Tag Archive: God


What’s this I hear about grace?

Another great post by a good friend, Larry Sewell.

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Let’s dialogue for a few minutes about God’s grace.

What’s it like?  For one thing, it comes looking for me when I’m not looking for it.  Why?  Because that’s what grace does.  What do you mean?  Let me put it this way; it’s like saying, the nature of grace is aggressive in that it looks for people who need God’s help.  Well, who determines what I need?  God does.  OK, does everyone get this grace?  No. Why no?  When God made us He gave us a free will and we are totally free; no strings attached, to decide if we really want God’s grace when He offers it to us.  Really?  Yeah, really.  Pretty awesome don’t you think?  …and it’s all free.  Now, by free I don’t mean cheap.  Well, wait a minute, I wasn’t born yesterday you know.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Someone has to pay a price somewhere along the line.  That’s right!  Somebody did.  Wow, tell me about it.

What kind of price do you have to pay for grace?  The max.  What do you mean by the max?  …and who would even think of doing that for a total stranger?  Well, in a word — God did.  How did He do that?  He did what no one else could ever do.  What was that?  First He came to earth to live with people.  He was only here for about 33 years.  Get this, even though He was fully God, He was also fully man.  Why did He do that?  He did it so people could talk to Him and touch Him, and watch Him, you know, like we are doing right now.  Just think, He was God the Creator standing right there in front of them.  That’s right.  But what motivated Him to do such a thing for people who didn’t know who He was, to say nothing of the fact most people really didn’t want Him anyway?  He did it for the simple reason that He loves all of mankind; past, present and future.  Oh come on now, how can anyone do all that for total strangers?!  God can.

Well, OK, say for instance I am a little intrigued by this grace thing.  Answer this for me, what will it do for me?  Good question.  By accepting God’s provision, His grace, your sin will be totally forgiven.  …You know what sin is? or does?  Well, kinda, but, well not really.  Sin is rebellion against God. This rebellion is what separates a person from God —  forever, unless that sin
is dealt with by accepting God’s payment by faith.

His payment was giving Himself up to be crucified, shedding His blood and dying.  But, since He is the author of life, He rose from the grave, stayed on earth for a short time and then went back to heaven.  Is that why He came to earth?  Sure is.  Well then how do I make that work for me?  By believing you are a sinner, that you know what sin is, and what God did to pay for it.  Here
is what the Bible says you have to do.  If you state that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  Saved means saved from eternal punishment in Hell.  God continues, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified (before God), and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

That’s pretty straight forward.  Don’t I have to do anything?  No.  Why?  Because there is nothing you could do to get into heaven if you worked at it for a million years.  So all I have to do is confess and believe?  That’s right.  …So what would you like to do?

  

What is Love?

As the leader of a ministry that reaches out to hurting women, many of which have been abused by people who claimed to love them, I was not surprised recently when I was asked…”What is love?” I thought the best way to understand what love is, is to go to God’s Word and see what it says about love.

What true love is NOT:

  • Love is not just words or a feeling but requires action (love lived out) – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
  • Love is not boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient, ungrateful, unholy, unforgiving, slanderous (speaks falsely of another), without self-control, brutal (hateful), etc. – People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Timothy 3:2-5

    So if genuine godly love is none of those things. What is love?

  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
  • Love Serves Others – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
  • Love is Selfless – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
  • Love is humble, gentle, and patient – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
  • Love obeys God – And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6
  • Our love for others should ultimately be God-focused – Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

Perhaps you’ve asked…Does God really love me? Isn’t God just out to trip me up and watch me fail? Does He really understand what I’ve been through? How do I know? Have you ever had this thought run through your mind, “I’m not good enough for God to love me?” Oh there is so much wrong with that statement. First, God’s love doesn’t depend on who you are, what you have done, or what’s been done to you. God’s love is solely dependent on His character. God is love. He proved His love by sending His Son to die for YOU!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Let’s check out some characteristics about God’s love.

God’s love is…

  • Unfailing  – But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
  • Extravagant – Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5
  • Priceless – How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7
  • Merciful – Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11
  • Just – I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. Psalm 101:1
  • Patient – But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
  • Everlasting – For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
  • Satisfying – Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
  • Good – But you, Sovereign LORD, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. Psalm 109:21
  • Selfless – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
  • Parental (He disciplines His Children out of love) – because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Hebrews 12:6
  • Unrelenting – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35,37-39

You can’t hide from the love of God. You can run sure, but God is always at your side. If you have been abused by someone, you’re idea of love may be corrupted. Now you know the truth! Walk in that truth! And know that God loves you because you are His creation! I encourage you to read Psalm 139, I’ve included a portion below:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If you would like to explore this issue more with me or have any questions. I’d love to speak with you. Please get in touch with me by emailing me at restoredbyloveministries@gmail.com. There is no greater passion in my heart, than for you to know the love of God and live it out in your life! 

My prayer for you:

I pray that out of His glorious
riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the
saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and
to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure
of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

Just Do It

Have you ever had someone tell you that you were stubborn? I’ve always known that I had a tendency toward stubbornness, however God brought to my attention that my stubbornness at times wears a bit of a disguise. Stubbornness, disguised or not, can keep us from being obedient to the Lord in what He has called us to do. Have you ever prayed and prayed and prayed about something that you knew God wanted you to do? Yeah, maybe he didn’t speak audibly to you, saying “You shall do _______” and list off specific things. It seems we often try to force God into making our desires come to fruition instead of saying “Thy Will be Done” it’s “My Will Be Done”. Out of stubbornness we try to change the mind of God through prayer knowing full well that the specific thing we are seeking His guidance on, He has already told us to do. God never intended for prayer to be a stalling tactic but I know in my life I have used it as one and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. We let our excuses, fear and feeling of inadequacy run rampant in an attempt to make sure we let God know that we aren’t the right person for the job. So now we know more than the God who created us? I think not! He knows what we are capable of and incapable of and He also knows that by ourselves, we don’t have anything to offer, but with Him living through us and in His strength we have everything to offer a broken, fallen world and He wants to use us for His glory. 

I looked up the word stubborn and one definition popped out at me, “unyielding”. Often times we let our stubbornness rule over us which causes us to be unyielding to God. We in essence say, “I know better than God” and we fail to listen and surrender to His Lordship. When we think we know best, and we fail to surrender to the Lord, maybe not outright, maybe it’s disguised but we say “No” to God by our actions. At the root of stubbornness is pride – trusting and loving myself more than I fear (respect/reverence) and trust in the Lord.

I know in my life I have used the stalling tactic of “God I really don’t know what your will is? Please tell me.”  And then the Lord says “Well haven’t you read my Word lately, I’ve laid it all out in their for you. If you know my Word, you’ll know my will” In my mind I come up with all these reasons why I shouldn’t serve the Lord in a certain capacity, when after months of “praying and meditating” on it like a “good Christian”, I realize that I’ve been dragging my feet out of fear and unyielding stubbornness to God’s plan because doing so would cause me to have to step out in faith, to surrender to the Lord, and to go out of my comfort zone. I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek God’s guidance but so often we know exactly what God wants out of us and yet we use stall tactics, one of them being prayer. I at times find myself saying to the Lord, “I’ll serve you in this way because it’s easier. It requires less time and energy, it’s more comfortable for me. It doesn’t challenge me. I don’t want to do what you want me to do, I want to do things my way.” But is that really doing as the Lord commanded us to do in 1 Samuel 12:24, “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”  With that mentality am I really fearing the Lord, am I serving the Lord with all my heart. Am I really bringing Him glory by just serving Him because it’s convenient and requires little of me.

I see myself a lot in the character of Moses. After the Lord laid out for Him exactly what He was to do, he said to the Lord in Exodus 3-4(my paraphrase), “God you must be out of your mind, can’t you find someone who is more capable? You have to know I’m not good with words. I’ll be humiliated. What if they don’t listen to me?” Excuse after excuse.

