This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the forty days of Lent. Lent is a roughly six-week period, not including Sundays, that takes us up to Holy Week and to Easter Sunday morning. This is a season in the Christian Life that is dedicated to reflection and prayer and many often fast (go without some material thing) in preparation for Easter. Many Christians abstain from certain foods, material things, activities, or habits in an effort to draw closer to God. When you are hungry, or craving a certain food, or some material thing or some habit, instead of partaking, you turn to prayer. In solitude with God, you draw closer to Him instead.
This is a traditional approach and well worth the journey. Many have discovered break-through during fasts and if you sense a call to fasting, by all means I encourage you to be obedient. I have tried in the past but have often found failure with giving material things up to be closer to God. Instead, I give up time I would usually use to do other things like sleep, watch some TV, etc., and I choose to use this time to pray. And when I say "pray," I mean I take time to simply BE with God. It's not extra time for me to ask for something. It's simply time to pour out my heart before God... to be still and let Him speak to my heart and mind... and to draw closer to Him.
Please choose for yourself. In this next forty days of Lent, I encourage you to press in. God already see everything in you -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your resurrection moment leading up to Easter comes when all of it -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- are dealt with in honesty with God in the season of Lent. Fasting is a gracious thing, not an imposition. So is any act of devotion to God over the course of this forty days of Lent as we press in before we celebrate Easter. However you do it... whatever you choose... I challenge you this year to take a serious approach to moving toward God.
This weekend, the first Sunday of Lent, we’re beginning a sermon series on looking at the cross in detail. This will lead us into Holy Week. When Jesus was crucified on the cross during what we now call Holy Week, the four gospels record that he made seven public statements. Each of the statements helps to explain why Jesus died on the cross -- and how this benefits YOU. What Jesus actually did on the cross for you was far bigger than paying for your sins. There’s more to it than that. There are benefits you get to experience in your life and throughout eternity because of his death and resurrection.
If you're not sure what all these benefits are, join us for the next several Sundays and we'll learn them together.
Remember that God loves you.