Showing Mon Jan 21 - Sun Feb 17, 2019

2017 Series

Monday, January 21, 2019: Isaiah 34-35

It is important to see these two chapters together. Chapter 34 is all about God’s judgement against the nations for their opposition to His will. Chapter 35 in contrast begins with a vision of a new and restored land and a revived people.

- How do these two chapters help your understanding of the consequence of disobeying God’s law?

- What manifestations of God’s judgement occur in our present day context? Reflect on these manifestations in light of the grace of God which comes to us through of our Lord Jesus Christ which offers forgiveness, life and salvation.

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019: Isaiah 36-37

Chapters 36 and 37 reflect the story of the people of God today inasmuch as it does that of the people of God in the time of Isaiah. These chapters lift up the temptations of the people of God then, and now, to depend on the best of human reasoning rather than on the promises of God in the face of great difficulties.

- Faced with impending military disaster, King Hezekiah turned to the Lord God in prayer. Take a moment to reflect on how you/your parish have responded in the face of difficult decisions? Have you/your parish always brought your difficulty before God in prayer, trusting God to provide guidance and direction?

- As we seek to address the reality of declining membership in our parish/Synod, how does God’s promise that He will enable the ‘remnant’ to rise up help the resolve of God’s people to lean on God’s Word alone in our life together and our evangelistic efforts?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019: Isaiah 38-39

Here we read of God’s answer to the prayers of Hezekiah in the face of death. God provides Isaiah as a messenger to assure Hezekiah of His answer of healing and extension of life.

- Reflect on your own life or that of those close to you. Have God ever used someone to assure you that your prayers have been answered?

- Hezekiah responded in thanksgiving to God for answered prayer. Reflect on your response and that of others you know to answered prayer? Was it one of thanksgiving? What specific form did the thanksgiving take?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Thursday, January 24, 2019: Psalm 76; Isaiah 40

Psalm 76 is a celebration of the God of Jacob’s invincible power and judgement in defense of Jerusalem, His royal city. Isaiah 40 reveals that after the manifestation of God’s judgement in the Exile, God announces comfort and deliverance to His people. This passage points to the incarnation of our Lord and His forerunner John the Baptist.

- How does the invincible power of God strengthen your faith journey in today’s world?

- In light of the many difficult challenges facing the people of God in America today, how does God’s promise of comfort and deliverance inform your hope for the future?

- How does power of the almighty God become to you in and through our lord, Jesus Christ?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Friday, January 25, 2019: Isaiah 41-42

In chapter 41 we read of God’s appeal to the nations to recognize His sovereignty. Chapter 42 goes on to show how, through His people, God’s will is to be declared, His judgement is to be established and His light is to come to all nations.

- Reflect on how our lives, individually and collectively, as the people of God, reveals God’s will, His judgement and His light to: (a) help strengthen us in our faith and life, in the Church and (b) influence those outside of our faith to embrace the God we believe in.

- God’s Light is His Son, Jesus our Lord. How does the Light of God shine in and through you/your parish?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Saturday, January 26, 2019: Isaiah 43-44

Isaiah 43 begins with the redemptive activity of God and moves on to show that God’s purpose for the world will be declared through His people. Chapter 42 continues this theme, but also goes on to demonstrate that the God of Israel is not an idol made of metal, stone or wood by craftsmen. The God of Israel is The Creator, He is not created. This God, who is both Creator and Redeemer, choses to use both His people and also others outside of Israel, like Cyrus, to accomplish His will.

- Has God ever used you in a specific way to accomplish His will in the life of someone else? Is so, reflect on that experience with humility and thanksgiving.

- Are there ways that God still use people outside the church to accomplish His will? Do you know of any specific instances?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Monday, January 28, 2019: Isaiah 45-46

Cyrus, a non-Israelite, is God’s ‘anointed’ for the benefit of Israel. The theme that the God of Jacob is the only God, there is no other gods, is emphasized throughout chapter 45. Chapter 46 reveals the ineffectiveness of gods made by craftsmen. They have to be carried by ‘beasts of burden’ and are led into captivity, unable to save themselves or others. In contrast the God of Israel carries His people from their birth. To His disobedient people, God declares that He is bringing righteousness and salvation.

