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! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Question - We want to hear from you!



What is 1 Bible verse that has been helpful to you lately?  How has it helped you?


Please share in the comments section below!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What Are You Building Your Life On? ~ by Amy Vest


"Boom.  Boom, boom."  I partially woke up and then drifted back off to sleep, thinking people were setting of fireworks in our area.  "BOOM!"  I was awake.  No, it wasn't fireworks - it was real thunder, really close.

I checked the weather to see how serious it was.  We were under a flash flood warning for a few hours.  I was grateful as I reflected on how our house should be safe in a flash flood because of the position and construction.

As I sat there in the dark, an illustration Jesus gave came to mind:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Matthew 7:24-27

Our lives are like houses and we will all face storms.  Where we are building is crucial.

Let's ask ourselves, "What are we building our lives on?"

Jesus tells us that if we build our lives on Him and - hearing and doing - His Word, we will stand secure.  But, if we base our lives on other things, we will fall.

The Bible - the Word of God - is 100%, unchanging, and infallible Truth.  This is where He shows us Who He Is, what is Truth, how we can know Him, gives us His promises, guides us in the way He created us to live, and so much more.  When we base our lives on His Word, by His grace, we are unshakable.

I know from personal experience that when I build my life on anything but the Word of God, instability results.  Feelings, circumstances, people, appearance, money, etc. all are fallible and changing.  Jesus and His Word are Truth and steadfast.

Every area that is built on Jesus and His Word will stand secure.

Notice that there are two parts to Jesus' illustration - 1. Hearing, and 2. Doing. First, we must hear God's Word - by reading or listening to the Bible. Secondly, we must act in obedience to what we've heard.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."  James 1:22

Imagine you wanted to build something and you just read the instructions but never acted on what you read.  We must read the Bible and receive God's grace to live in it.  

So, if today I read, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding...", I have heard it.  Now I must ask the Lord for help to apply it in my daily life - to put my faith in Him and His Word over my logic or feelings.  The more this takes place by the Lord's power, the stronger the "house" of our lives will become.  

Jesus invites us to hear and build our lives on His Word for His glory and our good!

I want this, don't you?

Let's answer Jesus' call to receive His grace to both hear and do His Word today - and build our lives upon what will last forever!

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Join the conversation!  
We'd love for you to leave a comment below and share:

What is one verse from the Bible that you are building your life on right now?


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You are Loved ~ by Amy Vest

Dear Sisters,

Sometimes we just need someone to remind us of this truth:

You are loved.

Let's listen to Jesus:

"...I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." ~ Jeremiah 31:3

"The Lord your God is in your midst, 
a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." ~ Zephaniah 3:17

"
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you." ~ Psalm 86:5

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."  ~ Psalm 86:15

"'I have loved you,” says the Lord." ~ Malachi 1:2

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." ~ 1 John 4:10

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~ Gal. 2:20

May your day be blessed beyond measure as you soak in His endless love for you!

Grateful to be loved by our Jesus together,
Amy

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Question - We love hearing from you!



What is one thing that distracts or hinders you from your relationship with Jesus?

Please share in the comments section below!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Consider Jesus ~ by Amy Vest

“Consider Jesus…” (Hebrews 3:1)

These words keep ringing in my heart.  As they do, the Lord is applying them in a transforming way that echoes in my life.

Take a moment to let these words sink in.

“Consider” in Greek means = "to observe fully:—behold, consider, discover, perceive."

Picture considering something for purchase.  What do you do?  You look at it, think about it and different aspects of it, and take deep interest in it.

Who does this verse call us to consider?  Jesus!

When you consider Jesus – Who He is, what He said and promised, what He has done and is doing – you begin to see more and more in His Word that His:
- power is limitless
- love is unchanging
- wisdom is perfect
…and so much more!

The reality of who He is colors every other area of your life – and it is life changing.

For example - If I am fixing my eyes on, thinking about, worshiping Him for, and living in faith in His love and control over all things, I will struggle less and less with fear about the future and embrace today more and more as His best for me. 

Can you see how this affects our lives?

Jesus changes everything, and when we fix our eyes on Him, everything begins to change, too.

Isn’t this exciting?

I love analogies and the Bible is full of them.  Hebrews 12 compares our Christian life to a race.  If you have done any kind of running, you will understand the pictures in these verses.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.~ Hebrews 12:1-3

I was in a race with my brother and some friends and it was a wonderful experience.  I noticed this as I ran – when my focus got too much on my running friends, the weather, or feelings of tiredness – my performance changed.  But, when I focused where I should, I was able to plug along and embrace the race.

It is similar in a much deeper way in our Christian life.

We can love Jesus so much, and yet our mind can slip to spending most of our time considering things other than Jesus.

When I look within or without and consider myself and my weaknesses, circumstances, relationships, or feelings – I grow weary, faint, and discouraged.

But, when I look up and consider Jesus and His strength, His Word, and His work – I am encouraged, strengthened, and spurred on to run with and for Him with all of my heart.

Jesus invites us to lift our eyes from:
- our need to His sufficiency
- our weakness to His strength
- our sin to His grace
- our pain to His comfort…
and then run with patience the race He has for us, knowing He is with us every step.

This is the life that He is calling us to, friends.  Let’s receive His grace to fix our eyes on and consider Jesus.  As we do, our lives will be transformed. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reminders of Jesus ~ Practical Application ~ by Amy Vest

I love reminders, don't you?

If you are like me, even when you want something so much, it is easy to get distracted and reminders can be so helpful!

When I was growing in my walk with Jesus, I wanted to have something that reminded me of Jesus, His love, and my relationship with Him.  He gave me anything shaped like a heart as a reminder of Him and His love for me.  

It was so amazing to watch as suddenly heart shaped things started appearing everywhere - clouds, a carrot in my salad, a splash of paint on the sidewalk, and so much more!

Often I will see the reminder, smile, and say, "I love You, too, Jesus!"This shifts my whole perspective as my eyes are lifted from my day to the One Who loves me and is my life - and then changes how I live!

Often the Lord will bring it just when I need it - like one time I was cleaning the bathroom and having a harder day.  I looked at the counter as I cleaned and there was a heart shaped puddle of water!  My whole perspective changed as I remembered Jesus and His love for me!

This reminder continues to be so sweet to this day.  (Scattered through this post are a few pictures from the last couple of weeks!)

These reminders can be such a powerful tool in pointing our minds and hearts to Jesus and living more fully with Him as our life!

"For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness."  Psalm 26:3

I have other reminders as well - a ring I wear, things around my room, sunlight sparkling on the water, a loon's call, etc., but the heart-shaped things remain the sweet, practical reminder that Jesus uses again and again to turn my mind to Himself and His love!

Young women I know have chosen all kinds of things - roses, butterflies, stars, the cross, sparkles, etc. - that are special reminders in their walk with the Lord!  

I encourage you to ask the Lord what you can have as a reminder of His love and a tool to point you to living with Him as your life!

It is important to remember that He is always there, He always loves you, and He is always true life whether you are seeing those reminders, or not.  These reminders are just a sweet tool the Lord can use to encourage us in Himself and in living with Him as our life!

I want that, don't you?

May Jesus use these reminders to encourage you in your journey of drawing deeper with Him!

~~~

It's your  turn - we want to hear from you!  What is a reminder you have of Jesus and living with Him as your life? We'd love for you to leave a comment below!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Question - We love hearing from you!



What is one thing that helps you grow in your love for Jesus?


Please share in the comments section below!