2010 Holy Land Devotionals
The Precipice of Nazareth
Holy Land Devotional Day 1
- by Steve Herman, Richwood UMC, NJ
Read Luke 4:16-30
went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day
he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.
The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician,
heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did
in Capernaum.' "
24"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I
assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when
the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe
famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And
there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the
prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."
28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They
got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill
on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way." ~ NIV
picture of the precipice of Nazareth takes us back to the day Jesus
preached his first sermon in his home town synagogue at Nazareth. The
sermon began well, and the hometown crowd was very proud of the local
boy Jesus who was quickly becoming famous. However, the sermon took a
quick downward spiral when Jesus hinted that God’s love and mercy was
extended not just to the children of Israel, but to the people called
Gentiles as well. The crowd was so angered by his teaching, they took
Jesus to the top of this precipice and tried to kill him by throwing him
off the cliff.
Like the crowd at Nazareth, when Jesus comes into
our life we are often very excited at first. But when Jesus begins to
challenge our prejudices and stretch our understanding of God, or move
us out of our comfort zone, we to want to push him away. Lent is a
season for giving up our sins, not giving up our Lord when he points out
our sins. This Lent when we are challenged to grow, and our faith is
stretched, let us not react like the crowd at Nazareth, but let us open
our hearts to all the Lord would teach us.
Holy Land Devotional Day 2
by Steve Herman, Richwood UMC, NJ
Read Matthew 18:1-6
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And
he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like
little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6But
if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it
would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
church at Tabgha by the Sea of Galilee has a mosaic of fish and loaves
that remind us of the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes. In the
courtyard there is an ancient millstone (see picture) that also reminds
us of a story from the life of Christ. One day his disciples were
arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It
has been suggested what they were really asking was who was the most
insecure, for only an insecure person argues about their greatness.
Jesus in his wisdom calls a child into their midst and offers the humble
child as an example of greatness in his kingdom. Jesus then says,
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you
put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me,
it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around
your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
When I see this millstone at the sight of the
miracle of the feeding of the multitude, I cannot resist the
possibilities of combining the two stories. Jesus took the fish and the
loaves from a child and fed the multitude (John 6). He also warned of
the severity of consequences for anyone who causes a child to stumble in
their faith. In both stories a child and God’s love for children are
central. Let us look at children in the same way as did Jesus.
Holy Land Devotional Day 3
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield, UMC
Read Genesis 1:1
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
America, we measure ancient in hundreds of years. In Jordan and Israel
they measure ancient in thousands of years. This stone carving at Petra
dates back to before the time of Jesus. Although wind, rain and time
has worked to erode the stone, many details of the carvings are just as
vivid today as they were when they were made.
Not far from this spot both nature and human hands have destroyed some of the ancient works.
It reminds me that with God there is no beginning or
end. God always was and always will be. God is the same yesterday,
today and tomorrow. There is nothing that can change or destroy God.
We can put our full faith and trust in God.
Holy Land Devotional Day 4
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield, UMC
Read II Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
We saw the old and the new side by side. The ancient ruins were surrounded by new modern structures.
Paul reminds all that when we are in Christ, the
old ruins of our past are gone and are replaced by a new creation in
Christ. We leave the scars and brokenness of the past behind for a new
The Death of MosesHoly Land Devotional Day 5
by Steve Herman, Richwood UMC, NJ
Read Deuteronomy 34
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of
Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole
land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4
Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your
descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not
cross over into it."
5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had
laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what
the LORD had commanded Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11
who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do
in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel."
places in the world offer as thrilling a view as Mt. Nebo. It is not
that tall of a peak, but it is the tallest peak in Transjordan, and the
place where God took Moses before he died to view the Promised Land. On
a clear morning one can still see the entire Jordan River basin from
the peaks of Mt. Hermon in the north to the Dead Sea (the lowest
elevation of earth) in the south. Directly east one can see Jericho,
and on the horizon are the mountains of Jerusalem.
It always seemed sad to me that Moses was not able
to enter the Promised Land. It would have seemed the fitting
culmination of his life’s work. But Joshua was the leader for that
task. Moses had been faithful in his time; he had delivered the
children of Israel from the land of Egypt and brought them through the
wilderness to the edge of the Promised Land. Now it was time to pass
the torch of leadership onto another. All any of us can do is be
faithful in our time. We all are links in a chain of God’s redemptive
plan for this world, and none of us truly begin a ministry, or end one;
we are all merely faithful in our time. But now and then, God allows
us, as he did Moses, a glimpse of the future, and as with Mt. Nebo, the
view is breathtaking!
Holy Land Devotional Day 6
by Mel Dunn, Bridgeport UMC, NJ
Read Psalm 48
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
"1 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
2 It is beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth.
Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.
4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.
8 As we have heard,
so have we seen
in the city of the LORD Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure forever.
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end."
?I Walked today Where Jesus Walked?
The night before our final Day in the Holy Land, we
had gone from Jerusalem to Caesarea to Megiddo to Nazareth to Cana and
finally, and ended up in Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.
It was from there that we were to cross the Lake to the other shore and finish our Pilgrimage.
I was tired and hungry and, after going through
four individuals at the Hotel dining room to get a diet Pepsi to drink,
I was more than a little frustrated. I was also grieving the end of
the trip which had been so spiritually uplifting.
After my dinner partner left me to finish alone, three nice folks said, ?Come over and finish with us.?
I did and then planned to then go immediately to
bed, skipping the lecture that was scheduled for 7:30. One of the
ladies said she would like to attend the lecture but was afraid she
would fall asleep. So, I offered to go along and help her stay awake.
