Meet Judas Iscariot (TJL 1.2)

Friday                                                                                                                                Luke 6: 17-26

Immediately after choosing His twelve disciples, Jesus begins disciple-orientation for his newly-picked students. Judas, of course, would have been listening to Jesus’ words during this lesson (which we will be exploring over the next few days). Remember that many believe Judas may have been a part of, or at least heavily influenced by a group called the Zealots. This aggressive, often violent group was driven by a hatred of Rome and its oppressive rule over the Jewish people. Now, if Judas was a part of this group, it is possible that he viewed Jesus as the one who would overthrow Rome. Knowing this, how would Judas have heard Jesus’ words?

Lord, guide me as I learn about Judas. Help me to seek to understand his reasons for action. Give me new eyes and new ears for an old story. Allow me to stay open-minded in my daily life, to give others the benefit of the doubt and to try to understand others instead of judging them. Amen

The Judas Lessons 1.1- Meet Judas Iscariot

Thursday                                                                                                                              Luke 6:12-16

After spending an entire night in prayer, Jesus chose Judas. This cannot be overstated. When handpicking His 12 disciples, Jesus selected Judas, the one who would betray Him. If anyone else had done the selecting, it could be written off as a simple mistake or a case of poor judgment. But we cannot forget that Jesus has the ability to know what is in someone’s heart (see Mark 2:8). Therefore, since Jesus chose Judas knowing what was in His heart, He undoubtedly saw something in him that was worth pursuing, worth saving. This is an encouraging word to you today.  Jesus knows what is in your heart, even the things for which you are deeply ashamed. And yet, He chooses you all the same. Why? Because there is something inside you worth saving. Today, take joy in the fact that Jesus does not give up on you.

Lord,

Help me to remember that You chose me and continue to choose me over and over again. Allow me to live into who You have called me to be, and stop second-guessing that choice. Help me to remember that You choose to save all of us, and guide my actions that they might reflect a love for others that mirrors Your great love. Amen

Ash Wednesday 4

Tuesday

Terry Mantooth

Isaiah 58:3-11

When I think of Lent, the first thing that always pops into my mind, no matter how many times I try to think of the actual definition, is the stuff you have to get off with a lint roller. That’s not the right definition of that word, clearly, but Lent can be hard to define. Lent to me is a time to reflect closely on my relationship with God, and to fast from something that draws myself away from Him. You can also fast from something you love, so every time during Lent that you’re tempted to partake in it, you’re reminded of your sacrifice and in turn of Jesus’ sacrifice to us. My youth group leader in high school told me something that’s also stuck with me- you can also sacrifice some of your time for Lent by adding something into your life that brings you closer to God. For example, getting up 15 minutes earlier to journal or do a devotional. The most important thing about Lent, however, is not just to fast from something. We also have to remember Jesus’ sacrifice to us, treat people well, and strive to grow closer to God every day. We can’t just meaninglessly fast because everyone else is doing it. In Isaiah 58:3-11, the people wonder why God doesn’t acknowledge their fasting. He then tells them they aren’t doing it wholeheartedly and not living how He has told them to. Therefore it can’t count. So if you choose to give something up or take something on for Lent, try to remember each day the reason behind your fasting, and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Remember also what it means for your personal relationship to God. Don’t just do it because others are!

Dear Lord, help me to remember the true meaning of Lent. Remind me of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and help me live more like Him. Draw me closer to You during this period of fasting. Amen.

Ash Wednesday 3

Monday

Ruth Hallstead

Matthew 24:42-47, 25:1-13

My favorite holiday, hands-down, is Easter. It’s springtime, and things are finally coming alive again, snow is melting (I’m sorry if you have no idea how cool that time is) and the world just smells good. The hymns in church are the best, everything is full of color, and joy abounds. But that’s not where we are right now. Now this isn’t about to be some message that says “if we never knew sadness we’d never know joy”, because I don’t believe in that mindset at all. However, there is a clear purpose to the next 40 (minus Sundays) days. It is a time to prepare for the resurrection. Jesus sacrificed himself for us, and we will never truly understand the entirety of that. But 40 days of reflection, repentance, and expectation allow us to get close. We take this time to open our hearts, to clean out all the gunk, and to “get right with God” before we can truly experience resurrection. Whether this means giving something up or adding something in, the next 40 days are valuable, even critical. In Matthew, we read Jesus’ warning to be ready at all times for His return, because we don’t know when that will be. Every year though, we have an entire season set aside with clear dates for Christ’s symbolic return. Let’s take advantage of that, Amen?

Lord,

I admit that I’m not always ready for You to come back. Please forgive my ignorance, my unpreparedness. Help me to use the next 40 days to return to You, to open my heart to let You in again. Guide me in this time of repentance and preparation. Amen

Ash Wednesday 2

Friday

Logan Henderson

Mark 1:9-13
This passage has a lot to say about Jesus, God, Jewish culture, and our lives today, but I’ve only got so many lines, so I’ll condense it down as best I can. Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist right before He goes into the wilderness for 40 days where He fasts and is tempted by the Devil. I chose this Scripture because a friend of mine mentioned it being a great Scripture for Lent, but I came to love it because of how tangibly it applies. As I’ve fought through Lent in the past, I’ve always had the same cycle. Give up a thing, do a great job of staying away from it for about two weeks, then giving in, then feeling ashamed, then giving in again, and so on. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Hear me (or read me?) when I say that there is so much more to Lent than fasting a thing. Jesus didn’t just go into the Wilderness because that’s what His church was doing (because they weren’t) and He didn’t fast because the Pharisees told Him to (because they certainly didn’t). Instead, the Spirit drove Jesus into the Wilderness to fast and be tempted and the Spirit does not move unless He has a plan. I believe that plan is similar for you and me as we are about to experience Ash Wednesday and Lent. This Wilderness is what began Jesus’s ministry. He fought with the Devil himself, argued Scripture, fought hard to maintain His convictions, and left having suffered like many of us will suffer and have already suffered. Jesus used this 40-day wilderness experience as a launching point to help and heal and listen for the broken people in the world around Him. Something about our own struggle draws us to understand and have compassion with others’ suffering; Jesus knew this and I think He shows us this here. Ash Wednesday is certainly about seeking God by giving up something. But it’s never supposed to drive us further into our walls or keep us depressed and inactive. Instead, like Jesus, it should propel us to fight harder against sin and injustice and see the places where Earth should look more like Heaven. And while this may sound daunting, remember that God still says to each of us what He assured Jesus of that day by the Jordan: You are my child, with whom I am well pleased.

God, help me to use this season to seek you. Show me the things in my life that I should give up in order to see you more clearly and know you more. I want to know you more Father. But I also want to see what you see when you look at the world, all of the brokenness and the pain, so that I can do what you’ve tasked me to do Lord. Strengthen me, as you did Jesus, with the Spirit and your love and grit so that I can do this fast with you, in pursuit of you God.
Amen.

Ash Wednesday 1

Thursday

Jonathan Holle

Proverbs 6:6-9
College is a time for sloth. Students are expected to excel in the classroom and be conscious of their own futures, building toward them with extracurricular activities, jobs, and internships while also maintaining a pleasant attitude and robust social sphere. It is absolutely exhausting. It makes perfect sense that so many students spend what little free time they have sleeping, bingeing television, or playing video games. But just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean that it’s right. We learn the importance of rest in Genesis, and we maintain the sabbath tradition to this day, but there is a difference between rest and folly. Proverbs 6 makes the distinction clear: work as the ant does, relentlessly, wisely, and without the need for an earthly overseer. Trust in the Lord with your work.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the opportunity you give us to remember your sacrifice through a season of fasting. Help us this Lent to distinguish between a holy rest and mundane folly. Bring us closer to you through our fasting. We pray for wisdom, guidance, and strength. We love you, Lord. Help us to become more aware of your love.

Amen.