Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Journey of Joy ~ Mandy's Testimony

Please introduce yourself to us
My name is Mandy, and my husband Michael and I live in Minnesota. We've been married for almost six years and have a toddler son named Wesley. We're so excited to welcome our second child in July 2020! I also teach and perform as a flutist in the Twin Cities area. In 2019, my book Already Beloved was released by Focus Publishing. 

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 20, 2020

Growing in Jesus ~ A Journey of Joy ~ by Amy (Vest) Cox

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 6, 2020

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!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Join us for the Summer Devotions Pursuit 2020!

Summer Devotions Pursuit from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.


We would like to invite you to join us for the 2020 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, 2020

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