Issuu on Google+

L EN T D EVOTION G UI DE


Glorious Exchange God’s promises to us include life, joy, and our greatest longings fulfilled. He promises to meet us in our deepest desires of love and belonging. Yet we doubt these promises, believing other things will bring us life, joy, and fulfillment. These other things become small-g gods, idols that we serve because we believe they will give us the life we have always wanted. During this Lenten season, we want to make space in our lives for God to show himself to us as well as space for us to recognize the hidden gods we serve, rely on, and worship. In this guide, you will find further instructions and daily devotionals. Making space will require a few things:

VISION OF HOPE Hope is more

than a feeling; it is a person (Hebrews 5:17–20). Our hope is found in Jesus, who saves us and promises he will never fail us. Yet we look to idols as our hope, believing they will save us. And the truth is, no matter how faithful we are to these false gods, they will fail us, and when they do, we will come crashing down with them. With Jesus, it does not matter how faithful we are; he will never fail us because his faithfulness is perfect. Where is your hope set? Would you be willing to place Jesus himself as your vision of hope? Would you be willing to surrender to God’s vision of hope and allow him to be your God?

WILLINGNESS TO BE SEEN Fear

so often leads us, even when it comes to our relationship with God. We are afraid for him to see us for who we are because we are afraid of what he might say. What if you knew that being seen didn’t change your value and worth? What if you knew that being seen would be met with God’s goodness and grace ? (Psalm 139:23–24) Would that change your willingness to be seen? Would you be willing to be seen by God and allow him to meet you in this Lenten season?

COURAGE TO STEP OUT After being

seen, what will you do? We have options and one of them, again, is fear. What will we continue to believe about God? Will he still love us and carry us as we step out to live differently, depending on him (Isaiah 46:3–4) rather than our false gods? Would you be willing to have the courage to step out in faith rather than fear, to step out in new and unfamiliar ways, to trust God rather than any idols you have trusted in? So, join me, as we trust Jesus as our hope, as we are willing to be seen by God and as we step out in courage. The God of the universe asks us to exchange our gods for him (Jeremiah 2:11) just as he exchanged himself for our sake and for the world he loves (2 Corinthians 5:21). Trusting our God with you,

Laura Murray Pastor of Spiritual Formation

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11


MARCH 1

CONTENTS LOOK AND SPEAK

5

MAN-MADE GODS

13

GODS OF MONEY

27

GODS OF SEX

41

GODS OF FAMILY

55

GODS OF SUCCESS

69

GODS OF POWER

83

EASTER 97

APRIL 16 EASTER SUNDAY

ASH WEDNESDAY 12 & 6:30 pm | Sanctuary Imposition of ashes offered at both services

APRIL 9 PALM SUNDAY 8:15 am | Wynne Chapel 9:30 & 11 am | Sanctuary 11 am | Elliott Hall 11 am | All Nations, Gym

APRIL 13 MAUNDY THURSDAY 12 & 7 pm | Wynne Chapel

SUNRISE

6:30 am | Goar Park

SANCTUARY WORSHIP HALL WORSHIP

APRIL 14

ALL NATIONS WORSHIP

GOOD FRIDAY

8, 9:30, 11 am | Sanctuary 11 am | Elliott Hall 11 am | Gym

MANDARIN WORSHIP

St. John Passion 12 pm | Sanctuary

11 am | Sanctuary

HPPC.ORG/EASTER

HPPC.ORG/LENT


USING THIS GUIDE Spiritual practices create space for God to do a work in us. The practices themselves do not transform us, but God transforms us through these practices. These practices do not require perfection; they require ongoing effort. This guide will lead you through a few Christian practices with a focus on the practice of Examen. PRACTICE OF

EXAMEN

PRAYER

Throughout the centuries, Examen has been the spiritual practice of welcoming God to show us all of who we are and all of who he is. Have you ever thought about a spiritual examination and what it might look like? Where do we show up for this exam or check-up?

The power behind the spiritual life is not in our efforts but in God’s promises and faithfulness through the Gospel and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Whether you have never have prayed or prayed countless times, we have help from the Holy Spirit to pray! In prayer, we talk with God and we listen for him. We share with him our desires and longings, and we trust he will meet us, even if he does not answer right away. Prayer is a continual invitation by God to communicate with him throughout our lives.

In Spiritual Examen, we create space for God to show us all of who we are in light of all of who he is. We surrender and welcome God to give us his thoughts and show us the ways in which to live that glorify him and give us greatest joy. As we delve into the depths of our hearts and minds regarding idolatry, we need God to examine us and reveal to us what we have trusted other than him. PRACTICE OF

SERVICE As we are transformed by God, we then have opportunity for his transformation to continue into the lives of others. Our transformation is always for our sake and for the sake of the world. As we are transformed, may we then look and consider how God wants us to love and serve those near and far. 4

PRACTICE OF

PRACTICE OF

MEDITATION The practice of Christian meditation has its focus on the Word of God– the Bible–therefore, we will focus on truths in Scripture and will allow these truths to lead our thoughts and actions in doing this we would be transformed by who God says he is and by what he tells us about life, love, grace, and so much more. You can look up Scriptures in a printed Bible, use a Bible app, or go to bible.com and search for the Scripture for that particular week/day. If you do not know what version to choose, select the New International Version (NIV).


LOOK AND SPEAK MARCH 1–4 | PSALM 139

5


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1

Invitation to Look Today we begin the process of letting God examine us. He already knows us, but we do not know ourselves. So, we climb onto the examination table. Being examined is vulnerable. We do not know what he will see. The process requires courage. He might show us things we do not want to see. It may sting a little. But it is hopeful, as the promise we have is this: he will not leave us exposed on the table, but will lead us into freedom and true life. Yes, inviting God to look is scary, yet we do so with hope, trusting God’s ways will lead us to deeper love and greater freedom. We have a choice whether to invite him or not. Will you choose to invite and make space for him to look? Our life and hope rests in a God who loves us. May our eyes be fixed on him as he looks in and on us. ASH WEDNESDAY PRAYER God, the invitation to be seen by you is scary. We have lived a life of protecting ourselves from pain, from being known, from being rejected. We try in our lives to be in control, to succeed, and to have comfort. Yet your desire is that we might know your love in greater ways and more deeply so that others might know your great love. So today we begin the posture of examination. Be gracious to us as you show us the ways we have gone against you, and lead us in your ways of freedom and love.

LOO K AN D SP EA K

PREPARATION

6

As you begin these Lenten practices today, read Psalm 139. Take time to listen to your thoughts and write down what is on your mind and in your heart as you read. Write down your reservations and your questions. Write down your hopes and your fears. Spend time reflecting on being vulnerable, courageous, and hopeful. Ask God to help you this season and through this guide. End your time today by rereading Psalm 139, holding on to the amazing, good, and loving God that he is.


7


THURSDAY, MARCH 2

Trusting a Stranger PRAYER Our God, we come before you wanting to trust you; to trust you with our thoughts and with our longings. We want to trust but if we are honest, we do not really know you. Sometimes when we pray it is as if we are talking to a stranger or someone we have only had brief conversations with. Sometimes when we pray, we do not know what to say or how to act. God, we want to know you. We want to know you and grow in trust so that we might be open with you in all we are and all we do. We ask you to change how we perceive you and to show us the truth of who you are. PRACTICE

LOO K AN D SP EA K

Spend time today meditating on Psalm 139. Spend at least 20 minutes sitting and reading this Psalm. Write down God’s actions in the Psalm. Write down the realities of who God is. If there are particular actions or realities that stand out to you in Psalm 139, spend time focused on those. What does God want to show you about himself? Ask God to show you even more deeply who he is and to grow your trust in him.

8


9


FRIDAY, MARCH 3

Life Longings PRAYER God, we find ourselves longing for so many things. We long for approval and recognition. We long for control and power. We long to be noticed, to be praised, and to be loved. We long for things and people whom we believe will complete us. In these longings we are actually longing for you, yet we sometimes do not know it and do not look to you. Our minds and hearts are turned to look towards the gods we believe will love and save us, rather than to the God who does love and save us. Today, hear our prayer of confession. Show us where our longing for you has been replaced with our looking for another love and savior. PRACTICE Spend time today allowing God to look and show you your deepest longings. Do this in prayer, considering some of the following questions: What do your daydreams look like? Who and what are in them? What are you doing? What might this tell you about your longings? What do you have that brings you joy? What do you imagine that brings fear or anxiety? Consider your emotions and times when you have been angry or frustrated. What did you not get that you were longing or hoping for?

LOO K AN D SP EA K

What happens when God does not answer your prayers as you would like? How do you respond?

10

Take the time to slow down and ask God to meet you as you let him examine you and show you your longings.


11


SATURDAY, MARCH 4

Life Everlasting PSALM 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. In God we find life, joy, and our greatest pleasures. God knows the depths of our hearts and the extent of our longings. God sees and offers all we need for life, beginning with salvation given to us through Jesus Christ. And yet we often turn to other things to fulfill what only God can. These other things may be good things, but we have turned them into our saviors, believing life is found in them. Even as we turn to other gods, the God of the universe holds true to his promise that he leads us to life and in life. He does this through Jesus, who gives us the life we actually long for—one of hope, joy, and peace. He promises to meet with us and lead us in the life everlasting—a life that starts here on Earth and continues into heaven.

LOO K AN D SP EA K

PRAYER

12

Father God, we have spent these last days letting you look and speak. We are always in need of your vision, of what you see in us, so that we might be transformed, changing our ways to follow you. May our days of Examen turn into a newness of life that spreads your love, joy, and hope to the world you have called us to. We thank you for your faithfulness, your goodness, and your great love for us.


MAN MADE GODS

MARCH 5–11 | EXODUS 32 13


SUNDAY, MARCH 5

Created to Worship Every human being worships; we were created to. Sometimes we worship a person by changing our lives to be just like them. Other times we worship something because we believe it will meet our deepest longings, such as the worship of sex as we seek love. We also worship things such as success and money. And it is from deep places within us that we worship. In our fears we reach for a god we can control. In our disappointment we reach for a god that we believe will protect us from pain. In our insecurities we reach for a god who will give us a sense of worth. In our loneliness we reach for a god we believe will help us feel accepted. In our frustration we reach for a god that will answer in the manner we want and when we want. Yet despite all this reaching, these gods leave us empty. God invites us to worship him, the only one who can satisfy our greatest longings, giving us our greatest joy and freedom. It is in worship of the one true God that we find meaning, purpose, and a life that is worth living. This is not just for ourselves, but also for the sake of the world, whom God also wants to free from serving any other gods, giving people life, joy, and hope.

MA N- MA DE G OD S

PREPARATION

14

Take some time today in prayer to ask God what you worship. When have you reached for something other than him? When have you spent your time and energies serving other gods? Take time today in prayer and quiet to allow him to show you what you cannot see. Ask him to sustain your willing and welcoming heart as you continue in the practice of Examen.


15


MONDAY, MARCH 6

On Our Terms PRAYER Our God, so often we want you on our own terms. We want you to show up in a certain way and at a certain time. We want you to keep your distance and your opinion to yourself. Holy God, so often we ignore you, push you away, and forget you because we want you to serve us on our terms. Our God, hear our confessions of control, manipulation, ignoring you, and creating you in our image. Help us to see you as you are. Help us to move from distrust to trust. Help us to allow you to shape our minds so that we do not try to control you. PRACTICE Read Exodus 32:1–6 today. Read it multiple times, asking God to meet you. FIRST READING: Ask God to meet you as you read. SECOND READING: Imagine being in the story. Is there a character or an action you can relate to?

MA N- MA DE G OD S

THIRD READING: Ask God to deepen what he has already shown you so far. Is there something that stands out that he wants you to spend extra time on? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight to this.

16

If nothing comes up through these multiple readings, do not be discouraged. Simply ask God to continue to do his work in you as you read and pray throughout this Lenten season.


17


TUESDAY, MARCH 7

Delay PRAYER God, we are driven by timeliness, deadlines, appointments, meetings, others’ schedules, and our preferred timing. Time is a gift you have given us, yet we have turned it into something we need to control and we often let it control us. We work in a hurry and have half-hearted conversations as we think about the next thing we need to do. We say we’re listening to another yet in our minds we are in different place. We feel the pressure to make the most of our time, yet you are outside time and do not live according to our clocks. So when you do not act at our desired time, help us see your ways, your heart, and your graces. Help us to see the ways we doubt you when you delay. Help us to see the actions we take when you have not seemed to act. Lead us to greater trust, even when you are quiet. Thank you for your grace and mercy that is with us and goes ahead of us.

