Lenten Devotions Archives » Page 7 of 22 | Devotions | Goshen College

February 27, 2013

By Michael Sherer, information technology services director
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 63:1-8 (NRSV)

As human beings, we are designed by God with appetites. Our creaturely drives for food, water, sleep and sex keep us alive and sustain the species, but we are obviously far more complex than that. George Otis, Jr.’s “Life Appetites Test” lists 35 possible appetites, and I think he missed a few! Who of us can claim that our own appetites are always in balance and healthy? They compete with and even replace one another. Any dieter knows that eating is often not about hunger. Teens have sex for a raft of reasons that are not sexual. Drugs and alcohol are dangerous in part because their addictive powers can overwhelm other important and socially redeeming appetites.

The season of Lent is an annual reminder that we are by nature not in balance, and that by giving something up we can better focus our attention on God. North American culture has little room for asceticism, and I would argue, little room for God either. We have 35+ appetites ready to take the place of our need for God and a 24/7/365 consumer culture ready to sate them.

In today’s passage, Psalm 63, David speaks to us across time, space and culture about his relationship with God. And he does it in terms of appetites. David thirsts for God. God’s love satisfies him as much as the richest food. He thinks about God all night long in bed (instead of sleeping? while sleeping?). In the process, David frames his relationship with God as a powerful appetite. God’s love is better than life! It’s no accident that this Psalm was written in the desert, a barren place barely able to support life, but with a long tradition of stimulating spiritual reflection. In that place, where hunger and thirst are never far away, David stimulated his appetite for relationship with God. His writing conveys a spiritual capacity that far outstrips my own, and I admire it. I want it. Lent provides me with the opportunity to work at it.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 63:1-8 (NRSV)
A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
February 26, 2013

By Grace Boehm, a sophomore history major from Merriam, Kan.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 55:1-9 (NRSV)

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

This is a question that all of us should ask ourselves each and every day. Why do we do things that do not make us happy or do not fulfill our spiritual needs? Why do we ignore God and indulge in unsatisfactory actions?

The theme for this week is to “seek the Lord and be fruitful.” Seek the Lord while he may found; call on him while he is near. If seeking God in a holistic and loving way provides the spiritual nourishment that our souls need, really, why would we not?

Lent is a season where we are sometimes asked to give something up and seek the sober realization of what it means that Christ gave his life for us. Instead of giving something up for Lent, what I do is make a gratitude list for each day of the season. I write the little things that I fall in love with each day, and the people with whom I am grateful to spend time. My action of recognizing the love in my own heart allows me to understand a part of the love that God has for me. Seek the Lord and be fruitful with love and spirit, and the Lord shall bestow on you the ability to engage in that love and gratitude that praise Him the highest.

So instead of wasting time on fruitless actions that do not satisfy, put your heart into the season and seek God through gratitude.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 55:1-9 (NRSV)
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
February 25, 2013

By DaVonne Harris, resident director and director of student activities
THIS WEEK’S THEME: We Will Seek the Lord and Be Fruitful

I grew up in church. I had the privilege of knowing that I had a Creator; that he loved me and had a plan for my life.

But my spiritual life changed forever when I was 16. My mother, a single parent, had gotten ill to the point that she was sent to a nursing home 45 minutes away. I was left to live with my sister and new baby nephew. I felt like I was wandering through a rugged wilderness. I desperately needed solace. It was then that I told God: “I surrender.” I made a covenant with him that there was nothing that the world could offer to help me in the way that I needed. I gave my heart to him, and I began to experience the fruits of the spirit like never before: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When I think about all that has transpired in my life, I have no other explanation than God’s intervention. It has been through my surrender to God that my life has blossomed.

Through my seeking, I have gained a greater sense of self-esteem. Through my seeking, I have had the confidence to seek opportunities that have helped me succeed in life. I have sought, and God has responded. He has responded with love, hope and healing. In spite of my life’s difficulties, I have overcome and God has shown himself faithful (Selah).

February 22, 2013

By Sophie Metzger, assistant director of diverse student support
SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)

Waiting is difficult. I find it especially difficult when I don’t know what I’m waiting for. There have been various points in life that I know something will happen; I’m just not sure what.

