9th December 2016

What Is Lent

What is Lent?

Is it an official Christian holiday?Was it instituted in the Bible? What does it mean to observe Lent, and are Christians "required" to do so? Lentis the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus' 40-day fasting and temptation in the desertMatthew 4:1-11The Temptation of Jesus Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread." But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (Deut 8:3) Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, 'He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.' (Ps 91:11-12) Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'You must not test the Lord your God.' (Deut 6:16.)" Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will kneel down and worship me." "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say,'You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'(Deut 6:13) Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Easter Sundaycommemorates Jesus'resurrection from the graveafter his crucifixion.Mark 16:1-8The Resurrection Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus' body. Very early on Sunday morning,( Greek on the first day of the week) just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died." The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened (The most reliable early manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end at verse 8. Other manuscripts include various endings to the Gospel. A few include both the "shorter ending" and the "longer ending." The majority of manuscripts include the "longer ending" immediately after verse 8.)

[Shorter Ending of Mark]

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.

Lent is an amazing season to give up whatever is getting more of our attention than God.The question is not what will God give us but what are we willing to give up so we can receive all that God has for us.Can you imagine if we spent the next 40 days of Lent fasting off of something that is blocking a blessing in our lives?Let's embrace this season of lent and focus on more than giving up something for God.Instead let's savour getting more of God by praying for Him to show you what He wants you to lay down so He can take you where He wants you to go!It is impossible to give up more than He can give you.Take this next 40 days to draw close to the one, true God, who is waiting and willing to walk as close with you as you allow Him to! He gave up His life to give us a better life!Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. It is commonly observed by many Christian denominations-Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and others-although not every Christian church or denomination does so. Because Lent is not officially instituted in Scripture, observing it isn't in any way a "requirement" of Christianity. However, Christians from many different theological persuasions choose to observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.

How does one observe Lent? It differs from person to person and church to church, but some of the things Christians opt to do to observe Lent include:

  • On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), some Christians mark their foreheads with ash as a symbol of sorrow and mourning over their sin. Job 42:4├ö├ç├┤6 (example of ash used as a symbol of repentance)You said, 'Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.' I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance."Special worship services, or additions to regular worship services, that focus in various ways on man's need for repentance. This often takes the form of extra Scripture readings and prayer.
  • Some Christians choose to give up a habit or behavior during Lent as an exercise in prayerful self-denial. This might range from something as simple as not drinking soda during Lent to a full-blown program of fasting (See fasting at end of study).
  • Some Christians commit to a special devotional activity during Lent-for example, daily Scripture reading, regular prayer for a specific person or topic throughout Lent, or volunteer work in their community.
  • The choice to observe Lent is a personal one-the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter. There's no requirement to observe it, nor should you feel pressurized into participating. However, millions of Christians around the world do observe Lent each year; if you've never done so, why not give it a try? Whether you observe Lent in a small or major way, you'll be amazed at what happens when you devote a part of each day to reflecting on Jesus Christ and God's Word.

    You may consider other ways to help you deepen your relationship with Jesus over the coming weeks. Whether you call it "Lent observance" or "daily devotions" or anything else, time spent reflecting on Jesus Christ is time well spent!Having said that do not think that giving something up for Lent as a way to gain blessing from Godor thinking by doing so will bring you favor before God . The Bible does not teach that such acts have any merit with God in terms of salvation(Isaiah 64:6)

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