Thursday, April 27, 2017

Question of the Month ~ We want to hear from you!

We want to hear from you!

Here's the question for the month:

What is one way you can pursue inner beauty, by God's grace?

  {Please comment below!}

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Those who look to Him are radiant...

"Those who look to him are radiant,

    and their faces shall never be ashamed."

~Psalm 34:5

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Scripture Memory Video ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

      Scripture Memory Video ~ 1 Peter 3 3-4 from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

Join Amy for this special little video as we memorize 1 Peter 3:3-4!

The Lord Looks on the Heart...

 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

~1 Samuel 16:7

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Radiance of True Beauty ~ by Amy Vest

What is true beauty?  Is it perfect makeup, a cute outfit, well styled hair?  Or, is it something more radiantly life changing?

As we grow in the amazing journey of knowing and loving Jesus and His Truth, our perspective of what is truly beautiful is transformed.  The more we experience His heart and He changes our hearts through His Truth, the more we will begin to see as God sees, value what He values, and desire to live our lives in line with longing to be beautiful to Him out of love for Him!

Seeing beauty from God’s perspective is like holding a finely cut diamond close to the light and watching the radiant lights that sparkle everywhere.  It is a beauty that is deep, fulfilling, life-giving, radiant, and eternally glorifies God.  This is the beauty we want to pursue.

Beauty in its truest form is Jesus ~ His heart, His character, His Spirit.  We could talk for hours about His love, purity, holiness, radiance, strength… and the list goes on.  This beauty far surpasses anything merely external.  It is a beauty that transforms.

As a result, beauty in its truest form in us as humans is Jesus Christ filling and radiating from our lives!  The more our lives are emptied of us and filled with Jesus, the more we will be truly beautiful with the radiance of His life shining from us!  This is a beauty that, as a result, fulfills us, blesses others, and glorifies the Lord.

It:  ~ Fulfills you – by you being filled with and fulfilled by Jesus.  (Psalm 107:9)
~ Blesses others – by Jesus living through your life and touching others in a way that forever changes their lives, as only He can.  (2 Cor. 4:7)
~ Glorifies the Lord – by showing in your life how good and beautiful He is and others being drawn to worship Him.  (Matt. 5:16)

This is the beauty we were created to experience and radiate! 

“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  Psalm 34:5

We live in a world that promotes external beauty – but, if you think of it, it has nothing else to hope for than this life!  When you know Jesus, understand His ways, and have the hope of eternity in Heaven, it changes everything!  The beauty He calls us to is so much deeper - beginning at the heart and shining out!  External beauty in and of itself does not last, is shallow, and is unfulfilling.   While it is important for your external appearance to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus and your heart (allowing the cover to match the contents), our priority and value should be where God has it - on the inside.  “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

It is a beauty of Jesus in the soul that is eternal and impacts every area of our lives.  It is being a young woman who knows and radiates Jesus in a beautiful way that has a lasting impact on everyone she touches.  Let’s pursue beauty in His eyes!

A powerful passage on this is 1  Peter 3:3-4,  “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”

Let’s focus on a few parts of these verses:
~ “adorning”Where are you placing your emphasis, hope, and value?  Is it on the external or the internal?  What consumes your thoughts, time, or priorities?  Is it Jesus and His life in you, or is it yourself and making sure that you have the perfect outfit or makeup?  Proverbs 11:22 is a helpful reminder, Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”  One thing that can be helpful is timing yourself and seek to be spending more time focusing on the inner “adorning” (time with the Lord, prayer, reading the Bible, journaling, etc.) than you do on the outside (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.).  Let’s let Jesus help us place our emphasis on what really matters – His life in us!

~ “imperishable beauty” – This is talking about a beauty that doesn’t fade with age, but lasts forever.  Think of yourself 50 or 60 years from now. J (Quite the thought, isn’t it?)  We will look a lot different.  Then - what will matter more where you put your emphasis - on the inside or outside?  How about when you are standing in front of Jesus at the end of your life?  Visiting nursing homes is so inspiring to me – here we see a picture of what imperishable beauty is.  Those who have made their walk with the Lord a priority shine beautifully and His life in them continues to have a lasting impact others, even when their bodies are fading.  Let’s invest our lives in what will make a transforming difference now, and will last forever!

