Lent Devotions 2010: Saturday 27 February

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

My friend and I talked for hours over the phone as she gave me sound advice regarding our family’s ordeal. Oddly enough, she would go into prayer at any time during our conversations seeking the Lord’s help with the turmoil our family was going through.

Due to poor advice, our grandson decided to live with his father, to which our daughter relented. We were told that we were incapable of looking after him. We tried to get him back but the officials wouldn’t listen. Now he is in foster care and we all are heartbroken.

The last words I said to our grandson were “whenever you see the moon, I’ll ask Him to send my love to you” and his reply was “whenever I see the moon, I’ll ask him to send my love to nanny”. My friend was so moved that she started to pray immediately asking the Lord to look after our grandson and make him a good boy. A strange feeling engulfed me, a mixture of peace and thankfulness.

What they did to us still hurts me but the knowledge that the Lord is watching over our grandson gives me great comfort. Our wounds have been bound and are healing nicely . Although I still feel that I want revenge, the Lord reminds us “revenge is mine!” On Boxing Day, our eldest grandchild became engaged, a charming young man who believes in the Lord. I couldn’t help adding verse 11 which says:“the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

We thank You for Your compassion, healing and love, Lord God, in the most difficult situations. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Friday 26 February

Thy kingdom come.” Lord’s Prayer, Second Petition

Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism that the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray that it may come to us continually.

Surprisingly, the very fact that we pray means that the kingdom of God already is with us. It was given to us as an inheritance in our baptisms, when we received the Holy Spirit who leads us to pray with confidence and boldness. We ask our heavenly Father that He may reign over us always and enable us to lead godly lives. But we ask that His kingdom may come especially through His Word and Sacraments bringing the forgiveness of our sins, strengthening our faith and preserving us until the day we may inherit the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught us not to be anxious about our lives, to beware of worldliness and to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus taught us to seek Him – who is our righteousness – and in this Lenten season He reminds us once again: Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand! Our king is coming to us; righteous and having salvation.

Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

Lent Devotions 2010: Thursday 25 February

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
1 Peter 1:3

Peter’s response to God’s causing His people to be born again, and raising His Son Jesus from the dead, and giving us a new hope, and providing us an imperishable inheritance in heaven is to bless God: “Blessed be God!” And if that is His response, it should also be ours. God is praised for saving us; not a pious wish but a solid promise. This hope gives us life. Our redemption and eternal life are guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus. Through Christ, God has promised us the riches of heaven. Nothing in this world can take this inheritance from us. This blessing is ours for ever and ever. All this is ours in Christ, if we believe.

We should worship God; to see God’s great reality with our minds, feel God’s beauty and wonder with our hearts, and speak and sing God’s greatness with our mouths. That is what Peter did when he wrote about new birth.:“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. That is what we should do.

God is the one who caused us to be born again. New birth is God’s work. His mercy, not our work, produces a new being called a child of God. God raised Jesus from the dead and promises an inheritance to His newborns. God is the begetting Father and God is the source of the inheritance. Fathers leave an inheritance to their children, not vice versa. God is the giver here; all the way through the passage He is the fountain, overflowing. We receive, at every point, mercy, new birth, resurrection and inheritance.

So let us bless God this morning with all our hearts that He has caused us to be born into His family and given us living hope. Come, let us believe, and bless the Lord for this great saving work of new birth.

Thank You for this work, Lord God. May we never forget it! Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Wednesday 24 February

And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:38

I was reading this sentence again and again to gather my thoughts. Jesus knows that we, humans and sinners, will never be able to “take our cross” the same way that He did, when He died for us.

Even so Jesus asks us to do so.

For me, “the cross” is represented by the daily struggles, temptations and misfortunes that we encounter. We can only follow Jesus, if we put Him first in everything we do and look out for Him every day.

And when we struggle with our lives, find it difficult to bear and often see injustice everywhere, then we should think of Jesus, carrying His cross, being nailed to the cross, DYING on the cross – for us, for you and me and we’ll be able to see things from right prospective again, and find that our crosses are not that difficult to bear after all – our Lord has done the hard work for us.

