Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Keeping Truth Before Your Eyes ~ Practical Application ~ by Amy Vest

I want transformation by the Truth to be a lifelong quest, don't you? 

In seeking to know Jesus and be transformed by His Truth, one of the ways I have found to be so helpful is to have Truth around, so it is in front of my eyes and helps me fix my mind on it through the day.
 I love to:
1) Surround myself with Truth - to help focus on and bring encouragement in Truth throughout the day.
2) Help myself memorize Truth - by keeping the Truth before my eyes.

So let's look at a few ideas:

1) Surrounding yourself with Truth - I have found this to be incredibly helpful.  This way as I look around during my day, God's Word is before my eyes - and my mind, and then soul, are filled with His Truth.

Here are a couple pictures from my room:

2) Memorizing the Word - As I seek to hide His Word in my heart, it is so helpful to keep it before my eyes.

Here is one of my current favorite ways to do this - by putting it on the side of my dresser so it is the first thing I see in the morning:

Writing a verse on a sticky note and placing it somewhere you will see it is also a fabulous help!

There are so many other ideas and ways you can surround yourself with Truth, too.  I encourage you to seek Jesus for ideas - and pick a verse and put it somewhere you will see it often!

Then as you see, think on, memorize, and allow the Holy Spirit to apply the Truth to your heart, you will see Him bring beautiful transformation!

I hope these practical ideas are helpful on your journey with Jesus and being transformed by Truth!  

" transformed by the renewal of your mind..." (Romans 12:2)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Life Transformed by Truth ~ Grace's Testimony

Please introduce yourself to us
I live in Minnesota with my mom and two brothers (one older, one younger), as well as several cats and my Siberian Husky. I love reading books, playing piano at home and at church, baking anything and everything, and being involved with my incredible church family. I am head-over-heels in love with JESUS and am so incredibly thankful to belong to such an amazing God! He has blessed me so richly, both with many joyful times as well as some difficult trials. But, He has used every one of these times to bring about the sweetest, richest, most unbelievable blessings I could ever imagine!

How did you come to Jesus?
I have known who Jesus is for virtually my whole life. And for a while I thought I was saved when I was really young. But, as I look back over the years, I don’t see any outward evidence that I had truly committed my life to the Lord. So I don’t think I truly became a child of God until I was around eleven or twelve. Around this time, I remember struggling with understanding what it really means to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). For a long time, I thought this simply meant possessing a mental knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done. But by God’s grace, I came to realize that actually belonging to Him is completely different than merely believing in Him. It was around this same time that I really started to dig into my Bible to find answers to my questions about salvation. And I found something utterly priceless: I found the Truth - Jesus Himself. In His Word, I learned that to believe in Jesus meant that you trust Him to save you from your sins, give your life to Him, and love Him more than anything else, that you long to please Him in all you do, that you are grieved by sin, and that you strive to be like Him!  It is a total transformation of the heart!
How has the Lord used His Truth to transform your mind, heart, and life?
His Truth is so powerful, and I am continually being conformed to the image of Christ! The longer HE reigns in my heart, the more fully He sanctifies my life and makes me more like Jesus. By studying His Word and filling myself with His Truth, I am able to go from living a life of sin to one of holiness and righteousness. By His grace and by living according to His Word, I can live each day and look to the days ahead with joy and hope, with my eyes blissfully fixed on Jesus!

What are practical ways you are in the Word and have the Word in you?
This is definitely an ongoing process! I am continually learning about new ways to be saturated with the Word. So I will just share a few of the ways in which He has helped me to treasure the Scriptures:
Daily devotionsI know this seems like a simple answer, but it is so huge! Having a dedicated time with Jesus each day has definitely been the biggest way that the Lord has helped me to hide His Word in my heart. Along with this, a huge blessing has been to keep an accountability partner—one who has come alongside me and encouraged me to keep pressing on toward Jesus, keep going back to the Word, and making sure to spend that sweet, daily time with my Savior.
Be Surrounded with ScriptureI love to surround myself with anything and everything that speaks of Jesus! Right now, I can look up from my bed and see Proverbs 3:5-6 on my bedside table; Romans 8:28 and Psalm 139:23-24 on my bookcase; a daily calendar of Psalms next to my bed; and a board crowded with verses scribbled on post-it notes, index cards, and random scraps of paper, as well as a list of verses on the Lord as our Guide, and other things like this! I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot have too much Scripture around yourself!
Keep a journalAlthough I am not a huge journaling person, I do keep a daily journal, in which I write out thoughts, prayers (often straight out of Scripture!) and special verses that have stuck out during my devotions. I love being able to carry a special verse or two with me throughout the day! I have also been slowly filling up another journal with Scripture based on topics. So, for example, I have a page on “Steadfastness” that is completely covered with every verse I’ve read so far that deals with being steadfast in the Lord. It has been such a blessing to be able to find encouragement and be reminded of Truth when I am in need of wisdom, grace, peace, or anything else!
Verse cardsA few years ago, I wrote out a few meaningful verses on small, pretty pieces of paper. I did this so I could keep His Word with me at all times, especially during the times when I was feeling frightened or anxious—like before a doctor appointment or a big speech at school. In those times, I was so overwhelmed that I struggled to remember the verses I had just read. So this was a simple way that I could find strength in His Word, no matter the circumstance! As a side note, the particular verses that I chose included Deuteronomy 31:8, Job 42:2, excerpts from Psalm 95 and 37, and Isaiah 40:28-31. I have become so familiarized with these passages after reading them so many times, that I don’t even need the cards anymore. They are truly written on my heart!

