Category Archives: Lent Devotions

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Beyond The Garments Of Skin

Category:Lent Devotions

Genesis 3:21

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Once upon a time, in a far away garden called Eden, Adam and Eve communed freely with their Creator. Then, the enemy – the most cunning creature in the garden – caused them to doubt God’s word and his very attributes. Perfection ended with a bite of the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3 describes the tragic story of man’s disobedience.

Even then, sin did not have the last say in the Garden of Eden. Both God’s holiness and mercy were displayed in the way he sought Adam and Eve in their shame (v. 9-10), cursed them for their sins (v. 14-19), and provided for them garments of skin (v. 21).

While man initially chose a self-made cover up (v. 7), God furnished him with a much better solution. Fig leaves signify man’s efforts in dealing with the consequences of his actions. But, God knew that it would never be enough. Fig leaves cannot cover the whole body and no amount of leaves sewn together can ever make man right with God. For this reason, God graciously provided garments of skin for man to fully cover the guilt of his sin.

In making the garments, bloodshed and death had to happen. Behind those garments of skin was a life which was being sacrificed. Early on in the Garden of Eden, God made a way for the redemption of our sins. The garments of skin foreshadow God’s future provision to cover our iniquities through the blood sacrifice of an unblemished and spotless Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19).

In the fullness of time, God allowed the brutal death of Christ and the shedding of his blood so that we may be fully clothed with righteousness – with his righteousness. Through his blood, we can be totally free from the weight of our sins. Only the perfect and all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ can make us right in the eyes of God.

God’s redemptive power and work of salvation was foretold to us through his provision of garments of skin. Let’s continue to be clothed with the garments of skin and always choose the blood of Christ.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:10

Father God, thank you for covering me with garments of skin, was soaked with the blood of Christ. Allow me to always be thankful for and mindful of the sacrifice of Christ. As a response, lead me to always live under your holy and righteous ways. Amen.

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Intimacy With Jesus

Category:Lent Devotions

Philippians 3:10-11

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

While it is rare that someone would fast from all food for 40 days during Lent, we often fast part of the time or we choose to give something up for the entire period. One year I gave up coffee while others I knew gave up sugar and chocolate and others their phone! All in a small effort to identify with Christ in his sufferings and allowing ourselves to be reminded each day of what Christ has done for us as we prepare to celebrate Easter.

Sometimes though, we focus too much on what we are giving up and on what we are denying ourselves (the “suffering”), so that our devotion turns into legalism. I remember punishing myself mentally one year because I could not complete the full period of Lent with what I set out to do. Other times, I had to catch myself when I started to compare myself with others, wondering who had the better “suffering”.

This Lent, I would like to remind us of the true goal of Lent: to grow closer to our loving Savior, to commune with God and develop a greater intimacy with Him. Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3:10-11.

As we symbolically participate in Christ’s suffering, let us remember to keep our eyes on the goal which is as Paul writes: to know Christ intimately.

The psalmist exhorts us to: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). And James 4:8 tells us “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.

Ken Gire states it this way: “Before Jesus called the disciples to ministry, He called them to intimacy. Following came first, fishing came later. Before He called them to represent Him, He called them to be with Him. Before He sent them out, He drew them close.”

Are you growing deeper in intimacy with Jesus as you participate in Lenten activities? Or is it other things first and Jesus second? This Lent let’s not focus on what we are giving up, but rather on what we gain in our intimacy with Christ.

Our loving Heavenly Father, may we live in the reality of your amazing, everlasting love, grace and peace for us and may we deepen our walk and our intimacy with you today. Amen.

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Reckless Love

Category:Lent Devotions

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Sometime ago I watched a video on Facebook about a woman (I think she was from Kenya) sharing her experience in a mental health talk, speaking of how her 20-year-old son had committed suicide.

I could see real courage and strength in the midst of her despair as she told what had happened. She described how her son used to be a lively person and was fun to be with until he began to withdraw exactly 6 months before he then committed suicide. In her words: “This is the most horrific sight any parent can ever behold – seeing your own child hanging there – dead”. I was literally moved to tears as I watched, seeing her pain and tears as she described the situation and how it still hurt her.