- Reflect on how God’s promise of righteousness and salvation is fulfilled in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

- How is God’s righteousness and salvation manifest in your life?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019: Isaiah 47-48

Chapter 47 flows naturally from the last chapter. The gods of Babylon are useless. The purpose of God is to save His people so that the world will know who He is. Babylon, which was the instrument of His divine judgement, must be under that same judgement. In Chapter 48, God calls out stubborn Israel for their half-hearted obedience but goes on to assure them that He will defeat Babylon and they, His people, will be free.

- What are the false gods/idols that threaten to take God’s place in our lives in this modern world?

- How does God lead us away from these false gods/idols back to Himself?

- Is it possible for God’s people today to invoke God’s name but not in truth or righteousness? Is so, in what ways?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019: 2 Kings 18:9-19:37

Here we read of how King Hezekiah was threatened by the military might of Sennacherib, King of Assyria. Hezekiah turned to the God of Jacob in prayer and God answered his prayer and saved His people.

- Reflect on your own life. Can you recall being faced with difficulties and turning to God in prayer?

- How have you experienced God’s answers?

- Even when God does not answer in a way you desired, do you still trust that God’s grace is sufficient for you?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Thursday, January 31, 2019: Psalms 46, 80, 135

Today we read three beautiful psalms. Psalm 46 speaks of the God who watches over His people even in the face of catastrophic events. One of Luther’s favorite. It was the inspiration for his great reformation hymn: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Psalm 80 portrays Israel as a vine brought out of Egyptian bondage and planted by God. It laments that the ‘Vine’ is in need of restoration and pleads with God to restore the Vine, Israel. Psalm 135 is a call to praise God because He is a gracious God who chose Israel to be his very own people. It is this God, the God of Israel, who is in charge of nature and history, and not the deities of the pagans. As such, He is worthy of praise.

- Reflect on how comforting Psalm 46 is in light of the catastrophic disasters, both natural and man-made, we face today?

- Is it comforting to know that God watches over His people amid challenging times?

- The Psalmist describes Israel as a vine planted by God. The Church is the ‘New Israel’. What image would you use to describe the Church?

- Reflecting on your own life and that of your Parish, what specific reasons do you have to praise God?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Friday, February 1, 2019: Isaiah 49-50

Chapter 49 echoes the theme of ‘Restoration and Comfort’ that we have seen in earlier chapters. It also speaks of the experience of Israel and her mission to the nations. Chapter 50 contrasts the obstinate and unfaithful with the Servant and those who heed his words.

- Have you experienced God’s comfort in times of difficulty? Reflect on specific ways that God provided comfort.

- What in your life/parish needs God’s restoration? How can God use you to assist in bringing about the needed restoration?

- How do you respond to those who are obstinate and unfaithful to God? How does your understanding of repentance and forgiveness help your response?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Saturday, February 2, 2019: Isaiah 51-52

Today as you read chapter 51, hear how the people of God are encouraged to stay strong by reflecting on their unique relationship with God, which began with the call of Abraham, in light of the hardships of the exile experience. Also, hear of the announcement of the nearness of God’s new act of redemption. In chapter 52 hear how the mighty God of Israel will cleanse His people and release them from their current hardship. This chapter ends with a reference to the Promised One, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

- In the midst of hardship in your own life and in the life of your parish, how do you experience God’s encouragement to stay strong?

- How does God’s promise to cleanse and release His people from their hardship, help you in your hardships today?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Monday, February 4, 2019: Isaiah 53-54

Chapter 53 gives a picture of how the redemption of God’s people for all time will be accomplished. This will be done through the humiliation of God’s Servant. This chapter mirrors the betrayal, suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus. Chapter 54 contrasts the suffering of the Servant of God, with the future Glory of God’s people.

- As God’s people experienced hardships, it was often difficult for them to see beyond the moment and as such was unable to realize that God loves them and that He is always present with them. Can you identify with this experience?

- If so what specific hardships have you/your parish experienced when you were tempted to wonder if God is present with you?

- How did God come through for you?

- Even if the particular hardship did not go away, how did God enable you to be confident that He is present with you/your parish through your hardship?y

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019: Isaiah 55-56

Here in chapter 55 we read of a renewed vision of the return of the exiles and a restoration of fertility to the land. However the proclamation of this vision is not without its warning, the people must seize the opportunity provided to them. They must seek the Lord and call on Him. The wicked must forsake his ways and the evil his evil thoughts and God will have mercy and freely pardon. Chapter 56 continues this idea that the people must respond to God’s goodness. It also reveals that as God gathers His scattered people, He will also include those who were always on the outside. The chapter ends with severe consequences for corrupt leaders.

- Reflect on your own sin which renders you broken and imperfect. As you do, hear the promise of full forgiveness for all who repent. How does this encourage you to embrace continual repentance in your walk of faith?

- Who are often considered ‘outsiders’ in relation to the people of God? How should you/the church relate to these ‘outsiders’? What is God’s desire for them?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019: Isaiah 57-58

In chapter 57 we get a clear picture of how much God’s people were influenced by the pagan culture in which they lived during their exile years. Their lives no longer reflected the ways of the Lord. There is a strong plea for them abandon these pagan practices and return to way of the Lord. Chapter 58 points out how entrenched these pagan practices were in their lives that they did not realize how much it polluted their worship of the One True God. The people of God are called to return to the way of the Lord.

- Reflect on our own present day culture – it politics, its entertainment appeal, it consumerism, its indifference to the church, etc. To what extent, if any, does the influence of our culture affect our true worship of the Triune God? If so, in what ways?

- How can we guard against polluted worship practices and maintain a worship that is truly one of ‘Word and Sacrament’, where worshippers come to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness life and salvation?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Thursday, February 7, 2019: Isaiah 59-60

Chapter 59 speaks of the sinful actions of Israel which results in separation from God, their acknowledgement of their wrongdoing and God Himself working-out redemption because there is no one else to intervene. Chapter 60 describes the redemption of Israel. God will come as light and that light will shine through Israel and will draw kings and nations to the light. Jerusalem, once destroyed, will be rebuilt and restored to its former glory.

- How does the Word and Sacrament ministry of your parish help you to understand your sinfulness, embrace your need to repent and receive the free gift of forgiveness, life and salvation given to you through Christ?

- In what specific ways does the light of God come to you/your parish and how does that light shine through you/ your parish?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Friday, February 8, 2019: Isaiah 61-62

Chapter 61 begins with that passage of Isaiah that our Lord quoted in Luke 4:18-19 when He pointed to himself as the Messiah. This chapter is a call to proclaim the Good News of God’s promise of Restoration and renewal. One of the functions of the prophet of the Old Testament is to intercede on behalf of the people. Chapter 63 highlights the prophet fulfilling this function by placing his confidence in God’s saving grace, thereby pledging himself in intercessory prayer on behalf of the people.

- Reflect on the opportunities through which God presents to you/your parish the Good News of His restoration and Renewal through Christ. Think of specific opportunities. How did you/your parish’s respond to God’s goodness?

- Does your confidence in God’s saving grace lead you to pray for others?

- When was the last time you prayed for someone other than yourself and/or immediate family and friends?

- Have you ever experience a clear answer to your prayer?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Saturday, February 9, 2019: Isaiah 63-64

Chapters 64 and 65, generally, contain the people’s passionate expression of sorrow for their disobedience to God, and their plea to God for Him not to be angry with them. It is interesting to see how, in pleading with God, they recall all the mighty things He had done for then in the past.

- In your own life and that of your parish how specifically has God been good to you/your parish in your journey of faith? How confident does this make you trust in God’s grace even when you yield to temptation and disobey His Word and/or when you are unfaithful to Him?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Monday, February 11, 2019: Isaiah 65-66

Chapters 65 and 66, the final chapters of Isaiah, do help us to recognize that the same Word of God which is a source of life is also a Word of judgement. In our Lutheran tradition we refer to this understanding of the Word of God as Law and Gospel. The same word which convicts us of our sin (Law), is the same Word that announces forgiveness, life and salvation (Gospel).

