Monday, April 28, 2014

40 Day Challenge - Draw Closer to God & Your Hubby (Day 1: The Gospel)

Starting today I challenge you to participate in this purposeful commitment to better your relationship with God and with your husband. Each day is specifically designed to direct your thoughts to Christ - the only source of truth and hope. I can't promise instant gratification by the end of the 40 days, but I can promise that by redirecting your thoughts and actions you will have renewed hope, purpose, and a new understanding of the love and promises we have in Jesus Christ.

I'm doing this for many reasons: 1. I need a renewal of mind. My thoughts have been taken captive by the things of this world and I desperately need to regroup. 2. I have many women in my life who are either struggling with depression, marital issues, or all of the above. I know of nothing better than for them to join me in this challenge to redirect our hearts towards the only true source of eternal and everlasting hope and joy.

Grab a blank notebook, journal or a piece of paper. Join me.

Day 1

We must recognize the power of the gospel. It is in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that God boasts of His all mighty power. There is nothing in history worth as much as the gift of life in Jesus Christ. Nothing. Because nothing else will give us eternal life. 

Therefore, we start with the gospel, because (as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:3) it is of first importance and it is upon this foundation we build. 

We have, in countless ways, broken every single one of God’s commandments. We lie, gossip, hate, envy... we are foolish, faithless, heartless, arrogant... and I could go on forever! Every sin is a strike against God’s perfect, holy, and blameless character. For that reason, we deserve hell, we deserve God’s wrath, we deserve to die (Romans 6:23). Every single one of us. We are so utterly helpless because of our sin that we are unable to save ourselves or even contribute anything to our salvation. 

Thankfully, what we cannot accomplish, God accomplished on the cross in that "while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He endured the wrath of God for our sin so that we could enter the presence of God as holy, blameless and righteous. There is no one that loves us like Jesus loves us. There is no one who is willing to sacrifice like Jesus did. Recognizing the work Christ did on the cross as the most powerful commitment of our life, we are forever changed. We are not bound by sin! His death was sufficient to cover every sin: past, present and future! By accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior we were granted instant salvation. That hope in Christ’s saving grace allows us to trust in Him and free us from fear, from doubt, from ourselves

And this gift is so easy: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:9) We are now heirs through Christ to an eternal glory in heaven with Him. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is our helper until the day we die and who is the guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). And by simply believing in Jesus Christ we can rest in this one amazing fact: that no matter what we do, no matter how many times we fail, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Because we are His children He is quite literally running to us, embracing us, kissing us, before our words of confession and repentance even come out of our mouths! Because we are His children, and because of His love for us, He is constantly teaching us and disciplining us as we walk this life. 

That promise is enough to sustain us until we breathe our last breath.

Here's your task for the day: Somewhere, where you will see it everyday, display the gospel (Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, that is the gospel and note that Paul states it is of FIRST IMPORTANCE). Milton Vincent in his book, A Gospel Primerargues that we need to make the gospel our obsession, that we need to preach it to ourselves constantly and I couldn't agree more. There is nothing more powerful than the free gift of God through Jesus Christ His Son. What a miraculous gift! That we are proclaimed holy and blameless and righteous even though He knew our sins (past, present and future) because of the death Jesus endured on our behalf is a powerful gift. This gift will get us through the darkest hours. 

If you're struggling to know what to write remember that the gospel is the "good news of salvation for hell-deserving sinners through the Person and work of Jesus Christ" (Milton Vincent) or display 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, or the Romans Road (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:28, & 10:9-10), or Ephesians 2:1-10, or use Milton's poem, Feel free to copy, paste, print out and display.

