Song of Praise: Doxology
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:13-15 & Revelation 19:9
The 40 day season that precedes Easter has traditionally been observed as Lent. During Lent, the Church has commonly utilized this span as a time of fasting and deep penitential reflection. Lent is meant to afflict the soul and the participants are encouraged to remove earthly pleasures in search of heavenly treasures. What does Scripture say about those concepts? Is it to our benefit that we fast for 40 days? Does forsaking earthly pleasures really elevate our understanding of heavenly blessings? While there is instruction in Scripture to "put our flesh to death", the notion that physical and bodily pleasures are all evil is more akin to Gnosticism than Christianity. Gnosticism teaches that the spiritual world far exceeds the material world in value. This leads Gnostics to believe that the material world is actually a hindrance. Therefore, it must be rejected and denied whenever possible; this is in complete contrast to the Biblical narrative.
“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 6:13-15).
These verses demonstrate to us how the body (and stomach) are meant to be stewarded and used to glorify God. Christians are united together in Christ as one body. What we do together has the potential to bless or defame our federal head, Jesus. Physical pleasures are not innately bad. The verses, in 1 Corinthians, reveal to us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is what elevates us to blessed fellowship with God. Despite our best efforts, we cannot earn or gain more of God's favor. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He cried out, "it is finished". This means that the payment due for our sin has already been paid. God is presently pleased and delights in all of His redeemed children. We don't have to pay further penance, because Jesus paid all that was due. We don't have to suffer or be downcast, Jesus withstood scandal on our behalf. Sin's claim to creation has been revoked, and Christ's resurrection is the evidence of His victory over death. Instead of earning our own righteousness or right standing before God, Jesus bestowed upon us His own resurrection victory.
In lieu of lenten fasting, Christians have been invited to feast at King Jesus' table. Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, has prepared a place for us where we may fellowship with the King Himself. Let us rejoice then, and prepare our hearts and our own tables with thanksgiving and praise.
Table Talk Questions:
What behaviors does lent encourage?
In light of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, do Christians still need to pay penance or earn God's favor?
Why should Christians stop practicing lent, and instead, prepare a feast?
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Ericha's Effortless Lasagna, Sauteed Onion & Garlic Green Beans, & Aunt Dixie's Spice Cake with Spiced Frosting
Ericha's Effortless Lasagna
Prep and Cook Time: about 1 ½ hours
yields 1- 9x13 3 layer lasagna
1 box of oven-ready Lasagna Noodles
1 pound lean Ground Beef
1 large Onion finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 teaspoons Black Pepper
2 cans (28 ounces) Crushed Tomatoes
2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them)
1 teaspoon dried Basil
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
4 1/2 (6 ounce) bags of shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 1/2 (6 ounce) bags of shredded Monterey or Monterey Jack Cheese
2 (8 ounce) block of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 (6 ounce) bag of shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon dried Parsley
(it may seem like a large amount of cheese, but you don't want to skimp on this layer)
On the stove, in a large pot, brown ground beef with the diced onion.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients.
Allow the sauce to simmer on low heat until you are ready to use it.
In a large bowl, combine all the cheese and Parsley.
Use your fingers to combine the cream cheese with shredded cheeses.
You don't want large clumps of cream cheese.
You are now ready to assemble your lasagna.
In the bottom of your 9x13 pan, cover the bottom of the dish with sauce.
Add a layer of Oven-Ready noodles, another layer of sauce, and cheese.
Alternate sauce, noodles, sauce, cheese.
Each lasagna should be 3 full layers of noodles and cheese.
Cover the pan with foil, and bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes, then uncover and bake until the noodles have softened and the top cheese has browned. About an additional 15 minutes.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Simple Sauteed Onion & Garlic Green Beans
Prep and Cook Time: about 30 minutes
4 cups Green Beans (fresh,frozen,or canned)
1 medium Onion chopped
2 teaspoons Garlic powder
salt and Pepper
Olive Oil to drizzle
In a large skillet, and olive oil, green beans, and onions. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add in the spices and combine well. Once the beans begin to brown, they are ready to serve.
Aunt Dixie's Spice Cake with Spiced Frosting
Prep and Cook Time: 1 ¼ hours + 45 minutes to cool and frost the cake
2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
2 ½ cups white Sugar
2 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
2 ½ Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon Allspice
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 ¼ cups Milk
3 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons Butter softened
1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325° F
In a mixing bowl, whisk your 5 egg whites until stiff peaks form (Save the yolks). Set the egg whites to the side.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine oil, butter and sugar. Whisk until fluffy and pale, slowly add in your egg yolks, and then the additional ingredients and mix well. Slowly add in the stiff eggs whites, by folding them into the batter with a spatula. Do not overmix at this point, just fold until the egg whites combine.
Pour into sprayed cake pans and bake until the center of the cake is firm and cooked, about 45 minutes.
Cool before frosting.
3 sticks of softened Butter
5 cups of powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¾ teaspoon Nutmeg
½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
dash of Salt
In a mixing bowl, whip the butter and vanilla, slowly adding the sugar and spices.
Whip until the frosting becomes fluffy and thick, about 3-5 minutes in an electric mixer.
Frost your cake and enjoy.