Can you share one example of how the Lord recently used a verse to change you and your life?
My mom and I have been going through a study on the book of Esther. I have read this book many times, and every single time I uncover sweet truth and hidden gems. That is the beauty of reading a book written by the King of kings! This time through, the Lord brought to light a particularly precious truth: that even during the most difficult times, He is deeply at work within us and in our circumstances. It didn’t just “happen” to be that Esther was born outwardly beautiful, that her parents died and she was raised by her uncle, that she pleased the king and received his favor, etc. He was working out a unique and beautiful plan! In Esther 4:14 Mordecai says to Esther, “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Through this verse, the Lord really impressed on my heart that everything that happens in life, every “good” or “bad” situation, has ultimately been brought about by God and for God. I think truth this touched me so deeply because of some difficult circumstances in my own life. There were so many times this past year where I have gone to Jesus (often in tears) and begged circumstances to change, because they were just so painful and hard to endure. But, praise the Lord, He did not see fit to change anything. For He had a different plan in mind, one that is far greater than anything I could ever imagine. I don’t need to wait for something to change, for life to get “better” before I live fully for God! THIS is the life He has given me, with all its joys and struggles, so THIS is the life I must choose to live out for Him each day. It is completely incomprehensible to consider that the Living God has tailored a special life for me. What a precious gift!!!
Is there any additional encouragement you want to share with our readers?
Any advice I would give you, dear friends in Christ, I give to myself as well! So I will just echo to you what the Lord is continually teaching me: Do not grow weary of reading His Word, but continue to fill yourself up (even to overflowing!) with the Living Water you find within its pages. Do not be daunted at the prospect of how much you still need to learn, but let this blessed knowledge drive you to soak up every little drop of truth you can uncover. May you go forth today with the written Word of the Living God in your heart. May you continually turn to Jesus Christ and fervently pursue His example with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The "Beautiful to God" Class ~ Session 3 ~ "The Importance of Inner Beauty" ~ Photos and Report

We had such a beautiful time at the Beautiful to God Class this week looking at the importance of inner beauty and keys to developing inner beauty!

Together we saw the Lord's incredible plan for beauty - the life of Jesus filling and radiating from a heart - and looked at ways we can allow the Lord to fill us with His beauty!

We had a meaningful session, powerful discussion, sweet prayer time, good fellowship, and a great time memorizing 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." ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

We long to grow in this true beauty as Jesus lives in and through our lives for His glory, our joy, and the blessing of others!

God's Word is Truth...

"...your word is truth..." 
~ John 17:17 ~

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Summer Devotions Pursuit Testimonies!

Below are some of your powerful Summer Devotions Pursuit testimonies! We were so blessed receiving testimonies of what the Lord did in your hearts as you spent time with Him this summer and wanted to share some.  He is amazing!  (For those of you who mailed in your charts, your reward packages should be arriving soon!)  May Jesus bless you as you continue to seek Him - He truly is the greatest Reward!

"I am really glad I did the Summer Pursuit again this year.  I have grown closer to God and have learned a lot."  ~ Madisen B. of MN

"I feel after doing Summer Pursuit my faith and love for God has strengthened and grown.  This has been a great summer of blessings from the Lord.  I am so glad I was able to do Summer Pursuit this year."  ~ Rebekah R. of NE

"This summer the Lord has brought me close to Himself and taught me so much!  It was truly a blessing to learn about the depth of His love.  The Lord has taught me abundantly this year!  Thank you for this opportunity!"  ~ Gabriella I. of MN
"This summer of devotions has been great!  I’ve learned so much and grown.  I feel like God used this summer to help me have a stronger relationship with Him.  At times, I had my doubts about whether or not to continue doing the chart and when God intervened and took hold of my thoughts, everything I read seemed to be so rich.  I love doing this chart during the summer to have that reminder in the midst of the busy summer to spend time with Him."  ~ Miranda B. of MN

"This summer God showed me how much I need Him and what His death truly means to me, that I stand “…to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Col. 1:22) holy before Him.  He always goes to the heart of the matter too.  He also knows me better than I know myself, I learned a lot about submitting my will to His, He has the big plan/picture in mind.  Also learning to fear Him, my relationship is always changing/growing with my Father."  ~ Jasmine J. of Alberta