I am rejoicing that I didn?t fall asleep without
that most memorable experience on the trip. The lecturer was going
over the ministry of Jesus in Galilee and his depth of knowledge was
exceptional. However, much of what he said was a review from
Seminary and it was only his gracious manner of presentation that held
my interest and kept my heavy eyes open.
He spoke for about an hour and then without any sort of accompaniment he began to sing in the most beautiful and moving way -
I walked today where Jesus walked,
In days of long ago.
I wandered down each path He knew,
With reverent step and slow.
Those little lanes, they have not changed,
A sweet peace fills the air.
I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.
My pathway led through Bethlehem,
A memory's ever sweet.
The little hills of Galilee,
That knew His childish feet.
The Mount of Olives, hallowed scenes,
That Jesus knew before
I saw the mighty Jordan row,
As in the days of yore.
I knelt today where Jesus knelt,Where all alone he prayed.
The Garden of Gethsemane,
My heart felt unafraid.
I picked my heavy burden up,
And with Him at my side,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
Where on the Cross He Died!
I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.
I felt tears well up in my eyes and as I looked
around, I could see I was not alone. I think, we understood for the
first time that night that we had been doing just that and that we could
return to our churches, families, and friends and knowing that we had
walked where Jesus walked - and continue to walk everyday with Him.
ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. Your
name, O God, like your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth. Your
right hand is filled with victory. Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns
of Judah rejoice because of your judgments. Walk about Zion, go all
around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its
citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our
God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever."
Holy Land Devotional Day 7
by Emil Winkelspecht, Trinity UMC, Clayton, NJ
When we look at the picture of this
Bedouin community, it is for us to say, “Oh how terrible that they have
to live that way.” But, our guide explained that this is how the
Bedouins prefer to live because they are free from the constraints of
the world. Out in the Wilderness they don’t have to live by society’s
rules. Even if they are moved to a more “normal” house built for them,
they will choose to live in a tent right next to the house.
How often do our lives look like a
Bedouin village? We would rather live in the “freedom” of sin, doing our
own thing; rather than live within the “constraints” of God’s ways. In
Galatians 5:13 Paul tells us, “You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve
one another in love. Choosing to go our own way, we refuse to submit
and live as servants of God. And yet, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians
3:17, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” True freedom
is freedom from self obsession, rather than freedom to serve ourselves.
The values of God’s kingdom are upside-down compared to the way of the
world. When Jesus announced His ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth,
He read from Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has
sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the
captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Are you willing
to be what Paul preferred to call himself, “a slave of Jesus Christ” so
that you might know true freedom from sin? Let us pray today and every day, “Jesus, I submit myself to your lordship that I might know real freedom in the Spirit.”
“THE EMPTY TOMB”
Holy Land Devotional Day 8
by Eunice Vega-Perez, Trinity UMC, Hackettstown, NJ
Read: 1 Corinthians 15:12-17
The Resurrection of the Dead
if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can
some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More
than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we
have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did
not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
spending the entire week visiting the many places Jesus went to do
ministry here on earth, our very last destination was the Garden Tomb.
In that place the guide who worked there made us stop for a while and
reflect about the great sacrifice Jesus the Christ did on the cross for
us all. Before we literally went to see the tomb we also reflected in
the horrible and cruel death the cross was back in those days. The cross
was a death full of humiliation; an inhumane death, a death without
dignity. Oh, but we all know the end of the story-The Empty Tomb.
There I was standing in the place where it is believed that our Savior
victoriously raised from the death so all of us could have a purpose
driven life. It was a lot to take in.
Paul reminds us that if we do not believe Christ
resurrected from the death, then our faith is in vain. God indeed loved
us so much that God entered into humanity through the person of Jesus
Christ into a world of hopelessness, into a world of chaos, to bring us
hope for today and hope for tomorrow. God sent Jesus into a world to set
us free from sin and death so through Jesus we could be in the right
relationship with God. Don’t you think we follow and serve a very
intentional God? I surely think so!
I have done a lot of reflection since I came back
from the Holy Land about my experience standing in front of the empty
tomb and the implications it has for me as a spiritual leader in the 21st
century. The empty tomb calls me today to vigorously preach the Good
News of Jesus Christ with joy and excitement. The empty tomb moves me to
seek justice in places where there is not. It moves me to take risk, it
moves me to challenge the status quo and it moves me not to be silent.
The empty tomb moves me to expand the kingdom of God just where I am
regardless of the consequences. The empty tomb reminded me of the
eschatological hope-- that Christ will return for you and for me and we
will be together at His heavenly banquet. So whatever we go through for
the cause, at the end, it is absolutely worth it!
I am so glad we believe and worship the Savior of the Empty Tomb!
Eunice Vega- Perez
Holy Land Devotional Day 9
Sanctuary of the Church in Cana in Galilee
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield, UMC
Read John 2:1-3
the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother
was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the
wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, 'They have
no more wine.' "
miracle was changing water into wine when the wine ran out at a wedding
reception in Cana in Galilee. Jesus didn’t make just ordinary wine but
the best wine. Jesus makes the ordinary extraordinary.
When we give our hearts and lives to Christ, Jesus changes us and brings out the very, very best in us.
(A view from the boat on the Sea of Galilee)Holy Land Devotional Day 10
By Emil Winkelspect, Trinity UMC, Clayton NJ
Read Mark 4:35-41
"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side."
