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Never Stop Praying

I recently went through a major disappointment – I had been praying about a certain situation for a long time only to find out something that would seemingly make that happening impossible. But here’s the thing, all along the way, I truly believed I felt God leading me in that direction. (No, I’m not going to tell you what I’m talking about). So what do you do when you feel God leading you one way and don’t understand how it could possibly happen?

“Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

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Alright, now go have a good day, that’s your verse of the week.

No, I’m kidding. But seriously, if you truly believe that the Holy Spirit is leading you to do something don’t give up on it. Some things take time. Some things take a hell of a lot of prayer.

Now, I want to unpack that a little bit. I don’t know if this thing is going to happen, but I trust that God is working all things for my good because I love Him (Romans 8:28 NIV). So I trust that if it’s for my good, it will happen. 

Sometimes praying is all we can do. And I don’t mean that it should be a last resort. Here’s what I mean:

#1 Sometimes the only thing that we can do for the situation is to pray, because nothing else will help.

#2 Prayer is literally more important than anything else you can say or do, so to rely on prayer and prayer alone is not weak but the strongest thing you can do.

Now go pray and have a good week, y’all,

Amanda

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Called to Worship

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What do you think of when you think of worship? I think it’s fair to say most people think of singing praises to God.  Singing is a form of worship, but it’s not the only way we can worship God.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 ESV).

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

If our purpose is to glorify God, we are worshipping Him in spirit and truth.  On the other hand, you could be in a church service during worship and not really worshipping God because your heart is not focused on Him but on every other possible thing you could be focused on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love worship music. 

 

God deserves to be honored and glorified in everything we do, not just in song.  All Christians have spiritual gifts that allow them to do that in a specific way.  We can also use hobbies that are not necessarily spiritual gifts to worship God.

Bible Art Journaling

I started Bible Art Journaling a little over a year ago, but just recently started diving back into it.  And when I say diving, I mean head-first.  For the past two months or so, I’ve been more focused on getting consistent Jesus Time.  The last two weeks, I’ve needed something to do as stress relief with an overloaded school schedule.  So with knowing that I had a journaling class coming up this past Saturday, I just started doing it more and more.

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Here’s one that I started before the class, worked on during and finished after, because this one was one I really wanted to do but I wasn’t sure how to tie it together.  Who knows, I may always add more later. 1 John 4:18-19 has always been one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19 ESV).

There’s so much to this verse and I want to encourage you to study it on your own, but there’s just a few things I want to mention:

    • God is love.
    • God’s perfect love dispels fear.
    • If we are His, we should not fear.
    • Because God loves us perfectly, we are able to love others even though we are imperfect.

 

The class I went to Saturday was taught by Tai Bender, who sells the hymnal cards that you can see in the picture. I had all but the card that reads “Tune My Heart” on it done and wanted to add something because I had a lot of white space at that time.  So, looking through the cards, I realized that that card has “Come Thou Fount” on it, which is my favorite hymn. So I added that at the last second because that song was on my heart and seemed to fit there as well as with the worship theme that I knew I was about to be writing about.

Worship God in everything.  Your work, your hobbies, your relationships; everything.

 

 

 

 

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Obedience of Faith

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This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

I just started classes this week specifically devoted to studying the book of Romans in context as well as a class about the book of Acts.  They both already have individual categories under Bible Study. That’s your “head’s up.”

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bing about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to be saints” (Romans 1:1-6 ESV)

As I was reading this, one phrase in particular jumped out at me: “obedience of faith” (v. 5).  Faith means trusting that God knows what is best for you better than you do.  Then, in that trust, you must submit to God’s plan for your life.  We have to be able to simply obey Him and His Word.  No, it’s not always easy, in fact most of the time obedience to God will be the harder path to take.  However, obedience to God is always the right choice. 

 

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The most simple way this is stated in the Bible is found in John:

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV)

These are the words of our Savior Himself.  Please don’t skim over them.  A relationship with Jesus starts with falling in love with Him, but Jesus came to give us new life here and now.  That new life is abundant because it doesn’t involve worldly things.  Look at the example of the early church and see how drastic the life change was.  We are not to continue living however we please and expect that whenever we die we will be in heaven with Him.

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What obedience looks like for each one of us may honestly look different.  Some actions, mentioned in various places throughout the Bible, are clearly disobedience.  Others may not be so clear.  Let me give you an example: I’ve written before about feeling God calling me to be a pastor.  I initially felt that call during my sophomore year of high school and honestly I completely ignored what God was calling me to do and focused on my plans and my goals for my life.  It took me three years to finally accept God’s calling for my life and be okay with it.  It still makes me really nervous just thinking about it.  But the entire time that I was chasing my own dreams instead of following His will for my life, I was disobeying Him.  I was still saying no to His plans and yes to mine.  But at that time I had zero contentment in my spirit about what I was going to do and would constantly say “I wish I knew what I was going to do with my life” even though I thought I had it all figured out.  The second I made the decision to accept that God’s plans for my life are so much better than mine and to trust Him with my career path, that contentment that I lacked was there.

So for me, obedience in that area of my life didn’t require a change of schools or even a change of major but instead a change of heart and a willingness to go wherever God takes me.

I don’t know what obedience needs to look like in your life right now, but you probably do.  If you truly don’t, just pray about it and ask God to show you what area of your life you need to trust Him with.

 

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Jesus Time

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Photo taken from Flickr by silent shot. Used under Creative Commons License.

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Since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, truly spending one-on-one time with Him has been highest priority in my life.  Why? It changes everything.  It changes the way I go about my day.  It changes my attitude, how I treat other people, how I respond to situations, did I say everything?

