Lent Day 29 Learn To Sleep Like A Baby

Lent – Day 29

Learn to “Sleep Like a Baby”

Your Daily Lent Devotional

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

People often use the phrase “I slept like a baby.” I’ve always found that funny. When my children were babies, they woke up every three hours and cried, which didn’t exactly make for a restful night’s sleep.

But there may be another way to understand this phrase. You see, when babies are awake, they are generally demanding, needy and completely helpless. They are also incredibly fragile, and the world around them is too large for them to grasp, understand or navigate.

Maybe that’s not so different from your everyday experience. The world is too big — it’s too complex, too intense and too mysterious. You’re ultimately out of control. That can make you feel deeply anxious, restless and insecure.

In Psalm 131:1, the author gives you a helpful way forward. He says that he chooses not to “concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.”

He chooses to surrender his proud need to know and control everything around him. Instead, he quiets himself. And what does this feel like?

Picture this image: a sleeping child melted into the safe, protective arms of the one who has already met and will always meet its needs. This is the image of complete peace.

With God, you are like a child in its mother’s arms. In a few hours, you may wake up screaming and demand to have your needs met yet again — and God will be there, ready. This is the image of God the Scriptures present — moment by moment, whenever you feel anxious, restless or insecure, come and surrender your need to know everything and to be in control. He’ll be there to give you the nourishment, comfort and rest you need so you can “sleep like a baby.”

Respond

Go to a quiet place to pray, and hold your palms out in front of you. As you do this, acknowledge every thing or situation in your life that is causing anxiety, restlessness or fear. Tell Jesus how each thing is affecting you. Ask Him for what you need — not what you need Him to make happen, but what you need as you’re going through it. It might be peace, rest, freedom from fear or something else. At the end of this prayer, turn your palms over symbolically, as if you’re dropping something out of your hands and into His. Practice this every day for a week, asking the Holy Spirit to help you release your cares to Him (1 Peter 5:7).

It’s Sunday A Day Of Rest

It’s Sunday — a day to rest.

Did you know that ever since Jesus died and rose again, each Sunday is like a mini Easter? In addition to resting, like God commanded in the Old Testament, the first Christians remembered and celebrated Christ’s resurrection every single week.

Today, God invites you to celebrate and rest in the finished work of Christ — for you and for everyone who trusts in Him.

Lent Day 28 Serving Others Out of Gratitude

Lent – Day 28

Serving Others out of Gratitude

Every Saturday during this study, you will learn about common spiritual disciplines that many followers of Jesus practice during Lent. Today you will learn about service. These disciplines are valuable tools to draw near to God when they come from a heart seeking to do just that — rather than a heart which hopes to justify itself through these works or simply check a box on its Lent “to-do” list. We hope these insights will encourage you and help connect you to the Father throughout these 40 days.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4, English Standard Version)

Ipeered into a mostly dark storeroom. Light glinted off of coins filling 21 large plastic buckets. It looked like my eight-year-old self would have expected a pirate’s cave to look, plastic aside. 

Two of the stronger men grabbed a bucket. Struggling together, the bucket just inches from the ground, they moved it outside. Men and women wearing plastic gloves — instead of eye patches — pulled out coins.

Coins went onto a screen laid over a trough. Small rocks and trash fell through. The coins were rinsed. 

Next, they poured the coins into a pan of cloudy liquid that emitted a mild chemical odor. They massaged the coins, removing accumulated corrosion and grunge. Then the coins were sorted by value and, in a few cases, country of origin. 

As they worked, the men and women chatted cheerfully. Words about children, grandkids, gardens and lawns filled the air. But instead of working on their own yards or spending time with their families, they were there to serve. 

The coins came from fountains at a local theme park. The park donated them to a home for children with serious disabilities. But in the buckets, the coins weren’t bankable. Only after sorting and cleaning would they be usable. 

The joyful afternoon ended with treasure for the children living at the home. And for the adults there to help, it didn’t feel like work. They’d experienced the love of Jesus, shown by His willingness to give His life on Good Friday, and they shared that love in a small way with others. As the home’s staff members and residents saw the volunteers work, they were seeing Jesus’ love in action.

Respond

How would you like to share your experience of Jesus’ love in action? Today, would you pair up with a friend and find a way to show the love of Jesus through a nonprofit organization in your community? Serve a meal, clean a lawn or, if you’re fortunate, sort a bucketful of coins.

Lent Day 27 The Power To Live Courageously

Lent – Day 27

The Power to Live Courageously

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

What does fear look like for you? There are two things I tend to experience in the midst of fear:

I feel alone.
I feel stuck.

Fear makes me feel unable to live out my faith. It keeps me from standing boldly in my convictions. Sometimes I lack the confidence to share my faith, or I say no when God is calling me to say yes.

While Christians are not immune to feeling afraid, God has provided everything we need to move from a life of fear to one of courage.

Joshua was called to step into the role of leading God’s people after Moses died. Moses was a great leader, so Joshua felt intimidated and fearful.

Then, in Joshua 1:9, God tells him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” God’s command is to be courageous and keep going where God is leading. God’s promise to Joshua is also ours: He will be with us wherever we go. So why remain stuck in fear?