MA N- MA DE G OD S

PREPARATION

18

Spend time reflecting on Exodus 32:1. Notice the people’s actions after Moses’ delay. In prayer, ask God to show you what you do when you are delayed. How do you respond when something happens later than you were expecting? What emotions rise up? What actions do you take? Why is it so hard to wait? Ask God, in prayer to show you your response to delay. Consider your responses and how they might express a lack of trust in a God who is all powerful and even sovereign over time.


19


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8

Disappointment PRAYER Our God, we want to be honest before you. When it seems you are not moving, we think that you do not care, and that hurts. And when we are hurt and disappointed, we are tempted to turn to our own ways of handling life. God, not only do we have unreasonable expectations of your timing, but when these expectations are not met are deeply disappointed. Today we pray over these disappointments, these pains, and these hurts. Our God, we want to trust that you are all good, but when we feel disappointment it is hard to believe in your goodness. Would you examine us and meet us in our disappointments? In your grace and mercy, would you heal us and restore us that we might grow in trust of you, even when we are disappointed? PRACTICE

MA N- MA DE G OD S

Delay often leads to disappointment. We were expecting someone or something at a certain time and in a certain way, and that person or thing did not show up. Spend time today allowing God to examine your heart and mind. What expectations are you holding? What hope were these expectations providing for you? Were they going to solve a problem, resolve a conflict, restore a relationship, or avert a financial crisis?

20

When you are disappointed, how do you usually respond to life? How do you respond to God? What do you believe about God when he delays and disappoints? Whatever is going on in your heart and mind, allow God to show you and trust that he will meet you and be gracious to you.


21


THURSDAY, MARCH 9

Distance PRAYER Holy and merciful God, you invite us to actually know you. You invite us to know who you are, your consistent character, and your gracious love. Relentlessly you invite us to see you, to hear you, and to know you. You long for us to know you in deeper and greater ways, and yet we keep our distance. God, we do not always know why we keep our distance, but we do. Sometimes it is out of fear, sometimes apathy, and other times just plain laziness. The truth is that you love us and want our relationship to grow far more than we do. So as you continue to invite us, may our hearts be softened and minds sharpened to see you, to hear you, and to draw near to you. PRACTICE

MA N- MA DE G OD S

Backtracking in Exodus, spend time reading Exodus 19–20. Pay attention to two things: God’s invitation to the people, and the people’s response to God’s invitation. What do you notice? Have there been times when God has invited you to draw nearer and you have held him at a distance? Have there been times when you have said, “God, I do not want to go there with you”, or “God, you can’t go there”? Spend time thinking about the reality of God’s continual invitation to know him. If there is any way you are holding him at bay, would you talk to him about that in prayer?

22


23


FRIDAY, MARCH 10

Remember PRAYER Gracious God, we have forgotten your promises. Help us remember that you promise to provide for us all we need for life. Help us remember that you are faithful and you are always with us. Help us remember that you are the creator of all life, you sustain us, give us hope, joy, and love. You are the provider of all good things and yet we have forgotten or doubted you. We have created gods we believe will provide the things you have promised us. We are so grateful that you are gracious, that you always forgive, and that it brings you joy to give us life, even when we have forgotten you. Thank you for carrying us, sustaining us, and loving us with a love that never tires or gives up. We are so grateful.

MA N- MA DE G OD S

PRACTICE

24

Throughout Scripture we find God’s promises of good gifts. He promises peace, grace, hope, joy, and love. He promises us his presence. Today, spend time in prayers of remembrance and gratitude. Write down the ways in which God has given you these good gifts. Also, spend time praising him for who he is—perfect, ever-present, loving, faithful, good, incomprehensible, sovereign, and powerful. As you praise him and write down his faithful ways, allow these truths to sink deep in your heart and mind and to take root that you may live according to who he is.


25


SATURDAY, MARCH 11

Being Carried ISAIAH 46:3–4 Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Our God knows us and he promises to carry us. He supplies all we need for life, starting with salvation. For this reason, he alone is worthy of our worship, and we experience life to the fullest when we worship him. Our options for gods are endless and they all give false promises of fulfillment and joy in exchange for our service, loyalty, and worship. And when they fail, they ultimately disappoint us and even destroy us. Yet nothing and no one is out of the reach of God’s love and grace. The God of the universe continues to offer himself to us as worthy of worship through his Son, Jesus. Jesus gives up his life to save us.

MA N- MA DE G OD S

PRAYER

26

Our God, what a promise we have in Jesus! In Jesus we have salvation and perfect love that carries us and never tires. God, we thank you for your faithful love, your goodness, and your mercies. May our love for you increase and our pursuit of other gods cease. May we grow in your love and trust you more each day.


GODS of MONEY MARCH 12–18 | LUKE 19:1–10

27


SUNDAY, MARCH 12

Empty Promises Money can provide solutions to alot of our problems. Money can give us the ability to connect with the right people or to take care of hard situations we find ourselves in. Money can save us from pain and provide great comfort. Money can do many good things; therefore we depend on it, we pursue it, and we hold onto it tightly. But ultimately, the pursuit of and dependence on money leaves us discontent, unsatisfied, and even isolated. When we look to money to provide a way out and meet our needs, we are relying upon something that will fail us and then fault us for not doing enough or being enough. Sometimes we believe it will meet us in our time of need, yet money can quickly run short or dry. In Jesus, we have someone who will never do either. In Jesus, we have someone who walks with us in our hardships, our pain, and our disappointments. As we move to him, we begin to trust money less. Our minds and hearts become whole and our hands loosen up to give away the gifts God has given us. The invitation from Jesus is to turn to him as he promises to meet us in our needs and deepest longings. God meets us in our need and desperation, reminding us we are enough because Jesus is enough.

G ODS O F M ON E Y

PREPARATION

28

This week we will look at the turnaround story of Zacchaeus, a man who was looking for Jesus. As you prepare to look more closely at his encounter with Jesus, would you pray that you would be open to how Jesus wants to encounter you? Ask God to help you hear how he wants to speak to you and to see how he is moving in your life.


