Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
This month begins the season of Lent, a forty-day period that reflects the forty days Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Lent also calls us to remember Jesus’ journey toward the cross and his suffering and death for our sins. For us, Lent is a time of spiritual self-examination that prepares us to not only observe his Passion, but eventually, to also celebrate his Resurrection.
The proven means for self-examination are the spiritual disciplines … prayer, Bible reading, meditation, fasting, good works, confession, generosity and similar practices. A “discipline,” which comes from the same root word as does “disciple,” helps us to see ourselves the way God sees us. These spiritual disciplines are channels God uses to answer the plea from Psalm 139, which is truly a prayer in the spirit of Lent:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (vs. 23-24.)
While we can readily understand why such practices as prayer, fasting and meditation support self-examination, we may have been surprised to see “generosity” on that list. But generosity is a Bible-based discipline, as Jesus’ words in Luke 14:33 show: “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Granted, Jesus’ words in that setting push the principle of generosity to the limit, but he spoke of possessions in a radical way because he knew possessions too often possess us, and that hurts our spiritual state. Thus, one of the ways we minimize possessiveness is by opening our hand wide, sharing freely with those in need, supporting our church strongly and doing other acts of lavish generosity.
Lent is a time for a fresh opening of ourselves to God. It calls us back to our best character goals, and to our commitment to follow Jesus. During this season, we invite you to use our small groups for mediation and prayer. But we also encourage you to work the full range of the spiritual disciplines, so that you may be truly Jesus’ disciple and go with him as he journeys to the Cross, and the Resurrection beyond. May the riches of the Lord be yours!
Together with you in Christ, Pastor Tim