by Andy Saperstein
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a time when God’s people gather together before Him to seek Him in sobriety and hope – sobriety at the sin that has so encroached upon our lives over the past year, and hope in the freedom He offers to us as we cast these things aside and seek His forgiveness and grace once again. Let me take this opportunity to earnestly encourage you to come out to the church tomorrow evening at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. for our annual Ash Wednesday service, and to join with your brothers and sisters in seeking Him together as we move towards Easter in just over six weeks. With the giving campaign on pause, we as a church are leaning together into an important time of seeking the Lord’s heart and mind in both our private and our corporate lives, and this is a wonderful way to begin that time.
At a recent staff meeting at the church, Rich encouraged us all, as we walk into the season ahead, to ask three questions of God. The first question is this: In the season ahead, Lord, what is it in particular that you want me to embrace and to lay hold of? The second is this: In the season ahead, Lord, what is it in particular that you want me to cast off – to remove from my life? And the third question is this: Who, Lord, do you want me to tell about these things You are leading me to embrace and to cast off? Let us also make these questions our own this month as we enter into the season of Lent – I am confident that as we do, God will meet us and lead us, and will in the end bear much fruit in us and through us.
As you consider these questions, let us also make the words of Scripture below our own. Read them out loud, reflect on them, enter into them imaginatively with your heart, soul, mind and strength, and let God sow them into your hearts and begin to grow you in both the experience of His love and the casting off of all that keeps you from experiencing it in your life. Let these things be our bent for Lent this year. Much grace to you all!
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NAU)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Matthew 9:9-13 (TNIV)
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.