Reading: Matthew 28: 1-15
The battle was won. Death lost its sting. All the vaults of heaven resounded on that day. Early Sunday morning, two women went to the place where their Lord had been buried at the start of the weekend. An angel appeared and told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead. They were instructed to go tell the other disciples and spread the good news.
What a great day! Every Sunday, we should remember the resurrection. After all, that is why the Christian sabbath is on the first day of the week.
Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen Indeed. Alleluia! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Bonus Devotional: Share the Joy
“Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid.” --Luke 23: 50-53
One day I received a package in the mail. I couldn’t imagine what it could be or why the sender was sending me this package. So I opened it, and discovered many items: a cassette tape, some postcards, a letter, a small fortune-telling device, and a decoration to put on my wall. I was very excited about the package. It brought joy to my life and was a very nice gesture by the gift-giver.
I often think of the gesture made by Joseph of Arimathea. He gave his family tomb to be used to place the body of the crucified Messiah. He, in his own little way, brought joy to the not-yet-risen Christ by showing his selflessness. He took Jesus’s body and gave it a resting place.
How are you like Joseph of Arimathea? Do you ever show acts of kindness toward others and through your acts bring joy to our Risen Lord? The gift I once received in the mail brought me great joy. I was excited to share that joy with others. How will you share the joy of the Resurrection to those you meet this Easter season?
--Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 27: 62-66
Imagine the day after Jesus' death. His followers, devastated after witnessing the public death of their master, were in mourning. Jesus said He would rise from the dead, but at that point in time, His followers were not thinking of that.
Jesus’ enemies remembered His talk of resurrection. They were afraid His disciples would steal the body and say the Lord had risen. They were afraid that news of a resurrection would be a greater deception than Jesus calling himself a King.
Pilate went to great lengths to make sure the tomb was secure. His concern actually helped the disciples spread the resurrection news. Had the Romans not provided the extra security, they later could have said the disciples stole the body. But, a sealed tomb with a Roman guard watching it would make that claim sound silly.
In our time, especially since September 11, 2001, we have lots of security measures. Surveillance cameras, metal detectors and guards are designed to provide secure places. In biblical times, they did not have these techniques. They only had human guards watching the tomb. And those guards would end up being eyewitnesses to the resurrection.
Imagine their tale after that blessed Sunday morning. What do you tell others about the resurrection? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 27: 1-61, Psalm 22
One of the most solemn days of the year. Good Friday. The day that we mark Christ's crucifixion. When I was a young boy, the local YMCA sponsored a Father/Son Good Friday Breakfast each year at a church up the street from my house. My dad usually went to them and asked me every year if I wanted to go. For a while I declined saying that it was a day off school and I wanted to sleep in. Getting up to be at a breakfast at 7:00 a.m. wasn't for me.
One year I decided to go with my dad. My reason probably wasn't the best- I should have gone because I wanted to share an experience with my dad but I went because I had a friend in school that always went to the event and I figured if he could get up and go, so could I. After that year, I began going regularly. But my reason did change for the good- I wanted to go so that I could spend some time with my dad. One particular Good Friday the breakfast portion of the program was not held because the church had a flood in the basement. That year, my dad gave the program. He did a monologue as if he were Peter. He had done it at my home church before and he gave an outstanding performance.
I came to look forward to those Good Friday breakfasts. Now, I wish I hadn't been as stubborn when I was younger and had gotten out of bed to attend. Spending time with my dad on Good Friday was a great way to mark the wonderful gift that God gave to us that day- sending His Son to die for us at Calvary. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 26, Exodus 12: 1-20
It was time to celebrate the Passover and Jesus gathered his disciples into the Upper Room to break bread together. It was there that Jesus foretold of His betrayal. It was there that Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to the men who had followed Him in His ministry. He told them that it was His body, broken for them. He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them telling them that it was His blood shed for them and for all people for the forgiveness of sins. A new covenant between the Lord and His chosen people. And He told them that He would never again drink of the fniit of the vine until He drank it in His Father's kingdom. They sang a song and went to the Mount of Olives to pray. By the end of the night, He would be arrested and taken to the high priest. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 25
What did you do or say to your family members today? What did you do to a fellow motorish when they cut you off? What did you say to the secretary at work who was annoying you? How did you treat the waitress at lunch? What actions against your boss did you engage in today? How did you treat the store clerk when you stopped to get a candy bar? What did you say to a co-worker when they didn't do what you asked them to? Was your attitude on the phone with the telemarketer becoming of a Christian?
Whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, so you do unto Christ. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 24
We know not the day or hour that the Lord will return. Isn't it interesting that this lesson is taught by Jesus on the week that He would be crucified and then raised from the dead. We must be ready at all times for the second coming.
How do we get ready? That's a tough question to answer. But knowing that we are going to a better place tells me that there is not much preparation. We don't really need anything where we are going- we just need to believe in Jesus Christ and accept His grace. As Jesus also preached His last week, heaven is a place where we will live in harmony with other children of God.
Are You Ready? Shouldn't you be? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 22: 15- 23: 39
A hen gathers her brood under her wings. Jesus wanted to gather His children under His wings like the hen. It is nice to be taken under someone's wings. It was right about this time of year when I started one of my full-time jobs. Of course, I was a little apprehensive, now knowing what to expect. But I felt a lot better when one of my co-workers took me under his wing, taking me around to meet people and giving me some advice. He even took me out for lunch that day. I am very grateful that he was there to show me the ropes and teach me things he learned in his short tenure with our employer. Since that first day, we grew close as friends and looked out for each other in our workplace. God does the same thing for God's children. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Matthew 21; Phillipians 2: 5-11
What is the best parade you have ever seen? When I ponder that question, I don't think I can come up with one answer but several parades do stand out in my mind. As a child, I saw the Hagerstown, Maryland, Mummer's Parade, which is a long parade with spectacular floats. At Disney World, I've seen the Light Parade, which is very nice. The Penn State Homecoming Parade for me is also a grand old parade with lots of floats and musical acts.
Jesus' entry into Jerusalem was also a parade of sorts. Crowds gathered and spread cloaks and palm branches on the roadway. Instead of riding in a float, waving to the crowd, Jesus rode a donkey. "Hosanna to the Son of David," they cried. "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." The first day of the week, Jesus was treated like a king, riding into the city. By the end of the week, the king would be wearing a crown of thorns on His way to Calvary. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Galatians 6:2
Do you have someone who confides in you? Someone who will tell you their troubles and will ask for your advice? Someone who uses your shoulder to learn on?
It may be tough at times to be a person like that. You may get consumed with that other person's problems. You may worry about that person.
But Paul tells us that we are to bear another's burdens. We are to take the role of friend and confidant seriously. We are to let that person lean on us for as long as necessary.
I have been privileged to have several people trust in me enough to share their problems with me and use me as a shoulder to lean on. And while at times that wasn't easy for me, I have always tried to be up for the challenge. I know that God wants me to help bear their burdens. And someday, they may be able to do the same for me.
Be there for others when they need it. Help to bear their burdens. And pray about it-- the Lord is also one who will bear our burdens for us. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray for those who have confided in you.
Holy Week begins tomorrow. For our devotions this week, we will be doing something a little different than the format we've been using. We will be reading the Passion story from the Gospel of Matthew, with some other important verses added on certain days. Each day, you should read the passage along with the reflection. Spend time this week meditating on these chapters and praying for joys and concerns, especially prayers of thanksgiving for Jesus' sacrifice.
To set your mind on this important week in the life of the Church, read Matthew 20. Then, read this reflection:
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus told his followers of His destiny. He told them that He would be handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death, and nailed to a cross. Then, after three days, He would rise from the dead.
