Broken Chains March 13-17
In the city of Decapolis in Gerasenes, there lived a man who was filled with unclean spirits. He no longer lived at home but in the graveyard. Nothing—no chains or shackles—was strong enough to restrain him or to keep him locked up for his own safety and the safety of others. He would cut himself with stones and day and night, he would cry and scream in the graveyard and on the mountainside. He wore little to no clothing and everyone tried to avoid him. But not Jesus. He commanded the evil spirits to leave the man, redeeming him from the powers that controlled him. This story challenges us to look at our own lives and to examine our habits and the powers that control us from which we need to be set free.
Day 1 Luke 8:26-39
Reflect: In what ways was the man imprisoned? What is significant about how the demons respond to Jesus? How does the man respond to Him? What does Jesus tell him?
Apply: When have you seen the enemy keep people in bondage, physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Were they set free by Jesus? If so, how? If not, how might you lead them to it?
Pray: Jesus, You are the source of all power and authority. I open my heart to You and ask You to use me to bring help and relief to the people around me. May I be fully used in Your service.
Day 2 Luke 13:10-17
Reflect: How was the woman in bondage and how was she redeemed? What upset the synagogue leader? From what did he need to be set free? What was Jesus teaching?
Apply: From what do you need Jesus to set you free? Fear, anger, envy? Pain, shame, control, depression? When you walk into Jesus’ presence, what does He want to heal?
Pray: Jesus, You see me just as I am–crippled with pain, bent over in shame and thirsty for the living water of healing that can only come from You.
Day 3 Mark 9:14-29
Reflect: How was the boy held captive and what resulted? How do you interpret the father’s response (verse 24)? To what kind of belief do you think Jesus is referring?
Apply: What is your belief about healing and deliverance? Why was it such a big part of Jesus’ ministry? Have you ever witnessed Jesus heal someone through prayer?
Pray: Lord Jesus, I bring the little faith that I have, with all its doubts and limitations. Help my unbelief and increase my expectant faith and trust in Your saving power. Help me to bring Your healing love and truth to those I meet.
Day 4 Luke 4:16-21
Reflect: How would you describe the ministry to which Jesus was called? What are some examples of each task the Spirit anointed Jesus to do? From what are people really being redeemed?
Apply: Who do you know that is poor? Held captive? Spiritually blind? Oppressed or downtrodden? To whom can you testify about Jesus’ love, forgiveness and power to redeem?
Pray: Holy Spirit, ignite in us a holy passion to be Your servants to the lost, defeated, broken, and forgotten as You equip, empower, and guide us into the areas of ministry You want us to do.
Day 5 Psalm 107:1-16
Reflect: According to the psalmist, what are the redeemed to do and why? From what have they been saved and how? From this, what do you learn about God? About humanity?
Apply: How have you experienced the message of this psalm? For what do you need to give thanks to the Lord? “Has the Lord redeemed you? Speak it out!” (Verse 2, NLT)
Pray: Almighty Lord, You have given me Your grace, You have showered me with Your blessings, and You have promised that Your love for me will live beyond the shadows of my few days on earth. Thank You for Your redeeming love.
Put It Into Practice!
Lent is the Christian season of repentance and renewal. This year we are focusing on and studying the ways God accomplishes His redeeming work in and through us. The suggested “Put It Into Practice” exercises for this series are practices of spiritual devotion fitting for this sacred period of cleansing, contemplation, and renewal. Try them all, a few, or just choose one to practice this Lenten season.
Reflect – The ancient practice of reflection is a tool for looking back at your day and noticing where God has been present and at work, as well as to recognize things about yourself that may need to be reshaped by the Potter. During this time, spend a few moments in gratitude for the gifts and blessings of the day. Ask God to enlighten you about where His presence in your day. Examine the moments of your day, noticing your reactions to what has led to consolation and what has led to desolation. Seek forgiveness for the times when you have acted, spoken or thought contrary to God’s grace and calling for you. Resolve to change. Decide what in your behavior or attitude you will try to improve tomorrow.
Practice generosity – Just as Boaz, be generous with your money, food, time and talents to those in need. Carefully examine what motivates you to be generous under the shadow of the Cross, for almsgiving is of little value if we give only to relieve our conscience but remain indifferent to those in need.
Strengthen relationships – Help your family and strive to sacrifice of yourself for their benefit. Go the extra mile to maintain communication, to heal old wounds, and mend broken bridges. Learn to apologize and to put yourself in others’ shoes. Reach beyond your comfort zone by engaging with people who are different than you. Seek out the best in others and give the best that is in yourself. Remember Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the loving Father, and the elder son.
Fast – Intentionally withhold something you would normally partake in for the purpose of creating space in your life to feast on the presence of Jesus “directly.” Fast from foods associated with “feasting”—chocolate, desserts, coffee/caffeine, alcohol, etc. Fast from media or entertainment: cell phone, TV, streaming video, radio, music, email, computers, video games, etc. Fast from habits and comforts—shopping, looking in the mirror, makeup, elevators, parking in a spot close to the store, finding the shortest checkout line, reading online, following sports, etc.
Confession – Allow the spiritual discipline of confession which leads to forgiveness, to be part of your daily practice. Before we can experience the full grace, healing and redemption made available through Jesus, we must turn from our sins and confess them to God. Dig deep. What sins of unfaithfulness to God do you need to confess?
Rejoice in the Lord— Let the joy of the Lord be your strength! On Sundays, if what you have sacrificed through fasting increases the joy of this wonderful day, then sacrifice it. If it does not, then do not. The joy of the Lord must be your strength!