Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Did you expect...

    Hey there, it certainly had been awhile since my last post. I know I just "disappeared", but I have good reason for that. My life is so completely busy at this point, I just do not have the time I used to for "recreational" things like posting on this little blog.

This year has certainly flown by, yes? It amazes me, and makes me happy too! This year has been a year of major changes, trials, and sacrifice for me, and I am so thankful that Hashem has been right here, by my side, through everything! I feel like I have been going through the "Rites of Incorporation" part of the Rites of Passage that Gavriella writes about here.

 Well, enough about me now. 

 My mother found the article below and emailed me a copy - it is pretty good, and although it covers many points I am sure we all are aware of - freshening up these things solidifies them in our mind.

I am not sure who wrote this article, if I did I would definitely give due credit to her here. If any of you know who wrote this, please let me know so I can credit her!

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Did you expect to have a nice sparkly diamond decorating that finger by now?

  Perhaps you’re still patiently waiting for the right one to show up. You’re not about to jump into a relationship with the next person you meet—you’re not desperate.  Just, well, waiting.  And let’s be real here, most of us were designed for the companionship of marriage, which in itself is a good thing.  But that desire for companionship is also a hard thing when you’re a single young adult who feels ready to settle down.

  So, what do you do with an empty ring finger that seems to stick out like a sore thumb?  That finger which shouts, “You are so alone! Well, as a single person myself, I’ve found the best thing to do is to raise my hands—including my ring finger—to God in surrender.

  But surrender doesn’t always come easily.  Personally, my first instinct is to want to be in control.  I want to know.  I want to plan.  And I want to worry about who, when, where, and how.  Operating from that mindset, I continually have to lay my plans down and say “God, I give this to you.”

  And God is good.  He doesn’t forget me in my struggle to surrender, nor does He grow impatient with me.  Instead, He sends me gentle reminders through His word.  He assures me that my life is in His powerful hands, so I can trust Him utterly and completely with my future. 

Can I share these reminders with you?

Why We Should Trust God

1. God is all-powerful and all-knowing
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Okay, doesn’t that verse just blow you away?  God spoke everything into existence—every single molecule!  And not only did he speak everything into existence, He knows every intricate detail about His creation.  He is so powerful, yet so intimate.  He knows when a tiny sparrow falls to the ground and exactly how many hairs are on ourheads (Matthew 10:30-31).  How can we not trust a simple relationship to God, who creates all and knows all?


2. God loves His children and completes His work in their lives
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hand” (Psalm 138:8).  Charles Spurgeon shares this in his commentary on this verse: “God is concerned in all that concerns his servants.  He will see to it that none of their precious things shall fail of completion; their life, their strength, their hopes, their graces, their pilgrimage shall each and all be perfected.  Jehovah himself will see to this and therefore it is most sure.”

Spurgeon’s words that “none of their precious things shall fail of completion,” warms my heart.  Is marriage one of your precious hopes?  If God has marriage in our futures, we can rest assured that He is going to complete that hope.  And if, for some reason, marriage is not God’s plan for your life, He will realign your hope with His will and bring that transformed hope to perfect completion.


3. God wants good in our lives
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Often our definition of “good” is not the same as God’s.  Sometimes our good may not include marriage in the time frame we would like.  But we need to trust that God is not denying us something good.  Perhaps He is simply giving us (or our future spouse) an opportunity to grow so that our future marriage will be sweeter and stronger.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather wait for the right person, the one God has shaped to fit my heart, than to impatiently marry into a disaster.  God knows the right timing.

  If you are at a season in your life where you feel like your singleness is a trial, remember that God is using this time of singleness to shape you into who He knows you need to be. Charles Spurgeon says, “For it is often for the soul’s health that we would be poor, bereaved, and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped in the wicked man’s mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man’s crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.” God blesses His children even through their trials.


4. The Bible advises it
“Better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in man.  Better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8–9).  We often apply this verse to the counsel of others, but I believe this verse also means: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in yourself!

Charles Spurgeon writes in his commentary on this psalm that, “God has a claim upon his creatures' faith, he deserves to be trusted; and to place our reliance upon another rather than upon himself, is a direct insult to his faithfulness.”  Do you want to insult God by trusting yourself over Him?  I know I need to consider this question more often.  I need to ask myself: Why am I trying to take this into my own hands?  Do I really think that it’s better to trust myself rather than trust God, who does abundantly more than I could ever ask ? (Ephesians 3:20)?


5. Worrying is bad for our health
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”(Matthew 6:25-27).

  Worrying not only doesn’t do anything productive, it negatively affects our physical and emotional health.  What’s more, it demonstrates a reliance on ourselves rather than on God.  Oswald Chambers said, “All of our fears are sinful, and we create our own fears by refusing to nourish ourselves in our faith.  Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief.” (My Utmost for His Highest).

