Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, so I have been thinking about the Lenten season. I am not one to give up something for Lent just for the sake of giving it up. I think it really has to be a sacrifice and one that will bring me closer to God, or else what is the point. Some years I will add something worshipful to my days instead of giving something up. I think this makes more sense to me as far as furthering my relationship with God. We do need to stop and remember the sacrifice that Jesus made, but we can do that without giving up something, can't we?

Then I start wondering if this was just my rebellious nature coming out. I didn't want to just give something up because I was 'supposed to' during Lent, so I dug in my heals and didn't. But was I really listening to what God wanted from me, or was I just doing my own thing again? I am not sure. It is hard to tell sometimes which thoughts are mine and which are Gods. It takes some being still before him and prayerfully reading the scriptures.

I found a few scriptures about sacrifice; from reading these scriptures it seems to me that God does not ask us to necessarily give up tangible things as sacrifices, as the Jewish people were asked to do under the Hebraic Laws. He expects us to be living sacrifices. A living sacrifice is in so many ways harder to define than bringing our best sheep to the altar. It takes some commitment of the spirit to renew our minds daily so that we can bring our best to the Lord as an offering every day. This means every day, not just during Lent.

Lent can be a good time to shed some bad habits and to start some new ones, however. It is a punctuation mark in the year that allows us to stop and take stock in our lives. Are my attitudes pleasing to God? Am I serving others as I should be? Are my days filled with productive activities - not just busy work, but things that matter in the world? Do I take time to dwell on spiritual matters instead of worries? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. I know I will in a state of introspection - taking my inventory and seeing what needs my attention most.

Prayerfully the areas that I need to work on will be revealed to me. I can spend some time refreshing my life as I remember that I owe my life to the one who sacrificed it all for me.

Romans 12:1-3 (New International Version)

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer 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.

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Mark 12:32-34 (New International Version)

32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Hebrews 13:15-16 (New International Version)

15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

1 Peter 2:5 (New International Version)

5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.