Did you have pancakes last Tuesday (9th February)? Pancake Tuesday is a big British tradition. It marks the start of something called “Lent.” The period running up to Easter. Lent was a period of fasting in the traditional church calendar. Some people still like to follow a calendar of fasting followed by feast days (Advent leading to Christmas functions in the same way) and find it helpful. That’s great so long as it does not become something legalistic or ritualistic.
However, for many of us, Lent, if it means something at all is about giving up something such as chocolate, a favourite activity, spending on luxuries etc. The problem then is that it becomes either:
a. Simply a physical/ material exercise -giving up sugary foods to lose weight or credit card spending to sort out your finances (neither bad things in and of themselves)
b. A way of doing penance. We give up something as a way of making payment because we feel guilty about enjoying good things. Sometimes this is a private thing but worst still, it seems that against Jesus’ advice, the fast is a very public thing as others ear daily about how we are struggling to cope without caffeine, chocolate or retail therapy.
From Fasting to Feasting
Here’s another approach. One of the benefits of fasting is that it gives us opportunity to refocus on our dependence on God for everything. In other words, fasting from physical food should help us to enjoy a feast of spiritual food. So whether or not you give up something, can I encourage you to take up something?
Why not take time over the next 40 days to grow in your prayer life? Why not take time to grow in your love for God’s Word. Take time to enjoy, reflect and think over Scripture. This is sometimes called “meditation.” Christian meditation is not about emptying your mind of everything but rather about spending time in God’s Word. It means not rushing, taking an unhurried walk through a Bible reading, chewing it over, savouring it, delighting in it. It means taking time to look at what it means from lots of different angles.
So when meditating you might take time to
- Memorise a few verses and pray them during the day
- Highlight significant and repeated words
- Re-read a verse several times putting the emphasis in different places
- Identify how a Bible passage tells you something about God, Creation, Humanity and New Creation.
- Ponder the ways that the passage motivates you to repentance, lament, gratitude, joy, thanksgiving, hope, service.
- Listing the many different practical applications you can see in the passage for your own life.
Where to start
The Wisdom literature including Psalms and Proverbs particularly lend themselves to meditation. So why not start by working through Proverbs 1-9. You might find our recent articles on finding Wisdom helpful but don’t just read them and stop there. Take time to revisit each passage throughout the week and keep feeding on it
Faithroots update –Finding Wisdom
http://Faithroots.net is our online teaching and training hub. There, you will find lots of articles, news and links to other resources.
Alongside our current teaching series “Finding Wisdom” we are running articles on Faithroots based on the sermons. So far, we have the following articles:
There are 6 articles already with three more to come. So I suggest you take about 4 or 5 days over each section.
Are You Wise? https://faithroots.net/2016/01/03/are-you-wise/
This was Dave’s introductory sermon from Proverbs 1. How does the Bible define wisdom? What does it mean to know and fear God?
The Sinner’s Enticement https://faithroots.net/2016/01/11/the-sinners-enticement-proverbs-18-19/
Here you can read a transcript of Hannes’ recent sermon looking at how to guard against temptation.
Pay Attention to wisdom https://faithroots.net/2016/01/17/pay-attention-to-wisdom/
Wisdom calls us to pay attention to her. This message came with a warning. What happens when we fail to pay attention to wisdom? Does a time come when it is right to stop trying to advise and help? What if we stop hearing God’s voice?
Treasure Hunt (The Benefits of Wisdom )https://faithroots.net/2016/01/24/the-treasure-hunt-the-benefits-of-wisdom-proverbs-2-3/
God’s Word and wisdom is not just something to learn and obey. We seek it out, treasure it, enjoy it. We learnt here about meditating on God’s Word, encouraging each other and finding life and joy in Christ Himself.
Father and Son https://faithroots.net/2016/02/01/father-and-son/
Reflections on Proverbs 4. Discover how the book of Proverbs offers a meditation on the 5th Commandment (Honour your parents). See how wisdom is relational.
Adultery –what’s the big deal? https://faithroots.net/2016/02/08/adultery-whats-the-big-deal-proverbs-5-620-35-7/
The theme of adultery and temptation is repeated through these early chapter of Proverbs? Is this just because the Bible has a “sex problem?” When something is repeated, it is worth stopping to ask “why?” This article suggests that whilst Proverbs does offer practical advice about marital faithfulness, there is a deeper theme of faithfulness to God and so to His Word and to each other (His people).