I woke up today with a sense of anticipation. I won't lie. I was pretty sleepy and not that keen to roll out of bed when my alarm first went off. But as the remembrance of this Soul Dare crept into my consciousness, I found it impossible to go back to sleep. I just had to get up and get started.
Today starts my church's 21 Day Prayer and Fasting. I am so excited that I can incorporate this time into the Soul Dare. It makes it all that much richer. For anyone who might want to join in, here is Week One of a Prayer Journal we received on Sunday.
I had to smile at the bottom of the page when I saw the suggestion to list gratitudes to encourage thankfulness -- especially after I looked at it AFTER I completed today's January Joy Dare and had listed several things already.
After a suggested list of gratitudes, there are suggested readings for the rest of this week and areas to focus on for each day. Not sure you understand full about fasting and how to fast? You can find a helpful handout on our church's Facebook page. Just scroll down until you see the yellow paper.
Everyone does fasting differently. In the past, I have fasted meals and replaced them with prayer and devotion. However, being a homeschool mom with the schedule we have makes this impractical. I might skip the meal, but I doubt that it would be replaced with prayer and as my pastor/father said yesterday, "a fast without prayer is simply a diet!"
So this time around, I'm fasting sugar (no cookies, cakes, spoonfuls of sugar into my coffee or tea and no yummy coffee drinks with sugary syrups either). This sounds simple, but for this Sugar Addict, it will be a challenge to remember. Also, since I had already decided to blog this Soul Dare and I also do some posting for our church, I need to be on Facebook some. However, I am going to limit it to twice a day for 15 minutes each time. No mindless browsing or lurking or clicking on external links. Often I will find myself on the app, without remembering opening my phone and pushing it.
All of this will hopefully focus my mind and heart more upon God and away from things that get me distracted. Also, passing up that cookie will give me a chance to breathe a prayer instead.
Genesis 9-10, Psalm 3 and Matthew 3
(I have to say that I'm loving reading my Bible with the Daily Walk plan. The weekends are "light" with only two chapters in the Old Testament rather than the addition of a Psalm and New Testament reading. With busy Saturdays and more time devoted to worship on Sunday, this makes sense.)
After reading Genesis 5-8 this weekend and the account of Noah and the Ark, it is interesting to me that Monday (a new day of the week) and the beginning of a time of fasting and prayer, would start with a new beginning for mankind.
Genesis 9:1 - This chapter starts with Noah and his family leaving the ark after being cooped up in that thing for a year and a familiar command from God that I blogged about on Day One:
"Be fruitful and multiply." (verse 1 and verse 7)
I probably shouldn't be so surprised to see those words again, but truthfully I am. Why have I never made that link before? I'm just grateful that I am now.
Genesis 9:2-7 - For this "do-over" of mankind, God gives humanity a new set of rules. Again, I wonder if his heart was saddened to have to command these things which He didn't do (or need to do) the first time around when he created Adam and Eve.
Genesis 9:12 - It amazes me that the God of the universe would make a covenant with lowly man and especially after mankind had broken his heart and every promise and covenant we had made to Him. The fact that He would do that (surely knowing that any rainfall in the near future would probably strike fear into humanity) shows His compassionate heart for our frailty -- even though that frailty brought Him so much pain.
Matthew 3:8-10 - John the Baptist is warning the Pharisees that they cannot use their lineage and genealogy to avoid living a spiritual life of integrity. I love that John tells them that their boasts of being "safe, for we are the descendants of Abraham" means nothing to God -- because God could create "children of Abraham from these very stones." (vs. 9) Again, this reminded me of Day Two and what I read in Genesis 2: God isn't bound by the "natural order of things." When He wants to do something, He can command it to be in whatever way He wants. Because He is the Creator.
Matthew 3:10 - The theme of vegetation and seed-bearing plants comes back into play here:
"Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire."
Again...what is John the Baptist saying really?
We need to be fruitful and multiply!
From Genesis and now into Matthew. This exhortation remains. I'm running out of superlatives to express how astonished I am by this continuity through my reading.
Jesus Calling for today was so good. I wish I could write it all down here. Actually, I'll snap a photo because the entire thing spoke to me.
Mankind is a failure....let's just be honest. Adam and Eve couldn't do it. Noah and his descendants couldn't do it either. Failure (sometimes fractionally but many times abysmally) follows us down the genealogical line to Jesus who was Perfect and who made a way for us to live a life of not perfection -- but restoration.
Maybe it's because failure is in my DNA. Maybe because I've tried so many times to do things right, only to have them go so, so wrong. But, maybe it's supposed to be that way. My very weakness creates a need and desire for His strength:
"It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness that you learn to rely on Me."
My Utmost for His Highest carried this theme on:
"No matter what changes God has wrought in you, never rely on them; build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives. All our vows and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to carry them out. When we have come to the end of ourselves, not in imagination but really, we are able to receive the Holy Spirit."
This was so pivotal for me to read today when I'm all charged up about my resolutions for the new year. At the end of the day, I'm powerless to do these things if I don't build them on Jesus.
So, so good!