Category Archives: Lent

Lessons from the Passion

Matthew 26:30-39

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

“I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

The last hours of Jesus’ life bear powerful truths for our daily living.  Lessons and principles for following Christ are to be learned in almost every event of those last hours.

Watch and learn…

  • On Thursday night, Jesus ate the traditional Passover meal with His disciples.  That night, He performed an act of great humility.  The Messiah washed the feet of His apostles.  He taught them that to be great, you must be small.  The way to lead is to serve.  Remember Jesus washing the disciples’ dirty feet if you feel unimportant, un-empowered or small.
  • Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.  He declared his loyalty, even to the death.  But Jesus sadly informed him that he would vehemently deny knowing the Savior three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.  Remember Peter as he heard the rooster crow early Friday morning if you feel self-sufficient or confident in your own resources alone.
  • After the meal, Jesus went to the garden to pray.  His followers chose sleep, not prayer.  In the loneliness of those hours, Jesus’ heart was in great agony as He accepted death for our salvation.  Remember Jesus kneeling alone in the garden if you find it hard to do the right thing.
  • Then came the trials.  First, Christ stood before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin; then, the Roman governor, Pilate; next, Herod, the Jewish puppet king; and finally back to Pilate again.  In cowardice, Pilate let the people choose; Jesus or Barabbas, a convicted criminal.  Remember Jesus as he heard the crowd shout, “Crucify him!  Give us Barabbas!” If you feel wrongfully accused.
  • The Roman soldiers beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him and made Him carry His cross.  Remember the humiliation of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa if you feel rejected or excluded.
  • Jesus was nailed to the cross with huge spikes. In the midst of His torture, He prayed for His executioners.  Remember Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them,” if you find it hard to forgive.
  • Those same soldiers gambled for His clothes.  Remember how Jesus must have felt as the soldiers played games at the foot of the cross if you feel discouraged by power struggles, feel used or feel misunderstood.
  • There are lessons to be learned from all suffering but the passion of Christ shows us the true heart of God.  The Lenten season gives us 40 days to ponder Christ’s passion and learn from it.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – Give me the wisdom to learn lessons of service and humility as I consider Christ’s passion.

Amen.

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THE FIRST STONE

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

John 8:2-11

Image result for he who is wo sin cast the first stoneMedical doctors and counselors tell us that a great deal of sickness, both mental and physical, is brought on by the fact that people carry around a tremendous burden of unresolved guilt. As creations of God, we long for His forgiveness, even though we don’t even recognize the need. Hear a story of forgiveness.

The woman was being shoved and jostled along the dusty road. Her long, dark hair was covering her face. She could see little. She had stumbled and fallen several times and the brush burns on her elbows and knees stung.

The men harassing her called her terrible names as they roughly pushed her along. They were taking her to the right place – the church. They were taking her to the right person – Jesus. But, they were taking her there for all the wrong reasons.

The men were well dressed, finely appointed religious leaders. On the outside, they were excellent examples of the best religion had to offer, but on the inside, they were dead and filthy.

They had found this woman in the act of adultery and were anxiously anticipating stoning her to death. Thinking to entrap Jesus with a violation of the law at the same time, they took the woman to the temple where Jesus was teaching.

In response to their question about the death sentence on this woman, Jesus at first ignored them and then began writing in the dirt with His finger. The woman cowered terrified that she would be stoned to death within minutes. She dared not lift her eyes to meet any of theirs.

Jesus knew her fear – He could see it. But since He was God, He also knew her heart and the hearts of the pompous men judging her. Jesus looked at the adulterous woman as He looks at you and me. He was filled with love for this woman He had created just a few years before. Maybe as He wrote on the ground, He thought of you and me, people He would create 2000 years later.

His eyes met the eyes of the religious leaders. He looked into the emptiness of their hearts. He made a simple statement that carried with it the authority from heaven and said, “If you have not sinned, you can throw the first stone.” Those men convicted by the irrefutable authority of the Lord walked away – one by one.

Then His eyes met the frightened eyes of the woman. He asked her where her accusers were. Upon her reply, He performed a remarkable miracle. He forgave her.

God’s miracle of forgiveness continues 2000 years later. During this Lenten season confess your need for God’s forgiveness. By the grace of Jesus Christ – you are forgiven!

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – We confess our need for forgiveness and gratefully receive it. May we forgive those who have “trespassed against us” as you have forgiven us.

AMEN

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Some Thoughts About Fasting

The season of Lent is always a time to think and prayer about the value of fasting. Today I will share some thought from a variety of people from diverse background about fasting.

 

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“One way to begin to see how vastly indulgent we usually are is to fast. It is a long day that is not broken by the usual three meals. One finds out what an astonishing amount of time is spent in the planning, purchasing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up of meals.”

– Elisabeth Elliot

“If the solemnities of our fasting, though frequent, long, and severe, do not serve to put an edge upon devout affections, to quicken prayer, to increase Godly sorrow, and to alter the temper of our minds, and the course of our lives, for the better, they do not at all answer the intention, and God will not accept them as performed to Him.”

– Matthew Henry

“The greatest saint in the world is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. It is he who is most thankful to God.”

– William Law

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.”

– William Secker

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.”

– Ole Hallesby

“This Man (Jesus) suddenly remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this Man who remarks that His mere presence suspends all normal rules?”

– C.S. Lewis

“The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us.”

– William Thrasher

“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.”

– Wesley L. Duewel

“Fastings and vigils without a special object in view are time run to waste.”

– David Livingstone


My Lenten fast is the “John Wesley Fast.” You might want to do this as well.


