“We love because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19 ESV
This week, all over the world, we celebrate two special occasions that have come to be known commercially as Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras.
Although neither are commonly acknowledged as Christian holy days, they are rooted in the earliest days of the Church.
St. Valentine was a 3rd-century Roman bishop widely known as the patron saint of love.
Church records indicate this beloved bishop was martyred on February 14, 269 by Emperor Claudius II for marrying Christian couples.
Since that time, February 14th has been commemorated as the Day of Love throughout the world.
As we celebrate those we love this week, let’s also celebrate He who first loved us.
It is fitting that this year February 14 also falls on the first day of Lent—preceded by Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras; a church holy day that has been celebrated as Shrovetide, or “Shrove Tuesday,” as early as the 4th century.
The concept of a special shrove day was derived from the ancient word shrive, meaning “to confess.”
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”
James 5:16 KJV
For those who didn’t grow up in a liturgical church, you may not be familiar with the significance of Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday.
Traditionally, these are days of feasting before the forty days of fasting known as Lent.
Interestingly, Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Church calendar.
The first day of Lent falls halfway between the start of the year and Easter Sunday.
You could consider this a time to reboot your year—a time to re-evaluate your objectives, recommit to what matters most, and most importantly, refresh your soul.
The life of your soul is important to every area of your life. The Bible tells us that you will prosper and be in health to the degree your soul prospers.
“Above all things…prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
3 John 2 KJV
Jesus came that you would have a more abundant life (see John 10:10), beginning with healing and prospering your soul.
Soul healing is one of the pillars of this ministry. It is why I wrote an entire series of books on the life of the soul, beginning with The 40 Day Soul Fast (followed by Reclaim Your Soul and The Prosperous Soul.)
Each of these books is designed as a 40-day journey—perfect travel companions for the 40 days of Lent (all are on sale now in our online store).
Lent is a beautiful invitation to reset your heart on heaven.
I’ve always considered Easter a celebration of new beginnings…when Jesus rose again into new life and made that same resurrection life available to us.
But this week we have another invitation to engage in that resurrection life by seeking first His Kingdom. This is the primary purpose of these 40 days of self-examination, prayer, and fasting.
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants.
Then all your other needs will be met as well.”
Matthew 6:33 NCV
Lent is a time to evaluate who (or what) has your heart.
We want to celebrate the people we love most this week, but let’s not fall short in celebrating He who loves us most of all.
Let’s not neglect what should always remain our first love. Might Christ Himself wonder if you haven’t left the love you once had when you first came to know Him?
“I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning.”
Revelation 2:4 NCV
This Valentine’s Day, perhaps consider a special confession of love to the lover of your soul.
Like David, may the love letter of your heart sound something like this:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.”
Psalm 63:1-8 ESV