March 1, 2017

Lent 2017

Lent 2017: Week 1

 

Some of Jesus’ most challenging words are, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Not only is that an intimidating challenge, it’s one of the most difficult decisions to make daily. Lent is a focused season of purposefully taking up your cross and choosing to follow Jesus in ways you wouldn’t normally do so.

The 40 days of lent (47 if you count Sundays) lead up Easter: the celebration of the single most powerful moment in the history of the world. It’s the day Jesus, having paid the price for our sin on the cross, showed us His power over sin and death by conquering them both when He was resurrected from the dead.

Like the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and being tempted in the wilderness before he began His ministry, the 40 days of Lent are an opportunity to remember who sustains us and at the same time to take up our own cross and do something hard for the simple purpose of growing closer to God.

Each week we’ll post a short devotional along with a set of readings for that week. We have one hope for the devotional and readings: That you grow closer to God because of them. Above everything else, that’s the purpose of Lent.

 

Readings:

Wednesday – Matthew 4:1-11

Thursday – Matthew 16:21-26  

Friday – Isaiah 53:1-3

Saturday – Psalm 25

 

Question for reflection:  

  1. People often give something up for Lent. Like Jesus in the wilderness, going without can give you a way to focus on what’s most important and where our sustenance really comes from. What’s something you could go without for the 40 days of Lent that would help you focus more on what God wants for you?

 

 

Lent 2017: Week 2

 Monday, March 6th – Saturday, March 11th

 

Each week we will address a discipline associated with Lent by looking at what Jesus teaches about it. We will also walk through the story of Jesus by reading some of what was prophesied about Him.

This week we’ll take a closer look at prayer. What’s remarkable about the bible is that it literally shows Jesus praying multiple times. We get to read the words that Jesus Himself prayed. You’ll notice, when you read any of Jesus’ prayers, that they are both profound and simple. He doesn’t butter them up with all kinds of fancy words, He simply speaks to His Father in heaven in a plain way, praising Him for who He is and asking for what He needs.

Our prayers don’t need to be fancy. The best prayer is an honest prayer. As you read through this week’s readings, take time to think about how you pray. As you consider how you pray, make an effort to pray a little more often this week. That might be praying once this week, or it could be praying daily. Whatever the case, take some time to pray and when you do, use Jesus as an example – keep it simple.

 

Monday – Luke 11:1-4

Tuesday – Ephesians 6:18

Wednesday – Luke 11:5-13  

Thursday – Isaiah 53:4-5

Friday – Matthew 26:36-46

Saturday – Psalm 30

 

Question for reflection:

  1. As you take more time to draw close to God through prayer this week, how has your perspective changed? What ways has God encouraged or strengthened you as you’ve spent time praying?

 

 

Lent 2017: Week 3

Monday, March 13th – Saturday, March 18th

 

The 40 days of Lent practice what Jesus did during his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. Jesus took a block of time to go without something so He could remember who it is that sustains Him. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus responds to the devil’s temptation to turn rocks into bread by saying, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” We are sustained by God, not by anything else.

Fasting is a deliberate act of going without something that you rely on to sustain you. We rely on more than food to get through a day. What would your day be like without social media? What would your day be like without your phone? What would your day be like without your go-to snack? What would your day be like without music in the background? None of those things are bad, but sometimes we rely on things like that to sustain us in ways that only God should sustain us. As you read through this week’s reading, consider what it would be like to go without in order to remember who sustains.

 

Monday – Luke 5:33-39

Tuesday – Colossians 1:15-20

Wednesday – Matthew 6:16-18

Thursday – Isaiah 53:6-8

Friday – Matthew 26:47-56

Saturday – Psalm 22

 

Question for Reflection:

  1. What’s one thing you could go without this week to grow closer to God and remember how He sustains you?

 

Lent 2017: Week 4

 Monday, March 20th – Saturday, March 25th

 

Each discipline we’ve focused on so far has been active. We haven’t just talked about praying, we’ve said “Pray”. We haven’t only explained what fasting is, we’ve given you ways to “Fast”. This week, we won’t only talk about forgiving, we want you to take an active step and “Forgive”. That can be a scary. We build walls up against forgiveness, but as you read through this week’s readings, you’ll hopefully notice a multitude of reasons why forgiveness is something you need in your life and also something you need to give away.

