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March 3, 2017

I have observed Lent for 16 years and this six-week period has been a wonderful experience that has allowed me to draw closer to God. It has helped me to focus on repentance and prepare for the celebration of Easter.  It has drawn my attention to the idea of penitence.  I know this is not a word we use much in Baptist circles, but the definition of penitence is the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong or repentance.

A friend reminded me recently this needs to be something we do daily.  I agree completely, but for me during this Lenten season I am reminded I live in a fallen world and I am also sinful.  The world and my old nature battles with the new man. My sinful heart and mind separate me from God, my God and my Savior. The separation causes us to live in the flesh where we fall prey to our enemy, the deceiver and father of lies.  Convincing us at times to submit and fall in line with the world and our sinful actions and thoughts.

However, I do need to confess my sins daily. His Word says in 1 John 1:9, “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  I need that daily confession, but I also need this time to refocus my heart and my will to His.  I need to repent and turn around, show sorrow and regret for my weakness, see the wrong in my life and ask God to change me.  This season gives me a new devotion to follow God.  Not after things or ideas or selfish gains, but to deny myself and follow Him.

Lent also gives us a chance to fast.  A denial or sacrifice of something I enjoy daily.  It helps me be aware of how much I depend on other things in life rather than on God.  It reminds me of my commitment to God and my passion to make Him first in my life, “seek first His Kingdom.”

Finally, Lent prepares me for Easter.  It draws my attention to the sacrifice Christ made on my account, but also that He came out of the grave, He was raised from the dead, and came back to life…for me.  Romans 4:25 says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  We are justified, which means He has removed our sins, made us new, and has declared us righteous.  He has declared me righteous!  I am no longer a slave to sin, I am now a slave to righteousness.  Therefore, I am reminded of my sinfulness during this Lenten season, but I am also reminded of the new life I have in Christ.

I am grateful for this time to draw nearer Lord to thee.

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
(Fanny Crosby)

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