Easter devotions to lift your eyes
During this challenging season where global events are changing so rapidly and many of us are having to adapt to living with uncertainty and loss, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that weāre entering Holy Week.
Whatever youāre experiencing at the moment, looking back to the events of Holy week and looking forward to the resurrection hope we have in Christ brings us helpful perspective. Weāre so grateful that some of our incredible UK church partners, ambassadors and friends of Compassion have shared 8 devotionals that can provide us comfort and point us to the unfailing hope we find in Christ.
Join with us as we share a daily devotional to guide us through Holy Week - check back to see new posts published each day. Rejoice alongside us that Christ has conquered death. He has risen, He has risen indeed.
Palm SundayĀ Ā Ā
Palm Sunday reflection
"As a nation and as a world we are walking though dark days at the moment. People are shut up at home, stock markets have crashed, jobs and businesses have been lost, events have been cancelled and fear is everywhere.
"As I write this two people I know personally have died as a result of the Coronavirus, and I know several more who are sick. I have friends in India who have described the situation they face, and it is far worse than our own; no doubt the poorest of the poor will feel the greatest impact of this crisis.
"As I read about the events of Palm Sunday I find it brings hope, even in times of darkness, sadness and despair. It points us to one of the most wonderful truths about God: that he doesnāt sit remote and distant from human experience. In Jesus, God became a man and lived a human life, with all its ups and downs. In Jesus we see God walking amongst us with humility and compassion.
Children celebrating Palm Sunday at a Compassion project in Tanzania
"We see the Jesusā humility in the way he entered Jerusalem that day. The King of Kings came to us humble and riding on a donkey, not sitting astride a war horse, robed in splendour. Jesus humbled himself that day and would go even further on Good Friday, ābeing found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a crossā.
"We see the compassion of Jesus in Lukeās description of the events. When Jesus saw the city of Jerusalem he wept over it. Being God, Jesus knew the awful events that would soon become Jerusalemās darkest days, when the city was destroyed by Roman armies just a few years into the future. Jesus was moved by Compassion for a lost and broken people he had come to save.
"The humility and compassion of Jesus give us much to be hopeful for. Whatever we are walking though right now he promises to walk through it with us.
"Jesus does not promise us immunity, but he does promises us his presence. He will walk alongside us every step of the way, and when we are moved to tears his compassion for us is greater. There is great hope in knowing that we are loved deeply by God himself, and that he does not leave us to cope alone."
Steve Petch,Ā Welcome Church, Woking
Monday of Holy Week: Jesus at the temple
"This season has got me thinking about the fragile nature of generosity. When our resources are stretched and our income is reduced, we naturally draw our purse strings in. My husband and I make much of our income from touring and events. Itās been a very unsettling time for us, like it has for millions more who are self-employed. I canāt deny, it has brought me face-to-face with a knee-jerk selfishness that doesnāt feel like the me I know and like.
"Iām finding that I am confronted with my flesh in new and surprising ways. And I know Iām not alone. So, Iām reaching into God's word for comfort and looking to Jesus for guidance at this interesting time. As part of Compassionās devotional series over Easter, Iām diving into one of the most compelling stories concerning Jesus - the clearing of the temple.
"Itās not the easiest passage of scripture to make commentary on. During the Easter season, we rightly focus on the role of Jesus as our saviour. We celebrate and meditate on the cross, the death and resurrection of Godās only Son. Our hearts are filled with gratitude at the sacrifice of a perfect life given in exchange for our freedom. So, itās slightly uncomfortable to begin considering the outraged Jesus as he entered and cleansed the temple just days before.
"In Matthew 21:12, we see Jesus 'laying down the lawā, so to speak, with a temple full of dishonest traders. Scripture tells us Jesus storms in, dispersing the crowds and rebuking the traders who are selling livestock and changing money. It shows us a Jesus we are surprised by, a God who will not tolerate dishonest dealings, especially in Godās house.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, āIt is written, āMy house shall be called a house of prayer,ā but you make it a den of robbers.
"Christians often refer to this story, speaking of righteous anger. But what place does this scene have in the Easter story? One thing we know for sure, the Word of God is intentional in every verse. If God put it there, the timing has relevance. In the season weāre in, it certainly speaks to me.