~ “meek and quiet spirit”
A meek and a quiet spirit are only possible when it is the life of Jesus living, working, and flowing through us.  We cannot manufacture, fake, or “paint on” this spirit.  It is only the result of Jesus within us – of time with Him in prayer, reading His Word, and allowing Him to work in our hearts.  It then flows from us like a beautiful fragrance flows from a flower.  Let’s stay dependant on Jesus and allow Him to work in us to make this a reality in our lives!

~ “very precious in the sight of God”
This is, above all else, why we want to pursue this inner beauty of Jesus within us – because it is pleasing and precious in the sight of the One we love!  What is valuable to Him is what really matters.  Let’s live for what is very precious to the One Who is our life, out of love for Him!

Having our hope in Jesus, valuing what He values, pursuing being filled with Him, and His life flowing from us results in a lasting beauty that is precious to God.

How can we specifically cultivate this true beauty, by the grace of God at work in us? 

This true beauty is cultivated in ways including:

~ Knowing Jesus and being filled with Him – This comes through salvation and a personal relationship with Him.  It is the Lord that creates this beauty in us, first through our redemption and then through working in us to transform us into His likeness. 
I want to make a very important reality very clear – there is a difference between justification and sanctification:
- Justification – [a 1-time event] - When you trust Jesus to save you from your sins and surrender your life to Him at salvation, Jesus saves you and you are eternally justified, so that when God looks at you, He sees Jesus.  This makes you beautiful to Him!  There is nothing that you can do to earn God’s favor or justification in your own strength.  Jesus has done that for you.  As a result, you are already saved and you already have God’s favor through Jesus’ work for you on the Cross – nothing can ever change that. 
- Sanctification – [an ongoing process]Once you are saved (justified), God desires to sanctify you – conforming you to the image of Jesus – for His glory and your good.  The more He empties us of our selves and fills us with Jesus, the more He can shine from our lives for His glory!
So, rest in Jesus’ justifying work for you, and allow this to compel you to seek to fully allow Him to do His sanctifying work in you!  As we walk with Him and He does His sanctifying work in us, He will increasingly shine from our lives!

~ His Word The Word of God (the Bible) is His way to let us know who He is, for Him to speak His Truth to us, and for Him to work in us.  It is the “guidebook” to what He says is true beauty and what He calls us to.  It changes your life as you read what He says and the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart.  As we are daily in the Bible, reading it, memorizing it, and thinking about it through the day and seeking the Lord’s help to apply it to our daily life, the Lord will work and change our hearts.
As we look to Jesus and the Word, we see that JESUS is our final example of what we should desire to be!   Even humans through whom He shines beautifully, come short of all that He is and calls us to be!  Keep Jesus and His Word before you as your example of true beauty.

~ Surrender to Him – It is so key to walk in yielded softness of heart to His work in us and obedience to His direction, as the One in charge of our life.  Radical transformation takes place as we obey out of love for Him, instead of out of duty.  It is allowing our heart to be like soft clay in the hands of a potter.  As the Lord works in you through the joys and trials of life, He is able to sanctify you, empty you of yourself and fill you with Himself, shape you, and do what He wants in you.  This is sometimes painful to our flesh.  But, it is an issue of choosing your pain – the initial pain of being emptied of and dying to self, but then experiencing the joy of Jesus’ life filling and radiating from you, OR the pain of staying right where you are and missing all that Jesus had for you! 

It is a life of this – day by day, moment by moment – looking to and loving Him, learning from His Word and valuing what He values, letting Him work in you and fill you, and allowing Him to flow through you to touch others for His glory! 

As this takes place in your life, watch how He will increasingly fill you with His satisfying life that shines from you in beautiful ways and has a lasting impact!  This is the beauty to which He is calling us!

May we all pursue the beauty of Jesus that we were created to be filled with and radiate! 

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

A Woman Who Fears the Lord...

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

~Proverbs 31:30

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Join us for Session 3 - "The Importance of Inner Beauty" - of the Beautiful to God Online Conference!

