2 Samuel 1:11-12

David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.

Insight

When the heart loves deep, the pain is also deep when experiencing loss. Although Saul had not treated David well, still David loved the king and wept when he died in battle. David loved his friend Jonathan, Saul’ son, and was stricken with grief at his death as well. David and his men were not ashamed to grieve. It certainly is not a sign of weakness. David and his men wept for their king and their nation. Today, if you are experiencing loss, find comfort in God’s peace as you grieve. Grieve with hope, for He is Risen!

Prayer

Jesus, we lift up those today who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Give them your strength today, and may they experience your peace as they put their hope in you. Amen.

 RJ

Matthew 12:11-12

And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

Insight

The Pharisees placed their laws above human need. They were so concerned about Jesus breaking one of their rules that they did not care about the man who Jesus had just healed. So, how do you feel about helping others, or in particular certain people? We want to make sure our convictions are in alignment with God’s Word. We must not allow rule keeping to blind us to human need. On the Sabbath, and every day for that matter, is a good day for doing good. Who is Jesus nudging you to help today?

Prayer

Jesus, we ask you to help us align our convictions with your Word. Help us be aware and available to do good for others as you direct us. May we today be your instrument to bring hope to others and connect them with you. Amen.

RJ

Matthew 11:28-30

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Insight

A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull. There are many heavy burdens one may be carrying in life… sins, demands placed by others, sickness, oppression, and the list continues. With the visual of the yoke, we realize that Jesus wants to carry those burdens for us. The ‘rest’ he promises is love, healing, and peace with God. Life is hard, but Jesus is there to carry those burdens with us, promising that he will never leave us or forsake us. The heaviness we feel, is never from Jesus, his burden is light.

Prayer

Jesus, today we acknowledge the heaviness of life’s burdens. Thank you for the promise to carry these heavy loads for us and to give us rest. Today we put our complete trust in you and walk in your peace. Amen.

RJ

Psalm 141:3

Take control of what I say O Lord, and guard my lips.

Insight

On the average, a person opens his or her mouth approximately 700 times a day to speak. (Life Application
Study Bible) David wisely asked God to keep him from speaking evil - even as he underwent persecution. Jesus himself was silent before his accusers. (Matthew 26:63) James wrote, “The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.” (James 3:6) Knowing the power of the tongue, we would do well to ask God to guard what we say so that our words will bring honor to his name.

Prayer

Jesus, like David, we pray that you would take control of what we say.  We desire to honor you and to be a blessing of encouragement to those we love, and to those we come in contact with daily. Guard our lips we pray. Amen.

RJ

Psalm 63:1

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

Insight

David must have been far from home when he wrote this psalm.  Fortunately, God is not limited to any geographic location. Even in those lonely and soul searching moments, God never abandons us. In life we soon discover this world has nothing of lasting value to offer.  Our hope is in God.  His all-surpassing strength is always with us.  David praised God in the good and in the tough times, I trust you allow his strength to lift your heart in praise today.

Prayer

Jesus, we find in you our only hope.  In the tough times, when our souls thirst, and even our bodies feel the pain of life reversals, we cry out to you with our whole heart. Come in your strength and power and sustain us. Amen.

RJ

Matthew 8:29

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

Insight

People have many opinions of who Jesus is, then and now. Who is Jesus, is the most important question we will answer in our lives. This was a wonderful moment for Peter, and for us. It was at this moment the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter who Jesus really was.  It is a heart matter.  On this Easter morning, many people are going to experience this life changing revelation - discovering that Jesus is the Messiah. This is not only a life changing revelation, it changes our eternal destiny.

Prayer

Jesus we thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts today. Thank you for revealing yourself to us. Today we pray for all those who are making this same life changing discovery. Your love changes everything! Amen.

RJ

Matthew 7:11

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

Insight: On this Eve of Easter I want to remember that 2000 or so years ago this was a day of deep pain and loneliness for Jesus’ friends. I wonder, did they remember these words and wonder if Jesus had got it wrong? Did they wonder if God was not a like a good Father at all? The day must have felt long and terrible. They could not see that Easter was coming, but whether or not they thought to ask for Jesus resurrection, it still came- Jesus conquered death! I love that we are invited to participate in God’s Kingdom through our lives and prayers, but also I am so grateful that God’s gifts come to us even when we are too weary to ask for them again.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for inviting me to ask you for anything. Thank you for reminding me that our Heavenly Father is a good father who loves me perfectly. Give me the courage to ask you the questions I am afraid to ask you. Thank you for overcoming death. Thank you for life. Amen.

Shannon J

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be provided for you.

Insight: This passage about the cure for anxiety has often annoyed me. Anxiety and me have this long relationship, and here it feels like Jesus is asking me to do something impossible in order to find freedom-just stop worrying! Is that even possible? If you have ever felt this way here is a question to consider: could you invite Jesus to be with you and your worry? I have found little success in pushing down my worries and just willing myself to ‘not be anxious’, but slowly I am learning to rest in the gentle peace of Jesus when I simply invite him to be with me and my anxiety.

