Today's Reading: Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21
"And when you fast, do not be sullen like the hypocrites, for they try to make their faces look miserable that their fasting may be seen by others. Amen, I say, they have received their reward," (Matthew 6:16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Repent! Be happy today. Smile. Grin from ear to ear! Jesus loves you. He loves you Calvary-much. He has taken upon Himself all that you are in order to redeem all that you are, so that you would finally be the forgiven child of God He always wanted you to be!
Ash Wednesday is a happy day. It's not a sad day. Lent is a joyful season--one when your eyes are fixed on Him. It's not a grumpy one at all! You've probably been told to think that today is all about your making some Lenten sacrifice for God, taking on some fast that will really show God how much you care. It's not! Lent isn't about your fasting. It's about Jesus' suffering and dying for you.
Oh, to be sure, Lent is a somber time. Mourn your sins. Die to them. Drown your Old Adam who wants to hold up your fasting and sacrifices as proof you are worthy of God's love. Lent is for burying those thoughts in the ashes on your forehead. Remember that dust you are, and to dust you shall return!
But then you rise again from the dead to new life in Christ! Live in His forgiveness! Rejoice in His forgiveness! Revel in your salvation, which was achieved by Jesus and delivered to you in the water, Word, and His Body and Blood given for you to eat and drink.
Go ahead and fast. Give up your favorite things. Add on Bible Class and Sunday School to your Sunday morning worship. Go to midweek service. Focus your attention on Jesus--not to earn favor with God but because you already have the smiling face of God beaming for you in Jesus Christ. Bring your body under submission this Lenten season, but smile while you do it so that no one has a clue you are fasting.
Your Father knows the sacrifices you have made. He knows how hard you are trying. He knows you want to die to your sins this Lent. He will reward you. He has already given you His Son. In Jesus, you have eternal life.
Today, give up thinking that Lent is supposed to be grumpy. It's not. Be happy in your ashes. Smile in your repentance. Be joyful in your dying to your sins! Jesus is going to the Cross to save you. Lent is all about Jesus saving you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.