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Paul Jump 01/03/19
Since becoming a Christian I have never bothered with lent. Years ago I lived with three people who didn’t go to church. All of them gave something up for lent…chocolate, alcohol, coffee etc. They were surprised that I didn’t. My upbringing in a church that taught salvation by works has made me kick back against anything that smells of man-made religion. That has included lent.
So why am I bothering with lent now?
I want to go hard after God and I need all the help I can to do it. Jesus said in Mark 8 ‘if anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.’ To take up your cross means to die to self. To die to your own desires and wants, to die to your own plans and ideas, to die to your own ambitions. And to die to yourself for Jesus sake. To be a Christian means to deny yourself like Christ did and to die to yourself for Christ’s sake just as he gave up himself for you. Jesus wants us to build our lives on him not on ourselves or money or jobs, or food or drink or drugs, or holidays or cars or houses or family or relationships or husbands or wives. Those things don’t give us eternal life. Only he does. He’s the one who loved us so much that he went to the cross and gave up his life so we could have life. When you see that. When you see his love and sacrifice for you it moves your heart to want to give up yourself and go hard after him for that’s where real life is found.
So how can lent help me do that?
Lent has traditionally been used as a time for fasting and prayer. Try a weekly or daily fast during lent. You could fast from food for a meal or a day. You could fast from technology or sources of entertainment. And use that time for other things. He are some ideas:
Spend time meditating on or memorising a bible passage about the cross such as Isaiah 52:13-53:12. or Romans 3:21-26. Give thanks to God for his love and grace.
Read a book about the cross such as the cross centred life or 50 reasons Jesus came to die or the cross of Christ. Read to be inspired and excited about Christ’s death and resurrection.
Examine your life. Ask God what changes he wants you to make in your life. Are there specific sins he wants you to deal with? Are there specific areas he wants you to grow in?
Set aside money each week that you would have otherwise spent on yourself for a good cause or a person you know is in need.
Write to or visit one person a week. Speak to them of the gospel, ask them what you can pray for them. It could be a friend or family member or someone you know is house bound or lonely.
Join us in fasting and prayer on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday.
Let’s fast during the day and then come together in church at 7.30pm to encourage each other as we pray and take the Lord’s supper.
Let’s use lent to go hard after God.