{Made for Community} with God ~ The prayer you and I need to pray this year…

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It’s 1995, and I might just be in the middle of an identity crisis.

I’ve changed my college major three times, I’m so broke that I can barely scrounge up enough quarters to do a load of laundry, and I can’t pass Organic Chemistry to save my life. And I’m desperately single… did I mention that? Desperately directionless in so many ways.

So I started to pray.

I prayed a lot of specific prayers that year. I asked God for direction in my career path. I asked him to relieve my financial burden. And I boldly pleaded with him to send meaningful companionship my way.

And silence still.

I didn’t understand. I had followed God since I was a little girl. I had seen his faithfulness in my life in so many ways throughout my twenty-some years. I had tried to remain faithful back. But life in this season seemed empty, no matter what I pursued to fill the desperate places.

And then I went to Haiti and I watched her worship.

It was my college Spring Break, and I found myself in one of the poorest villages in arguably the poorest nation in the world. Her physical needs alone made my requests seem trivial in comparison. While I lacked basic life direction, she lacked food, clothing and shelter… basic needs for survival.

But still, she was filled with a joy that she could not contain.

I could see it in the sparkle in her eyes and in her contagious smile. I saw it in the way she sang without inhibition in complete adoration to her Savior. I saw peace in her countenance and a generosity in her spirit. Her outward circumstances didn’t dictate… instead her inner joy broke through.

And that’s when I realized that my focus had been all wrong. I had been pursuing satisfaction from the world instead of finding sufficiency in my Savior.

We were {Made for Community} with God. To find our satisfaction fully in Him. And when we know Christ… really know Him and are walking in the Spirit, there is great fullness of joy no matter what the world throws our way.

“God’s love has a width, length, height, and depth, but we will never reach the end of it. Our capacity to experience God’s love will be exhausted long before God’s capacity to give it is strained. The picture of having Christ dwell inside us by faith presents us with compelling and comforting possibilities. What Christ does in us and through us will always be ‘exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.’” - Max Lucado

Friend, would you stop and simply be amazed by God’s love for you today?

Be overwhelmed with joy just at the thought of who He is.

Take time today to celebrate His defeat of sin and death and praise Him for the sacrifice he made in your place.

Find comfort in knowing that He did not leave you as an orphan, but instead came to you.

Rest in the fact that for those in Christ, nothing can separate you from His love.

And of all of the prayers you pray this year, let this one be at the top of the list:

“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 Lord’s holy people, 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

God, fill our empty spaces with you. Nothing in this world could ever compare…

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: What are you tempted to fill your empty spaces with other than Jesus? Our team would love to pray for you today…

{Made for Community} ~ Because the world is a distracting place, and we are a distracted people…

Made for Community_2I thought the day would never come.

This teenage boy of mine – marked by fuzz above his lip and one in clear need of an extra dose of deodorant – no longer hangs around me every waking moment of his life.

It’s a natural transition. One that I thought I was ready for. Scratch that… one that I had longed for when year after year another toddler clung to my exhausted body. They said I would miss it. I knew I should have listened.

He’s an introspective -this one – filled up by time in books and consumed with dreams of his latest invention that has been carefully laid out in his leather journal. Researched, sketched and labeled to the very last detail. Mark my words that boy will invent something for real one day. It might flop like the pages and pages of ideas that will come before and after it, or it might just change the world. Either way, he secretly depends on me to believe in him.

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While it’s true that he’s lingering less, every so often he surprises me. Like the day this week that he wandered into my office and with full confidence plopped his lanky, middle school self right on top of my lap long enough to make my legs numb. Without exchanging one single word, he grabbed my hand and together we watched out our front window as the season’s first snow gently began to fall.

Aaahhhh…

{Made for Community}.

This boy.

You…

And me.

Extroverts, introverts. Singles and Marrieds. Young and old, poor and rich. The longing to be known and loved…. to be accepted and included is no respecter of age, gender or the color of our skin.

God made us for community with Him, and with the people around us.

Intentionally living in community with God and with people has never been harder. The world is a distracting place, and we are a distracted people. Technology, social class, skin color, religion, physical appearance, comparison, and all kinds of preferences and downright sin are just a few of the things that deter us and steal our joy. Right now – what is it for you… what is it for me… and dare we even speak it out loud?

