April 2024 Flourish Newsletter

This month we are focusing on flourishing by being deeply rooted in the spiritual discipline of confession and self-examination. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “Self-examination is a process whereby the Holy Spirit opens my heart to what is true about me. Confession embraces Christ’s gift of forgiveness and restoration while setting us on the path to renewal and change.”

Look on my affliction and distress and take away all my sins. Psalm 25:18

Inside you will find a devotional, conversation starters, prayer ideas and a Bible reading plan around the topic of confession of sin.

Also included in this month’s issue are highlights from “Women Preach Sunday” which was held on March 3 of this year.

Download this month’s issue:

April 2024 Bible Study: Confession is Good for the Soul

By Major Beth Desplancke

A Bible Study on Psalm 32

Open It:

  1. As a child, when you did something wrong how did you respond? Did you try to cover it up or hide it? Or did you quickly confess what you did? How did you feel when you hid it? How did it feel to confess it?
  2. If “confession is good for the soul” why do you think so many find confession hard to do?

To confess is to admit guilt, or admit we made a mistake. To be honest, none of us like to admit that we are guilty, or made a mistake. We think it is easier to sweep our sins under the carpet and hide them. As we study Psalm 32, written by David, we will discover that it is better to confess our sins to God and allow Him to forgive us, rather than to try to hide or cover them up.

David is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)” but still had seasons of sin in his life. The most notable is sin regarding Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). After being approached by the prophet Nathan, David came to confession, repentance and forgiveness. Psalm 32 seems to go hand in hand with Psalm 51, where it is specified that he wrote the psalm after had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Psalm 32 is a psalm of penitence, but it is also a song of a forgiven soul rejoicing in the wonders of the grace of God. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Oh the blessedness! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight” for those who are forgiven.

Explore It:

Read Psalm 32:1-11

  1. How does David describe the state of the person whose sin is forgiven? How does that make you feel about God’s forgiveness?

Note that there are three words to describe sin in the first 2 verses.

  • Transgression means a “crossing a line, defying authority.” It is a rebellion, a refusal to submit to rightful authority. When we sin, we are rebelling against and refusing to submit to the rightful authority of God in our lives.
  • Sin means “falling short of or missing a mark,” Romans 3:23 says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of the God. God has set a target, and when we aim and don’t quite hit the center of the target; we miss the mark. Sin is coming short of that aim which God intended for us to reach.
  • Iniquity is from a word meaning bent or twisted. It suggests the perverting of that which is right or erring from the correct way.

David also uses three terms to describe what God does to put away our sin when we come to Him and confess our sins.

  • Our sins are forgiven. This means the lifting of a burden or a debt. The payment for the sin has been paid.
  • Our sins are covered. There is a cost for sin, and from the very beginning God instituted that shedding of blood to pay for the cost of the sin. The Old Testament sacrificial system emphasized this – a lamb or goat would have to die to pay for the person’s sins. Thankfully, Jesus came as the sacrificial Lamb of God and He died in our place, and His blood covers our sins.
  • Our sins are not counted against us. 1 John 1:9 proclaims, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” They are gone completely. The debt has been paid; you no longer owe it!
  1. How does David describe the person who receives God’s forgiveness?
  2. How did David feel when he had unconfessed sin in his life (v. 3-4)? How do you feel when you have unconfessed sin in your life?
  3. What did David experience/feel when he finally confessed to the Lord (v.5)? Have you had the same experience?

Douglas J. Rumford, in his book, Soul Shaping: Taking Care of Your Spiritual Life (p. 135), writes, “In terms of theology, guilt is my condition after I have violated God’s ways. I have sinned, and I am therefore guilty. Guilt is a fact, regardless of feelings, and we deal with it through repentance, confession, and trust in the sacrifice of Christ.”

