Sunday

Our Resurrected Christ: The End of Lent

In my March Firm Foundations article, I shared about this time of year… Lent on the Christian calendar. Latin for the number forty, Lent began this year on February 17 on Ash Wednesday and leads up to Resurrection Sunday on April 5.  This is counted by the six days of the week.  Sundays themselves are not counted as part of these forty days because they are generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration similar to "mini-Resurrection of Sundays" of sorts.
 
Purpose for Fasting
The whole purpose of fastings and praying for 40days is to spend excessive ample amounts of time meditating on our personal sins and weaknesses in light of Christ. Then reflecting instead on glimpses of the cross, focusing on Christ who is our only Savior and perfect holy sacrifice for our sin.  This is a season of clinging to Christ and drawing deeper in Him through increased times of worship, confession, repentance, fasting, contemplation and prayer.  Seeking and devoting ourselves to the matters of the heart and soul while stripping and unraveling the entangled habits of the flesh.  This time focuses our eyes on the intense significance of Christ and His crucifixion – increasing our longing and delight for Resurrection Sunday. Participating in this fast also increases our heart joy declaration of praise and worship to God for sending Christ His only begotten Son to die on our behalf, taking and appeasing for our own personal sins then, celebrating the victory over Satan, sin and death.  Christ Jesus was crushed by God through crucifixion so that anyone has the opportunity to be adopted by God Himself.  Christ Jesus was raised by God showing the example that we also have that same opportunity to be adopted by God and raised in the same like manner by God.  The diligent discipline of focus for our heart, mind, emotions and soul to be fully captivated and involved by totally immersing ourselves in this miraculous true account so that we ourselves grow and become transformed and grow deeper in our personal relationship with Christ and that we will be so delighted that it catapults us to share and declare what Christ tells us in the great commission of Matthew 28: 19-20
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
Westminster and NO Decay
The Westminster Confession of Faith nails it (pun intended) in chapter 8 of their creed.
"The Lord Jesus was born under the law and perfectly fulfilled it. He endured most grievous torments in his soul and most painful sufferings in his body; he was crucified, died, and was buried; he remained under the power of death, yet his body did not undergo decay; and he arose from the dead on the third day with the same body in which he had suffered. In this body he ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and he shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the age. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself—which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God—has fully satisfied the justice of his Father. He purchased not only reconciliation but also an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all whom the Father has given to him."
 
Notice the phrase “yet His body did not undergo decay”. On the cross, where Jesus’ body was nailed, beaten, broken, not once did Jesus’ body begin the death process.  Not once did His tissue, cells, skin, muscles, nerves, organs, bones, etc. begin the process of atrophy.  Not once did His body experience a progressive decline in any shape or form physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, etc.  NOT ONCE did his body decay.
New Testament Church
These same steps of the cross were magnified through the Holy Spirit, a gift given by God to all those who will receive Jesus a promise fulfilled by Jesus Christ Himself. 
Right before Jesus’ ascension into heaven, He encourages the apostles in Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
As promised, in chapter two, when Pentecost had come,  all the Apostles were together in one place. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to do so.  There were approximately 20 different, nationalities, districts, languages, ethnicities all there hearing them speak.  They were all amazed!  What were these saying in all these various languages that brought such amazement?  Declaration of Jesus Christ his death, resurrection, ascension and promise of  the Holy Spirit delivered on Pentecost and still given today to any and all who want it.
                                                                                              
The end of Lent is our focus of OUR resurrected Christ seated at the right hand side of the Father…currently praying for us right now...every second, every moment, every day.
 
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, with a sincere heart
ask Him and He will shown you who He is through the pages of your Bible.
He calls you His friend and He died shedding His blood for the remission of your sins…inviting you to partake in eternal life gloriously reflected in our soon to be resurrected bodies for all those who believe and follow Him.
 
 

Tuesday

40 Days of Fastings and Prayers

A Muse
A couple of weeks ago my pondering begin with the many responses I heard in regards to this time of year… 
“I am no longer this (particular religion) so I don’t practice this.”
“Make sure you indulge in Mardi Gras before you began.”
“We did it in the past but it is not required anymore.”
 
The time of year I am referring to is Lent on the Christian calendar.
Latin for the number forty, this 2015 year, Lent began on February 17 on Ash Wednesday
and leads up to Resurrection Sunday on April 5.  This is counted by the six days of the week.  Sundays themselves are not counted as part of these forty days because they are generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration similar to "mini-Resurrection of Sundays" of sorts.
 
As I pondered the variety of responses from people including those in any form of media
I noticed that not one person I heard was quoting or referring to the One in whom we are to pray. And not one person I heard was referencing the instructions and direction from the One in whom we are too fast.
 
The Bible on Fasting
Jesus expects us to fast as a spiritual discipline. In the pages of the Bible, Jesus clearly speaks of His expectation of fasting He tells us in the gospel of Matthew chapter six  
and He first begins with what NOT to do.
 
Moreover, whenever you are fasting, stop being like the actors on the stage of life, of a sad and gloomy countenance, for they mask their faces in order that they may appear to men as those who are fasting. Assuredly, I am saying to you, they have their reward and the receipt for the same in full. But as for you, when fasting, massage your head with olive oil and wash your face, in order that you may not appear to men to be fasting but to your Father who observes in the sphere of the secret, and your Father who observes in the sphere of the secret will reward you.”
 
