Easter Monday, April 17

The Report of the Guard
Matthew 28:9-15

Here we find both Mary and Mary Magdalene as unprepared for Jesus’ resur­rection as they were for His death. The empty tomb caused them both fear and joy. Had Jesus really risen from the dead? Where was His body? Although Jesus had previously spoken of His death and resurrection, they couldn’t believe this had occurred until they actually saw and touched the risen Lord. The guards delivered this astounding news to the chief priests and elders who rejected it. Determined not to promote the belief that Jesus had risen, they bribed the guards into deceit, with the goal of preventing anyone from believing this.

We are not so unlike these women. Are we prepared to meet the Risen Lord? Human faith seeks understanding. Before we believe, we want to see with our own eyes. What constitutes the basis of our faith in Jesus’ resurrection? Faith is freely given to us by God as found in His word: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). The Lord reveals Himself to those who believe in His word, filling us with new life in His Holy Spirit: “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Living out Easter – Are we living in the joy and hope of Jesus’ resurrection? Do we recognize and feel the presence of the Risen Lord in His word; in His bride, the church; and in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ? Lord, may we continually live in the joy and hope of Your resurrection, never losing sight of its profound truth and precious saving grace for our lives.

Author – Betty Piephoff is married to Bill DeAngelis. With their daughter Erin, Betty and her family returned to her hometown, Tallahassee, in 2015, after living over forty years in Atlanta, GA. She taught elementary school, worked as an art therapist, and served as case manager for the Alzheimer’s day program at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

Easter Day, April 16

On the Road to Emmaus
Luke 24:13-35

Today’s passage recounts the famous “walk to Emmaus” when Jesus accompanied two men who had left Jerusalem following the crucifixion and resurrection of the man they thought would bring glory to the Kingdom. He did not do what they hoped He would do, and now all seemed lost. Jesus does not reveal Himself to them until the very end of His appearance when He offers the blessing before they share a meal.

In this story I am always amazed at the enduring timelessness of the lesson it provides. From time to time we all wonder whether God is listening or not. Are our thoughts and prayers being offered up in vain? Why doesn’t He do what we want Him to do? Then, as now, Jesus walks with us and listens to our “animated heated conversations” which take place during the walk. Just like the two friends, we read scripture and remember what Jesus said, but we are frequently unable to put it all together and understand that He is not only alive but He is with us always.

The walk to Emmaus once again teaches us to have faith and believe in all that the prophets wrote about the Messiah. We need only continue to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the greatest Book ever written to open our eyes, and the eyes of all men and women, to believe and receive the Word that Jesus Christ is Lord and He is here among us.

Living out Easter – Just as Cleopas and his friend turned around and went back to Jerusalem to share with others their experience with Jesus, we all need to turn around and watch for the ways Jesus reveals Himself to each of us and then go and share those experiences with others.

Author – George Allen and his wife Becky have been married for more than 50 years, and have three children and five grandchildren. George, a member of the vestry and Kairos, is a retired association executive and human resource professional, and Becky is a retired licensed clinical social worker.

Holy Saturday, April 15

Life in the Spirit
Romans 8:1-11

In today’s scripture reading, St. Paul speaks of the ministry of God’s Spirit. While we are fallible humans who continue to slip and fall into sin, we are not condemned to the hell we deserve if we believe and abide in Christ Jesus. Because we are guided and inspired by God’s Spirit, we are freed from the strictures of the Mosaic Law. What an awesome thought! Christ’s atoning death on the cross for our sins sets us free, giving us a right standing before God, and God’s Spirit assists us to live now, today, into His kingdom, in anticipation of our own bodily resurrection and eternal life when Christ comes again. Verse 11 tells us that all three persons of the Trinity are at work here. Bishop N.T. Wright writes that resurrection life for us will be active, with “new work to do and new tasks to stretch our ability and imagination.”