God, you know our hearts.

But God made us for more…

For more communion with Him.

For more intentional living with others.

For more peace and fewer distractions.

For more of His fame and glory.

I’m ready to turn down the noise… how about you? I’m ready for a new year and fresh starts and for God’s words to pour over the empty places so that I might be filled with Him. Because it’s only when I’m filled with Him that I can even begin to think about being poured out.

God slow us.

God fill us.

God show us through your Word what it means to be {Made for Community}, then help us to respond so that you might use us.

Eight weeks. God’s Word. {Made for Community}. Let’s do this.

Are you in?

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life

through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

~ 2 Peter 1:3

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: What distracts you? Write a paragraph or simply one word in the comments below. You’re not alone, friend. Let’s give it to God together…

**Our formal Enrollment and Love God Greatly Community Groups are officially closed, but it’s not too late to join us!! Grab some friends and download our FREE {Made for Community} Online Bible Study materials here. Study starts MONDAY… I promise, you won’t want to miss it!!!

Love God Greatly-Made for Community

 

{Made for Community} Translations ~ NOW AVAILABLE!

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Celebrate with us… our {Made for Community} Translations are available TODAY!!!!

The internet is an amazing thing, amen?! Not a day goes by that we don’t thank God for the incredible opportunity He’s given us to inspire, encourage and equip women all over the world to get into God’s Word with the click of a mouse. That’s a privilege we don’t dare take lightly. But you guys, it gets even better…

There are these precious, precious women.

Women who are gifted in languages, and my goodness do they have heart.

And willpower.

And determination.

And a whole lot of selfless love.

They work hard at their jobs, at school and in their homes by day, and then translate our LoveGodGreatly studies by night. What.in.the.world. When no one is looking, they make words come alive, and in doing so, they put tools in the hands of women who might never otherwise have access to Bible study materials in their own languages! This is kingdom work, my friends… overwhelming, beautiful behind-the-scenes kingdom work, and I wholeheartedly believe that one day heaven will look a little different because of how God used these faithful women.

Soooo… without further ado, we are delighted to announce our EIGHT {Made for Community} translations!!

Afrikaans.

Czech.

Dutch.

French.

German.

Italian.

Malagasy.

Spanish.

A huge THANK YOU to the incredible women who have made these translations possible. We love you, we are inspired by you, and we thank God for you… over and over and over again!!

Can you – or someone you know – benefit from {FREE} resources for our {Made for Community} study in one of the languages listed above? Simply click on the link below to access the {Made for Community} Reading Plans and Study Guides for the EIGHT translations offered this session:

http://www.lovegodgreatly.com/made-community-translations/

Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

~ 1 Chronicles 16:23-24

Oh God, may Your glory fill the whole earth!

At His feet,

THERE’S STILL TIME to join us for our Winter Online Bible Study, {Made for Community}, but don’t wait long… our study starts on MONDAY! Grab some friends and enroll today. It wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

Love God Greatly-Made for Community

Embracing the unexpected on {The Road to Christmas}

10836401_10205496065826382_347504392_nI’ll never forget the all-nighters spent in that cramped apartment closet, swaying my cranky firstborn and softly desperately singing “Be Still My Soul” until my words could no longer break through my tears. We had excitedly welcomed our first baby, but the road was harder than we had anticipated:

A shocking job loss and last minute move two weeks before the baby was due.

Unexpected health issues that plagued our sweet boy since the day he was born.

The surprising struggles and sad emotions I felt in the weeks after giving birth.

Unplanned financial strain over a house in another town that wouldn’t sell.

And just when I was doubting my competency in almost every area of my life, I woke up one morning with a wailing six month old in one hand and a positive pregnancy test in the other.

“Lord, I can’t do this.”

It wasn’t the gift of another baby that grieved me. Life is absolutely a miracle from God too amazing to fully comprehendWhat weighed heavy on my heart was my doubt in my ability to walk this unexpected road well – because let’s face it, my mothering journey up to that point had left me feeling pretty weak and unqualified.

But God doesn’t call the qualified.

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I already know it, so why do I so often need reminded? I’m frustrated in my own lack of faith that in the unexpected, God knows better than me. Listen, He always knows better than me.

But Mary.

