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Lent 2017: You Are Mine: Day 2

From Dust to Dust

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Today's Text: Genesis 3:17-19, Job 42:1-6, Romans 3:23, James 5:13-16

Text:  Genesis 3:17-19, Job 42:1-6, Romans 3:23, James 5:13-16

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

These are the words a priest utters as he smears a cross of ashes onto his congregant’s forehead during an Ash Wednesday service. It’s a somber declaration. In fact, some instead say, “Remember that you have to die.”

For more than a thousand years, Christians around the world have begun the Lenten season this way: with the sober acknowledgement that with humanity came sin, and with sin came death. We are free, but not required, to do the same.

So what is Ash Wednesday, and why do many Christians observe it?

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. During Lent, we focus on our need for the death and resurrection of Jesus; we focus on our need to be forgiven. Ash Wednesday is a day where we take a page from the book of Job and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). We remember that from the dust we were made and to the dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19). We remember that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and yes, we all must die (Romans 3:23).

Ash Wednesday is a day of hope. Without Christ, the words “remember that you have to die” are hard ones. But with Christ, they are a reminder that, though our bodies will one day return to dust, we have already been given the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to publicly profess our faith. The ashen cross the congregant wears is an outward sign of both repentance and hope. People see the mark of the cross at their work, in class, and at the grocery store. Wearing the ashes is a way to repent of our rebellion against God and “confess our sins one to another” (James 5:16).

On Ash Wednesday we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life. Whether in a formal Ash Wednesday service or privately in our homes, we can use tomorrow, the first day of the Lenten season, to remember that from the dust we were made and to the dust we shall return. Even so, in Christ, we live in the eternal hope of the resurrection.

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  • Way late the this but I will catch up! So good to read the meaning of Ash Wednesday and lent because often I feel it’s chore and it’s amazing to have the reminder of why we do it! Just getting back into scripture, but happy to have this app to walk me back through and find my relationship with the lord!

  • Michelle C.

    Really love the explanation of Ash Wednesday! Thank you for showing the significance, and how it applies to all Christians. I feel a little more connected with my brothers and sisters who observe it now.

  • I need this study, I need this study and I know I’ll love digging deeper!
    Through the power of the Holy Spirit all of our lives are touched!

  • Terri L Baker

    Come Lord Jesus,come.

  • Because He lives I can face tomorrow

  • I love this. So beautiful.

  • Diane Christian

    1 CORINTHIANS 15:36
    What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the future body, but only a seed…

    I turn to God’s words in the Bible whenever feelings of doom and gloom challenge me with the concept of death and then compare it with how God wants us to hope and trust in Him when He deemed it worthy to explain to us how death is but a transition to an eternity of perfect bliss because of His redemption in Jesus Christ and an eternity of perfect bliss that cannot be comprehended by sinful, finite mankind.

    We do all we can in order to live and not die. God, however, says we must die in order to live. When you sow a seed, it must die in the ground before it can grow. What we see as the ultimate tragedy, He sees as the ultimate triumph.

    And when a Christian dies, it’s not a time to despair, but a time to trust. Just as the seed is buried and the material wrapping decomposes, so our fleshly body will be buried and will decompose. But just as the buried seed sprouts new life, so our body will blossom into a new body.

    The seed buried in the earth will blossom in heaven. Believer’s souls and bodies will reunite, and we will be like Jesus.

  • This year for the first time I am a member of a church within which I have participated in an observation of Ash Wednesday. I learned if it’s meaning and significance in the life of a Christian.

    • Cathy

      I love the simplicity of your response. Praying that your relationship with Christ strengthens and enriches you during this season. May you feel his presence daily, sister. Hang here with SRT & let them shepherd you

  • We are his and that is a peaceful reminder to have given us as the world can be so cruel especially the world we live in today. Thanks for each daily devotional it helps us all get through and stay on the right path

  • Prior to this/the other day I only connected Ash Wednesday with the Catholic Church. I go to a non-denominational church…after reading from different sources on Ash Wednesday, I am now confused why it is not more widely practiced in the Christian church…I almost considered finding a location yesterday to participate.