  So, trust the Lord.  If it's His will, then He’ll get a ring on that finger at the right time.  For the present time, be content and joyful in Christ, trusting His faithfulness.  Stop worrying, raise those hands in surrender, and praise our wonderful, faithful Lord and Savior.

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 Thanks for reading today!  Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pure Simple Modesty

Well, I hope you are ready for the 5th, and probably the most bold, post about modesty on AWL. Modesty is such an important core issue, however, I feel that even more posts on the subject would not be too many!
First, allow me to link up all my modesty posts thus far (in order that I wrote them) for those of y'all who have not read them. You may want to read them in order ;-)

Determining What is Truly Modest, My Modesty Journey, Modesty - An Issue of the Heart, &  A Mother's Advice

Now, I would like to give you our modesty standards, my family's & mine ~ (just to clarify ;-)
[I actually helped make the list & the General Rules of Thumb.]
Modesty Standards
keep away from the ways of harlots”
(for Males & Females – unless noted)

Tops:
~ No tight shirts should not be able to tell chest size (remember it WILL shrink)
~ No FORM FITTING solid colored shirts - they need designs to keep male eyes from focusing on chest area – Females
~ No button-ups w/o an undershirt
~ Must have sleeves no shorter than between the arm pit and elbow (no cap sleeves)
~ Nothing sheer or see thru in any way (including arms)
~ Top must not show any skin (back or belly) with arms raised as high as possible
~ No “V”, Wide, or Scoop necks (unless high or wearing shirt underneath)
~ No neckline lower than 3 fingers below the jugular notch
~ A minimum of 3 layers (undergarments are 1) – Females
~ Undershirts should be snug/tight (so bending over it does not gap away from the body)
~ No “bling” clothing (shiny/glittery things) – Females
~ Nothing torn, faded, ripped (trashy looking)
~ Shirt length should be to your fingertips when arms are by your side (if wearing pants) – Females
~ Do not remove shirt or change shirts or be shirtless except privacy of bathroom - Males

Bottoms:
~ No tight clothing - very loose fitting (remember it WILL shrink)
~ Skirt length mid-calf or longer (none of knee showing when standing or sitting) – Females
~ No slits on skirts – Females
~ NO pants, jeans, capri's, or shortsFemales
~ 2, 4, or 6 panel skirts but not full (makes you look fat) – Females
~ Mostly denim (as it goes with everything and is more sturdy)
~ Shorts must come below knees – Males
~ No “bling” clothing (shiny/glittery things)
~ Nothing torn, faded, ripped (trashy looking)
~ Leggins under all skirts & dresses Females


General Rules of Thumb:
Tops - Up to the Collar Bone / Sleeves - Down to the Elbow (or at least half-way to elbow) / Bottoms - Below the Knees

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Yep, these are our modesty standards.
(FYI - I have dedicated a whole page in my tabs to modesty & it includes our modesty standards)

   Does this list seem too hard to follow? Yes?...... Really? I don't think so. I tend to think that one big reason our country, or our world for that matter, is in such a mess is because most people have no Biblical-ly & Torah-ly sound set standards to live by!

   The "believers" dress, talk, and act just like the rest of the world. Friends of the world are enemies of Yaweh - and I didn't say that, HaShem's word did. [1 John 2:15-17] If "believers" would dress, talk, and act different from the world - pure, modest, respectful, sincere, holy, etc. then perhaps this world would take notice. 

    Sadly though, most "believers" either don't care or just outright do not want to do things 'the hard way' or Yaweh's Way. Most "believers" do not have standards by which they live, especially in the area of modesty. Christian girls wear the exact same things loose girls do, and they even feel good themselves and about what they are wearing! Do they not realize that their clothing can make others stumble? Do they not see that they are being a snare for others?

   Believers need to set the example in righteousness, holiness, purity, and modesty for this corrupt world to see, but, sadly, bad company will corrupt good morals way before good company will reform bad morals. 

Anyway, now to what Yaweh has shown me about modesty last month. 

   Modesty is definitely a heart issue, and I hope all of you reading this realize that. If your heart is not in the right place with Yaweh, your life & standards will not be either. I want to please Yaweh with my life SO MUCH, follow Him wholeheartedly, and seek His will daily! I have prayed hard that Yaweh would direct my steps and purge anything out of my life that should not be there, and to further refine any areas in my life that He wants to. So, in that, I believe that HaShem has been readying me for something big - like what happened on our vacation.

   I felt HaShem speak to me more than ever before during Pesach, a time when I searched myself for leaven - sin - to be rid of it Be'Ezrat HaShem - with the help of HaShem.


   In the months leading up to Pesach, I had been feeling more and more against wearing pants, and I became more and more self conscious when I wore them, even my loose fitting sweat pants. I had already committed to not wearing pants in public (except when camping at this point), but now I can see that Yaweh was working with me on something much more than this.


   My younger teenage brother and I conversed about modesty, I asked his opinion, and he said that pants are men's clothing here in America (in this day and age), and that most pants were immodest on women - and so he believed women should not wear them. I couldn't argue with him, of course, and it gave me some food for thought - because I actually agreed with him. Younger siblings do sometimes have great insights - if we older siblings are not too proud to accept it from them ;-)


   As the months went by, I found myself looking at the women, girls, and young ladies around me wearing pants wherever we went, thinking to myself how they could feel modest and pure wearing what they did, even if the pants were more loose than skinny jeans. I wondered if it would be possible, or practical, to wear skirts 24/7/365.


      I definitely felt weird in pants, and I really didn't like that feeling. Yaweh was definitely working on me during this time. After camping for almost 2 weeks in skirts only, I realized that it could be done, and that I felt completely modest in skirts only, and most importantly, that Yaweh was calling me to never again wear pants.


   Being free of pants is wonderful! It is such an interesting feeling, a feeling of freedom, purity, modesty, peace. It is literally awesome. If you let Him, follow Him, Yaweh can change your life SO much!


   As a side note, I also felt Him telling me to scrutinize more closely the shirts I buy and even the  shirts I own now, as even slightly tight fitting shirts are off-limits. I know HaShem is calling me to a higher standard than some, and I am so grateful that He is guiding my steps. More knowledge more responsibility. If I know in my heart that Yaweh is leading me to do something, I'd be a fool not to follow Him.



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    I have also come to see make-up as a modesty issue. This might be difficult to explain, so please bear with me :-).......So, make-up is just a cover-up, even if you say you only use make-up to enhance your appearance, that will not, cannot, negate the fact that no matter how little you use, make-up will change your appearance - at least somewhat. And what's more, LOTS of make-up will put forth a "false front", so to speak, for others to see - not the "real" you.

   Yaweh made each girl, young lady, and woman special in their own way, and no amount of make-up can really, truly change how HaShem made each of us. It can only temporarily cover up what you dislike about yourself.


   I cringe when I hear girls say that they only use make-up to "enhance" their appearances, or when they offer advice like, "oh, make-up is alright only if you use it just to enhance, and not change, your appearance". What they do not realize is what I stated earlier, that any amount of make-up will change at least something about your appearance. That pink lip stick isn't truly the color of your lips, is it? Your face doesn't really look the same with that creamy base that you smear over your face as without it, does it? Are you sure that bit of mascara on your lashes doesn't darken them, even just a little? 


   See my point? We must be SO cautious about how we choose to present ourselves as stewards of the Lord's Kingdom, as His dear children and lights of the world! Am I wearing this pink lip shimmer to get attention? Did I really layer it on for this purpose? < It's all a heart issue.

   Why do I say it can be immodest? I believe it is immodest to wear something that puts forth a "fake" made-up version of oneself. To put forth a "fake" you is also know as defrauding.

   It is so sad how this wicked world in which we live has so convinced many girls into believing the lie that they don't look as good as they should/could with make-up. This just makes me indignant! We don't NEED cosmetics to make us look good. True beauty comes from WITHIN - from the righteousness and holiness of Christ in us!

   I realize that what I have put forth may sound judgmental, so please, hear me out --- In Matthew, Yeshua says "Judge not, lest you be judged." And, while this statement is taken completely out of context by many, as far as I am concerned, Yaweh doesn't want me to judge others just because they choose to wear pants and make-up. I do not judge those of you who choose to wear these things. As I have previously stated, I DO wear make-up from time to time.

   The bottom line for me is that I want to live wholeheartedly for Yaweh, to live a simple, modest, pure life before my Lord - not one of following the world and choosing to look just like those in it. I try to follow my Master's wishes as best as I can, so that I can be well-pleasing to Him.

Thanks for reading! Blessings! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

HaShem Has Answered

Our family's recent 2 week vacation was amazing, completely orchestrated by HaShem to be some of the best weeks I have ever lived - so far.

NOTE: I updated my Q&A page and My Modesty Journey. Also note that I am going to be working on another modesty post (I feel I should & since in my poll, modesty was highly voted for by y'all). That post will center on modesty but will also encompass: Submission, God's Will, Growing Closer to God, and Delighting in the Lord.

 On our 2 week vacation here recently, God taught and reveled so much to me, impressed things upon me, helped me find joy, and gave me a vision for my life!

   Now, where to begin...Since I turned 16, I have continued to ask the Father to make me into the woman He wants me to be, and to help me rid myself of anything that would hinder me from becoming that woman. Since I turned 17, my prayers about this have been more constant, every single day, in fact. Throughout the past few years, and more significantly in just the past few months alone, Yaweh has continued to show me things that I must work on in my life to become who He wants me to be. In the past few months, I have prayed harder and more fervently that HaShem would reveal any areas that I need to purge in my life, and I and wholeheartedly thankful that He has answered!

   Well, during our recent 2 week vacation for Pesach (the Feast of Yaweh during which we remember Yeshua being the lamb that was slain for us, among many other things) and Chag HaMatza (the Feast of Unleavened Bread during which we rid out homes of leaven as HaShem commands, just as the Israelite families, on their way out of Egypt, ate no leavened bread), I felt Hashem show, teach, impress, and help me SO much.

