Community in Action…Personal LGG Stories

LoveGodGreatly

For the last eight weeks, we have read, soaped, and discussed ‘Made for Community.’ Now we’d like to share about our Love God Greatly community of women! We connect with our Lord and each other by using our phones and computers.

The majority of the team behind Love God Greatly have never met in person. We communicate with each other via Skype, phone, email, text messages and private messages. Each one of us use the gifts God gave us to work as a team to bring Love God Greatly Bible Studies to women in 70+ countries. Our community consists of women tithing their time and gifts, so graciously. We have seen each other through tremendous joys and heartbreaking hardships. We’ve formed a unique bond by logging online to connect with each other!

“We need friends who will come along side us and hold up are arms as we grow weary…

We were not made to do battle alone.

We were made for community…

We were made to work together…

We were made to be the Body of Christ…

We each have an important role to play. No one’s role is more important than any one else’s.

We are a team and we need each other!” ~ Angela Perritt

Today, we would like to share a few stories and testimonies from our Facilitators…

“God is using Love God Greatly by allowing me to do what I feel God is calling me to do and that is minister to and lead other women to a closer relationship with God, and also building and growing my relationship with God.” Jennifer L.

“It has truly been one of the best studies. It has given me renewed enthusiasm for some of the things I used to do for outreach into the community and shown me how to share God’s love in so many additional ways. As our group shares I add things daily that would be so worthwhile as a way of showing the Love of God to our community.” Ellen B.

“Loving God Greatly in the Scottish Highlands! We are a group of 10 ladies from various church congregations in our area. We were brought together by our desire for more of God and at just the right time for each of us. We have laughed, cried, shared meals, prayed and supported each other. We have been greatly blessed by the studies, challenged by the daily messages and by the accountability of the group. This is our first study together, but are looking forward to the next one! Many thanks and love to you all out there who are our sisters in Christ.” Fiona T.

Fiona’s Group
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“I have grown so much in my walk with the Lord during the LGG studies. The encouragement and accountability in my group is such a blessing to me. I am thankful for the leaders of LGG who are real and genuine, sharing their struggles along with us. I also now have a great friend and accountability partner I met through one of LGG’s leadership mentoring program sessions. We have been co-leading a group together for over a year and I am so thankful for her!” Jennifer T.

 

This isn’t so much a story but a beautiful picture of the international community a study like this provides. The 18 women in our group span 4 continents, 7 countries of residence (USA, Japan, Korea, China, Kenya, Indonesia, and Austria), and 9 time zones (hence, no group picture!) Many of us are serving in international Christian education, and for several of us LGG provides our only option for participation in group Bible study. We are able to share with and pray for one another confidentially and freely. On a personal note, I have lived in local Christian community with each of the ladies in our group at some point over the past 15 years, but only 2 of the members live in the same country as I do currently. Our group provides a way for many of us to reconnect on a deeply personal, spiritual level, while welcoming new friends in the Body of Christ. One of my group members posted this today. She (along with her husband and two girls) made 3 international moves (missions-related) over the past 4 years. ‘I want to praise God again for this entire study and all of you. I have felt my desire to more willingly and intentionally engage in my new community here in Indonesia increase over the last couple of weeks. Some would say that is just because I am getting used to things. I would say not! I would say God placed me in this LGG group to remind me, reteach me, and teach me new things about His desire for his children to be in community. He is so good. Thanks to each of you for your insights and encouragement…I love how members of my previous day to day communities (and their friends!) continue to be part of God’s plan and provision for my spiritual good now.’” Jeanelle F.

 

“We were a group of strangers. We all have special needs children. I am the redhead on the left. My current group secretary/unofficial co-facilitator is Stephanie, on the right. This pic (with my son photo-bombing) was taken in NC where I had stopped on a vacation trip, for the purpose of meeting her. This once stranger is now one of my dearest friends.” Karen A.

Karen and Stephanie

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“One of my email groups has been together for over a year now. They are at different stages in their lives, ranging from newlyweds and young mothers, to grandmothers. For the first few months, they did really well as posting their SOAP each day and encouraging one another. Then during a “break” study, I started asking for prayer requests on Monday and challenging them to type out prayers for the needs of the group. Wow! what a difference! We have connected in amazing ways as issues like weight struggles, prodigal children, raising grandchildren, and being Godly wives started being shared. Now they share birthdays, adoption days, baptisms, inspections, and tax headaches like true “Sisters of the SOAP” (their nickname for the group). This week they have set a time to pray for the group’s husbands, children, and other needs at 6:45. That’s local time for the member and each chooses am or pm – because really, 6:45am in North Carolina is 3:45am in Washington state and 12:45am the next day in New Zealand.

“Here are some of the members thoughts about the group:
‘We each have different posts each day which highlights something God wants us to learn – some things hit us more than others – it sharpens us, encourages us, gets us off our backsides, keeps us in his Word.’
‘This is God at work. He knew we would lift each other up, He trusted us to let go of what we thought others might think of us in this group. He gave us the courage to share with people we didn’t even know. We are a community and we love each other and we look out for each other. We pray for each other. He knew that we needed to connect with others that share the same concerns. This is all God!!!! There is no way this just happened. There is no way this is a coincidence. This is God!!!’” Amy A.