As I put down my mobile to reflect on what I had just watched, God whispered into my heart “Now you understand a fraction of how I felt seeing my only Son hanging on that cross… the woman had been the mother to her son for 20 years but I am the Father to my Son for ETERNITY…”

Now I understand a bit the cry of Jesus on the cross when he said “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” We may say it’s because Jesus was carrying the sin of the world, but friends, it’s much more than that. It was indeed a truly horrific sight for the Father to behold!

So what’s our response to this then? Rom 8:32; “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God was willing to go through this horrific experience just to express how much He loves us… Therefore do not ever allow the enemy to make you feel God is against you. He truly loves you and is willing and ready to give you all sorts of good gifts!!

Let us be unweaving in our hearts that every law and command He gives to us in scripture (through His Spirit) is primarily for our well-being and for our soul’s genuine satisfaction. Dear friends, accept His love by seeing His intentions towards us – only then can we surrender our lives to Him as an expression of our love for Him.

Father, thank you for loving me as much as you love your Son Jesus. Please help me to rest in your love and live out my life within your love. Amen.

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Let Your Will Be Done

Category:Lent Devotions

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Tim was preparing to buy an expensive book that had over a thousand pages, so he decided to read a book review online. His research led him to two reports. One was based on only reading a random page in the middle of the book. The other was based on reading the whole book. Without hesitation, most of us would recommend that Tim should select the report that was based on reading the whole book, because we’re aware that no matter what insights one has from a page, the insights are limited to only a page.

However, in life we hesitate most of the time between trusting someone who is limited by time and someone who is not. Someone who was there in the beginning, is here now and who is there at the end. We would rather choose to rely on our limited knowledge of what life is (reading a page) as compared to the One that knows everything about life (reading the whole book).

We hesitate because from our perspective it is hard to see any good come out of the situation or we believe that our plans are the most optimal. As humans it is impossible to understand the plans of a Divine Being living outside of time (except upon revelation), because that is something we can never experience. We may not always understand God’s Will, but what we know is the end result. We know that His plans are good. We know his plans are for us and not against us. So we can rest in not always understanding his plans because we know that they are for good. Let’s not dwell on our own understanding because we know nothing compared to God, so we should always seek for His will to be done in our lives. Jesus said, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36), which suggests that Jesus surrenders His Will and takes on God’s Will. God’s will may sometimes be in line with events you love or events you would rather stay away from, events you understand or events you do not understand.

God’s will is good and that’s all we need to know to dive head first into accepting His plans. If Tim based his perception of an expensive book on a report that is based on 0.001 percent of a book, we would think that it was outrageous. We should not do that with our lives.

Father, yet not what I will, but what you will. Amen.

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How Then Should We Pray?

Category:Lent Devotions

Matthew 6:7-13

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

Do you ever struggle with prayer? Have you ever wondered why you should pray regularly? And how? I certainly have, at times, and I’ve found answers to these questions in the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught his disciples.

First, when we pray, we don’t need to say a lot. God already knows what is on our hearts and won’t be impressed by long and wordy prayers.

Second, because he already knows what is on our hearts, the prayer is actually for us! We need to pray to stay in relationship with our Father in heaven, and there are words we actually need to hear and speak out loud to remind us of who God is and who we are. God is holy, his name is worthy of reverence and praise, and he is our Father. He loves us and will provide for our needs. He forgives us our sins and protects us from temptations and attacks of the evil one. The kingdom, power and glory are his, forever.

As for us, we need God daily. As his children, we long for his kingdom here on earth, where his will is done, as it is in heaven. We still sin, so we need to ask God -and each other- for forgiveness, and be willing to forgive those who sin against us. We need our Father’s help to overcome temptation and shouldn’t try to face the evil one on our own.

As I consider the structure of the prayer, I notice that Jesus taught us to begin remembering that God is our Father. As his children, to ask for his kingdom to come and his will to be done before voicing our requests. Perhaps this helps us to keep the right focus. The final words, which I have written in italics because they don’t appear in all manuscripts, bring the prayer to a close in the same way as it began: recognizing who God is and our dependence on him.

I’m amazed at how much Jesus taught us in such a short prayer!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for teaching us how to pray. Please help us to recognize our dependence on our loving Father and revive in our hearts the longing for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. Amen.

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Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Category:Lent Devotions

John 19:18

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Burden of proof is a standard by which a person making a claim has to prove it beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. Prove…Beyond reasonable doubt.

