Sunday, August 31, 2014

~ The Summer Devotions Pursuit 2014 Ends Today ~

Dear Friends,

Today is officially the last day of the Summer Devotions Pursuit 2014!

It was such a joy to seek the Lord with you this summer!  We know that He did amazing things as you met with Him in His Word, prayer, and fellowship - and are excited that this is just the start of all He has in store as you continue to seek Him!

Please be sure to send in your charts by September 7th and we will mail you your reward - on top of the best reward you already received in knowing Jesus better!

We would love to have you continue to seek the Lord with us on the LTLM blog, website, and Facebook page!

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek Him - there is no one in the world like Jesus and nothing better than walking with Him!

"Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth."

~ Hosea 6:3

Grateful to love Jesus with you,
Amy Vest

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Living with Eternity in Mind ~ by Lianna

What do you live for? The popular media is filled with invitations to live for the moment, with our eyes on our selves. “Just do it”. “Have it your way”. “I’m lovin’ it”. “YOLO” (You Only Live Once). “Life is good, stay awake for it”. “Indulge yourself”. “It’s my money, and I want it now!”… and the list goes on. This perspective is prevalent in the world, but it isn’t new! The parable of the rich man in Luke 12 includes the infamous slogan of a man whom God called a fool - “eat, drink and be merry”! This rich man’s life was centered around his possessions, and around his own pleasure. Sound similar to today’s world?

God calls us to live with a radically different viewpoint from this live-for-the-moment mentality. At first glance, I find it easy to brush those popular slogans aside, dismissing the possibility that their philosophy could actually be reflected in my own life. I know that this life isn’t everything, and that “having it my way” now can bring much heartache later. But does that head knowledge show itself in the words and actions that flow from my heart and daily life? Pondering on the words of Paul to the Corinthians compels me to search my heart more honestly.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

I believe this! But do I live it? This mind fixed on the the things that are not seen should manifest itself in all areas of my life, from mundane daily life to the biggest of decisions and hardest of circumstances. The applications of the call to live in light of eternity are endless! But some that come to mind for examination in my own life…

  • Do I invest more time, money, and energy in dressing my outer self, or in renewing my inner self? I do want my “outer self” to represent my God well, but Peter reminds me that God values - in fact, sees as precious - adorning that is not merely external, but that focuses on the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit in the “hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3: 3-4).

  • What about my time? This one is huge, and of incredible eternal significance. I can let minutes, hours, days, and even years slip by in a wasted heap of fruitless time. Or I can “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and learn from the great heroes of the faith who “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth… desiring a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11: 13-16).

  • Does my response to trying circumstances reflect that my hope is in God, or in this life? David’s hope was in God, and he could say with confidence, “He only is my rock… I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62:6). In the Corinthians passage above, I see that Paul was able to endure affliction in his life because his gaze was not set on this earth. He knew that the best was yet to come, and that even the worst suffering he might experience on earth would fade to nothing compared to the joy that was to come in God’s presence in heaven.

  • Do I view people in light of eternity, remembering that they have an immortal soul? When my eyes are set only on temporal things, I find myself quick to fear men and timid to share the Gospel - or other times, too self-focused to even think about the spiritual state of those around me. “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father…” (Luke 9:26). This is a challenging verse to ponder.

Grace and strength to live in the light of eternity, fixing my attention on what is not seen and on the “eternal weight of glory” that is yet to come, does not come from myself. I need to be reoriented daily - even moment by moment - to the truth about God and His Word, and spend time with those who will encourage me in the faith. God is faithful! He will keep every promise of grace for this life, and of unspeakable joy yet to come. Jesus set the example for us - He saw the joy that was set before Him! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You are Loved ~ by Amy Vest

Dear Sisters,

Sometimes we just need someone to remind us of this truth:

You are loved.

Let's listen to Jesus:

"...I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." ~ Jeremiah 31:3

"The Lord your God is in your midst, 
a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." ~ Zephaniah 3:17

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you." ~ Psalm 86:5

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."  ~ Psalm 86:15

"'I have loved you,” says the Lord." ~ Malachi 1:2

“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

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." ~ 1 John 4:10

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

"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." ~ Gal. 2:20

May your day be blessed beyond measure as you soak in His endless love for you!

Grateful to be loved by our Jesus together,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Called to So Much More ~ by Bella

"Well done." (Matthew 25:21) 

Aren't those beautiful words? 

For quite a while that has been one of my favorite verses.  It's given me motivation to live to hear those words said when my life is over on earth, and just always.

After my sister passed away a few years back, I've often thought, I have no idea when that might be.  I just want to be ready, whenever it is.  Whether that be tonight, or in 10 years, or in 50 years. 

A few months back I went on a missions trip.  While I was on that trip, I was reminded in such an incredible way how things of this life are just going to fade away soon (1 Jn. 2:15-17), but that which is done for Jesus will last!  It really challenged me to think about where my choices are leading me.

What if        ?
The other day the question What if            really hit me.  

What if was my last day on earth......this person I'm talking to right now is going to die tonight.....I actually saw Jesus standing right here.....I could see where           (this trial, word, action, etc.) was leading me.....I was the only wholehearted follower of Jesus this person will ever see or meet.....I could see how much my sin lead to and hurts Jesus and others....Would I be different? 

Would I be more careful how I react to things, both good and bad things? Would I seek to please Jesus more? Would I use every moment to glorify Him...never wasting a moment?  How would I act?  Fill in your "what if?", and truly ask yourself, what does my life look like?  Am I pleasing Jesus living my life to the fullest?  I want to be that difference in this world....This life is so so short.  No matter when God calls me home, I don't want to regret anything, feeling I didn't live my life fully for Jesus Christ, or do enough.
So often, things can distract me from pursuing this life. Such as media, friends, clothes and outward appearance etc. We all have different things that keep us from pursuing living this life fully for Jesus and for what really matters and will last.  Our enemy, Satan, will do all he can to make us distracted.

It's so important that we keep Jesus as our focus - and what will really last!

The first step is, needing to realize what those things are that distract us and keep us from pursuing that full life in Jesus!  Ecclesiastes 10 talks all about what will happen when we pursue things of this world, and what will happen if we pursue things of Jesus that will last. "I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him." (Eccl. 3:14) It's incredible! 

God has so much He want's to use you for!  So much He'll do through you if you let Him!  So many incredible blessings that will last forever to those who pursue living for what will last!  "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Rom. 8:6

Those words, "Well done", have probably been the biggest thing that has helped me.  They are simple, but they have been powerful!  One of my favorite quotes is, "Our life is like a dime, you can only spend it once."  Let's spend our lives wisely on things that will last forever! "The world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever!"  1 John 2:17 

Amy Carmichael once said, "How can we live life to the fullest for the glory of God?  It's only when our life is all about Jesus!"

When Jesus is truly what our life is all about, He is the One we are going to seek to please, and that is what's going to last, dear sister!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Fragrance of Christ ~ by Lisa

I walked up to my post office box as I always did – hoping for some “good mail”.  That day, I found a simple, unsigned note that said:
2 Corinthians 2:15
“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…” YOU SMELL LIKE JESUS, LISA!

I don’t remember exactly what I did next, but I’m pretty sure that a silly smile spread over my face and then I probably looked around, hoping to spot the anonymous sender….

Two amazing things….
First, I can’t figure out WHY anyone would have written that to me.   The time period in which I received the note were days where I felt that I thought of myself more than I thought of others.
The second amazing thing is that I haven’t forgotten that note.

Fragrance is hard to explain to someone, isn’t it?  You can say things like “it has light flowery notes, with a splash of citrus and overtones of verdant breezes”, but there’s nothing like taking a whiff of the real thing. 

The Fragrance of Christ is like no other. It’s hard to explain, but you know it when you smell it.  You can’t put your finger on just why you love it.  It makes you say “that’s awesome!” or maybe it leaves you speechless, just thinking about it. It’s not overpowering, but it holds you in its grip…. 
A few years ago, a Godly woman I barely knew walked up to me, giving just the right bit of counsel; it was such a timely word.  She had just diffused the fragrance of Christ my way.
A dear single friend of mine so beautifully gives out the “Jesus Fragrance.”  Some call it winsomeness, charm, or charisma…but with my friend, I know it’s pure Jesus.

So…..what does the “Fragrance of Christ” smell like? 

I Corinthians 13: 4-7 says:  
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

When we exhibit these things, we are exuding an aroma that is Christ-like and supernatural.  Unbelievers will know something special is “in the air” when they run into it.  The fragrance encourages, inspires, and exhorts our Christian friends, too.

Philippians 2:3-8 give us another idea of what Christ-likeness smells like:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
But now, consider this verse in Ecclesiastes 10:1 --
Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

We also can exude a spiritually “unpleasant odor” if we start walking in the flesh, or neglecting our daily nourishment in the Word.  Before being with a group of people (especially fun-loving sisters in the Lord), I like to stop for a moment, and ask the Lord to control my mouth.   My tongue can sometimes get away from me!  The verse above reminds me that a lovely perfume can go bad when foolishness takes over. 
The next time you get ready for your day, making yourself look and smell nice, consider asking the Lord to make you “smell like Jesus” in a way that points people to Him that day.
Just what does that smell like, you ask?  Well… has rich and varied overtones of true, unselfish love….a highly aromatic and clear essence of joy….undertones of peace, coupled with a clean bouquet of humility, graciousness and honor.
It’s hard to describe…. but impossible to ignore.