A Daily Devotion and Prayer - Enjoy the Fresh Air

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on May 01, 2020

"A Breath of Fresh Air!" Watch the introduction to our daily Bible reading by clicking here.

In the last half of the book of Judges, it seemed that God’s Church was closed. The last judges had a twisted sense of right and wrong. The appendices (Judges 17-21) show the depravity of the people.
 
But today’s reading and tomorrow’s is a breath of fresh air! The LORD is able to preserve his Church even in the midst of a wicked world. Enjoy the account of Ruth (click here to read). As you do, notice two important themes:

  • The Guardian Redeemer was a person’s closest relative. This can give you insight into Job’s statement, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Read Job 19:25-27 here.) Our Savior is our closest relative.
  • The frequent use of the LORD’s name. Remember that this is the name of our Savior God. Naomi recognizes that he brought bitterness (Marah) into her life, but also that he blessed her with great joy. (Naomi means "sweetness" or "pleasantness.") In our afflictions, let us continue to call out to the LORD, our Savior God, to grant us sweetness even in the midst of bitterness. 

Our New Testament lesson resumes our reading of Paul’s first missionary journey. (Read Acts 14:1-20 here.) He and Barnabas travel through the middle of what is today the country of Turkey. Notice what Paul was willing to suffer because he was a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He would not and could not change his testimony. Every day as I read the Bible, I am on a journey back to the Empty Tomb. If Jesus has risen, then we have a Savior who can turn bitterness into sweetness. 
 
Virtual Calming Room Link
 
Yesterday in my email, the link to the Virtual Calming Room was broken. Ifound the same page on a school’s website in Kodiak, Alaska (click here). 
 
If you need help dealing with the stress of these days, please reach out to us here at St. Paul’s. Use our Contact Form (click here) to ask to speak to a pastor or someone else on our staff. 
 
This is my prayer today:
 
LORD, many times in our lives, we have had Naomi (pleasant) experiences. Perhaps we took those times for granted. Now many of us are going through a Marah time (bitterness). Confirmations, graduations, weddings postponed. The sick suffering alone. Funerals limited to family. Fear that we will bring COVID-19 into the lives of our loved ones or the most vulnerable in our society. Worry about the long-term impact on business owners and if our employment will continue. Uncertainty about the future.
 
Yet, LORD, you continued to watch over Naomi in her bitterness. Your plan for her, for Ruth, and for us was being carried out. Ruth “chanced upon” (literal translation of Ruth 2:3) the field of Boaz, her “redeemer.” 
 
So, LORD, we trust that you can turn our bitterness into sweetness. Help us to see the good that you are working even in this time that is so difficult for many. Help us to be models of faith as Boaz was to those around him. Let our friends and relatives see our confidence in you.
 
If it be your will, LORD, grant protection to all our loved ones. Give healing to the infected. Give wisdom and strength to all who care for the sick. Be present with the dying and fill them with your Holy Spirit.
 
LORD, even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us (Psalm 23). Your presence turns our bitterness (Marah) into sweetness (Naomi). We praise your holy Name through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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