Lent Day 31 - When God Suffered

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;[b]
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:4-6

I still vividly remember the first time I went to speak with an older, wiser Christian about some significant personal pain. I remember, afterward, feeling the joy of a burden lifted. I remember why I went to see that particular mentor rather than someone else. First, I knew that this friend had suffered. He had already described for me his own dark times in which he had cried and prayed to God for relief. Second, I knew my friend had somehow journeyed on beyond where I was. It was the combination—suffering and godly maturity—that made me want to confide in my friend.

This experience illustrates why many Christians throughout the ages have wanted to affirm two things about God’s saving relationship to us. Placing their faith in a crucified Savior, the early Christians declared that God has suffered. It was, in the words of the church fathers, precisely one of the Trinity who bled and died for us. But, in the same breath, our Christian forebears also declared that God—the same God who hung on a tree for our salvation—didn’t give up his transcendent majesty when he did so. God remained who he always had been: the One who is beyond human change, suffering, and death.

Thinking back to my time with my older friend, I knew I needed to talk with someone who would be a sensitive fellow sufferer. But I also knew that no amount of “I’ve been there too” camaraderie would be enough if my mentor couldn’t also somehow pull me out of the mire I’d fallen into. The same is true with God—albeit in a qualitatively different way. The reason the death of Jesus is able to defeat death, rather than capitulate to it, is that Jesus is God. He is the same God who told Moses from the burning bush, “I Am Who I Am” (Ex. 3:14). He is the One who stands beyond time and the waves of human vacillation and defenselessness. That is the One who carried his own cross to Calvary. If that One died, his death could never be mere sympathetic cosuffering with us. That death was the end of death. That death broke death’s power forever because it was the death of the Deathless One. 

Wesley Hill teaches New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and is the author of several books, including Spiritual Friendship. 

Lent Day 30 - Love The Bears Our Burdens

6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! - Roman 5:6-8

The cross of Christ has sometimes been compared to the electric chair or other forms of execution, meaning we are wise to remember that it was an instrument of death in the ancient world. The cross is also often used to prompt us to give ourselves sacrificially for him and others. But comparisons to other forms of execution can miss the deeper biblical teaching about the cross. And the cross is much more than an object lesson in how we should live. 

To get at the deeper meaning, we can turn to the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The lead character Rodion Raskolnikov had brutally murdered an elderly woman, Lizaveta, and her sister. Raskolnikov later meets a young woman, Sonia, who has become a prostitute. He is immediately drawn to her, and after he learns that Sonia had been friends with Lizaveta, he feels compelled to confess the murders to her. Dostoyevsky wrote,

“What have you done—what have you done to yourself?” [Sonia] said in despair, and, jumping up, she flung herself on his neck, threw her arms round him, and held him tightly. . . . “There is no one—no one in the whole world now so unhappy as you!” she cried in a frenzy . . . and she suddenly broke into violent hysterical weeping. 

There we see the meaning of the Cross and the revelation of the deepest nature of God. Jesus did not consider that the glory of divinity as something to exalt in, but decided to bear the yoke of human nature. He showed himself not only to be a man of sorrows, but also a God who has borne our griefs; not merely a man wounded for our transgression, but also a God bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53). He saw the grievous sin of humankind, and the cross is the sign of his “violent, hysterical weeping” for us. 

Jesus calls us to take up our cross (Mark 8:34), but the full weight of the cross-beamed yoke is born by him, the God who sorrows for our sins, the man who bears our griefs. This is the Lord and Savior who promises to never leave or forsake us (Matt. 28:20) and actually helps shoulder the burdens that life with him invariably entails, even when our journey takes us to the most desolate of places. 

Mark Galli, editor in chief of Christianity Today. 