    • Marie Tretiakova

      I agree – I wish our non-denominal church took a look at this in a broader context (vs that’s a Catholic thing).

    • Shannon

      I attend a Lutheran church and we recognize Ash Wednesday. I think there are other denominations that do as well.

    • Stephanie D.

      Our non-denominational church totally recognizes Ash Wednesday and the season of lent. They even give us tools to go deeper into the meaning. SRT was one. I really enjoy this time with my Lord and savior. It’s a time that is truly ours that has not been commercialized.

  • I am evangelical, but I work at a Catholic school. I had been praying a lot before Ash Wednesday about whether or not to get ashes on my forehead, because it is typically not part of my faith tradition. After reading this, though, during our school’s mass I decided to get ashes on my head. I loved the reminder that I am dust and to dust I will return – BUT GOD. He alone redeems and saves! I loved having a physical reminder on my body that I am finite, but God is God.

  • Vonda Hecht

    When you look at the thought of being dust walking around in human form, it’s pretty sobering. Only the Lord’s very breath can make dust into life…..

  • Hello from the eastern coast of North Carolina! This is my first time to observe Lent. It’s also my first time to give something up. I gave up Facebook! :). I’m so looking forward to this study!

  • This is the first time I have ever observed lent. I’m excited for this study in addition to the practice.

  • I agree – wonderful explanation.

  • The churches I have attended don’t do an Ash Wednesday service. I’ve always wondered its significance. Thank you for this beautiful explanation.

  • These verses hit me deep in my soul. I’m excited to continue studying.

  • That little cross of ash has such profound meaning.

  • Thankful to start lent

  • Keri Underwood

    “Without Christ, the words “remember that you have to die” are hard ones. But with Christ, they are a reminder that, though our bodies will one day return to dust, we have already been given the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22).” – This. I seriously needed this today. The hope of Christ…the promise of Christ is what keeps me going!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • Hannah Carlson

    Today I was out at the library and I kept seeing people with the ash cross on their forehead. It was a beautiful thing to me. I was made to feel part of a community of people who realized that we are nothing without Christ.

  • The history/commentary these first 2 days is wonderful! Thank you SRT!

  • Lee Silfies

    I am thankful that I will be joining many woman of faith as we begin this study.

  • celebratingheart

    So grateful for the reminder in James to pray for one another – I have a great group of girls I pray with regularly – committing anew this lent to pray for these ladies outside of our regular meetings.

  • Magan Bedwell

    I was so enlightened by this explained meaning of Ash Wednesday. Thank you for the thorough explanation. I’m not Catholic so a lot of this was never taught to me growing up. It’s amazing the beautiful things that are there for us in the Word.

  • What a great set of readings. I always took the line about healing about lifting up in a very literal physical way (which sometimes bothered me, because those of us who have lost loved ones know that prayer does not always heal). But taken together with the idea that we are nothing but dust and ashes, it strikes me that the healing and lifting up may be more about spiritual salvation than physical health (since that’s just temporary anyway). That God will lift up the spirit of the sick person to heaven rather than just prolong their earthly time. No idea how accurate this interpretation is though!

    • Jill

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! What a comfort and a refreshing way to think about that scripture passage that I have been struggling with after loosing someone I prayed for.

    • Katie

      I was thinking about this as well. We will have to read some commentaries to see if that can help us find out the meaning!

  • Hey community,
    This verse spoke to me tonight from the James passage…15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. I am a teacher and a former student of mine was diagnosed with Leukemia this year. She has been in and out of ICU with infections running ramped through her body and organs failing on her! But today, for the first time in a long while, she responded to one of my many texts I have been continually sending! And it was a happy moment for me to hear from her! She is still very sick but she told me her spirits have been lifted recently and it made my heart happy! And then to study this scripture tonight, it was no coincidence! How GREAT is our God! Prayers for my sweet student Angela will be appreciated! I know our God is hearing our prayers and making her well!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Alicia, absolutely praying for this sweet girl. Asking the Lord to heal and bring peace in this time and to comfort her and her family.

