In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
I love to walk in the morning. My favorite path is straight and the way is easy. Someone has done the hard work of preparing the path for me. John the Baptist came with a call to the people to prepare the way, to make a straight path for the Lord to come to them, to repent. Preparing our hearts is hard work. We must listen to the Spirit, examine our lives, and confess our sin. When we do clear out a way for the Lord, he will come and walk with us. He will make our way straight.
Help us clear a path for you each day. Remove the clutter of our lives and help us to focus on you so we can share your love with others along our path today.
View the post for February 27 for an explanation of my Lenten Project
You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
The air was cold and the snow covered the ground. The leaves were gone and the tree laid bare. Man’s sin, his choosing to decide for himself what is good and evil rather than trusting God’s wisdom, has made the world a cold place. Yet as with the tree in the snow there is promise of new life. Spring will come and the leaves will be full of life. So Jesus comes into our lives, warms us, and gives us new life.
Lay bare our hearts and show us our sin. Melt the coldness from our hearts with your love and forgiveness.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
Another yellow lady slipper - how would you compare it to the image of the lady slipper in the previous post. I am sure that if I ask any ten people which image was better each image would be selected by at least one person. Often after I put images on my computer I struggle trying to decide which one is the best. In the end I am not sure that it matters which one is best or even which one is better. The ultimate goal of my image is that I create something that people enjoy, images that make them appreciate the beauty of God’s world or think deeply about his word. Spending time comparing each image at the computer will sap my energy and passion that I had when I took the image.
Constant comparison does that in our lives. In our society it seems that we are always reducing things to numbers so we can tell which is best - highest number of 5 star reviews, number of likes, size of church membership, and on and on. It is such as easy sin to fall into, comparing ourselves with others. Paul warned the Galatians of the poison of comparing. Instead of comparison he advised the believers to test their own actions. The more we know our own heart the less likely we are to look down on others. The more we examine our own motives and the lives we create without comparing ourselves to others the more we are able to carry our own burdens and have the courage and strength to help shoulder the load of our brother’s burdens.
Forgive our sin of comparing. Help us to see that you have created each one of us with unique gifts. Teach us to test our own actions without comparing ourselves to each other. Open our eyes to see ourselves the way you see each of us and give us the courage to stop comparing and start carrying each other’s burdens.
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
It was lush and green, this path that I have walked on so many times, but it was different that day. The impending storm made the skies dark and the well known path ahead foreboding.
Jesus had walked into Jerusalem on this road many times before, but on this day it was different. It wasn’t an accident the way he came into Jerusalem; he had planned for the donkey to be available (Mark 11:1-6); he came in from the east, opposite from the procession of the Roman soldiers on their horses who came from the west for crowd control during the Passover. His followers and the crowds were rejoicing with loud Hosannas, but he knew what he was doing. He knew the road ahead was going to be dark for him and for his disciples. It wasn’t easy for him. His soul was troubled, but he knew that the whole purpose of his life had been this hour. He faced that hour for you and me.
Make this day and week for us, a week to be amazed at your love. Fill us with wonder again at the story of a God who loves us so much that he sent you to take away our sin. Fill us with a joy at this love that our lives are daily changed by its truth.
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Sometimes I try to see myself as the younger son in Jesus's parable of the Loving Father. He had decided that he was going to leave home and chart his own course. His way had been exciting at first filled with good times and easy days, but those days were over. Instead of the happy, easy existence he had imagined he found himself at a dead end. He took a good hard look at himself and decided that he must make the long journey home. It wouldn’t be an easy journey.
I wonder if the roads he followed were like this one, with dark clouds and few people. We were a long way from home as we drove this highway at the end of our road trip with still a hard week of driving before us. Repentance is never an easy journey filled with dark clouds and mountains of sin like the mountains and clouds we found on our road back home. The younger son rehearsed the words he would say to his father never expecting to see his Father running toward him. As we walk the lonely mountain road through our sin we move forward knowing that the Loving Father waits expectantly for us. He has been looking for us everyday. It is only with the Father that we will find ourselves at home.
“God of homecoming, be with us as we journey through Lent. May we learn to relinquish our old ways so that we are ready to receive your newness.
(Prayer from A Way Other Than Our Own, by Walter Brueggemann)
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