Join us as we journey through the Lenten season together beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday. We hope you find this resource valuable in your walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Check back daily for new devotionals.
Matthew 1:23 New International Version (NIV)
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
“they will call him immanuel”
Jesus left his heavenly realm to come to earth to be with us. When your days are dark and gloomy, remember that He is with you. When things are bright and sunny, remember that He is with you. God created you and He loves you dearly. He proved that to all of us by sending His only son to live with us in the flesh, remain sinless, and die a death deserving of a criminal so that we can all be free. What a great sacrifice God has made for us!
Prayer Focus: Those who need to be reminded or Made aware of the fact that God is with Us.
John 11:25 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
This must have seemed like a confusing concept to the followers of Jesus at the time. It certainly can still feel that way today too. Who was this man that he could promise eternal life to those who believed that he was indeed the Son of God? Who was this man that he could raise the dead to life, calm storms, feed thousands, cast out demons, and heal with just mere words? Well, this man wasn’t just a man, He was also God. Jesus isn't promising eternal earthly life, He’s promising an eternal life with He and His Father in heaven. All that is asked of us is that we accept the free gift that is provided through God’s immense grace.
Prayer Focus: Those who are on the fence about accepting the gift of grace through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”
Following Jesus isn’t easy, it takes a lot of perseverance. Luckily, we aren’t asked to follow Him alone. God designed the human race in His own image; He designed us to follow Him together. None of us are meant to run this great race of life on our own. It is our family of faith that cheers us on as we go, as we cheer others on as well. When we are tired, our faith family holds us up so that we can do the same for those around us. A community is an absolute necessity to finish the race that God planned for us since before the beginning of time. Are you tired and weary? Have you been running this race on your own? If you answered yes to either of those questions, it’s time to let the believers around you hold you up so that you can succeed as you follow Christ! If you don’t know where to start, come join our family of faith here at Faith Presbyterian Church, we’ll keep a seat warm for you!
Prayer Focus: For strengthening of the community of Christ within your church.
Romans 6:6 New International Version (NIV)
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
“we should no longer be slaves to sin”
Since the fall of man in the garden of Eden, we are all sinful. The very same sin that made Adam and Eve question God and eat of the forbidden fruit. The very same sin that prevented Moses from entering the holy land. The very same sin that made Jonah run from God only to find himself in the belly of a great fish. The very same sin that made the great King David lust over the wife of another man and eventually kill him just to cover it up. The very same sin that made Judas Iscariot turn in Jesus for just a few coins.
In Romans 6:6, Paul mirrors the teaching of Jesus and reminds us all that we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature. Jesus lived a sinless life so that we may all be freed from the chains of our sin. When we become followers of Jesus, we become free in the Gospel of Christ. Being a slave to sin means that which is the definition that we have no choice in the matter. Jesus died on a cross so that we can join Him and His Father in eternity. Accepting this great gift means that we shed off our old ways and become new. We now are free of our slavery to sin and become children of grace, which means we live in the knowledge that we have been given the gift of life eternal. Being a child of grace comes with no chains, only joy forever with our Father in heaven. Being a child of grace means that our lives now reflect the life of Jesus Himself.
Prayer Focus: Pray for those who are still slaves of sin. Praise God for those who are children of grace.
(This is a great time to pray for Jesus to break the chains of sin in your life as well)
Isaiah 58 New International Version (NIV)
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
“…you will find your joy in the Lord,”
In today’s world, fasting seems like some old fashioned practice that isn’t relevant to our walk with Christ. However, Lent is all about fasting. Lent is a time we remember that Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. He was hungry, thirsty, and weak. If not for His utter dependence on the great words of His Father, Jesus wouldn’t have made it through such an arduous trial. Three times Satan tempered Jesus, and three times Jesus responded with scripture. Just like Jesus, we are called to fast so that we may remember the words of our Father God. When we are tempted by what we are fasting from (whether it be food, technology, etc…) we are told to rely not on our own strength, but on the strength from the words of God, remembering that He is always with us. When we can’t walk, He is there to carry us. Why do we fast? Because when we seek God in our weakness, when we seek Him in times of temptation, we draw closer to our Father who has promised to carry us through. We fast because when we turn to God in our greatest times of need, we find Him and the joy that only He brings.
Prayer Focus: To find the joy that God brings in our fasting.
Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.”
No one likes to feel the pain of discipline, but if we take a step back we can find wisdom in the lessons learned from it. First, we must understand the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is a tool used to train and sharpen us through consequence. Punishment is at tool used to oppress and intimidate and has no lesson to teach. God does not punish His children, He disciplines them. A professional athlete needs discipline to stay in shape and a lot of practice to improve their skill. A student needs discipline to study hard and make good grades. A Christian needs discipline to grow in their relationship with God. Our actions, good and bad, have consequences. Those consequences can either strengthen us or break us depending on our willingness to learn and submit to God. If we spend time in God’s word each day, the consequence is positive because His words are living and active in our lives. On the other hand, if we only hear God’s word on a Sunday morning at church, the consequence is that our relationship with God becomes stagnant and will very likely lead to negative consequences, even if we are unaware of them.
