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Ammunition For Lent

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the very heart of Christianity. The good news of the gospel is that God has acted in history to conquer evil and reconcile sinners to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For those who have been united with this Jesus – who have submitted to Him as savior and Lord – have been united with Him in the likeness of His death and will one day be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5). Lent, therefore, is about living out of our union with, and identity in, Christ. Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives.

On the Christian calendar, Lent (from Latin, meaning “fortieth”) is the forty days beginning on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday. Sundays themselves are not counted in these forty days, as they are generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration (“mini-Easters” of sorts).

The number forty carries great biblical significance based on: the forty days of rain Noah and his family endured in the flood, the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness, Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness, the forty days Jesus spent on the earth after his resurrection, and so much more. Forty days has been used by God to represent a period of trial, testing, and preparation.

Likewise, Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of Jesus. It is this very preparation and repentance – aimed at grasping the intense significance of the crucifixion – that gives us a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, the joy of Easter.

As the title of this devotional suggests, Lent is a journey to the cross: meditating on our sin and weakness, looking to Jesus as our perfect example and substitute, and being heightened in our worship of his victory over Satan, sin, and death. On the cross, Jesus took our place to appease God’s righteous anger toward our sin and rebellion. He was separated from God so that we could experience union with God. He was crushed by God so that we could be adopted by God. He was raised with God so that we too might be raised with God. The drama of how this unfolded is the story of Lent.

The journey of Lent is to immerse ourselves in this grand story so that it might increase our appreciation of Easter and love for Jesus. May we mourn the darkness in our hearts and rejoice in the light of God who came into the world to save us!

– from Journey to The Cross by Providence Church


Resources

  1. Journey to the CrossOne of our elders, Greg Mathias, has recommended this great daily devotional for the season of Lent. Please be encouraged to use it personally and as a family.
  2. The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper — Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die.
  3. Holy Week Daily Devotional: A daily devotional to lead you through the week leading up to Easter. 
  4. Lent to Maundy Thursday —This site allows you to stream the second installment of Page CXVI’s Church Calendar Project. It is music specifically written and recorded as an aid to worship Christ during this season of reflection upon the cross.
  5. Lenten Lights by Noel Piper – Eight Biblical Devotions to Prepare for Easter — to be used weekly during Lent OR daily during Holy Week.
  6. The Lent Project – A collaborative collection of devotionals from authors such as Dallas Willard and John Ortberg compiled by Biola University’s Center for Christianity Culture and the Arts.

Family Lent Resources

Lent gives your family an entire forty-day season to remember Jesus is best. We fill our busy lives with candy, toys, sports, extra curricular activities, video games, television–you name it. During Lent we remember the happiness we find in those things is temporary. Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Every toy your child has will one day lie in a junk yard. The treasure of this earth makes us happy, but that happiness is temporary. During Lent we stop filling our lives with temporary happiness and make more room for Jesus. – Jared Kennedy 

  1. Forty Names of Jesus: A Lenten Devotional For Families: This guide is a devotional study of the names and titles of Jesus found in the Old and New Testaments, for families with children ages 5-10.
  2. Holy Week Family DevotionalThis week long resource includes: A lenten candle wreath, a call to give up something for the week as a family (Fast), a daily reading, song and prayer.
  3. A Jesus Easter Tree: This resource is 17 days total (to complete over 44 days), each day includes: scripture reading, prayer, a artistic picture to hang on a branch tree, and a way you can live out the passage from the day.
  4. Jesus Storybook Bible Reading Plan (This one is for 2013 but can be adapted to use this year). This resource uses the Jesus storybook Bible during each day of Lent.
  5. Missions Accomplished — Rediscover the greatest rescue mission in history with your children. Spend the week before and after Easter walking with Jesus through the suffering of the cross, the joy of resurrection, and the beginning of Christianity. Each of the fourteen devotions takes just ten minutes and is suitable for children of all ages. Included are family activities and hymns to help your family remember and apply the truth that Christ is risen indeed!
  6. Lent Color Pages

Fig Monday: Forgiveness and Moving Mountains

 

