Spiritual Warfare

Hi, readers! How is your Tuesday going? How has your week been? It’s been going well for me. Yesterday I posted a video on my Youtube channel, a post on my other blog, cleaned, went shopping, bought some ingredients so that perhaps I can start making soap soon … And best of all (*winks*), I finished reading Cloak of the Light and started on the sequel!

That’s what I want to talk to you about today. -The main theme of these books.

clouds-3189310_1920

Cloak of the Light is book one in a spectacular series called WARS OF THE REALM by Chuck Black. The second book is called Rise of the Fallen. And the third, Light of the Last. The first book was a riveting, powerful adventure that not only kept me turning pages, but gave me some serious food for thought about the spiritual realm. After reading this book, I’ve gained a great respect and admiration for Chuck Black. He seems like a solid guy – his writing amazing and his faith sincere.

 

So yes, I really recommend these books! Check them out, and also Chuck Black’s two other series: THE KINGDOM series and THE KNIGHTS OF ARRETHTRAE (both non-magical fantasy).

 

 

That all being said, let’s talk about spiritual warfare. It’s perhaps something that isn’t discussed enough within the Church. Which is why I so admire Chuck Black for incorporating this topic into his novels!

Are you aware of the spiritual realm around you? Do you know you have a part in it? What are some important things to know when it comes to spiritual warfare?

1) Know Your Enemy

I once read a survey that said something like half of “Christians” do not believe Satan is a real being. They believe he is figurative or symbolic, but not real and not important.

This is crazy, and seriously detrimental to said Christians when it comes to the reality of spiritual warfare.

The Bible validates the reality of an Enemy – Satan. And not only that, but states that he is like a roaring lion, prowling about and seeking who he might devour.

John 10:10

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

This is serious.

If we don’t believe we have an enemy, how can we fight back? We can’t. We will sit there in oblivion while he wages attack after attack.

If you don’t believe in the devil, then I believe you’re opening up doors for him to whisper lies in your ears, twist your identity, kill your joy, and steal your abundant life. All while you stand defenseless – not knowing how to stand up for yourself. Not even knowing you’re being attacked.

So know your enemy.

1 Peter 5:8-11

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devourResist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Get knowledge. Gain wisdom. Be aware. Be vigilant. Satan hates God and all of His people. He is against all that you stand for as a Christ-follower, and there’s no reason he won’t try to thwart what God’s doing in and through your life.

2) Ready Your Weapons

If there’s a war going on, we need weapons. Even if we can’t see the spiritual realm – demons and angels – we definitely have a part in the war. It’s a battle for lost souls, for God’s purposes, for your joy and fearlessness and abundant life.

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

So ready your weapons, sisters and brothers in Christ. Our weapons against Satan and his demons are:

Prayer.

God’s Word.

The name of Jesus.

Be in prayer, friends! May your each day be a prayer! Draw near to the Lord through prayer. Resist the devil through prayer. Stay in God’s Word. Read your Bible often. It is our source of truth, hope, knowledge, and courage!

James 4:7-8

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

If you don’t know your weapons, you’re not going to be able to fight very effectively. When the Enemy comes at you (in various different ways, shapes, and forms), you’re liable to cower in weakness … or even start to believe the lies he’s throwing at you. Because you don’t immerse yourself in Truth enough.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

So grow in the Lord and know your Bible. And remember that there is vast power in the name of Jesus! A legion of demons cowered before Him! You can call out darkness in His holy and all-powerful name.

Luke 8:28-31

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”

And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

3) Fight Back

We are not helpless in the tumultuous life. Even when the darkness creeps in – thick and stifling – we are called and able to be lights of the world.

Matthew 5:14 & 16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

So fight back. Be a warrior. Specifically, a prayer warrior. The Bible tells us that there is power in prayer.

Acts 9:40

40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Mark 11:24

24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

How do you pray in a way that makes a difference in the spiritual realm? Well, I don’t really understand a whole lot about spiritual warfare and how prayer works. But I know it works. So pray.

One day I was feeling tired and a little anxious. By afternoon, I was starting to become fearful. All these crazy, horrible thoughts were spinning through my mind, making me doubt my security and just feel really, really alone and drowning in dread.

But I’d been keeping my weapons at ready, so my spirit told me that this wasn’t truth or what God wanted me to feel, even though these feelings of dread and terror were very real and almost overpowering.

Feeling very weak, I began to pray: “Satan, get behind me. The Lord rebuke you, Satan. You have no power over me, because I belong to Jesus Christ. The victory is His, and therefore mine, because I am in Him. You cannot steal my hope or my joy. Darkness, leave, I pray in Jesus’ name.”

I can’t remember exactly all that I prayed, but it was something like that. I believe it was within moments that the dread left and I began to feel normal again. A few hours later the incident was so far removed from me that I had forgotten it even happened! Instead of darkness, there was light and peace all around me. 🙂

I hope that encourages you, dear readers. As children of God, we have power through Him to fight back. And we can fight on behalf of others by praying for them. Pray God’s truth over them. Pray for God’s will in their lives. Pray for victory over sin. Pray for them to be equipped with everything they need to walk the path God’s calling them to.

Stay strong in Christ, fellow warriors!

❤ Lady Grace

Romans 16:19-20

Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

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Encouragement from Bible Study

Hello, friends! So I’m a little late posting today. I didn’t schedule a post like I was supposed to yesterday. It was Bible study evening and yes … I just didn’t get to it. So I’ll just do a quick overview of how my young adult Bible study is going for my Saturday post! 🙂

encouragement

I think this is our fourth or fifth week. It’s been good! I love getting a group of young people together reading God’s Word and having quality fellowship. Truly, I’ve been immensely enjoying myself, even though I really have to lean on God some days for confidence and strength … because I am an introvert, after all! 😉 Being the one to start this Bible study and having it at my house and all that – it can be a little nerve-wracking.

But yes. It’s a great group and we’re having fun.

