Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Lent and Ashes

Reading: Psalm 51: 1-17

Lent begins today on Ash Wednesday.  We mirror Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness with a season in which we too prepare ourselves and look forward to Easter, when we celebrate our risen Lord.  On this Lenten journey we pray, study, meditate, fast, and repent as means of preparation.  We begin this journey with ashes.  As we repent and work to mirror Jesus, we must work to prune away all that is impure and force certain parts of ourselves to die.  The mark of the cross on our foreheads reminds us that we belong to Jesus.  The one we seek to follow and emulate walks with us.  As we undertake this Lenten journey, we know that we do not walk alone.

Psalm 51, the Ash Wednesday choice forever, opens with, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love”.  Verse three reminds us, “My sin is always before me”.  We live each and every day with this reality.  We are always in a battle with temptation and sin; Satan remains vigilant, always seeking to derail us, to draw us away from God.  We seek and desperately need God’s mercy because we fail.  We are assured of God’s unfailing love.  This is a beautiful thing.  In verse ten we read, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.  These words will be said often tonight.  This is our goal in this life – to live with a pure heart.  Creating a pure heart is the focus of our Lenten journey.  May we use verse ten often as a prayer to God in this holy season of Lent.

Lent is certainly a time to look inward and to prepare for the risen Christ.  But we must also look outward.  We do not live in a vacuum.  We live as a part of humanity.  As such, we are all connected together.  Verse thirteen reads, “then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you”.  We are called as Christians to shine the light of Jesus out into the world.  Many are broken and hurting.  Each needs to experience God’s unlimited mercy, unfailing love, and endless forgiveness.  As we journey through Lent, preparing ourselves, may we also help others on their journey, bringing friends and strangers alike to the cross so that they too can know our risen Savior.

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The Story for All

Paul reminds the Ephesians of life before Christ.  He reminds them how they used to be strangers or aliens, of how they were excluded, and of how they were not good enough to be a part of the family of God.  He does this to elevate their joy over Christ’s reconciling work on the cross.  Through the cross Christ broke down all barriers and gave all access to God.

At times people still feel excluded from God.  At times the things I do create space between God and I.  My sin creates separation.  But through His blood I find grace and mercy and reconciliation.  Then I am restored to the family of God.  I regret where I was but rejoice over finding my place again in the family of God.

This story Paul tells the Ephesians (and us) is a story many need to hear today.  Lots of people think they are not good enough, not worthy enough.  Some think their stains are too dark to ever be washed clean.  Others keep a distance because they fear they will fail because the demons they wrestle with are strong and usually win.  The story for all of these and more is the same story for us.

For all of us, this is a journey. It does not matter where you start, it only matters that you start.  For all of us, we will stumble.  This does not matter either because Christ is always there, extending a hand and welcoming us back through His blood.  Christ calls us all.  As followers we have heard the Word.  It is our call to share this good news with the least and the lost so that all can make their claim in the family of God.

Scripture reference: Ephesians 2: 11-22