Prayer is one of the most important aspects of our walk with the Lord. So, to start this Easter week, we will be taking part in a Week of Prayer. Led by our Elders and our Staff, each morning we’re sending out an email with a devotion and theme that we’ll be praying for as a church. These emails will be opt-in only so make sure to click the button below to opt-in to daily morning emails throughout the week, or opt-in to daily morning text devotions. We’ll also be posting these devotions on our social media throughout the week! Our Week of Prayer runs from March 29th to April 4th and will culminate with a live devotion online and our Easter services here at the church.
Easter 2021 Week of Prayer:
Day Seven: The King's Resurrection
READ: Mark 16:1-8
1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
LIVE DEVOTION - Pastor Ryan Marr
Day Six: The King's Burial
READ: Mark 15:42-47
42It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
DEVOTION - Pastor Niles Parker
This week, often called Holy Week, is a wonderful and important celebration of Jesus’ work on the cross and his atonement for our sins and subsequent victory over death. It is our hope, for this world and for our eternity together with Him. Even if his burial is not always the focus, understandably of course; it seems like a minor moment in between his climactic death and resolving resurrection. Yet this is a turning point in history, an important chapter in the story, one that was talked about and still is foundational to our faith. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that the Gospel we preach is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”. The Apostles Creed contains a beautifully woven statement of the foundational truths and doctrine that we hold. It recounts that “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord… was crucified, died, and was buried”.
The more we can meditate on this moment, the more we should realize how incredible the story of Jesus’ burial is. It is pregnant with so much anticipation and waiting for those who are followers of Jesus, as they wait for the promises Jesus has made to become reality. Imagine the pain of seeing Jesus actually die, be taken away, wrapped and buried; I can hardly imagine what it must have felt like. Possibly despair, dark and unknown waiting, but at the same time a beautiful hopefulness of what is to come.
This is the hope that we see in a beautiful depiction of devotion and loyalty from followers of Jesus. Both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were men with much to lose from being a follower of Jesus. Both wealthy, powerful, and reputable members of the Sanhedrin, the same group of leaders who consented to the crucifixion of Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Joseph was a follower of Jesus and was “waiting for the kingdom of God”, who regarded Jesus as the Messiah, even if he did so in secret (John 19:38) and Nicodemus being there shows us a similar story. Both men show their devotion, courage and affection by taking the body of Jesus and caring for it in the way that only would have been shown to loved ones and family. Usually completed by slaves or women, this burial would have been done to show a tenderness and compassion for Jesus. A burial that was not designed from criminals and was almost never completed by men, let alone leaders and powerful men in the city.
As we see these men carefully and specifically wrap Jesus in the linen and place aromatic spices between the wraps, we see the power of the Gospel break through hearts and change lives. The only explanation for this act of love and humility is that Joseph and Nicodemus knew what it meant to be born again; to die to ourselves and let go of any merit or works of our own righteousness and to receive the radical grace that Jesus offers us. To give up on pretending to be our own savior and king and to lay down and worship the King of Kings and our Messiah Jesus. These men are giving up everything because they believe this man Jesus gave His life for them and promises to return with victory over their sin and death. To bring them eternal life that can fully satisfy our longing hearts.
Lord, I pray that our hope is in you alone, even in the darkest of times and the waiting we would have faith in your promises and await you. I ask you to give me the strength to die to my own righteousness or merit and to receive your perfect righteousness as my own. I am confident in you alone to raise me up and make me new as you have shown us in your own work on the cross. May the gospel be everything for me and allow it to change my heart and life now and forever.
Day Five: The King's Last Breath
READ: Mark 15:33-41
33At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
DEVOTION - Elder Tim Thompson
I remember a while back sitting in a Hospice room, next to my mom knowing soon she would meet her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As she approached death, her breathing changed. The breathing became irregular. Several short breaths followed by a long pause. An unfamiliar gurgling sound, commonly referred to as “the death rattle”, caused an uncomfortable feeling in me and anyone else in the room. I suppose something similar happened during the ninth hour with our Savior on the cross, breathing His last breaths.
Three significant events occurred at the King’s last breath. First, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Second, the centurion proclaimed the Truth of all truths. “Truly this man was the Son of God!”. Third, we have by name three women standing in the distance. Let us look at each event and what it means for us who follow Jesus.
- At the King’s last breath, the curtain or veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, meaning the curtain was torn by God. If man had tore the curtain, then the tear would be from bottom to top. This curtain (or veil) was to separate the Holy of Holies, where God Himself dwelt from the rest of the temple. So, no unrighteous or unholy person could enter into God’s presence. The death penalty for the wages of sin had now been paid. We were redeemed with the King’s last breath. Therefore, God tore the veil to open up access to the LORD for all redeemed people.
- At the King’s last breath, the centurion boldly proclaimed who Jesus is. He is a witness and voice to the world (who does not believe) that there is something special and different about this Jesus. We need to know and tell others the Truth of the Gospel.
- Finally, it is significant that the scripture calls out three ladies by name at the time of the King’s last breath: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome; three women who stood by to the very end. But so much more than just standing by, these are the ones who ministered to Jesus and His ministry. These are the ones who took care of the sheep in His flock. Remember what it says in the book of John. After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter at the shore with breakfast. What did Jesus ask Peter, The Rock, the leader of the Church? What did Jesus ask of Peter? “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my lambs”. “Feed my sheep.” In other words, Jesus is asking Peter to take care of the church. The ministry of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome was to tend to the sheep in His flock.
With the King’s last breath, we have the security of salvation, a message of hope for this lost world, and the love of God to minister to others.
For the church to be a movement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit that has redeemed us was first proven by the torn curtain. We are a movement of the Gospel of Jesus by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
For the church to be a movement of the Gospel for Jesus Christ, we need to be bold and assured of our message of Gospel Truth. Let others know we are about our Father’s business. The salvation ministry of Jesus Christ.
For the church to be a movement of the Gospel with Jesus Christ, we need to minister to our flock and other people. We need to take care of each other, love each other, and tend to one another. Many ministry opportunities already exist within our flock here at CCSP: Women of Heart, Men of Arms, Sunday School teachers and assistants are just the beginning of the list. However our greatest opportunity occurs, when we see a need, we simply need to respond.
Dear precious Savior,
Your death payment for our sins, for my selfishness, is a debit I can never repay. You are honored above all creation. Use me to be a movement of the Gospel of Jesus in my home, in my church, in my neighborhood, in my family, in my workspace, and wherever you place me.
Day Four: The King's Cross
READ: Mark 15:16-32
16The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
DEVOTION - Elder Sebastian Dortch
After being whipped with straps of leather, metal, and bone, Jesus is led to 600 soldiers who specialized in torture and death. They draped him in the color of royalty and drove thorns into his head. As shouts of “Hail, King of the Jews!” filled the air, they pelted him with spit and struck him with a reed. And then, in false humility, they bowed their bodies before the one who made their bodies (Colossians 1:16). Groups normally divided — self-proclaimed lovers of God (the children of Israel) vs self-proclaimed haters of Israel’s God (the children of Rome) — put aside their differences to put to death God. And as Jesus hung on his cross, passersby issued their challenge: If you are who you say you are, Jesus, come down off that cross! Then, and only then, will we believe you are the true Son of God.
Do you see yourself in this picture? Or is the evil committed here so dark and demonic that you’re convinced you could never treat someone, let alone the Savior of the World, with such ugliness? If that’s you, then you haven’t experienced the full goodness of Good Friday, the holiday that marks Jesus’ death. Sure, some of us have never committed the level of violence unleashed against Jesus. But God doesn’t grade on a scale of Pretty Good vs. Pretty Bad. His standard is perfection. That means the hostility we carry within — resentment, unforgiveness, off-color jokes, hidden addictions, lukewarmness toward God and those He made in His image, hatred for those who don’t look like us, think like us and vote like us — are as damnable to God as hammering nails into His Son’s hands and feet. Simply put, we all stand condemned before God. Our sin helped put Jesus on that cross. And the fact Jesus went there, willingly, so we could be forever forgiven and forever loved makes Good Friday pretty great. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” John 3:16-17.
Father, help me to more fully understand Good Friday. Each day I need Jesus to fill the gap between where I stand and where you sit. Please, change my heart so I love you and others with the love Jesus showers upon me every day. Help me to understand how you made Good Friday so good.
Day Three: The King On Trial
READ: Mark 15:1-15
1Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
“You have said so,”Jesus replied.
3The chief priests accused him of many things. 4So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
5But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
6Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
12“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
13“Crucify him!” they shouted.