  • We all question before we see, even if that seeing is with our hearts and not our eyes. But we are all so much more like Job than we want to admit. And humility is an amazing thing. It hit me reading Genesis 3:17-19 that God never had to send Jesus for us, He could of left us laboring, sweating and being cursed. But that Love of His is just so amazing that He didn’t, He showed us grace, forgiveness and hope. And just like Job we now see. Knowing that…on my knees in humility asking for forgiveness is literally all I can do!

  • Paige Bremner

    Its nice to have a day like Ash Wednesday to remind us that we need to be humble and repent, but we should repent for our sins everyday, profess our faith publicly everyday through our actions (James 2:14-25), and find hope in everyday because we have a merciful savior who has conquered every temptation we face and even death itself.

  • Jillian Johnson

    I must say it is a comfort on Ash Wednesday to see others with their own ashen crosses walking around town, truly a kind reminder from the Lord that I am not alone, that I’m not the only one bearing burdens or sending up prayers in this crazy world.

  • Growing up Catholic, I have always loved Lent and all the rituals. It was the only time of the year that I experienced a personal relationship with Jesus. I left the Catholic Church many years ago for a non denominational community church. It seems that evangelical churches place huge emphasis on Easter but not Lent. Tomorrow I am going to a Catholic Church again to receive my ashes. I need this ritual.

    • Emily

      I am doing the same thing. I grew up Episcopalian and now attend a non-denominational church. there is something about the ritual in Lent that I really miss.

  • How do you all read Scripture even if you have the study book? I have my study book, but it is also nice to physically open my Bible. Maybe I’ll try and do both (even though I havent been openingmy Bible like I feel I should). Maybe I’ll do both and try to write quick thoughts in the margins of my Bible. I’ve done that a little (even though I have to be careful since the pages are thin).

    • Carrie Oakes

      Sarah, I still read it in my Bible but make notes in the study book.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Hi Sarah! Great question. The scripture is printed into the study books and the devotional studies can be found here, on our website, or on our app. You can even subscribe to have the daily devotional studies sent directly to your email. If you have more questions you can email me at [email protected] We are so glad to have you in the Word of God with us!

  • Alanna Davis

    I haven’t read (truly read cause I sped read it in college) the Job text, but man is that convicting! I have always loved and appreciated the large group confession that my church does, but I never feel like I have quite the right words to say for my private confessions. I love that Job just lays it all out there and then repents of it right away! I also appreciate that the James verses are included today because it just reiterates the power of Job’s prayer! Prayer is powerful, both in good times and bad!

  • I began this study because i recently left my church after 25 years. I have never once wavered in my faith. In fact, my faith and hope in God has only been strengthened through many recent losses. And yet, I am struggling intensely with my trust in people. When Job says “I know you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted” I become confused and would like feedback. How does free will and the decisions of people play into God’s plan? I hope it okay to ask a question…this is my first online study.

    • Terry Anderson

      I believe that while we’ve been given free will, God is a redemptive God, ever working together for our ultimate good all of mankind’s choices. Heaven will reveal the extent of this redemption on His part.

    • Michelle

      Hi Lisa – you have asked a question that has been asked since the church began! In honesty, I don’t think we can know exactly how our free will and God’s sovereignty work together. The Bible teaches consistently that they do, but doesn’t give us a complete explanation how. I think it just beyond human ability to understand completely. It is a mystery that exists in God’s eternality and omniscience that is beyond us. I trust and believe it to be true. I just can’t explain it. I agree with Terry, though, that heaven will reveal it all.

      • lisa

        Michelle, I giggled when I read your response. I know how abstract the question can be but there has never been a time in my life where I can’t stop wondering. It is now that I long for Heaven. Thank you!

