Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Question - We love hearing from you!



What are distractions for you from living for Jesus?

Please share in the comments section below!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fullness of Joy - The Presence of Jesus ~ by Amy Vest

The presence of Jesus.

There is nothing like it in all the world
.

"In your presence is fullness of joy."
 Psalm 16:11

The presence - the nearness - of the One Who is our Savior, our Friend, our everything.

When you know Jesus is with you, you know that you have all that you need.  
For those who belong to Him, He has promised to be with you - forever.

"I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 (Matthew 28:20) - and then to usher is into His presence in Heaven forever!

This, my friend, is the only way we find true, lasting, and full joy - in the presence of the One we were created to know and Who "satisfies the longing soul" (Psalm 107:9) - Jesus.


Jesus is with you right now.


Stop and let that sink in.

Jesus is right there with you.  Wherever you are.  
I know some of you are probably reading this in a hospital room, at home, on the road, or in different countries.  Some of you are happy, some of you are tired, some of you are crying. 

Jesus is there. 

Stop and ask:

How does the reality that Jesus with with me change my life?
The reality that Jesus is right here with you will change everything, if you embrace it.

All that He Is, is right here.  This inspires awe, worship, security, fulfillment, and obedience.


 I love to whisper "You are here." in the midst of my days.
Some moments it is soaking in His presence under a starry sky or in my time of devotions, other times it is treasuring His nearness in times of deep pain or while babysitting a household of lively kiddos, and much of the time, it is embracing the everyday moments with the One Who is my life.

Life is beautiful when it is lived in the presence of the Beautiful One.  Painless?  No.  But, deeply beautiful, because the reality of Jesus colors everything I encounter.

The One Who Is:
The Bread of Life - meets me in my soul's hunger
The King of Heaven - is in control
The All-Sufficient Savior - is all I need
The Shepherd - is there to guide and nurture me
... and everything else He tells us He is in His Word - is with you. 

Jesus wants you to share life with Him.

Friend, you have the opportunity to live every moment with Jesus.

To walk with Jesus every moment.
To turn your thoughts into a conversation with Jesus.
To soak of the reality that He is in you and with you.
To allow His presence to impact all you do and touch others that are desperate for Him.


Feel it?

I want to make a little note for those of you who are more "feelers" like me.  The presence of Jesus is 
a reality whether you can feel and sense it or not.  There are times when His presence feels so near and other times when we cannot feel it and must stand on the truth of His Word where He promises, "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)  His presence is always just as real and unchanging, regardless of our feelings, ideas, or the circumstances of the world.

Miss it?
While His presence is just as real and unchanging, we can become distracted with less important things coming first in our hearts or minds, or believing those things will give the joy only His presence can give - or even seeking to hide from His presence (we can't - Psalm 139) because of the guilt of sin in our lives.  Listen to this beautiful truth, "
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God..." (1 Peter 3:18)  Jesus died for our sins to take the punishment we deserve, make us right with God, and restore the relationship with Him that was broken by sin.  Our response must be to turn from our sin to follow Jesus, receive His forgiveness, and live in the joy of His presence!

Welcome it!
I love praying, "Jesus, thank You that You are here.  We welcome Your presence, Lord.  Please have Your way."  Think of how you welcome your best friend to your house. Is it with passive agreement? No. It is with shouts of joy, open arms, and a heart of love, right? Oh, friends! Welcome the presence of Jesus - with arms and heart wide open as far as possible to the One Who is your life.  When Jesus comes, there is always joy - fullness of joy!

Friend, Jesus is right there with you now.  He is present.  He is real.  He is ready to meet you.

Welcome Him with an open heart, soak in His presence, and share your life with Him each moment.


He invites us to a life lived in His presence - when we respond, we find joy, because we receive Jesus.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Journaling the Journey with Jesus ~ by Amy Vest

Journaling can be a powerful tool as we embrace the journey of joy with Jesus!

There are many forms of journaling - life, prayer, etc. and each of them can have so much value.


Today are going to focus on journaling our spiritual growth journey with Jesus.

Writing down what the Lord is doing in our lives can help us to identify, clarify, and testify the Lords work in our lives in a way that helps us grow in Him!

Let's look at 3 things journaling helps us to do:

1. Identify - Journaling helps me to stop and look at what the Lord is doing in my life.
Questions that can be helpful for me to ask as I journal include:
- What is Jesus doing in my life?
- What is a verse that has been especially meaningful?
- What is a lesson He is teaching me?
- What is a prayer on my heart?

