Lenten Devotional 2024 –

Group 2: First Week in Lent

Designated Readings for the first week in Lent:
Genesis 22:1-18
Psalm 6
Romans 8:31-39
Mark 1:12-15

Collect (Prayer of the Day):

O Lord God, you led your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide now the people of your Church, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Education by Randi Huddleston:

The number 40 is a recurring image throughout the Bible and quite possibly one of God’s favorite numbers. If he played basketball, it would without a doubt be His jersey number. Just a handful of examples of 40 being used include the 40 days and nights Noah, his family, and the animals spent on the ark, the 40 days of temptation Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert traveling to the promised land. The number is consistently associated with times of struggle on the path to redemption or restoration. It is the struggle and striving before and toward the goodness or beauty of God’s presence or forgiveness. This number is also associated with the 40 days of fasting for Lent, as such it is a season for self-denial and reflection. We deny our physical desires and replace them with other acts that show devotion to God. Ultimately, these 40 days are the preparation for the Easter season of rebirth and life.

Encouraging Devotional by Kate Glenney:

The Lenten season provides an opportunity for each of us to intentionally grow in our relationship with God. Lent is a time period of 40 days, which represents the 40 days that Jesus was tested in the wilderness. In this week’s Lenten reading, our focus is on God’s sacrificial love for us. His love is shown in Genesis 22:1-18. In this passage, God puts Abraham to the test by commanding Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham is obedient to the Lord and brings Isaac all the way up the mountain to the place where God called him to sacrifice his son. Right before sacrificing Isaac, however, the Lord calls out and stops Abraham. His faith was tested, and it proved that he feared the Lord.

This story ultimately points toward Jesus. As they travel towards the destination of sacrifice, Isaac asks his father concerning the whereabouts of the sacrificial lamb, and Abraham replies that God will provide. At the last moment, God ends up providing a ram. Not only does he provide a substitute for Isaac, but God gives his Son Jesus as the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. God doesn’t let Abraham give up his son because He knows that He will provide His own son, Jesus. Abraham believes in the promise of God and His covenant, and it is credited to him as righteousness.

In both the readings from Genesis and Romans, the image of a sheep appears. Whereas Abraham says that a sheep would be provided, in the second reading from the book of Romans, Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 saying that “we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” Though we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered, Christ, the righteous one, is slain in our place instead: He is the sheep and the sacrifice provided by God. Jesus sacrificed his life for us, so that we can live a new life with God. His love is sacrificial, and it should transform our lives and how we live! Isaac is representative of all of us, for he was supposed to die, but then God stepped in. Similarly, we deserve death, but Jesus’ ultimate act of grace, dying in our place, allows us to live and be reconciled with God. These Lenten passages invite us to dwell on the way that the story of Abraham and Isaac and the story of Jesus is our story too. And we can see, in both Genesis and Romans, that we can believe and trust in His love which is already working to transform us through Christ!

Encouraging Devotional by Sarah Bazzell:

Throughout the Bible, the number 40 is often connected to the transformation that comes through trials and temptations. It represents a change from rebellion to repentance and ultimately brings salvation and new life, which is often showcased in the Bible through fasting. The Bible teaches us that fasting should be a way for us to dive deeper into our relationship with Christ and seek Him when we are in the wilderness and going through struggles in this life. Fasting is a chosen hardship that allows us to deny ourselves and lean on God, just as Jesus fasted in the desert to seek the will of his Father. In Psalm 6:3, one of the Lenten readings appointed for this week, David pleads to God in a time of need when his “soul is also greatly troubled.” In this Psalm, David is weeping and crying out for God to answer his prayers. In the same way, God wants us to cry out to Him when we go through trials, so that He can lead us through the wilderness of this life. Our God is a loving God that understands how we feel when we are going through hardships, and He wants us to rely on His Strength instead of our own. Lent is the perfect opportunity to practice taking a step back from our busy lives and refocusing our mindset on Christ. Join us in praying the Collect for the first Lenten Sunday to ask God to graciously bring us from our sufferings into His Promised Land through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Collect: O Lord God, you led your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide now the people of your Church, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Come Exodus with Us by Harper Auringer:

In Mark 1, the Gospel reading appointed for this week, we are reminded of Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. During these 40 days, He fasted to resist the temptation of Satan. Similarly, Christians are encouraged to fast during the 40 days of Lent. The story of Jesus in the wilderness acts as an example for us, pointing to an earlier story of temptation that indicates the importance of fasting. In the story of the Fall, God told mankind not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and we know how that story ended. When we fast during Lent, we have the opportunity to go back to the garden and deny our fleshly desires, reject the lies of the devil, and choose God—something our first parents, Adam and Eve, should have done in Eden. Fasting is a very important concept, and there are many different ways to participate. Traditional fasting during the time of Lent includes abstaining from consuming meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. This fasting rule dates back to the fourth century and is a great example of how to fast, but it is not the only way to practice this spiritual discipline. In our modern world, people fast from all kinds of things, such as sugars, social media, secular music, etc. At the end of the day, the importance of fasting does not come from what we are abstaining from but rather that we are replacing our fleshly desires with a true desire for God’s presence. During this season, we should ask ourselves: How am I using the sacrifices of fasting to honor and know the Lord? The essence of observing Lent is in finding and knowing our Lord.