Lent Day 29 - The Glory of the Cross

"31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” - John 12:31-32

Suffering is inevitable and unavoidable. Surrounded by cancer, mental illness, infertility, depression, loss, and ultimately death, we ask how God’s glory could shine through such tragic circumstances. For most of us, glory and suffering seem incompatible, just like something cannot be simultaneously hot and cold, wet and dry. But Christ’s journey from the cradle to the grave reveals a pattern that is stitched throughout the fabric of Scripture. For Christ, Christians, and all creation, the way of glory is the way of the Cross.

As Jesus approached his death, he said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). At first, it seems that Jesus is talking about his coming entrance into heaven. But the following verse explains that Jesus is referring to his crucifixion: “He said this to show what kind of death he was going to die.” John’s gospel builds toward the climactic hour when Jesus’ being “lifted up” on the cross is the moment he is enthroned in glory (John 12:23–32; 3:14; 8:28). From the bruised heel of Genesis 3:15 to the reigning lamb of Revelation 22, the Bible tells the story of a crucified Messiah who is glorified through suffering.

As Jonathan Edwards taught, glory is not merely another one of God’s attributes or characteristics (along with his holiness, love, power, and so forth). Rather, it is the “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.” Glory is the dazzling, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring showcase of God’s character to a world darkened by sin. It is the explosive radiance produced by his holiness, love, mercy, justice, wisdom, and power—all of which come together in the most fitting way in the death of Christ.

At the Cross, we see God’s justice through the judgment of sin, God’s love through the forgiveness of sinners, God’s power through his defeat of Satan, and God’s wisdom in his upholding of holiness yet making a way for sinners. Christ’s death is the ultimate, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” It reveals the glorious harmony of God’s multifaceted character. The Cross is the crossroads of everything we know about God.

By Jeremy Treat, adjunct professor at Biola University in La Mirada, California and author of The Crucified King

Lent Day 28 - For The Nations

1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; - Romans 1:1-6

The scope of the gospel is all the nations. Paul defines its scope as “all the Gentiles.” This seems to imply that the Christians in Rome were predominantly Gentile. Paul affirms that the gospel is for everybody; its scope is universal. Paul himself was a patriotic Jew who retained his love for his people and longed passionately for their salvation. At the same time, he had been called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. If we are to be committed to world mission, we too will have to be liberated from all pride of race, nation, tribe, caste and class, and acknowledge that God’s gospel is for everybody, without exception and without distinction. This is a major theme of Romans.

The purpose of the gospel is the obedience of faith. In Romans, Paul insists more strongly than anywhere else that justification is through faith alone. Yet here he apparently writes that it is not by faith alone, but by obedience. Does the apostle contradict himself? No, we must give him credit for consistency of thought. This is the obedience that comes from faith, not the obedience of law. The proper response to the gospel is faith, indeed faith alone. Yet a true and living faith in Jesus Christ includes an element of submission (especially because its object is “Jesus Christ our Lord” [v. 4] or “the Lord Jesus Christ” [v. 7]) and leads inevitably into a lifetime of obedience.

Why did Paul desire to bring the nations to the obedience of faith? It was for the sake of the glory and honor of Christ’s name. The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is) nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but burning and passionate zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.

Father, please give us the your heart for the nations. You are worthy of your glory. Amen.

Lent Day 27 - Gospel Change

So how do we change a person’s heart? It’s impossible. We might be able to restrain a person’s angry outbursts by tying him up and gagging him, but we are powerless to change a person’s heart.

This is where God’s plan of redemption comes into play. The gospel is not merely about “getting us saved,” as if we simply pray a prayer and are immediately transported into heaven.

“Getting saved” is not about praying a prayer and then continuing to live our lives as though nothing happened. No, when God enters our lives, we are changed from the inside out (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

The good news is that God acted in the person of Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection we are transformed, made new. Our problem lies at the core of our being, but God transforms our hearts. God literally places His Spirit within us and changes us from the inside out.

