Give up sin, not chocolate, for Lent

God has no need for you to give up chocolate, or playing video games, or wine, or meat, or whatever material thing that you’ve picked, for Lent. In fact, Jesus did not create Lent. The whole idea of giving up something for 40 days does not exist in the Gospel at all. Sure, Jesus fasted (unintentionally) for 40 days while he was in the desert being tempted by the devil. But that doesn’t mean you are supposed to.

Sometimes you have to give up something in order to make yourself appreciate what you do have. We need to remember that everything we have comes from God. We need to remember that we do not control our lives, and that we are not the authors of them. God is. But what God really wants is for us to give up our own wants and tend to the needs of others. God wants our sacrifice of time to help other people, instead of money or offerings. You cannot buy your way into heaven.

Psalm 51:16-17

16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (the prophet Samuel speaking to Saul)

22 Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice,to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,He has rejected you as king.

Hebrews 13:16

16 Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

Micah 6:6-8

6 What should I bring before the Lord

when I come to bow before God on high?

Should I come before Him with burnt offerings,

with year-old calves?

7 Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams

or with ten thousand streams of oil?

Should I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the child of my body for my own sin?

8 Mankind, He has told you what is good

and what it is the Lord requires of you:

to act justly,

to love faithfulness,

and to walk humbly with your God.

Isaiah 58:3-11

3 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen?

We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!”

“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,

and oppress all your workers.

4 You fast with contention and strife

to strike viciously with your fist.

You cannot fast as you do today,

hoping to make your voice heard on high.

5 Will the fast I choose be like this:

A day for a person to deny himself,

to bow his head like a reed,

and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?

Will you call this a fast

and a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 Isn’t the fast I choose:

To break the chains of wickedness,

to untie the ropes of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free,

and to tear off every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

to bring the poor and homeless into your house,

to clothe the naked when you see him,

and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,

and your recovery will come quickly.

Your righteousness will go before you,

and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.

9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;

when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you get rid of the yoke among you,

the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,

10 and if you offer yourself[e] to the hungry,

and satisfy the afflicted one,

then your light will shine in the darkness,

and your night will be like noonday.

11 The Lord will always lead you,

satisfy you in a parched land,

and strengthen your bones.

You will be like a watered garden

and like a spring whose waters never run dry.

——-

All Bible translations are HCSB

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Boat

The disciples were fishermen, and Jesus traveled with them in a boat all the time. Their journeys are the same as ours.

They didn’t just drift along, ending up wherever the wind blew them. They used the power of the wind to help them get where they were going, but sometimes they had to row. We have to lend our effort to the task at hand.

There is only one captain of the ship. Only one person gets to make the final decision where they are headed. If more than one person tries to decide, then the boat is going nowhere. For them, that captain was Jesus. Who is the captain of your boat? Who is the captain of the “boat” that is your place of worship? Are they headed in the right direction? Is everybody rowing together?

Sometimes storms came up, but Jesus was either with them or came to them. They were always safe as long as they traveled with him. Know that you are safe no matter what happens. Remember Peter, who was able to walk on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus.

No matter where they landed, large crowds soon came to see them and be healed. God can use you no matter where you are.

The cost of following Jesus

“Who among you would try to build a tower without making sure he has enough money to finish it? Otherwise people will mock him when they see that he has laid the foundation and can’t complete it, saying ‘This person started something he couldn’t finish.’

Doesn’t a king going to war analyze whether he has enough soldiers to go against the other king? If he doesn’t, then he sends a peace delegation ahead while the other army is still far away. In the same way, only those who renounce their possessions are able to be my disciples.”

LK 14:28-33

The new commandment

After Judas had left, Jesus said “The Son of Man is now glorified, and God is glorified through him. God will also give glory to him in himself, and will do it immediately.

Friends, I’m here with you for just a little longer. I’m telling you just as I told the authorities – you’ll search for me but you cannot go where I am going.

This is a new commandment that I’m giving you – love each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you must also love each other. People will know you are my disciples if you love each other.”

JN 13:31-35

The meaning of footwashing

Jesus reclined at the table after he had finished washing their feet and had put his robe back on. He said, “Do you know what I was doing for you? You say that I am your Lord and your teacher. It is right that you say this, because I am. So if I, your Lord and teacher wash your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example of how you should treat each other.”

JN 13:12-15