Dear Friends –
Immediately after being baptized by John, Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days (see Matt. 4:1-11).
The wilderness of the Jews is not the wilderness we think of. For us wilderness is probably the big woods. For the Jew the wilderness was the desert; miles and miles of arid, open nothing dotted by an occasional oasis.
More than that, the wilderness was the place to seek and find God. Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in “the far side of the wilderness” when the LORD appeared to him in the burning bush (Ex 3:1). When Elijah fled for his life, he ran to the wilderness and heard the “still small voice” of God (1 Kings 19:1-18). Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness and then entered the Promised Land.
Lent is a time when we intentionally imitate Christ and his pattern of 40 days fasting and seeking God. We learn the lesson Jesus taught, “Humans require more than food. For life they need every word that comes from God.” (Mt. 4:4)
Lent is a season to remember and to practice those essential words. We live busy lives. We have lots of opportunity for entertainment and distraction, as well. Between work, family and Netflix it’s easy to make little time for God’s word, in spite of the fact that we believe it, and know it is essential for life.
What will you do to make Lent a significant time in your disciple-living? Isaiah 56:6 reads, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” He is near now. He can be found now. This is a great time to focus your attention on seeking, and finding the Lord and renewing the joy of his salvation.
Bible reading and study, prayer and fasting are necessary disciplines for seeking the Lord. He has given us these means of grace as appointments, times and places where he will meet with us.
I’d like to invite you to read the Gospel of Matthew during Lent. I asked you to read Matthew back in January. Please, read it again. Read slowly. The goal is not to get to the end of the book. The goal is to get the book into our minds and souls.
And spend time praying. Start with praise, perhaps a verse of a hymn you like. Then ask the Lord to meet your needs and the needs of others. Finally, pray the words from Matthew which you just read back to the Lord. For example, “Lord, you said ‘Treat others as I would like to be treated.’ Help me remember those words. Show me when I fail. Teach me that failing is significant, and help me keep your word in my heart and in my action.”
You can find the Lord as you seek him. If we don’t seek the Lord now, then when? Join me as we seek our Lord together.
— Pastor Byron
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