I used to think only those of a certain denomination celebrated the Lenten season by abstaining from something loved for 40 days. And then several years ago I went to an Ash Wednesday service and left with a garden marker that says Deny myself – Determination – Luke 9:23 – Lent 2006. The scripture reference says, If anyone desires to come after Me (Jesus is speaking), let him/her deny themselves and take up their cross (daily) and follow Me.
Wow! Deny myself? In this day and age of anything goes and if it feels good do it, denying oneself is fairly unheard of. What was Jesus saying here? I encourage you to read verses 24 through 26 in Luke 9, to see the rest of Jesus’ request. It is evident that Christ asked His followers to leave something behind or let that something be lost. His implication is if you lose it for Him, you will gain so much more through and from Him.
Back to denying self! Maybe there’s a certain habit in your life that needs to go. The experts say if you do or don’t do something consistently for 40 days it becomes habit. One year I gave up chocolate; one year candy of any kind – I am still thinking about this current season of self-denial. But, this year I am considering more on the lines of attitude and actions of character, such as the following:
Laying down religious rituals and rules and seeking, with my whole heart, a close relationship with Jesus Christ. I do not consider myself bound by religious rules but there are some remnants of my childhood church experience.
What about trading terror for trust? How many of us were taught if you do such and such, God will punish you in a terrible way? We’ve learned to be terrified of God. That, my friends, is the last thing God want us to be.
Here’s a fabulous exchange – from fear to faith. Instead of being afraid of the Lord, receive the measure of faith He gives and live in it (Romans 12:3).
Consider this, conviction rather than condemnation. Christ came to give us life in abundance (John 10:10b); Satan’s job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a). Satan enjoys condemning us with a harsh thought that results in great feelings of guilt. But, Holy Spirit comes along with conviction, convincing us that whatever the wrong was, the Lord Himself is ready to hear our confession and offer forgiveness, perfect forgiveness. We might remember the wrong but the God of the Universe will wipe it away forever once it is confessed and repented of.
And, finally, quit using formulas to get points with the Lord. If I do this, this and that, He will be happy with me. Wrong! Do you want to know what Almighty God really and truly wants from us? Friendship, not formulas. And, as Jennifer Dukes Lee says, WE ARE PREAPPROVED!
I hope these words help you as you begin this season of Lent – these 40 days mark Jesus Christ’s final days walking on earth as God-Man, he is walking toward the cross, the greatest act of self-denial, He is about to give His ALL, His life for ours. That truth causes me to want to, not have to, give Him my trust, to receive His conviction, to seek friendship and relationship with Him, and to not only live in the measure of faith He has given me, but to pursue His fullness in my life (Ephesians 4:13).
Until next time, I remain Rejoicing in Hope!
Today, Wednesday, I’m linking up over here:
Thank you so much, Susan. I will admit that I don’t give Lent much thought at all. I kind of “left it behind” with my United Presbyterian past. *grin* But, it is always a good idea to deny ourselves, discipline ourselves, rededicate ourselves……..and what better time of year? Thanks again.
A wonderful time to “take inventory.”
Carol Knipschield says
You are so right. It seems we start off our journey with the Lord wanting to do exactly what he would want us to do and with all the excitement. Then we do slip into that position of “this is what I should do”.
The question is always and forever, “What does HE want me to do?” Sometimes it is nothing more than to “fellowship with Him.”
Kitty Lawrence says
A song from the past comes to mind: I’ve been set free to worship Him, to dance around His throne. He has set us free from bondage of any kind. If we live under the control of anything other than HIM, we have not received His gift by faith. Free to deny ourselves something, anything, at least for a few weeks. Thanks, Sus.
It’s really impossible to “give Him anything” in the giving up (just read that in someone’s blog and like it) because HE IS THE SACRIFICE. But I do like the idea of laying something down for 40 days although I have not decided what that will be, if anything.
Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says
Susan, I love the “exchanges” that you shared. I’m excited about Jennifer’s book. She is one of my favorite bloggers.
Preapproved! Thanks Lyli for swinging by and commenting!
Right now I am praying for two of my former Sunday School students (teens) who are “giving up” their Spring Break to “give out” the Word of God to teens in a small city in Mexico starting this Saturday. Their mom “gave up” one of her kidneys to someone in her church a few years ago.
When I was thinking of giving up something for the Kingdom, the Lord brought this family to mind who take it quite literally.
They are sacrificing their own comforts for the Kingdom – powerful.
What a revolution Jennifer is starting with her book . I’ve done the giving up of chocolate and carbs thing in the past, and honestly it didn’t bring me any closer to God…just craving chocolate and carbs. Instead I want to focus on Jesus and crave Him. As Jennifer said I want my heart to beat, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, come Easter morn.
It really is … all about Him! Thanks, Alecia, for dropping by this first day of Lent and hearts beating Jesus!
Love this Susi, I’m sharing this. I’m also not giving up things! but I’m trying to do things for others, to be bold enought to take a stranger a muffin,or just a cup of coffee. I so much want more of Jesus in me….
Love ya honey!
I think that is what pleases Jesus the most, HM.
Beth (@SimplyBeth3) says
I love the impact Jennifer’s book is having on so many. Great post…great doses of scripture. And loved the reminder that all He wants is our friendship…a relationship with us. May this Lenten season draw us all closer and closer to Him.
Blessings to you. Thank you for joining us every week for TWW.
Beth, it is a privilege to link up with TWW each week.
I was very much the same in thinking that Lent had to do with a certain religion, one that I am not. Until just this year in fact, did I find out what it really is. Great post!
Thanks for linking up with Woman to Woman’s Word Filled Wednesday! God bless!
Jenifer, thank you and W2W for the opportunity to link up!