He goes on to write (p. 136), “We can think of guilt as the fever of the soul. When we feel guilt, we know we have acted against God, ourselves and others. Our guilt announces the problem. It is like the warning light on the dashboard of a car…When you have a fever, you seek medical help. You neither ignore the fever nor focus on it alone. You treat the root cause, and the fever takes care of itself. God’s strategy in guilt is to stir us to get help, drawing us to himself.”

The dryness and misery David experienced was actually a good thing. His discomfort drove him to confess his sins before God. The moment he confessed, he experienced the freeing of his burden, and the forgiveness of his sin.

  1. What assurance do we have when we pray (v. 5)?
  2. How does the Lord protect His people (v. 6-7)? What does the picture of God as our hiding place mean to you?

Sin separates us from God. We want to hide from Him. Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. What did they do as soon as they ate from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6-8)? They hid from God because of the shame they felt. But when we confess our sin and receive His forgiveness, we need not hide from Him in shame, but can run to Him and experience the safety of knowing that He won’t hold that sin against us.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Observe that the same man who in the fourth verse was oppressed by the presence of God, here finds a shelter in him. See what honest confession and full forgiveness will do!”

  1. What specific advice does this psalm offer to God’s people (v. 8-11)?
  2. When was a time in your life where you were stubborn and refused to allow God to guide you?

Notice the advice of not being like a horse or a mule. Both animals aren’t easy to guide; they need a bit and bridle and sometimes rigorous training before they are useful to the master. Don’t be like a horse or a mule when it comes to allowing the Lord to guide you. When we refuse to confess our sin, we are a stubborn horse or donkey trying to go our own way. And in our stubbornness, we will not be listening for the Lord’s guidance.

11. What promise did David offer to those who trust in the Lord (v. 10)?

Apply It:

Oh, the joy of forgiveness when we confess our sins. When we come to Him and admit our wrongdoings, and ask for His forgiveness, the Judge of the Universe pounds His gavel and proclaims, “Not guilty! You are free!” Of course, we should be people filled with rejoicing.

  1. How does psalm 32 reshape your understanding of God’s response to repentance?
  2. How does Psalm 32 inspire you to foster a more honest relationship with God?
  3. What behavior or attitude do you need to confess to the Lord today?
  4. How can you incorporate confession into your daily time with the Lord?

Close It:
As a group, read Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT) as a closing prayer:

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Download a printable version of the Bible Study:

April 2024 Craft: Beaded Cross Necklace Pendant

By Major Harryette Raihl
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary
Southern California Division

Supplies Needed:
(6) 6 mm beads (smaller beads or larger beads vary the size of the cross)
(10) spacer seed beads
Gold/silver jump ring (found with jewelry making supplies in stores)
Jewelry Wire (wire sized to fit through the beads are used)
*Necklace chain if you want to attach the beaded cross pendant.

There are many different ways to do these beaded crosses. You will find some designers harder to follow and some easier. The following directions are the ones that work the best and quickest for me and look the nicest in my opinion!


1.Fold the cut wire in half. (Cut wire about 8 inches to allow extra)

2.Lace one seed bead on the wire then twist tight.

3. On BOTH wires put one big bead, then one little seed bead, then a big bead, etc. so three big beads and three seed beads are on the wires.

4. Separate the wire. On one wire string, place one seed bead, then one big, then one seed bead THEN…skip seed bead and put wire through the big bead very tight with no slack. On the other wire do the same.

5. Then add one seed bead on each wire and twist very tight.

6. Add big bead through BOTH wires and then add little seed bead.

7. ON one wire add the jump ring and thread wire back through the large bead. Then wrap several times around to secure the jump ring. Cut the wire and if necessary, thread back through hold so that no sharp wires are exposed.

8. The wire that is left can be twisted around the large bead and then cut off so that no shape wires are exposed.

Once the cross is completed simply lace through the necklace chain.

These directions seem a little complicated at first, but once you have done once and experienced what ways work best and easiest for you, the crosses can be made rather quickly. This is a relatively inexpensive craft since you usually buy the supplies in bulk so that you may make many at a time.

