Today marks one the most significant days of the Christian calendar. While not every follower of Christ emphasizes the Christian calendar strictly, we all follow the calendar in some way. For example, I know of no believers who do not emphasize and celebrate Resurrection Sunday.
Even for those of us who do not mark or observe Ash Wednesday, we all know we are moving toward Easter and we feel a need to get ready.
Many Christians today will begin a time of fasting. Others fast at times of repentance, mourning, or prayer.
How should we look at fasting? What should we do in particular to get ready for Easter?
First, fasting and all else we do should be for God and God alone. If we don’t fast, pray, worship, or give for Him, it simply has become empty ritual. We must guard carefully against ritual and practices with little meaning or significance.
The people of Jesus day were quite religious but failed to recognize God in their midst. This was the greatest and saddest example of empty ritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called on people to make their fasts to God and not in order to be seen of men. It is so easy to do our religious duty for the approval of others.
Second, make your worship, fast, or prayer to please God. When you have completed your time of seeking God, make sure you have indeed found God and that He is pleased.
Third, emphasize personal holiness. Ritual can never replace personal holiness. God desires you to live in ways that please Him. He wants holiness, justice, and righteousness. He wants our lives to reflect His glory.
Finally, make your devotion a blessing to others. Here’s what God said through the prophet Isaiah about fasting: “Is this not the fast which I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light will break forth like the dawn . . . and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:6-8).
This kind of devotion will make for an Ash Wednesday to remember.
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