The Second Sunday of Lent – Responsibility

I will raise up for them a prophet like you [Moses] from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. – Deuteronomy 18:18 (NKJV)

The children of Israel had many prophets among them. Someone right there to be the megaphone of God telling them what to do, how to do it, and what will happen if they don’t! History shows us that being “spoon fed” did not keep them from continually doing the wrong things over and over again. With Jesus, came a new strategy – personal responsibility. Now it would be our job to study the Word of God, discern what it means for our lives, practice it daily, and learn how to become what God wants us to be and do. This would be the price of a personal relationship with Him, being responsible for the paths we choose, but never having to take the journey alone.

Prayer Starter

Thank you for the opportunity to know You in a personal way, to hear Your voice through Your Word, and to feel Your presence in my decisions.

Delve Deeper

Throughout this week, read the gospel of Matthew in any version of the Bible you prefer. Matthew, the writer, is believed to be one of Jesus’ disciples, a tax collector and a Jew. Because of his perspective, this book was primarily written to a Jewish audience and emphasizes how this one and only Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the ancient prophecies (our Old Testament scripture) for which they had been waiting. Matthew puts Jesus’ life and ministry in the context of His time, His place and people. May this exercise encourage you to begin a Bible reading plan that will enable you to read the entire Bible in one year. Understanding our God in full context, through time and the eyes of many inspired writers, will enrich your life and your journey with Him.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

 

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The Language of Love

As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” – John 6:66-68 (NASB)

Jesus told His followers that He was soon to be a sacrifice, that His body and His blood would be the only path to eternal life. For many who did not understand His full meaning, it was too unfathomable to comprehend and they walked away. Today, many turn away because of our “church speak” – words and images that are well known to those raised in a church fellowship – frightening and confusing to the uninitiated. We cannot reach others for Christ until we start using the common language of love. Speak it wherever you go, for there is no one else who can help us through this world and into the next.

Prayer Starter

Let me be Your love in the world around me. If I am to be the only Jesus another may see, let it be Your kind and compassionate side that will emerge through me.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Get Up!

Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool… where lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters [for whoever stepped in was made well.] A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well. – John 5:2-9 (NASB)

If we are ever to be made whole, it will not happen by waiting on the sidelines, by someone else carrying us along, or by magical rituals. Jesus is the only way for a life to be made whole again. We must believe in His authority, pick up our own baggage, and walk away from old beliefs and habits that cripple us. Get up, pick it up and start walking!

Prayer Starter

Today I commit to getting off the sidelines. Help me leave the past behind, forgive myself and start strengthening my faith as I walk forward with You.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Committed to Climb

When Jesus saw His ministry drawing huge crowds, He climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to Him, the committed, climbed with Him. Arriving at a quiet place, He sat down and taught His climbing companions. – Matthew 5:1-2 (MSG)

This verse, as found in “The Message” version of the Bible, gives a beautiful and poignant translation of this very common text. When Jesus saw that many were following Him, “He climbed a hillside…the committed, climbed with Him.” Many follow – few are committed to the climb. It is not an easy path for the Christian, but the payoff is a close relationship with the Master, our companion for the journey. As we enter the Season of Lent, may a remembrance of Jesus’ hardship in the wilderness before embarking upon His ministry, allow us to truly assess and make ourselves fit for the climb.

Prayer Starter

Please help me to take an honest look at my commitment to You. Show me where I fall short and how to strengthen my weak places, so that I may be better able to make the difficult climbs and to sit at Your feet on the mountain top.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Why Are You Weeping?

“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.” She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Teacher!” – John 20:13-16 (NLT)

Mary had probably started crying many hours before Calvary and continued through sleepless nights and endless days. It is hardly any wonder that on this morning she would be emotional and confused; that when she came face to face with the Lord, her swollen, tired eyes did not recognize Him. “Why are you weeping?” Jesus asked her, for the time of sorrow was over and the time for rejoicing had come and, with it, an end to all our tears.

Prayer Starter

I rejoice in You! When I feel I am in the darkest place, You wipe away my tears, calm my fears and hold me in your arms.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

 

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Relationship

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And He continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” – Mark 7:5-9 (MSG)

Jesus did not come to earth to establish a religion, but to restore a relationship between you and God. Are you practicing “religion” or “relationship”?

Prayer Starter

I know you as my God. Help me to know you better as my friend, my confidant, my “Abba” (which means “Daddy”). From an intimate relationship with You, I believe You will help me practice Your love in my relationships with others. Help me to set aside religion and put Your love above laws so that others may also want to enter a relationship with You.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Power Play

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.” – Matthew 4:5-7

 Jesus had the power to do just as Satan asked and He would have indeed been safe, just as Satan said. Perhaps the temptation was not all about Jesus risking His physical life, but rather, a temptation to use His power for selfish gain – just because He could. We all have some measure of personal power (our position, knowledge or ability to influence others, etc.). When your power play is tempted, do you give in and use it to your advantage – because you can – or do you humble yourself, as Jesus did, and submit to the ultimate power source?

Prayer Starter

Thank you for gifting me in ways that I have not even yet discovered. Help me to discern when to use my power for Your glory instead of my own.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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The First Sunday of Lent – Secret Christian

Many people did believe in Him, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue, for they loved human praise more than the praise of God. – John 12:42-43 (NLT)

It is difficult to be a secret Christian. Jesus knows that if we’re not “all in” we’re probably mostly out. Others will unmistakably know that we are Christians by His love shining through us, by His power upholding us, and by His grace bringing us to our knees. Decide where you stand and what you are willing to offer to gain the praise of God in spite of the response of man.

Prayer Starter

Forgive me, Lord, for those times when I fell short of Your expectations when others were watching. Give me the strength to stand for You regardless of the price to my popularity or position. I know my greatest reward is in You.

Delve Deeper

Start a journal for this season of Lent. Each day, note any new discoveries you may make about God and about yourself. Write down any particular prayer requests you make and be sure to document answers to those prayers. Entries need not be long or grammatically correct, this is just another way for you to communicate with God and more importantly, for Him to speak to you.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Time Alone

After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone…. – Matthew 14:23

During this season of Lent, we remember that even Jesus needed time away to regroup, relax, and re-energize His spirit. More than ever today, we too, need to turn off the TV, the computer and IPOD so that we can just be still – and know that the He is God. For even in solitude, we are never alone.

Prayer Starter

I’m so grateful that whenever I call on You, You are there. Help me to be still so that I can know You better, my God.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Wine

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told Him, “They have no more wine.” – John 2:1-3 (NLT)

A wedding was an important community event that lasted many days. To run out of refreshments for the guests would have been a great embarrassment to the family, Mary’s friends. Even though Jesus had not yet revealed Himself as a miracle worker, Mary knew that the Son she had raised would somehow help their friends. She didn’t know that in three short years, Jesus’ own blood would be the wine that saved not just the day, but the world.

Prayer Starter

I thank you today for saving me with Your own precious blood. Help me be the kind of friend that others can count on to support them in any situation as You did.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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