 

“’Woman of Faith – Builders of Community’ was the name our group selected for this study. Our group of ladies has been together since last Easter – at least 5 of us. Then about 10 more joined us last fall. We have formed great bonds of love and trust amongst ourselves. We’ve seen illnesses, job stress/loss, personal battles, and even miracles over our year together. In our prayer requests, we all grew to know this was a powerful God-filled place to ask to be remembered. If you asked, you knew that you would be prayed for until something happened. The government paperwork that had been stymied for months came through. The job that was in such discord became a place of peace and accomplishment. The illnesses were given a reprieve and hearts were mended from pain and doubt. Not once, not twice, but multiple times did we see God’s hand at work in our lives. We all knew, with no doubt, that we gathered in His name, thousands of miles apart, but as close as a whisper in prayer.

 

“This study brought a financial issue that touched our hearts – the need for extensive oral surgery for the teen daughter of a member. We read a mother’s hurting heart plea for comfort for her child. For wisdom to know what to do next when it appeared all options had been taken. But, out of faith, we just decided we had to do something. And so, we asked for $5.00 if possible and along with the request, another to share the email about Abbye’s need for the oral surgery to our own personal friends outside our study group. We prayed about it, we shared God’s love and our request, and we waited… expectantly. In less than 10 days, the full amount of $2400.00 had been received, and God even supplied more, as He always does! By now, Abbye has had her surgery and is doing much better. Her mother’s faith never wavered and neither did ours. God tells us to bring our concerns to him in prayer and faith. To wait patiently and to be expecting his response. He certainly brought to each of hearts and minds His living power to still work miracles in 2015! And through the studies, we have become the hands and feet of Christ. What a joy! The mailman may have brought the envelopes, but God himself moved the hearts and hands of each person who read our messages and responded. We shared with family, friends and then they in turn shared. Checks were from people known only to God. In summary, ours is but one of the many wonderful communities with LGG that God has blessed. Just had to share this awesome handiwork of God! All praise and glory to Him!” Sheila M.

Sheila’s Group –Paid Bill
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“The Love God Greatly Bible study for women has helped me and encouraged me to study God’s Word in such a way that is easy, and amazing. I have been with them for a year, sprouting from a group member to facilitator. It has and still is an awesome way for women from around the world to learn about God and His word that is freely given to us. The free online materials, and easy study groups have helped me to have a daily accountability to study God’s word, and change habits, thoughts and actions. Through this ministry I have been able to grow into God’s love, His forgiveness, and seek His help on a daily basis. My faith has sprouted through answered prayers, His promises, and encouragement from others. In addition, through Love God Greatly, I have become a better wife, a better mom, and a better sister in Christ. Anything is possible through Jesus Christ, it’s an indescribable joy, peace, and patience in my life. Because now I know God’s got this!” Stephany C.

 

“This study has been such an inspiration! The ladies seem so excited about what they are learning, being real with how they have been in the past, and their need for real community in their lives. I believe this study has been God’s perfect timing to kick off the year and get everyone’s focus on what is truly His heart… people. This world screams “everyone for themselves,” which has put people in “survival mode,” but this study has slowed us down, and made us see the Father’s heart for us – it was never one against the other but together, in unity, one body – loving one another as He has also loved us. This study is truly empowering us all to take what we learn and go out and reach people, connect, build relationship and see a community develop. Life isn’t about what we can get but what we can give… Jesus came for people and this life is about community. Thank you LGG for this eye opening study! God bless you all!” Sheila M.

Sheila and Keri
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“The LGG study has made a huge impact on my life, helped me stay focused on God during hard times, and helped push me out of my comfort zone. We were homeless in November 2013 and the LGG study sure kept me focused when we were going through the hardest time we have ever faced. I logged in regularly and still kept up with the study amidst our tough time; I even included my family in the study. Also, the LGG study helped push me out of my comfort zone and I am now leading a group of teens through these studies, including my kids as well. I absolutely love these studies, and am so grateful for them! I have also been able to interact with other women through these studies and that is awesome because I lost a lot of friends when I quit drinking, etc, and became a Christian. Thanks again for all you do, and God bless you all!” Jaime M.

 

“This is a picture of me (and my daughter) running with a group member, Ruth. Last year, I introduced her to the Intentionally Focused study. When she went to register she asked about joining a group, and that’s how our group started. Six studies later, and more than a dozen ladies are getting into His word daily!” Brandi C.

