Ace introduced the concept of Lent and Fasting during Lent for those not familiar with it. Fasting during Lent is a Catholic tradition that some Uniting Churches reinterpret to focus less on the actual abstinence from food, and instead focus more on our personal relationship with God.
Ace preached from Matthew 4:1-11,
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
An important detail here is that Jesus was led by the Spirit – not led by the devil – to be tempted by the devil (v. 1). All of this was planned by God and Jesus knew this was coming: not only the 40 days of fasting (that was actually just the start), but also all the events of his public ministry and how it ended.
“Fasting is not about proving that you are a good man or woman. Fasting is about preparing yourself for going into spiritual warfare.”Quote from Ace’s sermon
Fasting is something Jesus mentioned as a secret between God and yourself (Matthew 6:16-18). It is intended to be a private commitment to God, not a public display for other people. The same applies for worship and for whatever special commitment we choose to make to commemorate Lent.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24
Therefore Paul writes,
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)
For Lent, then, the #1 focus is to do whatever fasting (not necessarily food, but whatever distracts us most) helps us to know Christ and appreciate the power of His resurrection.