Day 9

Come in Mercy

from the Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross reading plan


Isaiah 58

BY Diana Stone

Text: Isaiah 58:1-14

Last year was my first time observing Lent, a season I’d known next to nothing about prior to that. I was caught up in the whirlwind of its beauty, especially online. It seemed everyone was giving up something they leaned on in day to day life. Coffee and chocolate were especially mourned, but I decided that without coffee I may not make it through Lent at all.

Beautiful journals, study guides, books, and prints filled my social media. I was blown away by the fervor for this time in the life of the Church, yet in each purchase and choice that I made, something felt wrong.

Why did Lent seem like it was all about me?

Maybe you’re feeling the same things this year. Maybe you decided not to do anything because your ideas felt shallow compared to the Easter story we’re preparing for. Maybe, like me, your heart needs to be reminded that this season is not about our holy acts or intentions, but the love and mercy of our Holy God.

Part of walking deeper in our journey with Christ is learning to turn our inward focus outward—taking our gaze off ourselves and onto Christ, and onto others for the sake of Christ. Let’s take a moment today to explore what “giving up something for Lent” might look like in light of God’s Word and the “chosen fast” He calls us to in Isaiah 58.

What if we thought about:
Giving up evil practices (Judges 2:19).
Giving up violence and oppression (Ezekiel 45:9).
Giving up religious compromise (Daniel 3:28).
Giving up possessions (Luke 14:33).
Giving up words that tear others down (Ephesians 4:29).

I want to encourage you to read these Scriptures—and others!— and listen to the Holy Spirit. Where is He nudging your heart this Lent season and beyond—to shift your gaze outward onto Christ and His Church?

Would you give up your Instagram feed being solely dedicated to your life to include causes that burden your heart? Would you give up a grudge or ill-thoughts toward a friend and devote time to praying for her each day? Would you be willing to give up complacency and take a stand for your faith in a place you may not be comfortable, whether online or off, for the sake of the lost and the glory of God? Where can you extend God’s mercy to others right here where He has placed you?

Whatever this Lent season looks like for you—from devoting time to writing in a journal, to reading your children a Bible story each night—let’s allow the season to reflect the heart of the Father, the reason we prepare our souls for the sacrifice and celebration to come. We can never come close to what Jesus gave up for us, but we can draw ourselves close to Him.

Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;
when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’

– Isaiah 58:6-9a, HCSB

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Post Comments (149)

149 thoughts on "Come in Mercy"

  1. Abbie says:

    Oh I love this. it so speaks to me.When I started this Lent study I was conflicted. I couldn’t decide what to give up as it says here, it all seemed a bit superficial and a bit ‘just because’. So instead of giving anything up I decided to study the Word and see where it lead me. I am grateful for this post, grateful to know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way and so so so grateful for the direction I craved. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for sharing this article today! When I first heard about Lent I was really turned off by the self righteous a pious way people often acted about what they were fasting from. It wasn’t until researching more that I learned why someone actually might consider fasting during Lent. The practice of active and intentional daily self denial is meant to encourage us to give ourselves more fully to God and to remind us just how heavy the weight of our slavery to sin is (because self denial is really hard!). I think it’s helpful not to fast from a sin like grudge holding etc. during Lent, because we’re meant to choose not to sin in every season – but rather it’s helpful to deny ourselves a gift from the Lord that we enjoy or perhaps one that we abuse/overuse. Giving ourselves to God more fully and acknowledging the depth of our sin in this practice of self denial allows us to appreciate the gift of his gospel and to appreciate what Easter (the resurrection) stands for. This really is a beautiful time all about the Lord and worshipping him – not about pious tradition and making ourselves look holy. It’s actually just the opposite!

    1. Abbie says:

      I think this is the first time I’ve truly understood fasting as well. It’s so much more than just giving something up for a while. I’m so grateful for this study. This is my first time learning about Lent and the lessons for me are so much bigger than just this period leading up to Easter.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    This spoke to me and what actions/state of my spirit should be as the focus of my lent season. I need to remember why I’ve chosen trust and faith as my words of the year. It is only by my faith and placing my trust in Him that I can live the way which is pleasing to Him. I need to let go of judgement, hurt and anger and pray for those who if I really looked at my heart, have felt aren’t worthy….what if God judged me in that way?

  4. Macie says:

    Convicted.

  5. What a terrific post! Thanks so much for sharing this deeper truth.

  6. "I was blown away by the fervor for this time in the life of the Church, yet in each purchase and choice that I made, something felt wrong.
    Why did Lent seem like it was all about me?" <– I've been struggling with this. Glad someone put this into words.

  7. C says:

    This one devotional hit me hard!!! I’m observing lent and yet, have been abhorring ill feelings towards a group of women I used to be friends. TBH, I haven’t prayed for them nor thought of it b/c of the way they treated me and have seemed to go on with their life.
    However, in reading this passage today I realize I’m guilty and what if The Lord felt the same about me. I realize that I need to pray for them and myself that The Lord would cast those feelings far far away and remind not only during Lent but every day that we are to extend gracy & mercy to all.

    I love SRT and am so glad there is an app like this!!

  8. Christyg says:

    Ladies-
    This has been heavy on my heart, and I've been searching for a way to share it.
    This passage directly speaks about serving the poor and oppressed- which do exist today!
    I live overseas in SE Asia, in a country that is flooded with thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing from religious persecution.
    Where I live, not all asylum seekers are granted refugee status, and they are forced to live in hiding- live illegally- in fear of being imprisoned or sent back to their home country, where they are being persecuted.
    Before moving here, I had no idea that this was such a big problem. I'd heard of the persecuted church, those meeting in secret and dying for their faith. But I had not heard of the plight of those who were trying to protect their families by leaving everything to move to a land there are not welcome. And the struggle is real- the churches here are trying to support our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ- but there are just so many.
    Prior to this study, along with many of you, I participated in the Esther study, and before that I was working my way through the Sermon on the Mount. I'm not sure whether anyone will even read this, as I am a day behind, but I feel the Lord prompting me to encourage you, my sisters in Christ, for such a time as this. This Lenten season, as we seek to make Jesus the focus of our lives, to be His hands and feet, I encourage you to pray for those seeking asylum, and to see how you can support and encourage and be mercy to the least of these- who may not be next door, but rather around the world, ever near Jesus's heart.

    1. Beverly says:

      What a humbling reminder of the blessing I have in practicing my faith so freely. Thank you for sharing, Christy. Praying for all those seeking asylum around the world. And praying for you as well, sweet Christy. That He will continue to strengthen you and give you courage to be His hands and heart in SE Asia.

    2. Madi says:

      Wow, Christy.
      I am also living in SEA and God has opened my eyes to this same issue. We have made some dear friends who are waiting here and have just been rejected to be accepted in another country. Our hearts broke with them and we continue to pray for a placement where they can begin their lives anew. We will only be in SEA for 4 more months, but I believe that this issue is one reason God has allowed me to live here for the past few years. I pray he will use me as a voice for those who are often forgotten. God bless you sister. See, God is making sure these people are seen and known. He is so good, and we get to be some of the people who are his eyes and hands.

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