Lent Devotionals

Our Lenten journey this year takes a reflective walk through the last words of Jesus. To help create space for these words in our lives we are providing weekly audio experiences, engaging us with various spiritual practices leading you to slow down. To listen. To hear Christ's words deeply and soulfully. As you do, may you hear the words of Jesus drawing you towards resurrection even as He breathes His last. 

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    Devotional 1 | Ash Wednesday | February 26

    Today is Ash Wednesday.

    Ash Wednesday is the gateway into the season of Lent.

    Lent is our annual journey with Jesus towards the cross and resurrection life.

    • When you think of Lent what comes to mind?
    • What experience with Lent do you have?
    • What questions or hopes do you have as we enter into this annual journey with Jesus towards the cross?

    Resurrection life, to be experienced, must first pass through the narrows of the cross. As we pass through the narrows of the cross, we die to self, as our hearts are softened and opened to the transforming work of Gods Spirit in our lives.

    During this season of Lent we will listen together to the last words of Jesus as He approached the narrows of the cross.

    The last words people speak before dying are cherished gifts. What pours out in those last breaths often reveals what they long for others to know. This is especially so with Jesus.

    The last statements Jesus makes from the cross, not only reveals more about His remarkable character, they also reveal a pathway for us to find life that begins now and lives into eternity. Even in His dying, Jesus shows us how to really live.

    Jesus points us towards the cross in this week’s Scripture passage from Matthew 16. As you prepare your heart and mind to hear - engage your imagination and place yourself on the scene with Jesus, as one of His disciples. Listen from the place of one of the closest friends of Jesus.

    21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

    22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Never, Lord!”
    he said.
    This shall never happen to you!”

    23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan!
    You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind
    the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

    24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    25
    For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
    but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

    Matthew 16:21-25 (NIV)

    • Being on scene with Jesus and the disciples, what feelings stir in you as you hear how the journey ahead takes you to the narrows of the cross
    • What do you make of Jesus calling Peter, Satan?

    Jesus says if we want to be His disciple - we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

    • How easy or difficult is it for you to deny yourself? Take up the pain of whatever the cross is in your life right now? Or follow Jesus in the everyday moments of life?

    As you hear this Scripture again, pay attention to any resistance to this invitation by Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

    21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

    22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Never, Lord!”
    he said.
    This shall never happen to you!”

    23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan!
    You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind
    the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

    24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    25
    For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
    but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

    Matthew 16:21-25 (NIV)

    In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about where you find the most resistance heading to the narrows of the cross. Ask Jesus for what you need to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.  

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you. Amen.

     

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    Devotional 2 | March 2

    Today is the first week of Lent.

    Henri Nouwen writes, “To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, 'I no longer hold your offense against you' But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the 'offended one.' As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.”

    • “To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation.” What stirs in you when you hear that declaration?
    • Liberation through forgiveness. Is this a reality you would be eager to seek?  

    The words of forgiveness that Jesus speaks to His enemies are strikingly unnatural from a mere human point of view. But realize WE are the target and beneficiary of Christs words and the act of sacrifice behind them.

    Jesus points us towards the narrows of forgiveness through the cross in this week’s Scripture passage from Luke 23.

    As you prepare your heart and mind to hear - engage your imagination and place yourself on the scene with Jesus, as one of His disciples. Listen from the place of one of the closest friends of Jesus.

    23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded
    that [Jesus] be crucified, and their shouts prevailed . . .
    32
    Two other men, both criminals,
    were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed.
    33
    When they came to the place called the Skull,
    they crucified [Jesus] there, along with the criminals

    one on His right, the other on His left.
    34
    Jesus said,
    Father, forgive them,
    for they do not know what they are doing.

    – Luke 23:23, 32-34

    • How do you see the prayer of Jesus here for the crowds?
    • How is forgiveness a way to live out the invitation of Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow? Can you reconcile these ideas in your own life? Can you live them out in the same way?
    • How does the yelling of your pain sway you, as the crowds swayed Pilot, from extending forgiveness to others?

    As you hear this Scripture again, consider what is hindering you from experiencing the liberating freedom of forgiveness exhibited here by Jesus.

    23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded
    that [Jesus] be crucified, and their shouts prevailed . . .
    32 Two other men, both criminals,
    were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed.
    33 When they came to the place called the Skull,
    they crucified [Jesus] there, along with the criminals
    one on His right, the other on His left.
    34 Jesus said,
    Father, forgive them,
    for they do not know what they are doing.
    – Luke 23:23, 32-34

    • In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about where you find the most resistance to his prayer of forgiveness for the crowd, while on the cross. What does Jesus reveal to you?  

