Today is Sunday, the twenty-eight of February, 2021, the second Sunday of Lent.
Peace be with you!
35 days until Resurrection Sunday
Are you observing Lent? How is it going for you? How does it look different, this year?
I registered a loss of 4.8 pounds at the WW Workshop, yesterday! That’s awesome, even for a two-week stretch. Perhaps I have managed to get off of that plateau upon which I seemed stuck for a couple months. The topic of discussion, yesterday was “non-scale victories,” otherwise known as “NSVs.” #nsv on social media.
A non-scale victory can be anything that is not related to numbers on a scale. It can be changing clothing sizes, being able to physically do something that one couldn’t do before losing a significant amount of weight, or reducing medication dosage, like I have, recently. So I’m going to try to focus on those, during the coming week. C will need to work on that, as well, as she is now three weeks into her quest for lifetime membership.
As previously mentioned, I plan to be “going to church,” this morning, as Jacob and I will be attending St. Barnabas Anglican Church for their 10:00 AM service. Should be interesting.
I’m looking forward to a restful afternoon. C may go out and do something. I know she is restless because she is having to go back to the office starting tomorrow. She has really enjoyed her time at home, and is having to come up with a different exercise schedule. That is probably the most difficult part, besides spending sixty to ninety minutes driving every day.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see. Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear. Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand. So shall I turn to You and be healed." (Traditional)
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
- That today is the last day of February
- For an opportunity to experience something new in worship, this morning
- That my heart will sing your praises and not be silent (Psalm 30)
- That death is not the end, but the beginning of something new
- For Your kingdom, in which I am currently dwelling in my “home” away from Home
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
Second Sunday in Lent
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)
Meditate for a moment on the everlasting kingdom of God.
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.
I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
(Psalms 30:1 NIV)
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:6-12 NIV)
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
(Genesis 12:1-4 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
These are some pretty incredible promises made by God to Abram. But we know from the rest of the story that they all came true. Most people in the world today know who Abraham was. And he was actually made into more than one great nation. Some say that the nations of Islam are descended from Ishmael. This may or may not be true. But we do know that the descendants of Ishmael, as well as the descendants of Esau (also a descendent of Abraham) are not considered part of Israel. We have to consult non-biblical history sources to trace all of that.
But the most important of those promises, in my opinion, is “all peoples on earth will be blessed by you.” This was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is, also in my opinion, the primary reason for the existence of Israel.
Note Abram’s age when this all began. He was seventy-five years old!!
Father, I thank You for blessing all peoples of the earth through Abraham and his obedience to you. Will I get to meet him someday? I’m not sure how all of this post-resurrection stuff will work, honestly. It’s also not really a primary concern. But it would be nice to get to chat with Abraham. I’m sure there will be a waiting list. Hahaha! As I sit here and ponder eternal life, I am almost overwhelmed, though. It will be such a shift from what we are used to, here. Everything here is finite. Everything here has a beginning and an end. Eternal life will, at least, have no end. You have no beginning, another thing which my mind cannot comprehend at all.
But my prayer is rambling, and I think there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe that’s the best kind of prayer. I thank You for consistently lifting me out of the depths, throughout my life, because I always manage to find myself in some kind of pit or another. I have, like David, felt secure and boasted that I would never be shaken. Usually, in minutes, I have been shaken, and no longer feel secure. But You always draw me back in to Yourself. All praise and glory to You for that! My heart will sing Your praises and not be silent.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Good God, you didn't turn you back on a world plunged up to its neck in physical and spiritual death but set out to rescue it. I worship you for your resolute goodness and wisdom that sought and found me; I thank you for the blessing that has comet o me in Jesus, and pray that my life may be a blessing to others. Amen." (Belgic Confession 17)
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 NIV)
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:20 NIV)
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:10 NIV)
What is the best thing to say to someone who is suffering? “What is the true thing to say?” One of the most awkward situations to be in is being in the presence of someone who is suffering, for whatever reason. You feel like you have to say something. But then, that is a human characteristic, isn’t it? Especially a Western human characteristic. (These are my words, not Peterson’s.) We always feel like we have to be talking!
But in the presence of one who is suffering, when I am not suffering, it is a great challenge. What do I say? They might respond by saying, “It is well enough for you to talk like that, but it is not you who are suffering.” Also, there is the danger of saying the absolute wrong, worst thing. You don’t want to give false hope; you don’t want to cause disillusionment. You don’t want to completely miss the mark and cause hindrance in the person’s journey.
In John’s letter to the Smyrna Church, Jesus first describes Himself as “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again” (verse 8). In saying the words “first and last,” Jesus “includes everything within himself. He is at the beginning and at the end; all that occurs between occurs in the context of his presence.” Peterson believes, and I agree, that this is important for the church that is suffering.
Christ is at the beginning, and He is here with us until the finish. He will not go off and leave us in the midst of our suffering.
Consider also the order of the words, “who died and came to life again.” We humans don’t think of existence in that direction. We are born and then we die. Life is the beginning; death is the end. One of the things that makes suffering so frightening is that it “threatens to bring the end closer.”
Ponder that last statement for a bit, as it is a key point in this discussion. We fear suffering because it threatens to bring our lives to an end.
But in describing Himself as He “who died and came to life again,” Christ calls out death as a beginning! “Instead of disaster, it became resurrection.” This person speaks living words of life to us!
(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)
On that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt like an army.
(Exodus 12:51 NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
(Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT)
In a rare moment of congruence, my last resource echoes my first one, this morning, as it speaks of Abraham leaving his home in order to eventually find the Promised Land.
Israel is called “Ivrim” in Hebrew, which means, “Those who cross over.” The point is made that, not only did they cross over the Jordan to get to the Promised Land, but they also crossed over the Red Sea to leave Egypt. Before they could enter the Land, they had to exit another land.
“You can’t enter unless you leave.” This most simple of statements is a deep truth. Every time you enter a room, you leave another room. When you exit your house, you enter the outdoors.
When we enter the break room at work, there is a button we must press to unlock the magnetic security lock going in. But it says “Push to exit.” I always thought it was wrong. I’m not exiting! I’m entering! But, when this truth is considered, I am also exiting!
This goes for our spiritual lives, as well. “If you want to get to the place where you aren’t, you must first leave the place where you are. Leave the old, and you will enter the new. Cross the Red Sea out of your Egypt, and you will also cross the Jordan River into your promised land.”
“The Mission: Where do you need to go? What promised land has God called you to enter? What must you first leave? Begin your exodus today.”
(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)
Father, these are things worthy of pondering, this day. How do we approach suffering and the ministry to those who are in the midst of it? How do we consider this idea of exiting and entering? For, in order to enter eternal life, we must leave something else. Death is the beginning; eternal life is the end that never ends. Give me wisdom as I ponder these things today. I pray for Your Church all around the world. Help us to get it right. And by “it” I mean everything that relates to You, eternal life, Your Kingdom, and the Holy Trinity. All praise and glory to You, Father!
Lord, may You give us all hope and joy in the resurrection, both in that of Jesus Christ, and the one we will eventually experience in Him. Give us all confidence and encouragement to share the testimony of the living Christ in the world in which we live.
I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
(Revelation 2:8 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.