Brandi and Ruth
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“We scheduled a Girl’s Day Out, getting tickets for a matinee theater production in the city (an hour away). Two of us work and are full time caregivers for our moms with dementia. During the performance received a call that her mom had taken the car keys and driven off. Although her daughter was orchestrating things at home, we all walked out, two minutes before the curtain call, and headed back. Thankfully, God brought her back home safely. We laughed on the way home that it really does take a village, whether you’re raising kids or your parents! We are also planning what we’re calling Homemade Community. A gathering to invite friends, to share their talents and make homemade items and gifts.” Barbara HS

 

“Thank you for your awesome Bible Studies and the online tool! I am a pastor’s wife, home school mom, women’s ministry leader and caretaker of my mom (who lives with us while battling pancreatic cancer.) Love God Greatly has been a great blessing to the women in our church to help us stay connected during this season in our church when we are not meeting face to face in Women’s Bible Study. The group has allowed us to stay connected in the Word and also in sharing our lives and encouraging one another! Thank you! I feel like I know each one of you, you are precious! Thank you for taking the time to pour into the lives of women, it is greatly making a difference! I also pray for your families!” Heather R.

“Some of my real-life LGG girls! We gathered for brunch at my house last Saturday. Oh, how I love these girls and the accountability and pure joy they bring to my life!” Whitney Daugherty

Whitney’s Group
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This is my personal LGG group! We’ve been together since our oldest were babies! I have been so blessed to have these sweet friends in my life! We have weathered many storms of life together from the loss of parents, cancer and divorce. I love doing life with them and am so thankful for the community God has given to me! We are not meant to do life alone….and I’m forever thankful!

Angela’s Group
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{Week 8} We Need Others…Putting God’s Word Into Action

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This week here at LoveGodGreatly, we are having a special time of sharing how God has been working through our study in our LGG community groups! It’s going to be a fun filled week of celebration and we can’t wait to share all our stories with you!

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We need others.

We need others. We do. Sometimes we think we are better by ourselves, but in these past seven weeks God’s Word has been showing us that He made us to live in community with others, to share life with other people.

I love the way women at LGG Spanish have displayed our need for others during this study. Here there a few pictures and testimonies:

Group “A los pies del Maestro” in Dominican Republic.
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Group from Venta Grande, Mexico
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I could tell you beautiful stories of women being encouraged by other women, of women praying for women, of women helping women…

But today I want to share with you the story of Juan.

Juan is a part of a whatsapp group in Barcelona Spain. Now, how can this be possible if our studies are made for women? This wonderful group was made of only women until one of them passed away in October 2014. She was Juan´s wife. Juan knew how important her LGG group had been for his wife during the months she was sick, how they prayed for her, how they supported her…how they loved her in every way they could.

And Juan asked to join the group instead of his wife. These women have been supporting him since then. They have helped him to go on. Some days ago the group gathered together to share dinner and celebrate their fellowship.
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1 John 3:18 encourages us to love “in deed and in truth”. We are made to demonstrate our love in actions, not no merely talk about love.

We are made for deeds, not intentions; for facts, not ideas; We are made to display practical love.
1John 3:17 – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

I know that God has spoken to your heart during this study. Maybe He has spoken to you in regards of your relationship with your family, with your church, with the unsaved. Maybe He has shown you new ways of stepping out of your comfort zone and reach others. Maybe He has asked you to welcome others in your life.

Whatever the way He has spoken to your heart, take action. Open your heart. Share. Live in true fellowship with others.
We can love because God loved us first. He demonstrated His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us and to give us eternal life. How are you going to love others “in deed and in truth”?

Content in His service,
Edurne
AmaaDiosGrandemente.com
Necesitamos a otros

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Necesitamos a otros. De verdad. A veces pensamos que estaríamos mejor solas, pero en estas semanas la Palabra de Dios nos ha mostrado que Él nos creó para vivir en comunidad con otros, para compartir nuestra vida con otras personas.

Me encanta la manera en la que las mujeres de ADG han mostrado nuestra necesidad de otros en este estudio. Aquí te dejo algunas fotos y testimonios:

Grupo “A los pies del Maestro” en República Dominicana
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Grupo en Venta Grande, México
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Podría contarte historias hermosas de mujeres siendo animadas por otras, de mujeres orando por otras, de mujeres ayudando a otras.

Pero hoy quiero compartir contigo la historia de Juan.

Juan es parte de uno de nuestros grupos de whatsapp en Barcelona, España. Seguro que te preguntas ¿Cómo es esto posible si nuestros grupos son para mujeres? Este hermoso grupo estaba formado solo por mujeres hasta que una de ellas falleció en octubre de 2014. Era la esposa de Juan. Juan sabía lo importante que el grupo de ADG había sido para su mujer, cómo oraban por ella, cómo la apoyaban…como la amaban de todas las formas posibles.

Y Juan pidió unirse al grupo y tomar el lugar de su esposa. Estas mujeres lo han acogido en su grupo desde entonces y lo han ayudado a seguir adelante. Hace unos días, se reunieron para compartir una cena y celebrar su hermosa relación.
LoveGodGreatly

1 Juan 3:18 nos anima a amar “de hecho y en verdad”. Hemos sido creadas para demostrar nuestro amor con nuestras acciones, no solo con nuestras palabras.

Hemos sido creadas para acciones, no intenciones; para hechos, no ideas; hemos sido creadas para demostrar amor de manera práctica.

1Juan 3:17 – Pero el que tiene bienes de este mundo y ve a su hermano tener necesidad, y cierra contra él su corazón, ¿cómo mora el amor de Dios en él?

Sé que Dios ha hablado a tu corazón durante nuestro estudio. Quizás te ha hablado sobre tu relación con tu familia, con tu iglesia, con las personas inconversas con las que convives. Quizás te ha mostrado nuevas formas de salir de tu zona de comodidad y alcanzar a otros. Quizás te ha pedido que des la bienvenida a tu vida a otras personas.

De cualquier forma que Él haya hablado a tu corazón, pasa a la acción. Abre tu corazón. Comparte. Vive en verdadera communion con otros.

Podemos amar porque Dios nos amó primero. Él demostró Su amor al enviar a Jesucristo a morir por nosotras y darnos vida eterna. ¿De qué manera vas tú a amar a otros “de hecho y en verdad”?

Contenta en Su servicio,
Edurne
AmaaDiosGrandemente.com

 

Week 8 Memory Verse

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Week 8 Reading Plan

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Are You Willing To Tell Others?

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Are you familiar with Penn & Teller? They are two men who have been around for many years putting on magic shows. Penn Jillette is an outspoken atheist. After one of his shows a businessman came up to him and spoke very kindly about his show. He then told him that he had a Bible that he would like to give him. Penn was impressed with the fact that this man looked him straight in the eyes, was sincere in his words and not embarrassed to hand him that little Bible.  Later on Penn reflected on the incident in a youtube video and said this:

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe there is a heaven and hell and that people could be going to hell … and you don’t think it ‘s worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward – then how much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them? How much to do have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

In Matthew 28 we are charged to go out into all the world and make disciples. We are to take the good news which we have heard and received and share it with those who are still lost. For some that may means becoming  missionaries in some remote place on earth, but for most of us that means being a light to the community around us and sharing the good news of Christ crucified in the towns and neighborhood we live in right now. Penn is right, if we are not willing to share our message with others what does that say about our love for them?

Our Message

The message we are to share is really the same message we need to hear ourselves, right? Jesus died for sinners so we could be free! Free of the condemnation of sin, free of the power of sin and, someday, free of the presence of sin.

Sin is a curse on all of us, but there is salvation to be found through Jesus our substitute and our advocate. This is our good news!

Our Method

Have you heard the expression, “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words”? It has been attributed to Francis of Assisi, but he actually never said it. It is not found in any of his writings, nor do his disciples or biographers attribute these words to him.

I understand the sentiment of that saying. Basically our lives should point to Jesus in such a way that we shouldn’t need to use words. But this it is only partially true. Yes we are called to be a light among a dark people and others should see that there is something different about us by looking at the way we live and the things we say.  But the gospel message is a verbal message.

Jesus spent a lot of time preaching and teaching. All of his miracles were accompanied by words. He is called “the Word” (John 1). And Paul reminds us in Romans 10:14 that a person cannot come to find salvation apart from hearing the word.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Personally I wish words were not necessary. I feel uncomfortable around people unless they are my good friends. The thought of going up to a stranger and starting a conversation about their need for salvation gives me anxiety. Thankfully that is not the only way to preach the word. A more effective way to share our love for Jesus is through relationships. But these friendships need to be genuine and truthful. People can tell if they are truly loved or if they are simply a project.

Our Confidence

I don’t feel like I am very good with words, especially not when I am face to face with someone. But that is okay. Our confidence should not be in our ability to explain the gospel perfectly (though we should always be working on that) or whether or not we have been persuasive enough.

Our confidence must be in God.

We must be faithful in obedience and then we must trust that the Spirit will use our words to work in the heart of the person we are speaking to as He sees fit. We must sow the seeds in love and let God work.

Remember that God is with us always! He has promised this to us and his immutability and truthfulness ensure that those promises are kept.

Make most of the relationships God places in your life. Live in such a way that will make others take notice and ask question, but also be willing to share the good news of Christ’s sacrifice with words.

Let’s be women who are not ashamed of the gospel but who are so in love with our Saviour that we cannot keep his beautiful message to ourselves.

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

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{Announcing our upcoming spring study…1st & 2nd Peter!}

How, as followers of Christ, can we stand strong in a world filled with persecution, hardships, suffering, division and false-teaching?

God’s Word has the answers! The books of 1 & 2 Peter address these very issues – not only identifying them as real and present dangers – but also practically empowering and equipping weary believers to rise up, suffer well, and press on because of the hope that lives within us! Are you feeling the weight of the world? Have you endured suffering at length with no end in sight? Do you feel more and more like an alien in a foreign land?

Then find HOPE with us as we dive into {1 & 2 Peter}, our brand NEW #LoveGodGreatly 8-week online Bible study!

“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones are being built up…” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5

Don’t miss this opportunity to grow and be encouraged in your faith as we study God’s Word TOGETHER! Grab some friends and join us starting March 23rd… it wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

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What if we stopped trying to decide if they’re worthy?

Love God Greatly

Kids often say what we adults are already thinking… but with words we wouldn’t dare let come out of our mouths.

“Why are they homeless? Don’t they have jobs? Daddy has a job…”

My husband had just walked in the door from delivering food to the homeless shelter across town. His family plus a generous spread of food was waiting at the table upon his return, as well as a host of questions that none of us really knew the answer to.

