Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
As Easter is rapidly approaching, I want to encourage you to endure as you continue on your Journey through Lent. I have heard from many who are experiencing God in a fresh and deeper way as a result of their intentional focus on Him during these past four weeks. For many, the fasting component of Lent has been teaching them to depend on God for strength, discipline and grace.
The Hebrew word for fasting is Kana, and it means to subdue or to bring low. It is the scriptural word for either bringing down an enemy in combat or subduing your own soul in an action of humility. Fasting twice a week was a regular practice in the first century. There were minor fasts (from sunrise to sundown) and examples in both the Old and New Testaments of fasting for many meals and even days. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.
In addition to abstaining from food, Kana was practiced in other ways. Some sat in the “low seats” in the tabernacle as they offered the “high seats” to others. Some gave up simple pleasures. When we fast, the places in our lives where we lack discipline are revealed. Some of what we discover may be surprising. Giving up sugar or chocolate? Maybe not be as hard as we may have expected… Giving up TV? Not too hard, until we are home sick with nothing else to do… Giving up habits like impatience, worry or complaining? Much more of a challenge that we anticipated!!
As we approach the last two weeks of Lent, may we invite God to continue to help us in our fast and to shine His love in the areas where we need to abstain. Kana can teach us where our strengths lie, and where our weaknesses flourish. It provides an opportunity for us to take an honest look at where we struggle – and with God’s help, to learn how to grow stronger in those areas. My prayer is that our fasting during Lent brings low the enemy and brings us closer to the heart of God.
7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ 9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” 11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
1 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise? 3 Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. 4 Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, 5 that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise. 6 We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. 7 When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. 8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. 12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. 13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel. 14 In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test. 15 So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them. 16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord. 17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram. 18 Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked. 19 At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. 20 They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. 21 They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. 23 So he said he would destroy them– had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them. 24 Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord. 26 So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the desert, 27 make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands. 28 They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; 29 they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them. 30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. 31 This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come. 32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; 33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips. 34 They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them, 35 but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. 36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. 39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves. 40 Therefore the LORD was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance. 41 He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power. 43 Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. 44 But he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; 45 for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented. 46 He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive. 47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.
John 5:31-47 – Testimonies about Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God ? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
may our observance of Lent
help us to be obedient people.
May the love within us be evident in all we do.
Help us to experience the full joy of Easter.
Help us to be aware of our patterns and to realign our priorities.
Help us to simplify our lives and to spend time seeking you.
Most of all, we ask for a change of heart.
Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.
God has revealed himself in Christ. Let us praise His goodness, and ask him from our hearts:
Remember us, Lord, for we are your children.
May our hearts thirst for Christ,
– the fountain of living water.
Forgive us our sins,
– and direct our steps to live with integrity and authenticity.
Help me to make the priority of my life
to be a follower of your Son.
I am filled with your love.
Let your love shine out from within me
and guide my life in this Lenten journey
toward the joy of Easter that you offer me.