Firestarters and Readings from April 5 to May 23, 2015

Dear Friends:

I’m pleased to share the next the Firestarters and readings for the Easter Season

Easter Week: April 5-11.  Click here
The Second Week in Easter: April 12-18   Click here
The Third Week in Easter: April 19-25  Click here
The Fourth Week in Easter: April 26-May 2   Click here
The Fifth Week in Easter: May 3-9 Click here
The Sixth Week in Easter: May 10-16 Click here
The Seventh Week in Easter: May 17-23 Click here

Blessing to you these blessed days of the Easter Season,
Pastor Nick

A Place to Find God

Saturday – The Torah
Exodus 26

I’ll bet you never went camping in a tent like the one that God told Moses to build in the desert! This was to be the first holy place where God wanted to be adored and worshipped by God’s people as they went from Egypt to the Promised Land. They would be in this desert wandering for forty years. Now that’s a long time, so God thought it would be good for them to have a kind of portable “church” called a tabernacle where they could pray when they had rest stops on their journey.

Do you have a special place in your house where you and your family pray? Now don’t put up your tent–that’s for vacation! Why not get your family together and figure out a spot in your house? Set it up in a special way so that you will sense God’s presence when you go there. How about finding a special time to read God’s Word each day and to pray with your family.

Here’s an idea. This Bible passage is hard to picture, so you might check out for a full size model of this sacred tent.

The Reading for Today
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Daily Bible Breaths

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for the original version.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Pressing About Jesus

Friday of the Fourth Week in Epiphany
Mark 1:32-45

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

Crowds often press anxiously against the front doors of stores waiting for them to open for some big sale that’s going on. Everyone longs to get the very best deal on clothing, electronics, or some other item that excites the crowd.

St. Mark tells us that crowds pressed around Jesus, longing not for some “thing” they think will make them happy, but for healing from diseases that threaten their lives. One by one, Jesus places his loving hands on people and they are healed. However, much more than the crowds pressing about Jesus, is Jesus himself coming near, pressing about and embracing hearts so that healing can happen for body, mind and spirit.

Jesus used to pass long hours of the night in prayer. When you wake up at night, breath in and out this prayer: “In the night I pray to You.”

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

Faith Is the Victory

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Epiphany
1 John 5:1-12

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

John Wesley, eighteenth century founder of the Methodist movement, said that we have a sixth sense. Sometimes this is called “intuition”—getting to know something by our feelings, rather than by reason. John Wesley said that the sixth sense is faith—the inward power to know something as true, even though the knowledge is beyond our five physical senses. The heart of today’s reading is verse 4: “This is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith.”

I once had a spiritual director by the name of Cyril Schommer. He was both a priest and a concert violinist. He became totally blind late in his life. He claimed that he could play the violin better by being blind. Hearing became more sensitive.

So it is with faith. When outer senses fade away, faith has a chance to grow. Rest for some moments with this Bible Breath on verse 4: “Our faith is the victory.”

Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

Tears in God’s Bottle

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Epiphany
Psalm 56

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

With David as his inspiration, the writer of this psalm makes prayer the very first thing on the day’s agenda. When David used his slingshot to kill Goliath, David new beforehand that it was going to strike Goliath. This was because David first connected his heart to God in prayer so that the connection of his hand and eye would go straight to Goliath’s head.

In today’s psalm the writer has much more than one giant towering over him. He is tormented by many enemies that press against him in all kinds of ways. By praying first, terror gives way to peace and confidence that God’s power would win out in the end.

I love verse 8: “Put my tears into Your bottle.” Each one of our teardrops is precious to God who gathers them together so that they would not be lost. When you are hurting and feel alone, just turn to God who is already looking on you with love and hugging you in God’s heart.

Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

Have It Jesus’ Way

Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Epiphany

Judges 17

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

Burger King has a saying they use in advertising: “Have it your way!” Today’s reading is about what we find in the world’s values, based on what each person selfishly wants, forgetting about what’s good for the community.

The holy office of being a priest was offered for sale as Micah (not the prophet) hired a priest for his benefit alone. How’s that for being self-centered! Micah’s only concern was for his own well being with the idea that he could own a priest.

Because we live in Christ, we share in his holy priesthood. We are all priests, not for ourselves alone, or for the selfish benefit of a few, but for the world which hungers for love and God’s saving grace in Jesus. Let’s change the name from “Burger King” to “Priestly King,” altering, “Have it your way” to “Have it Jesus’ way.”

Tuesdays are dedicated to Old Testament history and the “Writings.”

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

The Bank of Heaven

Monday of the Third Week in Epiphany
Isaiah 48:10-22

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

One of my dear friends in ministry was a man named John. For years he had suffered from cancer that eventually took his life. Every once in a while he would need to have a transfusion—new blood flowing into him. One time his medical insurance refused to pay for the expensive procedure. Besides being frightened and sad about his disease, he was angry.

As I sat by his side, I found myself searching for ways to give meaning to his distress. I said to him, “John, because you trust in God, I believe that there is a bank in heaven that deposits your faith so that others who are losing faith can draw from yours.”

Verse 10 of today’s reading uses the image of fire purifying us so that nothing but faith in God remains. So take whatever is bothering you—big pain or little pain—and purify it by depositing it into the Bank of Heaven so that others can draw from your precious faith.

Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

The Net of God’s Love

The Fourth Sunday in Epiphany
Mark 1:14-20

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” No doubt you’ve had this question put to you, perhaps by an older person bending over to talk with you, because you were much smaller than they were.

If someone were to have asked this question to one of the fishermen in today’s story when he was a little boy, most likely he would have said, “My family from way back only does one thing: we fish. It’s a family business. I never thought about being anything else in my life.”

In just five verses, this totally changes for two sets of brothers: Simon (later renamed Peter) and Andrew, and James and John. Perhaps it is because they are very good at fishing—very patient and dedicated—that Jesus knows how these qualities would be perfect when it comes to fishing for people. They are to gather lonely, lost people into the net of God’s love. Whatever you want to be when you grow up, they’ll be nothing like bringing people together in love.

Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from the Lectionary.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults

The New Passover

The Sabbath Torah Portion – Exodus 12:14-28

Pastor Nick reads the one-minute Firestarter.

The tenth and final plague against the Egyptians is about to happen: the angel of death will soon come to the houses of Egyptian families and kill the first born males. How will death know the difference between the homes of Egyptians and those of the Hebrews? Today’s reading tells what Hebrew families are to do. Hyssop, a lovely shrub that grows around the world, is to be dipped into the blood of the lamb to be eaten and then smeared on the doorposts of Hebrew houses so that death will “Passover” those homes; thus the name for this celebration of freedom.

Hyssop was dipped into vinegar and brought to the lips of Jesus on the cross in John 19:29. St. John wants us to feel the connection with the blood of the lamb smeared on the doorposts of the Hebrews and the vinegar smeared on Jesus’ lips. The Resurrection of Jesus: the new Passover!

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah Readings.

Daily Bible Breaths

Original Version for Adults