The first time I remember this was my senior year of college. The BIG question was: “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” As I have spent “the rest of my life” in higher education, I have heard this question over and over by students, and truthfully, asked this question over and over. In my most recent quest to answer this question I have become more keenly aware of my pattern. Name the problem: find the solution and map it out step by step. Fix my eyes on the prize and “GO!” That’s my pattern.

The universe has a pattern too: throwing curveballs. Sometimes the curveballs are surprising, better than anything I ever imagined, and other times they are stunning and throw me down to the ground.

While Peter, James and John might not have been asking the exact same question or know what their plan was, I can guess they didn’t expect the transfiguration. And the transfiguration seems to be one of those instances that is both surprising and stunning.

As I see it, the call for each of us living in wait for the promise of God to be both surprised and stunned is twofold. First, we are to live in trust and surrender by not trying to hold onto the beautiful surprises too hard and fast. Second, we are to cultivate the knowledge of being loved beyond measure – even in the moments of feeling knocked to the ground and stunned.

It’s Lent again and we remember the great gift of God made-flesh who lived as we are to live – celebrations, sufferings and unknowns.

Let it be done according to your will…

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
February 21, 2013

By Brian O’Leary, a senior Bible and religion major from Seattle, Wash.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NRSV)

In the passage for today, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Paul writes to encourage his readers. He encourages them to join in his example regarding his actions. Earlier on in this epistle, Paul mentions his own upcoming death sentence and notes that his imprisonment has actually, “served to advance the Gospel.”

In the same vein of support, Paul seeks to encourage Christians even in the face of denial and the enemies of the cross of Christ. He notes suffering as his example, an example we must all follow. Paul makes no apologies for the difficulty of the path of God, and although Paul’s struggles with imprisonment and death may seem more serious than our own struggles through the season of Lent, they both have their roles to play. Lent may not bring an omen of death for all of us, as it did to Jesus, but whatever our struggles we must not let the enemies of the cross cause us to lose heart.

Though Lent may seem to be a difficult time, we can also recognize that “our citizenship is in heaven.” We are not people whose minds should be, “set on earthly things.” Instead, we “stand firm in the Lord,” and seek hope during Lent.

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NRSV)
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
February 20, 2013

By James Townsend, vice president of enrollment management and marketing

When you were growing up, where did you go when you were afraid? Did you hide under your bed or behind the clothes in your closet? Did you feel safer inside or outside your house, in your room or another room?

For many of us the place we would run and hide was into the arms of a family member – often our mother or father. We felt no shame, all we knew is that we were afraid and needed a place to go for love, not judgment. While we may not have realized it at the time, these places and people became a sacred space for us – a place where the noise of the world is muffled, the flashes of lightning were hidden, and the arms and warmth of another human being insulated the coldness of the outside world.

So where is your safe place today? Do you have a sacred place where you feel protected from the dangers of the world? Have you found someone who will hold you and protect you from danger? God, our Creator and Sustainer of life, is right in front of you with arms wide open, calling your name to come as you are, in whatever condition you are in to be loved and cared for. If you’re like me, knowing this causes shouts of praises to God for the unconditional love and blessings and a desire to live a life that honors God to the fullest.

May the text from today’s readings be a reminder of how much you are loved by God no matter where you are today on your journey. Do not be ashamed, but lift your head high for the Lord God loves you dearly!

Of David.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock. Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
February 19, 2013

By Abby Deaton, a junior psychology and communication double major from Indianapolis, Ind.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 (NRSV)

I was talking to someone recently about my “life’s plan.” After uttering that phrase, my friend simply laughed and said, “You see why that’s funny, right? When has your life ever gone according to plan?”

She’s right. In the past week and a half, what I’m going to study, where I’m going to live and what I am actively pursuing as a career has changed drastically. I have had those elements of my life planned out since 5th grade. It took three days for everything to change. So much for my plans.

Abram and Sarai were faced with the reality that Sarai wasn’t able to conceive. It was a tough reality, but a reality none the less for them. With this in mind, Abram and Sarai made “life plans.” Abram lets God know that “a servant in my household will be my heir.” That’s the plan. Even after God promises children to Abram and Sarai, Abram has a child with his slave Hagar. Sure, Abram and Sarai would have loved to completely trust in God, but they couldn’t. Sarai wasn’t getting any younger. Heirs were needed. Decisions were made. That’s that.

Years go by. Ishmael is 13, Sarai is 90 and Abram is 99. God reminds Abram that the promise God made still stands: Sarai will conceive and they will have a son. Abram responds by rolling on the floor and laughing. Good one, God.