The Bible reminds us how to move from fear to faith. In Psalm 56:3-4, David says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

These verses are a declaration of what it means to move from fear to courage by trusting in God. When you remember that God is in control, that He is with you and that He has called you to keep moving forward, then your fear fades and courage grows.

Fear produces things in your life that prevent you from living for God. You cannot conquer fear on your own, but God has given you everything you need through His Spirit, who can help you choose to act in faith even if you still feel afraid.. In all things, God is with you. And remembering you are not alone but have the sovereign God of the universe by your side makes you brave.

Respond and Pray

What is one way you can choose courage over fear this week, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and trust God to use you for His Kingdom? What does it look like for you to trust God in the midst of something that makes you afraid?

Consider this prayer: “Jesus, I know that I can do nothing without You. Any courage I have comes from You. I believe that You will give me the strength and boldness I need to live out my faith and walk with You daily. Help me to rely on You to take me from a place of fear to a place of courage and faith.”

Lent Day 25 Pride, Humility and Surrender

Lent – Day 25

Pride, Humility and Surrender

“All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him — those who cannot keep themselves alive.” Psalm 22:29

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Many years ago I attended a women’s retreat at the beach. The library in the reading room was expansive. So I took advantage of a few days of respite to refresh my spirit. I finally landed on a book of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons. It wasn’t long until I was swept away not only in the manner of his words but the wisdom therein.

His paraphrase of Psalm 22:29 tugged deeply at my heart. In it, he says, “No one can keep their soul alive, not even for an hour.”

I was truly swept up in imagining the work of the God of the universe keeping me alive — body and soul.

At the end of the weekend, I had learned so much about myself. The speaker was a woman of grace, wisdom and humility. I was inspired to evaluate my own life that weekend. There were many things I had gleaned from the lessons, the other incredible women and my time lingering among the words of Charles Spurgeon.

When we think of pride or self-righteousness, we often conjure up images of the ultra-religious, who must do everything perfectly and believe that is their salvation. But, in truth, pride is more than that. It’s any desire to have control over our lives, rather than trusting them to God. Humility is realizing that God is the one who keeps our heart beating moment by moment — and He controls everything else as well.

In the years since, I have experienced the realities of my inability to control, manage, change or improve many things in my life. I continue to learn how to trust fully; to surrender control to the One who holds it all.

Reflect and Respond

Take a few moments now to sit in silence with God. As you close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice what feels unmanageable to you. Imagine bringing yourself to Jesus, who has a look of compassion on His face. Rest a while with Jesus, knowing you are loved and you are safe with the One who keeps your soul alive. Talk to Him as you feel led, or simply enjoy being with Him in silence.

Lent Day 24 Have It Your Way Lord

Lent Day 24

Have It Your Way, Lord

“Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’” Isaiah 45:9

The season of Lent occurs during springtime, when, in much of the U.S., bare ground appears after the snow has melted away. Has the lifeless soil ever reminded you that God formed Adam, the first human, from dust?

Imagine the Lord bending down to scoop up fine clay. Now, imagine yourself in the hands of God.

God says several times in the Bible that you are like clay in a potter’s hands. He is making you into an object of beauty to display Christ to the world.

But if you’re like me, you often resist God’s molding.

Isaiah 45:9 explains that opposing God’s shaping is as absurd as clay that talks back to the potter. God created you, loves you and wants what’s best for you, but you resist because of your sinful nature.

God told the prophet Jeremiah to watch a potter at work. The potter began spinning the clay, carefully but firmly shaping the lump of clay into a beautiful vessel. Through observing a potter at his craft, Jeremiah could understand the importance of God’s people submitting to God’s gentle, forming power. Jeremiah received this message from God for the people: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” Jeremiah 18:6

In the same way, Jesus speaks to you. You don’t have to grasp for control. You’re in the hands of a potter who has proven with His own life that you can surrender without risk of harm. “Learn from Me,” Jesus says, “for I am gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29

Respond

Watch a potter transform lifeless clay into a useful and beautiful vessel. Think about how the form adds to its function and consider how God’s artistry is at work in you. Choose a verse to write on a card and keep it with you, reminding yourself that you are clay in a faithful potter’s hands.

Lent Day 23 Steady In The Storm

Lent – Day 23

Steady in the Storm

Soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40, New Living Translation)

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8, New International Version)

Few experiences produce as much suspense, uncertainty and sheer panic as being on the deck of a ship in the middle of a sudden storm, like in the scene from Mark 4.

Perhaps this imagery stirs up memories of experiences you’ve had. The vast ocean, like the circumstances and situations of your life, can change underneath you without warning. Your boat is completely rocked, taking on water, while you desperately try to keep your footing to steer toward safety. 

The disciples in this passage could certainly relate. Jesus asked them to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee — this was His mission they were on — when they were caught off guard by a sudden storm. They scrambled to handle it on their own, which makes sense, since there were experienced fishermen in this group. Likely, they thought they could get through with enough strength and skill. 

