Lenten Season Daily Devotional*

March 1 - March 10 

* additional dates to be added

We hope you will follow along daily and deepen your faith during this season of repentance and contemplation. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 2017

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Brall, Director of Field Education,

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Hebrews 12:1-14

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children — “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; 6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” 7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

DEVOTIONAL

One particularly virulent Lenten temptation is to assume that we are solely responsible for the content and results of any program of spiritual discipline we undertake during this season. If we successfully refrain from indulging in chocolate, alcohol, or whatever we promised God we would avoid, or, in contrast, successfully engage in Bible reading, prayer, or other deeds we promised we would do, then by golly, we think we’ve had ourselves a pretty good Lent. The danger of a “successful” Lent lies in the growth of our ego rather than growth in humility from a faithful Lent. This passage reminds us that Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. We don’t initiate or continue this journey alone. A great cloud of witnesses surrounds us—saints who have trod a similar path, sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling flat on their faces— whose prayers and testimonies encourage us to persevere. Trials and difficulties will confront us over the next 40 days— all permitted and some perhaps designed by Christ—to help us develop the peaceful fruit of righteousness and resemble our Savior in his holiness. Let us not lose heart, but rather proceed faithfully, being strengthened and healed as we walk toward Easter.

PRAYER

Almighty and everlasting God, you have called into this holy season to journey with the cloud of faithful witnesses from generations past and present. Help us to follow with patience and persistence the path that Christ will set before us, trusting in His righteousness and not our own, that we may obtain the growth and transformation that you alone most desire and design in each of our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017

Doris Calian, McMillan Society Member, Pittsburgh

Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

John 1:29-34

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

DEVOTIONAL

In this season of Lent, we renew our baptismal vows and begin afresh our journey with Jesus. We read and listen to Christ’s teachings; we are inspired by His actions of kindness, healing, putting the needs of others before His own needs. We notice and respect His continually praying and seeking strength to know and follow God’s will. We tend to be students of the wondrous biblical stories. But can we be more than students? Can we reach out to use and act on what we have learned and witnessed from the example of Christ? Our actions do not earn God’s love and forgiveness, but our actions are evidence of our joy and appreciation of God’s gift to us. Let us step out by sharing our food, our comfort, our hospitality, and especially our love.

PRAYER

Dear God, Thank you for the gift of your Son and His sacrifice for us. Give us the guidance and the courage to follow His teachings and His example by giving ourselves to others.

Amen.

FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2017

Dr. Michelle Keane Domeisen ’12/’16, Board Member,

Pittsburgh TheologicAL SEMINAry

Scripture

Psalm 22

  1. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?      Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of       my groaning?

  2. O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;      and by night, but find no rest. 3   Yet you are holy,      enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4   In you our ancestors trusted;      they trusted, and you delivered them. 5   To you they cried, and were saved;      in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. 6   But I am a worm, and not human;      scorned by others, and despised by the people.

7   All who see me mock at me;      they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; 8   “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver —      let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” 9   Yet it was you who took me from the womb;      you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. 10 On you I was cast from my birth,      and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,      for trouble is near      and there is no one to help. 12 Many bulls encircle me,      strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me,      like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water,      and all my bones are out of joint;      my heart is like wax;      it is melted within my breast; 15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,      and my tongue sticks to my jaws;      you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs are all around me;      a company of evildoers encircles me.      My hands and feet have shriveled; 17 I can count all my bones.

     They stare and gloat over me;

  1. they divide my clothes among themselves,      and for my clothing they cast lots.

  2. But you, O LORD, do not be far away!      O my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword,      life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!      from the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me. 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;      in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!      All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;      stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he did not despise or abhor      the affliction of the afflicted;      he did not hide his face from me,      but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;      my vows I will pay before those who fear him. 26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;      those who seek him shall praise the LORD.

     May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember      and turn to the LORD;      and all the families of the nations      shall worship before him. 28 For dominion belongs to the LORD,      and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;      before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,      and I shall live for him. 30 Posterity will serve him;

     future generations will be told about the Lord, 31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,      saying that he HAS DONE It.

