Jesus: Our Singular Focus

Guestpost by Katelyn Osborn

“The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord…”
(1 Corinthians 7:34)

What a topic – staying close to Jesus during our single years.

When a friend asked if I would prayerfully consider writing this post, I realized I had not given much thought lately to how to use my single years fully for God’s glory. And since I am single, I decided I needed to spend some time learning from the Lord how this life should look. After all, we want to serve the Lord to the fullest of our ability.

In 1st Corinthians 7:34 we read, “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” Being unmarried, we have far fewer distractions than married women have. This gives us a freedom to seek to be holy both in body and in spirit.

Being holy means to be “hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God.” It means to be pure, good, and freed from the bondage of sin. God has mercifully freed us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). In our eager pursuit of His righteousness and glory, our souls will be fully satisfied. This season of life has the potential to bear fruit lasting far beyond our own lifetime! But in order to pass on a truly glorious legacy, He must be our singular focus. Our lives must be marked by loving Jesus first and laying aside every other encumbrance that would strive to take His place. 

So what does this practically look like?

Let me share with you some ways the Lord has worked on my heart to focus more on Him.

Surrendering to Jesus

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
(Romans 6:16)

Sometimes the Lord and I are in close fellowship, and I am truly delighting in His presence. But other times the Lord will bring to light an area I have held too closely in my heart. Often it may be a good thing in itself that has become the root of my joy, satisfaction, or pursuit instead of the Lord Himself. Idols must be surrendered, which requires sacrifice. This should be done immediately – not delayed. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “A whole lot of what we call ‘struggling’ is simply delayed obedience.” These delays to surrender only set us back on the road to deeper satisfaction in Christ. So let us forsake the struggle, trust in our ultimate Victor, and yield all joyfully to Him. The reward of knowing Christ far outweighs the vain idols that we are called to surrender!

· Ask the Lord if there is anything in your life that needs to be surrendered. Write it down and pray specifically for any steps the Lord wants you to take to yield it fully to Him (see Romans 6:19 and 2 John 1:6a).

Abiding in Christ

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
(John 15:4-5)

I have been learning more of what the word “abiding” means with my relationship with Jesus. Throughout the day I am learning to pray and seek Him for the little things, to give thanks for blessings, to lean on His strength through difficult situations that come up, to keep Him in the forefront of my mind. This is truly a wonderful place to be, and as a bonus, we bear fruit as we abide in Him!

We can choose to continually commune with Jesus. He is already present; He never leaves or forsakes (Hebrews 13:5). He is involved in every part of our day – great and small (Proverbs 16:33). Therefore, it is possible for us to always abide mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in His Presence.

Our Lord and Lover already knows everything about us and our desires, so we can run to Him with all the small cares that crowd our days (Psalm 139:2-3). He desires to commune with us.

· One hindrance to abiding in Christ is sin in our lives. We won’t feel like walking in the light with the Lord if we are hiding darkness. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). When you notice that you have a wrong attitude or have sinned, confess and repent of it before the Lord. As we learn to walk in His ways, we will want to be with Him.

Delighting in Jesus

The Lord has been using this word to convict me. What is my greatest delight? Whatever that is, I will be pursuing it because to love something is to pursue it. Does Jesus consume our smallest tasks and constant thoughts? Jesus warned the church of Ephesus of the calamity that losing sight of their first love brings about. Christ recognized their faithfulness in so many ways – and yet they had left their first affection (Revelation 2:2-5).

· Ask the Lord to search your heart and show you where you are placing your delight. Repent of delighting in the lesser things and seek Him to delight yourself in the only One who is worthy of praise. “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). So ask our faithful God to help you delight in Him!

Is Jesus Your Singular Focus?

Sisters, to delight in Christ is to love Christ. And to love Christ is to seek Christ. By God’s grace, I am learning to delight myself in Him. He alone can fulfill my deepest desires (Psalm 107:9). In Christ, I am complete (Colossians 2:9).

Please join me in delighting in and seeking Him!

