2/17/2016 11:22:14 AM
P James Wilcox
The Lenten Basket
"Take some of the firstfuits of all that you produce from the soil...and put them in a basket....Then say, 'The LORD brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me.' Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him." Deuteronomy 26
Our lives are a continual “thank you” to God, an opportunity to set our "basket" before the LORD. In this basket is our offering to God: our life of service to him, our life of thankful praise for what he's done for us. So how is that going?
Too often I think we're mired in our selfishness. It’s my time, my life, my work, my church, my ministry, my family, my stuff, my right without even realizing that if God withdrew his love for even a moment everything we think belongs to us would be gone! God catches us all in this selfish act with the first and greatest commandment: you will have no other gods. But it’s too late—we’ve already spent too much time placing ourselves first. God calls that idolatry. And God’s curse for that is to cut us off from his kingdom, apart from his love, for eternity.
Time for a quick review of the LORD's mighty deeds.
We know it’s true; we were once slaves to sinful urges. And that slavery is very tempting, even at this moment. It’s very tempting to go back there. But that’s just the point: we don’t have to be slaves to our corrupt, blind, sinful natures. We have been set free by the LORD. We have Jesus who went toe-to-toe with Satan. Satan relentlessly tempted Jesus for 40 days. I doubt I could last 40 minutes enduring that. But Jesus did it for 40 days. Why? Was is so that Satan could possibly trick Jesus. That’s what the devil hoped would happen. But Jesus already knew Satan was defeated. Jesus went toe-to-toe with the devil so that we would see the mighty acts of the LORD, so that we could believe how the devil is no longer our master because Jesus trounced him in the desert, Jesus trounced him with his perfect life, and Jesus trounced him on the cross. The temptation in the wilderness is the prelude to the devil’s ultimate defeat on Golgotha. We speak of this in the Apostles’ Creed when we say that Jesus “descended into hell.” What was that? It was the LORD announcing to the devil that he was defeated. The serpent was crushed by the mighty deeds of the LORD.
Lent begins with the resounding triumph of Christ’s victory over our foe. “Though devil’s all the world should fill, All eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpow’r us. This world’s prince may still, Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done! One little word can fell him.” The LORD set you free.
Set your basket before the LORD and give him thanks.