Day 1

Ash Wednesday

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Genesis 3:8-21, Luke 12:13-21, Ecclesiastes 12:7, 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

Observing Ash Wednesday is not a biblical command. We are free to observe it and we are free not to. So what is it? Why have Christians around the world, for over ten centuries, attended Ash Wednesday service as a way to begin the liturgical season of Lent?

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. It is a day where we take a page from the Book of Job and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). We remember that we are mortal.

During an Ash Wednesday service, people make their way to the front of the church as a minister moves down the line holding a bowl of ashes made from the palm fronds of the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration. The minister might whisper into the worshipper’s ear as he smears ash in the shape of a cross onto the worshipper’s forehead: “Remember, mortal, that from the dust you were made, and to the dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

Some ministers put it more plainly, saying simply, “Remember that you have to die.”

Without Christ, these are hard words. With Christ, they are a reminder that, though our bodies will one day return to dust, we have the hope of the resurrection. Still, even for those in Christ, these words are a sober reminder that only Jesus’ death and resurrection could pay the wage of our sin and reconcile us to our Maker.

The ashen cross is an outward sign of both repentance and hope. It is a way to repent of our rebellion against God and “confess our sins one to another” (James 5:16). It is appropriate to enter into a season of celebrating the finished work of Christ by assuming a posture of repentance, confessing our need for a Savior.

On Ash Wednesday we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life. Whether in a formal Ash Wednesday service or privately in our homes, let’s use the first day of the Lenten season to remember that from the dust we were made and to the dust we shall return.

Written By Russ Ramsey 

Post Comments (98)

98 thoughts on "Ash Wednesday"

  1. Bryce says:

    The gospel is received through God given humility, that’s what I’ve learned. If the first step isn’t into more humility then it’s probably not the gospel. We are humbled to see that we are from dust and we will return to dust and without Jesus that’s all we’ll ever be.

  2. Bryce says:

    We are really made of dust. We are so fragile and weak, both in our spirits and in our bodies. Without Jesus sacrifice for us on Easter Sunday, we would be utterly hopeless.

  3. Jack says:

    Man needs a season of repentance and purification. I think so many times we get bogged down with everyday life that in our busyness, our sin takes a back seat to everything else.

  4. Jack says:

    This tells me that the liturgy of lent and Ash Wednesday is a sign and season of repentance. God allows this season so we can be more holy and acceptable for His glory.

  5. Jack says:

    The Gospel is about second, third, fourth, fifth and 25 chances. Here we see that the gospel is about grace and mercy from the Father. This season of Lent and this day of Ash Wednesday allows us to do so.

  6. Jack says:

    As a Baptist, Lent is a season we stray away from. We don’t seem to have much desire to be apart. But I think in my own way, I will participate. Cleanse myself of my own righteousness and unrighteousness and replace it will the grace and mercy that only Jesus can give me.

  7. Andrew Tatum says:

    The gospel is good news to us because it offers a way forward in the midst of temptation without constant fear of failure. Because of the gospel we are free to pursue God’s way of life for us earnestly and without pretense about our ability to do so on our own without God’s help.

  8. Andrew Tatum says:

    Man is created to be both a physical and spiritual being. Both aspects of personhood are integral to our daily life. God desires that we should honor him in every aspect of our humanity – physical and spiritual – by loving him and obeying his commands for our lives.

  9. Andrew Tatum says:

    God requires obedience to the way of life that he has prepared for us and calls us to. But God also gives us a way that is not burdensome and he offers us help along the path. In the same way that God prepared clothing for Adam and Eve, God clothes us in love and mercy and guides us in a path of goodness and obedience to his will.

  10. Jase Hammock says:

    We are limited. We are finite and lowly in nature. We have come from dust, and to dust we will return.
    We have been faster out from the presence of the Lord and destined for death. We deserve punishment, yet there is hope. We can have redemption and restoration. We don’t have to let our sin and past define us.
    We have the opportunity to be made into the image of the second Adam, Jesus.

