I am sorry there has been such a long gap in the EmmDevs... We have been through a challenging time as a family. At the end of Nov my Dad was diagnosed with a form of pre-leukaemia that involved hospitalisation and chemo. This happened over Dec which involved daily trips to the hospital and then the Covid19 second wave hit us and he was locked down in hospital. Then just before new year we were able to bring him home for two weeks and I moved in to help my Mom. Then he had to be hospitalised and we were not allowed to visit. Then his condition worsened dramatically and we were able to get him discharged to hospice and we could gather around him as a family. He passed away a few hours later on 20 Jan. I conducted the funeral service on the 27th. It was a very intense 8 weeks and while we are sad, we are peaceful... I have been easing my way back into things and it feels right to resume EmmDevs on Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
I hope you did not miss the devotions too much, but I do hope you missed them a little (wink)... Please keep my Mom and our family in your prayers - that we might grieve and heal well.
The first devotion for 2021 is down below...
LENT: Repentance, Return and RenewalThe Israelites had used the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm and it had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, but the Philistine's idols kept falling down whenever the Ark was near and so they returned it to Israel.
For twenty years the Israelites did nothing about this! Eventually true repentance entered their hearts and they sought the Lord again.
Notice how Samuel checks their hearts, asks them to take concrete action and then leads them in an act of repentance.
We have more than the Ark of the Covenant. We have the Gospel: Jesus came, died and rose again and the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. But so often we are like the Israelites, we live as though He isn't there.
Ash Wednesday is an act of repentance, return and renewal.
It calls us to:
- Come with all our hearts.
- To rid ourselves of foreign gods
- To re-commit ourselves to Him
The Israelites poured out water before the Lord (a symbol of dedication) and they fasted and confessed.
Ash Wednesday uses different symbolism but the purpose is the same.
We come to God recognising how far we have drifted from Him. We put things aside, fast and confess because we know we need Him more than anything.
In Samuel's account the Philistines attack Israel while the nation is busy with this act of repentance and we read that God routed them. The beauty of Ash Wednesday is that we anticipate Easter where Jesus defeats sin, death and Satan.
In these Corona Times we repent, return and renew in the presence of the enemies of illness, death and a battered economy and trust the He will be at work in our midst too.
|It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD. 3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. |
5 Then Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the LORD for you." 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the LORD." (1Samuel7:2-6)