Tag Archives: lent
Many of us are celebrating the Lenten season. It is a season of fasting and renewal, a season that reminds us that we are but dust. Life is fragile. Life is but a breath. It is a season that looks to the Cross. We spend these weeks mindful of the shortness of life, but even more mindful of the One Who poured out His blood at Calvary so that we could have new life—life in Him. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the Wilderness, so we spend this time in self-reflection, repentance, and prayer.
Some people are trying to stick diligently to the removal of some item from their life. Some people may have even publicly noted an ongoing battle with trying to stay true to a vow to give up this thing for Lent. It is important to remember some things about Lent and fasting, because many get lost on the journey to the Cross. Lent instructions are not found in the Bible—it’s something that was instituted by the Church. However, with the fasting, one should be mindful that publicly boasting or grumbling is not applauded (see Matthew 6:16). Fasting is personal. The idea of fasting during Lent is to remove something that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and then replace that thing with something that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.
Remember, Lent is all about Jesus. If you are keeping yourself from drinking soda or eating sweets but that doesn’t interfere with your relationship with Jesus, and you have not supplemented these things with more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or spending time doing something that brings you closer to Jesus, then you are missing out. This is a time to search inward, a time to repent and renew yourself in Him. Today, whether or not you celebrate the Lenten season, take time to look inward. What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What has become a stumbling block? Pray for the removal of this from your life. Pray for a closer relationship with Jesus. Seek Him diligently today. Pray for your heart to open and spend time in the Word. Ask Him to speak to you in a new and awesome way.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [ESV]
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 [ESV]
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]
This was a message I shared with a challenge for Lent. It can be a challenge for anyone at anytime of the year. At the end of the day, it is my prayer that we all will be relentless in our pursuit of Jesus as He is relentlessly pursuing us each day.
The Three R Challenge
1) REMAIN in God (John 15:8-12)
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; ABIDE IN MY LOVE. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” [NASB]
Challenge 1: Show Love through Acts of Generosity
With Will and Purpose – Sometimes this requires us to change /adapt. About putting God / people first.
With Actions – Act, not just observe. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16 NIV).
With Possessions – “John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry’” (Luke 3:11 NLT).
With Words – “Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:6 MSG). “Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB). “Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Ephesians 4:29b MSG).
With Love – “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:15-18 NLT).
With Faith – Philip taking the time to run to and speak with the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). The Woman at the Well going into town to tell people about this man Jesus (John 4). Do you share your hope?
With Forgiveness – “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).
2) RENEW yourself in Him (Romans 12:1-2) – Change the way you think
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, FIX YOUR ATTENTION ON GOD. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” [MSG]
Challenge 2: Dig deep into His Word – Daily Bible reading, Daily Devotion Reading, attend Sunday School & Small Groups.
3) REST in Him (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” [NLT]
Challenge 3: Daily Prayer – Go to God first with everything. Familiarize yourself with the Psalms.
Colossians 1:15-17 – “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [NIV] —— YOU WERE MADE BY HIM AND FOR HIM