Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lenten Traditions

The Lenten season has begun. Traditionally the season of Lent is 40 days long. This 40 days is representative of the time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by Satan. Here is the story as told in Matthew 4: 1-11
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "  Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' " Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Folks from a wide variety of denominations opt to give up something for Lent as a way of sacrificing like Jesus did. I have heard from several people who are giving up things like soda, sweets, junk food and television. Giving up something like this is fine, but how is it growing your relationship with Jesus? What if instead of giving up something that is bad for you anyway, you added something to your life instead?

What if you added Bible study? My favorite EVER Bible study to engage in during Lent is "Jesus the One and Only" by Beth Moore. It is goosebumpy-perfect for Lent. If not a sit-down formal study, how about adding Bible reading time or adding a scheduled time to spend in reflection and prayer?

How would you be different at the end of 40 days if you added positive thinking or affirmations to your day? Or if you found ways to extend the hand of kindness to another person every day during Lent? If you really focused on looking at people with the eyes and heart of Jesus how would your own heart change in six weeks?

The ultimate goal of Lent is for your relationship with your Savior to deepen and for your heart to change for the better. We journey through the valley of darkness toward the remarkable joy of Easter morning... a joy that will be ever richer if you arrive that blessed Sunday after spending time sitting at your Savior's feet.

In His Peace --

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