March 5, 2014

So It's Ash Wednesday (a repost)

I'm reposting these thoughts from Ash Wednesday, 2013.  I highly recommend the article link in the first paragraph, if you're looking for a better understanding of or ideas for what to do during Lent.  Thanks for putting up with hearing from me again today.  :)

So It's Ash Wednesday

I have had a couple of thoughts this morning that I want to share with you regarding Lent.  I was pondering the first set of questions for self-examination in Craig Higgins' article, 'On Keeping a Holy Lent.'  Here they are:

  • What are my characteristic sins, and how can I work and pray for change?
  • What idols have captured my imagination so that my love for the living God has grown cold?
  • In what ways is my devotion to Christ and his church less than wholehearted?

These are broad sweeping questions to get us thinking about this season of repentance.  I don't know what your characteristic sins are, but I'm sure you've got a handful.  After spending a little time thinking about mine this morning, (you know, the ones you find you're always confessing during Sunday worship confession time or in personal prayer during the week), I thought perhaps this season would be a wonderful time to memorize a verse on each point to have the Word hidden in my heart for the Spirit to call to mind when I find myself in "characteristic sin situations!"  I wanted to pass that along as an idea you might consider as well.  God's Word has the power to change us.  It really does, because it is alive!

Another thing I learned about Lent several years ago is that Sundays are not included in the 40 days.  Sundays are a day of celebration, feasting, worshiping the Lord.  It's the Lord's day; enjoy it!

Finally I want to leave you with a chunk of verses I read this morning that connect well with the beginning of this season of Christian discipline, Psalm 44:4-8.
You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

Let us, even as we consider self-denial and spiritual disciplines, remember that it is all of the Lord.  We seek Him only because He has been merciful to incline our hearts toward Him.  The Bible says no one seeks God, not even one ... so if we are seeking Him, we can boast only that He is at work and rejoice our way through whatever joys and trials we encounter.  For He has been so good to us.

When I think about enemies in the Psalms, I often think of our great enemy, satan, and the sins within that threaten to undo me at every turn.  Read those verses from that perspective and we are reminded that it is through God  that we trample our enemy, through God that we trample our foe.  Let's trust neither in our spiritual practices nor our will power, for it is in Christ we have the victory.  But do let us go into battle, (remember Israel still fought their enemies, though it was God who gave the victory)!  Let's arm ourselves with the Word; let's look our sin in the face and tell it it can no longer occupy the place it does because Christ is our Lord; let's watch what He does in giving us new victory as we join the church through the ages in observance of this season of Lent.

In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

How wonderful, amazing, incredible, baffling that the God whom we've offended calls us His children through faith in Jesus!  It leaves me speechless every time I think about it.  Praise the Lord and may He bless you as you consider what He's done for you as we approach the Sunday of Sundays (Easter) in just a handful of weeks.

Have a good day, friends!

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