Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent Devotional 2013

Every year, my church puts together a daily devotional book that takes us through the season of Lent. For the past several years, I've been asked to contribute. I hope you enjoy.

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

I have heard many analogies for sin, but one that resonates most with me is this: ever since sin entered the world, humanity began to dig a hole, one that separated us from God and could not be filled. Nothing that we can do can fill the hole. We are indebted to God. We owe Him more than we can ever pay. In the words of St. Anselm, “Sin is nothing else than not to render to God his due, and the wish of every rational creature should be subject to the will of God.” The will of God is to “fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees” (Deut. 10:12-13). The law was created for the good of the Israelites, so that they could find favor in God, but because of sin, it was impossible. Even though this passage is originally addressed to the Israelites, who could not possibly love God the way he required them to under the law, through the grace of God we are now included in God’s chosen through the death and resurrection of his son, the ultimate sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews emphasizes this point by saying, “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). Our debt is now paid for in the death and resurrection of Christ. He defeated sin and death so that we may enter into relationship with the Father. He is the fulfillment of the law; the ultimate sacrifice. As my class went through the Bible in my Old Testament class last semester, I was constantly in awe of God’s goodness. Everything He did, no matter how hard it was for us to understand, was for the good of his people. We are chosen by God, and as Christians, we are to love God with our whole beings, and to submit to his will. During this time of Lent, I encourage you to reflect on what that will mean in your life. What parts of your life are you holding on to and not surrendering totally to God?

Dear Lord,

You are good and you know us better than we know ourselves. I praise you for all that you do in our lives. Thank you for sending your son so that we may live in eternity with you. Forgive us when we try to take control and ignore your will. I pray that we surrender to your will every day and that our hearts become more like yours. Teach us to love like you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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