Jesus, as He lived here on earth, taught an incredible kind of forgiveness. It’s a forgiveness that was freeing. A forgiveness that went far beyond any kind of forgiveness conceived of before His time. It was a forgiveness that serves as an antidote to a world of hurt, bitterness, and anger. Don’t spend this week just thinking about how amazing Jesus’ forgiveness is. Spend this week considering how amazing Jesus’ kind of forgiveness could be as it’s actively practiced in your life.

Monday – Luke 17:3-4

Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Wednesday – Matthew 6:14-15

Thursday – Isaiah 53:9-10

Friday – John 8:1-11

Saturday – Psalm 51

 

Question for Reflection:

  1. Who do you need to forgive?
  2. When you forgive them, how will you feel?
  3. What’s stopping you?

 

Lent 2017: Week 5

Monday, March 27th – Saturday, April 1st

 

Jesus often taught that He would provide people with refreshment and renewal. Jesus came for the sake of setting us free and giving us a constant fresh start. To access that refreshment, we’re charged to do a couple of things: Confess and Repent. Those can be scary words, but they don’t have to be.

As you read through this week’s readings, consider this: every weight you feel on your shoulders from past mistakes or things you’re ashamed of can be taken away by Jesus. The only necessary ingredients are agreeing that with God about the things we’ve done in our lives that have hurt ourselves and others (confession) and making a turn to follow Jesus in that area of our life instead (repentance).

 

Monday – Matthew 3:1-12

Tuesday – Romans 2:1-4

Wednesday – Luke 24:44-49

Thursday – Isaiah 53:11

Friday – Acts 3:18-20

Saturday – Psalm 32

 

Question for Reflection:

  1. In what area of your life do you need refreshment?
  2. How could confession and repentance offer you refreshment in that area of your life?

 

 

Lent 2017: Week 6

 Monday, April 3rd – Saturday, April 8th

 

This week’s reading begins with a pinnacle moment in the history of Israel. It was the moment Israel decided that they no longer wanted God to be their king and instead wanted a human king to rule over them. This was a temporary concession God made to a hard-hearted people. However, this concession opened the door for God’s final saving plan.

Fast-forward to Jesus entering Jerusalem at the end of His ministry here on earth and we see a picture of something remarkable: Jesus, God’s son, entering Jerusalem as Lord and King. People spread palm branches and coats in front of Him as He entered the holy city on a donkey’s colt. It was a king’s welcome.

Lent and Easter remind us of the fundamental shift that took place because of Jesus. With Jesus’ coming act of sacrifice on the cross and victory over the grave on the third day, God was again crowned king. He became king not only for the Jews, but also for anyone who wanted to follow Him.

 

Monday – 1 Samuel 8:1-9

Tuesday – Romans 10:5-13

Wednesday – Matthew 21:1-11

Thursday – Zechariah 9:9-13

Friday – Matthew 21:12-17

Saturday – Psalm 30

 

Question for reflection:

  1. What shift takes place in your life when you give Jesus the highest authority in your life?

 

Lent 2017: Week 7  

Monday April 10th – Sunday, April 16th

 

Everything came down to this. Jesus spent three years teaching this good news of God’s coming kingdom. He challenged the status quo. He healed people and forgave people. Jesus challenged and changed, in fundamental ways, the systems in place for following God. It was no longer a list of rules; instead it was about sincere faith, forgiveness, and repentance.

 

And it all had to do with what was soon to be accomplished by Jesus.

 

The religious leaders thought they had put up with Jesus long enough. It had come to the point where either they would need to begin following Him themselves, or they would need to get rid of Him. They tried to choose the latter and they almost succeeded.

 

What resulted forever changed the world and forever altered the fate of you and me.

 

Monday – Luke 22:7-30

Tuesday – Luke 22:39-53

Wednesday – Luke 22:66-71

Thursday – Luke 23:1-25

Friday – Luke 23:26-56

Saturday – Psalm 22

Sunday – Luke 24:1-12

 

Question for reflection:

  1. As you consider these past weeks of Lent, how has your relationship with God shifted and grown?