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Sweet Indulgences to the Soul

Posted in Encouragement, Faith, and Holiday reflections

February is in full swing in all of its twenty-nine day, leap year glory. There is a lot to pack into the remaining twenty days.  Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and President’s Day are among some of the highlights.

My husband’s birthday and the Super Bowl (#PantherNation #NextYear) were also this month.  Did someone say cake?  Avoiding overindulgence hasn’t been easy as I celebrate my husband, my ethnic history, our nation’s presidents and my favorite football team. Whew!

The plate in the featured picture this week puts me in the mood for a treat. I’m sure it would go well with sips of my favorite latte.  But I know there are sweeter delights inviting me to indulge on a deeper level.

The Lenten season starts tomorrow.  Ash Wednesday points us to the Savior’s journey to secure the salvation of our souls. This holy season culminates on Resurrection Sunday, also referred to as Easter.  It is a season of sacrifice, sanctification and reflection.

As I consider sacred ways to indulge, I appreciate the prophet Jeremiah’s sentiments about the most delicious food he ever ate:

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them; they are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” –  Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

Discover and devour.  This was Jeremiah’s approach to God’s words.  He delighted in what God said because he delighted in belonging to God.  I’m sad to say; sometimes I give God’s words more of a polite chew than an obedient swallow.  But when I receive them with joy, I reap all of their marvelous benefits.

If we receive God’s word with delight, very little is left on the plate. It’s not that His word decreases; it’s because we do.

40 days of decreaseFor the next forty days, my church will journey through the pages of 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. by Alicia Britt Chole (Thomas Nelson, 2015).  I’m a hungry and intrigued participant.

Decreasing self-focus is uncomfortable, even painful.  However, becoming more God-focused is the most powerful choice I can make.  When I stop hanging around the dessert table of my selfish desires, I can enjoy a full course meal of God’s will instead. My tantrums over the temporary lessen. I become more elated over the eternal.

Sorry latte. I’m taking gulps instead of sips of God’s grace in the days ahead.  And yet, as I grow more grateful for each gulp, I am more taken by the reason for it; to bear the name of the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.  Thanks for the reminder Jeremiah.

How are you planning to observe the Lenten season this year? I like the premise of Chole’s book.  It states, “Instead of social media, chocolate, and designer coffee, 40 Days of Decrease calls communities to a Lenten fasting of apathy, injustice, resentment, hypocrisy, and more for the love of God.”

sweet indulgences to the soul1To fast is to abstain from an activity, food or drink.*  If you’ve decided to fast from any of the aforementioned activities (like social media, chocolate or designer coffee) or anything else, do whatever you sense God is leading you to do.

As we prayerfully consider feeding the soul, here’s some good news: the sweetest way to indulge is to delight in God’s word to instruct us, His grace to sustain us and His love to fulfill us. This decrease of self will surely increase our hope for the heart and joy to the soul.

*Before fasting, check with your physician before making any dietary changes, changes to your activity level or changes to your medication regimen.

 

40 days drawing

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Jelise
    Jelise

    Beautiful and relevant post, Joy! My small group is just finishing up Jen Hatmaker’s “7 Experiment” bible study. It is also focused on consuming less of the worldly things in our lives so we can create more room for God, and for serving others. It has been several weeks of serious soul searching and considering where my priorities lie. Thank you for encouraging us, as your readers, to use this season to focus on what really nourishes our body and soul.

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Hi Jelise! I’m excited about the 40 Days of Decrease study, in a “flesh your time is up” kind of way. I have Hatmaker’s “7 Experiment.” That may be next on my list. It’s so good to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

      February 9, 2016
  2. Crystal Dawn Murphy
    Crystal Dawn Murphy

    On time post, Ms. Joy! As I was reading, a nudging to fast from negative thoughts. I look forward to how God will challenge me and what He reveals as I release negative thoughts replaying in my head. Thanks for pointing everyone back to the cross.

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      I’m glad this post encourages you Crystal. I’m praying those nagging negative thoughts will be nullified in Jesus’ name!

      February 9, 2016
  3. Heleka
    Heleka

    Oh, Joy! What a timely post…Last night, my son and I were reflecting upon this coming Lenten season. We were pondering how we would sacrifice this season. As my soul hungers and thirst for His word. I’m delight to share with my son and together journey through the book 40 Days of Decrease. Thank you!

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Wow Heleka – that would be God’s timing for sure! Maybe you’ll win the copy in this week’s drawing. 🙂 Either way, I’m sure we’ll both be blessed by this study!

      February 9, 2016
  4. Crystal
    Crystal

    Joy, I was just praying this morning about what I can do for Lent this year and I’m very encouraged and thankful for your post. I love Alicia Britt Chole and I have never heard of that book. I’m going to google it right now and see if this is something I may participate in this year. Perhaps I may be heading to the bookstore later today! I pray that God meets you where you are as you step into these next 40 days of fasting. Happy to have found you on Intentional Tuesday.

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Hi Crystal! Yes, I enjoy Alicia Chole’s writing as well. Although, I am new to “40 Days of Decrease,” her book, “The Hidden Years” is also a great read. Thank you for your prayers. I’m praying you’ll experience what God has in mind for you during this Lenten season. Also, thanks for connecting through #IntentionalTuesday!

      February 9, 2016
  5. I look SO forward to your devotionals each week. You are a V E R Y 👑 gifted writer! I like your writing because it is practical and poignant. I pray for you/your writing and its success. I am a “practicing” writer and LOVE words, especially God’s. Have you ever tried http://www.incourage.me, a branch of Dayspring? They have submission entries!

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Thanks mrscro31! Your words encourage me today. I’m glad God uses my writing to speak to you. I haven’t looked into incourage.me. I may investigate that possibility!

      February 9, 2016
      • Oh sorry! It’s Michelle O’Banion, and YES! You should, incourage.me, you’d be a great candidate 😀

        February 9, 2016
        • Joy
          Joy

          Hi Michelle – I thought that was you! 🙂 Yes, I will check out incourage.me for sure. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

          February 9, 2016
  6. Rahama Harewood
    Rahama Harewood

    Wow Joy, you’ve done it again this week! As much as I could “taste” the cake and “sip” the latte, I feel the call to a season of self-examination and decrease! Less of me and more of God. Your post and the 40 days study is right on time! God knows best!!!

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Hi Rahama! Yes, this study is right on time. I’m praying we won’t miss one drop of the blessing He has in mind for us!

      February 9, 2016
  7. Love the Lenten season and the time set aside to spend with God. Joy thank you for getting us ready to celebrate the God we serve in a more intentional way. I usually start the year fasting off FB and I do not miss it. I have been more encouraged with God’s Word and I look forward to another 40 days of intentionality with God’s awesome presence.

    February 9, 2016
    • Joy
      Joy

      Thanks Liz. I desire to have a more thoughtful approach towards the Lenten season too. Thanks for sharing how you’ve experienced the benefits of being intentional in your walk with God. Many blessings to you in the next 40 days and beyond!

      February 9, 2016

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