Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Outflow of a Transformed Heart ~ Isabella's Testimony

The Lord has blessed me with the privilege of being raised in a Christian home.  I came to know Christ at a very young age. When I was 3, I can remember being with my mom and asking Jesus into my heart. I realized that I was a sinner, and that Jesus died on the cross for me.

My whole childhood, I can remember my parents teaching me about Jesus and sharing the scriptures with me. I grew up loving Jesus and learning about Him. But later on when I was about 10, I started to fear, and doubt in whether or not I was truly saved. I kept pushing it aside though, telling myself, your fine, you already “prayed a prayer”. But I continued to fear and doubt. I wasn’t sure if I would go to Heaven or not if I died tonight. I didn’t feel I had what I thought a Christian should have. I didn’t feel satisfied. I knew there was more to life. As I observed the lives of my parents and other godly men and women, I saw that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), and that life in Him is totally satisfying (Ps. 107:9)! I went to a girls conference and the speaker, was talking about fully surrendering your life to Christ. She shared her testimony, and up to this point, it was so similar to my story. I saw that to follow Christ, I needed to fully surrender my life to Christ, and not only make Him my Savior, but also my Lord.

When I was 11, I surrendered my life to Jesus! And from that moment on, the Lord placed a peace and joy in my heart like I never even thought possible! My life has never been the same since that moment. He has been my best friend ever since.

As I started really seeking the Lord, with all of my heart, that’s when I truly started to find Him (Jer. 29:13). He satisfied my every longing, and gave me a genuine peace and joy!

I started thinking about other girls I knew, who didn’t know Jesus, and who didn’t have this precious gift. I wanted to do something, I didn’t know what, so I began to pray about it. As I did, the Lord just really placed it on my heart to start a girls Bible study for some neighborhood girls. This had never crossed my mind before...It was something that was way out of my “comfort zone”, and to be honest, I just didn’t think I was capable of doing something like this. I really had a heart though, to share with other girls how beautiful life can be with Him! I talked to my parents about it, assuming for some reason they would say no. But to my surprise they really encouraged me to do this. At this point, I had no idea where to start...so I just prayed. The Lord was so faithful and lead me every step of the way.

In June of 2009 when I was 14, I held a Summer Bible study at my house for some neighborhood girls. 3 came that year. We studied “What Friendship and Life are all about” by Loving the Lord Ministries. I really felt this was something the Lord wanted me to continue to do. The following Summer we studied “Beautiful to God” by Loving the Lord Ministries.

At this point it was no longer just a Bible study for neighborhood girls...girls from church started coming friends and even others I had never met before. I saw that there was a great need to encourage girls in the Lord. So now annually every Summer I do a girls Bible study. Last year around 13 girls came, and this year up to 23 girls came. Wow! Each time, we study God’s word, pray, and then we usually do a craft that goes along with what we studied. Have a snack and if there’s time we’ll play a game. I have been amazed at who the Lord has all brought! And what He’s all done through it! I have learned so much! And have been so blessed by all these girls hearts to seek God and desires to learn more about Him! It’s been so sweet to see them grow in the Lord! He has worked in such amazing ways through this! My ministry is to learn to be a vessel that the Lord can work through to reach out and become an encouragement to others.

Praise the Lord for how He works...is working...and will work!!!

We walk by faith...

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Impact of Your Life ~ by Amy Vest

Close your eyes.  Think of yourself 5 years from now.  Now try 10 years.  How about 50?  Now really stop, be still, and think of yourself in eternity.


What will really matter then?  All that will matter is your relationship with the Lord and secondly the souls of people.

Look at your life now.  What is the impact of your life is having right now?  What will it be after you are gone?
 Each of our lives has an impact.  No matter who you are or where you are – your life is having an impact.

We each have one life – a short blip on the radar of eternity – and the results of what takes place in that blip will last for eternity.

3 things – Let’s look at 3 things that will impact - the impact - of your impact - on eternity.  Are you ready?


1) Knowing Jesus –
All of your life, eternity, and impact hinge on your relationship with Jesus Christ - A relationship with Jesus in coming to Him for salvation from your sins, and then growing to know Him in a real, personal way.  In salvation, you receive God’s grace to fully trust in Jesus as your Savior from your sins and surrender to Him as the one in charge of your life.  He saves you from your sins, makes you right with Him, gives you the assurance of Heaven with Him when you die, and fills you with His life to live in Him and to pour Himself through you as His ambassador to the world.

As you grow in this relationship with Jesus as you seek Him, spend time with Him in prayer, base your life on His Word, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you and work in you - you will come to know Him more and more as the One who saves, satisfies, loves, never leaves you, is your strength, holds your hand, guides you, teaches you… and He transforms you from the inside out!  As you know Him, you are satisfied, He shines from you, and you long to share Him with others!  The outflow of this relationship with Jesus – of Him in and through your life - will be an impact on the lives of others that will last forever.

Life, salvation, or leaving a lasting impact are not possible apart from Jesus – and they were never meant to be.  You were created for that relationship with Jesus, and all of life is meant to drive you to that relationship – and impact will result.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

2) Surrender -
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”  Matt. 16:34-36
There is nothing more freeing - more secure – more fulfilling – than surrender to Jesus.  As you live yielded in His hands, He will work in you and then through you to do things you never could have dreamed.  It is the greatest adventure of all time.
There was a point in my life when surrender sounded scary – and that was because I didn’t know Jesus well.  But, when He drew my heart to surrender to Him in salvation and then opened my eyes to my need to live in yieldedness to Him, I began to witness the wonder of the most incredible life imaginable… and would never trade it for the world.  Knowing Jesus as He worked in and through me? – yes.  Watching miracles unfold? – yes, because it was Jesus and not me.  Comfortable to my flesh? – no, but, so fully secure.  Worth it? - without a doubt.  As a child of God – the only option.
It is bowing before Him moment-by-moment, saying, “Yes, Lord. I am Yours.  I will do whatever You desire, by Your grace.”  It is obeying when it is not comfortable, loving someone unlovable, speaking Truth when you are afraid, stepping out in faith when you cannot see…  As you live in surrendered obedience - even when it’s hard - Jesus can live and love and work in and through you in ways that leave a mark on eternity.

3) Eternal Perspective -
“The best use of a life is to live it for something that outlasts it” is a quote that has echoed in my heart.
This spring, I sat at my grandma’s bedside, holding her hand while she was in her final hours of life on this earth... The reality was so vivid that we all have a very short time on this earth before we each will slip into eternity.  We each have only one life to live and then it is over – and all of eternity will echo with the impact.

This should not be a morbid thing that causes us to sit around in gloom – the total opposite!  This should fill our hearts, minds, and lives with purpose to live every moment to the fullest in a way that will make an impact forever and give a vision to invest our lives in far past the surface things of this earthly life to what will last forever – a walk with God, His Word, His purposes, people’s souls. 
It is a daily, moment-by-moment choice we make.  As we walk through the day, let’s ask ourselves these questions, "Is this what the Lord wants me to do?", "When I stand before the Lord, will I be glad I did this?", and "Will this last for eternity?"

It likely will mean that you spend more time reading God’s Word than surfing Facebook or the internet.  Sometimes it will mean opting out of “pleasure” activities, so that you can invest your time in something that lasts – like discipling a younger girl over ice cream, praying for a missionary, helping your mom cuddle your siblings, or organizing a Bible study.  It doesn’t mean that you never get together with a friend, or are refreshed, but even then, what is the purpose of it – to be built up in Jesus and advancing His Kingdom, or to focus on self and what you want?  The key is that you are living in surrender to the Lord and letting Him live His life, love, and Truth through you wherever He calls you.  I can tell you from personal experience – and long for you to experience for your self - that it is worth it, so much more fulfilling than living any other way, and lasts forever!
The Impact -
As you walk with Jesus in surrender with your eyes on eternity – HE will bear fruit through you.  This is the fruit that lasts forever – what CHRIST does in and through you – as you cling to Him.  Not fake fruit that you try to produce by trying to work on your own self effort that will never have any lasting value.
As you abide in Him, He will bear fruit.  Let’s listen to Jesus again,

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:4-5)

History is dotted with girls and women who walked with a real God and let Him fill them in a way that changed them and flowed through them to impact the world for His glory.  Just like Esther was in her day, you are “come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) to be filled and used by God for His eternal purposes!  The needs are great.  We have a great and powerful Savior.  He desires to pour His life into and through you in dynamic ways to leave a lasting impact for His glory. 

As you receive the Lord’s grace to pursue Him above all else, know His heart, let Him work in you, and be a surrendered vessel for Him to pour out His life 

– you will experience the reality that He fully satisfies, He is glorified, and people are blessed in a way that ripples through eternity.

Abide in me...

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

~John 15:4-5

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Join us for Session 8 - "The Impact of a Life that is Beautiful to God" - of the Beautiful to God Online Conference!

Session 8 ~ "The Impact of a Life that is Beautiful to God" from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

Close your eyes. Think of yourself 5 years from now. Now try 10 years. How about 50? Now really stop, be still, and think of yourself in eternity. What will really matter then? All that will matter is your relationship with the Lord and secondly the souls of people...
We each have one life – a short blip on the radar of eternity – and the results of what takes place in that blip will last for eternity...
As you receive the Lord’s grace to pursue Him above all else, know His heart, let Him work in you, and be a surrendered vessel for Him to pour out His life – you will experience the reality that He fully satisfies, He is glorified, and people are blessed in a way that ripples through eternity.