29


MONDAY, MARCH 13

On the Lookout PRAYER God, we come before you and want to be on the lookout for you. We want to see who you are. Would you show us more of who you are today? Would you also show yourself to those who are trying to figure out who you are? There are people who do not know you and are seeking to know who you are. There are people searching for life, hope, and purpose and still cannot see that these are found in you. Would you help us to recognize these people and help them be on the lookout for you? Would you give us the courage and humility to join them on their journey and look together to see you? PRACTICE

G ODS O F M ON E Y

Whether we know it or not, humans look for hope, for purpose, and for something bigger than themselves. Take some time today and ask God to open your eyes to those who are on the lookout for him. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the ability to see these people. How will you join them on their journey of looking for God?

30


31


TUESDAY, MARCH 14

Welcoming Jesus PRAYER Gracious God, we generally love to welcome you in our lives, but not entirely. We are not always sure about whether to let you into certain areas of our lives, and today we confess that we keep you at a distance when it comes to money. We wonder what you might ask of us, what you might change in us, and how we might have to live with less. We confess our money gives us comfort and a sense of security, so we do not want you to touch it, have an opinion about it, or ask us to sacrifice it. God, would you do a work in our hearts with the issue of money in the way only you can? May we welcome you into our lives and joyfully swing open the door that you might come in and transform our minds, hearts, and hands.

G ODS O F M ON E Y

PRACTICE

32

Read Luke 19:1–10. Notice Zacchaeus’s reaction to Jesus inviting himself into Zacchaeus’s home in verse 4. Why do you think he was so excited? What gave him this joy? Have you ever been so excited to host Jesus, to let him into your life, your home, your personal space, even your money? What did this welcoming of Jesus look like and what resulted? If you have not hosted or welcomed Jesus, what could that look like? How will you let him in your life and even your bank account? Consider how Jesus is inviting himself into your home, and into your whole life, even your money. Will you receive him joyfully in this area of your life?


33


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15

Transforming Encounters PRAYER Our God, we come to you longing for transformation, yet with trepidation. What will it take of us to be transformed? What might we lose in the process? So often we come with the fear of what we will lose. By the power of the Holy Spirit, would you help us to trust you more than we fear our loss? Would you grow our longing for transformation and our receiving of it? We are thankful that your transformation is always worth it because we become more and more like Jesus, and our gods have less of a hold on us. PRACTICE

G ODS O F M ON E Y

Read all of Luke 19:1–10 again. Notice where each person is in the story, the context, and what Jesus has said so far. Notice what Zacchaeus has done so far. As you read and meditate on the Scripture, what do you see about how transformation works? What is new? What is a reminder? Does it seem strange? Then, spend time meditating on verse 8 and Zacchaeus’s generous reaction to his encounter with Jesus. How might the Holy Spirit work in you that you might respond with extravagant generosity?

34


35


THURSDAY, MARCH 16

Exchange PRAYER God, today we come before you, recognizing our desperate dependence on you for everything. We confess we have trusted in money more than in you. We confess we have withheld from others so that we might save ourselves through money. We confess our anxieties and fears over the loss of money. God, we desperately need you to change our hearts to love you more than we love ourselves and our god of money. In some ways we are asking for your miraculous power because we cannot see how money leads us or how we could ever escape from its rule and control over our lives. Holy Spirit, please loosen our hands and free our hearts to love Jesus with all we are and all we do. Help us to grab onto Jesus for life.

G ODS O F M ON E Y

PRACTICE

36

Spend time today reading and praying through Luke 19:1–10. What are some words or actions that stand out to you? What questions rise up in you as you read Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus? Imagine yourself as Zacchaeus. Have you ever been so desperate to see Jesus? If so, how did you end up seeing him? If not, why don’t you think you have ever been so desperate to see him? Ask God how you tried with your wealth to deal with your desperation rather than looking for Jesus to save you. Then ask him to do the miraculous in you.


37


FRIDAY, MARCH 17

Movement PRAYER God, we want to be on the look out for you. We anticipate seeing how you are working and what you are doing. We want to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s work not only in us but in the lives of those around us. God, may we be people who look around and live in this world, always anticipating that you are near and at work. May we be those who look out for you and give you glory. PRACTICE

G ODS O F M ON E Y

Spend the day noticing the people around you. Consider that they might also be looking for God. As you consider this in prayer, ask God to help you interact with others. Maybe give people an encouraging hello or ask how their day is. Ask them about who they are, where they are from. Look around today and in the coming days and ask God to show you those who are on the lookout for him. Ask him for eyes to see and ears to hear people. Then step out in faith and listen to who they are and share with them who God is.

38


39


SATURDAY, MARCH 18

Our Provider HEBREWS 13:5–6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” God promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to be all that we need and to be our greatest helper. He has provided this through his Son, Jesus, and the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is always with us and within those who believe in Jesus. We do not have anything to fear because God is with us. Reread this Scripture and let it sink in, allowing God to free you from the love of money and from loving anything other than him. PRAYER

G ODS O F M ON E Y

Our God, we want to be free from loving anything but you. We want to be confident in your strength and your help, rather than helping ourselves and trusting in other gods. As the temptation to love money more than you continues in our lives, give us the strength to turn to you, to trust you, and to release our money to you. Continue to release us from the power of this idol, that we might joyfully continue to see and serve you.

40


GODS of SEX MARCH 19–25 | GENESIS 29:1–30 41


SUNDAY, MARCH 19

Turning Gifts Into Gods In our longings for love, worth, and belonging, we pursue different gods. Some of us have attached ourselves to sex: worshipping and serving it, and believing it will fulfill promises of happiness and connectedness. We serve sex, that we might find momentary thrills, a sense of value, and an end to our search for wholeness. Yet this idol fails to deliver, and painfully so. Sex is a good thing, offered to us as a gift in marriage that confirms and reaffirms deep covenant love and commitment between a husband and wife. God offers it to unify a man and a woman. Yet we turn this gift into a god, using sex as a means to momentary euphoria, validation, and acceptance. We seek fulfillment for our deepest longings, but when sex and love become idols we harm ourselves and others. The great news is that God stands near, ready to heal, give us life, and meet us in our greatest longing, that of being known and loved. His love is always available. PREPARATION

G ODS O F S EX

This week we will spend time on a portion of Jacob’s story. It is one of deception, and of longing for love and acceptance. As you dive into his story, you are invited to reflect on your own story. Spend time today reflecting on the god of sex and your story. Ask God how he wants you to grow deeper in believing his love for you.