So how about you? Are you throwing at God all the excuses in the book of why you can’t do what He is telling you to do? Are you plugging your ears while God is talking and/or talking over Him with selfish prayers with an agenda to have your own way? Are you letting your fears rule over you instead of letting God rule over you?

I challenge you. Be dangerously surrendered to the Lord. Lay self aside and go all out for God. Trust Him with your insecurity and uncertainty and like the Nike slogan says “Just do it!” Stop stalling. Get there and start living a life of wholehearted service for Him remembering that it might not be easy, it’s gonna take work, but also realizing it’s not about you! It’s for God’s kingdom and glory.

Pretend you are sitting in a seminary class for Introduction to Biblical Theology. Pretend you are discussing a great deal about sharing/teaching transformation to an individual or un-believer. Pretend not only does this class teach you about the growth of transformation in others but it’s a great deal about making sure YOUR transformation is unique, big, glorious and very image filled in Christ.

Now watch as the Professor tells you to look down around your chair and imagine a white circle outlining a chair.  I imagined right away the chalk line around a dead body.  That was my reality because I know what a dead life without looks like without transformation in Christ, I know it ALL too well.  The Professor says, “Who’s responsible for the person inside the circle? Stop being the victim and blaming others due to yourself!”

 There was no pretending in this statement, this was happening in my reality.  Although it was a statement to the entire room, I really thought he was talking directly to me.  How many times recently have I said that it’s someone else’s fault because of something crappy happening to me or it’s not my attitude or behavior at fault for how I’m treated?  More times than I care to recall.  I seem to be putting a frown to unfairness instead of stepping up and fighting for who I am and what I am as a Christian.  Instead of taking on my armor I am keeping my armor in my purse and not wearing it, heck most times I leave it at home and become the victim!  A person needs both freedom from sin and freedom for righteous and just behavior!  I need to get rid of the sin because there is so much more growing for me to do, sin is fun, oh yes it is, but freedom is amazing, oh yes it is!!!!!!!!  It takes ongoing everyday sacrifice. I know I keep crawling off the altar, I’m human in this broken world, I know it.  And yet I keep stepping off the altar, it’s a jump, hop, skip type deal.  Some days I’m sure I sneak off the altar, thinking God won’t notice.  

 My life is only going to get under control with a relationship with God. Guard that relationship!  I want to act justly as a reflection of God.  Loving God and loving man is the process I am under.  My intention is to be open to what God brings, to be open to the Holy Spirits activity. 

 What do you want God to do with you?   

 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:11-14 (New International Version)

This blog was written by a friend of mine, Tiffany. She speaks of how she has found hope and purpose in her life. I pray that her blog ministers to your heart. If you’d like to speak with someone about finding hope and purpose in your life through Jesus Christ, please visit the site below and contact me.

-Stephanie Lampman (www.restoredbyloveministries.org)

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Did you ever push someone away, putting yourself first? See someone hurting but just walked away? Plan to get together with someone but decided to make other plans? Be a listening ear? Be a friend? Flip out on someone without realizing their feelings to your reaction? Joke with someone but have the person take it seriously?

No one is perfect. We are all broken. We all make mistakes. We are all searching for something more.

Did you ever feel alone? Broken? Lost? Worthless? Hopeless? Unloved? Like no one cared? Did you ever just feel that you had no worth to even continue living your life anymore? That you actually tried to hurt yourself to feel alive. That maybe this will help numb the pain. Maybe if I cut myself, someone will notice me. Or maybe if I go get high and smoke pot I can drowned out everything. Or maybe you’ve even considered taking your own life or even tried too.

I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. You have worth. You are loved. You have purpose. And I care about you. I have walked in these footsteps times & times again. I struggled with cutting, depression, & even tried to take my own life 3 different times. I know what it’s like to feel alone; like no one understands what you’re going thru. I know what it’s like to feel broken; like everything around you is falling apart. I know what it’s like to feel lost; like no one even wants you around. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless; like there is no hope in the world for you. I know what it’s like to feel unloved; like everyone hates you. I know what it’s like to feel like no one even cares; like no one ever has any time for you. I know what it feels like to be depressed; like you don’t want to live another day. Lastly I know what it’s like to feel worthless; like the only way to escape the pain is to take your own life. I know because I’ve been there. But there is hope. There is healing. There is love.

