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As a spoiled and somewhat pampered American, I have struggled with the whole idea of Lent. With its call to fasting and self-denial, Lent runs counter to my culture and the media messages that surround me. And I am probably not an outlier in this. Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini observed...
What is making me uncomfortable today? What may God be saying to me through my unease?
We cannot earn God’s love. Going back to the time of Abraham, God’s blessing has been based on faith. God chose Abraham for a covenant not because Abraham was perfect but because he believed God. The psalmist reminds his audience of their ancient relationship with God and expresses the hope that it will continue through future generations. Paul reinforces the centrality of faith in Romans. Following the law was not bad, but no one should believe that following the law could earn God’s favor. In Mark 8, Jesus pushes his disciples in their understanding of faith. Trusting God means surrendering everything, including position and reputation. If we value those things more than God, then we are not displaying the faith of Abraham.
• Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. No rules, just relationship. How comfortable are you in your relationship with God? Upon what does it rest?
• Read Psalm 22. Which verses are most familiar to you? In what ways does your faith journey live in the interplay of shadow and light?
• Read Romans 4:13-25. How easily do you live in God’s grace? In what areas do you find yourself “reckoning” your righteousness?
• Read Mark 8:31-38. When the world asks you who you are, what is your reply?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Beatrice Smith delivers copies of The Upper Room daily devotional guide to a retirement home in Cape Town, South Africa. "Residents are delighted to receive the magazine," she says of a recent visit. Learn more about the international editions of The Upper Room here.