The Next 40 Days
Tomorrow is Wednesday, March 6 and it marks the beginning of the Lent season for Christians around the world. In some Christian traditions there are rituals and traditions observed to help commemorate the beginning of the season. Yet, there are many Christians who have lost a sense for what this season means. It appears that within many of our modern evangelical circles we've made such an attempt to escape the grips of Roman Catholicism and what we considered empty ritualism that we have in essence thrown the baby out with the bath water.
In the Bible whenever you find a season or time period associated with the number 40 it usually referred to a season of preparation and purification. It rained for 40 days and nights in the time of Noah, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, and Jesus was fasting in the desert for 40 days when he was tempted by the devil and was thus preparing to initiate his public ministry in the New Testament.
Thus in ancient Christianity the season of Lent marks 40 days from Ash Wednesday to the resurrection of Jesus. Thus we are to prepare ourselves for 40 days so that we may fully prepared to receive the significance and power of the resurrection in our lives that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
At Berachah Church we are not tied to a liturgical calendar but we do deem it noteworthy to consider that we should make some attempt to reflect and be intentional in our spiritual journey during this season.
Of course we realize that nothing we do "adds" to the sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing we do redeems us or makes us righteous to Jesus. Nothing we do manipulates God to any action on our behalf. For salvation is found purely in the grace and mercy of Jesus and his resurrection.
Yet, like in all relationships, we seek to demonstrate a sense of recognition, we desire to honor God, and thank God for the grace celebrated in Easter. Lent then becomes an exercise in attempting to live like Jesus, to move closer to God, to submit ourselves to genuinely seek to be subjects of His royal kingdom. It is not done with any intent other than to desire to know God closer.
We stated on Sunday morning that at Berachah we were beginning a Great Faith Challenge on this day. We stated that we will intentionally exercise our spiritual disciplines in order to grow closer to God by studying on Mondays, fasting on Tuesdays, praying on Wednesdays, worshipping on Thursdays, and fellowshipping on Fridays until Easter Sunday.
So I invite you to welcome Lent season tomorrow with a sincere gesture of prayer. Remind yourself to pray without ceasing during the day. If you're not sure to what to do when praying then remember ACTS (Adore God, Confess your sins, Thank God, Supplicate or ask of God for others). A way to summarize what we'd like to do during this season is pray, fast and give.
This is not something we do flippantly or unconsciously. Your intent and emotions in how you approach this season is very important so I invite you to read Matthew 6 in its entirety. The 34 verses will guide you to have a genuine approach to your nearing with God. Jesus gives us these words of counsel and warns us to be humble and sincere in how we pray, fast and draw near to God. Make the next 40 days a time of drawing nearer to God.