Download printable directions of this craft:

April 2024 Devotional: Sinful

By Major Beth Desplancke

Recently, while stopped at a stoplight I noticed the vehicle’s license plate in front of me. It was a personalized one – people pay extra to have a personalized plate that says something about them. Well, this one was kind of shocking. The license read: SNFUL (sinful).

Why would someone pay for that? And then to add to the sinful state of the person in the vehicle ahead of me, the tabs expired 2 1/2 years ago!

I chewed on the message of the license plate all the way to work that morning. I guess it is good that the person who owned that vehicle acknowledges the fact that he or she is sinful. But how many of us like to acknowledge the fact we sin. It isn’t a label we like to claim.

If we have received Christ as our Savior, we are saved from our sins. We love to wear the label that we have been saved by His grace, and we are. But we need to remember that we are still sinners, we are still sinful. The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1Timothy 1:15).

The Apostle Paul had an amazing encounter with Jesus on his way to Damascus (Acts 9), and he was forever changed. He knew that God’s grace saved him from the sin he committed (before his conversion with Christ he was helping to round up followers of Jesus and take them to prison).

Yes, Jesus does save us from our sins. We have gone from being dead to alive and become new creations in Him (see Ephesians 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17), but we are still sinners. We are still capable of and will continue to struggle with sin this side of heaven. We must never think that we are beyond the lure and grasp of sin. Yes, I am a sinner saved by grace – Hallelujah! Yes, I have been freed from the power of sin, but the struggle with sin is still there. I can never take for granted that I am still sinful. As I have grown in my walk with Jesus (for the past 46 years – yes, I am old), my desire to sin lessens. Those sinful things that I thought were fun when I was younger, no longer have an appeal or pull to me. I am not sinless, but I desire to sin less.

Seeing the license plate and the word “SINFUL” emblazed in front of me that morning was a great reminder to check myself and examine my own heart for where sin is present in my life. In her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes this about the discipline of confession and self-examination, “Self-examination is a process whereby the Holy Spirit opens my heart to what is true about me. This is not the same thing as a neurotic shame-inducing inventory. Instead it is a way of opening myself to God within the safety of divine love so I can authentically seek transformation. Confession embraces Christ’s gift of forgiveness and restoration while setting us on the path to renewal and change (p. 101).”

I need to not run away from that label. I am a sinner and I sin. 1 John 1:8 states, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. I need to acknowledge that I sin. I need to admit my sin to God. Admission is not all that I must do. I need to then confess my sin to Him. In 1 John 1:9 we read of this beautiful promise that comes with our confessing our sins to the Lord: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The confession isn’t just admitting the sin. True confession includes a sorrowfulness for sin, and a desire to not do it again.

I don’t know why a person chose that license plate, but it was a great reminder for me.

March 2024 Devotional: Christ Truly Understands Our Suffering

By Major Harryette Raihl
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary
Southern California Division

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Isaiah 53:3

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10

Christ offers us comfort because He truly understands suffering. We can find support from friends, loved ones and others but only the Lord can truly comfort each one of us as someone who completely understands all of our suffering. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came to strengthen and support us in our hour of need. One way to look at this is to realize that Chris, by His suffering on the cross, restored our relationship with our Creator.

All throughout the Bible we read how He understands that we are a people who often feel hurt, bruised, or broken. Jesus alone can bring the healing that we need…because Jesus understands our personal pain. We are completely known! What a Blessing!

Christ realizes that you will suffer—sometimes because we live on a broken planet filled with broken people, sometimes as a result of our own poor choices, and still other times simply because we are a follower of Christ. But amidst all of this we can hold onto some simple truths or promises:

  1. Jesus understands pain.
  2. Jesus won’t crush you in times of brokenness.
  3. Jesus came to bring you freedom through His suffering.

