FaithSpring Staff Blog

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Day 40: Say "Yes" to Prayer and "No" to Food!

Posted By at Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

On the final day of our 2018 Lenten Challenge, we loosen the load a little and say “Yes” to Prayer and “No” to Food.  First the Rules:Don’t eat anything without saying a Prayer.  Yep, that’s right.  Pray, then eat.  We could call this a “Fast,” but we’re not really withholding anything other than the need to Give Thanks to God before we fill our bellies.

Why this one?  Because too often we forget that God has provided everything.  God provides our family, friends, food, shelter, and everything else.  On this final day of Lent, we are reminded that God also carried the weight of our sins by Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice.  God didn’t have to do it.  God chose to do it.

During these last 40 days, we made a variety of sacrifices to honor God’s sacrifice and commitment to us.  Some of the challenges have been very difficult while others have been relatively easy.  All of them added together don’t come close to measuring up to God’s love and grace for us, but our efforts do not go unnoticed.  God recognizes both our desire and our intent.  Even when we fail, God is still there to pick us up, put us back together, and give us another chance.

Today represents our second chance.  God did it for us.  Today, we can be intentional to try and return it to God through Prayer.  Even if you didn’t accomplish anything during the last 40 days, today represents the chance to do something that carries great meaning.  Hold your hunger until you Pray.  Each time you grab a handful of jelly beans, Eat a hot dog, or down a bucket of popcorn today, you can give glory to God by Giving Thanks for whatever you Eat.  You can do it and so can I.  The victory is coming soon.  The best part of life is just ahead.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31, NRSV).

May God Bless and Comfort you this Easter.  May the Lord surround you with the peace of Jesus Christ.  May the Holy Spirit lift you and give you strength to endure, power to overcome, and the joy of Eternal Life.  Amen.

 

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Say “yes” to Church and “no” to Skipping Out

Posted By at Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday, March 30

Today we say “Yes” to Church and “No” to Skipping Out. In case you’re wondering, this is not a ploy to increase church attendance on Good Friday. Many churches are hosting Good Friday services and each church hopes to fill every chair. However, only the most committed church-goers typically attend a Good Friday service. That’s too bad, because Good Friday is one of the most powerful worship services that any Christian Church hosts.

Good Friday represents the day that evil believed it had won a victory through the death of Jesus Christ. For those who were experiencing Good Friday in real-time, it likely represents the longest day of their lives. Everything that Jesus’ followers believed in had vanished, with no hope or plans for their respective futures. They had lost everything.

When the modern church remembers Good Friday with special worship services, we try to rebuild those feelings of loss. We’re not trying to make people feel guilty or bad. Rather, we’re trying to paint the picture that the world would be experiencing if we didn’t have the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We might keep in mind that this kind of despair is similar to the feelings that non-believers experience when tragedy strikes them. Without Faith, they don’t know where or how to turn for hope and guidance.

Good Friday is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate Faithfulness in the midst of struggle and adversity. Like Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 1:2, NIV).

Today is Good Friday. Find a Good Friday worship service today and No Skipping!

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Day 38: Yes to Quality Time and No to Excuses

Posted By at Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29

Today we say “Yes” to Quality Time with Friends and Family and“No” toExcuses.As we approach the Easter holiday, few of us will be thinking about our schedules. However, this is the time to pay attention to them. Easter is the basis of our Christian faith, so if we want to uncover more of its’ potential, we need to be intentional about including more people in our Easter experience.

What does this mean? How do we include people in the power of the Resurrection? Invite other people to share in our meals, activities, and worship this weekend, beginning with our closest Friends and Family. When we demonstrate the importance of Easter in our own lives, we become examples for others to both imitate and follow. In addition, our commitment to each other during this special time of year helps to communicate our love and dedication to those around us.

Christians around the world recognize today as Maundy Thursday, the day in which Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and falsely convicted in a religious court. Yet before all this happens, Jesus celebrates a special meal with his closest friends, which we now call “The Lord’s Supper”. Jesus said to his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15, NIV).

