From Fear to Compassion — Murl Baker Lenten devotional for March 14, 2022

Read Genesis 15:5-6:

He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Read Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!

If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Read Philippians 3:20:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.           

Prayer: Jesus, we sometimes let our fear and lack of understanding keep us from believing Your promises and showing Your love to others. Open our hearts to compassion. Amen.

In the reading from Genesis, God tells Abraham to look at the night sky and try to count the stars. God assures the aged and childless Abram that his descendants, like the stars, will be too many to count. In Psalms, David sings a song of trust in God. In Philippians, Paul urges the church at Philippi against wrong living noting that our homeland is in Heaven as we wait the return of the Lord.

We live with a lot of fear in our lives: our health, the adequacy of our wealth, the happiness and wellbeing of our families, our communities, our nation, our world. If you were selected to visit Mennonite communities in Ukraine to bolster their faith, what words, what themes would you want the Holy Spirit to put in your mind and your mouth?