February 17, 2021

DAY 1

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.  Mark 1:9-13 ESV

Today is Ash Wednesday, the liturgical beginning of Lent.  This is a part of some church traditions that is roughly the 40 days leading up to Easter.  Its roots come from a desire to focus believers on Jesus and on spiritual disciplines in this Spring season leading up to the celebration of His death and resurrection.  The original Latin word related to “Lent” means 40, and this connects to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness before He started His public ministry.

Traditionally, many believers will “fast” from something during Lent to help them think of Jesus’ sacrifice every day, leading up to Easter.  I’ve done this many times, and I find it to be meaningful, helping me to be mindful.  These daily devotional thoughts will hopefully stimulate your spirit during this Easter season and cause you to worship Jesus daily.  We will focus on Jesus, His Deity, His Lordship, His Power, His fulfillment of God’s plans and His love for us.  Just as Jesus was tested those 40 days in the wilderness, we need to test our hearts to see if Jesus is truly the Lord of our lives.  Give yourself to this daily examination and allow His Word and His Spirit to discipline and prune you.  And just as the angels were with Jesus, ministering to Him, our Lord Jesus will be with you on this journey.

APPLICATION:  Make a calendar appointment every day between now and Easter to meet with the King of kings.  You might even put in your digital calendar.  You might consider fasting from something during this season to help your physical being yield to your spiritual being.

 

February 18, 2021

DAY 2

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:16-21 ESV

This 30 year old man, who had been living in utter obscurity his whole life, comes on the scene and begins making fantastic claims about Himself.  The religious leaders had no idea how to take this man.  Yet, he had a way about him.  He spoke with authority and passion.  Their scriptures had told them a Messiah, a King was coming in the line of David, but they never pictured him as a simple carpenter from Nazareth.

This carpenter claimed to be anointed as a king would be, proclaiming freedom for those who had been held captive and oppressed.  The leaders might have thought he was referring to the poor, but He was talking about ALL people who are ensnared by the things of this broken world.  For all who would receive Him, it truly would be the moment of the Lord’s favor.

APPLICATION:  When you think of Jesus, do you think of “religion” or “rules” or “out of touch”?  Do you recoil at His words?  Or does Jesus and His offer of freedom resonate with your heart’s desire today?

 

February 19, 2021

DAY 3

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

You’ve heard Jesus called the King of kings.  When Jesus came, it was the beginning of establishing a new kingdom.  Earthly kingdoms come and go and often fall into demise because of evil leaders.  The Kingdom of God is everlasting and will never be destroyed.  A few years ago, a man taught me that when it comes to our possessions, most Christians feel like there is God’s kingdom and our kingdom.  Our kingdom is our life and everything we’ve accomplished and accumulated.  When it comes to tithing, many feel like it is about them taking a portion of their kingdom and giving it to God’s Kingdom.  This man said, “No!  There is one kingdom.  We are all but merely stewards of a small portion of His kingdom.”  This really transformed my thinking about my life and possessions.  And, yes, Jesus wants ALL people, all countries, all languages, all races to become citizens of His kingdom.

APPLICATION:  Are you a part of God’s Kingdom?  Are you still trying to rule your own kingdom?  Wouldn’t you rather be part of an everlasting kingdom?

 

February 20, 2021

DAY 4

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  John 3:35-36 ESV

God loves Jesus.  Make no mistake.  Just because He sacrificed Him on the cross for us, it does not minimize Jesus in any way.  As a matter of fact, it glorified Jesus.  Now, God asks us, “Do you believe in My Son?”  We show we believe or not by how we act.  If we believe Jesus is everything that Scripture says He is and that He died for our sins, it should produce a desire to worship, a heart of gratitude, a willingness to serve Him. He wants to give us eternal life after this life fades away.  If we do not receive Jesus, we are left to receive God’s punishment for our sins, and we will not receive eternal life.  Which do you choose?

APPLICATION:  Do a heart check.  Do you truly believe in Jesus?  Do your actions prove it?

 

February 21, 2021

DAY 5

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

This can be a troubling passage.  We can prophesy in the name of Jesus, cast out demons and do other mighty works, and still not know Jesus.  It is clear that Jesus is not enamored with our religious works.  He is looking for an abiding relationship with us.  It is our relationship with Him that allows us entrance into heaven.  If we abide in Him, if we seek Him first, if we delight in Him, then we are able to do the kind of works He desires, namely loving people.  We don’t work our way to heaven or into a relationship with Jesus.  He is waiting for us with arms wide open, right now.

APPLICATION: Have you measured your relationship with God and Jesus by how much you have done for them?  Perhaps it is time to just sit still with Jesus, tell Him you love Him and ask Him what He would like you to do.