We all can trust in God’s comfort because He sent Jesus on our behalf. Our suffering doesn’t mean the Lord doesn’t Love us. Instead of us trying to avoid suffering, we can look towards Jesus and then realize…He can use the good and the bad in our lives to draw us nearer to Him each and every day. Oh, what love He has for us!

The Lord told the people in Isaiah’s time that he would send someone (a Servant) to save them. We know that His name is Jesus and we can benefit from knowing that this Jesus understands what we are and will be going through. Jesus himself suffered more than we could ever imagine in our human minds and in this suffering we have such a good example. Christ never turned his back on God nor cursed the Lord for all of the things that he knew he would suffer at the hands of the people who condemned him and hung him on the cross. Christ simply trusted in His Father.

And so we now can worship the Holy One in EVERY season. WE can sing even on dark days because Jesus is the Servant of the Lord who will not crush us but He will free us. We can be comforted because we have such a tender and loving Christ. He is our hope when life is dark and difficult and our companion when things are going more smoothly.

We simply need to pray and ask Jesus to help us to have a biblical view of suffering so that we can understand when we feel broken, on the verge of burn-out, alone, discouraged, or hopeless, that our Lord Jesus Christ truly understands all of these feelings and can comfort us no matter what we are facing.

Charles Spurgeon (Known as the Prince of Preachers) explained it as this: “Jesus was a man not of sorrow only, but of sorrows. All the sufferings of the body and of the soul were know to him; the sorrows of the man who actively struggles to obey; the sorrows of the man who sits still, and passively endures. Affliction made Jesus heart the target for all conceivable woes.

Sometimes we think that we have it so very bad, don’t we. We think that our struggles and problems…or sufferings….are unlike anything or what anybody else has ever been through. I think in our mind we know that this is simply not true, but at that point we are hurting so badly that our thoughts tend to think along that line.

Aren’t you so very grateful that Jesus understands and knows us through and through. We do not even need words. And the most important thing to remember is that…..because of this understanding—Christ Comforts us!

I am sure that we cannot fully understand all of the suffering of Christ that he had to endure here on earth, but it can ease our minds to know that Christ understands true suffering and thus is so compassionate with all of us who call upon His name.

Download a printable version of this devotion:

March 2024 Craft: Mosaic Cross Craft

By Margaret Grieco
Territorial Women’s Ministries Department

“That I may know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10

Beauty from brokenness is shown in this beautiful craft that highlights Christ’s journey to the cross. By letting His body be broken for us we experience the transforming work of His love within us.


  • Unfinished wood cross: Amazon
  • China or ceramic dishes in various colors that work well together: SA Thrift Store
  • Grout (bone): Home Depot
  • Adhesive Hangers: Amazon
  • Craft Sticks Michaels
  • Hammer
  • Measuring cup
  • Water
  • Bowls for mosaic shards
  • Plastic gloves
  • Plastic jewels (if desired)
  • Tacky Glue (if needed)
  • Paper grocery bags (or another bag)

Step 1: Set up your table (cover it with a plastic cloth for an easy clean up).

Step 2: Using a brown paper grocery bag and hammer, slowly break apart the plates.

Step 3: Place your shards into a cross to line up how you want the finished piece to look.

Step 4: Mix the grout to the consistency of pancake batter. Using a craft stick, carefully pour the grout into the cross (try to avoid getting it onto the sides – you may need a few paper towels for this step).

Step 5: If you have two crosses that you’re working on, you can place them side by side and transfer the shards from one cross to another.

Step 6: Carefully press the shards into the grout and let dry overnight (place an adhesive hanger on the back.

Download printable directions of this craft:

March 2024 Bible Study: The Suffering of Jesus

By Major Sybil Smith
Torrance, CA Corps
Southern California Division

In this *study we will be looking at the different times throughout Scripture in which Jesus faced suffering in His life. We will read the passages, and ask questions that may foster further understanding of what took place in each of these vulnerable times in Jesus’ life and ministry. We will then look into further Scriptures which may help us see where we truly are in “Solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ.”

