||40days|| week one: a journey

Today we begin a journey. A forty day journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is a journey that mirrors the forty days when rain fell on the earth to purge it from sin and injustice, while Noah and his family were saved in the ark (Genesis 7:12).

It is a journey that recalls us to the forty years when the people of Israel wandered in the desert because of their disobedience and distrust of God (Deuteronomy 29:5).

It is a journey that returns us to the forty days when Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested and tried by the evil one in preparation for His ministry (Mark 1:13).

In this ||40days|| journey, we are preparing ourselves for the joys of Easter by having a deeper experience of the Cross. Like Noah, it is a time of rescue from sin. Like Israel, it is a time of purification from wrongs. Like Jesus, it is a time to come back to the word of God and resist the evil one.

Traditionally, this journey is called Lent, and begins today on Ash Wednesday. Traditional Lenten disciplines are fasting, prayer, and giving. Thus, we can see the movement from abstaining from something (fasting), turning to God (prayer), and putting another discipline in its place (giving). That being said, there are all sorts of ways that we can enter into this journey to the Cross of Christ.

Will you take the ||40days|| journey?

Saturday Prayer 43

Have mercy on me, O God; according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)

Search through my soul, O God.
Reveal my hidden sin.
Cut through my self-deception,
And cleanse me from within.

Apart from You our souls are lost.
We’re blind to our wrong ways.
We trick ourselves to walk a path that leads
to our disgrace.

So lead me on the path of life,
And purify my soul.
I kneel before You;
I give myself to You.

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]

Saturday Prayer 32

Lord, teach me Your ways.
Lead me in Your paths.
Win my heart more and more to You.

Correct my wrong ways
and purge my heart of wrong desires.

Take my heart into Your hands
and shape it according to Your desires.

I yield myself to You today.

Be honored in my thinking –
all my dreaming and my longings.

Be honored in my words –
what I say and how I say it to others.

Be honored in my actions –
what I do and the manner in which I do it.

Be honored in me.

Saturday Prayer 19

You know me, Lord, completely
no whim, desire, or thought escapes You
honestly, that makes me nervous at times
You see the best of my dreams
and the worst of my longings

in all the scurrying around of my life,
in all my internal rush and hurry,
come and search through my life, God
find out everything about me
and then lead me on the pathway of eternal life

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]

Listening to God . . . Free From Guilt (re:listening 4)

This is the last of a series of posts on listening.

If we are to listen to God in His way, then we often have to have our feet knocked out from under us. We need to be re-trained by Him into the way of listening.

Sometimes this involves confessing sin. There are very real times when the sin in our lives hinders us from hearing from God. Likewise, there are times when sin in our lives hinders God from truly listening to us (Psalm 66:18-19).

Healthy Guilt
There are two sides to this problem and both relate to guilt. The first type of guilt is healthy guilt. This is when we fail to confess our sin. We ignore the fact that what we are doing is wrong and try to keep on going without dealing with it. We avoid the issue at hand. So . . . God avoids us. The guilt that hangs over our heads becomes like a wall built up between us and God. Our sinful activity – and the sin of our inactivity about it – clogs the communication lines. The clear answer to this side of the problem is that we need to face up to our sin, confess it honestly before God and others, and then turn away from it with our lives. Then God will hear and respond to us.

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Unhealthy Guilt
The other side of the problem of God hearing us and us listening to Him has to do with a different kind of guilt. It’s the unhealthy guilt that we build up from a variety of areas. It’s the guilt that says, “I’m not pure enough for God to hear me. I’m not holy enough. I didn’t have my quiet time this morning. I am weak with my lusts. I feel hopeless and suicidal. God could not speak to me, and wouldn’t want to hear me now.”

Unhealthy guilt is the wall that we build up between ourselves and God because of our fears and insecurities. We feel distanced. We feel unworthy. We feel too sinful to be interacting with our holy God.

But Jesus explodes unhealthy guilt. We see Him walking the dusty paths of Palestine with dirty, weak, sinful people. He let a whore wash His feet with her tears. He shared a meal with a despised and deceitful tax collector. He came to seek and save the lost, weak, sick . . . not those knowing themselves to be healthy (perhaps the greatest sickness of all!).

The Apostle John powerfully confronts our unhealthy guilt.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18

Jesus wants to drive out our fear and unhealthy guilt with His furious love. He wants to draw us near to the Father where we can be who we really are without anything held back.

Jesus comes to us seeking to interact with us, listening and speaking. He wants to confront us with our sin through healthy guilt, but also wants to overpower our unhealthy guilt with His love.

He wants to talk with us in grace and truth.