But here’s the thing: I haven’t had enough Jesus time lately.  I can see differences in every area of my life because of a lack of spending 10 or 15 minutes a day reading my Bible.  I know, it might sound drastic, but when I’ve seen the result of what it can do when I’m reading my Bible every day, it hurts not to.

So why haven’t I been reading my Bible as much?  I’m in school, working, and involved with other activities that keep me pretty busy.  I took a theology class this summer that drained me emotionally and honestly, spiritually as well. So I tried telling myself over and over that that theology course was my “Jesus time” but it wasn’t.  Ever.  Not when it’s draining.  I do have some classes that are more rewarding spiritually than draining. But they still do not substitute for time spent outside of my coursework focused on my Savior.

 

What’s this have to do with you? Well, you need to have your Jesus time too.  Here’s what the Bible says about the importance of the Word of God.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 ESV

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 ESV

Additionally, Jesus time needs to include worship and prayer!

“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 NIV

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 NIV

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. James 5:13 NIV

Our Jesus time needs to consist of these three elements to be complete, as well as doing these things with fellow believers.  We cannot expect to just do this once or twice a week and truly grow in our relationship with Christ.

So as I challenge myself to get back to having quality Jesus Time every day, I challenge you as well.  Will you accept that challenge?

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Silent Saturday

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The one they placed all of their hope in was gone. Saturday was the day they didn’t know if Jesus was coming back.  He said He would, but He was now in a tomb.  What were they supposed to do? What were they supposed to think?

“Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law.  He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.”  Mark 8:31 NLT

I can’t imagine the feelings of the disciples and others close to Jesus.  He was their friend, their leader, they believed He was the Messiah.  And He was dead. He was the only one who said He was.  Those close to Jesus spent Saturday waiting.  Hoping.  It was the Sabbath, so it was even more still and silent than we would already imagine because they wouldn’t be working.

We spend a lot of our lives living out the Saturdays of life in between the valleys and the mountaintops.  A lot of the time, this can be the best season of opportunity and growth, but we don’t necessarily see it as that.  We want to skip to the joy of Sunday.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5 NLT

We all to often live for the mountaintops, not to grow.  But we need to realize that our lives are often not defined by the sorrows of Friday or the joys of Sunday, but by a bunch of Saturdays; periods of waiting to see how God is going to move.  And in the mean time we need to be faithful.  We need to keep watch, because both Fridays and Sundays will roll around in our spiritual walk.  We will have times of great joy and great sorrow, sometimes both.

If we use the stillness of Saturdays to grow, when we experience a Friday or a Sunday we will be well equipped to handle either the sorrow or the joy.  Saturdays are for gaining wisdom, understanding, and growing closer to God and others.  But sometimes we don’t realize that until it’s too late.

My personal Saturdays have been the times that I have had to wait to drive for six months after having a seizure.  At 16 and 17 years old, let me tell you, thats a looonnng time when all I wanted to do was drive.  There were times I didn’t choose to use these times wisely and there were times that I did.  The times that I did I am incredibly thankful for now.  But I had no idea then that I would be.  I didn’t know that the time I spent just complaining about not being able to drive I would regret, wishing I would have spent it better.

The Saturdays of our lives aren’t always a blast, but are definitely important in making us the people God created us to be.

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The Holiday I’ve Never Understood

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I can’t be the only one who hasn’t thought that calling the Friday before Easter “good” made any sense whatsoever, can I?

Nothing inherently good comes to mind of the events that happened on “Good Friday.”  Let’s take a look at the events of the day, shall we?

Judas was a close friend of Jesus had already betrayed Jesus.  What does he do on “Good Friday?”

“Very early in the morning…Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.”  Matthew 27:1,5 NLT

He began to feel remorse for his sin and, unfortunately, he took his life because of it.

The night before, Peter vows to Jesus that he will not betray him.  But..

“Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.  A servant girl came over and said to him, ‘You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.’ But Peter denied it in front of everyone.  ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ he said.  Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath, ‘I don’t even know the man.’ he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said ‘You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.’ Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying- I don’t know the man!’And immediately the rooster crowed.'” Matthew 26:69-74 NLT

Both Judas and Peter are focused on in their betrayals of Jesus.  But it is clear that each of the disciples betrayed Jesus between the Last Supper and Jesus’ trial:

“‘Tonight all of you will desert me.  For the Scriptures say, God will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” Matthew 26:31 NLT

Why did we need accounts of both Judas and Peter, though?  Judas was an example of allowing sin to overcome our lives.  Peter was an example of allowing grace to overcome our lives.  We need to see both to be able to choose.  Still, on “Good Friday”  it wasn’t good.  We can see the outcome now, but that particular day Jesus was betrayed by His followers when He needed them them the most.

Jesus is then put on trial where the crowd is given the option to free him or a murderer and they free the murderer.  They mock him, spit on him, whip him then take him to be crucified.

Here’s where we make our turn from what I’d call worst Friday ever to maybe what we should call “Best Friday Ever.”  Because of three words:

“‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30 NLT

He’s saying “Done.  Complete.  You don’t have to wait until Sunday to know that I’ve already finished the job.”  The disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, watched Him work miracles and all of a sudden Saturday came around and somehow those words fell on deaf ears, though.  They knew his promises, they knew that He was coming back.

Jesus went through the suffering of Good Friday to say three words that have changed my life and the lives of countless others.  Jesus carried out Luke 19:10 on Good Friday.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” NLT

It was so much more than just a “Good Friday” because in just three words, Jesus made it clear that we had the option to have a different destiny.  He provided the sacrifice necessary to atone for all of our sins.

Go check out my post about “Silent Saturday”