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the
boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up,
and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus
was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and
said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked
the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died
down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you
so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked
each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" ~ NIV
Our boat trip across the Sea of Galilee was almost cancelled because the sea was so choppy. The
dark clouds, wind, waves and rain really brought this Scripture passage
to life. We had lunch in a restaurant on the far shore and by the time
we came out the sun was shining. It was easy to see how quickly sudden
squalls could blow in across the sea. In our lives, sudden squalls
sometimes blow in and we like Jesus’ first disciples respond, “[Lord},
don't you care if we drown?” Why do we do this? Because we so quickly
forget who this is. Not only is He the Creator who can make the wind and
waves obey Him; He is also the One who cares for us enough to come
among us, suffer and die for us that the relationship we were created to
have with Him might be ours. Repeatedly, in the book of Ezekiel, we
hear the words, “…then they will know that I am the Lord.” God wants us
to know Him, and He reveals Himself perfectly to us in the person of
Jesus Christ. Are you seeking to know God so that it doesn’t even enter
your mind that He doesn’t care?
Church Of The Nativity in BethlehemHoly Land Devotional Day 11
- by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield UMC, NJ
Read Colossians 3:12-14
as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each
other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity."
the outside, The Church Of The Nativity is very plain and ordinary. It
is almost unrecognizable as a church. A doorway that is only 4 feet tall
has replaced the once large and ornate entrance. In order to enter we
had to bow down and lower our heads. Some had to almost get on their
knees to avoid hitting their heads.
It was a wonderful reminder that the incarnate Son
of God was born in a stable and was laid in a feeding trough. We need to
come to Jesus in humility with our heads bowed and on our knees.
Holy Land Devotional Day 12
“WALKING THROUGH THE VALLEY”
by Mel Dunn, Bridgeport UMC
Read Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
"1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
Psalm 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
stood looking at the Dead Sea. I tried to comprehend that this
seemingly beautiful blue sea was, indeed, the lowest place on the face
of the earth. And, that in spite of all the beauty of the reflecting
sky, It was a “dead sea”.
It had been an interesting day. First, we had a
long drive up to Mount Nebo and we took time gazing over the Holy Land
from the place where Moses stood to take that last promised look before
God carried him away.
Then, we traveled down a winding road into the
Valley of the Jordan River and spent an hour passing through the border
between Jordan and Israel. There, we witnessed the distrust and
fences that people put up that signify all the anger of hatred in the
world today - from the mountaintop to the deepest valley.
And, as I took this picture, I was struck by the
beauty that is found even in the valley. However, I was fascinated by
the sidewalk that ended so abruptly and which then led off into a path
that seemed to disappear on the shores of the salty water.
As I offer this picture for you consideration, I
think of our Lenten Journey. The sidewalk may end and all that we can
see ahead may be the lowest point on the face of the earth, but we can
assured that no matter what this season or this year holds -
“The Lord is with us; His rod and staff will comfort us and see us through.”
The Aqueduct at Caesarea MaritimeHoly Land Devotional Day 13
by Rev. Steve Herman, Richwood UMC
Read: John 4:1-32
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
"1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4Now he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The
Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with
10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the
gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have
asked him and he would have given you living water."
11"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are
you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from
it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"
13Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but
whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the
water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to
15The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." 16He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." 17"I have no husband," she replied.
Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."
19"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a
time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet
a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the
Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
27Just then his disciples returned and
were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What
do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?"
28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."
32But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." "
has always been a precious commodity in the Near East. Without water,
there is no life. Cities needed fresh water supplies; some built tunnels
from streams, and some built aqueducts. The aqueduct pictured brought
fresh water several miles from Mt. Carmel to Caesarea by the
Mediterranean Sea. Herod the Great built the Aqueduct
and the city, and both were a tribute to Roman
engineering. The aqueduct had to maintain a perfect angle of descent, or
the water would spill over the edges.
The precious necessity of water forms the background
of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. Jesus
uses water as a metaphor for spiritual life, and says he offers “living
water” that once consumed will satiate us forever. The woman replies,
“Give me that water!” 2000 years later the city of Caesarea and the
aqueduct are in ruins; no water runs to the city anymore. But the
eternal water of life from Jesus still flows!
Garden of GethsemaneHoly Land Devotional Day 14
- By Tom Austin, Deerfield UMC
Read: Matthew 26:36-39
Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said
to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and
the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and
troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to
the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My
Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I
will, but as you will."
Gethsemane means oil press. In this garden there are olive trees that are over 2,000 years old and these trees still bear fruit.
When Jesus was overwhelmed with his impending death
he went to this garden and prayed. He returned to pray three times while
the disciples slept. When Jesus was sorrowful and troubled, the first
thing he did was pray. Through prayer he found the strength and courage
to go to the cross and give his life for us.
I have heard it said, “When all else fails pray.”
Why do we turn to prayer as our last resort? Like Jesus if we pray
first, we will find through the power of the Holy Spirit that same
strength and courage to face our troubles and temptations.
Holy Land Devotional Day 15
by Steve Herman, Richwood, UMC
One of the most stunning sights in Jordan is the
city of Petra. It was the home of a civilization known as the Nabateans.
They became very rich as traders and built their city within natural
defenses along the trade routes. Their architecture was influenced by
the surrounding cultures with which they traded, including Babylonian,
Egyptian, and Greek. Their civilization flourished at the time of
Christ, but there is no evidence of Christianity ever being adopted by
the Nabateans. Eventually they, like others, were conquered by the
Romans. Today the main remains of the culture are the many magnificent
facades they carved into the walls of the cliffs. The most famous façade
pictured here and in the Indiana Jones movie is called the Treasury,
because of its opulent appearance. But in reality it is like the other
facades, an empty tomb. How ironic, a wealthy culture that built great
monuments to their dead, so close to the kingdom of Christ, but
untouched by it. Less than 100 miles away lies another empty tomb,
carved in much more simplicity, that changed the world forever. During
Lent, the Nabateans cause me to examine what I am building with my
wealth, and what I will leave behind.
