A New Year: In Light of Eternity (January)

Guestpost by Maggie B.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is
renewed like the eagle’s
.”
(Psalm 103:1-5)

The beginning of a new year is an exciting time!

It’s a great opportunity to reflect on highlights from the past year. 2016 has been full and amazing in many ways for my family. It’s been a sweet chapter in this adventure called life.

The beginning of a new year is also a time to step back and reprioritize. Today I want to challenge you, even as I am challenged, to commit to live 2017 fully for God’s glory, remembering that the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). He is the only One worthy of living for; this is what we have been created to do!

Sisters, this new year, let’s seek to…

1. Be Faithful In Prayer

We have been given an amazing gift to be able to come before the throne of God in prayer (Hebrews 4:16). The prayer of faith can move mountains! As I was writing this, some startling questions came to me: If God were to answer every one of my prayers, what would happen in my family? My community? The world? What would my walk with Him look like? Let’s be on our knees this year, my friends!

2. Diligently Study the Word

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”
(Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Nothing on earth compares with knowing God. He has given us of His Word so that we can know Him and know how He wants us to live. When I put aside my Bible reading, I struggle, I’m discouraged, and I’m not joyful. I want to make it a goal to keep in His Word all throughout this year, gleaning His commands and growing in the knowledge of Him  seeking Him, obeying Him, and becoming like Him!

“And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:13)

3. Add to our Faith Diligently

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 1:5-8)

Our spiritual walk requires vigorous attention! Just as a scholar prepares for a test, so we must give diligence to obedience and growth our walk with the Lord. A study of the many verses mentioning this subject is on my list for this year! How I need to train in diligence — to add to my faith diligently! What are some ways that you can actively add to your faith in the coming months?

4. Walk in Love

When I read 1 Corinthians 13 and ponder what that would look like if I were living it out, it’s sobering. This is the kind of love Jesus has for us, the kind of love that we are supposed to have for others: laying down my desires in order to serve others. Love also compels me to be a bold witness to the lost.

“And above all these things put on charity,
which is the bond of perfectness.”
(Colossians 3:14)

5. Offer the Sacrifice of Every Moment

Big events come and go in our lives, but the majority of the span of a year is spent in small, daily, mundane tasks that aren’t very exciting. It is in these tasks that we live out our lives for God’s service! Let’s be faithful to serve the Lord in every moment for His glory:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
(Romans 12:1)

Dear sisters, will you join me in committing to seeking the Lord diligently in 2017?

I am excited to begin this year, and I know I will need the Lord’s help every step of the way. He is faithful! I’m so thankful that He will enable us to walk with Him, by His grace and strength (2 Corinthians 3:5, 12:9). Together, let’s live for Him in light of eternity!

“For this God is our God for ever and ever:
he will be our guide even unto death.”
(Psalm 48:14)

Guest post by Maggie B.


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An Attitude Which Will Change Your Life (December)

by Sarah Lee Bryant

In every thing give thanksfor this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It was the night before Thanksgiving—one of my favorite holidays.

The house was filled with an array of delicious aromas—smells of the feast we would all enjoy as a family tomorrow. It’s a time I always look forward to each year.

However, that night my heart was heavy. I wasn’t feeling thankful…in fact, to be completely honest, I probably could have come up with a list of things I was not thankful for faster than the things I was grateful for.

As I climbed into bed, I told the Lord how I felt. I poured out my struggle and burden to Him. I know I should be counting my blessings—of all times of the year!—but I just don’t feel like I can do that, Lord! I am overwhelmed. Show me what is wrong…I want to have the right attitude!

I reached for a book sitting by my nightstand, entitled Choosing Gratitude. Of all topics, this was certainly the one I needed to read about. As I read, I felt the Lord convicting my heart of my ingratitude. I opened His Word and began to soak in His truth…in the reality of what I have received through the finished work of Christ…taking my eyes off my perceived difficulties and burdens…focusing on His goodness.

That night—on Thanksgiving eve—the Lord reminded me of three very important (and yet basic!) keys to maintaining a grateful attitude. An attitude which will really transform our lives.

1. What’s inside will come out.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

I’ve read this passage so many times, and yet the truth contained therein is absolutely life changing. That’s because our outlook on life (attitude) is directly related to what is taking place in our heart. That night, I was struggling with an ungrateful attitude because I had allowed myself to focus on the wrong things. I was looking at the trials, not the blessings…I had expectations, instead of a surrendered spirit…I was focusing on myself, instead of others. And as I found, wrong thoughts lead to a wrong attitude: ingratitude and selfishness.