As I think about today’s scripture, I’m reminded of two things. First, as much as I look forward to the season of Advent and Christmas in the church, we are decidedly Easter people. Easter largely defines us as Christians. Second and more importantly, the passage pushes me to ask what I should be doing to better live into the kingdom. We pray every day “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How should my life be shaped day by day? Does the way I live my life truly reflect that I am a Christian as I profess to be? This is a process, rather than an event, and it’s called sanctification. Our sin is not eradicated, but with God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, we move away from sin and live to become more Christ-like; we grow in grace.

Stepping Out in Lent – I pray that we all may be empowered by the Spirit to live into His kingdom.

Author – John Dombroski is a retired naval officer. He participates in the adult formation ministry at St. Peter’s, leading a weekly men’s Bible study group and teaching in the Wednesday evening program.

Good Friday, April 14

Jesus is Buried
John 19:38-42

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are two New Testament men whose stories have helped me in my spiritual journey. Both were Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin, the religious ruling council of Israel. Both were learned in the law, respected, wealthy, and lived during Jesus’ earthly life.

Joseph was secretly a disciple of Jesus. He did not consent to the decision and action of the council when they condemned Jesus. Nicodemus believed that Jesus was a teacher from God. It was under the cover of the darkness of night when he privately visited Jesus, but Nicodemus himself was in spiritual darkness. Until Nicodemus understood the regeneration of the body by the Holy Spirit, he could not see the light of who Jesus fully was.

After the Crucifixion of Jesus, in order to comply with Jewish burial customs, Joseph of Arimathea courageously asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus provided embalming spices and boldly assisted Joseph in wrapping Jesus’ body with strips of linen. They then laid Him in a tomb cut in stone.

I, like Joseph and Nicodemus, had long felt that there must be more to life than mere existence. My journey began by listening when my daughter talked about her Bible studies. I met her friends who encouraged me. But I still looked at the Bible as an intellectual exercise. Like the old Nicodemus, I was in spiritual darkness.

At a Bible seminar, a friend asked me when I would take Jesus as my Savior. Immediately, I told her “now.” Joy, happiness and peace surrounded me. I knew that I had found the light of the kingdom of God.

Stepping Out in Lent – Today on Good Friday, may we remember and more fully understand Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Author – Susie Shoemaker lived in Miami with her husband who was editor of The Miami Herald. Since his death, she has lived with her daughter and granddaughter. They moved to Tallahassee nine years ago. They all attend St. Peter’s where Susie is a member.

Maundy Thursday, April 13

The High Priestly Prayer
John 17:1-11

We are kept by a promise, a promise asked by the Son and eternally kept by the Father. In the preceding two chapters, the Lord told the disciples that it is not going to work out as they had all initially thought: there would be no restored earthly kingdom; they would not be highly regarded or respected; and they would face a life of persecution, poverty and death. Driven from their homes, they would live out their remaining lives as outcasts.

In that moment of staggering confusion, fear, and doubt, Christ concluded by asking the disciples’ heavenly Father, in their very presence, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one even as we are one” (v.11). In that very moment of fear and doubt, they heard Jesus ask the Father to keep them as He had kept Him, His Son. In the days to come, these words and their fulfillment would keep them and carry them through the threats and persecutions that were to follow. As Paul later noted, “Through all these things, by Him we are more than conquers” (Romans 8:37). The Roman Empire would fall. God’s word would cover the entire world. No wall could restrain it. No foe could hinder its fulfillment.

Our three daughters grew up continually hearing the words, “All things are in God’s hands.” No fear, or loss, or death could overcome these words and the promise they conveyed. We are God’s own and we all are held in His gracious, loving hands. All things will rise and fall according to His enduring will and abiding love toward us. Now at the age of 65, I can truly say that God has kept His word toward us.

Stepping Out in Lent - During this Lenten season, let us remember that we are eternally His, and rest well, held in His abiding hands

Author – Leon Henry Hughes is retired from the State of Florida and is now living in the woods with his wife of 43 years, Susan Hughes, who is also retired.

