What Are You Giving Up
If you do not know anything else about Lent or Ash Wednesday you probably know that is when people start asking, “what are you giving up?” Years ago I learned, one good thing for me, was to give up my time and pick up an extra study during Lent.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads (or palms this year) of participants. As the cross is put on the body, you hear words like, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel." The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days (not counting Sundays) and Lent ends on April 11, 2020.
Lent is a time to think about how Jesus Christ suffered for you and me. That is where the practice of fasting came from. Denying ourselves of something we love helps us be more attune to God’s voice. It is a way of disciplining and strengthening ourselves. It is a small way of participating in the sufferings of Jesus. Fasting can be found in the Old and New Testament with Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Exodus 34: 28, “So he (Moses) was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Deuteronomy 9: 9, 18, “When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water…And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” 1 Kings 19: 8, “And I (Elijah) fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” Matthew 4: 2, “And when He (Jesus) had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.”
We set aside time to spiritually prepare for Christmas Day, so it makes sense to set aside time to prepare for the other most important day of the Christian year. Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect and respond to how we may spend the rest of the year, realizing the need for a Savior and putting Him as our priority! It is a time to open doors and break barriers. Through this time of preparation we love our Lord a little deeper so when Good Friday and Easter comes, it will not just be a Sunday to dress up. It will be an opportunity to receive the overflowing grace that God has to offer!
I heard one person say they are giving up control for Lent and letting Jesus be in control. They are going to give up trying to fix themself. They are going to give up trying to fix others. And they are going to give up trying to control the future. I am giving up asking God for things and thanking Him instead. For example, instead of asking Him to heal someone, I am thanking Him for how He is healing them and how He is using those times. I have so many things to be grateful for and often times I take those things for granted. God wants us to be grateful in all things and as I often say it is a choice. When we are grateful our hearts open us to God’s blessings in our lives. Whatever you choose to give up or let go of, God will prepare our hearts for us to enter this Easter season with great appreciation for who He is and what He has done for us.
Philippians 3: 10-11, “ "I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participate in his sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Do you want to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection? Let this Easter be the most special ever! Joel 2: 12-14, “‘Even now’, declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for his is gracious and compassionate.’” This Lenten season, return to the Lord! It is not too late. What are you giving up? Repent and believe in the Gospel!