Lent 13

–from Journey to the Cross

Call to Worship

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.”
The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous. In the
path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me
earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of
the world learn righteousness. O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have
indeed done for us all our works. [ISAIAH 26:4-9, 12]

Father in heaven, I thank you for being steadfast. For always being the faithful one in this relationship. No matter how wavering and wishy-washy my heart is, you are always standing their, your immovable hand resting on my shouldering, comforting, protecting, guiding….steady and true. You are trustworthy. Father, thank you for making my path sure and level. Even if I can’t see the ground beneath my feet, you guide me ever on and on–safe and true. Teach my soul to long for you. Bring peace to this broken world God.

Confession

Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you love us, but we have not loved you. You have
opened your heart to us, and in our pride we have spurned your care. You have
given us all things, and we have squandered your gifts. We have grieved you
and caused hurt to others, and we are not worthy to be called your children.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are ashamed and sorry for all we have
done to displease you. Cleanse us from our sin and receive us again into your
household, that we might nevermore stray from your love but always remain
within the sound of your voice.

Amen.

Contemplation

GOSPEL READING
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a
great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the
roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out
and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling
him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to
him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang
up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for
you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus
said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he
recovered his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:46-52]

God, have mercy on me. And if anyone tells me it’s useless to cry that out… teach me to just cry to you louder. GOD–HAVE MERCY ON ME!!! Have mercy on those I love… have mercy on those I struggle to love. Father God, have mercy on me…I need you. Thank you for being the Father to the orphan, lover to the unloved, comforter to the broken, healer to the sick, redeemer to the captive, strong to the weak, hope to the hopeless. Father God, have mercy.
DEVOTIONAL

Pride is the great enemy of humility. Bob Thune observes: “The brashest expressions of
pride are easy to spot: the athlete who boasts about her talent, the arrogant entrepreneur
who flaunts his achievements, or the well-connected neighbor who name-drops in
every conversation. Most of us are smart enough to avoid appearing prideful in these
obvious ways. But that’s just the problem. We can avoid looking prideful without actually
killing our pride.”

To put pride to death, we must “trace this serpent in all its turnings and windings,” as
the great Puritan John Owen wrote. We must get a fuller picture of what pride is and how
it looks, and the Bible helps us with this.

On the one hand, the Bible tells us that pride often manifests itself as arrogance: the
Apostle John refers to this as “the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). But on the other hand, the
Bible affirms that pride can manifest itself as subtle self-centeredness, looking out for
your own personal interests (Philippians 2:4).

In other words: the essence of pride is self-concern. Preoccupation with self. It may
manifest itself as arrogance and boasting or as self-protection and fear of people—but
it’s pride either way. If we want to cultivate humility, we must put pride to death. How?
By looking to Jesus as both our model and our mediator.

Jesus is our model, because though he had every reason to be prideful (he was perfect),
he chose instead the path of humility. Scripture commands us to follow his example:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was
in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians
2:5-7).

One cannot be like Jesus without humility, but if we merely try harder to be like him, we
will miss the gospel. The heart of the good news is that we can be more like Jesus only
if, and because, we are united with him.

We are united with Christ by grace through faith in his life, death, and resurrection.
Because we have rebelled against God, we deserve to be crushed by his divine wrath.
Even in our willful rebellion, we ourselves cannot bear the full wrath of God, hence our
need for a mediator, someone to stand in our place and plead our case before God. Jesus
“humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)—taking
our shame and guilt upon himself, and enduring the wrath of God against sin, so that
those who humbly come to him can be forgiven and reconciled to God. This is the Good
News of Easter!

Do you want to be set free from self-concern to love and serve others in humility? Do
you want to be set free from numbering your accomplishments, talent, or network? Look
to Christ, who was humble in life and broken in death to set you free from self-concern.

REFLECTION

1. What are the major areas of self-concern in your heart?
My daily life–what I want to do, dishes, food, computer, fb, etc…
My family–I want to love people the way I choose… and I want them to love me back certain ways…and I try to get that. :,(

2. How does the example of Jesus inspire and challenge you?
Jesus sacrificed. I don’t usually. I like convenience. In fact, pretty much all of my life is founded in convenience…and that’s not how Jesus lived. He lived for the kingdom of heaven and the sanctification of souls. He didn’t bring convenience to anyone’s life. I need to love him and try to imitate him more… and live self-sacrificing.
How does the reconciling work of Jesus liberate you?
He liberates me from the idea that my life needs to be easy or I’m doing it wrong.
He liberates me from needing to find the strength in myself to be self-sacrificing…he is my strength in this area of major weakness.
He liberates me from trying to love everyone–it is HIS love I share with them, He will fill me with His love and they will recieve His perfect love instead of my selfish manipulative love.

Closing Prayer

Humble my heart before thee, and replenish it with thy choicest gifts. As water
rests not on barren hill summits, but flows down to fertilize lowest vales, So
make me the lowest of the lowly, that my spiritual riches may exceedingly
abound. When I leave duties undone, may condemning thought strip me of
pride, deepen in me devotion to thy service, and quicken me to more watchful
care. When I am tempted to think highly of myself, grant me to see the wily
power of my spiritual enemy; Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-
tower of faith, and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord; If I fall
let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness, and when I escape, may I
ascribe all deliverance to thy grace.

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Lent 12

Isaiah 61:1-3

New International Version (NIV)

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Who is God (as demonstrated in this passage)? Spirit, Sovereign Lord, Annointer, Rescuer, Healer, Caring, Vengeful, Comforter, Splendid,

Who are we (as demonstrated in this passage)? Anointed, Bringer of the Good News, Messenger, one who takes care of God’s people, oak of righteousness–planted by God.

Father God, show me opportunities to care for your people, to bring healing, meaning, and Truth into their lives. Show me how to love of them like you do. Grant me grace and strength to see beyond myself. teach me your ways, oh God. Father please, teach me to love you and your people.

Lent 11

Jeremiah 31:15

New International Version (NIV)

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

I never really understood why that whole bit of prophecy had to happen, or why it was here in the first place. But, this passage refers to when Christ came, was born, and Herod felt so threatened by the wise men coming in search of the newly born king that he wiped out all small male children 2 years old and younger. I can’t imagine the widespread horror and devastation of all families in that time… I don’t understand what the point of that was from God’s point of view… anyone any ideas?

Lent 10

Isaiah 40:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Who is God (as demonstrated in this passage)? Shepherd, loving, gentle, –never asking more of his people than they can give,

Who are we (as demonstrated in this passage)? sheep, beloved

Father God, thank you for being attentive, gentle, thoughtful, caring, and never demanding. We need your grace, today and always. Thank you for being merciful and carrying us forward when we cannot walk, and moving us slowly when we are weak. Thank you for continually moving us toward you, and not letting us become stagnant.

Lent 9

Isaiah 35:5-7

New International Version (NIV)

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

Who is God (as demonstrated in this passage)? Healer, Refresher, Renewer,

Who are we (as demonstrated in this passage)? helpless, healed, refreshed, renewed, alive.

Father God, thank you for restoring us, weak, helpless, lame and pathetic people to have purpose and usefulness and joy. teach us to appreicate you and be grateful–to sing and dance your praises, to use our hands and feet for your service, our minds to be pure, our hearts steady, our wills malleable to only your hands.

Lent 8

Ezekiel 34:15-16

New International Version (NIV)

15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Who is God (as demonstrated in this passage)? Shepherd, gentle, caring, sovereign, Lord, attentive, healer, Just

Who are we (as demonstrated in this passage)? sheep, lost, stray, injured, weak

Teach us, Father, to be weak and guided by you instead of strong in our own minds. Teach us to see our continual need for you.

40 day Journey with Deitrich Bonhoeffer – 7

I kept waiting yesterday and they never sent day 6 😦 so yeah… guess I’m skipping that one too… 😦

Day 7

Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.

Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow.

Biblical Wisdom

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:33-34

Questions to Ponder

  • If “worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries,” how might one stop worrying? stop intentionally collecting treasures (most likely money). I’m not saying don’t save, but, don’t let it consume you or become your focus. If God gives you extra, then save. If He doesn’t, use what He gives you wisely and enjoy simplicity and His provision for today and allow Him to worry about tomorrow. I figure if we live our lives to the best of our ability–anything beyond that is entirely in God’s hands. Have an unplanned for expense? Not your fault–God will provide. That’s how I see life… 
  • How can we tell the difference between what we really “need” for our lives and what we think we need but really only want? Can we be content with what we really need? Food, shelter, clothing. Everyone knows those are the things we need. Sure it’s very, very basic and well below what Americans would think of as basics, but if you are warm and dry and full and loved–what else do you REALLY need? And yes, I think everyone can learn to be content with those things. 
  • Practically speaking, what would it mean to stop our “abuse of earthly goods” and “put tomorrow completely into God’s hand”? I think, in my life, it would be to learn to be more frugal and give more money to those less fortunate than I. I think it would be to focus less on what I don’t have and would like, and more on enjoying the many, many blessings I have. I think it would be to learn to maximize the enjoyment of the simple things–learn to cook better and more simply, learn to decorate with things I have on hand, learn to be more organized so I don’t forget I have things and buy more. And to be exceedingly grateful for all the little things, all the big things, and to focus on God’s goodness, not the world’s materialism. If we have more expenses that we didn’t know to plan for–pray that God would provide, and leave it at that. 

Psalm Fragment

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. Psalm 36:7-9

Journal Reflections

  • Write down your worries of today. That I’m a bad mom and wife. That I can do more. That I’m lazy and people notice and think badly of me and don’t say anything. That I am not grateful enough for things/people and God will punish me by taking them away. That I don’t love God properly. 
  • Reflect on why you have these worries. I hope that they’re just lies I choose to believe because that way I think I have more control over my life and the lives of those around me.
  • How many of them have to do with things you have or want to have? They’re mostly worries about emotions and physically doing things. I don’t think of myself as a very materialistic person–I enjoy material things, don’t get me wrong, but I think I understand their place…
  • Explore ways in which trusting God for today and tomorrow might relieve your worry and fear. Trusting God with the lives and provisions of those around me…and their opinion of me… And even with my own imperfect progress…Remembering that I CAN”T be perfect right now… I have to take baby steps, and God can show others my progress and He knew how far I was and how far I’d get when He decided to give us a son…and He knows how my life now is where it needs to be for His purposes now in my son’s life… It’s scary… but, if I remember those things, I think I’ll worry less…

Intercessions

Pray for the people you know who are worried or afraid. Ask God to deliver them from their worries by increasing their trust in God’s providential care.

Prayer for Today

Lord, I place my worries in your gracious hand and live this day trusting that you are with me and that what I have is more than I need.