Thursday, January 31, 2013

Announcing the January Giveaway Winner!

We are excited to announce that the January Giveaway Winner is: Alisha!!!

We are so blessed by each of you that took part in the giveaway and know that the time that you spent with Jesus and memorizing His Word is the best reward you could receive!

Please stay tuned for the February Giveaway!

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” 
~ John 10:10

The Amazing Journey ~ by Amy Vest



Do you like journeys?  Recently I arrived home from a road trip across America with my parents.  It was a time filled with meeting with Jesus, divine appointments, incredible fellowship with friends and family, time with my parents, ministry projects in the car, and so many memories.  There are lots of stories that I could share…

Today I want to share about a hike I took in Arizona and the lessons the Lord taught me about how an earthly journey is like our journey with Him.  I am going to share it simply with stories, thoughts, verses, and pictures.  I would love to have you join me.  Do you have your tennis shoes on?


My Journey Lessons:

~ Jesus is with you every step of the journey. 
Even as I hiked, Jesus was always near me.  He is the most faithful Lord, friend, and Shepherd.  For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13  We are meant to share this journey of life with Him!

~ We must be drinking of Jesus as our living water.  In the warm, dry, desert-like terrain that we were hiking in, I needed to make sure that I was drinking enough water, or I could have become dehydrated and faint.  Jesus says,
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”  John 7:37  Jesus alone can quench the deep thirst of our soul.  If I would have tried to quench my thirst with anything else around me on the hike (sand, cactus, rocks), my thirst would only have gotten worse.  So, nothing but Jesus will fully satisfy the thirst of our souls.

~ Allow His Word to be your guide.  My closest friends know that I am not amazing at directions.
  Left to myself, I can get lost.  It is so much more this way with life!  God, the One who created us knows what is best for us!  He has given us His Word, the Bible, to show us how to walk for our best and His glory.  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 199:105

~ It is important to watch and stay on the path before you.  As I hiked, there were times when all I could do was look at the next steps of the path in front of me, to make sure that I stayed on the path and didn’t step where I shouldn’t.  A few times, I did get off of the path.  A couple of those times had not so favorable results.  The first time, I was getting off the path to get a picture by a cactus… and heard a sound like a rattle snake – I decided to get back on the path and skip the picture!  Another time, I stepped too close to a jumping cactus.  They are a type of cactus that drops balls with needles that grab onto you.  One of the balls grabbed onto my tennis shoe and I could feel it poking through to my toe.  One of my friends got it off, and I am grateful!  Ponder the path of your feet…  Proverbs 4:26  It is so important that we are following Jesus as our Guide and staying on the path that He has for us!  When we yield to temptation to step just a little off of the path, we open ourselves up to trouble.

~ Value the fellowship of others on the same journey.  I had the joy of sharing the hike with my dad and some other friends.  It is amazing how the comradery of sharing the journey makes the times you have to work harder much easier.  In the Christian walk, the Lord has given us others to share the journey with and encourage one another in our walks with Him!  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”  Hebrews 10:24  Be sure that your comrades are encouraging you to a deeper walk with Jesus and not getting you off the path!

~ When you fall, receive His grace to get up.  Halfway through the hike, we came upon a rock peak with a cave at the top.  Dad and someone else decided to climb it.  I decided to follow.  The hill was pretty steep, with loose gravel and unstable rocks.  I had to balance to keep my footing.  We took a look at the cave and then started our way down.  Partway down, I slipped and fell.  I am thankful to the Lord that I didn’t get hurt badly at all – just some scrapes and bruises – and was able to get back up and hike.  In life we will have times that we stumble or fall.  The enemy wants to keep us down, dwelling on our mistakes.  Jesus wants us to receive His grace to get up and even more passionately follow Him! 
“…the righteous falls seven times and rises again…”  Proverbs 24:16

~ Learn from others who have walked this path.  As we started the hike and hiked along, we asked the people returning from the hike for advice.  At points along the path, there were piles of rocks that other hikers had left to let you know that you were on the right path.  In the journey with Jesus, it can be so helpful to receive Bible-based counsel from others who have walked with Him for longer and can share from their experience about the journey.  Always compare all advice to the Bible. 
“…
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done… which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,  that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”  Psalm 78:3-7
~ Treasure the joy of the journey.  Every part of the hike had a purpose.  The times when I was struggling up the mountain and breathing hard, as well as the times I was walking on flat mesas taking in the view.  Soak in every moment of the journey with Him – the joys, hard times, lessons.  Know He has a purpose in every part and embrace them all as opportunities to know Him, be shaped into His likeness, and have the chance to share Him for His glory.  Most of all, treasure the reality that He is with you.  I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Mattew 28:20

So, friends, we all are on a journey. 

It is meant to be an amazing journey with Jesus.


You must ask yourself these questions:

Who are you walking with?  Is it with Jesus?
Are you letting your thirst be quenched by Jesus?
Is His Word guiding your steps?
Are your friendships relationships with others who will encourage you on the journey?
When you fall, are you allowing Jesus to give you His grace to get up and keep going?
Are you learning from others who have walked ahead of you on this journey?
Will you find joy in the journey of today – walking with Jesus, embracing the path before you, and allowing Him to work through them to draw you close to Him, grow you in His likeness, and use you to touch others for His glory?

I close with this verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”

~ Proverbs 3:24

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You are HIS ~ Stacy

I wanted so much to matter to the world at large... As a young woman, I saw people whom I deemed important being treated with attention and respect, and I longed to be important enough to deserve those things as well. I look back on that young woman I was with a little sorrow. Wishing I had known -- not just understood logically, but really known and wholeheartedly believed then what I do now. The truth about my value. The truth about the life I was created to live.

Do you ever feel invisible? Unworthy? Do you find yourself sneaking glances at everyone else in the room to make sure you’re fitting in -- or at least not standing out? Do you ever assume that everyone else is in closer relationships than you, has more self-confidence than you, is better put-together than you, feels less needy inside than you?
“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.”
Peter’s there, riding up and down in a boat that was “already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”
The figure coming toward them wasn’t a ghost. It was their Savior.
“ ... then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”
Then he did what I do every single day. And what you do every single day.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14).
He took his eyes off Jesus.
When I yearn for the respect and recognition of others, I have taken my eyes off my Savior. When I burn with embarrassment over a silly mistake, reliving my bumbles and shortcomings over and over, I have taken my eyes off my Savior. When I ache for an earthly love that cannot satisfy the true longings of my heart, I have taken my eyes off my Savior.
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Ps. 16:8)

Amy has in the past set an empty little doll’s chair on the podium as she speaks at her conferences. The exhortation is to live for an audience of One. Who or what sits upon that chair in your life? For whom (or Whom) are you performing? Whose opinion of you drives your actions, thoughts, and purposes? Which conversations do you allow your mind to dwell upon, rehashing what was said and wondering how it made you appear? When my audience is Christ, I am focused on bringing Him glory, rather than preoccupied with fears about my reputation, desires, and future plans. When my eyes are on Christ, I see how I am valued and cherished by Him -- not how I look next to you.
The wondrous, awe-inspiring part of this is that living wholeheartedly for the Lord and in constant focus upon Him is the most fulfilling of paths we can follow. It brings the most joy, the most satisfaction, the most (the ONLY) peace, and the most contentment for the span of our lives!
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

The world -- and even our own hearts -- will give us countless reasons to pursue things that bring earthly reward, pleasure, and security. Some would have us believe that it’s a careless or radical thing to consider ourselves slaves unto Christ. But the truth is that we all serve someone or something. When we choose earthly masters, we’ve thrown our allegiance behind that thief whose hidden purpose is to kill and destroy. When we instead “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we choose to serve the only One Who gives life to the fullest!

But how do we do this? How do we turn what we know into how we live?
“Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow ...”
Could the complicated questions of the Christian life really boil down to the basics we sang as kids in Sunday School? I have long struggled with how very much NOT ABOUT ME this is. God simply asks me to be in relationship with Him. I am to learn about His character, to seek His forgiveness for my sins, to study the life of His Son, to surrender to Him, to apply His truths to my heart by His grace. And He will do the sanctifying work in me? How great and loving is this God, to make this provision!

As to our part, here’s what it has looked like in my own life:

Replace “better” with “best”
Music is my favorite language, and for years I have enjoyed several kinds -- but there was specifically one kind I allowed myself to indulge in throughout my teens and twenties. A few years ago, however, I was convicted that, while they seemed innocent and very well could be to others, these songs had a way of drilling so deeply into my brain that I would literally lie awake at night trying to quit rehashing them. I’d wake up in the morning already singing them in my head. They colored what I thought about and what I meditated on. I had slowly allowed myself to settle for something second best.
When God revealed this as an area in which I needed to yield to Him, I initially grieved the loss of hundreds of “best friends” in the form of songs I loved and knew by heart. I then asked Him to begin to replace the time they occupied in my mind with thoughts of Him and praises to His Name instead. Not surprisingly, it was a prayer He was delighted to answer, and I now awake as David proclaiming:
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love ...” (Psalm 59:16)
My mind is freed up to listen to His promptings, and my heart spontaneously sings praises to Him throughout the day -- sometimes even unconsciously! Something does not have to be overtly evil in order to be a sin or distraction in your life. Invite the Lord to test and try your heart and your habits, and prepare to be delighted by the best He’ll use to replace the better!

Give yourself the gift of time with Him
Several years back I decided I wanted to start running. I talked with “real” runners, read about running, researched the best shoes and sweat-wicking gear, and started a training program. The problem was that, after jogging a couple of blocks, I thought I was going to die. I had heard many times about something referred to as a “runner’s high,” where the runner ceases to feel any pain from the exertion and instead just experiences a heady thrill -- sometimes for mile after mile. I could never get far enough to transition into that stage, though, and started doubting it was even true. Until one day when I was preparing for a 5k -- my first “real” run -- and decided I’d push through no matter what it took. That day I experienced it. That day, I believed.
Sometimes I think of that experience in relation to reading God’s Word. I used to read my Bible out of a sense of guilt. I couldn’t believe that I would ever “hunger and thirst” for it as David did. I met Jesus and was forgiven of my sins when I was a very little girl. But I really met Jesus when I opened His Word. And opened it again, and again, and again, pushing through when my heart wasn’t in it. It didn’t take long before I anticipated that time. Then needed it. Then required it. And now, long for it as for nothing else.
I have a friend, a young mother, who has five children. She found it a constant struggle to spend time in God’s Word. One day He prompted her to pray that He would wake her before any of her kids woke up in the morning, so she could spend that time with Him. Her flesh screamed, “I need sleep!” But she made the most astute observation. Did Jesus not take the meager loaves and fishes and make them “enough?” Could He not also make whatever sleep she did fit in around 2 a.m. baby feedings enough?
When I applied this same commitment, I was astonished by three things:
The Lord DID “wake me” before my alarm went off. Every day.
I was never exhausted for having woken up to spend time with Him in the early morning.
He returned countless blessings to me for the meager offering of my time.
Think of it -- that the God of the universe values you and me enough that He longs to spend time with us!