"I believe that just like Easter itself, this crisis has the potential to be an open-house moment for the church. As people draw nearer to God in their time of questioning and need, God wants them to find a temple that is ready to give and not take. Iām not suggesting that our churches are filled with profiteers, but we as individuals are the church and within each of us is the instinct to put ourselves first, especially when times are hard. Iām praying for the courage to be more generous and not less. To give more to my community and not hoard for my own little flock. God is calling us to raise the bar and be a giving people.
"Just like the day that Jesus turned over the tables, I believe God is calling us to get our priorities right. As humans we want to protect ourselves from poverty. We want to stock our cupboards with supplies and hike up prices for products to make up the shortfall in our trade. But as believers we are called to more. We are called to give not just from our riches, but sacrificially.
"Todayās scripture is a reminder to me, that, just like Jesus did, I must continue to stand up for the poor. Those in the communities where our sponsored children are from, who are vulnerable and can so easily be taken advantage of. I will do my best to continue to be a voice for them and to support them, even as I go through challenges of my own. And I will try to do the same for those in my own community who face struggles at this difficult time. We are all in this together."
āLord, help me to be generous, as you are. Help me to treat others well and to put others first, from my behaviour in the supermarket, to my dealings in business. And finally bless all of the children who are supported through sponsorship. Protect them and their families in this time of even greater need. Amen.ā
Tuesday of Holy Week
What a week it had been so far! Jesus knew what was ahead of Him but instead of quiet solitude, every morning he would travel into Jerusalem, spend time teaching the Kingdom of God in the temple courts and then head back every evening to Bethany. His message, as his impending death drew near seemed to be so much about being ready for his second coming with teaching about the signs that we could expect at that time, and stories and parables about Vineyards and Tenants, Talents and Virgins. While all this is going, on the chief priests and elders are plotting against Jesus, and Judas, one of his disciples, whose greatest strength was money and finances, discovered that it was also his greatest weakness as he sold out the Lord for 30 pieces of silver!
Each day Jesus would have come in and gone out through the city gates where many of the poor and marginalised would have been looking for generosity and support. In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus is talking about the fact that when the Son of Man comes, he will show favour to those who didnāt just think of themselves but reached out to the poor and needy and in so doing, they did it for him!
When Jesus became the sacrifice for our sins, justice was delivered on our behalf and mercy and grace extended to us. As we await His coming again how much more should we extend that same love through compassion and material giving to others? What an incredible opportunity we have right now in this season to show kindness and goodness to the most vulnerable in society. Micah 6:8 says āHe has showed you O man what is good and what does the Lord require of you; but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your Godā
As I travel into some of the poorest parts of the world, over and over again I meet those that justice has passed by and whose hope has been extinguished. The hungry, the sick, the thirsty, the naked, the captive. Yet what a privilege it is to come alongside and share the love of Jesus, bringing hope and healing, to then discover that as we minister to the least of these we are ministering to Jesus!
My prayer today is āMay we be kept from the love of money and the selfishness that often accompanies it and instead be people with big hearts and big pockets. May we find our treasure in helping others for where our treasure is there will our hearts be alsoā Amen!
Tim Robertson,Ā Compassion UK
Wednesday of Holy Week: Jesus anointed with perfume
The Wednesday of Holy Week is remembered for the moment when Jesus was famously anointed with expensive perfume. This unusual scene took place in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, at a dinner party being hosted by Mary (who did the pouring), and Martha (her sister). It was hailed by Jesus as such an incredible expression of devotion that wherever the gospel would subsequently go, the story of Mary and her perfume would follow.
But my favourite bit of the story is a seemingly throwaway line included in Johnās version of events - āhere a dinner was given in Jesusā honourā¦ Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with himā (John 12:2).
Lazarus was there. Yes, that Lazarus. Lazarus, who was stone cold in his tomb in chapter 11 is now chilling out at a dinner party with Jesus in chapter 12! Iām sure weāve all had interesting conversations at parties before, but probably nothing approaching the recollections of someone who has been raised from the dead - there could hardly have been a dull moment that evening!