So as we come alongside the broken, hurting people God has placed in our lives, let’s remember where our power comes from. These are not mere physical issues that we can correct through hard work. These are spiritual issues that run deeper than we can imagine. Yet God has supplied us with everything we need in order to fulfill His calling. The power to transform hearts and change lives comes from the Holy Spirit (John 6:63), through the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and through prayer (James 5:16-20). As we use the Scriptures to give counsel to others, there is power. As we pray passionately for their hearts to change, there is power. We cannot remove the lust from another person’s heart by our own efforts, but we have the Spirit of God working through us. Through the gospel, people can be set free from the enslaving power of sin (Rom. 6). Through the gospel, we are actually empowered to uproot the sin in our hearts and live in a way that pleases God. Paul promised: “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13).

*How should the truth of the gospel, and the power of the Holy Spirit affect the way we approach helping people change?

Lent Day 26 - Your Word Is Truth

Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.”

I have recently been reminded of how powerful God’s Word is in disciple-making. The other night, when putting our 4-year-old to sleep, she told me she was angry about something. I began to ask the why, what, and how of her anger, with good intentions, of course, when she stopped me as I was leaving her room and said, “Daddy, will you do my Bible verse with me?” I asked her which one, thinking it was our monthly church verse, when she replied, “The one about anger.” We proceeded to go over the verse and I instantly saw my daughter’s countenance change from anger to tenderness.

My heart melted and froze all at once. How sweet that my daughter was asking for God’s Word to counsel her with her anger, but how hard realizing that this had not been my first go-to when dealing with it as a parent.

God’s Word is essential to our discipleship, both personally and with others. Do we practically live as if it can transform us? Do we store it up in our hearts? We don’t need more self-help, more “good” ideas, more tips and tricks. We need the power of God’s Word working in us through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to point other disciples to anything but the Lord and His Word for guidance. For by them both we are sanctified and matured.
What are you looking to for truth today?

“Father, help us to seek your wisdom and your truth as we walk daily with You. Keep us free from the schemes and diversions of the enemy and help us to treasure Your Word in our hearts.”

By Matt Altman

Lent Day 25 - Like A Child

Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” After taking them in His arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

I’ve recently been reminded of the preciousness of child-like faith by our youngest son’s incessant talk about God and Jesus every night at bedtime. He is probably using it at as stalling technique, but I’ve been amused at his yearnings to hear how Jesus died on the cross and how slowly, methodically and factually he takes it all in. He knows the story, but I tell it again. He knows that Jesus used to live in heaven with God and that he came to earth as a baby. He knows that Jesus grew up to be a man and that he loved people- so much that He went to a cross and laid himself down to be made fun of, beaten and nailed to a harsh, ugly cross. He’s heard how the sky grew dark and all creation stood still while the Son was separated from His Father, all for a people who didn’t deserve it.

As we snuggled in bed, his soft curls against my cheek and is wide eyes gazing heavenward, his sweet voice said, “God was in heaben, right Mama?”

“Yes,” I responded.

“And God was getting a plan…God was thinking…of a plan. Right, Mama?”

“Baby,” I responded, “That was the plan.”

May we never get over the fact that THIS WAS THE PLAN. For Jesus to die so that I might live. It’s so hard to take in and believe! There really was no other way for us to be saved. As I share this simple but profound truth with our son, may it rest on our hearts fresh- again. God’s plan was to give up His Son and give us hope for resurrected lives.

Father, may we live with child-like faith that your plan was enough. May my heart receive this truth today and accept your love and grace for me and not constantly search for my own self-salvation plan. Like a child clings to his mother for safety let me rest in your unfailing love and trust your plan not only for my eternal salvation but for you to work out the details of my life in a way that makes sense to YOU. I give up control of trying to figure it all out. I would never have figured out a plan for salvation- and you had that covered. I’ll trust you that you’ve got this small yet significant plan for my life figured out as well.  

By Jada Shock

Lent Day 24 - Empowered By The Spirit

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. - Acts 1:8

Jesus spent time with the 12 disciples, teaching them loving them and showing them the Father. The Holy Spirit can help us do the same. 

What are we doing today to continue discipleship? We are still commissioned to go out to our inner circle, family, friends, neighbors, co workers and continue to move out from there.

