2019 03 10 Chris Khoury THE MEANING OF LENT
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CHRIS KHOURY - SERMON SUMMARY - 10/3/2019

 

THE MEANING OF LENT

 

In recent times Dr Joe Tkach and now Dr Greg Williams have been emphasizing that we in GCI should follow the Liturgical calendar. This includes Lent.

 

Why do we observe it, why fast, what is Ash Wednesday all about?

Is it applicable for us today?

 

The Lenten season includes Lent, Easter and Pentecost and is referred to as “The Cycle of Life”. In this Cycle of Life, Lent is “Expectation”, Easter is “Fulfillment” and Pentecost is “Proclamation”.  We can see this historical progression into Christmas as well. We have Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Referred to as the “Cycle of Light”. Jesus is the light of the world and the light of life.

 

 

A LOOK AT LENT:

Lent is a season of worship beginning on Ash Wednesday (6/3/2019) and ending on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) Holy Week is then the last week of lent. Robert Webber a Christian writer and theologian writes. “Lent is designed to prepare us for Easter by leading us into the very heart of the paschal (Easter) mystery, the death and resurrection of Christ.

 

During Lent, which lasts for 40 days (when Sundays are excluded), we recall Jesus’ 40 days of trial and fasting in the wilderness as he was being prepared by the Holy Spirit for his public ministry. That culminated in his death and resurrection.

 

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, reminds us that, left to ourselves as sinful humanity, we are but ”dust and ashes”. Destined for death. So with this reality in mind we approach Easter celebration by humbling ourselves before God. Humility, simplicity, to think soberly of our lives, even a time for repentance and reflection. We are to be mindful of the sinfulness that alienates us from God. But at the same time we understand that by his death Jesus secured for us forgiveness and eternal life. Lent is sobering, but it leads to Easter.

During Lent we choose a posture of humility and participate in those practices that enhance our spiritual awareness. These practices include, humility, prayer, scripture meditation, moral inventory and behaviour. Fasting and other forms of generosity and service. Let’s just discuss each of these points one at a time.

 

WE SHARPEN OUR SPIRITUAL AWARENESS WHEN WE:

 

  1. Adopt a posture of prayer and humility

Physically humble ourselves in prayer. There was a time when I only prayed when I was on my knees. I don’t do enough of that today. It is good to kneel down and pray.

Psalm 138 - A song of David.

1 To You, Lord, I give my whole heart, a heart filled with praise, for I am grateful;

    before the gods, my heart sings praises to You and You alone.

2 I bow before You, looking to Your holy temple,

    and praise Your name, for Your unfailing love and Your truth;

    for You have placed Your name and Your word over all things and all times.

3 On the day I needed You, I called, and You responded

    and infused my soul with strength.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise You, O Eternal One,

    because they have heard the words You have spoken.

5 They will marvel at the Eternal’s ways, and they will sing,

    for great is the glory of the Eternal.

6 Although He is greatest of all, He is attentive to the needy

    and keeps His distance from the proud and pompous.

 

James 4:6 You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says, God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble.

 

  1. Meditate on the Scriptures:

Meditate on Psalm 91 It is a beautiful psalm, exhorting us to trust in God.

Psalm 91

1 He who takes refuge in the shelter of the Most High

    will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 He will say to the Eternal, “My shelter, my mighty fortress,

    my God, I place all my trust in You.”

  1. Like a bird protecting its young, God will cover you with His feathers,

    will protect you under His great wings;

    His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock-solid wall to protect you.

 

We find eternal protection, rest, refuge, under His wings. Psalm 91 is one of just a few places in Scripture that describe what we might call “guardian angels”. These passages teach that God is not alone in maintaining and protecting His creation and His people. He has a host of heavenly messengers ready to do His bidding.

 

THE BADLANDS

There is a region in the USA between South Dakota and north western Nebraska, it is known for its harsh terrain. Barren of vegetation, with large tracts of erosion. This extreme environment is called the “badlands”.

 

 

Have you ever been through a ”badland“ where life was tough, extreme and hard to manage? Of course you have. You may be going though a badland right now. It is at times like this that we might believe the lie, that we are alone.

 

We have all experienced the badlands. So did many of the people God chose throughout the ages. Joseph, David, the Apostles, Paul... but through it all we too will experience God’s promise of love - yesterday, today and forever. God is with us! Speak truth, look to the Father, Son and Spirit for strength, courage and deliverance.

 

  1. Moral inventory and behaviour.

In preparation for Good Friday and resurrection Sunday, during this time of Lent take a moral inventory. Are there things in your life that you don’t like? Things about yourself that you wish you could change. A character flaw, an addiction, apathy towards God, a judgemental spirit. An angry spirit? Is it an attitude of discontent? This now is where the fasting comes into it. Take some time out to fast and humble yourself before God. Yes, give something up for Lent. Start today, its never too late. Let it be a reminder to you of what it is you are trying to do.

Lorna from Ash Wednesday has deleted the game solitaire off her phone.

So now when she would be spending idle time playing solitaire she will be praying.

 

2 Cor 13: 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

 

Speak truth, look to the Father, Son and Spirit for strength, courage and deliverance. You will never overcome these things under your own strength. Only the Spirit of God in you can overcome. He will do what you cannot. Someone once asked me the question. “Pastor, how can I stop sinning?” I had to tell him, you can’t! Only the Spirit and grace and power of God in you can enable you to overcome. As we look inward and turn Godward, we will see him turn towards us with spiritual grace.

 

In conclusion, I thank God for Lent. We can observe this time in the Spirit and humility for which it is intended. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

 

2 Cor 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.



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