Fortunately, none of us will face a Thursday night like Jesus. Yet we can take his example by spending some Quality Time with those close to us and demonstrate the power of the Easter Message.

Today is Maundy Thursday. Say “Yes” to Quality Time with Friends and Family and “No” to excuses!

 

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Day 37: Yes to Reconciling, No to Resentment

Posted By at Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday, March 28

Today we say “Yes” to Reconciling with Someoneand “No” toResentment. As much as we might like to avoid Reconciling with certain people in our life, this is a Challenge that needs to be completed. Sure, we can probably avoid this issue forever, but the resulting Resentment, pain, and remorse causes much more damage than we realize.

Unresolved conflicts do not simply disappear. Even if there are no visible signs or consequences of conflict between individuals, deep-seeded hurt, animosity, and unresolved issuescan create a variety of problems. A few of these impacted areas include our relationships with others, the way we respond to conflict and adversity, our overall decision-making, and even our physical health.

Take a moment to read a passage from the Apostle Paul about Reconciliation. “The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you” (2 Corinthians 5:18b-20, The Message).

Consider a problem, conflict, or issue in your own life that remains unresolved. Then try to calculate the amount of time you have spent worrying over this one unresolved problem. Today can be the day to finally put the issue to rest through Reconciliation. Pray for Reconciliation to take place and then make the earnest effort, and if the other party doesn’t (or can’t) receive it, then it is no longer your responsibility. Just give it to God and He will take it from there.

Today, say “Yes” to Reconcile with Someone and “No” to Resentment!

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Day 36: Yes to Enemies, No to Hate

Posted By at Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Today we say “Yes” to Enemies and “No” to Hate.  As we approach Easter, it is important that we try and clear our dirty plates from the table.  It’s rather difficult to celebrate our spiritual freedom when we are trying to carry around the things that Jesus has removed.  One of the most prominent bags we carry is the Hatred we have for our Enemies.

A good Christian might say, “I don’t Hate my Enemies”.  Who are we kidding?  We avoid our Enemies like a cat avoids swimming pools.  We’ll go far out of our way to make sure we don’t have to confront them, and we may even justify our avoidance by telling ourselves that God wants it that way.  In some cases, this is true.  But in most cases, God would prefer that we reconcile with them (More on that one in tomorrow’s Challenge.).

Whether we like it or not, all of us are probably going to get crosswise with someone.  Even if we don’t Hate them, our dislike for them (or their dislike for us) puts us on opposite sides of one another.  Thus, we have Enemies.  It’s no surprise that Jesus addresses this topic early in his ministry.  Jesus states, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and Hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44, NRSV).

What does this entail?  What do we include in these prayers?  Do we pray for our Enemies to finally get what’s coming to them, or should we pray for them to hit the lottery and move to the land far, far away?  According to Jesus, neither of these prayers would qualify as helpful (or Biblical).  Rather, Jesus wants us to love each other so much that we pray for the well-being and salvation of our Enemies, despite what they might say or do.

Don’t be dismayed and push this Challenge to the side.  This is important.  We need to put our Hatred of each other aside and learn how to love our Enemies the same way that Christ loves both them and us.  Keep in mind that some of Jesus’ last words included a prayer for those who were responsible for his death.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34, NRSV). 

Today, put away the Hatred, disregard, and disdain we have for our Enemies.  Instead, pray for God’s blessings upon them.  Say “Yes” to our Enemies and “No” to “Hate!”

 

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Day 35: Yes to Self and No to Shame

Posted By at Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday, March 26, 2018

Today we say “Yes” to Self and “No” to Shame. These two things may not seem like they connect, but in several ways, they are very connected.  Now, before you jump to conclusions or quit reading altogether, take a few moments to ponder what these might mean to you.  Have you done something for yourSelf today?

This is not a selfish question and your answer does not indicate that you care more for yourSelf than others.  However, there are plenty of people who find themselves trapped by an inability to care for themSelves because of a previous pain that constantly haunts them.  Specifically, there’s probably a few things that each of us need to accomplish that may not benefit anyone other than ourSelves.  It may have nothing to do with personal pleasure or gain, and it may have nothing to do with something that benefits our family.  Rather, this is something that has kept us imprisoned for so long that we’ve grown used to its’ chains and we’re afraid to let it go.

