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I love the book of James. There is so much wisdom imparted to us within these pages that it is difficult for me to pick and choose which verse or verses are my favorite. But, for today at least, I will choose one that I think will give you a little inspiration for your week.
In James chapter 3 verses 17-18 it says,
17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
A lot to swallow, right? But let’s have a little fun with this and relate each identifying mark of wisdom that James describes to our own struggles with being healthy.
1. Pure: Are you pure with your motives for trying to live a better life? I mean, if you are trying to lose weight or look better for anyone other than yourself, you are fighting an uphill battle. I work with a lot of people on their wellness and fitness concerns, time and time again I stress to them that there has to be a shift in their way of thinking, if they have a chance to make the most significant impact. They have to choose to make a change for themselves. Girlfriend or boyfriend, spouse, and even doctors don’t make the difference. You have to purely want to change. Once you have the conviction behind whatever you want to do, you become unstoppable. If your results are based on other’s perception of you, it works for a while, but ultimately, in those times when you are at your weakest, you fail miserably because you know deep inside that you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
2. Peace Loving: Love yourself some peace. Peace of mind that is! Have the peace of mind that you do your best and give it your all every time you step foot in the gym or on the street to do some walking or jogging. Even if you roll out that fitness mat at home and do an exercise video, don’t do it half-way. Give it your best! Why waste the effort half-heartedly? If your best effort of walking is 5 minutes, go for it. Tomorrow make it 6 minutes. Then the next day go for 7 minutes. As you continue to increase, you will continue to improve. But it takes the best effort to get the best results. Have the peace within yourself of knowing that you did your very best.
3. Considerate: Consider those loved ones that need you to be there for them. You are not out on an island. You have people counting on you to be an example and to motivate them in return. Buddying up with others to exercise is a great way to build and develop relationships. Your outcomes are not just dependent on what you get out of the workout, but what you are willing to give to others as well.
4. Submissive: Submit to the will of the Father. He does not want you to every consider yourself to be a loser. You have power inside of you that needs to be untapped. You have limitless potential for success. Fall down today, fine. Get back up tomorrow and try again. Eventually, the plan is to make the number of times you stand bigger than the number of falls. If you do that then you are always on top. God has a destiny and a calling for his people to be conquerors.
5. Full of Mercy and Good Fruit: Have mercy on yourself for your past failures. So what if you failed the last time you dieted. That was the old you. Even if it was just yesterday, you are a day older now. Move on, forgive yourself, throw a little mercy your way and take the next moment to do better. The good fruit of your labors is right around the corner if you believe and finish the race.
6. Impartial and Sincere: Judge no one for their efforts. Neither should you favor your own. Just because you are you, does not give you the excuse that you should take it easy. If you are going to do something, do it right. Or just don’t do it at all. Impartiality to your pitiful circumstances only pacifies whatever detrimental behaviors you have developed. Get it in your mind that you will not settle for anything second best and that your effort will be sincere. Then and only then, will the challenges be lessened, your resolve fortified and your outcomes perfected.
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“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11
The letter to the Philippians is one of four written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison. He wrote it to thank the Philippian church for the gifts that they’d sent to him (Philippians 4:18), and to encourage them to continue looking to Christ as the sole source of their joy and unity.
Joy isn’t something that we naturally associate with imprisonment – especially of an innocent person – yet the word ‘joy’ (or similar) occurs 16 times in his letter to the Philippians. Paul understood that Christian life calls on us not only to believe in Jesus Christ, but also to bear up under suffering for his sake.
Paul embraced the predicament as an opportunity to become a joint-heir with Jesus Christ (“we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together”, Romans 8:16).
In Philippians 3: 10 – 11, Paul says, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
The Greek word Paul uses for “know” is “GINOSKO,” an old Jewish expression referring to the union between a husband and wife (Genesis 4:1, Ephesians 3:19). In other words, Paul viewed his suffering as par for the course of forging an intimate relationship with the son of God; to experiencing the grace bought by Jesus Christ’s death (and resurrection) and sharing in the gift of eternal life, which it gives us all.
That is not to say that our journey with Christ will be one of constant suffering, but there may be times when we will be faced with challenges in our lives. At these times we should stand strong in our faith knowing that, we are not alone and we should keep looking to Christ for our joy.
What an incredible perspective we can gain when we set our sights on “the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ”. (Philippians 3: 11).
During this lenten challenge and at all times, may God grant us all the grace to rejoice and spread joy during our times of troubles, and to take heart! For Jesus Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33).
Mark 16:6-7 (NIV) 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’
Jesus had been killed by hanging on a cross – falsely accused and misunderstood by the Religious authorities. And though he had followers, people faithful to him – few of them were with him when he died. Verse 1-5 in this 16th Chapter of Mark, tells us that once Jesus had died, his body was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb. 3 days later Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome made the journey to the tomb in order to anoint Jesus’ dead body with spices, but when they arrived, Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. It was gone.