Last week we started a devotional from YouVersion called Love God Greatly – Made For Community.

This week we read John 14:15-23 and did the second devotional from Made For Community. Though the devotionals are short, I’ve found the profound, challenging, and uplifting thus far.

John 14:15-23

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Snippets from the devotional: 

“From the very beginning God created us for community. Sin shattered the relationship … but God in His mercy is making all things new including His relationship with His people.”

“…He also gives us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that we are no longer alone. We have a helper, a comforter, a teacher and a guide living within us.”

Notes:

So, do you feel the Holy Spirit is your helper, comforter, teacher and guide? Do you acknowledge His Presence and believe you’re never alone?

This is sometimes hard to grasp, but God can reveal it more to us as we seek Him in prayer and reading His Word.

It’s a beautiful truth to me, especially in fearful situations, or as an introvert when I feel really different or alone in a crowd. Knowing God is always with me bring courage where there is fear and confidence where there is insecurity. And peace – it brings peace that passes understanding in all situations.

***

We also read three chapters from Psalm, and made note of any promises or truths in the passages that are ours to claim in Christ – we can apply to our lives.

Psalm 3

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

God is my shield.

God is my glory.

God lifts up my head.

God hears me.

God sustains me.

God’s blessing is upon me.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

God establishes my steps.

God puts a song in my mouth.

His thoughts toward me can’t be recounted.

God thinks upon me.

God is my help and my deliverer.

Psalm 63:1-4 & 7-8

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

God’s lovingkindness is better than life.

In Him, my soul will be satisfied.

God is my help.

God’s right hand upholds me.

***

After discussing and talking some more (kind of about random things, haha), we put out some snacks and had a good time of fellowship. It’s a blessing to hang out with fellow believers. I’d been struggling a bit and really praying about this Bible study, and I remember that at least once I asked God that I could encourage and uplift these young people, and they could do the same for me. I really feel God answered and honored that prayer. At least on my part. It was encouraging to my soul. 🙂

So what about you? Do you not just read  your Bible, but apply what it says to your life? Try reading passages and asking questions like, “How can I take hold of this truth? What does this mean for me? How does this affect my life? What does this tell me about God?”

Hope you have a blessed weekend, dear readers!

❤ Lady Grace

The Joy of His Return

Hello, my friends! How’s life been for you all?

It’s been a tad stressful for me … I’ve been adding some different things to my schedule; getting new information and options concerning my health issues; applying for jobs; and this past week I’ve been in charge of keeping the house in order, bringing the kids to homeschool group, and all such things because my mom went on a little vacation. There have been some … moments … but it’s all good. 😉

Philippians 1:21

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Through the busyness and the new opportunities and slightly stressful experiences, I found out that I really like the band, Unspoken. And even more so, I love their song: Open the Clouds.

the joy of His return

What is it about this song? I’m not really sure. The beat has me dancing around the house. The words fill me with a happiness and energy that I can’t always claim. The line, “No one knows when the day will come, all we know is it won’t be long” sends chills over my body. Good chills. 🙂

I’ve shared on here before about my fear of the unknown. My trepidation when it comes to thoughts of heaven and eternity. I’m definitely not one for “end times” talk, conspiracy theories, and eerie proclamations about how the apocalypse is upon us! The doom and gloom and hopeless air of it all + my struggle with trusting the future into God’s hands has me going out of my way to avoid that kind of talk.

However, this song brings Jesus’ return to me in a different light. It’s bursting with joy and anticipation. It’s overflowing with trust. It touches something deep inside my soul and pretty soon I’m dancing and my heart is whispering in childlike hope, “I can’t wait for that day. I can’t wait to be with my Jesus.”

I am a princess. And someday my awesome King will return for me and bring me home. And there will be no more anxiety clutching at my heart. No more tears welling up from the pain inside. No more sorrow and emptiness I can’t understand. There will be no more waiting. No more struggle. No more worries. No more fear and depression. No more separation. No more death. No more loss. No more seeing evil and rebellion and aching for it to stop. No more identity crisis. No more rejection. No more confusion. No more long nights of laying awake – tossing and turning – trying to figure out and organize everything in my mind.

Revelation 21:1-7

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

And the very best … we will get to be with Him always and forever. Jesus Christ. Father God. Holy Spirit.

I don’t know how it’s all going to come about, but I like to imagine. After the sky splits and we see our Messiah, Jesus Christ, coming down to retrieve us. After every knee bows and every tongue confesses. Perhaps I will fall down before Him, in awe. Then perhaps He will raise me up. Lift my chin to look into His eyes – filled with unfathomable, never-ending love. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome home, Daughter.” And He will pull me close into His all-encompassing embrace.

And I will be complete.

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 25:23

‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

This thought is so very amazing, my mind almost can’t wrap around the magnificent beauty of it. On second thought, my mind can’t comprehend it. It is too good!

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Want to hear another wonderful thing, friends? While we wait for this marvelous day, we don’t have to continue going in frustrating circles and wallowing in our humanness and despair.

Even though Jesus hasn’t come a second time yet, the kingdom of God is here. And we can chose to be a part of it as His children. We can chose to seek first His kingdom every day and live our earthly lives to their fullest!

Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 17:20-21

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Philippians 1:9-11

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Matthew 16:17-19

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

We can live out the purpose God has placed in our hearts. Use our gifts and passions for His glory. Honor His name in all we do, even the mundane tasks. Champion behind His perfect design. Walk in His love.

Philippians 1:27

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

So, my sisters and brothers in Christ …

  • Know & rejoice in your identity as God’s child.
  • Fall in love with Jesus Christ and watch your anticipation for His return grow!
  • And live abundantly in His kingdom here on earth for as long as He has you here!

Love you all!

❤ Lady Grace

Here in the Family there’s always room for more
A welcome from the King and an open door
Sit at the table and be satisfied
You been sent an invitation, but you gotta reply

The King is coming!”