Wednesday in Holy Week, April 12

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up
John 12:27-36

How many times in our lives are we faced with a choice of doing what we want to do or what we believe God calls us to do? Perhaps our personal desires will yield more immediate rewards or pleasures, while doing what we believe God wants may mean forgoing or sacrificing these immediate rewards, but hopefully lead to an eternity of grace and glory. I believe this passage is yet another example of Jesus’ personal struggle with being both human and divine. He knows His destiny is to fulfill His Father’s will, yet He struggles with not wanting to face the pain and death He knows is His to bear. Just as Jesus, the very Son of God, struggled, so we too must face life’s struggles and temptations.

During Lent, we are called to grow closer to God through prayer or by giving of ourselves, often by depriving ourselves of more immediate pleasures. Have you tried this in the past only to find you failed, at least in part, because the immediate pleasures’ appeal was stronger than what you felt eternity offered? I certainly have. However, after contemplating this passage, as well as the one where Jesus pleaded, “Remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36), I am reminded that we are often called to forgo immediate rewards, or even to endure possible pain. As Bishop Trevor Walters shared with us at the Synod in November, “the end goal in life is not the avoidance of life’s storms but that you end your life with more faith than when you began”. I hear the bishop also saying that we must be willing to sacrifice immediate, temporary pleasures if that’s what’s necessary to grow in faith and to live into God’s greater plan for us.

Stepping Out in Lent – Pray that your personal and corporate faith continues to sustain you through the storms and temptations of your life and be stronger than when you began.

Author – Bruce Prevatt and his wife Frances are long time members of the St. Peter’s family, where they serve as Vergers, Home Visitation LEMs, and are Acts 2:42 members.

Tuesday in Holy Week, April 11

Some Greeks Seek Jesus
John 12:20-26

This passage puzzled me because, when some Greeks wanted to visit Jesus, He appears to ignore them. After all, weren’t they just following their interest in knowing more about a fascinating person? Instead, Jesus talks about the fact that “His hour has come” and He talks about dying to self and serving the Father. These Greeks came to worship, and now they want to know more about this amazing man who was honored by crowds as He entered Jerusalem -- this rebel against Jewish authorities, this insightful teacher who attracted thousands, this healer and preacher. In earlier days the gospels report that Jesus tells various people, including His mother, that His hour has not yet come. But now it has. This is it--the pivot in human history. He is about to fulfill His purpose by dying in our place and satisfying the penalty for our sins. There is no more time for Him to show who God is and what God is like. He makes it plain that the Greeks, the disciples, and we, too, must pivot from what seems to us to be meaningful in life. We must die to self in order to know and serve God in ways that please Him. Like these Greeks, we can choose to indulge our own interests, however “good” they may seem; or we can let go and choose each moment to listen to His voice, to obey and enjoy Him above all else. The reward for doing so is eternal life, which is infinitely better than the interests in this life that we leave behind at death. The time has come. We have all the information we need about Him. It is time to follow and serve.

Stepping Out in Lent – As Lent ends this week, reflect on at least one area of your life you haven’t yet released to God’s control. Let go and let Him use you.

Author – Kris Bowers and husband Phil have three children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. Kris teaches math at Tallahassee Community College and co-leads women’s Bible study groups at St. Peter’s.

Monday in Holy Week, April 10

The Triumphal Entry
John 12:9-19

While reading this passage, two significant thoughts jumped out to me. First, in verse 16 we read that it was after Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified in heaven that the disciples realized that Jesus’ riding on a colt into the city had been foretold in Zechariah. There are other references in Scriptures, like Mark 9:32, where the disciples did not understand the significance of what was happening in the present until much later. In John 14:26 we read that Jesus told the disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit to teach and bring to their remembrance what He had taught them. Much of what has happened in my life I did not plan; yet, when I look back, I am convinced that many determining events were the moving of the Holy Spirit to carry out His will, not mine. What a joy it is, and has been, to have it brought to my mind by the Holy Spirit that these were designed steps in my following Christ, not mere accidents, which have controlled my life.

