Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Lenten Lights is a series of devotional readings leading up to Easter. A brief introduction to the series can be read here.

Fourth Sunday of Lent (if reading weekly)

or

Tuesday before Easter (if reading daily)

[Four candles lit before reading]

Even before the world was created, God knew that Jesus would be the Way, the Truth and the Life for all who believed in him. But God didn’t just ignore his people then, waiting until the time came for Jesus. No, he gave them a way to be forgiven. If they offered sacrifices from a heart of worship, they could renew their friendship with God as they proved their reliance on him.

BUT people did not rely on God. Some did not follow his way of sacrifice and worship. And there was an even deeper problem. Many may have followed the outward ritual, but they didn’t trust God in their hearts. They didn’t love him. They didn’t live lives that reflected his glory.

The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord , you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

“He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord . He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

With what shall I come before the Lord , and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. . . “In the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’

But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

[Snuff the next candle. Do not light again until Easter.]

“So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.’”

(Taken from Leviticus 1:1-4; Psalm 51:16-17; Jeremiah 7:21-28)

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Taken from Lenten Lights

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