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oops! just realized I missed yesterday's Lent Devotional post. Here's the one for yesterday, and I'll put up today's a little later: Sunday, March 1 ALL ONE David Brewer – AllOne Community Services I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17.20-23 In this part of Jesus’ final prayer session, he prays for us. And we notice that his prayer is not focused on our individual needs, nor even on our corporate needs. He doesn’t pray for provision, for healing, for safety, for anything else that makes up many of our prayer. He prays for our unity. He doesn’t pray that we would get along. He doesn’t pray that we would be kind or friendly or understanding. He prays that we would be one – “just as you are in me and I am in you.” How united were the Father and Jesus? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That’s pretty close. Jesus’ prayer is that we would be brought to complete unity. Instead of exploring all the human concepts for how that looks, what if we spent our time reflecting on how Jesus and the Father were one, since that is the model he gives us? What if we remembered that we are all part of one body – with Jesus as the head? What if we remembered that we are all branches – with Jesus as the vine? Our connection to each other is through him, not through ourselves. We can be in complete unity – if we remember that Jesus is the one who connects us. What do we lack? Nothing: “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” We have the glory of Jesus, which came from the Father, so that we can be brought to complete unity. What’s the payoff? “The world will know that you sent me” – the world will know that Jesus came from the Father if we can be in complete unity. That seems like it would be worth it. Jesus, it is the desire of our hearts that the world would know that you came from the Father. And here you give us a way to do it: to be brought into complete unity. We ask your forgiveness for all the ways we resist being unified with others who follow you, and for all the ways we try to manufacture unity in our own ways. Remind us to come to you, to live under the glory you have given us, and to let you create our unity. Make us all one, Lord, for your glory!
Lent Devotional Saturday, February 28 ALL ABOUT GOD Pastor Andy Goebel – St Johns Covenant Church “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6.16-18 A few years ago I really messed up Lent — and I have Facebook to blame for it (not really...it was my fault, but Facebook definitely played a part). I had chosen to give up all beverages except for water as a Lenten fast, and I announced that decision on my Facebook page. This drew some attention from several friends and acquaintances who “liked” this decision and encouraged me in the comment section. This would have been all well and good, had I just made that one announcement and appreciated those responses. But I had to take it one step further by posting a few days later about how challenging this fast was for me, and asking my friends to pray for me. This is when I blew it. I had completely lost sight of what Lent is all about — focusing on devotion and faithfulness to God and God’s ways — and instead I had made it all about myself. Thankfully, an old friend gently nudged me into repentance by posting the reference for the verses above. I felt embarrassed, but was thankful for the corrective nevertheless. From then on, I fasted from posting about my fasting. I continue to be thankful for that simple comment on my self-centered Facebook post, as it is now a yearly reminder that observing a Holy Lent is not really about me at all. No, this season of intentional fasting, prayer, and service is all about drawing near to God. It’s not about accolades or atta-boys. It’s about honoring God, which is rewarding in and of itself.
Lent Devotional Friday, February 27 MAKE ROOM Evan Simmons – Grace Christian Fellowship In the morning, while it was still very dark, he [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark 1.35 Prayer was a foundational tenet in the life of Jesus. It is what Jesus lived and breathed every day. Jesus would go out of his way, inconveniencing his own schedule to spend time with God. In this passage Jesus’ prayer life is an inconvenience for Jesus’ followers, who have to go out looking for him. To Jesus, spending time in prayer was one of the most important aspects of life. It is even possible to say Jesus prayed so that the Holy Spirit could be shaping his actions in ministry. The point of prayer and fasting during Lent is to make room to encounter God, especially in prayer. My hope for you is that this Lenten season you will inconvenience your life and make room for prayer. Shake up your priorities a little, maybe slowing down the Netflix queue, and pray with your best friend instead. Alternatively, you could stop feeding on BuzzFeed and feed on Jesus instead. If you are not available to encounter Jesus through time in prayer, then how will you be available to encounter the cross? Or the empty tomb?
