you for caring so much for us that you would Jesus into battle for our salvation. We praise Jesus, your Son, who willing took on the role of humanity and fought for our redemption. We pray that you will strengthen us that we too would remain strong in the midst of temptation. Amen. Rev. Dr. G. Edward Grove Greensburg and Mt. Wesley UMC

[close]

p. 14

February 24, 2018 The Second Saturday of Lent “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ “ -- Mark 1:14-15 As Mark reports the story, Jesus has returned from the wilderness temptation experience. We can only imagine the bruising and pain that he encountered there. Yet, he emerges from that experience ready to fully engage in the work that God had sent him to do. He now begins the battle for the souls of men and women and the defeat of Satan. While we are unsure of the exact physical location in the Judean wilderness where the temptations occurred, Marks wants us to understand it was a harsh, brutal, and challenging experience of Jesus. He now boldly emerges in Galilee where he will call his first disciples and begin his public ministry. His first public words, according to Mark, are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news”. Jesus, the preacher, provides his audience with his intent, mission, and expectation in the first sentence of his inaugural sermon. Having experienced the temptation, he publicly pronounces that the work of salvation has begun. God is ready, through the work of His Son, to redeem and restore the souls of men and women to righteousness and a place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus not only announces that the time is right, but there are requirements and expectations for those who wish to be a participant in this work of salvation. He announces two requirements that will be pronounced again and again throughout his ministry. They are the core values for all followers of Jesus. In order be a participant in the work of salvation, one must repent and believe. The salvation work of Jesus is a new thing; therefore one must turn away from the culture of this world and commit to following the way define by Jesus. Repent means to “turn around and to follow”. Once must also believe, with heart, mind and soul, that Jesus is Son of God who leads us into the Kingdom of God. Belief is essential. Two, but challenging, concepts that Jesus announces at the outset of his ministry. They were true then and they are true now. May we have the will, commitment, courage and endurance to follow Jesus into the Kingdom of God. PRAYER: O God, the words seem so simple, but they are life changing. May your Spirit guide and strengthen us as we seek to turn around from the sin of the worldG and faithfully follow you into your Kingdom. Amen. Rev. Dr. G. Edward Grove Greensburg and Mt Wesley UMC

[close]

p. 15

February 25, 2018 The Second Sunday of Lent When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2) I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” 3) At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, 4) “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!” (NLT) --Genesis 17: 1-4 Lenten Season is a good time to regroup and prepare for the challenges of life. The challenges we face cause us to make decisions and the decisions we make often lead us to more challenges, and so the cycle continues. Nobody gets a free pass. The consequences of our actions can create obstacles to our spiritual growth which often cause feelings of failure, overwhelming us at times to the point of feeling defeated. Not all obstacles we face are caused by our actions. Let’s focus on the obstacles where we have done something to create, and pray that any habits we establish in the process might help us deal with those obstacles that are beyond our control. Our scripture is as applicable today, as it was in Abram’s time. It can be a daunting thought to imagine living a blameless life. Think about it, blameless, as spotless or innocent. But, God promises us, if we serve Him faithfully, He will provide a blameless walk for us. This indicates the first step is ours. Trusting requires a relationship. Not everyone carries the same level of trust with God, or an ability to trust in certain situations. So, if you have established a trusting relationship with God, you have opportunities all around you to support others through areas of their life where the worldly walk they are on is not so smooth. God is calling you to make yourself available for a brother or sister in need. Don’t be concerned about bringing words of wisdom. Bring a hug, establish some calm and feel the love of God at work. Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that you will use us as channels for your love. Help us to trust you more, so we might become more confident in our faith. We know you will not lead us into the wilderness and drop us off. We know you stand firm on your promises to hold us close as we serve others, and in the process serve you. As we invite you into our decision making processes, please use the obstacles in our lives to show us how such moments can help us grow spiritually. Please take our actions and produce good fruit. Learning to trust you more, as we grow in your grace, we will praise you every step of the way. Help us to appreciate what a blameless life with you feels like, as we continue on our obstacle course of life. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen. Chet Cole St. Luke’s UMC

[close]

Comments

no comments yet