Devotional

There are times in our lives when we cry out to God with a sense of mistrust about whether He will answer us. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The grief of the psalmist is deeply palpable, yet the call to trust permeates the plea just as much. As mired as we are in the trials that afflict us, this psalm is a source of acknowledgement that our cries are worthy but our mistrust of God to answer us is not.

When we seek this psalm for comfort, our souls walk through the reminder and the revelation that God hears and answers. In some way, in His way, He answers. And in the process of waiting for the answer, we praise Him. We will glorify God in our pain and loss because, as Christians, we have been given the grace of eternal hope AND COmfort.

Prayer

Precious Lord, we cry out to you from the depths of our souls.

It is in glorifying you while in the midst of our pain that we come to understand the suffering you have experienced on our behalf. Help us always to remember to trust that you will hear and answer us in our grief. It is in your most holy name that we pray these words—You who are the Alpha and the Omega, from ages UNTO AGES.

SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 2017

The Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner, H. Parker Sharp Professor of

Theology and Ethics, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 43

  1. Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause      against an ungodly people;      from those who are deceitful and unjust      deliver me!

  2. For you are the God in whom I take refuge;      why have you cast me off?      Why must I walk about mournfully      because of the oppression of the enemy? 3   O send out your light and your truth;      let them lead me;      let them bring me to your holy hill      and to your dwelling. 4   Then I will go to the altar of God,      to God my exceeding joy;      and I will praise you with the harp,      O God, my God.

5   Why are you cast down, O my soul,      and why are you disquieted within me?      Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,      my help and my God.

DEVOTIONAL

The Psalmist uses graphic language to describe what we call depression. It is the feeling of being “cast down” from within, as though the soul itself is being pushed own. It is the sense of being “disquieted,” agitated for no good reason. For millions of people, this describes reality.

When night closes in, what should we do? Turn to God, the Psalmist seems to suggest. Does that help? Not exactly. Notice how verse 4 (I “go . . . to God my exceeding joy”) comes before verse 5 (but I am still “cast down”).

Our text offers no quick fix. Hope in God and there’s no more depression? Wouldn’t that be nice? The truth is that God is no magic pill. The dark night of the soul can be long and frightening, empty except for bitter tears.

Hope in God, not because it lifts the despair, but because sometimes it is the only thing we can do. Hope and hang on.

PRAYER

Even in my sorrow, O God, speak to me. Use my darkness to help to reveal your light. Use the empty silence within me to help me hear you. Do not let me despair without your blessing me through it all, in Christ, I pray. Amen.

SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2017

The Rev. Dr. John Welch ’02, Vice President for Student

Services and Community Engagement and Dean of Students,

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Mark 2:18-22

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

DEVOTIONAL

Living a perfect life is not easy, and for anyone to claim that he or she does fools no one. However, living a holy life is possible, but also not easy. To live holy is to be holy; but to be holy requires an acknowledgment of the tension caused by sin. Being holy is to be sanctified, to be set apart by the Spirit of God, marked as a child of God and destined for the eternal reward in glory. But sin won’t let us forget that glory is not yet here. And so, the tension between who we should be and who we are persists. We are new creatures in sinful bodies, new wine in old wineskins, stressing the weakest parts of our very being. It’s this type of suffering we openly confess, and it’s this type of suffering we remember during the 40 days of Lent. We fast in a sense of self-denial; our parched souls seek spiritual refreshment. One day, we will be in our new wineskins.

PRAYER

Most Holy God, continue to walk with us in the midst of our tension and show us your grace. You reminded us that our suffering is not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall later be revealed, but the journey is nonetheless difficult.

Thank you for Calvary, and the cross, the symbol of our freedom.

MONDAY, MARCH 6, 2017

The Rev. Dr. Jerome F. D. Creach, Robert C. Holland Professor of Old Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 119:73-80

  1. Your hands have made and fashioned me;       give me understanding that I may learn your             commandments.

  2. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,       because I have hoped in your word. 75  I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right,      and that in faithfulness you have humbled me. 76  Let your steadfast love become my comfort       according to your promise to your servant. 77  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;       for your law is my delight. 78  Let the arrogant be put to shame,       because they have subverted me with guile;       as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. 79  Let those who fear you turn to me,       so that they may know your decrees. 80  May my heart be blameless in your statutes,       so that I may not be put to shame.

