Lenten Season Devotion

On Friday, March 29 – Good Friday – we would like you to join us for prayer at 5 AM.

The weekly devotions below have been provided to prompt your heart during this Lenten season.

Thoughts on the 40 Days of Lent and Sackcloth and Ashes are HERE.

Choose – March 24

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, so He may have compassion on him, And to our God, for He will freely forgive.” Isaiah 55:6-7

Prayer is a choice. One might say that it is more than a choice and I would understand, for how does one describe the inexpressible? How does a burden move from the depths of our being to the confession of the lips? Not without painful fear and groaning.

But our prayer begins with a choice: the decision to cast all upon God’s promise that He cares. We trust that He will not throw our words back into our teeth. We choose to pray. Wisely we choose to pour our hearts out to God.

Prayer is a choice to redirect our focus from inside us to above us. And we find that prayer is all around us, for His arms wrap around us even as our words escape from the darkness of our fear into the warmth of His light. Our tears find that they are not mocked; rather they are dried with tender touch and placed in a bottle for He values them. Our tears remind the loving God of why He was scarred by us and for us. And He smiles as He remembers every lash and pain. He alone knows what it costs to bring rebels home.

Choose to seek the LORD. He can be found. He will be found. He is never far from the broken-hearted. And the wanderer and rebel find that He has been seeking and loving all along. For He is good and freely forgives those who choose.

Mercy – March 10

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and You did forgive the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:3-5

Why do I sometimes dread what is good for me? I’ve told you my irrational fears of dentists. My dentist is a great fellow, a Christ Follower, one who has shown me compassion. But I still don’t want to line up those appointments I need.

I know better, but still. . . Why do I run from a God Who not only says that He loves me; He inspired a Book full of His heroic attempts to reveal His love that can restore Life to His Purposes. From the first pages to the end, He is giving one long invitation: “Come home. I’ve got a place for you. I made it for you. I paid it for you. Just come home.”

Mercy is a funny thing. We can’t receive it until we collide with God and realize that we need it. But somehow we clench our teeth and refuse to mouth the words, “Help me.” And we dry up on the inside. And we are miserable on the outside.

If we collide with God and can’t bring ourselves to confess our need, we find ourselves crushed, not helped. God only runs into us to stop us from running from Him and into the ruin of life lived without God.

Mercy through collision and confession; It’s a beautiful and gracious thing.

“The heart breaking makes a sound I never knew could be, so beautiful and loud, Fury filled and we collide.
So courageous until now fumbling and scared, So afraid You’ll find me out, alone here with my doubt.
Here it comes.
A beautiful collision is happening now. There seems no end to where You begin and there I am now. You and I collide.”

“A Beautiful Collision” David Crowder, 2011

Broken – March 3

“Do not be as the horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle, or else it would not come near You. Many pains come to the wicked, But the one who trusts in the LORD will have faithful love surrounding him.” Psalm 32:9-10

I know little about mules, but much about stubbornness. I have held a bridle in my hand and pushed its harsh metal into the animal’s mouth. I’ve never ridden on an unbroken mount, I’d be afraid to try.

But I’ve been an unbroken mount. I can remember long, hot and painful days of resisting His hand. Days of weariness and wandering where I would rather run away through thorns and into rocky flint rather than yield to a gentle hand of love.

He told me what I needed and I refused His soft wisdom. I continued in my own painful way until love sweetly sang me home.

During these 40 days, O God, remind me that I was broken in sin until I was broken by Your love so that I might be healed and led home.

“So God bruise the heels we’ve dug in the ground
That we might move closer to love;
Pull out the roots we’ve dug in so deep.
Finish what You’ve started. Help us to believe.”

“We’re bent by our own plans
to keep us in the dark;
And I act like an orphan
and forget that You found me.
But You came like a whisper
and saved me with a spark.”

Last two paragraphs taken from Jars of Clay songs “Eyes Wide Open” and “Out of My Hands”

Confession – February 24

“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You took away the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

Say it. Say the words. Mean it. We are talking about something more than an admission. Admitting is something we do when we are found out, like when someone has pulled the cover off of our cover-up.

Say it. We are talking about Confession. Confessing what we know is wrong, wrong about what we’ve done, the mess we’ve caused, who we are. Confession runs deep and it rings true and God says that we need to do it.

World’s Apart
I look beyond the empty cross, forgetting what my life has cost.
I wipe away the crimson stains and dull the nails that still remain.
More and more I need you now, I owe you more each passing hour,
The battle between grace and pride I gave up not so long ago;
So steal my heart and take the pain and wash my feet and cleanse my pride.
Take the selfish, take the weak, and all the things I cannot hide,
Take the beauty, take my tears, this sin-soaked heart and make it Yours.
Take my world apart. Take it now.
Take it now and serve the ones that I despise, speak the words I can’t deny,
Watch the world I used to love fall to dust and thrown away.

Did You really have to die for me? All I am for all You are?
I look beyond the empty cross, forgetting what my life has cost.
Take my world apart, Take my world apart.
I pray, I pray, I pray: Take my world apart.

Dan Haseltine and Jars of Clay express the heart of Confession artfully and deeply. Confession bubbles from our hearts through our lips when we realize that those things we try to hide are un-hide-able. Then the struggle begins as we attempt to put into words the dirt, pain, guilt, sadness and rebellion that has grown from desire to action to habit. The old proverb says it well, “Confession is good for the soul” and it’s great for returning to God.

Course Correction – February 17

“So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petitions with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

CRASH AND BURN. It’s an experience we instinctively seek to avoid. We don’t want to crash. We fear the burn.

And yet we will all experience the agony of a wrecked life if we refuse to make course corrections. It’s true in aviation. It’s true in my life. And it’s true in yours, for we are human. All of us: there are no exceptions.

Daniel lived in a time of crashing and burning on a large scale. His nation not only crashed; it did indeed burn. He was uprooted from family and country in a massive deportation to the land of Babylon: a place that symbolizes resistance to God and commitment to a humanism that exalts pride, power and possessions. When you crash and burn, it is easy for your faith to disappear.

Daniel did not let his faith shrink during his ordeal.

Instead he decided to have a Course Correction—note the phrase “I turned my attention.” Whatever had been his focus was being replaced with attention to the Lord God. And he showed that new focus by prayer and petitions with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

Daniel had his own Lenten season long before it became a Church practice.

We need a Course Correction. How about using this Lenten season to turn your attention to the Lord God. We have the opportunity to lay down something that is not valuable, to pick up something that can change us forever: “I turned my attention to seek the Lord God. . .”