Leviticus 22:17-23:44 ~ Mark 9:30-10:12 ~ Psalm 44:1-8 ~ Proverbs 10:19
Today is the 28th day of February. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s great to be here. Man, here we are, the end of the second month. This is a good place to be. This is usually the place where we settle in for the ride together with the community that has formed around this year’s journey through the scriptures. If you’re here, you can do this and probably you will. So congratulations on that. Let’s take the next step forward as we complete our second month together. We’re reading from the Names of God Bible this week, Leviticus chapter 22, verse 17 through 23, verse 44.
Okay friends, this is definitely the beginning of a new month, but it is also an important day on the Christian calendar. You may not even know that there is such a thing or it may be something that is a part of your life and has always been a part of your life. It doesn’t matter. I’ll explain.
Today is a day on the Christian calendar known as Ash Wednesday. So, yes, all around the world many people in many different traditions will go to church or maybe just in their own home put ashes on their forehead. If you see someone walking around with ashes on their forehead, then you know that a person has done this. What it means is that we are entering into the season of Lent which is 40 days before Easter. The thing is I’m not here to try to convince you to observe Lent or Ash Wednesday or any of that. I’m just here to point it out because I literally grew up my whole life in the faith, but never really understood until much later the rhythms of the Christian calendar.
The holidays that are on the Christian calendar like Easter certainly I have always observed my whole life and probably many of you have too, not even knowing that there was a Christian calendar. Or something like Christmas or even Pentecost. This season that we’re moving into right now, beginning today, has a purpose and I think it is valid and I think it is important. I’m not saying it is in the Bible. It’s not in the Bible. It’s just part of the traditions of the church. I think it is valid and important.
On Ash Wednesday people put ashes on their heads and walk around in public that way to show sackcloth and ashes, to show grief, to show remorse, to show the beginning of this season because that is what it is about. It’s a season of 40 days of contemplation moving into Easter. The thing that we are to contemplate is the great unspeakable cost of sin. Now we can very easily live however we want and just ask for forgiveness and move on like nothing ever happened. That is just not honoring the relationship that we have with God the way we should. We are in an intertwined, intimate relationship that should be far deeper than any other human relationship we have, even deeper than that which we share with our spouse.
So when we consider it in those terms, that we have this intimacy with Jesus, and we begin to contemplate what it cost in order to offer this relationship to us, then we’re moving into the heart of the story and we’re moving into a place where we consider the great cost of the earth’s sin, the great cost to offer us restoration and wholeness is beyond our comprehension. So we spend this season contemplating that.
Many people have traditions during Lent that they are going to give up chocolate, right? They are going to give up something. I’m going to give up this. I’m going to give up that. I’m not going to watch TV. I’m not going to watch the news. I’m not going to be on social media. I’m giving up something for Lent. That tradition is just the constant reminder so every time that you were going to go do that thing, it doesn’t even have to be a bad thing, every time you were going to do that, you remind yourself ‘oh no, I’m not. I’m abstaining from that for right now.’ And it reminds you once again to contemplate the reason for this season, the cost of sin, the darkness that sin is, the weight that sin is in our lives, the rejection of Christ’s sacrifice that sin is.
So maybe you do that or maybe that sounds like a good idea to you. The idea of this, though, is a little deeper than that. The idea isn’t like, ‘okay, I’m just going to give up chocolate.’ It can be that, but it goes deeper than that. In this season we invite the Holy Spirit to examine us and to begin to reveal to us the alignment of our lives, the order of importance in our lives. What priorities do we have in our lives that perhaps are out of alignment or shouldn’t even be there? They are not necessarily bad or good, they shouldn’t be there where they are in our lives or they shouldn’t be in our lives at all. We invite the Holy Spirit to come into that and begin to speak and what we’re saying is everything is on the table and I want you and I invite you to rearrange my life so that as I move to this celebration of Easter and my salvation, that I come into that celebration aligned and oriented to you completely, not only so that I can celebrate with a whole heart, but so that I know I move forward as I’m intended to go.
So often the Lord will identify some things that may even be great things in your life that he is saying ‘for a season we’re going to take this off the table,’ ‘for a season we’re not going to do this.’ And then when it gets reintegrated into your life it will be in a different place with a different level of importance and priority.
“I’ve got other things for you.” That is the offer. To allow God to rearrange our lives so that we are best suited for relationship with him, that is really what Lent is about. I’ve found a richness in that personally that I just never grew up with. So I mention it today because it is part of our Christian tradition and I’ve found that it is worth it. It is rich. It is beautiful. But it is very, very sobering, as it should be.
So we begin today the season of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday.
Jesus, whether we’re physically putting ashes on our forehead today as an outward symbol of something that is happening within us or not, what is happening within us we invite you into. We invite your Holy Spirit to begin to show us the cost of sin, not just the cost because of the cross, but the way that it saps our strength, disorients us, weighs us down, opens us to accusation and condemnation, the way that it is simply poison to the way we were created to be. You created us to not even understand that there was a thing called sin. We were created to be intertwined and intimately connected to you, to be in relationship with you, to be holy before you. We were created holy and we gave it away.
In all of the stories that we’ve come to in the Bible we can see the echoes of Eden and we can see how far we’ve come from that. We look around the world today and we can see the same things, the cost of sin has been devastating to our species. It has nearly destroyed us. And it will totally destroy us if we allow it free access to our lives. But you came to reverse all of that. You came to reverse what we did and make all things new again. This is the hope of the cross, but this was costly. We have no idea. We have no way to comprehend what it took from you, what it cost you. Certainly we see the cross and we know the sacrifice, but what it cost to see us degenerate, devolve into something we were never supposed to be, and then to come for us, to love us still in spite of all of that, to endure our betrayal, to endure our giving our hearts in worship to other things, to endure what you have endured over all of these thousands of years and then to come to still love us. It sobers us as it should and we invite your Holy Spirit into that and we ask, God, what are the things that are not supposed to be in our lives anymore? What are the things that are supposed to be in our lives but are just in the wrong order? We give our lives to you. Not just chocolate. We give our lives to you. What is it? What are you asking us to surrender to you either permanently or for this season so that you can reintegrate it into our lives properly?
Come Holy Spirit, we acknowledge our sin. We repent from our sin, but we also understand the cost of our sin. We look at our lives and all of the things that we have blamed you for and we acknowledge it was our choices. We chose to not walk with you or we chose the darkness of sin over your sacrifice on our behalf. We are the ones to blame. We are the ones who have done this and we as a people are the ones who have mis-stewarded the gift of this planet. We were here to be your divine family. We were here to take care of everything and walk with you and be intimate with you and enjoy Eden forever, and we rejected that. When we choose sin today, we are doing the same thing, rejecting your redemption. We are to blame. We acknowledge that. Our lives are in the shape we are in because of the decisions and choices we’ve made. But in this season we throw our hands up in surrender and say come Holy Spirit, you can move anything into or out of our lives. You can move anything that is in our lives around in our lives. We open ourselves to you fully, give you access to everything. There are no secrets and there are no things hidden away, as if we could ever hide them from you in the first place. But very often we hide them from ourselves, and we ask for the light and the power and the fire of the Holy Spirit to consume us, forcing us to see things as they really are. Come Lord Jesus, take our worlds apart and put them back together again. We ask in your mighty name, amen.
SONG played on today’s DAB for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent “Worlds Apart” Jars of Clay http://apple.co/1zCVlml