        • Michelle

          I understand! I am not always satisfied with the waiting. I am always wondering too. I like to figure everything out and fill in all the blanks. Some blanks just won’t be filled. I’m sure the Lord smiles down at me when I pout and fuss that He won’t answer all my questions…lol! I’m so glad He is infinitely patient! :)

    • Ji-hye Ko

      Beloved Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your honest question! I would imagine you sustained either a serious injustice or a series of hurts if you are leaving your church of 25 years. I praise God that He has walked with you through losses and strengthened your faith!
      I echo what the other sisters have said, our free will in God’s plan is a divine mystery. I would encourage you to read and pray through the story of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers (and others) sinned against him greatly. He much later responded, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”
      God gave Joseph such sacrificial faith that he was able to place his trust in God and respond to ill wills with grace. He was able to trust that though he was hurting, God was working. Bless you sister!

      • Brittany B.

        Tim Keller has a great sermon on this topic! Highly recommend.
        Search for app or Podcast “Redeemer Presbyterian Church.”

      • Lisa

        Oh sweet Ji-hye Ko, thank you for being so kind and gracious. You are correct. I want to be a suffering servant who reacts with grace. I know Joseph and Job’s story well. I just never imagined being in a place where I struggle to respond with trust, hope and joy. I believe God is working though despite my great deficits. Grateful for your response!

      • Shawn Bowers Buxton

        Dear Ji-hye– what wonderful words! I found them so enlightening. The simplicity of it – that what may have been intended for evil God can right so quickly. Fruit comes from impossible or hard situations, lessons are gleaned, new blessings bestowed. It reminds me of Romans 5:3 – suffering produces perseverance. Lisa, I’m holding you up in prayer tonight and thanking you for asking such a wonderful question, and Ji-hye, I’m lifting a prayer of thanksgiving for your beautiful words.

  • I am so glad I purchased the book, it is beautiful. I always do some kind of Lenten readings but I am really looking forward to this study in Isiah. Thanks for including the beautiful story of Philip teaching the whole gospel from just this book. I can’t wait to dig into it deeper.

  • Any of you have the “You Are Mine” SRT book , as well? Isn’t it so lovely?! I love the paintings, too.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Glad you’re enjoying the study, friend! We are so glad to have you in God’s Word with us as we study Isaiah for Lent!

    • Veronica

      I have it! It is my favorite one yet- so gorgeous.

  • I really love James 5:13-16 and the way it talks about the power of prayer. We simply just have to ask for healing and forgiveness. I also like how it highlights the power of prayer within a community. My church community is vital to my faith life!

  • Lonnie Johnson

    I feel I need more than one day to repent. Thank the good Lord for knowing my heart and the Holy Spirit for helping me find the words to pray when I repent.

    • Carrie Oakes

      I’m right there with you Lonnie! One day is not nearly enough. Praise God for giving us grace through faith and not works!

  • Adrienne McPherson

    Thank you Lord for your mercy and Kindness…

  • I often struggle when reading scripture alone in that I read it with a harsh tone in mind. This is especially true when topics like death and sin are the main idea. I am so relieved and feel so blessed to read and hear what can be hard subject is the amazing light that they are! That Jesus’ death and resurrection make our death much less scary and that we can celebrate Him together :) Thank you for your light Shes!

  • James 5: 13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Glory be to God I finally feel like I’m exiting my season of mourning and entering my season of dancing. But it’s funny how in these joyful moments, I feel less dependent on God as I do during the painful times. I’m so grateful for this verse because it tells us how not to forget God in the good times: sing praises. Use all that energy to remind yourself of why you’re so cheerful: His grace, His love, His mercy, and His peace. Like Shula in Song of Solomon, he held onto my hand and led me out of the wilderness. He always will and always does, especially after repentance when you ask for help.

    Also – asking for prayers! A stomach bug hit my dad and me this weekend and has been hard to shake. We’re feeling better (especially him!), but it’s been lingering with me. Moving into my new place tomorrow and I was praying I wouldn’t take it with me. Either way, glory to God and I’m so happy for this fresh start that lent represents. Thank you, sweet sisters for all of your wonderful comments. Love you all!