Second, in verses 17 & 18 we read that many had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead and were talking about it. Telling the story made such an impact that the Pharisees, who were anxious to kill not only Jesus but also Lazarus, gave up and said there was nothing they could do because “the world had gone after Him”. This emphasized to me the importance of telling our stories about our experiences with Christ and the impact it can have on others.

Stepping Out in Lent – This scripture is a call for each of us to be conscious that God calls us to be alert to His leading by the Holy Spirit, to be thankful for the Spirit’s leading even if we are not aware of it at the moment, and to think of ways we can effectively communicate what Jesus Christ has done in our life.

Author – Major Harding was Senior Warden when St. Peter’s was founded in 2005. He and Jane have 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Palm Sunday, April 9

Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Matthew 21:12-17

Today’s scripture describes the day after Jesus makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when Christ fulfills what is said in Isaiah 56.7, “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”. He healed the blind and lame who came to Him, and cleared out the Temple of those who were making it a place of profit and greed. It is significant that the area that was being used by the money changers was the Court of the Gentiles. It is more significant, I believe, that Christ used this time to demonstrate not only His justifiable wrath but, more importantly, also His compassion, by healing people.

In this scripture I am reminded of the quiet of the churches I have attended and the reverence I felt in those spaces. It is jarring to think of the noise of the animals and money changers in the temple as Jesus entered it. This was a place designed as a place of sanctuary from the secular world, a place for true worship and communion with God. Jesus’ two acts, cleansing and healing, set right what had been defiled by human greed and arrogance in God’s house. I am lifted up because it makes clear to me that God came down to earth to cleanse and to heal, and that His church should be a place of worship and healing for all people who will come to Him.

Stepping Out in Lent –This Lent, I hope you will reflect not only on the beauty of St. Peter’s Church, but also on the need to bring healing and fellowship to our community.

Author – Frank Platt is married to Carol Barr Platt and has a daughter and two sons. He began serving God while in the United States Marine Corps as a lay leader for the Bishop of the Armed Forces. After retiring from the Corps and moving to Tallahassee, he served as a LEM in several local parishes. He and Carol have been active in small groups and currently serve St. Peter’s as LEM’s at the 5:00pm service.

Saturday, April 8

The Words of Eternal Life
John 6:60-71

This passage really makes me think about what it means to truly accept and follow Christ. Some folks decide not to follow and some just watch from afar, not wanting to be made too uncomfortable. Jesus can make you uncomfortable. There’s no other way to say it: the Christian life can be hard. Jesus speaks the truth, holding nothing back.

In this passage, some followers completely turned away from Jesus and His teachings. Sadly, today we see entire churches doing the same thing. Jesus’ way is the opposite of the world’s, and His lessons are difficult. You can feel tempted to turn away, but remember, “. . .the Spirit gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (v. 63) If you are in Christ, the Spirit is alive and moving within you.

I met Christ when I was in my 30’s. After serving on a mission trip in Nicaragua, I couldn’t deny His power to change lives (including my own), or His truth. It’s that truth that is so crucial to our growth and our understanding of what Jesus really wants in our lives. He wants to see the change lived out in our daily lives: work, home, school, etc.

Through worship, prayer, study, and serving, we can get to know Christ better. We should ask God daily to show us how to apply His teachings to our lives. We mustn’t give up as some of Jesus’ early followers did. Nor should we choose to ignore certain teachings. It’s through Christ that all things are possible.

Stepping Out in Lent – During this Lenten season we need to be a little uncomfortable. How can we do more to serve the Kingdom? Christ wants change in our lives.

Author – Jim Flury manages his family’s business, Jim & Milt’s BBQ. Jim and his wife, Christy, have been married for 17 years, and have two sons, Conner (14) and Ben (10). The family serves with the A*rise Ministry in Gretna, Florida, and are also passionate about international missions. They’ve been attending St. Peter’s for over a year. Jim and Christy were confirmed as new members in December.