42


43


MONDAY, MARCH 20

Great Lengths PRAYER Amazing God, we go to great lengths, pursuing that which we desire. We go to heights and depths, through pain and perseverance, to pursue our deepest fulfillments. It is not until these gods disappoint us, that we realize they have become so rooted in our hearts and we have been a slave to them. When they disappoint we become angry, frustrated, and hopeless. We were expecting these gods to do what only you can do. So would you, in your grace and mercy, meet us where our false gods cannot? Show us how you are the true God who meets our every longing and true desire. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S EX

Spend time today reading Genesis 29:1–30. What is Jacob pursuing? What has Jacob been encouraged to pursue? What strikes you about Jacob and his actions? Spend time meditating on his story, considering the great lengths he is going to. Ask God to show you anything you may have pursued this hard. Make note of what God shows you in your own life.

44


45


TUESDAY, MARCH 21

Skewed Vision PRAYER Father God, our pursuits often skew our vision. We will do anything for what we believe will satisfy our souls and meet our deepest longings. Lord, the longing to be loved is a deep one, and we pursue that longing through so many things other than you. Help us to see where our vision is skewed, where our efforts are out of control, and where the pursuit of inauthentic love has taken over. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S EX

Spend today focusing on Genesis 29:18–20. What stands out to you as you read Jacob’s commitment to working for Rachel? Have you ever been so focused on a goal that you lost track of time or work? Was there ever a time the goal was more about fulfilling a longing rather than freely working hard? Spend time in prayer today asking the Holy Spirit to help you see the times when your pursuits were only about fulfilling yourself. As the Holy Spirit shows you, ask him to reveal your unmet longings, and ask God to fulfill those longings with his great love.

46


47


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22

Cost of Love PRAYER Our God, when we serve something other than you, the results disappoint us. From our service and loyalty, we expect and even demand to earn what we feel we deserve. But your ways are different. Receiving your love and the fulfillment of our deepest longings is not dependent on our hard work. Merciful God, you are not a God who gives according to our efforts; give us more than we could ever earn. Your grace comes at no cost to us, but at great cost to you. We confess the times we have worked for the love of another and ignored your love. Help us to welcome the love you give so graciously. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S EX

Today, read Jacob’s demand after seven years of service and Laban’s response in Genesis 29:21–23. Spend time in prayer asking God to show you where you have put your energies and what you have expected from your gods. Maybe it is in the area of sex and love. Maybe it is in the area of work. Maybe it is in another place or person. Has this god ever disappointed you and how did you respond? Will you confess to God today your hope in another god? As you do, will you allow him to meet you with his love and grace?

48


49


THURSDAY, MARCH 23

Easy Prey PRAYER Loving God, we come to you as people who have been hurt by our gods. Serving something other than you has left us vulnerable to the schemes of others, as well as to the consequences of our own sin. God, we thank you that even when it is our fault, you still meet us. You long to heal us, and you do not hold our sin against us because of your Son, Jesus Christ. Every other god will bring us down with them, yet your Son brought himself down so that we might not fall forever. What a gracious God you are, and we thank you for your great love and forgiveness. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S EX

Spend time meditating on Genesis 29:23–27 and how Jacob was left prey to Laban. Consider Jacob’s story so far, and how his god of lust led him and left him vulnerable. (Laban is still to blame for his actions, which were wrong.) Spend time today considering how the god of sex or lust leaves you vulnerable to pain. If you still have pain, spend time in prayer talking to God about your pain. He meets you with his goodness, his grace, and a desire to make you whole.

50


51


FRIDAY, MARCH 24

Casualties PRAYER Our God, we come before you this morning, recognizing there are casualties as a consequence of serving our gods. We have hurt others by pursuing our desire for love through lusting after another. Sometimes we are blind to those we have hurt because we are so focused on what we believe is the prize. Holy Spirit, would you open our eyes to those we have hurt, so that we may see the consequences of our actions? Would you then soften our hearts, so that we can confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness from those people? God, this is a big step, to admit we were wrong, to admit we hurt someone, and then to ask for forgiveness. So would you give us the humility to pursue, through the gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and freedom for ourselves and with those we have hurt? We need you for this.

G ODS O F S EX

PRACTICE

52

Read Genesis 29:1–30 again and pay attention to Leah. As we serve gods other than the one true God, there are casualties. Leah was a casualty of Jacob’s pursuit of Rachel. As God has revealed to you the gods you serve, ask him to take you back into your story and show you its casualties, its “Leahs”. Might you need to take a step toward wholeness, for both them and yourself, and to ask for forgiveness? Ask God to give you the courage to reach out for the forgiveness of those you have hurt, and then do it. God will give you the strength; reconciliation is always worth pursuing.


53


SATURDAY, MARCH 25

Enough ROMANS 5:6–8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. PRAYER

G ODS O F S EX

God as we long and seek what we’re worth, we look to others to offer us a definition of who we are. Yet you have already called us beloved and have already made us worthy because of your Son, Jesus Christ. It is because of his great love that we have worth. It is because of his great love that we live. It is because of his great love that we can love others well. We do not have to be strong enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, or good enough. We simply have to receive his love; our worth comes through his perfectly-lived life, death, and resurrection. Who we are is rooted in who Jesus is, and may we be more and more rooted in the love of Jesus rather than the love of others.

54


GODS of FAMILY

MARCH 26–APRIL 1 | GENESIS 29:31–35

55


SUNDAY, MARCH 26

Serving Ourselves God’s gift of family can fill our hearts as well as leave us heart-broken. The people he has chosen to be a part of one’s family come with strengths and imperfections. In a family we are often faced with our truest selves—both beautiful strengths and revolting sins. We give the good, the bad, and the ugly to our family and receive our family’s good, bad, and ugly in return. Family cannot hide the real deal. This gift of family can also quickly become a way by which we define ourselves. In our longing to keep up appearances, we lead and love our families in ways that serve ourselves, rather than helping our loved ones to fully flourish in Jesus. We end up using those we are called to love. Deeper idols and longings are often at the root of the idol of family. As a result there are casualties. PREPARATION

G ODS O F FAM I LY

This week, we will dig deeper into the life of Leah (Genesis 29:31–35), a casualty of another’s idol. She longs to be loved and expects her children to gain her that love. As you read her story, ask God to show you when you have been used and when you have used others. Slow down long enough to consider Leah’s story, to consider her pain, and then her reaction to it. This week our prayers will be a little quieter as we let God examine us more closely.