They saw that stone had been rolled away and they were greeted by a young man presumed to be an angel, who provides the verse for today’s Lenten scripture: 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go; tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’
These believing women went to prepare his body, as was the Jewish practice of the time for final resting. I am sure that they were in some kind of pain – loss manifest itself in so many ways. How do you feel, when things are one way and then all of the sudden you see that it is totally different; surprised, lost, deceived, angry, hurt, remorseful, dumb; there is some emotion attributed to difference. For me, I get a nervous stomach and it is not proved to be too far off and then I have questions. There are times when I have to thoroughly examine my feelings, especially when all along I believed one way, only to find out it is not what I thought at all.
How do you feel when that happens, when something or someone you trusted in, is no longer there, your foundation, your rock is gone? Clearly now, in these economic times, and the recent act of sequesterian (I am a fed), the world for many is now turned upside down, and in a panic. I just wonder what expressions did these three faithful women show for the angel to tell them not to be alarmed; Jesus had made promises to never leave nor forsake.
Let’s just look at the scripture – Notice the angel tries to comfort them in their fears.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he says. Then, proceeds to give them information on what has happened. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” Not only does he provides a confirmation as to the status of Jesus, he then points them in the direction to see Jesus, once again – “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Are you familiar with Jesus? Are you familiar with the promises, the miracles, and the parables? Is your relationship a familiar relationship, where you know that our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will never leave you or forsake you? John 3:16 tells us: 6 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV) I so appreciate that scripture, but more importantly what touches my heart, and what I have lived with is John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (NKJV)
I had to ask myself through this Lenten season, if I am willing to accept change by accepting what God will allow, know that every single of the reported 3,573 promises in the bible are true, even if circumstances do not line up? If I just hold onto one of those promises and believe that God is faithful, all will be well.
Take a moment for you and consider: Do you have the faith to believe Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. And when you do have questions, when your foundation has been shaken, when life has taken a turn and your pain is unbearable, and you just don’t believe weeping may endure for a night, because no Joy has yet to come in the morning; when your faith is weaken, are you willing to follow through with Jeremiah 29: 12-13 and believe the promise “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV)
Listen to the angel and go for the familiar and that would the resurrected promise of Jesus. Hold on and look around and see that there really is only one set of footprints, and they are not ours. God Bless you.
Image “Sin is at your door” courtesy of Jordyn Williams on Flickr
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7
By now we are nice and cozy in our Lenten Challenge. I’m sure some of us are doing fabulously, focused and sticking to our plans. But, I bet lots of us are not doing as well. Maybe we have not stuck to our food plans. Perhaps we have missed some workouts. It’s possible that some of us have not been very focused on Lent or the challenge at all. Do you fall into any of these groups?
I happen to fall into category 3, lack of focus on Lent. Lent is not a part of the spiritual practices that I grew up with. I’ve learned a little about it over the last few years. I like the idea of making a personal sacrifice and reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifices for us. As much as I like the idea of Lent, it is not a habitual practice for me. I find myself getting caught up in my normal routines and not focusing on Lent the way that I should.
Now, if you are like me lacking focus or coming up short in the diet or fitness area, it is ok. Do not have your face downcast. Do not be Angry with yourself. Maybe you have not done the right things in terms of your goals for this challenge. Our subject verse says if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Sin and temptation go hand and hand. You may be feeling very tempted to give up on this challenge and your Lenten goals. I urge you to not let any downcast feelings or anger control you, influence you, have you. Instead I ask you to simply let these feelings pass, rule over them and the temptation to quit.
Instead of focusing on what you have not done right thus far in the challenge focus on the beginning of verse 7, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? Today, start over if you need to. Don’t focus on what you have not done well. Instead focus on what you have done right and what you can do right going forward. My answer to the question post to Cain is yes; if you do right you will be accepted. But that acceptance will come from within. We feel good about ourselves and accept ourselves when we know we are doing our best to do what is right.
So even if things are not going as well as we’d like within this challenge or even other areas of your life don’t let downcast feelings, guilt, or anger have you. Rule over it. Do not give into the temptation of quitting. Instead focus on getting back on track and doing what is right so you can accept yourself, flaws and all without guilt or self anger.
Do you need to get back on your food plan, exercise regime, or just refocus in general on the Lenten Challenge?
Arlett R. Hartie (Chasing Joy)
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Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Transforming yourself is effort. To be more in line with what God wants requires focus, dedication and commitment. While striving for perfection, each of us will certainly falter. However, we will continue to improve as we make more adjustments.
At this point during the Lenten Challenge, you may be feeling as if you’d simply like to give up the things you decided to do at the start or you may feel that you have strayed so far from your plan that you might as well give up altogether. Instead of giving in to those feelings, decide to recommit yourself. Know that God loves you for what you’ve done thus far and will love you through each step.
Your efforts do require discipline in your commitment. This discipline will continue to grow with practice. Focus on your goal as you make corrections and make the next step. Continued discipline becomes habit and requires less effort to keep on track.
1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
You are heading toward the prize today. Renew your mind with a focus on winning the prize!
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!
