Lent devotions 2011: Thursday 31 March

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.John 6:68

In this passage, many of the disciples are having trouble accepting Jesus’ teaching. Jesus knew from the beginning that some of the disciples did not believe His teaching, and also who would betray Him.

In verse 65 He told them that “no-one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.” At this time many of His disciples turned back and did not follow Him. Jesus challenges the Twelve in verse 67 “you do not want to leave too, do you?” In verse 68 Simon Peter asks Jesus “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” He states his belief that “Jesus is the Holy One of God.”

How often do we have trouble accepting Jesus’ teaching? Do we not get tempted to simply walk away? We sometimes forget the wonderful gift that God gave us: His Son Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and gives us eternal life.

This assurance helps us to believe and gives us faith to be able not to leave and walk away and to not betray Him and His salvation. “For Thou, O Lord art good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on Thee.” (Psalm 86:5).

Lord, today help us to display compassion and forgiveness, help us to remember how God forgives and loves us. Amen


Lent devotions 2011: Wednesday 30 March

…who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.Philippians 3:21

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for a strong faith to keep us steadfast on our journey through this life.

You know our human frailty and weaknesses, and often our lack of trust in You, so we pray for Your love and forgiveness and for You to help us share it with others.

Trusting in Christ, who is omnipotent, we will be transformed at the end of our earthly life and be given the greatest gift, eternal life.

Thanks from my heart I offer,
Thee, Jesus, dearest friend
For all that thou didst suffer,
Thy pity without end;
O grant that I may ever
To thy truth faithful be;
When soul and body sever,
May I be found in Thee.


Lent devotions 2011: Tuesday 29 March

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. — John 8:31-2

Follow God’s teaching, learn the truth,
And the truth will set you free.
This lesson is for everyone,
For folk like you and me.

From Abraham’s descendants,
Right up to modern man
Living in truth, freedom and love
Is God’s almighty plan.

Lord help us to relate to others
The way, the truth, the life
Help us treat men as brothers
Steer us from wrong and strife.

And when at last we meet with You
Upon the Judgement Day
May we all with hand on heart
Say ‘Lord we kept Your way.’


Lent devotions 2011: Monday 28 March

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:8-9

Anyone who claims he is without sin, is absolutely perfect, that he is holy as God is holy, must know very little of his own heart. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God: every man needs his own Saviour – Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose again in order that we might be redeemed from our sin.

To say we have no sin is to deceive ourselves. To say we have reached a sinless state in which we no longer need the blood of Christ to cleanse us is a deception. We are just like those small children who, having done something wrong, stand in front of our parents and say: it wasn’t me! In our puerile state of sin we think we can bluff, lie and cajole our way into the favour of our parents, but Our Father has seen all, judges all, and – but for the supreme sacrifice of His Son – condemns us all.

God is faithful to Himself, His Son and His Word. He is just and right in everything He does. He does not require righteousness from us to receive forgiveness; all He requires is the death of Christ on the cross.

Thank You, Lord God, for supplying all that was needed for our forgiveness. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Saturday 26 March

…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.– Hebrews 10:25

This is one of those texts that, at some points in our Christian life, seems clear enough. At other times, though, we don’t like what we read: what do you mean, we have to keep meeting together? With this lot? When we don’t feel like it? We’re busy people!

Firstly, notice that the writer is talking about habits: the choices we make without noticing that we’re making them. We’re to break the bad habit of “neglecting to meet together” – and note that the writer is only addressing those who neglect to meet, not those who are prevented from doing so by illness or infirmity – and replace it with the good habit of encouraging our fellow Christians. It’s a question of what is our default setting.

The writer knows this is sometimes hard, which is why he gives a Gospel reason rather than a Law one: to encourage one another. Meeting together is good for us and good for our fellow Christians – even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Anyway, if we don’t feel like we have time, that is just a reminder that the Day is drawing near.

Finally, what are we encouraging each other to do? The writer tells us in the preceding verse: to “stir each other up to love and good works”. Wake up, you sleepers, he says. The Day is coming, and there is stuff to be done.

Father, give us the strength to do the works You have prepared for us, until You return. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Friday 25 March

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:21

Paul is making a very straight statement of a fact here: Christ – who did not sin – was sent by God for the sole purpose to save us all. Not just some, not just the “good guys” but everyone. All mankind. No ifs or buts. Paul is clearly saying here that Christ came, lived and died to save us from our own sins. He has taken the rap, He’s taken our punishment that should have been meted out to us. Only the Son of God could do this wonderful thing. Paul’s message still sounds out today, as if he were calling to us from a dusty market square as he would have preached his message that so filled him with joy, hope and excitement. Would it not be wonderful if we could do the same?

In the name of our Risen Saviour, we give our praise and thanks for sending Your only Son to die for us. We can only offer ourselves humbly to You, with heads bowed, in gratitude and love. Help us to tell others and to share the message of what You have so freely given, Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Thursday 24 March

Since therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.Romans 5:9

Jesus died for us, to ensure that our sins would be forgiven. His blood was shed so that we would be reconciled with God and not face His anger due to our sinful lives.

