To begin our Lenten focus on who I am because of Christ, I choose a perspective that is essential for all believers to know and internalize in their daily walk with Jesus.
Because I believe Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am a child of God. The Bible is filled with references to God’s children, those who believe in Him. Let’s look at John 1:12-13 to see why. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John specifically tells us that belief in Jesus gives us the right or privilege to become a child of God. It is a birth that comes from God. Why is this important? Just like in any household, being a child there gives one privileges or benefits that come from being your father’s child. You might have a room of your own, a pool to use, food to eat, a car to drive and receive the love of your parents and siblings. God’s family is like that too. We have His Spirit to indwell us, coming mansions in heaven, use of all God’s kingdom to speak of His love, provision of clothes, food and things we need in life, brothers and sisters in faith to share with and most importantly His love forever. What a great family!
As you begin your Lenten journey, think about being a child of God. Thank Jesus for providing the way for you to come into His family and enjoy the wonderful privileges that you have because of His sacrifice. Thank you Jesus.
For Lent to begin on Valentine’s Day is ironic. The day for expressing romantic love is the beginning of a season of reflection and prayer for God’s greatest expression of Love towards us in sacrificing His only son to save us from sin’s penalty. John 3:16-17 puts it succinctly, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God’s love for us is so much more than any romantic love we can even imagine. His love is complete, full, holy, pure, for our good and eternal. What a great love we have in Christ.
As we center our thinking on Christ these next 40 days. I found this quote by Pope Francis and thought it was so insightful as to how Lent should affect our thoughts and behaviors. He presents a thoughtful approach to fasting and I personally feel it is much more difficult than giving up chocolate or alcohol. Will you choose an area or two of focus for yourself for these next 40 days?
In my Lenten blogs, I will be focusing on what I am now because Christ imputed His righteousness to me. I pray you will find this Lenten focus helpful and that it will lead you into a deeper love for your Savior. and greater connection with His sacrifice for you.
If you feel uplifted by reading my daily blog thoughts- sent it on to others. Encouraging one another in faith glorifies God and His work in us.
Lent begins on Wednesday. If we were in New Orleans we would be celebrating during the Mardi Gras season awaiting tomorrow better known as ‘Fat Tuesday’. This is the biggest and last day of the festival. Why celebrate? Beginning in Medieval times people would celebrate by eating rich foods and drinking before the season of Lent that brought penance and fasting. Today I hear people say, “This is my last_____ for 6 weeks”. This could be chocolate, french fries, alcohol or anything else one feels would be a sacrifice to eliminate from their diet for the 6 weeks leading up to Easter. All of the ‘sacrifice’ points to the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made by dying on the cross for our sins.
What about you? Be sure to catch Wednesday’s blog as I’ve included a list from Pope Francis on things you might consider giving up. I was intrigued and I think you will be too.
As for myself, I tried ‘giving’ something up for several years and did not find it focused me enough on Christ or helped me identify with His suffering. So I tried adding something on. I found that a greater more focusing action. For example, one could commit to a certain amount of time in prayer, bible study, attending daily church services, working with support groups feeding the homeless, etc. The sacrifice of time and intent connected me more to Christ and His suffering. Each person has to find their own connection to Christ during this time of ‘fasting’.
Suggestion– follow my blog each day and meditate on the scripture and idea presented about Christ. I will be focusing on who I am now because of what Christ did for me on the cross. I pray it will give added meaning to your Lenten Season.
Looking forward to my 6 weeks with anticipation as I know my faithful Savior waits will teach me each day more about himself,
It has been a month since I posted my blogs to begin our New Year with HOPE. I pray you had a good beginning to 2018. I had the privilege to travel to Thailand and Cambodia. It was an amazing trip and God was faithful to teach me as I traveled. I want to share a few reflections before we begin our Lenten journey on February 14th.
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
David’s words convict me today. I am so blessed and need to constantly give glory to God for His blessings in my life. I see the less fortunate around me and need to constantly give encouragement and hope to others both physically and spiritually by sharing Jesus’ love with those I meet. I am blessed to have a church home and fellowship groups filled with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I need to have a heart for the lost and seek to support those who reach out beyond where I can physically go myself.
How about you? Do David’s words speak to you today? He tells us what He needs to do and what we can do together. As you encounter others, do you speak with an attitude of praise towards God? Do you give God praise for the big and little things He does for you each day? Do you work with others to encourage those that are suffering and downtrodden with their lives? Do you gather with others to praise God and lift His name on high? David’s thoughts are convicting and encouraging as we seek to serve God right where we are.
Visiting places in the world, outside of my familiar sphere, shake up my thoughts and help me to see others and their needs more clearly. It helps me to see God’s love for the world in a new and fresh way.
Looking inward and outward in Christ,
Now let us turn our thoughts towards Lent, which begins on February 14th. That will be a 6 week journey towards the cross and a time of repentance and reflection.
Well, we have survived the first week of 2018! I hope the promises I suggested to strengthen and uplift you gave you a needed jump start to begin the New Year with a positive and encouraging outlook!
Lamentations 3:21-23 God’s mercies are new each morning and we can count on His faithfulness. Isaiah 40:28-31 God does not grow weary and we will be lifted up by Him. Deuteronomy 31:6 God will never leave us nor forsake us. Zephaniah 3:17 God saves, quiets us with His love and rejoices over us. Galatians 6:9-10 Keep on doing good and working to build up others especially our brothers and sisters in faith. Isaiah 41:10 God promises to strengthen, help and uphold us through Jesus. James 1:2-5 Be positive about life’s trials knowing He is transforming us into someone who is more and more like Jesus. Jeremiah 29:11 God has plans for our lives and they are good.