Session 3 ~ "The Importance of Inner Beauty" and "Keys to Developing Inner Beauty" ~ Beautiful to God Conference from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

What is true beauty? Is it perfect makeup, a cute outfit, well styled hair? Or, is it something more radiantly life changing? As we grow in the amazing journey of knowing and loving Jesus and His Truth, our perspective of what is truly beautiful is transformed... The beauty He calls us to is so much deeper - beginning at the heart and shining out! ...It is a beauty of Jesus in the soul that is eternal and impacts every area of our lives. It is being a young woman who knows and radiates Jesus in a beautiful way that has a lasting impact on everyone she touches. We are so excited to look together in this session at the incredible beauty that the Lord calls us to embrace - A beauty that results in glorifying Him, satisfying us, and blessing others! Will you join us?

Please visit our website for handouts for this session!

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”
 ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

Thursday, March 30, 2017

We Want to Meet You!

We want to get to know our readers!

This week we are asking you to leave a comment and introduce yourself!
We'd love it if you would share:
~ Your first name
~ What state you are from
~ Something the Lord is doing in your life right now!

We are so excited to meet you! :)

                                                                            {Please leave your comment below!}


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Question of the Month ~ We want to hear from you!

We want to hear from you!

Here's the question for the month:

What is  one way you can encourage your friends in Jesus?

 {Please comment below!}

Love One Another...

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
~John 13:34

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Embracing the Gift of Friendship ~ Lianna's Testimony

Red-haired Anne of Green Gables put into words what many of us have wondered. Shortly after her arrival at Green Gables, Anne confided to Marilla her dream regarding friendship - she wondered if she would ever find “a bosom friend... a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul”. If you know the story, you know that Anne did find that friend in a girl named Diana. Does Anne’s desire ring true for you as well? It does for me! We were created to be in relationships - first with God, and then with one another.

When Jesus died on the cross, He purchased our salvation from the penalty of sin and provided the way for a relationship with the holy God of the universe. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself...” (2 Corinthians 5:18). God created us for relationship with Him! For those who trust Him as Savior, we have THE GREATEST FRIEND that can ever be found. Before an earthly “bosom friend” or “kindred spirit” will ever satisfy, we must recognize and embrace the cup-overflowing fullness that is found in Christ alone.

The psalmist David knew this to be true (emphasis mine):
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty Rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62)

Those words have comforted me often, especially in times when 
friendships seemed to fail me or elude me. Finding our fulfillment, strength, hope, and all that we need in GOD frees us to enjoy human friendship without placing unrealistic expectations on imperfect people to meet our needs. 

Have you ever felt like you were on a roller coaster when human friendships ebbed and flowed, or even brought misunderstanding or hurt? With God our Father, there is no shadow of change (James 1:17)! He is a rock-solid Anchor that will not move, and a Friend that will not fail or forsake us. Ever. The Word of God is full of the blessings that we find in relationship with our heavenly Father, whom we can also call “friend”. He is worth knowing as our dearest friend! 

When our deepest needs are first satisfied in God, we are then free to give and receive in human friendships.
And these human friendships are profoundly significant! “He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20)... and “as iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). The people with whom we spend time will influence who we become. For this reason, the friends we choose as our closest confidants should have qualities that we want to cultivate in our own lives.

Where can such friends be found? For starters, you may have some wonderful friend prospects right within your own family. Don’t overlook your siblings! Friends may come and go, but you will be related to your family as long as this life lasts. Then, pray for God to reveal “kindred spirits” to you from other places as well - this may be at church, in your neighborhood, at a class, or somewhere entirely unexpected! God will provide just who you need, at just the right time. Recognize that there will be friends of the journey, and friends of specific seasons - some friendships will be precious for certain times in your life, and then time or distance will drift your paths apart. Other friends will be ones that will stick through all of life, even if time and space separate you at times.

How can deep, meaningful friendships be cultivated? Friendships that will take you beyond the surface are those whose roots are grounded in a shared love for and delight in God. If the deepest common roots of your friendship are your relationship with God, this is a bond that will hold you together far beyond circumstances alone. You will have more to talk about than a shared class or a recent purchase of clothing. Enduring friendship requires a willingness to be honest and real, and opportunities to share both daily life and the depths of your heart. One of my dearest friendships began when I was 16 - we didn’t know each other well, but she and I agreed to become prayer and accountability partners. This built the foundation of our friendship first on our relationships with God. As the years have passed, we have been able to share each others joys and sorrows, grow to be more honest and real with one another, and enjoy the gift of a sweet friendship for the journey! You might know this friend - her name is Amy. :)

I do not know where this finds you. Do you feel like you are in the wilderness, far from any prospect of a kindred spirit or bosom friend? Or are you enjoying nourishment from a blossoming garden of sweet human friendships? Whatever your friendship situation, there is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. Our heavenly Father is ready to meet your deepest need for companionship, first in Himself... and then through the friendships He will bring in His perfect time, for your good and His glory.