Father God I pray that you would put people in my path that need to hear the Good News. Soften their heart to hear and understand your word. God I pray you are not put in a box. Give me wisdom as I go out to do your work. 

By Tim Delperdang

Lent Day 23 - Who Am I

Who Am I?

How do you answer that question?  Where do you get your significance, your value or do you feel like you don’t have any?  How about purpose?  Do you believe you have a purpose for being alive?  Have you ever asked yourself why you do the things you do, spend time the way you do, spend money the way you do, think about yourself the way you do, think about other people the way you do, react to others the way you do, worry about the things you worry about, get angry about the things you get angry about, get hurt by the things you are hurt by?  These thoughts, feelings, and behaviors reveal your belief about yourself.  Your perceived value, significance, and purpose in life . . . or lack thereof.  Your identity.  Who you think you are.

The way to see things as they really are is to see them the way God does.  Assuming you are a believer in Jesus Christ, this is what the God of creation, the eternal Father, says about you:  You are His child (born one), born of Him, born into His family.  He is your Father and He has freely bestowed on you, lavished on you, the greatness of His divine love.  (I John 2:29-3:1)

You have been adopted into His family.  Chosen by the Father “to be holy and blameless before Him”, having the same duties, privileges, and benefits as sons born into the family.  God chose you and brought you into His family “to the praise of the glory of His grace.”  (Eph. 1:4-6)

The Father continually proves His love for us “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)   Jesus died in our place in order that God could “bless you with every spiritual blessing . . . in Christ.”  (Eph. 1:3)   In Christ, united with Him resulting in being identified with Him so closely as to have the same standing with the Father as Jesus, God’s Son!  So much so we can call the Father “Abba”, meaning dearest daddy!  (Rom. 8:15)  God identifies you with His Son and loves you just like He does His Son!  God gives us our true identity, having made clear our value to Him by suffering horribly and dying on our behalf.

If you are looking to find value and purpose anywhere else, you won’t find it.  Your identity is in Jesus Christ who is infinitely valuable.
By Tim Brown

Lent Day 22 - The Fragrance of Christ

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him."  2 Corinthians 2:14

After reading about Mary pouring perfume on Jesus' feet in John 12 last week, and the whole house being filled with the fragrance, this verse came to mind.  We are to do the same thing: let God lead us and through us spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus wherever He puts us.  
As we live this way as disciples, we won't need letters of recommendation (2 Cor. 3:1).  The people who smell the fragrance of Jesus through us will be our letters.  Continuing on with 2 Corinthians 3, verses 2 & 3 say, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."  

Who are the "letters" written with the Spirit as a result of our ministry? Our children, neighbors, co-workers?

And, no, having letters is not because we are great. "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:5-6)

God, continue to use us to spread the fragrant knowledge of Christ to those around us.  May many "letters" be written as a result of the ministry of each member of our church body.  Thank you for making us ministers of a new covenant - one that gives life.  

By Traci Altman

Lent Day 21 - Reflect The Light

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."  Matthew 5:14

John 1 tells us that Jesus is the light who came into the world.  He is described as the true light who gives light to everyone.  John tells us, 'That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.' John 1:5.

Matthew 5 records Jesus himself teaching about light.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus calls his people the light of the world.   Jesus, the true light, shines in and through us!  Jesus then compares our light to a city set on a hill.

The essential characteristic of a city is that it's a community of humans.  Jesus is teaching that his people are a Christ-centered community, a city on a hill.  A city on a hill can be seen by all those around.  It's easy to observe.  He is teaching us that our life together, in community, is a light to the world!  We are meant to shine together.  Jesus tells us that the ultimate goal of shining together is that we give glory to our Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

We shine together when we eat together.  It takes sacrifice to invite others into our home and share a meal.  It can be daunting to accept that invitation.  However, when we do we show the world that we are bound together by something richer than our own comfort, security, or entitlement.

Father, thank you for sending the true light into the world.  I pray that we would reflect the beauty of your light together in community.

