FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT
March 9, 2011
By Rev. Janet Marston
HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY - SO, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL!
Most people don't understand or care about Ash Wednesday - it's mostly a Catholic tradition - but is also celebrated by some protestants, like Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, and so on.
So, what's the big deal? It really isn't a 'big' deal - but it is something good to think about. It's supposed to symbolize a 'day of repentance' - which begins the Lent season with the imposition of ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes are generally palm branches that are burned to ash from the previous Palm Sunday. Lent leads up to Easter Sunday (or) Resurrection Sunday - and also the Passover season.
Anyway, what's most important to remember is that is a voluntary act - just as JESUS voluntarily went through the journey to the cross for us - as an act of humility and faith, you can voluntarily take the journey through Lent to Easter, by deciding on something to give up or 'sacrifice' for JESUS.
Last year, I gave up Sonic - I absolutely LOVE Sonic hamburgers and chili dogs - it was tough - tougher than I thought it would be - and would you believe it - I actually went straight to Sonic after Easter service and chowed down on a big fat chili dog! Oh, the sacrifice (hee-hee).
You can give up anything you want - from food or favorite things to do or read - some people decide to give up a favorite snack like cookies or candy or even sodas - some people decide to give up their favorite TV shows or TV altogether - some try giving up their favorite past-time like playing golf or fishing. No matter what you decide, if you decide to do it, make sure it is something you will actually miss.
I haven't decided what to give up yet this year - but need to decide before the end of the day today. I already cut down on my Sonic and other junk food - so I don't miss that as much as I did last year. Maybe I will give up one of my weekly TV shows or snacks or something.
Here's an even better idea - how about just turning your life over to JESUS - and give up control of your own life - and in humility, sacrifice yourself for HIM? Now, think about this. We all claim to be Christian - but are we REALLY being "Christ-like" which is what the word means? Being "Christ-like" is being "like Christ" - what would JESUS do? In everything you do, every single day, do you think before you act? Do you say "hmmm...would JESUS approve?" - "Would JESUS do that?" - "Would JESUS watch that?" - "Would JESUS talk like that?" Well, if you truly are CHRIST-like, CHRISTIAN, you would want to turn your life over to HIM - it has to be of your own free will - not forced - not out of guilt or obligation - but from your heart.
When you pray to HIM and ask HIM to take over your life each and every day - and you reflect on that all throughout the day, you are truly sacrificing by giving HIM the control. JESUS turned his whole life over to be the sacrifice for us. Who better to take all of our burdens and cares to than the One who gave up everything to save us?
MY PRECIOUS LORD JESUS - MY SAVIOR - MY REDEEMER - I TURN MY WHOLE LIFE OVER TO YOU TODAY - IN EVERYTHING I DO OR SAY TODAY, I WILL THINK OF YOU AND TURN ALL MY PROBLEMS AND MY THOUGHTS AND ALL MY ACTIONS OVER TO YOUR CONTROL. I COME TO YOU WITH MY WHOLE HEART AND ALL THAT I AM - FROM MY OWN FREE WILL - IN HUMILITY AND LOVE, I THANK YOU FOR GIVING THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR ME. HERE I AM, LORD - I AM ALL YOURS! AMEN!
PSALM 54:6-7 (NIV)
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes
22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.