Holy Land Devotional Day 16
Let is snow, Let it snow, let it snow ????
By Rev. Heidi Bak, Porchtown Zion UMC
ISAIAH 55: 9-12 "As the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your
thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not
return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my
word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but
will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent
Henri Nouwen once described Lent as the season
during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance.
Some of us certainly experienced that in Israel and especially these
past weeks in NJ. If you look closely at the base of the Olive Tree you
will see snow. Yes, Snow. We were told that Israel’s climate would be
like “Florida in Winter.” Many of us who traveled in January
experienced the Florida part, but some of us got in Winter part.
While no traveler wants the rain to fall during their trip, it must rain some time.
Our guide shared with us that the winter is a very
important season of dormancy and replenishment. This is especially true
for Israel as it receives 90% of its yearly rain water totals in this
short period of time, that must sustain the region for the whole year.
But, as desperate as the land is for water, so too, is it for the word
of God, as only 7% of the total population is Christian.
Maybe we can look at the rain and snow
differently--not dreaded, but welcomed. As the buds open on trees and
days lengthen because of God’s watering, so too can this be a spiritual
season which calls for greater openness to the word of God and a
conversion in every area of our lives, so that God’s word will not
Holy Land Devotional Day 17
“Running the Race and Climbing the Hill”
By Mel Dunn, Bridgeport and Centre Square UMCs
Read: 1Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that those running in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain."
was our last day – after one last stop we would head to the Jordan and
then would cross over on our way to our last night in Ammon and then a
We were in the ruins of a Roman city and some us
were a bit tired – including our guide. But, there stood a last
challenge … a hill with, it appeared, a few hundred steps on stairs that
led to the top. Our guide said that he wouldn’t be making that
climb. However, if anyone wanted to go up, they had twenty
minutes. Here are those who ran the race and won.
We all have our race to run and we have to run it
even when we are tired and worn. As we progress through our Lenten
Journey, God will help us succeed. Our trust must be in the one who
climbed the hardest hill of all and will help us climb ours.
Read: 1Cor 10:12 "So let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
Read: 1Cor 10:13 "No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is
faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able,
but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may
be able to bear it.
Holy Land Devotional Day 18
The Road from Jerusalem to Jericho
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield UMC
Read: Luke 10:30-35
"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the
hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went
away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same
road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a
Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other
side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when
he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took
him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver
coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and
when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
It is easy to see how a traveler
could be ambushed in this desolate area. Jesus asked , "Which of these
three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of
robbers?" Will it ever be asked about us, “Which of these was a
neighbor?” or do our actions and deed make the question unnecessary?
Church of All Nations next to the Garden of GesthemaneHoly Land Devotional Day 19
by Rev. Steven Herman, Richwood UMC
Reading: John 17
"Jesus Prays for Himself
1After Jesus said this, he looked toward
heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that
your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
6"I have revealed you to those whom you
gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they
have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For
I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew
with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I
will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world,
and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your
name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12While
I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you
gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that
Scripture would be fulfilled. 13"I am coming to you now, but
I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have
the full measure of my joy within them. 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that
all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent
me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I
in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the
world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved
me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me
where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you
loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I
have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in
order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may
be in them."
The beautiful mosaics
in the picture are on the front of the Church of All Nations located at
the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. Many believe the great
intercessory prayer of Jesus found in John 17 was prayed in the Garden
of Gethsemane on the night before he died on the cross. On that night
Jesus prayed that his church would be one through God’s love. How
appropriate that the church located at this site is named the Church of
Through the years many people have asked me why
there are so many denominations and churches and which one is the
“right” or “true” church. My answer is to remind them that Jesus prayed
the church would be one, and that the divisive history of the church
tells us far more about human nature than divine intent. During Lent,
let us pray again with our Lord that the church might be made one
through the love of God.
Holy Land Devotional Day 20
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield UMC
There are seven gates in the Old
City Walls of Jerusalem. This gate is called the Lion’s Gate because of
the four “lions” that are above the gate.
Jesus is often called the “Lion of
Judah” from Revelation 5:5, "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep
not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath
prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
The Disciples were waiting for Jesus
to take his place as the “Lion of Judah” and become the next King David
to restore the kingdom of Israel.
John the Baptist saw Jesus differently. “The
next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of
God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)
Some say one was right and the other
was wrong. I have come to realize that they all were right. Jesus went
to the cross as the “Lamb of God” and will return as the “Lion of
“Fishermen Early in the Morning on the Sea of Galilee”Holy Land Devotional Day 21
- “THERE ARE STILL FISH IN THE SEA”
By Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UMC
4:18-22 “And walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers,
Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea.
For they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make
you fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed
him. And going on from there, he saw another two brothers, James the son
of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father,
mending their nets. And He called them; and they immediately left the
boat and their father and followed Him.”
Jesus Chose to follow Him and to take up the work of founding the
church were not the religious leaders of His day. They were not
professional folks – doctors and lawyers. They were simple fishermen who
worked the waters near their hometown of Capernaum.They left their
families and labors to wonder around Galilee and listen to a traveling
preacher who made outrageous claims.
That morning, as I boarded the little boat that
would carry us across the Lake to meet our bus, I looked down from the
dock and marveled at the sight of fisherman like those who left their
needs to follow Jesus. I marveled at the sight and the fish they were
hauling in (another picture). After 2000 years there were still fish
and fishermen in Galilee.
For us, 2000 years have passed since Jesus walked
these shores, but His message is still the same today. “Follow Me, and I
will help you fish for people.” We so lightly sing, with a nice rhythm,
“I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.”
Yet, I wondered that morning, as I was watching the Galilean fishermen
laboring in the morning mist. Do we really mean what we say? Peter and
the others did, and they died founding Christ’s church. What are we
willing to do?
