LENT: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Week 6)

Week 6-Dying With Christ

  • This is the sixth Sunday in the season of Lent. This week we are highlighting the truth that we are all called to die with Christ. Our scripture meditation this week is from a very familiar passage in Galatians 6. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The Lenten season is a sobering reminder that we are called to die with Jesus Christ. The moment we embraced Jesus Christ by faith we died spiritually with Christ. The Bible is clear that the law and our good works are not capable of making us righteous. We need the powerful, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, to forgive us of our sins and to give us new life. But the call to die with Christ is also a way of life for the Christian. We are called every day to give up our selfish desires, addictions, bitterness, anger, materialism, prejudice, worry and lust so that the glory of Jesus Christ is more evident in us.

Scripture Meditation

Questions for reflection

  • What is God saying to you through this passage? What will your response be to what God is saying to you?
  • Spend time meditating on what it means to die with Christ on a daily basis.
  • What are some areas of your life that still need to die? Habits or ways of living that need to be repented of?
  • Spend time praising God for the amazing fact that he loved you so much that he sent his Son to die for you.

The featured picture is the “Crucifixion Painting” by Philippe De Champaigne

The song is “Death in His Grave” by John Mark McMillan (A great song as we slowly begin to turn our attention to Easter Sunday!)

LENT: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Week 4)

Week 4-God’s Word

  • We have reached week 4 of the Lenten season. I hope and pray that by now you are growing in your love for Jesus Christ as you have been contemplating the amazing truths of the gospel. Frequently during the Lenten season we think about what we can give up (food, bad habits, unforgiveness, anger, etc.) While there will be times that we want to fast from something for Lent, most importantly what we want to be doing is feasting on God’s Word. Our Scripture meditation for this week is all about Jesus Christ being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan. During this temptation we find how even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was dependent on Scripture to be able to withstand temptation and to experience spiritual victory. Spend time this week reading and meditating on Matthew 4:1-11. Ask God to give you a renewed desire to know him better by becoming a better student of his Word.

lent8

Scripture Meditation

Questions for Reflection

  • Here are the the two most important questions you can ask after reading God’s Word: What is God saying to you through this passage? What will your response be to what God is saying?
  • How did Jesus respond to the temptations of Satan? (verses 4, 7, 10) If Jesus was so dependent on Scripture what does that mean for you and me?
  • After fasting for 40 days there is no doubt that Jesus was in a weakened state. Satan saw this as an opportunity to attack Jesus and try to get him to give into a temptation. When are you at your weakest against temptations? How can you use Scripture to help you in those moments of weakness?
  • Do you have a regular plan for reading Scripture? You can find some solid Scripture reading plans HERE.

“Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store.” -N.T. Wright 

The featured picture is “The Temptation in the Wilderness” by Briton Rivière

The second picture is “The Temptation of Jesus” by Gustave Dore

Song is “Dear Wormwood” by The Oh Hellos

LENT: Prepare the Way of the Lord (WEEK 3)

lent6Week 3-Serving

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Jesus’ entire life was characterized by serving others. In Matthew 20:28 we read this, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The purpose of Lent is to immerse our hearts and minds in the truths of the gospel, worship Jesus Christ, and to ask God for the strength to walk in the ways of Jesus. If we are going to immerse our hearts and minds in the gospel we will have to spend most of our time thinking about the cross. The servant’s heart and sacrificial attitude of Jesus is most clearly on display on the cross. The wages we earned for our sin was death (Romans 6:23). Jesus graciously served us by dying on the cross, in our place, taking our sins upon himself, so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life. We worship Jesus because of his great love for us demonstrated on the cross. But it does not stop there. Because of this great love poured out on our behalf we now should desire to go and serve others. This week spend time mediating on Mark 8:31-38. In this passage we find that Peter has a strong aversion to the idea of serving others. Jesus goes on to tell Peter (and you and I) “For whoever would save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Scripture Meditation
Mark 8:31-38

Questions for Reflection
• Here are the the two most important questions you can ask after reading God’s Word: What is God saying to you through this passage? What will your response be to what God is saying?
• Why did Jesus say that the “Son of Man must suffer many things”?
• In what ways was Peter setting his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God? How are we tempted to do the same thing today?
• Jesus says that if we are going to follow him we will deny ourselves and take up our cross. What are some ways that you need to deny yourself this week so that you can truly follow in the path of Christ?
• Moms and dads, ask your kids how they can be serving others (home, neighborhood, school).

