Lent Devotions 2012: 29th February

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Recently, I’ve started going to the gym again. It is time to get in shape, lose weight, and get that body beautiful.

It seems I’m not the only one wanting to tone the body up, as the Fitness Industry Associates (FIA) record that over 8 million people in the UK possess a gym membership at one of the 5,700 gyms located throughout Great Britain. That is a lot of people worried about taking care of their bodies.

And did you realise that in 2009 just under 36,500 aesthetic surgeries took place in the UK, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS – yes, that is what they call themselves; you can’t make this stuff up). Despite the recession the number of cosmetic surgeries increased by 6.7%, and the number of men undergoing cosmetic surgery rose by 21%. We are concerned with the body beautiful in the UK!

St. Paul refers to the Church as “the Body of Christ”. And some today complain that the Body of Christ has grown a bit spiritually fat and flabby. Paul warns us against such things as he encourages Christians to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11-12) and remain strong through constant spiritual exercise (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 2:16; 3:13-14). And we at our peril deny the words of the old children’s hymn, ‘we are weak’. But to our joy we continue singing, ‘but He is strong’. It is His strength that transforms His Body and allows us to be used by Him. In fact, the author of Hebrews encourages us to, “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. (12:1-2). The Body of Christ IS strong and vibrant not in itself, but only when she focuses on Jesus Christ and His cross. His weakness makes us a strong and beautiful Body.

Lord Jesus Christ, beautify Your Body, the Church, by removing all our sinful pride. Give us the strength to run with endurance the race You have given to us, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: 28th February 2012

“All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads…”
Psalm 22:7

Lent is the season of penitential reflection and preparation in anticipation of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus. Psalm 22 expresses the profound loneliness of one separated from God, one for whom God is remote or absent and seemingly powerless. Its lament was vividly fulfilled at the crucifixion of Christ at Calvary.

This verse describes the suffering of one who is held in contempt for his belief in the Lord God by those who reject God and see Him as without power. They mocked him with their mouths hanging open in disgust and mockery. This is exactly what happened to Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels: “kneeling before Him, they mocked him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!…and those who passed by derided him wagging their heads…so also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself’” (Matthew 27:29, 39-40). Jesus was the humiliated, suffering Christ “despised and rejected of men” (Is. 53:3). Why would He permit this? Why did He not defend Himself before Pilate and His accusers, but remain silent?

Jesus endured this to save us from the condemnation we have earned by our sins. His suffering and humiliation “describes His obedience at the time when God poured out His wrath upon the Son against the sins of the human race.” (Chemnitz) Jesus willingly suffered in order that He might become the perfect sacrifice. He did not defend Himself at His trial because He was obedient and willing to be crucified – for us. “The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all” and “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Is. 53:4). His silence when He was accused and mocked led to His condemnation, but also to our forgiveness. He endured humiliation, mocking and death that we might live with Him and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). By His wounds we have been healed.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Monday 27th February

“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Mark 10:47

Here we have a blind beggar in a huge crowd, probably in their thousands and noisy, all moving around and talking and trying to find out what is going on. When we are in a big crowd – and I mean a BIG crowd – it can be very confusing as to what is actually happening. We have the luxury of Public Address systems, massive TVs to show the person or personas at the focus of attention. Sometimes to actually get to the event, without actually knowing where it is, we often follow the crowd in the hope that at least some of them are heading to where you want to go. Now imagine being blind in that melee. A beggar. No-one is interested in you, and quite possibly would want to avoid contact with you. He could not see the best place to stand to hear Jesus, he was just surrounded by lots of people and used his ears. When Jesus appeared before the crowd, a murmur – or maybe shouts would have gone around –’That must be Jesus!’ So Bartimaeus does the only thing he can – he shouts at the top of his voice. He calls to Jesus to have mercy on him. Despite all the hubbub, movement and noise, Jesus hears him.