The prophecies in the Old Testament pointed to a messiah, ‘the anointed one’, the Son of God, who would be king, judge and, as we all know him, Saviour. As the human reaction always is, some believed and anticipated, while others had doubts and opposed this. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, gave his life as an atonement for our sins.

Just before Jesus gave up his Spirit, he said the words “it is finished” to affirm that which the people anticipated. Another translation of the Greek word Tetelestai is “paid in Full”. This act of sacrifice is not only for the forgiveness of our sin, it is God reconciling us to himself and granting us victory through Jesus. It is because of Christ that we are able to have a personal relationship with God. Most importantly, it’s through Christ that we have eternal life.
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

Jesus proved beyond reasonable doubt the claim that it was paid in full or it is finished by his death on the cross and by his resurrection. It is also proven by the glory of God that we now freely enjoy. Sin has no hold on us anymore for Jesus separated it from us as far as the east is from the west.

Lord, thank you for the reminder that you paid it in full and that we are vindicated. Help us in our walk with you to live in the truth that by your stripes we are healed, sin has no hold on us anymore, and that we have victory through you in all that we do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Boasting In The Cross

Category:Lent Devotions

Galatians 6:14

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

To boast, according to the dictionary, is to speak with too much pride about yourself or about what you have or what you have done.

What kinds of things do we find ourselves boasting about in our conversations with others? Our family? Our achievements? Our amazing ideas? Our talents? Our future plans? Our opinions? Don’t we often catch ourselves talking in this way? Have you noticed how the flesh (the old man) loves to boast?

What about boasting (perhaps even unawares) about our spiritual life? The longer we walk with the Lord, the more we should be seeing changes in our lifestyle and our habits. The fruits of the Holy Spirit should be seen in us and we might be tempted to think of ourselves as more righteous than others. But, we must never forget that this is all the work of grace – a gift of God! (“not by works, so that no one can boast” Eph 2:9)

In the context of Galations chapter 6, Paul was urging the believers at that time not to return to the religious law and the outer appearance of righteousness that it brings. And so, we too must not put our confidence in any fruits of righteousness in our lives; be it good works or good deeds – we must not return to relying on these outworkings. Instead we must place our entire faith in the work of the cross and in Christ Jesus himself.

We must come daily to the foot of the cross – this is where our pride comes tumbling down and all that is of self and of our flesh are surrendered to Him. This is where we are reminded that all our efforts are useless, and Christ alone can save us. This is where the realisation of the awfulness of sin leads us to a life of humble gratitude before our God. Only in this place can we begin to grasp the kind of love that has been poured out upon us. And only here do we begin to despise sin and desire to live a life of holiness that glorifies the One who has saved us.

This is the place we must boast about! In fact, we’ve been called, we’ve been bought and we’ve been saved for this very purpose: to proclaim to the world the salvation of our God – the only way of salvation; the cross of Christ!

May we only ever boast in the cross and all that our Lord has achieved for us there. May we learn daily to put our flesh to death at the foot of the cross – may Jesus alone be glorified in and through us. Amen.

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The Joy That Can Never Be Taken Away

Category:Lent Devotions

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What is joy? Joy comes from within our hearts, it is a fruit of the Spirit, it does not depend on external causes, it is a choice, it embraces peace and contentment, it is a practice and a behavior. Unlike happiness which comes and goes depending on our situation, joy can be present in all situations. To rejoice means actively implementing joy in our hearts, and Christians are commanded to rejoice in all circumstances. Outside the Lord, everyone who pursues joy will eventually be left disappointed, because everything this world can offer is only temporary.

Paul states that it is reasonable to be joyful in the midst of difficulties; this joy in the Lord bears witness to the people around us about Jesus in us. At the time of writing this letter, Paul was in jail for spreading the Gospel. But despite persecutions, he was full of joy, and he shares his secret with us. Whenever we are anxious, we should present our wishes to God in prayers, not forgetting to give thanks to Him and acknowledge His goodness. God does not promise that He will simply fulfill our desires. He promises us something better – peace which transcends all human understanding.

This peace can only be found in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross in our place and was resurrected from the dead so that we, sinners, may be reconciled with God and receive everlasting life. Now we are no longer people who are doomed to death, but we are beloved children of God who have received His salvation. Therefore, in all situations we can believe that God has the best plan for us and that He fulfills all His promises in His time, “For all the promises of God are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20a)

Heavenly Father, I thank you for giving your only Son to die for me that I may receive your salvation. I acknowledge that I am weak in faith and easily become anxious. May the victory of Jesus be the source of my peace and joy so that people around me may get to know you. Amen.

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Grief Undergirded By Hope

Category:Lent Devotions

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

When I recently faced my father’s impending death, a number of people said to me something like: “I’m so very sorry. I cannot imagine what you must be going through. It must be absolutely terrible”.

Deeply sad and heavily draining it was to face. There is indeed always something ugly about death. Real tears there were, and are. I much appreciated the sincere love and concern for me in these people’s comments. And the humble wisdom that recognised one can never fully know what another person is going through inside.

But, “absolutely terrible”, no. That was not my experience. I knew a lot of people were praying for me and us. I am so thankful for those prayers and God’s answers. As I found myself chatting with Dad about the new journey he was on, and prayed with him, and enjoyed the honour of helping care for him in his last days and hours in this life, it was also a very special time of love, fellowship, inspiration and hope.

Death does hurt when it comes, but in Christ, it is not all-consuming. More real, and profound, is the joyful experience of his risen loving presence, the eternal perspective of life in him, the living hope of resurrection that is not only promised in Scripture to believers, but evidenced and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in them. It’s glorious to know Dad has gone on ahead!

I was honoured to be able to tell something of these things in answer to those I mentioned. Indeed I felt quite disturbed that it seems they might not have yet tasted new life in Jesus and therefore need him and his salvation more than anything. And I feel motivated to do all I can to point them to him, and repentance and faith in him.

So I sensed God lead me to read the words of our Scripture today at Dad’s funeral, to point to the kind of grieving that is undergirded by living hope, when we are already alive eternally, in Christ alone!

Thank you Lord Jesus that in dying for our sin and rising from the dead, you overcame the sting of death for us, and the hopelessness of loss outside of you. We rejoice in the certain hope of resurrection in you, guaranteed by your new life in us that your Spirit has breathed on us! Have mercy on our loved ones and the nations that they too believe in you and are saved into this hope. Send us and use us, however you wish to point them to you. Amen.

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From timelessness to created time until timelessness

Category:Lent Devotions

Psalm 74:16-17

16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
    you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
    you have made summer and winter.

In Genesis 1 we read how God created the earth and all that is needed for life. Before the verses 14-15 there was no concept of time as we know it. Today, people may ask questions like: Did the author of Genesis 1 intend to communicate that God created everything in six 24-hour days, or are the days meant to be understood in some other way? One thing for sure, God is the Creator and time and routine began in his creation (v.14-15), just as the psalmist acknowledges in Psalms 74:16-17: “[…] you established the sun and moon” referring to God. And thus comes our understanding of time, seasons and change.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:14-15

Looking then at the lifetime of Jesus Christ, he came to us on earth in bodily flesh to live as fully man, born, growing from a baby to an adult man, under the care and love of his earthly family and yet with a deep relationship to God the Father and Creator. Some may say that Jesus’ ministry started with his first miracle, others with his first teaching, while others may even argue it was with his first encounter at the synagogue. Jesus began his mission at some point in time which would lead him all the way to his death on the cross. Yet his lifetime didn’t end there as he rose in victory, conquering death on the third day. His whole lifetime on earth was used fruitfully to teach his disciples and many others by means of parables and showing God’s power via miracles.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 22:13

This is encouraging to us, reminding us that we can start afresh every day with the hope of growing in faith, turning away from wickedness in various areas of our lives, and living out our given purpose here on earth. So how can we begin to consciously value our time with God if we don’t actually start somewhere? Consider this today: WHEN do you start your time with God every day, and HOW do you spend it? Can we experience the fullness of life that Jesus has given us within the natural 24h-day that he has made? After all, God is the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13), not limited by time. At some point in time, we’d run out of time. But He doesn’t! Let us use our time wisely.

God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob… and me, timeless God throughout the ages, please help us to live according to your will, using our allotted time well. We pray that your Holy Spirit prompts us daily to live by a supernatural faith within your created time. Amen.