You may be familiar with the outward aspects of Lent: ashes on foreheads, conversation about giving up sugar or caffeine or TV. But Lent, like spiritual life in general, is not merely external. There are internal realities that give depth and meaning to our actions, things like humility, sacrifice, repentance, and faith. In other words, there is more to Lent than deciding between coffee and TV.
You could, of course, just decide that you are not going to drink coffee for forty days and be done with it, but to do so would be to deprive yourself of far more than coffee. You would miss something that God wants to do in you this season.
Jesus fasted from food and water for forty days in the wilderness. It was not a religious ritual or merely a display of his restraint. Rather, it was a time of trial and temptation which he endured by entrusting himself to God and being nourished on the Word of God. The point of the wilderness, for Jesus, was to experience the real presence of God with him, and power of God at work in him.
Though they may look the same from the outside, participating in Lent and “playing” at Lent are entirely different realities. So give up coffee if you want to, but don’t pretend that the absence of a beverage will sufficiently help you draw near to God.
The Lenten practice of denying usual comforts is a means of deepening our sense of union with Jesus, and reorienting our life around the things of God. We give up that which distracts and entangles because we want to experience some real joy and freedom in Christ.
When considering what to give up for Lent, begin with whatever habits or things lie at the heart of your consumer lifestyle. Forsake them for the sake of being consumed by the God-life. Lent is not about what we do for Christ. It is about plumbing the depths of what he has done for us.
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Faith to Be Strong and Faith to Be Weak
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By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with …
"Having faith is not the ultimate determining factor in whether you suffer or escape, God is - God’s sovereign will and wisdom and love.
To me this is immensely comforting. It is a great relief to know that there is a higher explanation for my pain or my pleasure than whether I have enough faith. Would it not be horrible to have to believe that on top of all your suffering you had to add this: it must be because I lack faith.
We will not assume that in this church. We will not look into the face of the dying and say, or imply: ‘If you had faith, you would live.’ We will say, rather, ‘Trust in God, because whether you live by faith or die by faith God will take care of those who trust in him. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.’”
"The greater problem with Donald Miller’s view of the church is his “evolved” thinking concerning the purpose of the church. At a fundamental level, Miller seems to assume that the only church worth regularly attending is the one that focuses on his personal fulfillment. Sadly, there is nothing in this perspective that connects with the “servant of all” example of our Savior. Although the Christian walk is full of peace and inexpressible joy, it is also marked by increased service and sacrifice. As one matures in Christ, they begin to attend gatherings to serve, rather than be served. If we are to grow in our calling, it is crucial that we intentionally involve ourselves in Christian communities that are bigger than our own selfishness."
@2 weeks ago with 6 notes
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)
One of the greatest hope-killers is that you have tried for so long to change and have not succeeded.
You look back and think: What’s the use? Even if I could experience a breakthrough, there would be so little time left to live in my new way that it wouldn’t make much difference compared to so many decades of failure.
The former robber (the thief on the cross next to Jesus) lived for another hour or so before he died. He was changed. He lived on the cross as a new man with new attitudes and actions (no more reviling). But 99.99% of his life was wasted. Did the last couple hours of newness matter?
They mattered infinitely. This former robber, like all of us, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of his life. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). How will his life witness in that day to his new birth and his union with Christ?
The last hours will tell the story. This man was new. His faith was real. He is truly united to Christ. Christ’s righteousness is his. His sins are forgiven.
That is what the final hours will proclaim at the last judgment. His change mattered. It was, and it will be, a beautiful testimony to the power of God’s grace and the reality of his faith and his union with Christ.
Now back to our struggle with change. I am not saying that struggling believers are unsaved like the robber was. I am simply saying that the last years and the last hours of life matter.
If in the last 1% of our lives, we can get a victory over some longstanding sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment of our faith in Christ and our union with him.
Take heart, struggler. Keep asking, seeking, knocking. Keep looking to Christ. If God gets glory by saving robbers in the eleventh hour, he surely has his purposes why he has waited till now to give you the breakthrough you have sought for decades.
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