Our Father answers prayer, even in ways we cannot expect. There were numerous things that Yaweh showed me, so I will list them below.

1 ~ For about a month prior, I was praying about whether or not to start an entrepreneurial venture, and I probably would have gone ahead and done it, since I was receiving neither a yes or no from HaShem. But, during our vacation, I kept praying, and then put the whole matter in the back of my mind. As I was sitting silently listening to others talk, I hear "No", and instantly I felt peace about the matter, my stress over the matter ceased, I felt joyous and relieved, and I knew my loving God had answered.

2 ~ Although I had not worn pants nor lip gloss for many weeks prior, I was convicted to not go back to wearing either. Yaweh has been slowly guiding me to this point for many months now, changing my views, so to speak, but it was during the vacation, the time of no stress and perfect peace, that He finally showed me that throwing out my pants was His perfect will.

3 ~ HaShem showed me that I may not have much time left with my siblings, so I need, I must, use this time wisely. I must build up my siblings, spent more time with them, serve them, love them, and be there for them. HaShem has blessed me with wonderful siblings, and I am truly grateful for them.

4 ~ For a year my desire for a pure, blessed, young marriage has grown stronger, but my thoughts on marriage were always "I so want to be married....and of course be a mother.", but now HaShem has put a greater yearning to be a mother in my heart to where my thoughts are, "I so want to be married, and I so want to be a mother as well!" HaShem is good! I have a great desire to train up children "in the way they should go"!

5 ~ Contentment, Joy, Service - these are things HaShem has given me more an understanding and desire for more and more. Yaweh is giving me more joy! I love to serve (I believe that is my gift), but Yaweh has shown me that I need to serve more. I am learning to be more content in my life. Barukh HaShem! (Bless the Lord)

6 ~ For a few years I have wanted to do something for the Jewish people, I just didn't know what. For years I wanted to be apart of a ministry. And for years I have wanted to go to Israel. How would this work? Well, a ministry called HaYovel goes to Israel for the grape harvest & pruning. We have known about HaYovel for a long time, but I never thought about being apart of the harvest, until now. Helping the Jewish people, being apart of a ministry, and going to Israel, could all this be a coincidence? I am not sure.
   I really want to go to Israel, to take part in the harvest, and I believe that HaShem wants me to go as well, my only obstacle is - the funds. I am praying that I will be able to go in 2014, but all in the Lord's time. He has blessed me so much, and I know He listens to my prayers.

7 ~ Yaweh has given me a vision for my life, one that I pray will come through. I believe that HaShem has a great plan for my life, and I know He is guide me each day. He let me catch a vision that I hope to see unfold as the years go by. Our Lord is amazing, truly wonderful!


So, to sum things up, during our 2 week vacation, I grew much closer to Yaweh, I waited and found delight in my Lord, I submitted more and more to HaShem's will, I further tightened my modesty standards, and I felt Yaweh help me immensely to grow into more of a young woman.

Thank you for reading today, and I hope you have been encouraged by reading this. HaShem has shown me so much, that I am sure I must have forgotten something here! 

Oh, and another wonderful gift from HaShem, and one I cannot forget, is that He planned for Autumn (a fellow blogger and my first follower) and I to meet.
I also met several other lovely young ladies on vacation as well, for which I am so grateful!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

119 Ministries

Today, I thought I would share some graphics from 119 Ministries, a WONDERFUL ministry whose leaders truly have hearts for Adonai!

Please check out their site in your spare time and watch some of their teachings and messages.
(some of the graphics are linked to the teaching associated with them)








Thanks for stopping by today! I hope these graphics give some food for thought!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Adonai, I'm still Waiting...

Waiting......one thing each and every one of us experience during life. An unavoidable frustration.

dreaming by the window   ...love the hair & dress   so pretty! Character for story???

   I cannot count all the things I have wanted or needed and had to wait for them.....and actually, there are many things right now that I am still, and will, have to continue waiting for:
Direction from the L-rd (in-home occupation wise)
A Driver's license
My wedding
A husband
Children
Photography software
The Lord to come and rule the earth
etc. etc. etc.
Just to name a few

   If you knew me you would know that I really dislike waiting. Seriously.... I loathe waiting for anything I want/need. I plan things out in my mind that would be perfect (see, I am a perfectionist as well), but then a period of waiting completely disrupts my wonderful plans...and I am left waiting for who knows how long.
 