"The Summer Pursuit was amazing!  When I first heard about it from a friend I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it.  But I thought it might give me some good accountability so I started in.  The first few weeks were fun and easy.  I was so excited and often went past the 15 min.  And then it got a little harder.  There were many days I’d wake up just completely not wanting to do my quiet time.  But because of this I’d persevere, do it, and find joy in His presence.  And then our 3 week trip came and that was some of the hardest days to do it.  There were many days that were busy and full of traveling and seeing family.  But because of this I tried my best to do it and was always thankful when I did.  My heart has definitely drawn closer to God through this summer!  Thank you so much for putting this on!"  ~ Hannah E. of FL

"This entire summer has been enriched by my devoted and consistent Bible reading, thanks to this worthy pursuit.  Being “forced” to spend time with Jesus has helped strengthen my relationship with Him as well as pointing out areas in my life that needed to change.  I was also so much more diligent to memorize God’s Word.  I now have all of Philippians 2, Psalm 23 & 46, and more hidden in my heart forever!  God also worked in my life through my telephone talks with Hannah.  We both were encouraged to find similar areas of struggling which we now work together to fix in a God-honoring way.  Thank you for aiding me in my walk with Christ."  ~ Hosanna K. of KY

"It has helped me a lot I did this last year and it was great.  It motivated me to read every day.  And after it was over I read maybe 1 chapter a day.  This helps me to spend more time because I am being kept accountable.  Keep up the great work.  And remember “the best reward is knowing Jesus”.'  ~ Maria M. of MN

God's call for you...

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..." 
~Romans 12:2~

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Transformed by Truth ~ by Amy Vest

I want to be transformed, don't you? 

I want to think like Jesus thinks, see like He sees, and love what He loves.

Listen to the amazing call in this verse, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..." (Romans 12:2)


God's call for you is to not be conformed to this world, but transformed by His Truth.

What is Truth?  "...your word is truth." (John 17:17)  Truth is found in His Word, the Bible.  By getting into His Word, you discover what is truly Truth - Jesus, the living Truth, and His Word, the written Truth.

As I am in His Truth - His Word - (through reading and study) and have His Word in me (through memorizing and meditating/thinking on Scripture), He renews my mind, works in my heart, and transforms me by His Spirit.

Do I want this?  Yes, please!  I know you do, too.

So, how can this work in real life?

Here is an example:
You wake up feeling down and battling doubts about if God has a plan for your life.  HERE YOU HAVE A CHOICE.  You can listen to your feelings and doubts, and let the enemy, culture, and other voices bring you deeper into that struggle (being "conformed to the world"). Or, you can listen to Jesus and let Him renew your mind and transform your life (being "transformed by the renewing of your mind").  How?  You can open your Bible and find a verse like Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  You can read the verse, fix your mind on its Truth, ask the Lord to apply it to your heart, choose to believe it, and walk in the reality of it.

As you walk in His Truth, you will see His increasing transformation unfold in your thoughts, heart, perspective, actions, and so much more!

Doesn't that sound good?

Yes, Jesus brings such transformation through His Word, by His Spirit, in a way that flows out in your life.

What are practical ways to be renewing your mind?
~ Read the Bible
~ Study the Bible
~ Memorize Bible verses (We will give you some fun practical ideas later this month!)
~ Meditate/Think on Scripture
~ Have Scripture up around your house and places you will see it
~ Listen to sermons from the Bible
~ and more!

Then as we are in it and it is in us, we need to receive His grace to believe it and walk it in a way that impacts your life and how you live it.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

It is daily having Scripture in your mind and choosing to trust Him over your own thoughts, ideas, and comprehension.

Recently there was an area where I was trusting in my own understanding, thoughts, and emotions, and it was leading to bondage in my life.  As I renewed my mind with His Word, in dependence on His Spirit, I began experiencing freedom.  I experienced for myself the reality of John 8:31-32, "If you abide in my word... you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   

I need to be in the Word daily.  Daily I have countless thoughts, feelings, and messages thrown at me.  When we are soaking in the Word it becomes a filter for the other things we encounter - to help us discern what is true.

My feelings tell me: "I am condemned." 
Jesus tells me in His Word: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
My thoughts tell me: "I can't do it."
Jesus tells me in His Word: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  (Phil. 4:13)
My culture tells me: "I have to be a certain way to fit in."
Jesus tells me in His Word: "I am in "...His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Eph. 1:6)

I need to listen to Jesus in His Word tell me the Truth.  Then I need to receive His grace to walk in it.  As I do, I am transformed. 

How about you?  I would encourage you to think of one area of your life that you are struggling in right now.  Go to the Word for a verse that you can keep in front of you, fix your mind on, ask God to apply to your heart, and live in the reality of today.

Transformation is waiting.

Yes, we all need to be transformed by His Truth every day of our lives.  As we do, we will increasingly experience in our lives the transformation He calls us to in Him.  Then listen to what the rest of the verse promises, "...that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  (Romans 12:2) 

Friend, run to His Word, let His Spirit apply it to your heart, and be transformed by Truth.

I am running with you.

Monday, October 3, 2016