It is exactly the same for us. We are blind in our sin, but know that Christ is there to take it away and forgive us. All we have to do is to call out and He will hear us and reach into our crowded, busy lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son into the world to pay the ultimate price and sacrifice. Let us all remember and give thanks and cause a few believers to become a huge crowd of believers. In Your Son’s dear name, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Saturday 25th February

“So Pilate went outside to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’” John 18:29

Pilate went out to them – those members and leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin waiting outside, no doubt impatiently. They would not or could not enter a Gentile’s house, or they would have been considered by their own people to be defiled or unclean. Thus, one of Rome’s most powerful men in the Middle East has to come outside to discuss business effectively on the pavement and find out what it was that troubled them so about this man, Jesus. They were quite prepared to use Rome’s authority and law to kill an innocent man – and oh, how innocent He was – yet they dare not cross the threshold of the Governor’s abode for fear of retribution.

Thus, the fate of the Son of God is bickered over in the street by the men of power at that time. Everything about the fate of Christ is unusual, out of the ordinary and unique. Even how this fateful question was asked and of which the given answer was to lead to His death, to a change in history, and even how we ourselves live to this very day. What a terrible and wonderful thing happened on that pavement on that day.

Prayer: In all our meetings with others, let us keep in our minds that we can have great and wonderful effect in their lives if we speak of You, of Your Son, and the glorious promise of eternal life in praise and joy to those who receive Jesus as their Risen Saviour. In Thy Son’s name, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Friday 24th February

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34

Clueless. Unaware. Oblivious. Ignorant. These words come to mind to describe the soldiers casting lots for clothing worn by Jesus Christ for his crucifixion. The Saviour of the world, their personal Saviour, was only a few steps away from them, dying on a cross, bleeding for them. Yet they turned their backs and were more worried about who was going to get His garments. How unaware they were of how close their salvation was.

Isn’t it much the same today? Since Christianity is the world’s largest religion (at least for now), the vast majority of the Earth’s population know Christ was a real person who walked among us. His story for our salvation can be found very easily. Yet people all over the globe choose to turn away, busy themselves with other things, completely clueless as to just how close their salvation is. Even us believers choose, at times, to go our own way, ignore His plan for us, forget to worship and praise Him.

But there is good news. Even while suffering on the cross, looking down at the soldiers’ ambivalence, Christ demonstrated that nothing can separate us from the love of God. While they scorned Him, He had compassion for them. They ignored Him, and He begged the Father to forgive them. Only Christ, true man and true God, could show this kind of love. How wonderful it is to know that Christ will never abandon us, never forsake us.

Lord, forgive us when we fail to notice You in our lives. Grant that we never turn our backs on You. Help us to bring the good news of Your sacrificial love to our neighbours and friends. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Thursday 23rd February

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “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

I dedicate this to my little sister who is fiercely afraid of the dark.

The words in John 8:12 take me back to Genesis when God utters the light into being. God’s word is extraordinary, it has the power to create, and it is living. The apostle John also proclaims to us in his gospel that Jesus is that very Word that was with God thousands of years before He was made flesh. To us, every event that has taken place since creation runs on a linear course of time, so we cannot know what lies down the line. But God holds our future in His hands. In the same way that God foreshadowed Jesus’ coming in Genesis, He also knows and anticipates the day when each of us will be in heaven with Him. This is the omniscience of almighty God. He who was there at the beginning and will be there at the end.

The New Testament leaves no shadow of doubt in regards to the legitimacy of Jesus Christ as God. When Jesus makes a speech in the scripture, the apostle whose gospel we find it in usually makes the indication “Jesus spoke”, which is an emphatic affirmation that calls our attention and reminds us of his Godly authority. We were once ill with the incurable condition of sin; Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross liberated us from it.

In literature it is time and again portrayed that nothing good comes from the darkness, and the colour black has become an omen of doom. Shakespearean villains operate under the cover of the night but there is no need for superstitious fear of the night. Rather we should embrace the night as a gift of God that reminds us that in Him we have rest. Our biggest enemy has already been conquered for us on the cross. In the season of Lent we ponder on the sacrifice of the “light of the world” which “the darkness did not overcome”. Thus, to follow Him is to “have the light of life”.

May the words of John 8:12 bring comfort in time of sorrow and spiritual darkness, in the name of Jesus; Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Wednesday 22 February


You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7

It was my Senior year in High School, and I actually made the finals of the 400-metre dash at our conference Championships. Sure, I had the slowest time of everyone in the finals, and I had the outside lane, but I made the finals.

On your marks, go! The gun sounded and we were off. I felt as light as a feather and I was flying around the track. The first 100 metres flew by and I just kept picking up speed. At the 200-metre mark I hit my full stride and everything was flowing like never before. Passing the 300-metre mark, I had a quick peek to see where I was. I was leading the race, and not just leading, but I was way out in front. Joy and excitement filled my mind as suddenly the thought flashed through my mind that I was going to win the conference finals.

Then it happened. At about 320 metres I hit ‘the wall’. This was not any wall; it was THE WALL. Suddenly it felt like I was running in quicksand with a grand piano on my back. One, two, three, four, runners blew past me on the home stretch as I limped across the finishing line. My quick start had only managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

And so it was with the Galatians. They were running life in the freedom and forgiveness of Christ Jesus. But then someone had “cut in front of them and hindered their progress in the faith. They were in danger of stumbling and being disqualified from the race. When the gun sounded, they relied on the strength of the Holy Spirit who called them and equipped them for the marathon. But into the race, they began relying on their own strength and good works to see them through. But this only leads to disaster. When we rely on our own power and wisdom, we run headlong into ‘the wall’. Works lead to collapse, exhaustion, and ultimately death.

Many start their lives in Christ running full tilt, but as time goes by, they run out of steam. It can be illustrated by the fact that many who will begin reading this booklet will not continue until Good Friday. Yes, you may have good intentions, and the spirit might be willing but the flesh is weak. We begin the race well, but we falter at the end. It is a bitter and sad thing to do. Believe me, I’ve been there.

Instead, remain in Christ and His strength alone. Each day remember your Baptism and live in repentance confessing your weakness and rejoicing in His strength. And in His strength He will lift us, even when we fall, and He will give us strength to run and not grow weary.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies;
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

(LSB 664, verse 2)


Lent Devotions 2012: Introduction

Welcome to the 2012 Christ Lutheran Church Lenten Devotions. Thanks for taking the time to journey through the season of Lent with us.

2012 is an important year, especially if you live in London. For this summer, we will welcome people from around the world who are coming to our capital city in order to participate in or to enjoy watching the Olympic Games.

To help us get into the Olympic spirit, our devotions for Wednesdays in Lent will have an athletics theme. On Thursday the focus shifts to the seven I am sayings of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Fridays in Lent see us standing at the foot of the cross of Christ overhearing His words spoken as He hung dying on the cursed tree. Contemplation of the questions asked by those at the trial and crucifixion of Jesus take centre stage on Saturdays. On Mondays we take a look back at texts used in the Divine Services of worship used each Sunday. Bringing this relay to its finish is Tuesdays, when we meditate on Old Testament prophecies concerning the Saviour.

My thanks go out to all of the members and friends of Christ Lutheran Church who have “volunteered” to contribute devotions. Thanks are also due the editorial staff who did such an efficient job of putting these devotions together. We pray that these devotions will help each of us to prepare for the great Feast of our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Day. As we consider His sufferings and death in our place, may the magnitude and power of the cross of Jesus Christ bring us assurance, peace, and hope as we run the race of life in faithful service to Jesus Christ our Lord. It is our prayer that this meagre contribution will assist each one who reads it to fight the good fight.

Jon Ehlers, Pastor.

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