56


57


MONDAY, MARCH 27

Overlooked PRAYER Gracious God, nothing gets past your sight. You see all and you give us good gifts even in our pain. Today, may we slow down, rest, and wait for these good gifts. Help us to resist plowing past the pain, giving us the strength and the patience to wait for you in it. As we slow down, would you examine our hearts and show us the places we want to hurry past pain? Show us where we would rather ignore our issues, and give us the strength to continue letting you examine us. PRACTICE

G ODS O F FAM I LY

Spend time in quiet prayer today, reflecting and rereading Genesis 29:32. As you read of Leah’s gift of a son, pay attention to her expectations of God and of Jacob. What does her statement of expectation tell you about her hopes? Today, slow down enough today to continue talking with God in prayer, waiting for him to show you the deeper places of your heart and mind.

58


59


TUESDAY, MARCH 28

Hearing Our Hearts PRAYER Loving God, we want to be heard. Not only do we want you to hear our words but we want our hearts to be heard. God, we get so busy that we cannot even hear ourselves think, let alone hear the deeper places of longing and desire. Would you give us the gift of space and time today? Would you help us also to be in your presence, that we might be able to hear from you? Give us the desire and strength to be heard and may we trust that you hear us. PRACTICE

G ODS O F FAM I LY

Work to create 30 minutes today to be with God and God alone. Even though it might be challenging, push yourself to achieve this goal. Spend this time in quiet prayer. If you wanted God to hear a certain thing today, what would it be? Do you have a deep longing has not been heard by others? Would you talk to God about this?

60


61


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29

The Lord Hears PRAYER Our God, we sometimes feel like we are going hoarse trying to communicate. There are seasons when we wonder whether you hear our cries, whether we are wasting our breath talking to you. We hate to admit we would ever think that, but sometimes we do, because we do not always have evidence that you hear us. We do admit that sometimes we have in mind what we expect you to answer. Sometimes your answer disappoints and other times it joyfully overwhelms. So would you help us to come to you in faith, believing you hear us, even when we do not hear back? Even when we are disappointed by your answer? Would you help us trust you and grow in faith, believing you hear us when we talk with you?

G ODS O F FAM I LY

PRACTICE

62

Look at Genesis 29:33 today and consider how Leah feels heard. Being heard often leads to an action by the hearer. For Leah, God responded by giving her a child. But sometimes our voices are met with silence. What thoughts go through your mind when your voice is met with silence? What do you believe about who God is? How then do you respond to God’s silence? Spend time being honest with God today, about your pain or disappointment, about any sin or lack of trust. Ask him to grow you in faith and deepen your trust in him.


63


THURSDAY, MARCH 30

Longing For Love PRAYER Creator God, you know us inside and out. You know everything we need and you offer it to us. We long to be loved and we find ourselves trying to fulfill this longing with people and things other than you. We take a good gift, such as family, and expect it to fulfill our every need and longing for love. We confess we have made our family an idol, expecting perfect performances of love toward us. Yet, God, you are the only one who can fulfill our deepest longing for love. When we feel empty, demand love from another, or expect that love to be perfect, may we instead remember that you love us completely and fully. May we rest in your love that never fails.

G ODS O F FAM I LY

PRACTICE

64

Leah had “produced” three sons for Jacob, something any man would have desired, and yet she finds herself longing for connection. Some of us perform and provide for family members, while longing for attachment, a word of love, a simple touch, or a caring act. Spend time considering Leah’s words in Genesis 29:34. Spend time praying and asking God to show you when you have longed for affirmation and unconditional love from another. Ask him to meet you in any disappointment you have had. Talk to him and ask him to meet you today and every day with a greater understanding of his unconditional love for you.


65


FRIDAY, MARCH 31

Picture of Change PRAYER God, you are a God of transformation, changing our hearts, and renewing of our minds. Nothing is impossible for you. We want to praise you for the gifts you have given us–in particular our families. No, they are not perfect, and they are not you, but they are gifts from you. We ask that you would continue to transform us so we might praise you more and more all the days of our lives. PRACTICE

G ODS O F FAM I LY

Notice how Leah responds to the birth of her fourth son in Genesis 29:35 as compared to the rest of the story. What is the difference? We cannot see the why of the transformation but we can see evidence of its occurrence in how she responds to God at Judah’s birth. In what way are you longing for transformation in your life? What does God want to do in and through you? Spend time in prayer today, asking God to look into your life and show you the places he wants to move and transform. As he shows you, will you let him do that work in you?

66


67


SATURDAY, APRIL 1

All Things New REVELATION 21:3–5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” God went the distance for us. In order to rebuild his relationship with mankind, he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us in order that we might live. Jesus did this because there was a greater joy coming—the joy of reconciliation between God and man. No one or thing will go this distance of love for even one person, but God goes the distance for all the world. Yet since we live in a broken world, we experience the brokenness of others. Sometimes this brokenness leaves pain in our lives that seems too big to overcome, even by the God of the universe. Yet he promises to be with us and make us completely whole.

G ODS O F FAM I LY

PRAYER

68

Gracious God, sometimes the most difficult place to believe you is in the context of our families. We have seen too much and experienced too much. It is within our families that we often doubt your redemption, not believing you are powerful enough to change even the most stubborn of heart. Yet throughout Scripture you show us that you are powerful enough to do anything, even to raise someone from the dead. Would you help us to believe that you are able? Would you help us believe that you not only desire to make all things new, but that you can make all things new? Help us to continue to pray for those we love, that they might know you and the salvation Jesus offers.


GODS of SUCCESS APRIL 2–8 | 2 KINGS 5:1-14

69


SUNDAY, APRIL 2

Crashing Down God has given many of us success in life and allowed us to achieve great goals. He has given us access to people in power and the resources by which to live. To achieve a goal or be successful is not a bad thing, but our successes can become idols we depend on, which we expect to bail us out. After all, they have helped us out of many situations before. Yet the idols of success will come crumbling down at some point, and when they do, they can bring us down with them. PREPARATION

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

As we consider the idols of success and achievement this week, spend time in prayer today asking God, “When have I depended on my successes and achievements to save me? When have I used my social capital to get me out of a jam? How do I seek success, achievement, and social status in order to create safety nets for myself or even my family?� As the Holy Spirit answers these questions, write them down, then go back again in prayer and ask God to re-shape your focus and your actions.