Mary’s young, trusting hands were unclasped. She wasn’t paralyzed by fear when Gabriel told her she’d give birth to the Messiah. Oh, in human terms, it was shocking, unexpected, surprising, unplanned news to be sure.

But she didn’t hesitate.

She didn’t fall to the ground in a weeping, doubting mess.

She didn’t ask a million questions or raise her voice in anger, and she definitely didn’t fire back with, “Lord I can’t do this.”

No, she accepted her calling and lifted her humble voice in praise – not because she was confident in her abilities – but because she KNEW the One who had called her.

When the unexpected comes, we have two choices: we can either become paralyzed, or we can praise.

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Christmas 2002.

That was the Christmas that rocked my world… in the form of an eight pound, eight ounce unexpected baby boy.

But listen, God always, always knows better than me.

God knew that I’d need bright spots on weary days, so he gave me a boy who is always the first to jump up and clean a puddle of spilled milk – even if he wasn’t the one who spilled it. He knew I’d need comic relief, so He gave me ONE child – this boy – who consistently laughs at all my bad jokes. He knew I needed to know more compassion, so He gave me a boy who challenges me to love people unreservedly. He knew I’d need fresh reminders of redemption, so He gave me this boy who accepted God’s gift of grace and never got over it. But God also knew that I needed to let go of my self-sufficiency. My pride. My control over my life. And so he gave me this boy, who has also caused me to depend on Jesus like never before.

Unexpected roads can paralyze, or cause us to praise.

The great thing? You don’t need confidence in your ability to walk your unexpected road well. You just need to KNOW the One who calls you – and then with unclasped hands – place your full confidence in Him.

God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.

Embracing the unexpected on {The Road to Christmas} sounds a whole lot like this:

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” ~ Luke 1:38

Can you say it?

Father I praise You, because the unexpected road is also a road that leads to unmerited grace. You are worthy… have your way in me.

At His feet,

 

Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. ~ Psalm 63:3

*LET’S TALK: Are you ready to hand over your unexpected road to Jesus? As a first step, in the comments section today simply type Mary’s humble, willing plea: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

{The Road to Christmas} Week 2 ~ Willing to be used by God…

Love God Greatly

If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine! ~ Elisabeth Elliott

If you’re anything like a typical girl, you’ve probably spent a considerable amount of time at some point in your life dreaming about the details of your future. I know I have. In fact, when Angela and I were neighbors as little girls, you could often find us on hot summer days playing “wedding” in the carport of her tiny duplex. We draped ourselves with white lace tablecloths and our moms’ cheap jewelry and took turns – along with my sisters – walking down the driveway “aisle,” imagining the day when our dreams would become reality.

But our lives don’t always follow the fairy tale path we dream about as little girls, do they?

Rahab and Mary – two more unlikely women listed in Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1 – certainly found out that life doesn’t always turn out according to plan. But a wise woman of God knows that God’s sovereign plan trumps her plan any day of the week.

Rahab the prostitute was a social outcast who was willing to be used by God.

Mary was a young virgin girl whose willingness to be used by God would make her a social outcast.

They didn’t come with stacked resumes, they surely weren’t the most popular girls in town, and they were far from sinless. But God used Rahab and Mary because he’s God, and he specializes in making something beautiful out of what the world deems as broken.

We don’t have to have all of the answers before we submit to God’s plan for our lives, and we might not ever reach a point where we’re considered “qualified” by the world’s standards. But like Rahab and Mary, we can say “yes” when God calls us because we know that God will illuminate our paths with his grace and power, gently guiding us by his sovereign hand with each step we take by faith.

{The Road to Christmas} is becoming more and more beautiful with each grace-filled step, amen? We’re excited that you’re back for {Week 2} of our study… we can’t wait to dive into God’s Word with you!

At His feet,

*Let’s Talk ~ Does doubt or fear hold you back from saying “yes” to God? Our team would love to encourage you and pray for you in the comments section today!

{Week 2} Challenge: In your study time this week, take time to search your heart and identify any personal inadequacies that might be weighing you down and hindering you from saying “yes” to God. Write those inadequacies down on a piece of paper, then over the top of each item listed, write the word GRACE. Thank God for his grace that covers you, and ask him to give you confidence to boldly say “yes” to him.

W2 Challenge

{Week 2} Reading Plan:

RP W2

{Week 2} Memory Verse:

MV W2

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