You might be thinking, but Tiff how did you come out of this? How did you find worth? Hope? Healing? Love? Purpose? My answer to your questions is Jesus Christ. Jesus brought me hope, worth, healing, love, & purpose. You might be thinking; well Jesus might have saved you but He can’t save me. No one can. But don’t believe that lie for one second. Jesus can save you & I have proof.

Did you know that you are forgiven? 

When God sent His One & Only Son into the world to die for you, Jesus took your sins too: everything you would ever do wrong. He took it because Jesus didn’t want you to be destroyed. God sent His Son so that after we die we could spend eternal with Him in Heaven. Jesus didn’t want to see you punished for your sins so instead Jesus took that punishment for you when He was hung on the cross to die for you. But just because He died doesn’t mean you automatically go Heaven. This is want you have to do to be saved:

A: Admit that you haved sinned & be willing to turn from your sins.

B: Believe that Jesus in God’s Son who died for you & was raised from the dead. This isn’t just believing with your head but trusting Jesus for forgiveness of your sins.

C: Call on the Lord, confess your sins, & committ your life to Him. This is the willingness to turn from your sins & to turn to Christ as your Savior & Lord.

 Here are 2 verses from the bible to sum this up in Truth:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”-John 3:16-18

“Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man. Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.”-Isaiah 53:1-10

So this is how I found worth, hope, love, purpose, & so on; Jesus is the answer. If it weren’t for Jesus saving me from myself I honestly would not be here today. But because of what He did I am. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank Jesus.

But I don’t know where your at in life. Maybe tonight your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you? Maybe you are so stressed out with school that you can’t take it anymore. Maybe your parents just got divorced? Maybe you just found out your pregnant? Maybe you just got busted for drugs? Maybe you’ve been abused? Maybe you feel like giving up? Or Maybe you are at the end of your rope & feel suicide is the only way out?

But please hold on. There is help & treatment available for you. Rescue is possible. Suicide is not the answer.—“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”-Revelation 21:4-6

I love you so much; but most importantly Jesus loves you. But tonight I watched a movie called “To Save A Life.” This movie has changed me from the inside out. I have a different outlook on life. God has showed to me thru this movie a hurting world that needs Him. I felt lead to write this tonight. I felt a tug on my heart from God telling me to take action. So I started writing. I really hope that after you have read this that it gives you some hope & positive encouragement. I pray you would take action too. You can take this or leave it where it’s at. But I know there is a hurting world out there that needs me; that needs Jesus; that needs you. If someone don’t take action, then who will. The last thing I want to hear is that one of my friends took their life. This world needs us. I can’t do this alone. But if we come together as one in Jesus name we can make a difference. We can save a life if we are willing to help others before ourselves. At the time you’re helping someone else, you are helping yourself as well.

You matter to me. You matter to someone. You most importantly matter to Jesus.

I am totally blog stealing but I couldn’t help it after reading about this idea. I was recently reading this blog about the song by Taylor Swift called “Fifteen”. Do you ever wonder what you wished you knew at 15 that you sure didn’t know!? Well I decided to make my own little list of what I didn’t know at 15 that I wish I did.

When all you wanted was to be wanted. Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now.