NOTE: This is quite an extensive study and could be broken down into studying smaller sections over several weeks.

sol•i-dar-i•ty soli-dar-i-ty

1 unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group: factory workers voiced solidarity with the striking students.
New Oxford American Dictionary

I am not sure I can say that I can truly be in solidarity in what my Lord has suffered on account of me and humankind. As we will see in this study, the Lord faced insult … persecution … personal anguish and torture before His predestined death by hanging on a cross for the redemption of us all. I just don’t think I can stand next to my Savior claiming I am in solidarity in His sufferings. Do I want to be? Yes, of course I desire to have the heart of God that would endure such things for the sake of others. But in all honesty, am I even close? I have shied away from so many moments God has asked me to join Him in. Moments of standing up for not just social injustice, but for the Bible, the truths Jesus Christ hung on the cross for.

There are times when it seems that we are living in a society where we are being told we are haters even if we merely disagree with an action or lifestyle that is contrary to the Word of God. It seems as if we are labeled old fashioned and out of date.

Those who stand up in our 21st century culture, living and speaking the true message of the Gospel, may very well be close to solidarity in Christ’s suffering. It’s not an easy thing to do by any means at all. Especially when it hits close to home with family. It’s so much easier to sometimes skip over some truths than lose the ones we love to hating us or thinking we hate them.

Those times, when we may pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe in the Bible, may make it challenging to be able to truly say we are in solidarity with Jesus Christ? In today’s culture, to be close to solidarity with Jesus’ suffering means we strive to live, speak and stand every moment in God’s truth, even when it is being challenged by those closest to us. No matter who our company is … where that company is … that we stand for the Word of God. I will ashamedly admit that I am not one of those who have lived like this. I quiet my witness as to not upset the masses, or in some cases the few, even when it comes to my family.

So there you have it. You have read my thoughts on where I see myself in this place of solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. But before I solidify my thoughts/judgements and possibly you with your own on this topic, let’s first take a look through Scripture on what His sufferings have been and why He endured them. This may give a more sure response in our own lives where we are in solidarity with the suffering of our Savior Jesus Christ.

*To make this study even more insightful and in-depth, use online commentaries or the old-fashioned actual commentary books, reference, and/or study guides to help you as you answer these questions. This format gives you the chance to do a simple dive into the verses themselves. But the format also gives you the ability to do all kinds of varied studies on this subject. Only limited by the resources available.

Let’s look at the incidents in Scripture that highlight the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

  1. Matthew 2:13–15 – Jesus’ flight to Egypt as a child.

Thinking of the time and the circumstances. What challenges may Jesus have been met with as a child traveling to a new city with His parents?

What might He had suffered during that time? Remember they just weren’t moving to a new location, they were fleeing for Jesus’ life. They were trying not to be seen, to hide until the threat (Pharaoh) was gone.

Have you ever had to go into hiding because of the Gospel? If so, write your experience here. If not, what would be the closest thing to that experience you’ve endured?

  1. Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13 – The temptation in the wilderness (fasting + temptation).

Fasting 40 days and nights is a long time! How might it have been tough not to give in to the devils temptations? What was the reason for Jesus fasting? Does that make it any easier or harder to stand up to the temptations?

Have you ever fasted? If so, how long have you gone fasting and for what reason?

Describe your most challenging temptation and if you were able to stand up against it. Describe your faith at the time, how did it play into your ability to stand up against temptation?

  1. Luke 4:16-30 – Jesus is reading from Isaiah in Nazareth but then is rejected by his own people.

What must Jesus feel to be rejected by the people He grew up with?

Can you think of a time in your life where your family or community rejected what you had to say or do for them concerning your faith in Jesus Christ? If so, what was it and how did you feel?