By Aaron Negron

Lent Day 20 - Why Are You Living?

Why are you living?  What is motivating you to live today?

In truthful response, some of you may think, “not much”.  Others of you may feel compelled to live by a fear. For example, you are anxiously motivated by the thought, “will my family have enough to make ends meet.”  Others of us may be motivated by a proverbial ‘carrot’ dangling out in front, enticing us on to the next experience, pat on the back, new friendship, intimate moment, possession or adventure.

All these purposes fall short and will ultimately reveal themselves to be poor reasons for living.  When speaking to the pursuits, purposes and toils of humanity the author of Ecclesiastes says, “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” (chapter 1 v1).

Thankfully the Jesus-follower has a transcendent reason for living.  If you are God’s son or daughter you have a significant reason for drawing breath into your lungs today.  It’s the same reason that motivated and informed every movement and moment of Jesus’ life during the short years He walked among us as God incarnate.  Why did Jesus live?  To love God, His Father, and to love people - reconciling them with His Father.  We, like Jesus, live for the glory of God when we love God and love people.

The author of Ecclesiastes sought to find meaning in life through many means. Ultimately, nothing satisfied except God. Ecclesiastes concludes after 12 difficult chapters by saying in verse 13, “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.”  What are the commands of God we should keep?  As Jesus so eloquently put, all the commands can be summated in the directives to love God and love your neighbor. 

So today, what are you living for? Are you living for the transcendent purpose of loving God and loving people, or are you living for something lesser?

Father God, 
Please help my identity be first and foremost established in you. As I receive and live out the realities of who i am in You, may Your love compel me to love You and those you have placed around me (in my neighborhood, workplace and in every sphere),

Harlie & Liz Raethel

Lent Day 19 - His Worthiness Our Worth

“...lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”  Ephesians 4:1.

Notice the emphasis here in the text is on God who does the calling, not so much us for being called. I know what your thinking; but I’m so good at being called. I pray without ceasing and read my bible daily, and my speech is always full of grace. I’ve fixed my thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise.

Right, here’s the problem the bible words it a little differently. It says we don’t realize it, but we’re actually...wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Rev. 3:17). That God sees the extent of our wickedness and that every intention of the thoughts of our heart is only evil all the time (Gen. 6:5). 

It would seem then that there's a gap between how we perceive ourselves and our true state. Who we really are or more to the point how we really are. In fact Romans 8:8 says “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

So how can we change? Well, if you’re reading this you’ve probably already taken the first step, by repenting of your sins and believing on Christ for the salvation of your soul. 2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” and Galatians 5:16 tells us “...that if we” walk by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” 

The thing is you’ve probably already noticed that you still sin. Between now and the consummation of this salvation promise most of us still have a long way to go. Paul knows that and exhorts us to “live a life worthy of our calling”. As disciples of Christ, the outcome is already fixed, but the process is yet underway. Until the time we come face to face with Jesus, we continue to live in a fallen world, with fallen people, who struggle with fallen natures. Of whom the Apostle Paul says he is the Chief. Whether your an Apostle, Disciple or just plain old you or me, we all sin, a lot. But there's Good News, Ephesians 2:4-5 tell us that “...God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses [sins], made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” His Grace saved us even while we were dead sinners, how much more will it not keep us now that we are alive in Christ!

So then our responsibility is to do our best to live a life worthy of the calling and work He has already accomplished for us and in us through the cross. His worthiness becomes our worth!

Father, help me make the most of grace by living for your Glory. Holy Spirit, keep my heart inclined to you, my mind stayed on you, and my hands active for you. Help me to live in a manner worthy of your call oh God. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

What does a life worthy of God’s call look like, read Ephesians 4:1-3.