  11. Jase Hammock says:

    He is just and holy and righteous. He is the supreme authority. Lord God will punish sin/disobedience.
    Yet, He is merciful and abounding in steadfast love. He shows grace to unworthy sinners and offers hope.
    He is a God of salvation and RESTORATION.

  12. Jase Hammock says:

    The Gospel is powerful message of redemption, restoration and grace. The gospel redeems and retires unworthy, condemned sinners and makes us into renewed, alive spiritual beings.

  13. Jase Hammock says:

    Praise God for His grace and mercy!
    Praise Jesus for His sacrifice!
    Remember that this life is not all there is and that God is the one who gives life and death.
    Seek to know Jesus more.

    Share with others the hope that Jesus gives.

  14. Jase Hammock says:

    Forgive me, Father. Give me a repentive heart.
    Remind me daily of who I am and how You have saved me.
    Give me a deeper desire for You and to make You known.

  15. Jeremy Morin says:

    God is the source of all things. With or without Him, we will die. It is only with Him that we will live again.

  16. Jeremy Morin says:

    As all things come from God, man has no claim to anything, not even to life. Only through the lens of humility and death to self are we able to open ourselves to the greatness of God.

  17. Jeremy Morin says:

    1 Peter 3:15 says to live in a way that makes those around you ask why you have such hope. Only in response to God’s grace and mercy can I live in this way. I will live a life of response to God.

  18. Jeremy Morin says:

    Hope. There is hope in all things and through all things. Christ’s death and resurrection assured this hope for all men.

  19. Jeremy Morin says:

    Without ceasing. Constantly. And through Amy means necessary. I pray to be content, to give freely, to obey graciously and courageously, and to live relentlessly for Christ.

  20. Mike Twomey says:

    Without Christ there is no hope of a spiritual resurrection. The Gospel informs us of our brokenness while giving us the good news of how Jesus paid our debt.

  21. Mike Twomey says:

    My hope this season is to put certain sins to death and to dig in more deeply to the good news of the Gospel.

  22. Mike Twomey says:

    Father be strength in my weakness because I can’t change on my own. Jesus, thank you for constantly going on my behalf and pleading my cause. Spirit, guide me in how I can put to death the sin that entangles.

  23. Mike Twomey says:

    Man is constantly seeking selfish gain. Storing up treasures and advancing our own plans will be constantly at the forefront of our minds unless we take the time to rebuke it and die daily to ourselves.

  24. Mike Twomey says:

    It reminds me that our God is in pursuit. Even when stuck in our rebellion He has made a way out in the gift of Christ, should we accept it.

  25. Brandon says:

    This season of Lent will mark my first time at this. I want to repent and confess and be made whole. I am recognizing just how broken I am on my own. I have spent a lot of time not being with my God. It ends with this season. I want to come back to Him.

  26. Brandon says:

    We are broken and only God can fix us. There is no other way.

  27. Brandon says:

    The Gospel shows us the ways our Lord has answered our selfishness and sin. He gave us the Gospel so that we might meditate on His words, soak in what He wants us to understand, so that we might live by and for Him and Him alone.

  28. Brandon says:

    We forget in the bustle of our daily lives that this life is temporary. Our actions and our words and our thoughts drift from the reason we are all here. We sin and fail to acknowledge the acts we commit. This time of year reminds us and teaches us that God is a merciful God; that He requires all of our heart to accept him in; and that through Him alone, we find forgiveness and peace with who we are and what we have done in our moments of forgetfulness and selfishness and pride and worry and pain.

  29. Levi says:

    That God doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need anything. He made us and our world out of nothing. We all at some point die but through him can have new life in eternity with him.

  30. Levi says:

    We are not immortal. We are sinners and will be sinners until the day we die. We find comfort in knowing our God is graceful and that he loves us unconditionally.

  31. Patrick Shen says:

    The gospel is the renewal and revival of dead things.

  32. Patrick Shen says:

    That God is our creator and ultimately our redeemer.

  33. Patrick Shen says:

    Man is temporary.

  34. Patrick Shen says:

    Repent for I know I will die some day. Rejoice because I am saved from the fear of death.

  35. Patrick Shen says:

    With a reflective and repentant heart.

