Week 6 March 19-25 Theme: God’s grace is unearned, unexpected—how should we respond to the gift?
Set aside 12 minutes a day for reading and prayer.
Monday 3/19 Read Jeremiah 31: 27-34 At the worst moment of their nation’s existence, about to become exiled, with the Temple about to be destroyed, when all hope was gone, God decides to speak again. This time God does not speak about punishment. Instead, God plants a seed of hope. Think about a dark time in your life. Where did hope come from for you? In what way could that glimpse of something better be the bloom of a seed planted by the hand of God?
Pray: With thanksgiving I pray to you even if at first I thought you were not involved, or worse, caused my pain. I am grateful because in the midst of suffering, hope surprised me.
Tuesday 3/20 Read Jeremiah 31: 27-34 The promise is that everyone will know God and everyone will be God’s people. Have you ever thought, “Well I shouldn’t have to tell them –they should’ve known better,” about anything? Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, “I should’ve known better?” What blocks your mind from knowing what is already on your heart? In what way can you let the Spirit of God free you to know and be known?
Pray: God of revelation, open my eyes that I may see, my ears that I may hear, my life that I may serve, my heart that I may love.
Wednesday 3/21 Read Psalm 51: 1-12. Pause and think about the things in your life that seem in some way broken, relationships, work, physical well-being, emotional stability—whatever you endure that brings grief to your life and seems to linger without resolution. Simply bring those to mind without analyzing. Sit silently for 2 minutes. Return to the psalm and pray it as you read.
Prayer: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Thursday 3/22 Read Hebrews 5: 1-10 Most of the time Christians celebrate the choice Christ made to become a human being. This text invites us to consider that God appointed the human Jesus to become a priest and Jesus accepted the calling. Our baptism is meant to signify our appointment to the priesthood of all believers. In what ways are you “priestly?” What sacrifices have you made to fulfill your calling as a priest?
Prayer: Christ, in you I see the joy and sorrow of serving God’s beloved children. May I accept my role in your ministry with joy and endure any suffering with hope in you, Living God.
Friday 3/23 Read John 12: 20-33 To whom would you go and say, “I want to see Jesus.” Why them?
Prayer: Thank you for sending people my way who show me the face of Christ.
See you in Loudermilk Worship: Gospel @ The Rock 7:30 p.m.
Saturday 3/24 Read John 12: 20-33 Who in your life right now might be seeking something more? Are there specific conversations that offer moments when you might hear them saying in other words, “I wish to see Jesus?”
Prayer: Surprise me O God, as you open my eyes and ears, with the many ways people I meet and people I know really want to see you. Since I am there with them already, help me show them your way.
Sunday 3/25 See you in Sanctuary Worship: From Palms to Passion 11:00 a.m.
Monday 3/5 Read Ex. 20:1-17 There are three uses of the law according to our forebears in faith. The first use of the law is like a mirror. Sometimes we think because we are not “breaking the law,” we are good and righteous. But when we engage it like a mirror, we can begin to see the ways in which we do not live by the law. ~How does your conscience help you decide between right and wrong? ~What convicts you of the error of your ways? ~Which of the 10 Commandments is most difficult in your life? Which is easiest?
Pray: Holy One, help me see more clearly the shortcomings in my life so that I may rely on you as my light and hope.
Tuesday 3/6 Read Ex. 20:1-17 Today consider how the law in this text acts as a curb or boundary marker. In what ways do you obey because “it’s against the law?” How does punishment in general motivate you and specifically, in faith, how does fear about the consequences of breaking the law help you or hinder you in your spiritual growth?
Pray: Thank you, God, for using even my fear of suffering to guide me in your way like a light in the darkness.
Wednesday 3/7 Read Ps 19 In this Psalm we see a poetic understanding of a third use of the law. Here we recognize the gift of heaven on earth as we obey the law in gratitude for what God does in our lives. It is God who is using the law to encourage and push us to live a more godly life. In the words of John Calvin,” The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man, inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him forward when he would indulge in sloth.”
Pray: Thank you, God, for offering me a vision of what I should not do. Thank you, God, for offering me a vision of what I must do. Thank you, God, that with the law I may begin to exemplify my trust in you by obeying your word.
Thursday 3/8 Read I Cor 1: 18-25 Paul introduces us to the realization that our human obedience and application of the Law tended to make us believe we in charge of our destiny. Humankind, by creating rules to live by, even using the rules God gives us, tends to drive us toward thinking we are wise in our own eyes. For believers to claim God’s presence in a tried and executed criminal is to turn that thinking upside down.
