Lent Devotional: Week Five
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!
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:25-37 ESV)
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
(Ruth 1:1-18 ESV)
Introduction to Week Five
“When love breaks through for you, when someone really cares, it bowls you over.” – Paul Miller.
Like the Good Samaritan, love begins with seeing and caring but is followed by our action. We enter into the situation of those we love as Jesus did with us and as Ruth did with Naomi. As we will look into this week, such truly selfless, incarnational love is unlike anything this fallen world could produce.
Join us in Week Five of our Lent Devotional, in hopes that we as a church would commit to loving as Jesus loved, not simply from afar but by entering into the joy and pain of our love ones.
Read Luke 10:25-37. After reading, answer the following questions:
- Jesus enters into an exchange with a lawyer about the Mosaic Law, and it becomes clear the man is trying to boil things down to what will provide him justification for his actions. He wants to come out on top. We are guilty of approaching God in a similar manner; instead of seeking him, we’re looking for approval of our own actions. As you begin this week’s Lent Devotion, take a moment to sit before God in prayer, confessing any temptation you have to use him to justify your actions. Ask Jesus for the faith and humility to learn from him.
- While the man is trying to reduce love by reducing the people he’s responsible love, Jesus tells a story that expands love in a way that would have shocked both the lawyers and listeners of the day. As you read this story, what do you find shocking about Jesus’ parable?
Many of us have become familiar with The Parable of the Good Samaritan, but it’s a revolutionary picture of love. As we are in a journey of Lent on behalf of our love one, take a moment to consider your picture of love. Where did you learn to love? Who do you look to for what love is? Ask God to use this passage and other Scripture to expand your view of love.
Read Luke 10:25-37. The lawyer is in a debate with Jesus to find the easiest way to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach the man, and us today, about what love is and does.
- The Samaritans were despised by the Jewish people, and this lawyer would certainly have shared that sentiment. What is the first thing the Samaritan does that the priest and Levite do not?
- Love begins with seeing, but pity from afar isn’t where Jesus leaves the story. After the Samaritan sees the man and has compassion on him, what does he do? Remember that Jesus is telling a parable, or teaching story. Write down what Jesus has this Samaritan do to teach us about what love does.
- Consider the list of things you just wrote down. What do you believe Jesus is teaching us about love by listing these?
In his book A Loving Life, Paul Miller writes that “Love incarnates by slowing down and focusing on just the beloved. We don’t love in general; we love one person at a time.” The love Jesus exhibits in this story of the Good Samaritan is such love. Take now to consider your love one. Ask God to give you his love for them, and open up opportunities to enter into their life and meet needs.
Read Luke 10:25-37, focusing on v. 33-35. After reading, answer the following questions:
- Is your love for others incarnational, or still based on what is convenient and comfortable for you? If the latter, what keeps you from loving your love one extravagantly and sacrificially?
- Does Jesus give us any indication the Samaritan expected to gain from the man who had been robbed? In A Loving Life Paul Miller writes, “…if I only love when I feel like it, then I’ve not really understood love…Love like this strips us of self-will and purifies our motivations. It is surprisingly liberating because we’re not trapped by either our feelings or the other person’s response. When neither preserving the relationship nor our feelings are central, we’re free to offer the other person a rich tapestry of love.” Take a moment to consider any expectations you place on your love one in exchange for your love. Pray and ask God to purify your motivations by giving you a heart for him like Jesus’ heart for them.
Love costs, because the nature of love puts the other person’s needs above your own. Thankfully, we’re not alone in how we love because we have experienced this from Jesus himself. In fact, as we love one, our hope is to love them with the love of Jesus instead of loving from our own strength. End this devotion today praying that God would renew your understanding of his love for you. As we follow Christ, he will lead us into loving others as he has loved us. Pray for the faith to step out in love, confident that Jesus’ love is enough for you.
Read Ruth 1:1-18. After reading, answer the following questions:
- Considering the culture this takes place in, Naomi’s loss of her husband and sons is a picture of extreme suffering. She decides to return to her homeland of Bethlehem, but urges her two daughters-in-law to remain in their homeland of Moab. What is Ruth’s response in v. 16-17?
- In Ruth we find one of the most beautiful pictures of incarnational love, a love of undying loyalty and self-sacrifice. Could Ruth have loved Naomi with such love if she stayed in Moab? What did going with Naomi mean for Ruth?
- Ruth leveraged all that she had out of love for Naomi. Consider your love one. What does it look like for you to love them with undying loyalty and self-sacrifice? What would it look like for you to leverage what God has given you to share his love with them?
In our culture the love of Ruth is out of the question. We are often urged by the world around us to act out of what we feel is best for us, to love only to the degree that we get a return on that love, and to live life with ourselves at the center. To love like Ruth requires great courage and perseverance, and foreshadows the love Jesus showed for us. Pray God would develop his love in you.
Re-read the passages from this week. As you read, write down what these passages reveal about the love God calls us to.
- Luke 10:25-37
- Ruth 1:1-18