“Salt and Light”: Matthew 4 | Forty Days, Starting Today

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

Matthew 4:2

If you begin today, you can start 40 days of something and end on Easter Sunday. You could take up a new hobby. You could try several dishes in a new cuisine (yes, I love and think about food a lot…). You could start a new exercise regimen. Each of these – or just one of them – could help you to do something new and good for you.

What if you made a new beginning with God? What if you spent the next 40 days, connecting with him? If you do, can I recommend this: Try not to be too specific. In fact, you can be vague.

“Wait… What?” What I mean is this: Try to spend the next 40 days, getting yourself on God’s agenda. Don’t give him a long, specific laundry list of things you would like to see him do. Instead, go to Scripture, and listen to the list of things God says we can do to get on his agenda. The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 -7, is a great place to start.

There is nothing magical about the number 40. And God does not promise that every time you do something for 40 days, you’ll see results. But it is also true that God often uses a 40 day testing period to do amazing things in the lives of his people:

  • Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and nights (Exodus 24:18), and grew in his calling as God’s prophet.
  • The prophet Elijah fasted for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8), trusting God to lead him to Mt. Horeb, where God spoke to Elijah in the still, small voice.
  • After 40 days of trial, David defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
  • Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, preparing to be tempted by the Devil (Matthew 4:2).

Starting today, you have 40 days until Easter Sunday. Or, maybe, they’re not really yours. Maybe those 40 days and nights belong to God, and he’s calling you to push out into the deep waters of his will for your life. If you’ve sensed him calling – knocking on the door of your heart and mind – perhaps this is the confirmation you needed. Go, pray and give the next 40 days to him, and see what only he can do in your life.

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