10/03/2019: Generous Heart

A Call to Worship[i]

We come to worship the God that walks with us through every challenge.

We come to remember what Jesus did when he was faced with the wilderness.

When Israel wandered through the wilderness, she was not alone, God was there!

If you are walking through the wilderness, you are not alone, God is with you!

We come today to worship our God, who gives us strength for every journey, and courage for every test!

OT READING:          Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Give the Lord the First Part of Your Harvest

 

Moses said to Israel:

1 The Lord is giving you the land, and soon you will conquer it, settle down, and plant crops. And when you begin harvesting each of your crops, the very first things you pick must be put in a basket. Take them to the place where the Lord your God chooses to be worshiped, and tell the priest, “Long ago the Lord our God promised our ancestors that he would give us this land. And today, I thank him for keeping his promise and giving me a share of the land.”

The priest will take the basket and set it in front of the Lord’s altar.

Then, standing there in front of the place of worship, you must pray:

My ancestor was homeless, an Aramean who went to live in Egypt.
There were only a few in his family then, but they became great and powerful, a nation of many people.

The Egyptians were cruel and had no pity on us. They mistreated our people and forced us into slavery.
We called out for help to you, the Lord God of our ancestors. You heard our cries;
you knew we were in trouble and abused.
Then you terrified the Egyptians with your mighty miracles and rescued us from Egypt.
You brought us here and gave us this land rich with milk and honey.
10 Now, Lord, I bring to you the best of the crops that you have given me. After you say these things, place the basket in front of the Lord’s altar and bow down to worship him.

11 Then you and your family must celebrate by eating a meal at the place of worship to thank the Lord your God for giving you such a good harvest. And remember to invite the Levites and the foreigners who live in your town.

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

QUESTION:

The Hebrews set aside to time to thank God for being with them on their journey; and they were to celebrate this with a meal (vs.11). How is your journey with the Father? Do you celebrate the Lord’s travelling with you through the challenges of your life journey? 

NT READING:          Luke 4:1-13

Jesus and the Devil

1 When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, the power of the Holy Spirit was with him, and the Spirit led him into the desert.

For forty days Jesus was tested by the devil, and during that time he went without eating. When it was all over, he was hungry.

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are God’s Son, tell this stone to turn into bread.”

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say, ‘No one can live only on food.’”

Then the devil led Jesus up to a high place and quickly showed him all the nations on earth.

The devil said, “I will give all this power and glory to you. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.

Just worship me, and you can have it all.”

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’”

Finally, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on top of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off.

10-11 The Scriptures say: ‘God will tell his angels to take care of you. They will catch you in their arms, and you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’”

12 Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!’”

13 After the devil had finished testing Jesus in every way possible, he left him for a while.

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

COMMENT:

“Lent” is the season in the Church calendar that Christians use for fasting, prayer and meditation on God’s Word as preparation for Easter.

Easter Sunday is always the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox (i.e. the Autumn equinox which in RSA is the 20 March 2019). The beginning of Lent is always calculated as 40 days before Easter Sunday. Every Sunday is a day of celebration for the Church, and therefore is not counted as one of the 40 days for fasting; fasting is to be from Monday through Saturday each week – so in effect Lent is 46 days long if Sundays are counted. The formula is (6 days x 6 weeks = 36 days plus the 4 days in the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday, Thurs, Fri, Sat) = 40.

The 40 days of fasting are for us to remember the 40 days Jesus endured during his time of testing in the desert; we are to make use of this season to participate in a time of personal spiritual reflection and re-evaluation.

For example: Lent is a time of reflection on the meaning of our lives in the light of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He died for us. What have we done in return for him?

THE FOCUS FOR MEDITATION THIS WEEK:

The key challenges for Jesus during his time of testing revolved around (vs.4) meeting his personal needs – in this case food; (vs.8) he could so easily use his position to become a very wealthy and powerful man; (vs.12) he could even try to manipulate God to get his way. Jesus needed time to step away from these very human temptations to enable him to step into his Calling – and this is what the 40 days in the desert was about.

We all know what it means to be faced, on a daily basis, with the challenges of meeting our daily needs; of our protection of reputation and status; and of how easily we try to bend and shape God to fit our needs.

What are some of the focus areas you have identified, from your life, that you will need to deal with during your 40-day journey with the Lord?

Will you use this Lent for fasting and prayer? If so, what will you be fasting from and why? Write down your strategy here.

A PRAYER TO GUIDE YOU THIS WEEK:

Prayer:

God, give me wisdom when I am tested.
Teach me when to speak and when to be silent,
when to ignore and when to respond with a shout from the rafters!
When the Tempter comes, teach me to discern things important
from mere distractions from your plan for my life. 
Teach me, O God, how to respond with wisdom when I am tested.

Teach me how to love you, and to love others. Amen.

Have a blessed week.

Rev. Tim

[i] By Safiyah Fosua: 21st Century Africana, 21st Century Liturgy, Lent – Easter – Holy Week, Lent, Liturgy and Worship: www.umcdiscipleship.org

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