First Sunday in Lent

Mark 1:9-15    The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

            At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:

            “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

            At once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert, and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him.

            After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Repent and believe the GOOD NEWS!

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This is the good news:

John 3:16

            For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,

                        That whosoever believes in Him may have eternal life.

John 10:7-10

            Therefore Jesus said again,

            “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

                        All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers,

                                    but the sheep did not listen to them.

            I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.

                        He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

                                    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

            I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 14:6

            Jesus answered,

                        I am the way and the truth and the life.

                        No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is the good news.

Our relationship with God our Creator was broken by sin.

Jesus Christ is the bridge by which we can have that relationship restored.

What does this mean to you?

Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost For His Highest:

Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption.

In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race

from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin.

God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin.

The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin,

but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it,

 I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation.

“And this is the judgment.” (the critical moment),

     “that the light is come into the world,

and men loved the darkness rather than the light.”

What does this mean to you?

During this Lenten season ponder this question –

            Am I serving God or am I serving the world?

Ash Wednesday

Psalm 51        

A Plea For Pardon Of Heinous Sin

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness:

according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight:

that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness.

O Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.

For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:

then shalt they offer bullocks upon Thy altar.

David, the shepherd boy that God made king over Israel, was not without sin. In chapter 11 of II Samuel we hear how David sinned against God and how he tried to cover up his sin. This psalm is David’s confession and repentance. God promises that when we confess our sin and repent, He is faithful to forgive us our sin.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. These weeks leading up to Easter Sunday are a time of reflection and meditation. We think of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. We listen to the lessons He taught. We remember the miracles He performed. We ponder His arrest, His trial, His death on the cross, and His empty tomb. What does it mean to me? That is the question we need to answer.

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Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians:

We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;

that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

What does it mean to you?

Are you reconciled to God?

Do you understand just what it was God did for you when Jesus went to the cross?

He made Jesus, who was without sin, take on all the sins of the world, my sin, your sin, all sin, and by His death, made atonement for us all. “It is finished.” That is what He said as He was dying on that cross. The debt has been paid. All you need to do is accept God’s gift of salvation.

Jesus warned of what happens when we live for the world and ignore God.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What does it mean to you?

Where is your treasure?  

Where is your heart?

The prophet Joel warned the people of the coming “Day of the LORD.”

The people had turned from God and there was coming a day of judgement.

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

Those who repented and turned back to God would find forgiveness and restoration.

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.

What does it mean to you?

Are you prepared for the Master’s return?

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest:

The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

What does it mean to you?

Will you join with me in this season of Lent, to read God’s Word, to meditate on His Word, to pray for God to make His will known, and to examine where you are on your faith journey?

Will you join me in this prayer?

Lord, as we begin this season of Lent, I pray for the “gift of tears.”

Show me my sin.

Reveal to me the places in my life where I have put other things above You.

I want more of You.

I pray that there will be a revival throughout this land – a turning back to You.

I pray that revival will begin with me.        Amen