by the Rev. Mary Williams
First United Methodist Church member
As a reason to be polite, I offered to share my candy bar with a friend. Her reply was, “No thanks, I’m giving up candy and sweets for Lent.”
For Christians who observe Lent, we are approximately a third of the way through it, culminating with a glorious celebration at Easter.
During this time, 40 days, excluding Sundays, the focus is on prayer, often fasting, and living a simpler life. The overall purpose is to have a closer relationship with Jesus, and to be more Christ-like.
Lent is a great time to do an introspection — to go inward; look at ourselves, and see what we need to repent of. This awareness leads us to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. When we do this, we have the opportunity to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. This involves letting go, and letting God change your lifestyle.
Our instruction is to observe a holy Lent, from I Peter 1:13-16, to Be Holy:
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Holy is the word that sets God apart and that sets us apart.
The Hebrew word “holy” (qadosh) originally meant “separate” or “set apart.” To be “holy” simply means to be dedicated to God. You are holy to the extent that your life is devoted to him and your actions reflect his character. Holiness and wholeness are closely related, and God wants the whole of your life.
Yes, I desire to give up sin, to put to death anything that is not of God in my life, each day. Yet, my greater desire is to be more in love with Jesus. I desire to do more to please him. Simply, I want to be more like him in all my ways. In order to be, allow me to suggest more of these practices. Yes, begin at Lent, but develop them into your daily lives. These practices include:
1) Take the time to listen to God. One of the best ways to do this is in prayer.
In Luke 11:28 we read: “... blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
2) Learn from Jesus’ example. Read the Bible and do things Jesus’ way.
We learn from Psalms 119:105 NIV: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
3) Let God be God.
Psalm 46:10 Tells us: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Be eager to do good.
Titus 2:14, NIV reads: “ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good ...”
N. Never expect God to do those things he has given you the power, strength, and ability to do.
Ephesians 6:10 encourages us to: “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of God’s might.”
Trust the Lord more! Stop trying to figure things out in your own mind. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
When I think about Lent, my mind muses, which means to ponder deeply, to meditate, to spend time together thinking about the Word.
LINT — sounds the same, but is spelled differently, and has a different meaning. Lint is those things that attach themselves to us, that aren’t supposed to be there. It occurs when we:
1) Go to places that aren’t Christ-like;
2) Engage in conversations or comments that cause us to allow evil talk to spew
out of us. These are things that are contrary to Ephesians 3:29, which warns us: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, But only that which edifies, uplifts, and imparts grace to the hearer.”
Have you realized that “lint” happens when we stand in dark places? We don’t notice it happening at first; then we look down (instead of looking up), and see those unattractive spots. Sometimes it takes someone else to point them out. Right then, not later, we need to get out the lint remover and start removing that junk. The lint remover is the Word of God. Apply it to that mess, that filth, and it has to go! It can’t stand up or remain, when the light of the Word is shone, shined on it.
I challenge you to more:
1) MORE Love to Jesus
The Song, “More Love to Thee” says:
“This is my earnest plea,
MORE love O Christ to Thee ...
2) MORE love to others
Practice acting MORE like Jesus. Be kind to, and pray for others each day. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
3) More love to self, to you
Do it for YOU! Be the BEST you can be!
Be the example of a CHANGED Life! The song, “I’ve Been Changed” testifies of the difference Jesus can make in our lives.
4) Testify to the Goodness of the Lord.
Lord, help us, through the power of your Holy Spirit, to live a holy life and to develop the characteristics of humility, love, tolerance, discipline, peace and faithfulness. May we Be Holy, as the Lord is holy. Amen.