The 40 days of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday are counted by NOT including Sundays.  While the Lenten days are days for spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical fasting, the Sundays are "the Lord’s Day” and a time of celebration. Accordingly, each Friday during the Lenten season, a different devotional will be posted here to help focus our mediation on the cross of Jesus. You may be using any number of devotional tools during Lent, but perhaps on each Sunday, we might come together as a faith community in spiritual oneness and meditate in unity. Each Sunday, we will consider a different one of the components of the cross of Jesus which led to His death for our sins. May the Lord Jesus be near to us as we pilgrimage together during the Lenten season. And may we arrive at Resurrection Sunday on 12 April with hearts that explode with new understanding of the precious Treasure that is Jesus.
Week 1: CROSS

John 19:16-18 records,
“Then Pilate gave Jesus to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus and led him away. Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went to the place called Skull Hill (in Hebrew, Golgotha).  There they crucified him. There were two others crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.”

Ephesians 2:12-13 interprets the cross in saying,
  • “You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.”

And Ephesians 4:31-32 exhorts us,
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Just as the cross is composed of 2 bars—a vertical and a horizontal—so the cross has two vectors of application—vertical and horizontal.

  • Vertically—The cross means that every obstacle to relationship between God and His creation has been removed.  Every debt paid; every insult forgiven and every sin taken away.  As far as God is concerned, there is never again a reason for anyone to live separated from Him, because God has dealt with the issue finally, radically and irrevocably.  To all who embrace Jesus by faith, that same finality is offered.  All the emptiness, loneliness, shame, anger, fear, defensiveness and other devastation that result from life without God, can be exterminated from our lives just as finally—because of the cross.

  • Horizontally—The cross means that every breach in our human relationships can find healing.  No matter how horrible the offense, how atrocious the abuse, how damaging the evil, the cross reaches widely enough to envelope every kind of broken relationship and renew it with life and joy and peace.  The example of Jesus bearing and paying for our offenses is one for us to imitate with one another, and in imitating, to find joy.  Jesus never touched anything and left it the same.
  • The Cross of Christ invites us to communion with God and community with one another through Christ’s radical touch and permanent transformation.  It is an eternal symbol of selfless and sacrificial relationship—God with mankind and mankind with one another.

And 1 Corinthians 1:18  says,
  • “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Thoughts on Seeking God during the Lenten Season

What is Lent?

Lent is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (Sundays are not counted) that has been observed by much of the Church since the 2nd century A.D.  These 40 days have been used in the Church in various ways, but all with the goal of focusing on Jesus.  Corporately in some churches, Lent was set aside as a time of teaching and study to prepare Christians for participation in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Additionally, individual Christians have used the Lenten season as a time for fasting, primarily from food, in imitation of Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert.  But there are other worshipful and edifying ways to utilize the season of Lent as well.

Commonly, Lent is associated with fasting (self-denial) – and often limited to fasting from food in particular.  While food-fasting (foregoing designated mealtimes in favor of focused time with God) in its various implementations is the kind most often referred to in Scripture, it is certainly not the only fasting which can be practiced (Isaiah 58:6-9).  So in addition to the historical spiritual disciplines below, consider those things in your life which may be inhibiting your relationship with God – not only sins, but also “good” things that receive more priority in your life than they should.  How might you “fast” from these things?  For example, in the digital age, surely there is a case for most of us to consider the place that mobile devices have in our daily lives and to lessen the space allowed for social media in order to make more “soul space” for God.

Spiritual Disciplines

Lent is a time to focus on spiritual disciplines – especially those which we might not regularly practice.  Spiritual disciplines are devotional practices which point us to Jesus and assist us as disciples in the practical application of faith and developing Christlike patterns for living.  It is important to keep in mind that the practice of spiritual disciplines is not to gain the approval of God, but rather to draw nearer to the Father Who already loves and approves of us  (James 4:8; Jeremiah 31:3).

Historically, the list of (Lenten and all) spiritual disciplines is divided into disciplines of abstinence (things we remove from our lives) and disciplines of engagement (things we add to our lives).

Disciplines of Abstinence (self-denial) – Solitude, Silence, Fasting, Sabbath, Secrecy, Submission, Sacrifice, Slowing

Disciplines of Engagement – Word, Worship, Prayer, Soul Friendship, Meditation, Service, Tithing, Giving

For explanations of these disciplines and more information:
Additional Options:

  • Follow another online Lenten devotional.  
  • Sign-up to be a part of ECB’s weekly prayer and fasting discipline.
  • Use the Sunday devotional meditations found in the ECB App.