   Right now, I am having to wait, wait, wait, wait, wait for something I have already been waiting on for 3 years - Direction from Yahovah. Is this such a bad thing to ask for that I must wait years and years before I am answered? No, indeed not. But Adonai will have His perfect work in me, and if it is through waiting endlessly that my G-d brings about His will, then who am I to complain? [Besides, complaining is a dangerous thing to do - Adonai killed many Israelites for their complaints against Him and Moses]

   I have learned, from many experiences, that periods of waiting are inevitable and physically hard (and often emotionally for some of us ;-) But it is during the season of waiting that Adonai is stretching us. Our faith. Our will. Our selflessness. Our impatience. Since our human nature is so weak, we want to cry, "I'm STILL waiting, L-rd!" But we forget the verse, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31

   Everyone had seasons of waiting, every person in G-d's holy Word had to wait for something. Even Yeshua had to wait. He waited 30 years before beginning His ministry. He waited patiently as His disciples were learning who He was and what He wanted them to learn. He waited through hours of intense suffering before death came and released Him from pain. He waited. Patiently. Through Suffering. Through it all - He waited.

   Yaweh waits too, you know. He waits for the lost to come to Him, He doesn't snap His fingers and say, "If you don't come right this instant, I'll not take you unto Myself." No way. He waits for us to come to Him each day with our cares, troubles, thanks, sorrows, joys, wants, needs - He waits. When we sin against Him, He waits for us to come and truly repent. Our G-d even waits to give us the things we need or want to help us choose to rely on Him for everything. He waits to show us where to go, what to do, so that we will trust in Him.

   As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. ;-) Of course it wasn't, it took a long time. We cannot expect everything we want to happen to come around in the blink of an eye. A year in Adonai's time is like a day in ours. He is not slow in answering our prayers or fulfilling our needs....We are just in too much of a hurry ;-D

   Many times we ask G-d, "Why must I wait?"......I think a sufficient answer is......"Well, why not?" 

Can you guess why it is a sufficient answer? :-) 
   Why not wait 7 years for a camera that you really want? Once you get it, you will appreciate it more. Why not wait/search/pray for 3+ years about a way to make an income from home? Perhaps G-d has something better than you could imagine, and you are either not ready for it yet, or it isn't the right time. Perhaps with all your research of various jobs, you can help another person out who is also searching. Why not wait on the L-rd for your future hopes and dreams so that you may have your strengths renewed and be able to "fly carefree" as eagles? ~ It is all about your perspective.

   In our flesh, many times we do not have the right perspectives about various life situations - but - G-d can help us renew our minds & find rest and joy in times of waiting.

   One last note must be made here: When we enter season of waiting, [whether we are waiting for G-d to answer us, help us, or bring something about] we must NOT be idle. Idle hands, minds, and thoughts are satan's playground, friends.

   I believe the L-rd will lead me in the right direction in His good time, but I am not going to sit around and just expect the right at-home job to "fall into my lap"! No, I am going to keep researching, praying, thinking, and talking to others until I receive a conformation from Adonai. Waiting on the L-rd in a situation like this doesn't mean doing nothing. On the contrary, research must be done, all the while believing that my Father will show me the right thing to choose.

Jesus

    I hope I have encouraged at least some of you today, my friends. In writing all this, I have encouraged myself....Writing articles about things I am thinking about or going through seem to encourage me, and for that I am grateful. My each one of us choose to say, "If God wants me to wait, I'll wait!" ;-)


Shalom!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Mother's Advice


Modesty & Purity Advice for ALL
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Everything that YHVH (the L-rd) made valuable (in man's eyes) in this world is covered up and hard to see. 


Where do you find diamonds?  Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. 



Where do you find pearls?  Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. 



Where do you find gold?  Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. 



You've got to work hard to get to see even a glimpse of these valuable things.


YOU are far more precious than diamonds and pearls and gold and your body is valuable (sacred).  


Your body should be covered too, and just as hard for this world to get even a glimpse of.


(Original Quote by C.C., Modified by D.A.)
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Just a Thought...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sibling Matters...Brotherly Love


1 John 4:7, 11, & 12
Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God. 11 Beloved friends, if this is how God loved us, we likewise ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us.



Romans 13:8
Don't owe anyone anything - except to love one another; for whoever loves his fellow human being has fulfilled Torah.


Galatians 5:13
For, brothers, you were called to be free. Only do not let that freedom become an excuse for allowing your old nature to have its way. Instead, serve one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2
& 3 
Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love, and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom.

2 Thessalonians 1:3
We have to keep thanking God for you always, brothers, as is appropriate; because your trust continues to grow greater, and the love you each have for one another continues to increase.

1 John 1:5
And now, dear lady, I am requesting that we love one another - not as if this were a new command I am writing you, for it is the one which we have had from the beginning.


Important verses to keep in mind from Romans 12:
9 - Don't let love be a mere outward show. Recoil from what is evil, and cling to what is good. 
10 - Love each other devotedly and with brotherly love; and set examples for each other in showing respect. 
17 - Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good. 
18 - If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people
19 - Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God's anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, "ADONAI says, 'Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.'" 
21 - Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.



