Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

40 Days of Lent

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

In Biblical terms forty is a number symbolising fullness – A span of time sufficient to accomplish what needs to take place. So we see that:

  • Rain fell in Noah’s time for forty days and nights;
  • Moses and Elijah dwelt at Horeb for the same period of time;
  • Nineveh was given forty days to repent;
  • Israel wandered in the desert for forty years prior to their admission to the Promised Land;
  • Eli was a judge over Israel for forty years, and it’s reported that Saul, David and Solomon each had reigns of forty years; and
  • Jesus endured temptation in the wilderness for forty days and later for the same period was revealed to the disciples after the resurrection.

Based on Jesus’ time in the wilderness a pattern for Lent developed.

These forty days have a double focus. They are:

  • A time for a probing consideration of our human condition, including sin and its deadly consequences for both individuals and society; and
  • A time for an equally thorough consideration of the new possibilities offered to us in Jesus Christ and their implications for practical living.

In a sense this is our journey through Lent.

We begin with repentance acknowledging our rebellion against and alienation from God (the tone set by Ash Wednesday) and move on to the forgiveness of our sin resulting in a life turned round by God’s grace (as we approach Easter).

The process is intended to engage us with the need to continually reassess our lives, seek renewal, and exhibit a lively faith as we consider both our human condition and the transforming power God offers.

Often much is made of ‘giving up’ something for Lent.

At times this is a trivial self-denial like giving up chocolate or going to the movies. Sometimes it’s a dishonest denial like giving up cream cakes because you need to lose weight.

In reaction some have decided to ‘do something’ for Lent like visiting someone who is ill or reading an additional passage of Scripture each day.

Now none of these things are wrong but the problem often is that these things only happen for the period of Lent and then are set aside for the remainder of the year.

Rather than temporary changes, the depth of what we consider at Lent must have a permanent effect, if we are to benefit from the fullness of the season.

Lent is not about temporary deletions or additions but about a spiritual process that permanently alters us. The self-examination that we undertake needs to seek a greater conformity to the mind of Christ.

So rather than forbidding chocolate or adding a Bible reading for forty days why not consider questions such as these:

  • What progress am I making in sharing gladly what I have with others? – After all God gladly shared with us His Son;
  • What attitudes do I convey to those who irritate me? How can my awareness of my own need of God’s grace enable me to be more gracious to them?
  • Do I appreciate and consider the needs of other members in the congregation?
  • Am I as thoughtful to my own family members as I am to others?
  • How are my devotions of prayer and Bible study going?
  • Do I plan opportunities into my schedule to minister to and serve others?
  • Do I give thanks more than I complain?
  • Am I consistent in my attendance at worship services? Or does my sporadic attendance suggest that God is worth serving some times, but not others?

These and similar disciplines are designed to have effects far past the Lenten season.

Perhaps then Lent will be a time of fullness for us all.

Have a good Lenten season,

Pastor Barry

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