{Living in Community with our families} What will they remember?

Wk3D5 LoveGodGreatlyI’m a do-er in this house.

We moms have a constant pulse on what the state-of-the-home is at any moment, don’t we? And we’re not afraid to hold our own little press conferences and announce it to anyone who will listen.

I’m a meal-making, schoolwork-checking, chore-assigning, hygiene-monitoring, laundry-folding, behavior-watching, clutter-sorting, schedule-planning, task-oriented kind of girl.

My brain keeps track of stuff like: who needs to be where and when, what character traits my children need to be working on, what the emotional state of each of my family members is at any given moment… down to the detailed bathroom habits of everyone living under my roof. For real, this is important stuff for the health, prosperity and happiness of my people. 

I’m an expert in critical information such as:

Child #1 likes: crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly on two pieces of wheat bread.

Child #2 likes: crunchy peanut butter ONLY on single slices of bread folded in half.

Child #3 likes: creamy peanut butter and raspberry jelly on white bread.

Child #4 likes: boiled eggs and pickles, and LOTS of them.

I regularly have crumbs on my floors that need attention, science experiments strewn all over my kitchen counter that need guidance, and six people who consistently require clean underwear. That last one is a non-negotiable, ya’ll. These are the things that keep moms up at night.

But in all of this striving, sometimes I neglect the abiding.

Is it good and honorable to provide for the needs of my family? Absolutely. But when I’m more focused on the tasks instead of the people right in front of my face, something’s definitely out of balance. And trust me, they notice. We find subtle ways to make sure they all notice.

You see, there’s this girl in my house who will one day have a home of her own, and she’s watching every move I make. 

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She’s taking in my attitude while I rush her to the next thing.

She’s listening to the tone of my voice when I’m impatiently responding to her needs.

She’s waiting for me to finish a task so that I’ll listen to what she has to say.

She’s longing for me to sit – just for a sweet minute - so that she can snuggle in close.

She’ll be grown and out the door before I know it. Will she remember my kind voice and extravagant love? Or will she remember a clean house and my completed to-do list and a mama who was never, ever satisfied?

There’s a girl in my house who watches every move I make. She’ll either learn to strive herself into a state of exhaustion, or she’ll learn how to abide in Jesus as the source of her strength. 

And she’ll learn it from me.

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There once was a single mom who had four kids. There was much on her plate – so much that she could never get it all done. But because Jesus filled her to the brim {and because she knew that the dishes would still be there tomorrow}, she stopped. And she listened. And she spoke softly and hugged tightly and loved extravagantly. And she was so very, very kind. So kind that her household and the whole town knew it.

And I watched every move she made. And because of her, I saw Jesus more clearly.

That’s what I remember. And that’s how a Godly legacy begins.

{Living in Community with our families} is more than meals and laundry and a thousand things left undone. Community equals legacy when Jesus is at the center.

One day my children will leave my home. One day I’ll breathe my final breath and I’ll leave this earth. And so will you.

What will they remember?

Oh Father, let it be…

Love.

Kindness.

Jesus in me.

“How blessed is the man who fears the LORD,

Who greatly delights in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;

The generation of the upright will be blessed.”

~ Psalm 112:1-2 

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Are you striving or abiding in your home? How can you intentionally show love and kindness to your family today?

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Living In Community With Our Families

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Hey friends!

Today we have a special guest post from one of my dear friends here in Dallas, Vanessa from kelliandvanessa.com. I just LOVE Vanessa’s heart and her desire to help women…especially moms, pursue a life of love through the blog she co-founded with her friend, Kelli! Together, they inspire and encourage moms through personal stories and creative “faith-in-action” activities.

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So here’s what I want you to do:

Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. [Rom.12:1-2 MSG]

The Bible says a child who is diligently trained in the ‘way he should go’ will remain true to that way in this life and reap its rewards in the next. As parents we’ve been given the privilege of being stewards of our children’s lives for a short time. We constantly struggle with questions like ‘what could I have done’ or ‘how could I have done that better,’ but the reality is we will make mistakes.
The one thing we can do right is to TEACH our children to hide God’s word in their hearts and to SHOW them how to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people within our community.
We all have the heart to serve others, yet we stop ourselves with excuses. Love is the universal language of the world and it is how God desires to use us to impact this world. We are all on mission … everyday, every interaction. Our goal as believers is to awaken people to see that the most important person is the one right in front of them. That starts at home! 