“Life is just hard sometimes, guys. We don’t really know what they’ve been through.”

His voice was quiet and reflective, and I noticed that he wasn’t touching his food. The visit had obviously impacted him in ways that he wasn’t yet able to verbalize. So instead of pretending to have answers that were nowhere within reach, he began talking about the people.

People just like you and me, really.

People with hunger. People with dreams. People who have experienced firsthand the harsh reality that life doesn’t always turn out how we planned. People who are ready for change but just don’t know how to get there. People who wish they could be free from the daily struggles that plague them but don’t really know where to start. People who need a whole lot less of themselves, and a whole lot more of Jesus.

Just that morning, I’m pretty sure I was hung up on my dated kitchen decor, my sketchy internet, and the fact that I need to lose ten pounds. Oh, how easily we become discontent and make our narrowed worlds all about us.

His tender words were directed towards our children, but God meant those words for me.

There is a world that is dying.

Across the globe, across town, and right on my very street. And we’re sitting at our tables in abundance, trying to decide if they’re worthy.

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We weren’t worthy.

God knew the depth of our sin, but he gave his Son willingly. For the sin that had already flooded the earth, and for the sin that was yet to come. He didn’t insist that we clean ourselves up or check into rehab or work until we could earn our way.

No condemnation.

No discrimination.

No expectation of having it all together on our own.

He simply entered the darkness and gave, so that we might live. 

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

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I don’t know who it is for you.

Maybe it’s a nation of hurting people half a world away, or maybe it’s the complete stranger you’ll run into later this week.

But this I know for sure: someone in your path – and in mine – needs light to shine in their darkness. 

Will we look at them with compassion in our eyes, or will we look away as we try to decide whether or not they’re worthy?

There is a world that is dying, and the medicine they need is Jesus.

Oh yes, it will take effort.

Probably, it will be messy.

Certainly, it will be costly.

Over and over, it will mean dying to self and all of the comforts we hold onto so tightly.

But by the grace of God because of our genuine love for God, we can intentionally {live in community} with our world.

Not because you or I or the world in any way is worthy…

But because Jesus is worthy.

Oh children of God, may we not look away…

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in,

I needed clothes and you clothed me,

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,

you did for me.‘”

~ Matthew 25:35-36

Let’s enter the world and give, so that through Jesus they might live.

 At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to shining your light in a dark world? Where is God calling YOU to shine?

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(Week 7) For God So Loved the World…And We Should Too!

Love God Greatly

Oh friends, this is the message I so desperately want to get out into our communities… and our world.

We live in a world that tells us we can somehow “earn” our way to heaven….as if we can ever come close to being “good enough” through our own strength, our own works…compared to a Holy God.

Yet the Bible tells us differently.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE…

And so should we.

God LOVED the world so much that He gave what He loved the most….His one and only Son.

God gave what was the most precious to Him…Jesus.

Jesus in turn gave His life.

And yet somehow we continue to live in a world that doubts and questions God’s love for us!

Not only does God tell us how much He loves us, He went ever further….He demonstrated it!

But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

How can we continue to doubt His love?

When are we going to stop believing the lies Satan whispers into our lives? Satan in his crafty, yet predictable ways has spoken these lies over us since Eve and yet we continue to bite into the lies and allow them to poison our lives.

So many of us walk through life feeling unloved (including me) and yet God couldn’t love us any more than He already does!

THIS is the message we need to share and live out in our communities…We are loved by Almighty God, salvation is only found through Jesus and He came not to condemn us, not to make us work harder for our salvation…Jesus came to save us….to rescue us….what an amazing love story that is!

 Next time you feel unloved, look to the cross. No one can love you more than Jesus already has!

This is the message that we need to share with those in our lives who do not know God…and maybe even remind those in our lives who do. We all need to be told from time to time that we are deeply loved by God. 

Friends, this message of God’s love fires me up and drives me to try and get our studies into as many languages as God sends us translators. This is why we give our Bible study materials away for free! We desperately want to get our studies into as many women’s hands as possible and help them dig into God’s Word, many of them for the first time, and discover for themselves how much they are loved!

Let’s Talk:
I LOVE hearing from each of you and learning together through our studies! Today, share some practical ways you’ve shared the knowledge of God’s love to those in your community or around the world! Who knows, your testimonies might inspire someone else to do the same thing!:)

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

 

Week 7 Challenge

This week, join us in reaching the nations with God’s Word! You can do that a number of ways:

1. Forward our studies on to your mission directors at your churches or colleges.
2. Email them to friends in other countries or who are involved in ministries who serve our sisters in Christ in other countries.
3. Share our images on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag your friends or family who might know of women who could benefit from our studies. We each have a part to play in spreading the good news of God’s love to the ends of the earth!

W7-Challenge

Week 7 Reading Plan
Love God Greatly Weekly Reading Plan

 

Week 7 Memory Verse

LoveGodGreatly

 

 

 

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The End Is Near So What Should We Do?

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 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 7-11

If you were told that the world was ending next week, how would you spend the next 7 days?