To me, the story of the final days of Jesus Christ's days on earth is one of the greatest stories told. From His triumphant entry into Jerusaleum, to the Last Supper, and then to His arrest, Jesus Christ knew what was going to happen to Him. And to think that He did nothing wrong but did it for you and me-- what love was shown that week!
I never tire of hearing that great story; the story of overcoming death and washing away our sins forever. Long live the King! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reading: Leviticus 19: 11-17
You may have heard in church the phrase "law and gospel." It describes two distinct ways God related to God's people. In the Old Testament, God gave many laws to obey. Some were very strict and specific. The people of those days tried their best to adhere to the many laws that God had given them.
But when Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins in the New Testament, we were no longer bound by the law. We only have to believe and follow Him. What great news! Keep that in mind when you read the laws of the Old Testament. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Try to list the Ten Commandments, in order. Check your Bible to see how you've done.
Reading: Psalm 94:8
Education is a terrific thing. As I have gotten older, I have seen the value of education. I have seen how important it is to learn new things. I think that learning is one of the greatest gifts we have been given.
An old saying goes "you are never too old to learn." I think that is true. And just as we are never too old to learn, we are never to old to learn more about God. We may read a passage of scripture today and it doesn't mean anything to us. But if we read the same passage in a few years, it may mean a whole lot to us.
Keep learning about God. You'll be glad you did! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray that your mind will open up to learn more about God.
Reading: Psalm 128
My maternal grandparents were married for 60 years and a day. My grandmother died the day after they celebrated their 60th anniversary. She was in ill health and I really think she wanted to make it to that milestone before she passed away.
My paternal grandparents were married for 53 years. As a young boy, I remember going to their 50th anniversary celebration. The entire family and many of my grandparents' friends joined them at this auspicious occasion.
My family lived away from both sets of grandparents. I didn't see them too much growing up but I still have fond memories of them. When I look at all four of my grandparents, I see men and women of extreme faith. They served their congregations in various positions. They sang old hymns, both in church and in the home. And, their love of God was passed down to their children, my parents, and then to me and my sister. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a Christian family, learning Christian values, being shown Christian love.
I often think of others who were not as blessed. Some have been fortunate enough to learn about God's love later in life. But others still have no idea. It is unfortunate that they have not seen or heard about the Light of the World. I wonder what we could all do about that? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray for a faith influence in your life, or for those who need to see the light.
Reading: Hebrews 11: 1-3
I ask you the question "what is the difference between believing in something and having faith in something?" Often times the words "belief" and "faith" are interchanged. But are they the same?
A member of my family gave a good interpretation of these words. He too was asked the question I have posed and his answer was this: "I believe we have a government in Washington, D.C., but I have no faith in it." I thought that was a pretty good interpretation of the two words.
In Hebrews, we are told that faith is believing in things we do not see. By faith, we understand how the world was created. By faith, we can get through the trying times in our lives, knowing we have hope and strength through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
How strong is your faith? How much would you stand up for what you believe in? Is there a difference? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Reflect upon this quote by Edith Hamilton. "Faith is not belief. Belief is not passive. Faith is active."
Reading: 2 Peter 1: 10-11
The pastors that I know often talk about their "call." They say they were called by God to be a minister and preach God's word. A friend of mine one said that when they get the "call" they should check their caller ID to see where God is calling from!
Not only do pastors have calls but non-pastors as well. We are called to spread the Good News in our own ways. It amy not be in a pulpit, it may be just talking to a friend. It may be doing a random act of kindness or taking time out of your day to send a card to someone in need. We are all called to do God's work no matter what our occupation. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray about your call. Ask God to help continue to help you find what God is calling you to do.
Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-12
Today is the day that those who are of Irish decent celebrate their heritage. There are parades, wearing of the green, perhaps overindulging on a colored beverage, and large celebrations. St. Patrick's Day is a day to celebrate who we are. It is a day to show the world that we have ancestors who come from Ireland. Wouldn't it be great if we would celebrate our Christian roots with the same hoopla as we do Irish roots on St. Patrick's Day? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Read this Wikipedia article about St. Patrick to learn more about this historical
Reading: Luke 10: 25-37
The parable you just read is probably one of the most famous stories that Jesus told in His lifetime. I'm sure you heard of the Good Samaritan before, but it is a good story to read again and remind ourselves how to be a neighbor. "Who is our neighbor?" asked the religious leader. That is a question we too should ask ourselves often. We should go out of our way to show compassion towards though we come in contact with.
One day a man who looked scruffy walked into my office building. Two of us were standing there and struck up a short conversation with him. He began talking about how life is precious and we should have a positive outlook. I would have never thought he would have said those things, based on his appearance. But, by being a neighbor, I was treated to his good words. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Say a prayer to God, asking that you become a better neighbor.
For today's devotional, again we will use the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which will also be a big part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers this summer. First, read the passage and then discuss the four questions below. Conclude by reading the reflection and ponder the quote presented.
Reading: Luke 4: 16-21
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? (or for younger kids, which part of the story doesn’t make sense to me?)
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text? (or for younger kids, what is my favorite part of the story?)
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me? (or for younger kids, what does this story remind me of?)
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text? (or for younger kids, what is God or Jesus doing in this story?)
In this passage, Jesus' mission is outlined for us. Jesus recounts the prophecy of Isaiah and tells the people of Nazareth that he is the one who is fulfilling this prophecy. He tells the people that he has come to save them. Of course we know that he was the one to save us from sin. That was his mission.
What is your mission in life? Or rather, what is God's mission for you? As you journey through life and through your spiritual walk, you sometimes must make decisions and choices about which road to take, which path to follow. Are the decisions you make leading you closer to accomplishing your mission? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Write your own "mission statement." Start by writing "God's mission for me is..." and complete the sentence.
Reading: Acts 2: 42-47
When I ask myself the questions posed above, my answer probably would be that I don't think my life would change much if I played the lottery and won the big prize. I often have said that I think in that case, I'd still keep my job. I would probably take a long vacation, but I would come back to work. I would probably save a lot of the money, give some to charity, maybe buy something extravagant, but I don't think I would want my life to change too drastically because of my new found fortune.
Can you imagine how the lives changed of those who learned about Jesus Christ shortly after his resurrection? When the disciples began preaching in the early days of the Church, many people's lives changed as they began to follow the Risen Lord.
How has your life changed as a Child of God? What do you do regularly to strengthen that relationship? I'm sure it is even better than winning the lottery! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Make a list of things you should do to help grow in your faith and relationship to God.
Reading: Proverbs 13: 20
Look at your life. Look at the people you associate with on a regular basis. I would guess that since you are reading this, you probably surround yourself with some pretty decent people. You probably have good Christian friends who you spend time with regularly. You may even say you associate with a "good crowd."
A Christian author once wrote in a book that I read that one of the principles of life is that "the people you spend time with will influence the direction of your life." I think that is very true. When I look at the people that I have spent the majority of my life with, I see a common thread. They are all good, decent people who have influenced me in positive ways.
I often have thought that I was lucky in high school and college that I didn't get in with the "wrong crowd." If I had, I may have become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Instead, I associated with people who had the values of studying hard, trying to succeed, and trying to do the right thing. I truly was blessed with good people who surrounded me. That has continued through my working life to this day. I believe I know some of the best people in this world!
Our proverb reminds us that those who walk with wise people become wise. Hopefully that is the case in your life. I know it is in mine! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Discuss or reflect on this quote by Henri J.M. Nouwen: "The blessings that we give to each other are expressions of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity."
Camp Mount Luther is participating in a new philanthropic endeavor called "Raise the Region." About 160 non-profit agencies are part of this effort that will last until 11:59 p.m. tonight. We appreciate your support of our ministry through your prayers and financial gifts. If you'd like to donate, you can use the form below or go to www.raisetheregion.org. All donations made today, March 12, 2013, will get some matching funds, prorated based on how much is raised throughout this effort by all the participating agencies. Support Camp Mount Luther today as we "raise the region!"
Reading: Galatians 3: 26-29
In the movie, "The Breakfast Club," high school seniors, who are very different from one another, spend a Saturday in all-day detention. They form a bond that is surprising to each of them, due to the fact that they have differing backgrounds and experiences.
I got to experience something like that one summer. Six people, of different personalities and backgrounds, became very close to one another through being together and complaining together. When I think of that summer, I think of those people working, laughing, and talking together. We spent a lot of time together, mainly because we were unhappy with some of the things we saw going on around us. We would get together on a daily basis to talk about the problems we saw with our co-workers. By being tolerant and supportive of one another, we grew as people. The members of my "Breakfast Club" were truly a blessing in my life that summer and each of them embodied all that a Christian should.
I think that group proved to me that in God's sight, we are all equal. It doesn't matter what race, personality, or nationality we are. We are all precious in God's eyes. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Pray for those who are different than you. Pray that your heart will be open to be accepting to those who have different views and opinions from you.
Reading: Isaiah 41: 1-9
I was a senior in high school when I began my career in radio. The first time I was ever on the air I prepared feverishly, writing out what I would say and getting ready to be on the radio. When it was time, I read what I wrote and thought I did a pretty good job. The problem was, I forgot to turn on the microphone so nothing that I said was heard by anyone. They just heard dead air. I really felt silly but to this day I never forget to turn on the microphone.
Despite my initial faux pas, my program director, who was there with me, still gave me words of encouragement. He worked with me over the coming years and by the time I left that station for another, I had learned all the fundamentals of the radio trade.
God does that for us. God gives us encouragement and works with us to make us better people. God strengthens us and teaches us what we need to know. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Look for an opportunity today to give an encouraging word.
Reading: Romans 12: 4-8
The great thing about people is that we are all different. We are all special. Each one of us walks differently, talks differently, and looks differently. We each have different talents and abilities. Boy would this world be boring if everyone were alike!
We need to use those gifts we have been given by God to do things that are pleasing to God. We need to use our talents to do the Lord's work. Everyone who is part of the Body of Christ can use his or her gifts to share the gospel with others.
Decide what your gifts are and then use them to do pleasing acts for God. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Listen to this song that we have sung at camp. It's called "I Am Special" by Steve Eulberg. It reminds us of our lesson today that we all are special and can use your God-given gifts for good.
Reading: James 5: 13-16
If you suffering, if you are happy, if you are sick, or if you are a sinner, this verse tells you that you should pray with others to help you get through the hard times. You should praise your joys and confess your sins. Sometimes it is hard to pray with others. You may find it easier to pray to the Lord alone.
But praying together has merits. Once, I was discussing a troublesome situation with a friend. After a period of conversing, my friend said, "Let's pray about it." So we did. We stopped what we were doing and turned to God, asking for God's help for both of us to deal with this particular situation. No one had ever done that with me before. But it was a good experience.
We also teach our summer staff to "pray on the go." Because counselors are constantly on the go, they may not feel they have the time to stop and spend time in prayer. So, we tell them that they can pray on the go. When they see something lovely—a flower, an animal, a rock, a camper—they should just name it and thank God either silently or out loud. “That is a beautiful wild violet—thanks, God.” “Tami just helped Aaron get that fish off the hook, God is good.” We also remind them that there will be times on the go which are a bit frightening, or confusing. In those cases they should think or voice, “I need help, God.”
We should not be afraid to see those around us who are suffering and offer a prayer with them. To recognize a bad situation and want to help a person out by praying, like my friend did, is commendable. The power of prayer is alive and well in the lives of God's faithful! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
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