Lent Devotions 2009: Wednesday 25th March

“The LORD is near to the broken-hearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

As a family, we have suffered many things over the past five years, and some people have tried all kinds of ways to crush us. But from the first day that the ‘troubles’ began, I turned to the Lord for help and protection Although I believe and trust Him, I wasn’t sure I had 100% faith. I had a personal challenge, so I kept away from church. Maybe I was stupid.

But I was asked to look at this verse and while I was reading, my heart leapt in different directions. It was a fantastic feeling! Wow! I couldn’t stop reading. I read the entire psalm. Why? The similarities are amazing compared to what our family went through. For example, Abimilech “drove… David… away and he left”, but “Those who look on him… their faces are never covered with shame”. So, ”Keep your tongue from evil”. After all, “A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from all of them” (And how!).

There are so many amazing promises and encouragements in this psalm. Like the psalmist I can say, “I sought the Lord and He answered me”. “Glorify the Lord with me; Let us exalt His name together.” Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Tuesday 24th March

“Sing praises to the LORD, O you His saints,
and give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
and His favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 3

Our life is full of ups and downs
No matter what we do.
When everything seems desperate
and there is no way through.

Despite our moaning and our tears,
there is an end to grief.
Our Saviour who is watching us,
Will come to our relief.

Although we give Him good reason
To rage when we do wrong
He still forgives and pardons us
So praise Him now with song.

Give thanks to Him who comforts us
Through earthly fears and strife
And guides us with a steady hand
Towards a heavenly life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Monday 23rd March

“Hide not Thy face from me.
Turn not Thy servant away in anger,
Thou who hast been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!”

Psalm 27:9

When I read this verse, it brought many memories back to me, especially when I had been hospitalised for several weeks. I often prayed for the release of the pain I was in, but I knew in my heart that my prayers were being answered. Eventually my great day arrived and I was released from hospital and allowed to come home. I now face many obstacles in getting around, but I know that I can and will cope with the help of my Lord and Saviour who suffered greater pain than me, on the cross at Calvary, to pay the price for all my sins, because my Saviour loves me and will never turn His back on me.

Create in me a clean heart, O god
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence
And take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation
And uphold me with thy free spirit. Amen.

Dear Heavenly Father, please look after us, and lay Your healing hands on us when pain overcomes us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Saturday 21st March

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. Titus 3:5

In our daily lives we measure many things. When we get up we make our breakfast. If you decide on oatmeal you will measure the water so that the oatmeal is not too runny or too stiff. Whatever you eat, you measure the amount of food you will consume. You might look at the outdoor thermometer to measure the temperature so you will know what to wear or take along. As you drive away, a quick glance at the car’s speedometer will tell you if you are going too fast or too slow. For those of us who run, we measure time versus distance. As the day progresses all of us continuously measure item after item.

Spirituality is measured differently. Spirituality is not measured by external standards of anything good we did or evil we avoided. Our eternal salvation is only “because of God’s mercy.” God forgives our sins and presents us the gift of salvation “Not because of righteous things we did” but as a gift. Our self-righteous works do not save us. God provides means to save us. One of these is the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Martin Luther called Baptism a “holy bath of regeneration.” Through this Sacrament the Holy Spirit dwells in us plus we receive forgiveness of sin. God’s mercy in Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin, which would separate us in eternal death from Him.

We praise You, Lord, for Your Sacraments, and particularly the forgiveness of our sins in Holy Baptism. May we remember our baptisms every day with gratitude . Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Friday 20th March

“… this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the response of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. 1 Peter 3:21

Before your first date with someone you wanted to look your best, have a shower, wash behind the ears, look smart and clean, and make a good impression. But looking good is not the same as being good. We are all painfully aware of our failings. To greater or lesser degree we have a conscience about our motives, whether we are doing good or wrong. When we do wrong we may feel dirty, want to wash ourselves clean, clean up our lives and resolve to do better.

The word “baptism” means washing, and whilst many religious cults have ceremonial washings, Christian Baptism is unique – having only one Baptism, which carries with it something of inestimable value. St Peter says “it saves you also” – that is, it washes you clean on the inside – and only by the gift of faith in Christ are you seen clean and acceptable to God. Marvellously by His means of grace He brings you to forgiveness, life and salvation.

The period that we are in, of Lent, may take its origin as a proscribed period of fasting of candidates for Baptism at Easter. Frequently we are reminded of our own Baptism in the name and power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are reminded of this washing that we don’t do, which is a washing and cleansing by God. It is unique in its power because this Baptism has “saved you by the resurrection of Jesus”.

As we look forward to Easter, beyond the cross where Jesus paid for our sins, we rejoice in the victory that He has won over death and the grave. We rejoice that we have been made clean, and that we now have “a good conscience toward God”, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Him we have received the water of life, and we have life for evermore through Him.

Lord Jesus, we rejoice in Your wonderful works and especially for the water of life. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Thursday 19th March

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. Galatians 3:27

Trinny and Susannah have made it their quest to better dress the female population of Britain. They confront often hostile women with the truth that they dress very badly, and they work on them to get them to change their habits and perceptions about themselves in order to get them to dress more fashionably.

In some respects God’s Word does the same to us. It confronts us with the very uncomfortable truth that “all our righteous deeds are like polluted garments” (Is. 64:6). Apart from Christ, our finest deeds are rubbish, useless, and they stink in God’s nostrils. Our dress is soiled and spoiled, apparently beyond mending.

But thanks be to God that His Word does its work upon us and changes those filthy rags into the clothing of Christ. Through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, our old tattered and disgusting clothes have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). And our verse today informs us this wonderful washing and re-clothing takes place in the Sacrament of Baptism. For in this Sacrament, the Word of Christ is combined with the water to clothe us in the perfection of Jesus Christ. And that really does change the way we perceive ourselves. We are no longer dirty, disgusting, and unkempt before God, but we are washed clean, dressed in God’s finest, and transformed to live life to its fullest.

Once in the blest baptismal waters
I put on Christ and made Him mine;
Now numbered with God’s sons and daughters
I share His peace and love divine.
O God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Your peace may bless my dying day.

(LSB 598 st. 1)

Lent Devotions 2009: Wednesday 18th March

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” Acts 2:38-39

I was baptized August 10, 1975, about a month after I was born. My parents wanted me to grow up with the traditions they had grown up with as a Catholic child, baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. They started attending church regularly when I was 7 and sent my sisters and I to a Catholic school. We said grace before most meals and went to church every Sunday as I was growing up. They encouraged me to attend youth group and a youth Bible study in high school.

Yet, it was not until the summer of 1993 that everything came together for me. When I was 16, I met Jeff, my youth director. He made everything I had learned from my parents, Catholic school, and church come together for me. He made Jesus real to me in the life he lived and the words he preached. I had never before experienced someone so in love with Jesus and His Word. Jeff had passion for what he believed and he lived it out. In August 1993, I went to Denver, Colorado to see Pope John Paul the 2nd.. On the way home from this trip I made a decision to commit my life to Jesus. I took the faith my parents had passed onto me and made it my own. After 18 years I was now able to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit who had dwelt in my heart from August 10, 1975.

I now have a child of my own. He was baptized on Easter Sunday, 2007. I know that the Holy Spirit dwells in my son’s heart. My prayer is that he, too will one day respond as I did and commit his life to Jesus. Until then I know it’s my responsibility to show him Jesus in the daily life that I live. To show him what it means to look to Jesus for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose and to choose to turn away from sin, not to escape punishment, but to show my commitment to Jesus Christ.

We thank You, Lord God, for Your many gifts, and especially that of Baptism into your Church. Amen.