In 2016, Lent is a little over a week away. Lent prepares us for Easter and the following material may be useful to prepare us for Lent.
I especially like the first quote as it says Lent is a great time to trim the sludge from our life and souls. No one can determine the sludge of a soul for another person, the inner junk that makes our spiritual life sputter, we have to do this diagnosis ourselves. Once we do, we can set a plan at Lent to remedy it. No matter what we decide to do, Lent proves a time a time to focus on our growth in discipleship that benefits us all and demonstrates our obedience to the Lord.
“Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the stamina to yes to its twists and turns with faith and hope…. Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.”
Sister Joan Chittister, The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages
Verses on Self-discipline—a foundation for any Lenten practice
. . .discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 1 Tim 4:7b
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Historical note on Lent
At the time of the Reformation, some Christians wanted to eliminate Lent since Scripture didn’t command it. Luther urged that it be kept, for he saw Lent as an opportunity for the strengthening of faith. “Lent, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week shall be retained, not to force anyone to fast, but to preserve the Passion history and the Gospels appointed for that season” (LW 53:90). Here Luther tells us that Lent should be preserved, in part, because it reminded Christians of the Passion (Suffering and Death) of Jesus and encouraged them to meditate upon it. However, no one should be forced to participate. It should be voluntary.
So we also retain Lent to this day, because we see it as a salutary outward discipline that gives Christians a wonderful opportunity for spiritual renewal. . . . .
Are you satisfied with your walk with Christ? Or do you long for more: to know Him better, to be more like Him, to experience His love more profoundly? Then we urge you to willingly submit yourself to the discipline of Lent. There is nothing like it to bring you face to face with Jesus and His Gospel. There is nothing like it to find spiritual renewal.
Quotes on Lent
“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
Do not let only your mouth fast,
but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands
and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and
devour our brothers?
May He who came to the world to save sinners, strengthen us to
complete the fast with humility! Have mercy on us and save us.”
Amen.” (St. John Chrysostom, (347ad-407ad)
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.
That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it.
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p 13)
To change and to change for the better are two different things. German proverb
Final challenging verse:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 12: 1-3