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Ash Wednesday – Dreadful or Beautiful?

Cross of Ashes on a woman's forehead.

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If you’re anything like me, you have missed the mark. Which mark is that? A perfectly sinless life. Even a sinless day. Or an hour.

It never fails. Practically the moment I lay down the law, I break it.

I HEAR the words I am speaking, and yet, as though I did not, there I am – doing just the opposite.

A lifetime ago, I worked in a place where we took turns each week, leading the morning devotions. One woman used her Monday to go over the meaning of our first names. What did our names mean? Were we living up to our names? How do we use the Name of God? Things like that.

By TUESDAY, she confessed that she had ALREADY misused the Name of God — on  Monday.

It doesn’t take long, my friend.

Dare to compare your life to perfect holiness, complete obedience to the will of God, to His laws.

He says, “…Be holy as I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) You will soon see that we ALL miss the mark. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

Can anyone stand in comparison to God’s holiness? No.

 

So, where does that leave us?

I know where that leaves me. Right at the foot of the cross. I am forever messing up, so I am always repenting, saying I’m sorry, seeking forgiveness (or so it seems).

Do you know the humbling feeling of apologizing to your child? Your husband? Or God?

Repenting – turning the OPPOSITE WAY – is what we are to do. If we’re honest, we don’t do it nearly enough, or soon enough, or sincerely enough. We might even wait, and secretly hope that the OTHER person will admit THEY were wrong. Often, we wait in vain.

Don’t wait. Don’t make God wait. It’s not a game.

 

How about right now?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.

The Lenten season takes us through the very end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, His death on the cross, and ultimately to Easter victory – His resurrection.

Whether or not a congregation chooses the imposition of ashes, (the symbol of a cross is placed, on either the forehead or the back of one’s hand, using ashes)  the ASH in Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are dust, and to dust we will return.

Like gazing at the cross of our Savior, it is both beautiful and dreadful. For centuries, Christians have adorned themselves with cross (or crucifix) jewelry. We willingly place an execution device around our necks or wear them as earrings or lapel pins. A cross of ashes is but one more reminder that the wages of sin is death.

Focus, this Lenten season, on our Savior, Jesus, and everything He has done for us. He lived a perfect, sinless life, and died a terrible death in our place so that we would not suffer the consequences of our sins – damnation and eternal separation from God. Go, listen to the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

  • DON’T spend this season just feeling sorry for yourself. (Pity parties are overrated, and that would be a total waste of six weeks.)
  • DO look at your situation – you are a sinner. (As am I.)
  • DO repent of your sin – all of it.
  • HEAR the pardon, “Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven!”

I pray you will make the time to go, to hear, and to believe this message.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

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