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Lent Readings

Readings Begin February 18

Daily Lent Readings

"He is risen, indeed!" Lent has passed but that doesn't mean the daily readings have to go away. Some of you might be discovering this page for the first time. Others who participated during Lent might find it helpful to revisit a particular reading. For these reasons, we will leave this page up for a while.
We pray that you experience the wonder of interacting with our Savior in a personal, transformative way!
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"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 37

Blessed to Be a Blessing
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
   and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
   your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
  let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
   for you judge the peoples with equity
   and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
   let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase;
   God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
   let all the ends of the earth fear him!
What Is This Psalm About?   
Ross succinctly summarizes the heart of Psalm 67 when he writes, “God blesses his people in order that the people of the world will come to faith in him . . . their prayer had as its purpose that people in the world would learn of God’s saving way, come to acknowledge him for his sovereignty, and rejoice in their worship of him” (1: 454).
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
As Jesus gets ready to ascend, he gives his disciples a mission. Mark records Jesus’ words, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). Jesus will soon return to heaven, but first he sends his disciples into their world to lead others to commit their lives to him. Jesus has universal authority as Lord of the cosmos. He directs his followers to consider the entire world as their mission field. With this rather daunting directive, Jesus offers the blessing of an assurance, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). By his Spirit whom he will pour out on believers, Jesus will go with them to the ends of the earth as they proclaim the gospel. 
Jesus also gives his disciples a blessing that will echo down through the years. Luke tells us a bit more about Jesus’ departure when he writes, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:50-53). 
The focus here is on the blessing. As our true high priest, Jesus lifts his hands to give the ancient benediction. However, now he is not a mere Aaron. He is the LORD himself in the flesh who blesses. Jesus has guarded his disciples and prayed that his Father, who delights to answer the prayers of his Son, would keep them (John 17:11-12). Immanuel, God with us, shines his face (a face they can see!) upon his people. He is the Son of God, crucified, risen and coming again who pours out the grace of his atonement. In him, under his blessing hands, we have the peace that passes understanding: “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).  
We can imagine Jesus before his departure praying Psalm 67 and preparing this blessing. Or perhaps he even used this psalm in the blessing. We see that his shining presence and his radiant mission go together. Jesus prays for them, for us, a blessing with a purpose. May God be gracious to us so that his “way may be known on earth” and his “saving power among all nations.” A crucial reason for Christ’s people to experience his favor tangibly and richly is so that we can bear personal, experiential witness to the reality of Jesus. He favors his church so that the church has something the world craves. He shapes and forms and makes holy his church so that the nations of the world can see that their deepest dreams are not mere fantasies. The suffering and the oppressed can know that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. There is a God who reigns and who is just. Justice is not a fantasy, but the intent of God. God made the world for more, and he has a plan to renew all things. He will turn the world back to his plan and purpose. 
We pray Psalm 67 with Jesus as we gather faithfully for robust worship that announces the past, present and future of Jesus’ mission. Every Sunday, we study the Scriptures to learn of the triune God’s huge, overarching plan for his people. We consider how we fit right now into this ancient and eternal story. So every communion we say together, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” We share deeply with each other in prayer and fellowship to create a community where the lonely and lost can find a home. Then we go forth into our portion of the world to care demonstrably for others, especially the least and the lost, so that the vision of Christ’s future has integrity. Blessing and mission sing inseparably together. So we pray Psalm 67 with Jesus as the very fuel of the church. 
Revelation describes the ultimate fulfillment of this blessing that extends to the nations: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people. . . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’. . . And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’” (Revelation 21:1-5).
Praying with Jesus
Jesus, Renewer, Restorer, Re-creator,
Shine through your people,
Tune our voices to harmony,
Lift our hearts in worship,
Consecrate our spirits to your Spirit,
That the world might see
What a gracious and glorious Lord you are.
You have blessed us with yourself.
Continue to bless us 
With intimacy, energy, vision and power,
So that our praise might flow out to the nations
Like a mighty river of joy.
Come Lord Jesus and set all things right,
Make straight our crooked ways,
Bring justice to the swindled and discarded,
Let truth overwhelm deceit
And fairness create abundance
That all might see
Our God loves his world.
Send your church to make disciples
Next door and around the globe
For your glory and our salvation.


Posted in: Lent