Called to be a Disciple-Maker

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It’s been about three months since I went to the C.R.O.S.S.19 conference! Ah, that was such a mountaintop experience for me. I treasure the memories and am still pondering some of the lessons I learned. (I really want to find time to go back and listen to all the sessions! So good!!)

C.R.O.S.S. is a conference for 18-25-year-olds dedicated to talking about missions. I’ve never felt particularly called to be a missionary, but often worried: should I feel called? Do I need to pack up and move to Uganda? Is that what you want of me, Lord?

But something that they kept going back to at this conference is that there are goers and there are senders.

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“Some go. Some stay. All rejoice. All pray.” was a quote from the website. But we are ALL called to make disciples. Me. You. Every Christ-follower. Regardless of whether we go on missions trips a lot. Move to Africa to be a full-time missionary. Or never step foot out of the United States.

We are all missionaries.

We are all called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ!

// The Life of a Disciple-Maker – David Platt //

If the love of God has changed your life, you need to tell somebody about it! If you believe in the reality of heaven and hell, you need to talk about that with your community! If Jesus means all that much to you, you should want others to be able to experience that!

See, there are lost people in the USA, too. Lost people in my state, in my town. People who are broken. Hurting. Trapped in darkness. People who desperately need to know the saving power of Christ!

Romans 10:9-15

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 saved10 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.”

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

I don’t feel called to be an overseas missionary. I don’t even really feel called to go on overseas mission trips right now. I don’t know. Maybe that will change as I continue to walk with God. Maybe God will call me tomorrow. Next year. In ten years.

I read Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors not too long ago, and it made me want to up and move … be a full-fledged missionary. But I think it had more to do with longing for purpose, different, adventure, and meaning in life than it was a genuine calling to the mission field.

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// I Think I’m a Sender?? – David Platt //

The fact is, not everyone is called to move to a third-world country. Sometimes we get the idea that being an overseas missionary is how you are super holy Christian. And sometimes it sounds exciting and we figure we should jump on board. But I think we need to consider it more seriously. Maybe it is a calling. Are you called? Or are you just starving for purpose and adventure and you feel this might be the way to satisfy that?

See, in a third-world country, perhaps it’s easy for you to share the gospel and the people are eager to hear what you have to say. Whereas, in the United States, you feel awkward and fearful about talking about Jesus because, well … people look so put together and not like they need you and they might laugh in your face.

At home, maybe it’s hard for you to pursue God and be passionate about your faith. I mean, you could pray … or you could binge-watch that exciting TV show. We have so much. We are so entertained. Sometimes it’s so easy to lose sight of what should be our focus as Christians. Jesus Christ. His Kingdom.

I one-hundred percent believe that Katie Davis Majors was called to be a missionary in Uganda. To adopt fourteen beautiful Ugandan girls, and marry a missionary man there. But I also believe that other people are called to stay in their home country. There is a mission field here that God has called them to. Whether it’s in an inner city, a sick church, or a broken family.

Luke 8:38-39

38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

1 Peter 4:10-11

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

So be serious about discerning your calling. Maybe God is calling you to Uganda, China, or Iran. Or maybe He is calling you to stay right where you are. And you need to press deeper into Him and pray daily that He will help you stay on track and give you a deeper passion for His will.

But I do want to note here: if you don’t feel called to overseas missions, that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to do with them. You should see yourself as a sender. I should see myself as a sender.

This is perhaps one of the important reasons to be involved in a local church! So that you can support missionaries and missions through your church. Specifically support, pray for, and encourage! And perhaps pastors and deacons should be vigilant about calling out missionaries in their congregation and sending them on their way. As the Body of Christ, we all need to be doing our unique work in God’s kingdom and helping each other along the way!

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

So here are a few important things to note:

If you are a Christian, you are called to share the gospel and make disciples.

You should care about overseas missions – whether you are a missionary or not.

You can be praying regularly for unreached people groups.

You can be praying regularly for missionaries you know.

You can support missionaries and missions through giving money.

You can support missionaries and missions by giving of your time and your talents – from home!

You can reach out in needy situations in your home town! Being the hands and feet of Jesus is a good way to shine His light and open doors to share about Him!

Matthew 25:37-40

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

You should be involved in a healthy church and making disciples there! Find a younger person to mentor. Lead a small group. Start a Bible study in your home. Reach out to one person who seems to be struggling.

Talk to your co-workers and friends and people you randomly start a conversation with in town. Tell them about Jesus Christ and what He has done in your life. (I know this is hard for some people … like myself! How do you bring up your faith in a light conversation? I’m reading a book right now called Turning Everyday Conversations Into Gospel Conversations that is helping me. Pray and ask God to open doors for faith conversations, and for joy and boldness to share!)

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Sometimes life is hard and you feel ill-equipped to share Jesus and make disciples when you’re struggling so. Hang in there, friend. Find a godly older person to mentor you! Often we need our big brothers and sisters in the Lord to come around us and strengthen & encourage us, and help us to grow and be obedient!

// The Significance of the Church – Trip Lee //

Why are missions important? Why is it so vital to be sharing about Jesus in our everyday life and making sure the gospel reaches the ends of the earth?

Because as Christ-followers, God is our Savior, Lord, Father, and Friend, and our hearts should yearn to glorify Him!

Psalm 96:1-3

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

Because we should have a deep love that desires for all people to experience the love of Jesus that has brought us out of our brokenness and darkness.

Because we should have compassion that drives us to warn all people that they might come to a saving knowledge of Christ and have eternal life, and not experience the just wrath of God.

So, go. Spread the good news of Jesus Christ. And also, realize that this is not all up to you and me. It never was. The Holy Spirit will do His work with or without you! But do you want God to be glorified in and through your life, or in spite of you?

// The Power of the Spirit – Conrad Mbewe //

Live to glorify Jesus Christ, friends. In whatever you do. Whether you are a goer or a sender. Whether you go on frequent mission trips or you don’t. Whether you are a writer, teacher, nurse, dancer, blogger, wife & mom, college student, long-term missionary in Africa, or working at JC Pennys.

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Surrender your life to Him and tell Him you will go wherever He leads.

Then rest in Him.

Lean into Him.

And let His love overflow out of your heart and onto all the people around you.

Love people. Because God loves people.

And make much of His great name.

// The Urgency of Eternity – David Platt //

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.

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C.R.O.S.S.19

Happy new year, my dear readers! I pray that January 2019 began full of hope for you. And that you continue in the strength and joy of the Lord each day!

I have the absolute honor and joy of telling you about what God has been doing in my life & heart already this brand new year. Friends, He is so good. I’m nearly in tears just thinking about this past week and my faithful Father.

The year of 2018 had some tough points for me. So good things, too. But it seemed that amidst all the little blessings in December, I did a lot of wrestling and just struggling against anxiety and depression.

Like, what did I even do to make a difference this year? Am I any different? What is my life? I can’t do this, Lord. I don’t know what it’s all for. I don’t know why I’m even here.

I have a family. But I don’t feel like I belong in my home.

I have a church. But I don’t feel like I’m intimately a part of them.

I have people. But I don’t feel like they see me. Really.

I have ministries and opportunities. But I don’t think I’m using them to their full potential.

I have Christ. But I feel like I’m drowning and keep losing sight of Him.

So I prayed. And prayed. And reached out to godly friends for counsel. Had many phone calls. And prayed some more.

I couldn’t do anything but pray! And God began to teach me something powerful through that.

Surrender, Shantelle. I’ve got this.

You worth is not found in what you accomplish, Shantelle. Or in other’s opinions of you. Or if someone validates you. Your worth is found in ME.

Pray, Shantelle! It’s the best thing you could do!!

Do you not see how mighty I am, Shantelle? I’m taking care of you right now, daughter.

***

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So. My long-distance friends asked me if I’d like to go to a conference about missions with them. And I was like … I guess? I mean, I hadn’t seen them for about three/four years and really wanted to! And maybe a Christian conference was just the refreshment God wanted to give me.

After some prayer, I decided to go. And then I prayed a lot leading up to the conference, for a variety of things.

And God worked out every detail beautifully and in His time. What food I should pack (what with all my diet restrictions). Travel and transportation plans. The needed funds. Peace. Confidence. And even what outfits I would wear.

The beginning of this year I traveled to the C.R.O.S.S.19 conference, met up with my friends and their church group, and experienced one of the biggest blessings of my life.

I’m not exaggerating. It was beautiful. ❤

I prayed for provision. Peace. Grace. Outfits. Manageable travel plans. Food. Joy. Fellowship. Friendship. Growth. Community worship. Awe for Jesus Christ. A deeper understanding of what my part is in global missions.

And I believe God answered each of these prayers so richly through the C.R.O.S.S. conference.

I caught a glimpse of what it is like to be part of a tight-knit, loving, Christ-like, passionate, local church. And that vision has captured my heart.

Hebrews 10:23-25

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

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 Christ13 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.

I have moved and bounced around from one big church to another for almost all of my life. I’ve never been intimately involved in my church. I’ve lacked solid, godly, loving people to disciple me and shepherd my heart. I’ve rarely (if ever) associated godly, beautiful fellowship with Sunday morning worship. I’ve suffocated under the burdens I bear, feeling like there was nowhere to turn to for help. I’ve grasped desperately for faith & cowered in terror under unanswered confusion … while pasting on a smile every week at church.

I feel like I’ve been alone … living inside the scary realm of my mind, for most of my life.

But at this conference, one of the big focuses was the importance of being part of your local church. Truly part. Like, they’re your family. They know you. And you know them. And you work together for the glory of God. You love each other deeply. And you together share a heart to reach all people for Christ. Ephesians 4 sums it up so perfectly!

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

My long-distance friends who went to the conference with me have an awesome home church. So, simply being part of their group for four days gave me a taste of belonging to a church family and encouraged and strengthened me in ways I cannot even describe. My heart is so full!

I had good conversations with almost every one in the group. (And for my quiet, rather introverted self who sometimes takes long to really open up and show my real self … especially to men … I found this an exceptionally wonderful surprise.)

We had incredible prayer time together. In little groups of two or three during the conference, praying for unreached peoples. And with our whole group of eleven. And seriously, this was one of the highlights of my week. Seeking God & sharing your heart with Him along with some of His other children who you know care about you. It’s amazing! Beautiful! Delightful! It shifts something in my heart, soul, and mind.

We sat under the incredible teaching of God’s Word together. We learned. We shared. We exclaimed in excitement for what we were hearing. We encouraged each other in the Lord.

We worshiped together! We praised the name of Jesus together. The worship truly was sweet. Lifting our voices together along with about 7,000 others. Seeing your brothers’ and sisters’ awe for the Lord can so encourage you! We sang a lot of hymns, which was so lovely.

We laughed together!

We ate together.

Got coffee together. 🙂

I saw personally the passion and seeking hearts of ten of my brothers & sisters in Christ, being within this group for a time. And this strengthened me in my own faith.

I was able to go to members of the group with questions or concerns I had. And they gave me godly advice and thoughtful guidance. This is such a gift! It’s like a beautiful, awesome revelation that I don’t have to struggle through this life alone. God did not mean for me to.

I made lovely connections, and remembered what it was like to have close girl friends who are my own age! Such a sweet joy!

I felt comfortable and safe to talk with my brothers in the group. And this strengthened my heart … I think just seeing their passion for the Lord, and them caring enough to stop and talk with me. I feel like it’s vital for women to have brothers in Christ who speak into their lives … without it having anything to do with romantic interest.

I received hugs from old and new friends alike! I like hugs. 🙂

My friends’ pastor was with our group, and he is such a shepherd.

1 Peter 5:2-4

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Numbers 27:15-17

15 Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: 16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”

I don’t know if I’ve ever met a pastor with such a shepherd’s heart. He saw me. He cared. He empathized. And he gave me solid, godly, loving wisdom. I was beyond blessed. I felt like he shepherded my heart for a brief time, and I came out more grounded in Christ because of it.

One thing he told me that especially stuck out was: “Every decision we make, we make to the glory of God.” Basically, don’t let feelings of fear, pain, vulnerability, pride, despair, etc. get in the way of you bringing glory to God in every area of your life.

I was welcomed into this group. Treated as part of them. Seen. Cared for. Discipled. Guided. Given wisdom. Prayed over. Prayed with.

It was incredible.

***

But now to the actual conference! I heard from absolutely amazing speakers such as J.D. Greear, David Platt, John Piper, Trip Lee, and so on. I learned about missions, making disciples, goers and senders, local churches, God’s glory, God’s love, Jesus Christ, discerning a call, and just so much!

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I would very much recommend going to the C.R.O.S.S. website and listening to the sermons and outbreak sessions! So much wisdom and practical advice!

So I sat under phenomenal teaching.

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I was prayed over by strangers and friends alike.

I was encouraged in the gifts and talents God has given me, bolstering my faith that He is indeed doing a work in my life and is going to use me in His kingdom, for His glory, and for the reaching of souls!

I received a bunch of free books!

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I had Christ and His love & glory proclaimed to me along with a group of thousands, and also was taken aside personally and taught from the Word of God. Which is just an extreme blessing! Even to be taught individually … I felt like my heart is being guided in Christ.

I found a peace about being a sender for now. But also a passion about being a disciple-maker as part of a local church, and an openness to going the mission field should God ever call me there in years to come.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.

I was able to encourage others.

I was convicted that my view of God has been too small. I was amazed by the POWER of the Holy Spirit! Even in my own insignificant, weak, struggling life!

I was led in prayer for unreached people groups.

I heard awesome stories of God’s glory, love, power, and grace!

I saw unashamed passion for Jesus Christ from so many!

I was able to get some valuable and helpful advice from breakout sessions … “Should I Just Do Something?: Discerning a Call to the Missions” by Kevin DeYoung and “I Think I’m a Sender?” by David Platt.

Oh, my heart is full and I am just in awe. What a perfect way to start a new year.

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I would highly recommend that you go listen to The Gospels: The Commission of Christ by J.D. Greear, 1 Corinthians-Jude: The Significance of the Church by Trip Lee, and Revelation: The Urgency of Eternity by David Platt. Or just go listen to them all! I learned from each of them.

I hope to share more with you about what I learned from the main talks and breakout sessions specifically, but for now I’ll just leave you with a question Pastor J.D. Greear asked, and pray that you consider it as you start off 2019:

“Am I going to take up a supporting role in Christ’s story?”

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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! 🙂

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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