2. Clarify - Writing down what the Lord is doing in me, teaching me, etc. helps me to clarify in my mind what He is doing.
Journaling can take me from saying, "The Lord is so at work in my life!" to "The Lord is so working in me to have a servant's heart by learning from His example."  Clarifying it helps me to be more attentive to living it out in my moment by moment life.
 

3. Testify - When I have just written down what the Lord is showing me, it is fresh on my mind to share with others.
It can naturally come up in conversation because you have identified and clarified it, so it is easy to share!

Keeping a journal can be an incredible blessing!  


Just today young women in my discipleship class were sharing how much journaling was helpful to them in their journey with Jesus.

I would encourage you to start a journal of your journey with Jesus!


I promise it will be a rich tool in your growth journey with Him - and a treasure to have for years to come!

" I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us..."  Isaiah 63:7


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Question - We love hearing from you!



What is one thing you enjoy doing in your devotions?




Please share in the comments section below!

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Summer Devotions Pursuit Begins Today!

Summer Devotions Pursuit from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.
We would like to invite you to join us for the 2018 Summer Devotions Pursuit - a special time of seeking Jesus from June 1st - August 31st!

Here are the basic details:
WHO: You and Jesus
WHERE: Wherever you are
WHEN: June 1st - August 31st, 2018

WHAT IS INVOLVED:
- 15 minutes of devotions a day
- Memorizing 1 verse a week
- Choosing and contacting an accountability partner once every 2 weeks
... and an amazing summer with Jesus!  
You can print off a chart to keep track on the LTLM website - http://lovingthelordministries.org/event-items/summer-pursuit!

REWARD: When you complete the Summer Pursuit: You send in your chart by September 7th and you receive a reward in the mail - in addition to the best reward of knowing Jesus!  This year's reward will be a special surprise package!

RSVP: 
It is not necessary to let us know that you are taking part in the Summer Devotions Pursuit - You can just send your chart in at the end of the summer when you complete the Pursuit!  (That said, you can leave a comment on this post just for fun if you want to let us know you are taking part!)
You can watch the "Summer Devotions Pursuit" video (above, or at http://vimeo.com/41883667) and visit the website (www.lovingthelordministries.org) for more details.  You can contact us at info@lovingthelordministries.org with questions.  


Invite your friends to join us!!!

This is going to be an amazing summer of pursuing and growing in knowing Jesus!
  Pursue Jesus with all that you are this summer, friends. He is so amazing! He will meet with you - and you will never be the same!

Our prayer is that for each of us this summer will be a powerful time to begin, or deepen, a life pattern of seeking Jesus and growing in experiencing His goodness every day!

"He satisfies the longing soul…” Psalm 107:9

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Journey of Joy ~ Mandy's Testimony

Please introduce yourself to us
My name is Mandy, and my husband and I live in Minnetonka, MN. I have been very happily married to Michael for 2.5 years. Currently, I am about to complete my masters degree in music. In the meantime, I also teach in the Music Department at a Christian college. In addition to music, some of my other interests include church history and travelling. A recent joy has also been helping my husband as he prepares to publish his first book!

How did you come to Jesus?

I had the great gift of being raised by parents who fear the Lord. At the age of four, I learned of my need for a Savior and responded to the message of the Gospel. I was then promptly baptized. Ever since that moment of salvation, God has never ceased drawing me closer to Himself. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I recognize my need for His sustaining grace.
           
How has the Lord faithfully worked by His grace to grow you in Him?

While I walked in the truth from a young age, it would be several years before I began to understand my deep need for daily dependence on Christ. One wintry morning in 2003, I woke up with debilitating pain in my lower back. Instead of getting better, the pain remained constant for days, which turned into months, which turned into years. During this period, I desperately cried out for God to give meaning to the pain I was experiencing. The promises from His Word assured me that He would never leave or forsake me. So I learned to cling very close to Him during this time. As a result, I tasted the realness and nearness of His presence as I couldn’t have previously understood. 

