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Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
|Photo Credit: Laura Kinney|
“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
-Hosea 6:3 NLT-
I just moved to a beautiful little city in North Carolina. I moved here to start graduate school, but it’s not at all where I thought I would end up. I had my sights set on a completely different school in a completely different state. God didn’t open that door because he knew what I needed better than I did. Ever since I surrendered my decision to attend school here and chose (very reluctantly) to be obedient to where he’s been calling me to go, I can walk in absolute confidence knowing that this was his plan all along. Nothing about my hesitance to spend 2 years in a city (that I had never been to before I committed) caught my Jesus by surprise, and I just love that!
Something that I’m still getting used to is the fact that it seems to rain every afternoon. Even knowing that, I still forget an umbrella or I accidentally leave my pink rain jacket in my car. But, in these moments where I found myself stranded on campus in a strange building until the pouring rain subsides, I have stumbled upon some of the sweetest spots on this BIG campus. There’s a cool solarium on campus with beautiful natural light, waterfalls, and cool music playing. It’s one of my favorite spots and I wouldn’t have found it had the rain not stranded me inside. This room is full of windows and I can even sit and watch the rain gently falling while I sit in awe and forced rest.
I was walking back to my car in the freshly fallen rain and there was a beautiful rainbow and everything was fresh and clean and new. I began to think to myself that this is such a good representation of what it feels like to walk with the Lord and to be sanctified by Him. I love Hosea 6:3’s promise that Christ will appear as surely as the dawn. It may seem that we’re stranded or caught in the rain and stuck and unsure of where to go, but our God will appear as surely as the dawn! He will appear as surely as the sun after it rains. It won’t rain forever; the sun has to come out. And when it does, everything is new and fresh and somehow makes sense. This is grace! He appears to us even when we find ourselves caught in the rain with no umbrella or raincoat, reminding us of our need for Him. Then, he gloriously appears to us in all His beautiful splendor having kept us in the palm of His hand all the while (Isaiah 46:9).
My encouragement to each of you this year is that you would press on to know the Lord, and grow to know Him more deeply. I’m thrilled to grow in grace with each of you ladies throughout this year as we both deepen in our relationship with our faithful Heavenly Father.
(Check out Ellie Holcomb’s song “As Sure As the Sun” to reinforce this great scripture memory verse! )
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Forgiveness is a hard thing to do. It is even harder to say that you are sorry. Many friendships crash and burn because people are too afraid to admit their mistakes and just simply say "sorry." People, especially girls, are so bad at holding grudges.
Do you remember when you were a little kid how easily your forgot about a fight with a friend after you both apologized? We need to have that same mentality as adults and teens. There is no point of living life holding grudges. It is a lot more fun to forgive and forget, and just simply be happy!
A good friend of mine and I are so much alike, sometimes too much alike for our own good. With that comes arguments. Something that I have learned is that it is so much better to say sorry and talk about what is bothering us in a mature way instead of staying upset and holding a grudge. Sometimes you might be the only one taking the high road, but in the end it will be worth it.
God paid the ultimate price for our sins. He is the ultimate forgiver. We sin everyday and he is always there to forgive us. He does not hold grudges but instead he loves us! In Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another. Just as God through Christ has forgiven you!"
If our ultimate creator can forgive us of our sins, we should definitely be able to forgive our friends and family of their sins as well! God rejoices when he sees his children happy and getting along! Not fighting and holding grudges. I challenge ya'll to forgive or say sorry to someone that you are close to or were close to. Try to mend that broken relationship and forgive as God forgave us!
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
One of the heartbeats of Grace Engaged is the scripture memory program that we hope y'all will join in with each month! Each school year we will be picking one "theme" to look at in scripture and for the 2015-2016 school year we have chosen "grace" as our theme. For the month of September we will be memorizing a portion of 2 Corinthians 8:7 which states, "But since you excel in everything- see that you also excel in grace."
This verse can be a challenge for us as women as it is tempting to create lists and accomplish the responsibilities before us in this school year as things to be merely checked off one at a time. Sometimes it is tempting to look around and see how much sin and brokenness there is in the world and silently pat ourselves on the back for how well we are excelling in our lives for not being apart of the "bad".
But this verse stops that in our tracks. What does it mean to excel in giving grace? I think this verse is a beautiful challenge for us to look at what grace is and how to excel in giving grace. As Christians we often define and think about grace as: "the free and unmerited favor of God". How beautifully true, but grace is also defined as "to give honor to someone or something by one's presence" and "simple elegance or refinement".