  1. John 6:60–71 – A group of followers leave Jesus. They think his teaching is too hard.

How might this affect Jesus Spirit when even His followers begin to leave?

Remember it’s not just that He has some good idea He wants to share, it’s the message of a new way and a new hope of salvation for each of them. Saving them from their fate if they don’t believe. How might that make this rejection hit closer to His heart?
Have you ever had someone on board with you in ministry or in faith one moment and then leave you the next? If so, share what and when and how you felt.

  1. John 10:22-42 Jesus teaches the Pharisees some things they don’t like. They are about to stone him in 10:31. He continues to question and teach them, but by 10:39 they look to arrest him. 

So many times, Jesus faced this when He taught or preached the message God had given Him to tell. How might these encounters that grow more violent as the days go by, challenge Jesus’ spirit to keep preaching and teaching?

Has something you ever said about the Bible been met with a violent response? If so, what were you saying and what was the response? How did you deal with it?

  1. Luke 19:41-44 – Weeping over Jerusalem. The people were praising Him and treating Him like royalty as He was on the road to Jerusalem. Why then, would He be weeping as He saw the city just ahead of Him?

What must it had been like for Jesus to know, before He even step foot on the ground, that the words He was to speak to the people were going to be ignored, despised and rejected?

Have you had an experience where the Lord told you to give a message to someone or to a group of people that you knew were just going to reject it? If yes, did you do it anyway? If so, write your experience here.

  1. Matthew 14:1-13 & Mark 6:14-34 – After hearing about the be-heading of his friend John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to a desolate place by Himself.

What do you suppose Jesus was going through in His spirit? Was He only thinking of His own grief concerning John the Baptist, or also the grief of the other disciples?

He didn’t have much time alone before large crowds wanted to hear His teachings. What would you have done?

What did Jesus do?

  1. John 11:1-35 After hearing of Lazarus death, Jesus was weeping.

Why was Jesus weeping? Was it because of Lazarus death, or was there something more?

See verse 11. If Jesus was already going to raise Lazarus from the dead, why then was He weeping? There must have been something more that grieved Jesus spirit.

What must it be like to know the hearts of others so deeply?

Have you had any situation close to this?

  1. Matthew 26:36-46 & Mark 14:32-42 – Praying in Gethsemane.

Sorrow beyond comprehension! What was Jesus overwhelmed about?

In His deep sorrow He asks His disciples to keep watch, but they fall asleep. How does that compound the emotion Jesus is wrestling with?

Jesus knew what was coming. Have you had a situation where you were asked to do something, and you knew the outcome was going to cause hardship or pain? If so, did you still do it? If you have write down what it was and how you responded.

  1. Matthew 26:47-50 & Mark 14:43-52 Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus outside Gethsemane.

His followers couldn’t stay awake enough to keep watch, He’s overwhelmed with grief and now is the time of Judas betrayal. How could Jesus, in all human effort, deal with such grief upon grief?

Have you ever been beaten down by grief just to have more and more pile up against you because of your faith in Jesus Christ? If so, what was that like? What is that compared to what Jesus went through here?

  1. John 18:15-18; 25-27 & Mark 14:66-72 – Peter’s denial of Jesus 3 times.

I wonder if Jesus could hear the rooster crows. While Jesus was in the midst of His arrest and interrogations, one of His closest followers denied knowing Him 3 times. Yet again, another insult from those He loves. How do you think all of this happening … like punches in a boxing ring … over and over and over again … one insult and betrayal after another … How must He have truly felt in His spirit at this moment?

Have you had people in your life betray you because of your faith? They say they’re with you and then turn against you when you need them the most. Write that experience down and how you felt.

  1. John 18:22-23, John 19:1-16 and Matthew 27:27-31 – Jesus sentenced to be crucified.

As you read these passages, list the three types of humiliation Jesus endured at the hands of His accusers.

