A Change of Heart

Isaiah 58:6-9: “Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house: when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”

During these 40 days of Lent, we can start focusing on the outward demonstrations of our faith. In this passage from the book of Isaiah, the Lord emphasizes that he is not focused on just fasting for fasting’s sake. He wants the fasting, the praying, the meditating to result in a change of heart. This change of heart will be manifested in how we care for his people. Lent is supposed to be a time of introspection; however, we cannot stay in that place. The introspection is to lead to transformation of our characters and our behaviors. With that transformation, we are to serve those in need; to work for justice; to see people healed and set free, to do the work that Jesus did when he dwelt among us.

When we move into the Lord’s work, we will know his presence and help. How do you see your spiritual disciplines resulting in work for the Kingdom?

Return to the Lord

Joel 2:12-13: “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”

As we enter into the 40 days of Lent, we are called to remember Christ’s journey to the cross as well as the 40 days he spent fasting in the wilderness. Just as Joel spoke to the Israelites, so the Lord speaks to us today. He calls us to a time of fasting and repentance. While this process is never the most comfortable or enjoyable, it is a process that leads to forgiveness, to healing, and to restoration to the Lord.

In the wilderness, in his ministry, and especially in his death, Jesus denied the desires of the flesh in order to submit to the desires of his Father. That is our calling as well.

Are fasting and repenting part of your Lenten experience? How can you implement these practices even more so that you can move even deeper into the love, forgiveness and healing of the Lord?

A New and Contrite Heart

Ash Wednesday

The Collect: “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

After committing his grievous sin with Bathsheba, David prays to the Lord to create a new and contrite heart within him. Like David, we all fall short of the glory of God, we all sin, and we all need the Lord to soften our hearts, to make them new and holy before him. How will you use the 40 days of Lent to allow the Lord to do this work in your heart?

Jesus Changes Everything

“We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-21

Peter writes about his experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He longs for his readers to understand what he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. Jesus was glorified in the presence of Peter, James, and John. Not only did they see his glory, but the Father affirmed that Jesus was truly the Son of God, the promised deliverer of his people.

Jesus, as the Son of God, changes everything! After Pentecost, Peter’s mission was to spread the good news about Jesus. His life and work radically changed. Just as Jesus had spoken to Peter, his life became about fishing for men instead of fish.

Do you understand the good news of Jesus Christ? Has it radically changed you like it did Peter? How do you spread this good news? How has it changed your work, your relationships, your life?

Beholding the Glory of the Lord

Matthew 17:1-9

“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’”

Jesus knows his time with the disciples is short. He has tried to prepare them for his betrayal, death and resurrection. They struggle to understand the things that are about to happen.

Jesus gives them this gift of revelation. Up on the mountain, Peter, James, and John behold Jesus in his glory. It is a life-changing experience for all of them. To confirm their vision of Jesus in his glory, the Lord speaks to affirm his Beloved Son.

All four of the Gospel writers confirm Jesus’ transfiguration. This experience was not just for them but for us. They beheld his glory; now, we are called to do the same.

How do you behold the glory of the Lord?