The question we can ask ourselves is does my life excel in grace? Do I honor Jesus with my presence? Do I live in such a way that brings simple elegance or refinement to the situations around me and give glory to Jesus? Do I act in such a way that gives grace to those around me? Do I extend grace to those who are not my friends? Do I give grace to the adults in my life? Do I excel in giving grace to those that frustrate me? Am I excelling in grace?
Throughout this month of September, let us memorize this verse and imprint it on our hearts. Let's pray for the Lord's help to live out this verse and to excel in grace. Share with us in the comments about how you are excelling in grace and ways that you are seeing this verse encourage your life this month!
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
I have read the book of John many times, but the other day I was rereading John 2 and the story of Jesus's first miracle, and God spoke to me through the passage in a whole new way.
In this story, Jesus gets invited to a wedding where the bride and groom begin to run out of wine. You can probably imagine how embarrassing it is to run out of something at a party your hosting, now imagine its your wedding and your entire reputation and social standing rests on the quality of the food and drink your serving. Jesus is made aware of the situation and then three important things happen: the servants are to to trust Jesus without question, they obediently fill six stone jugs with the water left over from washing the guest's feet, and then Jesus turns the dirty foot water into the best wine that anyone there had ever tasted. Originally, I read this verse as an example of how Jesus cares about even the smallest of troubles in our life and no worry is too trivial for Him; you can't waste His time in prayer.
All this is true, but what I noticed this time is the amount of faith that the servants put in Jesus and also what the water and wine represent. The servants were told by this random guy to serve their master nasty foot water to drink. They could have lost their jobs or even been thrown in prison!
But as ridiculous and scary as it sounded, they did it anyways. Jesus said, "Now draw some out and take it to your master. They did so." (John 2:8) No questions asked, they trusted Him fully. Now, there are a lot of stories of ultimate faith in the Bible, what is so special about this one? Well maybe because it was Jesus' first declaration fo His power, but maybe it's because the nasty water that has been sloshed around and rubbed on everyone's dusty feet is actually us.
Like this water, our lives are polluted by dirt and grime and impossible to clean ourselves, but with faith, Jesus turned water to wine. If we have have faith, what can He turn us into? Simply the sweetest wine that saves a party, or something so immeasurably more than we can only imagine (Ephesians 3:20)! Trust God and follow with faith! If we let Him He will clean us and use us beyond our wildest imaginations!
Thursday, September 3, 2015
"You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."
-I Peter 3:4-
What is beauty? Many people define beauty as what they can see on the outside. Our world today is so wrapped up in outer beauty, that many forget what inner beauty really is. So many girls get so caught up in the latest styles and trends and even go as far as altering their bodies to “fit in” (I get caught up in it at times as well!)
Many people talk about inner beauty, but what all does that entail? Inner beauty is having a good heart, loving and caring for others, and, most importantly, shinning God’s light in everything you do! You have to work just as hard on your inner beauty as you do your outer. It isn’t just about what people can see. God wants your inner beauty to shine brighter than a sparkling diamond.
A way to improve your inner beauty is to spend time in God’s word, being nice to others, and shinning God’s light wherever you go! In my opinion, inner beauty is so much more important than outer beauty! We are all beautiful in God’s eyes, and he made us all in his perfect image! As much as one works on their outer beauty, it will eventually fade. Inner beauty lasts forever! There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but to get so wrapped up in impressing others isn't always going to make you happy. I encourage you to work more on your inner beauty instead of your outer. Instead of trying to please others, please God!
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today", so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
How many of you have ever had someone say something bad about you? Was it a rumor, a mean spirited joke, or a snarky comment? For most people this has happened more than once, and for some it happens more frequently than others. As sad as this is I want you to ask yourself, have I ever said mean-spirit things to or about someone else?
If people are being honest, the answer is probably yes. As much as I dislike it, I have done it. Sometimes we do it without realizing, we meant it as a joke, or we say it out of revenge thinking our feelings are justified. Now if we don't like when it happens to us why do we then do it to others? We should be building each other up, not tearing each other down.
Instead of being a negative force in someone's life, why not be a positive one? As a senior you have the chance to be a leader, role model, and encourager. Every person is different and where someone many flourish in leadership roles others shy away from the spotlight. Being a role model does not mean that you need grand gestures in order to be impactful. A smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or praying for someone can make a difference in their day. There is not shortage of bullies in the world, don't add to the numbers. Build each other up!
Songs to Check out
Words by Hawk Nelson,
Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath
Speak Life by Toby Mac
"We urge you brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and everyone else."
-1 Thessalonians 5:14-15-