This morning a friend sent a text asking if we should participate in Lent. At that moment, I realized that we had so understated so many Christian holidays in our church that it would be good to write a blog to refresh our knowledge of this Christian tradition.
This year the first day of Lent happens to be today, March 1, 2017, Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day for us to remind ourselves of our mortality, sinfulness, and ultimate demise without Christ ( . . . from ashes to ashes, dust to dust. . . ). Lent, then, is a season when Christians have historically focused on simple living: limiting excesses, paying more attention to prayer and the Scriptures, participating more in church, and fasting in one way or another. Lent lasts about one tenth of the year. It is a tithe of our time set aside to focus on God’s priorities in our lives instead of worldly pleasures and living. It’s a season of devotion to God that roughly spans the forty days before Easter, excluding Sundays, because Sundays are a weekly mini-Easter celebration. The final day of Lent this year will be April 15th, the day before our resurrection day celebration, which of course is Easter.
Many Christians see the Lent season as a time to give up some type of food or guilty pleasure, or to begin doing something to strengthen their walk with Christ, which is always a good thing. During this season I often think of the story of the rich man who came to see Jesus. When he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, “Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18: 18-23).
Three things stand out to me in this response: 1.Give something up, 2. Give it to someone who needs it, and 3. Follow Christ.
Gayle and I have decided to give up most of our television watching. It’s true our TV is currently broken–but that is what got us thinking about what we gain when we’re not watching it.
It gives us more time with our family and friends.
In Christ’s response, he wanted the rich man to give up his things for the benefit of others. When our TV broke, we spent more time at our table having meals together. We also discovered we had more time to read, write, go on walks, jog, and talk. And, much to my delight, we even started going to bed earlier which made us feel better in the morning.
Some of you might want to consider other forms of electronic media. Gaming, texting, Facebooking, surfing, etc. All of these consume mass amounts of time. Slow down. Read. Visit. Think. Rest. Regroup.
It keeps the news about current events from dominating my home-life.
With the 24-hour news programs, everything is micro-analyzed and scrutinized. I watched the President’s speech last night (on my son Jonathan’s TV in his bedroom), and this morning when I read the news on my news ap, many of the analyses were slanted very differently than the speech I watched last night. Everything is political right now, and I need time away from endless hype.
That’s what Gayle and I are doing for Lent. Now what about you? If you or your family would like to use the Lent season as an opportunity to go without something in order to be able to give to others, you might discover some unexpected blessings in your life. Some of you might choose to devote the Sunday mornings of Lent to attending church, or some of you might start attending Wednesday evening Bible studies for Lent. A staff member just came in my office and announced he and his friends are giving up eating out at restaurants for Lent.
It’s your decision, and Lent gives all of us a great opportunity to let go of what is not needed, and embrace more of Christ in our lives.
I love serving Him with you.
10 replies on “Is Lent For Us?”
Thank you for writing this Pastor Ted! I am in process of teaching more about this to our church and actually participate in someway as opposed to years past. Coming from evangelical protestant background, I have never participated, but feel the tug of The Holy Spirit to lead our church closer to Jesus during this season!
