Lent, Week 3: Prepare Discipline

When I think of “fasting”, my gut reaction is to think of the word “haphazard” because so often I hear people last-minute fasting, or fasting without thought. But the reality is that fasting requires discipline and obedience…

In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights but He didn’t do it on a whim! It’s said that He was first led by the Spirit to head to the wilderness. Fasting isn’t a time to give something up haphazardly (or casually) because we thought in that moment “oh, that’s a good idea!”. Fasting requires preparation and understanding so that it isn’t just a hollow gesture.

We need a constant reliance of the Spirit to be led during this time. If we try to do it on our own without intentionality, we’ll find ourselves swaying and being tempted. But this passage reminds us that disciplining ourselves to be in the Word and being with the Lord will assist us in resisting temptation. Isn’t that why we’re doing what we’re doing, anyway? Not to lose weight or to save money, but to draw attention away from those bad habits in order to pick up a good habit or two for our spiritual well-being?

Lent isn’t a time to be easy-going! Cut back on the indulgences and the extravagance – the things we don’t need, the things that can potentially detract glory from God. That’s why I love this verse on obedience in Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Let’s be intentional and proactive with our fasting! The less we emphasize the significance of obeying & working on disciplining ourselves spiritually, the easier it will be to stray from the course and fall into temptation to quit or even “cheat”. It’s not too late! God deserves better, brothers and sisters… let’s follow & obey!

Reflection Song: Christ Is

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)


Back To School (Keep God’s Commands)

Back to school. Three words you wish you didn’t have to hear every September… yet it’s that time of year again! What are you aiming for this year? Ambitions? Hopes? Goals? With a new year comes new challenges and new ways to grow in your relationship with the Lord.

The other day I gave a sermon at our youth group on keeping God’s commands. I illustrated that “keep” is such a funny word in the English language. We can “keep” His commands in our pocket (a travel Bible, Bible app, etc.) or we can “keep” His commands just like how we “keep” promises. We would stay true to them, remain in them, and carry them out. In John 14:15-21 Jesus says that whoever loves Him will keep His commands. In Greek, the word “keep” can also translate to “watch over”, “take care of”, or “guard”.

It’s funny though because we don’t really see ourselves as much of a guardian (or maybe you do?). But if anything, I feel like God’s Word is guarding me!

I know schools have their own lists of rules & guidelines, but following what God says is a whole other story. If we love the Lord and follow His commands, it is said that we will be given the Holy Spirit! That’s a nice bonus for being obedient, isn’t it? As we live in accordance with God’s will, we ought to do so with love and obedience.

There’s a popular video circulating around the internet these days involving Victoria Osteen and Bill Cosby. In this particular clip she says things along the lines of, “When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God… we’re doing it for ourselves.” …Unfortunately when we do things for ourselves, I think we’ve lost the big picture – like when the world once believed that the cosmos was geocentric instead of heliocentric. We aren’t the center of attention; God is!

When we love God… keep His commands… obey Him… we don’t do it for our own benefit or pleasure. This is part of our worship of Him, our God who is the center of all attention, the center of our lives! So this year as we seek to grow in our walk with Him, remember that we aren’t following after Him because we’re going to get an “A” on an exam or because it’ll look good on our heaven “transcript”… It’s because if we love Him then we keep His commands.

So with the new school year, with your new friends, even with your new life challenges, remember to stay in God’s Word and to guard it just as He guards you, promising us His Spirit of truth to be with us and to be within us. Let’s continue to give God all the glory because He alone deserves the attention and the honor.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” – John 14:21

Reflection Song: Only You