07 March 2011

It's Time to PREPARE

“People nowadays take time far more seriously than eternity.”
- Thomas Kelly

Can you believe that it’s already March and the season of Lent begins this coming Wednesday?  For many people, Easter is just a time for chocolate peanut butter eggs, marshmellow bunnies and jellybeans. However, many Christians use the 40 days leading up to Easter as a time for fasting, sacrifice, and renewal of faith.

There are two questions that you may be wondering about: (1) Why Lent? and (2) Why 40 days? First, nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are required to observe Lent, however as Christians it has become a custom that has been observed for more than two thousand years. As for the second question, the number 40 has many Biblical references. Here are a few examples: God sent rain for forty days and forty nights in the great flow of Noah (Genesis 7:4), Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai with God (Exodus 24:18), and the Hebrew people wandered in the desert for forty years while traveling to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33). In connection to the events leading up to Easter, Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-2).

Our observance of the Lenten season can become a way of imitating Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, but I must stop right here and make a confession. Year after year, I’ve used the Lenten season as a time to “give up” something (mostly sweets), in hopes that any sacrifice I made would benefit me, possibly even resulting in weight lost. God did not design fasting as a tool for penance, beating ourselves up, or developing will power. Looking back, my efforts seem so selfish. After all, it’s not about me. It’s all about Him!

No matter what way we choose to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter, the purpose should be so that we can think, act and live His way in all that we do.

This year in light of my journey to seek God’s peace, I want to make this Lenten season a special time of self-reflection and prayer, preparing my heart, mind and spirit for the celebration of the Resurrection. I also want to be able to “sparkle” in ways that share the good news with others.... Jesus is not dead... He is alive!Lent is a time “to prepare,” not only for Easter but for the fulfillment of God’s promises. As He is changing me, I want to keep my eyes open to the way in which He is “making me new.” And so, this week I will begin the first step in my Lenten journey, “Self Reflection.” Here is a sample of just a few of the questions I will be asking myself...

• Do I put forth a conscious effort to nurture my personal relationship God and others?
• Have I continued to cut out the “stuff” and busy-ness that keep me from God?
• Do I have a gracious, forgiving and fruit-filled attitude toward others?
• Have I continued to seek God’s direction when it comes to commitments, clutter, and chaos?
• Am I reaching out to others, and being a good steward of my gifts, talents and resources?
• Is my peace contagious?
• Am I reading my Bible and studying God’s Word on a daily basis?

As God transforms us so that we are more like Christ, our changes happen at different times and in different ways. And the questions you and I use for self-examination may be different, but I pray that as we reflect on our answers, God will reveal not only our positive changes but also areas we still need to work on. Every Christian looks forward to God's promises by living a life filled with God's peace, reconciliation, righteousness, fairness, generosity, forgiveness and steadfast love. Praying that your week is filled with blessings, as we anticipate the coming Easter season.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

“ ...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”
- John 10:10

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