If you truly want to lead your church closer to Jesus, continue to reveal Him at every opportunity and His love for His church, the body of Christ. I would like to submit to you that Lent is not for the believer – why? Because God does not qualify us by our behavior – the the law of Moses was given not as an instruction but as a demonstration to the Hebrews that they could not live up to the standards of God, that in fact they needed a Savior. They needed God’s grace. Remember, it was the Hebrews who stood at the base of Mt. Sinai and boasted that what ever God asked of them they could do. What happened? Moses disappeared for 40 days on the mountain and the people constructed a golden calf to worship – even after God freed them, fed them, provided water, and shade during their journey. Therefore the truth of the law came in in the age of Moses until the crucifixion of Jesus. Under the covenant of the law, people were expected to obey the law of God in order to receive the blessings of God and the High Priest – the first being Aaron – interceded for the people by entering the Holy of Holies which was covered by a veil and communicated with God under strict ceremony. The strength of the law is sin – if you sinned you were judged by the law – but man being imperfect brought the law of God down to his level so that man could live up to the law – but this did not satisfy the requirement of Holy God. Remember, even if you call your brother a fool you are condemned under the law – if you have thoughts of lust, greed, jealousy, anything that is not of faith is sin – think about that – therefore, everyone under the law was condemned – no one was free no matter what the outward appearance may be. Because of one man – Adam – we were all made sinners. Afterwards, God promised a new covenant with man – one in which He will remember our sins and iniquities no more. He will send us a Savior, His Son whom He will give up for us. Jesus teaches us that He came to fulfill the law not destroy it – how could He destroy it because the law is holy – it is God – but, Jesus stood in for us as an exchange for our lives He fulfilled the law -like any contract once it is fulfilled you are no longer bound by the terms of that contract – you are free from it and we are free of the law because of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John is very clear about the will of God and how we are to believe in the Son. When the Jews asked Jesus what do we do to do the work of God – Jesus answered them – the work of God is to believe in He whom He sent. Go back and look at the story of Cain and Able – who gave a blood sacrifice and who gave of his own works? Which pleased God? Read the story of Adam and Eve – after their fall – Adam in his shame clothed himself and Eve in fig leaves – a work of shame, guilt, and condemnation – but God in His righteousness slew unblemished animals and clothed them in their skins – this was the first sacrifice of innocent blood to cover the sin of man – now the perfect sacrifice has been made by Jesus and those who believe in Him are made righteous apart from the law, apart from their morality, apart from their behavior, and apart from their deeds. The believer is made righteous by the blood of Jesus and they are seen as obedient in the Eyes of God because they have put on Jesus and Jesus lives in them. Now when God looks at you He sees His perfect Son. Teach your church their worth to God – so worthy He gave up His only Son for them without hesitation – worthy to partake from the banquet table of God – King Priests with Jesus who will return with Jesus – commanding the Angels and judging the world. This is who we are to God – His children – who have His inheritance through faith in Christ Jesus. Paul teaches we were resurrected with Jesus and because we are the body of Christ, we sit with Him on the right hand side of God. We are like a most precious thing found in a field that is hidden. This is how you get your church closer to God. Reveal their worth to Him, reveal His love for them, that they no longer dwell in condemnation, shame or guilt. That they are forgiven and are made righteous and in good standing with the Father the moment they called on the name of Jesus and the more they know that God loves them, the more they know their worth and value to God the more the Love of Jesus will transform them inwardly.
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Great reminder Ted. Thank you.
This is a wonderful enlightenment pastor Ted.Thank you.
years ago I wrote to you asking why didn’t evangelicals participate in lent, your answer was that some people do, but not as an institution, I still
do not understand what or how so you select which traditions your church gives or takes, but ah you have now accepted it in your heart, Jesus is around.
Always insightful, never disappointing. Thank You!
This is seriously dangerous teaching and I could not disagree with you more when you take a man inspired ritual which is not Gospel and in its twisted way blasphemes the exchange at the cross and the very blood of Jesus which has cleansed us of our sins past, present and future and the exchange does not stop there. Jesus died alone so that we may enjoy fellowship; Jesus died poor so that we may live in wealth, Jesus died with his flesh torn from his body so that we may live a healed life. Only Jesus, the perfect word made flesh was qualified to stand in the gap and become a substitution for man. Because of this blood covenant with man, God fights for us, provides victory for us, defends us, and blesses us not because of our character, what we do right from wrong, what we give up, what we hoard, or our morality or sin, but because we are in covenant with Jesus and God is faithful to His Son. Read the account with Joshua and the Gibeonites who lied to Joshua but yet because of the covenant of blood, Joshua still defended them and actually stopped the sun with the help of God. Joshua is a type and shadow of Jesus.