Friday, April 7

I am the Bread of Life (part three)
John 6:52-59

Last year, I experienced two memorable, explicit dreams. Satan appeared first. He asked me to follow him. The next night, God spoke to me. He clearly asked me to make a choice. So, I did. That Sunday, I attended my first church service since I was a small child. God chose St. Peter’s for me.

I was uncomfortable. I didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer, the people, the songs, the clergy, the customs or the logistics. As an adult, I should have known them all. I was embarrassed. I received strange stares as people stumbled around me as I remained in the pew during the Eucharist, but I knew that I couldn’t eat the Lord’s flesh and drink His blood, what today’s devotional is predicated upon, unless I understood the true meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. I felt that I had to earn the right to receive Communion; but how? I signed up for classes.

Evening classes for weeks? Really? I’m busy. I wasn’t looking forward to them; but, I was amazed by the philosophical nature of the teachings. I thoroughly enjoyed each class and anticipated the next. I was on a path to a deeper under­standing, advancing towards my goal of the honor of partaking in the Eucharist, and experiencing its true meaning.

Easter arrived. I was baptized. I stood in front of all of you with my candle of light. As I held back tears, receiving the Eucharist was an event that transformed my life.

Stepping Out in Lent – This Lenten season, may we all receive all the Lord has for us, including the Eucharist, Jesus’ gift to us, in a deeper and more meaningful way. We can never earn what He has for us, but He does give us His grace for all He has for us, if we will only receive it.

Author – Paul Marc, originally from Clearwater, Florida, is the CEO of a software development company, Paul Consulting Group. He is a licensed Coast Guard Captain. He has been married to his wife Terri for 21 years and has a son and a daughter, Cameron and Delaney, respectively.

Thursday, April 6

I am the Bread of Life (part two)
John 6:41-51

“This man from the backwoods of Galilee is telling us that he came down from Heaven?!” You can almost hear the mocking tone in the voices of the Jews in verses 41 and 42 challenging such a claim from Jesus, the son of their very human friends, Mary and Joseph. And yet, most of the Jews who had gathered there in Capernaum had just the day before witnessed His miracle of feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. They surely literally hungered after more of the same miracles. Instead of losing His temper, or calling down more manna, fish, or bread, Jesus boldly declares: “I am the Bread of Life . . . If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever.” He offers the greatest news of all – He has come to usher in Eternity for those who place their full trust in Him.

In this passage, Jesus establishes the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist by saying: “I am the Bread of Life.” As I approach the altar each Sunday at St. Peter’s, I concentrate upon the Crucifix and am reminded of the flesh that was pierced and blood that was shed for me, an undeserving sinner brought forth from death. I find both my doubts and selfish petitions quickly fading away in this moment of worship each week. Upon receiving the elements, I am able to lift my eyes boldly and gaze upon Christ the King. He stands with the world in the palm of His hand, reminding me of His promise, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Stepping out in Lent - This Lent, let us remember that Jesus is the life-giving Bread that offers God’s grace made visible within each one of us through His nourishment, sustenance, and never-ending love.

Author – Bill Kritzner is a proud husband to Kristen and the father of three girls. He has experienced God deeply in international mission work and currently serves as the President of the Board of Servants for A*rise Ministry in Gretna, Florida. He attends the Trinity School for Ministry and works with the St. Peter’s men’s ministry and parish discipleship formation.

Wednesday, April 5

I am the Bread of Life (part one)
John 6:27-40

This passage opens as the crowds are tracking down Jesus, because the day before He had fed 5,000 people with five loaves of barley bread and two fishes. He knows their hearts and immediately instructs them to seek the food that endures and leads to eternal life. Jesus goes on to remind them that it was God, not Moses, who provided the manna from heaven to their ancestors who wandered in the desert for 40 years and that “my Father gives you the true bread from heaven” (v 32.) Jesus declares that “I am the bread of life.” Bread figures so prominently throughout Scripture – in sacrifices, as manna from heaven, and in the Last Supper, where it symbolizes Christ’s body broken for us. In all cases, it sustains the human body and our relationship with God.

