February 17, 2021
 

ASH WEDNESDAY

God’s Will For You

Do you truly know your tremendous, enormous need for Jesus Christ? You have sung that you did, that you “need him every hour.” But do you live in the reality of the knowledge of that great spiritual truth of your tremendous, enormous need? Or are there too many things that you are assured that you are competent and capable and know how to do completely and totally on your own? Come, let us reason together, you intellectuals out there⎯you educated people. You cannot keep Jesus alive in you, manifesting his miraculous power and pouring forth his unbounding grace, if you refuse to receive what he has died to give you, which is not just deliverance from darkness and hell, into the light⎯the kingdom of God. If you’re delivered from darkness, it means that you’re supposed to be delivered into life. We’re supposed to be different. Therefore, if you reject your life being changed, you are rejecting Jesus Christ.

You know what happens to us? We become more knowledgeable about our own needs, more aware of our tremendous need for Jesus. When we are in this condition, then we are truly in the proper condition to receive all that he has for us. This is completely contrary to any human way, any human teaching. So it’s a little difficult to accept. We are too well versed, and very prone to go around doing a good job of exalting ourselves, in high-mindedness, placing ourselves in a high position. We don’t need Jesus then. Jesus came for the sinner. He came for the poor, the poor in spirit, and the needy⎯not for those who have everything. You are truly blessed when you are in the position of knowing that of your own self you cannot do anything. You are truly in the most blessed position and condition to receive the mercy that God has already given every one of us. By sending his beloved Son, Jesus, to pour out His life’s blood that we might be redeemed, he paid the price. We can afford not to be frightened to know our own desperate need⎯that we might receive the fullness of the riches of the glory of God, manifested in his Son Jesus and freely given as a gift to all those who come with empty hands, in a low position, saying, “God help me.” “Of my own self, I can do nothing. There is no goodness in me.” You are truly in the most blessed position and condition to receive the mercy that God has already given every one of us⎯by sending us his beloved Son, Jesus.

Joel 2:1–2, 12–17

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear,
for the day of the Lord is about to come.
Indeed, it is near!
It will be a day of dreadful darkness,
a day of foreboding storm clouds,
like blackness spread over the mountains.
It is a huge and powerful army –
there has never been anything like it ever before,
and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come!
“Yet even now,” the Lord says, “return to me with all your heart –
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Tear your hearts, not just your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and boundless in loyal love – often relenting from calamitous punishment.
Who knows?
Perhaps he will be compassionate and grant a reprieve,
and leave blessing in his wake – a meal offering and a drink offering for you to offer to the Lord your God!
Blow the trumpet in Zion.
Announce a holy fast; proclaim a sacred assembly.
Gather the people; sanctify an assembly!
Gather the elders; gather the children and the nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom come out from his bedroom
and the bride from her private quarters.
Let the priests, those who serve the Lord, weep
from the vestibule all the way back to the altar.
Let them say, “Have pity, O Lord, on your people;
please do not turn over your inheritance to be mocked,
to become a proverb among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’
2 Corinthians 5:20–6:10

Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet—see!—we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing; as poor, but making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Prayer of the publican and the Pharisee by Ivanka Demchuk
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21

“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward! But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward! But whenever you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

“When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward! When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and devouring insect destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and devouring insect do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Writings Text goes here
Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your loyal love.
Because of your great compassion,
wipe away my rebellious acts.
Wash away my wrongdoing.
Cleanse me of my sin.
For I am aware of my rebellious acts;
I am forever conscious of my sin.
Against you—you above all—I have sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
So you are just when you confront me;
you are right when you condemn me.
Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,
a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
Look, you desire integrity in the inner man;
you want me to possess wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven.
May the bones you crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins.
Wipe away all my guilt.
Create for me a pure heart, O God.
Renew a resolute spirit within me.
Do not reject me.
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.
Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance.
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey.
Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways,
and sinners will turn to you.
Rescue me from the guilt of murder,
O God, the God who delivers me.
Then my tongue will shout for joy
because of your righteousness.
O Lord, give me the words.
Then my mouth will praise you.
Certainly you do not want a sacrifice,
or else I would offer it;
you do not desire a burnt sacrifice.
The sacrifice God desires is a humble spirit—
O God, a humble and repentant heart
you will not reject.
Because you favor Zion, do what is good for her.
Fortify the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will accept the proper sacrifices,
burnt sacrifices and whole offerings;
then bulls will be sacrificed on your altar.
That He might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word. —Ephesians 5:26

The cleansing of the soul is a long process. The stain of sin goes very deep, and surface cleansing is only part of the process. You get discouraged that old sinful thoughts and temptations keep “coming back.” You are to learn to fight their early appearance more aggressively. Bring them to Me, My child, for you cannot handle them alone. Confess—do not deny nor repress—but confess them and place them under My cleansing blood. “Sinners washed beneath this flood lose all their guilty stains.” This is an ongoing work of My grace, and I expect your full participation if you want to be prepared for the light I have in store for you “and for all who have loved My appearing.”