Lent Devotional: Week Two
Introduction to the Lent Devotional
Before Lent was the tradition we understand today, an opportunity for church members to repent and seek spiritual renewal, it had a different meaning. Originally it was understood as an intense season of preparation for “Catechumens” (converts under training) who were preparing to be baptized on Easter. The church would walk with these new believers by encouraging, supporting, and praying for them towards the greatest of celebrations: Easter Sunday.
This year, as a church we’re taking that 40-day journey of Lent on behalf of the people in our lives we are committed to loving who do not yet know Jesus (who we at Vintage often call your “love one”), harkening back to the original observance of Lent when the church would walk with new believers. While most of our love ones are not yet followers of Jesus, it is our desire for them to know the freedom and new life that comes only from surrendering to him. This Lenten season we hope to do that with more focus and passion than ever. We are committing the 40 days of Lent to praying, fasting, and petitioning God on behalf of our love one.
As we walk these 40 days to Easter Sunday on behalf of our love one, this devotional is designed to assist us in the journey. The Scripture verses, questions, prayers, and quotes are all aimed at deepening our faith in God and our love for others. Use this as a tool or resource to carve out time each day where you’re seeking God and praying for your love one.
In addition, as we’re growing our faith through the current series in Hebrews 11, our hope is that it will result in all of us inviting those love ones to join us on Easter. And what if—just imagine—they responded in faith on that day and were baptized? How Vintage Church and all of heaven will rejoice! Let’s believe in God and go to him on behalf of our love one!
THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
(Luke 15:11-32 ESV)
During the second week of our Lent Devotional, we’ll use Luke 15:11-32 as our text. Our hope is to take this 40-day journey on behalf of our “love one,” and the parable of the prodigal son will help us begin to look towards others.
In his book, A Loving Life, Paul Miller writes, “Love begins with looking…the Gospels are filled with observations of Jesus looking at people. His looking was often followed by compassion and then action.”
The story of the prodigal son is one of the most controversial pictures of grace in all of Scripture. From the offensive demands of the younger son to the unrelenting forgiveness of the father, it contains a richness of extremes that grow our understanding of God’s grace. Arguably the most beautiful picture of grace is found in the sentence in verse 20: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Our God sees us, and our desire is to truly see our love one. This passage will help us to look in new ways, and lead us to greater love of those around us.
Read Luke 15:11-32, focusing on verses 11-16. After reading, answer the following questions:
- What exactly does the younger son demand from his father? What does he want to do with this?
- In verse 13, Jesus says the younger son “took a journey into far country.” This was more than a backpacking trip to see the world; he desired to act apart from his father’s rules, judgment, and even his presence. Consider your sin—how does it lead you away from God?
Pray to God, spending time confessing your sin to him and asking for forgiveness. As you pray, consider the parable Jesus told, and thank God for being the loving Father who embraces us as we return to him.
Read Luke 15:11-32, focusing again on verses 11-16. After reading, answer the following questions:
- According to verse 16, what effect does the son’s self-centered lifestyle have on him?
- Consider your sin. What effect does it have on you? Meaning, how do you feel when you have sinned? Think of your love one: what effect do you see their sin have on them? How do you think they feel when they have sinned?
- What actions do you take to “fix the problem” of sin? Consider your love one in light of verse 16. What actions do you see them taking in order to fix the problem of sin? What beliefs do they hold to in order to fix the problem of sin?
- What was the son’s plan to gain acceptance at home?
- What do your normally plan to do in order to gain acceptance before God? When you feel your sin has distanced you from God, or when you have deliberately run from him, what do you feel is needed in order to be forgiven and to be accepted by God?
- End by re-reading verses 17-24. Rest assured that forgiveness is there because of God’s love and grace, and not your performance!
Pray for your love one, that they would experience the grace and forgiveness given to us by Jesus, and be freed from condemnation and shame.
Read Luke 15:11-32, focusing on verses 15-24. After reading, answer the following questions:
- Read verses 15-16. How did the people in the foreign country treat the younger son? How do you think they viewed him?
- People who have become desperate and broken often become invisible to us. Most of us are guilty of walking right by women and men experiencing homelessness, and even avoid acknowledging their existence. The younger son had become “invisible,” no longer seen as a human by those around him. What would the younger son have needed to do in order to become “visible” again in that foreign country?
- Theologians point out that by asking for his inheritance, the younger son was essentially saying to his father, “I wish you were dead so I could get my stuff.” It would be understandable if his father then saw his son as dead for taking the inheritance and leaving home. Read verse 20. How did the Father respond to the son who had betrayed and deserted him?
“God wants us back even more than we could possibly want to be back. We don’t have to go into great detail about our sorrow. All we have to do, the parable says, is appear on the scene, and before we get a chance to run away again, the Father grabs us and pulls us into the banquet so we can’t get away.” -Brennan Manning
How does God see your love one? Do you believe God wants your love one back? Do you believe He has a loving heart that aches for them?
Pray for your love one. Ask God to change their heart, that they would see and believe in him, and know the love he has for them.
Read Luke 15:11-32, focusing on verses 17-32. After reading, answer the following questions:
- Standing in the background of this entire parable is the older brother. What is his reaction to the younger son’s actions and the father’s response?
- The older brother is tripped up by the free gift of grace, and believes there should be something done by his younger brother to earn forgiveness. When you consider your love one, do you believe they should have to accomplish something in order to “come home?”
- Grace is outrageous, unfair, and even shocking. Do you live a life of both accepting and extending grace?
Read Luke 15:11-32 again. Write down your overall impressions of this parable. Write down some of the things you feel after reading the parable and studying it this past week, answering these questions:
- What stood out to you from this parable? Was there anything new you had not noticed before this week?
- Write down what you believe God would say to your love one. Pray and ask him to speak to them, even through you.
- Pray for your love one and anyone else you plan to invite to Easter Sunday.
- Who will you ask to join you in praying for your conversation with them?