When I reflect on this passage, I see myself among the people – forgetful, demand­ing, and hard hearted. I am reminded of a time when my heart was hardened and I walked in the ways of the world. I am gladdened that Christ is the bread that “gives life to the world.” Note the present tense; He gives us life every day.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, just as we do every Sunday, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Clearly this request includes all of the basic necessities – food, shelter, and clothing. But it also includes spiritual food to sustain and grow our faith, our trust and reliance on God.

Stepping Out in Lent – During this Lenten Season, I am reminded that God is the giver of life, and all who believe in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life. It is through His grace and mercy that we come to a saving faith and He provides what we need to sustain and grow that faith.

Author – Jackie Pugh and her husband, Tom, have been members of St. Peter’s for almost two years. She serves on the Altar Guild and has participated in several Bible studies. She is the proud step-mom to three children and grandma to Levi, Sawyer and Ava.

Tuesday, April 4

Jesus Walks onWater
John 6:16-27

When I’m trying to get from one place to the next or from one day to the next, and a “storm” blows-in, making all kinds of trouble for me, it feels as if all I know is being tossed about without any concern about what damage may result.

My life seems to be much like the boat the disciples rowed across the storm-tossed sea. The ups and downs of this world toss me about, and at times it feels like the little boat that I cling to in this world will overflow, and I will drown in madness and chaos. In the middle of the storm, Jesus comes to me and offers His help. Sometimes, I don’t recognize Our Savior, for He works in ways that are mysterious to me. His offer to help may even scare me because it’s unknown and different. However, after accepting Jesus and letting Him ride in the vessel of my life, my journey and struggles end. He’s brought me to the safety of the shore where I needn’t struggle any longer. Jesus protects my journey through this life, but He also wants to give me life that lasts forever. The food and the stuff of this world will not sustain me; I’ll always need more. Regardless of how much I consume, the emptiness of my soul will never be filled. The only thing that can keep me satiated is Jesus. He offers everlasting life from the Father and desires for us (you and me) to accept His gift.

Stepping Out in Lent – What struggles in this world have left you adrift and unmoored in the chaos of life? Have you asked Jesus to be with you during your struggles?

Author – Richard Lynes is married to Jennifer and shares the joy of raising three beautiful girls, Morgan (8), Madison (6) and Montgomery (3). He is a stay-at-home dad, but also teaches science at Christ Classical Academy. At St. Peter’s, he teaches Sunday School, and volunteers with the Men’s Ministry Council, the Parking Brigade, Ushers, and cooking team for the Men’s Breakfast.

Monday, April 3

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
John 6:1-15

Today we see Jesus miraculously feed 5,000 men with a boy’s lunch. As I read it, I am struck with the interaction that Jesus has with His disciples. Jesus asks, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Phillip’s reaction is perfectly practical, saying that 200 days of labor would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little. Then Simon says that there is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish. What a thing to say! In the face of feeding over 5,000 men (it might have been at least 20,000 including women and children), Simon suggests five loaves and two fish! It’s obvious that this amount of food is insufficient for the need, but something inspires this little boy to offer it anyway. It takes an amazing amount of courage to offer up what is clearly insufficient, and this type of courage is birthed in hope. When Jesus asks them where they are to buy bread, this little boy answers with his own meager lunch, offered in the hope of what Jesus can make from it.

Stepping Out in Lent – This passage challenges us: Do we trust Christ enough to give our meager “lunches” up to Him? Do we know Him enough to believe that He can take the little we have, even when it is absurdly insufficient, and make it a feast for the hungry? Simply put, do we hope in Him? Let’s pray that our hearts and minds would be so filled with the hope of the gospel that when Christ calls out, “How are we to feed these people?” each of us could answer, “Lord, here is my lunch. Without You it would be good for nothing, but in Your hands it is more than enough.”