Prayer:Jesus, you know my heart is prone to worry about all the unknowns, today I invite you to sit with me and my anxious self, help me to be aware of your peace and to hear what you are inviting me today. Amen

Shannon J

Psalm 34:5

Those who look to him are radiant with joy, their faces will never be ashamed.

Insight I admire the ease in which small children express their emotions. A delighted little one might squeal and laugh and move their whole body to express their joy. A disappointed child might scream and kick and weep and fall to the floor. In each case there is the feeling of a lack of self consciousness that seems to mark what we call maturing, and because of this they are unashamed of what they feel and how they express it. I wonder if this childlike honesty is the kind of joy and lack of shame this Psalmist is talking about in this verse. Today, if you are feeling the weight of shame, consider inviting God into your experience. His voice is love and he delights in you, and like a small child, you are free to unashamedly express exactly how you feel in his presence.

Prayer Jesus, thank you for the invitation to come as I am to you. Thank you that you are not embarrassed, bewildered, or ashamed of me, even when I am stuck and broken. Please help to believe how much you love me. Amen

Shannon J.

Psalm 59:1


Deliver me from my enemies my God; protect me from those who rise up against me.

Insight: In this chapter we see the author asking for protection and also asking God to bring down their enemies. Do you ever think that you must clean up your language and calm down your anger before you can talk to God? In Psalm 59 we are reminded that we can bring ourselves wholly as we are to God. Today, if you find yourself angry or irritated instead of asking God to take away that feeling, try expressing it to him exactly how you want to. When you are done, sit for a moment and try asking God to reveal his insight into what you are experiencing.

Prayer: God, it is so easy to label my feelings as good or bad and to then try to hide the ‘bad’ ones from you. Today, help me to be honest with you. Today help to feel your grace and love hold me tightly. Today let me experience your presence in the midst of my joy and my anger.

Shannon J

Matthew 3:17

And there came a voice from heaven: this is my beloved son. I take delight in him.

Insight: As a child, the message about God that I heard and believed most in church was that he was just, and hated sin. This was probably not intentional on anyone's part, but I was left afraid of God, terrified of making a mistake and his love felt like a P.S. at the end of letter about how much he was disappointed in me. Have you ever felt like this? Today, take a moment to slowly read again the narrative of the baptism of Jesus, and consider the extravagant love of a God who came to be with us, so that we could be with him. He is a God who delights in his son, and he delights in me and he delights in you. You are infinitely loved by perfect Love.

Prayer: Jesus, when I am distracted by the busyness around me today, and caught in earning affection from you and others, remind me that I am already completely loved as I am. Have mercy on my heart which resists believing that your love to me unearned, help me to rest in you today. Amen.

Shannon J

1 Samuel 17:41-43

The Philistine came closer and closer to David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David he despised him because he was just a youth, healthy and handsome. He said to David “Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?” Then he cursed David by his gods.

Insight In the story of David and Goliath I never find it hard to identify with David. I am quick to see my story relating to the quintessential underdog David. After all, there is always someone I can find who seems to have more power, more followers, and more money than I think necessary.  But here is a question, what if I did not assume that I am always ‘the David’? Today, I am asking asking God to reveal how I might be the Goliath in someone else’s life. Where have I allowed my greed and my inability to surrender to Christ to become a source of oppression in my neighbors life? Self examination is rarely comfortable, but it brings me to a place where I experience the extravagance of God’s love in a deep way, for then I see it’s the kind of love that has always loved and keeps loving me, even when I am the Goliath in the story.

Prayer Loving Christ, It is easy for me to see how I am wronged, but I am uncomfortable naming how I have been the source of oppression for others. Give me the courage to surrender what you invite me to surrender, and let me taste and see how real is your love and grace for me. Amen.

Shannon J

Matthew 1:17

So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.

Insight The first half of chapter 1 of Matthew gives us a historical record Jesus ancestry. Often this list has felt like a long prelude I must get through before I can read the real story, but today I was considering all the hundreds of year that these 17 verses represent, all of these people listed were real people who lived real lives, they celebrated and grieved and ate breakfast and slept and nursed their babies and worked and sneezed and had preferences and worries and experienced all manner of human emotion and behavior. Did they know that one day they would be listed in this genealogy? Did they know that in their act of living life they were participating in God's beautiful story of redemption? Today, as I live my own ordinary day, I want to remember that God’s redemptive story is still being told through people, and that I do not need to see the big picture to participate in it.

Prayer Christ, when I am tempted to disdain the the ordinary task in front of me, help me to see how you are present in each moment of each day. Thank you for allowing me to participate in your story. Give me strength to be faithful to the work in front of me, give me courage to stay present to what is now. Amen.

Shannon J

1 Samuel 14:7

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Insight: Two men with two swords and two hearts full of faith decided to be brave. We read in verse 23 that there was a great victory in Israel that day because of the spark that was struck by Johnathan and his armor-bearer. Who was this armor-bearer? We do not know his name. We do not know his family or where he came from. We do not know how old he was. We only know his blind faith and the devotion he had to his friend. What sort of victories might God have in store for us if we choose to be brave? Could we be a part of a movement when we choose to devote ourselves to people of faith?

