Are We There Yet: A Lenten Journey

“Are We There Yet: A Lenten Journey”, Rev. Dr. John T Brantley, Buckeye Creek Press

ISBN: 978-0-9845219-0-6 51000 (posted with Author’s permission, with all copyright protection remaining.

Are We There Yet? A Lenten Journey
Copyright © 2011 by Buckeye Creek Press, Georgia
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.
Library of Congress: BX2170.L4 B 2010    ISBN 978-0-9845219-0-6

Scripture references are sighted and to be read in the (NRSV), New Revised Standard Version. The only verse quoted is from the (KJV), King James Version, which is in the public domain.

Forward
I am thankful for the help and encouragement of my wife, Wendy, to both complete and share this book with You. I am grateful for the opportunity to share the Lenten
season with you in study and prayer. We welcome your feedback and questions.
Phone: 404.323.5646 Email: john@brantley.net Website: buckeyepress.com

Table of Contents
Foreword……………………………………………………. 3
Preface …………………………………………………….. 6
Introduction ………………………………………………… 8
Day 1 ……………………………………………………….. 9
Day 2 ………………………………………………………..10
Day 3 ………………………………………………………..11
Day 4 ………………………………………………………..12
1st Sunday Sabbath Rest ………………………………13
Day 5 ………………………………………………………..14
Day 6 ………………………………………………………..15
Day 7 ………………………………………………………..16
Day 8 ………………………………………………………..17
Day 9 ………………………………………………………..18
Day 10 ………………………………………………………19
2nd Sunday Sabbath Rest ……………………………..20
Day 11 ………………………………………………………21
Day 12 ………………………………………………………22
Day 13 ………………………………………………………23
Day 14 ……………………………………………………..24
Day 15 ……………………………………………………..25
Day 16 ……………………………………………………..26
3rd Sunday Sabbath Rest………………………………27
Day 17 ……………………………………………………….28
Day 18 ………………………………………………………29
Day 19 ………………………………………………………30
Day 20 ………………………………………………………31
Day 21 ……………………………………………………….32
Day 22 ……………………………………………………….33
4th Sunday Sabbath Rest ………………………………34
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Day 23 ……………………………………………………….35
Day 24 ……………………………………………………….36
Day 25 ……………………………………………………….37
Day 26 ……………………………………………………….38
Day 27 ………………………………………………………39
Day 28 ……………………………………………………….40
5th Sunday Sabbath Rest ………………………………41
Day 29 ……………………………………………………….42
Day 30 ……………………………………………………….43
Day 31 ……………………………………………………….44
Day 32 ……………………………………………………….45
Day 33 ……………………………………………………….46
Day 34 ……………………………………………………….47
6th Sunday Sabbath Rest ………………………………48
Day 35 ……………………………………………………….49
Day 36 ……………………………………………………….50
Day 37 ……………………………………………………….51
Day 38 ……………………………………………………….52
Day 39 ……………………………………………………….53
Day 40 ……………………………………………………….54
Easter ………………………………………………………..55
The Day After………………………………………………55
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Preface
The Lenten season is an intentional time of repentance, reflection, and preparation as we get ready to meet our risen savior, Jesus Christ anew every Easter. What do we need to help us down the path this year? During the Lenten journey, many people take part in a
personal time of fasting. Typically fasting involves a withholding from our regular dietary consumption so the time, energy and resources that had been used to prepare
and consume that food can be given to God.
Scripture tells us that for our fasting to be more genuine, we should make fasting a personal and private expression of our faith. Through the years, the church has suggested fasting for forty days including breaks from the fast on Sundays. We are told that fasting leads us spiritually and physically towards Easter and the Resurrection.
This year I will ask that you consider adding to your daily routine. Continue to fast if that is what your heart is called to do every year, but we will concentrate on adding something to every day of our Lenten journey of discovery and reflection through our devotions.
This collection of devotions will also show how the number forty is frequently significant in faith events and people throughout the bible. Exploring milestones of faith development in scripture will give us touch points that can speak to our purposeful spiritual growing.
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Look at today as an opportunity to begin the reorientation process for being alone with God. I invite you to turn off the television, turn off the phones, log off of the computer, put away the newspaper and bills, and find a place and time to meet with God every day of our journey.
Through these devotions and time of our personal study, reflection and prayer, I ask you to get ready to go on your spiritual journey toward Christ. Let’s get going!
Where to Begin?
While you may use this devotion at any time during the year, this Devotional Journey is formatted to begin on Ash Wednesday each year.
Year Ash Wednesday Easter Sunday
2011 March 9              April 23
2012 Feb 22                 April 8
2013 Feb 13                 March 31
2014 March 5              April 20
2015 February 18       April 5
2016 February 10       March 27
2017 March 1              April 16
2018 February 14       April 1
2019 March 6             April 21
2020 February 26       April 12
2021 February 17       April 4
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Introduction
One of my favorite faith journeys occurred on a simple outing on a camping trip to Canada. My father and I drove about three hours past Winnipeg. Turning off highway 5 on to Provincial Road 361 just outside McCreary, Manitoba, we drove until the road ended and stopped for a hike and picnic.
Finding ourselves at what seemed like the end of the world we realized we were the only two people for miles around. Upon finishing our hike and starting to set up for a
quick snack, we saw the wind bending the trees across the valley several miles away.
The air was crisp and still where were stood. As we watched, the tall evergreens moved in the waves of the invisible force that was moving in our direction. In a matter of minutes, the stillness was interrupted with a breeze. The breeze turned into a strong wind, and the mighty wind turned into a gale. Simultaneously my father and I were
instantly reminded that God’s power was awesome. We also knew we needed the protection of the concrete picnic table as our lunch provisions were blown out of sight. One moment later all was still.
Upon reflection of this storm and the stillness that followed we were struck by how the presence of God was both awesome and comforting at the same time. We were also assured that there is no place that God is not with us. So we journey on and experience the presence of God wherever we go. May this be a season spent in the power and presence of the Spirit for us all.
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Day 1 Ash Wednesday: A Journey of Forties
Deuteronomy 9:8 -11 (NRSV)
The Christian season of Lent, forty days, plus Sundays, begins on Ash Wednesday. Throughout scripture ashes and sackcloth have been utilized to express one’s repentance and desire to return to God. We begin our journey by adding ashes to remind us to make time for God.
Moses had led the Hebrews out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the mountain of God. Responding to God’s call Moses leaves the people and their complaints to share fellowship alone with God. This was not a smooth transition for Moses. It took him nearly a month and a half to reassign and entrust responsibilities to others so that he
could make time to be with God.
What can be accomplished in forty days of intentional focus, work, and prayer? Moses spent this period with God in his mountain top experience. He waited, listened, and fasted in God’s presence. It is no wonder that we find it nearly miraculous to set aside forty days to journey with God. Without the time apart from the demands of work, family, and our social world, we cannot find the stronghold from God that can see us through when we return.