Beholding the heavens, I now understand
God measured them all with the breadth of His hand.
He fashioned the trillions of stars in the sky,
The sun and the moon He established on high.
All heaven and earth, which He made in six days, 
Show daily and nightly His merit of praise.
So wondrously caring is God every day, 
Creating, sustaining my life every way.
Each breath I intake, every beat of my heart,
All pleasures well-tasted are His to impart.
Indeed, for such blessings He should be adored
And honored supremely as eminent Lord.
In fact, for this purpose He brought me to be, 
That I might His glory and kindliness see
And cherish Him fully in all of my days, 
Obeying with pleasure whatever he says, 
Fulfilling the calling He's laid upon me
To show forth His glory deliberately.
Yet I could not fail God much worse than I've done.
Ignoring His glory, for mine I have run.
I've spurned a life under His wisdom and care, 
Begrudged Him the throne and pretended me there.
A prideful and lust-laden path I have trod,
Transgressing all Ten great Commandments of God. 
My foolish rebellion gives God every right
To damn me with haste to the miserable plight
Of terrible judgments in His Lake of Fire,
Where wrath is most fierce and will never expire.
With wickedest sinners I truly should know
The worst of Hell's furies for failing God so.
So this is my status and these are my flaws
Apart from Christ Jesus and His saving cause: 
I carry sin's guilt and am gripped by sin's pow'r,
Held fast to its various lusts ev'ry hour,
Deserving of flames, both within and without,
And sliding t'ward Hell as I toss all about,
Too reprobate even to play a small part
In clearing my record or changing my heart
To pacify wrath and be worthy of grace,
To make myself lovely and win God's embrace.
Completely condemned by God's Law in its whole,
I've nothing to offer to ransom my soul.
But wonder of wonders, so great to behold,
My God chose to save me with method so bold.
What I could not render,
God fully has done, and doing, He rendered it all through His Son.
He sent Christ to die on the cross for my sin
To suffer my anguish, my pardon to win.
Amazing it is, when I stop to regard, 
That God would consent to an anguish so hard,
Surrend'ring His Son unto mayhem and death,
To torturous writhing 'til His final breath.
'Why does God forsake Me?' alone Jesus cried;
Yet God left Him hanging until He had died.
That Jesus was willing His life to lay down,
Be scourged and insulted and wear thorny crown
For one such as I who had spited God so,
Amazes and blesses and makes me to know
That greater a lover is no man than He, 
Who laid down His life for a sinner like me.
Now after Christ died
He was placed in a tomb,
Which first was a grave,
But then served as a womb,
Travailing and quaking the day He was raised
And brought forth by God to be handled and praised.
The Firstborn from death on that day emerged He
With power to save to the utmost degree.
At God's own right hand Christ now reigns from on high,
A Friend in high places to sinners who cry
To Him for forgiveness, their evils confessed.
He gives them a pardon and then makes them blessed.
As prince He is Savior to all who believe,
Who come to Him humbly His grace to receive.
Now when my time came and to Jesus I cried,
He gave me the pardon for which I had sighed,
He cleansed me completely from wrongs I had done, 
Released me from bondage to sins, every one.
He shattered sin's chains which had held me before, 
And thus made me free not to sin any more.
A child of the Father He made me to be
And gave me the Spirit as His guarantee
That, being God's child, I will one day obtain
A heavenly treasure that never will wane.
While in me, the Spirit gives power and love
And sweet premonitions of glory above.
In saving, God also did justify me,
Accounting me righteous by His own decree,
Declaring me guiltless of all of my sin,
And bringing His wrath against me to an end.
This wrath Christ appeased in full brunt on the Tree,
When, bearing my sin, He endured it for me.
So now God relates to me only with grace,
The former wrath banished without any trace!
And each day I'm made a bit more as I should,
His grace using all things to render me good.
Yes, even in trials God's grace abounds too
And does me the good He assigns it to do.
And when I am sinning God's grace does abound,
Ensuring my justified status is sound.
No wrath is awakened in God at my sin,
(to say so again).
God's heart pulses only with passionate grace, 
Which jealousy wants me back in His embrace.
God does not require even that I confess,
Before He desires His forgiveness to press.
Forgiveness has been in His heart all along; 
And when I approach Him to make right my wrong,
He runs up to greet me and draws to me near,
Embracing and kissing and ready to clear. 
God does see my sins and He grieves at them so,
For when I am sinning, His love I don't know. 
He even will send me some heart-rending pain,
So I'll learn new ways and His holiness gain.
His disciplines always are with love imbued,
A love that seeks ever my ultimate good.

So this is my story; ongoing it is.
How shall I thank God for this gospel of His?
A gift that keeps giving, the gospel confers 
The bounty of heaven each time I rehearse.
Deserve it?
I don't on my holiest day;
But this is salvation, and herein I'll stay.

Next, in your journal, notebook, piece of paper or whatever, write about that day you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and thank Him for the gift He has given you. For the rest of your day praise Him, thank Him, and rest in this gift of salvation.

For the next 40 days read the gospel message every day before doing anything else. My hope in doing this is that it'll become a habit for the rest of our lives, giving us a moment to direct our thoughts to Him first thing.

See you tomorrow I hope!

If you're interested in seeing the entire 40 Day Challenge, visit my Titus 2 Women page and scroll down to the the "Here's a Few Ideas for Your Time Together". You'll see the links for all 40 days.

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