Thursday February 25 – Day 9 – GIVING UP CHOCOLATE

 In Lenten Devotional

Thursday February 25 – Day 9 – GIVING UP CHOCOLATE

“The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.” – Proverbs 21:3 (NLT)

The Book of Proverbs is an amazing read.  Sometimes, it can be a difficult read as well.  The old ways of thinking centred around this truth:  The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and that wisdom is a godly pursuit. Many of the truths found in this book are timeless and fit no matter what century you live in.  The one truth we are looking at today I believe is important to review as we reflect on Lent.

in the past, I have always thought about the things that I could give up or stop doing during Lent.  In fact, it was so important to me that I would focus on picking the right thing to give up, rather than get my heart in the right position with God.

In Chapter 21 verse 3,  Solomon shares an important truth: God loves it when we obey His commands and do His will rather than making sacrifices for Him.

I have to admit, in previous Lenten seasons I would give up something like chocolate THINKING that what I was doing was God honouring.  The problem was, I was doing other things that were not in keeping with doing right.  The sacrifice was an empty one.

Today I no longer “give up” something for Lent but instead, do something that is within God’s laws of righteousness and justice.  I try to respond in love to the Gospel the last few years by doing something that will hopefully make a difference, and mention it to no one.  This year, however, I have broken that silence in writing this devotional series.  In fact, I think this series is becoming more about me and less than doing “a good thing”.  I am benefiting from thinking long and hard about what this season is really all about.  I hope though, in spite of this, that the reader IS being encouraged and drawing closer to Jesus through these musings.

My Mum made many sacrifices in her life. The one sacrifice I wish she would have made was to tell her family how bad her circulation really was in her legs near the end of her life.  I wish she would have made the sacrifice of pride to ask for help and to let her family in as she struggled.  She was scared and she kept it in, afraid to worry any of us.  If she had shared more, even if we couldn’t have helped, we could have walked with her though her suffering.  She wouldn’t have been alone.  My mum died in a hospital bed after multiple surgeries trying to fix the issues with her legs.  My children never got to meet their hard working Nana.  If she had done what was right (i.e. see a doctor sooner, share her problems with those she loved) it might have extended her life.  Sadly I will never know.

This is not to say that sacrifices can’t be a good thing.  When we give something up in order to help someone else, and we offer that sacrifice in Jesus’ name, it has the potential to be a great blessing.  However, God would rather see His children doing what they have been called to do from day 1:

Love God.

Hate what is evil.

Honour His commands.

Do right in love.

I grew up in a Lutheran church.  For my catechism when I was a teen, Pastor Dechert gave me this verse from the Book of Psalms and I wondered why he gave me this verse:

“1Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2 (RSV)

He must have known with my rock star ways that I would need encouragement to not take the advice of people not walking with Jesus.  He knew that being a musician would cause me to be in various situations that might not be good for me.  He wanted to remind me that God’s law is what I needed to focus on, and to be encouraged to study it in more detail.

These words from the RSV translation are still on my heart and in my mind almost 40 years later.  They mean more to me now than when I first memorized them and regurgitated them during the catechism service.

Because he hoped in me, God’s word means more and more to me each day.  It continues to teach me what is right and just, and that I need to spend more of my energies and focus on His truth.

Jesus was the final sacrifice for all of our sins, and we no longer need to keep making sacrifices.

What God wants from us are hearts that are willing to love Him and do what is right.  He wants this more than giving up chocolate for 40 days.

What we need to do is to mediate on His laws day and night, and as Proverbs 21 says, pleases God when we do.

This Lent, I want to spend more time pleasing God than testing Him.

I want to spend more time mediating on His word rather than focusing on my selfish wants.

I want my children and eventual grandchildren to know that their Dad and Grandfather loved God and at the end of the day, found peace in God’s word.

I want our community to reach out to Jesus in prayer, and to put their trust in the Living Word.

This, is more important than giving up chocolate. May we all deepen our trust in God and keep meditating on His word.  See you tomorrow.

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