By Ruben Campos

Lent Day 18 - Love One Another

"By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:35

"...After we have done our best to communicate to a lost world, still we must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gave is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians." - Francis Schaeffer

Sharing the Gospel with unbelievers and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ are not in opposition to one another. At times the conversation about reaching more people with the Gospel versus caring for those already in the family of God creates tension. The more evangelistically inclined believers warn the church not to become a "holy huddle." The more shepherding types, remind the church not to forget to care for those who are already in the church body. Which one is more important? Should this tension exist? 

Jesus said that one of the primary ways we will influence the world around us is by loving one another. Our King Jesus defines love. (I John 4:10) Specifically, he served and sacrificed to rescue humanity. So, we look like Jesus when we love others by serving and sacrificing for them. Loving one another is a way to reflect Jesus, and proclaim the Gospel with our actions.

Consider a few more passages:

"Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." - I John 4:7

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, 5 does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - I Corinthians 13:4-7

"20 I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. 21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me...May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me." - John 17:20, 21, 23

Father, fill us with a fresh awareness of your love for us. Lead us to love others, beginning with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Empower us to be a people who serve, forgive, and prefer one another over ourself. May your love displayed through us draw others to you. 


Lent Day 17 - Taking The First Step

"14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ." - Romans 10:14-17

Being a disciple maker means that you will begin to look at the people in your life differently. Every person in your life is created in the image of God, and Jesus commands every one of them to follow Him. God has placed these people in your life so that you will do everything that you can to influence them. Following Jesus means that you will be teaching other people to follow Jesus.

Take some time to consider your first step toward disciple making. Whom has God placed in your life that you can teach to follow Jesus? Maybe God is laying someone on your heart you don’t know very well. Your first step could be building a relationship with that person. Maybe it’s someone you’ve known for years, and God is calling you to take that relationship to another level. God has placed you where you are, and the people around you are not there by accident. Keep in mind that the Great Commission calls us to every type of person, to those inside of the church as well as to those outside, to those who are like us and those who are very different. Everyone needs to understand who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him.

But remember, you’re not alone. God wants you to view the other Christians in your life as partners in ministry. God has not called you to make disciples in isolation; He has placed you in the context of a church body so that you can be encouraged and challenged by the people around you. And you are called to encourage and challenge them in return.

Whom has God placed in your life right now that you can begin making into a disciple in Jesus Christ? Whom has God placed in your life for you to partner with in making disciples?

Father, help us to take the first step towards making disciples by loving and engaging the people right in front of us. Lead us to pray and partner with the believers you have put in our lives rather than doing this work alone. Thank you for your church and your mission. 

An Excerpt From Francis Chan's Multiply

Lent Day 16 - Disciples Proclaim The Gospel

"This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come." - Matthew 24:14

"How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!" - Romans 10:15b

I just finished watching the great evangelist, Billy Graham's funeral. There were a number of encouragements that emerged as I watched, but maybe the most inspiring one was the way Billy Graham committed his life to proclaiming the message of Jesus and calling people to put their trust in Him. On his tomb stone he requested these words, "Billy Graham, Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ", along with the verse John 14:6 that states, "Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Some estimate that over the course of Billy's life around 215 million people heard the good news of Jesus through his preaching and hundreds of thousands made a public profession of faith in Jesus. 

Without the Gospel message that calls people to place their trust in Jesus, disciple-making is simply another religious conformity movement. It is the good news of Jesus' death as punishment for our sin, His resurrection displaying His power over sin and death, and the invitation to turn away from sin and declare Jesus as Lord that we can be transformed from dead enemies of God into His spiritually alive and deeply loved children. 

The Bible tells us in Matthew 24:14 that this Gospel will be preached in the whole earth and then the Jesus will return. While some debate about exactly what this means, I believe that as it says, God will give every people group on planet earth the opportunity to turn to Him, before He returns to gather His people to experience an eternity with Him. In fact, it is through making the Gospel known to all people that we are contributing to the work that will precede His return. If you're interested here's a link to a map that shows all of the people groups in the world that have yet to hear the message of Christ: https://joshuaproject.net/.

