Countdown to the Cross and Open Grave! (Lent 2019)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love the Lenten season! 🙂

Passover (some call it ‘Easter’) is the most important event in our world history, and yet it can sneak up on us. We often spend so much time focusing on Christmas, that we forget Part 2, …the dying to self-part and receiving new life in Christ! Christmas is receiving God’s gift under the tree and Passover / Easter is opening it!

It is a season, not just a week or a day, and it all starts on a Wednesday. The countdown to Easter Sunday is called “Lent” referring to a lengthening of days as the days get longer with Springtime! Lent is a time that we remember to die to our selfishness, and to choose to live free in Christ!

This year I look forward to using the daily verses (see Year C below) and the Divine Reading template. Come and allow Jesus to bring you new life through these daily readings…

1. List of Scriptures – Year C – Lent : Revised Common Lectionary

2. Your Guide – Reflective Reading Template (Lectio Divina) 

Love’s Journey to the Cross: Good Friday

Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Good Friday
God is love, 1 John 4:9

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Image source: cynthiacavanaugh.com

We have been counting down the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on love’s journey to the cross.

How often have you said you were having a bad day or a bad week? Could any of us say we’ve had a week like Christ did… leading up to the cross? Today, we call ‘Good’ Friday… only because we have a Good Father who didn’t spare his own Son, but handed him over to death for all of us to live in freedom!

Do you TRULY know that you can come to God and receive His unconditional love without doing anything to earn it? …Or are you stuck in trying to be good in order to be loved?

Reflect with me on 1 John 4:9…

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

Let me make it more personal for you…

This is how God showed his love to you: He sent his one and only Son for you, that you might live through him.

He chose to live through a horrific, yet Holy week and give His life on a gruesome, but very Good Friday. How can you and I even begin to live our lives in gratitude?

Because of the cross, He invites us to live in freedom. Freedom living is showing His love to others, like a reflection, …much like the moon reflects the sun’s light. The love we show is always, only a reflection of His great love. Matthew 2 calls us to love God, and then to love others. Our love for others comes from our love from God. God is love and we are His.

Let’s pray…

God, You are not simply loving, you ARE love itself. You ARE the source of all perfect love.

Hate sometimes leaks out of our fleshly hearts. Dry it up, Good Father, and help us to see others the way you see them. Live through us, that we may live in freedom, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Originally written for Good Friday, Mar 25-16)

Love’s Journey to the Cross: 6th Sunday in Lent

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Image source: hobbylobby.com

Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Col 3:12-14 NIRV and ERV – Unity in Love

We continue to countdown the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on dying to our selves and living free in Christ, …as we focus on love’s journey to the cross…

Reflect with me…

God calls you and I to difficult things.

…like …peace

…and to put on love, …which holds us all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3…

12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. 13 Put up with one another. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. 14 Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.

…quiet your heart and receive the undeserved gift that God loves you unconditionally no matter what you’ve done. God loves you perfectly and endlessly. And then He calls you to share His love even when it’s tremendously difficult…

Ask God where you need more of His compassion, more kindness, more humility, more gentleness, or patience. Ask Him for His Holy Spirit to give you the boldness to love others.

Pray…

God, you freely forgive us. Please give us your peace when we face challenging situations and people. Help us to remember the undeserved grace you show us so that we can be humble and treat others with kindness and patience. Help us remember that we are one part of the whole body of Christ, chosen to be your holy people, …for the world to see and be drawn to you and your perfect love. Fill us with your Spirit to give us peace in all that we say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

March 20-16

Love’s Journey to the Cross: 5th Sunday in Lent

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Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Love means laying down your life – John 15:9-15

We continue to countdown the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on dying to our selves and living free in Christ, as we focus on love’s journey to the cross, on how God deeply loves us and calls us to love one another.

Open your heart and reflect with me…

Who have you been a friend to?

How do you show love to your friends?

Do you…

…write a note of encouragement?
Share your favourite toy, game, or activity with them?
Share a meal with them?
Offer to babysit?
Clean their kitchen?
Move their piano?
Surprise them by washing their car?
Give them a ride?
Go with them to an important doctor’s appointment?
Offer a listening ear when they are hurt?
Do you regularly pray with and for them?

…But, would you even be willing to die for them?

In John 15, Jesus invites you to first linger with Him, to sit with Him, to curl up like a child beside Him, to walk with Him, to do life ongoing with Him, to see life through His eyes, …to enjoy living deeply with your Creator and Saviour who rescues you… and then…

…He teaches …that you celebrate your friendship with Him when you give your life for your friends. And when you love like He loves, He calls you ‘friend’.

Are you aware of His presence and His love for you in every moment?

May you linger with Him.
May you receive and dig deeply in His love
so that …you may show His love to your friends.

Jesus said… in John 15…

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Do you know anyone who has died for you?

His name is Jesus, and He died for you, so that you may live in freedom, to be called ‘friend’ with Almighty God, and then to show His love with one another.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Pray…

Jesus, you are our greatest friend. You were scoffed at and called a “friend of sinners”. But, you didn’t turn away from us in disgust and embarrassment. You went to the cross, to hell and back for us. You love us so much that you willingly went through torture and death for us. And you defeated death so that we can live in freedom. Thank you that you don’t call us slaves, but friends. Help us to show your sacrificial love to others. Amen.

 

March 13-16

Love’s Journey to the Cross: First day in Lent

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Artist: Moriah Misner

Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections

Easter is the most important event in our world history, and yet it can sneak up on us. We often spend so much time focusing on Christmas, that we forget Part 2, …the dying to self-part and receiving new life in Christ. Christmas is like receiving God’s gift under the tree and Easter is opening it!

Easter is a season, not just a week or a day, and it all starts on Ash Wednesday. The countdown to Easter Sunday is called “Lent” referring to a lengthening of days as the days get longer with Springtime! Lent is a time that we remember to die to our selfishness, and to live free in Christ.

Isn’t it perfect that the first day in Lent this year is Valentine’s Day, typically the day of love? Because, we countdown to the greatest act of love in history, when God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die (John 3:16) . This season, we focus on God’s love for us, and how He calls us to love…and to live free in Christ!

So, I invite you to quiet your heart and receive this reflection and blessing today…

An Everlasting Love

All our lives others tell us about who we are and how they feel about us and these messages deeply affect us.

But, I invite you to receive the deepest truth about who God knows you to be, about who you truly are… And this truth is rooted in God’s Word, and in His heart towards who you are.

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

 

What particular word speaks to you today?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

The Lord is near to you right now, no matter what place of life you are in.

As you enter this season of Lent – reflecting on Love’s journey to the cross, look for ways that God extends His everlasting love and kindness to you… through the Word, through His creation, through a friend or relative… Take note …you must be still and quiet, with eyes on Jesus. Perhaps, reflect at the end of each day, and make a list of moments that you saw God’s love and kindness. May you be surprised by His daily love for you. And May His love transform you and your journey ahead. Because of Love’s journey to the cross, you and I can live in freedom.

Prayer…

Lord, thank you that your love is everlasting.

Thank you for your unfailing kindness, that none of us deserve.

We reflect on the truth that God, you draw us close… so close that you sent your Son to sacrifice His life.

We want to be filled …with a deep sense of your love and kindness.

You call us your ‘beloved’. Teach us how to live in that calling. Amen.


Feb 21 – 16
(Adapted from: Everlasting Love, Abide app, Joanna Quintrell)

 

 

 

What is Lent? (Journey to the Cross)

How will you journey this Lenten season?

First the background…

The 6 weeks before Easter is called the “Lenten Season”. It’s a time to focus on Christ’s sacrifice of death for our life. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we too can rise and enjoy heaven forever when we put our trust in Him.

LENT is a process of prayer and spiritual renewal. The Lenten season focuses on dying to our self and living for Him. Often Christians will fast from something in order to rely less on other things and rely more on Him.

The word ‘lent’ means ‘lengthen’ and stands for the time in Spring when the days grow longer. The original period of Lent was 40 hours, and was spent fasting to remember the suffering of Christ and the 40 hours He spent in the tomb. In the early 3rd century, it was lengthened to 6 days and then 36 days (36 being the tithe or tenth of the 365 days of the year). About 800 AD it changed to 40 days (or 46 if you include all the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday).

In many traditions, Lent is a time for cleaning, in preparation for Easter and Spring. First your soul, then your kitchen, then the rest of the house was cleansed and purified of the past year’s accumulations. Old clothes are mended, or given away, new clothes are purchased. In the Ukraine, houses were whitewashed inside and out during Lent. In this way, everything was made ready to face the season of Salvation and Rebirth. Traditions of ‘spring cleaning’ stem from this.

I’ve been prompted to choose the following Lenten Focus:

Read Matthew 5 daily for every 40 days (Reflective reading)

Make a Gratitude list – daily

Pray for others I see as I walk

Choose forgiveness daily

I will also be taking my family through reflections on Jesus’ journey to the cross.

What will you set aside, get rid of and focus on in order to set your eyes on Jesus, His love and sacrifice for you?

 

 

Lenten Reading for the Third Sunday in Lent:

Image source: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5494/10436842935_763b9166c7.jpg

Light five candles before reading.

Usually God holds back his anger over sin. But one time he let it loose, so we would know how serious it is to turn our backs away from God and toward the darkness, and so we would know how great his wrath is against sin.

BUT he did not totally destroy his creation. He showed us his mercy, through Noah.

Genesis 6-9

1. Read the passage above slowly. (Click on the passages for the link.)
2. Linger with it quietly.
3. Ask God what He is saying to you and how He invites you to respond.
4. Write out or say a prayer back to Him.
5. Thank Him for His message to you today.

Snuff out one candle. Do not light again until Easter Sunday.

Hold on, it gets better… His rescue plan would change history forever. He would bring justice for you and me…

More reflections to come…

Sources: Some of my own and some adapted from Noel Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights

Lenten Reading for the Second Sunday in Lent:

Image source: http://emilyweaverbrownphoto.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0545.jpg

Light six candles before reading.

God created people for relationship, for His glory. He gave them everything they could need or want. But they listened to the enemy’s lies instead. They no longer believed God’s gifts were enough. They turned their backs on God and lost their place in perfect friendship with Him. Now they saw pain and death in their future.

Genesis 2:8-3:19

Romans 5:12

1. Read the passages above slowly. (Click on the passages for the link.)
2. Linger with them quietly.
3. Ask God what He is saying to you and how He invites you to respond.
4. Write out or say a prayer back to Him.
5. Thank Him for His message to you today.

Snuff out one candle. Do not light again until Easter Sunday.

Hold on, it gets better… His rescue plan would change history forever. He would bring justice for you and me. Need a sneak peek?

He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
and rescues me…
You hold me safe…”

(Reflect more on Psalm 18…)

More reflections to come…

Sources: Some of my own and some adapted from Noel Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights

Lenten Reading for the First Sunday of Lent:

Image Source: http://www.aholyexperience.com

The 6 weeks before Easter is called the “Lenten season”. The word Lent is from an old English word related to “lenthen”, and meant springtime, when the days are lengthening. We use it to refer to the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Lent is a process of prayer and spiritual renewal. Join me this Lenten season as we focus on the journey to the cross which Christ sacrificially took for you and for me. Renew your focus on Him. He kept His focus on the cross despite all the agony. His love for you was greater!

(For me this season is timely. I need to focus on Him and not all the agony around me. You’re welcome to join me in this journey.)

Light seven candles before reading.

God created the universe—from galaxies to water spiders. He created the breeze that calms us and the hurricane that terrifies us. All of it shows us what He is like, it displays His glory and personality. He calls to us daily when we look at His creation…

But… we can easily become blinded to the truth. Some of us take all of God’s creation for granted and say it just got there somehow—no need for God. Others of us worship the things that He created and don’t see Him behind it.

Where does your heart lie?

John 1:1-5;

Gen 1:1-2:3;

Romans 1:18-25

1. Read the passages above slowly. (Click on the passages for the link.)
2. Linger with them quietly.
3. Ask God what He is saying to you and how He invites you to respond.
4. Write out or say a prayer back to Him.
5. Thank Him for His message to you today.

Snuff out one candle. Do not light again until Easter Sunday.

Hold on, it gets better… His rescue plan would change history forever. He would bring justice for you and me. Need a sneak peek?

He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
and rescues me…
You hold me safe…”

(Reflect more on Psalm 18…)

More reflections to come…

Sources: Some of my own and some adapted from Ann Voskamp, http://www.aholyexperience,com; Noel Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights