On a Saturday morning, I find myself sleeping in and spending more time in the Word. It is certainly a time of refreshment for me—the sleep and the time with God. We need rest. We need God.
Today’s verse speaks about how God restores and revives. The actual word translates to mean restore, refresh, renew, or revive. When you take a closer look, the Hebrew word “shub” means to turn back or return. This return is to a state you were once in, and this return is not from an occasional nap or reading the daily verse of the day. Shub points to a revival of your life, your strength, your energy. This is something God offers you daily, but it cannot happen if we are not staying connected and being mindful of His presence every day as we go through our day.
If you are feeling tired or drained or if you would like to sleep the next week of your life away, perhaps it is a good time to for shub, to turn back to Him and allow Him to pour into you. What is needed for shub? You simply return. Be intentional about prayer and reading your Bible. As you lean into Him in prayer, as you dig deeper into His Word, you will be restored and revived. Remember this shub isn’t a cat nap that gets you to finish your day with no major issues—there’s so much more! I pray this return to your first love will restore and revive you. The fruit of this revival points to the fullness of God.
“That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. – Psalm 23:3 [TPT]
Early Church determined the Lenten season was period of fasting and renewal that corresponds with Jesus fasting (Matthew 4:2).
Forty days back from Easter minus Sundays = Lent.
Once Lent primarily viewed as period during which converts prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday but later became a season of repentance and renewal for all Christians.
Season of Lent involves repentance, and renewal
Time to open hearts which have grown calloused (hardened) thorough selfishness and pride – doing things our way, not walking with God as closely as designed.
- Spiritually dull
John Piper reminds us, “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied.”
We practice overindulgence in things that keep us from hungering after God, drowning ourselves in things that take us away from God.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”– Psalm 51:10 [ESV]
Symbolism of Ashes
We are but dust and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20, Ecclesiastes 12:7)
Dust needs God to have life. Dust cannot boast. Dust is nothing without the crucified & risen Christ.
- Frailty or Death (Genesis 18:27)
- Sadness or Mourning (Esther 4:3)
- Judgment (Lamentations 3:16)
- Repentance (Jonah 3:6)
Imposition of Ashes
- Opportunity to reaffirm our baptism
- Opportunity to testify to God’s electing love, which claims us and marks us as His own.
Paul tells us that we have been buried with Christ through baptism, so that we may live with Christ in glory (Romans 6:1-11)
Ashes reminds us of burial, death of old self which makes possible the new life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – You are not your own; you have been bought at a price
When you fast (stop doing something), don’t just fast from something, but replace that something with something beneficial to your relationship with Jesus.
Give up complaining, give up negative talk…. Give up whatever is getting in the way of you and Jesus….
For the Lenten season, we shall join Jesus Christ on a Pilgrimage.
This season focuses closely on the Passion of Christ.
The Latin meaning of Passion is “suffer.”
The Passion of Christ includes His entrance to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His arrest, His trial, His crucifixion on Mount Calvary.
The Passion was directed by the will of God, the life mission of Jesus was the Cross (John 12:27 – The very reason He came).
The Passion originated in love.
As we examine the Passion, we note that Jesus lived in dependence on the presence of God.
This Lenten season, as we start this Pilgrimage, may we remember our dependence on God, and live a life in His presence.
To be continually living in His presence means to walk in His will, to be in constant prayer, to have His Word in your heart and mind, to worship uninhibited.
As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
In Nehemiah 13, we read that the people were once again not keeping the Sabbath. Today, people do not understand the importance of the Sabbath. Many people consider that since most places are open on Sundays, that we need not celebrate the Sabbath. Some people may consider the Sabbath something people celebrated during “the time of the Bible,” but not something that we need continue nowadays.
I love the Sabbath and thank God for this great gift. The Sabbath was instituted since Creation. It is something that is part of Creation. Consider the rhythms of the world that God has created. Part of the Creation was active, but then there was rest. This is how we were created, as we are part of Creation. We need to have a rhythm of life, where there is an active working part, and then a time of rest. I typically celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, but there are moments when I preach or teach, that I celebrate another day. Understand the Sabbath is about having that day of rest with God.
God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. We should show gratitude for this gift, and we should also want to celebrate the gift. This is a time we can get ourselves realigned with the Father. This is a time we can get ourselves refueled for the next week. This is a time we can grow closer to God. This is a time when we can fellowship with the Lord without distractions. This is a time of rest, reconnection, and renewal. Be sure that you take a day this week, and celebrate the Sabbath! Continue this rhythm in your life each week. You will come to realize the importance of this special, holy day.
“They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day” – Exodus 16:29 [NLT]
Clothes can make a person they say. I think that can be somewhat true. I know when I put on my sweatpants, I feel comfy and ready to relax and enjoy a quiet night with my Bible and whatever book I’m currently reading. When I put on dressier clothing, I am ready to get to work. When I put on my sneakers, I become the dog walker extraordinaire.
Colossians 3 says we are clothed with a new spiritual self. Paul wrote that during our walk with Christ we are renewed and remolded. Renewed and remolded. Being renewed is being refreshed to start again. Being remolded means we change or are refashioned. Our appearance is different. It’s more of an outward thing. Renewed is an inner thing.
As we grow in Christ, we are renewed (inner) and remolded (outer). It’s an awesome thing. People will take notice. They will catch a glimpse of this change. They will experience the light, the light of Christ shining through you. You may even take notice in time that God has be doing a great work in and through you. He has a great plan for you my friend. Keep pressing forward.
“And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.” – Colossians 3:10 [AMP]