  36. Mark says:

    He has s better plan for us. He is the only source of life and life beyond the grave.

  37. Mark says:

    God’s means of rescuing a terminal people.

  38. Jeremy Davis says:

    God desires a right relationship with us. When we mess things up, He calls us to return to him and remember how small we are and how big He is, but also reminds us that He loves us and chooses us for his winning team. We are only here for a fragment of time, why not give all of it to God’s eternal purpose rather than creating one for ourselves?

  39. Jeremy Davis says:

    We are so fleeting. But giving our lives to a much higher calling allows us to take part in God’s plan for us of impacting eternity!

  40. Jeremy Davis says:

    Today, Jesus I submit to Your will for my life and will follow you no matter the cost. It’s pointless to try and do this on my own, and it certainly won’t satisfy.

  41. Jeremy Davis says:

    Jesus gives life eternal to all, so we shouldn’t live as if we were made for this world. We are just visitors here.

  42. Jeremy Davis says:

    I pray for strength to do what I need to do, and to take my spiritual health seriously. You are doing a work in me and I don’t want to miss any part of it!

  43. Steele Fredricksen says:

    I will respond by praying and confessing my sins. I will give us my comforts and embrace the reality of what Jesus has done for me…for us. I hope to be convicted and humbled through prayer.

  44. Steele Fredricksen says:

    All of man is not how God intended. We all make mistakes and sin, but there is hope when we reconcile. We are not hopeless as Jesus did all this to bring us close to him.

  45. Steele Fredricksen says:

    I will pray that God brings to light my sin. I will ask for God to humble and convict me. I want to be one with Him. I want to have the fact that he has died for me weigh heavy on my heart.

  46. Steele Fredricksen says:

    This teaches me and reminds me that God sent his son to die for us and that, despite all the pain we go through, we will one day be with Him. All of this stuff doesn’t matter. None of it – the pain, the suffering – is ours. God will forgive our sins, but he wants is us to humble ourselves and repent, bringing an earthly reality to our mind. We will die, and we will be with him, so put to death the evil.

  47. Steele Fredricksen says:

    This teaches me that there is good news! We are to die to God and repent of our sins. We can spread the good news that Jesus has died for our sins. He is good and has risen, and our purpose is to let others know that we will be with Him one day.

  48. Ryan Schwaar says:

    It’s a slap in the face, a reminder that were not the main event here. We’re the temples, not the gods. We have a purpose to serve on this earth, and it’s not “to be served.” I think that Ash Wednesday, while I don’t practice it, is an awesome reminder of the gift we humans have and the brevity of life.

  49. Ryan Schwaar says:

    It’s a reminder of his omnipotence over this world. We’re not immortal and we’re not the main focus. It reminds me that God is the one in control and that, while he sent his son to die and be the perfect, end-all sacrifice, he has the power to take our lives and send us back to the dust from which we were formed.

  50. Shawn says:

    Reaffirm my need for a savior. That I am nothing. My life is headed for nothing more than death. Prayerfully repent of sins and come to my father empty – ready to be filled by Him.

  51. Shawn says:

    It reminds me of 2 things: First, that God is the giver of all things, everything from daily blessing to life itself. Second, that God is unwavering. That from the day we were created we were intended to live obediently to God’s will. Life apart from this means nothing more than death – a pile of dust.

  52. Shawn says:

    We are simply incapable of living separately from the power of God. Bu continually taking advantage of the free will God’s grace and love provide and choosing a life apart from His will and intention we show that our strength is truly powerless. Only on the power and grace of God do we find life as it was intended to be lived.

  53. Shawn says:

    The power of God’s love is tenacious and relentless. To be blunt, it’s exhausting interacting with people on a day to day basis. Even more exhausting is loving those you encounter who don’t want loved – or whom you don’t naturally offer love. But Jesus willingly left to show us more, to love those who hated Him. The is power in the love of God!

  54. Shawn says:

    With thanksgiving – that God looks beyond sin an loves me for what I was created for – not the shortcomings I’ve given him in return.

