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Do everything in Love

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By Kristen Kilpatrick

"Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

This is my all time favorite bible verse for multiple reasons.

This verse is a constant reminder to love. In everyday life, there are so many situations that make loving feel hard and forgiveness seem out of the question. I always look back on this verse and remind myself of the love that Jesus gives me and how I should aim to love just as Jesus does.

When I was younger, my mom would always say things such as, "Love is a big word!" Love may not literally be a big word, but it is definitely a HUGE action. Choosing to love someone no matter the situation and no matter the person is a big task sometimes. It may be hard to completely forgive someone and show nothing but love and kindness, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't!!! God has shown unconditional love and forgiveness towards us, and there is no reason we shouldn't show unconditional love and forgiveness to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!

Making decisions purely out of love for another person (and not yourself) is difficult. It's so easy to make decisions that make you happy and satisfy your earthly wants instead of thinking about other peoples feelings involved. Choosing to show love in your decisions is something everyone needs to take into more consideration.

An act of love in a moment of anger will save you from a lifetime of regret. This society often forgets to apply that saying. Our generation is so immediate, everything happens so quickly, and it gets hard to sit and focus on loving those around us for a second. Sometimes we forget to serve and listen to others. Doing everything in love is a way of life, and I promise it is the easiest way of life. It's something that takes practice and discipline. And in the hard times, it is not always natural, but those who do everything in love are building their true home in heaven, and they will be blessed. Those that show grace to the undeserving will be blessed. That is a promise.

Overall, love is SO important.
Choose love, always.

Persecution & Conformity

By Jenna Morris

the definition of the word persecution is, "hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs." 

I have been persecuted ever since I was in junior high. I have been persecuted by my friends, my mother, boyfriends, and strangers. Someone making fun of me because I loved Jesus, was something I never enjoyed. Who would enjoy that? 

Guys, kids are mean. Kids will think you're weird for praying all the time and talking about your good Father. As you get into high school, you will lose friends, because you're "too much Jesus." High school kids don't wanna hang out with the girl who memorizes scripture, because memorizing scripture isn't cool. It gets to a point where anything but God is cool. This world pushes a life towards teenagers that's absolutely impetuous. And as long as you aren't following God, you're reputation is okay, because that's the one unforgivable cultural sin. 

John 15:18 says, "If the world hates you, just know that it hated me first." 

Ouch. This message hits me right in the gut. Jesus was so straight forward when he said this, I love it. It's true, we often get down and throw a pity party for ourselves when people hurt us about the way we love our Father. 

Not everyone is going to like you. At some point, you will feel like the world hates you, but the same world that hates you, hated Jesus first. This verse comforts in a way. 

Peter 4:12-14 says,

Dear beloved, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the spirit of the glory of God rests in you. 

I AM HONORED TO BE "too much Jesus". I AM SO STINKING HONORED. 

He was my first love, I want to experience everything I do with Him. I want to climb every mountain and cross every sea in His name. He is so crazy, stupid, head over heels for me, and I want to pursue Him the way He has Pursued me. He is such a gentleman for me, He wants me in every form. The fact that I am so enthralled with Him in my daily life, to the point where I am persecuted because of my enthrallment, says a lot about mine and His relationship. If I am being persecuted, I'm glorifying Him exactly how I am supposed to. 

People, I beg you to not conform to this world. You are above what this world has to offer. You are more than what the enemy tells you, understand the power in that. These earthly desires, whether it be people, material items, moments, they are all nice, but they will never fulfill you. Your heart was made to rest in God alone, and in God alone you are called to rest. 

You are called to righteousness. You are called to put on love. You are called be so enthralled with the Father, so obsessed with Him, that when you are persecuted, it turns into a compliment. 

After all, your victory has already been won. 

The Armor of God

By Morgan Perry

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-11‬ 

I think as we get older and gain more experience we begin to put on more armor as we face each day.  As we  continue to face trials and tribulations the armor gets heavier and heavier. We convince ourselves that this armor is the only thing that can protect us from this evil world. If we would just realize that when we are in the presence of the Lord, we can take all the armor off, and place our protection in him. We can stop worrying about if the armor we built is going to be strong enough or if those walls are going to be thick enough, because he is our armor and he is stronger than any walls we could build. We are always safe in him.

Instead of building your own armor, let God be your armor. Let him protect you. 

Sometimes, when we have been hurt, it's hard to trust people, or even trust God.  It's hard to let God have full reign over your life when you only find consistency through finding control in your life. When you let Jesus control your life, in some way, you are losing control. That's not always easy, but it's okay because he will never let us down. 

