13 May 2016

Healing: A Testimony

In  December of 2013 I found myself attending an all night prayer meeting to support a friend. I thought I was just going to go, support my friend and see the guy I liked at the time. It turns out God had MUCH bigger plans for my heart that night. We arrived the all night prayer meeting around 11pm and entered a very beautifully filled sanctuary. I had the opportunity to pray for others and witness the healing power of Jesus. Little did I know that a few hours into that meeting the Lord would move my heart to full surrender. You see sisters I had been struggling for years with sin and bondage. I was so stuck I didn't even know it was possible not to be stuck. But that night I lifted my shortcomings to the Lord and asked him for freedom and forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to that prayer and set me free. For the first time I experienced the depth of Gods love and grace. He healed me from the mess I was in and made my life and heart more fruitful. It is a moment I will never forget. I want you to know that God loves you enough to do the same thing in your heart. Sister you are unimaginably loved. There IS hope and healing for you in Jesus. Let him in. 

Ephesians 2:1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

1 John 4:9-10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

02 May 2016

Singleness Series: Single and Seeking God

Founders Note: This post is apart of a month long series on singleness that we are doing here on the blog. If you would like to be apart it email britney.thequietplace@gmail.com for more information. This first post is by Kara of Joy because Grace  and she is sharing her heart on  being single and seeking God. 

Confession: I've been single my whole life.
Yup, you read that right. All of it. 20 years. No first date. No first time holding a guy's hand. Nada.
And it's been really hard. I've wondered if maybe something's wrong with me or if I'm not pretty enough or if maybe God just wants me to be single forever. Feelings of unworthiness would flood my heart and my mind, taunting me, causing me to doubt God's love.
Most of my single life I've been okay with my lack of relationship. When I was in high school, I didn't really want to date; I was too busy. However, when I graduated and went to my university, I expected that I would start dating right away, kind of like a reward for being "good" and not dating in high school.
No such luck.
So in the past two years that I've gone to college, I've struggled with being content in my state of singleness. I knew I should put God first, above my desire for a boyfriend, but it was just so hard!
I couldn't hear God telling me that He loved me. Sure, the Bible is God's love letter to us, but somehow I was missing that. My desire to have a boyfriend and to be loved by someone here on earth blinded me to the fact that Jesus loves me the most of everybody.
I began to read book after book about singleness and dating, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and trying to find some measure of hope that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't the problem.
I once listened to a podcast by Ben Stuart (of Texas A&M's Breakaway Ministry) in which he said something along the lines of "You're not ready to date until you're okay with not dating."
That one sentence became my lifeline. I knew I had to be content with my singleness first, before I could even think about dating. So, ironically, I became discontent with my lack of contentment.
I still didn't get it.
Finally, a golden ray of truth broke through the clouds of lies that had been swarming in my mind.
I wasn't made for this.
I wasn't created to be somebody's girlfriend and eventually a wife. I wasn't created to date or to be single.
I was made to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus was who I was made for, not my future husband. My purpose is to glorify God and make Him known among the earth, whether I'm single, dating, or married.
My earthly relationship status isn't what matters, my heavenly one is what counts.
My heart was craving something I cannot find here on this earth. Unconditional love. Forever faithfulness. Someone I can talk to no matter what time of day or night it is. Someone who wants me just as I am, flawed and sinful.
The only one who matches all those qualities is the One who formed me when I was in my mother's womb. The One who thinks I'm amazing and who would die that I would live.

In the book of Revelation, John recorded that when Jesus comes back, He's coming to collect His Bride, the Church. And then there's going to be the most spectacular wedding of eternity.
If you are a follower of Jesus, I'm happy to tell you that you are engaged! When you invited Him into your life, you were saying "Yes" to His proposal. He gave you His Holy Spirit to seal you until He comes back for you (consider it like an engagement ring).
He continues to shower His love upon you and woo you. He sends you beautiful flowers in the spring, gorgeous leaves of every golden color in the fall, and paints you a masterpiece every evening and morning.
You and I are a part of the future Bride of Christ.
That is the only relationship that is going to endure forever.
So why do we stress about whether or not that cute guy will ever ask us out?
I'm not saying that God will never give us a boyfriend. Most likely He will, and someday we'll probably get married as well.
But what I am wondering is this: Why do we "cheat" on God by looking at this world to fulfill us?
God knows best. And if someday He has a guy on this earth for me, I will praise Him and thank Him. But even if He wants me to be "single" forever, I'll still praise Him, because it is because of Jesus that I'll never be alone.
"...for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6
Regardless of whether or not we someday date and get married, we should be using this time of singleness to draw near to the One who fills us.

In one of Paul's letter's to the city of Corinth, he urges the singles there not to waste this time but to rather draw closer to God during it. In fact, he says our focus should be undivided on the Lord.
"And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.  I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord."
-1 Corinthians 7:34-35
Undivided devotion to the Lord.
I want that.
When I die I want that said about me at my funeral: that I had undivided devotion to the Lord, first, above all other relationships here on this earth.
If you are a fellow single sister, I want to encourage you to seek after God with your whole heart. "Don't be anxious about anything," including your lack of relationship status (Phil. 4:6).

Kara is a Spanish education major who lives deep in the heart of Texas and loves Jesus, Disney movies, and blogging. Jesus is currently teaching her how to be content in every situation and how to surrender her singleness to Him. You can join in on her journey to contentment at joybecausegrace.com. You can also connect with Kara via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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28 March 2016

Pursuing Righteousness

Pursuing righteousness is a very real struggle. Sometimes it feels near impossible. We get lost in the busyness and shuffle of life, we get discouraged by our failures, feel frustrated with our own inability to change; especially when we know what choices we should be making. Romans 7:15-17 comes to mind every time I think of this struggle, 

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me."

These verses encourage me because they remind me that my failures do not become me. God does not define me by my shortcomings. He knows that I will mess up on a daily basis and still calls me daughter. He loves me for who I am, not what I have done or what I will do. I am his, and that makes me an heir to the kingdom, a beneficiary of his great inheritance. 

God's love is unconditional. Dictionary.com defines unconditional as "not limited by conditions" or "absolute". You see, God's love does not depend on our day to day actions. God does not love us more one day because we were mostly good and then unlove us the next day because we messed up. He loves us all days, absolutely. 

Even though God loves us unconditionally, we are still to obey him.

Romans 6:1-2 
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:12-13
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 

Romans 6:16
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 

Romans 6:19-23
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


1 Timothy 6:11
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Because of his great love for us, God outlined for us how we should live. That we might experience life to the fullest. 

To arm him against the love of the world, he directs him to follow that which is good.  It is not enough that men of God flee these things, but they must follow after what is directly contrary thereto.  Matthew Henry's Commentary.

I am confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ. 
Philippians 1:6

1 Peter 1:3-11

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

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. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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