DAY FIFTEEN John 8:1-30 Diane Coyle,
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
"Let the one among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her."
Who among us could cast the first stone? In today's society, as it was in the society of Christ, it is so easy to judge without thinking. Emotions, stress, life's circumstances, and temptations have all caused us to stray and make decisions that we later regret. Christ did not judge nor did he condemn. He did reach out to the adulteress and asked her to avoid sin.
One has to believe that she saw the light after this and became a thoughtful and forgiving person who tried hard to do what was right. Perhaps we should do the same. Instead of judging our fellow human beings, let us reach out to them and offer understanding and support. Together we can help one another to follow the correct path. The one lit by Jesus Christ.
Action Step: Today reach out to someone who is struggling and offer them support and understanding.
Prayer: Lord, help us to love one another and together follow your guiding light. Amen.
DAY NINE John 5:1-15 Mike Matlack,
Titusville Presbyterian Church
Faith in Action
"Pick up your mat and walk!" As Jesus speaks these words in the passage, imagine that He is speaking these words to you. In life, we are often challenged to get up and live for Christ, whether it be because of our jobs, our circumstances, our fears, or our complacency. Like the man in the story, despite our greatest needs and desires, it is easy for us to become comfortable and immovable from our current condition, even if that condition is less than desirable.
If we truly want to be healed by the forgiving grace of Jesus, and to share His truth and His love with others, we need to allow Christ to move us, both in a physical and spiritual sense. We need to leave behind the comforts we cling to and not be afraid if a few worldly rules and perspectives get challenged along the way, aka the Pharisees' disapproval of Jesus' miraculous work.
Know that God is bigger and stronger than anything else in this world, and when your faith is in Him, mountains will move, the paralyzed will walk, and hearts, maybe even your heart, will be changed!
Action Step: Don't get stuck - get up and walk! Walk with Jesus, and walk towards the world so desperately in need of His love.
Prayer: Lord, mold us and move us, for Your Kingdom and for Your glory. Amen.
DAY SIX John 3:22-36
Narberth Presbyterian Church
When Less Really Is More
People crave attention and power, whether its roots be in celebrity, politics, or business. We are fascinated by stories of how the rich and famous rise to power, and riveted when they stumble and fall. So when Pope Benedict surprised the world and resigned the papacy, the media was confounded: Was there a scandal behind the scenes? Was he ill and about to die? Why would a person willingly let go of such power and fame?
The disciples of John the Baptist had a similar question for their teacher: "What should we do about this Jesus movement?" John had built up quite a following by the Jordan River; even the leaders in Jerusalem were coming out to see him because of the crowds. But now the people were leaving him and going to Jesus. John's response: "He must become greater, I must become less." He knew that the veneration he enjoyed was not his own, but came from heaven. And he experienced fullness of joy in turning it all back over to the Lord of heaven, Jesus Christ. When "He must become greater, I must become less" is the prayer of our hearts, we are able to experience this joy also.
Pope Benedict is now being hailed for his humility in relinquishing power to Pope Francis, who in turn has become renowned for his own demonstrations of humility. While we Presbyterians do not submit to these Catholic leaders, we can appreciate their examples of humility and follow suit by submitting more of our lives to Jesus.
Is there something you need to let go of so that Christ can become greater in your life? Prayer: Lord, help me become less so that you can become greater in my sight. Amen.
DAY FIVE John 3:1-21
Morrisville United Methodist Church
The Whole World?
A Pharisee named Nicodemus comes under the cover of night to ask his questions. We can only assume that he will either be embarrassed or punished by his peers for seeking out Jesus. Though he is a Pharisee Jesus treats him like a seeker, not an enemy. What Nicodemus hears seems to be mysterious to him. "You must be born again." And then "For God so loved the world...." The whole world? Some people seem to think God only loves some of the people. Or loves some a bit more than others. And later "that the world might be saved..." Not just a select few, but the world.
Believers sometimes feel alienated from the world, with all of its conflict, sin, and injustice. Sometimes we just want to condemn and withdraw from the world around us. It's understandable, but not in the spirit of the one who loves the world and continually reaches out with the offer of grace.
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
What happened to Nicodemus? He apparently took the message to heart, and shows up at the end of the gospel when he assists Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus. Loving is our business, not condemning. What would happen if we really loved the world, as God loves the world?
Action Step: Reflect on the situations that make you want to withdraw from the world. How can you offer or practice God's love in those situations?
Prayer: God of love, show me how I can love the world that I live in, the world that you love. Amen.
