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Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. - James 4:8

February 22, 2023, was Ash Wednesday. A day set aside to acknowledge that our bodies came from dust and that our bodies will one day return to dust. This day allows us to remember that it is only by God’s grace that we exist.

Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of lent. Now, I don’t observe lent every year and when I do it, I’m positive it is not to the standards of the set religious observance, but I do believe setting aside a specific time to prepare our hearts is a great practice.

For anyone who may have heard of Lent but is not really sure what it is, here is a very basic overview…

Lent is a forty-day observance that starts on Ash Wednesday and continues to Easter Sunday. Yes, I know that is more than forty days, but Sundays are not included in the count because they are considered a weekly celebration of Jesus resurrection. The forty days is a reflection of the forty days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness.

The number forty represents preparation, new life, new growth, and/or transformation. In scripture we often see the number forty being used in preparation for moving from one great task to another. (Example: Moses forty years in Pharoah’s house, forty years in the desert, and forty years wilderness)

In observance of Lent, it is customary to fast or give up something. We lay down something to redirect our attention more to the Lord and allow Him to stir us. For example, we could choose to give up sugar for forty days and every time we thought of or wanted something with sugar, we would take that time to pray, read the Word, and/or worship the Lord instead of eating something with sugar. It is a time of surrendering fleshly desires to spiritual growth. An acknowledgment of our need for the Lord and His will over ours.

Now, if we choose to follow Lent and fast, it should only be for us to abide closer to God, to put more focus on Jesus in our daily lives. We should search our hearts and make certain that it is not to gain or uplift ourselves. We need to be certain that we are not making it about us!

Some things to consider or use as a check throughout lent….

  • Am I fasting (observing Lent) so God will do what I want or answer my prayer my way?

  • Am I observing to improve my appearance as a Christian?

  • Am I doing this to make me worthy or loved?

  • Am I doing this to earn my way?

Once you have checked your heart use the following thoughts to keep you on track….

  • I’m observing Lent to find a deeper connection with the Lord. I want the Lord to show me where there may be a disconnect or distance between us, so I can become closer in fellowship to Jesus.

  • Show me any areas of my life where I may have become disobedient to Your Word and teach me how to become obedient and grow in all your truth.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. - Psalm 51:16-17

You may be reading this and thinking, “I’m not doing all that!” and that is okay too. But I would encourage you to make time to truly focus on the sacrifice that was freely given at Calvary. Make space to abide in God’s presence and allow Him to prepare your heart for this most amazing act of love ever demonstrated, whether it is through the observance of Lent or scheduling time to just sit with Jesus.


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