Pain, suffering and hurt are no strangers to those right in our community. While we can not make the realities of this sinful world disappear, we can deliver a message of hope.

 

That God can restore brokenness, that He’s in the middle of the brokenness. So, it is imperative for our lives to do the good work, to get our hands dirty, let our hearts ache … when we’re in the middle of it it feels so right and that’s because it is. That is what He’s called us as believers to do. To extend ourselves to those who need us because in the end, we need them just as much. That’s where we SEE God in all His glory.

Brokenness & hurt surrounds you and your family, it’s forcing yourselves to see it. And when you’ve seen it, you’re responsible. We’re all responsible. So, what are we going to do about it? While we can’t make it go away, we can carry a message of hope with us … that the story truly does have a beautiful ending and it’s called redemption.

Make an effort as a family to not just show the love of Christ, let’s become it.

Vanessa

 

 

 

kelliandvanessa.com

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God has uniquely wired us for stories. They move us, inspire us and help us understand theological concepts on a deeper level. Starting today and running until the end of our #MadeforCommunity study, we invite you to share your stories of community and how God is moving through your #LoveGodGreatly groups on Instagram and Facebook using the #LoveGodGreatly and #LoveWritesABeautifulStory hashtags!!! If you need an example, make sure to check out Kelli and Vanessa’s Instagram page and read some of the inspiring stories they have shared!

http://instagram.com/kelliandvanessa/

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{Made for Community} Week 3 ~ Why the family might just be your best advertisement for the gospel…

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This is my family.

It was the perfect Fall day in small-town Indiana. Everyone is showered, our clothes are color coordinated, my gray hair is strategically covered, and our kids are all smiling because we promised ice cream if they gave us one good picture. Just one picture, ya’ll. You.can.do.this. Heh.

But not every day looks like this, because we’re human, and we’re family.

In case you have any misconceptions, I’ll let you in on the skinny of it all…

I’m a sinner.

I married a sinner.

And our four amazing kids are cute little sinful versions of the both of us.

We come from families that are broken. And we live in an imperfect world that has us confused about our commitment to this once revered community called family.

Once revered? Uh, that’s pretty questionable too. You don’t have to spend much time in the Bible before you get to some seriously messed up families. In the book of Genesis alone, we read about how families encouraged disobedience, held grudges, played favorites, engaged in sibling rivalry… deceived, manipulated, cheated, abused, dishonored, and even murdered. Aahhh… and you guys, that’s just the beginning.

While it’s true that family houses all of our not-so-neatly packaged imperfections in the closest of quarters, we’ll read this week that it’s also God’s design for our good. He made us for community. He set us in families. And because of Jesus, his grace is greater than all of our messes.

“The ultimate litmus test as to whether or not we’ve truly allowed his grace to become our default mode is how we treat the people in our family. Home has a best-of-times-and-worst-of-times nature about it. As such, family can either be a watershed opportunity for us to move from walking in the flesh to living in the power of God’s Spirit, or it can be our Waterloo.” ~ Tim Kimmel

When it comes to living in community with our families, the question we have to ask ourselves is just that: Are we walking in the flesh, pursuing our own sinful desires, or are we living in the freedom, power, and joy that comes when we approach the gift of family with God’s intention and instruction in mind?

Another way to say it is this: is YOUR family an advertisement for the gospel? Not some photoshopped image of perfection that only shows up on Sunday mornings (people can spy that a mile away, you know), but a real, beautiful picture of God’s grace, mercy and redeeming work in one of the most precious communities given to us on earth.