We should want to put Him first every day, love Him and praise Him, and the weight of the crosses will be lifted from our shoulders.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for bearing our sins and our burdens, both on the cross and every day. Please let us remember this in our daily lives so that they may glorify You. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Tuesday 23 February

Behold My servant, whom I uphold,
My chosen, in whom My soul delights;
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.” Isaiah 42:1

The theme of the servant recurs in Isaiah chapters 40-55, chapters which contain some of the most beautiful poetry in the whole Bible. This image points back to Abraham and forward to Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. In Acts 8, Philip meets an Ethiopian official reading Isaiah 53 “led like a lamb to the slaughter” and wondering who the prophet was talking about. Philip began with this Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. In Isaiah 41.8, the servant is identified with Israel, “you Israel, my servant, … the offspring of Abraham, my friend.”

This points back to Genesis 12.2-3, the beginning of God’s wonderful plan of salvation (Heilsgeschichte in German), “I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you … and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The theme of the servant is the story of God’s great plan of salvation for the whole world. It starts with one man Abraham, then becomes a whole nation, Israel, then narrows down to one man, the perfect Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, then widens to the new Israel of God, the church worldwide, which has the duty and joy of taking this wonderful good news to every person on earth. That is the scope of God’s eternal plan and that is why the servant is sometimes Israel, sometimes the ideal individual (that we can identify as Jesus, with hindsight) and sometimes the servant is you and me!

The servant is chosen. What does it feel like to be chosen – surely you are special and loved. Abraham in Isaiah 41.8 is called God’s friend. The word in Hebrew is derived from the verb to love, and friend may be translated as “beloved.” Once more this points forward to Jesus and His baptism, when a voice from heaven announces, “You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3.22)

This verse also states that the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form. The Hebrew word ruah covers the meaning of three English words and means breath, wind and spirit (as does the Greek word pneuma). The phrase “put my Spirit upon Him” is almost unique in the Bible. One commentary states, “The precise phraseology of ‘I put My breath on Him’ appears elsewhere in the OT only in Num.11.25,29.” (Goldingay p. 214, ICC on Isaiah 40-55, vol.1, 2006). Numbers 11 is very interesting. When Eldad and Medad start prophesying, Moses’ desire that “all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit on them” (Numbers 11.29) is a cri de coeur (a cry from the heart) that the people would be sensitive and attentive to God’s voice, in contrast to the perpetual moaning and grumbling and rebellion that made Moses’ life so hard in the wilderness.

Justice is a great theme of the Bible. How does the servant bring justice to the nations? Surely this points to the cross, where justice and mercy meet. Another element of God’s plan for the servant is clear in Isaiah 49.6, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Once more this points forward to Jesus, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12) But this also points to you and me. If you are a disciple, a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, you are a servant of God. Every believer is a beloved child of God.

Thank You, Father, for choosing us to be Your servants. Please continue to show us what you would have each of us do in Your service. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Monday 22 February

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27


We live in uncertain times. Recession, terrorism, family strife, broken relationships. The list goes on and on. These things trouble our hearts and each of us has worries about the future. We tend to believe that the world around us is getting worse. But has it been any different throughout history? All people, everywhere, have lived in uncertain times. That’s because we live in a sinful world and we don’t know what the future holds for us.

Or do we? Jesus spoke these words of comfort, written in John 14, to His disciples at a time when they were worried about the future. But Jesus knew what the eternal future held for them, just as He knows the glory that awaits us. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring in this life, but we can have “His peace” knowing that the troubles of this world will not follow us into the next. The free gift of Christ’s everlasting peace is waiting. What a comforting thought for our troubled hearts!

Lord, thank You for the gift of my faith. Help me daily to keep my focus on Your Word and to live my life according to Your Holy will. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Saturday 20 February

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you;
He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

I often marvel at the way the Lord God places people together in the right place at the right time, to work for the good of them and others around them.

His word is true and He will not forsake His saints, and the wonderful thing is that it does not matter who you are, where you come from, what you have done and what you have not done! When you commit your way to the Lord and trust in Him alone, He will act and show mercy to all. It can be any time of the day or night, 24/7. He will hear your voice and He will save. The Lord is my friend, my companion and never leaves my side and what a comfort that is to me.

I certainly felt very humble in a classroom when two students who were only class colleagues and did not know each other at all had to tell the story of their lives to each other. They had one thing in common as they both came from Sierra Leone in Africa and were both familiar with Freetown but had experienced very different lives. The male student had had a very hard life but it paled in comparison with the female student’s story of her very sad experiences of her life to date. Yet he managed to say all the correct things at the correct moment. By the grace of God he did this as she told him that her entire family had been killed in the war when she was 15 years old and how her only remaining relative was an aunt. She arrived at a huge refugee camp and lived there for five years. At the age of 20 she was sent to England where she soon met a man and gave birth to a son. A year ago Social Services took her boy away from her as she was no longer able to look after him.

This is now a new beginning for her and many people in the group want to help and include her in their activities which includes the male student inviting her to his church and meeting his wife and children. “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift”.

Thank You Lord for allowing me to be a witness to Your incredible love, peace to mankind and hope for the future. Lord in You I put my trust, only You know the path that I must follow through my life. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Friday 19 February

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” Lord’s Prayer, Introduction/First Petition

We all know the Lord’s Prayer by heart, but could we explain its meaning to a non-Christian?

“Our Father who art in Heaven”; God is our perfect Father and we can approach Him as His children knowing that He will hear and answer us. “Hallowed be Thy name”; This is a prayer among God’s people that we keep His name holy. How do we keep His name holy? We as God’s people keep His name holy by treating and teaching God’s Word as absolute truth and by trying to live our lives according to this truth. We need God’s help to accomplish this both as individuals and as a church body.

In a day and age when nobody wants to face the idea of absolute truth, we need to defend the name of God against those who desire to “water down” the truth in order to be accepted by the masses. As Christians, with God’s help, we must stand in defence of God’s holy name!

Lord God, give us the courage to stand up for You, remembering all that You have done for us. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Thursday 18 February

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written. The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

This passage of Paul’s letter to the Romans, wherein he quotes the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, is the one that sparked the reformation of the church led by Martin Luther. However, the revelation that we are saved by faith in Christ alone did not come without a struggle.

In Luther’s own words:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God,’ because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant… Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’

Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven… If you have true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon His fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness.

Luther’s understanding of the righteousness of faith is our own and is echoed in the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord: The “righteousness of faith…is nothing else than the forgiveness of sins and the gracious adoption of the poor sinner for the sake of Christ’s obedience and merit alone.”

Praise You, Lord, for Your marvellous gift! Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Wednesday 17 February

“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 1:8

Ash Wednesday begins the 40-day period known as Lent. During these days of preparation for the great feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, Christians, in repentance and contrition, ponder the saving work of Jesus Christ. This saving work is summed up in the cross. The medieval custom of marking our foreheads with the sign of the cross is a wonderful reminder to us of our sinfulness and God’s graciousness. From ashes we came and to ashes we will return, but God in His mercy will raise our ashes, give us an incorruptible and immortal body to live with Him forever. How can this be? Look to the cross of Christ.

The amazing thing is that Jesus Christ had no need to go to the cross. In fact, if you look at the verses that come before our reading, you will discover that Paul celebrates Jesus’ eternal existence; His equality with God; His divine nature. But because God loved His fallen creation so much, Jesus voluntarily renounced His pre-incarnate glory in order to suffer the humiliation of the incarnation and become the Word made flesh; Immanuel, God with us in His human nature.

Jesus, true God from all eternity, became true man at His incarnation. He was tempted just as we are, and He experienced every human emotion we experience. In every way He was a human being, but with one exception. He did NOT sin. He perfectly obeyed God’s will and Law. Jesus was perfect, He had no need to die, but He, being obedient to the Father’s will, chose to die in our place. That substitution took place on the cross. Jesus took my place, the place of the sinner, and by doing so, gave me His righteousness, so that through faith in Him, when God looks at me, He sees Jesus my Saviour and loves me.

That is why we are marked by the cross of ashes today. Jesus saves sinners, of who I am one, through His cross. Through His death I have forgiveness, life, and victory.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.


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