The Christian calendar of Lent has come upon us again. It is meant to be a time of abstinence, penitence, repentance, renewal, and rededication. It is a time to approach the throne of grace just exactly the way we are and seek mercy and grace from our God most high. We must make this season more meaningful by allowing its importance to weigh on our hearts so we can focus more on the real essence of the season. Lent is a great time to “repent” – to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with His purpose for us. It is a 40-day trial run in changing our lifestyle and letting God change our heart. We do it yearly so we can perfect our walk with God.
The whole idea of Lent is influenced more by the 40-day fast that we often engage in during this period. Our attitude during this period then must be based on biblical word on fasting. We get a glimpse of what fasting should be about in Joel 2:12-17. “Even now declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (vs 12). This indicates that whenever we are fasting, we must approach the throne of grace with penitence – a feeling of remorse or deep sadness for things we have done wrong. The penitent attitude is not about feeling ashamed or discouraged about things we have done, but rather to point us towards a life of resolve, a resolve to change our ways and live a life of personal accountability to God, to God’s people, and to oneself. Being penitent is an indication that we have been awaken from our previous position of slumber, of ignorance, of disobedience, and recognition that we had hitherto been on a path that is at odds with God’s purpose for our lives. Once we recognize this, it makes it easy for us to repent and resolve to live a more purposeful life. So, we see that abstinence at this period is not an end by itself, but it is a means for us to move toward penitence and repentance. Our first set of Be-attitudes at Lent are thus: Abstinence, Penitence, and Repentance.
As we embark on this journey towards repentance, the first thing we must do is to keep our eyes fixed on God. “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart’” (Joel 2:12). We must turn from self and turn to God. Let us make this period about God and our relationship with Him. This season must not be just about tradition, it must be a period of intense focus on God. Study His word, seek His face, prioritize the time spent with God daily, and be sure to live according to the tenets of our faith. While pursuing repentance we must also strive to stay away from sins. This is not the time for us to be caught in the cords of our own sin. Remember we are looking unto God for grace and mercy, but we cannot continue to sin and expect grace to abound (Romans 6:2).
In addition to focusing on God, this season, we must let our change be from within. Joel 2:13a says “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God.” Let us resolve to be honest with our maker. The song we often sing, “Just as I am without one plea”, presupposes that we are completely open with God. We must be honest with God not because He does not know, but because our honesty is a pointer to our true penitence. God already knows our heart, but it is necessary for us to acknowledge, for our own sake, where we have gone wrong. We must eschew every form of hypocrisy in the presence of the Lord. This season is not about making a show of our faith, or calling attention to how righteous we are, or just about going through the motion. Going through the motion only fools us, it does not fool God.
In this season we must have a positive attitude. As we approach the throne of grace, trust God that He is able. It does not matter what you have done or where you have been in the past. The word of God says, ““Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool”” (Isaiah 1:18). There is no issue that God cannot settle. The toughest ones are our sins, and God says if they are red like scarlet, He can make them as white as snow. Our God is able.
Finally, brethren, always be in an attitude of prayer. We must use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. Pray fervently, because prayer helps convey our remorse to God while strengthening our relationship with Him. As we pray for ourselves, let us also intercede in prayer on behalf of other brethren. Let us resolve to change and to make a change. Let us resolve to be impactful wherever we are to change our world. When we do all these, our fasting becomes meaningful and our God is glorified.
February 21, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya