Saturday of the Third Week in Lent– this week the focus has been on our closest relationships this side of heaven, marriage and family. But the point that is discussed in today’s devotional thought applies to all relationships, from our relationship with God to our relationship with all human beings. Because of our sinful nature, we cause hurt in all of these relationships and people hurt us. Because selfishness exceeded another’s happiness and wholeness, choices at the least do not bring joy to another, at the worst, cause grievous pain. In light of this reality, is there any hope for successful and fulfilling relationships on any level? Only when there is forgiveness, the letting go of what has inflicted hurt, is there hope for blessed relationships. In our relationship with God, it was God who took the initiative to bring us back to wholeness in relationship with Him. He forgave us. To see fulfillment and wholeness in all of our relationships, let us choose the path that God walked in Jesus and begin the healing by forgiving, by letting go of the hurt another has caused us and allowing others to let go of the hurt we caused them by saying “we are sorry”.
Friday of the Third Week in Lent – it has been said, “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” At the crossroad of fatigue, be it physically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually, we tend to compromise our standards and take the easy path, we run away, or give up. Weariness is a path filled with all kinds of evil. What brings about weariness is a lack of rest and renewal. Spiritual fatigue can happen when we give of ourselves in love and there appears to be no impact on the one loved and no love is returned onto us. When the soul becomes drained, we are most vulnerable. We turn to God and even sometimes that can seem like a barren wasteland. In my own experience of such times, I have found that to continue to knock on the door of heaven is what I must do. Even though there appeared to be no one home, I knew that there was so I kept knocking. I kept up my spiritual practices of praying, meditating on scripture and worshiping, and eventually the door was opened and I was renewed in the love of God. As Psalm 23 says, “He restored my soul.”
Thursday of the Third Week in Lent: Many years ago, the traditional vow of marriage concluded with “until death do us part”. Through the last half of the last century, we became a people who wanted to avoid the thought of death and the vow was changed to “all the days of my life”. This shift has some ramifications which can be harmful. The avoidance of the thought of death can lead to a sense of immorality which then causes people not to make the necessary preparations for loved ones in the event of one’s demise. Losing our spouse in death is difficult enough, let us make sure wills are up to date and financial planning is in order so the surviving spouse may be able to continue to live well since God has willed that they do so. One more thing, since our union on earth has a limited amount of time, let us be sure to give thanks for it and live it to the fullest each and every day God gives.
Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent – the attention of the devotional today is the relationship of siblings. It often amazes me how the children of a couple can be so opposite, often like night and day. Yet, are not the parents very opposite, as the proverbial expression says about marriage, “opposites attract”. So, when children are born into a relationship of opposites, each reflects characteristics of one or the other parent thus they are opposite. As the differences between a husband and a wife are meant to be complementary, so, too, should the differences between children serve to complement each other’s life. The devotional quotes Psalm 133:1, how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.
Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent: We are born into a family. Regardless of circumstances of our birth, we have a mother and a father. For most of us, we have siblings. From the beginning, we have a natural bond which cannot be denied (though some may work hard to do so). Because of our imperfect nature, there will pain in this bond, sometimes caused by the other, sometimes caused by us, and many times caused to some degree by both. But, whatever the pain, the bond cannot be negated. That is the way we were created. And so is the bond of love between God and us, thus Jesus taught us to call God “Abba” (Daddy in our vernacular). There is this eternal bond in which we were created and it cannot be denied (though some may work hard to do so). Isn’t it a whole lot easier to simply let it be and enjoy the loving fatherhood of God?
Monday of the Third Week in Lent: The devotional zeros in on an aspect of family that we may have lost sight of, God’s ultimate purpose in blessing us with children. A young couple decides to start a family because…well, it is because that is what you do. But from the Biblical perspective, the ultimate purpose of having children is to pass on the heritage of the faith. In the development of the nation of the chosen people, each generation was given to forward the message of God’s love experienced in the lives of the ancestors. As the stories of God’s faithfulness are told and retold through subsequent generations, the testimony of God’s faithfulness is kept alive so future generations may know the Lord God as if they were present at the time that God acted to save God’s people. As the history of God’s chosen people is recounted through the Old Testament, it is seen that sometimes this passing on of the heritage was done very well and sometimes a whole generation grew up who knew not God. The rise and fall of the nation directly parallels that faithfulness within the family. Psalm 127 makes clear that children are a blessing of the Lord to the ultimate end of the strength and stability of the future. The spiritual development of children is as significant as their intellectual and athletic development.
Third Sunday in Lent: During the first week in Lent, our identity was established, God’s love for us has made us His children. The second week in Lent focused on a healthy love of self that glorifies God. Now we are ready to love others. Our devotional begins with those closest to us, our family. They are essential for us to have a healthy and mature life. It starts with parents, includes siblings, one day is a spouse, then our own children and grandchildren. Sprinkle in grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces and we have our life. They all play a role, they are all a gift of God for our wholeness in life. The family is the core element of any healthy society and from a Biblical standpoint, it is a foundational element in God’s salvation of the world. Family was a building block of creation. God started the process of salvation with Abraham and Sarah’s family and placed Jesus in the context of family for some thirty years before He began God’s work of saving the world. Let us practice on a regular basis giving thanks for our family.
Saturday of the Second Week in Lent – the lead verse for today’s devotional thought is Proverbs 4:23. It would be helpful to read it in its context, 4:10-27 which is an admonition to keep to the right path. To keep in the right path necessitates a keeping of the heart, that spiritual place within each of us that we hold that which is most dear. The devotional had some good thoughts on guarding the heart. Allow me to take this in a different direction. The heart is the place our Lord would like to dwell again, the place He was thrown out of in the Garden of Eden. Behold, He stands at the door of our heart knocking for He would like to reenter the place He once occupied before Satan was allowed to have its day. So how does one open the door to one’s heart? Every attendance in worship, every moment spent quietly in prayer, every time spent in meditation, every time of obedience to the law of love, every act of compassion shown to another, every choice of the glory of God over selfish indulgence opens the door to the heart. The more frequent the above, the wider the opening will be for the Lord to come in and be in fellowship with you. Proverb 4:23 admonishes us to be vigilant about keeping our heart. To be vigilant is to be in a state of being proactive. The Lord is not like the big bad wolf who threatens to blow the door open (that is the way of evil), the door must be opened by you for Him to enter. Above, a few suggestions were offered on how to open the door but you must choose to do so.