Author – Hope Eltomi is married to Brian Eltomi and has been attending St. Peter’s for over five years. She is regularly involved in prayer ministry, small group ministry, and works with the discipleship ministries team on the Prayer for the City service held on the 1st Monday of every month.

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, April 2

The Pharisees Demand a Sign
Mark 8:11-21

There are two sections in this passage. In verses 11-12, the Pharisees wanted to “test” Jesus, so they asked for a “sign”—not because it would help them believe in Him—but to expose Him as a false prophet. Knowing their intent, Jesus “sighed deeply”, wondering why they were asking for a sign, and said, “No sign will be given to this generation”. The irony is that Jesus, only a few days before, had miraculously fed thousands with only a few loaves and fishes—a sign the Pharisees had apparently missed (or refused to see).

In verses 13-21, Jesus and the disciples were traveling across the lake, and the disciples realized they had only one loaf of bread. Jesus heard their concern and said, “Watch out—beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” The disciples asked each other if Jesus was talking about their lack of bread, and He asked them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? . . .” He then reminded them of the recent feeding of the thousands and how many “baskets full of pieces” were gathered after everyone had been fed.

We might think, how could the disciples not understand the significance of what they’d seen and heard in the miraculous feeding of thousands? But don’t we, too, in times of trouble and nonchalance, fail to see or understand signs of the Lord in our daily lives? How can we fail to remember and understand that our very existence, and all that we have or need, has come from His hand?

Stepping Out in Lent - Jesus became frustrated with the disciples because they were focused on bread, when the “bread of life” was sitting in their midst! Let us strive to see and understand that Jesus (the Sign) is in our midst—in times of need and plenty—and has given us both life and life eternal by His death and resurrection.

Author – Peter Martin has been an attorney in private practice since he and wife Louisa moved to Tallahassee in 1989. They are now delighted grandparents of twin grand-daughters, aged 1 ½ years old.

Saturday, April 1

Slaves to Righteousness
Romans 6:12-23

Does living under God’s grace as Christians give us the freedom to sin as much as we want? In our reading today, the Apostle Paul answers that question with an emphatic, “By no means!” (v. 15). Paul then expands upon his answer by contrasting two types of slavery: slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness. Slavery was common among the Romans during the early first century. Some estimate that as many as thirty to forty percent of the population were enslaved! Slaves knew what it was like to have a master, and could only hope to one day be freed from their bondage. Being a slave to sin means to live a life of perpetual lawlessness and impurity, separated from God and subject to His wrath. The ultimate payment and judgment for this choice is death. But when we put our faith in Jesus, God through His infinite grace ransoms us from our slavery by paying a price – the blood of His son Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus died and was raised again so that we may be reconciled to God to live eternally with Him. Sin is no longer our master. God is our master. We are now slaves to God and to His righteousness.

When I reflect on this passage, I am thankful that God has broken the chains of sin in my life, cast off my old sin nature, and is daily renewing my life in Him. I am nothing without Him!

Stepping Out in Lent – If it sometimes seems that this basic Christian doctrine fails to alleviate the guilt of our sin, we would do well to dwell on this verse and claim its promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Author – Elaine Ford loves serving God wherever He leads. She is currently the co-chair for the English Fayre and she and her husband, Mike, serve with the Charles Simeon Institute. Their daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter also attend St. Peter’s.

Friday, March 31

Dead to Sin, Alive in God
Romans 6:1-11

In today’s scripture reading, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, speaks of the death of sin and resurrection of life in Jesus: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin” ( v. 6). In other words, sin will no longer define our lives as long as we are alive in Christ. As believers in Christ, we can take comfort in knowing that our sins are forgiven through the crucifixion of Christ. Just as Jesus rose from the dead, we who believe in our salvation through Him, “might walk in newness of life” (v.4), i.e., freed from the power of sin. We now have the power to choose not to sin.