Weāre all experiencing the pain and frustration of having to wait during this season of Lenten Lockdown. But the picture of Lazarus at a dinner party is a reminder that Resurrection is around the corner, when all sorrow and sickness will be destroyed, and every tear wiped away.
Charlie Thomson, St Mark's Battersea Rise
Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper
"On the fifth day of Easter week, Jesus made preparations for the Jewish Passover festival knowing that this would be his last meal with his disciples. Purposefully and intentionally Jesus made extensive preparations to set the scene āThe Last Supperā; how it would take place and who would be present.
Luke 2:7-62: āThen came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, āGo and make preparations for us to eat the Passover'"ā¦ Luke 22:14: "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table ... And he said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.' After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.' And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you but the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.'ā
"As I reflect on the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, we enter the third week of national lockdown of isolation in the UK, as the global pandemic COVID-19 sweeps the earth. Suddenly this invisible virus has locked the world into a time of deep reflection which, we can either embrace and make the most of, or resent and be miserable in. If I am honest, I have had moments of enjoyment, but then I have also had moments of, shall I say, impatience and frustration.
Last Supper drawing by sponsored child Justin from Kenya
"That is why I believe we can still learn so much from Jesus at the Last Supper. I mean, here is Jesus knowing that He is going to die the very next day and yet he reclines, relaxes and begins to share his heart deeply with those closest to him. There is no panic, fear or anger; just a desire to share his heart so that others would understand. Remarkably at his last meal he invited Judas Iscariot, his betrayer, to eat with him. And then after the meal, his desire to pray in the Garden of his Gethsemane reveals that prayer is his priority.
Make the most of the moments that we have today with those around us
"In this season of isolation, we have a unique gift of time to pause, to reflect, and to connect with those closest to us in a way that we will probably never have again in our lifetime. This is a question that I am asking myself daily ā¦ āAm I resenting this lockdown or making the most of it?ā āAm I reclining at table, relaxed and using this as an opportunity to share the deeper things of life with those closest or am I frustrated, short-tempered and hoping that this season will pass quickly? Years from now will we look back and remember this time of with either thoughts of how we made the most of it or regrets for how we spent it.
"It could be that some of our family or friends may not be in isolation with us. It may be that some are self-isolating alone. I pray that we can find ways to be physically distant but choose to be spiritually close. Because the reality is that you can be physically close and spiritually distant. My prayer is that we recognise how we can make the most of this opportunity and ask ourselves the question, āHow can we make this a time to reflect and consider spiritual relationship with God and with others?ā
"Lord Jesus, thank you that you became our sacrificial lamb, shedding your blood so that we could have everlasting eternal life. Thank you, Jesus, that whatever this life brings, whatever the difficulty or challenge we know that we have a future of eternity with you. We pray that we would have reclining moments of heart connections in these next weeks ahead. We also pray for the protection and well-being of all the Compassion children and workers around the world. And for all of us to make the most of the moments that lay ahead. Amen."
Steve Gambill, LIFE Church
"In 2007 I travelled to a remote island community in Haiti. Upon arrival I couldnāt help but notice the dusty dry barren landscape, the plastic and tin roofed shacks that too many called home.
"Standing at the door to the church was an elderly lady with a bucket of clean water that she had collected from a mountain cave in advance of our arrival. No one had asked her to do this, but she knew visitors were coming to her community and, being a person of little means, she set out to give us a gift that she felt would bless and welcome our team.
"If I hadnāt stopped and asked where the water came from, no one would have known what this lady had done for us. I was so struck by her selfless demonstration of Christās love to me that it literally changed the course of my life and set me on a path to joining Compassion. She was so determined to give, even though she had nothing, she refused to let her circumstances determine her ability to demonstrate Christās love to others. Whenever I feel I am in a challenging place, I reflect back to this lesson.
"Today is Good Friday, the ultimate demonstration of the depths and richness of Christās love for us.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
"Christ gave everything so that we can be reconciled with God our Heavenly Father. It was the most powerful demonstration of love that humanity has ever seen.
