Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Putting Christ First During Lent

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

profileLent starts on March 5 – Ash Wednesday.  That is the last night of our revival at First UMC.  We hope to see you at First UMC in Laurel soon.  The revival begins on Sunday – March 2 during our morning worship services at 8:15 & 11 am.  It continues each night – Sunday through Wednesday at 7 pm.  We hope to see you there (more information at the bottom of this devotional thought).

Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be.  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”  35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Saying they would die for Christ – would suggest that they were willing to do anything for Christ.  “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.  So – if Lent is a time of self denial – what would you be willing to give up – or do – for Jesus?  Some people give up certain foods or drinks – some people give up certain pleasures.  I’m not sure sodas – coffee – chocolates – ice cream – sweets in general – TV – Facebook – or other things that people usually give up during Lent really cuts it dear readers.  Although our joys and desires may be strong and it may take a lot to give up something we really love for 40 days – do those things really measure up to denying self and following Christ?  For some it might.  For most it does not.

What about trying one or more of these for Lent this year?  What about striving to give up something you are addicted to like alcohol or drugs for Lent for Jesus?  What about giving up 1 hour a day (more than you do now) for Lent and spending it in the Word of God and in prayer?  What about trying to tithe (giving 10% of your income to God) for Lent if you are not already tithing or increasing your giving by 10% (over your current giving – example if you give $250 a week you would give 10% more or $275 a week) if you already tithe?  What about witnessing your faith every day for the 40 days of Lent to someone different each day?  These – I think – would be more difficult than giving up coffee for Lent.

Whatever you give up or deny self for Lent – use this denial time as a time to be drawn closer to Christ.  Luke 9:23-26 – 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Of course – after the disciples made their claim that they would die rather than deny Christ – they could not stay awake and support Him during His time of need.  Matthew 26:40 – And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.  And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?”  So do not beat yourself up or let Satan beat you up if you fail as you strive to deny self during Lent.  I am not giving us an out before we start – but denial of self is not easy and we will fail time and again as we strive to think of Christ first.  Simply pick yourself up and try again!  Putting Christ first is what we should be striving to do during Lent and during the whole year actually.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

P.S. – We’re having a revival at First United Methodist Church of Laurel on March 2-5.  Morning services on March 2 are at 8:15 and 11:00 am.  Evening services on Sunday through Wednesday are at 7:00 pm.  The church is located at 424 Main Street – Laurel – MD – 20707.  I hope to see some of our readers at the revival!

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February 28, 2014 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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