Picture is ‘Christ in Gethsemane’, Vasily Perov (1878). Song is “Jerusalem” by CityAlight.

LENT: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Week 2)

Week 2-Idols and Repentance

Titian Christ Cross 1565Lent is primarily about focusing our hearts and minds on the glorious truths of the gospel. One of the things that keeps us from feasting on the gospel any time of the year is idolatry. (“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” -1 Corinthians 10:14). An idol is anything that we desire or treasure more than God. The tremendous challenge when it comes to talking about idolatry is that we can easily see when someone else has an issue with idolatry but it is really hard to recognize it in our own life. If we want more of Jesus we are going to have to repent of the things in our life that have become a god to us. Here are some diagnostic questions from David Powlison that will help us to see more clearly the idols that exist in our life.

  • What do I worry about most?
  • What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
  • What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
  • What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  • What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  • What do I lead with in conversations?
  • Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  • What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  • What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  • What is my hope for the future?
  • What do you blog, tweet or post the most about on social networks?

As you answer these questions you can begin to see things, or people, that have become too important to you. The best way to deal with our idols is by turning to God’s Word. The passage of Scripture that I am recommending for you to meditate on is Psalm 51. Psalm 51 shows us how David responded after he had given into the lust of his heart and committed adultery with Bathsheba. Don’t just read the passage of Scripture. Slow down. Meditate on the words. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of areas of your life that you need to surrender. Ask God to give you the strength to, not merely confess your sin, but to truly hate it and repent of it.

Scripture Meditation:
• Psalm 51

Questions for Reflection
• What is God saying to you through this passage? What will your response be to what God is saying?
• Slowly read over the diagnostic questions. What do they reveal about what you value and treasure most in life?
• Parents, how can you communicate to your kids the dangers of idolatry? Have social media and Iphones become too important to them (sports, boyfriends, girlfriends, success, image)?
• In Psalm 51 David finally comes clean and truly repents of his sin. Is there someone you need to talk to about your battle with sin? Someone that can hold you accountable and help you find spiritual victory?

Picture is ‘Christ Carrying the Cross’ by Titian, 1556. Song is a cover of ‘Clear the Stage’ done by Jimmy Needham.

Lent: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Week 1)

LENT: Prepare the Way of the Lord

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” -Isaiah 40:3

Week 1-What is Lent About?

Lent 1“Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives. This season is an opportunity to root ourselves in the good news that God saves sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time to take stock, examine our hearts, repent of sin, turn to God, reflect on the suffering our Savior endured to accomplish our salvation, and finally, rest in the assurance of that salvation. Observing Lent is not necessary or central to experiencing life in Christ. Furthermore, this is not a season of “doing penance.” Rather, having been sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit, Lent is a season where we intentionally set aside time to remember Jesus and the grace that is found through faith in him alone. Lent is not about our faithfulness, but rather about the faithfulness of Jesus on our behalf.” –Journey to the Cross

As a church we enter into this season to repent of all the things that make false promises of fulfillment and instead we turn our hearts and minds to the only One who truly satisfies our aching hearts, Jesus Christ.

Use these weekly Lenten devotionals for your personal use or together with your family.

Scripture Meditation

Hebrews 12:1-14 (spend time meditating upon these verses this week, read them together with your family)

Questions for Reflection

Here are the two most important questions you can ask after reading God’s Word: What is God saying to you through this passage (Hebrews 12:1-14)? What will your response be to what God is saying?

If we think that Lent is merely giving up the things we enjoy we don’t really understand what Lent is all about. Lent is about confessing and repenting of our sins so that we can experience the fulfillment and love that only Jesus Christ can give to us. Are there things in your life that are robbing you of your joy that you need to confess? Spend time confessing them an ask God to give you the strength to leave them behind.

Determine in your heart and mind that you will create margin in your busy schedule (for you and your family) this Lenten season to focus on the gospel so that you can fully embrace the joys of Easter on April 1st.

Artwork above (woman praying) is by Jenny Popp. Music by Fernando Ortega.