“Go into the village ahead of you…untie the colt and bring it here…’The Lord needs it.’” What an amazing Lord and savior, always involving us in his work. I am sure Jesus could have miraculously created or made a donkey to appear anytime for his needs, but instead some person or family is invited to supply the donkey that Jesus needed on this day and this time and he finds a faithful, generous sharing in response. What simple things does Jesus ask of you? How easy do you find it to share? Yes Jesus, whatever you need. Amen.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Modern Christians often expect God’s love to be found in celebrative music, positive preaching and expressive emotions. What is the role of fasting, weeping, and mourning in experiencing God’s love? When was the last time you fasted? What part do weeping and mourning play in your prayer life? We thank you the “even now” you offer us is the invitation to return to you with all our heart. Give us grace to accept your invitation. Amen.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Love is foundational to the keeping of God’s commandments in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ summarizing the law and purposes of God in the New Testament. Why is love the best? How does it bind all the other virtues together? There is much talk of love in the culture all around us, how is this love we are called to here similar or different than how the term is used elsewhere? Help us to love, Lord Jesus!
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved…Bear with one another” A list of synonyms for “bear with” includes “put up with,” “make allowance for,” “withstand,” “accept,” “tolerate” and “endure.” None of these is easy in the context of our relationships with people. How are these new clothes working out in my life? What makes it possible to “bear with” when my way and needs are not being appreciated or met? Lord Jesus, be it with family, disciples, sinners, Pharisees, or soldiers on the way to the cross, you demonstrate “bearing with.” Grow me to bear with all people every day.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with…patience.” I have heard Christian friends talk of patience probably more than any other virtue. Sometimes they are praying for it, sometimes telling people not to pray for it since God might give you really hard things to bear. What if Paul’s imagery is right, that patience is a virtue that we put on like clothes? It might not feel right. I might look a strange wearing that new outfit, but what if I simply start practicing patience in all situations? Lord Jesus, through intentional practice; make me more patient daily.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with…humility and meekness…” Philippians 2:3-4 share Jesus’ example of humility and meekness as “doing nothing from self-ambition, considering others better than self, and putting the interest of others ahead of your own.” If this represents the best in humility and meekness, how would I look different in my actions toward those around me if I put on these qualities? In what way could I practically put others interest first through this next week? Spirit of Christ; help me this practice putting others interests ahead of mine. Make me aware. Amen.
NOTE: This Lenten season I will focus our devos on “clothing ourselves with the character of Jesus.” Often Lent focuses on “giving up something” and leaves “putting on the new” untouched.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness…” These qualities are not something we possess, but rather the manner in which we live with people in everyday life. I think of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, how did Jesus show compassion and kindness in this real life situation? How does compassion and kindness show through my life? How can I intentionally practice these in my life and ministry? Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, clothe me with your compassion and kindness. Amen.
“And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” The power of the
resurrected Christ is bringing everything under his control. This has great implications for us body, mind, and spirit. How does Jesus’ resurrection power help me live out faith in my body? Is this transformational power just about the future or is it meant to change my life now too? Transform me by Your power O God!
“Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” Sometimes it is easy to talk about godly character in some theoretical way, disconnected from what we live in our body. “Self-control” is the embodiment of bringing the body under the discipline of heart and mind. Why is it tempting to have an intellectual faith separated from the body? Why is our body and what we do with it important to our faith and ministry? Spirit of God, only through your power may I live a holy and honorable life. Empower me.
“The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor.” The king’s great wealth, honor, and power come to him as an extension of God’s kingdom’s control. In ministry leadership there is always a temptation to think we are in charge and run things, even
good things. Is my leadership rooted in and submitted to the Kingdom of God in Christ? Am I aware that any leadership I have flows as an extension “under his control?” Lead me not into a power trip temptation. Amen.