So what is our role in this world evangelization mission? You might be thinking, I'm no Billy Graham! Thankfully, you don't have to be Billy Graham to be involved in sharing the Gospel. If we are His disciples, we are called to proclaim the good news about Jesus to everyone we can until we die or He returns. We start doing this where we live, but should also be involved with taking the Gospel to the every corner of the globe. This means that we can talk to our family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, or we can literally pack our bags and go tell people that have never heard. Even if we never go beyond our city or nation's borders, at the very least we should be willing. Added to this, we can pray for those who are going or financially support those who go. This is normative involvement for a disciple of Jesus.  

Remember that sharing the Gospel with others begins with believing the Gospel ourselves. The reason Billy Graham and all of the great evangelists and missionaries that have lived were so committed to sharing the good news about Jesus is because it was exactly that, GOOD NEWS to them personally. 

This begs the question, "Is the Gospel good news to you?". Have you received the eternal salvation of your soul through putting your trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus? If not, you can receive this gift right now. If so, then you have an incredible message to share! 

Father, please bring salvation to those who are reading this who have never called on you to save them. For those of us who are your rescued children, give us the courage and passion to tell others this incredibly good news.

Lent Day 15 - Equipped to Do the Work of Ministry

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. - Ephesians 4:11-13

While it’s true that the pastors, elders, and apostles in the New Testament made disciples, we can’t overlook the fact that discipleship was everyone’s job. The members of the early church took their responsibility to make disciples very seriously. To them, the church wasn’t a corporation run by a CEO. Rather, they compared the church to a body that functions properly only when every member is doing its part.

Paul saw the church as a community of redeemed people in which each person is actively involved in doing the work of ministry. The pastor is not the minister—at least not in the way we typically think of a minister. The pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister.

The implications are huge. Don’t think of this as merely a theological issue. See yourself in this passage. Paul said that your job is to do the work of ministry! Jesus commanded you to make disciples!

Most Christians can give a number of reasons why they cannot or should not disciple other people: “I don’t feel called to minister.” “I just have too much on my plate right now; I don’t have time to invest in other people.” “I don’t know enough.” “I’ll start once I get my life in order.”

As convincing as these excuses may seem to us, Jesus’s commands don’t come with exception clauses. He doesn’t tell us to follow unless we’re busy. He doesn’t call us to love our neighbors unless we don’t feel prepared. In fact, in Luke 9:57-62, you’ll see several individuals who gave excuses for why they couldn’t follow Jesus at the time. Note of how Jesus responded to them. It may surprise you.

God made you the way you are; He has provided and will continue to provide you with everything you need to accomplish the task. Jesus commands you to look at the people around you and start making them into disciples. Obviously, only God can change people’s hearts and make them want to become followers. We just have to be obedient in making the effort to teach them, even though we still have plenty to learn ourselves.

Father, we pray that we would all join you in your work. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your mission and for providing everything we need to do this work. 

Excerpt From Francis Chan's Multiply

Lent Day 14 - Pride

"But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him, who is the head--Christ... Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor because we are members of one another. In your anger do not sin." Ephesians 4:15, 25-26.

I struggle with pride. We often think of a prideful person as someone who struggles to admit when they are wrong or loathes correction. I have wrestled with each of these. My pride creates a desire to perform well when it is motivated by fear of man...truth says God is pleased with Christ in me. (Matt 3:17)  My pride leads me to take on too many tasks when it is motivated by a need to prove myself to God and others...truth says I'm justified through Christ (Rom 5:1). Pride sends me to a self-depreciating, emotional state because of my desire to be enough to God and others...truth says nothing can separate me from God's unfailing love in Jesus (Rom 8:39). This deep seed of pride was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit through close community with other believers.