Jesus clearly explains
1.  How not to fast: Openly to be seen by and lifted up by people
2.  How to fast: Taking care of yourself physically so no one knows that you are fasting
3.  This is a spiritual discipline that is done between each individual and God
4.  When we obey the proper way of fasting, God will reward up openly
 
In addition, God clearly explains through His prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament of scripture the perfect outline of fasting in chapter 58.  He starts out with a sharp reality of where they are in regards to fasting then continues  Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.”
 
1. Biblical Outline for Fasting
a.      False fasting  (versus 2-5)
b.      Sincere fasting=True worship (versus 6-7)
c.      Blessings that will come (verses 8-10)
d.      Healing that will come (verses 11-12)
e.      Continually promises (versus 13-14)
 
The Bible is very clear, the spiritual staples of followers of Jesus include prayer and fasting
This example is shown over and over again in the New Testament and Old Testament
of the Bible.
 
Why Fast and Pray?:
This is a season of clinging to Christ and drawing deeper in Him through increased times of worship, confession, repentance, fasting, contemplation and prayer.  Seeking and devoting ourselves to the matters of the heart and soul while stripping and unraveling the entangled habits of the flesh.  This time focuses our eyes on the intense significance of Christ and His crucifixion – increasing our longing and delight for Resurrection Sunday.
  
Your Personal Plan of Action
1.  If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to:
See Jesus the Lamb of God
Come and see where He is staying
Remain with Him
Follow Him
(John 1:36-39)
 
2. I invite you to ask the Lord to guide you and show you how you need to implement fasting as part of your spiritual disciples as a follow of Christ.
 
 
SUGGESTIONS
1. Read the date of today of the Proverbs and/or Psalms 
2. Read each of the four Gospels from the Garden of Gethsemane to the end of each book.  Write down details you have never noticed before.  Write down comparisons as well as similarities.
3.  Listen to The Shadow of Your Wings by Fernando Ortega - http://fernandoortega.com
 
ONLINE RESOURCES
1. Journey to the Cross - Gospel Coalition
           
http://www.thegospelcoalition.org
2.  Lenten Lights: Eight Biblical Devotions to Prepare for Easter
            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights
 
BOOKS 
1.  Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough:  A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts
                  by Elmer L Towns.  Foreword by Bill Bright
2. Celebration of Discipline:  The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
3.  Love To The Uttermost: Devotional Readings For Holy Week
                        by John Piper             
4.  Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter by Orbis Books
5.  Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin Jr. 
6.  God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s
7.  Christian Fasting: A Theological Approach by Kent D. Berghuis
 
Calendar:
Bible Study:  Acts of the Apostles starting Tuesday March 3, 2015-Come anytime
Check website for more info.  www.churchonrandallplace.org
Audio teachings and various speaking: http://deeprootsinchrist.sermon.net
 
About the author:
Simone Lake is a Christ follower, bride of Pastor Dr. John Lake, Bible teacher and a passionate pray-er. Visit her: www.deeprootsinchrist.com, www.simonelake.com, FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Wednesday

Title: Beating Heart

What determines and verifies that a person is alive?  The heart!   The is the most important organ in our body. This hardworking organ works 24 hours, 7 days a week till the day we die.  The human heart beats and pumps blood throughout the entire body as well as deliver oxygen to the brain and all the other organs in our bodies. How thankful we are that it never takes a vacation!
 
If the heart does have problems, diseases, poison, etc. Such a one might consider getting   a heart transplant.  A heart transplant consists of removing the heart from a suitable deceased donor and giving this “new” heart to a recipient desperate in need. The recipient must undergo all kinds of tests and evaluations to make sure they are mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically able to make good use of a new heart.   The purpose of the rigid testing is to ensure that the new heart would be the perfect match and most successful.
 
Jeremiah, one of the Old Testament authors, was very concerned about heart beats too.
He was known for being heartbroken with a heartbreaking message.  But instead of the physical heart beat of earthy life, his focus was the spiritual heart beat of eternal life.  This prophet’s daily job task was to declare the words of God to people that were stubborn and rebellious.  His greatest plea was to revive spiritual hearts that stopped beating and instead, encourage others to have a “change of heart” and join God in His holy heartbeat. Instead of doing things on their own and ending up in utter destruction to instead, bow the knee to Almighty God.
 
In chapter 24 of Jeremiah, God says “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”   This tells of the great need the people had of a new heart, new attitude and new behavior.  This also tells of the great need of God’s love because of His willingness to give us, a new heart.  His promise of this very thing, declares loud volumes of God’s love for His people.
 
John, the author in the New Testament, states that
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  So we know that God loves us but the root of the problem is not whether God loves us but rather do we love Him?
 
Do we love Him enough to follow after Him?  Do we love Him enough to do what He says?
Do we love Him NOT to hurt and grieve His heart?
 
God the great physician knows that we are unable to give ourselves a heart transplant, so in His incredible grace and mercy, does it for us, guaranteeing a high success rate. 
 
Questions
1)  Would you acknowledge that you need a heart transplant?
2)  Would you make a decision to seek after God’s heart?
3)  Would you allow the Lord to turn your heart towards His, beating in unison with His?
 
If you replied yes to any of the above questions, I invite you to say this prayer.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
I admit that my heart needs to be transformed, that I need a new heart and you are the only one that can give me a new one.  Please come and transform me to have a heart that beats in unison with yours.  I seek to do the things that are pleasing to you and not me.  Help me to surrender my life to you and serve you all of my days.-Amen
 
 
 
About the author:
Simone Lake is a Christ follower, bride of Pastor Dr. John Lake, Bible teacher and a passionate pray-er. Visit her: www.deeprootsinchrist.com, www.simonelake.com, FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn