We are glad you are joining us as we journey toward the death, burial, and resurection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each of these Lenten devotions were written by a church member. The scriptures are taken from the day’s reading in our 2 Year Bible Reading Plan.
 
All Bible quotations, unless otherwise marked, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Subsequent quotations marked ESV.

 

March 26 – Devotion

Date: March 26

Scripture: Psalm 78:38-39

Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquityand did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again. (Ps. 78:38-39)

The psalmist calls us in Psalm 78 to remember the story of God’s faithfulness and pass it on to the generations to come. It’s a call to obey His commands and to tell of His wonders. The story of God’s faithfulness is placed in contrast to the faithlessness of His chosen people. The story is not whitewashed. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all laid out before us and serve as a reminder that we are all in need of a Savior.

The psalm mentions a number of examples of Israel’s faithlessness. The valiant warrior Ephraimites, the dominant group in the Northern Kingdom, rejected God’s ways and were faithless despite their fathers having seen God’s mighty hand rescue them from Egypt’s enslavement, part the Red Sea, lead them day and night, and feed them with manna from heaven. They repeatedly forgot God’s commands and turned their backs on Him.

It is important to remember that the Children of Israel were not chosen because of their exemplary character. They did not do anything to merit God’s favor. It was for God’s sovereign purposes alone that he chose Israel to be the womb of revelation from which, in the fullness of time, the Messiah would come. It was this very weak and wandering group that God had compassion on and mercifully atoned for their sins. As the psalmist said, “He remembered they were but flesh” (v. 39).

In this season of Lent, it is important that we remember that we are but flesh and, just as the Israelites, are “prone to wander” (Robert Robinson, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” 1758) from the God we love. This is a time of repentance where we return to hope in God and we remember His commandments.

Take a moment and reflect on the faithfulness of God in your life. Remember the times you brought pain into your life when you forgot his commands. Be confident of this: God is compassionate and knows you are flesh. This is why he sent his Son, Jesus, for your salvation.

Prayer for the Journey: Heavenly Father, You are good and kind, you are mighty and strong, there is no power greater than You. You are. There is no one above You, for you created all, even me. You ordered the universe, and You walk with me and know my heart. The expanse of your love is incomprehensible to me. Help me to see, hear, and understand what I can and to share it with others. Forgive me where I have failed You. Enable me to grant grace to those around me as they seek to find their way. Help me not to be deceived but to seek Your truth and allow Your truth to shine in and through me today. Light my way, Lord, and carry me through for Your glory, not my own. Thank you for your provision, compassion, and love— limitless, unending, eternal. Pour out upon me, Lord, and spill over. May Your will be done, and not my own. In the precious name of Jesus, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.

Prepared by: Mark and Robin Simpson



March 25 – Devotion

Date: March 25, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 77

You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples. (Ps. 77:14, ESV)

The Psalms were the songs, indeed the poetry and lyrical history of the people of Israel, an oral tradition of God’s faithfulness. But what about the times when a psalmist doubted God’s presence, when despair clouded the language of praise, when “the good old days” of yesterday seemed but a faint memory? How did a writer resolve those times of questioning?

We get a glimpse of such a situation in Psalm 77. The twenty verses as they appear in English are attributed to Asaph, a somewhat nebulous name that could be an individual charged with the music in the court of King David or a Hebrew term loosely translated “God has gathered.” Regardless of whether it’s employed in a generic or a specific sense, the writer is deeply troubled and compares his current situation with the past. “When I remember God, I moan;/when I meditate, my spirit faints./You hold my eyelids open;/ I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (vs. 3-4, ESV). For whatever reason, the psalmist is so melancholy that he cannot close his eyes to sleep nor can he speak.

Even a psalmist is subject to those times of doubt that take hold in the blackest hours of the night when the promise of dawn seems far away. However, in verse 5, he slowly begins to acknowledge that God is not absent, and he must consciously choose to recall God’s faithfulness. “I said, ‘Let me remember my song in the night;/ let me meditate in my heart’” (ESV). Meditating on God’s faithfulness becomes the precursor to an about-face.

The writer shakes off the season of despair and gives himself a pep talk, asking the questions to which he already knows the answers. “Will the Lord spurn forever/and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? /Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? /Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (vvs. 7-9, ESV). The psalmist knows such is not the case, reminding both himself and his audience that God is ever present and ever faithful. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord;/yes, I will remember your wonders of old. / I will ponder all your work/and mediate on your mighty deeds” (vvs. 11-12, ESV).

