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This Sunday marks the start of Lent. Lent is the time when we remember our Lord's 40 days in the wilderness following his baptism at the start of his ministry. In the hostile environment of the Judean wilderness he faced temptations, basically all about making his life and ministry easier by abusing his power and position. As we 'walk' with Jesus through this season we are reminded that he resisted the temptations by focussing on and adhering to God's rule in his life. This challenges us to re-examine our lives and faith and our faithfulness in following our Lord!
We too, of course, face temptations, not just about how we live our lives but also how we live-out our faith; temptations to act in ways which deny God's rule in our lives or which reject our Saviour's sacrificial way of love - in short to take back control from God so as to have an easier or less challenging life!
Yes, difficulties will always be something we experience and just because we are followers of Christ we should not expect to escape problems in life. Faith is about how we face problems and then grow further in faith when we rely on God's strength.
At the start of Lent I pointed out in several services the words of James, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
As we continue through Lent, examining our lives and faith, let us not despair at difficulties and challenges, but let us face them with a firm faith in God. As Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
By continuing in faith, no matter what we face, we declare the life of Christ in the world and his rule in our hearts. We press on in faith towards maturity!