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.
“I will declare your name to my people in the assembly I will praise you.You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!” Psalm 22:22-23
Psalm 22 gives a simple 3 step road map for any time in our lives that we face discouragement or trials….
1. Discouragement: In verses 1-10 the psalmist, David expresses complaints of discouragement.
2. Prayer: Beginning in verse 11 all the way through verse 21, we see David in prayer for deliverance.
3. Praise: Beginning in verse 22 we see David praise God in the congregation because the answers to his private prayers of deliverance deserved a public testimony…
Today, we focus on praise.
God wonderfully delivers us in the quiet moments when we are hurting, and we must be prepared to offer public praise for his care.
Give God praises for mercies and redemption in your life today…
Redemption is the reason for praise: All our praises should center around the work of redemption. The suffering of the Redeemer was graciously accepted as a full satisfaction for sin. Though it was offered for sinful men, the Father did not despise it for our sakes. This and this alone should be the focus and reason for our thanksgiving.
Because of His righteousness, and not any of our own, we should declare Christ to be the foundation of all our hopes, and the fountain of all our joys. Redemption by Christ is the Lord’s own doing.
Humility is the manner in which we praise: With redemption as the reason for our praise, all humble, gracious hearts should have a full satisfaction and happiness in him. Those that hunger and thirst after righteousness in Christ do not labor for that which does not satisfies- we remain humble and turn from pride. With hearts of humility, those that turn to God, will be found praising and worshipping before him.
Let every tongue confess that he is Lord. High and low, rich and poor, bond and free, meet in Christ. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our wisdom, by obedient faith, to commit our souls to Christ, who is able to save and keep them alive forever.
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“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2
Although some of the early books of the Old Testament can be a real challenge to read through (Leviticus, anyone?), Deuteronomy 28 has always held my attention. And for good reason: it presents God’s offer of blessings and curses to the children of Israel, and, by extension, to us, the children of promise in Christ.
It’s easy to get caught up in the heady aroma of the blessings laid out in verses 3 to 14, but then our attention tends to wane as we wade through nearly 50 verses of calamitous curses. Who needs to hear these prophetic tales of woe when the promise of the good life is spread out before us like a veritable feast of Belshazzar?
But let’s go back to verses 1 and 2 for a minute. They set the stage for the entire chapter, laying out obedience and blessing as two sides of the same coin:
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.
Some versions use the words “diligently obey” and “observe carefully.” And that four-letter word “obey” crops up twice in those two verses.
I see a progression here:
• To be blessed, we must obey.
• To obey, we must hear.
• To hear, we must be attentive.
• To be attentive, we must eliminate distractions, lofty thoughts, and the daily dust that gathers and clouds our vision and passion for God.
There doesn’t seem to be any room for partial obedience, which we know is no obedience at all.
But wait, you say! God knows my heart! To which I respond by pointing you to Jeremiah 17:9:”The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”We deceive ourselves if we think that we can give God less than full obedience and expect to reap the benefits of His unconditional love. No obedience, no blessing. To the misguided thought that we can collect blessings and not obey, God gently and consistently says: “no.”
Consider what it means to be blessed by the God of the Universe. To be in covenant with the God of wonders and majesty. He is faithful in all His dealings with us. He stays true to His part of the covenant sealed by Jesus’s blood. He simply asks for faithfulness from us. In a word, obedience.
And look at what the power of the blessing confers on us!
* The covering of the Most High God;
* Freedom from evil and curses;
* Perpetual increase and favor; and
* Long life: shalom and pleroma.
Friends, as we approach the end of this Lenten season, may we be reminded of the sum of all of God’s gentle entreaties to us as He seeks to bless us each day:
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“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, You would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him” John 14:6–7
How can we know the way to God? Only through Jesus. This is one of the most basic and important passages in Scripture yet so often we fail to live this out….
THE WAY: Jesus says he is the ONLY way to God the Father. In a world with seemingly unlimited choices, some people may argue today that this way is too narrow. But in reality, we know it is wide enough for the whole world, if the world chooses to accept it.
Jesus is the way because he is both God and man. As the way, Jesus is our path to the Father. By uniting our lives with his, we are united with God. Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying, “Thank you, God for providing a sure way to get to you!” Trust Jesus to take you to the Father, and all the benefits of being God’s child will be yours.
THE TRUTH: As the truth, Jesus is the reality of all God’s promises. The sanctity of truth is a theme that we find taught over and over again in the Bible. Jesus refers to Satan as a “liar and the father of lies” (8:44), which helps us understand that falsehood is unholy while truth-telling accords with the Lord’s character.
Reflect for a moment on what we know about truth:
• Psalm 119:160 explains that the Word of God is truth.
• Psalm 145:18 makes it plain that the Lord will come near and bless only those who call upon Him in truth.
Yet we do not know the truth if we make no attempt to live it out:
• Truth is something that we can practice (1 John 3:18)
• Faithfulness to the Lord means that we are concerned to walk in His true way (Ps. 86:11).
Walking in His true way is not perfect obedience this side of heaven, but a life of repentance when we see how far short we fall of His standards (1 John 1:5–10).
THE LIFE: Ultimately, once you accept Jesus as the only way to the Father, you can then begin to take hold of the reality of the truth of all God’s promises. It is in this that- as the way and the truth Jesus gives us life, both now and most important, for eternity.
