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Lenten Devotional: Day 3- Advent Vs Lent

If you were with me for my Advent devotions this past Christmas, the theme was about waiting and preparing. So how is that different from Lent? Is Lent just preparing for Easter?

Well, yesterday we saw that Lent started as a time of preparation for new Christians before they would be baptized on Easter. But it’s a different type of preparation than Advent. Advent is about preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. It looks forward with anticipation.

During Lent, we reflect that not only has Christ come but that Christ has died. It is a season of fasting and repentance more so than eagerly awaiting. In Advent, we anticipate the joy that the coming Messiah brings; in Lent, we reflect on our brokenness and why he had to come. We reflect on our need for His grace, and that it was our sin and His love that led to the cross. Perhaps you could view it this way: Advent looks to the outside, the coming of the Lord whereas Len looks to the inside, the human condition, and why we need the Lord.

I’ll readily admit that I prefer Advent and the celebration that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. It’s a much more pleasant thing to think about. Gifts versus death. Candles versus tombs. And as someone who has generally struggled lifelong with negative self-image and discouragement, the last thing I want to think about is my own brokenness and the ways I fall short.

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” And so, friends, take some time today and examine your hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight into your own soul. He is able to do the hard work of discerning your thoughts and actions.

Here’s one such way I came across, especially helpful at the end of the day:

  1. Give Thanks. Thank the Lord for his gifts and blessings throughout the day.
  2. Ask for Insight. Ask God to reveal to you how He has been at work in your life through the event, people, and places of the day.
  3. Examine Your Day. Review the highlights and lowlights of your day. What was a “God-sighting” and what was a struggle?
  4. Seek Forgiveness. Confess where you sinned or fell short. Repent of when you said or acted contrary to His will.
  5. Resolve to Grow. Decide, through prayer, what it is in your heart that you will seek grace and improvement.

Prayer: Lord, help us today to examine ourselves, to know, by your Holy Spirit, the condition of our walk before you. Thank you, Father, for your mercy and grace. Thank you for saving us. Because of your great mercy and love, may we today grow in our love and commitment to you. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Post Script: I did not originate this daily examination. It comes to us from a priest from the 1500s named Ignatius of Loyola. While certainly don’t agree with much of his theology, I think we can definitely see how this 5 step process originates in historic Christian prayer and scripture and is a great tool for spiritual growth in Christ.

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