Is Jesus your greatest passion? How do you cultivate a heart solely focused on Him? We’d love to hear in a comment below.


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Am I Trustworthy?

by Andrea Nymeyer

“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.”
(Proverbs 31:11)

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Why won’t they trust me?”

I sure have. Usually I’m speaking of my parents or some other authority.

When we ask, “Why won’t they trust me?” we don’t realize that we have it all backward. The true question is, “Am I trustworthy?” Dwight L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” Instead of griping that others do not trust us, we should be caring for our character and making sure we are worthy of trust.

Proverbs 31 describes the model virtuous woman. The very first attribute of this woman is this: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her” (Proverbs 31:11).  What is it about the Proverbs 31 woman that makes her worthy of her husband’s trust? She loves him enough to earn that trust, putting his interests before her own. Our heavenly Father sets us the most beautiful example of trustworthiness. Only because we know the character of the Lord as revealed in Scripture can we rest with such confidence in the Name of Jesus. “How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings” (Psalm 36:7). Thus our longing to be trusted is the outpouring of a desire to be more like Jesus. Trustworthiness is a valuable and essential character trait that must be cultivated diligently. How then do we become trustworthy?

My pastor preached a message several years ago with an acrostic about building and keeping trust. Following is his outline with my own Bible verses, comments, and illustrations.

T – Tell the Truth.

The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”                                                                                                     (Proverbs 12:19)

Truth is the core of the Gospel and therefore, the core of the Christian life. It is what has set us free from the clutches of sin (John 8:32). So let us not pass by or treat as trivial what is one of the most powerful testimonies of our faith. Speaking truth is yet another form of the overflow of that love we see Christ exemplifying for us. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). Let us hold up the truth as the light by which we walk on a daily basis so that others might trust us even in the smallest of matters. A person who does not consistently tell the truth cannot be trusted.

Every morning when my siblings and I come in from the barn, someone in our family will ask one of the younger children, “Did you wash your hands?” Often when the child responds, “Yes,” the older sibling will respond, “Are you sure?”

Why do we ask them this? Because the child is not yet trustworthy. This is expected from a five-year-old, but you and I are no longer five. We must develop a habit of telling the truth every time if we want to build our parents’ trust in us. How can we develop this habit when we have already caught ourselves speaking lies? “Think before you speak.” We should not allow a word to pass from our lips before discerning our motive for speaking.

When our hearts desire to please the Lord, our words will be a powerful testament to that desire. “Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name” (Psalm 86:11). 

R – Remember Your Words and Promises.

“Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.”                                                                                                                     (Proverbs 25:14)

This one really gets me. I’m an incredibly scatterbrained person, and it’s easy to prove myself untrustworthy simply because I forgot what I said ten minutes ago. If we want to be trustworthy, we must put a high priority on accomplishing the things we promise to do.

Taking the time to write things down can be extremely helpful. Prayer lists and to-do lists and lists of all sorts might be some of the most helpful tools in encouraging us to remember the promises we have made. The more faithfulness we apply in recalling commitments to mind and performing that which we have promised, the more those in our lives will feel just how loved and treasured they truly are. 

U – Understand the Challenge.

“Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?”
(Proverbs 6:28)

I know well that if I walk on hot coals from a fire, my feet will be burned. I have no trust in those coals not to burn my feet. Trustworthiness is not an easy character trait to develop. Messing up just once causes others to lose trust in me. Trust cannot be demanded; it is earned. Letting someone down repeatedly causes an even greater lack of trust.

When I do the accounting for my dad’s company, I have a reputation for making mistakes while my sister Dee rarely makes mistakes. It is not uncommon for my dad to say, “Let’s leave this project for Dee to complete.” Just as I would never trust hot coals on my feet, my family has been “burned” often enough and badly enough by my work that they do not trust me. Building trust is incredibly difficult, especially if the person has been hurt repeatedly.