There are still fish in the sea and Jesus needs men and women to do the work – to fish for him.
“Dear Lord, make us faithful to answer your call and sure in living our lives for you. Amen”
Jordan RiverHoly Land Devotional Day 22
by Angele Cooper, Glassboro UMC
Read: 1 Peter 2:9-10 “9But
you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were
not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not
received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Read: John 3:1-21 Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He
came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who
has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are
doing if God were not with him."
3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4"How can a man be born when he is old?"
Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his
mother's womb to be born!"
5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The
wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell
where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born
of the Spirit."
9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11I
tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we
have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever
believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands
condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one
and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But
whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen
plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
Read: Romans 8:12-39 “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For
if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the
Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For
you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but
you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now
if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with
Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also
share in his glory.
Future Glory 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that
the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and
brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not
only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the
redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what
we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with
groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our
hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for
the saints in accordance with God's will.
More Than Conquerors 28And we know that in
all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also
predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be
the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also
called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He
who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he
not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who
is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was
raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for
us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or
sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Baptismal Covenant of the UMC is “God’s word to us, proclaiming our
adoption by grace…” and, therefore, with this sacrament we become, as
the title declares, joint heirs with Jesus. We are not only embraced
into the universal church of believers, but take our place among
the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the
special people of God - able to cry out Abba Father, and obtain His
mercy as we are “called out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
When we, ourselves, understand with our hearts, not
just believe with our minds, the new birth that Jesus explained to
Nicodemus, we personally claim our salvation that guarantees our eternal home in heaven.
When our lives give witness to our “Sonship” through
the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then, indeed, “Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ” or any of the other promises that are ours
through the Trinity?
When we know whose we are, we can expect to know who we are and go forth with enabling confidence wherever ministry for the Kingdom takes us.
May Lent 2010 be a time of realization, renewal or celebration of your adoption into The Family of God.
The En Gedi oasisHoly Land Devotional Day 23
by Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield, UMC
En Gedi is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea,
close to Masada and the caves of Qumran. In the middle of the desert
surrounded by dry, barren mountains we visited these beautiful gardens
surrounding this cool waterfall. It is fed by a spring bubbling out of
the rocks. The stream flows for several hundred yards before being
absorbed by the desert. It seems to come from nowhere and goes to
In the deserts of our lives, God comes and brings us
a spring of living water, a cool breeze and beautiful flowers to
brighten our days.
“Sunset and Sunrise in Tiberius on the shores of the Lake.”Holy Land Devotional Day 24
“SUNSET – SUNRISE”
And Then Came the Morning
By Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UM Churches
Read: John 21:2-4
“Simon Peter, and Thomas called the Twin, and Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
Simon Peter said to them, I am going out to fish.
They said to him, We will go with you also. They went out and entered
into a boat immediately. And that night they caught nothing.
But when the morning had come, Jesus stood on the shore. But the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”
was that sunset in Jerusalem – the cross, the tomb, they knew He was
dead. How much darker could a sunset be than at sunset to see the one
you loved – the who held such hope for you – placed behind the stone in
But, then Mary came running with the news. He’s
alive. And, Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go tell My brothers
that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
Not in Jerusalem where death had reigned – In
“Galilee of the Gentiles” where He had ministered day after day and had
done more miracles that any other place. The invitation was for
breakfast in Galilee.
They didn’t realize it but they were going to have
breakfast on the shores of the Lake – the most joyous meal they would
Our trip was winding down and at sunset we arrived
in Tiberius and saw the Sea of Galilee for the first time as the sun was
setting. Then we rested for on Monday we were going to have breakfast
in Galilee and ride across the Sea of Galilee and walk where Jesus
walked and meditate were Jesus preached the Kingdom and fed the hungry
and healed the sin and raised the dead.
We had witnessed the darkest sunset and now we would see the most beautiful sunrise.
Morning had come.
“Dear Lord, help us to walk with you through the
dark sunset and rejoice with you when the morning comes. Let this be
our Lenten Journey. Amen and Amen”
Have you been to Gethsemane?Holy Land Devotional Day 25
By Rev. Emil Winkelspecht, Trinity UMC, Clayton
Read: Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said
to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and
the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and
troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to
the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little
farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if
it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as
you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.
"Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked
Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The
spirit is willing, but the body is weak." He went away a second time
and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken
away unless I drink it, may your will be done." When he came back, he
again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left
them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same
thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you
still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man
is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my
The one place in
Israel that I would choose to spend more time would be the Garden of
Gethsemane. There is so much to reflect upon in this passage. What is
“this cup” that he asks to be taken from him? The inability of his
disciples to stay awake with him during the most difficult evening of
his life. Would we stay awake with Jesus, or fall asleep as well?
The Chapel in a Cave in the Shepherds Fields – Empty Except for MeHoly Land Devotional Day 26
- “The Quiet of a Cave – A Time Alone”
By Rev. G. Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UM Churches
Matthew 14:23 “And when He had sent the crowds away, He went up into a
mountain apart to pray. And when evening had come, He was there alone."
needed time alone. He needed to think, pray, and commune with the
Father. And we find Him often slipping away from the crowds to pray.
Even on the Mountain of Temptation and in the Garden in Agony, He prayed
and faced temptation alone.
God instructs us to come alone, in prayer, and He
promises the He will hear and give us the strength for our journey,
“But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door,
pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall
reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
And the prophet Isaiah says, “Even the young shall
faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who
wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and
not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
It is hard to find a time alone to pray when you are
on a hurried tour, rushing with a crowd from place to place. But, in
the Shepherd’s field in this small chapel in a cave, I found myself
alone with God. Even in Bethlehem, God provides our needs.
