Monthly Archives: March 2017

Broken Bread: Restored in Christ

Week of Wednesday, March 22nd – Tuesday March 28th

Author: Katherine Pachokas

Scripture: Exodus 16: 1-5   1The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”


Trust and faith in God

We do not know what the future holds and it is easy to look at the past and how good it was now that we are not there anymore. Not knowing the future is terrifying and we, as humans, do not like not knowing where we are going, nor do we like to give up control. Very often God tests us, just as he did the people of Israel. He puts challenges and road blocks in our way. It is our choice what we do with them. We can fight them, try to remove them, take a running jump to hurdle over them…or we can trust that God has a plan and knows what He is doing.

There have been many times in my life that I have found myself in between Elim and Sinai. I see what I had, what I gave up, or what I lost. I am in the Wilderness of Sin, unsure of the future and complaining. I absolutely hate not knowing what is coming, it scares the living daylights out of me. I feel hopeless, wondering where the next meal is going to come from, how the bills are going to get paid, how I am going to get where I need to go without gas in the car. Every time, God has provided in some way for us. Every time, God has tested me. Every time I end up bashing my head against the road blocks trying to do things my way. Yet, every time God has patience with me and reminds me that I am His and I am loved! He redirects me, provides for me, and puts yet another road block in my way in hopes that this time I will remember to trust and have faith in Him. This passage is reminding us that we all need to have faith in God, we all need to trust in Him. He has a plan for us and it was set in place before we were even born. All we need to do is quiet our complaining long enough to listen to his directions.

Broken Trust: Restored in Christ


Week of Wednesday, March 15th – Tuesday, March 21st

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this;

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 No Turning Back

Author: Debbie Rich


There was so much confusion

     I felt lost,

So I turned to the cross

     No turning back,

I’ve given all I have to Jesus

     At the cross.

I feel I’m no longer no longer lost

     And I’m not turning back.

Dealing with my past,

     Gonna keep moving on,

Was once lost in my mind

     So I wasted all that time.

     Keeping fear that I kept near.

Gonna keep moving on,

     No turning back

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me

     And setting me free.

Not going back,

Gonna keep moving on,

     No turning back.

Broken Vessels: Restored in Christ

Week of Wednesday, March 8th – Tuesday March 14th

Author: Barb Torstenson

Vessel….   Webster’s Dictionary gives us several meanings for this word.  One meaning is a large sailing ship.  Another meaning is a type of tube or canal through which fluid can pass.  Still another meaning is a container or jar for liquids.  If we add the word, broken, to the above meanings, one can picture a sunken ship; a bruise on one’s body or worse, a massive stroke; and lastly, a real mess to clean up because of all the spill resulting from a broken jar.

In the Gospel of Mark (14: 3-9), shortly before Jesus is crucified, He is attending a meal at the home of Simon the Leper.  A woman, we later find out is probably Mary (Martha’s and Lazarus’ sister), approaches Jesus with a very expensive alabaster jar (vessel), filled with outrageously expensive perfume.  She breaks the jar and pours all of its contents on Jesus’ head.  Another gospel describes her pouring it on his feet too and wiping it with her hair. I think everyone remembers the outrage that some in attendance express because of the amount of money that is wasted in that moment.  Her act is an act of true worship, love and great sacrifice.  Jesus understands this and points out that what she did for Him will be remembered whenever the Gospel (Jesus’ atoning death on the cross for all of humanity) is repeated to a new generation throughout history.

Whenever archaeologists study civilizations, they meticulously sift sand and soil to find remnants of pottery that group may have used.  How excited they become when broken pieces of jars are found.   A lot of valuable information about those people can be gleaned from the remnants of their vessels.