{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

Because of Jesus, there is great hope for the state of the family today. Consider these three pieces of encouragement as we study together this week:

1. The family reinforces our need for the gospel. “The Bible’s main theme is God’s gracious plan to redeem needy sinners. It teaches us that what God wants most for us is that we 1) become aware of our sinfulness and 2) our powerlessness to save ourselves, as we 3) believe and love his Son and the gospel he preached, and 4) graciously love one another. And it turns out that the family is an ideal place for all of these to occur.” - Jon Bloom

2. Even in less than ideal family situations, God’s sovereign hand is at work. God can use the good, the bad and the ugly dynamics of our family situations for our good. You’re right… I don’t know your story, but I do know a God who brings purpose from hard places (Genesis 50:20) and causes all things to work together for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28). If you’re still in doubt, read what God did in Joseph’s family from Genesis 37 -45.

3. Advertising the gospel in our families can start with you and me. As we build on this concept of living in community God’s way, we don’t have to wait for someone else to initiate the cycle; God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). When we’ve experienced the gospel for ourselves and are abiding closely to the Source of light and life, we can be instrumental in bringing joy, peace, hope and reconciliation to our families. As much as it depends on YOU – and me – let’s shine Jesus into our close quarters called family starting TODAY (Romans 12:18).

*LET’S TALK: Where do you need God to show up most in your family? What is ONE thing you can do today to advertise the gospel in that situation? Share in the comments how our team can best pray for you this week…

At His feet,


{Week 3} Reading Plan:

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{Week 3} Memory Verse:

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{Week 3} Challenge: Identify one practical way you can intentionally invest in your family this week. Ideas: Serve an elderly family member, write a thank you note to your parents, surprise your husband with a date night, play a game with your child, pursue reconciliation, create an atmosphere of joy in your home, begin reading the Bible together as a family.

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Pressing in to the Ungrateful

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-The more I gave, the more she took. She didn’t say thank you. She didn’t look me in the eye. She asked and I gave. I gave my time, my energy, my money. For months on end, I invested myself…. but in the face of the ungratefulness I was met with? I retreated and walked away.-

 

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I am a giver through and through. It’s in my DNA. I will gladly give you my food, my belongings, my books, even the shirt off my back {let me put another one on really quick so I’m not naked though!}.

I love to give, to help, to bless.

UNLESS.

And this is the ugly bit.

If my serving, giving, and loving is met with an ungrateful spirit, or I feel taken advantage of? Ooooh Nellie, my fountain of generosity will stop right quick.

And I feel pompous, puffed up, and content when I read the first part of this verse, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend….”

Yep. That’s me. I’ve got this one covered.

But then I get stuck on these verses, “…expecting nothing in returnfor he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Ummmm.

 

-She came and asked for help. Again. I turned away. She brought a Christmas card. I didn’t open it. She cried and called me “Mummy”. And again I walked away. Too interested in the wrong done to me, I left her again.-

 

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It sounds so callous. The walking away, turning a deaf ear. And it is. In the moment, though, and when these moments come again and again and again, it is difficult to stay vulnerable, to stay open, to be wise and generous. To help without hurting, to do the right thing, to love well, is hard.

-She is a mere nineteen. Her father left when she was young, her mother died last year. Looking to fill her love tank, she shared herself with a boy who claimed to love her. In the end, he took what he wanted and left her with two wee ones and no hope.

No one has ever taught her how to love, how to be thankful, how to do anything other than take. For her, love equals pain, so instead, she takes and runs, never looking back.-

Jesus gave, again and again, He gave. Knowing that Judas was going to betray him, he pressed in and gave of himself anyway. Again and again. Welcomed Judas into his inner circle, let him stay with Him, poured into him. It must have been so painful for Jesus to give of Himself day after day, looking into the face of the one he loved, knowing what was going to happen.

-A friend visited her little one room house the other day. The one I helped her rent, helped her set up. When she walked in she saw on the wall, written in soot, “I love my mummy Joy.” 

Tears. Humility. Shame. 

And today? I’m opening up my heart, pressing in to the ungrateful, and beginning again.

Easy? Oh no.

Messy? A hundred times, yes.

Outside myself? Yes and yes again.

And how does this story end? I honestly don’t know…but I’m going to press in and find out. Will you pray for me?-

 

Your turn: What is your story? I want to hear it. What do these verses do in your heart? Share in the comments. I’d love to pray for and with you.

 

Love from Uganda,

 

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We Are Made to Run Together…

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I ran my third half marathon this past December. Let me be really honest with you all… I’m not one of those runners who ENJOYS running. It’s hard at times and can be oh, so painful. Some of my friends who train with me run faster than me, so at times I can get discouraged.

I get tired.

I wonder if the sacrifice is worth it.

But the affects of the run are what encourage me to go out time after time.

This race was different though…

A few days before, I caught a stomach bug… and not just any old stomach bug. Ohhh no, the worst one I had ever had. I will spare you all the gory details, but let’s just say I was REALLY sick.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Ohhh no… I had paid to run in that race. I had made a commitment to run it, and I was going to follow through. So even though my body wasn’t 100% back to normal, I entered the race anyway…

And in mile 8 of 13.5, my body started rebelling.

But I wasn’t alone in my race. The friends who I had trained with were running right beside me. We trained as a team and so we raced as a team.

Our own little racing community.

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And during my race I wanted to stop. I wanted to quit. But they wouldn’t let me. They stayed with me through the pain; through the exhausted legs that didn’t believe they could take another step.

I told them to run ahead of me.

I didn’t want to slow them down. To hold them back.

I made excuses.

But no matter what I said or how I pleaded – how I really wanted to run that race alone -they wouldn’t leave my side.

Then in mile 10 he showed up.

My husband, who had already run the race in his heat….came back for me to help me finish my race. Seriously, I’m not making this up!

And so I was passed from my friends to my husband…..always surrounded by someone who loved and cared for me along the way.

My community.

We ran the final 3.5 miles together, and it wasn’t pretty. And I wondered those last few miles why I do this to myself…

But along the journey, this amazing husband of mine told me stories to help take my mind off of the pain I was feeling and to distract me from my desire to quit.

I needed my friends and my husband to help me run that race. It wasn’t my best race. The journey was hard, but they helped me endure it. Step by step… they helped me finish the race.

Aren’t we all called to do that with those in our lives?

We are not made to do life alone.

Though you might not be a runner, we are all in a race…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.“- Hebrews 12: 1-3

And we ALL need others in our lives to help us focus on the finish line…fixing our eyes on Jesus. We need encouragers to help us get through those hard times. We need friends who are willing to stay in the race with us even when we tell them to go on without us. We need to be honest in life and let friends and family know when we are hurting and wanting to quit. We need friends who are willing to journey with us….even when it’s not pretty.

When the test results come back and we have cancer…

When he files for divorce and wants out…

When our children are rebelling and we need a ray of hope…

We need each other.

We need community with God and with others.

We were made for it.

And though none of us are perfect…..two are better than one.

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Oh friends, how we need to live this truth out in our lives. Let’s not let another day pass without compassionately reaching out to friends, family, co-workers, neighbors….women and men whom God has strategically placed in our everyday lives.

 

*Let’s Talk: What are some ways that we can help promote community in our everyday lives and bring glory to God in the process? What is holding you back from reaching out and participating more in the community God has placed you in? For those of you who are craving more community in your lives…what can other women do to help include you?

I can’t wait to hear your responses!

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

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Week 2-Made for Community with Others

 

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Hi ladies, I am so glad to be with you today. Welcome to week two of our Made for Community study. I am so encouraged to see women from around the world coming together to study God’s Word together. I am here in Uganda and many are joining us from other places in the world. That is what is truly beautiful about God’s family, unity in community in the family of God.

{Click Here If You Can’t See Week 2 Video}

Today’s verses are some of my very favorites because they are stunning and intense at the same time.

The Ugly Truth

I have this need in myself, a selfish need to be known. To be praised. To be somebody. To be a star. To be seen as someone special. It’s ugly to admit, but there it is. My self craves fame and personal fulfillment. Tim Keller says this is ego.  He says, “It is always drawing attention to itself-it does so every single day. It is always making us think about how we look and how we are treated.”

I want to feel better than others, to be prettier, skinnier, more well-read, more well-known, and with better behaved children.
And on the flip side, I compare myself to others on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, find myself lacking, and feel bad. I feel inferior. Not enough. Unseen.
Feeling both feeling superior and inferior are two sides of the same coin… theyare the result of [ego] being overinflated,” says Tim Keller.

Turning Ego On Its Head

Here is the story behind the quest for satisfying my ego. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t fill me. It doesn’t satisfy. It doesn’t bring joy. It never has. It brings discontentment and the desire for more: more fame, more self-promotion, more ME.

And then…. Jesus. Jesus comes and unifies us with Himself and turns everything we ever thought completely and utterly on its head. He is stunning in these verses and I can’t look away. He shows us a picture of the beauty of humility, of servanthood.
First, Philippians 2:1 reminds us of the why.

-Because we have been encouraged in Christ and what He has done for us.

-We have been comforted by His love, we have been ministered to by His Spirit.

-Because of these things, we can choose a different way, and the only way that leads to joy.

Jesus gently takes that thing we call ego and flips it around and makes something beautiful.

He emptied Himself, the One who had everything, could demand respect, honor, praise and glory, emptied himself, took the form of a servant and humbled Himself.
And because of this, and only because of this, we can look at verse 3-4 to see how we can respond. “Do nothing from selfish ambition of conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

We can joyfully take the position of servant, giving up our need to be recognized, to be somebody, to be seen and known, and instead become a servant of all. It goes against what our flesh craves, and shows us an upside down way. That is freedom! That is true joy!
CS Lewis says this, “The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
That is the kind of woman I want to be. How about you?

Setting His Glory Before Us

But it is a battle against our flesh. One that has to be re-won again and again. Day by day. Minute by minute.

But how? How do we engage and fight for gospel-humility? For the ability to serve and humble ourselves? The answer is found in verses 9-10.

Therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We, as Matt Papa says, “…with war-like aggression, place the glory of God in front of my face, or I will not change….I will not worship Him.We take God’s glory, Jesus Christ’s beauty and set it continually before ourselves.

Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord continually before me.

As Tim Keller says, “Because he is somebody, I am free to be nobody.”

I can love and serve and give freely as I set my gaze at the example given to me in Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to strive to be somebody, we can find true and lasting joy in serving, loving, and humility.

All for Jesus,

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Week 2 Memory Verse:

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Week 2 Challenge:

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Week 2 Reading Plan:

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Real Humility and Radical Love

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If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13: 14-15

Do you remember the small bit of hell that breaks out the night of Jesus’ arrest?  We have Judas’ kiss of betrayal, Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier, Jesus healing said soldier as he is being arrested, and the rest of the disciples running scared. By morning even Peter had denied Jesus three times.  But that crazy night actually started with a quiet meal with the 12 disciples.

Jesus spent 3 years doing life with these men. He loved them to death (literally) and he used his last few hours of freedom showing them the way of love. It is at this Passover meal that Jesus institutes The Lord’s Supper as a way to remember what he was about to do for them. But he also got really practical. He took a towel and some water and began to wash his disciples’ feet. His friends were shocked. The disciples had their sandals on all day, their feet were dirty and hot, and Jesus was washing their feet. This was a nasty job typically assigned to a lowly servant.  What was Jesus doing?

Peter misses the point altogether. At first he doesn’t want Jesus to wash any part of him, then as Jesus tries to explain, Peter decides he would like Jesus to not only wash his feet, but his hands and head as well. Peter wasn’t getting it.

Hopefully we won’t miss the point. Earlier this week we talked about the fact that our relationship with God must be primary because all other relationships in our lives will be impacted and directed by it. In our verses for today we see that truth come to life.

Jesus shows us the way of humility and love.

Real Humility

By washing his disciples’ feet Jesus taught us humility. There is no room in the life of a Christian for a holier-than-thou attitude. Jesus, Creator and Ruler of all did not think it beneath him to serve his friends (and even his enemy – Judas).   Humility leads a person to see that all people are equally valuable and in need of kindness. Humility is the heart of one who considers others to be worthy of more honor than herself .