Guarding our thoughts is a constant battle. Whether it’s envy, complaining, selfishness, jealousy, or any other nasty sin—it all starts in our mind…and grows from there. Sisters, we simply must immediately cast down these sorts of thoughts from taking place in our mind!

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)

As we choose to meditate on what is true, pure, and lovely, our heart will overflow with gratitude and praise! I’ve really found this to be true. It’s the best way to live!

 

2. We are commanded to count our blessings.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Being thankful is a choice. It’s also a command—it is God’s will for us. As we choose to meditate on what is true and good, we’ll inevitably notice how abundantly our loving heavenly Father has poured out His goodness upon our lives. Going through the day thanking the Lord, focusing on His blessings at every turn, is a sure way to develop a more grateful attitude! Lord, thank You for the cheerful birds singing this morning! Thank you for ___ which You have provided! And on and on we can go!

Of course, we all face situations and circumstances that may not be pleasant at times—yet even then, we are to give thanks. (And really…it all goes back to our focus. Am I magnifying my troubles, or magnifying God’s goodness? Are my “hardships” really as serious as I perceive them to be? I’m finding that there are always others going through much much greater trials than anything I can imagine facing. Young widows struggling to make ends meet. A family with a member killed in an accident. Persecuted Christians suffering and sacrificing dearly for their faith.) No matter what we are facing, God’s Word tells us to give thanks.

And isn’t it truly a most beautiful thing to see one who radiates thankfulness and joy, even in the midst of hardships or sorrow? An indomitable grateful heart is precious to God and to others!

3. We need to serve others.

“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)

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately. We live in a world of hurting people. People without Jesus, people who have suffered much loss. The way to point others to Jesus through the holiday season—and all year long—is to see and meet the needs of others in whatever ways we are able…big or small. It may be something as simple as smiling at everyone we walk past in the grocery store or helping that elderly lady reach the item on the top shelf or praying with that little girl at church or taking a fresh batch of homemade bread to the sick neighbor. In a world that is fast-paced and “too busy” to care, as daughters of the King, may we be others-focused, shining brightly for the Lord Jesus.

Serving others sometimes actually helps ourselves more than it does the receiver, though. The path to true gratefulness and joy in Christ is through serving, sacrificing, giving—focusing on others. As we give (as an offering of our thankfulness for what God has done for us), Jesus is poured out through us.

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)

How can you serve someone today? Is there something you could do to help your mom with her responsibilities? How does she want to make the holidays special for your family, and how can you help her in that? Look for needs around you, and you will find how blessed it is to give! 

These three things will change our attitude.

That night, the Lord convicted me of my ingratitude. I thought of the ten lepers (Luke 17) who Jesus healed. How many came back to thank Jesus for their miraculous healing? Only one. No doubt, the other nine also enjoyed the benefits of returning to a normal healthy life…but only one was truly grateful for what Christ had done! He returned and thanked the Lord for his restoration: and reaped the extra spiritual blessings of that gratitude.

And as I thought of all that Jesus has done for me in redeeming me by His own blood, I was humbled. I have been given so much! I asked the Lord to forgive me for my ingratitude and to help me guard my heart against “joy robbers,” to count my blessings, and to look for ways to serve others.

And guess what?—my attitude was completely transformed! I had a most wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving…because my focus was where it should be.

Dear friend, this holiday season, will you join me in looking to the Lord in gratitude? Let’s lay aside our expectations and focus on the Lord’s goodness, and let that gratefulness flow out in loving service to others. It’ll not only change our own life—but it will also impact everyone around us!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

P.S. What are some ways that we can serve others or bless others this Christmas season? We’d love to hear: leave a comment with your ideas!


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Trusting Our Master Trainer (November)

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Guest Post by Lacy S.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?
or who hath been his counsellor?”
(Romans 11:33-34)

“Oh, it’s so hard!” I thought to myself as I fought the tears that were threatening to burst. “How can I possibly rejoice in such a trial as this! If only I could escape the pain that I feel inside right now. If only….”

Have you ever felt like this before?

I certainly have. I have often asked myself this question, “How can I truly be content when I feel like running away from this testing in my life? I certainly am NOT enjoying this!”

Let’s pull the reins back for a minute while I give you another picture.

The day was hot.

