Lenten Devotions

A devotion for every week of the Lent Season to help you create space for God.

Week 1 “Rhythm”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

—Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

You may have read or heard these words at some point as you have progressed along your own faith journey. However, like most of our experiences in life, only hearing or reading about “rest” can not replace the act of actually doing it.

At the point which Jesus said these words, he had recently finished instructing his twelve disciples. He had gone on from them to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. He had denounced the towns which had not yet repented, even though they had seen his miracles. Finally, he had glorified our Father through prayer (Matthew 11:1-27). And on the heels of all of these things – instruction, teaching, preaching, scolding and prayer, verse 28 is revealed to us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.

Is life consuming you? Are you juggling so many things in your life that you have kept yourself from resting, even being in the presence of our Lord, or maybe even your family? Is there a pattern or a rhythm to those things which are causing you to continue to juggle? If there’s a seemingly never ending “rhythm” that is keeping you busy and you would like to change it, try acting upon verse 28, instead of just reading about it.

If you will accept Jesus` invitation to come to him, he has promised to give you rest.

Lord, give me the encouragement, the perseverance to put You above all things. Help me to incorporate in all the things I and my family does throughout the week in respect to what you call us to, to what is essential in life. So many times, we are prone to meeting our own perceived personal needs. Lord, help us to focus on you and do your will.

Amen.

Week 2 “Glorifying Busy”

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

—Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

In only a few short sentences, the story of when Jesus was at the home of Martha and Mary reminds us of what is most important.

Have you ever, like Martha, been so wrapped up with the act of being busy that you missed out on something of much greater significance – maybe even eternal significance? Going a step further, do you glorify busyness by ranking it high on your priority list?

In verse 40, we found out that Martha was so distracted by the matters of the moment that she may have missed out on perhaps the best opportunity of her entire life. Instead of communing in person with Jesus, she initially chose to cook, make beds or something else – we really don’t know “what” she was doing for sure, but those unwritten details are really beside the main point of the story. We find out in verse 40 that “whatever” she was preparing was so important (in her own mind) that she even appealed to Jesus to help her gain her sister’s assistance.

It’s interesting that the story ends the way it does – we don’t find out whether or not Martha heeded Jesus’ advice. Did she cease what she was working on or did she ignore his advice by continuing to stay busy throughout the rest of his visit?

Like Martha and Mary, we have a choice as to what we accentuate as most important in our lives. The what that Jesus was referring to in this story is the relationship that Mary had with him.

What is your relationship story – have you left space for God?

Lord, I want to be near you. Forgive me for any busyness that I have put before our relationship. Help me to choose to put you first in my life.

Amen.

Week 3 “Preparing the Table”

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

—Psalm 23 (KJV)

Reflect back on some of the Easter Sundays of your past…do you remember where you were or how the food tasted? Can you visualize the faces of love ones and friends with whom you shared those special meals? Do you recall the click – clack of utensils against the plates as familiar voices filled the room with conversation?

Now think about this…who was the person that prepared the table for you and your group?

This year on Easter, consider giving special thanks for the person(s) who works behind the scenes to make sure your Easter celebration is special. They’ll prepare the meal, set the table and maybe even sacrifice their seat, so that others can have a meaningful experience.

But even more important than honoring the host, remember the reason for your celebration. We celebrate Easter because Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice, grace and forgiveness, has prepared for us a way to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There is another table that has been prepared for you; our Holy Communion table. Our communion table is certainly different than the tables of our dining rooms where the Easters of our pasts have been shared. But in a way, they are similar. Those who prepared each table did so in the spirit of love for those who would eventually come to be with them.

Through God’s love and grace, the table has been set for us. Come and partake of the gift of our Shepherd.

Lord, we thank you that you have given us this awesome gift of forgiveness and salvation. We know it comes at the extreme expense of your sacrificed life. Help us to always remember that you are our Shepherd – You are always with us.

Amen.

Week 4 – “Living Light”

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Luke 12:29-34 (NIV)

If you have ever been to the circus, you will be familiar with the types of things that the vendors make available for parents to buy for their kids. In addition to the popcorn, cotton candy, balloons, T shirts and other stuff like that. Now days they also sell hats, trinkets and battery – powered – lighted – flashy toys. It used to be very hard to take a kid to a circus and not buy something that they just “had to have”, but now it’s almost impossible – those flashy lighted things are almost irresistible!

So, what happens to the lighted toys after the thrill of the circus moment fades away? Our treasures of the day sure have a way of becoming the trash of our future, don’t they?

What are your “treasures”? And are your “treasures” competing for (or causing you to be missing out on) time with God? Many times we loose sight of the “Living Light” because we get momentarily distracted by the light of the moment.

In this Lenten season, seek the One True Living Light instead of the lights of the moment. Draw closer to the light of Jesus and your heart will be filled with an eternal treasure.

Lord, You are the light of the world. As I go through my daily routine, or deal with flashing things I was not expecting, help me to stay focused on You.

Amen.

Week 5 – “A Time for Every Matter”

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

—Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13

A dictionary defines time as “the thing that is measured as seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc.” So by this definition, time is regarded as a quantifiable “thing”.

The passage from Ecclesiastes gives us a much different perspective, reminding us that our time is not just a “thing”, but is actually a gift from God. We also find out how God desires that we use our time – we are supposed to be happy and do good during each of our experiences and seasons of life…even in the most difficult of times.

John Wesley echoed this biblical truth as he advised people to: “Do all the good you can. By all the means that you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you can.” As United Methodist Christians, we should heed Wesley’s advice.

Do you regard time as just a quantifiable “thing” or as a gift from God with which to do good and be happy? Maybe the more important question is this…are you creating space so that you can spend time with the One from whom the gift was given, or have you become too busy to even spend time with God.

Lord, this thing about time is hard, very hard. While we thank you for all the blessings you give us, we also seek for You to help us understand Your timing. Help us to find Your love, grace, comfort and support in all seasons (at all times), even those times when difficulties fall upon us. Thank for Your message to be happy; to do good and the assurance that all things are possible with You.

Amen.

Week 6 – “Give It a Rest”

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

—Exodus 20:8

This is the 4th Commandment. It and the first three commandments deal with our personal relationship with God. The last six are instructions about living with other people. This commandment is by far the longest of the other nine. The rest of the 4th commandment expands the thought as established in the first part. Try reading verses 9-11 from God’s perspective, instead of from what you think God might want you to get out of it perspective.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Our Lord wants us to enjoy a melded relationship with Him at all times as we live our life. How easy it is to get all wrapped up in work, school, leisure and recreation, family duties, cleaning, shopping, maintenance, caring for others, even church. There are so many things that demand our time, our energy, our attention. The truth is we will be so much better in all these things if our bodies and spirits are cared for according to God’s plan.

In addition to communing with God in our every day lives, he also wants our undivided time and attention at least one day a week. He doesn’t want you to work on the Sabbath nor does He want you to direct others to work for you. We are expected to rest with our Lord on the Sabbath day. God gives us this day for our benefit, which is to be refreshed both physically and spiritually. God cares deeply for us and knows what our hectic lives are all about.

This commandment – a day of rest – is a gift from God.

Do you honor our Lord by obeying the 4th commandment, or are you too busy?

Lord, You know my life. You know the demands on me, whether self-imposed or given by others. Help me, to remember and to give joyful prioritization to the Sabbath. Thank you for this gift to refresh my body and spirit with You.

Amen.