The word vessel has been used in the Bible in still another way.  One’s body, in some translations, is referred to as a vessel.  In Acts 9:15, right after the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus, God tells Ananias to go to Paul and lay hands on him to give him back his sight.  When Ananias questions this direction because of Paul’s reputation of the persecution of Christians, God says to Ananias that Paul is, “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (KJV).  It is no wonder that in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (4: 1-11), he uses the phrase, “treasure in earthen vessels,” (vs 7, KJV).  In more plain terms, he is expressing that the wonderful news of Jesus Christ, the message of salvation, has been entrusted to himself and other fallible human beings.  The NIV version uses, “treasure in jars of clay.”  Paul says that this treasure should never be distorted to please an audience. God’s Word must go forth in truth. People need to see God through us. 

I don’t know how you feel about your vessel right now.  Some days mine complains a bit too much.  I recall younger years when I could accomplish a lot.  But, this passage reminds us that no matter what state our earthly body is in, we have the responsibility of passing on the message of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the Cross. That message should be in acts of true worship, love and sacrifice, just as Mary did in our opening Bible reference. We can be assured that the Holy Spirit who dwells within us will give us all that we need to accomplish that calling.  Paul goes on to say that we can be persecuted in all kinds of ways, but we will never be abandoned.   We can be perplexed but never in despair, hard-pressed but not crushed.  As Pastor Sarah relayed in one of her recent sermons, we can be stirred but never shaken.  Our job is to reveal the good news and not worry about what is happening with this earthly body.  The all-surpassing power comes from God, not our feeble human attempts.  Are you a broken vessel?  God can use someone like you!

Broken Hearts: Restored in Christ

Week of Wednesday March 1st – Tuesday, March 7th

What’s Up With Garment-Ripping?

Author: Jill Nelson

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2: 13

What does it mean to rend our hearts? Seems like a good question. But why would God also warn us not to rip our clothes? To the Western mind, clothes-ripping sounds like nonsense, but the original Jewish audience understood the concept well.

In Hebrew culture, tearing one’s clothes was a sign of great grief. (Examples: Genesis 37:39; II Samuel 13:31; II Kings 5:8; II Kings 19:1; Esther 4:1) The act was an outward expression of an inward condition. Many passages of Scripture teach us that God is more interested in the inward condition than the outward display. This warning from God—that the inside needs to match the outside—applies in every culture.

Mark 14:63 illustrates how the clothes-rending (the outward sign) can be used hypocritically. The high priest rips his robe when Jesus claims to be the Messiah. This is exactly the kind of robe-ripping without inner integrity that God warns us against. Because the high priest’s heart is not right, he judges Jesus wrongly.

The book of Joel was originally written in Hebrew, and the word used for “heart” in this passage refers to the very core of a thing. In this case, the reference is to our souls—our entire minds, wills, and emotions. So how do we rend (rip) our souls in a way that is pleasing to God?

Are we supposed to be the heart-condition police? If we do, we are taking on the job of the Holy Spirit, who alone has the power to convict us of our sins. In I Corinthians 4:3-5, the Apostle Paul says: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. . . He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.”

Does this tell us we are to make no value judgments? On the contrary, we can and should determine (judge) if a behavior is right or wrong based on Scripture. Our test is the Ten Commandments or the two Jesus used to summarize all the law. (Matthew 22:37-39)

However, we cannot sit in judgment on someone’s heart condition, not even our own. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. When He convicts us of sin, we either resist Him or yield to Him. When we resist, we either harden our hearts and deny wrong-doing, or we are sad for being caught, not for doing the deed. Either reaction is wrong and will keep us in a place of soul-sickness and broken relationships. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we experience Godly sorrow (heart-ripping) that will bring about a changed life.

The changed life is the true sign of a rent heart, rather than merely a rent garment (temporary and outward-only adjustment of behavior). When our hearts are genuinely broken before God, we naturally bring forth the “fruit of repentance” that lasts (Luke 3:8).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, please search me now and reveal to me any hidden faults. Help me to experience Godly repentance—the rending of the heart—that will allow You to purify me and help me to become more like You. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

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