These thought-stimulators are not so much for you to know what I think about the photo, but to jump-start your own spiritual examination. The word theme and picture spoke to me. My prayer is that, perhaps, they may speak to you as well – even if you have a very different perception. And the Lord may use any prompt as a point through which to speak to, us, even bringing scriptures to mind in the process. So please read these prayerfully as you consider the visual images.
TUESDAY, MARCH 15: SACRIFICE
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” Eggs are still pretty cheap at the store. Cheaper still if you have your own hens. But I remember a scene in a book where a family prepared a visitor an egg for his meal. One egg was a great sacrifice for the poor hosts.
What does a hen sacrifice by giving up her eggs? We’ll never know what it means to the chicken. Of course, she won’t have the baby chicks, but does she even realize that?
Things considered a sacrifice differ from person to person, depending on their means or values. But a life! So many have given the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of others. Soldiers for their country and martyrs for their faith have paid the precious price of their own life’s blood. Yet, how little we may think of another’s sacrifice.
On this side of glory, we will never know the full extent of the mysterious sacrifice of God the Father by giving his only Son. Deicide was required to ransom our souls from death. Do you think too little of this powerful act?
We want to move quickly to the resurrection during Lent – to Jesus the Messiah’s victory over death. But slow down. Now is the time to let his sacrifice weigh on us. He humbled himself for obedience to death on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us and bore the consequences in his own body. Is this nothing to you who pass by?
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16: REPENT
What an old-fashioned word. Repent. It makes me think of the scruffy, sandal-wearing guy in the city, wearing a sandwich board over his robe, saying, “Repent! For the end is near!” When was the last time you heard the word repent in conversation?
Maybe this is our problem. People today rarely consider that they need to repent. It couldn’t possibly apply to them.
Once again, this is our problem. It’s too easy to look toward other sinners but never get down to the work of my own soul-searching examination for genuine repentance. It’s not about them. It’s about me.
Like today’s picture shows1, a band-aid over a gaping wound won’t fix the sin for us sinners. That includes you and me. We need to get specific. I listen to a devotional podcast where each night it says, “Father God, reflecting on the day that is past, remind me now of how I have sinned.”2 Whew. Every night. It’s tough to be honest sometimes.
But the good news is “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
(11Idea for the photo is not original with me. It’s similar to the cover of a 1974 CCM album by Ron Salsbury & J.C. Power Outlet. 2Lectio 365 – Morning & Evening devotionals)
THURSDAY, MARCH 17: LIVING
Specifically: Christian Living. It is qualitatively different from just living. It is radically different from just existing.
I used to take youth groups on cemetery scavenger hunts. We’d go at night with flashlights to find a list of specific tombstones carved with unique images and sayings. Afterward, as the group gathered to process their experience, I made the point that “Some people buried here never really lived in the first place. Others buried here will never die.”
What are the markers that distinguish between lives lived for the Lord and the life of any other living person or creature on earth?
FRIDAY, MARCH 18: PLANTED
The Bible is rich in agrarian imagery. Some of our favorite stories and verses in the Old and New Testaments are related to agricultural locations, conditions, and processes.
One of my favorites starts with, “A sower went out to sow some seed….” Jesus says the seed is the Word of God, but the type of ground receiving the seed can differ tremendously. And the resulting crop yield depends on the kind of ground and the soil preparation.
Another similar metaphor has to do with fruitfulness. God cares about what our lives produce. Again, many scriptures reinforce these ideas. Can you recall a few verses like that?
Think back on your life. When do you recall being most productive in your efforts for the Kingdom? What made the difference at that time?
SATURDAY, MARCH 19: LOOKING
You never know who is watching you. I don’t mean that in a scary or threatening way. I’m simply referring to those around us who notice our lives and how we demonstrate our walk of faith.
If you were more conscious of others paying attention to your words and deeds, would it make a difference in your actions? We are witnessing every day, whether we speak a word or not.
SUNDAY, MARCH 20: CELEBRATE
Sundays are a little taste of the Kingdom. Today is a break from the work-a-day world and the common cultural conflicts. Some people practice Shabbat on Saturdays, and some observe Sabbath on Sundays. How do you make your day different? How is it a reflection of the coming rest and rejoicing we will experience in the world to come?
MONDAY, MARCH 21: WITH
As an introvert, I often need to make a special effort to “be with” others, since I tend to prefer doing things by myself.
I do enjoy meals together, outings with friends, family gatherings, attending conferences, and corporate worship. But too much “together time” exhausts me.
Our place and purpose in the Body of Christ are unavoidable. We can’t be lone wolf Christians who never interact, share, or contribute to the good of the whole. The Spirit has given us gifts to use to bless and share with our fellow believers. My term for this is our “Body Life.” It’s life together. Our learning is incomplete at best. What’s worse is that it can be in error when we only study the Scriptures alone. Our prayer life lacks something if we always pray in solitude.
Jesus meant it when he said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” –Matthew 18:20
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does this affect your Body Life?
How have you come to understand your place in the body? What roles do you feel the Lord has equipped you to do? What gifts has he given for you to use for building up others?
All of this can only be done “with.”
May the Lord bless you in your Lenten journey this week.