DAY SEVEN John 4:1-26
Morrisville United Methodist Church
Well, Well, Well...
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, she had no idea who he was; but the Lord knew her; still he asked her for a drink of water. He told her that if she knew God and who He was, she could have asked him for a drink and he would have given her living water.
Jesus did not avoid her or judge her because of her past or her present situation. He offered her the "living water" knowing all about her. He didn't mind that she was a Samaritan or that she was currently living in sin. He reached out to her, and offered her the living water and shared with her that it didn't matter where people worship but rather what kind of worshipers they are. And then he went on to tell her "I who speak to you am he".
How do we act towards other sinners? Do we avoid or shun them? Do we force them to hide in the shadows? Do we remember that we too are sinners? Can we accept others without judgment, the way that Jesus did?
Step out of your comfort zone....speak to someone that you would normally avoid. Give a dollar or spare change to the person asking for it, or pay for the groceries for the person in front of you...even if they do have food stamps.
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for all of your many blessings. Please help us to be like you and reach out to those who need us and our help. Help us to not judge others but to try and see them as you do. In Jesus name. Amen.
DAY Eight John 4:27-54 Joel Estes,
Grace Presbyterian Church, Pennington NJ
Harvest in Plain Sight
The disciples find Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. They know nothing of the conversation they have just had - how utterly life-changing it was, how full of mystery and revelation. They do not perceive the living water that is flowing beneath the rim of their mundane concerns. Instead, all they think is their master is associating with a person they would rather not.
They do not see what Jesus sees. They have not learned to "look." The disciples wonder if Jesus is hungry. They don't perceive that, while they have been out searching for food, he has been feasting on the will of his Father. "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work," he tells them. And what is that work? It is the work of the harvest. Look up, Jesus says, the harvest is before you, if only you have eyes to see.
The harvest comes in the form of a person we'd rather not rub shoulders with - a person we dislike, devalue, or with whom we disagree. The harvest involves outsiders, Gentiles beyond the bounds of Jewish piety who, nevertheless, exhibit extraordinary faith. Outsiders are seen by Jesus, are recipients of his love, are transformed by his grace, and become witnesses of his power. Because of the Samaritan woman, an entire town comes to faith. And it all happened because Jesus saw what was hidden in plain sight: a harvest ripe before his eyes. Who do we encounter everyday, but don't really see? Where is our harvest in plain sight?
Action Step: "Look around you," Jesus says. Take a moment and reflect on the people around you in your life. Consider especially those you find difficult to be around. How can you be a witness of God's grace and an agent of God's love to them? Ask God to show you one way you can do that today, and then commit to obeying God's call, taking on the attitude of Jesus "to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work" (v. 34). Prayer: God, give me eyes to see the harvest all around us. Give me grace to love those I find hard to love. Give me faith to believe you can transform anyone into a witnessing disciple, even me. Give me a desire for your will that is stronger even than my need for food. Use me to do your work, in your way, for your glory. Amen.
DAY THREE John 2:1-12
Madeleine Jones, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church
Service always done in the name of Jesus.
"They have no wine." "Do whatever He tells you."
Any wedding takes careful planning and preparation. Yes, the Feast is a Celebration but it also consists of service for both the Bride, the Groom, and for the guests. At times, an action of service may come from a guest, as at the Wedding Feast of Cana, when the Mother of Jesus recognized that there was no more wine. Jesus was called upon by His Mother to be of service even though Jesus was still living a hidden life.
How often do we put others before ourselves? Always, sometimes, never?
At times, we may feel last, inferior, insecure, hurt, ill and yes the list always seems to grow. We are told to visit the sick, those in prison, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless. Do we do this?
Jesus could have remained hidden; however, He was aware of a greater need, a need to show kindness and to be of service to others. In the second half of Chapter 2 of John, we see Jesus performing another type of service. This time to His Father, in driving out money-changers from the Temple.
Action Step: Service opportunities are among us daily, whether it is an act of gentle kindness or an act of justice. We need to step out of our hidden life and into the life of Christ.
Prayer: Oh Lord, in Your name, may we always have the courage to be Your Servants. Amen.
John 1:29-50Sharon Taylor, The Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
The word "evangelism" makes many good Christians nervous. Perhaps it is because when we think of witnessing our faith to others we think of strong-arm tactics and Bible-quoting sales pitches. We think that making disciples is forcing faith in Jesus on others and convincing them why they must believe like we do. Yet, in the Gospel of John, we are given a very different picture of evangelism. The word itself comes from a Greek word that simply means "good news". Witnessing is simply sharing the good news of what God has done, and is still doing, in Jesus Christ. Evangelism is a pointing to God's grace and mercy. Evangelism is pointing to the source of our hope and trust. It is an invitation offered in love.
