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Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 1

Join us on this Lenten Journey through Scripture!

The season of Lent invites us to return to God with our whole heart. It’s a theme that runs throughout Scripture and God’s relationship with his people. Throughout this Bible study, which you can read on your own or in a group setting, you’ll find links to Bible Gateway with notes that open automatically on your screen to the right of the Bible text in the Study sidebar.

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An Invitation to Return to God

Read Joel 2:12-13 (NIV) as well as the note “Call for Repentance (2:12-14)” from the Asbury Bible Commentary, or “A Call to Repentance (2:12-17”) in the Zondervan Bible Commentary. Pay particular attention to the cultural background and meaning of the words “heart,” “return,” and “rend.”

Once you’ve read the verse and side-bar notes, take a minute to reflect on the following questions:

  • In what ways is the ancient Semitic understanding of the human heart different from the way we think of the heart today? In what ways is it similar?
  • The prophet Joel uses the words “return” and “rend” to describe actions that demonstrate repentance. What do these words reveal about what it means not just to repent, but to do so “with all your heart”?

The 40 days of Lent as a season of preparation echoes the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert as preparation for his earthly ministry. Read the story in Luke 4:1-13 (ESV).

Questions for Reflection

  • In what areas of life are you most aware of wanting to return to God with a whole heart? For example, you might consider areas in which you feel defeated, have grown cold, or need forgiveness.
  • The prophet Joel stresses God’s grace, compassion, and love for those who return to him. What grace, compassion, or demonstration of love do you most need from God in the areas of life you just identified?
  • What do you hope might change in these areas if you were completely yielded to Christ, emptied of self, and richly indwelt by the Word of God?
  • What lies might the devil use to keep you from returning to God with a whole heart?

A Prayer for the Week Ahead

God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
    Examine me through and through;
    find out everything that may be hidden within me.
    Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
    and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
    the path that brings me back to you. (Psalm 139:23-24 TPT)

For Additional Study

  • Deuteronomy 26:1–11 describes how God fulfilled the promise to deliver his people from their suffering in the Exodus, and how God’s people are to express their love and gratitude in response. Note that in the Luke 4 passage, Jesus quotes the book of Deuteronomy three times to counter Satan’s temptations (Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:13, 16).
  • Psalm 91:1–2, 9–16 affirms that God is a refuge and the source of our salvation. Jesus also quotes this psalm in refuting Satan (Psalm 91:11, 12).
  • Romans 10:8b–13 states the promise and hope of our salvation.

Check in next week for Week 2 of Walking with Christ to the Cross: Waiting and Persevering for God’s Promise.

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