   Leviticus 19:18 says, "Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am ADONAI." and in Matthew, Mark, & Luke - Yeshua says that the second greatest commandment is "love your neighbor as yourself" (the first being "love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength") and Yeshua said, "all the Torah & Prophets are dependent upon these two commands." So, obviously, loving one's neighbors as oneself is quite important...
   Loving your neighbor as yourself is actually quite simple, and can be summed up in one sentence; Don't do, say, or think anything to/about your neighbor that you wouldn't want them to do, say, think to/about you. See? Simple. The hard part is applying this, and getting your heart in the right place to do so.
   Love is a choice. It is a verb. So it requires action. If you say you love someone, it means little, unless you have actions to back up what you have said. If I say I love my mom, yet I am constantly arguing with her and am not willing to go out of my way to do things for her - then my actions have contradicted my words, and I do not truly love my mom.
Remember what love IS? 

~ Patient, Kind, Content, Satisfied, Modest, Humble, Respectful, Nice, Selfless, Calm, Easy going, Forgives, Forgets, Bears NO Grudges, Sorry when Others Sin, Takes Delight in Truth,  always Bears Up, always Trusts, always Hopes, always Endures, and Love is Alive Forever (Never ENDS)

Remember what Love is NOT?
~ Jealous, Envious, Boastful, Proud, Rude, Selfish, Easily Angered, Record keeping, and Doesn't Gloat over Others' Sins
   Our love for our siblings must measure up to this standard. I know, it won't always, but, genuine love is what we are aiming for - it is what Adonai wants us to have! As fallible human beings, we must entreat our G-d for His help daily to love others as we ought.
   It is true that often it is those we live with who are the hardest to "get along with". We see all their faults and attitudes - and they see ours too. We must be gracious & merciful with our siblings and family more than with anyone else, really. G-d forgives us, and is abundantly gracious and merciful towards us when we do wrong - should we not follow His example and give abundant grace and mercy towards our siblings?
Grace = Giving others good things that they do not deserve. (ie...a smile from you when your sister has been so mean, and in your opinion, definitely doesn't deserve kindness from you Proverbs 12:16, A fool's anger is known at once, but a cautious person slighted conceals his feelings.)
Mercy = Not giving others punishment/judgement that they certainly do deserve. (ie...not running to tell mom that your brother has been really mean to you and thus deserving of punishment - but rather, letting it go - Proverbs 19:11, People with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense...)
   You know, writing this, I find myself thinking about how my relationship with my siblings has developed over the years. In my humble opinion, we as siblings have gotten along better than most do for all our lives. We've had ups and downs, but, only every now and then have our relationships become strained.....and with a few particular siblings, most of the time, it was my fault.   But just in the past year, my relationship with each of my siblings has been far better, and more peaceful. Maturity has much to do with this, I know. In the past, my mom would often tell be how, as the oldest, I must be more mature and as such be the first one to do what is right.    I know the thing that upset me the most was when I thought my "rights" were being infringed upon. I laugh at this now because I have come to realize that, I have no "rights" as I thought of them. ;-)
  Throughout the years, as you and your siblings grow older, if your relationship with each of them doesn't grow closer and less stressful, I would seriously consider praying hard for maturity.....Our siblings are supposed to be our best friends! [a great book on this subject is called Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, & Grace Mally]
   As fallen human beings, rough rides are inevitable, because sin is ever-present. We must learn to avoid harping on other's sins, and allow our love to cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Remember, people with good sense overlook offenses - it is their glory! 
   We must fight our sinful nature and be holy, set-apart, and righteous for the glory of G-d! Our L-rd doesn't get any glory when we fight, argue, give quick judgments, take offence easily, or when we get impatient. If we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), then it will be that much easier to keep from doing the things that do not give G-d the glory. Our relationships with out siblings can be beautiful, full of love, peaceful, delightful, fulfilling, and full of friendship - if we are willing to truly love our siblings as Adonai loves us.
   Honestly, young ladies, you don't have that much time with your siblings - you never have as much time as you think you do - so make the years you do have beautiful. Don't make them horrid by quarreling all the time! G-d has given you the siblings you need to build your character, to help you mature. So thank G-d for your siblings often, pray for them, do things with them that they want to do, talk with them. Don't tear them down! That is probably one of the worst things older siblings can do to younger ones! We must build each other up, and encourage each other!
   Love never fails! It bears NO grudges! This kind of love is beautiful! The world's "love" (which is selfish, and thus,  not true love) cannot be compared to it!
Thank Adonai that He has seen fit to give you siblings today, tomorrow, and ever after!You will not have them forever.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 2013 Guest Post



Well, after being absent from my blog due to end-of-year things - I am finally back! 
Happy Solar/Gregorian New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2013!

This guest post is for both December & January. The guest is Mirren Martin, who is here to give us some practical tips to grow in JOY. 

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Mirren, you did a wonderful job on this post! It encouraged me and it was truly refreshing to me that all 7 of your tips are centered around Yahovah (the Lord), Yeshua (Jesus), and our relationship with our God! 
Our Father has given you great wisdom and I thank you that you have been willing to share with others here.

