Ash Wednesday and 3 Great Resources for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day observed by many, but like Christmas and Easter, it’s not a Biblically required holiday.   In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, of Lent, which begin 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).

Many Christians prepare for Easter by spending these 40 days in fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose of Lent is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – His Cross, His suffering and His sacrifice, His life, death, burial and resurrection.

Advent and Christmas turn us with expectant gratitude toward Jesus’s coming. But it is during the season of Lent and Easter that we appreciate why Jesus came – to pay for our sins through His own death on the Cross.

On Ash Wednesday, ashes (usually made from the previous year’s Palm Sunday’s palm branches burned) are placed on the foreheads of worshipers as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness. The person who imposes the ashes quotes something like what God once said to Adam after he had sinned: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). This is the bad news of our sinfulness but it prepares us to receive the good news of forgiveness through Jesus.

Jesus is about the cross.  And if we are about Jesus, then we, too, are to be about the cross.  So today and during the next days leading to Easter, lets turn our eyes and hearts toward Calvary.

How we do this and what we do will look completely different for each one of us.  In James 1:5 God promises that we can ask Him for wisdom and He will give it to us.  {Isn’t that awesome???}  So ask Him about you and Lent.  He will lead you.  Some years I’ve felt led to fast something during Lent.  Other years, I’ve actually added something – like spending extra time with the Lord in His Word.  Some feel led to work on a certain attitude or character trait during this season, and some commit to a special act of service. The purpose of these actions is to sharpen one’s understanding and remembrance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.  However, some don’t feel led to do observe Lent at all, and that’s ok, too.

If you are observing Lent, I want to share with you three wonderful resources that will for sure center you on Jesus during this special season.

3 GREAT resources for Lent.  SmellingCoffee.com

1. Don’t have much time to read anything? Then LISTEN to this series on ReviveOurHearts.com  Offered by one of my favorite Bible teachers, Nancy Leigh DeMoss uses the the book, The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders, and builds on the material each day. Last year, God used this series to draw many hearts toward Jesus.

I went through this book and series last year and was incredibly blessed!  However, you don’t have to read along in the book if you aren’t able at this time.  This series can also be found in podcast form.  Just look for Nancy Leigh Demoss, then The Incomparable Christ series.

This is what Nancy has to say about this series and why she led us through it:

Unfortunately, some of these special days in the Christian calendar that were once observed as holy days have now become holidays. As a result, we strip them of their meaning and their power and what they could mean in our lives.

So I think it helps us to be intentional about turning our thoughts and tuning our hearts to the reality and the meaning of these special days in the Christian calendar, and certainly there is none more special than that period of time that we celebrate as the Passion of Christ: Good Friday, Easter Sunday.

In my devotional time during the Lenten season, I read a classic book by J. Oswald Sanders called The Incomparable Christ. It has 36 short chapters, and I read those throughout this period. Each one of those chapters is on a different aspect of the person and the work of Christ.

This book really ministered to me. It was such a blessing. So I decided that this year I would encourage our listeners to read that book with me, to join me during the Lenten period, during these forty days leading up to Easter in a more concentrated way to focus on Christ.

So during this season we’re going to use Sanders’ book, The Incomparable Christ, as a track. I’m not going to actually read the book to you—you can do that for yourself—but I’m going to use the outline he uses about these different aspects of the life of Christ and follow them throughout these weeks leading up to Easter…

 To listen to these programs, you’ll find the links below.

The Incomparable Christ Programs in begin at this link on February 18, 2015 and run through March.
Also, for a PDF of the teaching schedule, click here.

You can download the book here:  The Incomparable Christ, by J. Oswald Sanders  (The e-version is around $5.)

2.  This is the best book – one I try to read at least every other year – either at the beginning of the year or during the Lenten season… or whenever I can work it in… The Calvary Road by Roy Hessian.

In need of Spiritual Revival? Walk with Jesus down "The Calvary Road" by Roy Hessian. SmellingCoffee.com

This book is small but powerful…Something to ponder, not plow through at a fast pace.  It has changed the way I view myself, my sin, my Savior, and I’m so grateful that the Lord brought it to me through a vibrant Christian woman over ten years ago.  There are phrases from this book that I use in my prayer life on a daily basis.  It’s a treasure!

A testimony from the author’s own words about what he learned and the God-honoring principles he shares in this little book:

.I was enabled to give up trying to fit things into my doctrinal scheme, and come humbly to the Cross for cleansing from my own personal sins. It was like beginning my Christian life all over again…And it has been an altogether new chapter in my life since then.  It has meant, however, that I have had to choose constantly to die to the big “I,” that Jesus might be all, and constantly to come to Him for cleansing in His precious Blood.

If this sounds like something you desire for your own life, you can obtain a FREE copy the book through Amazon here,

OR you can download the PDF version for FREE here. {The PDF version can be opened and read on your electronic readers, or in ibooks, or on your computer, or printed out to hold in your hands. 🙂 }

AND… if you want to get the MOST from this study, for around $3.99 you can purchase (in book form or in e-book form) The Calvary Road Study Guide-Workbook (linked here). It has brought a whole new dimension to studying through this book and to the piercing of the secret places of my heart with God’s Word.  OR, this is a different, but FREE  Study Guide to go along with each portion of the book.


3.  Here is a NEW resource from my friend, ArabahJoy.com – Praying the Promises of the Cross.
I’ve purchased mine and it’s what I’ll be using during this 2016 Lenten season. I’m really looking forward to it, btw!! 🙂

Arabah says:

Over the past year I’ve experienced firsthand how powerful the one little spiritual discipline of praying these [God’s] promises can be.  And I want you to see what can happen in your life too.

So you are invited to join a community-wide 40 Days of Praying the Promises of the Cross Challenge!
==========

This BRAND NEW challenge is simple. For the next 40 days, pray just one Christ-centered promise a day.

That’s it.

Oh, and be prepared for a spiritual awakening because it’s headed your way!

#LifeChanging!

I don’t know what you are facing right now or where you are spiritually, but I invite you to join me and pray ONE promise a day for 40 days and see how God transforms your day… your family… your life.

AND…We’ve prepared a special prayer journal to help you pray the promises of God!

Praying the Promises of the Cross Downloadable Journal

Praying the Promises of the Cross includes:

– 40 ALL NEW Scriptures in a Quick Start Guide
– Instructions on How to Pray Promises from God’s Word
– 40 Daily mini-devotionals
– 40 beautifully designed and fully customized prayer journal pages for you to journal your thoughts and prayers
– blank journal pages for you to individualize as you like

Praying the Promises of the Cross was carefully designed to help take the guess work out of praying promises.

This downloadable resource includes everything you need to pray the promises while addressing the most common obstacles to praying scripture.  This resource will help you actually pray God’s word and articulate biblical prayers through journaling.

I invite you to grab the prayer journal and  join the BRAND NEW prayer challenge TODAY. You can begin right now and see for yourself how this one little discipline can transform your life.

 

Biblegateway.com also has several free options for daily emailed devotions for Lent.   So many other resources are out there just a google search away. And of course, we already have the Best Resource available to us – Jesus Christ Himself, who is The Word.  Whatever it is that we do between now and Easter, whether or not we formally observe Lent, let’s all remember that we are people of the cross, and not take salvation for granted.

A blessed Ash Wednesday to you all, dear friends~

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About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com