The verses mentioned above have been pivotal in my discipleship journey. We are commanded to speak the truth in love. We have all failed at some point to speak truth with love as the motivator. In addition, it is likely we have all failed to receive truth without unrighteous anger bubbling to the surface. In Ephesians 4:25-26 Paul calls us to speak truth in love and in the very next sentence cautions readers with one of the most recited verses on anger: be angry and do not sin. It's as if Paul knew receiving truth was hard! Unrighteous anger can surface and it's root is pride.  I am free to speak truth lovingly and receive truth with humility because I am secure in my identity in Christ, through belief in the gospel. With the right heart motivation, speaking truth and receiving truth is actually loving. (1 Jon 3:18; 1 Cor 13:6)

Friction and conflict are components of a healthy gospel community; sharpeners. (Prov 27:17) The beauty is, conflict provides an opportunity for our sin to be brought to light. In a healthy gospel community we get to fight sin together through accurate application of scripture with the Holy Spirit as our helper. I can tell you first hand, any bit of progress I have made in my pride struggle is credited to God and his design of community. I praise him for the truth-speakers in my life who lovingly call out my sin, who walk along me as I fight to believe the gospel and apply scripture, and who remind me of my identity in the perfect person of Jesus.

Jesus, your kindness leads me to repentance. I confess the pride that surfaced even as I struggled to write these words. Holy Spirit guide us as we grow in speaking truth lovingly and give us the grace to receive truth with humility. Quickly convict us of our unrighteous anger and pride in the process. God, thank you for your unfailing love and grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. -Amen 

By Haley Negron

Lent Day 13 - The Harvest

The bible says that while traveling from town to town teaching the good news Jesus “saw the crowds,(and) had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to his disciples, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”  Matt. 35-38.

Today, at this very moment in time, the amount of work remaining for the kingdom of God is staggering. It can be be overwhelming and disheartening to look and see so much brokenness in the world arounds us. It’s even more difficult when we consider our calling as Christians goes well beyond just caring for others. We’re called to share the Gospel and disciple others to be transformed into the image of Jesus himself. This task would be impossible if God hadn’t left us two keys in accomplishing it.

First, Matthew says “He has compassion on them”(v.36). Have you stopped and considered the inclination of your own heart? What motivates you? Are we being moved by compassion like Christ? Do we sense the helplessness of the souls around us or are we just checking off the boxes of our never ending Christian checklist?

Second, the mission seems impossible because we typically attempt to do things in our own strength. In this text Jesus reminds us to to look above and pray, to seek help from the God of the harvest. This is great news! God is the one who sends out the workers and we don’t have to do it on our own. We, however, must be intentional about praying for additional workers.  

Are you praying for your disciples to multiply and make more disciples? Are we asking the Lord of the harvest for more gathers? And are we being moved by compassion towards the lost souls around us?

Lord give us compassion in our hearts for the people around us. Give us discernment to turn to you and not ourselves. Grant that we might see more workers in the fields of your harvest. In Jesus name amen.

By Reem Campos

Lent Day 12 - Dealing With Failure

It’s less than two weeks into Lent, and I’ve already broken my fast.

I experienced the typical cycle: determination (I will complete my fast), disappointment (I failed), and now decision (what next?).

This devotional is my answer to that question. When we mess up, we have a decision to make. We can rely on ourselves and WORK harder, trying to make ourselves righteous by undoing whatever it is that we messed up to begin with. Or, we can look to God and His GRACE to re-establish our identity.

Hear me say this: I’m not discouraging fasting, so long as it’s done with the right motive/heart. There are only two ways we can fast. For ourselves, or for Christ. When we fast for ourselves (as has become clear to myself that I was doing), we grow further from the Lord instead of closer to Him. We deepen the well of self-work, instead of drawing from the well of Christ’s work. Any fast that leads us to make more of ourselves is not Christ-centered at all. But when we fast for Christ, we deepen our understanding that we are His, bought, redeemed, set free, and empowered by His Holy Spirit to live grace-filled lives, rooted in our identity in Him! (I am thankful that God set me free from my self-centered fast.)

David said in Psalm 51:16,17, “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.”

Who are you fasting for today?

“Dear Lord, I pray that our fasting would lead us to broken spirits and humbled hearts. May we not think more of ourselves during this season, but more of You. Amen!”

By Matt Altman