Mark 15:37-39 (NIV) 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Imagine standing in front of Jesus and finally recognizing that He is the Son of God. It must have been such an awesome experience. I think of the blessing that the centurion had for actually being in the presence of Jesus. It also brings to mind the opportunity that he may have lost. Jesus walked in his midst before while He was alive. Did the centurion know Jesus before the end? Was he changed by that experience? Was he drawn closer to God?
Surely, we know that Sunday is coming! Jesus is near. During this lenten season, we may have taken steps to get ourselves closer to the Lord. We may have faltered. Today ends our Lenten Challenge. However, it does not end our journey. We are standing in the presence of Jesus and we can be transformed.
There are so many levels of transformation during this season. Some of this transformation occurs because we want it to and we are willing to put in the work to be a better disciple for Christ. We are putting time in the Word and with God in Prayer. We also work on taking care of our body temples in a manner that is pleasing to God. For we know that we are to honor God with our temples.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
The ultimate transformation and gift from the Lord is that Jesus died and rose again for you and me. He has cleansed us for now and eternal life. Knowing that we are free from the condemnation of sin is powerful and should help us to lead lives in the abundance that God promised and plans for us. Ultimately, our goal should be to stand in His presence and hear the words, “Well done.”
Luke 23:46 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
When we are troubled and going through issues or we have a plethora of circumstances that are consuming our time, money, emotions, or attention, it can become difficult to feel like God has EVERYTHING under control. We may become so consumed with what we are GROWING through that we forget to pray. We neglect the power of crying out to our God, Who, yes has everything under control. Can We Talk?!
During this Lenten season we are reminded of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus, being fully man felt some of the same emotions that we experience. He experienced rejection, anger, pain, doubt, and fear. In His final minutes on earth, His question to God was, why have You forsaken me. Rest assured that just like with Jesus, God has not forgotten you. He was in control then and He is still in control now. The Word promises that He will never leave or forsake us.
As we press through this last week of the Lenten Challenge, take comfort in knowing that whatever you are GROWING through God is with you. He knew that you would have these challenges before you today. He is not caught off guard or surprised by your circumstances. God didn’t get busy and when He turned His attention back again, there was Jesus on the cross. His plan for Jesus and His plan for reconciling our hearts back to His was predestined. Your life in Him is predestined. God knows that you are able through Him to handle all the challenges you face. Trust Him to heal and handle the issues, situations, and circumstances in your world. He is still in control. He is as close as your next whispered prayer.
John 19:17-18 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew[a] is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
Are you in a period of testing right now? We know that tests and trials are designed by God to make us and mold us. We are made stronger by the tests and trials that we endure. You’ve heard folks say, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Our tests are not designed to kill us be to strenghten our faith. Passing our tests allows us to move to the next level in God, teaching us and preparing us for what lies ahead. Can We Talk?!
As believers, it does not matter who you are and what your relationship is with the Lord you WILL face tests and trials. Our faith is tested when we go through trials. In the 1st chapter of James, he tells us to count it all joy when we face trials of any kind. He goes on to say that the testing of our faith PRODUCES perseverance. And when perseverance has finished its work in us we will be mature and complete, lacking anything.
Today, you might find yourself restless or discontent. You may be ready to give up or quit. Remember that God may testing you to teach you how to stay. He may be teaching you how to stand in the midst of adversity and uncertainty. If you quit you have forfeited the benefits of perseverance AND God will not be able to bless you at the next level, that next level blessing that will require you to know how to stay.
So if you are praying for a spouse and God is testing your staying power, He won’t send that spouse until you learn how to stay. Marriage requires staying power. If you are praying for that great career that can help you get out of debt, give you purpose, and help you care for your family, but you quit every job you get, God won’t bless you with that career until you learn how stay. Jobs come and go. Careers require staying power. TODAY you may be learning how to stay and stand through TOMORROW’s lengthy sickness of a loved one, a rocky marriage, or through the antics and confusion of a wayward child. Do you have what it takes to stay?