•That foolishness can be overcome.
•That your past can be redeemed and God will transform your past into the most beautiful future.
•That worrying about the size of your thighs will never get you a job but sure can make you lose your job.
•That I’m a Princess.
•That beauty is lending a helping hand.
•That my heart is sensitive and that it will serve me and others well.
•That being single is a gift.
•That being shy makes you wise counsel.
•That Freedom is the best thing ever and I will well up in tears every time I share my story.
•That time really does heal.
•That God would mend my broken heart and reside in all the pieces.
•That I was made for so much more.
•That friendship comes in seasons.
•That my future is already planned out, I just have to walk through it.
•That I’m loved more than I can even comprehend.
•That being approved by man means nothing, I’m already approved by God.
•That embarrassment doesn’t ever end my day.
•That I’m writing my legacy every single second I spend in the presence of my Father.
•That people really don’t notice how much I weigh.
•That people notice what’s in my heart.
•That my broken life can be made beautiful, there’s beauty in the breaking.
•That God has me written on His palm.
•That while I was searching for who I was, God already knew.
•That I am special and there is only one of me.

And the number one thing I wish I knew was…..

that Jesus is my best friend.

“Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friend.” John 15:13

Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and wants desperately for you to accept His offer of friendship. He is a friend who never leaves us or forsakes us.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Luke 4:8-10

“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” Romans 5:10 (NLT)

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (NIV)

(This blog is written by Dawn, mentor with Restored by Love Ministries and was edited by Stephanie Lampman, Founder of Restored by Love Ministries)

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27

So you want to wear all the name brand clothes, do the things your friends are doing, look the best and be the best? You don’t want to stand out or maybe you do and wear the brightest colors available and have your own unique style.  What if we turned away from the thoughts of flaunting the latest fashions and put on a little Beauty by God? Now this beauty will require that we are willing to be different and it will require many to step out of their comfort zones. I will warn you that many don’t think the Beauty by God clothing line is fashionable, but don’t let that discourage you, God is the best designer around! He is top notch! What does the Beauty by God wardrobe have to offer, you ask? There are many articles of clothing available in this special clothing line and to cover them all in this article is not my intent, but I do want to discuss two of them here.

Let’s see, first let’s look at the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). Belts are so important, without them let’s just say that we might find ourselves in a nasty predicament, we wouldn’t at times be able to keep our clothes intact! What does the belt of truth look like? How do we know what truth is? We go to God’s Word.  In John 1:14, we see that “the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory of the only begotten from the Father, FULL of grace and TRUTH.” We must first recognize where we can be sure truth is (John 14:6); where we can get this belt of truth. Now that we’ve discovered we get our belts of truth from God’s Word, what are we going to do with the belt. When you go to the shopping and purchase the cutest dress, do you just let it sit in your closet, no, of course not, we put it on.  We need to do the same with the belt of truth in God’s clothing line. God’s truth keeps our lives intact. It is His truth that we need to base everything in our lives on. Our thoughts, our actions, our motivations, our decisions, ect. Truth is absolute. If truth isn’t truth, it’s untruth. There are no grey areas. When we understand God’s Word as being purely truth and put on our belts of truth, we can rest assured we will have the most beautiful Beauty by God clothing on because our lives will shine with the light of Christ. (John 8:32)

Let’s look back to the Ephesians passage (Ephesians 6:14), what other articles of clothing are in the Beauty by God clothing line? What about being clothed with the breastplate of righteousness? What does the breastplate do? It guards our hearts. It is when we are putting on the righteousness of God and living that out in our lives that our hearts are protected from this sin filled world and the immoral temptations that we go up against every day. What is righteousness? It is living God’s way instead of our own selfish immoral living; it is putting on the beauty of the righteousness of Almighty God. For some examples and to dig deeper into this thought of putting on righteousness check out these scriptures:

Isaiah 61:10, 1 Thess. 5:8, Job 27:6, Psalm 5:8, Psalm 17:15, Psalm 37:6, Psalm 40:10

God’s Word says in 2 Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

So you want to be beautiful? The world’s definition of beauty will only lead to bondage and an ugly heart. Girls, let’s strap on those belts of truth and protect our hearts with righteousness!  With Beauty by God, you are sure to win!

“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel  16:7

Unleashed

I went on a retreat with the youth from my church this past weekend. The theme for the retreat was “Unleashed.” Going into the retreat I had no idea what that meant and I was wondering to myself why they were calling it Unleashed. I soon found out what that really meant.