When did the panic start to sink in? My guess is when their own efforts failed and they realized the fierce waves were simply too much. 

You’ll notice their question to Jesus, “Don’t You care about us?” Their panic reveals two lies you might also believe:

  1. This storm is not only out of your control but out of God’s control.
  2. Because of what’s happening, He must not care about you. Maybe He has abandoned you.

In the moment, it can feel impossible to entertain anything other than lies like these. The disciples likely believed them because their eyes were on the size of the waves and strength of the storm. They forgot who was in their boat. 

When your focus is on your circumstances, no matter how overwhelming or dangerous, it can be easy to forget Jesus is right there with you. 

As the storm disappeared with just a word from Jesus, the disciples realized He was sleeping because He was in complete control the entire time.

Reflect and Pray

Spend time reflecting on a situation in your life that feels as hopeless or overwhelming as this storm.

Ask Jesus “Where are You in this situation? How can I focus on You and not the storm?”

Invite the Holy Spirit to remind you, as the disciples were reminded, that Jesus is greater than the storm. Even if the boat feels rocky, with Him right beside you, you’ll be unshakeable.

It’s Sunday Ya’ll

It’s Sunday — a day to rest.

Did you know that ever since Jesus died and rose again, each Sunday is like a mini Easter? In addition to resting, like God commanded in the Old Testament, the first Christians remembered and celebrated Christ’s resurrection every single week.

Today, God invites you to celebrate and rest in the finished work of Christ — for you and for everyone who trusts in Him.

Lent Day 22 Lyrics For Your Life In Christ

Lent – Day 22

Lyrics for Your Life in Christ

Every Saturday during this study, you will learn about common spiritual disciplines that many followers of Jesus practice during Lent. Today you will learn about reading, studying and memorizing Scripture. These disciplines are valuable tools to draw near to God when they come from a heart seeking to do just that — rather than a heart which hopes to justify itself through these works or simply check a box on its Lent “to-do” list. We hope these insights will encourage you and help connect you to the Father throughout these 40 days.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11, New International Version)

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. “Psalm 119:105

As soon as the first note dropped, I knew the song. Memories of junior high flooded my mind — the friends, the fashion and the emotions. I sang along without missing a word.

“Alright stop, collaborate and listen.” You know the rest.

When is comes to music, my brain works like a steel trap. Decades of useful and useless facts accumulate like boxes in an attic. I only need a small nudge — a song, a movie or a photograph — and everything comes tumbling out.

I don’t think I’m alone. I believe most of us can rattle off the lyrics to a song we haven’t heard in ages and then sit back in wonder at what just happened.

If you’re like me, you have hidden away the lyrics to dozens and dozens of songs because you spent days rewinding the cassette, hitting the back button on your CD player, or setting iTunes on repeat so you could perfect the most complicated rhymes.

You’ll find your relationship with Scripture is no different. As you spend time reading and studying what God has revealed in the Bible, He will open your eyes, that you may see wonderful things in His law. Psalm 119:18

As you treasure it and hide it away in your heart, you will love what He loves more and more. You will do what He does. You will go where He goes.

Your life will be transformed because you’re not just hiding away silly lyrics in the back of your mind. You’re meditating on God’s own words, and they pierce your heart.

Respond and Pray

Ask God to increase your love for His Word so you might know and love Him more.

Read Psalm 119 and write down all the ways God’s Word blesses and transforms those who delight in it.

Commit to hiding God’s Word in your heart by memorizing important verses or passages.

Lent Day 18 Who Do You Play For?

Lent – Day 18

Who Do You Play For?

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” Ephesians 2:11-22

What makes a movie great? In my opinion, it’s when it touches on themes that reflect the passions in me. I love watching movies about unity; even the thought of a team that’s not united makes me feel anxious.

A favorite movie of mine is “Miracle,” based on the 1980 U.S. hockey team that beat the odds to win the gold medal. If you haven’t seen it, then after you read this, you have to check it out!

Here are the basics: the team is filled with former players from Minnesota and Boston — arch rivals. The task given to coach Herb Brooks is to get this divided group to play as one united team. Good luck.

At the film’s turning point, the players realize they no longer play for Minnesota or Boston, but for Team USA. They only begin moving toward their goal once they realize that what unites them — that greater identity — is stronger than what divides them.

The task given to coach Herb Brooks is similar to the one Jesus took on Himself: to bring two radically opposed peoples together as one. The Jews, who were God’s people from the start, and the Gentiles, who had always been their enemies. The solution found in “Miracle,” though, is only a shadow compared to the ultimate solution found at the cross.

At the cross, Jesus reconciled both people groups to God the Father and, consequently, to one another. If the church today is going to bring the gospel to all nations, then, like the U.S. hockey team, we will have to see that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. We, too, will need to believe that the team we play for now is more important than any one we played for before.

Reflect

As a Christian, before you are anything else, you are a follower of Christ. Often, nationality, church denomination or even political affiliation competes for this top spot in our identity.

What is fighting for that top spot in your heart? Confess this to God, knowing that He has already forgiven you for placing something other than Him first in your life. Pray and ask that the church today would see that what unites it is stronger than what divides it.