In our passage, John first models this for us. John the Baptist has his own little group of followers by now. Yet, he is clear to say that he is not the one for whom they have been waiting. So when the time is right, John points to Jesus, literally, and says, "Behold the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world". John says, "Here he is!" John points away from himself to Jesus, and that's when it all begins. Once they are looking at Jesus they become intrigued and the invitation is given. They ask Jesus, "Where are you staying?" He replies, "COME AND SEE." With that, the word began to spread. The excitement began to spread. Andrew told Simon. Philip told Nathanael. And when Nathanael's response was less than enthusiastic, Philip simply says, like Jesus did, "COME AND SEE"
This simple invitation is our calling. Someone pointed us to Jesus at some time in our lives. It may have been your parents, grandparents, a neighbor or a classmate. It may have been a friend who asked you to make quilts for refugees. When is the last time you pointed someone to Jesus? When is the last time you saw God working in your daily life and shared that with someone? When is the last time you invited someone to COME AND SEE? Our life in faith is a two-sided coin. One side says COME AND SEE. The other side says GO AND TELL.
As we prepare for The Church Has Left the Building, let us remember both.
Action Step: Reflect on who in your life you need to say "come and see."
Prayer: Dear Lord, please keep our eyes and ears keen to whom we need to point to you. Amen.
Welcome to Love the World: The Church Has Left the Building
One Sunday a year, a growing number of congregations launch out to be Jesus' hands and feet in countless community projects. What started in 2010 with Woodside Church in Yardley, PA is mushrooming into a movement of congregations.
The movement engages all ages in projects that bless local communities. In a single day, they stock pantries, deliver books to inner--city--school libraries, clean up the environment, lead worship for people in recovery, make meals for the homebound, build shelters for the homeless, sew dresses for Haiti, and so much more. It is truly a taste of heaven.
The day is really the culmination of 40 days of prayer, Bible reading, sermons, and small-group Bible studies. As we read about Jesus loving the lost and healing the hurting, momentum builds toward the day when we go out and follow in his steps.
Our theme is "Love the World: The Church Has Left the Building." Based on John 3:16, our outreach this year will focus on the way Jesus loved individuals in the Gospel of John. All the devotionals in this booklet are meditations on the book of John, encouraging us to love in Christ's name.
On Sunday, May 17, 2015, United Presbyterian Church will leave the building following worship to love the world in Jesus' name! We hope you will be inspired by this devotional to join us.
DAY ONE John 1:1--28
Carolyn Edwards, Faith Lutheran -- Northeast Philadelphia
Where do you see Jesus? As a life--long Lutheran, I have heard and read verses 1 thru 5 of this passage more times than I can remember, and yet
than as I read it again for this exercise, I have to read it more than once before it sinks in. With some help from my interpretive Bible, I learn that the Jews used the term 'the word' as an expression of God's wisdom. Now it starts to make sense, reminding me of what I have always known: In the beginning was God, who gave us the Light, which was Jesus. So if people want to know
God, they can look to Jesus. If people want to know Jesus, they can look to his followers. My Pastor once posed the question, 'Where do you see Jesus?' As we kick off these days of prayer leading up to May 17th, I think it is more important to ask "Do people see Jesus in you?' In a few short weeks, we will be taking our faith out into our communities. What a perfect opportunity to show our friends and neighbors what Jesus was like!
Prepare your heart, mind and body in the weeks leading up to May 17th.
Lord, help us to see Christ in others, and to show Christ to our world. Amen.
DAY FOUR John 2:13-25 Michael Capron, Hopewell Presbyterian Church
What was Jesus so angry about?
When I get to the movie theater, I have to buy a ticket and cannot bring in any outside food or drink. If I can't afford it, I don't see a movie and I go hungry & thirsty. When I come to Christian worship, I don't have to pay anything and they serve me the Lord's Supper for free (probably coffee hour goodies too!)
I don't think Jesus is angry about people doing business in church, or even turning a profit. It isn't about the money. It is about worship. They were holding worship hostage for those who could afford to pay. This is the reason he is especially angry at the sellers of doves--those were the animal sacrifices that very poor people offered.
For interesting comparisons, read Mark 12:41-44 and Matt 17:24-27.
What barriers are in your worship space that would keep newcomers away? Prayer: Lord God, help me to offer my whole self to you in worship: my attention, my mind, my praise, my talents and my money. Amen.