Prayer: Praise you God that you give us courage and strength to face the day. Thank you for the friends and family who devote themselves to us. Help us to be people of faith.

Kirstie

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Insight: Pages and pages have been written on what exactly this ‘thorn’ in the flesh was that Paul had been given and which the Lord never appeared to have taken away from him. It can be helpful that we do not know exactly what Paul’s thorn was because then we can insert whatever thorn we have been given into this text and receive this comforting word. Do you struggle with chronic pain that God has not healed? Do you have a family member who is not saved? Do you have an addiction that God has not freed you from? We all have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that for some reason, God has not yet responded to. Although God longs for us to continue interceding for these issues, let us also not forget the encouraging word he give us here, “My grace is sufficient for you.” His grace covers us and as we continue to struggle with whatever thorn we have been given, look to His grace!

Prayer: Thank you Lord that your grace IS sufficient, that your power is made perfect in our weaknesses. We continue to lift up these thorns in our sides, these unanswered prayers. We believe you are a God who answers prayer; however, in a world of mystery and brokenness, we acknowledge that your grace is enough.

Kirstie

2 Corinthians 11:30

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Insight: One of the Mom’s of our youth students told me that her daughter thinks I am “just the coolest.” The moment she said this, I could feel dread growing in the pit of my stomach… How long before her daughter realizes how ‘not-cool’ I am? Do you live in fear of ‘being found out?’ How many of us dread the day that we cannot keep our mask on any longer and the world knows our weaknesses? Christ challenges us to a different sort of life. Instead of living in fear, instead of hiding our weaknesses in a place we hope no one ever finds; Christ invites us to boast about our weaknesses so that He may be glorified. It is not by our own strength that we are where we are today. It is not because our gifts and talents are so great that we should boast. Rather, Christ challenges us to be transparent with our community so that they might see how God has overcome.

Prayer: King Jesus, this really scares me. I do not want people to know my weaknesses, it is easier to live with a mask and hope people never know my faults. But I want to glorify you and I want to be real with people. Give me the strength to be transparent and help people to be forgiving when they see the areas I need growth.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 10:15-16

Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

Insight: How could Saul keep his being anointed to kingship a secret? Would he not want the whole world to know about this amazing experience he just had with Samuel the prophet? How often do we do the same in our casual conversations? Just this last week, someone asked, “how was your weekend.” I replied, “good, relaxing.” What I should have said was, “I had an amazing encounter with the Lord through worship on Sunday, He spoke words of comfort and love to me so that I was overwhelmed with rest and felt empowered to be a peaceful presence to my friends, family, and coworkers this week.” Saul missed an opportunity to tell His uncle the way God had blessed him on his journey searching for donkeys. Let’s not do the same!

Prayer: God, I want to be better at sharing the abundant blessings you have made apparent in my life. Help me to be glorifying you in every conversation. Help me to see even casual questions as an opportunity to share your faithfulness.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 7:8

They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”

Insight: Picture the Israelites in this scene. They came to Mizpah because they have decided to change their ways, they want to follow the Lord again. While they are seeking the Lord and attempting to make themselves right before Him, the Philistines surround the town and are going to attack them. Have you ever been there? Have you gotten to a breaking point and said ‘okay God, I’m coming back to you.’ Then it feels like the moment you try to return to Him, the world starts falling apart? I know I have. Being at their breaking point though, the Israelites do not even try to go out and defend themselves against the Philistines, they do not ask other people for help; they have returned to the Lord so they do the only thing they can do in that circumstance, they pray more! “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us,” they cry and they have faith that God will rescue them by His strength, not theirs.

Prayer: Help us Lord when we are at our breaking point to cry out for your power, to cry out for YOU to rescue us. We are so easily distracted by the competing powers of this world, help us to rely on your strength rather than our own.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 3:1

In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

Insight: Are we living in days of the word of the Lord being rare? Sometimes I wonder if there are prophets like Samuel who hear the Lord calling their name in the night as if someone were speaking to them from another room. As I pondered this, I felt the Spirit so kindly remind me that the word of the Lord is abundantly fruitful and always will be for those who have received the Holy Spirit. When Christ ascended into Heaven, He gave us the gift of the Spirit which speaks truth and is our daily guide. The Spirit is our constant friend, our comforter. The Spirit enables the word of the Lord to never be rare!

Prayer: Father God, help us to never forget the intimacy and knowledge we have through the power of the Spirit. Thank you God, that we do not need to rely on prophets and judges to bring us words from God because we are able to hear directly from you through the Holy Spirit. Give us more visions and more words that we might be ever aware of your presence.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 2:3

Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.

Insight: In Hannah’s prayer, she repeats a reality she has witnessed in her own life, “the Lord is a God who knows.” How often do I pray as if to a God that does not know? God knows the depths of our souls. When I feel alone, ashamed, confused, angry… I do not come to a God who does not understand. He is a God who knows.

Prayer: To the Lord God who knows, help us to pray with confidence. Do not let us grow weary, believing we are on this journey alone. You are abundantly aware of our sorrow and our triumphant. Thank you for your personal decision to be God with us and to be a God who knows.

Kirstie