New Hope UMC

Come, Follow Me: A Disciple's Journey Through Lent 

This is a 5 week Lenten study from the SC Conference of the UMC. Topics are:

  1. The Baptism of Jesus
  2. Wilderness and Temptation of Jesus
  3. The Beatitudes, Salt and Light
  4. Prayer and Attitude
  5. Healing, Exorcism, Service, Following

February 13, 2020

The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Baptism is a visible sign of the invisible grace of God that leads us to salvation. We are committed to following Jesus, and we move on the road to holiness. In baptism, we celebrate the love, forgiveness and grace of Jesus. We celebrate living into the promised covenant of God. From scripture, we learn that Jesus' cousin, John, had been baptizing followers in the Jordan river and asking them to repent, as the Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus and some of his disciples came upon the scene and John immediately recognized Jesus and suggested that it should be he doing the baptizing. “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This is a sign from God above that Jesus is indeed the son of God, if there could be any doubt. God also appeared in a cloud during the Transfiguration, telling the disciples very much the same thing and adding, "Listen to him". 

Jesus was baptized so that he would know what it would be like for us to navigate our journey of salvation as disciples. Baptism is a way to fulfill all righteousness.

 February 27. 2020

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. There are three distinct phases of the temptation of Jesus. First, the devil suggested Jesus turn the stones into bread. Second, he suggested that if Jesus was indeed the son of God, he throw himself down from the mountain. Lastly, he promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world if he would worship Satan.

The temptation occurred between the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of his public ministry. The temptations Jesus faced model for us fidelity and faithfulness to God. Jesus did not need to prove himself before Satan or anyone else for that matter. But his experience includes some profound teachings for us. Temptations are a certainty. How we react reveals of faith. Jesus quoted scripture. suggesting that God's word is our sword and shield.  Satan also quoted scripture, suggesting that everyone who does that is not worthy of trusting.  

March 5, 2020 

 The Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount as it is also called can be divided into three sections. The first highlights the nature of God and tells us what the kingdom looks like. The second section tells us what behaviors will be rewarded when God's kingdom is fulfilled. Finally, Jesus calls the crowd to be salt and light. We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. This is a mandate, not an option. Without the salt, without us something is off. Not just a little off, but a lot. The world doesn't see straight without us. Christ's bride, the church, cannot survive without salt and light.

The takeaway from this lesson: We need a shift of mind and spirit. We can no longer think in the same old ways. Our world has shifted and changed, and while we remain faithful to Christ, these changes require our own shift in perspective. Our call to embody Jesus’  

March 12, 2020

 Prayer and attitude is the subject in Week 4 of the series. Pastor Emily Sutton gives us the takeaway. "“During the season of fasting, prayer and giving, we do not lose focus of why we do what we do. We are seeking to put our faith into practice. Lent is not about our words or actions for others to see, but in order to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.) We have to be aware of turning pious acts into performance. Jesus is not seeking performance. Jesus desires that we increase faith through prayer, fasting and giving in ways that point to God not ourselves.” (Sutton, page 30) We must examine our own motives and authenticity of how we practice our faith. When we give alms, pray and fast, we are not creating a performance out of our practice, but to grow closer to God and one another."

Deep commitment can come only though devotion to the Lord through study and prayer. We are not called to display Christianity like an ornament but to live it, to have it emerge from deep within us. Drawing attention to ourselves is warned against by Jesus as he counsels the disciples on how to pray. As the hymn tells us, we are to "Spend much time in secret,, with Jesus alone". Take time to be holy.