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7 Practical Ways to Grow in Joy

1. Find time to spend with the Lord Jesus each day . . . the first step in finding lasting joy is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 
   This promise is found in Psalm 16:11 where our Lord tells us that it is in His presence that we find fullness of joy. How can we be in His presence as humans? We can make time for Him by spending time in prayer, in praise, and in His Word. Here is the first “secret” to growing in joy—disciplining yourself to make the time to make Him your Best Friend—to have a personal relationship with Him. 
   Many Christians are void of joy in their lives. They can’t seem to “find” joy because they search for it from sources (Christian books, Christian movies, Christian friends, etc.—anything inspirational) instead of going to the Source and making time for Him each day. It is all about delighting in Him. It is so easy for us to delight in a best friend or a “special” friend (boyfriend, girlfriend), and we realize that these relationships are only deepened through spending time with that person. You spend time talking and doing things together when you want to further develop a relationship. For some reason, this doesn’t seem to connect with many Christians that, in the same way, if we want to develop a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus—one that will produce and bring forth joy in our lives—we must take time for Him. 
   He tells us in Psalm 37:4 that as we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts. What are those desires? One godly desire of many Christians is to experience joy in this world of sin and sorrow. Well, then that brings out the question of “What is delighting?” so that we can delight in the Lord, so that we can eventually experience the desires of our hearts? Delighting is making sure our heart, our love, and our all are His as Mary Ellen Beachy explains in her book Women at the Cross. She goes on to make the exhortation that if we do not spend time with God each day, it is not because we are too busy, but simply because we don’t care enough about Him. Job depended on the Lord and drawing from him so much that in Job 23:12 he talks about esteeming the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. 
   The root of where joy-sapping comes from in Christians’ lives is their choice to neglect developing or desiring a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. As the great preacher Billy Sunday once said: “If you have no joy in your religion, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.” That “leak” often is simply neglecting to spend time with Him. True joy springs out of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. As Joseph Mermion explains: “Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.” Fullness of joy is found in His presence (Psalm 16:11).

2. Realize that following Jesus’ example will bring forth joy in your life. 
   What was His example?      His example (as you study the gospels and see how he responded to people and circumstances) is one of compassion for others, servanthood, dependence upon his Father, focus on others, endurance under trials and sufferings, selfless living, seeking to bring others peace, etc. So another way to develop joy is to focus on others with these same attitudes and attributes that Jesus did. 
   Joy is an attitude of the heart. The Expositor’s Commentary says that “a Christian’s joy does not spring from his circumstances, but from the blessings that are his because he is in Christ.” Being “in Christ” means that we are His children, but it also means that we are walking in His ways—as mentioned above, walking in His ways will be following His example and striving to take our focus off of ourselves and onto others. We too often fool ourselves into thinking that we will not be happy if we have to practice servanthood, or have compassion on someone who is mean to us, etc. Well, true, it might not be the happiest of situations to force ourselves (for one example) to show love to someone who has just gossiped or slandered us behind our back. This may not make us happy at the time and we may dread showing them love, and even after doing it, we may still feel a little awkward about doing the same type of loving action again. However, happiness is not what we are seeking—too often we think that we have to do all these different things to make ourselves “happy,” equating this with joy. 
   Happiness can often be something we are selfishly reaching toward and so it leads us more into a self-focus. We think that if we get to watch our favorite movie, go to our favorite shopping place, eat our favorite food, or spend time with friends and family that we love, we will be happy. We may feel happy for a little bit of time, however, happiness and joy are very different as happiness is fleeting, but joy is an attitude of the heart. 
   Therefore, in following Jesus’ example, we are seeking joy—not necessarily happiness (but joy can definitely bring forth happiness). It is developing joy that brings us contentment in life. Happiness will continually be fading and re-surfacing, fading and re-surfacing, and that is just “life,” but if we do not have joy, it is more tragic than losing out on a happy moment. Joy can keep us going through the toughest of times, it can keep us from getting depressed, it can make us able to put a smile on our face when our world is collapsing—because true joy is sourced in our obedience to our Heavenly Father as Jesus relays to His disciples in John 15:9-11 when He says, As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love, these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

3. Looking toward our future hope can daily help us grow in joy—that future hope being our Heavenly home with the Lord Jesus. 
   Even Jesus was encouraged when He thought about the future of joy before Him when he was to leave this earth as seen in Hebrews 12:2 where it also encourages us to look to Jesus for our encouragement: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
   In Warren Wiersbe’s Songs in the Night he says, “We as Christians should never be sad or depressed because Jesus has died for our sins and we are forgiven. Now, Jesus is preparing us a perfect home in Heaven. We can have perfect joy always knowing that we will someday be with Him in Heavenly glory forever.” Jesus encouraged the disciples by reminding them of their Heavenly home: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 
   The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the body of Christ will be able to joyfully endure afflictions and that their joy is based on their expectancy of their Heavenly home: for ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance (Hebrews 10:34).