Prayer

Lord help me this day to develop a Lenten discipline. Allow me to conquer the desires of my body for rest, comfort and ease so that I may offer myself to You. For it was in your discomfort and pain that you brought life to me. Let this Lenten season be a time that I remember your sacrifice as I make the spiritual journey to the cross.

Amen


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The Lenten Journey

AS we begin Lent I trust that all of us have some special practice as we begin our journey to the cross. My wife and I have written a Lenten Prayer guide that contains some stories and prayer help designed especially for lent. This guide is available as a Kindle book from Amazon.

Click below to  read a sample or purchase.

Book-Cover-2017

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TREASURE

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—–Luke 12:27-34

I have a little rock, smaller than the palm of my hand and shaped like a perfect heart.  On a summer day while taking a walk with my grandfather, he noticed it on the ground and gave it to me.  That was more than fifty years ago, and after moving sixteen times and a lot of life, I still have that little rock.  It is one of my greatest treasures.

Jesus spoke of treasure.  He had been telling his followers that the things we worry about – the material things like clothes and food, where we live and how much is in our “storehouses” ahave already been provided by the Father.  He encouraged them to look at the beauty of the lilies of the field and the helpless birds fed by their Creator.  No greater provision could have been made for them.

Your treasure becomes what drives you.  Your treasure determines how you spend your time and money and energy.  Your treasure dominates your thoughts and consumes your passion.  Your treasure defines your soul.

Jesus had just told the parable of the rich fool.  This man had planned and horded and saved.  He had become the rich owner of many storehouses and was proud of his hard work and accumulated abundance.  One night – he died.  He had a great wealth of the world’s temporary treasure all put away in a “safe” place, and a poverty of eternal treasure stored away in heaven.

Jesus has told us to make sure our treasure is in heaven, to make sure that what is important is eternal, to make sure that what is precious to us is of God.  Christ has told us that what we cherish must be spiritual, must last past the few years of our lives, and must live on in the souls of those we have served.  Our spiritual footprints should help others who journey behind us to find the way to Christ.  Then our treasure is forever safely kept by God.

There is an old Creole proverb that says, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Jesus said your heart all of who you are determines what you treasure.  Jesus warns us, we cannot serve two masters.  We will choose to give our hearts to the world’s temporary treasure or God’s eternal treasure.

While you ponder and wait this lent be honest about whom you love and what you love.  Take the time of this season to store up that eternal treasure, that real treasure so rare and precious it cannot be bought.  It can be found in unexpected places and unexpected people as we serve in the name of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “Your heart and your treasure will be in the same place.”


Prayer– Lord, Teach me the value of eternal treasure. Forgive me for desiring the world’s treasure.

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Day 37–April 1

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 15:1-20

Prayer Thought

Lord  you were mocked and beaten unjustly for me. Please give me the courage to stand for you in my relatively easy station in life. Give me , I pray, ways to stand for you. Amen

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Questions for Jesus

1. When you said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” did you remember that there was no room in the Bethlehem inn?

2. When you helped Joseph in the carpenter’s shop, did you think of the wood of the manger? Did you think of the cross?

3. When you referred to yourself as the Good Shepherd, did you think of the shepherds that worshipped you at night?

4. Did the same angel that heralded your birth in the field outside Bethlehem encourage you in the Garden of Gethsemane?

5. When you were visited by the kings as a child, did you think of your throne in heaven?

6. When you debated the law with the scholars in the temple when you were twelve years old, did you remember giving the Ten Commandments to Moses of Mt. Sinai?

7. When you were baptized in the Jordan River, did you think about the time you parted the Red Sea?

8. Did you ever sit at the shore of the Sea of Galilee and remember the day ofjesus_christ_image_212 creation when you separated the water and the land?

9. When you viewed the city of Jerusalem from the hill, did you think of your second coming?

10. Did you ever eat an apple and think of the Garden of Eden?

11. Did you ever think of the ark when you rode in a boat on the Sea of Galilee?

12. Did a bowl of beans make you think of Esau’s mistake?

13. When you looked at the night sky, did you remember hanging the stars in space?

14. When you ate sweet bread, did you think about the forty years you sent the angels to spread manna on the ground in the wilderness?

15. When you saw a gold coin, did you remember the main street at home and get homesick?

16. Did you think it was funny when big-mouthed Peter sank trying to walk on water?

17. How did it feel to be Mary’s child and creator?

18. When you blessed the children of the first century did you see the children of the twenty-first century?

19. Why did you make mosquitoes?

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Day 36–March 31

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 14:66-72

Prayer Thought

Lord we all have times that we deny you in our own way. May these times be used as time of purging and strengthening of our faith and resolve. Amen

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Day 35–March 30

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 14:43-65

Prayer Thought

In the midst of treachery and betrayal no one could find fault with you. Through your grace push us to live lives that are honoring to your sacrifice. Amen

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Stand Aside

When the Salvation Army first went to India, the British authorities were concerned about them, and issued an order that no open meetings and no parades were to be held. But Commissioner Tucker of the Salvation Army decided that order must be defied. One day the Salvation Army came marching down the street. They were met by soldiers. The officer in charge said, “In the name of her majesty, the Queen of England, I order you to disperse.” But Tucker replied, “In the name of the King of kings, I order you to stand aside.” They stood aside.

One day, one palm-waving day, Jesus marched right into Jerusalem, the Holy City, and said to everything unholy, “Stand aside.” And he is calling Palm Sundayus to join him in the parade, and to say to every form of hatred, bigotry, ignorance and apathy, “Stand aside,” and when we dare to do it those things will stand aside. His kingdom will live in us, and we will help spread his rule in his world.

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