Wednesday, February 26 marks the beginning of the 2020 Lenten season that runs until April 11, the Saturday before Easter.
How are you observing Lent this year?
What are you giving up for this year’s Lenten season?
Observed by a number of denominations, Lent is an earnest period of preparation for Christians leading up to Easter Sunday. It is a season that involves prayer, penance, mortification of the flesh, and self-denial during the forty days preceding Easter. These forty days are marked with reflection and repentance, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending in a sunrise celebration Easter morning
Lent is observed by Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic churches.
Did You Know?
Mortification of the flesh refers attempts by individuals or groups to put to death (mortify) their sinful nature as part of the sanctification process. In Christianity, common contemporary mortification practices include fasting, abstinence, and pious kneeling. Christian theology teaches us that the Holy Spirit helps believers to grow beyond the chains of sin and become more Christ-like in our nature.
During Lent, many Christians observe the spiritual practice known as the Lenten sacrifice by committing to fasting and giving up certain creature comforts to mimic the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for forty days (Read Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13).
In order to draw closer to God, believers also add a Lenten spiritual discipline like reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar.
Eons before the Eastern and Western Churches split and long before the Protestant Reformation, the Christian cloud of witnesses preceding us observed a special season of penance leading up to Easter. The word Lent stems from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning Spring, referring to the season after Winter. The origins of the observance of Lent likely go back to the disciples, with the likes of the Apostle John teaching this tradition to his disciple Polycarp, who passed it on from there.
Did You Know?
A Lenten calendar is a special calendar, like an Advent calendar, used by Western Christians to count the days of Lent in anticipation of Easter Sunday. They traditionally start on Ash Wednesday and end on Easter. Like an Advent calendar, Lenten calendars feature windows or flaps containing a scripture verse for each day, a reflection question, and a suggested action that is appropriate and doable. Images relating to Lent often accompany the Bible verse of the day. These special calendars are used by Christians observing Lent as part of their Lenten devotions.
The objective of Lent is not for us to walk in pride upon proving to ourselves that we can deny ourselves. Denying self-centered desires by giving up sweets, treats, meat, new clothes, new shoes, or social media should point us to Christ and remind us that Jesus gave up everything for us. If what you and I are doing for Lent doesn’t point us to the Cross, then we’ve missed the mark. Lent is not about us, but all about God and what He gave so that we might not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
We can use the Lenten season to reflect on what God has done for us by spending time in prayer, meditating, or even memorizing Scripture. Check out the resources at Scripture Memory Fellowship to help you commit God’s word to your heart. Listen to a CD, mp3, or podcast of the Bible instead of the radio on your way to and from work or wherever you’re going during the day.
- What area of my life needs a good spring cleaning?
- What non-essentials use up my time and distract me from what matters?
- How can I use my time, treasures, and talents to bless someone else this season?
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we couldn’t do this apart from Christ, whom the Father gave for us, and through the Holy Spirit fueling and feeding us with His presence.
To experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This gift from God is available to all who ask. Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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