    • @lindsayladon

      Just said a prayer for you! Congrats on a new place!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Lana, many prayers heading your way. Praying for a speedy recovery for you and praising God for your positive attitude in a trying time! Blessed by you today!

    • Kate

      Praying for recovery, Lana, and a sweet transition period for your move. I am also leaving a season of mourning, and am looking forward to much more dancing. The Lord redeems, and He deserves ALL OF THE PRAISE for that. Thanks for that reminder today!

  • God thank you for this reminder. I pray that you would forgive my sins against you and against others. I pray you would give me the strength to be in your word everyday this season.

  • I was struck this morning by Job 42:5-6…”I had heard rumors about You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes.” As soon as Job’s eyes were opened to see the Lord and His work clearly, the only thing that Job could do was repent because he finally understood how small he was before the glory of God. How often do I–do we–focus our eyes so much on ourselves that we forget just how mighty and glorious God is? How often do I avert my eyes from His because I am trying to hide my sin, or have become complacent in it?

    As I think about these questions, one song and one quote come to mind that I want to internalize as my prayer throughout this Lenten season:

    1. Flannery O’Connor (from her prayer journal): “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”

    2. Hymn “Open My Eyes That I May See”: Open my eyes that I may see / Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; / Place in my hands the wonderful key / That shall unclasp and set me free. / Silently now I wait for Thee, / Ready, my God, Thy will to see; / Open my eyes, illumine me, / Spirit Divine!

    I am praying these over all of us today in anticipation that the Lord will move within our hearts and open our eyes that we may see Him more clearly.

  • Needing to die also made me reflect on the fact that daily we must die to our own selfishness to walk in a way that pleases the Lord.

  • Elizabeth

    I love how this was broken down! As I go through the RCIA I am not technically a Catholic yet. But this will be my first Lent, and I am so looking forward to deepening my relationship with Jesus!

  • Just hit me that my recently deceased husband’s ashes are exactly DUST. There they are in the little urn with the Marine Corp emblem on them. Just dust and ash in there. Please don’t think me crazy that I actually looked and felt of them. A 6 ft 4 Marine is dust. AND ONLY because of his faith in the resurrection of Jesus does he live again, better, stronger, perfect, loved, redeemed!!! This and only this is what gives me strength to live and not just survive without him! Thank you, Praise you, Jesus for making a way back home to God!!!

    • Harper

      I’m so sorry for your loss Jo-Lin and I’m moved by your confidence and faith! Thank you for sharing!

      • Jo-Lin

        Thank you, Harper. It’s been a process, and I am so blessed to have believers along side of me, like you all, for encouragement.

    • Beth

      Fo-Lin, thank you for sharing your heart. Your words inspire me, that your husband’s faith still allows you, in your faith, live and not just survive without your husband. May God bless you and your day.

    • Kelly

      Wow. I can only imagine how hard that would be. Your perspective is evidence of the Holy Spirit in you – allowing you – while in the pain – to see things with a heavenly perspective. Thank you for sharing and encouraging others through your testimony.

      • Jo-Lin

        How beautiful that the Holy Spirit came to us! God is so loving towards us. I feel like the Holy Spirit gets “left out” of the discussion sometimes. So I was so happy to read your reply. Imagine that day on Pentecost?! What was that like???!!! Thank you, Kelly, for you kindness.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Jo-Lin, what a beautiful reminder for all of us. Thank you for sharing!

      • Jo-Lin

        Sharing definitely helps! Had to hold on tight to my faith because my feelings were not matching up at first. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Arianne Crutchmer

      Tears! Thank you for sharing . ❤

  • Melody Suarez

    It’s interesting because I just had a woman who I was taking care of in hospice pass away …but she was a Christian. For many death isn’t an easy thing, but for her it was a celebration because she had faith in Christ and gets to see Jesus! Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus and that we have hope for eternal life. Thankful that our death is something to celebrate about and not something to mourn about.

    • Brooke C.