It’s not that Abram and Sarai don’t want to believe God. They just don’t see how their life could pan out any other way. Often times, I have found myself feeling the same way. It’s always nice to think that things are going to work out alright, that God has a better plan than we have. But sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like there is any other way. Our plan is the only option.

When has life ever gone according to plan? Abram and Sarai did have a child. They named their son Isaac, which is Hebrew for “he laughs.” We will make our life plans. We’ll work towards them and laugh at the idea that there is a better alternative. But just remember, God gets the last laugh.

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 (NRSV)
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
February 18, 2013

By Becky Horst, associate registrar
THIS WEEK’S THEME: We will take courage and wait on the Lord

This week’s twin themes of courage and waiting seem like opposites, but they have the same source: trust in God.

In the past two years, I have walked alongside my husband Ken on his journey from good health through a rare heart disease to a heart transplant, with several complications. Last month, he ruptured a disc in his spine while playing racquetball. Now he is dealing with severe pain and a slow process of rebuilding his muscular strength.

Ken has always been physically courageous, but he is not someone who likes to wait. He enjoys motorcycles, model rockets and sports like racquetball that rely on fast-twitch muscle response. But Ken’s health issues have pushed him to new levels of courage and have taught both of us how to wait on God.

The two practices that help us most are Gratitude and Hope. Most days, Ken looks for beauty of some kind to photograph. Each night we name the things we are grateful for. Each morning, we welcome the new day with hope.

When we focus on Gratitude, it builds our trust in God. Trust gives us Hope. It gives us the courage to face difficult or unknown circumstances. It gives us the patience to wait for God’s timing.


God, we are grateful for your love, and the ways you have helped us in the past. Give us courage to face an unknown future. Give us patience to wait for you. Help us to trust you with our whole hearts. AMEN

February 15, 2013

By Liliana Ballge, financial aid assistant director
SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)

The life of a Christian isn’t without test or trials, rather our assurance is in knowing that God is in control. However, as Christ himself exemplified in Luke 4:1-13, we too must equip ourselves with God’s Word as a weapon against the devil himself or as a tool for facing any test or trial. I have found this to be true in my own life.

Like Jesus, God’s Word has been the sustaining power while dealing with the illness and death of my mother-in-law. Three years ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment and was healed. However, a couple months later, she again became sick and this time the cancer was more severe. During the same week that we were preparing to celebrate my husband’s graduation, we were also at the hospice house watching my mother-in-law lose her life at the young age of 55. To this day, tears fill my eyes and my heart feels the pain of losing her, but I am comforted by God’s Word that Jesus Christ is my comfort and strength, her Healer and our Savior.

While we mourned for her loss, we rejoiced that she is no longer in pain and is resting in peace. God showed us his salvation by coming to this earth in the form of a human named Jesus and overcoming death. I thank God that because of his resurrection power, we have a new heaven to look forward to. A place described in Revelations 21:4 where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you”,
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
February 14, 2013

SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NRSV)

The Book of Deuteronomy is comprised largely of three sermons of a very old Moses speaking to a new generation of people about to enter the Promised Land. In this text, Moses sounds a bit like a mom or dad driving their family on the journey of a lifetime with tired kids in the back seat complaining, “Are we there yet?” “Not yet, kids,” he responds, “But when we get there, I promise you that half the fun of this trip will be in looking back at the memories we are making right now. We’ll look back at pictures taken in Iowa’s “Field of Dreams.” We’ll laugh at running out of gas in Gallup. We’ll remember the thrill of seeing a bear and her cub in Yellowstone, the shiver of fear on the Grand Canyon Skywalk. We’ll recount sleeping under the stars in Joshua Tree. And you know what, it’s hard to appreciate it right now on this God-awful barren stretch of desert, but it will be worth it, the minute you see the Pacific Ocean. I promise. ‘Then we’ll rejoice in all the good things the Lord our God has given us!’”

And so it is that on this Lenten journey over hills and through the vales of life, on this Lenten journey through trials and tribulations, on this Lenten journey on the barren road to Easter, let us remember in advance, how God heard the complaints of our spiritual ancestors in like moments and delivered them into a land flowing with milk and honey in God’s perfect time. Let us remember and bow.

SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NRSV)
When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, ‘Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.’ When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.’ You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
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