I will leave you with 2 more from Philippians today. Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” God’s plan of action:don’t worry, pray, thank Him = peace, protection for heart and mind. Add to these thoughts Philippians 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” God promises that His resources are greater than any need we will have in 2018. What a glorious hope and provision we have in Jesus!
Cling to these verses as you walk forward this year. Claim their truths. What God promises, He delivers. God is ever faithful.
James 1:2-5 is one of my favorite passages because it is filled with hope. James wants us to realize that the things we face in our lives build and shape our character. Facing the trials of life with hope and faith creates steadfastness within us making us more and more like Jesus.
James 1:2-5 ” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
How is this of any help as we begin a New Year? It helps us look at life’s events with positivity so that we are looking for the change in our own character brought about by exercising our faith in Jesus. God promises that placing our faith in Him will hone and sharpen us to where it will seem we are lacking nothing. He adds in verse 5 that if we find we are lacking wisdom, we only need to ask God and He will give us wisdom.
Are you facing a difficult trial right now? Consider it an opportunity for growth in faith and trust in Almighty God. Cling toJeremiah 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.” God is good and has good things planned for you now and throughout eternity. We don’t know the future but we know for sure who holds our future. Commit to trusting Him today and you will see and feel the character of Jesus within you. Adopt an attitude of gratitude even in suffering because you know for sure that God has good things planned for you, He is good and He is in the process of making you more and more like Jesus!
Rejoicing in suffering takes purposeful thinking and faith,
This ancient promise was given to Isaiah, the prophet, to encourage the Israelites because they were facing deportation to Babylon for their sinfulness. God knew they would return renewed and strengthen after that time of disciplining.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
What encouragement do we get from this promise as we venture into a New Year? God promises that His presence with us will dispel our fears that may come from circumstances, people or things. God tells us not to be dismayed. I looked this up and being dismayed means having a break down in one’s courage by sudden danger, disheartened thoroughly, disillusioned, alarmed or bothered. That covers a lot of different circumstances that God does not want us to fear in this New Year. Fear does not come from God and He does not want us suffering because of it. God promises to strengthen and help us each day. He further commits to upholding us with His righteous right hand. In scripture this refers to Jesus who is now seated at the ‘right hand of the Father.’ (Acts 2:33) What a blessed promise to us that Jesus will be right there each day of this year upholding us.
As you begin this New Year, why not write this verse out and have it where you can see it each day? Let the truth of God’s promised provision sink into your heart. When God says, “I will”, He means it because God is truth (1 John 5:6) and does not lie. (Hebrews 6:18) What God says you can count on today and all the days this year. He won’t change His mind as God is immutable, unchanging. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Walking each day of this New Year with God’s assurance,
God desires that we be persistent in our walk with Him. It is the day by day living and walking in communion with Him that causes us to grow more like Jesus each day. Sometimes fighting and doing causes us to lose heart and become discouraged. 70 times in the Bible God said, “Do Not Fear” or “Do Not be discouraged.” Fear and discouragement do not come from God but from Satan. Our enemy, Satan, desires that we not grow and that we turn away from God.
Here is a promise to encourage you in your daily walk with Jesus.Galatians 6:9-10 from The Message translation: 9-10 “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” God knows we will get tired but He encourages us that all the pain and struggle will be worth it. There will be something- a good crop, brought about by our labors for Him. He encourages us to keep on working and holding onto the fact that He will produce good from our labors. God encourages us to work for the good of all but especially for those closest to us- other believers.
So be encouraged today to keep on keeping on with doing good. God knows our struggles and desires that we have a persistent attitude towards life and serving others. Today live each moment looking for who God wants you to bless by being the very presence of God to them. Reflect Jesus and do good for Him with a renewed attitude.
Renewing my attitude for good this third day of 2018.
What is your strategy for facing this New Year? How about starting this first week with a promise a day to get you going? Today our verse is Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. ” I love this verse as tells us plainly-HE SAVES, He rejoices over me, He will calm me with His love and He will sing over me!
What wonderful promises to encourage and keep us going when things get hard! Have you ever thought about God rejoicing and singing over you? What have you done for Him that He would be rejoicing about? God specifically tells us to proclaim the gospel, good news, about Jesus so others can know His love and redemption. He calls us to serve and love others in His name-having the motivating factor in that love coming from God. In John 14:23 “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Obedience also causes the Lord to rejoice.
What about calming you with His love? Has that ever happened to you? I like to think of this as calming my spirit as I struggle with a difficult situation, bringing peace in the midst of chaos, bringing hope when I’m discouraged. The Holy Spirit can touch us personally as He dwells within or He may send someone else with a word of encouragement or a kind deed. God promises in this verse that Jesus is with us and that He will save us. Jesus came to save- let Him save you. Accepting His love and redemption into our lives is a one time event but then He continues to live within us and save us to a greater extent with each day. The fancy word for this is sanctification, the growing and developing in Christ. Let Him work within you each day and mold and shape you into who He wants you to be.
Be encouraged this 2nd day of 2018, God SAVES, He will comfort you with His love and will rejoice over you with singing.
Can you believe another New Year is upon us? What do you need today for your new beginning? Here are a couple of passages that always inspire me when I begin something new.
Lamentations 3:21-23 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” These verses reassure me that each day and year is a new beginning. We do not need to face yesterday’s troubles today without hope. He promises His mercies and love are unending with each new day. God is ever faithful.
Isaiah 40:28-31 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint,and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” These verses show us God is in control and knows all things. He will give us the power and strength we need when we feel faint or weary. God will renew us and keep us walking forward with Him!
I pray that as you start 2018 you have Hope in your heart, assurance of God’s unending love and mercy and are comforted knowing He will be your strength and guide. Let the New Year begin remembering Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”