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Message outline for the First Sunday in Lent

I. What is Lent?
A. 40 day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
1. Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights before being tempted by the Devil. Matthew 4:1-11
2. Jesus is our example, therefore we should obey and do as He did.
B. Fasting is a good thing when it is done with a biblical perspective. It is good and pleasing to God when we give up sinful habits and practices. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside a time when we focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, these practices are things we should be doing every day of the year, not just for 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. If a Christian wishes to observe Lent, we are free to do so. The key is to focus the time on repenting from our sins and consecrating ourselves to God, not on trying to earn God’s favor or increase His love for us.
1. A Christian does not fast sinful behavior, they must repent.
2. A Christian has God’s favor only through Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 2:8,9)
II. Why fast?
A. Jesus did
B. Jesus said we must deny ourselves. Subject our flesh to Him.
C. To be mastered by nothing but Jesus.
D. To show our broken and contrite heart toward our flesh. (Psalm 51:17).
III. How to fast?
A. Jesus taught us step by step how to fast. (Matthew 6:16-24)
1. do not look somber as the hypocrites do.
2. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face
so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting.
3. Do it secretly without anyone knowing. (This is hard but important)
4. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth
IV. What benefit is fasting?
A. Our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
1. More dedication to Him
2. More self control
3. Intimacy with God will grow stronger (Hebrews 12:1-11)
B. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1. Testing of faith
2. Testing of the heart
3. “No one can serve two masters.
a. Either he will hate the one and love the other
b. Either you will be devoted to the one and despise the other
c. You cannot serve both God and Money. (confidence, i.e. wealth, personified) material things.
C. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)
1. Come near to God and he will come near to you
2. Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
V. What to fast?
A. foods that you crave
B. TV programs
C. Drinks – like coffee, soda,
D. Time – dedicate time you would otherwise spend on yourself ie. Tv
E. Anything that is favorite

VI. Conclusion
A. I cannot tell you what to give up or fast but I will challenge you to ask God the Father what is a strong hold in your life and what He wants you to fast. Remember giving up sin is not fasting, you must Repent of sins, it is giving up things that can become sins in our lives if not denied. So, what is God calling you to fast? Will you even ask Him? Do you not want to follow Jesus? Do you not want to walk and live more worthy of Christ? I can guarantee that this exercise on your faith will not be easy but I know God will honor if done in Secret!
B. Please study Psalm 51

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