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Audio Available!
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time is up!

We remember the big moments of life that more or less put an end to one chapter and open up another.
Today we see some of the biggest transitions of all history.  In the story of Noah, God says "never again will I wipe out man from the face of the earth." His investment in the human race now means that the story of the Bible is going to be a rescue mission and not any attempt to just write it off and start over.
Then we see in the Gospel the biggest transition of all time until Christ's return: God's rescue-mission that lasted over centuries took two forms: the old covenants wherein He called a people to Himself and slowly guided them along the way of Justice and Truth; and the New and Eternal Covenant ratified in Christ.  Saint Mark explains that this transition ends with John the Baptist's arrest.  The last prophet who simply called out the sinfulness of God's people and their need for forgiveness is now done.
And now a new chapter opens up: Jesus comes on the stage and declares that the time has come. What time? The time of the forgiveness that couldn't be won by the blood of a little lamb.  The time of God's definitive work in rescuing a fallen humanity. The time, Jesus says, of the Kingdom - of repentance and of believing in the Gospel.
But before we can enter into that time, Jesus shows us that it won't be easy.  We will have serious struggle as He did in the desert, but we will also have help.  Did you notice that Jesus wasn't alone in the desert at all? First he was tempted by Satan. Then he's among the wild beasts. Finally he is ministered to by angels.  There is good evidence in the text that these all were happening more or less together, all at once.  Isn't that exactly how we experience it? We all have the adversary tempting us as we wander through the beast-filled deserts of our lives, but we also have the angels there to help us.  We are never abandoned, but we can often get caught up focusing on the voice and the logic of the devil.  Remember what God said to Cain before he killed his brother Abel: Why are you angry and downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

During this season of Lent, that is our struggle.  We must keep our eyes on Christ to conquer this battle in our hearts.  Fortunately, after Christ conquers for us and gives us an example, He immediately comes after us.  Jesus runs out into the country announcing to us and looking for us.  All we have to do is let Him find us, quit hiding, let down our defenses founded on insecurities, and He will be our peace.  "The time has come.  The Kingdom is at hand.  Repent and Believe in the Gospel."
Before we can enter into the Kingdom, Jesus gives us a two-part plan: Repent and believe.  We can't repent without belief, and we don't truly believe unless we repent.  And we keep doing both again and again for the rest of these 40 days.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace of true repentance.  To drive us into the desert of our lives with Christ so that He can conquer the devil's lies that have us tied down.  Let us beg the Holy Spirit for a deeper faith to have a Lent that makes us different by the time Easter comes, a heart that is now master over the evil of this world.

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