Yes, we will have trials, and we will sin, but God gives abundant grace. He's never going to give up on you. He will never let you down. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will never shut you out. Instead, He waits for you to come to Him. He is knocking on your heart saying, "Hey, let me into your life. I love you. I'm proud of you. I'm so happy to be your father."

If we build walls, those walls don't let people in. When you don't let people in, it's hard to walk in real, intimate relationship with them. Building walls only causes more harm. 

Jesus is stronger than any wall you build, but he will only break down the walls if you ask him. So do it! Ask him! Invite him in. Let him break down your walls, he wants to!

God equips us with the armor we need to fight! 

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:13-17‬ ‭

Resting In Him

By Jenna Morris

Isaiah 26:3, You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

2 Corinthians 12:10, For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hebrews 13:5, Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'

Philippians 4:11-13 , Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

These past couple of months, I have learned a valuable lesson. I have learned to be content, always. Though I make it sound easy, this lesson was hard to learn. I went through a lot to understand this message. 

I've been in toxic relationships, I struggled with placing my identity in my friends, and what people thought of me. I struggled to love my mom when I felt like she didn't love me enough to make good choices. Guys, I struggled with a constant sadness because my WANTS were not being filled. A lesson I enjoy everyday to walk in is being everlastingly content in the fact that I am loved without condition. 

Is that not a crazy statement? I am loved UNCONDITIONALLY, WITHOUT CONDITION. Some people don't understand how intense that is.Through persecution, through hardships, through the good times and the times I don't even want to get out of bed, I am God's daughter, and He is so so good to me. 

All of my hope and confidence rests in God, because I know He comes through. I trust Him completely, He is all knowing. Guys, I have never wanted to run after anything as hard as I want to run after Jesus. 

Let Him be your rock. Let Him fill you up. 

My dad has always told me, "don't depend on people, because people will always disappoint." Though that is a stinging sentence, it's very true. People are imperfect and generally unreliable, I'm sorry. People are not capable of being enough for you. God has created you in His image, and you were created to rely on Him and you lack nothing to turn to Him with your life. 

The verses I showed you in the beginning, are verses about mostly being content in the midst of whatever circumstance. Matthew 6:25-34 is scripture my dad always resorts to. In his words He says the verses like this, "God made everything in the world. The flowers in the fields don't worry. The birds in the sky don't worry. So why should you? Are you not more valuable to God than a flower or a bird?" 

Once you learn to rest in the Lord, you will find so much peace. He is your rock. He is there when you're at your loneliest. He is your refuge. "Rest in the fact that God is in control, which mean you can face things that are out of your control and not act out of control." -Lysa TerKeurst

 

Snickers vs Texas De Brazil

By Morgan Perry

Have you ever had an opportunity that looks so intriguing and and feels so right but you know that the  Lord's promises are tremendously better? Yeah me too. I think we've all been there, or least will be there at some point in our life! 

Patience is hard. People, I know it's not always easy! Patience is definitely not one of my strong holds in any area of my life, but patience is key. 

I've heard my Youth Pastor, Geoffrey, speak hundreds of times and my all time favorite thing he has ever talked about is his experience with the restaurant Texas De Brazil. 

Texas De Brazil is Geoffrey's favorite restaurant and every time he goes, he prepares for it. He will eat heavy the night before, and then he won't eat all day until he goes to Texas De Brazil. Of course, he gets hungry at different times throughout the day so it took a lot of strength to say no the the snickers bar that was calling his name every time he felt his stomach growl. Imagine the temptation you would feel around lunch time just to have a taste of food!!!

You're probably thinking "so what if he has a snickers bar! Dinner will still be good!" But will it be as good?

If Geoffrey knows that if he can just ignore the hunger in the moment, he will be completely satisfied within hours, then why would he eat the snickers bar? 

Because it tastes good NOW. 

I've made choices in my life that I knew I shouldn't have just because I desired to have it in the moment. I'm still learning to never settle for anything less than what He promises. It's not easy, and it's not always fun, but I can promise you that the things of this world will never fulfill you the way Jesus can! 

Guys, the promises of the Lord are so much better! Jesus is our Texas De Brazil and the world is our snickers. Which one are you going to choose? 

Whether it's the party you just got invited to, the new group of friends you want to hang out with or you're into the new boy in town, always make sure that you are aligning with Jesus. Is this situation the snickers or is it Texas De Brazil?

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."  Psalm 37:7