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“The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” Judges 7:7 (NIV)
In today’s Lenten scripture we see Gideon preparing to go forth to battle. He is doing what he thinks needs to be done; getting as many people together as he can to be ready to move forward. . He must have been quite surprised for God to tell him to leave most of his help behind. This truly did not make common sense. This was against everything that Gideon knew to be true when preparing for combat.
The one thing that this portion of scripture struck me was that Gideon listened to God. No, it did not make any worldly sense to cut back on the troops needed to go into battle. But He listened! How are our listening ears these days? Think about this, what if God told us to leave something in our life, that we are comfortable with – just leave it alone. Actually, forget about this thing, and move forward. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t explain, just do it.
For those who will ask this question – how do we know it is God, while that is another blog topic, I will refer you to John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (NKJV)
Would we trust God? Would we even believe that it was Him because he was advising us to do something that did not make any sense to us in our common sense approach to problems? Sometimes, I think that I have God all figured out, because I have been living awhile and I have seen some things, had experiences, so even when God sets up situations to change my patterns of approach and behavior, I have thought that I can make correction as if my way is better. Now, I am being transparent here, because before I can help someone else, I need to be truly honest about me!
Earlier, I said Gideon listened, why is that? In verse 2, God told Gideon that with so many men in the army, they would think that they were self-sufficient and thus, need not depend on God. And to prove his point God gave Gideon a command in verse 3 to announce to the men “Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead,” and as such 22,000 men left the army because they were afraid. God finally reduced the number to just 300 and clearly told Gideon that he was to obey Him in His selection.
Gideon listened, saw results, just as we have many times over in our lives when we have listened to God. I just believe had Gideon gone into battle with all of the people that he had recruited because it made more sense to him then he stood a great chance of losing the Lord on his side. Think on this, if 22,000 men who left, had actually stayed, what would have happened in that battle?
Sometimes God may call us to make an unorthodox move to send His word forth. Are we prepared to be used by God in such a manner as this? Some of us are just sitting there wondering what is going on and what should we do next. We must be careful that God isn’t saying, “Leave this, that or the other behind and move forward now!”
May, I suggest that we refresh, regroup and reorganize our thinking, so that God can do a new thing in us. As soon as we accept what God allows, new things will be exposed and opportunities will be abound because we are aligned in God! Be Victorious today!
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.
“Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against me.” Jeremiah 33:6-8 NKJV
The Bible is full of God promises regarding healing and sickness. God shows us in his word that the time of restoration would bring joy, such as that of a bride and bridegroom at a wedding feast. Prayer is one way in which believers claim the promises of God. It is through prayer that God reveals his character and his blessing. I believe that prayer is key to healing and blessing.
As a believer commits to prayer, he promises to respond. In his word, just a few verses before he says ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) He answers us liberally, abundantly and generously. In these verses 6-18 the elements of forgiveness of sin, healing, restoration and prosperity appear.
Are you in need of a healing, forgiveness or restoration? Call on Jesus!
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4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, 5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is an interesting word something that most of us tend to use quite flippantly for things we like, appreciate and want but the scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 truly sums up what love is.
I love my husband, I love my children, I love my parents, I love my sister and I love my friends. At the same time I canot say that the love I have for these special people in my life, has prevented me from displaying negative emotions towards them.
Lent is a time of reflection, prayer, deepening our relationship with God and a reminder of the great sacrifice that was made on our behalf, through Jesus because God loved us. Hopefully the Lenten Challenge has been able to support you in all of this.
For me the Lenten Challenge is a time to draw closer to God and learn from his teachings. This will enable me to love myself more by treating my body right through my diet and physical activity, whilst also enabling me to love others around me in a way that truly reflects what love is about.
God’s love for us is not finite, it is not dependent on our actions, it is not to control us, it always urges us on, it is never angry or hurtful, it will never fail us!
My prayer for me and for you is for God to open our hearts and guide us, such that we too can love ourselves and one another in the same way that he loves us.
Image courtesy of The Ruby Life
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Do you Trust Him??
First, let me start by saying that it is an honor to be amongst so many awesome people that are involved in this Lenten challenge. It has been a pleasure to read all of the posts that have been submitted here for this great event. To be honest, I was a bit nervous because I wanted to write well for each of you.
As I sat back and prayed before I typed a single word, I looked at my bible verse and the first four words put me at ease. “Trust in the Lord.” See many times, when we get nervous and we tend to tense up and doubt ourselves, but we forget to trust in the lord that he has our back through any trial that is upon us.
There was a time in my life that I did not trust in the lord, I am not ashamed to say that because I am sure not that same person today. I would question everything; I had trust issues as many of us still may have today. Did you guys see that “(HAD)”? Let me reassure you that since giving myself back to Christ 3 years ago it has been all or nothing. It is either trust him or you do not and I TRUST him!! It may not be easy at times, but I trust God with all of my heart that everything is going to be just fine. That even applies to our Lenten challenge.
See, with the challenge we are giving up things that we usually would indulge in to make us happy, comfort us, or just because. As I sit here right next to my favorite lemon cake, I take a drink of my lemon water, and I will not ask why. Sometimes, we need to give things up and not ask why, deep down it is to get us off that rigid road and back on a straighter smoother path to a better and healthier life.
Therefore, Trust that God is with you each day through this challenge…I know I do!
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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.