If the words “Lenten Joy”
seem like an oxymoron,
it’s because Lent needed reforming,
it needed the gospel!
So as we begin this first full Lenten week,
let us contemplate both
the first command of Jesus
along with His first miracle.
For they are tied together.
His first command was:
Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.
And His first miracle was
turning water into wine at a wedding!
Layers upon layers of meaning,
but a HUGE one is the joy that godly repentance brings
because of the lavish love of God —
the kind of festive joy we feel at a wedding,
when a brand new life begins!
Even if you’ve seen this before, watch it again, to catch the joy of this Jewish wedding by clicking here:
Marriage, Ephesians tells us, points
to a more eternal union,
that of each believer with Christ.
And what makes a good marriage?
Ruth and Billy Graham said:
“a good marriage is made up
of two good repenters.”
Likewise, when Luther nailed his thesis
to the Wittenburg door, he began with:
“All of life is repentance.”
robbing it of joy!
So this week we will learn
why we should embrace repentance eagerly,
and what true gospel repentance is!
On a personal note: Thanks so for your patience and help with the new website. It was my first time to write this study on the new website, and I am just learning how to do it, so I appreciate your continued patience and prayers! We may still have some glitches, but we are addressing them and Control Yours is eager to help us get it right.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Through Pain’s Doorway to a Party!
Soften your heart for the study with this:
Repentance involves initial pain: admitting you were wrong, humbling yourself, and turning from the idols you thought were your friends. It was painful for the younger son to admit what a fool he had been, and humbly return to his father to tell him so, but after the doorway of pain, there was first: the embrace. And that same embrace is waiting for us!
During Lent, I encourage you to begin with Scripture, and then let that Scripture be a springboard for prayer. You can write your prayers here or privately.
2. Read Luke 15:11-20.
A. Idolatry is turning to our own way of meeting our needs instead of to
God. How did the younger son do that?
B. What pain did his idols bring him?
C. What pain have your idols brought you? (Be specific.)
D. Turning from idols may bring initial pain, for they will fight. What
pain might you need to go through to truly turn from a besetting sin?
3. Use the above as a springboard for you to be honest with God in prayer.
4. Describe how the father received him. (Luke 16:20-24)
5. Use the above as a springboard for praise to God.
Tuesday: Religion Versus The Gospel
Why is the first miracle at a wedding?
And why is the miracle
turning the jars of water
used for ceremonial cleansing
To give you a clue, consider what man-based religion brings:
Death, Pride, Anger, & Bondage
Life, Humility, Joy, & Freedom
6. Read Matthew 23:23-26
A. What were the Pharisees good at cleaning?
B. What were they missing?
I can be just like them: more concerned that someone sees me impatient with my grandchild than the fact that I am impatient with my grandchild; more concerned with the outside than the inside. God says, “Dee, come to me in genuine repentance, and I will make your heart clean, and then the outside will be clean as well.”
7. Let the above lead you into prayer.
8. Give it a stab. With the above in mind, why do you think Jesus first miracle was turning the water in the ceremonial jars into wine?
Wednesday: We Can’t Do It.
The Pharisees thought they had saved themselves from the penalty of sin by keeping all their religious rules of tithing, fasting, lengthy prayers… There is irony in the preface to the story of the prodigal sons.
9. Read Luke 15:1-2
A. What two kinds of people does Luke say were gathering around Jesus? What is the irony in Luke’s statement?
B. Where have you been more concerned about ourward appearance than your heart?
C. Let this lead you into asking God for help.
So often repentance becomes a self-reformation project. Benjamin Franklin tried to work on a virtue at a time. Even many of our Bible studies put us on the Pharisee track, giving us a list of things we should check to try to improve in our own strength. Our own Susan has a story I asked her to share:
Thursday: He Can Do It