When I was young in the faith, I was led to believe that Lent is a time when we are expected to give something up. Some of my Christian friends would proudly announce they were “fasting for lent”.
I remember actually bragging about the fact that I once managed to give up eating crisps for 40 days. Another year it was chocolate. Others were going without meals whilst I could only manage a snack food; woe was me!
I felt that it was important to show God I could actually refrain from at least something for a period of time. I hoped my effort would please Him and that maybe in return He might do a few favours for me when I prayed (!)
If I remember rightly (and I probably don’t), I’m sure I even gave up alcohol one lent. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow! 40 days – Are you serious?” Well, yes, I am and I have to be honest, I thought that deserved a gold medal!
Today, if I can give up alcohol for two consecutive days I feel quite pleased with myself. You see I am rather partial to God’s awesome creation when it comes to water, hops, barley and yeast; after all, these are God’s beautiful natural products.
Anyway, I have been a Christian for about 50 years and to be honest it only really dawned on me yesterday while I was reading my daily devotional that actually Lent is not so much about giving something up, as it is about giving up everything that is not in keeping with God’s will for our lives. Or to put it another way, giving up a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s will.
In a word, it’s about repentance – turning away from our fleshly desires, and turning back to God.
In the Bible, Paul (who wrote two thirds of the New Testament remember) talks about ‘Crucifying the flesh’.
Most people I know don’t like the word ‘repentance’ and many of today’s modern progressive liberal preachers (wolves in Sheep’s clothing, I call them) never talk about it at all, even though the first thing Jesus preached when He began His earthly ministry was “Repent…” – See Matthew 4:12-17.
In order to discover God’s will for our lives we need to be immersed in the Word of God (the Holy Bible). For conservative, orthodox Christians, the Bible is absolute truth. If we rarely or never read our Bibles, or if we have not been convicted by God as to the truth of His Word, then we will very likely end up doing ungodly things to help us cope with all the stresses and painful events of life – ungodly things like turning to booze, drugs, gambling, porn, and other forms of sexual immorality. What we need to do instead, is turn back to the only One who can meet our every need. If we make an idol of fleshly desires then those things can quickly become addictive, and when that happens, the road back to God becomes a very difficult one to navigate without help from trustworthy Godly brothers in Christ.
Throughout the Old Testament, over hundreds of years, God sent prophet after prophet to call the people of God to repent – to turn back to Him. That very fact means God is very patient. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past that you have since realised is wrong. It matters not to God what you might be caught up in now. God wants to set you free. If you are doing, saying or thinking things that are wrong, tell Him today that you want to turn back to Him and His ways. Ask Him to help you. His hands are outstretched, willing you to turn back to Him. This current period of Lent is as good a time as any to commit your life again to Him. You won’t regret it.
If you need to know what the Bible has to say to encourage you, then why not take a look at God’s Holy Word. If you aren’t sure where to look in that Great Book then help is at hand! God asked me to do the hard work of putting lots of relevant Scriptures into an easy-to-read book, just for men like you. It’s called ‘The Christian Book for Men – Biblical Solutions to the Battles Facing Men’ it even has a Foreword from CVM! Take a look at my website to see if it’s for you… www.thechristianbookformen.com
If you can’t afford to buy it, go to the contact page on the website and email me. I’ll send you your own free copy!
God bless you this Lent, men of God.