Lent Devotional Thursday, February 26 OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME Marshal Snider – BridgeTown Inc. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen. Matthew 6.9-13,NKJV As we pray, we know we pray not to just a great “something” or a great “thought” but to a real God, a God who is not just God but a Father. It should awaken our hearts when we hear the word “Father.” I am not sure what your earthly Father was like, but I know the word “Father” can conjure up a variety of thoughts and memories, whether good or bad. Our earthly fathers being the very best they could ever be are still broken and not perfect, but our Father in heaven is perfect, without error, and He loves us with a love that is not about performance or transaction, but of acceptance and great compassion. We also see His place, and that is in heaven, where the real kingdom is. This kingdom is perfect in every way. Everything, which comes from heaven, is true reality. Our Father sent heaven to earth in the form of His son Jesus Christ, so we could see what life itself is supposed to be, what true living looks like, what the kingdom on earth looks like. Our Father provides and protects, and yes, at times, He also disciplines, but this discipline is only to help us to grow. It is never abusive or to prove a point, but it has our best and His best interest in mind. His name is breathtaking; it is the holiest of names and should be said with all of this in mind. Amen
Lent Devotional Wednesday, February 25 BEING IN YOUR PRESENCE Sandy Bass – Rivergate Community Church Thus says the LORD: ...but let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me... Jeremiah 9.24a And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17.3 My first class in seminary was a class on prayer. I wish that I could was just so in tune with the Spirit that I knew it would be my most important class, but as usual it was the Lord looking out for me. I made a decision early on in the term that I would set myself to be a praying person above all else. I made myself a prayer bench and small table, created a sacred space in my closet and told God I would meet Him there every morning at five. I have been faithful to keep that appointment and so has He. It has proven without a doubt to be the most important part of each of my days. E.M. Bounds says that our prayers live before God and that prayers outlive the lives of those who utter them! Oh, the value God places on the words we speak with Him! I remember the morning I walked into my closet, and felt Godʼs presence so strongly that I spoke aloud, “God, I just love being in Your presence!” I was surprised to hear back immediately and in what was an audible voice to me, “Sandy, I love being in your presence, too!” Of course, I melted into a puddle of emotion right on the spot. What I came to realize that morning was how important relationship with us is to God. How He longs for us to commune with Him. He is always waiting for us to come and be with Him. Oh, God! Make us a people of prayer!
Lent Devotional Tuesday, February 24 A PLACE OF QUIET WITHIN Jay Braband – Journey3 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131.1-2 Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their third child in May. Forrest, the second, is a full-of-life, rambunctious 19 month old, soon to be big brother. We were talking with Sam and Stacie recently and they were relieved that Forrest is no longer nursing. He is weaned and so Stacie is able to find a bit more freedom. I think of this as I read Psalm 131. The writer is working on finding a place of quiet within. The writer wants to be content with just being with God. Too often my time with God is taken over by my requests, questions and pleadings. I am like a demanding infant. As you walk through the days of Lent, ask God to help you quiet your soul and find contentment in simply being with Him. Dear Father, there are many things that concern me, and I thank you that you know about them all. Help me to trust you with these things. Help me to calm and quiet myself. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen
Lent Devotional Monday, February 23 BECOMING LIKE CHRIST Pastor Chad Nieuwendorp – University Park Baptist Church And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3.18 What began as an eternity-shaking, immediate transfer from darkness to light, from death to life, at the time of salvation, continues as a progressive work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The goal of the Spirit’s work is to glorify the Father and the Son. Followers of Jesus are being transformed — progressively, degree by degree — into the image of Christ. That is God’s will for us. That we be progressively conformed to the image of Christ, that we might reflect his glory. We are to become like Christ and grow in our capacity to show Christ by being like Christ. To say it another way, we are transformed into his image by looking at his glory. You become like what you constantly behold. If we want to show Christ so that people can see him in us, our strategy must be to see him. To see him for who he really is. To fix our gaze on him and look to him and think about him, and put Jesus before us again and again. This is the key to becoming like him. Seeing is the key to showing. Holy Spirit of God, continue the work of transformation in me, that I might be made more into the image of Jesus Christ. Remove the objects of my gaze that filter out and diminish the glory of Jesus. Open my eyes that I might see his glory fully and be fully changed by it. And may this change in me become an amplifier of the glory of Jesus.
Lent Devotional Sunday, February 22 REMEMBER ME Pastor Josh Hawk – St Johns Wesleyan And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22.19 The Lord’s Supper is a practice nearly every Christian tradition observes and has observed since Christ. When we observe this sacrament we all bring with us a different understanding and interpretation of what actually is taking place. For some it is merely symbolic, while for others the elements are quite literal. Throughout history countless ways of understanding The Lord’s Supper have developed. Nevertheless, it continues to be a practice of almost every church. Whether we choose to observe this sacrament every day, every week, one time a month, or even once a year, we keep doing it. For two thousand years we have been drinking from the cup and eating from the bread “in remembrance of me.” I am not at all interested in articulating a theology for The Lord’s Supper, but I would like us to consider the unity that is present through this practice. Each week, when I receive the cup and the bread, it happens during a time of prayer. It is a way in which I personally experience the presence of Christ and am able to commune with him in a way I do not yet fully understand. During this “personal” time with God, every once in a while the thought crosses my mind that there are countless Christians all across the world observing The Lord’s Supper at the same time. I wonder if maybe the next time we observe The Lord’s Supper we might consider the greater Church and may it be a way in which we can unite together in prayer. Dear Lord, I thank you so much for your body that was broken for us and for the blood that was shed for our sins. As we reflect on the price you paid for our salvation, may our hearts also be drawn to the family we are a part of because of your incarnation. Continue to unify our hearts as your church as we work to show the world your love. Amen.