- How does speaking of God’s Word in terms of Law and Gospel help you in your journey of faith? Reflect on specific ways.

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019: 2 Kings 20-21

2 Kings 20, tells of Hezekiah turning to God in prayer after the Prophet reveals to him that his life is about to end. God answers his prayer and added 15 years to his life. Hezekiah thereafter erred by attempting to form a friendship with Babylon apparently in an effort to maintain peace. Isaiah warned him that there will be consequences in the future. Chapter 21 tells how both of Hezekiah’s sons, Manasseh and Amon, who succeed him as King of Israel, did ‘evil’ in the eyes of the Lord.

- How does God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer strengthen your own prayer life?

- How do you respond when God’s answer to your prayer is not as clear as it was to Hezekiah?

- Have you ever compromised your beliefs/values in an attempt to maintain ‘peace’? If so, how did that work for you? What does the Word of God say about this?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019: 2 Chronicles 32-33

Here in 2nd Chronicles Chapter 32 the chronicler describes the dire situation that Hezekiah was in under threat of being invaded by Assyria. However, Hezekiah put his trust in the Lord and the Lord came to his rescue. Chapter 33, like chapter 21 of 2 Kings (which we read yesterday), provides a contrast of the leadership of Hezekiah with that of his two sons. Hezekiah constantly turned to God in prayer while his two sons turned their backs on God when they each succeeded their father as king.

- How difficult it is for you to trust God in the face of great challenges?

- If you discover that someone whom God places in a position of leadership in your parish is not following the Word of God, how would God expect you to respond?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Thursday, February 14, 2019: Nahum

Nahum, whose name mean the consoler or comforter, comforts God’s people by prophesies the destruction of Assyria the enemy of God and His people.

- How does God still comfort His people today?

- Has God provided comfort to you personally as you faced difficult challenges? How did God provide that comfort for you?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Friday, February 15, 2019: 2 Kings 22-23

Chapters 22 and 23 of 2 Kings describes the reign of Josiah. Josiah sought to rebuild the temple. During the rebuilding the ‘Book of the Law’ was found by High Priest Hilkiah. Josiah appointed a committee of five to seek direction from the Lord. This lead to Josiah embarking on a massive reform based of the newly found “book of the Law’. Chapter 23 ends on the sad note that Josiah’s reforms died with him as his immediate successors did ‘evil in the eyes of the Lord’ and as such abandoned the reforms put in place by Josiah.

- Our Lutheran tradition keeps alive the 16th century reforms put in place by God through His servant Martin Luther. How have these reforms continued to be a blessing to us as the people of God?

- What aspects of this reform are you most thankful for?

- Do you think that there are aspects of our church life today that needs reform?

- If so, what are these aspects and how do they fall short of what God Word require and as such need reform?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)

Saturday, February 16, 2019: 2 Chronicles 34-35

In 2 Chronicles chapters 34 and 35, the Chronicler describes in more detail the reforms of Josiah. The Chronicler describes in detail how Josiah celebrated the Passover. He gave direct instructions to and support for the Priests and also provided sacrificial sheep and goats for the ‘lay people’. He made this an important celebration of God’s faithfulness for all of the people of God. He also describes how Josiah, in obedience to God’s Word became the great reformer of God’s temple. Yet, he chose to go into battle, against the direction of God, and lost his life in the process.

- Reflect on how our Lord took the Passover and transformed it into the Blessed Sacrament of the altar around which all believers could gather to receive His gifts of forgiveness life and salvation.

- The story of Josiah shows a man who displayed such love for the Lord in all the reforms he led, yet he was also the same man who disobeyed the word of God. How does the story of Josiah help you to understand your need to seek and receive God’s forgiveness even, as through God’s grace, you demonstrate love for the Lord, in service of him?

—James Gajadhar (St. John & Resurrection, Flushing)