Forty Days

 

Wadi Rum Negev Desert – Image by LoggaWiggler on Pixabay

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (RSV)

Ever notice how the number 40 occurs at critical moments in Scripture? It rained on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. It was the number of days required to properly embalm a body for burial in ancient Egypt.

Moses, especially, is linked to the number. Not only did he lead the stubborn Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, but his life is divided into three 40-year periods: his Egyptian years, his shepherd years and his wilderness years. He spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai being personally tutored by God Himself in the law.

The Israelite spies cased the Promised Land for 40 days. Goliath defied God for 40 days. Elijah fasted in the desert for 40 days. Jonah told the Ninevites they had 40 days to get their act together before God would judge them.

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. And His final 40 days on earth between His resurrection and ascension were spent giving last-minute instructions to His disciples.

Notice how the number is associated with judgment and preparation. Lent, the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday commemorating Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness, is a time of self-examination and spiritual preparation. We give up things, such as eating candy and pop or watching television, to practice self-denial and self-discipline.

But the most important part of this time should be examining our hearts, minds and spirits, asking God to show us anything we harbor that hinders us in our spiritual growth.

First, examine your heart, the seat of our emotions and true character: Are your motives right? Do you choose love over hate, forgiveness over resentment, self-control over anger, contentment over envy, generosity over selfishness, faith over fear, humility over pride, hope over discouragement, trust over doubt, patience over impatience, thankfulness over complaining?

Next examine your mind: Are you allowing God to transform and renew your mind? Or are you still hanging onto control of your thoughts, especially the bad ones? Are you capturing every thought and giving it to God? Are you filling your mind with the positive or the negative? Use Philippians 4:8 as your report card.

Now for the soul and spirit. According to the Children’s Ministry Resource Bible, my soul is the part of me that responds to the world, while my spirit is the part of me that responds to God. I am not to love the world or the things of the world. Instead I am to fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and use Him as my model. Am I still running from Him, a rebel with my own agenda, and making myself miserable? Or am I running to Him, needing His love, forgiveness, strength and wisdom as desperately as I need air? Do I allow Him to guide my footsteps, day by day, moment by moment, or do I insist that I do it my way?

Some pretty hard questions, but ones that God will help us with if only we ask.

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts; and see it there be any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-34). Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 4:1–11.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

My Heart Grieves

My heart grieves with my dear friends and precious sisters-in-Christ of the Harmony Grove Lutheran Church in Creekside, Pa. Yesterday morning the church was intentionally set on fire. What a loss to the community! This church was established in 1870 and has been at the crossroads of the community, both literally and figuratively, for nearly 150 years.

A prayer service will be held tonight at the church at 6 p.m. If you plan to come, dress warm, and bring a flashlight, umbrella, and lots of hugs. 

Below are a couple of links to articles about the fire, which was declared arson. Two incendiary devices were set, one in the basement and one in the altar area. The building is a total loss.

I’ve been the speaker for the Ladies Day Out Luncheon ever since it began six years ago. Below I’ve included some pictures of last year’s event, “A Hat for All Seasons.” These ladies are near and dear to my heart. I grieve with them.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS YEAR’S LADIES DAY OUT LUNCHEON WILL STILL BE HELD AS PLANNED, ON SATURDAY, APRIL 27. THE VENUE IS NOW THE KEYSTONE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB NEAR ATWOOD. OUR TOPIC IS “GOD’S RECIPE BOX.” 

FOR MORE ON THE FIRE:

https://www.indianagazette.com/news/fire-damages-church-in-washington-township/article_b1386a5e-39bf-11e9-9698-3b36cc95fd34.html

https://www.indianagazette.com/news/police_emergency_and_courts/church-intentionally-set-ablaze-police-say/article_ef1d0b54-3a78-11e9-b510-3bbfbf6cfb08.html

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MarionCenterVolunteerFireDepartment/photos/?tab=album&album_id=539014329504974

The ladies work hard all year round to make the luncheon a fun event. No one gets home without a gift.
“A Hat for All Seasons” was last year’s Ladies Day Out event. The ladies wore hats of all kinds and styles. FUN!
Myrna Orr (left) and Darlene Shields (right, at piano) work all year round with the planning team to make every minute of the Ladies Day Out meaningful and fun.
A few more members of the planning team, the “kitchen crew,” take a break.
Pastor Dave Wasemann always added even more fun to the Ladies Day Out. What a loss to the congregation when he passed away suddenly last fall!
The church on fire, Tuesday, February 26, 2019, in the early hours before dawn
The fire was determined to be arson, with two incendiary devices set, one in the basement, and one upstairs in the altar area.