Dear Friends at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood,
We begin our Lenten journey together and this gives us an opportunity to look inward at our lives and consider where and how we are with God. In this season we can reflect on the meaning of life and how do we bless others in a hurting world. Each week we will provide daily readings, scriptures, and thoughts for us to ponder the next 40 days.
On Ash Wednesday our season of Lent begins. We enter a time of 40 days, excluding Sundays, to the Easter celebration. Let us recognize that Lent is a period of spiritual discipline in which we deepen our relationship to our Lord. Lent concludes with Holy Week when we remember the entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, the betrayal, the crucifixion, the burial, and the JOY of the resurrection.
Let’s encourage one another to make our Lenten Journey and practices a priority. If we all carve out time each day to hear what God is trying to say to us, God will provide you with valuable spiritual insights. Through these practices, devotions, meditation, fasting, scripture reading and prayer each of us will grow in depth in our walk with Jesus the Christ.
Find 20 minutes each day to sit with the Lord. It may be helpful to keep a journal or notebook of reflections and thoughts as we go through the daily devotions.
The Lenten devotional will be provided each week with a link through our EPress to the FPCH website an our ‘Musings” page.
Please do not hesitate to contact Tom Hartshorn, firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions thoughts or ideas for our Lenten journey together.
So the journey begins…
*The inspiration for this devotional series comes from, ‘Turning an Upside Down World Right-side Up’, Rev. Dr. Thomas K. Tewell
ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
SOLITUDE AND SILENCE NURTURES THE SOIL
Read Luke 8:4-15
To be sure, at first, we thought solitude was a way to recharge our batteries in order to enter life’s many competitions with new vigor and strength. In time however we find that solitude gives us power not to win the race but to ignore the rat race altogether. Slowly, we find ourselves letting go of the inner compulsions to acquire more wealth than we need, look more youthful than we are, attain more status than is wise. In the stillness, our false, busy selves are unmasked and seen for the imposters they truly are.
-Richard J. Foster, Prayer
In solitude, I get rid of my scaffolding. Scaffolding is all the stuff we use to keep ourselves propped up, to convince ourselves that we are important or okay. In solitude, we have no friends to talk with, no phone calls (texts, facebook, Instagram, etc.) or meetings, not television, no music or books or news papers to occupy and distract the mind. Each of us would be, in the words of the old hymn, ‘Just As I Am’. Neither accomplishments, nor resumes, nor possessions, nor net worth would define me; just me and my sinfulness, my desire or lack of desire for God.
- What is the importance of solitude and silence in nurturing the “good soil” that allows us to grow in Christ? What is it about solitude that makes an environment of spiritual growth?
- Are you willing to discipline yourself to spend some time in solitude each day during the Lenten season and “get rid of your scaffolding”?
- As you spend time in silence, ask God to reveal to you some creative new ideas for your life. Take 3-5 minutes and just be present with God in the silence. Sit with a pad of paper or journal and write down what you are sensing from God.
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP
Read Matthew 4:18-22
“I’m no longer my own, but Thine. Put me to whatever thou wilt. Rank me with whomever thou wilt. Put me to doing; put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee; or laid aside for thee; exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full; let me be empty. Let me have all things; let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all thing to the pleasure and disposal and now O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou are mine and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which we have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen”
-John Wesley’s New Year’s Prayer in His Covenant Service at Midnight
If you are a Christian, keep your bags packed and your eye on the highway, because the life of faith is a continual journey. Sometimes this journey is symbolic in the sense that Christians are always changing, growing, and moving along the road toward a deeper faith in God. But often the traveling done by Christians is quite literal. If there is a settlement down the highway where the gospel has not been shared, eventually Christians will out their feet, their boats, their horses, or their cars into the motion to go there.
-Thomas Long, The Witness of Preaching
- Take 5 min of silence and meditate your call discipleship. Reflect on when you heard the words of Christ, “Follow Me.”
- What steps on your journey of faith is God asking you to take this Lenten season? Do you feel these steps are to risky or can you step our in faith?
- How do you react to John Wesley’s New Years Prayer? Is it risky to pray this prayer?
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
DISAPPOINTED IN ONES WALK
Read Matthew 26:31-35 and 69-75
I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with particular things I have done as with aspects of who I have become. I have a nagging sense that all is not as it should be. Some of this disappointment is trivial. Some of this disappointment is neurotic. Sometimes I am too concerned about what others think of me, even people I don’t know. Some of this disappointment, I know, is worse than trivial; it is simply the sour fruit of self-absorption. I attend a high school reunion and can’t choke back the desire to stand out by looking more attractive or having achieved more impressive accomplishments than my classmates. I speak to someone with whom I want to be charming, and my words seem awkward and pedestrian. I am disappointed in my ordinariness.
Where does this disappointment come from? A common answer in our day is that it is lack of self-esteem, a failure to accept oneself. That may be part Of the answer, but it is not the whole of it, not by a long shot. The older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem – my failure to b the person God had in mind when God created me. It is the pearly ache in my heart to be at home with God.
-John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wantedi
- Take 5 min and meditate on the scripture you just read. Sit in silence and put yourself in the place of Peter.
- Lent is a season in which we consider the work God wants to do in our lives. God often reveals the work He wants to do in us as we become aware of our disappointments with ourselves. Can you think of a time in your life when you were disappointed in yourself? How did you deal with it and how did God show up?
- Do you think Peter was disappointed in himself? How does being disappointed with ourselves bring us closer to God?