“Many Christians see the Lent season as a time to give up some type of food or guilty pleasure, or to begin doing something to strengthen their walk with Christ.” Believers do not walk with Christ – this was truth for the Disciples of Jesus when He was alive in the flesh. But in the dispensation of the covenant of Grace – the believer now has become one with Christ Jesus, where the comforter has come and we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us. No longer is our walk ours – we rely on Jesus as the Bride Groom and believers are the bride.
“During this season I often think of the story of the rich man who came to see Jesus. When he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, “Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18: 18-23).” First, this interpretation of what Jesus was telling the young ruler who asked Him is far from correct. The rich man or young ruler only recognized Jesus as a “good teacher” not the Lord God. Therefore, Jesus answered him and said “Why do you call me good teacher – there are none good but God. When pressed by the young ruler who was Hebrew, Jesus told him that he already knew what to do when Jesus revealed the law to him. The young ruler stated that he followed the law, but this was not so, because the rich man had substituted the Lord God for money and this was his god now. So in order to inherit the Kingdom of God the rich man, who worshiped his wealth and not God, needed to give up his wealth so that he could find God and the true Savior of the Jews. This was not an instruction to give something up in order to please God. I mean really, this is the same God who made every Hebrew out of Egypt rich from their captors riches.
Where do we fall short? Wrong belief and wrong teaching – we (believers) do not understand the different dispensations of God nor do we understand old testament obedience and new testament obedience. Under the law of Moses, which was brought in by the side gate (this has meaning) obedience was obeying the laws of Moses – the 10 commandments. Under the new Covenant of Grace at the moment Jesus gave up His spirit we came under a new dispensation where the requirements of the law were fulfilled by Jesus. What is the will of God – read the Gospel of John. You will find that the will of God is that man believes on His Son Jesus Christ. Under the new covenant, your belief in Jesus is counted by God as obedience – By the grace of God through Christ Jesus you are made righteous APART from the law. You, believer, did not reject Jesus as did the Jew – apart from your behavior – apart from the law you are counted as obedient by God because you believe in the Son. It has nothing to do with what you give up or dont give up – because you are already perfect in the Eyes of God because you have put on His Son. I mean really – do you actually think giving up something temporarily moves God or does your belief in His Son move Him – I know the answer to that question. If you really want to know what to do during this time or any other time of year – Do the will of God – believe in the Son and you are counted as obedient and righteous – because you are made righteous apart from the law. The purpose of your life is to live in the cycle of love with the Father – What can we do to do the works of God? It was asked over 2000 years ago and its asked today – Jesus has already given the answer: John 6:28 – This is the work of God, to believe in Him who He sent. Rest and believe – that is the work of God today and God is working for you. Read Revelation – it is not us the believer who are in the servants garments – we are adorned in fine linen (a symbol of righteousness) – it is Jesus who is in the servants garments because Jesus wants to serve us – not us serve Him. Our covenant with the Father is the believe on the Son – that’s it. In the Gospel of John obey or obedient does not appear in the book – but believe appears 85 times.
If you give up something that brings you closer to your family or brings you closer to God that’s great – but remember that you, the believer of the Son, of Jesus Christ have been made righteous, are counted as obedient by God – apart from your actions. Lent does not matter – it is your faith in the Son that matters, because no one who does not believe in the Son will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Inheritance is shared by a Father with His children and you – believer have your inheritance because the Son has qualified you. Lent is not for the believer.
May God bless and keep you,
God doesn’t exist
Many scientists acknowledge a “greater power” at work in the universe which is organized and intelligent. A great number of those scientist profess God as the creator and is in fact the organized intelligence of our universe. Again, science has acknowledged that there was in fact a great flood, that the Egyptians recorded the great exodus of Hebrew slaves, and the Romans recorded the Crucifixion of Jesus. Now, all of this is overwhelming evidence that God does exist – including the Bible – but for me – all I have to do is see the spark in my children’s eyes and now their children’s eyes to see the creator in them and know, through them that He exists eternally. By continually revealing the love of Christ, I hope that one day you will call on His name and find peace in your life.