Are you making time for Lent?

Lent is a special time of year, a season of 40 days not counting Sundays and actually covers 46 calendar days. The first day of Lent 2017 is Wednesday 1st March 2017 – Ash Wednesday. The final day of Lent 2017 is Thursday 13th April 2017 – Holy Thursday. Today (Mar 09) as I write is day 9 of Lent 2017!

Lent is a time of reflection, a time of repentance, a time of renewal when we prepare our hearts for Easter and our encounter with the Risen Lord. My question to you is – are you making time for Lent?

Some Lenten truths we reflect upon:

  • We must pass through the wilderness to enter the promised land
  • Satan is like a roaring lion, roaming to and fro, seeking those he may devour
  • We must endure and overcome many temptations while in the wilderness
  • A life of faith is lived out traveling thru the wilderness
  • A Faith that can’t be tested is a Faith that can’t be trusted

 

Robert Bachelder in Between Dying and Birth wrote;

Temptation is no less terrible for Christians today than it was for those of Peter’s time. We live in a pagan culture. There is a constant temptation for us to fall away from our faith toward the prevailing hedonism. There is a steady temptation to go after the great gods of pleasure and materialism. We have our choices to make! But do you know something? This fact should not discourage us. Instead, it should hearten us. It means not only that we are free to reject God, but that we also are free to choose God, even amidst those forces which prey upon life.

This is one meaning of a moving story related by Elie Wiesel. He tells of a teacher, a just man, who came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and the markets protesting against greed and theft, falsehood and indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically; then they stopped listening, and he no longer even amused them. The killers went on killing; the wise kept silent, as if there were no just men in their midst. One day a child, moved by compassion for the unfortunate teacher, approached him with these words: “You shout, you scream. Don’t you see that it is hopeless?” “Yes, I see,” answered the just man. “Then why do you go on?”

“I’ll tell you why,” said the just man. “In the beginning …I thought I could change them; today I know that I cannot. If I shout, if I still scream, it is not to change them. It is to prevent them from changing me.”       — CSS Publishing Company

Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves and asses our spiritual growth in the last year. A time to acknowledge our faults and failures and put them under the blood of Christ. A time to repent lest we repeat our sins, and turn back to God with all our hearts. We live in a world under siege and I truly believe our greatest challenge is to prevent “them” from changing us.

We have been called to be salt and light in world that desperately needs both. We need to take Lent very seriously if we are to resist the world and live a Christ like life. We must not settle. We must not be satisfied with being like them, our call is to be like Him, like Jesus.

Are you making time for Lent?

We Draw our Circle Too Small

Roy Lloyd, a Lutheran minister, once interviewed Mother Teresa. He said that one of his questions and one of her answers stands out in his mind as “a bright sun burning in my mind.” He asked her, “What’s the biggest problem in the world today?” And she answered, without hesitation, “The biggest problem in the world today is that we draw the circle of our family too small. We need to draw it larger every day.”

With all that is evil and wrong in this world today it would be easy to answer that question with a hundred different events. That’s what makes Mother Teresa’s response so jilting. She is saying that the problem is not so much with the world as it is with us. We need to see more people as our neighbor than we currently do…

Perhaps this is our call as small church members – to draw our circle larger, to reach out and draw into our circle those who share our roads and neighborhoods, so we can share our passion for the God of the Universe and our Lord Jesus Christ. To bring saving grace to those whom many times perhaps the world sees as graceless, useless or broken.  Far too often we simply ride past the “invisible people”, those who are outside our circle of friends and family, or maybe those whose appearance or speech or actions are different than our norm. In so doing we may be riding right past the very people God has called us to reach.

Here’s a challenge for us all. As you go thru life this and coming months, go with prayers lifted for those God is putting into your path. Go with eyes looking for and a heart open to and a faith fully expecting to see those God is putting into your path. And when you see them, come alongside them and just speak… Just say hello and let God guide the rest of the conversation and watch miracles happen.

Preacher Man saying Go in God’s grace and Draw your Circle just a little bigger each day!

What were you expecting?

What are your expectations for today? For this Week or Month or even Year? What are you seeking to find or are you even seeking anything? What is it that you have set your sights on I guess is what I’m getting at here. Is it fame and fortune? Is it power and notoriety? Are you eyeing some big goals like a new home or a grand vacation or a secure retirement? Or perhaps you are feeling a little defeated and are thinking if I can just survive whatever storms are headed my way I will be happy.

Here’s what I am thinking. God has a plan for you and for me! And I can guarantee it is a good plan because God is good. He has been thinking about you and I and dreaming of bright futures and blessings he desires to give us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11  He has set some glorious plans in motion for us and is working to bring us into His fold and into His presence to see and experience all that He has prepared for us. So what are my expectations for today? To see God’s hand at work in my life. To see His plan unfold and to see what he has prepared for me – for this day. For this is the day that the Lord has made – and I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. I don’t know about you but that gets me excited and fired up! I want to see and experience all that God desires for me and I bet you do too. But to do so we need to change our expectations, we need to change what we have set our sights on, what we are focusing on. We need to bring the Holy Spirit out of the dusty bag we have been carrying it in and use it like a pair of binoculars as a lens to view the world. 1 Corinthians  2:12 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.”  If we aren’t living and looking in and through the Holy Spirit we may well miss the very things, good things, which God has planned for us.

I was on a hunting trip not too long ago and I was put in a stand overlooking an expansive clear cut that covered a good 5-600 yards out in front of me.  The first day I sat I was disappointed because it seemed to be so wide open and barren with the scattered fallen trees and branch piles left over from logging and the dog fennel and sage brushy growth that had filled in patches and spots all around the area. I watched for a full day and was convinced I was seeing everything there was to be seen and that was absolutely nothing!

At the end of the day I was frustrated and grouchy, mad with the guide and I told him so. I thought you were going to put me on some deer? There’s not a deer with in a 100 miles of that barren dreary place you put me! He took me over to the computer and pulled up some pictures and started showing game cam photos of many deer and nice bucks that were roaming the clear cut. Were you really looking he asked? They can be hard to see sometimes because they bend in so well out there. Were you using binoculars? I said well I have binoculars but I wasn’t using them because it was so obviously wide open how could I not see everything and anything? He said, I’m going to put you back there because I know there are deer there. But I want you to have a little faith and use the binoculars this time. I was not all that enthused, but I agreed and faithfully went out determined to stay focused and use the binoculars… and prove him wrong, I thought.

Well… long story short I faithfully went, and with my eyes now opened and with a renewed focus, guess what. There really were deer out there! Does and yearlings tip-toing occasionally here and there. A spike crossed all the way across one direction and then 30 min later all the way back across like he came and I got to see several nice bucks before the trip was over. What a difference having a little faith and a right spirit can make!

So, what are your expectations for today? Are you seeing what God has prepared for you? What God has gifted you with? Here is a suggestion. Get up and get in the Spirit and focus on God and LOOK for what He has prepared for you today – I know it will be good. Not to say the world and the devil won’t sometimes throw bad things at us trying to thwart gods’ plans but that God will show up. Even in the midst of our storms He is there and we will see Him if we are looking. This is the Day that God has made for us and it will be good because God is good and He is with us – so let us rejoice in it.