I was in the corral training our horse. My mouth was becoming parched as I ran to the left and then spun on my heels back to the right. I was running Lady in circles and having her change direction at half and quarter circles. My goal was to get her to turn and face me, and ultimately to submissively walk to me.

It all started when I was trying to call her to come to me. She had responded by completely ignoring me and kept nibbling on the pieces of hay on the ground. “Ok,” I thought to myself as I picked up my training whip. I had come out to ride, not to do ground training; however, I knew that if Lady’s heart wasn’t with me on the ground it would certainly not be with me in the saddle either.

As I began making her run in circles, she held her head high, in a very prideful manner. Her eyes were looking toward the field where her pasture mates were. She didn’t want to be doing training right now. I supposed she was thinking to herself, “Why would Lacy ask me to run when there are other more lovely things to do in life?”

“All that I am asking her to do is turn and look at me,” I thought to myself as I gave her opportunity to do so. And now she was thinking of jumping the fence! Submitting to my wishes was a struggle for her. I gently kept up with my maneuvers. Suddenly she paused and looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks. Only when her attention was on me was she able to have rest. I smiled; she was learning obedience by the things that she suffered. All too soon though, her mind would wander to something else and she would not listen to my cue that was asking her to just return back to me. I had to keep training—running her in circles and changing directions. She looked at me again and began making steps toward me. Soon I was rewarding her with praise, and then it wasn’t long before we were walking side by side in harmony. Lady’s head was now low, telling me that she had submitted her will to mine and she was content with that.

I think I can relate to my horse in some ways.

Sometimes I turn my eyes away from my Master Trainer and then I become discontent. I begin to wish for something or someone else. My focus turns from delighting in my Lord, to what the world offers or says will give me happiness.

Then the Lord in His mercy and grace gently chastens me. I try to run from it. It’s not pleasant and it hurts.

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
(Hebrews 12:11)

I keep running. My Trainer continues His purging; He only wants what is best for me and at this point I can’t see that, or maybe I’m trying not to see that. He wants me to delight in Him. He is asking me to walk with Him, to be content in His will. It seems hard. “Why can’t I be happy? If only could have peace and joy in my life,” I think…then I remember these words from Psalms:

“Before I was afflicted I went astray:
but now have I kept thy word.”
(Psalm 119:67)

Suddenly I turn and look at my Savior.

A tear rolls down my cheek. I begin to walk toward Him and read His Word. He gives my heart understanding and opens my eyes. I repent of my discontentment in God’s will for my life, and for failing to delight in Him. I thank Him for His faithfulness to me. He gives rest, peace and joy, for in His presence is fullness of joy!

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
(Psalm 16:11)

Sister, do not run from the training of your Master. He desires to draw you closer to Himself. Turn to Him in your trials and trust in Him, for He knows what is best!

 

Guest Post by Lacy S.


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The Road of Holiness (October)

by Sarah Lee Bryant

“Sanctify yourselves therefore,
and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.”
(Leviticus 20:7)

Be ye holy.

Sometimes this command overwhelms me in its extent of application in our lives. Our holy God has called you and I to live holy lives— to be dedicated, consecrated: set apart for the Lord.

What a command this is! — because we live in a culture that is completely opposed to holiness and drinks iniquity like water (Job 15:16). We face pressure from every side that promotes selfishness, commonality, worldliness, and sinful behavior. What the world has to offer can whittle away our value for purity, holiness, modesty, wholesome and God-honoring attitudes — and this worldliness attacks from all angles. We cannot avoid it altogether.

So…the question is: How do we live in this world, yet not conform to its ways (Romans 12:2)? This is a vast topic, but here are a few thoughts have been on my mind lately.

Holiness will only come in our lives when our eyes are upon the Lord Jesus.

As we keep our gaze upon the holy, perfect Son of God, we will be transformed.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

As we all know, there are countless things each day that can distract us from this goal of focusing on the Lord. It requires discipline and a strong commitment to make the Lord the focus of our heart. It is a choice.

This entails reading God’s Word, meditating on it throughout the day, recalling it to mind in tempting situations, choosing to obey His will and trusting Him with the results…even in very difficult situations, when to our eyes of flesh, it looks like the choice of obedient faith will not “work.”

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Choosing holiness is essentially a walk of faith.

God’s Word is full of rich, deep promises to His people— to those who will live set apart for Him. We must, in turn, choose to believe and act upon the promises of God. Romans 1:17 says “The just shall live by faith.” This is a willingness to walk in holiness before the Lord, sacrificing whatever is not holy and edifying, and trusting that God will come through on our behalf— that He will fulfill His promises.

