Lent 2021: Ash Wednesday
“Giving up on giving up to the one who gave all.”
I was already having a conversation with someone about Lent and this is what they said-
I’ve already lost so much because of COVID, do I have to give up something else?
I think that is a great insight and observation.
I think that pretty much captures the feelings of our collective humanity.
One in 750 Americans have lost their lives to or with COVID.
Kids have lost the classrooms.
Students lost athletics, dances, proms and graduations.
Families lost birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, holidays together.
People have lost jobs.
People have lost hope.
And I too am not really feeling the desire to give something else up.
But back to the question, Do you have to give up something for Lent to be a faithful follower of Jesus… No.
You do not have to give up anything more to be a faithful Christian, because if you are a faithful Christ follower you’ve already given up everything.
Let me expound-
You have nothing left to give because you already gave away all rights to your life.
Maybe you didn’t know that when you became a Christian.
Maybe someone sold you a false bill of goods at your conversion.
Maybe you need to rethink the whole deal!
When you gave your life to Jesus you GAVE YOUR LIFE TO JESUS.
It’s not yours anymore. And nothing you have belongs to you anymore.
Your money isn’t yours.
Your time isn’t yours.
Your life isn’t yours.
When you called on Christ to be your savior you got saved.
When you called him LORD he got YOU.
And he can only be your savior if he is LORD.
And he’s can only be your LORD if he saves your life.
But guess what-
I still think you got a great deal.
In fact, you got the best part of the deal.
Jesus got stuck with the hard part of the deal.
Jesus had to die on the cross for you.
Jesus has to save you.
Jesus has to be your LORD.
Jesus has to hold together the plan of redemption.
Jesus has to defeat sin.
Jesus has to defeat death.
Jesus has to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
And what do you get out of the great exchange?
You get eternal life!
You get a heavenly father.
You get a savior.
You get the Holy Spirit!
You get the filling of the HS.
You get the fruits of the spirit.
You get the gifts of the spirit.
You get a church.
You get to be in the body of Christ!
You get the kingdom fo heaven.
You get a purpose for living, a mission for your life!!!
And what do you have to do?
Well you just have to exercise some faith.
You have to trust and obey.
And I’m telling you friends, that is the deal of a lifetime!
OK, so back to where this started.
Do you have to give up anything for Lent?
Well if you gave your life to Jesus, you have nothing left to call your own.
You’ve already surrendered all to him.
But practically speaking-
- Giving up something for Lent is a really, really good way to remind us that we’ve given up our lives for Jesus.
- Giving up something for lent is a great reminder that Jesus gave everything for us.
- Giving up something for Lent a a great exercise of faith that helps us know that our lives truly belong to Jesus.
And giving up something for Lent helps us make more space for God in our lives.
In order to be filled, sometimes we have to first make space.
In order for there to to be more of Spirit, there might have to be less of the world.
For there to be more time to pray, we might need less time with our phone.
For there to be more savoring of our salvation, we might need to savor less chocolate.
For there to be more of God in our life, well it just makes sense that we might need less of some other things.
And you are all smart enough to understand this.
I don’t need to pour water out of a cup that full to show you what space looks like.
You know you just need it.
We all do.
And that’s what all this giving up at Lent is all about.
Lent is our invitation to have less of one thing, and more of another.
So what might Lent look like for you?
Well maybe you want less social media, and more scripture memorization.
Maybe you want less music that glorifies ungodly things, and more of music that glorifies God.
Maybe you want less material food, and more spiritual food.
Maybe you want less sugary sweetness, and you want more prayerful sweetness.
Maybe you want more of the Holy Spirit so you’re giving all other spirits.
You can give us something bad for something good.
You can also give us something good, for something better.
And when you do that, then you’r really leaning into the sacrifice of Jesus.
And sometimes it’s good to just do that.
Because Jesus paid it all,
And any sacrifice we make really, really pales in comparison.
Are you with me my people?!
Lent is our invitation to look at the passing, temporal lives that we have been given,
To say time is short and life is precious.
How do I make the most of this time and to quit wasting my time with fading pleasures and have more of God and his eternal joy!!!
Less of the stuff I don’t want, more of the stuff I do want.
A Prayer for Lent:
Lord, Holy One, have mercy on us. We confess our sins to you. We have fallen short of your glory and without your mercy and grace, we would be dust. We repent now. Lord, as we enter into this Lenten season, be near to us. Help us, by your Holy Spirit, to feel the right conviction and repentance for our sin. Help us, by your Spirit, to have the strength to overcome the enemy.
Thank you, Lord, that Easter is coming! Death has no sting, no victory, because of Jesus! Glory and honor and praise to His name! Thank you for rescuing us. Help us keep the joy of this season in our hearts and we move through the next several weeks. Help us bear the good fruit of your Spirit.
From dust, we might have been formed, but our bodies await beautiful redemption and the restoration of all things. Help us long and look forward to that day, and let it come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.