As you prepare for Easter, join Pastor Brad in these short video devotionals with written content every day during Holy Week. This study is perfect to do on your own or with your spouse, family, and/or Small Group.
Holy Week Devotionals
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.”
– Psalm 19:1-4A
The opening line of the Bible is, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” For a lot of history, people just assumed this was true, but we’re living in a different time. We try and understand every little detail about creation – and that’s exciting, that’s fun, and God has given us a mind to understand the way so much of the universe works. But when is the last time you walked outside and stared up at a starry night’s sky? Or when is the last time you remember the wind blowing on your face? Or being amazed by the blooms on the tree in your front yard?
The Bible calls us to lift our eyes. It says that creation has something to teach us, day and night, about God. The Bible says that the night’s sky tells us of the incredible glory of God. That the spring flowers that grow each year remind us of His faithfulness. That afternoon wind reminds us of His presence. That we can see His love when we look in the eyes of a child.
So, when’s the last time you walked outside and breathed in some fresh air? This Holy Week your challenge is to look up from your electronic device or to turn off the TV, and to see the picture God has painted. Creation is speaking of God’s glory, and it doesn’t need words to do it.
There feels like constant pressure to clearly outline our plans. Elementary students are asked to set goals and plans for their future. Teenagers are feeling the burden to select their college or career trajectory at a younger and younger age. Adults are told they should have a 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year life plan. And while making plans and setting goals can be beneficial, experience demonstrates that God can and will allow those plans to be interrupted and changed on a pretty regular basis.
Maybe what James is trying to tell us is to go ahead and make plans, but to leave lots of room for God to direct us. If the only thing we are focused on is accomplishing our goals, we miss what God has for us along the way. And for some, despite their plans, tomorrow will never come.
What each of us has is today. So ask God, what are His plans for you today? The things that come your way that might seem like an interruption to your plans, but they might be precisely what God wants for you. So make plans. Set goals. But listen for where God leads you, and when He does, go.
Jesus often used illustrations that his hearers would quickly relate to. In this case, he was talking to people that were farmers, so he used a farming analogy. A yoke is the wooden crossbar that sits across the shoulders of two animals that are pulling a plow. It helps the animals walk in sync and share the burden of the weight they’re pulling. In the ancient world, farmers would attach a young cow to a more experienced cow, and by walking side by side with a more experienced animal, the younger would learn how to properly pull a plow.
When Jesus invites us to come to him and take his yoke on us, he’s not saying that all of our problems are going to go away instantly. He’s telling us that he wants to take our burden. He wants to walk alongside us, and just like that more experienced animal pulling a plow, he’ll carry the weight, and he’ll show us how to live.
What burden are you carrying that’s weighing you down? Are you anxious about how you’re going to pay the bills? Are you nervous about the health of a friend or family member? Are you sad by choices your kids are making? Are you lonely? Jesus invites us to bring those things to him. To talk to him. To be honest with him. He wants to carry that burden for you, and he wants to walk beside you and show you how to live. Just talk to him, his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Luke records this one really important word that Jesus says in Luke 9: “daily”. Jesus says that anyone who wants to follow him will have to “daily” take up their cross and follow.
When people get married, they say vows. Those are promises of their intentions for how they will care for each other over a lifetime. Certainly, those vows are sincere and from the heart. But the work of the vows doesn’t happen on the wedding day. The work of the vows happens over the course of the relationship.
When someone genuinely comes to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or as the book of Romans describes it, when someone “believes in their heart and confesses with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord”, they are immediately brought into the family of God. Their eternity is secure, all the inheritance of Christ is given.
But a relationship with Jesus is kind of like a marriage, or even a friendship, it’s an every day choice. Jesus is saying that each day we’re going to have to get up and make the decision to humble ourselves of our own desires and our own agenda, and actually follow him. And he’s saying that because it’s going to be really hard! And if we don’t do that, it doesn’t mean that Jesus takes away eternity. But he’s calling us up to something more, to a life of following him, and living and loving like him. Have you chosen to follow Jesus today?
The words and conversations that shape us the most are often the least expected. It’s not a speech from a brilliant politician or leader to a packed stadium, or even a sermon from some gifted pastor. Sometimes it is. But often it’s the conversation we had with a grandparent, or the after-school encouragement we received from a teacher of coach, that means the most and sticks with us.
God has the ability to communicate with His people any way that He wants. He could shout from the heavens, He could send a powerful thunderstorm, He could put His message in sky writing. But maybe His most effective method for talking to us is a whisper. He loves to speak to us in a whisper.
Jesus loved speaking to quietly, calmly, to a small group or even just one on one. Because to speak at a whisper means the person you’re talking to is close. When someone shouts, it’s for all to hear. But a whisper, that’s personal. A gentle whisper is God’s way of saying, “I’m right here.”
If God wanted to get your attention, would He have to yell above all the other voices? Is your life so full that you can’t hear Him? God wants to talk with you, He wants to spend time with you, but He’s not going to yell. Maybe in this season, it’s time to make some room in your life that you can sit close and listen for that gentle whisper.
This is a poem by Marilyn McEntyre, called “What to do in the Darkness”. She writes it to encourage people who feel like they’re walking through a dark season of life.
Consent to it, but don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination and growth
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Watch for dawn
Maybe today things feel dark for you. What from this poem stands out to you? What do you know about God’s character that you can trust, even in the darkness?