Lent 2018 Daily Devotions

Extravagant Love ~ Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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Extravagant Love

Read John 12:1-8

TEXT: Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)

Put yourself in Mary's place. It hadn't been that long since she was weeping for her dead brother Lazarus at Jesus' feet. Jesus raised him from the dead, and now the family was giving a dinner party in His honor. How could she ever find a way to thank Him?

Martha did it through cooking and serving the dinner - that was her gift. But Mary wanted to do something else. So she brought out a treasure - a flask of pure nard ointment, which was probably the most expensive thing they had in the house. Then she poured it over Jesus' head and feet (see Mark 14:3, John 12:3). Finally, she knelt to wipe His feet dry with her hair - unthinkable for a Jewish woman.

Why do this? Anointing was a custom they had for honored guests. It was also the way priests were ordained and kings were installed as rulers. The very name "Messiah" (or "Christ") means "the Anointed One." Perhaps all these things were in her heart as she honored Jesus.

When we think about what Jesus has done for us, we find ourselves in Mary's dilemma. How can we thank Him for what He has done? He sought us out, called us to be His own, laid down His life to save us, rose from the dead to give us everlasting life - how can we ever love Him enough? It hurts trying to express such feelings. And so we look around for some action, some way to say"Thank You. I love You," when words fail us.

Thanks be to God, Jesus has given us ways to express that love. He has given us Baptism and the Lord's Supper. He has given us our neighbors, even the lowliest, and promised that "as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40b).

John tells us that the house was filled with the fragrance of the nard. As we seek to love the Lord like she did, may the world be filled with the fragrance of our own thank offerings.

THE PRAYER: I love You, Lord. Strengthen my love for You, and let it show in my actions. Amen.

Posted by Faith Lutheran

It's Not Enough ~ Monday, February 26, 2018

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It's Not Enough

Read Mark 12:41-44

TEXT: And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny... (Jesus said) "She out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Two little coins, which together make a penny. Not much of an offering, it is? Humanly speaking it's just foolish; somebody is now going to have to give charity to support this woman, and the cost will certainly be more than a penny. Balance the offering against that support and you have a net loss. Why should she give anything at all?

It's not enough. But it's all she has.

And Jesus honors that. He praises her: "She out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." She is now totally dependent on God to provide for everything she needs, both in body and soul.

And provide He does - because though she doesn't know it, God Himself is close to her, God in the flesh. And He has come to Jerusalem for the same reason she has - to make an offering of everything He has, to give Himself up for the salvation of the world. Within days Jesus will be hanging on a cross, bearing the guilt for every evil thing we have ever done. He will lay down His life there, holding nothing back, giving all He has - making Himself a sin offering for us. Because of Him we will be forgiven and cleansed, restored to God and life. And then Jesus will rise again.

Jesus also offers everything He has. And it's enough - enough for the poor widow, wherever she came from, and wherever she went. It's enough for us, too, however needy and broken we may be. Jesus will not desert us. We belong to Him. His self-offering is enough.

THE PRAYER: Lord, we trust You both now and for eternity. Keep us and help us when we are in need, and hold us close to You. Amen.

Posted by Faith Lutheran

The Image on a Coin ~ Sunday, February 25, 2018

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The Image on a Coin

Read Mark 12:13-17

TEXT: And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"... (Mark 12:16b)

Here again we have the leaders trying to trap Jesus in His own words. "Does God want us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? What does His Law say?" They knew very well that if He said, "Pay them," He would be in trouble with the people, who hated the Roman Taxes, yet if He said, "Don't pay them," He could be executed by the Romas for rebellion. And Jesus knew very well what they were trying to do with their question.

So He cuts to the heart of the matter and asks him whose name and image are on the tax coin. Oh, Caesar's, you say? Well, then, give Caesar what belongs to him. But more important, give God what belongs to Him. Give God your whole heart and mind, body and soul together - because you yourself carry the image of God.

What He said to the leaders, He says to us today: "Give to God what belongs to God." Give yourselves, because God has created you in His Image and has placed His Name upon you in Baptism. You are not your own, you belong to the Lord.

And to place that fact beyond the shadow of a doubt, Jesus is on the way to Calvary - to carry away your sins and mine, to remove every possible claim the devil might have on any human being as a result of our wrongdoing. His suffering and death cleared away any liens the devil might have on us. And now that He has risen from the dead, He promises us that we who believe in Him will also rise to everlasting life - new, freshly minted, with the image of God glowing and perfect on us. Because we belong to Jesus.

THE PRAYER: Father, You have put Your image upon me, but I have marred it in many ways. Forgive and restore me in Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen

Posted by Faith Lutheran