Stay committed to your pursuit of Him
I’ve learned the hard way that we can’t store up spiritual health for tomorrow. Yes, we can learn and grow and draw nearer to the Lord, but we can’t do double devotions or extra prayer today and hope it will carry us into tomorrow. The times I’ve been neglectful of my daily time with Him, I’ve been astonished at how quickly my heart has grown colder to His voice. It’s not worth the lost time.
I wish I could go back to the young woman I was and invite her -- implore her -- to remember who she really was. Her intrinsic value as an heiress to the very sufferings and glories of Christ Himself (Romans 8:16-17)! All those insecurities and fears seem pretty silly now, knowing what I know, because what I know now is the truth from God's Word. I didn’t get more important when other “adults” were suddenly required to defer to me. Nor was I less important when they brushed past me, making me feel invisible and like just another kid.
How precious the truth that, when it comes to God and me, there’s no “just” before my name. I’m not “just” another hurting soul on his already too-full plate. I’m not “just” another seeking heart in a world full of wanderers. I’m not “just” another fearful, excitable, overextended, under-qualified, always-falling-short, earnest, eager being whom He is obligated to watch over. Indeed, I cling to the same promise Israel’s only Savior spoke to His children’s troubled hearts generations ago:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b)
Three words that change both my life on this earth -- a mere blip across the landscape of time -- and my very eternal destiny:

I am His!

That is the life we were called to live.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Called to Something More ~ Ashley's Testimony

            "Growing up in a loving, Christian family, I was taught about Jesus Christ from the time I was young.  I came to know Him as my personal Savior in first grade, after hearing the Gospel.  I realized that I was a sinner and needed Jesus to save me from my sins.  I always had a desire to do what “was right,” and most people considered me a “good girl.”  However, God had more in store for my life than merely being a good Christian girl.  Patiently and lovingly, He began drawing my heart to Himself when I was in elementary school, giving me a desire to read His Word every day and seek to please Him.  In junior high, He brought a handful of Godly young women into my life who graciously took the time to invest in me.  I learned much from their examples of joyfully walking with the Lord one day at a time, and trusting Him to take care of the future.  God continued to give me a longing for Himself as I entered high school, challenging me to gladly laid aside everything I was holding on so tightly to, and follow Him down the narrow way. 
           During my high school years, I was very aware of the fact that God was calling me to live a life beyond what society presented as normal.  While the world claimed that clothes, accessories, beauty, popularity, and male attention would bring confidence and fulfillment, the Lord promised me that time in His Word, prayer, and ministry to others would bring me what I was searching for.  It seemed like a backwards philosophy on life, but as I began to seek Him with all of my heart, I found that I was fulfilled.  I didn’t lack any good thing.  My life was abundant, not because of anything I had done or anything the world had to offer, but because Christ had become my life. 
            Had I been asked 2 years ago to write about the life God created me to live, I would have been able to share a sweet, nice-sounding paragraph with little hesitation. I thought I had everything figured out when it came to living the Christian life. I had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, knew what I believed, had all my standards and convictions in place, and had great plans for the next few years of my life.  And then... certain circumstances took place where, suddenly, I found myself in a place (even though I was amongst other believers) where I found my every conviction and belief being tested.  Every standard I had stood so firmly upon in high school was questioned.  I found my relationship with the Lord faltering, yet I felt helpless to do anything to remedy it.  I didn’t know who I was anymore, or how I was supposed to live as a daughter of the King.
            In His lovingkindness and mercy, God began stripping away every part of me in order to re-build my life upon the Truth of His Word.  This process continues to this day, and I am far from finished learning the lesson.  However, the Lord has done much in my heart, revealing to me how crucial it is that my life is based upon the Gospel - that it’s Cross-centered. Growing up in a Christian home, my understanding and daily application of the Gospel was rather shallow.  I knew that I was a sinner and that I needed Jesus to save me from my sins so that I could go to Heaven when I died, but that was the extent of my comprehension of the Gospel.  How much I was missing!  God began opening my eyes to see that He chose me before the foundation of the world, predestined me in love to be His daughter, loved me even when I was dead in my sins, redeemed and forgave me by His precious blood, lavished His grace upon me, and sealed me with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1-2).  I realized that I was struggling to live the life He called me to live because I didn’t really know Him!  And I didn’t know Him because I didn’t understand the Gospel.  I’ve found that daily meditating on the Gospel is crucial to living the life God created me for.  Reading Ephesians 1 and 2 has been immensely helpful on this journey.  Additionally, spending time every day with God alone in prayer and in His Word is vital if I want to know Him and live the life He created me for.
            Although I am still sorting through many different things, this I know for sure: a life lived wholly for Christ is the only life worth living.  My quest is to know God, and find Him to be more than enough.  Only He can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart, only He is true Joy, and only He is the One who will never fail me.  My prayer is “that I might be weaned more and more from things material - even good, legitimate things - and have my affections set more firmly on Him whom to possess is to have everything. Who could ask for more?'”  (Jim Elliot)  ~ Ashley