Action Plan: Find that space and time in your day for the next several weeks and use these devotions to be present with God.

Prayer: Lord, so mark my body, mind, and spirit for this journey that I remember I travel for you, with you, and to be closer to you. Amen.
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Day 2 Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Genesis 7:1-9 (NRSV)
One of the most familiar sets of forty days in scripture is the forty days spent by Noah and his family on the ark. The point in the story that children remember most is the
rainbow after the storm being a sign of God’s love and promise never to destroy the earth by flood ever again.
Little attention is given to God’s act of cleansing and reconciliation by the flood in the first place. Any thought or action that does not draw us closer to God is a sin. Sin is not
the simple breaking of rules. Choosing ignorance about God is arrogance that separates us from God. Every time we exclude God from our decisions or accomplishments
we are committing the sin of pride.
Every grudge or fault that we leverage against another person is a sin. Taking property, life or covenant relationships that are not ours are all examples of sin.
All this sin clouds our vision of truth, self, and God. So what can we do? Take a spiritual bath? The flood is God’s work of scrubbing clean a world that had so little need for
God that something radical was needed.
Our hope is not better soap or longer showers. Our hope is to be clean, whole and in right relationship made possible through God’s work in Jesus Christ. When we are willing to recognize the power and influence of sin in our lives, we begin a process of change. Jesus does the actual turning around for us, giving himself as the example and as payment for our default on “right living.”
Action Plan: Make hand washing your time of prayer.

Prayer: Lord, make me whole, not just clean. Amen.

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Day 3 Forty Righteous Persons
Genesis 18:16 – 29 (NRSV)
Our relationship with God has boundaries and limitations. When our sinfulness and rebellion of God grows we test limits of God’s love for us. Abraham and Sarah are promised by God to be the founders of a great nation of faithful people. God visits Abraham to make good on his promise and to show them how accountable they
will be to live faithfully in a relationship with God.
God intends to make an example of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for they had a reputation for living as the antithesis of the relationship God hopes for his
people. He promises to destroy them for their transgressions. Abraham affirms our relationship with God naming God as the Lord of Promises. The Lord is God of
Grace and the author of love. Abraham asks, Will you allow those living in a relationship with you to perish along with the evil ones?
At one point Abraham says, what if there are forty people out of the thousands who live there, do you care for them? Yes God cares for them all and is willing to give them all another chance. As the church, we are called to be a great witness of God’s presence in the world.
We cannot make the world righteous; that is Christ’s work through us. We do have the ability and responsibility for our own relationship with God. It is best that we know our journey is meaningful and carries with it accountability be among the faithful.
Action Plan: Pray for those who have done acts of evil. Pray for the victims of their actions.
Prayer: Help us to love our enemies and to pray for your will in their lives. Amen.
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Day 4 Marriage at Forty
Genesis 25:20 (NRSV)
We have a new family rule that one must be at least thirty years of age to get married. That gives time enough to finish school, begin a career and have time to develop and get to know one’s individual self before entering into a covenant of giving one’s self away. While the time of entering into marriage cannot be forged by rules, the intent
points to maturity.
Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah. Before they knew it she was expecting, not only one child but twins. These brothers that struggled in the womb also struggled
in all of life together. Many young parents start so early facing teen pregnancy, incest, domestic abuse, poverty, drug abuse –a terrible cycle in society playing out
generation after generation. Our message and model needs to be: Take time to mature.
Action Plan: If you are over the age of forty, think about all that you experienced and learned between the ages of twelve and forty. Make a list of all the people, adventures and trials that impacted that period of your life.
If you are younger than forty, what do you hope to have accomplished by that time? What age do you consider to be old age? What age is too old to marry? What age is too
young to marry and why?
Prayer: God, we pray that you bless all who you have joined together in marriage with your love and strength. Help those who are married to share their faith journey with
those who may be struggling in their marriages.
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1st Sunday Sabbath Rest – A Day Planned for God
Genesis 1 (NRSV)
Are you a Day-Planner person? To what degree do you plan: Hour-at-glance, Day-at-a-glance, or a Month-at-a glance? Maybe you are happy keeping up with what month
or season with your own system. We all have different perspectives and gifts. But finding ways to be more intentional with God is essential to our spiritual journey, now and all life long. God creates with purpose as seen in the first chapter of Genesis. Let this become our practice.
Look back over the past four calls to action. Have you acted upon these? If so, Praise the Lord! If not, take this holy day and review the calls to action: What will be your holy place for prayer and study during these days of the Lenten season? Name it and claim it and tell others your plan. What has so stained your heart and mind or spirit and attitude that it speaks of the hurt rather than of Christ in you?
Wash a load of clothes or the car, or take a bath as an exercise in repentance and cleansing. Think hard about the daily witness you share. Is your lack of joy the
message to share with the world? Are your grumpy thoughts and words and non-verbal glares speaking of the power the Holy Spirit has to heal, forgive and love?
Rest: This is a day to rest from our labor and make certain we are working on the things God calls us to be and become. Put down the book and get to it. Be ready,
this week will have new challenges.

Prayer: Dear God, I give you myself today. Thank you for giving us this time together. Help me not be distracted. Show me the way you would have me go. Let me rest in
your strength. Amen.
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Day 5 Preparing the Body, Preparing the Spirit
Genesis 50:3 (NRSV)
The ancient Egyptians developed the process of embalming a body far beyond practicality into the realm of art as an attempt to prepare a person for their spiritual
after-life. If we would take the same time we devote to preparing our body, then our spiritual relationship would be stronger.
Quickly add up the time you spend caring for your physical needs: seven hours of sleep, one hour of food procuring and preparation, an hour of eating, and an hour of cleaning and bathing. That leaves a generous fourteen house for other things each day.
By comparison, how much time do we spend in prayer, bible study, fasting, worship or volunteering in Christian service? The average person who describes himself or
herself as an active believer spends about eight hours or five percent of a week doing these things.
Many people continue to think of the season of Lent as a time to give something up. Instead of focusing on what you give us, give your attention to what you can take on.
How much closer to Christ would you be if you doubled the time and energy you spent on these spiritual activities? Good rest is just as essential to our bodies as eating a
good breakfast, but how far can you go without Christ in your day?
Action Plan: Make two realistic lists: one of the things you would like to do to strengthen your spirit and one of what you would be willing to lay aside this week.

Prayer: Jesus, give me the strength to let go of the things that I have laid aside that you might be more present and real in my daily life. Amen.
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Day 6 Manna for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Exodus 16:35 (NRSV)
As slaves, the Hebrews ate well from the fleshpots in Egypt. Yes, they were slaves, but the food bar was as dependable and easy to find as a Ryan’s Steakhouse. On the journey out of Egypt and toward the “Promised Land” God provided daily bread called manna.
Every day the manna appeared on the ground. The people were to gather exactly what they needed for the day; any extra manna would spoil if they tried to gather more than what they needed for that day. It was an ongoing lesson about trusting God for everyday stuff of life. Part of the “promise” of the Promised Land was that it would be a land filled with milk and honey. If the people could find a short cut, there would be no need for the
journey or God.
Central to our spiritual journey is turning to God at the start of each day to find what we need for that day. The day we can wake and not need God is a day that will be
empty, lifeless, and without hope. Hebrews 13: 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (KJV)

Action Plan: Write out a verse of scripture that helps you remember to trust God throughout the day. Place it at your seat at the table, on your lunch bag, or where you will see it at mealtime as a call to faith and prayer.

Prayer: God you are with us every day, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Help us trust your leading as often as you are present with us. Amen.
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Day 7 Time in the Mountains
Exodus 24 (NRSV)
My friends in the advertising world plan everything with Monday as the first day of every week since our lives revolve around the television or so it seems. We sometimes
get confused about which date we plan to meet. If I say the first of next week, I mean Sunday. They mean sometime after their coffee at a late lunch.
More than calendar details, the Sabbath, literally Saturday is a day of resting from our labors and relying on God’s labors. Sunday is our day of worship and celebration
of the resurrection of Christ. Roger says: “When will we ever get those extra chores done if we don’t do them on the weekend? How could I just sit around and do nothing for two days? I am behind already.” Roger misses the point of Sabbath rest. The rest is not a requirement to do nothing.
We are called to be resting in the arms and heart of God. When we sing, study, serve, forgive, and celebrate the God-with-us-ness in the Spirit we are usually more active; it is not a day for sleeping. It is a day for God.
Moses had many troubles and had many reasons not to go up to the mountaintop away from people’s demands. For Moses, had he not spent time with God and time apart from the people, he would not have the spiritual strength to lead as he was called to lead.
Action Plan: Take the calendar you use and schedule the time you will give to God in the weeks ahead.
Prayer: Give me the strength to entrust others with my work for a time, that I might give myself to you most fully. Amen.
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Day 8 Many Footprints Make Our Foundations
Exodus 26.19-21 (NRSV)
One of the amazing features of the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness is that their place of worship was a mobile tent of meeting. It had tall walls made of multiple frames and panels stretched over poles of cedar. Silver bowls were located at the lower ends of the poles. The people were called to make forty bowls as the foundation of the holy mobile sanctuary. The bowls signified God’s providing for their stomach and their spirit.

What is at the foundation of our daily choices? Do we start and end the day in prayer? Or, are we busy fighting the clock at either end of the day and hope God is in there
somewhere? The great thing about the portable sanctuary was that wherever the people went they were following God. The place of worship and fellowship with God was
right there with them.
We make choices about what we eat. These choices affect the resources we have to draw on each day. We have the opportunity to make these weeks our time of worship and fellowship wherever we go. Keep your bible and hymnal handy. Have tapes, discs or iTunes that inspire your spirit nearby.
Action Plan: Gather songs that you enjoy singing or hearing and play them often – while you work, travel, clean, or play. Build the foundation in words and songs of faith.

Prayer: O God, keep your words in my heart, in my hands, on my mind, and at your feet. Amen.
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Day 9 How Fast is Fasting?
Exodus 34.28 (NRSV)
Fasting is doing without one important thing in order to give more time, attention, and intention to another important one. Moses chooses not to eat as an opportunity to trust God’s providing presence. In only a matter of hours after breaking our routine of eating our body’s system begins to make noises and share its discomfort.
When we fast for a day we can easily begin to feel the lack of energy and fatigue. Fasting, as a spiritual discipline is not simply depriving, it is a shifting of our focus. Think of
the reverse of spiritual fasting for a moment. What if you spent forty days satisfying every physical and emotional need you possibly could.
Would you feel closer to God for having done so? When we lay aside our physical necessities do we feel closer to God’s work and witness in our daily living? Moses
gives a radical act of spending forty days with God.
Imaging going on a spiritual retreat from your family, work, duties, and responsibility and entrusting someone else with all those demands and giving your full attention to God.
Action Plan: Pick a set time to be with God. No watches, no Weather Channel, and no Facebook or texts. No coffee, no cokes, no sweet iced tea with limes. No
FOX, No CNN, No WSB. Take the time to be present with God. What might my spirituality look like without time devoted directly to God? Moses gets the Ten Commandments.

Prayer: Jesus, take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to thee. Amen.
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Day 10 Spies Like Us
Numbers 13:25 (NRSV)
Moses sends a reconnaissance party to spy on those who are living in the Promised Land. Most likely the Hebrews assumed that the land flowing with milk and honey would be uninhabited and ready for them to walk into without effort. This is not the case. This remains a core battle in the Middle East today.
It is notable that it takes forty days for them to check out the situation and return with a report concerning the land of promise.
If you could imagine someone trailing you for these forty days, watching the things you said and did, and making notes of the places you go, and recording your every choice, what would be their report at the end of the forty days?
We might want to have a quick review that we can withstand for an hour or so on Sunday, but think of what you might learn about you throughout forty days under the scrutiny of a private investigator. This Lenten Journey is that kind of reflection and report on your life if you will allow it to be.
Action Plan: Try journal writing as an instrument in accountability for your thoughts and actions throughout the day.
Prayer: Thank you for knowing about my thoughts, my fears, my sins, my salvation and me. Help me remember and trust your loving me. Amen.
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2nd Sunday of Sabbath Rest – A Jubilee
Leviticus 25.8 (NRSV)
The year of Jubilee is the year after seven sets of seven years. It is a way of giving witness to the power of forgiveness. Take this aspect of Sabbath today and prepare for a time of Jubilee.
Think of the books, tools, and serving dishes you have been meaning to return and take them back to their owner. Don’t you want to forgive debts, grudges, and hurts that
you have carried for years and years? The 50-year anniversary is golden because it is a time of grace and forgiveness. Couples who celebrate a Jubilee anniversary highlight the occasion with a renewal of their wedding vows. It is a time of letting go of what is best
forgotten for the sake of the relationship and reclaiming the union in Christ that keeps them secure.

What items might you return that have stressed a relationship? What grudges could you forgive that will make way for reconciliation? Try to see the opportunity that each Sabbath rest is a mini time of Jubilee. Do all in your power to build right the relationships that form the community faith.
Prayer: God, give me the courage to forgive to the degree I desire to be forgiven.
Active Rest: Rest. Just rest with God.
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Day 11 What Have the Children Seen Us Doing?
Numbers 14.33 (NRSV)
God expresses frustration over the Hebrews lack of faith in the wilderness. God pronounces the desire to give them a taste of their own words and actions. The
punishment given by God is that none of the first generations that left Egypt would enter the Promised Land. Their children would be shepherded in the desert to give
the time and perspective to see God’s provisions and call upon their lives.
The generation leaving Egypt complained and struggled for years and years, and the children have heard nothing but regret and problems. Who will tell them the
stories of salvation? Who will teach them God’s promises? Who will show by example the life God hopes for the people?
Action Plan: By our actions, emotions, and attitudes, what are we teaching the children of this generation about the love, power, and grace of God? Take time to prepare a child this week what God is calling you to make sure the next generation will remember.
Prayer: Yes, Lord, I receive your charge to keep the faith by sharing it with others. I will no longer be silent; you can count on me to be your witness. Amen.
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Day 12 Entering with No Reservations
Numbers 32.12 (NRSV)
One way to avoid needing a reservation at a fancy restaurant is to never eat at a place that calls for reservations. To make a choice like that is to give up on the experience before having tasted it. Christian living is a daily action and response to God’s call and leading in our lives.
It is Caleb and Joshua who are the exception to God’s judgment. These two are allowed to enter the land promised by God because they had trusted God, without reservations. When we listen to the fears and pressures that call us away from God we move out of a relationship from God.
Today is your opportunity to make sure this day is a day lived for Christ and a day filled with the Holy Spirit.
Action Plan: List the relationships, emotions, and attitudes that might be keeping us from knowing Christ’s joy. Make a reservation with a friend to share your list and
listen to their feedback.
Prayer: Today, O God, I give you my life anew. Put me to doing or lay me aside. Allow me to be with you always, no matter what you and I do today. Amen.
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Day 13 Levites Have a Place in Worship
Numbers 35.6 (NRSV)
All except one of the twelve tribes of God’s people were given lands and regions of their own. The Levites were the exception. They were given the responsibility of the sanctuary and over forty cities in which to live. Also, the Levites were to govern the cities of refuge.
A remarkable story of the extension of grace in the Old Testament is the cities of refuge. If a person had accidentally caused the death of someone without it being
premeditated, he or she could be granted a place for a new start as part of a relocation program.
Rather than be punished one could simply move to a different city of refuge and have a fresh start without retribution by the victim’s family. It is in this tradition that
the house of worship had come to be known as a place of sanctuary and protection. This is not church hopping when you have a disagreement; this is an invitation of grace
when hurt, grief, and loss stand to divide the people.

Action Plan: Identify someone you could extend grace and forgiveness toward and go do it. You will be giving one of the greatest gifts you could possibly know or share.

Prayer: Let me find my comfort in your grace, oh Lord, be my strength and hope. Amen.
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Day 14 I Shall Not Want
Deuteronomy 2.7 (NRSV)
Here the long wilderness journey comes to an end. Moses looks back forty years and remembers the plagues and the exodus. Joshua looks ahead and prepares to enter
the Promised Land. It is often in looking back that we most clearly see that God has been with us at every point along the way.
There is no lack of a message, coming from every medium of communication, that tells us what we need. The infomercial is an example of this art. Thirty minutes that give us forty reasons why that one product will revolutionize our life. It is no wonder we end up with so many timesaving devices that we don’t need.
It is easy for the writer of the twenty-third psalm to look back at Israel’s history and see the shepherding protection God has given sheep-like people. The troubles and detours often become the defining moments that help future generations remember the significance of the long journey.
Action Plan: Look at family photos and count your blessings. What are some of the hopes and dreams that you once had? Are they still attainable? Will you work to
their fulfilling? Have new and better dreams come to fulfillment in their place?

Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall want for nothing! Amen.
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Day 15 The Humble Heart Test
Deuteronomy 8.2 (NRSV)
God is patient. Willing to wait forty years until these complaining children turn their hearts around, God is with them. God is hopeful. Not only does God want their
behavior to change, but God also longs for their choice to trust God’s strength. God leads the people. God wants us to follow knowing that God knows what is in our best interest.
God goes with us. How is it that God continues to be patient with us?
Generally, we know in our heart what is right and wrong, yet we run from God. Certainly, as God model’s patience, God must want us to be patient with one another.
The wilderness journey is a spiritual journey. It could have taken much less time. God is not worried about the time.
God is focused on our relationship. A journey of multiple generations reveals God’s purpose. Any delay in reaching the Promised Land is dependant on our trusting God. The
more we learn to trust God, the more trusting we become of one another.

Action Plan: The next time you find a child’s behavior annoying you, remember what it is like to be a child today and get up and play with them. The change of perspective
will do you both some good.
Prayer: Lord, give me patience; even it takes me a lifetime. Amen.
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Day 16 Swollen Feet and Old Clothes?
Deuteronomy 8.4 (NRSV)
Remarkably, this nation on the move walked wherever they went. Young tender feet, Old boney toes and even tired feet of expectant mothers made this journey. For all their walking, their feet did not swell. They traveled for years in the wilderness passing no stores or market place to buy new clothes or shoes. Yet they arrived with the same clothes they started with when the left as slaves in Egypt.
God took care of their every need. If God will clothe the birds and fields, remember God knows what we need. The struggle was and is over want. God hears our wants and is
patient wherever we are. God promised to care for us as well. We may not have
a pair of shoes that will last forty years, but we are not called to wander in the wilderness either. God does know what will see us through our journey and is willing to be with us, whether we notice God’s presence or not.

Action Plan: Open your closet and share what you don’t need.
Prayer: Lord, help us see your providing in all we do and where we go. Amen.
27
3rd Sunday Sabbath Rest – Proper Prayer Posture
Deuteronomy 9.18 (NRSV)
When you pray, change your posture. If you sit most of the time, stand or kneel to pray. If you are loud and busy most of the time, stop and be quiet. If your demeanor is generally polite and peaceful, let your prayers be bold and strong. Prayer is a conversation with God; let it be different from the noise of all other conversations.
The Old Testament is filled with the custom of prayer taking on the posture of lying face down, prostrate, on the ground as a sign of humility and reverence. We more commonly fold our hands, bow our head and seldom get our face so near the ground. All these help us to be respectful.
Does everyone in your family close their eyes during grace? There is a family that decides who will say the blessing based on who reaches for the food first. Do we
show reverence every time we pray? We can be reverent in church but are we ever elsewhere? How can being respectful appear too irreverent to others?
Restful Prayer: Try praying with a different posture today. If you typically raise your hands when you pray, try sitting on them? If you just prayer in any place at any time,
stop and choose a certain place and time and devote that to God in prayer.
Prayer: Lord, get my attention that I might really listen and hear all you have to say to my heart today. Amen.
28
Day 17 The Lord Intended to Destroy
Deuteronomy 9.25 (NRSV)
God has every right to whip us into shape but God seldom responds in this way. We wouldn’t learn about God’s full nature that way. God’s assessment of our faithfulness might well deserve destruction; instead, God meets us in the struggle.
We can learn from our struggles as well as from the accomplishment. We can grow through our trials and tribulations no matter how small. And God’s hope is that
we apply what we’ve learned to new challenges. Sometimes it takes us a while to get to a place of understanding and it’s the trying to get it right that finally helps the lesson to sink in. Rather than focus on what could have or should have happened, put your trust in what God will be doing with you.

Action Plan: Exercise your body, take a walk, and get moving. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, move toward God.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for seeing your will above our sin. Give us the courage to face our failure, strength in our struggles and hope in each day. Amen
29
Day 18 God Listened to Me
Deuteronomy 10.10
God hears our prayers. Sometimes it is hard to imagine or conceive of God’s omnipresence in all of our prayers. God listens to every one of us. A famous country song tells us that we can be thankful for “unanswered prayers” too.
We have faith that God knows our heart and is always ready to guide us in our prayers.
Prayer is more than shouting in the thunderstorm or begging at the bottom of the well. Prayer is a consistent conversation. Our task is to not give up sharing all things with God. As often as we breathe, we have an opportunity and a reminder to pray.
One of the milestones of spiritual growth is coming to the awareness and assurance that God indeed listens. The responses and answers come at different times and ways.
Growing as a person of prayer calls for the persistence of sharing our joys and questions as well as our fears and brokenness with God. Take the time to truly listen; God does.
Action Plan: Be diligent in listening to others today. If you are talking, do more listening and less talking. If you are usually quieter, lead more of the conversation today.

Prayer: Let me be silent, and listen to your word. Amen.
30
Day 19 Don’t Be Cruel to a Heart that’s True
Deuteronomy 25.1-3 (NRSV)
“If it bleeds it leads.” In a culture that defines evening news by the number of deaths, accidents, abductions, and fatalities, sometimes there seems no end to cruelty in the
world. Certainly, there are justified punitive actions in society and a right for every wrong. Cruelty is not the norm.
Evil is not the goal.
On this day of our journey, we hear about limits for retribution and deterrence. Based on the people’s questioning and challenging to God, God could have allowed the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for a hundred years, but forty years was enough. There are
times we only learn when we experience some form of punishment. But there is a limit to punishment in God’s eyes and for us as well. We live in a time when people sue not for what is fair; rather they go for all the money they and their litigators can drain from insurance companies and individuals.
What if Fortune 500 CEO’s received lashes for selling faulty products or taking advantage of customers or stockholders? When a person’s anger calls for one hundred lashes, would this surpass the good of rehabilitation or would it just create a new cycle of
retribution? Even in the church people who have been hurt lash out to attempt to keep that cycle rolling strong.

Call to Action: Offer an apology to someone you have hurt and accept the apology of someone who repents toward you.

Prayer: Help my words, thoughts, and deeds not be cruel and move toward healing my relationships. Amen.
31
Day 20 What Can God Do With 40K?
Joshua 4.8-13 (NRSV)
Working in large numbers is one of the strengths of the United Methodist Church. We can do what millions could do because we are connected in faith and action for Christ.
Here forty thousand of God’s people march on Jericho. The ark, the vessel containing the presence of God, leads the forty thousand. So if Christ is with us, who can
stand against us?

Before trying to get forty thousand troops moved across a river, Joshua sends in the priests with the Ark of the Covenant and they gather twelve stones. One stone is
taken out of the bottom of the river for each of the tribes to remember God’s mighty power and guidance. One stone to have a remembrance of what happened on the day that forty thousand people trusted God, followed the ark and went on to be victorious without challenge.
Action Plan: Think of one thing at your church that you can get behind and trust God to use you in ministry? Take a small stone and make it a prayer rock. Keep it in your
pocket, purse, or backpack and let it serve as a reminder of God’s counting on you and your counting on God. Share that stone as an invitation to someone else.
Prayer: Lord, change my stone cold heart, into one that is ready to follow you into battle or my daily life. Amen.
32
Day 21 Forty Years For Milk and Honey
Joshua 5.5-8 (NRSV)
If only they could have searched for forty years with a childlike faithfulness of Winnie-The-Pooh for the land of milk and honey. The children of those who left Egypt and others who joined the journey came to the point of entering and taking claim to the promise.
We identify the fulfillment of important events with markers. For example, diplomas, deeds, golden watches, and tombstones are all signs of accomplishments. God calls Joshua to give the people a sign for their faithfulness through the struggles of the wilderness.
Joshua commemorates the occasion calling for a second circumcision. It is very interesting that circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant people, was made in such a
private personal way. What signs remind you of God’s promises?

Action Plan: Make yourself a sign or symbol that reminds you of your promise to God and God’s promise to you. Keep it with you every day.

Prayer: O God, help me to love you and not the signs that point to you. Amen.
33
Day 22 Servant for God Over the Hill
Joshua 14.4-7
Joshua and Caleb remember how God called them in their forties to do great things under great scrutiny for the people of God. On Joshua’s birthday day they enter the
land. They were allowed to share in the fruits of their labors. Faith is working toward a goal, even if you may not reach the goal yourself.
The vast majority of people think of themselves as being a younger age than the real number of years they have lived. Our culture links age and usefulness in ways
that seldom honor our experiences and talents.
People are working longer, retiring later, and returning from retirement more frequently. God sees the purpose and usefulness that we sometimes overlook in others
because of their age. Age is not the only discriminator. Gender, culture, and economics have used a measure of worth. What are we worth to God?

Action Plan: Buy some fair-trade coffee and enjoy a taste of justice.

Prayer: Give me strength O God to have faith in you instead of the reward. Amen.
34
4th Sabbath Rest – 40 Conspirators
Acts 23.10-13-14 (NRSV)
Luke tells of the efforts of forty people who make oaths to fast and not stop until they have Paul killed. Paul who once was Saul who had a mission of killing Christians is
now the target.
There are times when we join those who complain, gossip and vilify a situation. This happens in the community and in the church. Rather than taking collective ownership and repairing what is broken, we find someone to blame and work to get them out of our way.
Imagine what it would feel like to have forty people working together to trip you up, to point out your every flaw, to have you fired, to have you embarrassed, or to have you killed. Imagine if those forty people worked together for good rather than out of fear. Today is a day to be safe in God’s care. Those who seek to harm us will be there, but they cannot harm us in God.

Active Rest: Wrap up in a warm blanket resting in God.

Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.
35
Day 23 Even the Land Needs to Rest
Judges 3.1-11 (NRSV)
Again, Israel was not faithful to God and they end up as captives. They prayed for a deliverer and God sent them Othniel as a judge to lead them back in faithfulness.
With their faith restored and following their leader they won their freedom and had rest for forty years. I hope you are beginning to see that forty is a frequent theme in the faith
story. Forty years is plenty of time to grow closer or stray from God.
It is encouraging to remember that both Jesus and John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, did not come into their own until they were in their thirties. Both
of them give witness to keeping the Sabbath rest. Both of them took time apart to pray and renew their personal relationship before sharing with the crowds that followed.
Work is good. Getting fair pay for the labor you give is even better, but are created for more than work. Rest is God’s way of assuring that we recover from work. It is the
necessary portion of not being busy, not worrying, or not being in charge. It is time for God to be fully in control.

Action Plan: What could you do every forty days as a spiritual check-up? A day prayer retreat is more fun than flossing, but both are essential.

Prayer: O God, guide my steps that I may work with You, and find my way back home when I have strayed. Amen.
36
Day 24 Shame from an Ephod In Ophrah
Judges 8.25-28 (NRSV)
The People of God trusted Gideon to lead them as their warrior-judge. He was mighty and strong and was able to bring wealth to the people. To honor God, Gideon
thought it was a good idea to use the golden spoils to make a monument to God in the middle of town.
Gideon thus formed an image of gold in the middle of Ophrah and it was nothing but trouble for him, his family and the whole town. Gideon was trying to use gifts for God,
but the people worshiping him instead.
There was rest in the land for forty years with their neighbors, but their tensions were between the flock and God.

Action Plan: Take a piece of old gold jewelry and find out what its value is by weight. Is it simply an asset to be worn or sold? Or is it a gift that points to someone’s love for you? Sometime spoils can spoil us, and our sense of value. Gifts don’t have to be golden to be treasured.

Prayer: Lord, use my life and gifts you have given me for your people today. Amen.
37
Day 25 Say Shibboleth three times fast
Judges 12.5-6. (NRSV)
It can be fascinating to study the various dialects of different languages. With the influence of different cultures, regions, and social intention words are sounded with
different styles and inflections. An example might be seen referring to “you”, “ya’ll”, or “you guys” – all regional examples of the familiar you.
Sometimes the wrong word gets us in trouble. The character ‘Peggy’, in a favorite television show, “King of the Hill”, is a substitute teacher who’s southern Texas version of Spanish lands her in a Mexican court until she tells her side of the story in her own words. She tells the judge, speaking in her version of ‘Es-pan-yola’, that he has a big cat in his pants. Then the judge realizes her misuse of the language caused the trouble and set her free.
In the text, the enemy troops had the right password, but the wrong pronunciation. Some of the names in scripture are difficult. The general rule for pronouncing names that are difficult is to speak them boldly and not to stop for comments.
The power of scripture is not in how we pronounce it. It is not limited to one language or dialect. But our use of language may speak to knowing our audience when we share the gospel.

Call to Action: Read Acts 2:1-13 aloud.

Prayer: Thank you for speaking to each of us in our own heart. Resonates with us through your Holy Spirit.

38
Day 26 Get Your Fill of the Philistines
Judges 13.1 (NRSV)
Israel spends many periods of years in time-out as captives, slaves, and servants to foreign people. For forty years again, the people are given over. This time it is to
the Philistines.
How many years would you be willing to try something that you hoped would bring you joy, but it never would no matter how hard you tried?
How many years are we willing to trying something that does not produce happiness, joy or hope? The same effort in the same direction with the same intensity will yield
the same results.

Action Plan: Find someone at least 40 years younger or older and share your faith story with him or her. 1. When did you become a Christian? 2. Why you became a follower at that time in your life?  3. How have you continued to grow in faith?

Prayer: Gracious God, give me wisdom beyond my years and tears to share the story that means so much to me. Amen.
39
Day 27 The Judge that Flipped Out
1 Samuel 4.18 (NRSV)
The period of rule by the Judges was an interesting time for the ‘Heroes’ of the people. Leaders popped up in times of crisis. One of the great judges, Eli ruled forty years
with confidence and success.
Near the end of his reign, God’s people were at war with the Philistines and were being attacked in a terrible way. His two sons died in the battle. But when Eli heard the Ark of the Covenant had been captured he literally fell over and died on the spot.
To hold the Ark is to be in God’s full presence. To have the ark stolen is to be separated from God. While it was awful news that his children were killed in battle, without God, he was in full shock and defeat. To journey without God is to be lost. Disciples seek to stay in God’s presence even in the midst of tragedy.

Call to Action: Think of someone who appears to be spiritually struggling. If you can’t think of someone, take courage and ask someone, “Honestly, how is it with your soul today?” Think of ways you can bring the presence of God into your home, work, school, travels, and conversations. Where God is present, there will be your life and wholeness.

Prayer: Thank you God for being with us on this journey. You never leave us. You never give up on us. Help us to trust you more. Amen.
40
Day 28 Full Court Press, Forty days of Philistines
1 Samuel 17.16 (NRSV)
The Philistines were at war with Israel and Judah. Every day they made their intimidating presence known. Standing ready to pounce, it was unnerving for God’s
People to anticipate defeat. David hears the fears and takes action to confront their mighty warrior, Goliath. We know how David trusted God’s help to defeat the giant and
give victory to his people with God’s strength.
Think of the people that threaten you and your faith. Stop and reflect on those who might be intimidated by your words, actions or presence. Good people protecting a narrow view of what it means to be the body of Christ waste the most energy in a great number of churches.

Action Plan: Pick up a rock that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. What can one stone do to hurt and to heal?

Prayer: Let the stones always remind us of the words that heal and the words that destroy. Let us speak your word. Amen.
41
5th Sunday Sabbath Rest – 40 Lying in Ambush
Acts 23.21 (NRSV)
What weights do you carry in your life? Are they physical, emotions and/or spiritual? Which of them is worth your effort to be closer to God. Do you fear what others think of you? Do you allow the perspective of others to limit what you are willing to do for God?
Don’t let one day go by that you do not try to walk with God in your actions, your words, and your deeds. So many people lie in wait to attack us if we point out where there is
sin or if we express our faithfulness that is different from their own. We should work to lift others up, not to spend our hearts bringing others down. If they are not of God
they will fall anyway.
What does it mean to be a friend in Christ? Country singer, Jaron Lowenstine, sings that we should pray for our enemies like the preacher said. He goes on to give an example of hateful prayers for our enemies; the prayers are all daggers and darts, but we have prayed for our enemies.

Watchful Rest: If you hear gossip about someone, stop the cycle and uncover a plot that does so much harm.

Prayer: May you treat me like those I am unwilling to forgive. Amen.
42
Day 29 Your Faith, Not Your Daddy’s
2 Samuel 2.10 (NRSV)
Ishbaal thought he would continue just as his father, King Saul, had led the people. Two years into his rule, the people of Judah turned to David, who proved to be God’s appointed king. Many times the children of a faithful leader in the church or business are able to ride on the reputation of their parents.
Many have not had to work to build up their own strengths or to have earned their own reputations. But without their parent, they have only a shadow for a guide.
At the age of forty, Ishbaal finds himself losing political clout and his people. The core message of this verse is to use the years we have to build the strongest life we can.
Certainly, the witness and experience of others can bless us, yet we are called to claim a faith that is our own.

Action Plan: Record the gifts, skills, and blessings your family and friends have utilized in shaping your life and give a prayer of thanks for them. Then list what your own beliefs and principles are. What do you stand for in the way you live your own life? Compare how the two lists are similar and how they might differ.

Prayer: God, we are grateful for the people you place in our lives that shape and inspire us. We know you don’t need carbon copies of others; you have made us uniquely
as we are, and desire us to become most fully that person you are hoping we become. Amen.
43
Day 30 A Forty-Year Reign
2 Samuel 5.4 (NRSV)
David reigned for forty years as king. How he ruled at age thirty changed by the time he was seventy. Think back about your own life, in five-year periods. How have you changed your mind and heart at different stages? Where can you see God at work?
Sometimes we don’t see God’s plan until we look back over the years. Have we done something the same way for 40 years? Can we do it differently now? You have heard
the saying: “Don’t fix it, if isn’t broken.” What if our perspective of wholeness differs from God’s? Those who look for God find God looking back, here and ahead.

Action Plan: List three things you have done the same in terms of prayer or church for 40 years and make a point to do them differently this Lenten season. Look at it from God’s perspective in addition to your own.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God. Amen.
(Repeat forty times today)
44
Day 31 Forty Thousand Horse Stalls
1 Kings 4.26 (NRSV)
We are complicated. We have layers and layers of experiences and responses to our deepest feelings and motivations. Some layers come off with a good bath. Others took years to get that way and won’t come off overnight. Sometimes God shoots right to the heart of the matter. Most of the time we learn by confronting each layer, one at a time.
King Solomon builds alliances with other countries that give stability and prosperity during his reign. His efforts were much like one spinning plates on the end of poles.
The more success the more plates to spin. Eventually, the plates fall. Is everything we are doing necessary to God?
We live in the land of abundance. We use a majority of the world’s resources. Are we practicing extravagant generosity along with our great success? Are there things we can let go that make more room for God to work through us?

Action Plan: Clean out an area or room. Remember God always desires to forgive, renew, and clean our hearts. Practice cleaning one area at your home or workplace.

Prayer: O God, unclutter my life and let me live in your fullness. Amen.
45
Day 32 The Nave was 40 Cubits
1 Kings 6.17 (NRSV)
The narthex in every church is different in size and scope. It is intended as the place here the people greet one another. Some allow for one-on-one fellowship, others have room for the whole congregation.
The holy of holies in the temple was the resting place of the ark and was seen as God’s footstool. The space between the Holy of Holies at the back and the narthex at the entrance is called the nave. We usually call it the sanctuary. Which speaks of its function more than its dimensions.
Forty cubits would be roughly sixty feet. The height was thirty cubits and the width was twenty cubits. The nave was a large open space. Why would they need such a large nave? What is God planning to do with so much room?

Action Plan: Look in each room in your house and ask yourself what work is God doing here?

Prayer: Wherever I go, let me doing your work while I am there. Amen.
46
Day 33 How Much Water Does 40 bathes Take?
1 Kings 7.38 (NRSV)
In the temple, jars large enough to hold 40 baths of water, were collected as the storehouse for sacrifice and cleansing rituals. They used lots of water! (Even enough
for teenagers to take a shower?)
How many gallons of water do you use in a day? Check the meter and see. How must water does it take to keep our body hydrated? Do we consume enough to keep
things flowing?
We hear about conserving water, fights over the state’s rights to water and rainwater every day. We are charged with caring for the earth as God’s caretakers. Do we treat
our bodies as the holy temple of the spirit? Do we take care of them properly? Do we take the time to clean out emotional baggage to make room for spiritual refreshment?

Action Plan: Every time you bathe use that time to confess your sin and ask God to forgive and give you a fresh start.

Prayer: Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee. Amen.
47
Day 34 40 Days Strong
1 Kings 19.8 (NRSV)
Elijah is faithful to his job as a prophet. His words get him into trouble with the people and the king for pointing out their sinfulness. He is tired, scared and wants to hide.
God sends an angel to feed Elijah to make a journey of encouragement.
We push ourselves to get our work done, meet deadlines and prepare as best we can for the days, weeks and months ahead. Is it ever enough? God prepares us every day. Where is God pushing you to grow? Will we go in God’s strength to meet God where he sends us? Will we stay in bed, in hiding, in our fears?
How has the past month of prayer, study, and fasting affected your relationship with God? Are you eating enough spiritual food for the journey you are called to make with God? The days and weeks of the Lenten season are not an excuse for dieting; it is a time of feasting on the manna God provides our spirits now.

Action Plan: Think about how you will spiritually prepare for Easter Sunday.

Prayer: Fill my cup, Lord. Feed me till I want no more. Amen.
48
6th Sabbath Rest – (5 x (40-1)) = 100% Proof
2 Corinthians 11.24 (NRSV)
Paul carries the marks of faithfulness for the Gospel, despite personal attacks. Thirty-nine lashes on five occasions are his evidence of standing up for Christ under
opposition.

