2016 Lenten Daily Devotionals

by Jonathan Haefs

Each day the Lenten season, I am emailing out a devotional to many of the members of SVCC. I will also be sharing these devos via blogging. Hopefully, I will post first thing each morning, but definitely by 12pm. The first devotional may be found below. These are designed to accompany the SVCC Lenten reading guide which may be found here: 2016 Lenten Reading Guide.

In these devotionals I will give a link that will take you to the entire reading for the day if you would like to read it. I will actually include a few of the verses upon which I will focus my reflections. In the reflection section I will make a few brief comments which I hope will spur your own thinking and prayers.

Lent is meant to be a season of repentance and fasting that prepares our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter (fuller explanation here). Repentance is a reminder that we need to be saved from our sin…we need a Savior. Fasting reminds us that we are not in need of the things this world offers, but in desperate need of Jesus.  So the point of Lent is that we need Jesus…we need Easter. It is my prayer that these daily devotionals will simply help remind us daily of our need for Christ.

Genesis 3:1-21 (click here)
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” “…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” …And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:15, 19b and 21)

Reflection
I did not grow up observing Lent. It was not until I began pastoring Shades Valley Community Church that this season would become part of my yearly rhythm. Every February (or March), I find myself standing at the front of our sanctuary on a Wednesday evening with my thumb covered in Ash and I repeat these words over and over again…

“From dust you came and to dust you shall return… so repent and believe the Gospel.”

From dust you came. We came from something… were created from something. We are not the ultimate, eternal, end of all things in the universe. We are created beings who had a beginning. That beginning was given to us by our creator who made us from dust.

And to dust you shall return. We are headed somewhere… and not necessarily somewhere good. These words are spoken in judgment upon us… they are a penalty. We are created begins who have an end. That end was pronounced by our creator who will return us to dust in death.

These are sobering words that reveal a sobering reality we like to ignore, namely, we are finite, temporary creatures… created from dust and headed back to dust. Genesis 3 explains why this is the case. We were given life by God, and that life was not meant to end…we were not meant to return to dust, but we turned from God, the giver and sustainer of life and there was no where for us to turn but towards death.

He made us from dust yes… but we chose to return to dust.

Yet, every Ash Wednesday, these are not the only words I speak. I do say, “From dust you came and to dust you shall return,” but I keep going, “so repent and believe the Gospel.” Repent…or turn. Turn back to God! And believe the Gospel…the good news! What good news? How can there be any good news for a people condemned to return to dust in death?

There is good news because Genesis 3, the very chapter which contains our death sentence, proclaims our salvation!

Genesis 3:15 proclaims that one shall be born to a woman who will crush our ancient enemy, the serpent! Jesus…the offspring of the woman would have his “heel struck” through the cross, but he would use that same cross to “crush the head” of the serpent!

Through that cross he would do for us what God the Father did for Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21… just like an animal was sacrificed to cover the nakedness of our first parents… Christ, the lamb of God, was sacrificed to cover our exposed sin and shame.

This is the Gospel, this is the good news for a people who are returning to dust! Jesus Christ returned to dust in death for us so that we might be saved from that fate and have life forever more!

“From dust you came and to dust you shall return… so repent and believe the Gospel.”


*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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