Home Altar: Week of April 18, 2021

by Shelly Poindexter

Sleepless Nights

Sunday, April 18
Psalm 4

Does sleep ever elude you? I usually can sleep with no problems, but there have been nights when sleep just would not come. Sometimes I have cried out to the Lord in anguish, anxious about my children or feeling hopeless about some situation. I have been utterly amazed at the relief and hope that came, sometimes within minutes, and I was eventually able to “lie down and sleep in peace,” as verse 8 of this psalm says.

I love the rawness and honesty of the Book of Psalms, and this psalm not only shows a wide range of emotions but also gives some great insight on how to handle them by calling out to God, being honest about what is bothering us, reminding ourselves that we belong to the Lord and that he hears us, surrendering to him, and reminding ourselves of the ways God has provided for us in the past.

God of hope, thank you for hearing me when I have cried out to you and for the provisions you have sent. AMEN

Going Home

Monday, April 19
Isaiah 46:8-13

Cyrus, King of Persia, in the first year of his reign, was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt and the Jews return to their land for that purpose. The Jews had lived in exile for 70 years due to their sin, and God finally allowed them to go home. Seventy years! In this passage, Isaiah is telling of this coming deliverance and saying God has it all planned out. It may seem like this deliverance is far away, but God says, “I will bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry” (v. 13). In this the third week of Easter we continue to celebrate our deliverance from our sins and the new life we are given in Jesus.

Thank you, Father, that you had a plan. Just as Cyrus was considered a hero for his deliverance of the people of Israel, we thank you and praise you, our hero, for delivering us from sin and death. AMEN.

Seeing but Not Believing

Tuesday, April 20
Luke 24:36-43

One evening as my daughter Whitney and I were walking home, we saw a bear sitting on our neighbor’s porch! We both stared for a moment, looked at each other, and said at the exact same time, “Is that a bear?” It was! It was a real bear, and if our neighbors had opened their door, what a surprise they would have had!

In this chapter of Luke, the women associated with Jesus are told that Jesus has risen. Jesus also walks on the road and converses with two disciples, eats with them, and then their eyes are opened to recognize him. Now, in today’s reading, Jesus appears to the group of disciples and speaks with them, allows them to touch him, and shows them his hands and feet. Despite all this, verse 41 tells us that “they were disbelieving and still wondering”! Sometimes we just need time for our brain to comprehend what our senses are telling us.

Jesus, may we seek your presence and trust you are with us. AMEN.

Not Quite the Perfect Witness

Wednesday, April 21
Luke 24:44-49

Yesterday we read that despite the disciples seeing and talking with Jesus, they were still disbelieving. Yet in today’s passage, Jesus tells them they are the ones he has chosen to be his witnesses to his death and resurrection, and they are to proclaim his name to all nations. Throughout the Gospels, the disciples struggle to understand who Jesus is and what he is really about. However, Jesus continues to love them and calls them to serve.

As I study and read the New Testament for seminary, my eyes have been opened more than ever to Jesus’s teachings on caring for the poor, the orphan, and his pursuit of the outcasts of society. I wonder, how have I proclaimed to follow Jesus but not done these things?

Jesus, thank you for your calling despite my weaknesses. Just as you opened the disciples’ minds to understand the Scriptures (v. 45), so open mine. Help me to live out your kingdom values. AMEN.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Make Eye Contact

Thursday, April 22
Acts 3:1-10

Peter and John were heading into the Temple. They had no money, but when the man asked for alms, they looked at him and offered him the healing power of Jesus. I must confess that I catch myself avoiding eye contact with the many homeless people who panhandle on the street corners in Las Cruces. I feel overwhelmed by the task of truly helping. One morning, I prayed and offered my time and resources to the Lord, asking him to use me. That evening as I got off work, I saw a homeless woman, and I went to see if she needed anything. She asked for a drink and we sat for over an hour talking. I was able to help her find a place to stay for a few nights and I was not anxious or afraid. “Wonder and amazement”! (v. 10).

You call us to serve, and you provide what we need. Thank you! AMEN.

The Greatest Act of Injustice Ever

Friday, April 23
Acts 3:11-21

Paul’s bold words here amaze me. He seems fearless as he states, “You rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life” (v. 14). Paul does not smooth over the facts of this great injustice. Jesus had done nothing wrong and Pilate wanted to release him, but instead Jesus was crucified and a murderer was released. Paul offers grace to those who killed Jesus, by stating, “I know that you acted in ignorance” (v. 17). He does not, however, let them off the hook; they must repent. Can anyone speak in this way without the Spirit of God empowering them? I think not! I have struggled with being a people-pleaser my whole life, and I avoid confrontation. But I am realizing that in order to do God’s will, I have to be willing to confront sin and injustice just as Paul did.

Holy Spirit, make me bold and brave like Paul, full of grace and truth. AMEN.

Can I Have Some of Your Water?

Saturday, April 124
Isaiah 41:17-20

The first mountain peak I climbed in New Mexico ended up being a longer hike than I expected. As we started down the mountain, the sun grew hotter and I was out of water. You can imagine how thankful I was that my friends were better prepared and were willing to share. Since moving to the desert, I have new insight into the Scriptures that mention water, and I also have a new appreciation for it—not just to drink but its beauty. Isaiah tells us that when the poor and needy cry out for water, God hears and will provide “rivers,” “fountains,” “pools,” and “springs” (all in verse 18). Earlier, he mentions other physical needs and says, “water shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert “ (Isaiah 35:6). God is good! He is generous and provides abundantly for all of our needs.

Thank you, Creator, for hearing our cries for help and for your abundant provision! AMEN.

About the Author: Shelly Poindexter

After 16 years of living in the national forest of Pennsylvania and working as a social worker at a state psychiatric hospital, I moved with my husband, Michael, to New Mexico in 2019, where he accepted a call to Sonoma Springs Covenant Church. It is the only Covenant church in New Mexico! Since moving, I have had many wonderful experiences of exploring our southwest landscape, including kayaking among hot air balloons (did you know they can land on water?), hiking to several mountain peaks, and visiting White Sands National Monument to watch the sun set, the full moon rise, and meteor showers. I recently started working toward my Master’s of Divinity degree online at Fuller Theological Seminary. We have two adult children, both of whom are recently married to wonderful spouses whom we are very thankful for.

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