Good morning and a blessed Thursday morning to you.
Last night we had our Ash Wednesday service which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. For the next several weeks we are going to be in a season where we reflect upon the mercy of God, the state of our sinful nature that were born with, and that by God's mercy he forgives us and calls us to be his own.
One of the Scripture reading that we had last night is from the prophet Joel, the second chapter.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
What really struck me from this text is that the Lord is telling us to rend our hearts, not our garments. In the ancient day it was common to show an outward sign of mourning, grief, or repentance by rending one’s clothing and by sitting in ashes. It was an outward sign of repentance. Here God says to not just do an outward sign. It's not about the outward sign, it's about the heart. He wants us to turn our hearts to him.
Last night we also read responsively from Psalm 51. The Lord, through David, tells us that it's not a sacrifice that God desires, but a broken and contrite heart that we bring to the Lord. And it's the Lord who mends our hearts. It's he who changes our hearts. It's he who makes us whole through his Son.
So as we progress forward through Lent, we're going to really focus in on the forgiveness that we have in Christ, and the salvation that comes from him alone. It’s not by our outward acts that we are changed. God changes us from the inside. As we offer up our broken and contrite hearts to him, he cleanse us, and fixes what is broken, changing us from the inside out. Then our outward actions are really moved by his grace through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So I hope that this season of Lent for you is a time to meditate and contemplate on the glory, goodness, and the mercy of our Lord. As we do that, we turn our hearts over to him. We bring to him our broken and contrite hearts, knowing that it is he alone who can save us. He alone can forgive us. It is he alone who can save us and change us from the sinners that we are born as, into the righteous saints that he has created us to be.
Let's pray. Lord, we thank you so much for your forgiveness. We thank you for your mercy. Lord, we come before you humbly offering our broken hearts. We rend our hearts before you Lord, knowing that we are sinners; and that it is through you alone that we are redeemed from our sin. We praise you Lord for your goodness, for your mercy that you have had upon us, and that you continue to have on us. Thank you for calling us as your own people. Guide us to walk in your ways; to walk with you in the light, so that your blood continually cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Lord, we lift this to you praising you and giving you all thanks. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have an amazing rest of your week. I very much look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday, and continuing to live in the mercy and the grace of our Lord together.
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