“Dear Lord, during this hurried season, help us to find time to spend alone with You. Amen”
The Western “Wailing” WallHoly Land Devotional Day 27
By: Rev. Emil Winkelspecht, Trinity UMC, Clayton
Our guide told us that Jews go to the Western Wall
because it is as close to the Holy of Holies, representing the presence
of God, that they can get to. Now this is not to criticize those who
went up to the wall to pray, but I had a very strong sense that I didn’t
need to go to the wall to pray because Jesus had opened the way to
God’s presence through his death on the cross.
27:50-51 “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave
up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two
from top to bottom.”
we live daily in God’s presence. We don’t need to go to a special place
to be in God’s presence. God has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in
us. Our privilege is a close, intimate relationship with God. Are you
living in God’s presence today?
“The Spring healed by Elisha in the middle of Jericho”Holy Land Devotional Day 28
By Rev. G. Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UM Churches
Read: II Kings:19-22
“And the men of the city said to Elisha, Behold, please, the location of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees. But the waters are bad, and the ground is barren.
And he said, Bring me a new jar and put salt in it. And they brought to him.
And he went forth to the spring of the waters and
threw the salt in there, and said, So says Jehovah, I have healed these
waters. There shall not be any more death or barrenness from there.
And the waters were healed to this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spoke.”
had returned from Jordan, after receiving the power and cloak of Elijah
and found the city of Jericho in trouble. The water had turned brackish
and the ground would not produce crops to sustain the people. The
people of Jericho turned to the prophet who took a jar of salt and
tossed it into the water and the water was healed.
As I stood by the spring, I wondered at how salt,
which should have made the water unusable, made it pure. How great is
the wonder working power of God.
Jesus told us, in Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the
salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall
it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out,
and to be trodden under foot of.”
Oh that in this Lenten season, might we be a healing salt in the earth.
“Oh Lord, never let us not lose our savor, our joy
in serving Jesus, and allow us to be a healing presence in this brackish
and troubled world. Amen”
“Pastors Trying to Figure Out What to do Now”Holy Land Devotional Day 29
By: Rev. G. Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UM Churches
Read: Luke 23:44-46 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the
ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was
torn in the middle. And crying with a loud voice, Jesus said, Father,
into Your hands I commit My spirit. And when He had said this, He
breathed out the spirit.
It was our last day in Jerusalem. On Sunday we
would travel on to Galilee. Our plans were formulated to make this day
one we would always remember.
We were going to the Garden Tomb, and we had
reserved a private time for communion in the Garden overlooking the tomb
at the Jewish ninth hour.
But, when the hour approached and the sky had
clouded and a breeze was blowing through the Garden. Then it became dark
and a light misty rain began to fall.
We were suddenly aware that that the service was not
going to go as planned. We had to huddle and make quick plans to
shorten our time in the gloom and rain.
We were at an hour and in a place where our Lord
suffered more than anyone had ever suffered before or since, and the
time and the darkness matched the hour.
Oh, how much He suffered there for us – to reconcile
all mankind to God. It was not a place or a time for celebration.
That day was a day for
That day took on new meaning for me. As a teenager,
I had taken Galatians 2:20 as a life verse and it hangs engraved on a
plaque in my office. But, I don’t think I ever before really thought
about what it meant to be “Crucified with Christ.” There next to the
tomb and in the shadow of the hill called “Skull,” I was made to
reconsider all that happened that day over two thousand years ago.
“Dear Lord, help us this Lenten season to remember
how Jesus suffered for us and how great His love is. Help us to live
for Him who died for us. Amen”
Holy Land Devotional Day 30
Truth by Emil Winkelspecht, Trinity UMC, Clayton, NJ
I couldn’t resist this picture. This sign was on the
Church of All Nations next to the Garden of Gethsemene. My immediate
thought upon seeing this sign was, “How sad that all too often this is
the situation in the Church.” Although we follow the one who said, "I
am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me” (John 14:6) we seem to have few answers for a world that is
desperately in need of explanations.
If we are going to have explanations for people we
have to know the One who is the Truth, the Living Word more today than
we did yesterday. Do you have a passion to read and study the Word of
God? Can people find explanations inside your church?
The Pools of Betheseda Ruins by Lynn WolfHoly Land Devotional Day 31
- “POOL CLEANING: Hard Work
- Then And Now”
by Angele Cooper, Glassboro UMC
The Healing at the Pool – John 5:1-9
time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now
there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is
called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered
colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the
blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid
for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that
he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you
want to get well?" "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me
into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in,
someone else goes down ahead of me." Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
bought an Intex pool several years ago which meets our needs
perfectly. It does, however, require frequent cleaning due mostly to
the size of the filter that is included in the “kit.” As I survey it
from outside it appears often to need just a “touch up.” So, in I
hop with the skimming net to get the large pieces of debris that have
fallen in from the surrounding trees. I am usually quite amazed at how
much else is floating around in the water.
I’ve also learned the hard way that leaving these
seemingly harmless pieces of the environment for a more convenient time
causes much more work later. They accumulate and/or attract other pieces
to attach themselves and then you’ve got more then skimming will clean
sometimes even more than one vacuuming will handle. [Again, it’s kind
of small equipment]. The other thing I’ve noticed is that even when all
the cleaning is done and I’m ready to just relax and enjoy this little
luxury, there is always something floating around in the water.