70


71


MONDAY, APRIL 3

Making Our Appeal PRAYER Almighty God, we work so hard to reach places and know people. We work hard to have access and resources so that if we are in trouble, we can reach out to friends, colleagues, and those in a position of power. We look for saviors outside of your Son, Jesus Christ. God, thank you for the people you have given us who can help us. At the same time, may we ultimately rest in Jesus our Savior and Lord. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

Spend time today reading 2 Kings 5:1–8 and meditating on and Naaman’s appeal to the King of Israel. Why do you think he turned to the King of Israel rather than Elisha, the prophet of Israel? Spend time rereading this passage, asking God to show you ways you appeal to those in power rather than to him.

72


73


TUESDAY, APRIL 4

Unlikely Voices PRAYER Gracious God, we often seek wisdom and guidance from people with authority, education, and power. We seek insights from those who have authored books, who have lived grand lives, or whose gifts exceed our own. Thank you for the opportunities to learn and grow that you have given to many; may our ears also be attuned to listen to the voices of the least of these. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

Spend time today meditating on 2 Kings 5:2–4 and in particular on the little girl who was taken into slavery. Spend time thinking about those who have been unlikely voices in your life, even in the world. What do these unlikely voices indicate about the ways in which God works? Consider spending time with those who are not in your usual circles. Spend time serving with children and learning from them. Spend time listening to the stories of those in the service industry—cashiers, waiters, baristas, etc. Spend a Saturday morning serving in a different part of the city and be open to hearing from God through an unlikely voice.

74


75


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5

Disappointed Expectations PRAYER Father God, when we are so desperate for something we often imagine a particular solution or manner in which we will be saved. And when our imaginative solutions are not met we are angered and grieved. Our solution was not our salvation. You are a God who continually shows us that your ways are not our ways and this regularly surprises us, throwing off our plans. In these times we have the opportunity to turn toward you, releasing us from our expectations and visions instead of depending on you. Help us turn to you, allowing you to provide solutions, and keeping our eyes open to how you are ready to meet us.

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

PRACTICE

76

In 2 Kings 5:9–12 Naaman is caught off guard by the instruction Elisha gave for Naaman’s healing. Naaman then expresses his expectations clearly and his disappointment with these unmet expectations. Have you ever been caught off guard by God? Have you ever been disappointed that God did not meet your expectations? How do you respond to God in your disappointment? Spend extended time in prayer, asking God to remind you of these disappointing times, and talk to him about your disappointment, asking him to meet you where you are. Ask God to show you the times when he did show up but you did not notice him.


77


THURSDAY, APRIL 6

Desperate Enough to Listen PRAYER Amazing God, it is with great humility we come to you. Today we want to take the opportunity to humbly recognize that we do not have all the answers, we do not have all the connections, and our efforts to save ourselves through success and image fail us. God, as we come to you, longing for humility, give us humble hearts. Give us these hearts that we might be able to listen. May our desperations not lead us to strive further toward success and social connection but instead toward loving and leaning on you, listening to those who might speak your words to us.

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

PRACTICE

78

Spend time today meditating on 2 Kings 5:13–14. Consider the posture Naaman had to take to listen to his servants. Consider the boldness and care of these servants as they longed for Naaman to be healed. Do you take the posture of humility and listening as you listen to God’s words spoken to you through others? Are you a friend who is caring enough to remind others of God’s care and provision, or do you encourage them to seek success to save themselves? As you consider the words and actions of both the servants as well as Naaman, write down ways you can practice listening to truth as well as speaking God’s truth for the sake of others.


79


FRIDAY, APRIL 7

Muted Voices PRAYER Gracious God, there are voices and people we have placed on mute because of their position, their social status, their country of origin, or the color of their skin. We have muted voices because of age and stage in life. In our arrogance we have cut off the voices that show us no recognizable achievements or successes. God, help us to see and hear them. Humble our hearts that we might be willing to listen to these silenced voices. PRACTICE

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

Spend time today in prayer, allowing God to examine your mind, your heart, and how you have lived life. Whose voice have you muted because of race, gender, age, social status, etc.? As God shows you the ways you have dishonored him and dishonored people, ask him to meet you, heal you, and help you recognize the next time you do it, and then change your ways. Consider confessing to those you have muted, and ask their forgiveness.

80


81


SATURDAY, APRIL 8

Identity Restored ROMANS 8:12–15 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Our successes and achievements do not have to define us. In fact, according to who we are in Christ, they do not define or give us our worth. Idols fool us into believing our worth comes from our service to them. God frees us by serving us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He gives us our identity and worth through his selfless love in Jesus. As sons and daughters of the God of the universe, we no longer have to fall back into fear or be enslaved to success and achievement. We have a father in heaven who loves us so much he gives us freedom through his Son, Jesus.

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

PRAYER

82

God, for too long our success and achievements have defined us. For too long they have enslaved us, making us believe that we have to go far and work fast to find our worth. Yet what we find in Jesus is a freedom from this enslavement of identity. Through Jesus’ choice of surrender on the cross, we are freed from the enslavement to these gods. Holy Spirit, help us to believe that because we are your sons and daughters, we are no longer enslaved to sin. Help us to see when we are serving these gods, and continue to remind us of the freedom we have in Jesus.


GODS of POWER APRIL 9–15 | JOHN 18:28–19:22

83


SUNDAY, APRIL 9

Elusive Gods Some of us feel better when we are in charge. Others merely try to manage our worlds and control the chaos. For whatever reasons, control and power are strong forces and give us a sense of security, and even identity. We like the idea that we have things under control, believing we can fulfill our planned futures. Without knowing it, we get wrapped up in serving these gods, and when we lose them our worlds come crumbling down. PREPARATION

G ODS O F POW E R

Spend this day reading the account of Pilate’s role in the life and death of Jesus. Read John 18:28–19:22 and reflect on Pilate’s interaction with the people and with Jesus. Consider his words and actions. In prayer, ask God to make you aware of when control and power have been a gods in your life.