It can be helpful to imagine God as a gardener. When a gardener tends to their plants, they must prune them to allow the plants to grow. When God prunes us, it can hurt and it can feel like we’ve been pruned so much that we’ll never return to what we once were, and that’s true. As God prunes us we become so much more than we ever imagined possible. We become beautiful flowers in God’s amazing garden. We grow in ways we never thought possible, and we begin to yearn for the lessons found in God’s discipline. When we are pruned, we are not being punished, we are being given access to growth. Without discipline, we have no hope to grow in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer Focus: Pray for true submission to God.
Matthew 4:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written…’”
We have previously discussed this passage in regard to fasting and how Jesus wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for his dependence on the word of God. We can look at stories like this and read right through them without seeing the training that Jesus provided for us within these verses. Jesus teaches us how to fight the darkness. He comes face to face with the Devil and He stands firm without wavering for a second. He responds with the words of His Father and defeats temptation.
We can do the same thing through the power of Christ and within us. When we are facing temptation, we must first realize that we have no power of our own to fight against it. However, if we study our bible and commit the words of God to our memory, we begin to stockpile endless amounts of ammunition to fight against the lure of temptation. If we take the example of Jesus and use God’s word as the amazing gift that it is, it becomes living and active in our lives. The Bible gives us a doorway to faith and to the character of God. It allows us to see all of the promises that God has made to and for us. It reminds us that God cannot be defeated and that the Devil’s days are numbered. When we fight like Jesus, we become more and more like Him. This is called sanctification. When you are tempted, remember that God has provided you with a way to fight it. In fact, there is no better way to fight temptation than to be transformed by the words of God.
Prayer Focus: Pray for God to reveal Himself and His many promises to you through His word.
Jeremiah 29:13 New International Version (NIV)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
“You will seek me and find me”
This is a promise from God directly to you. Rest in the knowledge that our Father never breaks His promise. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we begin to transform into new creations. Our hearts start to long for the ways of God. As we walk through our lives as Christians and grow in the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our hearts reflect the desire for a deeper, ever-growing understanding of the things of God. We start to focus less on the troubles of our day and more on the eternal things to come. The veil over our eyes is lifted and we can see God in all things in the world around. God is not hiding, He’s all around you.
Prayer Focus: Pray that God is the truest desire of your heart so that you may find him.
John 15:12 New International Version (NIV)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
“Love each other as I have loved you.”
One of Jesus’ commands, and understandably, is that we love each other as He loves us. That’s a big undertaking, and it takes time and practice. We won’t always get love right, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t try again. There is an entire world around us filled with people who haven’t experienced the love of Christ. This command is so that we can all strive to love like our Savior, endlessly, compassionately, patiently, kindly, and so much more. Remember that you may be the only experience of Jesus’ love that someone else happens to encounter in their life, so love well, love without bounds, love until it hurts and then keep going. Jesus loves us radically, He calls us to do the same. The love pouring through us from God can change the world. Are you up for the challenge?
Prayer Focus: Pray that your love cannot be contained and that you can learn to pour it out on others without hesitation, just like Jesus does.
John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
It is human nature to desire freedom. Thus, many of us feel that freedom only exists when we set our own rules, regulations, and standards. This makes it easy to view concepts like those within the Bible as oppressive. We can see the deeper teachings of Jesus as strict or impossible. Maybe for some of us, we feel that God has given us unrealistic expectations. This can be the point in our walk with God where we throw our hands up and give in to our temptations. That isn’t freedom, however. Freedom comes when we see God’s great plan for our lives. He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross so that we may live a life of freedom. A life that isn’t just ordinary, one that is truly free and lived to the fullest. Through the gift of grace, we no longer see God as a rule giver, rather we see Him as the giver of all life. We are truly free when we rest in His immense grace. We are free to live our lives to the fullest when we submit to Him and release our tight grip on what we define as free.
Prayer Focus: Pray that you may gain peace within the freedom that God has offered you through His Son Jesus.
Proverbs 4:23 New International Version (NIV)
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
“above all else, guard your heart”
God created us to love, and love we do. No matter who you are, you love something or someone one. It’s been in our DNA since before the beginning of time. It’s no wonder that there is a Proverb that warns us to protect our heart above anything else. Our hearts were created by God and they belong to Him, we have a tendency to forget that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. When we offer our hearts to sin, money, greed, pride, etc, we are making them vulnerable to a great deal of danger. That is why coming to the cross is often quite painful. It’s hard to lay our broken hearts in front of Jesus and give all of our pain to Him. Yet, there is hope because Jesus is a master heart healer. He heals our hearts so well that we don’t even recognize them any more. He then moves in and protects us from the inside out. God has the ability to soften the hardest hearts, will you let him soften and heal yours?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God be the protector of your heart.
