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.
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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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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.
Proverbs 10:12 NLT Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.
I’m taking a different look at this scripture as I consider why I do some of the things I do and even some of the things I don’t do. While I don’t think I actively hate myself, I’m not really showing love to myself when I eat more than I should and when I don’t work out. Truly loving yourself or anyone else requires action. I have to ask myself today am I loving myself enough. Have I focused enough energy on breaking bad habits and building new ones? Loving myself now will help me overcome the offense of my previous lack in these areas.
The one thing I know about this Lenten Challenge season is that I have an opportunity to focus on what I should do in context with what God has and will do for me. Jesus has demonstrated his love for me that is absolutely unconditional. This is a love that frees me from my past bonds and gives me the opportunity to make things better. My path to loving myself more might not be perfect. Actually, I know it won’t be and God will love me still.
The truth is that God loves us all. Once we come to truly accepting His love and loving ourselves in every area of our lives, life will only get better. It will also result in us loving each other even more. I’m exciting about sharing more love and know that it begins with me.
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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).
Psalm 20:6 (NIV) Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.
I’m claiming the victory in advance. Why? Because I know that I know that God is going to give me that victory. Not only do I know it from the Word, I have lived it in my life before. I have been victorious and I will continue to praise the Lord even when I can’t see the victory ahead.
I am in no way suggesting that we simply ask God for things and He just delivers…or does He? After all, the Word says in Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Are we truly delighting in the Lord and believing in the victory? Are we doing what we should? Are we building a closer relationship? Sometimes, I think it is easy to see what is our part. If we’re praying for an A on a course, we need to study and God will help us through. What do we do in the when the solutions doesn’t seem clear? What do we do when we have no idea what to do next?
Living each day with the attitude that the victory is mine makes the day better. Living in defeat has not led me closer to the desires of my heart. Defeat causes stress and separation. God offers relief and connection. I understand that my humanness may cause me to be distracted from God’s good. However, I know that I have to gain control and bring my focus back on what the Lord confirms and what He has and will do for me.
One thing to do is to focus more on the Word. We are told in 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
Faith is crucial in the waiting time before the victory. If we are living without the victory right now, we know what it is to live without it. However, we need to remind ourselves that the victory is come. Sometimes, we may just need to praise the Lord in advance. There are moments, when that is so easy to say and requires effort to do. Those are times to sing the songs of praise and to rely on those who can lift you up. One of my favorite things to do is to listen to some Gospel music to keep me on track. Marvin Sapp’s Praise Him in Advance is perfect for those moments. If you need one now, check the video here.
During this Lenten Challenge, we are working on building our relationship with the Lord. We know His Word is true. As we align ourselves to what God wants us to do, we will see the result in our lives. Our lives will be even better than we imagine. This is not because I say so, rather it is in the Word.
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.