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Christ In The Wilderness

Lent, which begins on February 25, is a forty day observance which commemorates Christ’s forty days of prayer, fasting, and temptation in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13) What does this incident from the life of Christ teach us His followers? There are many lessons, but the one we wish to focus on has to do with commitment.

Immediately before the opening of His public ministry, before He had disciples, before He began to preach and to heal the sick, Jesus went into the wilderness to commit Himself to His heavenly Father. Away from the crowds and alone with the Father this was a time for Jesus to gain perspective on His life and to establish His priorities. In observing Lent we are shown that we need to seriously look at our lives and our priorities.

Christ also went into the wilderness to commit Himself to His mission. He was not here on vacation – He was here on a mission. Christ’s mission to become the Savior was of supreme importance to Him. “For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.’” (Romans 15:3)

Lent is an excellent time for us to focus our thoughts on our mission as Christians. Christ said, “As the Father sent me, even so I send you.” (John 20:21)

What is our mission as it is two fold, individual Christians and as the Church? Christ calls upon us to obey the Great Commandment and to fulfill the Great Commission.

The Great commandment is to love. “And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:35-40)

Are we obeying the Great Commandment? That is our first priority. We should take time to think out what this means in our lives.

Our second priority, which also demands contemplation, is the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The last words of Christ to the disciples were, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

Are we doing our best to carry out this charge by our Lord? Do we have an effective witness?

At the end of the forty days in the wilderness, Satan came to Jesus with his temptations. Satan will do the same to anyone who becomes committed to God and to his God given mission in life.

The gospels tell of these temptations, which are somewhat typical.

First, Christ was tempted to accept second best. Christ had been fasting and was
famished. “Turn these stones into bread,” Satan tempted. But stones are not bread and God never intended for them to be food. Never settle for second best in your spiritual life and service to God. Strive to become the best disciple of Christ possible.

Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple. “Jump off and land softly, then everyone will believe and follow you.” Satan prodded. Does the end justify the means? The goal was certainly a good one, but the means, mere sensationalism, was unacceptable to our Lord. Sometimes we are tempted to take shortcuts or use questionable methods in order to reach our goals. As followers of the Son of God we must be sure that our methods and practices are biblical.

Having failed in his first two attempts, Satan took Christ to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Here is the temptation to become diverted, to follow someone else or something else, rather than following God. We need to be cautious lest we become side tracked in our efforts to fulfill our mission. This often happens when people and churches start majoring on minor issues rather than focusing on the major ones.

Lent is a time for us to refocus on our primary purpose in life. It is a time for us to deepen our commitment to God and our mission. Christ set the example and as in all things we are to follow in His steps.

Frank M. Levi

Happy Birthday!
Feb. 1 – Anna Zaleski
Feb. 3 – Adele O’Brien
Feb. 14 – Edwina Greco
Feb. 23 – Lorie Conn Stultz

The baptism of Hannah Aileen Walsh took place Sunday, January 18, 1998.
Hannah is the daughter of Stephen & Katherine Walsh. Steve has recently been accepted as a student at Cranmer Theological House.

The Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday, February 25, 1998. As has been our tradition, we will meet on each of the Wednesday nights of Lent. We will have a pot-luck dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. A sign-up sheet will be posted in the Narthex. Following dinner we will gather in the chapel to worship our Lord. The service will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Why Should We Observe Lent?
We observe Lent because it causes us to STOP. Lent says, “Stop and rest awhile.” Lent says, “Stop doing wrong.”

We observe Lent because it says to LOOK. Look inward for an honest self-examination. Look upward to see the Cross of Christ with healing and love. Look forward to the hope of the Resurrection.

We observe Lent because it says to us, “LISTEN.” Listen to the words of Christ, listen to the voice of God, listen to the winds of the Spirit of God.

Just as these three words, STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN, are important for our safety in travel, they may also be helpful for our journey through Lent.

Four Goals of Lent

  1. Re-discover a Personal God … Have you ever felt religion and the church have failed to satisfy you? You may be right! Churches fail but God does not fail. Come and seek Him personally. In quietness look behind the forms and symbols to the living God.
  2. Discover yourself … Set apart this brief amount of time each week to consider what you are really like, what your real needs are, your wants and fears. Here is a chance to escape stress and strain and meditate upon the serious aspects of your life.
  3. To gain Self Mastery …. In studying the Master of life we see afresh the secret of abundant living. Reality if filled with hardship, disappointment, sorrow, defeat as well as Joy, Happiness and Peace. A Christian is not exempt from these realities. However our own Lord Jesus Christ lived, met and overcame all these. We hold our Lenten Services to learn of Him these lessons of life.
  4. Finally we meet as a testimony to the community to say that this is a Church of men and women who believe and remember, and are proclaiming the “good news” of Christ, a lighted, active church is a fine testimony.

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