Please visit our website lovingthelordministries.org for the handout for this session!

“...No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

For such a time as this...

"And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

~Esther 4:14

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Summer Devotions Pursuit is Ending - and a Lifetime of Seeking Jesus Begins!

Hi Friends!

The Summer Devotions Pursuit 2017 ends on August 31st - and a lifetime of seeking Jesus begins!

Did you have a good summer?

We are so thrilled about each of you who have spent your summer seeking to know Jesus! We know He has met you, worked in your hearts, and changed your lives - and there is nothing more exciting! He is so amazing, isn't He?

I know this summer, I fell more in love with Jesus. Just this morning, I was praying, "Jesus, I want You more than anything - If I have You, I have everything I need."


I am so grateful to be on this quest to know Jesus more together! I want to encourage you to keep seeking Jesus with all of your heart, spend time with Him, read the Bible, pray, memorize, and be with friends who will challenge you to grow in and love Jesus! This is a life-long adventure of knowing Jesus more - and the more we know Him, the sweeter life becomes!

So, I want to say - GOOD JOB - and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

Let's let our continual heart's cry be like Paul's in Philippians 3:10, "...that I may know him..."!

Jesus is with you every step, drawing your heart towards Him, and waiting for you to taste even more the joy of knowing Him!

You are welcome to send in your Summer Pursuit charts by September 7th and we will love to send you a reward - in addition to the best reward of knowing Jesus!

We'd LOVE to have you comment below about something that Jesus did in your heart or showed you as you spent time with Him this summer!

{Sending a happy hug as we rejoice in all that Jesus did this summer!}

Cheering for you as you seek our amazing Jesus!

With love in Him,
Amy and the LTLM Team

That I may know Him...



"...that I may know him..." ~Philippians 3:10

Wednesday, August 23, 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 aspect of how the Lord created you that you are thanking Him for today?
                                                      
      {Please comment below!}


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Scars and His Glory ~ Mandy's Testimony


“Have you looked at your scars yet?” my friend asked me. I shook my head no. The surgery incisions on my back were still pretty fresh – just a few weeks old. While I was told that the operation was successful, I still couldn’t bring myself to look at the scars that remained. It would be a few months before I finally dared to glance at my surgery site in the mirror. 

When I did, I winced at the sight of two long, permanent markings marring my skin.

A few years later, an emergency operation would leave a third scar on my lower back. While I am so grateful for the successful, even life-saving results of these surgeries, I have also wrestled with the concept that my body will always bear the marks of my pain. These experiences have caused me to think deeply about bearing my scars in a God-honoring way.

What I began to realize is that everyone has their own scars. Some of these scars are visible, resulting from surgeries, accidents, or other painful experiences. Others are invisible – the results of grief, malicious words, and other forms of emotional trauma. While the circumstances leading to these scars may have occurred beyond our control, they are never a surprise to God. In fact, our scars are part of God’s matchless design for our lives.

One way we can find hope in the midst of our scars is to rest in the sovereignty of God. He has a purpose for our lives that is greater than we can imagine. His Word assures us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) While we may experience heartache in this life, we can take comfort knowing that God is the One who has a deeper, better, more perfect plan for our lives.

I can testify to this beautiful truth in my own life. In the years following my surgeries, I spent a lot of time on bedrest. During this time, I watched other girls enjoying a “normal” life. In some ways, I felt that my pain had robbed me of my teen years. What I didn’t realize at the time was that God would use that season of rest to draw me near to Himself in powerful, beautiful ways. In fact, I can now look back on my teenage years with great fondness, as the season in which God set me on a trajectory to seek and serve Him with my life.

Once we understand that God is sovereign, we also need to grapple with the shame that many of us feel concerning our physical and emotional scars. I certainly have struggled with feeling ashamed of the scars on my back. As a teenager, I fought a subtle but nagging thought that if only I had been a better person, maybe I wouldn't have had to deal with physical pain. But I have to continually remind myself that the circumstances that happened outside of my control were exactly that – beyond my control. Such scars are not the marks of sin. Rather, they are opportunities to bring honor to God.

As an example, I think of the blind man mentioned in the book of John. Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “’Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:2-3) This passage greatly comforts me as I think about the spinal issue that I was born with. This condition, leading to my surgeries and subsequent scars, has always been intended for God’s glory!

It’s important to note that when Jesus appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body, He chose not to remove the crucifixion scars from His hands and side (John 20:27). Clearly, Jesus was not ashamed of His scars. Instead, He displayed them as physical evidence of God’s resurrecting power. This passage gives me courage as I remember that my own Savior is scarred without shame.

