Friday, February 17, 2017

40 Voices


Matthew 4:1
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

In the liturgical church year, Lent is observed for the forty days preceding Easter.  It is a time of commemoration and remembrance of Jesus' forty days of fasting in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry.

Lent, even today, is for many Christians a time of fasting and penitence in the desire to develop a deeper relationship with God.  But Lent can also be a time to adopt a new spiritual practice, one that will enrich and enliven our worship experience, and draw us closer to the Lord as a result.

Although I've been known to give up certain practices during Lent, ones which I feel distract me from my focus on God, I'm always on the lookout for a new devotional guide to use during this season of reflection and spiritual growth.  Imagine my surprise and delight when fellow Christian blogger, Jean Wise, at Healthy Spirituality, asked if I would read an advance copy of her latest book, 40 Voices - A Lenten Devotional, in exchange for an honest review.  I readily accepted, and have thanked myself ever since!

Jean's easy-going, down-to-earth writing style welcomes you like an old friend the moment you open her book.  Each of her devotional segments is consistently formatted, which lends an air of order and comfort as you explore the daily readings.  While Jean's words are deceptively accessible, the spiritual thoughts and challenges she offers readers are mature, seasoned, and invite an active engagement in the process.  What follows is one excerpt from 40 Voices, enough, I hope, to give you a taste of the inspiration awaiting you in this book.

John the Beloved

"Woman, here is your son . . . Here is your mother."
From that time on, this disciple took her
into his home.
John 19:26b, 27b

Who do you entrust with your most valuable possession? 
When we began having children, we cringed at the
thought of what would happen if we died?  Who
would care for our kids?  Who would raise them the way we wanted?

Sometimes, a family member is the best choice.  We
had to consider the factors of where do they live and
were they close to other family members?  Would that
couple love our children and foster the values and experiences we wanted?

Sometimes, a close friend is another option.  Someone
you know, trust and would represent you in that relationship without hesitation.

Jesus was dying.  He looked down and saw his good
friend, John.  Jesus trusted and loved John and gave
him a huge responsibility to care for someone Jesus also loved.

Woman, here is your son.  Here is your mother.

That exchange must have given Jesus comfort and
peace.  He knew his mother would be cared for and placed into good hands.

In these last moments of his life on earth, Jesus cared
for someone else.  In the midst of suffering and dying,
the needs of those he loved mattered.  This truth reveals
the depth and width of how much God loves each of us,
and will care for us even more now in the power of the resurrection.

Jesus called John, his beloved friend.  God calls us, his beloved children.
He protects us and provides for our future care.  God holds our
lives and the Holy Spirit guards our paths.

We are God's valuable possessions.

Image:  A set of legal papers representing an adoption.

Question:  What is your most valuable possession and how do you plan to protect it?

Prayer:  Loving Father, we are amazed at the depth of your love and protection.  To be called beloved children of God brings life and hope to our days.
Thank you!

Friends, I hope your impression of Jean's writing is as favorable as mine, and that you will be quick to add 40 Voices to your Lenten discipline this year.

May this season guide us all into a closer relationship with our God, who loves us endlessly, extravagantly and for eternity.

Amen!


20 comments:

  1. Your kinds words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much Martha. I am thrilled these words blessed you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Jean, you are so very welcome!!! I am thrilled to have a wonderful devotional to read and contemplate God's word during the Lenten season. I'm planning to order a copy for my daughter, too.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  2. This sounds like a great book! I trust God to take care of my loved ones. I can make plans, but there are no guarantees outside of Christ.

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    Replies
    1. It is, TC, and would make for an awesome Lenten read.
      And yes, no matter how much we plan, we have to entrust our loved ones to God in the end. He will keep them safe.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
    2. Lent is such a great opportunity to come near God and love him too.

      Delete
  3. Martha, Thanks for introducing us to what looks like a wonderful book! Blessings to both you and Jean.

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    Replies
    1. I think you would really enjoy it, Beckie. Jean has a gift for inspiring others, that's for sure!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Beckie, blessings your way too. May your Lent be a fruitful time with God

      Delete
  4. This sounds like a great book, Martha. Thank you for sharing it. I am always awed by how in the midst of excruciating pain, Jesus only thought about His loved ones, including us. Amazing love! Have a blessed weekend!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Trudy, I adored this excerpt from Jean's book as it shines such great light on all the devotions she has written in 40 Voices. So much truth, wisdom and inspiration! I do hope you will order it and make it a part of your Lenten practice.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Thank you for sharing the devotional book and challenge. I love these types of devotionals. Also, thank you for the explanation of Lent.

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    1. You are most welcome, Carol! I do hope you will order this for a Lenten study. You won't regret it!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  6. Hi Martha! Of course I know Jean well through blogging, and have her books as well. She is such a holiness seeker, and I always benefit from her posts, downloads and writing.
    You are such a good blog-friend to get the word out on her newest publication! I have no doubt it is inspiring, and relatable.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Ceil, I will have to agree that Jean is one of the best spiritual writers I know. I always, always learn so much from her posts. It really was an honor to be able to feature 40 Voices here.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. Martha, Thank you for sharing Jean's beautiful writing. Lent is a wonderful time for introspection and allowing the Lord to purify our hearts. This year's Lenten study (at my church) is a short book written by our pastor--titled "From Slavery to Freedom". (It's not published.)

    Love and blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean is such a thoughtful writer and an amazing Christian, Kim. If you're not already following her blog at Healthy Spirituality, I strongly suggest that you do - it will bless you, guaranteed!
      And the book you are going to study during Lent sounds good, too. Let me know how it goes!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  8. Hi Martha,
    I just sent you an email, responding (finally!!) to your comment on my blog, "Sharon Sharing God." I have kind of a weird email address, so if you don't see it, please check your spam folder! Sometimes people have to go find me!!

    Thank you for reaching out to me.

    GOD BLESS!
    Sharon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, indeed, Sharon, I received your wonderful email and did respond. So happy and relieved to hear from you!!! I know you're not currently blogging, but hope you won't be a stranger around here in the future.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  9. So happy to read Martha's wonderful words in her devotional, and indeed this season is a good time to spend evaluating our relationship with the Lord, and what we can do to draw closer to Him. May the Lord bless both of you :)

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Jean's book is going to be a blessing to me this Lenten season, and I do hope you will consider getting a copy for yourself. You won't be disappointed!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete

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