4. Finding and then focusing on specific ministries can grow much joy into life. 
   Much joy flows out of a fulfilled heart. How can one attain a heart of fulfillment? Look for ways to minister! This will “fill” you. For example, when you have a choice to spend two hours on a movie or to spend two hours babysitting your little siblings so that your Mom can have a little free time. Which endeavor will bring you more satisfaction? Will ministering to your flesh and enjoying a two hour movie that may only feed your emotional desires bring fulfillment? Or, will the babysitting (or any ministry you get involved in) bring you more of a feeling of self-worth and that you have done something to bring someone else joy? 
   A major part of growing in joy is seeking to live for others above ourselves and thus getting involved in ministries—however small or insignificant they may seem—will do much to produce a joyful heart and positive outlook on life. A joyful spirit will bring joy to others and that can be a ministry in itself. We want to be like the first part of Eleanor Doan’s quotation (and not like the last part) as stated here: “Some people bring happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves” J.M. Barrie said. 
   Warren Wiersbe in his book Turning Mountains into Molehills and Other Devotionals reminds his Christian reader to “never underestimate the influence of even one Christian. You may feel that your life is not accomplishing much; but if you are faithful to the Lord, He is using you as salt to accomplish His will where you are.” So, focusing on using our lives to minister to others can bring much joy. If you aren’t able to get involved in an actual organized or known ministry, then you can—as stated above—simply involve yourself in finding ways to make others feel joy and happiness. This is a ministry in itself. 
   As John Bartlett’s book of quotations states: “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” Live to minister and you will grow in joy as well as grow in pleasing the Lord Jesus (Colossian 1:10).

5. Witnessing will increase our joy. 
   When we tell others the Gospel and share about Jesus Christ, not only are we giving them an opportunity to embrace the only true faith and thus secure their eternity in Heaven and not in Hell, but we are also finding the joy of sharing about our salvation. While salvation in the Old Testament was a little different than New Testament salvation, still the concept that God is our salvation and is thus saving us from evil is something that is true in both Testaments. Therefore, we can rejoice! But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation” (Psalm 13:5). 
    The more we focus on our salvation and sharing the true source of salvation with others, it becomes easier and more and more joy-fulfilling—especially when people respond! We should never lose a part of that specific joy that comes with knowing that we were part of God’s plan for saving a fellow human being. It is exciting and it is always something that can be looked back on with joy. Wiersbe says that “we have a sincere, spiritual joy in Christ because our sins have been forgiven.” We should be so excited about this and have the love for people that Jesus had, that we are daily wanting to share with others the joy we have found in our salvation so that they can also experience the same peace. 
   In Philippians 1:27 the Apostle Paul encourages believers to only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” We need to live it and preach it and this will grow our joy! And another wonderful thing is that when we share and someone responds and accepts the Gospel, we have pleased the Lord and brought joy to Heaven: I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:7).

6. Spending time with family and godly friends can be a true source of growing our joy. 
   Hebrews 10: 24-25 explains that in the body of Christ we have the great opportunity of finding joy in fellowship by drawing from others and giving to others encouragement: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. The Speaker’s Sourcebook includes this thought from Geike: “It is not what is around us, but what is in us; not what we have, but what we are, that makes us really happy.” What we are as Christians is a part of Christ’s body and His body is the church and His church is called the Family of God. We can find many ways to grow in joy by being with fellow, likeminded Christians. The Speaker’s Sourcebook reminds us that “Joy shared is joy doubled.” Paul expressed in Philippians 4:1 that fellow believers were his joy and crown. We need to look for ways to build relationships with our friends and family members that will be relationships that point each other toward the things of the Lord, toward His Word and then we can prove a great source of increasing joyful times in others’ lives and this will plant a joy in our hearts—the joy of serving Jesus by serving others.

7. Focusing on God’s promises and making them our own will bring lasting joy
   Even in the toughest times, God’s promises will pull us through! In John 16:20- 22 it talks about a few different tough times, but each of these verses ends with the promise that joy will come. Verse 22 ends with the promise that no man can take our joy. Psalm 30:5 ends with the promise that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Wiersbe says, “It doesn’t matter what you are going through, if you have Jesus as your Savior, you can always experience joy.” Colossians 1:11 explains: Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness. Ryrie’s study notes for this verse focus on the portion: with joyfulness. Ryrie says: “This is what distinguishes the Christian’s patience and longsuffering from the Stoic’s.” In other words, Christians can show joy even in the midst of times when they are having to exercise patience and longsuffering because they have God’s promises to lean on. After all, it is the joy of the Lord that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)! When we have problems growing in our joy, we need to take a moment and focus on one or several of God’s promises to us and we will find ourselves being encouraged and strengthened in the Lord and this will produce joy as we realize that we can trust God’s promises! Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice (Psalm 63:7).  


Thanks again, Mirren, for taking the time to guest post! I hope you are have been encouraged by Mirren's words of wisdom today!