Recognizing the challenge that is set before us to earn the trust of others should help us in not being impatient or angry when they may still find trusting us difficult. The way we love and serve them through the challenges will only increase our growing trustworthiness. The refining and pruning will feel that much more worth the pains as those pains also yield deeper and more fruitful relationships.

S – Stay Steady.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”         (Luke 16:10)

My life is not “exciting” by many standards. I live at home, do schoolwork, and help my parents. But do you know what? Trust is not built on the big and extraordinary. Trust is built on faithfulness in little things. Do I wash the dishes with a good attitude? Are my chores done without my having to be reminded? Am I attentive to my family member’s needs? Faithfulness in these seemingly small areas builds trust. These seemingly small areas are in fact treasures from heaven that have been entrusted to us. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17a).

Sisters, we can find the beauty in the soap and water washing dishes clean, in the messy, laughing face of a little brother, and in the laundry piled high. Seeing God’s grace in everything small and mundane allows us to walk more faithfully because we are living in the light of the glorious grace of the cross and purpose of our Lord in every detail of life. By His grace, we can look forward to hearing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

T – Take the Time.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”                                                                                              (Galatians 6:9)

What if I said, “I’ve been trustworthy to my parents for a whole week! I should have earned their trust by now!” Would you think I was crazy? Yes! We know that it takes faithfulness and time to build trust – much longer than a week.

If you’ve ever tried to tame an animal, you know that one quick move of your hand can destroy the progress that you’ve made in building its trust. It takes hours and even days to gain an animal’s trust, and it takes years of faithfulness to earn the trust of a person – especially your parents who know your imperfections.

Do you need to built trust? Don’t get discouraged!

God’s loving mercy surrounds us, never leaving us alone in our efforts to follow His Son. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). As we strive to walk faithfully, earning the trust of our parents and others in our lives, we must find ourselves abiding in the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of Thine own hands” (Psalm 138:8). He will help you to build and keep trust so that it can be said of you, too, that the heart of your authority trusts in you!

– Andrea Nymeyer

In what ways do you strive to build trust with your parents? Leave a comment below!


If you’re interested in writing a guest post for KBR Ministries, click here.


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The Law of Kindness

by Ashley Spies

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
(Proverbs 31:26)

The woman described in Proverbs chapter 31 is a wonderful example for all women.

In this verse, we learn that her words are full of wisdom and kindness. First let’s ask the question, “Where does wisdom come from?” We know it comes from God.

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
(Proverbs 2:6)

The word “law” is the Hebrew word “torah,” which refers to the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). That put a whole new light on that verse for me. In Exodus there are chapters filled with miscellaneous laws about how the Israelites were supposed to treat one another. As I thought about it, I realized these books may not talk about kindness, but instead tell how to show kindness. Let’s look at a few examples.

“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.”
(Exodus 22:1)

“And if a man borrow ought of his neighbor, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.”
(Exodus 22:14)

In the first example, we see that if a man steals another person’s animal, that man has to give the person he stole from four or five times what he stole, depending on the animal. That’s kindness…being compassionate and caring. The second example talks about if a man borrows something, and it gets hurt or dies while the borrower is not around, the borrower will have to make it good, make it right, make restitution.

I think all the laws that God made for His people to follow about personal conduct boil down to one word: love. One of the evidences of love is showing kindness to somebody. As John 14:15 states, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31)

If we love God first with all of our heart, we will love our neighbor. And love fulfills the law. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).

As a lady, either young or old, single or married, we can all fulfill the law by loving God with all of our being, and then loving our neighbor. This will flow forth from our lips in words of kindness and love.

Here are some practical ways you can speak with the law of kindness:

  1. If you are living at home with siblings, practice being kind to them. Practice showing compassion. It doesn’t have to be anything big. If a sibling receives a good grade or accomplishes something “big” or important, encourage them, even if it doesn’t seem that important to you.
  2. Memorize God’s Word. If you have God’s words hidden in your heart, wisdom, His law, and righteous words will be able to flow out of your heart, out of your mouth, and touch those around you.  “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).
  3. Write God’s words out on cards or paper, and put them around your house, workplace, car, or pocket. When you’re tempted to say or do something unkind, read the card and use God’s Word to battle temptation.
  4. Ask God to help you love Him first and foremost, and then love those around you.

“Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.”
(Joshua 23:11)

May we purpose to speak words of kindness, as sisters and daughters!

-Ashley Spies

In what ways do you strive to speak kindly to your siblings? Leave a comment below!


If you’re interested in writing a guest post for KBR Ministries, click here.


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Serving in the Home

by Andrea Nymeyer

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:28)

One summer, my family and I were visiting with some friends.

During supper conversation, my sister and I chatted with the oldest daughter about our role as daughters living at home. Our friend said, “We are able to serve. That is so important.” Though it was a passing statement, I have not forgotten it.

As I watched her that day, I saw that service was not just something my friend spoke of. Rather, she exemplified a servant’s spirit. When a small child spilled his drink, she was the first to jump and clean it up; when it was time to clear the tables, she was the first to pick up a dish; when the sink began to fill with dirty dishes, she was the first to begin to wash. Over and over I watched as she saw and met the needs of everyone around her. “Truly,” I thought, “This girl has learned to serve!”

Several months later, while doing my personal devotions, my mind went back to that conversation with my friend.

I was reading in my Bible about Joseph in prison and saw an amazing thing. Genesis 40:4 says, “And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them.” Wait! Joseph was in charge! Why was he serving those over whom he had authority? This is a great insight into Joseph’s later greatness. God exalts those who have learned to serve others. Whether we are in charge of younger siblings, leading a Sunday school class, or supervising a kitchen cleaning crew, we must remember to be aware of others’ needs. A position of authority is not an occasion to exalt ourselves, but it is an opportunity to serve more people in a greater capacity. Rather than pushing our own way, we should prefer others and realize that someone else’s way of doing something may truly be better than ours (Philippians 2:3). Do not copy the mistake of King Rehoboam. He was counseled to serve his subjects, but because he refused to follow this wise counsel, he lost the very people he was to have led (1 Kings 12:7).

After discovering that Joseph served his charges, I thought of two of my favorite servants in the Bible…

Most of us probably think of Jesus as the ultimate servant, and rightly so. He served His followers and those who He was trying to reach. Jesus tirelessly fed, healed, and ministered to hundreds of people. Most of the people He served did not follow Him. They did not love Him. They came to Him to get what they could for themselves, and then they crucified Him. Jesus served them regardless. If we are ever to reach the world who is lost and dying in sin, we must be willing to serve people. We must serve those who are ungrateful and unlovely and will never return our love and service. We must remember that our goal is to lead people to Jesus, and that it will be worth it in heaven if just one comes to know Him because of our service. People will listen to someone who has helped them. In order to reach people for Christ, we must reflect His servant’s spirit.

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
(Matthew 25:40)

The story of Isaac and Rebekah is one of my favorite Bible stories. I love the fact that God so obviously orchestrated their marriage, and that He did it in such a beautiful manner. We must not miss the fact that, before Rebekah was led to her husband, she was serving her family. In fact, she would never have been found by Abraham’s servant had she not served him by watering his camels. She probably had to go to the well every day and I am sure the job became “mundane” to her, yet she was doing the mundane when God chose to bless her. Mundane jobs are just as important, if not more important, than the exciting jobs. Mundane jobs are the circumstances in which we truly learn to serve.

When a daughter sees something that needs to be done at home, she should be the first to help.

Pick up a dishcloth, wipe down a counter, fold the laundry, grab a Band-Aid, fetch supplies… Never fall prey to the thoughts that, “Someone else will do it,” or “It’s not my job.” That may be true. Someone else may pick up the slack, but why should they have to? God put each of us in our specific homes so that we can be a blessing to our families. Don’t become a leech when you should be a servant.