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you. Amen.

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    Devotional 3 | March 9

    Today is the second week of Lent.

    The burden of our cross in the here and now takes many different forms.

    The end result, however, is the same - unmet expectations, pain, suffering and loss.

    Words we never like to hear - let alone experience.

    Yet, as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus might we experience something different?

    Henri Nouwen writes - "When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope."

    • What pain are you experiencing right now the midst of your life? What effect has that pain had on your relationship with your family? With yourself? With your relationship with Jesus?

    Through the narrows of the cross, Jesus points us toward hope in this week’s Scripture from Luke 23.

    As you prepare your heart and mind to hear - engage your imagination and place yourself on the scene with Jesus. Listen from the place, at the foot of the cross, as one of the closest friends of Jesus.

    32 Two other men, both criminals,
    were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed.
    33 When they came to the place called the Skull,
    they crucified Him there, along with the criminals
    one on His right, the other on His left. . . .

    39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: Arent you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!

    40 But the other criminal rebuked him. Dont you fear God,
    he said, since you are under the same sentence?
    41 We are punished justly,
    for we are getting what our deeds deserve.
    But this man has done nothing wrong.

    42 Then he said, Jesus, remember me
    when you come into your kingdom.

    43 Jesus answered him,
    Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.
     – Luke 23:32-33, 39-43 (NIV)

    • What did the cross produce in each of the criminals with Jesus?
    • What is your cross producing in you?

    As you hear this Scripture again, consider what is hindering you from experiencing the presence of Christ in the midst of your cross-bearing?

    32 Two other men, both criminals,
    were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed.
    33 When they came to the place called the Skull,
    they crucified Him there, along with the criminals
    one on His right, the other on His left. . . .

    39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: Arent you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!

    40 But the other criminal rebuked him. Dont you fear God,
    he said, since you are under the same sentence?
    41 We are punished justly,
    for we are getting what our deeds deserve.
    But this man has done nothing wrong.

    42 Then he said, Jesus, remember me
    when you come into your kingdom.

    43 Jesus answered him,
    Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.
     – Luke 23:32-33, 39-43 (NIV)

    • In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about what your current cross is producing in you. What does Jesus reveal to you?  

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you. Amen.

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    Devotional 4 | March 16

    Today is the third week of Lent.

    Being adopted into a family is a beautiful and transforming experience for everyone involved. Today on our Lenten journey we find Mary at the narrows of the cross feeling alone and perhaps confused - in a place where her hopes and dreams are diminishing - for her son is dying son the cross.

    It’s here, in this burden filled moment, that Jesus inspires beauty, love and inclusion. It’s here Jesus gives us a living picture of the spiritual truth of adoption. In the shadow of the cross Mary his mother and John one of his beloved friends, are now entrusted to one another as family.

    As you prepare your heart and mind to hear our adoption into the family of God - listen from the place, in the shadow of the cross as one of the closest friends of Jesus.

    All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
    in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
    Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
    God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family
    by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ . . .
    So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners.
    You are citizens along with all of God
    s holy people.
    You are members of God
    s family . . .
    Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity,
    we should do good to everyone—
    especially to those in the family of faith.

             –  Selections from Ephesians 1:3-7, 2:19; Galatians 6:10 (NLT)

    • How easy or hard is it for you to believe, receive, and embrace these words as truth in your own life, in your own experience as an adopted child in the family of God?
    • How easy or hard is it for you to now extend this same type of family love, acceptance and care towards others?

    Reflect on the many One Another’s and immerse yourself into the practices and rhythms of life as an adopted member of Christ's family.

    Be kindly affectionate to one another
         • Romans 12:10a
    Live in harmony with one another
         • Rom. 12:16; I Peter 3:9
    Love one another
         • Romans 13:8; John 13:34, 35
    Be like minded toward one another  
         • Rom. 15:5,6; I Cor. 1:10
    Receive one another as Christ did you  
         •
    Romans 15:7

    Greet one another with a holy kiss
         • Romans 16:16
    Serve one another
         • Galatians 5:13
    Teach one another
         • Colossians 3:16; Romans 15:14
    Forgive one another
         • Ephesians 4:32
    Do not envy one another
         • Galatians 5:25-26
    Be hospitable to one another
         • I Peter 4:9
    Stop passing judgment on one another  
         •
    Romans 14:13

