Saturday, September 24 — Luke 15:25-32
In the parable of the prodigal Son, Jesus describes God’s great love for all of God’s children. He also describes the kind of death and resurrection we experience. In the parable, the Father tells the older son, “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:24). This is what happens to each of us when we choose to follow Jesus: we are united with God and God’s family, and we experience the joy of new and abundant life.
- How will you experience God’s joy today?
- Prayer: God of Love, I am amazed at the depth of your love for me. Remind me that nothing I face — today or any other day — will separate me from your great love. Amen.
Friday, September 23 — Romans 6:1-11
The letter to the Romans proclaims the same message that is found in the Scripture readings from the past two days (Galatians 2:15-21 and Ephesians 2:1-10): like Jesus, we experience our own death and resurrection. As a result we “consider [our]selves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). What Romans 6 adds to our understanding is that following Jesus sets us free to live a new life. Before Christ, we are not free from the power of sin. Now, we are free to love God, grow in our faith, and serve Christ in the world.
- On a scale of one-to-ten, how much freedom (from sin) are you experiencing today?
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the gift of freedom. Thank you for setting me free from the power of sin. Thank you for setting me free to love and grow and serve. Amen.
Thursday, September 22 — Ephesians 2:1-10
The heart of the Christian message is found in Ephesians 2:5 and Ephesians 2:8. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The promise is that when we acknowledge our need for God’s grace and accept the gift that God offers us through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
- Spend some time today reflecting on your life and your relationship with God. Have you accepted the gift of God’s grace? In what ways have you experienced the new life that God offers you? What is preventing you from being fully alive today?
- Prayer: God of Grace, today, I confess my need for your grace and accept the gift of new life that you offer me through Jesus. Make me alive together with Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, September 21 — Galatians 2:15-21
As followers of Jesus, we experience our own death and resurrection. On one hand, we believe that when we (physically) die, we will be raised to new and eternal life with God. That’s the Gospel promise. But we also believe that when we make the decision to follow Jesus, we experience another kind of death and resurrection. We are crucified with Christ and our sinful selves die, so that the living, resurrected Christ can live in us.
- What parts of your life need to die today, so that you can experience new life as a follower of Jesus?
- Prayer: Merciful God, forgive me for holding tightly to the comfortable life I’m living today. Give me courage to let my old self die, so that Jesus can live in me. Amen.
Tuesday, September 20 — Acts 1:1-5
The New Testament is clear that salvation is the gift of life—in both the present moment and in the future. We believe that this gift of life is the result of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, if we are going to be fully alive, we need to have confidence in the central message of the Gospel: Jesus died on the cross, but was raised from death to life on the third. In other words, if we are going to be fully alive, we need to be Easter people.
- Reflect today on the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. What does it mean to you? How does Jesus’ resurrection change your life?
- Prayer: Living God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending him to be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for his death and resurrection. Thank you for the gift of life. Amen.
Monday, September 19 — Psalm 41:1-13
The 41st Psalm expresses both a need for God’s help and healing and a confidence in God’s promises. When we read and pray this Psalm, we are inspired to take our every concern, our every need, to God with confidence and faith. We can trust in God’s promises and experience the fullness of life that God desires for everyone. When we read and pray this Psalm we affirm that God’s grace is the ultimate source of the life we seek. So, we join the Psalm-writer in the repeated petition: “O Lord, be gracious to me” (Psalm 41:4, 10).
- Let the words of Psalm 41 guide you into your own prayer. Trust in God’s promises for healing. Ask God to make you fully alive this week.
- Prayer: O Lord, be gracious to me. Fill me with your Spirit and make me fully alive. Grant me confidence and faith to trust you at all times and in all situations. Amen.
Saturday, September 17 — Luke 9:10-17
To be called (chosen) by Jesus to be one of his disciples does mean that we are better than others. It is not a symbol of status; it is a gift of God’s grace. It is an invitation (to which we are expected to respond) to participate in Jesus’ ministry. When the large crowd needed to be fed, Jesus told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Luke 12:13). This is what it means to be called (chosen) by Jesus. We are called (chosen) to be the body of Jesus Christ in the world.
- What has Jesus called (chosen) you to do today?
- Prayer: Calling God, I hear your call and with your help I will respond. Use me today to serve your purposes in the world. I will go where you send me. Amen.
Friday, September 16 — Luke 12:4-7
In the vastness of the universe, our individual lives can seem miniscule and insignificant. We wonder if God really knows us and if God really cares about us. So the promise in the Gospel, that we need not worry or be afraid about what the future holds—because “even the hairs of your head are all counted”—is a great comfort (Luke 12:7).
- How does is feel to be known this intimately by God? How does the fact that God knows you, cares for you, and loves you, change your life?
- Prayer: Creator God, I am amazed that you know me and love me. Too often I fear the future and worry about my life. Grant me confidence to trust in your promises. Amen.
Thursday, September 15 — 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
The first letter to the Thessalonians follows the pattern found in most of the New Testament letters. It begins with a greeting and a prayer of thanksgiving. Paul is thankful that his ministry (his preaching) was effective because the Thessalonians experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit and the transforming power of the Gospel. For Paul, the effectiveness of the Gospel was a sign that God had chosen the Thessalonians to be part of God’s Kingdom.
- How have you experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel in your life? What signs of God’s presence in your life remind you that God has chosen you to be one of God’s children?
- Prayer: Faithful God, fill me with your Holy Spirit today and remove everything in my life that prevents me from experiencing the transforming power of your grace. Amen.
Wednesday, September 14 — Ephesians 1:3-14
Today’s reading is actually one long sentence in the original Greek (New Testament texts were originally written in Greek.) It reminds the Ephesians of their relationship with God: chosen and adopted through Jesus Christ. Like the Ephesians, we too often forget that we are God’s children and let the world label us in other ways. Like the Ephesians, we need regular reminders about who we are and whose we are.
- What does it mean to be a child of God? As a child of God, do you live your life in a way that is pleasing to God?
- Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for reminding me that you have chosen me to be one of your children. Help me to be a faithful member of your family. Amen.