Thursday, January 10, 2013

~ Announcing the January Giveaway! ~



~ Announcing the January Giveaway! ~
The giveaway this month is a: “Beautiful to God” T~shirt!

There are 3 ways to enter:
1. Memorize our memory verse for the month and quote it to someone. (January’s is ~ John 10:10)
2. Share the link to the previous post OR this announcement on Facebook, your blog, or by email, encouraging your friends to join us - and comment on here on blog (
www.lovingthelord.org) sharing one thing Jesus is teaching you as you study the topic this month – or all of the above! (Each one of these counts for 1 entry, so if you share it on all 3 and comment on the blog, you can enter 4 times!)
3. Read the article by Amy on the blog from last Thursday, watch the video, and take 15 minutes to pray talking to the Lord about it and asking Him to work in you.

You can email
events@lovingthelordministries.org and tell us your number of entries by January 24th (you can enter a total of 6 times each month with the above opportunities)! We will announce the winner on the blog on January 31st! 

Releasing the Online "Beautiful to God" Conference!

Releasing the Online
"Beautiful to God" Conference!


~ with speaker Amy Vest ~

Dear Friends,

We are so excited to invite you to join us for the online "Beautiful to God Conference" that is beginning releasing today and continuing each month  We are so excited for this special way to seek Jesus and His Word with all of you across the world!

God designed you to live a life that is fulfilled in Him, radiates His beauty, and impacts the lives of everyone you touch for His glory.  It is our prayer that through this conference, you would be strengthened to embrace the life that God created you for, calls you to, and says in His Word is very precious.

The video this month is the "Invitation and Introduction" to the “Beautiful to God” Online Conference ~ an invitation we are extending to everyone you want to invite to join us!  (Next month we will be releasing Session 1: "Jesus Is Your Best Friend"!)

The plan is to post a session video once a month the second Thursday of every month, in line with the new blog schedule (link to), which includes articles, testimonies, practical application, and more that correspond with the topic being covered that month.

We will email you once during the month (so we don't flood your inbox!) and the email will contain a link to the new video session, article by Amy, PDF of the handout to go with the conference, and more!  (If you are not on our mailing list, you can email us at info@lovingthelordministries.org to be added!)

Feel free to share this with your friends via email, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. We would LOVE to have as many as possible join us!  We encourage you to go through this as mom and daughter, or find at least one friend {even via phone or email} and discuss it together! You could even plan a gathering once a month to watch the video and discuss it as a group!


We are so looking forward to embracing Jesus and His plan in this together!  May the Lord bless you as you seek Him!

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

With love in Jesus,
Amy Vest for Loving the Lord Ministries, Inc.

Memory Verse for January


“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” 
~ John 10:10

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Video Encouragement in Living the Life for Which You Were Created

video

Here is a short video filled with encouragement from Amy to continue seeking Jesus, His Word, walking in surrender ~ and experiencing the abundant life for which Jesus created you!

We welcome your comments and love being in touch with you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Life You Were Created to Live ~ by Amy Vest




Have you ever purchased something that came with an instruction manual?  It tells what the item was designed for, how to use it, and what the results will be if you use it correctly.  The item has a purpose, and if you want to use it to its fullest of what it was made for, you follow the instructions - Right?

It is the same with your life – which is far more important!

Jesus created you to live a life in Him that is meant to be filled with total fulfillment, joy, peace, and purpose.  Deep in your heart is a longing that Jesus placed within you that calls you to the life that He created you to live. 