In Sunday’s message (3/12/17) I alluded to a Lenten devotional on forgiveness that was very powerful.  You can read the whole devotional (poetry, art, scripture, video, devotion) here:

If you’d just like to watch the video from that devotional that I alluded to in the services on Amish Forgiveness.  Here it is:

And this is the article I mentioned by Pastor John Piper on the amazing promise of mountain-moving prayer in Mark 11.  I found his perspective very helpful:

Finding Freedom From Sin

If you are anything like me, you probably struggle with some recurring sin habits. You know they are ugly, you know God hates them but you just can’t seem to change. Why? I believe it is partly because we all enjoy the idea of change but are unwilling to do the work of change. The attached document (Transformation Guide) will describe in greater detail what I mean. This “guide” is a resource, an aid, to help you find victory over these sin struggles.

I hope it helps you find freedom…“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
Jake

Hebrews Resources

As we study the book of Hebrews this year, here are some helpful resources to aid you as you read and study the book of Hebrews personally.

Resources for Personal Bible Study:

Personal Bible Study Sheet:

This is a simple sheet your group can use as a guide as you study the passage in anticipation of your small group discussion each week:

personal-bible-study-sheet

“Better” study guide for women by Jenn Wilkin:

This helpful study guide with companion audio comes from a church in TX.


Background Resources for the Book of Hebrews:

Video Overview:

This is the video overview of the book of Hebrews we showed during the services recently.  It’s a good overview of the book.  One of our artists also drew it onto the chalk board in the lobby!

https://vimeo.com/146808697

Shorter Background Article:

This article is a very helpful brief overview of background info. on the Book of Hebrews:

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-general-epistles/hebrews

Chart of the Book of Hebrews:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/bc/5b/47/bc5b474abc811361a5939aa2894af985.jpg

Commentaries on the Book of Hebrews:

John piper sermons on Hebrews:

John Piper’s sermon manuscripts are extraordinarily insightful and very readable.  You can also give the sermon a listen if you like.

http://www.desiringgod.org/scripture/hebrews/1/messages

Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul by Ken Hughes

https://www.amazon.com/Hebrews-volumes-ESV-Anchor-Preaching/dp/1433538423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487884022&sr=8-1&keywords=hebrews+hughes

This is more expositional, that is, it reads more like a sermon.  It is very helpful.

“A Prayer for Prideful Husbands” (And the rest of us prideful ones too!)

This past Sunday (2/12/17) I had the chance to speak to our men in our adult LifeChange classes about pride and how it hinders reconciliation in our marriages.  At the close of our time I prayed this prayer for our men.  It’s called “St. Francis’ Litany of Humility.” I call it “A Prayer for Husbands”!

Here it is… pray it slowly and honestly before the Lord!

Larry

– O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
– From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being slandered, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
– From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
– That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
– That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Amen and amen.

Personal Testimony How To

Being good at evangelism often times begins with learning very basic skills that help us be prepared for conversation when the topic of faith comes up.  Perhaps one of the most basic skills every Christian should know is how to clearly, simply and quickly share their own personal testimony of conversion and faith.

While sometimes it is the case that our non-Christian friends are not yet interested in working through a Gospel outline, they very often are interested in hearing how you came to faith in Christ.

  1. Being able to tell them “clearly” focuses the emphasis in the conversation on our central need for faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. Telling your story “simply” keeps them from getting lost on important yet non-central issues related to faith in Christ.
  3. Having the skill to tell your story “quickly,” in 3 minutes or less, enables you to meet them where they are without forcing an awkward situation. It then allows time in the course of normal conversation to ask if they would be interested in talking further.

The following worksheet is designed to help you craft a version of your testimony that hits the highlights of faith in Christ while also personalizing the story.

personal-testimony-how-to

Once you answer the questions write out your testimony in less than 500 words. Once you do so, go over the finished product with an elder or a small group leader to help refine the ideas.

It will take some discipline, but the payoff in clarity, simplicity and quickness will be something that you will thank the Lord for many times over!

Mark Liederbach