Ash Wednesday isn’t in the Bible, so why do Christians observe it?

Ash Wednesday isn’t in the Bible, so why do Christians observe it?

Since the Apostolic period of the Christian church—the years immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus—believers have engaged in a period of focus on their sin and God’s forgiveness of that sin. This period of reflection is called Lent or Fortieth and is a period of 40 days leading up to Good Friday and Easter.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, and in many church traditions is a time when Christians gather for corporate confession and individual repentance. At the end of the service, priests, pastors, or church leaders place ashes, in the sign of the cross, on the forehead of believers while saying “from dust you have come, to dust you will return.”

This is a reminder that one’s physical body is temporal, while the spirit is eternal. Therefore, a Christian is asked to reflect on his or her relationship with God and possibly set aside a habit or a pleasure for 40 days to help one focus on Jesus, his sacrifice on our behalf and on his commands to worship God and love and serve others.

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What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

The first recorded teaching of Jesus is found in the book of Matthew.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

This is considered by many scholars to be Jesus’ most important teaching. The requirement for entering the kingdom of heaven—to be with God forever—is being poor in spirit. This idea is contrary to what the world teaches, and in his day, in particular, this teaching of Jesus was revolutionary.

Many believed that being blessed was to be powerful, rich, and self-sufficient. People who were poor or lacked power, or were afflicted in one way or another were seen as not being blessed. Jesus flipped this script by pointing out that to be truly blessed one must first become poor. In order to be rich in things of the Spirit, one must become poor in things of the flesh.

The Biblical meaning of “poor in spirit” is to empty oneself. Before we can be filled with God’s blessings, we must first be emptied of our self-centeredness. We must recognize that our sin, our rebellion against God, and our pride makes us worthy of condemnation by the God who created us. When we confess that we are spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1) then we become truly “poor in spirit.”

We must understand that it is impossible to live the Christian life and to follow the teaching of Jesus on our own. If we think we are good and can follow Christ by our own strength, then we are not being poor in spirit. Now this doesn’t mean that we are to be fearful, or shy, rather poor in spirit suggests that we are to be inwardly humble.

God accepts into his Kingdom only those who truly humble themselves before Him. In the old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophet records these words of God:

I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. ( Isaiah 57:15).

Remember that in God’s sight we have nothing to boast about. We cannot boast of our wealth, our intellect, our education, our skill, our lineage or our station in life. All these things are worthless and vain. We can bring nothing to God. We can only come to God as empty beings relying on God’s mercy to fill us with spiritual blessings. That’s what it means to be poor in spirit.

Are you ready to humble yourself and submit to God, praying that in due time he will lift you up and make you truly blessed?

What’s the difference between Heaven and Eternal Life?

What’s the difference between Heaven and Eternal Life?

In one sense, they are the same. Heaven is a place where time will not exist as we know it on Earth. This means life in heaven will be eternal; no more death. Heaven is a destination Jesus promised for all who put their trust and faith in him as their Savior. He is the only way to that eternal place of peace, joy, abundant love and eternal life. In John 14:3, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be also.” That is one of the greatest promises ever made to mankind. It’s called God’s grace. God giving us something we did not deserve and never could earn by our own good works.

In another sense, eternal life is much more than heaven. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” ( John 17:3)  What this simply means is that when you have an intimate personal life with Jesus as your Lord and Savior you have eternal life here and now. Then you will experience an abundant and exciting adventure with the one through whom God created the entire universe. 

As you let Jesus transform your life into his image you will see and experience life as you never could have imagined. Then you have eternal life and your spirit/soul will never die. It will go to heaven where one day you will get a glorious new eternal body. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

Understanding what you mean by tolerance is an important first step in answering this question. Tolerance once meant a free and open discussion in search of the truth. Modern science is based on searching for the truth. Tolerance used to be a respectful discourse open to “all points of view”.

Today, however, the word has taken on a new meaning. Many in Western culture today view tolerance as accepting any and all viewpoints as being equally valid so long as those viewpoints comport with their worldviews. They no longer view truth as absolute and reject scientific reality. As a result, they are no longer tolerant of traditional systems that provide guidelines for moral living and governing

For example, many today deny God’s truth, as found in the Bible, a gold standard for morality and reason that has guided mankind for thousands of years. The result is the moral decline of society. That decline includes, but is not limited to, lying, fraud, failure to protect the sanctity of life, immorality, infidelity, disrespect for authority, selfishness, greed, and much more. Secular tolerance has become a new god where people offend no one and stand for nothing. The only thing they don’t tolerate is Christian and biblical truths. This new notion of tolerance is leading to chaos and loss of freedoms.

Interestingly, Jesus, God’s son, entered the world during a time when many of the so-called faith leaders showed no tolerance for those who did not strictly subscribe to their way of doing things. That intolerance was couched in religious terms so as to suggest that one group of people, the elite, had it right and everyone else needed to live by their standards — their version of truth.

In his Sermon on the Mount, and throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated by words and deeds, that he would not be tolerant of the beliefs or behavior of others who had a warped view of God’s teaching. He turned the system upside down by restoring a right-reading of scripture and calling people to give up their sinful ways. He went so far as to go to the cross to die in the place of you and me so that our wrongdoings could be paid for and we could become Children of God.

This truth has had a profound impact on world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms will no longer exist. Jesus said,  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So. does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

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