~ Open the Clouds by Unspoken ~

Book Review: Real-Life Romance by Rhonda Stoppe

Real Life Romance

Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love by Rhonda Stoppe

ABOUT THE BOOK 

Do You Believe in True Love?

In a world of broken relationships and hurting people, it can seem like all we ever see is heartache—that marriages are doomed from the start and romance isn’t worth the risk.

But heart-fluttering, long-lasting love is all around us … we just have to look for it!

This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Page after page, you will find inspiration to

rekindle the romance in your love story
trust in God’s providence and timing
faithfully hope for your own happily-ever-after
celebrate true romance
believe in life-long love

Don’t let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people—knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.

My Personal Review ~ 4.5 stars ~

Quite a thoughtful, fun, and inspiring read! There were a couple things I wasn’t sure what to think about, so that’s why this book didn’t quite reach five stars. But overall, Real-Life Romance by Rhonda Stoppe is an amazing, lovely book that I hope to share with others!

“And you’ll discover how God’s plan is for couples to love each other so deeply with His love that their marriages become a light He can use to draw others to know Him.” (Real-Life Romance pg. 9)

So basically, this book is a collaboration of twenty-five unique love stories. Each story is a little different, which is so neat to see. Real-Life Romance is about sweet romances as well as faith, friendship, redemption, loss, secret sin, and forgiveness. It was so awesome to see how God worked in these couple’s lives! It was also fun hearing about the author’s own love story, and those of her children! Breaking the Bro Code: Estevan & Kayla (pgs. 177-188) was especially heartfelt. I was deeply touched by how they used personal loss to keep an eternal perspective and press closer to Jesus Christ.

Some of my very favorite stories were Waiting on God’s Timing: Keven & Suzanne (pgs. 33-38)The Heart’s True Desire: Jason & Noelle (pgs. 39-45)Addicted to Each Other: Jeff & Jennifer (pgs. 105-113); and Connected at the Heart: Bill & Pam (pgs. 131-139). These four were particularly beautiful and powerful to me. I so loved them!

Oh, and the brief bit about Apostle Peter and his wife. Ah! Incredibly tender and soul-stirring. I’m so glad Rhonda Stoppe included that account in Real-Life Romance! It was a perfect way to conclude the book.

I have strong, personal convictions about dating and marriage, so some of the stories didn’t resound with me as much as others. Particularly when couples seemed to rush ahead instead of seeking the Lord and waiting for His leading. One story it appeared that a man was a Christian when he married a woman who was an unbeliever. (She came to know the Lord and has a beautiful testimony, but I question whether his decision was Biblical. {2 Corinthians 6:14-18}) Also, there were at least four stories about divorce and remarriage. From reading the Bible, I firmly believe that God is against divorce and it’s not His heart for His people! (Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:2-12; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Romans 7:2-3; Malachi 2:16; 1 Corinthians 7:11-13; Hebrews 13:4). So I’m always a little at loss of what to think when reading about divorce and remarriage. I don’t know the whole stories – background and reason for divorce. And some (all?) of the stories were about people who married/divorced before they had become believers. Anyway, I just thought I would give a cautionary mention about that.

Even when one of the stories didn’t settle with me as much, I felt Rhonda Stoppe herself was pretty spot-on throughout the whole book! After each story, she has sections called Ponder This and Ask Yourself, and I felt she spoke a lot of Biblical truths and raised important questions through those! Even with the concerns I mentioned above, I believe Rhonda Stoppe and I have quite similar thoughts, convictions, ideas, and cautions.

“How might you adjust your life to take your focus off looking for a husband and learn to find contentment in loving and serving Jesus?” (Real-Life Romance pg. 38)

All in all, I think the themes of Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Lovewere of finding your hope and joy in the Lord and believing that He does and will write beautiful love stories and strengthen marriages to be a light and a testimony! I was encouraged. ^_^ Besides a few things that raised questions for me, I recommend this book. Planning to have my mom and sister read at least my favorite stories! *smiles*

“When looking for a mate, it’s tempting to take your eyes off the prize of Christ and focus on who might be ‘the one’. But let’s follow the example of the woman in Tony’s unit. If you run this race of life with your focus on the One who calls you to run, and one day you look over and see a man whose eyes are fixed on Jesus and he places his hand in the small of your back to help you run your race – marry him!” (Real-Life Romance pg. 226)

I received a copy of Real-Life Romance from Litfuse Publicity Blogger Program in exchange for my honest review.

 

**Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life on March 6th, 2018**

My God Is Good

my God is good

Over the past couple years I’ve been on a journey to really seeing myself as a daughter of God. Not just knowing this truth, but receiving and proclaiming it with confidence. I recently wrote a post called I’m an INFJ – Embracing Your God-Given Personality that tells a little bit of that journey.  In the young adult Bible study group I started, we’re studying/discussing God’s love. And I just finished reading a very wonderful book entitled Servant Sons and Daughters: Serving Father God from a Position of Sonship by Anastasya Laverdiere.

So last Sunday, as I stood in church and sang these words (from song – God You’re So Good):

I am blessed

I am called

I am healed

I am whole

I am saved in Jesus’ name

Highly favored

Anointed

Filled with Your power

For the glory of Jesus’ name

You can imagine why I choked up and could hardly sing. Such beautiful words – they spoke right to my heart. They illuminated all that God is teaching me.

Psalm 23:5-6

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

Friends, nothing much has changed in my life situations. I’m still dealing with anxiety, some depression, and health issues. I’m still in a season of singleness and struggle with feeling alone and wanting to be a wife & mother. I’m still trying to get a steady job, a car of my own, and figure all that stuff out.

But things have changed in my heart. I can say, “I am a daughter of the King”, and it resounds in my soul. I’m learning to claim my identity in Christ. And not just my identity, but my worth, my joy, my purpose, my power in Him.

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

John 15:9

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

When I think … I am highly favored by God. He has called me to purpose. I am anointed by Him. Filled with His power, for the glory of His name … I can walk forth in true love, unbreakable confidence, pure joy, and overwhelming peace. I can walk forth in power – God’s immeasurable power – for the sake of righteousness. To proclaim the name of my Jesus. To shine light into the darkness. To demolish the Enemy’s lies. To do all the works God has prepared for me. To live life more abundantly!

Philippians 4:7

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

John 10:10

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Romans 8:11

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 1:18-21

18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Psalm 37:5-8

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

As I sang this song, even with my struggles with anxiety and health problems and unmet desires, I thought to myself something like: “Shantelle, you are highly favored. God highly favors you. He doesn’t need you, but He wants you even so.”

Psalm 16:5-9

Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.

Tears and emotion welled up, and the only way my soul can respond is:

God, You’re so good!

I am blessed.

I am called.

I am healed.

I am whole.

I am saved in Jesus’ Name.

Oh my soul, praise the Lord! Praise His holy name! He is so good to me … He sustains me through all, and even lifts up my heart in joy in the midst of trouble!

Psalm 3:3

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

Psalm 4:7

You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.

Psalm 63:3-4

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

Suddenly, I see that I AM BLESSED, no matter what’s going on in my life. Suddenly, I start seeing all the unexpected benefits and good things in my life right now that perhaps I hadn’t seen before. Such as …

– I’m so thankful I have time to pour into this blog!

– And for the people who follow me and comment! *hugs all you lovely people* I’m truly blessed that you take the time to read my rambling thoughts and interact with me.

– I’m so thankful for the chance to meet and develop close friendships with other women my age/in my same season of life that I probably wouldn’t have had if I was in a romantic relationship/married.

– I’m eternally grateful for the Bible study I go to with my parents and siblings!

– I’m so excited about and thankful for the high school/young adult Bible study I recently started. (And the fellowship and laughter that are found in both Bible study groups!)

– I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to figure out my health issues right now while I don’t have a family of my own to care for.

– I’m so beyond thankful for this season where I have extra time to just press into the Lord and His love for me. To seek Him. To study His Word. To spend long periods of time in prayer. To know Him more. To establish and delight in my relationship with Him before the time comes along to connect my life with another imperfect human.

Psalm 34:8-10

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

What an awesome God we serve. None can compare to Him.

How would it be for you if you could speak these beautiful words over yourself? Blessed. Whole. Anointed. Highly Favored. How would you feel? How would your life look differently than before? How would your view of yourself change? Of your circumstances?

Psalm 31:5

Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Psalm 66:5

Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.

I challenge you, child of the King, know and believe His love for you! And remember the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you!

1 John 4:16

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.

Romans 15:13

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

And if you’re not a child of the King, I pray that you seek Him. He poured out His love for all, and if you turn to Him, He is faithful to forgive your sins and give you not just life but life more abundantly!

Romans 10:9-13

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

So, in closing, I just want to say this …

Hello, world. I’m Shantelle (aka Lady Grace), a twenty-one-year-old unmarried, (technically) unemployed woman who’s still trying to get everything sorted out, life in order, and find purpose.

But I am highly favored by God. Loved. Blessed. I am forever His. And that is more than enough. ❤

Psalm 65:4

Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.

11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

(Note: The torrent of verses from Psalm … that would probably be a result of my reading through Psalm and Proverbs right now. There is so much good stuff in there. I JUST WANT TO SHARE IT ALL WITH YOU. Go read your Bible, friends, it’s AMAZING.)

GOD, YOU’RE SO GOOD

OPEN THE CLOUDS

Soul Songs of 2018

Hello! ❤ Sharing some songs that have touched my soul lately.

soul songs

I have an interesting taste in music … or, rather, I just like all kinds of different styles! I like songs that speak of faith. I like songs that tell a story. That are raw and emotional and deep and passionate and truth-filled. Songs I can relate to. Songs that I can worship and praise God with as I sing. Songs I can dance to. Songs that pierce my soul. That break my heart. That fill my chest with passion. That send joy and courage surging through my veins. That fill my eyes with tears.

I love songs that speak to me.

***

Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You
If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

To Live is Christ by Sidewalk Prophets

If I rise, let me rise on you
Not on all of my successes, my esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus, the flesh is crucified

For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain

In Awe by Hollyn

Can’t speak
So close I can feel You breathe
You’re so holy and worthy
You know what I’ve been
Can’t move
So close to You I’m see through
No, not innocent like you
Oh God, I’m sorry
I’m livin’ in awe
You don’t need me at all
But You couldn’t love me more

Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns

But the waves are calling out my name 
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times 
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

First by Lauren Daigle

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment

Call it Grace by Unspoken

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues it’s a miracle
It’s nothing less than scandalous
This love that took our place
Just call it what it is
Call it grace
It’s the breath that’s breathing new life
Into what we thought was dead
It’s the favor that takes orphans
Placing crowns upon their heads
It’s the hope for our tomorrows
The rock on which we stand
It’s a strong and mighty fortress
Even hell can’t stand against

King of My Heart by Kutlass

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song

Fighting For You by Tenth Avenue North

Start walking with your head held high
The future is bright
Heaven’s gates are open wide
Every trouble that you ever walk through
Peace, my child,
I am fighting for you

Broken Prayers by Riley Clemmons

But you’re not afraid of all the things I feel
So why am I afraid of being real?
You want my tears, every messy word
Every scar and every fear
You want all I have
With no holding back
When I’m hurt, at my worst
You meet me there
‘Cause you see the beauty
In my broken prayers

Your Love Defends Me by Hannah Kerr

Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me

Giants Fall by Francesca Battistelli

Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

Recover by Micah Tyler

No more fear, no more shame
I can never be the same, since You came
I am changed forever

Control by Tenth Avenue North

Here I am
All my intentions
All my obsessions
I want to lay them all down
In Your hands
Only Your love is vital
Though I’m not entitled
Still You call me Your child
God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go

Love With Your Life by Hollyn

You gotta love with your life
Like a fire burning strong
Til’ the night has come and gone
There’s a hope that lives in you
You gotta love with your life
Like a warrior
Fight, lay it on the line
If you wanna see a change
You gotta love with your life

Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see
I try to win this war
I confess, my hands are weary, I need Your rest
Mighty warrior, king of the fight
No matter what I face You’re by my side

I’ll Keep On by NF (feat. Jeremiah Carlson)

But thank the Lord that I serve a God that’s perfect
I do not deserve the opportunity you’ve given me
I never knew what freedom was until I learned what prison means
I am not ashamed, I don’t care if they remember me
My life will always have a hole if You are not the centerpiece
Take me out of bondage, take all of my pride
If I don’t have a Savior, I don’t have nothing inside
Take all of my lust, take all of my lies
There’s no better feeling then when I look in the sky, in Your eyes, it’s amazing

Mine by Hollyn

Nothing in this whole wide world
Could ever take me from your hand
Even if I run away
And I don’t have the strength to make it back home
I know that you will guide me

Cause you are the one who picked me up
Brushed me off and called me loved
You showed me I am yours

You are mine
Jesus, you are mine
I know that I’m unworthy
Completely undeserving
I’m amazed, I’m amazed
That I am yours
And you are mine

Start Over by Flame (feat. NF)

Everybody’s got a blank page
A story they’re writing today
A wall that they’re climbing
You can carry the past on your shoulders
Or you can start over
Regrets, no matter what you’ve gone through
Jesus, He gave it all to save you
He carried the cross on His shoulders
So you can start over

Lovely by Hollyn

Words are bouncin’ round my head
I can’t stop their echoin’
Trippin’ on that negative

But You call me lovely
You say I’m wonderfully made
Your river floods me
Your words feel like a serenade
I love that You are thinkin’ of me
All of those voices fade away
When You call me lovely

Ladies, Stay on God’s Path for You

Have you ever stopped to ponder that fact that God has a plan for your life? That He knows and is ready to be involved in all the details (if you but surrender to Him)? That He has a path set out before you, and you should be seeking Him in regards to each next step?

Ladies, stay on God’s path for you!

Men, this is for you too.

As children of the King, we have a constant Hope and Guide. If He is truly our Father, Lord, and First Love, then we should be inviting Him into every day, every event, every moment, every detail. We should never go somewhere that He isn’t.

ladies stay on Gods path for you

So let’s talk about romantic relationships. Speaking of this, are you going somewhere that He isn’t? Have you surrendered this area of your life to God? Have you invited Him in? Talked to Him about your hopes and dreams and ideas? And then listened? Are you trusting Him to work out the details of your love life, meeting your “special someone”, and your future marriage?

Listen, God is so in control and so able! I believe that if we but surrender our love lives to Him, He can and will lead us in this area! He can and will write our love story. He can and will bring us the right person in the right timing.

Psalm 31:19

19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

Psalm 33:15 & 18

15 He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,

So I want to challenge you.

Don’t settle for anything less than God’s best.

What does that mean? Surrender. Surrender it all to Him. And trust. Trust that He is directing your path. And stay. Stay on His path. Don’t veer off without His permission because you catch a glimpse of potential romance.

Proverbs 4:26-27

26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Do you have enough faith – do you trust God enough to completely surrender this to Him? To give up your fears of never getting married; of still being single when you’re thirty; of missing out? To give your heart wholly to Him and let Him lead you? To open up your hands and allow Him to take the bad,  but also give the good? He knows what is good. He knows what is best for you. And He knows He can sustain you through anything.

Job 1:21

21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

First point – KNOW THAT MARRIAGE IS NOT THE GOAL IN LIFE.

As Christ-followers, getting married should not be our ultimate goal in life.

Growing in the Lord. Falling more in love with Jesus Christ. Glorifying God. Sharing the good news of the Gospel. Making disciples. Loving. Living in community. Making much of His name. Friends, our purpose here on earth is to know God and to make Him known.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

If marriage is all you think about, all you desire, all you work toward … If you lacking marriage is making you miserable, sad, empty, purposeless, and inactive, then you have made a good dream an idol. You have forgotten—or perhaps never intimately known—your First Love.

1 John 5:21

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Revelation 2:4

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

As powerfully beautiful as marriage can be, it has no power to fulfill you. Without an intimate, personal, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ and a solid knowledge of what you true purpose is as a Christ-follower, you will always grapple with emptiness and feeling unfulfilled.

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So before you start searching for a spouse, search for Jesus. He’s waiting. He says that those who seek Him with all their hearts will find Him! Before you step into making a choice as important as who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, build your relationship with your Father and Lord. Know and believe His love for you – find your worth and purpose in Him.

Psalm 130:5-6

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

1 John 4:16

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Jeremiah 29:12-14

12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord,

Find your place in the Body of Christ. Become a part of a community of believers. Start living for His glory – pursuing life with courage, joy, and peace.

Psalm 133:1

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,

Romans 12:5

so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Acts 2:46-47

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Pursue Christ, not marriage. As awesome as marriage is, it is better to be single than to be married outside of God’s will.

Second point – DETERMINE ONLY TO MARRY A PERSON WHO DESIRES TO/AND IS PURSUING CHRIST LIKE YOU ARE.

The more I grow in Christ, the more I realize that He is everything. He is my only Hope. He is my joy. His Word is my truth. Apart from Him I am utterly empty inside and, in reality, I have nothing.

So, my dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, it makes absolutely no sense to join yourself to someone who does not realize this the way you do.

I believe passionately in having close relationships and being intricately involved in a community of fellow believers. I believe that God made us to be relational creatures, because He is relational! I believe He made us for community – to connect at a soul level with other people. And I also believe that marriage is one of the closest, deepest relationships of connection and community that a human being can have. It symbolizes Christ and the Church. I think it can also represent the Trinity and the close relationship that God wants to have with His people.

sky-3190960_1920(found on pixabay.com)

Ephesians 5:23-25 & 28-32

23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

flower-3200947_1920(found on pixabay.com)

Isaiah 62:2-5

You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah;
For the Lord delights in you,
And your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.

Marriage is—should be—the connecting of two souls.

So you should never consider connecting yourself to an unbeliever. In all honesty, how can you? If your soul is connected to Christ, how can it also be connected to a person who does not know this Light?

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

 

And, to go even deeper, we shouldn’t just be looking at the surface – is this man a Christian? But: Does this man follow Christ? Does he know and believe God’s love for him, and show that love to others? Can/will he lead me and our future children spiritually?

1 John 4:19

19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Do you think you will be able to run after Jesus Christ just as passionately married to this man as when you were single?

If not, I don’t believe you should marry him. If anything is going to hinder your relationship with the Lord—including romantic relationships!—then you should part from it.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

Do you not realize? NOTHING is as important as being close to God. Following Him with all your heart all the days of your life. What use is it to you if you gain the whole world—the love of your life, the job of your dreams, houses, careers, passions, vacations, things—but lose what really matters? Deep down, you will always be empty and looking for the next thing unless you let God completely and radiantly fill you up.

Psalm 63:1-5

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Mark 8:34-37

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

If a nice young man who attends your church wants to get to know you, make sure you know who he truly is before you let your heart get involved. What is he living for? What is his heart’s deepest desire? What does he want out of life? What is he pursuing?

Matthew 7:20

20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Think about this. Do you want to be married to the man whose house stands firm? Or the man whose house falls?

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

If you strive to glorify and honor God in all you do … Read the Word and pray daily … Dream of doing some sort of ministry with your husband … Have a strong desire to raise your children to know God’s love and serve Him …

… But this young man has hopes and aspirations to make good money, have a nice house, marry the woman of his dreams, raise a couple kids and get them off onto their own with good jobs, retire and enjoy life … oh, and go to church on Sundays, of course.

Well, he might be a very nice Christian man! But please, ladies, don’t get involved – just let him go. Don’t let him dim your passion for Christ. Don’t let him stifle the joy you have in the Lord. Don’t let him pull you away from the ministries the Lord has put on your heart. Don’t let him entice you to settle for a mediocre life when you could have one of thriving in the Lord! (Either single or married to a different man who understands/shares your desire for God.)

Luke 10:27-28

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

Proverbs 4:23

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

Do you know how many married women long for their husbands to lead them spiritually? Do you know many women have a love for the Lord that longs to grow passionately, and their husbands—whom they’re supposed to be connected at the soul with—just don’t understand? Do you know how this hurts these ladies? Do you know how many women have a deep need and desire to raise their children in the Lord, and their husbands just don’t care about it? –Not only do they not step up and lead spiritually, but they don’t even support their wives in this very important desire!

Not, ever, to say that there is no hope for married women and families in these situations. There is always hope! God is merciful and compassionate. A good and tenderly loving Father. Marriages that started out foolishly, selfishly, or rocky can blossom into strong, godly marriages when the individuals seek God. And if only one individual turns to God, He is faithful to tenderly care for that person and their children, even if the marriage continues to be hard.

Joel 2:25-27

25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
I am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.

But single women, I implore you, don’t set aside your heart for God while you look for a man. It is not worth it. You don’t know the struggles and heartache it will bring!

Follow Jesus Christ with all your heart! He is truly all you need.

And if, one day, you see a man following the Lord the same way you are, ask God about him! He won’t be doing everything you are, of course. But when Christ is the true desire of both of your hearts, you will connect on a deeper level and know, with time and friendship, that you are running the same race. Desiring the same things. That you would make a great team in seeking after the Lord together!

Waiting for a truly godly man is WORTH IT.

Waiting for a man who will run passionately after Jesus Christ with you is beyond worth it. Waiting for a man who will stand for righteousness. Who will preach the gospel to you. Who will truly strive to love you like Christ loves the Church. Who will pursue you selflessly. Who will lead you spiritually. Who will long to raise your children in the Lord just as you do! Who will get down on his knees and pray with you. Who will open God’s Word each day. Who will continually point you and your children to Jesus.

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This is the man to wait for. So wait for him. And focus on falling in love with Jesus Christ and becoming the kind of woman this man will desire as a wife. Become the godly wife that he should be waiting for! 🙂

And if the years are just going by and you’re not meeting this man … don’t worry. Just fall in love with Jesus. He is your heavenly Bridegroom. You are His bride.

Psalm 84:10-12

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Third point – BELIEVE THAT GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT.

As I journey through life, currently in a season including singleness, I am learning that God knows all and has His own timing for things. For all things. And each season has purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

Life is about what, friends? As Christ-followers, it about knowing God and making Him known! So, in every season, that should be our goal.

We passionately pursue Christ. And we surrender our desires to Him, trust His timing, and delight ourselves in Him and the season He has us in.

Consider this. Perhaps you are *still* single because it’s simply not God’s timing yet for you to be in the season of marriage. Maybe your future spouse isn’t ready for marriage at this time. Maybe he doesn’t realize his worth in Christ – doesn’t truly understand how loved he is by God. Maybe he hasn’t learned how to be a spiritual leader yet.

Instead of fighting this season and struggling against God’s plan, why don’t you give it time? Why not consider that your spouse might need to be in a season of singleness a little longer? Why not commit to praying earnestly for him/her? Why not take a good look at yourself. Are you ready for marriage? To lead spiritually as the head of the family? To be responsible and provide as the man? Or to support, respect, and encourage as a godly wife? To raise children in the Lord? To tell and show them how much Jesus loves them by living in a way that shows you know you are loved by Him?

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m not saying you have to be perfect. Seriously, no one would ever get married then! 😉

But it’s always good to evaluate ourselves and our lives and our relationship with the Lord. Be serious. Be intentional. And stop freaking out about possibly getting it wrong or missing out on your last opportunity to get married because you were too picky or some such.

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;

24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Do you trust God?

With even this?

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Just seek and love Him with all your heart. Run passionately in the way He shows you. And trust that He will write your love story—work out the details—if it is, indeed, His will for you to marry.

1 Samuel 2:30

for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

He is God, is He not?

He is able.

Psalm 37:23

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

Another thought about your season of singleness. Perhaps there is work to do, or a ministry you need to have, while you’re yet single. Maybe you’re not married yet not because you’re not “ready” or you’re making marriage an idol, but because God still has work for you to accomplish in this vital season of life. Maybe your future spouse has a ministry that he/she needs to be involved in as a single person right now! Don’t hinder them in that. Don’t hinder what God’s trying to do in and through you in your own season of singleness.

Ecclesiastes 3:5-7

A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

Not at all to say we can’t serve God or do ministry as married people. I passionately believe that marriage and family are beautiful, God-given ministries – ways to serve God! And you can get involved in additional ministries together as a family.

But there are also ministries or specific things that are easier or better to do as a unattached person. When you don’t have the crucially important and big roles of being a wife & mother/husband & father. So embrace this season of singleness and do all that God has put on your heart! Maybe you will never get a chance to do it again in any other seasons of life that are coming up! Live this season to the fullest. All for His glory! ❤

Psalm 23:1-3

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

So. Stay on the path that God has for you. Because it is truly the best. Don’t get distracted by romance—by bad men or good men! Only open your heart to that person who doesn’t distract you from God, but pulls you closer to Him! Trust God with His timing. Strive to glorify our King and live life for Him in every season. Singleness is beautiful. Marriage is beautiful. Raising children is beautiful. Using your God-given gifts is beautiful. Pursuing a career you’re passionate about is beautiful. Over-seas missions are beautiful. Mentoring your siblings is beautiful. Every season and passion and opportunity is beautiful as long as we are inviting God fully into our lives and following where He leads.

Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Psalm 92:12-15

12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Follow His path. Live loved. ❤

I’m an INFJ – Embracing Your God-Given Personality

My fellow bloggers, writers, and avid readers, shall we talk about our quiet, deep-feeling, word-loving personality. Or is it just mine? 😉

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But really, I’ve noticed a lot of writers/bloggers are introverts. I myself am an INFJ according to the tests I’ve done. The advocate, the defender, or the guardian. Supposedly, people with INFJ personalities are “rare”. I don’t know if I quite believe it, but I will admit that I do often feel like no one understands me.

I’m different.

No one else is quite like me.

I get lonely.

I feel crazy.

I have the fear, deep down, that I’ll never quite belong anywhere.

I can share a lot, but I never really, really share my heart because I’m afraid no one would understand.

For a girl who longs for deep, intimate connections and community, it’s a terrible thing to feel so separate from other people.

I think the loneliness and fear have driven me to try to understand myself. Then I would feel guilty for researching “myself”—like I’m enamored with me, haha.

But, actually, I’ve heard that INFJ’s just have a hunger to understand their personality and the personalities of others. I want to know why I feel, react, and think certain ways. I want to understand why other people do what they do and say what they say.

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And when I read things about the INFJ personality and think, Hey, that’s what I do. Maybe that’s why I behave this way and feel such-and-such—then I feel more okay with being me.

And you know what? It IS okay that I’m me! It’s more than okay.

It’s perfect.

God, in His infinite wisdom, created me just the way I am with exactly the personality I have. He made me introverted, bookish, relational, a dreamer, a deep thinker, a writer, and a deep feeler. He created me this way, and therefore He understands me, even when I think nobody does. Even when I can’t understand myself.

Psalm 139:1-6 & 13-16

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord,

***

When I do research and study my personality and just be myself, I think it is a very good thing. Because isn’t it most honoring to the Creator when I embrace who He made me to be? When I glorify Him with the specific and unique gifts, abilities, talents, and personality He gave me?

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So … what does it mean to be an INFJ?

Here are a few quotes from INFJ (“The Advocate”) of 16Personalities:

“INFJs indeed share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in.” (Introduction)

“INFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw.” (Introduction)

“This becomes especially apparent when INFJs find themselves up against conflict and criticism – their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.” (Introduction)

“INFJs like to know that they are taking concrete steps towards their goals, and if routine tasks feel like they are getting in the way, or worse yet, there is no goal at all, they will feel restless and disappointed.” (Strengths and Weaknesses)

“When it comes to romantic relationships, INFJs take the process of finding a partner seriously. Not ones for casual encounters, people with the INFJ personality type instead look for depth and meaning in their relationships. INFJs will take the time necessary to find someone they truly connect with (Romantic Relationships)

“There is a running theme with INFJs, and that is a yearning for authenticity and sincerity – in their activities, their romantic relationships, and their friendships. … Rather, INFJs seek out people who share their passions, interests and ideologies, people with whom they can explore philosophies and subjects that they believe are truly meaningful.” (Friends)

“First and foremost, INFJs need to find meaning in their work, to know that they are helping and connecting with people (Career Paths)

“INFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays. Music, photography, design and art are viable options too, and they all can focus on deeper themes of personal growth, morality and spirituality.” (Career Paths)

Quotes and Stuff from my INFJ Pinterest Board (these were all found on Pinterest):

Being an introvert doesn’t always mean we’re shy, insecure, can’t talk, timid, scared of our own shadow, and friendless.

It may mean we’re quiet, socially-awkward (but not socially-inept), cautious, very sensitive, and a little different.

What I’m trying to say is: you don’t have to change my personality in order for me to be who I need to be and do what I need to do.

I believe why I was insecure as a person is not because that’s how I was made, but rather because I was afraid to be who I was truly made to be.

Even because many people made me feel like I had to change my personality in order to be right.

Why are you so quiet? {Um … ? I’ve been talking, haven’t I? I enjoy listening also, you know. Or, I just don’t have much that I feel needs to be said right now.}

Why don’t you talk more? {Well, I try, but you either interrupt, talk over me, stare blankly in response, or don’t notice I spoke up at all.}

Why are you always so sad? {I’m not! I’m just not as bubbly and expressive and loud as you are. That’s allowed, isn’t it?}

You’re turning red. {*wants to melt into the ground* I KNOW quite well that I’m blushing … can you please just act normal and move on with the conversation? Please?}

SHE TALKED! YOU CAN TALK?? {Do you think I’m weird? Are you not accepting me? *freaks out and overthinks everything* Now I feel stupid and probably won’t say anything else for the rest of the evening.} 

Everyone HAS to participate! {Even if I’m quaking in terror and feel on the verge of passing out?? HAVE MERCY!}

You’re too quiet; you need to talk louder. {I feel like I’m shouting! *feels desperate*}

Shy people are just really selfish. {*heart shrivels up inside chest*}

Desperately shy, I battled headaches and stomachaches every time I went to youth group, Bible study, casual Ultimate Frisbee games, a friend’s house, church, etc., etc., year after year after year (even though I liked these things).

Critically insecure, I kept silent during Bible study (which I loved … filled with people I really liked) even when my mind and heart had thoughts to offer and questions to pose.

Occasionally, I was filled with such passion and boldness, and actually spoke up.

But most times, I felt so wrong and uncertain of being myself that I kept quiet when I wanted to speak. I hung back when I wanted to join. I blushed painfully when people talked to and tried to involve me (though I yearned for deep connection!). I felt guilt over silly things. I hid parts of my heart even from my closest friends and family.

Being an INFJ didn’t make me that way. But perhaps because the INFJ personality isn’t as common as some, I had a hard time accepting myself.

I called myself stupid. A failure. Ugly. Fat. Unwanted. Dumb. Unable. Too awkward. Not good enough. Unacceptable.

Idiot. You idiot! I’m so sick of you.

That’s what I said to myself. I bought into the Enemy’s lies and I fed them to myself.

And it held me back from doing all that God has called me to. It kept me from all that God wanted to give me. It kept me from being fully who God created me to be.

I was very, very insecure, and shy, and fearful.

Even up until this last year of 2017, I struggled. (And it will be something I have to continue fighting, I’m sure!) For a large part of my life, I didn’t realize how insecure I truly was. This past fall, I came face to face with what I really thought of myself.

I was sick of being me because, deep down, I thought of myself as stupid and not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not out-going enough. Not doing enough. Not confident and independent enough. Not smart enough.

I didn’t truly grasp my real worth in Christ, and so I looked to other people to define my worth. If they accepted me, I would feel okay with myself. If they rejected me, I told myself I was stupid. If someone said something that might have been questioning my worth, I internally freaked out and fell apart because I felt I had no worth apart from their validation.

I sort of kept this all inside, and it affected me in ways I didn’t realize.

I’m changing now.

But I’m not becoming less of an introvert – my personality is not becoming less INFJ. I’m not becoming less of a deep thinker and deep feeler. I’m still quiet, and sensitive, and very self-aware.

I’m blossoming as an INFJ, because I cried out to the Lord with all my heart and He filled me with His love. I believe He says: I WANT YOU. I LOVE YOU. I CREATED YOU. I DELIGHT IN YOU. I CHOSE YOU. Now I know that I can embrace who I am. Because that’s exactly who God fearfully and wonderfully made me to be.

I claim my worth in Christ.

If anyone tries to tell me I’m less-than, I say: Go talk to my Father. No one can tell me what my value is except for Him. And He says I was worth it all.

To add to that incredible reality, He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Just as I am.

He can use my quietness, my deep feelings, my sensitivity, my self-awareness, my love of writing, my social awkwardness, my passion, my strong opinions in powerful ways. He can use me in huge ways, even when I’m still rather terrified to speak in front of crowds, but can chatter passionately to small, intimate groups.

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Listen …

WE ARE ALL UNIQUE.

And that is radiantly beautiful! In appearance, in personality, in gifts, in talents, in passions, in dreams, in strengths, we are different. And that is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Instead of trying to change each other, why not complement and enhance and edify and uplift one another?

1 Corinthians 12:15-31

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

The next chapter in 1 Corinthians goes on to talk about how we are nothing without love.

You may never find me laughing and joking in front of huge crowds. But as I grow in security in Christ’s love for me, I find the courage and ability to share deeply from my heart with individuals, be vulnerable, pray over friends in need, and lead small Bible study groups – as has always been my desire!

It is God who changes my heart and grows me, and uses my personality for His glory and our good. He created me and He knows me. And when I know He accepts and wants me, I can walk forth in joy and security and boldness and love, even as an INFJ! 😉

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 I used to be frightened that my physical appearance would change people’s opinion of me – I’m not beautiful enough. I used to be terrified to go places – I’m probably not wanted or welcome.

But, slowly, slowly, I’m throwing that mindset off.

God loves me. God wants me.

He made me, so who are you to say there’s a problem with what He’s created? I am His child and the world is His, so I have as much a right to be here as anyone else. (I’m okay. Do you hear that, heart of mine? Stop seizing up in my chest and let me breathe and walk normally!)

I realize that there are, indeed, people in the world who do truly love and want me. They don’t care if my hair is a bit messy, my clothes aren’t the latest style, I have zits on my face, or I’ve gained a few pounds. They look at me and they see me—my heart—who they adore.

This is so beautiful!

I have a hard time claiming people’s love for myself, but I speak it because there are people who have proven their love for me. And they are worthy of my trust.

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So. BE YOU. Don’t mock or refuse to accept God’s beautiful design and creativity. Be who the wise Creator made you to be. And know you are richly and completely loved. By your Heavenly Father. And, most likely, by many people … You’ve just blinded yourself to their affection for you.

God is good. His design is good. His creation is good.

DO YOU HAVE THE INFJ PERSONALITY? CAN YOU RELATE? WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

ARE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSONALITY? WHAT ARE SOME THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOU FEEL ARE MISUNDERSTOOD? TELL ME SOME UNIQUE THINGS ABOUT YOU AND HOW GOD HAS USED THEM!