Little hearts during Lent
When I was growing up, there were only two main religions on the Air Force Base. You were either Protestant or Catholic; there was nothing in between. I wished to be Catholic, because I liked that the children took communion wafers. No one realized that I already knew and loved Jesus, and had it been explained, I would have rejoiced in the partaking of communion. I also liked the way the Catholics made the sign of the cross across the front of their bodies after saying a prayer. I thought it to be beautiful. What I did not envy, was the time of Lent. Here’s where the Catholic children dramatically sighed and rolled their eyes, complaining that they would be deprived of candy or soda, or both… for 40 days up until Easter! We Protestant kids would shake our heads in sympathy, as sticky popsicle juice melted down our chins and arms, on a warm spring day.
Neither we Protestant, nor the Catholic children had really figured out that Lent is the 40 day period of time before Easter, when God’s children take time to repent and pray, and reflect upon the amazing sacrifice of Jesus Christ; God’s Son who willingly took our place on the cross, dying for our sins. The whole point of God sending a sacrifice was missed in childish translation, covered up by the tradition of giving up favorite sweets in order to prove loyalty and love to The Savior. Children want to be good, please Jesus, and show him that they love him. Children first need to know Jesus loves them, just as they are!
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ “Matt. 19:14 New International Version).
Lent and the Temptation of Christ
Traditions vary, according to region and religion, but traditionally Lent is a 40 day time period of reflection, repentance, prayer, and sacrifice; which begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends the Saturday before Easter, often with a special Easter Sunday feast to celebrate the risen Savior. Participating in Lent is a way for Christians around the world to recognize and remember that Jesus spent 40 days alone in the wilderness of the Scorching Judaean Desert, completely fasting from food. Yes. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus truly went hungry for 40 days and nights to spend time solely with God, his Father, and focus God’s will for his life. This time of deep dependence on his Father would prepare him for his ultimate sacrifice, giving up his very own life to save the world from its sins.
When Jesus was at his most vulnerable, the devil came to try to tempt him. He offered up something pretty amazing; a huge glittering kingdom on a mountaintop… plus the food Jesus so desperately craved, needed, and desired. But the devil is a liar and can’t be trusted. And even if Satan would have handed it over, there was no way Jesus was accepting. His mission would be demolished and destroyed; the very mission meant to save us Christians from the burning fires of hell.
“‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”‘ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:9-11).
Lent as a desire to draw closer to Christ
If Jesus sacrificed so much for us, Lent is nothing in comparison, but it can give people a sense of walking with Christ, and experiencing (albeit on a much smaller scale) a minuscule taste of what Christ experienced those 40 grueling days. Though it was difficult, exhausting, draining, and seems utterly impossible; Jesus made it through. And in doing so, he was humbled, blessed, anointed, and brought even closer to God, his Heavenly Father.
Whatever Christians may choose to give up for Lent, be it diet soda, coffee, smoking, alcohol, carbs, chocolate, TV, social media, or other; let it be known that all God really wants is the sacrifice of our own lives; repentance of our sins and the laying down of our own desires, wicked ways and selfish gains. God wants us to let go of all the sin, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus! Otherwise, all our sacrifices are in vain. If one is going to participate in Lent, might I suggest sacrificing our time? Because, time given up and given to God, is time given up to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. If we spend more time focusing on Jesus, and less time focusing on ourselves; our little sacrifice will end up doing what pleases God the most: drawing us closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ! What sacrifice could bring The Holy Spirit more joy?
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).
If you do not participate in Lent, or if you do participate, and cave due to temptation, look for the silver lining: Jesus IS the sacrifice. He already paid the debt for our sins. You don’t have to be perfect, or strive for it. When you receive Christ, your sins are washed away, and you remain white as snow. You are washed free of the guilt, fear, anxiety, self-condemnation, and lies that get in the way of your hope leading to healing, joy, freedom, and peace in Jesus Christ! Jesus paid it already for you at the cross! Rejoice! Worship him! Give him praise!
” ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa. 1:18).
An invitation to take part in The Silver Lining Sacrificial Lent Blessing…
In 2017, Lent Season is from Ash Wednesday, March 1 to Saturday, April 15. Choose to complete some days during the Lent Season, or all 40 days. Choose from any of the sacrifices of time from below. You might want to do one of the choices for many days, or several of the choices for just a few days each. It doesn’t matter how you choose to offer God your sacrifice of time. The key is to do as The Lord God leads. You will be blessed!
Seven ways to take part:
~ Read a Proverb a day. There are 31 Proverbs in the Bible. When completed, read over your favorites for the remaining days, or choose another chapter of the Bible which you feel led to read.
~ Journal out seven praises of thankfulness each day. At the end of Lent, you will look back on 280 blessings God has given to you! When you’re having a hard day, pull out your praise journal to remind you how much God loves and cherishes you! You may want to continue your journal after Lent. It’s a refreshing revelation to see the gifts God has given to you, penned out on paper!
– Journal out seven prayer requests each day, for yourself, and others. At the end of Lent, look back and see how many prayer requests God has answered! You will be amazed at God’s responses! Continue checking back to watch how God answers your prayers in His own perfect timing… for a reason!
– Journal out seven sins you struggle with, where you need God’s forgiveness. Each day, ask God to forgive you if you have committed any of these particular sins, again. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit, and ask Him to break down the strongholds of these sins in Jesus’ name. At the end of Lent, look back at the growth God has completed in you, and thank Him for His grace and mercy and forgiveness!
– Pray first. Ask God to lay seven people on your heart for whom to pray. Lift these people up to Jesus each day. If possible, ask them how you can pray for them, and let them know you are praying for them. At the end of Lent, ask God to show you the many ways these people’s prayers have been answered!
– Pray first. Choose seven small acts of service to do for God during Lent. Though these acts of service may bring joy to people, they should be first and foremost, acts of service to please Jesus. There may be a couple you don’t want to do, but you will be blessed!
~ Pray first. Choose seven people to bless in small ways. Ask God to lay people on your heart who need it most. You will be surprised at some of the people who come to mind whom you didn’t expect!
God bless you, in Jesus’ name. He has risen!
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