Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Radiance of True Beauty ~ by Amy Vest

What is true beauty?  Is it perfect makeup, a cute outfit, well styled hair?  Or, is it something more radiantly life changing?

As we grow in the amazing journey of knowing and loving Jesus and His Truth, our perspective of what is truly beautiful is transformed.  The more we experience His heart and He changes our hearts through His Truth, the more we will begin to see as God sees, value what He values, and desire to live our lives in line with longing to be beautiful to Him out of love for Him!

Seeing beauty from God’s perspective is like holding a finely cut diamond close to the light and watching the radiant lights that sparkle everywhere.  It is a beauty that is deep, fulfilling, life-giving, radiant, and eternally glorifies God.  This is the beauty we want to pursue.

Beauty in its truest form is Jesus ~ His heart, His character, His Spirit.  We could talk for hours about His love, purity, holiness, radiance, strength… and the list goes on.  This beauty far surpasses anything merely external.  It is a beauty that transforms.

As a result, beauty in its truest form in us as humans is Jesus Christ filling and radiating from our lives!  The more our lives are emptied of us and filled with Jesus, the more we will be truly beautiful with the radiance of His life shining from us!  This is a beauty that, as a result, fulfills us, blesses others, and glorifies the Lord.

It:  ~ Fulfills you – by you being filled with and fulfilled by Jesus.  (Psalm 107:9)
~ Blesses others – by Jesus living through your life and touching others in a way that forever changes their lives, as only He can.  (2 Cor. 4:7)
~ Glorifies the Lord – by showing in your life how good and beautiful He is and others being drawn to worship Him.  (Matt. 5:16)

This is the beauty we were created to experience and radiate! 

“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  Psalm 34:5

We live in a world that promotes external beauty – but, if you think of it, it has nothing else to hope for than this life!  When you know Jesus, understand His ways, and have the hope of eternity in Heaven, it changes everything!  The beauty He calls us to is so much deeper - beginning at the heart and shining out!  External beauty in and of itself does not last, is shallow, and is unfulfilling.   While it is important for your external appearance to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus and your heart (allowing the cover to match the contents), our priority and value should be where God has it - on the inside.  “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

It is a beauty of Jesus in the soul that is eternal and impacts every area of our lives.  It is being a young woman who knows and radiates Jesus in a beautiful way that has a lasting impact on everyone she touches.  Let’s pursue beauty in His eyes!

A powerful passage on this is 1  Peter 3:3-4,  “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”

Let’s focus on a few parts of these verses:
~ “adorning”Where are you placing your emphasis, hope, and value?  Is it on the external or the internal?  What consumes your thoughts, time, or priorities?  Is it Jesus and His life in you, or is it yourself and making sure that you have the perfect outfit or makeup?  Proverbs 11:22 is a helpful reminder, Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”  One thing that can be helpful is timing yourself and seek to be spending more time focusing on the inner “adorning” (time with the Lord, prayer, reading the Bible, journaling, etc.) than you do on the outside (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.).  Let’s let Jesus help us place our emphasis on what really matters – His life in us!

~ “imperishable beauty” – This is talking about a beauty that doesn’t fade with age, but lasts forever.  Think of yourself 50 or 60 years from now. J (Quite the thought, isn’t it?)  We will look a lot different.  Then - what will matter more where you put your emphasis - on the inside or outside?  How about when you are standing in front of Jesus at the end of your life?  Visiting nursing homes is so inspiring to me – here we see a picture of what imperishable beauty is.  Those who have made their walk with the Lord a priority shine beautifully and His life in them continues to have a lasting impact others, even when their bodies are fading.  Let’s invest our lives in what will make a transforming difference now, and will last forever!

~ “meek and quiet spirit”
A meek and a quiet spirit are only possible when it is the life of Jesus living, working, and flowing through us.  We cannot manufacture, fake, or “paint on” this spirit.  It is only the result of Jesus within us – of time with Him in prayer, reading His Word, and allowing Him to work in our hearts.  It then flows from us like a beautiful fragrance flows from a flower.  Let’s stay dependant on Jesus and allow Him to work in us to make this a reality in our lives!

~ “very precious in the sight of God”
This is, above all else, why we want to pursue this inner beauty of Jesus within us – because it is pleasing and precious in the sight of the One we love!  What is valuable to Him is what really matters.  Let’s live for what is very precious to the One Who is our life, out of love for Him!

Having our hope in Jesus, valuing what He values, pursuing being filled with Him, and His life flowing from us results in a lasting beauty that is precious to God.

How can we specifically cultivate this true beauty, by the grace of God at work in us? 

This true beauty is cultivated in ways including:

~ Knowing Jesus and being filled with Him – This comes through salvation and a personal relationship with Him.  It is the Lord that creates this beauty in us, first through our redemption and then through working in us to transform us into His likeness. 
I want to make a very important reality very clear – there is a difference between justification and sanctification:
- Justification – [a 1-time event] - When you trust Jesus to save you from your sins and surrender your life to Him at salvation, Jesus saves you and you are eternally justified, so that when God looks at you, He sees Jesus.  This makes you beautiful to Him!  There is nothing that you can do to earn God’s favor or justification in your own strength.  Jesus has done that for you.  As a result, you are already saved and you already have God’s favor through Jesus’ work for you on the Cross – nothing can ever change that. 
- Sanctification – [an ongoing process]Once you are saved (justified), God desires to sanctify you – conforming you to the image of Jesus – for His glory and your good.  The more He empties us of our selves and fills us with Jesus, the more He can shine from our lives for His glory!
So, rest in Jesus’ justifying work for you, and allow this to compel you to seek to fully allow Him to do His sanctifying work in you!  As we walk with Him and He does His sanctifying work in us, He will increasingly shine from our lives!

~ His Word The Word of God (the Bible) is His way to let us know who He is, for Him to speak His Truth to us, and for Him to work in us.  It is the “guidebook” to what He says is true beauty and what He calls us to.  It changes your life as you read what He says and the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart.  As we are daily in the Bible, reading it, memorizing it, and thinking about it through the day and seeking the Lord’s help to apply it to our daily life, the Lord will work and change our hearts.
As we look to Jesus and the Word, we see that JESUS is our final example of what we should desire to be!   Even humans through whom He shines beautifully, come short of all that He is and calls us to be!  Keep Jesus and His Word before you as your example of true beauty.

~ Surrender to Him – It is so key to walk in yielded softness of heart to His work in us and obedience to His direction, as the One in charge of our life.  Radical transformation takes place as we obey out of love for Him, instead of out of duty.  It is allowing our heart to be like soft clay in the hands of a potter.  As the Lord works in you through the joys and trials of life, He is able to sanctify you, empty you of yourself and fill you with Himself, shape you, and do what He wants in you.  This is sometimes painful to our flesh.  But, it is an issue of choosing your pain – the initial pain of being emptied of and dying to self, but then experiencing the joy of Jesus’ life filling and radiating from you, OR the pain of staying right where you are and missing all that Jesus had for you! 

It is a life of this – day by day, moment by moment – looking to and loving Him, learning from His Word and valuing what He values, letting Him work in you and fill you, and allowing Him to flow through you to touch others for His glory! 

As this takes place in your life, watch how He will increasingly fill you with His satisfying life that shines from you in beautiful ways and has a lasting impact!  This is the beauty to which He is calling us!

May we all purse the beauty of Jesus that we were created to be filled with and radiate! 

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

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