  55. Jeremy Nelson says:

    Perspective gained and a reshuffling of priorities.

  56. Jeremy Nelson says:

    We are corruptible, physically temporary, redeemable, and eternal. This combination is ripe with potential. As a man I feel the love of God more as a forgiven sinner than I would as a perfect person. I approach God because I need to because he is my source. I am a branch, he is the vine.

  57. Jeremy Nelson says:

    Out of all the forms that God could have chosen to make this universe he chose this version. This version is the best for showing his greatness and bringing us to a place of maximum joy and fulfillment. We have to trust God in this because he is trust worthy and does not make mistakes. He gets it right the first time all the time.

  58. Jeremy Nelson says:

    The key that turns the lock and gives us access to our created purpose. The climax of the story. God making man man again.

  59. Jeremy Nelson says:

    Lord by faith help me see the true state of reality. In the capacity that I am able and you will allow, let me see and feel you. Guide me and help me keep my focus. Give me a paulin vision of straining forward to achieve the goal, to run the race marked out for me.
    Let me see that I am but dust in the brevity of this life and that I must spend this brevity well. Help me.

  60. Noah says:

    To him we are like diamonds shattered on the ground. We will take long to fix, but we are worth it because God says so. It was revealed to me that our lives must be worth much more than what we think, if the creator and ultimate ruler of the universe would have himself killed so we could be with him

  61. Noah says:

    By choosing love over lust, fulfillment over gluttony, humbleness over pride, and life over death. I will choose to live for God in everything I do.

  62. Noah says:

    That aside my brokenness I can become whole, so long as I choose him over the world’s offers.

  63. Blair funk says:

    God is just, true and is serious about sin.

  64. Blair funk says:

    Rebellious in nature Born from dust and will return to dust

  65. Blair funk says:

    Remember that I will return to dust. This world and its possessions are temporary…. My hope, my retirement plan is eternity

  66. Blair funk says:

    Adam was the man of dust. Christ was the man of heaven

  67. Blair funk says:

    Lord help me to keep focused on not the worries of the world but on the hope and victory of my salvation

  68. Matthew Cass says:

    He is eternal and outside of time.
    He is Creator.
    He created me for a purpose during my brief time on this Earth.

  69. Matthew Cass says:

    God saw fit to confront our fallen and finite human experience with His Son, the perfect exhibition of love in obedience and resurrection to eternal life. Through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit we, too, can experience the human life the way our Creator intended – unfractured relationship and connection to the eternal God and a life that models obedience in love. While our time is still temporary and death is still “alive” (a consequence/curse of our own sin), we have the hope of eternal glory with Christ by the resurrection of the dead to our spiritual bodies.

  70. Matthew Cass says:

    We are the created, not the Creator.
    Our lives are not permanent fixtures.
    We exist for His sake and for His glory.
    Our time is short, so make the most of it.
    In remembering our mortality, eternity becomes preeminent.

  71. Matthew Cass says:

    I acknowledge that I am a fallen and finite creature who serves the perfect and eternal Creator. Being honest and aware of my mortality will cause me to value my time and relational investments. Making much of Jesus requires intentional behavior.

  72. Matthew Cass says:

    For me to become more aware of life’s brevity and to make decisions and set priorities in light of eternity.

  73. Nathaniel Wentink says:

    God sent His son to die for us on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice has been made for us, therefore our faith and the way we live should be focused on Christ.

  74. Nathaniel Wentink says:

    He gives us the freedom to chose how to live, and what comes first in our lives ultimately shows which choice we have chosen.

  75. Nathaniel Wentink says:

    I will point out the largest parts of my life and determine if they are for His kingdom, or for mine?

  76. Ben Jones says:

    The Gospel of Jesus provides me all I need to be able to return to God. If I believe in the Gospel and repent then I will spend eternity with God.

  77. Ben Jones says:

    That man is sinful. We spend a majority of our lives putting our hope in possessions instead of the love of God.

  78. Ben Jones says:

    By truly repenting of my sins. I have doubted God’s sovereignty and purpose for my life so much that it’s like I don’t believe he is taking care of me. I find it much easier to trust Him when things are going well, but as soon as things turn upside down I feel like I can’t trust him and I have to fix everything myself.

  79. Ben Jones says:

    He created me. He loves us so much that he even provided a way for us to be with him eternally even after we doomed to death in sin. I need to repent of my sins and approach him humbly if I’m to have hope in one day returning to him.

  80. Ben Jones says:

    That God will stir up a true season of repentance in my heart. That I will only trust in his power and that I will believe he has a purpose for me. That I won’t find my identity in anything or anyone but Him.

  81. Tyler says:

    He redeemed us from death through death. The ash cross is made of dust and death, jet is our salvation from it.

  82. Matt says:

    Sinful by nature. Saved, transformed, and spiritual through Christ.

  83. Matt says:

    It is necessary. Without the gospel of Christ man would not be saved, could not be transformed, and would remain the naturally sinful being.

  84. Matt says:

    He is The Authority. He is just in His authority.

  85. Matt says:

    I pray for personal healing, transformation, consistency, hunger, discipline, and life.

  86. Matt says:

    Be transformed.

  87. Garrett says:

    That we need Jesus and his work on the cross because we are all flawed.

  88. Garrett says:

    But praying for repentance.

  89. Isaac Jones says:

    That the words “good news” are too small. That someone would take an eternal punishment for an eternally wicked crime? God is more merciful and loving than anyone who has ever existed or been imagined in the minds of man. He is so great that I must worship Him for everything else is fleeting, foolish, and dust. God made a way while I was squashed and crushed by sin. May God be praised forever!

  90. Isaac Jones says:

    Man is sinful. The greatest and best of us fell. Both He and She fell; we have no real hope of avoiding sin. It is like a pit in front of us that moves so we can fall into it again and again. We should be dead and no new life should exist. The world should not exist because of the monumental sin against God. Man tried to be like God; they sought to take and capture God’s position, so while the sin seems small in is a infinitely huge sin (because fishpond is an infinitely large title) against and infinitely large, and powerful God. Man is dead under the press of water crushing him the water is called sin and the death is everlasting. Without someone to intercede on man’s behalf the end is sure and hope is gone.

  91. Isaac Jones says:

    I will respond to what God reveals in His word by believing these truths in faith; with faith in the truth of these I will act. Since God has done such a great thing, I will diligently study what He has revealed do man, and I will speak to Him knowing He allows man to speak in their way to Him. I will not be scared of a thing or anyone besides Him, because He is the only one who holds the eternal punishment in His hand. He is the only one who offers eternal grace. He is the only one who loves everlastingly.

  92. Isaac Jones says:

    This teaches me that God is perfect, and He interacts with us on our level “why did you hide form me?” It also tells me that God did not leave us in ash, though He would have been just to do so; God has chosen to be merciful in giving us hope out of the curse of Adam by the blessing of Christ Jesus. He is perfect and all powerful and eternal (His power perfection, authority, wisdom, knowledge, and existence never cease) so any disobedience to Him no matter how small requires an equally large punishment in proportion to God’s nature; We must die and die eternally for our sin. So Jesus is a huge blessing for without mercy there would be no hope.

  93. Isaac Jones says:

    I will pray to God as I would speak to my father; knowing that He wants to hear from me, and He wants to speak to me. My father wants a relationship with me and He want to give me gifts that I delight in and he wants me to say good things about Him and praise Him in the truth of His awesomeness as a merciful and loving Father.

  94. Ben Morehouse says:

    Accept the help

  95. Ben Morehouse says:

    He already knows all don’t hide it remember he is lord and God obey and serve lose the pride and serve for he is my master

  96. Ben Morehouse says:

    The lord knew we would suffer all eternity till we return to him he tells us the only way to do it is with his help

  97. Ben Morehouse says:

    Man will always turn to sin remember to turn back

  98. Ben Morehouse says:

    Father God plz open my eyes to the truth again I have been blinded by saiten worshiping my self I’m not God u are I am a man a mortal nothing man I am sorry God my awsome wonderful God plz forgive me and help me not loose sight of u again

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