On Wednesday, February 14th, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and marks the beginning of a time of repentance and consecration. Repentance means to turn away. Spiritually, it is a turning away from sin and a turning to God. As I Repent, I turn 180o – that is, if I were traveling north, to repent means I would turn around and travel south. Consecration means to dedicate to God – that is, to make holy or sacred. As I consecrate myself, I am acknowledging that I am setting myself apart from this world and the evil things of this world because I belong to God.
Lent is the 40 days following Ash Wednesday, ending on the Saturday following Good Friday. The 40 days do not include Sundays because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. The 40 days help us reflect on the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness preparing for His ministry. Lent is a time of introspection, self-examination, moderation, repentance and spiritual discipline. Lent is highlighted, primarily, by prayer and fasting. Traditionally, people give up sweets, meats and alcohol for Lent.
Our theme for Lent 2018 is, “Who Is This Jesus?” I am challenging you to spend quality and quantity time with God over the next 40 days as you repent of the wrong that you have done, and consecrate yourself to Him. The season of Lent is customarily accompanied with fasting. I am challenging us to spend these days fasting – that is, giving something up. I encourage us to do more than just giving up certain things for Lent, I encourage us to use the next 40 days to strip and cleanse ourselves of anything ungodly and/or unhealthy. I encourage us to make life-long, lifestyle changes to produce overall, holistic health and well-being.
Therefore, I encourage us, as we make changes in eating and other habits, to do so not just for the sake of Lent, but for the sake of life. For example:
· Modifying our eating habits and committing to eating healthier foods.
· Modifying our sleeping habits.
· Exercising more and taking better care of our health.
· Drinking more water (note: not just liquids, but water)
· Identifying at least one ungodly and/or unhealthy action, attitude and activity and determine to give it up forever that we may be drawn closer to God and deeper in our intimacy with Him.
During this season of Lent, we are suspending our Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon Bible Studies and encouraging everyone to attend the Lenten Services. I have previously shared that Bible Study is primarily knowing about God, and Worship Service is primarily spending time with God. I also challenge us to set aside time each day to have our own private time of worship with God: Sing a song or two. Read a scripture passage from the Bible. Meditate upon a scripture passage. Listen for God to speak with us and reveal to us what He wants us to know.
Additionally, on Tuesday, February 13th, we will have a worship service called Fast Tuesday. Traditionally, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called Fat Tuesday. This is a day of gorging and excessive eating and drinking before the time of fasting. We, instead, will use this day as a time of preparation and expectation for what we desire to receive from God as we repent and consecrate ourselves to Him.