Scripture Reading: Luke 4
As I’m writing this post, Ash Wednesday is drawing to a close. The ashes no longer visible on most people’s foreheads. Thursday marks the beginning of that seemingly never ending question that will follow us until Easter; “what are you giving up for Lent?” I’ve often hated that question, for some reason it always felt like an invasion of my privacy. It felt as if people were trying to pry into the most sacred agreements between me and God. There were times when I wanted to shout, “None of your business, Lazy Lenter! Look at you, you’re giving up ice cream for Lent! It’s winter, who cares about ice cream in March! Ooh, Chocolate, must be hard to abstain from something you only eat once a week!” And on and on went these feelings of frustration.
This year I’m going to politely decline to answer. Lent isn’t about what you are going to give up for 40 plus days. When Jesus went into the dessert I’m sure he didn’t tell the others, I’ll be back in 40, I’m heading to the desert to give up something. Jesus went into the desert to draw closer to God and resist the devil. In Luke 4 we learn that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and this same spirit led him into the desert where for 40 days he did not eat. Once his time in the desert was over a famished Jesus was again tempted by the devil. He was presented with the opportunity to break his fast with bread; turn his worship from God to the devil, who in turn would hand over the earth to him; and last, Jesus was tempted to test the promise of God’s protection. As irresistible as these might have seemed in the moment, Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit refused them all.
During Lent instead of choosing to give something up, we are making the decision to fill ourselves with the power of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual war against areas of our lives where we are either fighting or losing the battle against our temptations. Our focus during Lent doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it needs to be meaningful. God has given us the power of His Holy Spirit, let’s not turn Lent into a frivolous religious ritual.
Once Jesus was able to resist the devil he went straight into his ministry. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his habit, but this time it was different, this time something had changed; Jesus had changed.
I pray that you call on the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit during this Lenten season to reveal to you the desert battles of your life. May you be empowered and strengthened as you fight the tempter. Our spiritual enemy has absolutely nothing good to offer us; he is the spirit of evil who takes the truth and twists it for HIS own benefit, it is never for ours. Whatever it is that you willingly choose to fight in the desert during this Lenten season, please know this one truth: the battle cannot be won without God. His Spirit fights the battle alongside us, we cannot do it alone.
Thank you Father for sending us your Spirit to guide and protect us in our spiritual battles.