Ash Wednesday | Come Back to God


Ash Wednesday (February 14, 2018)

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of the season of Lent. As a recap, Lent is the Latin word for Spring. Spring reminds us of the new life that we have in Christ.  Just before the verses that I have quoted begin, Paul reminds us that God has brought people back to himself through Christ.  God reconciled people through Christ and for those who trust in Christ, our sins are no longer counted against us.  We are also reminded because of the way that God reconciled us back to Him that we to should reconcile others to Christ.  We are Christ’s ambassadors – we speak for God.  God is making his appeal through us.  What is the message on this Ash Wednesday?

Come Back to God

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with Christ.”

Paul pleads with the Corinthian church, do not accept the marvelous kindness of God and ignore it. Ash Wednesday is designed to show us our mortality.  We were formed from the dust and to the dust we will return.  I love the words that are pronounced during the imposition of ashes “Repent of your sins, and believe the Gospel.”

Listen to what the prophet Joel writes:

That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.
14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve.

This again is the message of Ash Wednesday; “Come back to God!”

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