Lent Reading: Sunday, March 9

Reading: Matthew 4:1-10

Reflection Questions:

  1. As you sit with the passage of Scripture, what do you notice about Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit? How does the knowledge of this relationship effect your perspective of Christ’s experience in solitude as he faces the tempter of souls and confronts the common temptations of humanity? Does this perspective give you courage in your own wilderness-like journey or confronting temptations? Why or why not?
  2. As you read through each invitation of the tempter to Christ, what might be at the root of each temptation? What kinds of invitations tempt you away from God? Think of places, things, people, influences or personal dispositions and attitudes where you are most tempted (places of vulnerability, defensiveness, desires for control, power, or esteem). What’s at the root of these for you?
  3. Discuss these things with God in prayer – openly, honestly. Listen for the word of God to you.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

– Elizabeth Khorey

Epiphany Readings: Sunday, March 2

Readings:  Psalm 119:97-104 and Matthew 7: 24-29

  1. As you begin your meditations on God’s word, sit with the words of the psalmist in Ps.119:97-104. Are any of the psalmist’s sentiments true of you? Why or why not? Talk to God about how you experience his word in your actual life.
  1. Turning to Matthew’s gospel and the final words of Jesus in his teaching on the mount, read the passage a few times through. In honesty, consider what he says about the wisdom of obedience to his word. To what degree do you hear his word and do it? Where in your heart and life do you sense a chasm between hearing and doing?
  1. As you consider the picture Jesus paints of a life built with God and on his word versus one that is not, consider how you are building your life and what it is built on.  To what degree have you experienced ruinous effects of a life without God or choices made apart from God in disobedience to his word? If God was sitting with you at this moment, what would you ask him, what would you say to him?  What would you want him to do for you? Talk to God in prayer.
  1.  As you continue to consider your life, past and present, how do you experience the sturdy dependability of God and his word as a foundation that holds firm in times of storm? Respond in gratitude. Ask for the grace-filled capacity to wisely build your life in God by the integration of hearing and doing his word.

– Elizabeth Khorey

Epiphany Readings: Sunday, February 23

Readings:  Psalm 119:33-40 and Matthew 5:38-48

  1. Sit with God in quietness even before you open your Bible to this week’s readings. Acknowledge his benevolent presence with you as you open to God in honesty. What sense of God, what sense of yourself do you have in these moments? How are you? Agitated? Frustrated? At peace? Where do you find yourself? In difficulties? With anxieties?  Do you sense God near? Distant? Attentive to you? Speak to God about these things.
  1. Turning to Psalm 119:33-40, employ the words of the psalmist as your heart’s prayer to God in these moments of reflection on the Scriptures. Teach me, O LORD…Give me understanding…Lead me… Offer to God your truest intentions regarding your participation in his Kingdom way of life.

In Matthew 5:38-40, Jesus turns the corner in his teaching to demonstrate that God’s love has no limits.  Jesus moves from a focus on external behaviors, merely legal, that had no correlation to the heart,  to a revelation of how human actions, animated by the kingdom love of God, become a good for those around us —even our worse enemies!

  1. As you read Jesus’ depiction of the characteristics, the behavior of how true love acts toward others – ask yourself: Where do I sense stinginess in my loving? Where am I withholding good from others? In what ways might I seek God’s creativity to love beyond my self-imposed notions of love? Or self-preservation mechanisms I hold to minimize risk or cost to my own life?
  1. Paul invites us to experience the depths, the heights, the boundless love of God and to live out of the fullness of God, who is in you, with you, through the person of the Holy Spirit (Eph.3:18-19). Take a few moments to think about a time when you experienced the boundless love of God? When you were met by God’s generosity though you knew there was nothing in you or about your behavior that merited such luxury, such embrace. Spend some time in prayer to be transformed by God’s love that you might love others as you have been loved by God.

– Elizabeth Khorey

Epiphany Readings: Sunday, February 16

Readings:  Psalm 119:1-8 and Matthew 5:21-37

Jesus invites us to move beyond the limits of the Law and human religious traditions and into heart matters – to get to the heart of things. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day loss sight of the heart:  their own heart, the heart of God’s holy Law, and the heart of God’s intended way of being in the world. Jesus is not teaching us to abandon God’s Law (Mt.5:17) but rather to see God’s Law as a way to live a humane life: a fully human, robustly life-giving and loving life as God intended.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Begin your devotional reading by sitting and soaking in Psalm 119:1-8. What do you notice emerging from your own heart as you meditate on the words of the psalmist? How do the psalmist’s sentiments evoke reverence for God’s holy Law? What goodness does the psalmist envision for life by interacting with and living out God’s commandments?
  2. Sit with Matt. 5:21-37 reading it through a couple of times listening deeply to Jesus’ teachings as he corrects core misconceptions of Kingdom spirituality.  Of all the real human and relational issues he addresses – anger, reconciliation, lust, marital relationships, truth-telling, lying, oaths – which one resonates with you? Why? How do Jesus’s teachings expand or correct your perspective of the issue?  From his teachings, how do you understand the connection between the heart (interior condition) and behavior (external way of being in theworld, relating to others)? (For an alternate reading go to Mark 7:1-1-23 to assist you in thinking through Jesus’ teachings.)
  3. Take a moment to reflect on your own heart as well as your current relationships with others. Is there something you’d like to address with Jesus about your life or have him address with you? Open to the Holy Spirit in these moments, asking for the grace to hear truth, to desire God and his good instructions for life, and the courage to make changes if necessary in order to live in a God-honoring way in your relationships.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 Psalm 139:23-24

– Elizabeth Khorey