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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Thursday, April 01 2021

 

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

-Joshua 24:15

 

#JOSHUA2415

 

If you had asked me what an influencer was as a teenager, I would have said someone popular who gets people to do something. I would never have guessed it would become an actual term or career possibility. But the truth is, it’s just new jargon for an ancient job. The term could be applied to far more important people in history who were leaders, judges, teachers, prophets, house-church hosts, clergy, and community organizers. It certainly applies to Joshua and his most devoted followers. The book of Joshua is not at all about God’s special people who always have, do, and will attain victory because God loves them the most. It IS a story of how obedience to God by God’s chosen people AND outsiders leads to victory for all of God’s faithful followers.

 

Joshua leads his people into the Promised Land. They encounter people who are morally corrupt, people who lead evil lives and sacrifice children. Those who repent and follow God are spared. And when God’s people rebel and do wrong, they fail. When they repent, they are again victorious. The last two chapters of the book are Joshua’s big farewell speech, a reminder of God’s faithfulness and a warning that they should remain faithful in return. Joshua warns them that they have only two choices - to embrace the culture and priorities around them, to worship and idolize and indulge in what people in their land glorify... OR... to worship and serve the Lord. His household will do the latter.

 

What message could be more relevant in our modern world or in Holy Week as Easter and Spring Break approach? Gallup poll released its 2020 findings about Faith communities this week. For the first time in America’s recorded history, there are more people who are NOT members of churches, synagogues, or mosques than those who are. Membership in houses of worship are down to 47%, to say nothing of attendance (in-person or online). Like the Israelites, we can carry our church with us wherever we go, worshipping at home, in our tabernacle tents, or on vacation. And like them, our worship will be a sign to the people in the land around us. Will we worship only at the altars of resorts, sleeping in, stadiums and fields, or the other distractions of our land, or will we and our household serve the Lord? Whether you join us for drive-in, or in the tent on our ball field, online, or the church nearest your vacation destination, or on a beach, carve out the time, take a selfie where you are, and tag it #JOSHUA2415. I’d love to see where you are, but even more, I’d love for you to influence your sphere of our land. Happy Easter! He is risen!

 

Prayer for Today

 

Wherever I go each Lord’s day, help to carve out the day for you. This Easter, use me and my family to influence the world by my presence in worship. Help me lead by example and tell a story with my priorities. Amen.

Posted by: AT 11:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, March 31 2021

 

So, what happened on the Wednesday of Holy Week or what we call “Holy Wednesday?” According to the daily lectionary reading from John's gospel, it could have been these words spoken by Jesus:

 

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

– John 12:27-36, NIV

 

I wonder why the voice that came from heaven was understood by some to be thunder, but others to be an angel speaking to Jesus? Presbyterian author and pastor Frederick Buechner has suggested on more than one occasion that much of the Christian faith is ambiguous enough to suggest more than one explanation for events like the one above. As in this case, it may seem like only thunder to some, while to others it sounds like an angel speaking. Faith really does require us to take

"a step" - the outcome of which we are not 100% sure. Faith is always an act of trust, but God promises to always be trustworthy!

 

Prayer for Today

 

Trustworthy God, give us the faith and courage to follow you – one step at a time. In the strong name of the Crucified and Risen Christ we pray. Amen.

Posted by: AT 11:05 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 30 2021

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

-1 John 4:7

 

As we move through Holy Week I have shared some resources with families to talk about the parts of Jesus’ life that happened this week. One resource I shared is an Easter Story nesting egg and book. Each day you open the egg to find another smaller egg and reveal the story of that day. Today’s passage connects with the deeper message of Jesus’ ministry and how we are called to love one another.

https://youtu.be/Zqy6OV4B_vY

 

How do you show love? What is your favorite way to receive love? Jesus brought a radical message of unconditional love and it wasn’t always well received. 

 

You likely have people in your life that are easy to love and give love so freely to you. You may also have people in your life that you find challenging to love. 

 

I imagine that at times Jesus even found it challenging to love, but he found a way. He was creative in his approach when things were hard or people weren’t as receptive. 

 

How can you be persistent, patient, creative, and unconditional in sharing love this week?

Go and give it freely following Christ’s example.

 

You can find more Holy Week at Home resources here: 

https://jcpcusa.org/church_home

 

Prayer for Today

 

Loving God, thank you for the many ways you love us and our neighbors. Guide us this week to be open to the unusual ways we can share your love. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 11:04 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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