Our congregation, pastors, and staff write devotionals to help us experience the seasons of Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) more fully. They are posted below with the most recent on top and do not post until the season begins.

Wednesday, March 21

Psalm 31:19
“How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men. “

I don’t like that word “FEAR.” My first response is: Aren’t I supposed to overcome my fear? I thought “perfect love casts out fear.” So why is God’s goodness stored up for those who FEAR?

Well, I had to figure this out. This is what I found:
Google Dictionary:
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat

Yep, that’s pretty much what I thought. That’s why I don’t like that word. I don’t like pain, danger or anything that threatens me.
Surely, God doesn’t want me to think of Him as painful, dangerous or threatening. Well, I had to dig even deeper and I found this:
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
afraid, fearful
Word Origin From HEBREW ‘yare’
Definition fearing; morally, reverent -- afraid, fear (-ful)

Did you see the full meaning of ‘yare’? It says morally and reverent. Hmmm. Morally, meaning “with morals with reference to right and wrong” and reverent, meaning “with respect.” Well that sounds like Godly fear.

We are so inundated with definitions produced from the world around us. When we take time to dig deeper into the Word, and then even deeper still, to find out what God’s means, we can then be defined by Him and not the world.

I’m Kenna Bynum. Throughout the last eight years, I have served in different ministries including Mothers and Others, VBS, life groups, the Christmas Tea and as a Deacon.

When attempting to reflect on a single meal memory, a flood of flashbacks permeated my thoughts: Thanksgivings & Christmases playing Trivia Pursuit with family in teams, my first Communion as a child, how my husband and ten-year-old daughter call my quick Cheeseburger Mac-n-Cheese the “Best Meal of All Time,” and my special occasion/celebration meals with my husband, and family and friends. These multifarious meals have the same three things in common: preparation, connection and a sense belonging. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, invites, decorations, dressing up and scheduling are different tasks I’ve done to prepare. There’s always effort from everyone involved in a meal. Sometimes it’s the simple effort of just showing up. Once we are together, we connect with embraces, sharing stories, listening, playing, laughing and/or crying and of course eating. It’s in these moments I feel like I belong. The array of remembrances are conjoined and yet distinguishable in their own special way. It occurs to me that Jesus came to prepare my way. He did all the work to give me the opportunity to connect with God in relationship where I receive my fullest sense of belonging. All I have to do is show up! I am so grateful for the table He has set before me to enjoy.

As you prepare your heart during this Lenten season, I pray your connection to God will be strengthened, and you are reminded of your place of belonging within His kingdom. Ask God what is holding you back from connection. Where are you longing for connection? How will you let God define connection in your life?

Tuesday, March 20

Psalm 139:24
“See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. “

DEVOTION BY Mohammad Mahmoudi
As I was thinking back to remember a memory about eating a meal with others, among many of those memories, one of them is still a remarkable between others. Ten years ago about two weeks before we left our country, my family and I participated in a traditional Christmas dinner in our church for the last time. The meal was so special, and we had to reserve our places. After dinner the church members got together and like a large family we could share the stories of blessing or maybe a sorrow. This time was so different for my family and me. We had two different feelings. One was the joy of being with our Godly family with their amazing love toward us and the other feeling was a feeling of missing them. We surely couldn’t see many of them anymore and have a meal with them. Some of them in their later years went to be with their Lord in heaven and participated in His table for sharing a meal with Him (including my teacher). Many of them had to leave the country and had to spread out around the world.

But as I am writing about a meal with Jesus, how can I forget the meal that He prepared for us by His sacrificial death on the cross. I will never forget the first time that I was invited to participate in the Lord’s Supper. We had a Communion service with one of our sister churches in their beautiful church. It was not a regular service on Sunday (or on Friday in our country). It was a specific service just for Communion. I was in the fifth row, and when the pastor asked us for praying and personal confessions in our heart, though I was waiting for this moment for a long time, I felt a challenge in myself. I knew by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and giving my life to Him, I should be ready for remembering His sacrificial death for us, but I needed to ask something from God that I hadn’t asked before. I don’t recall how long I was praying, but I asked God to search my heart and show me if there was anything in there that would prevent me from loving Him and following Him with all my heart, all my thoughts and all my soul. We can’t find the wickedness that lives in the depth of our hearts unless He reveals it to us through His spirit. As I was continuing my prayer and confession, I realized that my wife was whispering that the elder who was sharing the bread and cup had been waiting for me for a long time. I took the bread and cup with tears in my eyes sure that if He had chosen me and forgiven me, He would continue to reveal all my wicked thoughts to me during my whole life in this world, and He would lead me in the way everlasting.

I pray for all of us as David asked the Lord in Psalm 139, see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

My name is Mohammad. I came to the Bel Air Church four years ago. Since that time, I have been helping Farsi speakers to ponder in God’s word, to walk with Him and to find the beauty of His word in their heart language. I also recently began serving Bel Air Church as a deacon.

I pray and ask Him to search our hearts and show us if there be any wicked whether in our hearts, or our lives or even in our habits no matter how deep they are and lead us in His everlasting way which is the only way with His amazing grace.




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