2016 Lenten Daily Devotional (Introduction) — A Crown Instead of Ashes

Peace and grace to you!

Lent is a season in the Christian calendar with special emphasis on the sacrifice our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for us.  Many of us observe this time with fasting and other spiritual disciplines to foster greater reflection on the life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection of our Messiah.  As a result, we often become more aware of our sins and shortcomings and experience a greater depth of repentance in our lives.  On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that “we are dust…and to dust we shall return” as we receive ashes upon our foreheads as a mark of who we are…but also a visible declaration of Whose we are! 

In addition, Lent reminds us that Jesus came to bring victory to us. He was already sovereign…Lord of lords and King of kings. We stood on the outside in bondage to sin and death. But through our belief and confession in Him, we find ourselves on the winning side…ready to receive our crown as inheritors of the Kingdom.

This devotional is centered around the promise found in Isaiah 61.  Each Sunday, with the exception of Easter, you will read through this entire passage.  While this may seem repetitive (and it is), my prayer is that you will find yourself immersed in what that victory means and manifests in our world and our actions as followers of Christ.  All the other days, you will read through passages from Isaiah, most of the Gospel According to Luke, and other selected texts that further increase our understanding and immerse ourselves in God’s will for the people of God to receive our crowns..

I pray that you will use this devotional guide to help you reflect and to draw nearer to God during this season when so many distractions vie for our attention.  Before each week, I will share brief remarks about the theme for that week to further our understanding of the season. Each day is divided into seven segments.  You will be given a song, a Scripture passage, and a reflective thought within each devotion.  The rest comes from your own prayerful reflection and the Holy Spirit. 

You may complete this time in 10 minutes or an hour—it’s up to you!  Below, you will find a summary of what each segment means and intends to accomplish.  If you have further questions, feel free to contact me directly. 

In Christ,

Rev. Cheryl


The Steps

Rejoice in the Lord: Begin your devotional time in prayer and worship.   Say a prayer to ask the Holy Spirit to enter your heart and mind with insight and revelation.  Here you will be given a song (all accessible through youtube.com), but if God puts another song on your heart, feel free to move in the Spirit! 

Reach for the  goal to win the  prize:  Before moving on, note what you want or need God to do in your life.  This might be to deepen your relationship with God, a new job, restored relationships or to develop more generosity or patience.  Whatever you’re seeking from God, record it here.  We know, of course, that the Lord is the ultimate prize!

Remove the  garbageWe can be so distracted in our busy lives that it’s important to remember that God should be our priority every day.  Setting aside time to do this devotional is a step in the right direction, but we also need to confess what keeps us from reaching that goal we just named above.  List that here.  It may be as short as one word or as long as a paragraph.

Reflect:  Take a moment to note what God has already revealed to you through reflection.

Renew your   spirit:  Here you will be given a Scripture passage to read and reflect upon.

Respond:  Take a moment to respond to what God has now revealed to you through Scripture.

Rest in God’s loveHere you will be given a reflective thought to end your devotional time. 



Isaiah 61 Common English Bible                              

Joyful Proclamations

 1 The LORD God’s spirit is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 to provide for Zion’s mourners, to give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, planted by the LORD to glorify himself. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore formerly deserted places; they will renew ruined cities, places deserted in generations past. 5 Foreigners will stay and shepherd your sheep, and strangers will be your farmers and vinedressers. 6 You will be called The Priests of the LORD; Ministers of Our God, they will say about you. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and fatten yourself on their riches. 7 Instead of shame, their portion will be double; instead of disgrace, they will rejoice over their share. They will possess a double portion in their land; everlasting joy will be theirs. 8 I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and dishonesty. I will faithfully give them their wage, and make with them an enduring covenant. 9 Their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants among the peoples. All who see them will recognize that they are a people blessed by the LORD. 10 I surely rejoice in the LORD; my heart is joyful because of my God, because he has clothed me with clothes of victory, wrapped me in a robe of righteousness like a bridegroom in a priestly crown, and like a bride adorned in jewelry. 11 As the earth puts out its growth, and as a garden grows its seeds, so the LORD God will grow righteousness and praise before all the nations.

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