We all wonder:
~ Why am I here?
~ Where will I be fully satisfied?
~ How can I find the true life that I was meant to live?
Jesus meant for us to know the answers to all of these questions. 

He created us to live a life that is:  satisfied in Him, securely based on His Word, filled with His life, and shining His light to glorify Him and impact others for Him.

Jesus is calling you personally to this life.


This life comes as you trust in Jesus to save you from your sins and surrender your life to follow Him, base your life on His Word, grow in knowing Him, and allow Him to work in you and through you!

Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

These are essential in living the life for which we were created:
~ Jesus – You were created to know Him, receive Him as the only one who can forgive your sins, and find total fulfillment in Him – the one you were created for. {Psalm 107:9}
~ Surrender – This comes as you give your life to Him as the one in charge, allow Him to fill you with His life, and live in obedience to Him. {Matthew 16:24-26}
~ Word – The Bible is the Word of GOD, how we know Him more, and the guide to the abundant life that He created you to live every day. {1 Timothy 3:16-17}

“I have come…” – [Jesus] - Jesus is the only source of true life and the only one who can meet our deep need for forgiveness of sins.  In Him is all that we need to be satisfied.
“that they may have life…” –[Surrender] – He gives us eternal life through trusting in Him as Savior and surrendering to Him as Lord, allowing Him to fill us with His redeeming life.   His life within us enables us to live the life of joy and meaning that He has called us to live.
“and that they many have it more abundantly…” – [Word] - This abundance comes as we base life on His Word, the Bible, allowing Him to transform us, and resulting in the abundant spiritual life He has called us to that impacts every area of our life.

This is the life Jesus is calling you to!  No one is better to look to and trust than the one who made you and gave His life for you.

Don’t settle for less!  We are daily faced with the temptation and choice to:
~ Love other things more than Jesus and look to them for the satisfaction that only He can bring.
~ Live for ourselves instead of surrendered to Jesus, or to try to live partially in our own strength, rather than fully in His.
~ Believe the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil instead of the Truth of God’s Word.

It is the daily moment-by-moment decisions that determine how fully the abundant life of Jesus is lived in and through us.  It all bears fruit in our lives – drawing us closer to Jesus and more into the abundant life He created us for, or pulling us farther away.  You were created to live an abundant life in Jesus! 


Instead, choose today to walk with Him, receive His grace, and walk in obedient faith.  Then when:
~ You begin to look to other things to satisfy you, allow Jesus to remind you of His matchless love and fulfillment, and help you keep Him as #1.
~ Your flesh is wanting to do the opposite of what you know Jesus has called you to do, receive His grace to surrender to Him and obey.
~ You are bombarded with lies, choose to reject them and embrace the unchanging Truths of the Word of God and see its results!
As you do this, you will begin to experience even more the amazing life you were created for in Jesus!

Personally, after trusting Jesus for salvation, I have seen that the more I turn to Jesus to find fulfillment in Him, the more I am satisfied.  The more I walk in His grace in yielded surrender, the more I experience true life.  The more I embrace and stand on His Word, by His strength, the more He transforms me and I experience His joy.  It is the most amazing life to live!

This is the amazing life Jesus is calling you to live.  This life is only possible through Jesus.  It is a life in Him of unmatched joy, fulfillment, purpose, and impact.  A life that results as Jesus fills you and enables you to live according to what you were created for.

Let the reality of it forever make you lose your taste for anything else.


Receive His grace to embrace Jesus as your Savior from your sins, surrender to Him as the one in charge of your life, base your life on His Word, and allow Him to reveal to you the unparalleled joy of the life He created you to live!

Nothing compares.




----

{We will be looking at aspects of this abundant life more specifically in the days and topics to come.  We wanted to start by painting a picture of the life for which you were created.  As we begin, know that this is the amazing life He is calling you to live!  We are so excited to look to Jesus together more in the days to come!}