One can literally feel the writer’s abrupt change of mood, as he enumerates God’s provision and majesty in the water, the clouds, the crash of thunder and lightning. And then the ultimate remembrance of what God had promised and delivered for the children of Israel: “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (v. 20, ESV). Here is the imagery of the Good Shepherd, as well as the reminder of how God used individuals like Moses and Aaron to accomplish his purposes for His chosen people.
Sometimes, we must shake off the temptation of despair, reminding ourselves of the very nature of God, his mercy and provision in every circumstance of life. There’s a song title in verse 6 that jumped out at me, “My Song in the Night.” If you’re so inclined, you can find and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s version with orchestral accompaniment and remember that the Lord is our song.

Prayer for the Journey: Lord, give us discerning hearts and minds to remember your goodness, to know that you have never abandoned or forsaken us. Guide us through the darkness of doubt and despair to emerge into the dawn of your unfailing faithfulness.

Prepared by: Janet Lee



March 24 – Devotion

Date: March 24, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 76

At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
    both rider and horse lay stunned.
 But you, you are to be feared!
    Who can stand before you
    when once your anger is roused? (Ps. 76:6-7)

As a child I played a lot with those little plastic green army men, pretending to defeat the enemy attack and save the day. Even my three little girls, who have no concept of war or battle, like to play a game with me where I am a monster and they defeat me by tackling me to the ground.


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March 23 – Devotion

Date: March 23, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 75

But it is God who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
(Ps. 75:7)

The psalmist begins by praising God and then moves to a repetition of several key phrases that emphasize God’s power. He ends by praising God again, remembering that God is the ultimate judge of the wicked and the righteous.


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March 22 – Devotion

Date: March 22,2017

Scripture: Ezekiel 45-46

Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness. (Ezek. 45:9, ESV)

Ezekiel is the last of the major prophets of the Old Testament. As such, Ezekiel speaks to a time when all of Israel, both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, has been defeated soundly and/or sent into exile. The leaders of both Israel and Judah had rejected the Laws of Jehovah and done what was right in their own eyes. When there was no evidence of repentance, each was defeated, destroyed, and/or sent into captivity.


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March 21 – Devotion

Date: March 21, 2017

Scripture: Ezekiel 43–44

Ezekiel 43:2-5 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east ,the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. (ESV)

Ezekiel 44:4-5 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord. And I fell on my face. And the Lord said to me,“Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the Lord and all its laws.” (ESV)

When our children were small, they loved to look out through the glass storm door, especially on those days when weather prohibited playing outside. On plenty of such times, our enjoyment of God’s beautiful world was limited to what we could see from the inside, behind a glass door. Often the result of extended days indoors were dirty little hand prints, smeared peanut butter and jelly, and sometimes a thin film that could not be identified! With a few squirts of window cleaner and a paper towel we could once again see clearly each blade of grass, flower petal, or bright red cardinal. Then, when the bright spring days finally came around, we could go outside beyond the glass storm door and actually experience the warm breeze, the soft green grass, and the fragrance of the honeysuckle.

As we walk through these chapters of Ezekiel, it can feel just like trying to see through a dirty window; our limits become real, and we are reminded of Paul’s words, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). Sometimes the confines of humanity are frustrating, so we skim over that which seems too difficult or irrelevant. Let us not miss this opportunity to lean in to the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of all of God’s words, even Ezekiel! There is significant truth behind our dirty handprints for us, as believers, to help us to know Him, to see Him more clearly, and one day to move beyond the dim barrier to live in His presence forever.

Ezekiel’s visions while touring the Temple are marked by dimensions of the altar, instructions for the priests and Levites and the call for Israel to reject idols and idol worship. But what stands out the most for those of us on this side of the Cross of Christ is the picture of the glory of the Lord filling the temple. God’s desire has always been to dwell among us. Ezekiel’s only response is to fall facedown. What does this mean for believers? Why is this of any significance as we journey toward Christ’s Cross during Lent?

First of all, it means we should thank the Lord Jesus Christ for being the perfect sacrifice, once for all, for our sin. Ezekiel 43:13-27 gives details of the altar, the specifics of the sacrificial animals and all of the blood that was required to be accepted “declares the Lord God” (Ezek. 43:27, ESV). Knowing that we are a temple acceptable to Sovereign God because of Christ’s blood and are indwelt by His Holy Spirit should cause us all to fall facedown as we understand a mere glimpse of God’s glory!

Second, how are we to view God’s glory today? Lord God would have us pay close attention to this: the glory is all His. It is NOT ours to claim. Whatever glory Sovereign God has allowed us to participate in as believers, we are not to touch it, to lust after it, to regard it as coming from our side of the dirty glass door. Our only response to glimpses of His glory as he fills each believer, and as He fills our church, is to fall facedown in worship and recognition of Him.

Prayer for the Journey: Lord God, Sovereign and Holy, give me eyes to see your glory, as your spirit dwells among us as believers. Give me right responses as I experience the blessings of following you. Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for your sacrifice for me and for filling each temple with the glory of your Spirit.

