Thursday, January 26, 2012

True Beauty Challenge - How's your fruit growing?

When someone says that a person has "inner beauty" what does that mean to you?  Is it a compliment?  Would you rather be known for having inner beauty, or external/outer beauty?  If you really stop and think and are honest with yourself - which is truly more important to you?  If you're not sure, here's a hint - what do you spend the most time cultivating?  Your inner beauty? Or your external self?

I'll tell you what God looks at - your inner self.  Not the organs, muscles, etc - but your heart and your head - how you think, feel and act.  In 1 Samuel 16:7, he says ".... The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  While your outward appearance is special and important - after all, he created you and thinks you are beautiful, just as you are - we shouldn't spend all our time perfecting something that will deteriorate and neglect the spirit, which is eternal.

When you become a Christ follower, the Holy Spirit dwells in you - you have the Spirit of God with you at all times!  When you cultivate that relationship with God that comes with spiritual growth, you will also produce "fruit" of that same Spirit, which is really a way of saying the way you appear on the outside (the way you walk, talk, act, react, etc - things people can see or witness) reflects the beauty of who you are on the inside (because you are becoming more like Christ!)  To put it another way - you know that a tree is an apple tree because you can see the apples.  Without the fruit it may look similar to any other tree, but the apples show its true nature.

What, specifically, does the "fruit of the Spirit" look like? In Galatians 5:22-23 the Bible says: "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. " Quite the list!  But here's the awesome thing - unlike our physical bodies, which will decay even with our best efforts and attention - the investment in our spiritual self will only increase!  So the more time you spend cultivating the fruits of the Spirit, the more you will have! It's a harvest that is always bountiful.  So don't be discouraged if you feel you don't have a lot of fruit right now - the more time you spend working on being patient - the more patient you will become! Taking the time to show a kindness, however small, will make you a kinder person. Want peace in your life?  You can have it! Make a conscious effort to develop peace in your own life.

How to do all these things?  Well, we can't do them completely on our own - it's a Spirit thing, remember?  First you must accept Christ as your personal Savior, but once you do, ask the Spirit to help you! Be intentional about your thoughts and actions.  Try growing some fruit!  Before you know it, people will be saying that you are a truly beautiful person.....

Next week - our final true beauty challenge - Are you really showing love to others?

May God bless you and keep you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You matter to God!

Just wanted to write a quick note (back to our true beauty challenge tomorrow) to remind you that you matter to God. That's right - you matter to God! The God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in it thinks you are an important person.  Even better than that - he loves the person you are!  In Psalm 139:13-14 it says that "... you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 

God doesn't make junk!

You are a masterpiece.  God looked at you and thought "he/she is good!" Don't let anyone tell you differently.  You make a difference.  You are of value.   You are important.  You matter.

Rest assured that the living God cares about you!
Be blessed!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Banish fear and insecurity!

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  2 Timothy 1:7

Fear.  Timidity.  Being afraid.  Insecurity.

In a world full of changes and uncertainty, it's easy to become afraid.  We don't know what's happening in the economy. We don't know if we'll ever be able to afford a house or even keep the one we have. We are unsure about our health or the health of those we love.  Perhaps we are afraid that we'll never lose weight/ be loved/ be CHOSEN.

God however, is not the author of fear.  While the world and Satan will have you believe the lies that give birth to and feed your insecurities, God promises the truth.  You ARE loved.  You ARE beautiful.  You ARE good enough. You ARE worthy.  Through the Spirit of God, you have the power to overcome any obstacle.  God loves you and will continue to do so.  God will provide comfort and security so that your mind can rest. 

If our hope and trust are tied to the things of this world that can rot, mold, break, be stolen, decay or otherwise fail us - then we have no security at all. When we learn to shift our trust to the one that has the power to take care of us and sustain us, then we can find security and strength. 

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. "  Isaiah 41:10

You don't have to accept the lies of fear and insecurity!  God tells you the truth - that you are so loved that he would give his Son for you.  he offers you peace, power and security - all you have to do is accept it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

True beauty challenge - Are you eating right?

"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."  Hebrews 5:13-14

I decided this year I am going to lose quite a bit of weight.  Anyone who has attempted the same knows this fact: you have to eat right.  Exercise is the other part of this important equation, but if I continue to eat cake and/or chips as often as I want, I will not reach my desired weight.  I have to feed my body correctly in order to achieve results.

Likewise, babies also need a proper diet to grow and develop healthy and strong.  A baby is fed milk (or formula) until is is strong enough and developed enough to eat solid food.  If a child reaches the age of 6 and has only consumed milk - how underdeveloped will that child be!

As Christians, we need to feel the same way about the Word of God.  When we first became his children, being "fed" was not only acceptable, it was necessary.  We needed to be taught and shown how to live and act.  It's not in our best interest, however, to stay immature in our faith, in fact the Bible warns us against it!  If you aren't maturing in your faith, it is more difficult to discern good from evil - and Satan is always ready to deceive us all!

Resolve within yourself to feed your spirit.  Commit to feeding yourself with his word everyday.  Allow it to become part of you and shape your attitude and actions.  Pray to God to reveal things to you that you have not seen before, or give you clarity about things you may not understand; for  ".....he (the Lord) rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6  When you "eat right" daily, you'll see yourself grow stronger in the Lord - which is even better than losing a few pounds!

Next week - part 3 of the true beauty challenge - "How is your fruit growing?"

May the Lord bless you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Do you hear God calling?"

"for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."  Romans 11:29

I love this passage!  It says that not only does God have a call (or purpose) for your life, he has gifts for you as well!  Furthermore, both his gifts and his call are irrevocable. That means they don't change and they aren't taken back - God doesn't change his mind about your gifts or your calling.  Let's look one step further - do you notice that the gifts are listed together with his call?  This tells me that whatever purpose God has invited you to, he will provide gifts or tools to complete it.

What a revelation!

I challenged us all last week to develop true inner beauty this year.  What better way to start your inner development than to listen and act upon God's calling/purpose for your life?

So many people spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out their purpose in life: What am I here to do?  What am I meant to be? Why am I here?  Do you know that you were created for a purpose?  That you are important?  That you have a mission only you can accept?  In Ephesians 2:10, the Bible says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

There's your purpose!  We have been lovingly created by God (not by accident, intentionally) to do good works - works he already has prepared for you!  You don't have to wonder anymore about your purpose, goal, mission or calling.  Ask God for your assignment, he's ready to give it to you!

Make 2012 the year you begin to fulfill your purpose and call on your life.  God has big plans in store for you!  He values your life, your talents and your individuality.  No one is unimportant to God - you make a difference!

Perhaps right now what you hear is God calling you to be one of his children.  If so, don't delay - please answer his invitation!  Start 2012 knowing you are a child of the King.  Let the peace, joy and love of Jesus enter your life as you allow him to take control.

Either way - whether answering God's call to obedience or his invitation to your life's purpose - is a fantastic way to start not only your year, but your journey to true beauty!

Next week's challenge:  Are you "eating right"?  See you next week!

May God bless and keep you!