Thankfully, God eventually brought healing to my back. But He had more lessons to teach me in the form of chronic illness. When I was first diagnosed, I walked through some times of true struggle and emotional pain. As a result, I had to ask serious questions about everything I had believed about God and His Word. However, God, in His grace, was patient with me, and He brought me to a place of peace and stronger faith in Himself. As I look back, I am amazed at the riches of what God has taught me through my pain. He has given beauty for my ashes (Isaiah 61:3), and has proven Himself so faithful and joy-giving in all circumstances.

What are practical ways the Lord has given you to help you grow in Him?

When I was twelve years old, I started prayer journaling.  Each day I would write praises to God as well as confessions, thanksgiving, and prayers for supplication. Through this experience, I have kept track of God’s continual faithfulness to me in all areas of my life. It is such a blessing to look back at a written record of God’s sovereign hand in my life!

Also, the Lord has helped me to grow in Him through the area of mentorship. I am so blessed to have been mentored by some exemplary older Christians. These men and women have reached into my life with compassion and patience as they have taught me what it looks like to walk with Christ.

As I have gotten older, I have also developed a heart for discipling girls younger than myself. In particular, I really enjoy small-group ministry. As I teach others, I find that the Lord convicts and instructs my heart most of all.

Can you share 1 example of how the Lord is currently growing you in Him?

Right now, the Lord is teaching me the importance of "taking every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:3). So often, I find myself “listening” to my own fears and emotions. Instead, I need to be “preaching” to myself. I need to constantly remind myself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His promises for the future. Whenever I am successful in this area, I am filled with the joy and peace that only He can give.


Is there any additional encouragement you want to share with our readers?

It is so important to use your youth for God’s glory! When I was a teenage girl, I realized that the pursuit of Christ is very often a lonely road. However, it is so worth it! As I sought Christ, He became my closest friend and my deepest satisfaction. You will never regret using your youth to grow deeper in the knowledge and imitation of Christ.



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Growing in Jesus ~ A Journey of Joy ~ by Amy Vest

Jesus is growing you, child of God.

When  you trust Him as your Lord and Savior, He redeems you, and He begins a beautiful work in you that He promises to complete.

Isn't this exciting? 

Listen to this beautiful promise:

"...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..." (Philippians 1:6)

This is a beautiful thing.

Jesus is at work in you to grow you in Himself.

This journey of growth in Jesus is lifelong - bringing you into more of Him, His likeness, and the life He created you to live in Him.

Every day of our lives Jesus has more to give us and more to grow us.  Life becomes an endless opportunity to grow in knowing more of Jesus, growing in His likeness, and living more deeply in the life He created you to live.

This is a reason to get out of bed in the morning!

Lately I will often pray,
"Jesus, Thank You that You are all I need, that You are working in me, and that Your will for me is perfect!"

Oh, we can't afford to settle where we are - there is more of Jesus, His Truth, and His work in us to grow in every moment!  (Thankfully, Jesus loves us too much to leave us where we are.)

He is growing you for His glory, your joy, and the blessing of others.

We are going to look together at growing in Jesus as a journey of joy in the acrostic J-O-Y:

J - Jesus - He is doing the work - the beautiful, transforming work - in your heart, that spills out in your life.

"...it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13

We cannot transform ourselves and bring growth - Jesus alone can do that.  And He does.  He begins the work when He saves you, and we depend on Him the rest of our lives on this earth to work in us by His Holy Spirit. 

He beautifully works to grow us in knowing, becoming like, and living in Him.

The deeper He grows us, the greater our joy!

He is amazing!

This is the gift of growth that He offers us.

O - Our opportunity - You have the joy of embracing that work and growth by seeking for it, by depending on His grace, and by allowing Him to work in you.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 1 Peter 3:18

While Jesus alone can bring the growth in us by His Holy Spirit, we are called to pursue it and allow Him to work in us. 

Some ways we can do this are: walking with Him each moment, spending time with Him in the Word and prayer, asking Him to work in us, responding to His working in our heart in obedience, repentance, etc., filling our minds and hearts with things that will help us grow in Jesus, and more! (A blog post later this month will give you more ideas!)

Let's pursue growth, friend!
Y - Your lifelong journey - It is a lifelong journey that He will continue every moment of this life and complete when you meet Him face-to-face. 

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."  Col. 2:6-7

Jesus is calling you to a moment-by-moment growth in Him - all the days of this life.  It is so helpful for me to remember that we will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but are called to be growing.  This allows us to live in the reality that we are needy of Jesus every moment, and He is everything we need, is giving us the grace we need, and is working in us!

