Lentern Daily Devotion, Wednesday, February 13 - Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 – Ash Wednesday – Lent begins

Readings: Psalm 5; Jonah 3:1-4:11; Hebrews 12:1-14 and Luke 18:9-14

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Today is the day for starting the practice to which you have been called, a practice that hopefully will make more space for God in your life and bring you closer to God as well.

Let me know if I can be of assistance to you as you begin your Lenten practice; be it prayer, be it encouragement, be it …. I’d like to hear how you feel called to make space for God in your life and to grow closer to God.

This is and will be my Lenten prayer for all of us.

O Lord, God who sent His Son to draw us not only closer to you but to call us back to you, may our Lenten practice help us deal with our sinfulness and brokenness. Throughout Lent, throughout our life, draw us to you and help us make space for you in our daily life. Thanks be to you, O God for your Son who was and is the way, the truth and the life. May we look unto him who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.

The following are brief comments on each reading for today, for each helped me as I think about beginning my Lenten practice of watching only one TV show each evening and using the extra time for some reading and quiet with God.

Psalm 5 – 4   For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
5   The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6   You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

7   But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in awe of you.
8   Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

God does not delight in our sinfulness, our brokenness; yet he loved us enough to make a way for us to enter his holy house, to be his holy people.

We are beginning that journey today, of heading to the cross with Jesus. A friend of mine with whom I do a devotion each day, pointed out a while back that when in Psalms it mentions enemies, he often notes that he is his worst enemy. Our enemies are our habits, our sin, and our thoughts that drive God out and/or lead us away from God.

It’s my prayer that during this Lent, our Lenten practice will help us deal with our sin and brokenness and make space for God in our daily life.

Jonah 3:1-4:11 – 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

6When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Tonight at our Ash Wednesday Service I’ll be imposing Ashes upon those who come. Ashes are a sign of our mortality and a sign that we repent of our sin. The words spoken tonight as the ashes are imposed will be; “from dust you came and to dust you shall return”. In Nineveh, the ashes were a sign that they saw their sin and repented and turned to God.

Hebrews 12:1-14 – 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is a great call to our Lenten practice, for it says; “let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race set before us”. What a great call to our Lenten practice.

What also strikes me in this passage is the great cloud of witnesses. These are the many Christian friends we think of who upheld the faith and now dwell in God’s holy kingdom. No matter how highly we may have thought of them, they like us had sin that clung to them. They too had to deal with their sinfulness and brokenness. It is Jesus who is the true pioneer and perfecter of our faith, so throughout Lent may we look to him, as he sets his face once again towards the cross where lays our redemption and our salvation.

Luke 18:9-14 – 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” May this be our prayer not only during Lent, but each and every day.

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