Day 4

 What is your wilderness?

As previously mentioned, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before he started his ministry. You can find this in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:11-13, and Luke 4:1-13.  Jesus had just experienced a high in his ministry as he was baptized by John and given authority from heaven.  He went straight from there to work out and prepare for what was next.  Luke 4:1 – “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,”
Here in the foothills of the Appalachians, wilderness bring images of mountains, trees, soil, ferns, bushes, things that sustain life, a place where life can be rough, but still sustaining. Our fears are bugs, wild animals, and getting lost on a mountain.  Jesus experienced a different wilderness.  The Judean wilderness is a rocky desert that is not fit for life.  Jesus went to the hardest place he could to figure out what he was doing.  As Frederick Buechner, pastor and theologian puts it, “Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent 40 days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus.”
What wildernesses are you experiencing?  What are the times in your life that were rocky deserts not fit for life?  How are you handling them?  In what ways are you (like Jesus) asking yourself what it means to be you?  How can you continue to do that through the remainder of Lent?
Tomorrow is a “Feast Day,” so until Monday… Tobyn

Day 3

 Why 40?

The number 40 is used over and over again in the Bible.  The Jewish people spent 40 years in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.  During the flood rain fell for 40 days and nights.  In Numbers, spies explored Israel for 40 days.  David reigned for 40 years.  When Moses recieved the ten commandments he spent 40 days on the mountain.  40 lashes would kill a person. During the Bible writings, 40 represented a generation.  Nineveh was saved after the people took 40 days to make changes in their lives.  Jesus started his ministry by spending 40 days in the wilderness.  He ended his time with 40 days between his resurrection and ascension. These are just a few of the examples of the number forty in the Bible.  Forty represents completion.  It is the time necessary to recognize, work through and complete a change.  There is even an Arabic proverb (those are people around the area the Bible comes from) that says, “To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.”  So, to understand yourself, to make a complete change and to recognize God’s work and change in your life, spend these 40 days LIVING among these thoughts, LIVING among God’s teaching and see what things God will complete in you.  Until tomorrow… Tobyn.

Day 2

A Simple Prayer to Repeat You for the Next 40 Days

You’ve started the brainstorming process.  You are thinking of how to make positive changes.  Maybe you are giving something up.  Maybe you are adding something.  Maybe you are just changing your focus, but now you’ve started.  So what to do next?  Why not start with a prayer?  For the next 40 days each time you think about what you are changing and how you are doing, I want you to pray a prayer known as the Shema. This is a prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-9. “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”  Does any of this passage sound familiar?  Jesus said a version of this when he was asked the greatest commandment.  For this time of personal exploration, I want to ask you to say the first section of this passage each day.  I would encourage you to say it every time you think about what you are changing in your life, then at least once each day, say the whole passage.  Do what you can to put these commandments on your heart.  Just imagine what you might be able to do if each time you try to make a change you remember that the Lord is one, and you are going to do all for God.  Until tomorrow… Tobyn.

Day 1

Lent and Ash Wednesday

These are two phases that seem to conjure either images of darkness, or question.  Why, when, and what are these 2 things? Pastor Dwayne wrote a post about their meaning here.  For us as the youth of New Hope UMC what do we do with them?  When people are asking you what you are giving up for Lent, what do you say?  Are you giving up something?  Why?  Ecclesiastes 3:30 says, “All are from the dust and to dust all return.” (ESV)  There is a Jewish understanding is that we make an impact based on the legacy we leave.  What are the things you are doing now to be remembered for?  When ‘to dust all return’ happens to you, what things will you leave behind?  What can you do now to increase your legacy?  Over the next 40 days (minus Sundays – those are ‘feast’ days) we will have a Daily Hope, 1 minute devotional.  I encourage you to follow along, add your thoughts, and find something in your life to focus on, not just something to give up, but to do instead, something to leave in place of the ‘dust.’  For me, I will be working on balance for the next 40 days.  I’d love to hear what you are going to do.  Until tomorrow… Tobyn.

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