      I can relate to this when my grandpa passed away I was a wreck, he was Catholic and believed in life after death but I had been distant with God so I could not find peace for a long time. When my grandma passed things were totally different. I was sad of course but I had found my faith again and was comforted knowing she was okay in the kingdom of out heavenly father. She was never afraid to die. It’s amazing how having the Lord in your heart can totally change your perspective on life and death.

  • Hope, repentance, and a day of faith. I love how you broke this down so easily for us to understand. Thanks for the overview.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Jen Riddle

    The James passage can help us connect the ashes and the oil with which they are mixed. In the imposition of ashes, we are reminded both of our mortality as well as the restoration life found in Christ. The ashes wouldn’t stay on our heads without the oil. The oil alone isn’t a visible reminder. They work together, just as the law points us to grace.

  • Having been raised in the Catholic church I often find comfort in the traditions of the faith. I am so looking forward to deepening my faith this Lenten season with my Lord. I too, speak to him throughout the day and of him to others. I love that I can see his presence all around me in the budding of the trees, the crispness of the air, the smiles on others faces before me.
    Ash Wednesday has always been a favorite way to honor my Lords gift to me!

  • Thank you, Lord, for always being willing to accept us no matter what state we are in. You want us when we are in trouble, when we are happy, when we are sick and weak and useless, when we have sinned – even when we argue with you like Job. We all screw up, we are all flawed sinners in need of a Savior, but you invite us to You anyway. And You heal and forgive and meet with us anyway. Thank You, Lord.

    ( I am so glad I get the opportunity to link arms with all of you this Lenten season — it will be my first time leaning into all of this in my heart’s preparation for Easter.)

  • Diane Huntsman

    May our hearts connect ever so deeply to the observances we participate in.. whether personal or church services, may the heart be involved as much or more than the intellect.. I’ve observed many SRT Lent studies and been blessed by each one.. but I want this one to be more than I’ve experienced.. I want my heart engrossed in this 40 day process.. so much to digest.. so much should challenge and change us in these 40 days.. Lord meet each of us on this journey with You.. make these 40 days so much more than we ever expected.. we don’t want rituals we want richness found in our faith in You..meet us, move us, set our hearts on fire for You..

  • Glory to God! I was blessed with healing after having the elders anoint me with oil and pray for me. . Thankful for God’s Word to instruct us in how to live. I encourage anyone who is sick to read James 5 and obey God’s Word b/c He longs to show us His compassion and forgiveness.

  • Beauty of salvation exchanged for the ashes of sin

  • rebecca7395

    Easter has never gotten the attention and recognition in my heart that Christmas does. Although I’m thankful for a risen Savior, to be honest Easter has been more of a blip on my radar. I’m embarrassed to admit this. I want this year to be different. As a Southern Baptist, I’ve never had personal exposure to celebrating Lent, and when I saw this study being offered I jumped at it. May God use this time to impress upon me my deep need of Him and His salvation, and bring the meaning of Easter into even sharper focus. My heart already rejoices within me.

    • Samantha

      I’m with you Rebecca! I want Easter to take on new meaning this Lenten season as well – may God truly over flow in our hearts as we read each days installment! Prayerfully with you in salvation and repentance :)

  • This is the first time that I have truly understood the reason behind the observance called Ash Wednesday… and it is so beautiful. You “Shes” are such a blessing. Thank you for sharing!

  • Beautiful. I grew up evangelical and my soul ached for the longstanding traditions of the catholic faith, including lent and all its observances. I never knew the history of these customs and I’m so glad you took the time to explain Ash Wednesday – it will be the first year my family participates, and I’m so excited to lean in to Christ in remembrance and repentance this season.

  • This is the perfect time to deepen a relationship with Christ and practice repentance. Thank you for this study!

