Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Love Story for His Glory ~ Amy Vest

A Love Story for His glory.  We were all made for this.

Everyone loves a good love story.  As a little girl, I loved the fairytale love stories I would read in children’s books.  Those things have an attraction to us, because we were created for something like this – a beautifully deeper story that transforms every other part of our story.
In this post, I am going to give you an overview heartbeat of the material – and in the coming posts, we will look more specifically at certain points! 

The Big Love Story –
There is a bigger story than our earthly love story.  This story is the purpose of our lives and is the Love Story you are called to no matter what your earthly love story looks like.  All of your life and relationships will flow from where you stand in this Love Story.

The Biggest Love Story – The Gospel - God created people to be in fellowship with Him, bringing joy to man and glory to God.  But people sinned and broke our relationship with God.  God showed His powerful love by sending His perfect Son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for people’s sins and rise victorious – offering forgiveness of sin, a restored relationship with God, and eternal life in Jesus.  When we trust in Jesus to save us and give our lives to Him as our Lord, we become His - the Bride of Christ – forever.

This is the most beautiful Love Story of all time.  All of life and human love stories point to this.  Only when we grasp this Love Story will we be fulfilled, and be able to have the right approach to a human love story - lived in, from, and for this Love Story.

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

Love Relationship with Jesus -
Our Love Story begins and ends with Jesus.  We were created to find our total satisfaction in a personal relationship of love with Jesus.  He is the only place we find total satisfaction - It is simply not possible for a human, no matter how wonderful they are, to meet the needs God created that only He can meet.

I can tell you from personal experience that Jesus will fully satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.  Those deep longings that nothing else can fill were meant to draw you to Him.  When you find your satisfaction in Jesus, you realize that you have everything you truly need!

When we are fulfilled in Jesus and whole in Him, we are in a much better place for life and to enter a relationship pursuing marriage (and any other relationship!), if that is what the Lord has for us!

“He satisfies the longing soul…” (Psalm 107:9)

Relationship and Marriage – the why and the how -
When your life is lived in, from, and for the greatest Love Story (Jesus and the Gospel), your mission in life, decisions, and actions will flow from that – as well as the way you consider a relationship.

When we think about marriage, we need to ask, “Why do I want to get married?”  We need to know the “why” before we consider the “who”, “when”, and “how”.  When you have gotten before Jesus about this and your perspective and goals are in place, you are in a better frame of mind to be considering who the Lord might have you marry.

Taking steps in considering marriage is a beautiful opportunity in seeking to honor Christ and point one another – and everyone watching - to Him in a way that displays Jesus.

It is so powerful, protecting, and freeing to look at the gifts of our personal walk with Him, His Word, community, counsel, boundaries and accountability, serving and walking through hard places together.

In every step, it takes much prayer, staying close to Jesus, being in His Word, listening to good counsel, and seeking to follow and glorify Jesus in every step you take.

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:3)

You and Your Life -
Look at you before you consider a guy – get before Jesus and know whose you are – His, who you are – both your identity in Christ and who He has created you to be, and where He has called you – your purpose in life.  This is so essential to know as you consider who you will commit to spend your life with!

As you walk in love with Jesus and live in these realities, the right kinds of guy will be attracted to the Jesus in the real you.

And remember  - The single you will be the married you.  (Character, habits, relationship patterns, etc.)

The Guy You Consider -
Once you know your purpose in life, who you are, and why you would marry, then you are in a much better place to consider who you will marry.  
As you do, it is important to look at the key things in a guy you know God would have you consider – What are his walk with Jesus, his character, his beliefs, his mission in life, his goals for marriage and family?
Knowing both of these things helps you keep a more level head when considering guys who pursue you.

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I’ve ever received was this, “Marry someone who loves Jesus more than you - Then he will love you well.” 

The Story for His Glory -
Let us keep in mind our purpose in living, singleness, relationships, and marriage – to know Jesus and to make Him known.  You can – and must - do this at every stage. 

God is the Author of the most beautiful Love Story of all time and can be fully trusted with your life and the area of your human love story.  Let God write every part - what He does is always best. 

You are called to take part in the greatest Love Story of all time.  Whether it involves a human love story or not, you are called to be fully loved, satisfied, and filled with purpose as you embrace Jesus and His love every day you live.

As you walk closely with Jesus, embracing life with His love wherever He calls you, with the goal of making much of Him - it will be a Love Story for His Glory.

And you will have a happily ever after.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Love Story and God's Glory ~ Blog Series Announcement!

Dear Friends,

I am so excited to announce to you a new series that we will be covering in the days to come!

Since Loving the Lord Ministries began over 10 years ago, many of you who were at the very first conferences are reaching the ages where you are in the place of considering marriage and a potential spouse.  As I have had the joy of talking with many of you about this topic individually - and attending some very Christ-glorifying weddings - it seems like this is a topic that would be so good for us to cover!

My heart is so full of anticipation about this series and the opportunity it gives us to look to Jesus!