1 John 5:3 New International Version (NIV)
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
“His commands are not burdensome”
We’ve already discussed protecting our hearts and letting Jesus take our broken hearts and make them whole. Now we move on to the next step; Keeping His commands. Love is not without action. When we love something or someone, we act on it. We spend time devoted to that which we love. We are constantly in the process of deepening our love. When we let God have, hold, and protect our heart, we are submitting to Him. This means that not only do with love him with our heart and minds, but we also love Him by following the commands that He has given us through His word. Jesus sums up the ten commandments that God gave to Moses in the Old Testament by telling His followers in Mark 12:30-31:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus knew that if we could focus on these two commandments that we would keep all of the ten commandments by keeping them. These aren’t new commandments that Jesus is giving us, these are the ten commandments broken down is such a way that we can see them clearly. We follow what we love in word and in action. God’s commandments aren’t harsh rules for us to be ruled by, rather they are given to us as gifts so that we can love God and others to the fullest.
Prayer Focus: Pray that God grants you the ability to see his commandments as an outlet for love.
Hebrews 10:24 New International Version (NIV)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
“spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Verses like Hebrews 10:24 remind us that being a follower of Jesus is a team activity. God didn’t design us to walk by ourselves, never sharing our faith with each other. When we see the community of Christ as a whole, we get a bird’s eye view of our family of faith. The joy in being in a team is that we are always surrounded by those who can catch us when we fall, encourage us when we succeed, be honest with us at all times telling us not just what we want to hear, but what we need to hear, push us when we need to be pushed, comfort us when we need to be comforted, and so much more. As we all support each other in the name of Christ, we are firmly glued together in love and action. Our deeds for each other and the world around us become purely routed in being an uncontrollable outpouring of the love that God has infused into us.
Prayer focus: Pray for a strengthening bond between you and the community of believers surrounding you. Pray for those seeking that community.
Matthew 6:33 New International Version (NIV)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,”
A lifetime can be spent seeking fame, fortune, stability, and a myriad of other things that we hope will lead us to where we would like to be or to what we want to have. The problem is that when we seek these things, we find that we are still unsatisfied and insatiably hungry for more. We feel a hole inside of us that can’t seem to be filled no matter how much we put into it. This is what Jesus is telling us in this verse. He’s telling us not to worry and stress over the things that we can’t control. He’s telling us to focus on the things above, the things of God, and that all our needs will be met. When we seek a relationship with God, we find one. We find that His Kingdom cannot be matched, and we become whole in the knowledge that we are His heirs and that He will fulfill every promise that He has made to us. This doesn’t always mean that our needs are met right now, or even later, it means that we have been promised a great inheritance in heaven where we will forever be satisfied in His presence.
Prayer Focus: Thank God for the great inheritance that He has promised to His children. Pray that others would come to rest in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the eternity to come.
Genesis 2:7 New International Version (NIV)
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
"...God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,"
We are not on this earth as random happenstance. The Lord our God has handcrafted each of us from scratch. We are masterpieces made in His likeness. Living in a world that He Himself made for us is a precious gift. God is not just a creator of a few things, He is the Creator of all things. While we have all been given the ability to create, none of us have the power to create in the way that God can. Why is it then that we as His creations have been tasked to care for his creation? The answer is simply beautiful because God cares for us so deeply and wants us to be involved in His story. God doesn't need any of us, yet he chooses to include us in His great plan. Why does He choose to do this? Because God is not a creator that finishes His work and never glances its way again. God is a Creator that watches over his creation and cares for it in so many ways. One way that He cares for His creation is through us, His image bearers. We were made in His very likeness which means that we have been tasked to be His hands and feet here on Earth. We may never know why He's made things this way, but we can know that He has indeed made it this way. That means that we can change the world by submitting to His will and letting Him work through us to be the caregivers He has gifted us each to be.
Prayer Focus: Ask God how you can care for His creation today.
Luke 15:24 New International Version (NIV)
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
"he was lost and is found."
The parable of the prodigal child is one of Jesus' amazing stories of a man with two sons. One son works hard for his father and never leaves the homestead. The other son demands his inheritance early, leaves home, squanders it, and returns home with his head hanging low in shame. While this parable teaches us many lessons, one of the key things that we learn from reading it is that before the son returning home could even lift his head up to see his father in the distance, his father was already running to him. You see, God doesn't care who we have been or what we have done, he cares more about who He has created us to be. God is overjoyed when we return home. He runs to us, embraces us, and welcomes each of his wandering children. He allows us to lay our brokenness at His feet, and he rushes us into the door to clean us up and celebrate our return. This is true for each of us at any age and any stage of life. God is on the front porch ready to jump and run to His children. No matter who you are, or what you've done, God is ready for you to come home. His mercy is new every day, and His grace is enough. Can you hear Him calling?
Prayer Focus: If God is calling you home, go to Him. Pray for others lost in shame looking for a place to experience grace and mercy.
Ezekiel 37:5 New International Version (NIV)
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
“I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”
The verse and its surround chapter are a reminder that God is over all. Nothing is impossible with His great power. He can raise the dead to life. When God calls Ezekiel to prophesy in his name, He uses amazing imagery of breathing life into bones of people that have been long since departed. He is telling us through his servant Ezekiel that He will not only bring us back to life, but He will also renew us and give us a purpose so that we may become a part of His epic story. As new creations, we are no longer dead in our sin and left to the elements to decompose, we are now alive in the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. God is a God who conquers death. If you feel lost, abandoned, and without hope, fear not, God can conquer anything!