DEVOTIONAL

I suspect few modern Christians have ever read Psalm 119 closely. One reason for that is it is simply so long and so repetitive. It has 176 verses that seem to go over the same ground again and again. But more off-putting than that is the subject: the Law and its benefits. Many readers will undoubtedly say, “But I thought we were freed from the Law” (Gal 3:23-29). A close reading of this psalm reveals, however, that it is neither pedantically repetitive nor naively touting legalism. The “law” the psalm speaks of is simply God’s instructions in their many forms. The story of salvation is part of that instruction. So in today’s reading the psalmist first confesses that God is the only source of goodness and life: “Your hands have made and fashioned me” (v. 73a). The commandments come into play as the psalmist asks for greater understanding of how to respond to God’s goodness (v. 73b); therefore, it is possible for us to say, with the psalmist, “your law is my delight” (v. 77b). .

PRAYER

How delightful it is, O God, to be obedient to you. In our better moments we recognize that serving you is not binding or restrictive. Your people Israel learned long ago that they had a choice: serving Pharaoh or serving you. Help us to choose you, the one who supplies all our needs. Truly in your care alone we are able to say, “I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1b). Amen.

TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017

The Rev. Derek Davenport ’05, Director of Enrollment / Codirector of the Miller Summer Youth Institute, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 34

1    I will bless the LORD at all times;       his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2    My soul makes its boast in the LORD;       let the humble hear and be glad. 3    O magnify the LORD with me,       and let us exalt his name together. 4    I sought the LORD, and he answered me,       and delivered me from all my fears. 5    Look to him, and be radiant;       so your faces shall never be ashamed. 6    This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,       and was saved from every trouble. 7    The angel of the LORD encamps       around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8    O taste and see that the LORD is good;       happy are those who take refuge in him. 9    O fear the LORD, you his holy ones,       for those who fear him have no want. 10  The young lions suffer want and hunger,       but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11  Come, O children, listen to me;       I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12  Which of you desires life,      and covets many days to enjoy good? 13  Keep your tongue from evil,       and your lips from speaking deceit. 14  Depart from evil, and do good;       seek peace, and pursue it.

15  The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,       and his ears are open to their cry. 16  The face of the LORD is against evildoers,       to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,       and rescues them from all their troubles. 18  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,       and saves the crushed in spirit. 19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous,       but the LORD rescues them from them all.

20  He keeps all their bones;       not one of them will be broken. 21  Evil brings death to the wicked,       and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22  The LORD redeems the life of his servants;       none of those who take refuge in him will be        condemned.

DEVOTIONAL

Reading this psalm is somewhat shocking because it is so physical. The psalmist writes about mouths, lips, and tongues. We read of eyes, faces, and bones.

This psalm accomplishes two things with such physical words. First, it encourages us to consider how physical and tangible faith can be. Living our faith requires us to use our bodies, not just our minds. The words that come out our mouths are just as important as the thoughts we have in our minds. Second, the physicality of expression in this psalm emphasizes God as immanent. The psalmist says so explicitly— “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted”—and also implicitly with the language of God’s face and eyes and ears.

As we observe Lent, let us consider both of these lessons. Let’s consider how to be faithful with everything that we are, body and mind. Also, let’s spend time simply enjoying a God who chose to be Emmanuel, God with us.

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for choosing to be near, even when we feel you are far away. Help us to live out our faith with all that we are. Amen.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2017

The Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller, Assistant Professor of Pastoral

Care, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Deuteronomy 9:13-21

13 Furthermore the LORD said to me, “I have seen that this people is indeed a stubborn people. 14 Let me alone that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and more numerous than they.” 15 So I turned and went down from the mountain, while the mountain was ablaze; the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 Then I saw that you had indeed sinned against the LORD your God, by casting for yourselves an image of a calf; you had been quick to turn from the way that the LORD had commanded you. 17 So I took hold of the two tablets and flung them from my two hands, smashing them before your eyes. 18 Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin you had committed, provoking the LORD by doing what was evil in his sight. 19 For I was afraid that the anger that the LORD bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also. 20 The LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him, but I interceded also on behalf of Aaron at that same time. 21 Then I took the sinful thing you had made, the calf, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it thoroughly, until it was reduced to dust; and I threw the dust of it into the stream that runs down the mountain.

                                                                 

DEVOTIONAL

In our reading for today, Moses comes down from the mountain carrying the two tablets of the covenant, only to discover that the Israelites have built a golden calf and are worshipping it. Perhaps we can understand why the people have done so: they had been wandering in the wilderness for many years and their future probably felt very uncertain. When Moses, their leader, disappeared to go talk with God, their fear and anxiety likely overwhelmed them, and this feeling may be what convinced them to create something tangible in which to place their faith and trust. God becomes angry with the people not because they felt fearful and anxious, but because they dealt with those feelings by making an idol for themselves instead of trusting God’s promises. In this Lenten season of self-examination, we are challenged to look at our own lives and ask ourselves, When I am fearful and anxious, what idols am I tempted to worship? What statues do I need to destroy so that I can again place my faith in God alone?

PRAYER

Merciful God, we thank you that even when you become angry with us for our sinful ways, you do not destroy us or cast us away from your presence. Instead, you continue to love us and welcome us back each time we stray. Help us to recognize those places in our lives where we are trusting in the wrong things, and bring us back into right relationship with you. Amen.

THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017

The Rev. Anthony Rivera, Director of Admissions, Pittsburgh

Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5

23 And when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, “Go up and occupy the land that I have given you,” you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God, neither trusting him nor obeying him. 24 You have been rebellious against the LORD as long as he has known you. 25 Throughout the forty days and forty nights that I lay prostrate before the LORD when the LORD intended to destroy you, 26

I prayed to the LORD and said, “Lord GOD, do not destroy the people who are your very own possession, whom you redeemed in your greatness, whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; pay no attention to the stubbornness of this people, their wickedness and their sin, 28 otherwise the land from which you have brought us might say, ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to let them die in the wilderness.’ 29 For they are the people of your very own possession, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.”10:1 At that time the LORD said to me, “Carve out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. 2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you smashed, and you shall put them in the ark.” 3 So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4 Then he wrote on the tablets the same words as before, the ten commandments that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. 5 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark that I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me.

DEVOTIONAL

Reflection—a word that best describes today’s passage. Moses reminds Israel of the reason their fathers failed to enter the Promised Land.

In God’s interaction with the Israelites after leaving Egypt, it is grace that overshadows all God did for them. Guidance, safety, provision, care . . . the Triune God self-revealed to a people who, in turn, complained, rebelled, and simply did not believe in Him—so much so that their unbelief prevented them from entering the land “flowing with milk and honey.”

As we observe this season of Lent, let us examine our hearts and ask whether, as with the Israelites, unbelief characterizes how we look and interact with God. Unbelief prevents us from seeing the awesomeness of God at work and keeps us from living a life worthy of His calling. To serve God in a state of unbelief is a contradiction. God is trustworthy!

PRAYER

Gracious God, as we ponder on today’s reading, forgive us for those moments in which we did not trust you, did not believe you. Help us to take you at your word in the knowledge that you are faithful and eternally trustworthy.

God, we turn our hearts to you today. Amen.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Lowmaster ’11, Pastor of Community

Presbyterian Church of Geneseo, N.Y. / Board Member, 

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 105

1    O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. 2  Sing to him, sing praises to him;       tell of all his wonderful works. 3 Glory in his holy name;  let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 4    Seek the LORD and his strength;       seek his presence continually.

5    Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, 6    O offspring of his servant Abraham,       children of Jacob, his chosen ones. 7    He is the LORD our God;  his judgments are in all the earth. 8    He is mindful of his covenant forever,       of the word that he commanded, for a thousand  generations,

9    the covenant that he made with Abraham,  his sworn promise to Isaac, 10  which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,  to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11  saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” 12  When they were few in number,

      of little account, and strangers in it, 13  wandering from nation to nation,  from one kingdom to another people, 14  he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, 15  saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;  do my prophets no harm.” 16  When he summoned famine against the land,  and broke every staff of bread, 17  he had sent a man ahead of them,  Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18  His feet were hurt with fetters,  his neck was put in a collar of iron; 19  until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD kept testing him. 20  The king sent and released him;       the ruler of the peoples set him free. 21  He made him lord of his house,       and ruler of all his possessions, 22  to instruct his officials at his pleasure,       and to teach his elders wisdom.