As I reflect on our world today, Paul’s words provide comfort when, despite our power, we all at times fall short in our walk with Christ. No longer will guilt and persecution rule the mind of believers: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (v. 5).

Stepping Out in Lent – I encourage you today to embrace the love of Christ Jesus and to take comfort that His death has removed our sins. We are born again (walking in newness of life) through our death with Christ and we will be united with Him in our resurrection into eternal life. Take great comfort knowing that no matter what challenges life gives us, we will be united with Him. Start today with a renewed love of Jesus, and offer yourself as an instru­ment of righteousness.

Author – Keith Cooksey is married to Amy Cooksey and together they have three children: Bryson, Carolyn and Mary Beth. Keith is an avid sports fan and enjoys spending time outside with family and friends. He and his family have been members of St. Peter’s for 10 years.

Thursday, March 30

Death in Adam, Life in Christ
Romans 5:12-21

In this theologically challenging passage, Paul explains the meaning and origin of sin and death through Adam, and the good news of spiritual and eternal life through Christ. Because of Adam’s rebellion against God (Gen. 2:16-17), “sin and death” is the default condition of human beings. Paul refers to “death” as the consequence of this rebellion. “Death” here refers to both physical and spiritual death. Our sins keep us from God’s perfect plan for us on earth. God intended us to be fully human, conformed to His image (Gen. 1:27-28).

Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the human condition has been altered for all who follow Him. “Sin” and “death” no longer rule us. The life He has given us is both physical (Gen 1:27) and spiritual. Yes, our bodies will die, but we will live eternally with Him. Through the Holy Spirit, our spiritual selves are given the grace to grow toward God’s perfect plan for us. Through God’s grace and gift of the Holy Spirit, our sin need not rule us. Paul is giving us the best of all news!

I am tempted to rebel against God on a daily basis. The “respectable” sins, described by author Jerry Bridges (self-righteousness, pride, lack of self-control, among others), are part of my life. I’m frustrated that I have to deal with them over and over again. Were it not for Paul’s teaching on this subject, I would become despondent and be tempted to give up. But my “condition” before God is changed!

Stepping Out in Lent – Let’s remember: if we accept Jesus’ work of salvation, God accepts us, loves us, and gives us every gift: our physical bodies will die, but life will be eternal. God’s abundant grace is poured out to move us forward in humility and in gratitude for His life-giving Son.

Author – Susan Eaton and her husband Tom have been members of St. Peter’s since 2008. She is grateful for all the adult educational opportunities at St. Peter’s and hopes to become more involved with the Charles Simeon Institute in the near future.

Wednesday, March 29

Peace with God Through Faith
Romans 5:1-11

In today’s reading Paul reminds me that God has given us “access” to all we need to live a holy life in Christ. Paul writes, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2). Paul says he accesses God’s grace by faith and then lives out his life standing in it and continuously accessing it!

Hebrews 12:14 likewise challenges us to “strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” There are areas of my life in which I seem to go in and out of consciously living for Christ, areas where I have desires that are contrary to the Life of Christ, and where I need to actively make an effort to obtain the grace to which God has given me access. When I only want to fire back at someone who has offended or hurt me, I must access God’s grace; when my thoughts and motives are totally self-serving and sinful, I must access His grace.

God’s grace will not only sustain a life of holiness for us, but it will also keep us grounded in His love and forgiveness when we fall short. The challenge is that it is only with great energy and faith that we ask God for the grace we need to put forth the effort to strive for peace and holiness. Dallas Willard puts it this way, “Having been found by God, we then become seekers of ever-fuller life in him. Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort.”

Stepping Out in Lent - This is the question: Are we accessing the grace Paul says he and all disciples of Christ stand in? The only way to sustained holiness in Christ is through active effort to access God’s grace.

Author – Michael Thompson actively serves in Prison Ministry, Adult Formation Committee and is committed to growing in Christ alongside his brothers and sisters in his Acts group.