What is God trying to teach you today? It will bless you in the future. Surrender so that you can move to next level of your life. Learn how to stay. Learn how to stand in the face of obstacles and opposition. He will be standing right by your side.
1 Peter 4:1-2 (NRSV) Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2 so as to live for the rest of your earthly life[b] no longer by human desires but by the will of God
I got saved when I was a pre-teen. I recall thinking there are so many restrictions associated with being a Christian. You can’t do this, that or the other. You can bet that all of those things I wanted to do were things that were harmful for me. I can see it now, but certainly could not appreciate the danger back then. Even as I grew up I still thought this life of being a believer comes with so many restrictions, why would anyone commit to this way of living. Still, as I reflect now I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. Can We Talk?!
Now that I have grown up and understand better my purpose and the purpose and power of my salvation, I understand that the boundaries, restrictions or the Laws were not designed to keep me in bondage, but they were designed to set me free. When I think about no longer being a slave to sin and giving into every desire of my flesh, I understand that I am set free by those boundaries. Do I still sin? YES. Come on, you know the answer to that. Am I under the dominion of sin? NO! There is a difference.
When we are under the dominion of sin, we HAVE to sin. We don’t have a choice. Sin may in fact, be our way of life. When I recognize the power over sin I have through the blood of Christ I am able to DECIDE or CHOOSE to sin OR NOT in every situation in my life. I am aware that the choices I am making are sinful and those choices have the potential to lead to death.
I hope that you can comprehend the freedom that your salvation affords you. When we are able to live according to the will of God, instead of being driven by our fleshly desires we are set free. As a believer there are certain activities that I choose not to partake in. But that does not mean that I am missing out on anything. In fact, the opposite is true. I have gained so much through this relationship with Jesus. Riches untold. Loving the Lord makes us want to live according to His will. For me, it means that I have freedom to live a wonderfully blessed life.
Instead of focusing on my love, I’ve been thinking about all the people who have demonstrated love to me. Clearly, everyday I have been blessed. Often the blessings that come to me are through others. Support from others in projects that I start is a big way people have shown their love. The individuals may not have thought about it as love. However, I’m taking it that way. In fact, some support that I’ve received hasn’t even been because people are trying to support me.
The one thing staring us in the face, right now, is the participation of so many people in this Lenten Challenge. First, Gillian Stephens and Aqua Copeland so generously got on board to help make this 40 day journey happen. They reached out to their network and found others who were willing to get on board. These collaborators don’t even know me. Some may follow GospelFit on Twitter or Facebook, but probably haven’t connected it to me. What motivated them is their love of the Lord and belief that this concept is worthwhile. I have become the “everyone else” that the scripture references. I thank each and everyone one of them for their stepping out and demonstrating their faith in action. I am so grateful that the love of the Lord is so powerful and it blesses me all the time.
Now that I’ve done my little Holy dance of praise for others, I really need to make sure that I am open and letting God strengthen my heart. It is easy to say and to think you’re doing the right thing. Now, is the time for me to do more self-reflection and make some appropriate adjustments. I’m good most of the time. I’m working on getting better all of the time. Having found a community of people who love the Lord and can connect it with all of their entire life, I know that I have support. I know that my love will act like Luke 6:38.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I know that the love of the Lord will always exceed and multiply whatever love I can share. The Lord has demonstrated this with His death at the cross and resurrection. What a blessing!
Colossians 2:6-7 NLT “and now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
I want to open this blog with a story from my own journey “4HisTemple” :
I had started walking with the desire to improve my fibromyalgia and changing my eating habits at Gods suggestion. I could not walk 5 minutes when I started. At the time of this story I was regularly wogging a mile in 13 – 15 minutes. Wogging is a combination of fast walking and jogging.
I turned on my running app that would tell me when I had finished a mile and began the morning wog. With some praise music in my ears I talked about things with God. After awhile I decided to look at my app and see how much was left of my mile and saw it was blank. I began to worry and panic How would I know when a mile was up? How will I know when to stop?
I heard a voice whisper trust. It was God and He was telling me to just keep going and He would tell me when I needed to stop. With a mixture of excitement and anxiousness at the lack of control I continued down the hill and around the curve where my 30 second jog started. I kept trying to remember how many times I had circled and wishing I knew when to stop. Each time my mind wandered to myself, God gently called my attention back to Him. After a few circles around the track my conversation changed.
My legs began to burn and ache and I questioned God, “Are You sure I don’t need to stop? This is really hard.” He would respond, “I am running with You, not much longer now.”
Another circle, breathing heavy, huffing and puffing. Coming up to my jog, hurting bad. “God I don’t think my legs with hold me up much longer, are You sure?” God pressed me on, “I am right beside you, I will not let you fall remember I promised you in my word.” At that statement I rounded the curve to begin my 30 second jog again and hesitated. “Come to me follow me, I will not let you fall. Just a little further.” God seemed to be right in my ear. I began forward slow and increased then into a full run down the hill around the other curve and landed on my knees in the grass. God met me there and told me to pull out my phone. I looked at the app and had run 2 miles. Not because of my strength or desire, but on Gods strength and my desire to please Him. I stood up with breath and no pain.
“you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him.”
I had been trusting God from day one, just as you at the beginning of the lent challenge to strength, bless and sustain me as I walked. He had done that bringing me from less than 5 minutes to a mile. I had added Bible study and prayer to self control concerning exercise and food. It caused my roots to grow deep in Christ and trust Him. At the beginning I would not have been able to trust Him, but He knew I had not gone my full potential. He knew how far I could go and wanted to show me.
You have come so far don’t stop now!
You are starting the Second mile!
Victory awaits you!
Self control is daunting. The fight is even more intense when coupled with physical or mental ailments such as Fibromyalgia, fatigue, depression and anxiety. You may face one of these or a combination and I want to tell you victory is sure. Victory is guaranteed If you just hold on and listen to Jesus voice He will guide you and not let you fall.
When you feel yourself fighting urges to cave, wanting to eat some sweets or meat, hit your knees. He will take care of you, He will calm that. I have learned in my journey not to pray as the Pharisees for trial and trouble to be removed but rather that my desire to obey and please Jesus would increase. It has helped me in every area of my life, He is faithful. So faithful.
“Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
After this happened at the track I started wogging as God lead me. It is amazing, I still track my runs for my accountability partner as I can but I do not look at the app to see when to stop. Since this happened my faith and trust has grown. My thankfulness has as well, knowing that He will not take me further than I can go and will not let me fall as long as I trust Him. I am so excited for each of you! I know at the end of this Lenten challenge your faith, trust and thankfulness with be greatly increased as well! Continue in Christ as you have already accepted Him and started strong in Him.
God’s great blessings and love fill you.
Nehemiah 8:6 (NIV) Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
It is time to praise the Lord! No matter what is going on, praise the Lord. Sometimes, it seems as if things are not changing. It may feel as if time is stuck on an unpleasant moment. Know in those moments that praise will make it better.
Part of the praise in the down times is a reminder that God has delivered us before. Things have been less than perfect before and the Lord has seen us through. There have been things that some of us have thought we wouldn’t survive, but we did. In fact, we have thrived all because of the love of God. This is a love that is always with us.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
When you know that God is so good, there are moments that you can’t keep it inside. The deep knowing of this is something that you will share in all times and use to encourage yourself when things look less than ideal.
There are times when you may need to do your own little praise dance. These may be the best when you know things are good. When you know that you have been blessed and everything around you is going well. It could be a simple moment when you share with someone else that God is good or you could be praising Him. Recognizing, feeling and knowing that God’s love is always with you can be transformational.
Romans 8:39 (NIV) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our challenge during this Lenten season is to fully appreciate how much God loves us. The ultimate sacrifice for our salvation and for our lives connects us with God’s power in every moment. Truly a reason for praise. Amen!
John 3:3 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
I want to see the kingdom of God. Don’t you? Being born again is the foundation of our faith. Jesus tells us in John 3:3 that we must be born again to see God’s kingdom. What then are we to do? How can we ensure that we are born again?
It isn’t by our works. We know this from Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) which states: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
This being “saved” is being born again and spiritually renewed. Our new birth happens as we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is what this Lenten season is about. Recognizing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again is our first step to salvation. We need to believe this is true for our spiritually rebirth.
2 Corinthians 5:17(NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
We become new in Christ. We grow in our trust in the Lord as we commit to our journey in Christ. When we seek out the Lord, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. Our life on earth and our life everlasting will be changed for the good.
Have you confessed that the Lord is your Savior? Do you know for yourself that Jesus died to save you of your sins? Are you building your trust in Jesus Christ? If you are already committed to Lord, do you need to renew yourself during this Lenten Challenge?
John 1:12-13 (NIV) 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
If you have yet to commit yourself to the Lord and wish to do so, now is your time. Believe in your heart and live the life you confess with your mouth. Below is a prayer of salvation. Be clear, it is not the prayer that saves you. It is your belief that Jesus Christ came to save YOU from your sins. Salvation starts with your faith.
“God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!” from GotQuestions.com
I pray for you in support and know that all who accept are truly born again.
Malachi 3:1 (NIV) “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Are you seeking the messenger? Do you realize that he has come? What does that mean for you, for me, for us in this current moment? During this Lenten season, our true challenge is to connect with our source in a way better than we have previously. This Lenten Challenge should build our faith and discipleship. The goal is for us to live on purpose. In order to get there, we must align our purpose with His purpose.
Please consider that the desire of your heart is placed there by the Lord. He is always there to love and support you for your highest good. Ultimately, your life in the Lord is to live the blessings that God puts on your life. Really, this sounds easy. However, this is not necessarily so. We are human with weaknesses and faults. While we strive for perfection, we will fall short. No matter how disappointing this is for us and God, God still loves us.
When we know deep within our being that the messenger has come for our salvation and abundant life, our living each day will be enhanced. We will live a life more pleasing to the Lord and more fulfilling for us. Ultimately, we all want to hear the words, ” ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Let us celebrate! The messenger is come! We are free!
Romans 1:16 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
I hope your season of fasting and prayer is fortifying and refueling you. I chose the Daniel Fast for my Lenten Challenge. Having participated in a Daniel Fast last year with our women’s ministry, triSistah4:12 Ministries I had some experience with this type of fast. Here we are now 5 days into the Lenten Challenge and I find myself thinking everyday something that I do not even think crossed my mind last year. After lunch or dinner I’m thinking…What was my main dish? I hope you can already see where I am going? Can We Talk?!
The way that many of us were taught to eat was that we have a main dish which would be the meat and then our side dish would be the veggies. Since I am eating primarily fruits and veggies now my mind is challenged to think that I am full and satisfied because I have not had my main dish. As I was going down this rabbit trail in my mind this morning I started thinking about our scripture for today and the Lord whispered, “I am your Main dish.”
During this season of fasting, prayer, and surrender we must reflect on our relationship with Jesus. Some of us can’t be content in our relationship with Him because He is not our main dish in our everyday lives. Jesus is our side dish. We have compartmentalized our lives in Christ by living one way on Sunday morning and another way “in the world” throughout the week. Our everyday lives are craving the Main dish. Our everyday lives are craving the power and presence of Jesus Christ. In the 12th chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul implores us to “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
Don’t you think our daily lives should be a testimony of our relationship with Christ? Living in the world, but not being of the world means that our everyday lives speak to who we are as His followers. No, that doesn’t mean we pretend to be someone or something that we are not. That also does not mean that we are perfect faultless people. What it does mean is that everyday, unashamed, with all our faults and wrinkles we pick up our cross and follow hard after our Savior who lived and died so that we would be free.