84


85


MONDAY, APRIL 10

Deflection PRAYER Gracious God, when it comes to responsibilities, we need your help. We need your help to see when we have deflected responsibility and why we have done so. Was it out of fear, apathy, or laziness? Was it because it really is someone else’s responsibility, or do we lack courage? God, as we consider the things you have called us to, help us to trust you, to seek your wisdom, to have humility to ask others for help. May we take on responsibilities with courage and humility, ultimately trusting you, as we do what you have called us to do. PRACTICE

G ODS O F POW E R

Read from John 18:28–19:22 the account of Pilate and Jesus. Where do you find Pilate deflecting responsibility? How often does he do it? What might be some factors that lead to Pilate’s deflection? As you consider the times in your life when have you avoided responsibility or doing hard things, why have you done so? What might this tell you about who you believe God is? Spend time asking God why you deflect and what belief this stems from. Allow God to show you when you struggle to believe and ask him to help in your unbelief.

86


87


TUESDAY, APRIL 11

Loosening Grip PRAYER Merciful God, we come to you as people who like to know where we are going and who have our safety nets in place as we go. We make plans and lists and envision the future. When our envisioned future starts to look foggy or the landscape changes we begin to grasp for anything that is known. These natural tendencies of ours go against the faith and trust you have called us to. As we dream and as we plan, may we hold those things loosely so that we may be open to the landscape you are drawing and the direction you are leading us in. As we are tempted to grab for control, give us the courage to loosen our grip and instead take your hand, trusting you will lead us in your gracious and perfect ways.

G ODS O F POW E R

PRACTICE

88

Today, reread John 18:28–19:22 again and look at the places where Pilate attempts to grab control. How is he grasping? What is the result of his grasping? Often when we feel out of control we will grab for anything we can control. Spend time today in prayer, asking God to show you when you feel out of control. Is there anything in your life on which you do not have a grasp? Ask him then to show you where you are trying to take control rather than trusting him. Ask him to show you what is yours to do and what is his to do. Write these things down and continue to trust him with what he has said he will do.


89


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12

Dodging the Question PRAYER Father God, we come to you confessing that we often dodge your questions. We read about your hopes and desires for us and we avoid living in light of your ways. We ignore the Holy Spirit who prompts us to change our ways in order to lead us to life. God, often we do not know why we dodge the questions, the promptings, and even the clear instructions, but we do. Today, would you show us the places where we are avoiding you, your words, and your questions? May we not dodge you but engage you and trust that where you are leading us is towards goodness, truth, and life. PRACTICE

G ODS O F POW E R

Go back in the story and read John 18:34–35. Look at the ways Pilate dodged Jesus’ questions through his responses. How did Jesus respond? Spend additional time in quiet and prayer, asking God to show you the places where you are avoiding him or his Word. Ask for the grace and courage to hear from him and meet him rather than avoid him.

90


91


THURSDAY, APRIL 13

The Uninvited Guest PRAYER Almighty God, the opportunity to be afraid meets us at every corner, every crossroads, and even on the straight and narrow. Like uninvited guests, fears creep in, staying longer than we expected and using more of our time and energy than we would like. As we serve these fears, we give them power in our lives. God, we do not want to live in fear and we do not want to be led by it. We also do not want to take things into our own hands because we know that we are no match for fear; but you are. Your perfect love casts out all fear. So may we rest in your love today and trust that you are greater than anything we are afraid of. May we live in your power and strength rather than in the depleted energy that fear leads us into. We ask this with both humility and confidence today. PRACTICE

G ODS O F POW E R

Read John 19:8–10 today. How did Pilate respond to his fear? What was Jesus’ response to him? Spend time paying attention to the times when you have been afraid. How have you handled your fear? How are you tempted to act when you are afraid? What do your prayers sound like when you are afraid? Write down your answers to these.

92

Think of ways you can take your fears to God (talk to him in prayer, write a journal, read Scripture about who God is, etc.). Write these down. The next time you are afraid, return to this list and practice taking your fears to God.


93


FRIDAY, APRIL 14

Voices PRAYER Gracious God, we are flooded with words on a daily basis: words we read, words we think, words we hear. Some words get repeated over and over again, by sources that seek our allegiance and power. People pressure us through their words, manipulate us, and use us for their own good. We confess that we have used words to manipulate and use others as well. When the words of our culture and the crowd tempt us to go their way, we pray that your voice and Word would be louder and clearer. God, we pray that we are a people who know your voice and your truth through your Scriptures so that we might recognize your voice. Help us to trust and follow your words rather than the words of others. May we use our words to lift up others, to speak up on others’ behalf, and to be a voice for the voiceless. May we use our power and words not for the crowds, but for those poor in heart, mind, or body.

G ODS O F POW E R

PRACTICE

94

Spend today in John 19:12–16. As you consider how Pilate was tempted by and then followed the words of the crowd, can you relate at all? Have there been times when you knew something was not right yet you followed the crowd? Have there been times you did not speak up when you should have? As you allow God to examine you and remember these times, remember that God’s grace covers all our sin and makes things new and beautiful again. Lean hard into his grace today and as you do, may it empower you to encourage and build up those who cannot speak for themselves.


95


SATURDAY, APRIL 15

Surrender PHILIPPIANS 2:5–8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The one who has all the power in the world surrendered to the powers of this world in order to save us. Because of his great love, he surrendered, that we might have life. His surrender and death led to life for those who believe. It’s such an odd thing that surrender and letting go of power would lead to the greatest freedom, joy, and victory. The surrender of Jesus led to the offer of salvation to mankind. What a glorious exchange!

G ODS O F S UC C ES S

PRAYER

96

Our God, how incredible is the humility of your Son, Jesus! He had all the power in the world and he surrendered it in order to save us. It’s such an odd thing to us that the surrender of power would lead to joy, freedom, and victory. Would you help make this truth less odd to us? Would you do a work in us, that we would be able to surrender power when you ask? Just as Jesus did, help us know how to use what you have given us, whether in surrender or in service, for the sake of others.


EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 16

Today, we celebrate! Today we are filled with great joy as we remember that Jesus is alive and we are free! The same power that rose Jesus from the dead resides in all those who believe in him for salvation! He is Risen!

97


Glorious Exchange God’s promises to us include life, joy, and our greatest longings fulfilled. He promises to meet us in our deepest desires of love and belonging. Yet we doubt these promises, believing other things will bring us life, joy, and fulfillment. These other things become small-g gods, idols that we serve because we believe they will give us the life we have always wanted. The God of the universe asks us to exchange our gods for him (Jeremiah 2:11) just as he exchanged himself for our sake and for the world he loves (2 Corinthians 5:21). With this devotion guide you are invited to explore this Glorious Exchange!


Glorious Exchange