I think we would probably cancel all our appointments, not go to work, pull the kids out of school and spend time with our families. We would surround ourselves with the people we love most. Well, at least that is what I would want to do.

The passage for today is a strange little passage in that Peter begins it by saying “the end of all things is near.” While we don’t know when the end will come, it does come nearer every day, doesn’t it, and so we ought to ask, what should I be doing if the end is near?

Peter has the answer. He tells us to love one another earnestly (or deeply). We are to do that by showing hospitality and using our gifts to serve others. This is the part that goes against our nature. The end is near and we are to spend it serving and loving others? We tend to be a selfish people who think about self preservation and self care first. But Peters is telling us to go against our natural inclinations and to show hospitality.

To the persecuted

During the persecution of the early church many believers were left with nothing but their lives. Some had to flee their homes and even their countries. If fellow believers did not take them in and share generously with them they would have been destitute.

We are seeing a lot of awful and terrifying acts of persecution against Christians these days. We may not have some of these persecuted people knocking on our door, just yet, but we need to be ready in our minds to selflessly and joyfully come to the aid of those who have lost everything because of their faith. Persecutions doesn’t just come through extremist groups, but even family, bosses and friends can prosecute someone for their faith. Are we ready to step up and help?

To the neighbor

Hospitality means “love for stranger” and all of us are surrounded by strangers.  The people God places in our life are the people we are to love and serve. Whether it means having people into our home to share a meal or whether it means using our gifts to show love and compassion at a soup kitchen. There is no shortage of opportunities and people who need kind words, warms smiles and help.

Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.
– Kevin DeYoung

To our fellow believers in Christ

We should make a special effort to love fellow Christians. These are our spiritual brothers and sisters, fellow heirs of the kingdom of God. If we are going to spend eternity together we should get to know one another. We can do this by hosting a Bible study or having people over for a potluck or game night. There are many ways in which we can build relationships and make people feel welcomed and loved.

This takes sacrifice. I’m not really thinking about physical things as much as I am thinking about time. We tend to be quite stingy with our time and it is hard for us to give up our evenings or weekends. If we don’t we will miss out on blessing others and being blessed. We should also trust that God will give us the rest that we need.

To our Family

Sadly this can be the hardest group of people for us to show hospitality to. Do your children love being at home and want to bring their friends over or would they rather be somewhere else?  Does your husband look forward to coming home after a long day at work or does he dread it a bit. How do we love our family? Do we do it grudgingly, with lots of sighs, internal feelings of annoyance and thoughts like “what about me”?

Here is something to think about. How much we love Jesus comes out in the way we care and treat others.

In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the day of judgement where he will separate the sheep from the goats. And he says to the sheep,

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,”
Matthew 25:35

He calls himself a stranger in need of care and hospitality, but his followers are confused because they don’t remember seeing him in this way. He explains to them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40

Life is not about material belonging, life experiences or “me time”. It is about people. God is all about relationships and we should be too.

Freely you have received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

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Made For Community {How To Find Community Right Where You Are}

 

Love God Greatly

True community. We all crave it, but it can be so difficult to find, can’t it?!

We sat on wooden benches creaking under our weight. The music blaring next door ringing in our ears. Several different languages spoken all under one roof with names like Luganda and Acholi. One translator for all of us.

I sat on the floor, dusty with red dirt, in my sweet spot, with the kids.
It started as a Christmas gift to my friend Chaundra, who dreamed up a space where we could meet as families of kids with special needs. She decided to build community and invited me to join in, and here we are, month by month, meeting together.

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A foot brace squeaks and creaks as we play. My little boy, Giftie, finding his spot in the group, a place to belong for a boy who is deaf and has cerebral palsy.

We gathered. We weren’t sure what exactly it was going to look like, we just knew that we wanted a safe place, a place for the people to come and be filled, encouraged.SS6A2775-1024x682

The Ugandan pastor and his church body showed us the way. The way to love, give, serve and build community. These saints traveled on foot to tell each of the families about our gathering, since most had no phone. They lovingly cooked the food and made sure each family had transportation money.
Humbled by the turnout, I nervously bit my lip and wondered if everyone was disappointed.

How To Find Community Right Where You Are
We brought a speech therapist, nurses, a prayer warrior, and us fellow mamas to special needs kids to encourage.

One family, with their sweet son, traveled by bus 8 hours just to be a part of the group. I felt bad.

You came all this way for this? We don’t have much.
A meal and some encouragement was our simple offering, and still they came.

One girl with hydrocephalis, many with cerebral palsy, children with burns, austim, deaf, mute.

All are welcome to our gathering. We are in this together.

Come, sit. Belong.

Let’s eat together, share stories, and come away refreshed for the difficult weeks ahead.
I leaned over to our friend, a Ugandan nurse. I told her I felt bad and she looked at me, confused.
“Why?”
I explained we didn’t have much to offer, much for them to do or take away.
Still confused, she spoke true, “These people are just happy to find a community,to belong, and see other people walking their same road. This gives them hope.“

Hope and Community.

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Long after I figured it was time to go, they lingered. Not saying much, simply sitting and enjoying.

To be with all the others. To know you aren’t alone. To look around and see your people. That is enough.
How many times when offering something, hospitality, friendship, do I think I have to clean it up, prettify it, offer something spectacular, when all I need to offer is community?
To sit, in the dirty, dusty, mess of it all and offer the hope of knowing we are in this together?

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, …” Acts 2:42-47 ESV

It is what we all crave. To belong. To be seen. To be understood.

I hear from a lot of women, wishing they had community.
My best advice? Create it. Find those who need a friend, who need to belong, and give them the gift of community with you.
Who in your life needs the gift of community, the gift of hope today?
Reach out to them. Text them, call them, invite them.
Give them the gift of hope and community.

In the comments: What does community look like for you? How have you struggled to find true community?

With Love From Uganda,

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joyforney.org

photos courtesy of Dave Forney. All subjects photos taken and used with permission.

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{Living in Community in our Spheres of Influence}… Why aren’t we loving?

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One thing was clear…

It wasn’t about her.

Listen, her job wasn’t fancy. My kids knew her as “the pretzel lady” at our local wholesale club. I knew her as the gentle soul whose kind eyes and generous smile comforted this weary mama every single time she humbly served me behind the counter.

Two soft pretzels – no butter – and a frozen ICEE split five ways was my sanity treat once a week when I could talk myself into making the trip out with so many littles. I’d be sweaty by the end of it all, but without fail she made it a risk worth taking.

I’ll never forget one especially challenging week. Four cranky ones were nuzzled into one tiny cart, not-so-patiently waiting for our turn to order. By the time we arrived to the front of the line, my cart-full had managed to create quite an embarrassing scene. With bruised pride and deep regret for even trying, I couldn’t even lift my eyes to meet hers. My voice trembled as I ordered. But before I could finish, she grabbed my hand, leaned in and tenderly whispered… “I’ve been there. Don’t give up. He gently leads those that have young.”

A hand outstretchedA compassionate heart. An encouraging word. 

She didn’t have to.

Her “job” was to serve me pretzels that day. The line was long. My lot was a nuisance. She had other things to do. But from behind that non-glamorous counter, she overlooked my mess and she lingered. She made sure that it wasn’t about her gain or comfort.  She saw a need, she resisted judgment, and she recognized an opportunity to love.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22

Across the street. In waiting rooms and conference rooms. Down grocery store aisles and on park benches in your town and mine. 

Why aren’t we loving?

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

The need…

People are broken, lost and weary, carrying burdens that we often can’t even see. They’re barely surviving, without hope, and looking for more than this world can provide.

Our natural tendency…

Oh Father, we’re so prideful. Quick to judge and assume they deserve the pit that they’ve found themselves in. We’re so resistant of the extra work. So in love with ourselves. So hesitant to extend mercy, even when so much mercy has been extended to us.

The opportunity…

Resist judgment. Give grace freely. Love our neighbors, even when they haven’t loved us first. Do more than just go to church and talk about Jesus and make ourselves comfortable and love ourselves really, really well. Instead, radically see and sacrifice and love others like Jesus.

Why aren’t we loving?

Maybe we’re too distracted on our phones and can’t be bothered. Maybe we’re too busy serving and loving ourselves. Maybe we’re wrapped up in debates and agendas and so in love with talking about all of the things we’re against. Or maybe we’ve forgotten where we came from, and just how extravagantly God first loved us.

Across the street. In waiting rooms and conference rooms. Down grocery store aisles and on park benches in your town and mine. What if we saw a need, resisted judgment, and recognized an opportunity to love?

And then what if we actually did it…

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,

as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

At His feet,


*LET’S TALK: Will you boldly commit to our {Week 6} Challenge right now? Share your action plan in the comments below so that our team can encourage you and pray for you…

{Week 6} Challenge: Think of someone God has placed in your sphere of influence who needs practical help or encouragement this week. Write down details of how you can love them well through your sacrificial service to them, and then schedule a specific day and time to follow through with your idea.

W6-Challenge

{Week 6} Reading Plan:

RP W6

{Week 6} Memory Verse:

Wk6MemoryVerse

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Made For Love And Good Works

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A few days ago I felt blah and unmotivated. I was frustrated by all the imperfections I saw in my life.

The following day a friend of mine at church came up to me and started sharing about her week. We were experiencing the same feelings but instead of wallowing together in our misery she started sharing with me some scriptures she had been meditating on. We started brainstorming together about how we could get out of our funk and fight against the temptation to complain.

I had lost my focus and God sent this friend to me to help me take my eyes off of myself and place them back where they belonged, namely on Christ.

In our passage the author of Hebrews want us to get practical. We are to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

First we need to figure out what he means by love and good works.

Love

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39

Love is affectionate devotion. We are to have it for God first, and then others. Thankfully God doesn’t just issue a cold command. He shows us the way.

The best way to learn this kind of love is to look to Jesus. His love for us is selfless, it does not expect anything in return, it is kind and gentle, sacrificial and unconditional. This is how christians should love each other. We must cultivate real affection for each other and devotion for one another’s good. This is especially true for those who are in your church, community group,Bible studies, family and neighborhood. Love seeks, serves, and sacrifices in joy for what it reflects (the glory of God) and what it does (blesses another).

Love is patient and kind, not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude (1 Cor. 13).  This love comes out in the way we talk to our friends, comment online and act towards those who hurt or frustrate us. If a friend shares an area of sin, then we must love them like Christ loves them and we must come alongside them and say, “what you are doing is sin, but I love you and am here to pray for you and help you in any way I can.” Love corrects. It saves the weak, it does not ignore or exploit them.

Good Works

Good works are actions and words that flow from faith and a heart that loves. The Apostle Paul talks about good works quite a bit and actually uses this phrase 6 times in the book of Titus alone.

Good works is how we obey God, imitate Jesus, honor fellow believers, care for our neighbors, and how we shine light into a godless society.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

The christian life is one shared with others and a large part of it is finding ways to inspire each other to follow Christ, practically, in love and good works.

Here are some practical ways we can stir each other up to love and good deed.

1. By getting to know fellow Christians

You are an important part of the body of Christ. You have been given talents and gifts that are to be used for the benefit of others. Getting to know people takes time but it will make your life so much more rich and it will enrich the life of others.

2. By sharing what you are learning

I am always so encouraged when I hear my fiends share what they are studying, learning and reading. It is sometimes the kick in the pants I need to get back to God’s word and other times it excites me to share with them the things that I am learning.

3. By Praying

Never underestimate the power of prayer. God uses it to work wondrous things in the lives of his people. It is easy to say “I will pray for you” and then forget all about it. It might be better to pray for someone first and then tell them that you did.  It is encouraging to know that someone has thought of you and prayed for you.

4. By example

Our lives should be such as men may safely copy. – C. H. Spurgeon

It means taking the high road, forgiving others when they sin against you (and they will), practicing hospitality and speaking kindly of others. It is handling disappointment in a godly way,  visiting someone in the hospital, taking a meal to someone, or babysitting for a worn out mom who desperately needs a date with her husband.

My friends, life is not to be lived alone. We will end up discouraged, worn out, weak and maybe even headed down a wrong path (sometimes without even realizing it). We need each other. We need to learn together and laugh together, we need encouragement and sometimes correction. We need to be loved by others and we need to be reminded of the ultimate love we have in Jesus.

Looking to Jesus,

jen-sig

 

 

 

jenthorn.com

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Different Gifts…Same Purpose

Love God Greatly

“Jesus works in community. For that reason, you find no personal pronouns in the earliest description of the church.”- Max Lucado

Dare I say it?

You. Me. Us…..we were made for this….

Each of us purposely unique, specially designed with certain gifts and abilities to serve, encourage and strengthen the body of Christ, our community…the church.

Ohhh dear friend, YOU are wanted and needed.

We can’t do this alone.

The church is not a solo act, but rather a beautiful orchestra.

Each one of us needs to play our music with the gifts, skills, talents that God designed us to play.

TOGETHER…we can play the most majestic of songs….but only when we are working together, focused on our “conductor” as He directs our song.

A few points to focus on today from our text:

  1. God is the giver of our gifts and the purpose of our gifts is to build up the church…not individuals. We need to realize all gifts and abilities come from God. There is no reason to “think of ourselves more highly than we ought.” In Romans 12:3 Paul is not saying we need to have poor self-esteem, but rather that our identity should not be in who we are or what we can do, but in Christ alone.
  1. God has gifted each of us with certain gifts to help strengthen the church. We are not called to be sideline spectators, instead we are to use the gifts God has given us to build up His church.

“…the main thing in being the church is every member growing in the ability to minister a unique grace to others in the body and a unique witness to those outside and a unique tribute to God in heaven.”- John Piper

  1. Do what you do best…God has uniquely gifted YOU to play a special part in His story, in His orchestra. Together, we can make beautiful music.
  1. Use our gifts for God’s glory…not our own. When we live our lives for God’s glory, God takes what He has done through us and ripples it throughout the next generations.
  1. Be thankful. Instead of wishing God had given you a certain gift, be thankful for the spiritual gifts He has given you and use them to the best of your ability to bring glory to God.

“I believe God intends to create a perfect a people for himself not ready made as immediately perfected individuals; rather he intends to create and perfect a people for himself by having them use their gifts toward each other so that they join God in the process of helping each other grow in knowledge and faith and hope and love.”- John Piper

  1. Let’s do this together…

 “God works through different men/women in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all” (1 Cor.12:6). God uses all types to type his message. Logical thinkers. Emotional worshippers. Dynamic leaders. Docile followers. The visionaries who lead, the studious who ponder, the generous who pay the bills. Action-packed verbs. Rock-solid nouns. Enigmatic question marks. Alone, we are meaningless symbols on a page. But collectively, we inspire. “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a separate and necessary part of it” (1Cor 12:27).- Max Lucado

Let’s Talk: 

In your church, how have you seen the importance of God using different people with different gifts to bring Him glory?

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We would LOVE to begin sharing how God is working through your life and in your LoveGodGreatly groups here on our site!! Do you have a story to share with us? If so, we’d love to hear it! Click on the image below and share your story with us today!

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Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

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