Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
— from Psalm 103
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Traditionally, this was the time each year when Christians set aside the 40 days (not including Sundays) that lead up to Easter for prayer, reflection, and spiritual renewal.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of putting ashes on the forehead to remind Christians of the importance of humility, that we are but dust.
Forty days symbolized the time Jesus spent fasting and seeking God in the wilderness. Following His example, Christians were to dedicate a time each year to search their hearts and lives, purify themselves from sin, and seek God in a fresh way.
But the world has turned this time of spiritual renewal into a celebration of carnality and sin. Now, in some places, more attention is paid to Mardi Gras, the time of revelry just before Lent begins. The streets of some cities become scenes of unbridled hedonism and sensuality.
How much more important it is to remember all that Jesus did for us, and reflect on our lives. This is a time to be humble, but grateful as well. We can rejoice that God knows our nature. He remembers that “we are dust,” and He has told us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Today, spend time in prayer and quiet reflection. Allow God to search your heart, and reveal hidden sins, and habits that need to be changed. Then confess your sins. Be honest with God. Realize that you can trust Him, and be intimate with Him.
If you have confessed your sins, you can be confident that you have been forgiven. How wonderful to have your heart right with God! To be freed from the burdens of sin.
— from Inspiration Ministries