  • Prayer is so powerful, sometimes I forget this until there’s a moment in my life where it’s truly needed. What a blessing right? That all we have to do is communicate with God, spill our hearts out to Him in intimacy and He’ll hear us. I’ve grown to truly have a relationship with Him and by that, I mean actually have conversations with Him constantly. I talk to Him like He’s a living person in the flesh right in front of me. When I share my testimony to people, I always make it a point to emphasize how my life has changed by creating that relationship with Him. To not think of Him as some boss who I have to talk to professionally but a King who is also a Father, a Friend, a Mentor. Someone I can talk to about anything and who hears every single word. If you ever feel like your prayers are being ignored, don’t stop praying and open your eyes to everything thats happening around you. Sometimes we’re blinded by what we are feeling or our current situation that we miss what God has said or done. He hears every word and He wants to hear you open up to Him in ways you wouldn’t to anyone in the flesh. He’s waiting for you.

    • Sarah

      Katalina, this has been one of my prayers for some time now. That I would grow to recognize that God is always present with me throughout my day and that I wouldn’t forget it. Thank you for this encouragement and reminder this morning. Praying I seek Him all day today, and pray to Him as though I was talking with a friend.

    • Katie

      Beautifully written! This is just the sweet reminder I needed this morning.

    • Jo-Lin

      Thank you. I have to tell myself OFTEN that feelings are not facts.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Katalina, thank you for such sweet encouragement.

  • Susan Lindquist

    I had an image in my mind of sin as dust, as I read today’s post. It is ever present, sifting and settling on to us even when we’re oblivious of it. And aren’t I grateful for Christ’s grace? I hold that thought, as I go through my day.

  • Judith doel

    I have never practiced lent, and thought it weird that people walked around with ashes on their forehead. Now, I see things differently, and although our earlhly bodies will die, we will granted a heavenly body and will live with Christ in eternity. I don’t live in fear of death as many other people I know. My body will die, but my spirit will live on with Christ.

  • Summer Russell

    I’m wondering how I’ve been raised in church and have never celebrated or been taught about Ash Wednesday

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for the reminder of where we came from! We have such humble beginnings. Dust! And when we die we shall be turned back to this state! I love the picture that the Old Testament gives us of those who repent. They put on sackcloth and sit in ashes! What a way to be humble! Praying that we all can repent and have a similar attitude of those that sat in sackcloth and ashes.

  • Like the previous comments, I have never had lent explained to me this way. I am grateful for the focus of this study that I may strengthen my belief.

  • Danielle Frakes

    15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    I’m praying for a sick boy who needs prayer. God’s plan for him is good but sometimes we wish the plan was different. I don’t think we are ever ready to leave but I trust the plan the Lord has for me.

    • Kylee

      Joining in prayer with you for this sweet boy. May we begin to understand the big picture plan of our God, knowing He works all things out for the good of those who love Him (even if we don’t know what that “good” looks like yet). Prayers that his family stays strong in faith and has peace, that the love of God would extend into this situation and mend all things and heal this boy. Amen.

  • Laura Andersen

    This is the second time in the last few days that James 5:16 has come up for me. This weekend, I was struggling with the guilt from some things I did and really felt like I needed to tell someone. I ended up telling a mentor of mine, who in turn prayed for me, and I am so glad I did. It was hard to tell someone, but shedding light on the situation was so much better than keeping it hidden.

  • This is the first time I’m commenting here! I wanted to encourage and hold myself accountable. Our pastor invited us this year to give up a spirit of timidity and to boldly share Jesus this leten season. With the reminder that we all will return to dust, but as Christians have the hope of resurrection, let us share this good news with both actions and words!

    • Carlie

      Oh I low that!! What a worthy challenge to us as sinners to give up timidity! I think this really plays off of the reading today in that although tomorrow is a sober day, it also is a bold act for us as Christians!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Welcome, Moriah! We are so glad you are here and embracing boldness in this Lenten season. Grateful for you!

  • i love the way ash wednesday has been explained here. what a challenge for us going into tomorrow and the lent season. praise the lord that we live in the eternal hope of the resurrection.