"And what never fails to challenge me, is that only the night before, Jesus called us to show the same sacrificial love to others. During the last supper, Jesus said to his disciples,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you may also love one another. John 13:34
"In this season of change I have been reminding myself and our team that as a Christ-centred ministry and as Christ followers our response to the crisis around us should be different to that of the world. That even when our situation is challenging and we feel pressured, we are called as Christ followers to love one another as he has loved us. To look outwards, beyond ourselves. His love; pure, selfless, unending and sacrificial.
"What an incredible opportunity we have to speak, write, text, words of; love, encouragement, hope, affirmation to those around us in this season. It might be the parent trying to home school, or one of the key workers selflessly serving, your elderly neighbour, or perhaps your sponsored child.
'Lord Jesus Christ, during this season, give me eyes to see and ears to hear those that I can demonstrate your love to.'"
Justin Dowds, Compassion UK and Ireland CEO
Saturday of Easter Week
"The Easter story gives me hope because of the power of Jesusā resurrection. It shows that Jesus defied death by rising from the dead. This proved that our God is alive and omnipotent.
"On that Easter Saturday, if I had been alive at the time, I would have been very sad that my friend had died. My hope would have been quashed because the person the disciples had hope in was dead. I would miss my Lord and mentor, my teacher, encourager, miracle worker and friend. I would have mixed feelings of hope and fear. Hope that I will see him soon as He said; and fear of not seeing Him again.
"This tension of feeling hope and fear is something I guess we can all relate to during this season of unprecedented global events. Having to wait is an experience so real for us at the moment.
"Here are some of the Bible verses that I have found helpful in my life when I have been in seasons of waiting:
- "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.ā Exodus 14:14
- In Genesis 17, at the age of 99 when Abraham was told he was the father of many nations, it took obedience, discipline and faith to achieve.
- "But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.ā Romans 8:25
"So as we look forward to Easter Sunday, rejoice with me that we do not wait without hope. Rejoice that we can trust in God and He is dependable. New life is coming.
"It is because of that hope in Jesus that I am able to do the work I do fighting corruption in Uganda. He is my strength, my hope and my encourager. āLearn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.ā Isaiah 1:17.
Patience Namanya, Compassion graduate and justice campaigner in Uganda
"I have sat down to write this many times over the last few weeks and there seems to have been a struggle to follow through. So here I am, starting again with similar thoughts and a fresh angle. I love that through different circumstances Jesus causes us to look at things with fresh eyes.āÆ
"What Iām increasingly aware of is the vast number of distractions there are around us.āÆ Firstly of course is the news and the current impact that COVID-19 is having on each and every one of us.āÆ
"Then thereās the constant feed coming through all of our social media platforms and, of course, the unusual and unfamiliar demands on our ānew homeā work and family lives. It seems at the moments things are changing constantly, which is often be accompanied by chaos and stress!āÆ
"I have been so distracted lately with life that I really have to remind myself that Easter is right here. It simply doesnāt feel like Easter and, as Iām writing this, itās highly unlikely that we will be experiencing resurrection Sunday services as we have always done in the past. Many of us may be tuning into a church service via TV, podcast, live streaming or an internet service of some kind or another and I encourage you to make the effort to do that.āÆ
"Today on Easter Sunday, I pray that we are all finding the time to lay aside the many distractions and focus on the ONE thing that is of eternal value. JESUS and His story.āÆ
"He is the way, the truth and the life, so donāt let your hearts be troubled, as it says in John 14:1. Through Jesusā journey of death AND resurrection He made a way. Jesus is making a way for each and every one of us. Jesus himself is the way.āÆ
"Taking a moment today (and every day) we can find the way by continuing to look the Jesus way. No one is facing a dead-end road because He is the waymaker.āÆ
You are waymaker
Light in the darkness
My God, that is who you are (song byāÆSinach)āÆ
"Iām loving the words of a song we are currently singing in our church at the moment and I believe we can all be refreshed by simply dwelling on the thought that Jesus rose again and He made a way for us.āÆ
"I encourage you to look up the song Waymaker and enjoy some refreshing time worshipping Jesus.āÆ"
Cathy ClarkeāÆ, Hillsong London