Lent Week 1 | Hope Fellowship

We want to invite you to join us as we journey towards wholeness during Lent 2017.

Lent is a 40-day period that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday  It is a time for the believer to reflect and practice some Christian disciplines such as fasting, spiritual examination, repentance and dedication to God. The goal of all of this is to prepare our hearts and lives as we journey towards Easter and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

We have put together a daily devotional that helps us to intentionally seek God. Here, we can find wholeness and healing as we remember the journey that Jesus took for all of us. Join us here every day through April 16.

We have complied a special Spotify playlist to help create a somber and worshipful atmosphere as you experience each day of Lent with us. Click Here.

March 1, 2017

This week’s devotional content written by Broc Jahnke, Lead Care & Support Pastor

The Christian church has developed many traditions and celebrations. The original goal was for these things to help the believers find a way to focus on Jesus and remember all that He has done. However, over time the traditions unfortunately became the focus and a lot of the meaning and purpose was lost. Today, a lot of churches have dropped these traditions.

Our hope is to help you reclaim the beauty of these rituals. Of all the traditions, Ash Wednesday is one of the most powerful to me.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent (we will talk about Lent more in the upcoming days). It is a day to come before the Lord and realize that from ashes (the dirt of the earth) we have come and it is to ashes we will return. In other words, it is a day of realizing our humanity and how much we need a savior to come and redeem us. We place ashes on our head to remind us of our humanity, our sin, and the amazing forgiveness of Jesus.

There are times in my life where I have felt that my sins were too great. I felt like I was beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. I couldn’t seem to do life God’s way. And yet on two occasions in my past, I have come to Ash Wednesday as a very broken human being and realized everyone was just like me - broken and in need of Jesus’ amazing gift that we could never earn. As I looked around the room and saw others with ashes on their foreheads, I was overcome with emotion as I realized that God forgives, God restores and God heals.

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not to punish.” - Joel 2:12-13

While an old tradition, I found Ash Wednesday one of the most significant and beautiful days that helped me reflect on the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.

As you come to this Ash Wednesday, how do you need God to touch your soul and heal you from whatever brokenness you bring?

March 2, 2017

Lent is a 40 day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday (Sundays are not included in that 40 day total and are often observed as a day of rest and celebration). Lent is viewed as a time for the believer to reflect and discipline themselves through practices such as fasting, spiritual examination, repentance and dedication to God. The goal of all this is to prepare our hearts and lives as we progress toward Easter and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many Christian churches have used Lent as a time to encourage their members to “sacrifice” something for this time of preparation. People have traditionally given up or fasted certain meals or foods, given up certain habits they know are not the best and even taken on positive things like reading a daily devotional throughout the Lenten season.

Lent has been dismissed by a lot of Christian churches because for many it has felt like religious obligation or a meaningless ritual of just sacrificing food.

While the idea of Lent is not in Scripture, the idea of taking some dedicated time to focus on God’s love and goodness is very much a biblical idea. We want to reclaim Lent if it has lost its meaning for you, and make it a time for you to lay your heart and life before the Lord and be intentional about your walk with Christ.

John the Baptist, who preached that Jesus was soon to come, said it this way as he quoted from the book of Isaiah 40:3-5:

“In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.”

May this season of devotion be a time for you to prepare your heart and life for the Lord. May you sense the glory of the Lord as he is revealed to you in a new and profound way. Prepare the way for the Lord!

As you examine your life at the start of this Lenten journey, what is one habit or sin that you need for God to make straight in your life? Make that a focus of your prayer today.

March 3, 2017

Lent is a season (the word Lent is an old term that literally means spring or a season of the year) in which we are asked to regain a healthy perspective on what it means to worship and follow Jesus.

I strive to be a healthy Christian but for most of my life that elusive prize of health has just been beyond my reach. My unhealthy life has consisted of selfishness, lust, laziness, and a bizarre combination of self-loathing and pride. I tried to will myself to health. I tried to bury my issues beneath Christian activity. I have even pretended that my issues weren’t really there. All of these efforts have led to one inexhaustible conclusion - I am stuck in a pattern of sin.

Over the past few years through a lot of help from others, I have found some principles that have given me some light at the end of this frustrating tunnel. A chance for freedom. A chance to be unstuck.

I identified four areas in my life that need my attention: my spiritual, mental, physical and relational sides. I have found some direction and health in these four distinct areas, and I am currently experience to a large degree that elusive goal of health.

Over the next 40 ish days, I hope these devotional writings will be a journey for you towards discovering your path to a healthy Christian life. Each week we will focus on the four areas listed above and finding your wholeness. This may be a tad unconventional for a Lenten devotional, but our prayer above all for this season of your life, is that you would be healthy and whole as we follow this great savior.

Today, however, is an opportunity for you to dream, to reflect, to trust. As you dream, what stuck patterns do you want God to free you from? As you reflect, in what ways have those stuck patterns brought damage to your journey? As you trust, how have you seen God be faithful to you in the past?

An older Christian gentleman once told me, “If God has been faithful in the past, and he has, he will be faithful to you in the future. His faithfulness is enduring.” God is with you. God is faithful. Thanks for joining us on this journey toward health and wholeness.

March 4, 2017

I wanted to start by telling you my story - a story of finding peace and why being healthy and whole means so much to me. I pray my hurts, mistakes and lessons learned will act as billboards of grace for you on your journey toward God’s wholeness.

I grew up in a small Kansas town. It was very blue collar full of hunting, working on cars and consuming Coors Light. I, however, was into sports, Star Wars and finding safety in life and amongst my peers. I quickly began to feel like an outsider and to make matters worse, my parents were divorced, further reinforcing the idea that I was broken and flawed. I felt like the divorce was my fault. I felt like not being accepted in the Coors Light crowd was my fault.

I was a wounded kid that tried to control my environment. If things felt unsafe, I bolted. I only played sports that I was good at. I only spent time with people that made me feel completely safe. I blamed others for not realizing how great I was. I controlled everything around me that I could.

If you wound me I will try and control you with my words and my anger or I will leave you so fast that you will be left shocked at the ease which I could end things. I was selfish and protecting, yet inside aching for someone to love me as a broken human being.

I have lived a life of pushing people away. A life of controlling situations with my wit and my sharp tongue. A life of protecting my wounded psyche. You make me feel devalued and I have trigger behaviors that I run to without even realizing they are happening. This is my pain cycle.

When I feel pain (devalued) I attack, withdrawal, self-loathe, and isolate. One of the first steps toward your healing is discovering your own unique pain cycle.

Think of your last negative interaction. What emotion did you feel at that time? You may have to google a list of emotions to identify what specifically you were feeling. When you felt that emotion what did you do? What do you typically do when you feel that emotion? That emotion and those actions are your pain cycle.

God wants to enter that cycle and stop the madness and bring you health.

March 5, 2017

Rest, Reflect and Worship Day! Read Psalm 145.