  • For years I never understood what Ash Wednesday meant until I started teaching in Catholic and Christian schools. I grew up Baptist, so LENT was not something we took part of. However, being at these schools for years and have friends of different religious backgrounds, I found LENT to be a very daring, yet rewarding season. I look at it as a time to fast, pray, and reflect on my deepest need for Christ. No matter how many times you hear the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, there is always something that is added and grows my faith to become deeper and greater. There are not enough lines in my journal for me to reflect on just “HOW MUCH” I need the Savior daily. I use to get up and starting thinking of others before getting my day started, but now he is the first thing I acknowledge when I hit the floor. I learned that when we put his needs before ours and others, the rewards to that are GREAT. The peace he gives as you go through your day. Even when trials come, you remind him at the beginning of your day your need for him, so he is there. I thank GOD for SRT for starting this LENT season devotional and sharing this value with the world.

    • Kylee

      TORI, I needed to read your comment. I, too, wake up thinking or rather obsessing about other people or my own problems, I have longed to wake up craving Christ and this morning I decided to lay it all down, to repent for putting my own thoughts and the opinions of others before the validation I only receive from Jesus. I prayed that God would be my all…and then I read your comment. Thank you for the encouragement and hope you’ve given me that one day I’ll wake up and Jesus will be the first thing on my mind. I’m going to practice until I get to that place!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Tori, thank you for the encouragement! It is so wonderful to celebrate the Lord and be in His Word together. We are glad you’re a part of our community and grateful for your words!

  • Tomorrow is a sobering day, but one so necessary for me if I truly believe. If I celebrate a savior I also need to celebrate what I’m being rescued from in life. It puts me where I belong – in need.

  • Churchmouse

    There is indeed something powerful in seeing ashes in the form of a cross on someone’s forehead. Even more so than a cross hanging on a chain around someone’s neck. It is a very stark and public announcement that the one wearing it is a Christian, a cross bearer. Ash Wednesday is indeed a somber day for me. The reality of my sin and its consequences speak loudly. The need for repentance and confession speak even louder. Yes, a somber day for we people of the Cross. Too often I’m eager to praise and I gloss over self examination and confession. May I remember to linger in Psalm 51 before I contemplate and rejoice in Psalm 32. Those are the Scriptures I ponder on Ash Wednesday so that I might start the lenten season with a pure heart before Him.

    • Carly

      Awe churchmouse, thank you for sharing those specific psalms. Really needed to repent with psalm 51….”scrub away my guilt, soak my sins in your laundry…you’re the one I’ve violated—you’ve seen it all…what you’re after is the truth from inside out. Enter me, bring me a new life. Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing.” But God…Psalm 32, made a perfect next step, “We are so lucky, God sees it all and holds nothing AGAINST us…. so may we hold nothing BACK from Him.” One of my main takeaways from this: He deserves more than a performance or ritual…may I dig deep in these devotional times—it’s the truth He wants after all. Thank you again for sharing!

    • Lana

      Thank you for those scriptures, Churchmouse. I added them to my study this morning and it’s so funny how they fit perfectly into the overall lesson God has been teaching me this season. So thank you again for sharing! They hit right in my heart!

  • I have never had Ash Wednesday explained in this manner. Whereas I do not practice the ritual of the ashes in the form of a cross placed on my forehead, I will have a different perspective of tomorrow & celebrate it in my own way.

  • This really highlights the seriousness of sin. I think it can be easy to gloss over that but it is something we need to understand to really appreciate what Jesus has done.
    Looking forward to reading Isaiah together and reflecting on this some more.

  • Having never really practiced Lent before, I’m glad that some of the practices are being explained as we go along in this study.

    With that in mind, I’m looking forward to a time of being reminded of my need of a Savior. I’m so often focused on my immediate needs, and how can I solve the problems surrounding me..because if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. It’s so hard for me to simply trust in Jesus, that He has accomplished all, and I simply need Him. If I put my other needs above Him, then my life still be in a shambles anyway, but for the common grace He had extended me.

    • cj8of8

      Being an older single person. . Your word really spoke to my heart. .. “but God”.. Thanks for sharing sister. May the Lord Jesus keep us all and reach us all in a new way as we seek Him with open hearts in this season.

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