What makes Lent different?

What is Lent? Lent is observed by both the Catholic and some Protestant churches. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six weeks until three days before Easter. Those who participate in Lent, sometimes  do so by fasting and usually by giving up things they feel represent a form of self- denial. It is penance to God. Many also take up a short daily devotion during this time.

It is good to keep our hearts pure and to have a closer relationship and walk with Jesus, but what if instead of doing those things on our own for six weeks, we allowed the Holy Spirit to rule our hearts Every Day and allowed him to guide us into living a life free from sin, that is  pleasing to God, instead of ourselves?  He has given us a new heart if we have accepted Christ as our Savior and repented of our sins. The Bible tells us how we are able to be free from the life we lived before salvation.

F5F541EA-3DAA-449B-9F20-647799E33CBDGalatians 5:16,22-25 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

The plan has been laid out clearly for us and it’s as simple as asking the Holy Spirit to take over for us and to guide us daily, hourly, minute by minute. The Bible also says if any of us lacks wisdom to ask of God. Who do you think is the wisest King in history? I immediately think of Solomon. Why? Because he asked God for wisdom. He knew how to answer every man and to settle disputes as long as he kept his covenant with God. He was sought after for his diplomacy and his way of working things out to benefit both parties in a feud. He spoke with authority, he was wise beyond any other man or ruler. But that wisdom came from above, because he had requested wisdom. It was nothing he had of his own accord. What was his downfall? He quit listening and thought he could handle life on his own. He ran after women. He followed other gods and broke his covenant with God. Solomon Left the Holy Spirit behind. He opened his mind up to sin and destruction by his own doings. God didn’t leave Solomon, Solomon left God! Isn’t that what happens when people get into sin? What ‘gods’ are you following that are in your way? Is it gossip, drinking alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality, listening to those who don’t follow God, little white lies, big lies, complaining, quarreling, jealousy, or do you want to create division in other people’s lives? God made a way of escape for all these things, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Calling on the name of Jesus can help us resist the temptation; just as he did when Satan tempted him and Jesus told him to leave! The Holy Spirit is our advocate to see us through, he’s our strength.

Galatians 1:4-5 “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”

John 20:27-29 “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!””

John 14:26 “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative-that is, the Holy Spirit-he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

I’m not telling you not to observe Lent, I’m saying take the attitude of the season and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Let him be the one who leads you away from the things that shouldn’t be in your life, instead of choosing for yourself, as Solomon did and failed. Let the Holy Spirit be the one who chooses and it won’t be self- denial, it will be spiritual atonenent. Let the Spirit guide you and you will not need self-denial, because you will have self-control, as well as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.

Working For or With?

Many people work For God, but very few work With God. I believe the reason there are so many fractions in the church today, is because people, even ministers, are working For God & not With Him. He has called everyone one of us to work With Him and until we get that mindset, there will be division. If I cannot work with another Christian, no matter their doctrinal differences, then I have missed the mark! There will be no Unity in the Faith, Until we learn to work With God!

Matthew 12:28-30 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger-someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working WITH me is actually working against me.

Heretics and false prophets may claim to work For God, but they are definitely Not working With God.

Philippians 2:1-2 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly WITH each other, LOVING one another, and working together WITH ONE MIND and purpose.

It all comes down to LOVE, the LOVE of God, which far surpasses any human love!

John 14:12-14 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

We sell God short by working for Him, out of good hearts, and by not working With Him. It shouldn’t matter who does the work, as Paul says, but Whether God’s work, not Our work, is done…

1 Corinthians 15:10-11 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me— and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was NOT I, but God who was working THROUGH me by his grace. So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

2 Corinthians 10:13-17 We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has GIVEN us, which includes our working with you. We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ. Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:14-17 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

We can Only attain this holy life, by working With God. When we try to do it on our own, we are sacrificing our own birthright.

James 3:13-18 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

When we are working With God, he lavishes on us His Wisdom. There are so many things we cannot do without God, so why do we even try? I exhort you to call on God to work through you, so you may work With God and not just For Him. I pray that you are able to put aside anything you may be doing, even out of a caring heart, if it is not what God would have for you to do. Start each day by asking God how you could work with Him to bring about His plan for your life, and in essence, His plan for all.

Prayer: Father, I pray you will quicken me to your Spirit, so that I may work With you and in doing so, bring your Love and your hope to others. Help me know your will, and give me the courage even to walk on water, because I can only do this, by believing in you. Help me to face any calamity and any obstacle by knowing that you are working through me by your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(My emphases in capitalization of Scripture.)

I leave you with this thought… when we are working With God, and come to maturity, we will have peace. We will be able to work alongside others, each doing the work that God intends for us to do, because we will all work together with God, accomplishing His will.

Ephesians 4:16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Whose Hands are Holding your Life?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 NLT

As Jesus hung on the cross, he spoke to his Father and told him that he was committing his life (his spirit) into his hands, he was placing his trust in the Father to take care of him. He was making that final statement that he trusted him to keep the promise that even in death, his life was not over. As I thought about this, I thought how many times we put our life in the hands of others… and many times ill-placed. Every day we have to trust other people to do what’s right. We also must forgive them when they don’t do what is best for us.

We put our lives and the lives of the ones we love in the hands of teachers and professors. We trust what they are teaching us is factual. I won’t go into how much false information has been given in education, that could be an entirely different blog… or how vulnerable our children are… We put our lives in the hands of other drivers when we get in our cars, when we drive in traffic, or as a passenger, or especially when we ride on public transportation. We put our lives in the hands of chefs or anyone who prepares our food when we eat in restaurants. We put our lives in the hands of our government by the laws that are passed and the people who run it. While some of these may seem fairly innocuous, one of the riskiest is how we put our lives in the hands of doctors and nurses by allowing them to treat us for illnesses or by having surgeries. This is probably one of the ways we give up the most control of what happens to us in our life; but I’m speaking of dally life. Our ultimate decision in giving up control and the most important one is allowing God to have control of our life. Truly committing our life to him and putting our life in his hands, so that he may direct it in the way that is best for us.

Prayer: Father, into your hands, I commit my life. Help me forgive others when they put themselves first. Help me to put others before myself. Show me your ways, so that I am following the correct path. Thank you for your mercy and help me to show mercy to others. Through Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.