About Lent

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Lent is a 46 day period with 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter. It’s 46 days because we do not fast on Sundays. During this time of reflection, we read the scriptures, pray, and seek a closer connection with God through fasting. We fast in order to examine our hearts and our relationship with God so that we can remove those things that would separate us from Him. 

In the Old Testament God commanded his people to fast (afflict their souls) during a time of consecration and reflection prior to confessing their sins and receiving atonement. 

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. (‭Leviticus‬ ‭16‬:‭29-31‬ NKJV)

Once atonement was made, the people were brought back into a proper relationship with God. Where sin separated them from God, the fasting and atonement caused them to draw closer to God again

Fasting is the act of abstaining from food or other items and habits as a sacrifice to God. It is both challenging and rewarding as we press through our discomfort to examine ourselves and our relationship with God. 

If you’re having difficulty determining what to fast, here are some ideas. 

Pray for God’s guidance. 
Fasting is a spiritual act that is born from our relationship with God. So we should welcome his input into our fasting decision. 

Start a reading plan. 
Reading scripture while fasting and praying can really bring the scriptures to life. The spiritual connection is undeniable. The Bible App has a 40 Day reading plan that’s great for lent. 

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1370-the-40-day-gospel-bible-reading-challenge

Get a prayer partner. 
You don’t have to do this completely alone. It may be good to have a prayer partner or group that prays together or separately at the same time each day. 

Choose a challenging fast. 
For example, if you’re a person who drinks sodas daily, perhaps you should consider fasting sodas. On the other hand, if you don’t typically drink sodas, don’t fast sodas because it won’t be a sacrifice. 

If you mess up, don’t give up. 
You’re not perfect. Give yourself some grace. If you chose to fast chocolate and mistakenly (or willingly) had a candy bar, don’t punish yourself. Instead, examine yourself, learn from the failure, pray, and keep going. 

My personal challenge is always deciding what to fast. So if you’re like me, here are some ideas to help you. 

Fast from certain foods. You may choose to fast a meal each day like lunch or you may choose to fast a specific food or food group (meats, sodas, candy, coffee, bread, etc.). 

Fast from media. In recent years some have chosen to fast from social media, television, or even music. Once in college I fasted from listening to Jazz. It was truly challenging because that’s all I listened to at the time. 

Fast from habits. Smoking, drinking, cursing, gambling and many other habits can be hard to fast. But the benefits of breaking the stronghold those habits have in our lives can outweigh our temporary discomfort. 

I pray your season of lent will be life changing and bring greater meaning to your worship this Easter. 

A Vision of Love

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Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. ” (‭Genesis‬ ‭28‬:‭12-16‬ NKJV)

Ever since I was a kid in church I’ve heard about Jacob’s Ladder. But did you know Jacob had this vision on his way to his first date?  Today, I’d like to look at this encounter from that perspective. Jacob is a young man on a mission, who receives a vision of love. 

Isaac has just blessed Jacob and sent him to his mother’s people to find a wife. While on his way to find a wife, God spoke to Jacob through the vision of the ladder about blessing his descendants. Think about that for a second. God didn’t give him a vision of how lovely his bride would be. He didn’t give him a vision of romance. He went beyond that. God showed him a vision of how fruitful and blessed his family would be for many generations. 

How far does your vision of love reach? Can you see past the candy, roses, and date night? Can you see beyond hooking up to true intimacy and marriage? Can you see your marriage bearing perpetual fruit through covenant stability, and generations of children who respect and reverence the sanctity of marriage?

Jacob received a vision from God of all these things before his first date. What about you?

Carrying His Name

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“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭48‬:‭10-11‬ NKJV)

Here are some truths I believe about the Christian life: God wants you in his family and God wants to make you better. Once we become a part of God’s family by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, he begins the life long process of completing the “good work” he has begun in us (Philippians 1:6). Why would God do this? First, because he loves us. Secondly, because we carry his name.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7 NKJV)

The word “take” in this scripture from the Ten Commandments literally means to pick up and carry. Think of it like a bride who takes on the last name of her husband. God says, don’t take my name upon your life carelessly or without sincerity. It’s for this same reason God says he will refine his people for the sake of his name. 

For his own name’s sake, God will allow us to endure affliction in an effort to make us worthy of his name. Just as raw silver ore is heated to cause impurities to be exposed and discarded, God will heat up our lives to expose and remove our impurities to make us into beautiful people who are worthy of his glory. This way, our lives will reflect his goodness to the world, instead of having those who see us speak poorly of God due to our short comings.