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Dear COA Family,

As we enter into a season of Lent, let us consider the main purpose of this season and why we should observe it so intentionally. It boils down to a particular heart attitude we should all aspire to cultivate.

Psalm 51:17 tells us: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

A broken spirit is one which has painfully realised its own inadequacies and incapabilities. As a result, it has come to the end of itself. A broken spirit does not hold out any hope for itself based on its own strength or wisdom. It is completely surrendered to another.

How do we arrive at such a stage? It is a combination of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of God’s truths about us and a realisation from our own experiences. We begin to understand on a deep level the utter powerlessness within ourselves to do anything effectual for ourselves. We need to and can only depend on God.

And God is pleased with such a heart attitude of brokenness and surrender.

Earlier in the psalm, David perceived that God was not pleased with ritualistic sacrifices, even though they were commanded by Moses for the Israelites to obey. This was because the Israelites could offer such sacrifices without any sincerity of heart. David would have offered such sacrifices gladly if he knew that God would be pleased with them!

However, since he was aware of that, he went on to highlight the only sacrifice acceptable to God was a broken spirit and a contrite heart. It is a heart that is fully aware of its own depravity and sin and willing to fully to fling itself in the merciful hand of God. God is pleased with such a heart!

Such a heart does not come naturally to us because we are all prone to pride and self-determination. We turn to God only as a last resort after all other methods have failed. Even then, we may mask our own desperation by seeking other pursuits like hobbies or entertainment to distract ourselves of our deep need.

Yet we are reminded that a broken spirit is a sacrifice. It is a difficult but a necessary process. We are to break up our hearts daily by the Spirit’s empowerment in order to arrive at a broken spirit. It comes with a sustained period of effort with prayer.

That is why we all need this season of Lent. Lent, contrary to it just being a season of our offering of focus on Christ, is actually God’s grace for him to reveal to us once again our hard heartedness and sin. It is a time and space created by God for him to work his grace in our lives.

Lent is God’s gift to his people to be transformed by him. May we be blessed in observing this Lent with our whole heart.

Revd Ian