Today is the day to release that burden. It’s the one circling on the front of your brain at the moment, and though you don’t need permission to release it, please understand that Jesus’ march towards the cross gives us all the permission we need. Jesus’ passion and Resurrection releases us from the Shame that binds us.  It’s time to let it go and move forward in the joy that God created for you.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear away from their eyes.Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4, NRSV).

Start Holy Week by giving something to yourSelf.  Today, say “Yes” to Self and “No” to Shame!

(Note from the Administrator:If this does not describe you, please pray for someone that is burdened by this kind of pain.  These pains are much more common than we might think and your prayers matter.)

 

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Weekly Challenge 6: Yes to Forgiveness, No to Accuse

Posted By at Sunday, March 25, 2018

Week 6: March 25-31

 

In this sixth and final weekly challenge, we say “Yes” to Forgiveness and “No” to Accuse. This sixth weekly challenge is the most obvious one but it’s also the most important. Forgiveness (or lack thereof) probably has greater impact on people than anything else. Forgiveness is good for the heart, mind, body and soul. Two different studies (2003 & 2011) focusing on Forgiveness revealed some interesting results:

*Consider the heart. Both offering Forgiveness and knowingly receiving Forgiveness significantly decreases blood pressure, thereby improving overall heart health. Other benefits included less stress levels and improved relationships.

*Consider the mind. An interesting and obvious conclusion was greatly-reduced anger levels, which also reduced feelings of fear, sadness, and panic. In addition, practicing Forgiveness allows people to move on from their own wrongs, thereby lifting weights of guilt and shame.

*Consider the body. Those who practice unconditional Forgiveness live longer. Researchers believe that one reason was that those who practiced genuine Forgiveness experienced increased immune system benefits. (Other results include improved sleeping and less physical ailments.)

*Consider the soul. Jesus Christ came to earth to Forgive us of all the dumb, stupid mistakes we have made. Jesus heals our broken heart, mind, body and soul…but it’s the soul that Jesus really cares about. Jesus doesn’t care where we’ve been. Rather, he cares most about where we are going.

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, NRSV).

This week, practice Forgiveness. Give it everywhere possible. It’ll not only improve our health, but it’ll also significantly improve our Eternal living conditions.

Say “Yes” to Forgiveness and “No” to Accuse!

 

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Saturday, March 24

In the 2018 40-day Lenten Challenge, we seek to find as many ways as possible to honor God by learning to say, “Yes” and “No”. Each day will contain a different challenge, posted on FaithSpring’s Website and FaceBook page. In addition, on each Sunday during Lent, a weekly challenge will be revealed, challenging us to maintain a certain “Yes” and “No” for the entire week. (Please see the previous post from Sunday to learn about the weekly challenge.)

Today we say “Yes” to Check-in with 5 Family Members or Friends and “No” to Forgetting. It’s very important that we take some time to make contact with the people we love and those who love us. This might be Family Members or close Friends, or it could simply be neighbors or acquaintances. The importance of the Challenge can’t be stressed enough: everyone needs to know that they are important and valued.

It’s likely that someone has Checked-in with us in the past week. It may have been a quick text, an email, or even better, a phone call or hand-written note. Consider returning this favor to five people today. Or, if you didn’t receive anything this week, you probably know first-hand how important it would have been for you to receive something like this. Today is the day to make it work for some folks who need it the most.

The Apostle Paul was exceptional at this. He sent lots of letters and he was sure to not only mention people by name, but also to encourage others to reach out to those who supported the LORD’s work. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are written in the book of life” (Philippians 4:1-3, NRSV).

Make a difference in the lives of 5 people today. Reach out, Check-in with them, and let them know that they are important to both you and God.

Today, say “Yes” to Check-in with 5 Family Members or Friends and “No” to Forgetting!

