Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Exciting News Coming Tomorrow!

We are so excited to announce some exciting news tomorrow about some exciting things the Lord has in store for 2015!!! 
Stay tuned! ♡

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Loving the Lord Ministries is on Instagram!

We love seeking and loving our amazing Jesus with you and look forward to doing so even more on Instagram! ♡  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Who Is Like You, O Lord?

“Who is like you, O Lord... Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?" ~ Exodus 15:11

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Wonder of Immanuel - "God With Us" ~ by Amy Vest

I stood outside gazing up into the winter sky in breathless awe as I pondered the wonder of the reality:

Immanuel - "God with us."

GOD - the King of the universe, the One we were created for, and the only answer to the longings of our hearts
WITH - being not just far off in Heaven, but taking on human form and becoming present and near

- not just with the angels - but with us needy, sinful humans desperate for Him!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

In Jesus - our Immanuel - God came to be with us, so that we could be with Him forever.

Jesus came to be with us, so that He could redeem us from our sins through His perfect life, death on the cross in our place, and resurrection from the dead - triumphant over sin, death, and hell.  He did this so that those who trust in Him as their Savior, receive His grace to turn from their sin, and surrender their life to Him as Lord, could be with Him forever as His own.  What amazing love!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Jesus came so that we could enter into an eternal relationship with Him. He came to rescue us from sin, to allow us to know Him, to transform us into His Image, and so that we could walk with Him every moment.

Isn't this amazing?

When Jesus is with us, everything changes.

He brings salvation to the lost, hope to the hopeless, comfort to the hurting, healing to the wounded, joy to the discouraged, peace to the troubled, freedom to the captive, satisfaction to the longing... He is all that we need!

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:19
I love how the Gospel of Matthew begins in Chapter 1 with Jesus being "Immanuel - God with us" - and ends in the last chapter with Jesus promising His disciples - "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

He has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

My heart can't stop whispering, "God with us." this Christmas season... and I don't think the wonder will ever disappear, because its reality never will.

{Deep, grateful breath}

"Thank You, Father for sending Jesus.
Thank You, Jesus for coming.
Thank You, Holy Spirit for opening our spiritual eyes to Jesus."

Immanuel - God with us.  And because He came, we will never be the same.

Have an incredible Christmas rejoicing in Jesus and treasuring the reality that He is with us - and for those who are His, we will be with Him forever!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." ~ Isaiah 9:6

Faithfulness in the Little Things ~ by Breezy

What is your dream, the thing you feel the Lord is calling you to do?  For some, this calling is very clear.  Some of you may want to serve on the mission field.  Others may dream of being a wife and mother.  Perhaps you feel the Lord calling you to be a photographer, musician, nurse, teacher, artist, or politician.  Or maybe you want to get involved in teaching Sunday School or nursing home ministry.  For others it is hard to know what the Lord would have you pursue.  You may love Jesus and enjoy many things, but just not yet be sure what He is specifically calling you to do with your life.  I felt this way for many years.

Having dreams and goals is very good, and we absolutely should plan ahead and seek out what the Lord might have us do in the future, but there is something more important.

The truth that the Lord showed me is this: we can know, every single day, exactly what we are supposed to do.  Christ calls each one of us to obey Him in our thoughts, words, and actions and be faithful to what He has set before us to do in each moment of every day.  In John 14:21 Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word...”  We face so many tiny choices each day and these are really the most important.  Here are a few examples of some of these tiny but important choices I have to make every day:

I can choose to speak kindly to my brother or sister that was unkind to me, like I am told to do in Galatians 2:20, or I can be unkind in return.

I can choose to get up and go to school or work with a cheerful heart even when you do not feel like it or it doesn’t seem important, as I am told to do in Colossians 3:23 and 24, or I can be grumpy and frustrated. 

I can choose to let someone else have their way (even if they’re not being nice about it) because 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love does not insist on its own way, or I can insist that I am right.

I can choose to do the dishes or clean up a mess someone else made because Romans 12:10 tells me to “Outdo one another in showing honor”, or I can leave it for someone else just because I don’t feel like doing it.

I can choose to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) or I can disobey by letting “corrupting talk come out of my mouth” that hurts others. (Ephesians 4:29)

I can choose to pray about the things in my life and trust the Lord, like it says to do in Philippians 4:6, or worry and become fearful.

When I am tempted to lower my standards about something that is not godly, I can choose to “abhor what is evil; [and] hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9) or I can compromise and do what is wrong.

These daily choices will be different for everyone.  But as we make them, we must remember that they are not less important than the big things we want to do for Christ.  Yes, the big things absolutely matter, but the small things matter just as much.  We certainly shouldn’t stop seeking the Lord regarding His will for the big things in our lives, but we must not stop hearing Jesus call: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)  The circumstances of our life will certainly change with time (as will the choices we have to make and the things are responsible to do), but this call of Jesus will never change.