My favorite Board Retreat comment thus far: "When I say 'us,' I mean 'me'."
reminded this morning of the hope that we have, the lack of hope we sometimes see expressed in our community, and our need to tell stories that remind people of hope
Lent Devotional Saturday, February 21 ASK, SEEK, AND KNOCK Pastor Carren Woods – Rivergate Community Church Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks; the door will be opened. Matthew 7.7-8 When was the last time you asked for help? Why don’t we ask? Some of us don’t want to appear dumb, weak or needy. Yet when we were little we didn't have this problem. We asked for things and help all day long, but somehow as we got older we quit asking. Maybe at some point others stopped listening or helping, or we just didn't want to seem weak. In our culture those who are independent are celebrated, but that is contrary to what the Lord tells us to do in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Three things Jesus tells us to do: Ask, Seek, Knock. In asking we recognize our dependence of the soul – we are dependent on God. Seeking requires effort on our part – it is with great desire. Knocking combines the two, and we have to call out to God and then trust that the door will be opened. It requires both dependence and effort in our relationship with the Father. When we go to the Lord we are connecting with the wisdom and power of Almighty God. We have a loving God who wants us to come and to ask, to seek and to knock. Jesus says that we need to keep in touch with the loving heart of God. He is always ready to give what we ask, to reward our quest with conquest and to open the door when we knock. Father, may we have the courage and strength to always come to you.
Lent Devotional for Friday, February 20: PRESENT YOUR BODY Luke Glover – People of Praise Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12.1 I’ve been meditating on this scripture lately and in light of Lent as a road to the cross and resurrection, I am reminded of how Jesus presented his body as a true and living sacrifice. He chose freely to present his body to the work of the father. Even if it meant torture, shame, pain and eventually death. Throughout Jesus’ life we see him consistently offering his body to the father’s work. He dedicated his hands when he healed the blind man at Bethsaida, his feet when he walked the villages of Palestine announcing the kingdom of God, even his spit was dedicated to the father when he rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus is the perfect example and the one we should follow. When he said, “Pick up your cross and follow me,” he meant completely ... body, mind, and soul. We too should offer ourselves completely to the work of the father and this also means our bodies. When our hand reaches for the shoulder of those in need we are dedicating that hand. When we weep with the grieving we dedicate our eyes. When we walk alongside the outcast we are dedicating our feet. This is as Paul writes it, “true and proper worship.” Father, thank you for sending your son as the perfect example for us to follow. Show us opportunities to dedicate ourselves to your work so that we can worship you with our bodies. Show us ways we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice; we know this is pleasing to you.
Can you feel the excitement? This weekend is the annual AllOne Board Retreat: 24 good, strong hours of reflecting, reorienting, and relaunching. Watch out, 2015!
Forgot pictures again, but terrific meetings today with Justin (Mosaic North), Mike (East Portland, looking for collaboration opportunities out his way and seeking advice), Josh (promo videos), and Linda Jo (Community of Hope). So many great things going on in our collaborative community!
Lent Devotional for Thursday, February 19: OUR ACTIVITIES David Brewer – AllOne Community Services I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. John 17.6-9 In this part of Jesus’ final prayer session, he prays for his followers. He recognizes that they came from the Father in the first place and that he has given them the Father's words – and that they have and obeyed those words. And he prays for them. We like to think of how amazing this is: for Jesus himself to pray for the disciples. We dream of trips to Israel so we can walk where he walked; we dream of seeing him and hearing his voice after we cross Jordan; we thrill at the thought of being one of those disciples that Jesus healed, taught, or prayed for. Sometimes we miss one of the key components in this passage: our activities. Look at the active verbs here: the Father gave those disciples to Jesus “and they ... obeyed your word.” Jesus gave the disciples those words “and they accepted them.” They “knew with certainty” that Jesus came from God. They “believed” that the Father sent the Son. As we travel through the Lenten season, maybe we could focus our energies not on passive fasting from something, but on active pursuit of living our Christian lives. Not just filling our lives with activity, but these kinds of activity: obedience, acceptance, knowing and believing. We also notice that in response to the active words used about the disciples, Jesus himself did something active. “I pray for them.” Remember that his prayers were not simply clasped hands, closed eyes, and sweet words. This is his last prayer time before going to the Garden of Gethsemane. Maybe you remember his prayers there, which included drops of sweat mixed with blood? How is your activity level this Lent? Jesus, thank you for praying for your disciples – and for us. Sometimes we focus so much on the activities we do as though they had tremendous worth in and of themselves. We see the verbs you used in this passage, and we want these to be our activities. Help us to believe, to know you, to accept your words, and to obey. We ask you to continue praying for us, that we may be changed this Lenten season