“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” - Ephesians 4:22-24
Deceitful desires have often corrupted our walk with God, leaving us distracted and drained. Giving in to our deceitful desires robs us from a life of true joy in Christ. CS Lewis diagnosed the problem well when he said, “We are far too easily pleased.” And although giving in to our deceitful desires grants us temporary satisfaction and relief, it often leaves us full of regrets.
Think about it.
No one ever says,
“I’m so glad I didn’t study in school. I should’ve done less.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t work out, I shouldn't have run.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t invest in our relationship.”
Deceitful desires are all about not doing the hard things in order to experience temporary pleasures. Lent is all about doing the hard things in order to experience lasting joy.
“At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!” - Hebrews 12:11-13 MSG
Hence, the theme for this year’s Lent is… joy. Our guiding verse is found in Psalm 51:12,
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” It’s the discipline of fasting so that we can live into the Holy Feast available for us in Christ. And Jesus is our model for this kind of living. Hebrews 12:1-2 says it like this, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
It was the joy of saving us, restoring creation, bringing glory to the Father, that drove Jesus to the Cross and gave him the strength to endure the cross. It was joy that motivated him.
Therefore, we too fast for joy. The joy of an intimate relationship with God. We fast, we put off deceitful desires, to be able to feast on God!
Here’s the plan for our fasting; I want you to fast three things in your personal life;
Fast sleep by sleeping early. Do not fill the night hours with entertainment, distractions, Netflix, hangouts, more work. Do not drown out the noise of your restless soul with distractions. Instead, in faith, fast sleepless nights with sleep. Spend the nights instead in the Word of God, godly books, journaling, praying, spending time with God.
Fast sleep by waking up early. Do not ignore the invitation to pray in the early mornings. Give up sleep for the sake of receiving true rest in Christ. Spend the morning in prayer; for a spouse, children, yourself. Worship the Lord in the morning. I suggest you do it early in the morning, long enough for quality time with God.
“The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity. This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer. It is confirmed in work. The morning prayer determines the day. Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weaknesses and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men, all have their origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer.
Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer. Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, becomes easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This lent, for the joy set before you, pray in the morning.
Fast “Busyness” with silence and solitude. Whatever you fast during this season, I want you to possess the posture of silence and solitude. Fill your day with a lot of silent retreats and moments of solitude with God. In quietness, pray. Fast noise so that you can feast on the voice of God.
Ask your this question, “Is my life sustainable?” “Is there ever a Selah moment or is my day so packed that I can never sit with God and meditate on His Word and be directed by His Spirit?”
Fast “Food” by feasting on God.
Whatever you fast, try fasting real food this time. Food is one of the ways we deceive ourselves by saying we can sustain ourselves by ourselves. Instead, feast on God’s Word and presence.
Fast fast food.
Fast by eating only home-cooked meals.
Fast once a week, once a day, a whole day, a whole week, a whole month.
Fast by eating only vegetables.
Fast by not eating solids.
Let the joy of receiving a hunger for God be your motivation!
I look forward to hearing your stories. Make sure to check out the Ekko App this Monday for the Lenten Devotionals! Let’s go through the Lent season together as a tribe!
Love you and see you soon.