LENT DEVOTIONS (WEEK 2)
This past week, we practiced the discipline of living into our identity as beloved children of God. What was it like to claim that identity intentionally? How did it change your focus for the week? This week, we will be focusing on shifting our human tendency to respond to difficulties with fear instead of love.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 8:31-33
- What do you think Jesus meant by human things instead of divine things?
- When you feel afraid, what are some things you have done to let go of the fear? What hasn’t worked? What has worked?
- When someone says the word fear, what are some thoughts, feelings, or images that come to mind? What does fear look like? What does fear feel like?
- What is something or someone you fear? What would responding with love look like?
Supplies needed: Small envelopes, paper, crayons or markers
Jesus does not promise us a life of no fear and no trouble. However, Jesus does promise to be with us and to be in relationship with us in the midst of trouble. This week, the act of fasting is to focus on working to let go of something that we are fearful of and instead respond to that fear with love. As you gather today to read, color, and discuss, take a few moments to think about something or someone you fear. Take a piece of paper and draw or write about what that is. Then take that paper and fold it into the envelope. During the week, when you are in a situation that reminds you of that fear, take out the paper from the envelope, think about what responding with love would look like, then draw a heart around the fear as a symbol of replacing your fear response with love. At the end of the week, gather together and share about what was easy about letting go of fear and what was difficult.
God of love, we live in a world that is often full of fear. We encounter many things we don’t understand. We experience painful events and memories, which cause us to wall our hearts, guard our minds and close us off from being open to respond in hope, in peace, and in love. Help us to remember the promise that you walk with us both in good and troubling times. We turn from human insecurities to your eternal security. Help us to respond to fear in love. In the name of Jesus, AMEN.
Read John 5:1-16
1. There are three “players” in this story. As you read through the passage, write down all you can about each player. Specifically look for the “feeling” in this story.
b) The lame man
c) The Jews
2. As you dig through this story, how much faith did the lame man have?
3. What does this tell us about the compassion of God?
4. What was the issue the Jews were so worked up about?
5. From what you have gathered, what is the reason John has included this story in his Gospel?
6. Read verses 17 and 18. This was a turning point in the life and ministry of Jesus!
7. Is there anyone God has placed in your path who needs the compassion of Jesus in their life this week (regardless of what their response may be)? Picture the person God may have brought to your mind and come up with a plan for action! Then go and love people as Jesus loves you!
All of us come across people every day that are incredibly fascinating. They can be humorous, intelligent, wise, kind, generous, joy-filled, etc. Occasionally, you will meet someone who “pops” out as being just a little different, they reflect a love and genuine concern for others that is out of the ordinary. Paul mentions a young man named Timothy who was this kind of person in Philippians 2:20-21.
- Read the passage and reflect on Paul’s description of Timothy. What was it that set Timothy apart from everyone else?
- Take a moment to reflect on someone in your world who truly values other people. This may not be someone in the spotlight, most likely it’s someone just going about their day, yet they have an “others-focused” life!
- What is it that they do?
- What do you think motivates them to live this way?
- Everyone needs a “Timothy” in their world. If you have one, you are blessed. However, everyone can seek to be a genuine encourager to someone. Who has come across your path that needs someone in their corner? If you think about it for a bit you will realize it could easily be you!
- Take some time this week to reflect on the blessings God has given you in your life. Write them down.
- If you have been blessed by God with his peace and His presence, then you have been blessed to be a blessing. Who is someone in your world that you can bless this week? Ask God to open your eyes to see, then open your heart to respond!
- Take some time to sit, reflect and ask God to put someone on your heart to whom you can be a blessing. Beware, He may just surprise you!
Read Philippians 4:4-9
- Paul’s process in over coming anxiety followed a pattern. What is something that is causing anxiety in your world? Try practicing Paul’s plan.
a. Pray – Connect with your loving heavenly Father
b. Appeal – What is it that you are anxious about?
c. Thanksgiving – Praise God for what he has given you in Jesus!
d. Request – Let him know what your request is.
- Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to “practice” what they have learned from him. He gives them eight things to focus on. See if you can come up with something for each “whatever”. Think of things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.
a. Whatever is true:
b. Whatever is honorable:
c. Whatever is just:
d. Whatever is pure:
e. Whatever is lovely:
f. Whatever is commendable:
g. Whatever is excellent:
h. Whatever is praise worthy:
Paul encourages the believers to practice these things, and as they continually practice them, there is a growing peace which comes from God that will be with them!
May we all continue to grow in love for Jesus as we continually grow in love and dependence on him!
How do we live out our faith in Jesus? These tools will help you build a foundation that will stand the pressures of life. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better prepared you will be when “life” happens!
1. Read Matthew 5-7. As you read, ask yourself “How am I doing”? There are some very pointed statements Jesus makes that go right to our hearts. It’s Christ in us that gives us hope and builds a strong foundation of faith in our lives.
2. Read Matthew 7:24-27. Do a self-evaluation, “How is your foundation”? As you do your assessment on your foundation, which house more reflects your foundation?
3. How much is Jesus a part of your everyday life? Do you have a routine that daily builds your life in Him that strengthens your foundation?
4. Take some time to consider, “how do I connect with Jesus”? Is it through nature, worship songs, reading scripture, reading books, listening to podcast sermons, writing in a journal, serving, or some other way? It may even be a combination of these.
5. Do you have, or has there been, a foundation-builder in your life? What did they do that made them a “builder” into your life? These are your “go to” people – when life hits, they are on your speed dial. How can you deepen these relationships further?
6. Write them a note saying, ” You have been foundational in my life.” Be an encouragement to someone!
7. Who, in your sphere of influence, needs a foundation-builder in their life? Pray for opportunities to initiate and deepen new friendships.
8. Whose foundation are you helping to build? Write down who and how. Think of ways you can be even more intentional in someone’s world!
9. Seek to develop a few relationships. Open yourself up – at times we are all going to need a few faithful and significant friends to support us when the pressures of life are beyond what we can bear. Now is the time to build those supportive friendships rather than waiting until you are in the middle of a crisis.
10. Make daily surrender to Jesus an intentional start to your day. How are you going to do that? Perhaps try something new from the list in question #4.
11. Ask Jesus to help you see others with His eyes this week.
12. Ask Jesus to use your hands this week to love and serve someone in a tangible way.
13. Rest in Jesus. He has come that you might have life abundantly. Surrender to Him. He loves you beyond understanding (Romans 8:31-39).