A Friend Loves at all Times...

"A friend loves at all times,

    and a brother is born for adversity."

~Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Power of Fellowship and Accountability ~ by Amy Vest

Fellowship and accountability are powerful - immeasurably powerful.

I have said over and over that Jesus is all you need. And I will confirm that and say it again - Jesus is all you need.

In His perfect design He gave us people and human relationships. Why?

God gives us people to encourage one another in following him.

Recently I memorized these verses:
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."  ~ Ecclesiastes  4:9-12

The Lord could have created us and put us each on our own personal islands. But He designed us for community - to impact and be impacted by one another towards Him and living for Him.

Proverbs 27:17 clearly tells us, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."

There is such incredible power in having others to point us to Jesus, fan the flame of love for Him in our lives, and challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with Him.

When I was in my teens, the Lord provided a precious friendship that grew through accountability and fellowship. My friend and I would call one another every 2 weeks to keep one another accountable, share what the Lord was doing in our lives, and find out how we could pray for each other. This friendship has been a mighty tool in the Lord's hand to bring me closer to Him. Just recently we talked again - though now many miles separate us - the fellowship and accountability is priceless.

Many of you have experienced the power of this when you have chosen an accountability partner for the Summer Devotions Pursuit, or a similar friendship.

I love the passage in Scripture that talks of how Jonathan and David's friendship and how they, "...strengthened his hand in God." ~ 1 Samuel 23:16

That is what we are called to in human friendship.

The Lord works so mightily through fellowship and accountability: 
~ Fellowship - a bond, encouragement, and grace in Jesus that comes from sharing the same Savior, love, and goal in life.
~ Accountability - helping, cheering, and challenging one another towards greater depth with Jesus.

I am so grateful for the precious friends that the Lord has used, and uses, to point me to Him in these ways. The impact on my walk with Jesus and life are immeasurable.

These kind of friendships He gives us are priceless companions sharing the path on this journey with Jesus and teammates cheering us on in Him until we cross the finish line of this life.

We are humans who need help, encouragement, accountability, and correction. The Lord often chooses to work through people to provide this grace.

Listen carefully to what this verse is telling us:
"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." ~ Hebrews 3:13

I want this to be clear - the enemy of your soul loves for you to be isolated and alone. In this place, he will try to deceive you, discourage you, and distract you. When we are in godly community and relationships, the Lord can use them to speak Truth to one another and help expose lies we are believing and to identify and rejoice in God's work in our lives.

Fellowship and accountability are gifts God has given for our good and His glory - to point us to Him!

Let's embrace them for His glory in our lives.
Here are some action steps you can take today:
~ Ask the Lord to provide a godly friendship/godly friendships
~ Pursue one godly friend/godly friends
~ Establish a pattern for encouragement and accountability - This could be a phone call once every 2 weeks, a coffee date, praying for one another, quoting your Bible memory verses to one another, etc.
~ For more encouragement and practical application, you can watch the video session on "The Heart of Friendship"!

May the Lord work in a mighty way through your friendship and accountability to draw you closer to Him - your God, dearest Friend, and Life!

Iron Sharpens Iron...

"Iron sharpens iron, 
and one man sharpens another."

~Proverbs 27:17

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Join us for Session 2 - "The Heart of Friendship" - of the Beautiful to God Online Conference!

Welcome to Session 2 of the Beautiful to God Conference - The Heart of Friendship!
Friendship is an amazing gift from God! God is a relational God and He created us in His Image for relationships.

God has a very special plan for friendship - for His glory, our joy, and the blessing of others. We must realize that our friendships are so critical - They can either aid you in knowing Jesus and living the vibrant life in Christ that you were created for, or they can destroy you. We must seek for Lord’s grace to embrace friendship for all that He intended.

We invite you to join us as we look at this important topic in this month's session!
Please visit our website for the companion handout for this session!

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." ~ John 13:34