Good morning:

TV, social media, meat, caffeine, chocolate. These are just a few of the things people give up during the season of Lent. The practice can be a helpful reminder to reflect on one’s life, recognize our lack of the holiness God demands, and then turn to the Lord in repentance. But one thing Lenten sacrifices cannot do is merit God’s love and forgiveness. Our works can never measure up to God’s standards. They can’t save us.

Infinitely more important during Lent than what we give up is what Jesus sacrificed in our behalf. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus’ suffering and death was not merely a symbolic act of love. It was the price which paid the world’s debt of sin in full. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” Nothing more needs to be accomplished. Our sin is atoned for once and for all. There is nothing we can or need do for salvation.

But there is a cross for believers to carry as well. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34). The believer’s life is more than giving up a few non-essentials for the 40 days of Lent. Jesus says we are to deny “self.” We are to say, “No!”, not just to a list of forbidden actions, but to our entire sinful self. That means saying no to what “self” wants, and instead, saying with Jesus, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” It is not just sitting in church once a week, but living continually in the Word through reading and hearing it, and applying it to daily life. It is more than giving up a few bad habits. It is saying, like Joseph, to every temptation, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). It is letting the light of Jesus shine out for all to see when “self” would much rather fit in with the world.

This Lenten season let us give up more than chocolate. May we say no to our sinful self, pick up our cross, and follow Him who gave up all, even his holy life, for us.

Yours in Christ,


Our service tomorrow begins at 9 a.m. Choir rehearsal is at 8 a.m. Sunday school/Bible class follow the service.

Does Jesus care? We know from his death on the cross that Jesus cares about our eternal salvation. But what about paying bills and making ends meet? What about sickness and other trials which make daily life a struggle at times? The Sunday Bible class will take up these questions. Everyone is welcome.

    Home with the Lord:
This past Thursday the Lord in his grace called Elaine Bernthal from this life to himself in the glory and peace of heaven. A service of Christian victory will be held on March 18 at 3 p.m.
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