The Lord is at work in all you face in life to grow you in Himself.  He knows what each one of us individually need for the greatest growth in our lives.  The happy times, the trials, the times of waiting... all of these are tools in the hand of the God Who loves you to give you what you need most - more of Him, His work in you, and the joy of living in His ways - to grow you in Him.

This overflows in His glory, your joy, and blessing to others.

It is an amazing journey of growth.

This Sunday I had some special time with Jesus to reflect with Him on the journey with Him so far - in all of life's joys and the trials - and rested in the sweet contentment of seeing that: He is all I need, His work growing me in Him is trustworthy, and that He will continue that work until I see Him face-to-face. 

This is His promise for all of us, dear friend.

Let's remember this beautiful promise:
"...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..." Philippians 1:6

His working to grow you in Himself is proof that you are His, that He is God, and that He loves you.

May you be blessed as you walk today with Jesus and embrace the joy of His growing you in Him!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Question - Please share with us!




What is one way that Jesus is growing you in your walk with Him right now?

Please share in the comments section below!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Join us for the Summer Devotions Pursuit 2018!

Summer Devotions Pursuit from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.


We would like to invite you to join us for the 2018 Summer Devotions Pursuit - a special time of seeking Jesus from June 1st - August 31st!

Here are the basic details:
WHO: You and Jesus
WHERE: Wherever you are
WHEN: June 1st - August 31st, 2018

WHAT IS INVOLVED:
- 15 minutes of devotions a day
- Memorizing 1 verse a week
- Choosing and contacting an accountability partner once every 2 weeks
... and an amazing summer with Jesus!
You can print off a chart to keep track on the LTLM website - http://lovingthelordministries.org/event-items/summer-pursuit!

REWARD: When you complete the Summer Pursuit: You send in your chart by September 7th and you receive a reward in the mail - in addition to the best reward of knowing Jesus!
This year's reward will be a special surprise package!

RSVP: 
It is not necessary to let us know that you are taking part in the Summer Devotions Pursuit - You can just send your chart in at the end of the summer when you complete the Pursuit!  (That said, you can leave a comment on this post just for fun if you want to let us know you are taking part!)
You can watch the "Summer Devotions Pursuit" video (above, or at http://vimeo.com/41883667) and visit the website (www.lovingthelordministries.org) for more details.  You can contact us at info@lovingthelordministries.org with questions.  
Invite your friends to join us!!!

This is going to be an amazing summer of pursuing and growing in knowing Jesus!
  Pursue Jesus with all that you are this summer, friends. He is so amazing! He will meet with you - and you will never be the same!


Our prayer is that for each of us this summer will be a powerful time to begin, or deepen, a life pattern of seeking Jesus and growing in experiencing His goodness every day!

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Life Transformed by Truth ~ Grace's Testimony

Please introduce yourself to us
I live in Minnesota with my mom and two brothers (one older, one younger), as well as several cats and my Siberian Husky. I love reading books, playing piano at home and at church, baking anything and everything, and being involved with my incredible church family. I am head-over-heels in love with JESUS and am so incredibly thankful to belong to such an amazing God! He has blessed me so richly, both with many joyful times as well as some difficult trials. But, He has used every one of these times to bring about the sweetest, richest, most unbelievable blessings I could ever imagine!

How did you come to Jesus?
I have known who Jesus is for virtually my whole life. And for a while I thought I was saved when I was really young. But, as I look back over the years, I don’t see any outward evidence that I had truly committed my life to the Lord. So I don’t think I truly became a child of God until I was around eleven or twelve. Around this time, I remember struggling with understanding what it really means to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). For a long time, I thought this simply meant possessing a mental knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done. But by God’s grace, I came to realize that actually belonging to Him is completely different than merely believing in Him. It was around this same time that I really started to dig into my Bible to find answers to my questions about salvation. And I found something utterly priceless: I found the Truth - Jesus Himself. In His Word, I learned that to believe in Jesus meant that you trust Him to save you from your sins, give your life to Him, and love Him more than anything else, that you long to please Him in all you do, that you are grieved by sin, and that you strive to be like Him!  It is a total transformation of the heart! 
           