Prepared by: Joanie Winborne



March 20 – Devotion

Date: March 20, 2017

Scripture: Ezekiel 41-42

And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”

For a number of years I was blessed with the opportunity to lead college mission trips to Paris, France. We were given the task of developing relationships with the Muslim people groups through community sports camps, coffee shop gatherings, street art, and any creative idea the students could envision. Being in Paris was amazing, and on every trip we took a few days to enjoy the culture and be tourists.

On their free days the students would rush to the Eiffel Tower, head to the Arc de Triomphe, visit Notre Dame, and tour the Sacrè Coeur. A quick glimpse of each of these landmarks seemed to satisfy the students, but something was amiss. I could not fathom how their curiosity and interest were so easily quelled by glancing at these structures. On one of our trips, the students had been given six hours to explore the Musée du Louvre. The Louvre is one of the world’s most extraordinary museums. It houses the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and tens of thousands of incredible works of art. I sat in the snack bar to go over the rest of our itinerary, and within forty-five minutes, six students were back, telling me that they had seen everything and were ready to go. I was perplexed and amused.

Within forty-five minutes the students had experienced one of the world’s largest collections of art and were ready to leave. Contrast their experience with Ezekiel’s in today’s readings. Ezekiel was led by the Lord into a vision of the Temple the Lord would build. The Lord allowed Ezekiel to examine the specifics of each room, see the walls and chambers being measured, and observe the intricacies of the carvings and items which adorned the rooms. With each step and movement, Ezekiel was drawn closer to the Holy Place, and from the Holy Place he was taken to the outer courts.

Ezekiel was provided a picture of the perfected temple. He was given the exact measurements and was able to explore the dimensions of a coming reality. His vision was not a quick glimpse into the future. He was treated to an intimate inspection of the place where the Lord was to dwell and was exposed to the purpose behind the elements and artifacts.

At first glance, these chapters read more like instructions or blueprints for a building than a grand invitation to experience the glory of the Lord, but with each step and pull of the measuring tape, the intricate, the incredible, and the intimate opportunity afforded Ezekiel allowed him to gaze at the glorious nature of the Lord’s creative construction.

The Lord revealed Himself with such specificity and exacting standards because He wants us to know Him. Unlike the students racing through Paris to catch only a glimpse of the structures or to quickly glance at a painting or sculpture, the Lord beckons us to gaze on Him and search diligently for His glory and strive to grasp the wonder of His standards and His excellence.

Don’t settle for a glimpse of His glory. Don’t quickly glance in the Lord’s direction. Draw close to Him through reading His word and sitting before Him in prayer, reflection, and contemplation.

Prayer for the Journey: Lord, allow me to fix my eyes on you and take in your glory and majesty. Help me not to be satisfied with a quick glimpse or glance in your direction when you invite me to gaze upon you and dwell with you.

Prepared By: Eric E. Pratt



March 19 – Devotion

Date: March 19, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 71

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come. (Ps. 71:17-18)

2016 – not my best year. On December 15, 2015, my sweet mother breathed her last breath, and 39 days later so did Jane, my big sister and only sibling. The losses were overwhelming to me. These two women had loved me, encouraged me, and supported me longer than anyone else on the planet. Learning to keep walking without them was, and still is, extremely hard.

And if that wasn’t enough, in May of 2016 I turned 60 (ugh!). No other birthday ending in a zero has affected me like this one. I was thrilled to turn 10 and 20. Weren’t you? The next three big birthdays—30, 40, and 50—somehow just got lost in a busy schedule of teaching school, raising kids, serving at church, and just living life. But turning 60 has been tough for me. The questions that play over and over again in my mind are, “So, what’s next? What’s left?”

Psalm 71 addresses my loss and my questions. I am reminded that God has been and will continue to be faithful to me for my whole life, to the very last day of it. He will never stop being my rock, my fortress, my hope, my confidence, and my refuge. He will not cast me away because I’m “too old,” nor will he forsake me as the strength of youth fades.

My husband Ronald and I teach a young married Sunday School class filled with some precious young couples. One Sunday he started the lesson by asking us to count some things.

In how many different towns have you lived? Me: 6
How many different schools have you attended? Me: 8
How many different jobs have you had? Me: at least 12
With how many different people have you been friends, only to lose contact? Me: a lot
And finally, how many different Gods have you loved and served? Me: 1

Ronald’s point was that life constantly changes, but God does not. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). He is my Alpha and my Omega (Rev. 1:8). He was there when I took my first breath, and He will still be with me when I breathe my last. He is the one and only faithful and constant thing in my life. And although He allows me to see troubles, many and bitter, He is faithful to bring me through those troubles (Ps. 71:20) and to once again lift my head (Ps. 3:3).

Reading this psalm brought Philippians 1:6 to my mind: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” For the first time, I saw that verse from a different perspective. Instead of seeing it as a faithful promise to a young believer, I saw it as a faithful promise to me, a 60-year-old believing woman. When I was eight years old, God began a good work in my life, and His good work in me will continue until He calls me home.

So, what is my response to such a faithful God? The psalmist lists two: praise and proclamation. Repeatedly in the psalm he says that he will praise God and declare his mighty acts and marvelous deeds to the next generation of believers.

We all have a story of God’s faithfulness and redemption. Let’s praise Him each and every day for that story and then tell it to someone He has intentionally placed in our path. Who knows? It could make an eternal difference for someone.

Prayer for the Journey: Lord, I praise you today for your faithful presence in every stage of my life so far and for your promise to be there all the rest of my days. Give me opportunities and courage to share my story of your faithfulness with other people that you place in my life.

Prepared by: Ann Kyzar



March 18 – Devotion

Date: March 18

Scripture: Ezekiel 38-39

And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. (Eze. 39:7-8, ESV)

These chapters basically reassure the people of God that He is with them to fight for them. The forces of evil are marshaled against those who follow God. Ezekiel assures those of his day, and ours, that our God is a mighty God who fights for us. In a faithful relationship with Christ, we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37) through Him. In our past, He was there. In our present, He is here. In our future, He will give us victory!

When you have experienced great difficulty, have you ever had the thought, “Where are you God?” The answer to that question is, “I am where I always am.” In “Footprints” by Margaret Fishback Powers, the poet expressed great anguish at presumed abandonment by God. It was then that He whispered that the places in the sand where their footprints converged was where He was carrying her.

You and I today can know that as evil and temptation assail our lives, we are not alone. The beauty in the death of Christ is revealed in this, “….if God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b, ESV). When darkness seems to overwhelm us, the Light of the World, Jesus, illumines our harried lives. Yes, in a personal relationship with Christ, we are indeed more than conquerors.

So, dear followers of Christ, take heart. When the darkness seems too great for us, we are still able to walk in the light of His glorious presence.

Prayer for the Journey: O Mighty God, in our fears, remind us of your power; in our weaknesses, strengthen our resolve; in our walk, sustain us by your presence so that we may abide confidently in the love of your amazing grace. In Jesus’ Name.

Prepared by: Anthony S. Kay



March 17 – Devotion

Date: March 17, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 69

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
(Ps. 69:1-3)

Have you ever cried out to God for help or complained about your circumstances? Psalm 69 begins with David’s complaints and the burdens that he bears, yet ends with praises to the King of Kings.

When I think of my own life and the complaints that I have, they are often in reference to a situation I got myself into out of my own accord, in an effort to do things in my own strength. However, David’s burden is not just a surface complaint but a weighing of the heart.

He seeks comfort and encouragement, an assurance or answer from God. Sometimes those answers don’t come the way we think they should. God’s answer may be a solid answer “yes” or “no,” but many times in my life the answer has been “wait”—or no affirmative answer at all. When the Lord asks you to wait, rest in the promise that He is faithful, cling to the assurance that He is Sovereign, and trust that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

In this waiting period, the psalmist confesses his own sin and expresses concern about not only his own repentance but also of the effects of his situation on his friends. Reflect upon your own sin, examine your own heart, repent and turn away from those things that separate you from the One who was and is and is to come. The Lord knows us; our hearts and our sin are not hidden from him. He is very well aware of our nature, yet He has provided a rescue and beautiful way of redemption.

Oh, to ask the Father to “draw near to my soul, redeem me” (v. 18, ESV). Have you ever uttered those words, desired them in your heart, and experienced the true freedom that lies behind the intimate relationship with the Father and how he has redeemed you? This is a point where we can use scripture to interpret scripture, because James reminds us that when we draw near to God, he draws near to us (Jas. 4:8). So this prayer for God to draw near to us, to redeem us, is our drawing near to Him, our calling out to Him, our act of seeing His face and His relationship.

“I will praise the name of God with a song;/ I will magnify him with thanksgiving” (v. 30, ESV). Even when the storms come, even when you feel like giving up, even when you are wrongly accused, even when you are persecuted…Praise His name. He deserves all of our praise and adoration. No struggles, no burden, no sorrow, no circumstance could ever compare to the weight that our Savior bore on the cross for you and for me. And there is no joy or freedom greater than that we can come to His throne and adore Him. It is in our praise that He reminds us that we are His and that no matter our struggle, He cares for us.

Prayer for the Journey: Father, Help me to wait for you, to be still in those moments, trusting that you are in control, as I seek to draw ever closer to you. I choose to praise your name, with thanksgiving in my heart, no matter the circumstance because you deserve all my praise.

Prepared by: Britter Kinsey