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The Significance of Ash Wednesday

Read this slowly. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin, and be faithful to Christ..”

These words are pronounced in the sombre dim of flickering candlelight, while a priest or pastor marks the sign of a cross on the foreheads of penitent faithful with black ashes. It is a symbol of my mortality, a sign that my life is as fleeting as shadows cast around the walls. A reminder that it is by grace alone that I receive eternal life in Jesus Christ our Saviour.

As the service ends, the believers walk out with their candles into the night, the sign of the cross imposed with ashes marked on their foreheads for all to see. Simultaneously an imprint of sin, and proclamation of its Gospel solution.

Thus, Christians have traditionally marked the first day of Lent, which we know as Ash Wednesday. The beginning of 40 days of introspection, self-examination and reflection, just as Jesus spent 40 days tempted in the wilderness — a fitting preparation leading up to remembrance of the Cross.

Lord, give us true repentance;
forgive us our sins of negligence and ignorance
and our deliberate sins;
and grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit
to amend our lives according to your holy word.

Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

In the Ash Wednesday liturgy, there are extensive call and response segments as the leader calls the congregation to reflect on their sins and confess them to God. One poignant segment begins with “Let us now call to mind our sin, and the infinite mercy of God,” which opens an extended response of “Have mercy upon us” and “Good Lord, deliver us.”

We do well to reflect on some of these calls, not just in light of our personal sin, but as we face the grievous hurt that our collective sin has inflicted on the world.

Consider the Ukraine crisis.
Consider the corrupting influence of modern capitalism.
Consider the drug abuse crisis.
Consider social oppression and economic injustice.
Consider how human actions are destroying God’s good world.
Consider the darkness of your own heart.

From all evil and mischief;
From pride, vanity, and hypocrisy;
From envy, hatred, and malice;
And from all evil intent,
Good Lord, deliver us

God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,
Have mercy upon us

Ash Wednesday calls us to reflection, repentance, and renewal of commitment to Christ who conquered sin and death. Together with the Church worldwide, we pray:

God our Father,
The strength of all who put their trust in you,
Mercifully accept our prayers;
And because, in our weakness,
We can do nothing good without you,
Grant us the help of your grace,
That in keeping your commandments
We may please you, both in will and deed
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Exodus 19:10-18
Thu, 19 May 2022

Meeting the Lord at Present

Observation:

What significant observations can you make about believers meeting the Lord in these two passages?

Deeper Reflection
AT “THE COMING OF THE LORD”, BOTH THE RESURRECTED and raptured believers will “meet the Lord in the air” (vv.16-17). It is our face-to-face meeting with the Lord. But we can meet the Lord at present while waiting for that future ultimate meeting.God came down on Mount Sinai so that His people may “meet God” (Exo 19:17). This God is an awesome holy God (Exo 19:16, 18). So God commanded Moses to “set bounds all around” for Israel to meet Him (Exo 19:12). There is now no more this setting of bounds, for we can meet God freely, quickly and easily. But be careful of the danger of familiarity breeds contempt. Who God is has never changed – He is still “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29). What has changed – radically – is our access to God. Now, “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:19). But still, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God” (Ecc 5:1).God commanded Israel to “be ready” to meet Him (Exo 19:11, 15). “Be ready” is an act of the heart. Be ready with a cleansed heart: “let them wash their garments” (Exo 19:10, 14). Be ready with a consecrated heart: “consecrate them” (Exo 19: 10, 14). God required Israel to take three days to be ready (Exo 19:10, 11, 15). Our heart and who God is require the “three days”.The Coming Lord knocks on the door of our hearts that we may open it and let Him come in to eat with us and we with Him (Rev 3:20).
Application:

What changes do I need to make in my life regarding meeting the Lord?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for Outreach/Missions/New Life leaders: To have the hunger for meeting the Lord
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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