Lenten Sacrifice: Love One Another

Good day friends! I pray your February was filled with our Lord’s grace and blessing upon you as you sought Him in your life. For the month of March and the first couple weeks of April, the Church will be in the Holy season of Lent. What a beautiful time to reflect on all that Christ has sacrificed for us, and may we attempt to sacrifice as he did. In our current days, may our sacrifice be letting go of our own selves and loving others as Christ loved us.

Please note, for those on the frontlines of battle against an evil, uncalled for war, our prayers are lifted high continuously for your strength, wisdom, and protection. May Christ and his angels be among you all.

Although the situation in Ukraine is unprecedented in our lifetime, and while our own situations are minuscule compared to what they are going through and our hearts ache for them, may you read and reflect on this devotion for your own personal life. Let us top up our coffees as I share what’s been on my heart regarding my personal relationships and this season of Lent.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

If you have been with me through the years, you will know that, after my family, I love my friends. I cherish my friends. Over the past little while, I have experienced many of my friends going through a multitude of things: cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure, accidents, illnesses, breakups, natural disasters, loved ones caught in war, and deaths of loved ones, alongside differing views surrounding all the different components of Covid or other tensions on our municipal, provincial, national, and world stage. In the midst of them all, I am drawn to biblical truths that I have been clinging to as I desire to be whom God needs me to be for each of these precious souls in my life.

The first truth is that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33b) This world we live in is filled with sin and trouble, all people are filled with sin, and I am filled with sin. That I and those I love have troubles and anxieties should be of no surprise to me, to them, to you. Yes, there will always be trouble, sin, and hardships. However, Jesus did not stop with simply acknowledging that the world has its troubles. But, he continued with saying that no matter the difficult times we endure, that he has overcome them. That through his death and resurrection, in Christ we can walk through whatever we are faced with, even death itself because in Christ, even though we die, we will live. So, we need to keep our eyes focussed on Christ and pray for his strength and wisdom to get through each day, for ourselves and for each other.

The second truth is that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) In these days, there are so many elevated emotions. People struggling with pain and loss, people feeling strongly one way or another about so many different things. We see people lashing out at others, organizations, and even friends and loved ones. It is so easy to get caught up in it. However, as children of the Light, it is so important to know that these feuds with one another, these arguments between employer and employee, and even the conflicts within churches, just to name a few scenarios, are exactly the things Satan wants us to be focussing our attention on. He wants us to be at each other’s throats. No. No matter the reasoning we want to use, we need to pray for wisdom to see beyond the physical situations and fight the spiritual battle of Christ’s love and truth in this world, not with defensive hateful words or inappropriate behaviour, but with prayer and in the Holy Spirit’s power. Despite my own earthly desires and positions, my prayer is that I am a light of Christ in all I say, do and think. I continue to pray that my family and friends in Christ too, no matter their position, fight the spiritual battle by being strengthened in God’s Word and truth, and together we are united to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, [and] put on the full armor of God, so that [we] can take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11) None of us have the knowledge to know fully what is the best way, but God does. So as we all live with conviction in this earthly realm, may we hold fast to God’s guidance: “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Romans 14:22)

The final truth is, Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38) As I face these words head on, I must acknowledge that I am guilty of the desire of judging others, and I need to live in a state of repentance and reliance on the Lord, continually asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. This concept of being forgiven by the Lord as we forgive others, is so important to Him that Jesus even put it in the Lord’s prayer. Yes, I need forgiveness for judging and condemning others, for neglecting to do the good works that He prepared in advance for me to do because I was caught up in my worldly troubles. For the Lord is the only judge, and as his children, we need to trust that he is guiding each of our hearts, as we seek his will, and his will alone. He will never contradict himself. Only He will guide us to the finish line. “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The unbelieving world will continue in the chaos that Satan would have us live in, but if we, His children, keep our sights on Him and live by His instruction and in His love, we will make it through to the end. 

Therefore, as we enter this season of Lent, instead of looking at others, may we take the time to look inwardly at ourselves, and evaluate our own actions to those of Christ – His life and sacrifice on our behalf. And then lift our families and friends up in prayer, no matter where they are at and what they are going through, trusting that God is strengthening them, and working in and through them too to His glory. Let us leave all the unknowns and judgements to the Lord and sacrifice ourselves to love as He loves.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, these are scary and worrisome times. Help us, Your children, to keep our eyes focused on you and trust that You will get us through all our trials and tribulations according to Your will. Help us to love one another and to trust that You are guiding the hearts of all Your children that seek You. May we all be seeking Your will to be done. In Your name alone, we pray. AMEN!

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