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February 13: Lent

The high priest Hilkiah told the court secretary Shaphan, “I have found the book of the law in the Lord’s temple,” and he gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. Then the court secretary Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your servants have emptied out the silver that was found in the temple and have given it to those doing the work—those who oversee the Lord’s temple.” Then the court secretary Shaphan told the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book,” and Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.” (2 Kings 22:8–11, CSB)

Lent is a season of penitence—the word penitence comes from the Latin word, paenitentia, meaning regret. The two major feast seasons of the Church are both preceded by a penitential season. Advent is a preparatory season for Christmas/Epiphany and Lent for Easter. Lent lasts 40 days—not including Sundays—and therefore always begins on a Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.

40 days is a commemoration of Jesus time of temptation in the wilderness of Judea after His baptism. During this time, He fasted. At the end of that time of fasting, the tempter came to tempt Jesus. Jesus understands how we are tempted. We find this in Hebrews: This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT)

So, what is Lent? First, it is a time to confront our sins. We are to compare our life to the plumbline of God’s word. When King Josiah began much needed repairs to the temple, the Book of the Law was discovered. And when the Law was read to Josiah he tore his garments and wept for he recognized how far the nation had wondered from God’s will.

Second, Lent is a time to confess our sins. Confess sins that remain hidden in our thoughts, sins that have come out of our mouth, sins that we have actively committed. Confess sins of omission—the things that God would have us do yet we have left undone. We confess both the sins that are one-offs and those which are habitual.

Third, Lent is a time of repentance. The Greek word for repentance is μετανοέω (metanoeó), which is a change of mind and purpose. It goes well beyond saying “I’m sorry,” but a purposeful mind and soul living into the new reality of a changed life— reorienting ourselves from the self-centered life to the Christ-centered life.

Fourth, Lent is a time for prayer. Recognizing our own spiritual weaknesses, our lack of strength, we come that the Lord will supply every need and work in us His good and perfect will. The Christian fast has always been an integral part of our prayer life. That we can focus on the Lord, that we can remember our deeper hunger for the Lord. We pray for forgiveness, for transformation, and that the Holy Spirit would direct us in holiness.

Let this season of Lent be a time of drawing yourself closer to God.


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