If we sincerely believe that Christ did die for our sins when he shed His blood on the cross, then God will accept this faith in Jesus and not judge us on our lives, but will accept our debt as paid through this faith.

Jesus did not die for Himself, but for us. All that Jesus asked from us was to believe and have faith, in Him and His victory over death.

Thank You, Lord, for asking so little of us, but giving everything Yourself. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Wednesday 23 March

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me! — Job 19:25-7


Job: prophet, Elder, holy man, wealthy in family, livestock and servants, righteous in all his deeds. Surely he fears God only because he has been so greatly rewarded for his obedience? So says Satan, allowed by God to test Job by inflicting upon him the theft of all his goods, the death of all his children, causing sickness and painful sores to take hold on Job, bringing him to the brink of death itself.

The sufferings of people on earth, who it affects and why, is an age-old question and one not easily answered. Job would have been used to arbitrating such a debate, and now, in his personal misery, falters somewhat by thinking of God as a tyrannical judge. However, through his God-given faith and wisdom, Job appeals not to human opinion or comfort, but to God, against God, ultimately leading him to utter some of the most beautiful words in the Bible and prophetically confess the bodily resurrection and redeeming power of Christ, our only hope of true comfort: “For I know that my Redeemer lives”!

Our sufferings, and the reasons for them, are known only to God. But we trust that whatever comes to us here on earth will be meant for God’s purpose and on the last day, we, too, shall be physically resurrected and see God. Satan does not win. We are the Lord’s, and all the sin and suffering put upon us now will never separate us from God our Father, the Rock and Redeemer of our faith. On the last day, God will stand upon the earth, and we with Him, forever.

Lord, thank You for the faith that allows me to speak the words “I know that my Redeemer lives”, for without it I am lost. When I suffer, guide me to Your words of comfort, and let me rejoice in the hope of eternal life with You. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Tuesday 22 March

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15: 5

Reading this little verse really summarises one of the main principles of Christian faith for me: our unity with Jesus.

When we stay in Him, like He says, we will bear much fruit and our lives will reflect His presence. There is nothing outside Christ that will last or bear any significance in the long term.

So there is an answer for anybody who is yearning for a fulfilled and happy life: the communion with Jesus.

I know I find it difficult at times, as there are so many distractions and temptations along the way, every day. This is why I feel it is so important to be part of Christ Church and receive love and support from brothers and sisters in Christ.

I feel truly blessed to be part of this family, one little branch in the tree of Christ.

We thank You Father, for this wonderful gift of our family in Christ. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Monday 21 March

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgement.Psalm 51:1-4

The background to this Psalm is all-important in understanding it.

David has committed a whole host of sins, each one bad enough in and of itself, but together they form quite a catalogue of despicable acts. First, David was neglecting his duties as king by not leading his troops into battle. Second, he lusted after another man’s wife. Third, he acted upon his immoral thoughts by seducing Bathsheba to have sex with him while her husband was away at a battle David should have been fighting. Fourth, when he discovered Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, he invites her husband, Uriah, home to try and cover his tracks. Fifth, when Uriah refuses to go home to be with his wife while his comrades are dying on the battlefield, David devises a plan to have Uriah murdered. Sixth, he has the plan carried out, and callously blames it on the battle, because after all life is cheap on the battlefield. Seventh, he does his best to cover up his guilt.

It is then that God sends his prophet to confront David with a word of Law. It is only after the crushing sentence of the Law has been pronounced that David realises the despicable depth of his sins. Confronted with his evil deeds, he knows he deserves nothing but death as a just punishment. He realises he has no ground upon which to stand, and left to his own devices he would utterly despair.

However, David throws himself upon the “steadfast love and abundant mercy” of God. He no longer tries to whitewash his actions, as he calls them “sins, transgressions, iniquities, and evil”. He confesses that God has every right to deal justly and severely with him. However, he begs God to wash him, to cleanse him, and to forgive him. Yes, he will have to live with the consequence of his sin, and they were great, but he had the assurance that God had forgiven him all the evil he had done.

We, too, are in a similar spot. Before God we must confess our transgressions, iniquities, sin, and evil. They may not include adultery, murder, neglect of office, and cover up, but let’s be honest, we do like to sin. And we, too, cast ourselves upon a merciful and forgiving God, who has every right to severely punish us for breaking His Laws. But we, like David, are assured that God has forgiven our sins through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Each Sunday we are pronounced forgiven, absolved of all wrongdoing, we are washed and declared whiter than snow (51:7). And this message of forgiveness restores to us the joy of salvation (51:12) and we will declare God’s praise, who through His Word of Law and Gospel has broken our spirits and given us a contrite heart that seeks His mercy for Jesus’ sake.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy, Amen.