We also must remember, that we cannot do anything without Jesus and the gospel.  If you are a believer, Jesus took all of your sins upon Himself and paid the penalty for them at the cross.  (Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18)  He also gave to you His perfect righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  This means that you stand before God absolutely as justified, righteous, and loved by God as Jesus Himself is (1 Corinthians 1:30) – without respect to anything you have or have not done (Ephesians 2:8-9).  In God’s eyes, the Christian who does something for Christ that seems big and important is just as loved, accepted, forgiven, and justified by God as the believer who faithfully does small and insignificant things day-after-day.  We only do anything pleasing in God’s sight at all because of what Jesus has already done on the cross and the ways His grace is working in our lives.  Who we are is ultimately in and because of Jesus – not what we do – and we only can make proper daily choices because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.  Without Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but in Jesus we have the promise that we can do everything He has called us to do (2 Peter 1:3).

Knowing this will keep us from being discouraged when we don’t see clearly what we should pursue for our lives.  It will also help us during those seasons when we are preparing for something or waiting for the Lord to provide the right opportunity or the Lord directs our lives differently from what we though or planned.

So, when you find yourself discouraged or disappointed because it seems like you are always working on being ready for the thing you dream of doing but never actually do it or if ever seem like you are only waiting, looking around and seeing others that are doing great things for Christ and your life seems really insignificant, remember who you already are in Christ (if you are a believer) – a daughter of our Heavenly Father, completely loved, justified, and accepted because of Jesus.  Serve Him faithfully each day in what He gives you to do. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Satisfied at the Fountain of Living Water ~ by Stephani

Imagine if we embarked on a journey for an entire month without taking any water. By the end of the trip our clothes would be begging for a wash, bodies aching to be cleansed, teeth longing for a scrub, and tongues craving a drink. Nothing would be able to satisfy our longings except water!

If at the end of the journey there was a fork in the road, one way directing us to a fountain and the other to a dessert land, how foolish we would be to turn into the dessert, hoping to be refreshed!
God led his people, the Israelites, to this fork in the road again and again in the Old Testament. When he called his thirsty people out of Egyptian slavery, he invited them into fellowship with him – the Fountain of Living Water. Sadly, as they wandered in the wilderness, they grumbled and complained instead of trusted. After entering the Promised Land, they forgot the Lord and sought pleasure in sin rather than in keeping God’s good commands. As they settled in the land, they looked around and decided they wanted a king “like the nations around them” instead of rejoicing in the leadership of the Lord. In their weakness, neediness, anxieties, and sorrows, they turned to everything and anything… except the Lord.

In Jeremiah 2:12-13, Jeremiah recorded God’s words concerning the Israelites’ foolishness:
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils;
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."

Instead of going to God when they were thirsty and weak, they decided to walk into the desert to dig cisterns (large holding containers for water). However what they didn’t realize was that their efforts were like broken cisterns. They held no water.

I have been thirsty like the Israelites. Although I haven’t had to wander in the wilderness, establish a nation in a new land, or organize a government, I have been dry, weak, and needy.

What does it look like to find SATISFACTION in God when we are THIRSTY?
If you have been brought into a relationship with the Father by trusting in the death and resurrection of Christ for your sins, then you have been invited into FULLNESS of life in Jesus! In the Bible God reveals to us who he is so that we can trust in him to completely satisfy us.  

Below are a few examples of “thirst” we may feel in our lives. Following each example are Bible verses that reveal how God is able to satisfy that thirst.
– Have there been seasons in your life when you have had no friends? No one to talk to, laugh with, serve alongside, or seek counsel from?
Come to HIM and drink "…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10 (The Lord is ALWAYS with his children and he is our strong Helper and faithful Friend.)
Sinfulness – When we disobey God’s commands and walk in our own way instead of his, feelings of sorrow, guilt, and shame can fill our hearts and tempt us to try and hide instead of turning to him.
Come to HIM and drink "...if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins…" 1 John 1:9, 2:1b-2a (Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid for believers’ sins once-and-for-all. His love is steadfast and when his children come to repent, he hears and restores.)
Suffering – When sickness, disability, death, pain, and loss lead us into grief and confusion, it can be easy to think we’ve been abandoned by the Lord.
A Satisfying Drink - "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…" (Romans 8:28) "…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…" Ephesians 1:11b (The Lord is directing everything according to his plans and nothing is outside of his control. He is working all things for the good of those who love him.)
Responsibilities – Have there been days when homework assignments, chores, and projects piled up so high that you felt you just wanted to give up?
Come to HIM and drink. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8 (In Christ, you will lack nothing you need to accomplish all that the Lord calls you to.)
Disappointment – When our desires are pushed aside and we are forced to accept an outcome that is very different than the one we were hoping for, disappointment and sorrow can leave us feeling overlooked.
Come to HIM and drink. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"

Romans 8:31-32 (God never overlooks his children. He withholds nothing that is really good and we can trust that all good things will be ours one day with him.)

Our weaknesses remind us that we are thirsty and we were not created to be satisfied in ourselves. We were created to be SATISFIED in who God is for us in Christ.

Every day we encounter forks in the road. We can turn toward broken desert cisterns or to the Fountain of Living Water. One path leads to greater thirst. The other path leads to satisfaction and fullness of life. Are you thirsty right now? Go to the Bible, trust that God is who he says he is, and DRINK DEEPLY as you find satisfaction in the Lord.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Living in Moment-by-Moment Obedience ~ by Elizabeth

When I think of moment-by-moment obedience, wholehearted surrender comes to mind. "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.'" Matthew 16:24-25

Another thought comes to mind, my exchanged life with Christ. Instead of controlling MY life, HIS life is living in and through me. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Living in obedience to Jesus entails having a listening and quiet heart before the Lord throughout the moments of each day, with a readiness to say "Yes, Lord" to whatever He asks of you! Many times for me a quiet heart means turning away from distractions, casting my burdens on HIM and giving Jesus my undivided devotion.
I love the quote, "God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will..."

Here are a few thoughts that have been helpful to me along the way:

~ Every decision made in obedience to Jesus matters even when it feels little. Obedience always opens the door for more joy and a closer relationship with Him. Disobedience always fills me with guilt and my fellowship with HIM is hindered.

~ When He is asking me to obey, it helps me to remember that Jesus knows what is best for my life and I do not.
He is completely trustworthy in each moment of decision. 

~ Obedience does not fit into a nicely neat package. Sometimes a decision to obey comes up quickly or unexpectedly. Each day there are new opportunities to say "Yes Lord."

~ Living here on earth is not about me, my comfort, or the applause of man, but it is about bringing glory to Jesus in all that I do and advancing HIS kingdom here on earth!
~ Jesus has brought me into this world "for such a time as this". He has purposes specifically for me to fulfill.

I am reminded how Jesus related to HIS Father in submission and obedience in these passages: 

"For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak." John 12:49
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:9-11
Obedience to Jesus brings me unspeakable joy, HIS peace, the fear of God, a sense of HIS great love and that I am fulfilling HIS purposes for my life. 

I love these verse's from John 17:4-5 where Jesus expresses to his Father that He has accomplished all He was asked to do. How I want this to be true in my life!

"I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father,glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." 
Together may we take seriously the moments of each day, knowing they count for eternity and the glory of HIS name. What a incredible gift to walk with Jesus in HIS presence moment by moment!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Always a Reason to Rejoice ~ by Amy Vest

"Rejoice in the LORD always." ~ Philippians 4:4

What are you rejoicing in today?

As we approach Thanksgiving, our hearts are reminded to give thanks for all of God's blessings to us. This brings a sweet sense of God's provision as our Source and gratitude for all He has given.

It seems that rejoicing takes us a step deeper - from gratitude TO the Source for His gifts, to joy IN the Source - the Lord - as the Source of all true joy.

Rejoice means, "to feel or show that you are very happy about something, to give joy to, to feel joy or great delight."

I was thinking on Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the LORD always..." recently and noticed it calls us, yes, to rejoice, but that we are to rejoice in THE LORD.

We always have a reason to rejoice in Him - because He is always good.

He is:
Redemption for our souls
Hope our hearts need
Love our hearts crave
Peace that calms our souls
Joy that never ends
...and the list goes on and on.

Things, circumstances, and people all change, but Jesus never changes. These other things can be gifts that cause us to rejoice in the Giver, but He alone unchangingly satisfies.

We can even rejoice through hard trials, not because we like the trials themselves, but because we know and trust that the One Who is Love has a purpose that is much deeper. This purpose includes us coming to know Him more through everything we face in life and, as a result, rejoice more in Him!

Friends, we can rejoice in our Lord always - for He is forever good.

"Rejoice in the LORD always, I will say it again, rejoice." ~ Philippians 4:4

Will you allow Him to be your source of joy today?

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Video Post ~ The Impact of a Life that is Beautiful to God ~ with Amy Vest

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 for handouts and study questions for this session!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Connecting the Dots ~ by Pam

Do you remember when you were young, and you got those big books with numbers on the pages with dots? You could not tell what the picture was until you connected all the dots. Our lives are like that. Sometimes we are unable to see the whole picture of God's plan for us. 

I want to connect the dots of God's grace. Eph. 2:1-9; "And you He has made alive who were dead in trespasses and in sins. In times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. But God Who is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ... For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works lest anyone should boast." As one not coming from a Christian home, the fact that Christ reached down and saved me plays such an important role in my desire to disciple other women.

A few months ago I attended the funeral in Mississippi of a dear friend of mine. Mr. Crawford was a godly man, and his whole family has been like family to me over the years. As I sat in the funeral service The Lord began to do a wonderful thing for me. He began to connect the dots in my life. I looked around the room and saw so many people who were involved in my life and who affected my life for Christ.
I Cor.5:20; "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we beg you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God." The granddaughter spoke at the funeral and shared that her grandfather always prayed that the next generation would know Christ. That struck a cord with me that day. This godly man had a child who became my best friend in my younger days. He was burdened for my soul. Mr. Crawford's child was being used to change my life forever.

I was converted and had two sons who are now serving the Lord (connecting the dots!). My sons have been all over the world affecting the next generation, spreading the Gospel. All these events the Lord did in my life were connecting the dots. But one last big dot connects. Our family has a ministry and our passion, my passion, is to affect the next generation for Christ... Psalm 78:4; "We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works which He has done." The dots were connected. I saw the bigger picture; to be part of affecting the next generation.