 

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Day 33: Say “Yes” to Fast; “No” to Feast

Posted By at Thursday, March 22, 2018

Friday, March 23

In the 2018 40-day Lenten Challenge, we seek to find as many ways as possible to honor God by learning to say, “Yes” and “No”. Each day will contain a different challenge, posted on FaithSpring’s Website and FaceBook page. In addition, on each Sunday during Lent, a weekly challenge will be revealed, challenging us to maintain a certain “Yes” and “No” for the entire week. (Please see the previous post from Sunday to learn about the weekly challenge.)

Today we say “Yes” to Fast and “No” to Feast. The rules? No food for 24 hours, beginning at your last meal. All drinks of any kind are welcome. The goal is to make it through today without food. (But use common sense! Those with health, dietary, and physical needs are always exempt. Those who are participating in special meals and activities with friends and family should enjoy your fellowship with feasting and praise…you can always try a Fast later.)

Now that the rules are set, one might ask why Christians practice Fasting as a spiritual discipline. The answer lies in Jewish tradition. For the earliest Jewish communities, prohibiting certain foods became an important way of demonstrating faithfulness to God. Both individuals and communities often practiced fasting as a response to sin, tragedy, famine, drought, etc. in the hope that God would restore them. Simply put: It was a way to reconnect with God. For instance, consider the words that God speaks through the Prophet Joel, “Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful…” (Joel 2:12-13a).

By the time Jesus Christ arrived on the scene, Fasting was an important cultural tradition. In fact, you might recall a parable Jesus told (Luke 18:9-14) about a Jewish leader who was prideful about his faithfulness, which included Fasting twice per week. And of course, Jesus supported the practice when he Fasted for 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).

In the early Christian Church, fasting became somewhat controversial. Most people recognized it as a positive way to demonstrate faithfulness, but not everyone could agree upon the methods, timing, and rules that should be followed. Some Christians even rejected Fasting because they didn’t want to be associated with Jewish traditions. But despite the resistance, many curious blessings emerged out of Christian Fasting traditions, including Sylvester Graham’s crackers, TB and Charles Welch’s grape juice, John Kellogg’s corn flakes, and even the practices of vegetable and herb gardening.

Today, most Christian Churches do not require a fast. This is probably a good thing, since spiritual disciplines should be practiced out of a desire to become united with God rather than the desires to achieve position within the Church or to invent a new, healthy snack. Fasting should be practiced with much prayer and humility for the specific purpose of growing closer to God.

Today, consider trying a Fast and avoiding a Feast. The 24-hour clock is already ticking so you’re already ahead!

 

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Day 32: Yes to Joy, No to Sorrow

Posted By at Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday, March 22

Today we say “Yes” to Joy and “No” to Sorrow. A couple of weeks ago (March 7), we were challenged with a devotion to experience a good day and avoid a bad day. Today’s devotion isdifferent because it is focused on two specific emotions that are often at odds with each other. Although we can’t control everything that we encounter today, we can focus on trying to experience Joy while avoiding Sorrow.

One might ask, “What’s the point?” The point is this: Many times in life, we are faced with very difficult tasks. Just as Jesus faced the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday with great Sorrow in his heart (he knew what was going to happen), he still faced the parade with great Joy, allowing his disciples and other followers to do the same. This was important for a couple of reasons.

First, all of Jesus’ followers were going to need the memory of a Joyful day. There were enough bad times ahead that the memory of a Joyful day might make all the difference in the world during those most difficult days of Sorrow to come. Second, following the Resurrection, Jesus’ followers could reflect on how Jesus received them (with Joy), even though Jesus was aware of his impending doom.

Jesus became a prime example of how to face great Sorrow with Joy.Hopefully, we won’t have to face great Sorrow today. Buteven if we do, we can still intentionally focus on trying to experience Joy, giving the people around us evidence of God’s amazing power and glory. When we set our sights on Joy, especially in bad situations, we can become great witnesses of the Joy that Christ brings through the Resurrection.

Today, say “Yes” to Joy and “No” to Sorrow!

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad” (Psalm 118:22-24, NIV).