Tuesday, March 22, 2016

For the Healing of the Nations

God, our refuge and strength, we offer prayers for the people of Belgium, for those who died in the bombings, for the injured, for those who mourn the loss of peace in their city, for those far from home, and for all who are affected by the violence that has, again, struck our world. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

James De Koven, Priest

Today the church remembers James De Koven, Priest, 1879.

Success in the world's terms is not a usual reward for great and good men. James De Koven was certainly one of the greatest and best leaders of the Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century, yet his advice was rarely heeded.

He was closely associated with the unpopular "ritualist" party in a time when the church's life was especially marred by partisan strife. He succeeded in getting the General Convention to accept the fact that the viewpoints of the ritualists were at least not subversive. Through his reasoned and compelling oratory in defense of the catholic heritage, he enabled the church to stand above the petty sectarianism of the day and reaffirm its comprehensive nature. Perhaps his greatest achievement was in preventing the Episcopal Church from adopting a rigid, doctrinaire, and exclusive confession, after the manner of protestantism.

James De Koven was a scholar and one of the really fine Christian educators of his day. He was a graduate of Columbia and of the General Theological Seminary in New York. He was a professor at Nashotah House and Warden of Racine College in Wisconsin for twenty years. He was an excellent pastor and a man "continuous in prayer."

After suffering a fall on the ice, De Koven died on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) in 1879. He is buried on the grounds of Racine College, now the DeKoven Center, in Racine, Wisconsin. His feast day is March 22.

May we be steadfast in our devotion to prayer and worship, guided by the example of James De Koven. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, you inspired your servant James DeKoven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of your mysteries may impart to your faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Daily Readings for March 22, 2016 - Tuesday in Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1-7
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God." And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength-- he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, "Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Psalm 71:1-14
1   In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be ashamed.
2   In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me.
3   Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; you are my crag and my stronghold.
4   Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
5   For you are my hope, O LORD God, my confidence since I was young.
6   I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother's womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you.
7   I have become a portent to many; but you are my refuge and my strength.
8   Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long.
9   Do not cast me off in my old age; forsake me not when my strength fails.
10   For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.
11   They say, "God has forsaken him; go after him and seize him; because there is none who will save."
12   O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God.
13   Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and be disgraced; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.
14   But I shall always wait in patience, and shall praise you more and more.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

John 12:20-36
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light." After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Daily Meditation for March 22, 2016 - Tuesday in Holy Week

 From Forward Day by Day

John 12:21 Sir, we wish to see Jesus.

The Greeks had a simple request. Sir, we wish to see Jesus. They didn’t want the blah blah; they wanted to meet the Lord. We would do well to think about this request as we practice our faith in Christian community.

A friend of mine was looking for a new church when she moved. At church after church, she reported that the sermons weren’t about Jesus. Finally, out of desperation, she joined a church, even though it didn’t seem quite right. When she went to the dinner for new members, she thought that perhaps finally people would share their faith stories or talk about Jesus. They were asked to go around the room, introduce themselves and say their favorite public holiday. Then small talk. There was no talk of Jesus. She moved on.

So often in our churches we somehow forget this basic thing. People get out of bed to meet Jesus. If they wanted friendly people, they’d go to the coffee shop. Not that we shouldn’t be friendly, but friendliness is not the thing we should strive for first and foremost. Imagine what would it be like if guests stood up just before the opening hymn and said, “We wish to see Jesus.”

His Princess Every Day - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

Trust Me With Those You Love

My princess,

I know your heart, and I know how much you love those close to you. I am your Creator and the Giver of every good gift. I have given you loved ones to share your life with. But you, My child, must remember that those you love ultimately belong to Me--not to you. I didn’t give you those special relationships to tear you apart or to control you through fear of the future. Like Abraham did with his only son, Isaac, I need you to open your heart and give back to Me those you love. Trust Me with everything that concerns you regarding them. Place your hand in Mine, and I promise I will walk you--and your loved ones--through all things this life brings.

Your trustworthy King

Those who trust in the LORD are secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever. - Psalm 125:1 (NIV)

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Chocolate For Your Soul - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mighty Hero, the Lord is With You!
by Sheri Rose Shepherd
The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!" - Judges 6:12

When I became a mother, I was so afraid of failing because of my dysfunctional family and upbringing. But the one thing I could do for my son is tell him the truth that he was a hero of the faith. Every day I would have him pray for powers to change people's life in Jesus' name.

When Jake turned thirteen, his heroic heart went into hiding until one Christmas miracle.

He had saved money all year to buy a computer for himself. As I drove, I prayed for Jake to find his heroic heart while we're at the mall.

God didn’t waste any time answering that prayer.

We walked into the mall and Jake was immediately off to the computer store. I happen to notice a young girl curled up on a bench and in emotional pain. My heart broke for her so I approached her and said, "Please let me pray for you."

She totally mocked me by responding sarcastically, "Whatever"―to which I shot back, "I’m not leaving until I pray for you." She looked at me with anger in her eyes and said, "Go ahead and get it over with." Jake walked up to us just as I began to pray this prayer:

"Dear God, I don’t know what this girl has been through, but You do, so please let her know You love her and that You can and will help her. Please show her today, somehow, that You see her broken heart and You can restore all she has lost, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen."
This precious girl went from cold to crying uncontrollably. Then she began to share through her tears. She had gotten pregnant, but her parents had wanted her to abort the baby but she wanted to keep the baby so her parents kicked her out on the streets. She and her boyfriend kept the baby, slept under a bridge, and still went to high school. But because they were homeless, they had just given the baby up for adoption.

My son Jake, heart broken for the young couple, took the young man and bought him clothes, a sleeping bag, new shoes, and a backpack. I took the girl and did the same. At the end of our time with them, we got to pray the greatest prayer of all--the prayer for salvation. As Jake and I drove back home without any shopping bags in our car, Jake said to me, "Mom, that was the best day I have ever had!" At that moment, I realized that Jake will never remember a single thing I bought him for Christmas, but he will never forget the day God used his life to be a gift to someone else.

God's Letter to You
I believe if your heavenly Father wrote you a personal love letter for today, it would read like this:

Beloved Child,

If you will refresh others, you will find yourself refreshed. Yes, My Child, you are called to rescue those who are hurting, but I will go with you and prepare their hearts to receive My love through you. Your heart for the hurting is a reflection of My love for the world. If you look into the eyes of a lost soul, you will see Me. When you feed the hungry, you are feeding Me, your Lord. Remember this, beloved: I did not come for the healthy, I came for the sick and needy. Know this, My princess, while you are out on the battlefield serving those who cannot serve themselves, I am providing all you need and more!

Your King who rescues you

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Verse of the Day - March 22, 2016

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV) [ The Armor of God ] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.