  1. Then Israel came to Egypt;

      Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.

  1. And the LORD made his people very fruitful,       and made them stronger than their foes, 25  whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,       to deal craftily with his servants. 26  He sent his servant Moses,       and Aaron whom he had chosen. 27  They performed his signs among them,       and miracles in the land of Ham. 28  He sent darkness, and made the land dark;       they rebelled against his words. 29  He turned their waters into blood,       and caused their fish to die. 30  Their land swarmed with frogs,       even in the chambers of their kings. 31  He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,       and gnats throughout their country. 32  He gave them hail for rain,       and lightning that flashed through their land. 33  He struck their vines and fig trees,       and shattered the trees of their country. 34  He spoke, and the locusts came,       and young locusts without number; 35  they devoured all the vegetation in their land,       and ate up the fruit of their ground. 36  He struck down all the firstborn in their land,       the first issue of all their strength.

  1. Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,       and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.

  2. Egypt was glad when they departed,       for dread of them had fallen upon it. 39  He spread a cloud for a covering,       and fire to give light by night.

40  They asked, and he brought quails,       and gave them food from heaven in abundance. 41  He opened the rock, and water gushed out;       it flowed through the desert like a river. 42  For he remembered his holy promise,       and Abraham, his servant. 43  So he brought his people out with joy,       his chosen ones with singing. 44  He gave them the lands of the nations,       and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,

45  that they might keep his statutes       and observe his laws.

      Praise the LORD!

DEVOTIONAL

I am surrounded by a surprising number of aids to help me remember. Appointment cards magnetted to my refrigerator, lists in my planner, chiming pop-up reminders on my computer, a sticky-note phone widget. Even my microwave will record and play messages to assist me in remembering what I have to remember today.

I need those aids, because I forget (more than I’d like to admit). So did the Israelites. They forgot who provided them with a land and an identity. They forgot who blessed them with sun and rain and harvest. They forgot who protected them from plagues and enemies. They forgot who claimed them as a people and promised always to be their God. And when they forgot—because of hardship or arrogance or fear or boredom—the Israelites turned away from the God who had given them life and freedom. We are no different now.

Psalm 105 is a call for us today to remember God and to remember all God’s blessings . . . because when we remember, we can’t help but praise and worship the God who never forgets God’s loving and grace-filled covenant with us.

PRAYER

Eternal God, fill me with your Holy Spirit of encouragement and chiding and remembering. In this moment, show me the many ways you have blessed me . . . . Let me live my praise and worship of you today and throughout these days of Lent while never forgetting that you gave your love for me enfleshed in Jesus Christ, in whose name I offer myself and this prayer to you. Amen.

SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 2017

The Rev. Erin Davenport LSW ’05, Director of the Miller

Summer Youth Institute, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

SCRIPTURE

Deuteronomy 11:18-28

18 You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 If you will diligently observe this entire commandment that I am commanding you, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place on which you set foot shall be yours; your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the Western Sea. 25 No one will be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the fear and dread of you on all the land on which you set foot, as he promised you. 26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.

DEVOTIONAL

“Loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul”—this is the command from verse 13 that is referenced throughout our passage today. This command is so important that the Israelites are implored to tell it to their children constantly—at home, away from home, when they sleep, when they wake up. There is no hour or situation when this command is not of utmost importance: Love the Lord your God and serve him. This passage is the foundation of my life. It is the reason I do what I do every single day. I encourage you today to let these words rush over you and through you, to tell them passionately to your children and your children’s children and the children you are blessed to be around through everything you do, every word you speak. Let us love the Lord our God and serve him with all our hearts and with all our souls.

PRAYER

Lord, no matter who our children are today—biological, young, old, neighbors, friends—help us to see them as children who need to hear this command today. Give us wisdom to share your love through our actions and words in times of joy and strife. Amen. 

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