Radical love

If you want to know how to really love someone then look carefully as Jesus washes his disciples feet. Jesus’ love for his friends is seen in both big sacrifice as well as practical service. His love is uncomfortable in that he does for us what we do not deserve. Jesus wasn’t simply teaching his disciples a lesson by washing their feet. He was washing their feet because he loved them.

We too should be willing to show kindness and goodness in small and big ways to those whom God places in our lives. Love for one another will move us to sacrifice and serve; it will lead us to lower ourselves and to exalt another.

Our Lord would have us love others so much that we should delight to do anything which can promote their happiness.
J.C. Ryle

For some of us this may be easy to do with our families, but we may struggle when it comes to those outside of our home. Pray for compassion as well as opportunity to demonstrate it. Some of us find loving people outside our families to be easy and fun, while showing radical love within the home to be much more challenging. Pray for kindness and extra patience.

We look to Jesus as the only one who can save us. But do not forget that the path of salvation Jesus walked for us included sacrifice and service, love and humility. When we find eternal life in him, we find the power to love others as well.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

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{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…

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Week 1 – Made For Community With God

LoveGodGreatly-Made for Community-Week 1

Welcome to our study on Made for Community. I’m so glad you have joined us.  I think this will be a great eight week series.

This week we are looking at Made For Community with God.

(Click here if you can’t see week 1 video)

I am an introvert to the core. I LOVE being alone… it energizes me and makes me happy. But even as an introvert I crave meaningful relationships with others. I’m not a hermit.

No matter what kind of person you are, introvert or extravert, you were created for community.

Why is that?

We find the answer in Gen 1:27.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in community with each other. Before anything was created these 3 persons of the Godhead lived in perfect, deep and fulfilling harmony.  Community is a part of his character.  You could say that God is community and we have been created to reflect that aspect of his character. This is why we crave being known and knowing others.

The most important relationship you will have in your life is the fellowship you have with God.

Adam and Eve knew what it meant to have perfect communion with God. It is something that we can’t even begin to wrap our brains around because sin has made that impossible.

Thankfully God has made a way to restore our relationship with him (as we read in Ephesians 2). Through Christ we once again have access to God, not as our judge but as our father.

You know the expression better than new? Well, that’s what our relationship with God, through Christ, is like. The fellowship Adam and Eve experienced could be broken (as it obviously ended up becoming). But Christ repaired this broken fellowship with his blood, and therefore it cannot be broken again.

It’s what makes this relationship so precious. It cannot be ruined because you cannot ruin the blood of Christ. It can’t be undone because you cannot undo Christ’s work for you on the cross. Instead it is eternal and comes with blessings upon blessings.

When we study, we need to ask the question “So what?” Why does this matter? Why is community with God so important?

One of the reasons this matters  is that all the other circles of community that are important in our lives, like family, church, and friends will be less satisfying and less healthy, they will be weakened and corrupted if it is not anchored in the fellowship we have with God.

Our communion with God equips us for the other relationships in our lives.

Community with God teaches us how to love others, how to forgive painful grievances and how to serve selflessly. In our relationship with Christ, we see what self sacrifice really looks like, how to be humble and what truth is.

Therefore it is of utmost importance that we cultivate our relationship with God.

One of the things I love to do is study theology. Not because I want to accumulate tons of information, but because studying God will cause me to grow in faith and love.

We should never be satisfied with our knowledge of God.  The challenge for us this week is to choose one of God’s attributes and spend time studying and reading about that attribute. Choose one that you may not be as familiar with or have not studied before. (Ex. Sovereignty, faithfulness, kindness, omniscience, self existing, impartial, immanent, incomprehensible, mercy, jealousy, justice …)

 

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

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Made for Community is now on YouVersion! Click here to start our new plan! Please make sure to start our plan TODAY so you will be reading the correct daily verses!
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The WINNERS of Sally Clarkson’s new book: Own Your Life can be found here!

All winners will be notified through their email! Congratulations and thanks so much for entering our giveaway!!!

You can purchase a copy of Sally’s book on Amazon here!

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WEEK 1 Reading Plan:

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WEEK 1 Memory Verse:

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WEEK 1 Challenge:

Week 1 Challenge

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{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.

Jacklap

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

 

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