It seems fewer churches are observing or even talking about the season of Lent anymore and I’ve read several posts and articles by people who talk about the reasons it is unnecessary.
And although I don’t know that I’d use the word “necessary” to describe the Lenten season and I’m definitely not here to give you a pitch about the reasons you should abstain from chocolate for the next six weeks…
I do think there are some benefits to knowing and living the purpose of Lent.
What is Lent?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and extends through Easter Sunday.
The word is not used in the Bible and the Dictionary simply defines it this way…
The 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.
Why were 40 days chosen?
Because God used that exact number of days for seasons of significance.
- After Noah entered the Ark it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. (Genesis 7:120
- Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. (Exodus 24:18
- Men explored the Promised Land for 40 days. (Numbers 13:25)
- Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days. (1 Samuel 17)
- Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days. (Luke 4:2)
- There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension. (Acts 1:3)
God used 40 days as times of waiting, testing, preparation, and endurance.
A time for spiritual growth.
I’ve been praying and asking God to show me the reason and the purpose of Lent because I’ve read a mixture of thoughts and ideas on the subject.
There are denominational churches that still follow the traditions of adding an additional Wednesday night service and fasting or “giving up” something as a form of penance. There are many churches that don’t recognize it at all.
There are people who believe it’s important to focus on Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death on the cross. And others who believe we should only center our attention on Christ’s victorious resurrection.
Because Lent itself isn’t mentioned in the Bible, I’ve been praying and asking God for wisdom and guidance.
These are the verses He used to clarify my thinking…
Living the Reason and Purpose of Lent
Remember – God so loved the world.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.John 3:16–17
Lent gives us a time to pause and focus on the truth that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were all gifts of God’s grace.
It’s not about what we do or don’t do … it’s about what has been done for us.
I want to spend time each day thanking God for Jesus, His gift of love.
Respond to God’s gift of love with love.
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.Mark 12:30
I want to not only think about God’s love but I want to spend the next 40+ days focusing on ways I can love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Be humble and repentant before God.
My hands have made both heaven and earth;Isaiah 66:2
they and everything in them are mine.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”
If I’m going to have a humble and contrite heart … I have to trust God’s Word as His truth.
Another translation of that verse invites us to live in awe of God’s Word.
If you were sitting across the table from me, I would look you in the eyes and say … please read and study your Bible. Don’t rely on what other people say about it but prayerfully read it for yourself. I promise it will change your life.
Rather than giving something up for Lent, make a commitment to prayerfully read one chapter of God’s Word every day.
I’m adding the following Reading Plan…
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way.John 4:23
When you and I worship God in spirit and truth we’re saying, “with all my heart for all my life all I need is You, Lord. Spirit and truth worship is intimate and personal.”
Spirit and truth worship also wants to know God and worship Him for who He says He is . . . not who we think He is or what other people say about Him but really searching the Scripture to know what He says about Himself.
SEEK First the Kingdom of God.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33
The LAB Notes say the following about Matthew 6:33…
To “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” means to put God first in your life, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to take His character for your pattern, and to serve and obey Him in everything.
When I set that as my goal, I quickly and consistently realize how far I fall short of God’s will for me.
Which is exactly the reason I need to fall at the foot of the cross of Christ and repent. It is the reason and purpose for Lent in my life.
Surrender each day to God and live it for His glory.
I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1–2
I believe one of the best things about the message of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection is that it is a message of perfect love.
The Lord didn’t wait for us to get our acts together and “live” right before He gave up everything for us. He began with an overwhelming self-sacrificing act of love. And in response to His love, He invites us to surrender our selfish stubborn will to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to “renew, reeducate, and redirect” our minds to make us more like Jesus.
I can’t imagine a greater reason or purpose for Lent.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”John 14:6
The world tries to tell us there are many ways to God and that Jesus is only one of the ways. The enemy has distorted and twisted the truth of God’s Word and lies are being taught in the name of Christianity.
I sometimes wonder if our focus on the Gospel of Jesus has caused us to forget that Jesus didn’t throw out the Law, He fulfilled it and encouraged obedience in His followers.
Now, I’m going to say this really loudly…
The Law cannot and does not save us!
But if we no longer talk about obedience to following God’s perfect will then we can’t know where we’ve sinned and fallen short and if we haven’t sinned we don’t recognize our need for Jesus.
And friend, the Gospel message of God’s love given in and through Jesus is the reason for Lent.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.
Lent is the perfect time to pause and focus on the reasons we need Jesus and to thank Him for being the TRUTH who gives us the WAY to LIFE!
We know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life.1 John 5:20
I don’t want to give up anything for Lent except my selfish stubborn will.
What I want to do is to add the purpose of Lent.
I want to make this time a period of spiritual growth … to focus on adding things that will help me SEEK Him First and live for His GLORY.
And I’d love for you to join me.
Last year during Lent, I shared Mountain Moving Prayers on my Facebook Page. I’ll be linking to those posts again. So, click on the link and head over to follow me on my Counting My Blessings Facebook Page where you can join me in praying Mountain Moving Prayers for the next 40+ days. But don’t wait … we’re starting tomorrow. I can’t wait to see you there. You might want to tell a friend, too!
Thank you so much for joining me today.
And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.
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