    Accept one another
         • Romans 15:17
    Bearing with one another in love
         • Ephesians 4:2
    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other
         • Ephesians 4:32
    Speak to one another with psalms,
    hymns and spiritual songs
     
         •
    Ephesians 5:19

    Submit to one another
         • Ephesians 5:21; I Peter 5:5
    Encourage one another / build each other up
          I Thess. 5:11; Hebrews 9:12
    Spur one another on to Good deeds
          Hebrews 10:24
    Do not slander one another
         • James 4:11
    Love one another deeply from the heart   
         • I Peter 1:22
    Fellowship with one another
         • I John 1:5

    • In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about your adoption into God’s Family. Share with Jesus which “one another” particularly inspires you. What does Jesus say in response?  

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you. Amen.

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    Devotional 5 | March 23

    Today is the fourth week of Lent.

    There are times in our lives where the cross we are carrying seems overwhelming.

    Where we have more questions than answers.

    Where there is more pain than joy.

    Where we feel more lost than found.

    It’s in these times that God’s faithful have turned to laments to express the heartaches of their souls.

    Laments are an act of a desperate faith, feeling and expressing the sorrows and doubts that life brings.

    In the midst of our pain and questions, laments enable us to turn to God with our raw emotion. It’s here in the place of salty tears, and shattered expectations that Jesus holds us and laments with us concerning God’s absence.

    Place yourself now, at the narrows of the cross, and hear the lament of Jesus as one of his closest friends . . . 

    From noon until three in the afternoon
    darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
    . . .
    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
     Matthew 27:45-26 (NIV)

    • As you experience this moment with Jesus, what feelings or questions stir in you as you realize Jesus felt abandoned by the Father?
    • Can you find hope for your own troubles through this?
    • Listen now to a song crafted with the lament of Jesus echoing before it.

    OH, HEART WHAT WILL CONSOLE YOU?
    by Stephanie Koklys

    Oh heart, what will console you?
    What words of peace ring true
    When the dark is overwhelming?
    What beauty will break through?

    My feet are like an anchor.
    The tides, a rising threat.
    The mysteries of grieving
    are heavy on my chest.

    My God,
    My God,
    My God. Why have you forsaken me?
    My God,
    My God,
    My God, why arent you listening?

    Oh heart, what inspiration
    Is waiting to be known?
    To ignite the sense of wonder
    I knew so long ago?

    Oh heart, what will console you
    When faithfulness is weak?
    Too tired to reach the heavens
    to lift my voice and speak:

    Oh, my God,
    My God,
    My God. Why have you forsaken me?
    My God,
    My God,
    My God, why arent you listening?

    Oh, my God.
    My God.
    My God.
    Will you just stay with me?

    • In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about what stirs in you as you listen to this song of lament. Share with Jesus what phrase or verse captures your attention and why?
    • Discern throughout the week, how Jesus might be responding.

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you. Amen.

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    Devotional 6 |  | March 30

    Today is the fifth week of Lent.

    We find Jesus today moments away from death.
    Jesus is experiencing the full agony of carrying his cross.
    He has been abandoned by his friends and God the Father.
    Jesus has experienced hours of darkness upon the cross both physically, emotionally and spiritually.
    It is at this moment we hear the parched soul of Jesus utter, “I am thirsty.”

    Jesus asking for a drink?
    Jesus, the one who told the woman at the well, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

    Jesus thirsting. 
    Jesus who explained, Everyone who drinks [natural] water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

    As you hear Jesus, the giver of living water, declaring his thirst from the cross, what stirs in your heart and soul as you reflect on the sacrificial irony of this scene?

    As we are in the narrows of the cross with a Jesus, the Living Water, thirsting -  drink deeply from Psalm 42 with an open heart and keep the image of a Thirsting Jesus before you.

    1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.

    2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

    3 My tears have been my food day and night,
    while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

    4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
    how I used to go to the house of God 
    under the protection of the Mighty One 
    with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

    5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

    6 My soul is downcast within me; 
    therefore I will remember you….

    7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
    all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

    8 By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

    9 I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
    Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”

    10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
    saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

    11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
                                           
     Psalm 42 (NIV)

    • As you experience this passage of longing, with the image of a Thirsting Jesus ahead of you, what feelings or discoveries stir in you as you reflect on Psalm 42?

    • In these final moments today, talk to Jesus about what what you are thirsting after and where that thirst is directing you.

    Lord Jesus, may we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow you.  Amen.