As I am tackling this chore, over and over again I
am reminded of the parallel to our Christian walk. First of all,
keeping our hearts clean and ready to enjoy the privilege of serving
Christ takes the same diligence as cleaning a pool. You don’t just do
it once and are done. It is an ongoing task that needs to be
accomplished to be crisp and clear. And much like the misleading
appearance of readiness, when you jump in or take a close look, there is
often an amazing amount of unwanted spots to deal with. And they take
hard, diligent work to get rid of them. You have to have the correct
tools and know how to use them. And when all else fails, you have to
READ THE MANUAL/THE DIRECTIONS! Oh, the amount of time and trials and
effort that could be saved if we started with the manual first. Again,
what a parallel to our Christian walk! Of course the Bible is the
manual to which I am referring. If we start with it and read and
re-read it as often as we need to refresh ourselves on the details or
refer to it for specific instructions, the tasks before us are so much
Then, once we begin, we can’t allow little,
seemingly harmless, habits or distractions go unchecked. Temptations
often lead to sin in such situations and sin can be a lot harder to
clean up after it is committed than dealing with the temptation in the
Today, I was once more in the pool walking around
with the skimming net in my hand gathering the tiny gnats and insects,
leaves and tree pieces that had fallen on the water’s surface while my
daughter, Aimee, and her dad were chatting and floating about. She
asked me if I ever just enjoy the pool. My response was that I
was enjoying the fact that we have the pool and I am challenged to keep
it as clear as possible. That’s the way it should be with our lives.
We should never tire of praying and seeking the fine tuning of our
Christianity that will make us a shining, inviting example for others.
When we are at our best, others are also blessed by that outcome.
Just the same as I would not dream of owning a pool
without expecting to accept the fact that I need to work to keep it
ready for use, we should not expect our Christian walk to take care of
itself. We must be ready, willing and able to do what it takes to make
it ready for the Master’s pleasure. We must be willing to take up our
mat and walk.
Angele Cooper <><
The Mountains of Europe from 30,000 feetHoly Land Devotional Day 32
“The Highest Heavens”
By Rev. G Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre UM Churches
“PSALM 36:5-7 “Your loving kindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
As we were flying home from our pilgrimage, I was trying to rest and listening to these words-
“Though man may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shim'ring stars
This world's a room so small within my Master's house
The open sky's but a portion of His yard
How big is God? How big and wide His vast domain
To try and tell, these lips can only start
He's big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart.”
Flying over Europe, supported by
those Aluminum wings and sheltered by a thin layer of metal, I listened
to those words on my MP3, thankful that I was really sheltered in the
Loving Arms of God. ugh men may strife to go beyond the reap of spaceTo
crawl beyond the distant shining stars
From the Mount of Beatitudes Looking Over a Misty Sea of GalileeHoly Land Devotional Day 33
“Blessed are the Peacemakers”
By Rev. G. Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UM Churches
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
How peaceful the lake looked – how beautiful the
mount from which the Lord spoke. It is hard to believe that we who had
the opportunity to stand and gaze at the beauty of the scene have been
back in our churches for over a month now.
We are back to reality. But I hope never to forget
the feeling I had standing where Jesus taught us to be peacemakers –
Where he blessed the humble and “Poor in Spirit.” I pray for that as
each day brings us into an angry and war torn world.
I pray for the “Peace of Jerusalem” where the news
reports anger and rocks and tear gas. I pray for peace for those
caught around the world in theaters of war. I pray for peace for the
young men women who are giving up their lives for us. And, I pray for
peace for their families who wait and worry.
The prophet Isaiah says, “How beautiful upon the
mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings
good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Help us to ever be humble messengers of the Prince of Peace. ~ Amen”
“OUR GOD REIGNS”
Holy Land Devotional Day 34
The Via Dolorosa “The Way of Sorrow” by Rev. Heidi Bak, Porchtown UMC
The Via Dolorosa or “Way of Sorrow” winds along the
narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. Pictured above is a typical
hallway/stairway that you travel and the Fifth of fourteen stations
marked along the route.
This is the traditional route Jesus followed bearing
His cross from Pilate’s Judgement Hall in the Antonia, to Calvary Hill
or Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. The Fourteen Stations are:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus takes up his cross
3. Jesus falls under the Cross for the first time
4. Jesus meets his mother
5. Simon the Cyrenian is forced to carry the Cross
6. Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus’ face
7. Jesus falls for the second time
8. Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls for the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the Tomb
This was an incredibly powerful experience to walk
and remember what Jesus Christ did for me, for us, for humanity. But,
there was something missing for me. The final station remembers Jesus
in the Tomb—but that is not the end of the story!!
We need to remember the living Jesus rises from the
tomb. Mark 16:6 says, “And the Angel said to the women: ‘He has
risen. He is not here.” Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ
will come again. Alleluia
How are you remembering Jesus walk this Lenten season? Are you living in the light of the crucifixion or the resurrection?
The Road Back to Zion – from the Mount of Olives to the Eastern GateHoly Land Devotional Day 35
“THE HOLY HIGHWAY”
By Rev G. Mel Dunn, Bridgeport & Centre Square UMCs
19:37-38 When Jesus was starting down the Mount of Olives, his large
crowd of disciples were happy and praised God because of all the
miracles they had seen. They shouted, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God."
Before we visited
the temple mount, we spent time on the Mount of Olives, and I took this
picture to remember the path Jesus took on that Palm Sunday so long
ago. I took this picture because in Scripture the Mount of Olives was a
special place for Jesus. He prayed there, He taught there, sometimes he
slept there, He spent His last night there and was betrayed there by one
of His trusted own. And, on Palm Sunday, His journey began there.
But, that is not the end of the story … He is coming back there to stand and begin His rule of peace.
I love the words from the Song “The Holy Highway”.
“There's a road called the holy highway that once was a desert land.
Very soon you'll hear the sound of a holy marching band and.
Everlasting joy upon them, there's a remnant strong and true.
We bring the song back to Zion; we bring the praise back to you.”