We hear the alarm go off on Sunday morning and see the clouds are grey and feel the warmth of the bed and the promise of more sleep calls to us. What would Paul say
about our temptation to skip worship?
Gathering for worship is not about the hymns, not about the preacher nor the sermon. It is about the People of God gathering to worship God. Would we be more likely
to go if it were a challenge to attend? Would more people try to get in if we sold tickets? Since we can freely come to worship, is it too easy to stay away?

Prayer: Lord, Wake me up! I want to go be where your people are worshiping you. If I’m not there, you will miss me and they will too. Amen.

Sabbath Worship: Go to worship and give yourself to God. Go to worship to praise God alone.
49
Day 35 A Pack of 40 Camels
2 Kings 8.9 (NRSV)
Hazael took forty camel loads of gifts to the prophet Elisha in hopes that he would foretell if King Aram would recover from his illness. Elisha reports that the king will
recover but will surely die.
Elisha also tells of the king’s unjust treatment of God’s people and weeps for the harm that will come under his leadership until the king’s death. Hazael goes home, reports the good news regarding his recovery. Hazael also suffocates the king and takes his place.
It is hard to see the justice in the midst of such corruption. Sometimes evil must be stopped even through war and violence. People might be doing harm to themselves and others and not make the connection. We are called to love those who harm or act unjustly. (Don’t go suffocating anyone, please.)

Action Plan: They might be annoyed, but if you see someone smoking ask them if you can help them kick the habit. Pray for them and encourage them, as you are able.

Prayer: Lord, help me to hear the cries of the helpless and be their prophetic voice. Amen.
50
Day 36 Forty Shekels, The Taxman Cometh
Nehemiah 5.15 (NRSV)
As a prophet, Nehemiah helps the king hear the cry of the people. Can you imagine a king raising taxes in a time of famine in the land? People were losing their homes,
farms, and vineyards in exchange for food on the table today.
The king has a change of heart, after thinking it over, he found people to blame and charge with the injustice. He had people who were sold into slavery returned and he
established lending without interest.
A leader that loses sight of the needs of the people should fear what justice God will bring upon them. Reform to help the king is different from reform that helps the
people.

Action Plan: Write letters to our local and national leaders so that they might hear the cries of the oppressed.

Prayer: Help me do more than talk about injustice. May I be an agent of change and a prophetic voice for you. Amen.
51
Day 37 Hearts Gone Astray
Psalm 95.10 (NRSV)
Does God want us to despise an entire generation?
Are we to be a witness of grace? Does he want us to hate anyone? Some of us hold onto hurt and hate for a lifetime. We think we are holding harm over them or protecting
ourselves.
Think of the energy and personal resources that are required to maintain prejudice, pride, blame, and leverage over others. The psalm writer beckons us to look in the
mirror and do more than talk about what we don’t like. It is time to return to God’s ways for our daily living.
When we keep the fires of discontent and hatred burning long after the perceived wrong, we are hurt far more than anyone. We carve out a place in our heart to
carry this burden. Why not fill our hearts with mercy?

Action Plan: Pray about a wrong you have suffered that no matter how much time passes continues to fester like a wound in your spirit.

Prayer: Teach me forgiveness and let me repent, that I may start this day new in your will. Amen.
52
Day 38 A Day for Every Year
Ezekiel 4.6 (NRSV)
What is a just punishment for a crime? If it were up to us would we punish someone one day for every year of suffering? This is what God says will be the punishment of
the house of Judah. If God can make right in one day what it takes a year to do wrong, then why can’t we try when we feel that there is no point?
You have the power to set people free from guilt, fear, and pain. One day of forgiveness can add years to someone’s life. One day of love can open doors of trust for generations to come. One day of honesty before God can set your heart right for eternity.
There is never a time to say, “there is no use in trying to repair that relationship,” to undo that injustice. And just because it may take forty years to help promote a change
in society or one single heart, we should not be discouraged from taking that first step.

Action Plan: Identify a need no matter how great or small in our local community that you have been concerned about. Pray about how God can use you to bring about a change in the matter.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see what I can do every day that will make a difference for you in years to come. Amen.
53
Day 39 Forty Days More
Jonah 3.4 (NRSV)
Jonah shows us that God can change an entire city in forty days. God can change an entire nation and God can change just one heart. Wearing sackcloth and ashes on
our face reminds us, and the community, of our act of repentance and the inward cleansing our spirits and clearing the way for the Lord to work through us.
The sackcloth was scratchy and uncomfortable. The ashes were from the sacrifice of burnt offerings. Both were signs of real change. We hear people say they are sorry
or that they have changed. We want to measure that by a change in the actions that follow.

Action Plan: What might you wear in public that would communicate that you are a work in progress for God? Try it and be ready to explain to those who ask why you are
wearing your “ashes and sackcloth.”

Prayer: God, help me show the world how you are at work changing my life. Amen.
54
Day 40 He was Famished
Matthew 4.2 (NRSV)
Our journey begins and ends in God’s presence, walking with us through each day. We have been on a journey this Lenten season of study, prayer, fasting and witnessing the hope of Easter. For it is Easter that drives us into the wilderness and what also drives us back out.
Christ’s journey has led us through our own personal journey. In these weeks we have seen how much we need Christ who can withstand all temptation to stand with us.
The end is in sight. We can now rest from our journey for tomorrow we enter the gates with thanksgiving in our hearts!

Action Plan: Lay out what you plan to wear to church and get plenty of rest, but never forget where you would be if we had not made the trip.

Prayer: Thank you for standing with me, all the way to the end. Amen.
55
Easter Sunday! He Presented Himself Alive
Acts 1.3 (NRSV)
After the resurrection, Jesus presented himself to them in many ways for forty days. Speaking and teaching about the kingdom of God. Some of us are all like “doubting Thomas” and we are cautious to be the first to believe much less follow. Every step of our journey is different – some are baby steps and some are giant leaps of faith.
But remember it is the journey of our life that God has died to claim and risen to share. Roll the stone away and let’s go together!

Prayer: Thank you for loving me and loving us, loving us all, so very much. Let the joy of Easter shine through us all. Amen.
The Day After So, Now What?
Genesis 8.6 (NRSV)
We come back to Noah. His first task was to build and fill the ark as an agent of salvation. They endure the forty days and nights of rain on the ark. The second task begins after they get out of the boat. At that moment begins the new work of rebuilding our lives in Christ every day. We are a people who are defined by the Easter message of life and love. It is our message of salvation and our message to share.

Action Plan: Take some action every day to be accountable for building your life in Jesus Christ filled with the Holy Spirit and surrounded by the love of God.

Prayer: God is with us until we meet again. Amen.

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