Here came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. John 1:6-7 NASB
Every day we are yearning to know “How can good come to and out of our lives?” We live with dreams, visions, and goals to which we never pursue. Getting a better job, starting a blog, eating better, teaching and empowering others, etc. are some things we long to do. Taking time to understand what you are sent to this earth to do will help you with getting started with accomplishing your goals. Many times we are looking at everyone else accomplish and receive results in the things we sit and think about doing. It’s time to get moving and receive. The life you dream of is awaiting you.
John the Baptist was sent to this earth by God and so were you. John came to testify about the Light and he fulfilled his purpose. You came to fulfill a purpose as well. He fulfilled his purpose so many would believe in Jesus Christ and when you accomplish your purpose people will believe they can do it to.
You have everything inside of you to live the life you see. You would have never had the unction to desire those things if God wasn’t going to give you everything you need to fulfill them. He has already gone before you and paved the way for you to become your dream and live good. Go and fill out the application. Put down the cookies and pick up a carrot. Begin uplifting with your co-workers. Do something now. Do not wait until everything is in place because something will always come up. It’s time to push pass the thoughts of “I’ll do it tomorrow” and start now. Push pass the thoughts” I am to old”, you are still breathing. Push pass the thoughts “one cookie won’t hurt”, ten minutes of exercise won’t either. No more excuses. No more limitations, it’s time to fulfill your goals and live your dream.
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24 “If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who has faith.’ At once the father of the boy cried out, ‘I have faith. Help my lack of faith!” Mark 9:24 (NJB)
I’m a believer and I feel blessed for all the great things that God is doing in my life but sometimes my faith wavers. I may have a problem that I’m unable to decide on the best resolution, instead of putting it in prayer and trusting in God to help me find the answers, I spend a lot of time stressing. Luckily I have a sister that constantly reminds me to hand my worries to God and have faith that my prayers will be answered. I’m not 100% there, but everyday as I see wonderful things unfold in my life my faith grows.
Being on this Lenten challenge has been a blessing, it has made me pay more attention to the word of God. Everyday I am being spoken to, on what I need to do to strengthen my relationship with God to receive my inheritance.
God guides me in seeking him out. He gives me the will power to abstain from sugar as part of the Lenten Challenge. He gives me the strength to exercise, to enable me to be strong for the physical demands of motherhood.
Whatever we are faced with, no matter how bleak things may seem we need to have faith in God. He will support and guide us through, till we come out on the other side. We need to place our troubles in his hands, in the knowledge that he will take care of it and us.
How strong is your faith? Do you stress over your problems or do you hand them to God? Thanks for commenting.
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2: 38-39)
Now the reason you must be born again is because Jesus wants to transfer life. If we want to follow Christ we must do what the word of the Lord says, “repent and be baptized.” There has to be a turning away from a life of selfishness and rebellion against God’s law and at the same time a time to turn to Christ. We cannot save ourselves – only God can save us. Baptism identifies us with Christ and the community of believers. It is a condition of discipleship and a sign of faith.
Then sin says I am going to attack your body, begin to destroy the thing that God created. Fill you full of affliction and disease. That is how sin works. Sin wraps its fingers around your life and hangs on. Sins says I do all of that for one purpose. Sin eventually wants to get a hold of your soul where it can drag you to hell and work destruction on you for all of eternity. That is what sin has set its course to do.
But Peter said, “let me tell you what Jesus has come to do.”
Jesus has come to destroy the power of sin on your life. You do not have to live with your mind under continued attack. You don’t have to live with your emotions under continual attack. You don’t have to live with your body under attack. Jesus said in the book of John:
John 10:10 KJV The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. This is a word that has resonated with me personally during my weight loss journey. In the area of changing my eating habits. If don’t change the way I was eating and caring for His temple then I am going to die. That was one of the last things that I wanted to do, so I had to repent for my emotional eating lifestyle and asked God for help. He said in John 3:30 ‘He must increase and I must decrease.’ I had to learn to turn my frustrations, stresses, worries over to him and crave Him more and not food.
First of all, repentance is asking Him to be the Lord of every area of your life. Secondly repentance is admitting you are a sinner.
Inheritance means that it belonged to somebody else before it belonged to you. You have received something of great value. It is my prayer that after my 40 Day fast that many of my loved ones and new souls will receive this new inheritance and become part of the body of Christ.
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The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
Hope can be defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. In other words hope is where your expectations are centered. Your desires and expectations should be divinely centered. Ask yourself this question: Are my expectations aligned with the most high?
The unwise and unlearned place their hope in people, jobs and material things. People are mercurial, the economy is fickle and material things do not last. It’s time we dig a little deeper and place our hope in a steadfast foundation. This sure foundation is God.
No matter what you desire, place all your hope in the most high. You want to lose weight? You want to get fit? You want to be completely healed and restored? Put your hope in the Lord. You cannot do it alone. We are subject to error and mistakes. Eating that extra piece of cake or skipping the gym is a reflection of our weaknesses. Even with willpower we aren’t exempt from temptation and mishaps. Therefore trusting and hoping solely in your own strength is hazardous.
In your darkest and weakest moments, trust in the power of God. The lord will be the hope of your situation.
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