Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Do You Know Jesus? ~ by Amy Vest



Do you ever wonder why you were created? God created you to have a personal relationship with Him, to glorify Him, and to live forever with Him in Heaven when you die. Apart from this relationship with God, you cannot find the joy, fulfillment, and peace that you were meant to have.

We all have a problem. There is darkness in our hearts. We have all sinned and disobeyed God. We have thought, said, and done wrong things. We have lied, cheated, been selfish, etc. God sees everything. Because God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin in His presence. Our sin separates us from God, and causes us to deserve His punishment, including being separated from Him eternally in Hell when we die. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Trying to do good things (“…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” Is. 64:6), going to church, not sinning “really badly”, etc. will not save you, or earn you a place in Heaven. God is loving and merciful, but He is also holy and just. Even one little sin cannot be allowed before God. Otherwise, God would not be holy and just.

Because God is also loving and merciful, He made a way for us to be forgiven for our sins and be right with Him. God sent His son, Jesus Christ to earth. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserved for our sins, and rose again to live forever. In doing this, God made a way for us to be right with Him.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Receiving salvation from your sins through believing in and accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior will wash you from your sins, bring you into a right relationship with God, and make it possible for you to go to Heaven when you die. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is a choice that you must personally make to receive as you would a gift. No one can make it for you. But, it is critical that you make it! (No one is promised tomorrow.)

Responding to God’s grace and believing in Christ is not something that takes place only in our mind – It is something that must take place in our heart and come out in our actions. Just like I can say that I believe that a chair will hold me up, I am not truly believing and placing my faith in the chair until I sit on it! It is the same way with believing in Jesus to save us. It is when we fully lean on Him to save us, that we truly are believing.

It is the most important decision that you will ever make, and it determines your standing with God and your eternal destiny in Heaven or Hell. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

If you choose to confess your sins to God, ask His forgiveness for them, turn from your sins, believe in Jesus to save you from your sins, and accept Him into your life as your Savior and Lord (which means the one who is in charge), you will be saved and become a child of God. John 1:12 says, “…As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Christ will come into your life, wash away your sins, and enable you to live for Him. Then when God looks at you, He no longer sees your sin, but Jesus. Because of this, you can be in a right relationship with God, live for His glory, and spend eternity in Heaven with Him when you die. This is the most important thing in life, is what you were created for, is where you will find true peace, and determines your eternal destiny.

To be right with God, it is essential to:
  1. Admit your sin and your need for forgiveness.
  2. Confess your sin to God, ask for His forgiveness, and turn from your sins to follow Him.
  3. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and trust Him to save you.
  4. Surrender your life to Jesus Christ and invite Him to come in and control your life as your Lord and Savior.
You can pray something like the following prayer:
“Dear Lord, I know that I have sinned and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and I trust You to save me. Please forgive me for my sins, come into my life as my Lord and Savior, and help me to live for You. I choose to turn from my sins, trust You as my Lord and Savior, surrender my life to You, and to follow You from now on. Thank you for dying in my place so that I can be right with You and spend eternity with You in Heaven when I die. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Romans 10:9-11 tells us,
“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV)
Once you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, your new life in Him has just begun! John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
To grow in your relationship with the Lord you should:
  1. Read the Bible, which is God’s word to you, each day (the book of John is a good place to start).
  2. Spend time daily talking to God in prayer.
  3. Worship the Lord, fellowship, and serve with other Christians in a church where God’s Word is preached.
  4. Live for Christ and tell others about Him.
The Lord will never leave you. He will make Himself more real to you as you seek Him and will satisfy the longings of your heart. The Lord will help you to live for Him! As His child, you have the joy of walking with Him in this life and the joy of knowing that you will spend eternity with Him in Heaven!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Jesus - No One Compares ~ by Amy Vest

Jesus.  The most precious Name in the world.  The One to Whom no one compares.  The only source of all we need.  Jesus.

Oh, friend!  He has been showing His goodness, grace, holiness, nearness, and reality so much lately.  My heart has been falling more deeply in love with the One I need so desperately.

He is matchless.

I could talk about Him for hours, but there are 4 precious realities that I want to share about Him that have been bringing so much joy to my heart.

Jesus:
1. Is real -
He is so real.   He wants to be real to you.  The things He says in His Word about Who He is are not just words on a page, they are reality.  He wants to make Himself so real to you and is working in your life for this purpose.  We can watch each day for Him to reveal to us the reality of Who He is as we walk with Him through the day.  This is a prayer He delights to answer. 

How is He real to you?

2. Only satisfies -
Jesus alone is the satisfaction of the vacuum in our heart.  He will not allow you to be satisfied in anything else.  He is always wooing you to Himself.  He alone can satisfy the longing He created.  We can respond through running to Him for our joy - through prayer, time in His Word, walking with Him each moment, and making Him the object of our love and pursuit.  As we do, we always find the reality of this verse, "He satisfies the longing soul..." Psalm 107:9

Where are you looking for satisfaction?

3. Wants your heart -
Oh, how He wants your heart!  He made you for Him and He will never stop pursuing your heart.  This is such faithful love.  He wants your heart more than your words or your hands.  “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."' Matthew 15:8 "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6  He will not let you settle for outward actions - He wants your heart.  And you can be so glad - when He has your heart, you are satisfied and He is glorified.  When your heart is His, all that flows out is worship.

Is your heart with Him?

4. Calls you to an endless journey and romance with Him - He invites you to enjoy and embrace this personal relationship of love with Him that touches every area of your life. Every day of this life until we step into eternity is an opportunity to walk moment by moment with Him - learning His heart, understanding His Word, being knit more closely to Him.  All you face serves to make Him more precious - the trials, victories, and everything in between.  Life is so full of purpose, anticipation, and joy as you open your eyes each morning to a new day of walking with and knowing Jesus more!

Will you walk with Him today?


These are precious realities that have been filling me with so much joy.  I pray they will do the same for you.

Friend, as you receive His grace to embrace Jesus as your reality, satisfaction, heart's treasure, and purpose in living, your heart will love Him more and we can declare together:

"There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you..." 1 Chronicles 17:20

Jesus.  No one compares.

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!