 

February 22, 2021

DAY 6

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42 ESV

You may have heard this story before of these two sisters.  One was an “A-type” or Enneagram #1 personality and she wanted to serve Jesus, probably wanting everything to be perfect.  This was honorable, and I’m sure Jesus appreciated it.  Yet, her sister just wanted to sit at his feet and listen to Him.  When Martha complains, Jesus says a very important thing, “But one thing is necessary,” as He refers to Mary.  Once again, busy activity does not equate to intimacy with Jesus.  He doesn’t want us trying to earn His love, but He wants us to desire to be with Him.

APPLICATION:  Are you a Martha or Mary?  If Martha, try to think how you get to know Jesus better (more time in His Word, prayer, listening).  If you are a Mary, don’t miss the things Jesus may be asking you to do out of your time with Him.

 

February 23, 2021

DAY 7

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Yes, Jesus came to die for our sins, but He also came to show how much He wants to minister to us now, not just in heaven.  Just like He took the punishment for our sins, He offers to carry our burdens as well.  All of this pain and trials and struggles give Jesus an opportunity to shine.  When we quit striving to solve all our own problems or escape them and we come to Him, we find rest for our weary souls.  Our circumstances may not change immediately, but He brings peace amidst the storm.  It’s true.

APPLICATION:  Have you tried everything else to solve your problems, except humbly asking Jesus for His help?  Perhaps your solution is only one prayer away.

 

February 24, 2021

DAY 8
“For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.” Isaiah: 63:4-5
I’ve heard many people talk about the “God of the Old Testament” who seemed angry and wrathful, compared to Jesus, who was more of a gentle, but strong, Shepherd who had grace, empathy, compassion. What we need to understand is that God is Holy and holiness cannot stand evil and impurity and disobedience and sin. Holiness demands punishment for iniquity. All of the wrath that God demonstrated in the Old Testament was poured upon Jesus as He suffered on that Cross. No one on earth could satisfy this requirement for holiness except one. God Himself had to step into earth in the form of His Son, Jesus, to bring salvation to His creation.
APPLICATION:  Are you afraid of God or see Him as a Heavenly Police Officer, just waiting for you to screw up so he can nail you? Journal about the fact that this God allowed Himself to be killed to save you.

February 25, 2021

DAY 9

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-18 ESV

Perhaps you are participating in Lent in the traditional way by fasting from something.  Have you already caved in?  Fasting doesn’t seem that hard until we decide to do it for the Lord, and then you feel intense pressure coming against you not to do it.  Just know that fasting is God’s idea, to help you draw closer to Him in your weakness.  It’s not meant to be boastful or public in any way, but a private, secret thing between you and God.  Every time you do desire that which you have given up, and you make a decision of the will to deny yourself, it is an act of worship.  You will feel the Lord’s pleasure.  During this Lenten season, every time you feel the pain of desiring that from which you are fasting, let the pain remind you of Jesus’ pain on the Cross.  It will help you put your pain into perspective.

APPLICATION:  Dedicate this Lent journey to Jesus.  If you feel you have failed, get up and re-dedicate yourself.  Write about this in your journal and pray about it.

February 26, 2021

DAY 10

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Matthew 4:17 ESV

If you are a believer and follower of Jesus and you want to join Him on His journey to the Cross this Lenten season, you should know that the major theme of all of Jesus’ sermons and teachings was “Repent”.  I know this may seem a churchy word, but it means “feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.”  Jesus came not only to die for us, but also to show us a better way to live on this earth.  He knew that as long as we lived in sin, we could not enjoy the abundant life He wants to give us.  If we are living in willful sin, are we really followers of Christ?

APPLICATION: Pray and ask Jesus if there is any sin in your life, of which you need to repent.  You may know the answer before you even pray.  If you want to follow Jesus this Lenten season, this is what you need to give up today.

 

February 27, 2021

DAY 11
And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Matthew 9:2-6 ESV
I love this story, as someone who believes Jesus still heals people today through the power of His Spirit. He is making a strong point that this life is temporary, even our health. All those whom Jesus healed eventually died. We must turn our eyes off the temporary and begin to look at eternity. Jesus came so that our sins could be forgiven and we could go to Heaven. Yet, so often, we have our requests we want to make of Him. We want Him to fix our problems now. Perhaps we should always start our prayers by thanking Him for forgiving our sins. And He is so gracious, He wants to help us also with everything else.
APPLICATION:  Do you need something from Jesus today? First, have you asked Him to forgive your sins? Spend some time with that thought and what it means before you ask Him for anything else.

February 28, 2021

DAY 12

And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’  Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”  Isaiah 6:9-10 ESV

The prophet Isaiah was hearing an admonition from God, not just for his current generation, but this speaks to Jesus’ time on earth and to today.  So many do not have eyes to see or ears to hear the good news of faith in Jesus Christ.  The things of this world, the selfish desires, have dulled many to understand the things of God.  This is why we see so much moral erosion in our society, even among those who call themselves Christians.  Jesus is calling out to us.  He wants to open our eyes and ears and give us understanding and healing.

APPLICATION: Do you feel like there is more that Jesus wants you to see and hear about Himself?  Are you tired of trying to find all your satisfaction in this world?  Tell Jesus you are ready to receive all He wants to give you.