As I come to peace with my own scars, I choose to see them as an opportunity to thrive in my service to God and others. In particular, I am inspired by the example of missionary Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), who enjoyed several decades of fruitful ministry in India before she suffered a serious fall. As a result of this accident, Amy Carmichael was bedridden for much of the final twenty years of her life. Despite her pain, Amy Carmichael chose to use her time to write prolifically. In fact, some of her most enduring legacies are her books, which have touched lives around the world. It's clear that Amy Carmichael's physical scars were part of God's perfect design for her life.


After looking at my scars as part of God’s matchless design, I am encouraged to persevere despite them. I look to the past as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. I look to His Scripture to remind me that I need not be ashamed of my scars. And I fill my mind with positive examples of those who have used their scars to honor God. In light of all this, let us persevere with diligence as we joyfully anticipate how God will use our scars for His glory. 

His ways are higher...

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

~Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Creator's Matchless Design of You ~ by Amy Vest

Have you ever watched an artist designing a masterpiece?

You, my friend, are God's masterpiece.

His design of the masterpiece of your life is perfect.  The aspects of how He created you are all for a specific purpose that is beyond what you could fathom. 

God's grand plan for mankind is to know Him, be satisfied in Him, and to glorify Him.  He has a special way for you to do that - and He designed every detail of your life for that purpose.

Every part of how God made you is like the facets of a prism - a piece of crystal cut in many dimensions to catch and disperse light in gorgeous ways.  Each part of how God made you is intended to shine His life, light, and goodness through in a way that displays His glory like no one else can. 

From the beginning of time, He planned when you were born, your family situation, what you look like, the circumstances you can't change, your personality, the talents and limitations you have, the number of years you live on this earth... Each was purposefully individually designed to bring you to be satisfied in Him and shine His goodness through your life in a unique way.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb."  (Psalm 139:13)

Stop and think about that.  That mellow personality, country you were born in, specific sibling, gift you've been given, limitation you face, circumstance you can't change, that _____ - you fill in the blank - are all intentionally selected by God for you.

He looks at the way He made you and He says, "She's perfect."  You are exactly how He wanted you to be.  (Yes, His work on our inside - sanctifying us - is a lifelong process.  We are looking at how He designed the framework of your life as a staging ground for His work in and glory through you.)

He has put all of these details together to enable you to fulfill His plan for your life - to know Him and display His goodness to the world in a specific, one-of-a-kind, world altering way - as you walk close to His heart, receiving His grace, and embracing His beautiful plan in grateful surrender!

For me, such incredible rest, security, and purpose results from realizing:
~ God's plan is perfect - He makes no mistakes, sees the big picture, and has a specific plan for how He put my life together.
~ The opinions of artwork (myself or other people), about how I was created, don't matter - the Master Artist's opinion is all that matters!
~ I do not need to try to be like someone else - God made me exactly how He wanted me to be!
~ I can freely embrace the Lord and His plan with all of my heart, seeking to let Him shine His goodness through my life and circumstances for His glory!
~ As He shines, He will glorify Himself in ways He uniquely planned for my life that are beyond imagination.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

As the Lord pours out His grace and continues to lead me in embracing His design of my life - my limitations, circumstances, personality, and more - I have seen more and more the breathtaking perfection of His plan as life unfolds and witnessed how fully trustworthy He is. 

As we look at the masterpiece of your life, remember - The way you look at the Artist's design shows what you believe about the Artist Himself.  If I truly believe that God is loving, sovereign, and wise (which He is!), I will know that what He does is an outflow of His heart and for my satisfaction in Him and His glory.  This will cause me to trust Him, embrace His plan in surrender, and thank Him for it.

Let's say with the psalmist, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."  (Psalm 139:14)

As you live fully, gratefully, and purposefully in God's perfect design for you ~ His masterpiece ~ you can watch Him shine through the prism of your life to glorify Himself in a unique and beautiful way!

A future and a hope...

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
~Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Join us for Session 7 - "You are Perfectly Made by God" - of the Beautiful to God Online Conference!

Session 7 ~ "You are Perfectly Made by God" from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

From the beginning of time, God planned when you were born, your family situation, what you look like, the circumstances you can't change, your personality, the talents and limitations you have, the number of years you live on this earth... Each was purposefully individually designed to bring you to be satisfied in Him and shine His goodness through your life in a unique way.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:13-14)
As you live fully, gratefully, and purposefully in God's perfect design for you ~ His masterpiece ~ you can watch Him shine through the prism of your life to glorify Himself in a unique and beautiful way!
Please visit our website lovingthelordministries.org for handouts and study questions for this session!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made...


"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

~Psalm 139:14