Lent

LEANING INTO LENT

(March 09, 2023) Dr Jim McClure shares… 

We are very familiar with the festivals of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter that are commemorated each year.  In fact they are so popular that the secular and commercial world has largely taken over Christmas and Easter as holidays rather than ‘holy days.’

Even so, as Christians, we do try to focus on the profound spiritual significance and meaning of those events. 

Lent
We are in the midst of festival of ‘Lent’ that is celebrated each year by millions of Christians throughout the world. It is a 6-week event that began this year on Wednesday, February 22, and will end on Saturday April 8, 2023 – the day before Easter Day. While many churches worldwide observe Lent, some denominations – and Christians – pay little attention to it.

What is Lent and why did it become part of Christian practice?  Almost 1900 years ago one of the leaders of the church, Irenaeus, mentioned a time of prayer and fasting for 40 days before Easter.    A couple of hundred years later it was generally practised by Christians worldwide. Its purpose was focusing on God, developing a closer relationship with Him and reflecting on the wonderful fact that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly from the tomb.

I am not suggesting that Lent should become part of the  calendar of every church and every Christian.  I wholly agree with the comment, ‘You could observe 1,000 Lents and it won’t ever accomplish in your life what the cross of Jesus has.’ That is absolutely true. 

Nevertheless, I believe that that our relationship with God can be greatly deepened and strengthened whenever we seriously set aside time in prayer and think deeply about what it truly means to be a Christian.

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WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT

(March 06, 2023) Carol Round encourages us to reflect regarding our future…

It wasn’t like any funeral service I’d ever attended. Instead, it was a celebration of a friend’s life – a life well-lived. I can only imagine when she met Jesus face-to-face. Standing there to greet her, I’m sure Jesus was smiling. Then, those words we all hope to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
 
During the celebration of Terri’s life, there were tears and laughter as six of her remaining adult grandchildren shared their memories of the legacy she left behind. Sharing stories of a grandmother who attended their sporting events and other important milestones, they painted a picture of a woman who also made sure her grandkids knew Jesus.
 
At her bedside before she passed, our pastor and family members related stories at the gathering of Terri’s last words – words of hope and peace with a touch of humour. She was a faithful servant and was ready to meet Jesus.
 
Ready to meet Jesus
In Matthew 25:12-21, Jesus once again uses a parable to answer a question from His disciples. The question begins in the previous chapter with Matthew 24:3 where the disciples ask, ‘Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?’
 
Although Jesus uses two parables to answer their question, the story of the bags of money spells out what we want to hear at the end of our lives. Jesus’ purpose was to remind His disciples to focus on their calling and be ready because they didn’t know the hour of His return. It’s also a reminder for us.

In the parable of the three servants, it is the third who falls short. Instead of investing the money his master entrusts to him, he buries it. When the master returns and hears this, he banishes the servant saying, ‘Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:30).
 
Don’t bury your talents
None of us wish to be banished from our Master. But sometimes we become lax, taking God and what we have been given for granted. We’re currently in the season of Lent, a time of self-reflection, repentance, and spiritual preparation for Easter. It’s a time to remember we’re all sinners saved by His amazing grace.
 
During our church’s Ash Wednesday service, Pastor Ray asked us to reflect on several questions about our spiritual life, including the following:

  1. Is my soul healthy?
  2. Is my relationship with God what it should be?
  3. Have I accepted His grace and believe that He loves me?
  4. Is there some unconfessed sin separating me from a deeper relationship with God?
  5. Have I accepted God’s forgiveness as a gift?
  6. Is there someone or something holding me back from taking the next step in my adventure with Jesus?

Between now and Easter Sunday, may each of us intentionally dive deeper into our faith and draw closer to God. Then, when our time on earth comes to an end and we meet Jesus face-to-face, may we hear those sweet words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23).


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Carol Round is an author and inspirational speaker. Her encouraging articles have appeared in national and international publications and she especially loves hearing from readers.

Growing Confidently in Your Faith. Carol openly shares her own intimate journey in becoming more like Jesus, initially borne of pain, and now bathed in promise. (See: http://bit.ly/2LGOvKN).Links: A Matter of Faith weekly column: carol@carolaround.com / www.carolaround.com.
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