14“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
15Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
DEVOTION - Pastor Dave Dodge
After an illegal trial by night, the Jewish leadership reconvened while it was still dark to make sure they had Jesus in front of Pilate shortly after dawn. Pilate would try cases from dawn until 12 noon. Being official representatives for the Jewish community would pretty much guarantee that Pilate would hear their case first. They were taking no chances and had Jesus ready at first light.
The Jewish leadership would offer a battery of charges, but Jesus would not answer them. They would also come with claims that Jesus was their King and Messiah. This would threaten Roman rule and the paranoid emperor Tiberius. We know from the other gospels that Pilate has no desire to try this case, publically saying he finds no fault in Jesus. He thinks he may be able to escape the responsibility of a death penalty for Jesus, through the time honored custom of releasing a prisoner at the people’s request.
The Chief priests stir up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead and Pilate, wanting to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas. He then had Jesus flogged and handed him over to crucified.
In Genesis 3:15, as God is cursing the Serpent for his role in deceiving Eve, he says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, but you will strike his heel.” On the opposite end of the bible, Revelation 13:8, it says that Christ was slain from the foundation of the earth. In between these two prophetic scriptures, the bible is filled with prophecy about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many of these references include Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – the four Gospel books of the New Testament that verify the fulfillment of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. The bad news for Jesus’ human condition will become the good news for all of humanity – as Jesus takes upon himself the penalty of God’s justice for sin. All who believe in the one the Father has sent to rescue us from an eternity of separation from God are not only pardoned from that terrible fate, but are immediately translated out of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
Nevertheless, the take away for us is this. In this section of Mark, we have to understand that we, too, will suffer tribulation even as the New Testament writers affirmed in various places. How do we even approach that kind of tribulation? Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I [Jesus] have told you these things so that in me you may have peace; in this world you will have trouble, But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As we remember Jesus and preach the good news to ourselves and to others, we also remember our inheritance is guaranteed because Jesus is in us and we are in Him. We can have peace in Him even when we have trouble in this world.
Thank you dear Jesus for your sacrificial love and grace that you have demonstrated toward us while we were powerless and enemies of the cross. As 1 Peter 1:3 says, Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In your great mercy you have given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Having opened the door for our continuing sanctification for your purposes, we ask you to help us walk worthy of the calling we have received. We know we are pitiful, poor and weak, so in the trials we face, grant us perseverance and strength each day. We praise you. We love you. Amen.
Day Two: The King’s Betrayal
READ: Mark 14:27-52
27 “You will all fall away,”Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30 “Truly I tell you,”Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,”he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,”he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon, ”he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,”said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
DEVOTION - Elder Phil Dickhaus
These verses come immediately on the heels of Jesus taking the role of a servant and washing the feet of His disciples, right before He spoke once again about His soon-coming death. Their meal ended with a song of worship. As a result of that special evening, I can see how easy it would be for Peter to speak of his affection, his appreciation, and his loyalty to the One who had loved Peter, led him, and taught him over the past few years. A promise of loyalty even to the point of one’s own death, as they made, would indicate a serious promise, and give a sense of your devotion to that person. An easy promise to make… but not to keep. Peter, and the others there that night didn’t have to die to break that promise. It just took them getting tired. I can imagine the hurt felt by Jesus after hearing their empty words earlier in the night. For years, He gave, and gave and gave. And, when in His deepest need, this is what He got back.
How often do we make such empty promises to God? Even for myself, I have sat through a Sunday service, heard the words of Jesus through my Bible, and offered up worship in song. At some point in that service, I may even commit to Him that this is going to be the week that I’ll be more committed to Him, study His word more, and be more diligent in having that one-on-one time with Him via prayer. And then, the week begins, and life comes with it. Suddenly, the “busyness” of each day takes precedence over keeping my promise to the One who has taught me, led me, provided for me, sustained me, created me, and even died for me! All He asks is for us to put a pause on the “busyness” of life and spend time with Him. That doesn’t seem to be asking too much.
Lord, you are an incredible Promise Keeper. I thank you that you have, and will, keep every promise made to us, especially not to leave those you call your children. I ask that you will help us to do the same… to take a more seriousness of purpose in keeping the commitments we make to others, and especially you. Please forgive us for our neglect of you, as we far too often put less-meaningful things of life ahead of what you deserve from us. Lord, when we say “we love you”, please help us be able to back up those words with our time spent with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Day One: The King’s Cup
READ: Mark 14:12-26
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”
16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
20 “It is one of the Twelve,”he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many, ”he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
DEVOTION - Pastor Ryan Marr
Jesus’ disciples were sent to prepare for one of the biggest events in Jerusalem, the Passover meal. The Passover was a celebration of God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt and was to be celebrated yearly (Exodus 12). The name Passover comes from the defining moment of when God’s people would be delivered through a substitutionary sacrifice. In the book Jesus the King, it talks about how the passover was an act of justice. “When justice came down, either it fell on your family or you took shelter under the substitute, under the blood of the lamb. If you did accept this shelter, then death passed over you and you were saved; that’s why it was called Passover.” When Jesus got to the meal, he made an incredible statement that something was going to fall on him as the lamb who was slain (John 1:29). Jesus says that the bread was going to be his suffering and that the cup was going to be the blood that covers our sins. The Passover meal was a shadow of God’s ultimate deliverance of his people out of the destructive power of sin and into the kingdom of his Son.
So what does it mean that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb? It means that Jesus, as the lamb, took our sins in his flesh. Do you wonder what the people thought when they took the blood of the lamb and put it on their door during the Exodus? It must have seemed crazy, right? Well, those who placed the blood on their doors, didn’t let any thoughts hinder their obedience. They must have really believed the true God had spoken and that He was to be trusted. When they applied that blood, it was a sign of trust. They had faith, but also a promise of a future hope. Will God deliver us from our sins? What will God do on our behalf to deal with the mess we have made things? The blood of the slain Lamb had to be applied to the door, but we likewise have to apply God’s promise to us. Not only has Jesus forgiven us, he is inviting us to his table in his kingdom. God is promising us a life full of His presence and, no matter our current circumstances, one day we have the promise that we will forever be with Him. The blood of the Lamb is still available to you and to me- we just need to trust in Him. He is the same God today- the Divine Passover Lamb. Believe Him and trust Him because he loves you so much.
Jesus, thank you for drinking the cup and taking the justice on your head. Jesus, help us this week to celebrate your resurrection by remembering that you have forgiven us and given us a place at your table.
Other Ways to View Devotionals
Text “PRAYERWEEK” to 97000 to receive devotions each morning of the Prayer Week.
2021 New Year's Week of Prayer:
READ: Psalm 1
1Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. 4Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
DEVOTION - Pastor Ryan Marr
The book of Psalms is a compilation of 150 poems broken into five smaller sections or “books”. These books tell a story told through Israel’s songs, poems, and prayers of a coming King. The Psalms paint an honest picture, not only of life’s pain, disappointment and fragility, but it also reveals the everlasting hope and joy we can experience in our daily lives. The Psalms are inviting us, even today, to experience God’s rule in our hearts and minds.
The context of Psalm 1 is a reflection back into the Garden of Eden and is an invitation to meditate on God’s Law. This might seem odd to “meditate” on laws, but I think our English word “law” may be the reason we think this way. In Hebrew, the word for law is the word Torah. Torah speaks about God’s wisdom and the way which we are to live. The law mentioned in Psalm 1 is not just a simple word, it is a call to live out this Wisdom as seen in scripture. So what is mediation? Meditation is not the clearing of one’s mind (as is taught in Eastern Mysticism), but is actually the filling of one’s mind with God’s Torah. To fill one’s mind with God’s law is to read through and think about verses and chapters of the Bible as the story leads us to Jesus’ wisdom, glory, and Reign . All the while, praying, thinking and reading them into one’s heart and mind.
Psalm 1 starts off describing two types of people, the wicked and the righteous. The righteous are those who delight and meditate on God’s Law, while the wicked are those who make a way for themselves. The wicked refuse to give allegiance to the King and will ultimately find themselves standing in His judgement. One of the characteristics of the righteous is that they “meditate” on God’s Law. Which one will we be?
How do you meditate on God’s word? The first task is to take time to read the Bible and to read it slowly. Slowing down is so hard for us to do, but the fruit of it is that you are allowing your heart and mind to hear what God has said. For instance, look at Psalm 1:1-2. What do you see? I see that people are directionally moving in their own wisdom. This line of thinking forces me to think about which path I am on and what wisdom I am using in my life? Who am I really delighting in? What really is filling my mind? Do I get my advice from God or from others? Think through these questions yourself today. As you think about these questions, remember that Psalm 1:3 states that those who meditate on God’s word are like trees planted by water. It’s fulfilling what it means to walk in God’s Wisdom and fulfill our divine vocation as humans.
God, we know that we have allowed other things to fill our minds. Things that have dried us up instead of making us yield fruit. God, today I am making a commitment to plant your Word into my heart. My heart is to learn (and experience) the peace that comes through your life that you have given freely to us. Thank you Jesus for giving up your life for mine, so that I can experience your joy and delight.
READ: Psalm 2
DEVOTION - Elder Bruce Crawford
The text shows us the people and rulers conspired against the Lord. But God is on the throne and He laughs at man’s attempts to rebel against His plan. His wrath will be upon those who rebel.
God declares his son of the Davidic throne. We are instructed in verse 11 to serve the Lord with reverential awe and to rejoice, to submit to His authority and rule.
We are told ALL who take refuge in Him are happy.
Our hope is in the Lord. Why? Because He is still on the throne and will not be defeated. The word tells us to press in to the Lord, into His word. We can do this by worshipping Christ through songs of praise, reading the Word and by fellowshipping with one another. Confess our sins and draw near to the Lord.
Take refuge in the Lord.
Lord, it is easy to see all the chaos in this world and wonder where you are in it all. But Lord you say You are always with us and will never forsake us. Lord, help us to submit to Your will in our lives every day.
Help me to love you with all my heart, soul and mind. Lord, help us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Amen.
READ: Psalm 3
DEVOTION - Pastor Dave Dodge
This Psalm refers to the time when King David is fleeing Jerusalem because His son Absalom had stolen the hearts of the people with the intent of taking the throne and thereby making himself King. The Bible very honestly portrays the hearts of men. David, a man of whom God said “had a heart after mine”, is fleeing from His son. He is fleeing partly because of David’s own failure as a father, but also because Absalom believed his father had done nothing to punish the man (Absalom’s brother) who had raped his sister. This further exacerbated the situation by leaving Absalom in exile – after he took matters into his own hands and killed the guilty brother.
This story sounds more like a Jerry Springer show than a Biblical story about one of scriptures foremost heroes! That is the honesty of the Bible. There is none righteous – no not one. All of the hearts of humanity are tainted with sin. This is where the good news of God lands squarely on our broken souls. It reminds us that the Gospel is the biblical story that triumphs over all human stories. It covers redeemed humanity with a righteousness, bequeathed to believers by a resurrected Savior, who took the penalty we deserve and who covered us with His own righteousness. It is the good news of this Gospel that makes us presentable to Father God.
Who are these many foes who taunt us by saying that God will not deliver you? Look at our own sinful selves. Why would we think that God would even have anything to do with us? As David leaves Jerusalem and runs for his life, He understands that a son’s yearning for a Father’s love, or even being Israel’s King, offers him no security. He immediately exalts God and boldly reminds Him of what he said to Abraham in Gen.15:1, “I am your shield and your very great reward.” David is not saying I know you will protect me no matter what situation I am in, rather he cries out to a covenant God, who bestows glory on his head. God describes this Glory when Moses asks God to show it to him. He doesn’t say to Moses, remember the power of the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, or the water from the rock for two million people plus their livestock. He says this is my glory, and proclaims; “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Ex.34:6) David is calling on God’s Hesed love, Which is God loving us not because of us, but loving us because of His faithful committed love to us. It is in this that David exalts, “he will answer me from His Holy hill. I will lie down and sleep in peace. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise and deliver me, Oh God.”
Heavenly Father, I’m besieged with troubles, some of which stem from my own sinfulness. I confess these to you, knowing that you will forgive me and help me turn from my sins. Be my shield, my confidence and my glory. Protect me, and bring me through this. I know you are with me and you are the lifter of my head. Amen.
READ: Psalm 23
1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
DEVOTION - Elder Sebastian Dortch
Ask yourself this question: “Do I believe and behave as if the Lord, the one who made and sustains the universe, is dedicated to guiding, protecting and providing for my life?” Can I, like the apostle Paul in describing the Lord, say: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” ? (Romans 11:36, ESV) As I walk through my “valley of the shadow of death,” do I proclaim through word and deed that “I will fear no evil,” because my good shepherd is with me?
“Father, you are so patient and loving with me. It is not because I am without sin. No, it’s because I have placed my hope and trust in the great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to make me a member of his flock. (John 10). Help me to rest in knowing that you are Lord, and I am not, and that your son is my Shepherd, the leader, provider and protector of my life. I am a sheep. Let me rejoice in this and live with confidence in this turbulent time.”
READ: Psalm 42
1As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. 9I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
DEVOTION - Elder Tim Thompson
Our sweet Savior, we praise you and your lovingkindness. For you and you alone are our God! We long to seek and desire only you and you alone in our life. Help us keep our soul filled with you. Bring us into that deep, personal dependence on you alone.
READ: Psalm 73
DEVOTION - Pastor Niles Parker
God, I thank you that although I am weak, you are strong. In my doubts, you are my clarity. In my resentment and frustration, you invite me into your presence to feel comforted. I ask that you would continue to reveal in me doubts, resentment, bitterness, pain, frustration, envy and anything else that is my flesh; so that I can bring those things to you to heal me. May your words be imprinted on my heart and mind at all times so when I do feel and think these things, you are close to me and I to you. Give me confidence, not in myself but in you and your hand working in my life. I know I can trust in you, so I do. Amen.
READ: Psalm 150
DEVOTION - Elder Phil Dickhaus
This past week, my wife and I have been going through an exercise, via a journal, of looking back at 2020… at things like the highs, the lows, the disappointments, and the areas of our lives where we’ve experienced the most growth, as well as the most challenges. As I’ve taken several quiet hours, at this point, to look back over an entire year, one can say that 2020 was not the ideal year to conduct such a review. However, I’m amazed as to what I saw looking back. Like you, I wasn’t “expecting the unexpected” that 2020 brought. However, now that I look back, I also can see His gentle leading, His comforting presence, His wise counsel, His strong protection, and His overwhelming grace. They were there whether I knew it or not! And for that, I’m grateful, and want to praise Him. Will you do that? Will you consider how His “acts of power” and “surpassing greatness” have led you through, and to, where you are now? The final verse tells us “let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. That’s you… and that’s me. To praise Him…. what a great response to such an amazing God.
Lord, we have the joy of knowing you as our Creator, our Comforter, our Counselor, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Teacher, our Healer, our Encourager, our Sustainer, our Provider, our Protector, our Conqueror .. and so much more. As a result, our praise for you should not be limited to a Sunday morning, or simply a whisper when we recognize your presence. Your love for us is continual, as our praise for you should be. Will you open our eyes, daily, to your acts of power, and surpassing greatness, on our behalf? You have given each of us this very next breath that we’re about to take. We want to use it, and countless more, to give you the honor, the glory, and the praise that you are so rightly due. We appreciate you… we love you… we praise you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
READ: Psalm 22
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. 3Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel. praises. 4In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” 9Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. 10From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. 12Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. 19But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. 22I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. 23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 25From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. 26The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him— may your hearts live forever! 27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. 29All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive. 30Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
DEVOTION - Pastor Ryan Marr
Psalm 22 tells the story of the infinite cost that God’s anointed (Psalm 2) will endure for those He loves. It brings into clarity that the “Holy One” will become forsaken and his rejection will become others’ salvation. Psalm 22 also shares the audience surrounding the “Holy One’s” death. The audience is one that is visible and invisible. The visible are those who are the ones whose fists and spears are piercing his flesh, while the invisible are those who surround him as prey. (Psalm 22:12). As Jesus fades into death he quotes Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was claiming to be the Holy One of Psalm 22. This Psalm is foreshadowing the depth by which God would redeem a people that have rejected him.
When the World Trade Center Towers were struck by a plane and the world was in shock, brave men and women ran into the compromised buildings at great cost to themselves in the sole hope of rescuing others. We call these people heroes – people who at great cost to their own lives, give it up to help others. This is the story of the Gospel. Jesus, at infinite cost to himself, became completely forsaken for us. I don’t know about you, but if I really stop and think about how much I am loved by Jesus despite my failures, that He would still rescue me. So when you find yourself beating yourself up from your own sins and thinking about the sins of others, remember how much you are loved. This love isn’t because of your heroic acts, but is because of Jesus’ cost. This love isn’t cheap or just a poetic rhyme, it’s action made visible. Jesus’ true love came at an infinite cost to himself. The Gospel is a beautiful story of God’s redemption of those who didn’t deserve it.
Jesus, you were forsaken, insulted and despised for me. You, as a holy King, humbled yourself so that I could be lifted up. Jesus, help me to see how much you really love me. When I read Psalm 22 and I become overwhelmed by the weight you endured, help me to see the true depth of your forgiveness in my life.