Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sackcloth and Ashes

Note: We are taking a break from our series in Philippians this week. We will return to the series next Wednesday.

Devotion: Matthew 11:20-24

Ashes being prepared from last year's palms for our service today.
Today, March 1, 2017, is the first today of the liturgical season of Lent. If you search your Bible for Lent I assure you that you will not find it as it was created by men as a lead up to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (this year on April 16). The Church recognized that the call of the Gospel is to faith in Christ, but that faith leads us to repentance--a turning from sin to God in a continual, faithful way that yields the fruit worthy of repentance as a result. While every day in the life of the Christian should be an exercise in repentance, it is useful to have a time in the life of the Christian to have a season when repentance takes a place of prominence.
As Jesus went about his earthly ministry he indicated that the proclamation of the Gospel in the form of miracles, should have resulted in repentance, symbolized in the Old Testament by the wearing of sackcloth and ashes.
"Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.' " -Matthew 11:20-24 ESV
 For the Christian today, we have the miracle of faith that leads us to a salvation in Christ. As a result, it is right for us to repent and even to set aside seasons in our lives when repentance is of prime importance. If you are in a place when repentance is needed (which is everyone always), then come and take the symbol of ashes and sackcloth today and seek God in prayer, in fasting and in devotion to turn from sin and to turn to His will. Let this season be an open time of confession, but also of moving away from sinful patterns and into godly ones. It is not enough to merely stop sinning, we must take up faith in its place for it to be true repentance. This is not an instantaneous act, but one that takes place over time. As we enter this season, I invite you to a time of repentance. Come to Jesus and lay down the burden of sin and take up his yoke of faith. Let repentance be the work of the Spirit in your life to remove sin and bind you to the Savior as you find your rest in his love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

News for You:

Our Ash Wednesday services will be today, March 1, at noon and 7 p.m. The short services are an open invitation to a season of repentance.

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