SUNDAY, April 30
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
I like the insurance company logo and motto that says, “You’re in good hands.” The thought of those cupped hands around me, protecting me from whatever is “out there,” is a comfort.
Years ago I was driving cross-country with my small children and ended up in a rollover accident. I vividly remember letting go of the steering wheel as I realized there was nothing more I could do. We’d prayed before that trip for God’s protection, and later our kids asked why God had not kept us safe. At first I was at a loss for answers, but it became apparent that God did protect us. Between the five of us, we had only a small cut.
How often do I try to keep control instead of letting go and letting God—God our rock, our rescuer, our refuge? Why would I not commit my spirit, my trust to God?
Jesus, help me to follow your example and daily commit my spirit into your hands. May my times, my life, always be in your hands. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: OBEDIENCE
MONDAY, May 1
1 Peter 2:19-25
Recently a friend told us the story of his grandson, a recent graduate
of Marine boot camp. The hardest thing he experienced was not the physical requirements but the fact that every recruit in the unit received punishment for one recruit’s disobedience. It felt like unjust, unfair suffering.
How do we deal with injustice, especially on behalf of marginalized people around us? On several occasions I spoke out to coaches or teachers who were in authority over my children when it seemed that unacceptable and belittling disrespect was being meted out. But it’s one thing for a mom to stick up for her own kids; it’s another to seek to make things right for a stranger. Our denomination works hard to help us understand issues of past and present injustice. It’s one thing to suffer for myself, but what if I work, and maybe suffer, for the sake of justice to another? Am I willing to do that?
Lord, as a Christian I bear your name. May I seek ways to be Christlike to those who are suffering unjustly. AMEN.
TUESDAY, May 2
I have never served jury duty. I guess no one wants a hearing-impaired person to decide their fate! I’ve also never been on trial, at least not in the legal sense. I live a privileged life in a country where I can say pretty much whatever I please. But what if that were not so? What would happen if I, like the apostles, were on trial for teaching the name of Jesus? Could I be convicted of obeying God in my words and actions?
More important, would God, the ultimate judge, convict me of disobedience? In verse 20, God commands the apostles to go and tell, and Jesus did the same with his disciples and to us in the great commission (Matthew 28:19). Will I be convicted of being a witness for Jesus, or will I be a witness for myself and be found not guilty?
Lord, my desire is to “fill Jerusalem” with your name. I pray for the courage to be found guilty as charged. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: FORGIVENESS AND HEALING IN RELATIONSHIPS
WEDNESDAY, May 3
When our kids were little and we had a long wait in an airport, we would often send them “on a mission.” They’d need to listen carefully, and then, under our watchful eye, follow our instructions to “go to that pole, walk around it three times, then walk over to that chair and touch it, cross over to that advertisement and read it, then come back.” They loved their missions, and they kept them occupied.
Jesus says three times in this passage that God sent him. What was Jesus’s mission? To speak God’s words. It was not his mission to judge the hearers of those words. Those who hear are accountable for their own response. I find it interesting that God told Jesus not only what to say but how to say it. Think how different inflections can change a meaning. Think how written words can be interpreted differently than intended. Jesus’s mission was very specific: God’s words, God’s way.
Lord, I accept your mission. I trust you to give me your words and the resolve to speak them every day. AMEN.
A Troubled Heart
THURSDAY, May 4
I’m troubled. I’m troubled by the weight of my privileged life as I read and learn about how it compares to that of people who are vulnerable. I’m troubled by my inability to fix the problem. I realize I cannot avoid my responsibility by trusting God to do his thing. Rather, God calls me to action.
I believe God gives me a troubled heart to push me out of my comfort zone. He entrusts me to serve him every day and to attend to people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and lonely. God asks me not to solve the whole problem but to discover where I might make a difference in someone’s life. Trusting God and doing something. Where can you make a difference?
Tug at our hearts, Lord, and show us where we can serve you by helping others who are less fortunate than we are. Help us to be your hands, feet, and mouths wherever we are needed. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: REFUGEES
FRIDAY, May 5
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (vv. 6-7).
Rick and I travel a lot, putting many miles on the car to see our kids in four time zones. On long drives I love to have an open atlas on my lap to follow the route we’ve chosen. On shorter trips we rely on GPS.
Thomas needed GPS. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an app from Jesus telling us what we should do today? But Thomas and the disciples could go to the source, the one with the answers.
There’s a little word here that makes all the difference in Jesus’s answer to Thomas. Jesus said, “I Am the way,” not a way. “I Am the truth,” not a truth. “I Am the life,” not a life. Jesus always speaks truth. We can believe him. He is the way, so follow his mapping of your path. And ask questions as you go. Thomas did. In the end you will have the life Jesus promised.
Jesus, our journey is confusing at times. Thank you for your patience as we travel this road. AMEN.
Name Above All Names
SATURDAY, May 6
What is your name? Were you named after someone beloved?
Was your name made up especially for you? Does it have a special meaning? Our names can represent our identity and our reputation.
When Jesus tells his disciples to ask for anything in his name, what does that really mean? We pray all the time in Jesus’s name. But what are we asking? What is our motive in using these words? Is it just habit? Are we saying, “Here’s my request, please bless it”? Or, “Lord, your reputation is at stake here, I want this to be your will, your work, your desire, your way”?
Jesus tells us that if we ask in God’s will, he will do it. “In Jesus’s name” are not magic words to get what we want. They show that we desire to be of the same mind as Jesus, to do God’s will.
Your way, Lord, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: STUDENTS BEING CONFIRMED