So, this is the plan - Next week you can watch for a post that will give an overview of this topic and then each week of November we will cover each of the 5 points in more depth.

It will be such a joy to look at this beautifully serious area of life and rejoice in the Lord's incredible heart in it!

He loves you.
He has the best for you.
He - the Husband of your soul - has the very best plan in store for the area of your earthly romance - as a part of the greatest Love Story of all time.

I want to give you a little clue - The years that you have invested in seeking Jesus, deepening your relationship with Him, allowing Him to grow you in Him, and living for His glory are priceless pieces of this sacred topic.

More soon.  In the mean time, have a beautiful week soaking in Jesus' matchless love for you!

Grateful to be loved by Him together,
Amy Vest

We love because he first loved us." ~ 1 John 4:9

P.S. F
or those of you who are either too young for marriage, or are already married, I trust that you will find this series encouraging in either looking ahead, or in mentoring those in your lives in this phase.  Most of all I trust you will be encouraged because this all is about something so much bigger than earthly marriage - the very purpose we were created!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life-changing Faith ~ by Amy Vest

What would your life look like if you truly believed God?

Think about that for a moment.

What would your life look like if you not just said that you believed God, but truly believed in the depths of your heart that He is all that He says He is, that His Word is Truth, and that He will fulfill all of His promises - and then acted on the realityHow different would your life look?

Right now I am sitting in my computer chair as I type.  While I can say that I believe that my chair will hold me up, I only prove my faith in it when I sit in it.  It is the same way with faith in God - we prove our faith when we step out and live in the reality of what we say we believe.

Faith takes God at His Word about Who He is and what He has promised.

Faith says - "God, I believe:
You are Who You say You are.
Your Word is Truth.
You will do what You say You will do."

If we really lived believing this, wouldn't it change our lives - and the world around us?

Faith begins at salvation where we embrace faith in Jesus, His death on the cross for our sins, resurrection, and redemption of our souls - relying on Him alone to save us, to cleanse our sin, fill us with His life, and make us His own.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  Ephesians 2:8-9

Then we live from that faith in daily life by relying on Jesus, His Word, His life in us, and grace to live life called to in Him until we see Him face to face. 
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)

This journey of faith in Jesus is a beautiful thing.
The key in our faith is the object of our faith - Jesus.  You are only as secure as the one you put your faith in.  When your faith is in Jesus, you are as unshakeable as He is.  "And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God."' (Mark 11:22)

Stop and ask yourself, "Who - or what - is my faith in?"

God alone will never fail us.  Faith in God is a rock solid security to our soul.  All that He is - and all that He has promised - is a reality for you lean on in faith.

Faith in God overcomes feelings, circumstances, lies of the enemy, or doubts of others.
  Faith does not say, "Look at my impossible circumstances." Faith declares to your circumstances, "Look at Who my God is!"

"My God is the One Who created the universe, is in control of all things, has all power, is forever faithful, knows what is best, redeems souls, loves me perfectly, will never leave or forsake me..."

This week I was reading a verse that stirs me in the core of my being, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27)  What is the answer? NO!  Nothing is too hard for You, Lord!  "For nothing will be impossible with God.”  (Luke 1:37)

Friend, this is the kind of faith we are called to live in every moment of our day!

Faith leads us to action.
  It moves us from saying "I believe ________." to acting on that belief.  Faith says, "I believe Your promise to be all that I need, so I will not covet other things." and "I believe that Your Word is Truth, so I will not turn other places for my answers."

We have been called by God to living, active faith. 
True faith in God inspires gutsy prayer, insane action, and deep joy.

This is the faith that inspired the  people we read about in the Hebrews 11 "Hall of Faith".  I strongly encourage you to go read it.  In this chapter is a beautiful reality that floods me with hope.  All of the people in this "Hall of Faith" were humans just like you and me - the thing that set them apart and enabled them to live the lives they did was a deep faith in God and His Word.  They were weak, imperfect people just like us who relied upon God and His Word instead of themselves, culture, possessions, or circumstances.  It is just as possible for you and me to live these lives of faith - because the God Who their faith was in is just as real today!

Every time I step out in faith - in small and enormous things - God proves Himself completely faithful.  He and His Word can be trusted, friend.  Even today I am leaning in faith on Jesus for some pretty big things - and am finding such peace in His faithfulness.  The more we have faith in God, the more we experience His faithfulness. " ...for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

God is waiting to meet you and work in and through your life in a way that only is possible through living a life of true faith in Him.

Gives us faith
Tests our faith to prove it is real
Deepens our faith through life's joys and trials
Is honored by our faith
Uses our faith to point others to Him

Faith comes from God and points to God.

We will never believe perfectly this side of Heaven, but the greater our faith, the more we will experience God's presence, power, and provision in our lives.  Let's pray like those in Scripture did, '“Increase our faith!”'  (Luke 17:5)  '“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)  These are prayers the Lord delights to answer.

This life on earth is our only time we need faith.
  When we see Jesus face to face, we will no longer need faith - our faith will become sight and I know we

will wonder why we ever doubted Him.

I want to believe my God.  I want to live in faith in all that He is and has said.  I want that faith to propel me to do things that are only possible when He is Who He says He is and does what He promises.  I want to live a life of audacious faith that declares my God is all that He promises He is!  Don't you?
Here is a very practical part of this:

Will you rely fully on God and what He says today?
When you live by faith in Jesus and His Word - both believing and acting upon that belief - you find a solid rock beneath your feet that will transform your heart and life, lead you to radical living for His glory, and keep you through all of eternity.
Jesus has called us to lives of faith in Him that declare He is all that He says He is.

Let's ask Jesus for deeper faith today, place our faith in Him, and step out to live lives that believe His every Word!

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith."
  (Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Christ Alone ~ Video Message with Amy Vest

Christ Alone ~ Commencement Address (2007 edition) from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

Join us for this powerful message that Amy Vest gave as part of a high school commencement ceremony as we discover the incredible joy found in living a life focused on, in, and to Christ alone!

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." 
~ Romans 11:36

(A little side note - during this address, the students were having trouble hearing the speakers because of the sound system, so their facial responses may sometimes reflect this reality.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fullness of Joy - The Presence of Jesus ~ by Amy Vest

The presence of Jesus.

There is nothing like it in all the world

"In your presence is fullness of joy."
Psalm 16:11

The presence - the nearness - of the One Who is our Savior, our Friend, our everything.

When you know Jesus is with you, you know that you have all that you need. 
For those who belong to Him, He has promised to be with you - forever.

"I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20) - and then to usher is into His presence in Heaven forever!

This, my friend, is the only way we find true, lasting, and full joy - in the presence of the One we were created to know and Who "satisfies the longing soul" (Psalm 107:9) - Jesus.

Jesus is with you right now.

Stop and let that sink in.

Jesus is right there with you.  Wherever you are. 
I know some of you are probably reading this in a hospital room, at home, on the road, or in different countries.  Some of you are happy, some of you are tired, some of you are crying. 

Jesus is there. 

Stop and ask:

How does the reality that Jesus with with me change my life?
The reality that Jesus is right here with you will change everything, if you embrace it.

All that He Is, is right here.  This inspires awe, worship, security, fulfillment, and obedience.

 I love to whisper "You are here." in the midst of my days.
Some moments it is soaking in His presence under a starry sky or in my time of devotions, other times it is treasuring His nearness in times of deep pain or while babysitting a household of lively kiddos, and much of the time, it is embracing the everyday moments with the One Who is my life.

Life is beautiful when it is lived in the presence of the Beautiful One.  Painless?  No.  But, deeply beautiful, because the reality of Jesus colors everything I encounter.

The One Who Is:
The Bread of Life - meets me in my soul's hunger
The King of Heaven - is in control
The All-Sufficient Savior - is all I need
The Shepherd - is there to guide and nurture me
... and everything else He tells us He is in His Word - is with you. 

Jesus wants you to share life with Him.

Friend, you have the opportunity to live every moment with Jesus.

To walk with Jesus every moment.
To turn your thoughts into a conversation with Jesus.
To soak of the reality that He is in you and with you.
To allow His presence to impact all you do and touch others that are desperate for Him.

Feel it?

I want to make a little note for those of you who are more "feelers" like me.  The presence of Jesus is 
a reality whether you can feel and sense it or not.  There are times when His presence feels so near and other times when we cannot feel it and must stand on the truth of His Word where He promises, "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)  His presence is always just as real and unchanging, regardless of our feelings, ideas, or the circumstances of the world.

Miss it?
While His presence is just as real and unchanging, we can become distracted with less important things coming first in our hearts or minds, or believing those things will give the joy only His presence can give - or even seeking to hide from His presence (we can't - Psalm 139) because of the guilt of sin in our lives.  Listen to this beautiful truth, "
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God..." (1 Peter 3:18)  Jesus died for our sins to take the punishment we deserve, make us right with God, and restore the relationship with Him that was broken by sin.  Our response must be to turn from our sin to follow Jesus, receive His forgiveness, and live in the joy of His presence!

Welcome it!
I love praying, "Jesus, thank You that You are here.  We welcome Your presence, Lord.  Please have Your way."  Think of how you welcome your best friend to your house. Is it with passive agreement? No. It is with shouts of joy, open arms, and a heart of love, right? Oh, friends! Welcome the presence of Jesus - with arms and heart wide open as far as possible to the One Who is your life.  When Jesus comes, there is always joy - fullness of joy!

Friend, Jesus is right there with you now.  He is present.  He is real.  He is ready to meet you.

Welcome Him with an open heart, soak in His presence, and share your life with Him each moment.

He invites us to a life lived in His presence - when we respond, we find joy, because we receive Jesus.