Have you faced humiliation by others because of the faith you profess? If so, write your experience(s) here.

  1. Take a moment to read each of these passages of Scripture. Then, for each passage, write what Jesus’ experience was concerning the cross.

Matthew 27:32-37 –

Matthew 27:38-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:32-43 & John 19:17-30

Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37

Out of these three events, which do you think brings the most suffering and utter despair to the heart of Jesus? Why?

  1. Psalm 16:10 and Acts 13:33-35 – prophesy that Jesus would not remain dead.

His work was finished. His duty was done. However, His suffering was not fully complete when He gave up His Spirit and died. He suffered the penalty of death so we would not have to. But Sheol (the underworld) could not hold the Savior because God rose Him from the dead so He and His body would not see decay.

Have we, have you been in the depths of Sheol? We may feel like we have at times. But this will not be something we bear while on earth. And if we remain in relationship with Jesus, it will not be our experience when we die.

Think about the Lord taking the ultimate punishment for sin, so you and I would not have to bear it ourselves. What are your thoughts on this?

We have read several Scripture passages that have told about the times Jesus Christ had faced suffering. I now consider the questions to those passages we just walked through and think that maybe I can have solidarity in at least some of what my Lord suffered. To determine for yourself where you are, let’s consider some further scripture reading on this matter of solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ.

  1. Matthew 16:21-28 – Take up your cross and follow me.

What does it mean to “take up their cross and follow Me”? What was the disciples’ cross or burden in following Jesus? (For some they left family, they left careers, they left respectable positions in society to follow Jesus.) You may want to research each disciple and see what it is they gave up in order to follow Jesus. (What they suffered to follow Jesus.)

What about you? What have you given up or sacrificed for following Jesus? What might your cross be that Jesus is calling you to bear in His Name?

  1. Matthew 20:20-28 – Drink of the same cup Jesus did.

James and John did end up drinking from the same cup Jesus did. James as a martyr, but both for their sacrificial living which brought persecution and hardship because of their living faith in Jesus Christ.

Can you say you have drunk from the same cup Jesus did? If so, share your story here.

  1. Galatians 6:11-16 – Maybe the cup represents the sacrificial life that Jesus lived and then calls His followers to live as well.

What was Paul saying here when he speaks of circumcision verses the cross of Christ?

It seems there is something deeper God is calling us to. What are your thoughts and where are you concerning this in your own life?

  1. Romans 8:17-18 – Sharing in His sufferings.

You can list all the sufferings Jesus went through. This says we may share in His glory as we’ve shared in His sufferings.

After reading all that our Savior has suffered, how we can share in that suffering? Where does that leave you and I in our solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ?

These Scriptures say that we indeed can be in solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. The cost of being in solidarity with our Lord is high. The question is: Where are you and I in our solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ? Where do we want to be? Where is Jesus Christ calling us to be?

To stand honestly in solidarity with the suffering my Savior went through for the sake of everyone, I cannot say I am there.

I have suffered mocking and teasing from my dad for holding to the truths of Jesus Christ.

I have been called out by a store clerk for worshipping the Lord on Sundays. I’ve also been called out by a couple random people on being a woman pastor.

But for me to say that equals the suffering my Jesus went through for my life, no … I can’t say I’ve been brave enough to live that bold in the Lord. I desire to. I pray I will get there soon. But for me today, I can’t say I’m living in solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, help me start today.


Download a printable version of this Bible study:

March 2024 Flourish Newsletter

This month we are focusing on flourishing by being deeply rooted in the spiritual discipline of Solidarity in Jesus’ Suffering. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “We are in solidarity with Jesus’ sufferings when we hold our pain and bear our burdens together with Jesus and his own sufferings for the world.”

