Ohmygosh, guys! I’m so over-the-top excited I can hardly sit still. I’m finally ready to announce the project I’ve been furiously working on the last few months… a 40-day eDevotional geared toward families that coincides with the Lent season (the 40 days leading up to Easter). Tah-dah.
This year it starts on March 5.
Although I grew up going to church, my family did not observe Lent. In fact, it wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I realized Catholics are not the only ones who observe the Lenten season. As a protestant who had never once considered pondering Easter as an entire season, I love the idea of Easter being on the horizon for 40 days (the time Jesus spent in the wilderness before starting his ministry) instead of the week between Palm and Easter Sundays. I didn’t want to take this journey alone – I wanted my kids to come along for the ride so I set about praying over and picking 40 devotionals beginning with Jesus’ time in the wilderness all the way through Easter morning.
I tend to do a five-minute devotional with my kids right before the girls leave for the bus stop so I based the devotional plan around a 5-day format. The Saturday devotionals explain one of the five aspects of lent for those who want to explore the topic more. Sundays are reserved for corporate worship. Those who choose not to touch on the aspects of Lent can skip Saturdays without making a “hole” in their weekday family devotionals.
Each day also lists an activity – mostly games and object lessons, although some are strategic crafts. There are no busy/preschool crafts in this devotional that you will turn around and throw away, however, I think the object lessons span a wide age range and are appropriate for preschoolers through high schoolers. The devotionals are written to be able to stand on their own. If you choose, you may skip the activities all together and still focus on Jesus’ life and ministry leading up to the crucifixion.
I believe practices such as self-denial during Lent are personal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I believe they shouldn’t become ritualistic in nature and hesitate having my children grow up with a practice they haven’t chosen for themselves. Although I explain self-denial on the fifth Saturday, it isn’t an active part of this devotional. This family book is really just a 40-day eDevotional written specifically to prepare little hearts for the main event of the resurrection.
I hope you guys are as blessed going through it as I was writing it. Although it is an eBook, please feel free to print it out for your personal use.
NOTE: After paying, please click on the blue link that says “Return to leighannmarquiss.com” You will be able to open a PDF file and save it to your computer!
Follow me on twitter @LeighannMarquis and join the conversation daily #EasterJourney starting March 5, 2014.
Here’s a sample of the first devotional so you can get a feel for it.
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday – Jesus in the wilderness
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3) Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down for it is written, “He will give his angels charge concerning you” (Ps. 91:11); and “On their hands they will bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Ps. 91:12) Jesus said to him, “On the other hand it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16) Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things will I give you, if you fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Deut. 6:13) Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Right before starting his ministry, Jesus retreats to the wilderness to pray and fast for 40 days and 40 nights. It says after the 40 days “He became hungry.” It was at His weak point that Satan comes to Him and tempts Him. And not only does he tempt Jesus, but he uses scripture to do it – taking it out of context to try and lure Jesus into sinning. Satan is the Father of Lies and sometimes does it by distorting the truth. As we see though, Jesus is well versed in the scripture and responds with scripture Himself, showing the devil that he cannot use God’s word against Jesus.
One of the scriptures Jesus uses is from Deuteronomy 8:3 where Moses is reminding the Israelites about the goodness of what the Lord has done for them bringing them out of Egypt. He tells them that God provided manna from heaven when they were hungry – so much so that it was a reminder that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” God provides our daily sustenance, but what really sustains our hearts and souls is the Word of God. It‘s important to learn scripture in its context, how it applies to us and what it tells us about God.
Activity: Print out copies of Deuteronomy 8:3 and cut them into small strips (think fortune cookies). Buy premade crescent roll dough in a can (like Pillsbury). Roll paper into the dough and bake according to package directions. Serve the bread to the children asking them to break it open before eating. You can have the children help you make it or have it ready for an ah-ha moment when they realize scripture is inside.