Pray: Christ Jesus, if the law can kill even you, how can I escape the same sentence? Help me understand the foolishness of “wise,” and the wisdom of your life as good news for me.
See you at worship in Loudermilk: Gospel at The Rock, 7:30 p.m.
Friday 3/9 Read John 2:13-22 What laws are the moneychangers breaking such that Jesus is infuriated with them? How do churches “buy and sell” the faith today? How much would you pay to know God loves you?
Pray: Christ Jesus, drive out the greed in my life.
. Enjoy the nearness of the Holy One and receive the good news.
Monday 2/19: Read Gen 6: 5-6 and 9: 8-17 Question: How many times today do you hear a unique news item about a violent human encounter? (murder, armed robbery, rape, shot, killed, etc.) How many times do you hear a “good news” story? Pray: O Lord, have mercy. My grief is great, my heart is heavy. Lord, have mercy. Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news for your people. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
Tuesday 2/20:Read Gen 6: 5-6 and 9:8-17 Make a peace jar. For every time you hear or say the words, “kill,” “shoot,” or related words of violence, even as a joke – ‘you kill me, you’re so funny,’ – deposit a quarter. Do this throughout Lent. Pray: O Lord, have mercy. My grief is great, my heart is heavy. Lord, have mercy. Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news for your people. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
Wednesday am 2:21: Read Ps 25: 1-10 Question: Do you remember a “sin of your youth?” Confess it to God. Write it down. Tear up the paper into as many pieces as possible and throw it away. Reread verse 7 and say aloud, “O my God, in you I trust.” Pray: God of love, grant me a teachable spirit. Help me follow your path of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Wednesday pm 2:21:Read Ps 25: 1-10 Question: Who are your “enemies?” Are they flesh and blood or disease, aging, personal struggles, your own self-talk? All of this or something else entirely? Name your enemies. Pray: God of love, do not let my enemies exult over me. Grant me a teachable spirit. Help me follow your path of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Thursday 2/22:Read 1 Peter 3: 18-22 Tell someone what you know or remember about you baptism. Wonder together why it matters today that you were baptized. Pray: God of the waters, thank you for delivering me through the flood.
Friday 2/23:Read Mark 1:9-15 Who are those around you that call you “beloved?” Call, text, or write them a brief note to tell them you love them. Pray: God in heaven, may I become your voice for someone who needs to hear the words, “you are loved.” Come to worship the God of love at “Gospel @ The Rock.”
Saturday 2:24: Read Mark 1:9-15 Share good news of any kind with 3 people today. Pray: Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news. Sunday 2:25: Come to worship the God of Love at Sanctuary Worship.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Keeping it? Do you traditionally “give up” something during Lent? Want to?
For the next 6 weeks, the Christian church observes a season of fasting and prayer focused on self-examination. We’ll pick up six themes. You are invited to spend time during the week with the Scriptures and a question towards considering that theme. The hope is to come to end feeling more centered in God and less scattered in the world.
And another thing, our thoughts and prayers are clearly not what God calls us to in the words of Isaiah 58. God pushes us out of the boat of safety from the storm and into the chaotic waters of serving others. Prayers are critical for the strength we need to move forward in action. They are not the remedy God demands when sin abounds. Thoughts for the wounded must remain upon us to move our feet. But thoughts are not the consolation we give to the needy when evil erupts in violence. This movement from prayer, and thought, to active service will be the Lenten theme. We will be regularly invited to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, even at the risk of our own lives.
Set aside 12 minutes every day for reflection. Week 1
February 14-18, 2018
Read this Scripture every day: Isaiah 58: 1-12 Wednesday 2/14: Review what you ate and the cost. FYI: The Atlanta Food Bank provides $9 of food or 4 meals for every dollar donated. Question 1: How much food do I throw away and can I reduce the waste? Write down how much you save between now and Sunday.
Thursday 2/15: Count the number of garments you have worn in the last week. Then count the number of garments you own for this particular season. Come to Gospel @ The Rock Worship. Question 2: Can I donate 10%, a tithe, to a clothes closet? If so, shall I do so?
Friday 2/16: Go into each of the rooms in your home and remember something special that happened here. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for your home when you are finished. FYI: Clifton Presbyterian Church began a homeless ministry in 1979 that continues this day even though the church closed in 2003. Question 3: To whom have I offered “shelter” when they were in need of a safe place to land?
Saturday 2/17: Say a prayer by name for your living relatives. Question 4: Is there anyone for whom I harbor anger? Is there anyone from whom I am “hiding?” Imagine reconciling and write a letter of forgiveness, even if you never mail it.