The Prophet Zechariah tells us,
will take his stand on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem, and the
mountain will split in half, forming a wide valley that runs from east
to west. Afterwards, the LORD my God will appear with his holy angels.
It will be a bright day that won't turn cloudy.” (selected verses)
help us to rejoice in your crossing the valley so long ago. But, help
us to remember that you are coming back to rule and reign and help us
always to be ready, keeping our lamps trimmed and filled with oil.
The Judean WildernessHoly Land Devotional Day 36
by Glen Scheyhing, Community UMC in Roselle Park, NJ
The area of Israel that struck me the most during my
trip to Israel, is more than likely not on everybody’s Top-5 favorite
list. Beyond the human-made structures and all the human tourists, one
of the “purest” areas for me was the Judean Wilderness. Sure, it’s not
much to look at, but the attached photo reveals that there is PLENTY to
Luke 4:1-2: “ 1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Jesus
is led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there
by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he eats nothing and
becomes very hungry.”
The closest thing for citizens of the United States
to see and understand desolation, I believe is the Grand Canyon. Like
the Grand Canyon of western US, the Judean Wilderness of the Middle East
still exists in its rugged state. Life surviving in this rugged
terrain is unimaginable.
However, our Lord survived in this barren wilderness
of Judea—though likely not the exact location—for an extended period of
time with no food. I’m glad Jesus conquered Satan’s temptation,
suffered, and died for me, for all humanity. We can have victory
because of Jesus Christ. As the song by Mercy Me goes, “I Can Only
Imagine.” What areas are you tempted daily? Have you called on the
power of the Holy Spirit for victory as Jesus did?
The Umayyad Palace along the walls of the Temple MountHoly Land Devotional Day 37
- The Church Built on a Rock
by Mel Dunn, Bridgeport and Centre Square UMCs
On the day we visited the temple mount, I tried to
remember as much as I could to share with my congregation and my family.
I was especially drawn to the beautiful Umayyad Palace along the walls
of the temple mount built by the Turks around 650 AD. It made a
beautiful picture. I admired the symmetry and the arrangement of the
plants but I was more fascinated by the stones that were used – some as
old as 2500 years and taken from those used in the Second Temple.
Then I remembered the verses from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians
“Now therefore you are no longer strangers and
foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of
God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,” and I ask myself, “How do you build a church – a church built on a rock?”
A church that can stand the test of time is surely “A CHURCH BUILT ON A ROCK.” We have to build with Christ the corner stone
our guide and director. With the foundation being the “Whole Counsel of
God” which is the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets and Jesus
himself. We have to read and study the “Book”.
Photo of the Upper Room by Lynn WolfHoly Land Devotional Day 38
- Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper
By Rev. Heidi M. Bak, Porchtown Zion UMC, Franklinville, NJ
The Last Supper: Luke 22:7-13 “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." 9"Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. 10He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and
say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest
room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a
large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." They left
and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the
Jesus prepared both
Himself and His disciples for His death. He gave the Passover meal a new
meaning. The loaf of bread and cup of wine represented His body soon to
be sacrificed and His blood soon to be shed. And so He instituted the
Scripture: Matt. 26:26-28 ... Luke 22: 19 While
they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave
it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he
took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from
it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out
for many for the forgiveness of sins...do this in remembrance of me.”
How are you preparing yourself to receive the body and blood of the Lord through communion?
Prayer: “Dear Lord, as I take the bread and juice, please help me understand Jesus’ message before it is too late. Amen”
Church of the Holy SepulcherHoly Land Devotional Day 39
(left) The Anointing Stone and (right) The Place of Crucifixion - photos by Greg Milinovich
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE
By Rev. Heidi Bak, Porchtown Zion UMC, Franklinville, NJ
One of the most holiest shrines in Christendom is
the Church of the Holy Sepulcher built over the Crucifixion of Jesus on
Golgotha as well as the Tomb of Jesus where he was resurrected. This
church was first built by Emperor Constantine in 325 AD and dedicated in
Just inside the entrance of the church, is the
anointing stone “the Stone of Unicion.” It is the place upon which the
body of Jesus was placed, anointed with ointments and wrapped in a linen
shroud, the common preparation for burial among the Jews.
Luke 23: 32-34 “Two
other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him,
along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus
said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
cannot describe the incredible changes in my life because of my Holy
Land Pilgrimage. I truly appreciated connecting the scriptures to the
antiquity of the land. The sea of Galilee, the Judean Wilderness and the
Garden of Gethsemane were more natural, easier for me to picture Jesus’
life & ministry.
While I appreciated the ornate-ness, detail and
beauty of many of the churches, especially the one pictured above, I
felt disconnected. How could something so awful as our Lord and Savior
nailed to the cross for our sins, be portrayed so ornately? As I
reflect during these last days of Lent, maybe I’ve been too disconnected
from the cross in emotional, relational and spiritual ways. Maybe, I
too, have allowed the crucifixion to be pretty and have lost the heart
of what Christ did for me on Calvary. How about you?
Holy Land Devotional Day 40
Have you met the Resurrected Jesus?
By Rev. Tom Austin, Deerfield, UMC
they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe
sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he
said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He
has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go,
tell his disciples and Peter, `He is going ahead of you into Galilee.
There you will see him, just as he told you.' " (NIV)
Don’t Just Stand There
women were looking for the body of Jesus but they found the tomb empty.
In their shock they saw a young man in a white robe. He told them that
Jesus has risen. He showed them the empty tomb and then told them to go
and tell the others what they have seen."
Easter, when you experience the empty tomb and the living Christ, who
are you going to tell? Who are you going to share with that you have met
the resurrected Jesus?
go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to
the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)