You see we have things in our lives that keep us in bondage, things we place before our relationship with Christ. These can be anything– internet, phone, television, video games, boys, texting, cell phones, self harm, obsessive focus on weight, eating, and exercise, beauty, money, caring to much about what people might think, you name it. There are so many things in this world that we get hooked on and tied down to. We tend to put these things first in our lives when what really needs to be first is our relationship with God. We were reminded this weekend that we need to be unleashed of these things that are holding us back from being our best in Christ. One of the youth leaders on the trip unleashed from the notion that she had to wear makeup so she didn’t wear any make-up during the retreat. We all have things that we need to let go of and give to Christ, things we need to be unleashed from. It’s when we are truly become unleashed from those things that we find lasting freedom in Christ.

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:15-19)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

So I ask you this….what do you need to be unleashed from? What is holding you back from your relationship with God? What is keeping you enslaved?

There are so many things in this life that we fear. Some of us fear death, some of us fear heights, and the list could go on and on. You name it and chances are someone somewhere is afraid of it. I think as teenagers once of the biggest things we often fear is people. Yes, maybe when you see people you don’t run the other direction screaming, but there is a sense that we take great stake in what people think about us, on whether or not our friends will like us or whether we will be accepted and be in the “in-crowd”. We try to impress each other as if their opinion of us is the only thing that gives us our worth.  If they don’t like us, we are devastated, however if they do like us we are elated. This isn’t something that just teenagers struggle with but I have found myself and I know of other adults who focus way too much on what people think.

It is often said from statistics that people fear public speaking more than death. Why do we fear speaking in public? Because we care about what people are thinking about us and questions go through our minds like what if we look “stupid”, what if I say the wrong thing, what if I make a fool of myself, ect. There is no doubt that the fear of people is a huge fear for both young and old.  But do you fear what other people will think more than you fear what God thinks about a particular situation?

I want to talk to you about two definitions of fear. The first one is the sense I was speaking of earlier which is the fear that leads to anxiety and apprehension while in a certain situation. The second kind of fear I want to talk about is the fear that is defined by a deep respect for someone or something. You see fear in the first sense makes us run away from someone, the second kind of fear makes us run toward someone.

What will it take for us to fear God so much that we want to please Him in everything we say and do instead of fearing people and fearing what they might think? So that’s my challenge to both you and me as well. We need to be so concerned about what God thinks about our actions and who we are so that there is no room for fearing what others might think or say about us. Below are some verses about fearing the Lord more than fearing others.

I encourage you to really memorize this one and make it your prayer.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;

give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.

–Psalm 86:11

Here are a few others:

Psalm 147:10-11: His pleasure is not in the strength of a horse, or His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 29:25: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Throwing Stones…

Someone who has been so influencial in my healing is Amy (my former youth pastors wife). Below she shares a spiritual principle that is so vital in our journey toward healing and ultimately our relationships with God and others. Many of us have been hurt and think forgiveness is something so far out of reach. But as Amy reminds us, we are all sinners and no one has the right to judge or codemn anyone but the Lord. So who do you need to forgive? Your abuser? Your friend? Your sibling? Your parents? YOURSELF? Amy reminds us what the scriptures have to say about forgiveness.

“Two of my most favorite passages in the Scriptures both talk about forgiveness and speak to the awesomeness of the free gift of salvation. The first passage is a story in John 8 – a story about a woman accused and rightfully so…she had sinned and broken God’s law. When she was brought to Jesus by her accusers for judgement – he rebuked her accusers and offered her forgiveness. He was the only one who was without sin and could have stoned her, but He said “neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.

The same thought is echoed in Psalm 130:3-4, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared.” No one can stand before Him in our sin, not the woman accused, not her accusers, not me, and not you – except for His forgiveness so that He may be feared – respected, awed, magnified and worshipped.”

God has chosen to forgive us. CHOSEN is the key word. We have the choice to forgive or to not forgive. One leads to peace one leads to misery. We also have the choice to accept God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation or not to accept it. One leads to death and one leads to life. What’s your choice going to be?