Lent often begins with a somber reality check. We come face to face with our sins. When we confront the darkness inside of us, we may have the urge to run and hide, as Adam and Eve did. We may have the urge to remind God that we are not all bad, as Job did.
We may try to strike a few deals, as many tried in the Bible. Unfortunately, we sometimes treat God, as if we were playing a poker game with Him. We see what cards we can play and still hold close to our chest the cards we believe will toss the game in our favor.
Recognizing our sins, some of us will attempt to give up a bad habit. Sometimes in gratitude to Jesus, we might even give up something we value during the season of Lent.
For some the season of Lent is just that — a season, where they attempt to share the experiences of Jesus from the gut wrenching taking on of sin through the agonizing days before a tortuous death with a small post script to a euphoric Easter Sunday — all too often followed by a binged return to whatever they gave up for Lent, once the season is over.
The season of Lent, though not mentioned in the Bible, can be a valid time of journey and reflection, if we turn our focus in the right direction.
Paul’s words, as recorded in Hebrews 12:1-2, are a wonderful invitation into the Lenten Journey:
Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith.
For the Joy set before Him,
He endured the cross,
scorning its shame,
and sat down at the Right Hand of the Throne of God!
Jesus asked that probing question, “But who do you say I am?” Peter gave the right answer. You may sincerely speak in unison with Peter,
“You are the Son of the Living God!”
But, what if Jesus probed a little more and asked you,
“And what does that have to do with you?”
Could you answer Him?
While you are considering your answer, see Jesus once again looking directly at you. He doesn’t seem to mind that you don’t have a ready answer for Him. He smiles and says two words. But those two words seem to fill up the universe!
This season, instead of trying to figure out what good earth thing you can give up for Lent, consider giving up just one thing that will connect heaven and earth. Give up control of your life to Jesus! You can begin by recognizing that Jesus will speak to you and for you. His Words can come forth right from your mouth!
Commit to reading the Words of Jesus every single day of Lent. Give Jesus permission to speak through your voice. Read His Words out loud and hear Him talking directly to you.
Read only as much as He tells you each day. That might be one verse or multiple chapters. But read it slowly enough that His Words sink deeply into your spirit. Meditate on those Words. Feel free to ask Him what He is saying to you. He welcomes your questions. You will not be taking a test. You will be getting to know the One Who Loves you more than anyone else can!
Jesus never intended for us to sink into a season of mourning. He intended for us to experience all the Joy He came to bring us. Don’t wait until Easter Sunday to experience His Joy. Start now! He’s waiting to take you on an exciting journey!
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in My Love!
If you keep My Commands, you will remain in My Love,
just as I have kept My Father’s Commands and remain in His Love.
I have told you this so that
My Joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete!
Points to Ponder
What things have you given up for Lent in the past? Why did you choose those particular things? What happened after the season of Lent ended?
How do you feel when God reveals your sins to you? What do you do?
How do you throw off the sin “that so easily entangles” you?
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Do you have the kind of Joy Jesus was talking about? Is your joy complete? What adjustments in your life do you need to make to receive The Complete Joy of Jesus?
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