How has the Lord used His Truth to transform your mind, heart, and life?
His Truth is so powerful, and I am continually being conformed to the image of Christ! The longer HE reigns in my heart, the more fully He sanctifies my life and makes me more like Jesus. By studying His Word and filling myself with His Truth, I am able to go from living a life of sin to one of holiness and righteousness. By His grace and by living according to His Word, I can live each day and look to the days ahead with joy and hope, with my eyes blissfully fixed on Jesus!

What are practical ways you are in the Word and have the Word in you?
This is definitely an ongoing process! I am continually learning about new ways to be saturated with the Word. So I will just share a few of the ways in which He has helped me to treasure the Scriptures:
Daily devotionsI know this seems like a simple answer, but it is so huge! Having a dedicated time with Jesus each day has definitely been the biggest way that the Lord has helped me to hide His Word in my heart. Along with this, a huge blessing has been to keep an accountability partner—one who has come alongside me and encouraged me to keep pressing on toward Jesus, keep going back to the Word, and making sure to spend that sweet, daily time with my Savior.
Be Surrounded with ScriptureI love to surround myself with anything and everything that speaks of Jesus! Right now, I can look up from my bed and see Proverbs 3:5-6 on my bedside table; Romans 8:28 and Psalm 139:23-24 on my bookcase; a daily calendar of Psalms next to my bed; and a board crowded with verses scribbled on post-it notes, index cards, and random scraps of paper, as well as a list of verses on the Lord as our Guide, and other things like this! I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot have too much Scripture around yourself!
Keep a journalAlthough I am not a huge journaling person, I do keep a daily journal, in which I write out thoughts, prayers (often straight out of Scripture!) and special verses that have stuck out during my devotions. I love being able to carry a special verse or two with me throughout the day! I have also been slowly filling up another journal with Scripture based on topics. So, for example, I have a page on “Steadfastness” that is completely covered with every verse I’ve read so far that deals with being steadfast in the Lord. It has been such a blessing to be able to find encouragement and be reminded of Truth when I am in need of wisdom, grace, peace, or anything else!
Verse cardsA few years ago, I wrote out a few meaningful verses on small, pretty pieces of paper. I did this so I could keep His Word with me at all times, especially during the times when I was feeling frightened or anxious—like before a doctor appointment or a big speech at school. In those times, I was so overwhelmed that I struggled to remember the verses I had just read. So this was a simple way that I could find strength in His Word, no matter the circumstance! As a side note, the particular verses that I chose included Deuteronomy 31:8, Job 42:2, excerpts from Psalm 95 and 37, and Isaiah 40:28-31. I have become so familiarized with these passages after reading them so many times, that I don’t even need the cards anymore. They are truly written on my heart!



Can you share one example of how the Lord recently used a verse to change you and your life?
My mom and I have been going through a study on the book of Esther. I have read this book many times, and every single time I uncover sweet truth and hidden gems. That is the beauty of reading a book written by the King of kings! This time through, the Lord brought to light a particularly precious truth: that even during the most difficult times, He is deeply at work within us and in our circumstances. It didn’t just “happen” to be that Esther was born outwardly beautiful, that her parents died and she was raised by her uncle, that she pleased the king and received his favor, etc. He was working out a unique and beautiful plan! In Esther 4:14 Mordecai says to Esther, “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Through this verse, the Lord really impressed on my heart that everything that happens in life, every “good” or “bad” situation, has ultimately been brought about by God and for God. I think truth this touched me so deeply because of some difficult circumstances in my own life. There were so many times this past year where I have gone to Jesus (often in tears) and begged circumstances to change, because they were just so painful and hard to endure. But, praise the Lord, He did not see fit to change anything. For He had a different plan in mind, one that is far greater than anything I could ever imagine. I don’t need to wait for something to change, for life to get “better” before I live fully for God! THIS is the life He has given me, with all its joys and struggles, so THIS is the life I must choose to live out for Him each day. It is completely incomprehensible to consider that the Living God has tailored a special life for me. What a precious gift!!!
 
Is there any additional encouragement you want to share with our readers?
Any advice I would give you, dear friends in Christ, I give to myself as well! So I will just echo to you what the Lord is continually teaching me: Do not grow weary of reading His Word, but continue to fill yourself up (even to overflowing!) with the Living Water you find within its pages. Do not be daunted at the prospect of how much you still need to learn, but let this blessed knowledge drive you to soak up every little drop of truth you can uncover. May you go forth today with the written Word of the Living God in your heart. May you continually turn to Jesus Christ and fervently pursue His example with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength!