Tonight we begin the season of Lent, a
40-day journey offering us many opportunities to return over
and over again to the cross. Lent is a time of searching for
Christ. Lent is a time of drawing closer to Jesus, and
learning more about his true identity and what Jesus means to
Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual
encounter: we confront our own mortality, and confess our sins
before God, within the community of faith. Tonight we focus on
the dual themes of sin and death, in light of God's redeeming
love in Jesus Christ.
So let us begin our journey of
searching for Christ this night by acknowledging that fir St.
and foremost this season of Lent and our relationship with
Jesus is not about us, it's about God our creator, redeemer,
sustainer, and savior.
Now to truly understand Christ, the
cross, and his relationship to us, we must be willing to put
aside our pride and our desires, and humble ourselves before
our Lord and be open to his sovereignty and grace. We must be
willing to acknowledge that we are sinners; we have fallen
short, and desire to be forgiven and made anew.
In our Gospel reading we encounter
Jesus answering the disciples question, "Who is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven?" And in his answer Jesus says, "We
need to be childlike, with humble and sincere hearts, not
childish like the disciples, arguing over petty issues."
You see the disciples had become so
preoccupied with the organization of Jesus' earthly kingdom
they had lo St. sight of its divine purpose. They were so
caught up with the here and now, they failed to see what was
to come. Instead of seeking a place of service, the disciples
were seeking a place of prominence.
Oh, how easy it is for us to lose our
eternal perspective and compete for promotions, recognition,
or elite status, even within the church itself. When we get
caught up in the temporal definitions of success and
prominence we lose sight of what Jesus is saying, that we need
to be like children, humble and dependent on him.
Billy Graham was interviewed on Prime
Time Live back in December of 1992. The program replayed an
impressive overview of his years in ministry and gave a very
poignant conclusion. Dr. Graham was sitting somberly in a
chair when he was asked, "What do you want people to say about
you when you're gone?" He responded by saying, "I don't want
people to say anything about me. I want them to talk about my
Savior. The only thing I want to hear is Jesus saying, 'Well
done, thy good and faithful servant.' But I'm not sure I'm
going to hear that." His genuine humility is one more reason
why God has so powerfully blessed and used Billy Graham, to
spread the Gospel. A humility we would all do well to mirror.
How are you doing on the humility and sincerity front?
If we say we follow Christ, we must
also say we want to live as he lived. Therefore we ought to
develop Christ's attitude of humility, as we serve, even when
we're not likely to get recognition for our efforts,
remembering it's not about us; it's about the saving grace of
One of the major challenges that mo
St. of us face is acknowledging that we need help, putting
aside our pride, putting aside the idea "We can do it all."
None of us our perfect, none of us has
all the answers, and despite what some might think we all make
mistakes, we all fail from time to time, so we all need to be
humble enough to ask for help and forgiveness, whether it's
asking God through prayer or by asking our brothers and
sisters in Christ for help and forgiveness.
We need to recognize we can give all
of our concerns and problems to God, and allow God to heal us
through his direct intervention, or by using others to help us
meet our needs.
Many years ago God helped Joshua learn
two valuable lessons that we too can learn from: " The fir St.
is, we ought to openly confess our sins when God reveals them
to us, Take responsibility for what we've done and be willing
to be held accountable. " And the second. When we fail, which
we all will from time to time, we ought to refocus our
attention on God, deal with the problem in a Christ-like way
and move on.
Folks today are so afraid to admit
they've failed or have fallen short. They're afraid they'll be
viewed as weak. But I suggest we become weak, and have truly
failed, when we're not humble enough to recognize that we do
need help, and we do need God in our lives. It takes great
courage to say we need help. If we turn to God, God offers us
a very life affirming, life-renewing gift. God wants the cycle
of sin, repentance and forgiveness to strengthen us, not to
weaken us. The lessons we learn from our failures and our
mistakes, will make us better and stronger believers. In
effect yesterday's defeat becomes today's victory. Once sin is
dealt with, forgiveness and victory lie ahead.
With God's direction on our lives we
need not stay discouraged or burdened with guilt. No matter
how difficult a setback sin may bring, we must renew our
efforts to carry out God's will with a humble boldness. But
again the key is our willingness to humble ourselves before
God, acknowledging that we do need help.
As we enter this year's Lenten
journey, I encourage all of us to humble ourselves before God.
Begin tonight by leaving all the baggage of sin, guilt
concern, and other distractions here at the altar, and ask God
for help in dealing with them. Ask God to reveal your sins to
you, and then take responsibility for them, by confessing and
seeking forgiveness, not only from God, but also from the ones
you've wronged. Seek God for strength, for comfort, for
This journey we are embarking on can
be a life changing experience if we remember it's not about
us, it's about the blood Jesus shed to save us from certain
death. It's about our God who stepped down from light into
darkness, to save us. It's about God's Spirit here tonight,
knocking at the door of our hearts, wanting us to humbly
respond "My Lord and my God."
How will you spend your Lenten
journey, sitting on the throne of pride and
self-righteousness, or sitting at humbly at the feet of Jesus?
Read other messages by Pastor Wade