Serving is fulfilling. It is a joy to know that you have helped another person. It can be hard to become motivated, especially when the task is unpleasant, but after the work is accomplished, the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve been a blessing is worth the time and effort. Even if no one notices your service, remember that you serve for the Lord, and the most important thing is that He is pleased. No matter if you never receive human praise, the Lord can give fulfillment in work that is well done. Ultimately, He should get the glory no matter who notices or overlooks your service. Whether you’re in a position of authority reaching out to lost people, or simply living out your life at home, serve others in order to bring glory to the Lord. Your Savior will fill your life with joy and fulfillment as you follow His example.

-Andrea Nymeyer


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Loving Siblings When It’s Hard

by Sarah W.

“I don’t think it’s possible for me to have a good relationship with my siblings.”

Is this your reaction when you hear about sibling relationships?
It was mine for many years. As my younger siblings are adopted, they had behavioral problems that caused tension in our family. Yet God showed me, over time, that I couldn’t run away from the problems; in fact, He wanted me to persevere in loving my siblings. These relationships are special – so worth investing in and cultivating!

I’d like to share with you some tips I’ve learned along the way.

First, pray for your siblings (Ephesians 6:18). Your siblings have very deep needs. Prayer helps them, as well as your attitude toward them! I remember one day in particular when one sibling had been particularly troublesome. That evening during family devotions, when it was my turn to pray, I began to pray for each of my siblings by name. As I was doing this, this particular sibling started crying! He became genuinely sorry for the problems he’d caused that day. God is so faithful to work through prayer.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto with all perseverance
and supplication for all saints.”
(Ephesians 6:18)

Pray for your siblings daily during your quiet time, or when you wake up in the night, or when they are having a difficult time. Colossians 1:9-12 and Ephesians 3:14-21 are passages you can pray for them.

Evaluate yourself. Do you have right relationships with God and with your parents? Are you walking humbly with the Lord, confessing your own sins (1 John 1:9)? Are you honoring your parents? Are you following Biblical commands in relating to your siblings (Ephesians 4:31)? Our siblings watch our lives, and they sense whether we are genuine or hypocritical about our walk with the Lord.

Break down walls. Is there something that you can do to remove something that is hindering your fellowship with a sibling? An unconfessed sin, a misunderstanding, a past hurt? Be willing to open the conversation with them and discuss these things, repent if needed, and express your desire to rebuild the relationship. It can be painful, but communication is so important.

Have compassion on your siblings. Learn to be sensitive to what your siblings are feeling or going through, and listen to them. My attitude towards my younger adopted sister, in particular, changed when I stopped to think about what she had gone through in the past. She experienced more pain and instability in her first three years (before coming home) than I have ever known. It took me years to realize this. Jesus Christ had incredible compassion on people during His earthly ministry, and we are His hands and feet on earth now for our siblings!

“Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.”
(Matthew 25:45)

Persevere. There will be days when you feel overwhelmed and don’t want to keep loving, keep investing, or keep trying…but don’t give up. Seek God’s strength to press on, asking for His love to share with your siblings.  There was a point when I wanted to give up and I felt like my siblings would never change, but God has worked in our relationships and they have changed so much. I am watching God work in their hearts and it’s really exciting (Galatians 6:9)!

“And let us not be weary in well doing:
for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
(Galatians 6:9)

Most importantly: be faithful to God.

The Lord knows you and your needs; He knows your siblings, and He has a reason for putting you together! He is using these relationships to sanctify you and give you opportunities to grow in Christ-like character – so embrace them and trust God to bring forth amazing, wonderfully impossible results – as you obey Him! It’s not always easy, but God’s grace is sufficient!

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26)

We would like to hear your ideas for how to work through difficulties in sibling relationships. How has God answered prayer as you have prayed and persevered? Share in a comment below!

-Sarah W.

P.S. Here are more articles on sibling relationships:

Let’s Encourage Our Siblings! (April)

Showing Our Siblings Love (April Challenge)

Ways to Encourage Our Siblings (April Challenge)

 


If you’re interested in writing a guest post for KBR Ministries, click here.


Current Issue of KBR Magazine: Cultivating a Heart at Home

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