Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
“Lent” means spring. But it’s more like winter—the last blast of cold before the warm green is here to stay. It reminds us of the flint-faced Christ moving to Jerusalem. O how we need the discipline of Lent!! Break a bad habit before Good Friday! Life is too short to coast. Brake! Stand on the hood. Look! Over there! Don’t say you can’t. We don’t allow that word at our house (Matthew 19:26). Ideas:
1) Memorize Isaiah 52:11-53:12. Three verses a week will plant a tree of truth in your mind with soul fruit for years.
2) If you are reading through the New Testament, mark every reference to the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Then during holy week (April 12-19) go back and meditate on these.
3) Resolve to write one letter each week of Lent to an unbelieving relative or acquaintance expressing the love of Christ. Tell them you will pray for them during this season. Suggest they read Isaiah 53 and think about its fulfillment in Christ.
4) Set aside a small block of time each week before Easter to step back and examine yourself and your life. Ask God if there are any major changes you should make. It could be exciting.
5) Try a weekly or daily fast for one or more meals, and devote the time to reading about the suffering of Christ. He fasted forty days to fit his soul for the “Calvary Road.”
6) Plan to make three special visits to people who are lonely or especially needy. Read them some good Scripture on the death and resurrection of Christ and tell them you just wanted to encourage their faith and hope in Christ. Rollin Erickson could give the names of shut-ins.
7) Pick a good book and read for inspiration and insight. What did God do in the death and resurrection of Christ? I have listed some suggestions in the order of their difficulty—but not their worth!
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Macmillan, 1950.
- Roy Hession, The Calvary Road, Christian Literature Crusade, 1950.
- Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?, Barnes and Noble, 1930.
- John R.W. Stott, The Cross, Inter-Varsity, 1987.
- James Denney, The Death of Christ, Inter-Varsity, 1951.
- H.E. Guillabaud, Why the Cross?, Inter-Varsity, 1946.
- Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, Eerdmans, 1955.
- John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Eerdmans, 1955.
- John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (especially Packer’s introduction), Banner of Truth.
Gearing down to go up,