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in love esteem. Isaiah 53:3

Inside you will find a devotional and conversation starters that will help you focus on the suffering of Christ. This month’s reading plan is the Passion Week Events (Palm Sunday – Easter morning) from the Gospel of Matthew. Also included are extended prayer ideas giving you the opportunity to taste His suffering (these prayer ideas could easily be made into prayer stations for a group). This month may you be with Jesus in His pain and be remined He is with you in your pain.

Download this month’s issue:

Women Preach Sunday

In honor of  International Women’s Day (March 8, 2024), the USA Western Territory held its first annual “Woman Preach Day” on Sunday, March 3.  The goal was to have as many pulpits in the territory to be filled by women.

From left to right, top to bottom: Captain Dora Stearns, Captain Mysti Birks, Major Toni Halstad, Captain Dina Cisneros, Captain Maureen Lawliss, Major Monica Covert

We celebrate the beautiful heritage that we as women have in The Salvation Army. Catherine Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army, was an accomplished preacher and wrote a pamphlet entitled, Female Ministry or Woman’s Right to Preach the Gospel in 1859, which systematically refuted claims that women shouldn’t preach. She wrote,

“[W]e think that we shall be able to show, by a fair and consistent interpretation…[t]hat not only is the public ministry of  woman not forbidden, but absolutely enjoyed by both precept and example in the word of God.  She also wrote, “And we find from Church history that the primitive Christians understood it; for that women did actually speak and preach amongst them we have indisputable proof.”

From left to right, top to bottom: Major Noelle Nelson, Captain Bridget McCort, Captain Stephanie Pavlakis, Captain Jamie Stokes, Captain Tanya Pemberton, Major Dina Graciani

Colonel Genevera Vincent, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries challenges us with these words: 

“As women we have been given a sacred privilege of preaching the Living, Breathing Word of God. This is a privilege not to be taken lightly but one that should fill us with joy…we get to share the Word!  As women, God has gifted us with a voice, He has given us something to say—so let’s avail of every opportunity to use this God given privilege and preach the Word with power and conviction.”

From left to right, top to bottom: Captain Deanna Markham, Major Harryette Raihl, Captain Felicia LeMar, Captain Stephanie Philpot, Major Lawry Smith, Captain Martha Apuan

We had three retired officers also participate: Lt. Colonel Shawn Posillico preaching in Prescott, AZ, Major Flo Murray preaching in Sitka, AK and Major Willdonna Rich preaching in Concord, CA.

From left to right: Major Flo Murray, Major Willdonna Rich, Lt. Colonel Shawn Posillico

Not only officers, but soldiers shared the morning message. Kittura Wimer preached at San Diego Centre City Corps, CA. Ellen Lasater preached in Auburn, CA. Alina Santamaria preached in Flagstaff, AZ while her mother, Major Sybil Smith preached in Torrance, CA.

From left to right, top to bottom: Kittura Wimer, Ellen Lasater
Alina Santamaria, Major Sybil Smith

Commissioner Colleen Riley, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries shares this from her heart:

Women who are called by God, it is our privilege to share His gospel with the world. Let’s take up the mantle and preach. The world for Jesus.” #womenpreach

From left to right, top to bottom: Captain Amber Ohl, Major Jennifer Masango
Major Shevaun Malone, Captain Heather Baze, Captain Heather Pope

Congratulations to the Alaska Division, who had all their corps, including the three run by single men, fill their pulpits with a woman preacher!

From left to right, top to bottom:
Major Jennifer Erickson-King, Captain Serena Woods, Captain Monica Kyle, Major Tina Bottjen,
Captain Heather Witcher, Captain Belle Green, Major Barbara Wehnau, Major Gina Halverson,
Lt. Rosie Tollerud, Captain Minhee Lee, Captain Michelle Josephson, Captain Shelby Qualls

Women, your voices needs to be heard.  We pray that women will continue to fill our pulpits and preach the Word of God.  Start preparing now for next year, when we celebrate “Women Preach Sunday” on March  2, 2025.

From left to right: Commissioner Colleen Riley, Colonel Genevera Vincent