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Wednesday, February 21 | Charlie Cole

“Fasting”

During Lent, we often ask ourselves: Why do we fast or give up something? Is it a form of punishment? Yet, when we turn to Scripture, we find that fasting has deep roots in our spiritual tradition, one that Jesus Himself practiced and expected us to continue (see Matthew 6:16-18; Luke 4:1-2; 5:34-35).

Fasting is not merely deprivation; it is a sign of sorrow and repentance. In Lent, we examine our hearts and lives, acknowledging our failures to be faithful to God. As we recognize our sin, we experience a deep understanding of our need for God and what has been missing in our lives. Fasting becomes a tangible expression of our repentance, a way to actively acknowledge our need for God’s grace and forgiveness (Psalm 69:11).

In fasting, we willingly empty ourselves, whether it be of food, drink, or other distractions. St. Paul reminds us, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9). By shedding distractions during Lent, we create space for God to dwell within us. As we empty ourselves, we open ourselves to a deeper experience of God’s presence and grace, allowing Him to strengthen us in our weaknesses and draw us closer to Him.

Pray: Heavenly Father, as we embark on this Lenten journey, help us to embrace fasting not as a burden but as a spiritual discipline that draws us closer to You. Fill us with compassion for those in need and unite us as a community in love and sacrifice. Amen.

Thursday , February 22| Rev. Keefe Cropper

“Fasting – Not by Bread Alone”

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4)

The obvious often escapes me. Yet there is hidden wisdom in the ordinary and commonplace. And what is more ordinary than eating? We seldom reflect on it – we just do it. But on the Lenten journey, through fasting, God reveals another kind of nourishment. Fasting teaches us that we live not by bread alone.

A German theologian, Dorothee Soelle wrote: “’One does not live by bread alone.’ In fact, bread alone kills us. To live by bread alone is to die a slow and dreadful death. Of course, such a death by bread alone does not mean that we cease to exist … The death of which the Bible speaks lays hold of us in the very midst of life. It is the boredom and emptiness of going through all the motions of living while being drained of all humanity and reduced to the level of an old work horse.” This is called “Death by Bread Alone.”

We are hungry creatures. We may be sated for a time, but hunger soon returns. This is a truth echoed throughout scripture. The prophet Isaiah asks, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” On the heels of his miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes Jesus had to warn those who were trying to live on bread alone. In John 6, Jesus advised them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”

It is the food that endures to eternal life that the discipline of fasting is seeking. J.D. Walt, in a devotional entitled “Wake Up Call”, shared his testimony regarding what fasting revealed to him. He wrote:

“I was delivered from the legalism of fasting as eating or not eating and lifted into a life of hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” (the truly satisfies). While fasting: “Those days became filled with the food I had not known about before—the food of doing the will of God.” In the end, Walt shared: “I have a different relationship with food because I have a new relationship with hunger all of which has led to a deeper and ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Food is no longer my comfort, making way for the Holy Spirit to be my comforter.”

So, welcome to Lent and the discipline of fasting. May you find that hidden manna that satisfies your deepest hunger.

Friday, February 23| Muriele Mabe

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seek him.” Lamentations 3:22-26

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-26 reminds us of the unwavering love and faithfulness of God. These verses assure us that His mercies are fresh every day, and He is always ready to extend grace and compassion towards us. We are encouraged to find our hope and portion in God alone, recognizing His goodness towards those who patiently seek Him.

In times of hardship and difficulty, it can be easy to lose sight of God’s love and faithfulness. The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah, who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and experienced deep sorrow. However, even during his grief, Jeremiah found comfort in the unchanging faithfulness of God and found hope and comfort in His unchanging love and mercies and goodness.

It is a powerful reminder that even in the darkest moments, we can find solace in the unchanging nature of God and His enduring love for His people.

Saturday, February 24| Zach sample

“Spiritual Disciplines”

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Here in The Woodlands, we are BUSY. Football, dance, marching band, choir, soccer, recitals, meetings, and so many more commitments. We live in such a fast-paced world that sometimes it’s easy to overlook the importance of spiritual disciplines. Just as we prioritize physical training and practice for the things we’re committed to, so too should we prioritize training in Godliness. In 1 Timothy, Paul encourages us to invest in spiritual growth, recognizing its value in both this life and the life to come.

A new theologian I’ve been fascinated with recently is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote this, “The disciplines of prayer and Bible study, and the regular gathering for worship, are means by which grace can enter our lives and form us into the likeness of Christ.” In the midst of our busy schedules and endless to-do lists, these disciplines offer moments of stillness and connection with God.

As families navigate the demands of daily life, let’s commit to carving out intentional time for spiritual disciplines. Let’s make space for prayer, Scripture reading, and participation in worship, even amidst our busiest days. As we prioritize these practices, may we experience the transformative power of God’s grace in our lives and homes.

Pray:

Lord, we pray that our homes be places of worship and our hearts be attuned to Your presence. Guide us on this Lenten journey, that we may grow closer to You and to one another. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday, is a day of rest and we hope to see you in Worship

Monday, February 26| bob Kinnear

“TEMPTED OR TESTED”

James 1:12-13 “Blessed is those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. When tempted, no one should say: “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”

We all struggle with the interchanging of these two words from the Bible in our daily lives.

The Bible teaches us that all will be tempted but remember being tempted is not sin. It is giving in to whatever is tempting us that is not of God that causes us to sin. That one act of Adam and Eve in the Garden giving in from the beginning causes us all to suffer from the internal struggle with sin in our flesh. The main source of temptation in our lives and sin is not merely acts of rebellion against God. Sin, at its root, is robbing God of the honor He is due.

So, if God does not tempt us, why does He test us? In simple terms, God allows us to pass through certain experiences to see if our faith in Him is genuine. Testing proves our faith to be genuine and grows our Christian character to become more like Jesus everyday forward. One of the greatest tests of faith in the Bible is when God tells Abraham to go to the mountain and sacrifice his son Isaac. Which was more important to Abraham, God, or his son? And when God saw Abraham’s faith in Him, He sent the angle to tell Abraham not to harm his son.

Whether it is temptation or testing we should always be seeking God in prayer: “God, I will always seek you as I know You will provide a way out of what is tempting me so that I can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:1

Tuesday, February 27| Julie hill

“I Can Boast”

One of my favorite photos shows me waving from my cousin’s 1957 Buick Estate Wagon. (“Look, Ma – no seatbelts!”)

His parents bought that car brand new when he was a kid, and he had kept it safe for years until he had the means to lovingly restore it to mint condition. He brought it to our family reunion in Pennsylvania on the 4th of July weekend a few years ago. We rode through the back roads to New Hope, a nearby tourist town. It was so much fun! We rolled down the windows, and I rested my arm on the door, enjoying the warm breeze. As we drove through town, people stopped what they were doing and stared at the blue-green vision cruising down the street. Some waved at us, some yelled out questions, some gave us a “thumbs up”, and some simply admired the beauty of a vintage Detroit masterpiece. People assumed it was my car. I just smiled and waved back with my best “float wave” and felt like royalty.

Of course, I had nothing to do with the beauty of that car. I didn’t do the hard work or pay any money to restore it. I didn’t even own it. I was just along for the ride. And oh, what a ride

God’s grace is like that. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we get to ride in His beautiful Gracemobile. God uses His amazing power to restore us. We don’t have to work for it. We do not have to buy it. We just accept the grace ride that was paid for by the mercy of God and love of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I cannot boast that I have a vintage car: I don’t (unless you call a 13-year-old Hyundai “vintage” …).

And I cannot boast that I’ve earned God’s grace: I haven’t. I can’t.

But I can boast that God is amazing because He is.

I can boast that his son, Jesus, voluntarily paid the price for my sins – and for yours – by dying on the cross, because He loves us.

I can boast that His grace surrounds us and keeps us in His presence — safer than anything Detroit can create.

Wednesday, February 28| Rev. Ellen Kent

“Sin – Ready! Fire! Aim!”

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:25

We talk a lot about sin, don’t we? Especially in my church vocation world, it’s kind of a big deal, and I only work on Sundays! We pray about it, preach about it, sing about it, repent of it, try to forgive others for it, and give thanks to Jesus for dying on the cross for our part in it.

But do we know what sin is? Do we really know what Jesus died for?

One of the Greek words used frequently in the Bible for sin is ‘hamartano’, a word that in ancient times was used to describe an archer missing the target. If we don’t know what the target is, we don’t know where to aim, but we sure do a lot of firing at it!

NT Wright in his book The Day the Revolution Began, says that humans were made for the purpose of being “image-bearers,” to reflect the praises of creation back to the Creator and to reflect the Creator’s wise and loving stewardship into the world. But we continually miss the mark. We give the power and responsibility we were meant to have to other things, we reflect into the world not the Creator but the created. Those things become idols. Sin is not just “doing wrong things,” it is “missing the target” of a wise, full human life of worship and stewardship.

On this Lenten journey through the wilderness, let us consider the ways we miss the mark, the ways we are and are not an image bearer, what things may have become an idol in our lives, how we can focus on living a life of praise and worship to the Creator instead of focusing on not doing wrong things.

Thursday, February 29| Lynette Read

“Lent and me”

Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and giving that Christian’s observe as a time of repentance and closeness to God in preparation for the day of Christ’s resurrection, celebrated on Easter. Wow!

I was so very fortunate that I was able to travel to Israel back in 2022 – What an experience! I was able to walk in the towns He walked, It is so very hard to put into words what my Lord and savior did for me. It is overwhelming!

On our pilgrimage we visited so many places, I could talk and reminisce for hours. I had two very emotional places 1st was the Palm Sunday road, to walk that and think about how Jesus must have felt, how the people felt. The excitement. How the disciples felt – They had NO idea what was to come. And at that moment, they had to be in awe.

Luke 19:36-39 | 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The 2nd was the Garden of Gethsemane. The emotions were so strong I could only weep as we sat there in that garden with olive trees all around us. We prayed, we read the scripture, and I could feel my Lord saying everything you have been through, let it go, I did this for you, it’s ok, don’t hold onto the past, I did this, so you can let it all go!

Matthew 26:36-39 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

We all have those things we regret, what I love about Lent is the reflection, the understanding that God does not want me to feel guilt, he wants me to repent, to give it to HIM to know in my heart He is always walking with me.

Pray: Jesus, my redeemer, take this from me, I know you know my heart, you know who I am, be with me as I try to make you proud every day!