Take on a Life – Make a Sacrifice
Prayer and Action Guide for Lent 2019
 
Monday – March 25, 2019
 
Third Week of Lent
 
                Jesus’ first words from the cross were a prayer to his Father: “Father, forgive them – they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
 
                  So many times when people make decisions that hurt life, they don’t know what they are doing.  They (we) don’t know the larger impact of our decisions on other lives around us.  Sometimes our decisions are more deadly than we would ever realize.  I am grateful for Jesus’ prayer as he was cruelly and unjustly executed.  I personally need the grace he asked the Father to give to sinners as we stumble around in our confusion and foolishness.
 
Take on a Life –
 
This week, pray for God’s mercy and grace to those who have chosen against life, whether through abortion or abuse or self-harm.  Pray for God to speak specifically into the lives of those who wound others and into the lives of those who are wounded.  Pray for God’s mercy on our society as a whole as we lose our bearings on the biblical truth that every human being is made in the image of God.  Pray for God to restore our conviction in this bedrock value and to give us wisdom in how to apply it in our lives together.
 
Make a Sacrifice –
 
A recent article from CNBC reported that “Americans are spending $5,339 a year, on average, on non-necessities such as coffee, eating out, entertainment, clothing, ride shares and alcohol according to a new report” (CNBC “You can save thousands by cutting these expenses” by Jessica Dickler Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/19/you-can-save-thousands-by-cutting-these-expenses.html).
 
Could you go without a “non-necessity” this week (Starbucks; ice cream; candy bar; movie; eating out) and give the money saved to our World Hunger Offering?  Would you review the report of the ministries that benefit from that offering and pray for the ones God places on your heart?  Consider going one step further: could you continue your sacrifice for the remainder of the Lenten season that ends with Easter?  Could it become a part of your life even after Resurrection Sunday?
 
 
 
Monday – March 18, 2019

Second Week of Lent

 
                Several weeks before Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem for his final Passover, Luke tells us: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).  Reading this, we could easily forget that, before Jesus was “taken up to heaven,” he had to experience the depths of death.  As the author of Hebrews wrote, “for the joy set before him, [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
 
                  Lent is a time of our reflecting on and touching the suffering of Christ.  But we endure slight suffering as a reminder of his great suffering.  And we endure the discipline of our suffering as a reminder of the spiritual principle that real life does not come without commitment to the point of suffering.  Jesus’ commitment was to God the Father.  Who is your commitment to?  How deep does your commitment go?
 
Take on a Life
 
                This week, pray specifically for Care Center of Huntsville (formerly Pregnancy Care Center of Huntsville).  They offer a variety of services and ministries to help people recognize “the value of human life and the responsibility of sexual expression” (part of our prayer from last week). 
  • Pray for the strength and wisdom of the staff.
  • Pray for God’s Spirit to work in the lives of those who come for assistance.
  • Pray for the needs of the Center.
  • Pray for our society to rediscover and renew our commitment to the value of human life in all forms, throughout all areas of our communal life, from criminal justice to economics to race relations to politics to simple personal expression and conversation.
 
Make a Sacrifice
 
                 Give your time to learn more about the Care Center.  What are their specific needs?  Do they need supplies?  Do they need financial support?  What does the staff need?  What are the primary needs of those who come for services?  Then do something about what you learn.

Contact Care Center of Huntsville        936-294-0404          1215 15th Street          www.carecenterhuntsville.com

 

Monday – March 11, 2019

            Easter is the high point of the year for Christians.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, we probably wouldn’t take notice of the rest of his life.  As great a teacher as he was, and as many powerful things that he did, neither his birth nor his death would be recognized in the significant ways that they are. 
 
            Easter didn’t – and shouldn’t — come easy, though.  We only get there through the humility of Jesus’ birth and the unjust horror of his death.  Athletes (and people on weight-loss programs) often say “No pain, no gain.”  Similarly, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25).  Lent is that season when we remember this eternal principle: if we want the resurrection and the life – Easter – there’s a sacrifice that comes first — crucifixion.  We humbly remind ourselves of the sacrifice necessary for life in the forty days leading up to The Day of Easter.  And, maybe, after years of practice, sacrifice will become an attitude of daily life.
 
              For these forty days of Lent, I invite you to join me in the exercises of prayer, sacrifice, and action.  I’m calling it “Take on a Life – Give a Sacrifice.”  Each week, I’ll suggest two exercises for the week.  The first will be a prayer or action that is life-giving.  The second will be a sacrifice of some kind that is a personal action to serve as a reminder of the cost of commitment to Christ.  So let’s begin –
 
Take on a Life – This week, pray specifically for those organizations and facilities that provide abortions of human lives. 
  • Pray for a conviction about the value of life to shape the views of those operating such facilities.
  • Pray for the women who choose the services of those facilities.
  • Pray for those who have already used such services – women and men. Pray for their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Pray for them to know deeply God’s grace.
  • Pray for our society to renew our commitment to the value of human life and the responsibility of sexual expression. Pray for this restored value to permeate all areas of our communal life, from criminal justice to economics to race relations to politics to simple personal discourse and conversation. 

Make a Sacrifice I spoke this challenge in worship the past two weeks: if you are not presently tithing your income through ministry of your church, do so for the forty days until Easter.  As you do so, notice:

  • What spending in your life is on things you could honestly do without?
  • What necessities would seem threatened by giving such a portion of your income?
  • How does God provide for you as you trust His faithfulness?

If you already tithe your income to ministry, consider the following:

  • Where could you begin the discipline of giving more to the Lord’s work?
  • Where else could you “sacrifice” for these forty days? Often, the discipline of “doing without” something mundane and routine develops a new routine in its place, such as prayer, scripture reading, or simply “spiritual attention.”  Consider giving up the routine of:  a habitual form of social media or regular media consumption; an unnecessary food item (Starbucks? Chocolate? Diet Coke?); a meal; personal purchases; etc.
  • Ask God directly about what He would lead you, personally and privately, to sacrifice during this season.

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