Here are just a few of these precious promises that we should meditate on constantly (do your own study and write down the promises you find!):

  • Psalm 34:10: “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
  • Joshua 1:5: “…I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
  • 2 Samuel 22:31: “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”

The book of Proverbs repeatedly contrasts the results of one who chooses to walk in godliness, with the foolish one who walks according to his own fleshly desires.

Sometimes, it is important to step back and be reminded of this: when God calls us to this path of holiness, it is one that will bring the most blessing, freedom, and lasting joy. We must never doubt that, no matter how attractive the world’s ways may seem. They bring only lasting destruction and sorrow.

As we meditate on truth and holiness, we will be able to detect the temptations and lies of the world.

It is easy for worldly ideologies to creep into our way of thinking…but NOT when we are guarding our minds vigilantly! Some thoughts that we may struggle with could be… My sister treats me so unfairly…I just can’t forgive her! I need to find something “big” to do or get a job to be important. I need to dress more attractively to be accepted. I’m just not important to anyone…does anyone even notice my life here at home? Will God ever truly reward me for the sacrifices I have made to serve Him? Well, Susie did ___, and she seems to be happy – maybe I should try it too!

However, when we are actively filling our mind with God’s truth, then we will be able to detect these thoughts as lies…lies that demonstrate a lack of faith. We are not to compare our choices and lives to others around us; we are to be distinct and consecrated to our Savior and to live for HIS pleasure. When we remember this, we realize how foolish these thoughts really are!

But when we fail to recognize these lies as sinful lies, then we start to actually believe that they are true. We start to value different things. Our standards will change accordingly. This is the progression of compromise. Therefore, this is why is so vitally important that we guard our minds with all diligence.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.”
(Proverbs 4:23)

So when we encounter the world’s lies or these thoughts pop into our minds, we are to cast them away (Philippians 4:8) — turning to a promise in Scripture. This battle of the mind is where the battleground of our Christianity — of holiness — is fought.

To fight this battle, we must be gird with the whole armor of God, so that we will be able to withstand the evilness of our day.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Let us never think that apart from the power of God, we can walk in holiness. It is only by His grace, strength, and mercy that we will be equipped to obey Him — come what may. So while we set our face like flint to do what is pleasing before the Lord, let us do so desperately clinging to the One Who calls us to holiness — and Who alone can equip us for the battle!

“For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”
(Isaiah 50:7)

His ways are peace and truth, so let us walk by faith, choosing His ways!

I’d love to hear how the Lord is encouraging you as you walk in His ways. How do you refute doubts and lies? What Scriptures verses strengthen you? Please comment below!

-Sarah Lee


Photography by Jenny S.

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5 Ways to Invest in Your Siblings (September)

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“The forthcoming issue of KBR Magazine will be focusing on Treasuring Sibling Relationships. It is brimming with practical advice on this important topic. To whet your appetite for what it will contain, here are some thoughts on how you can love and bless your siblings.”

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
(Psalm 133:1)

Guest Post by Acacia T.

Siblings are a special gift from God, yet in so many homes, relationships between brothers and sisters are strained. God wants us to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). How can we promote peace and joy in the home?

Be humble.

Pride is the cause of most relationship struggles. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Be willing to be “wrong,” let your siblings make decisions, and put them first. You will be amazed at how quickly this will bless your relationship with them. As they see you genuinely care about them enough to put aside your own desires, they will respect you more.

Serve your siblings.

Paul goes on to say that Jesus, the Lord and Creator of all things, took upon Himself the form of a servant. How much more should we who are nothing without God, willingly serve our brothers and sisters? It is encouraging to keep in mind that when we do so, we are ultimate serving Jesus. Not even the smallest act of service done for the Lord will be overlooked by Him!

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)

Invest in their lives.

Our little brothers and sisters look up to us and follow our example. When we do our chores cheerfully, speak kindly, and honor our parents, our siblings will be encouraged to do the same. Psalm 127 says that children are a heritage from the Lord. May we be like Christ who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14). We can also invest in our siblings by spending time with them and doing things with them that they enjoy doing.

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Respect them.

We should show respect to our siblings, accepting instruction meekly. Remember that the older ones often have more responsibilities, and look for ways to lighten their load. Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” We should esteem our siblings, whether they are younger or older, better than ourselves.

Be sensitive to their struggles and needs.

When your sibling is having a hard day, be loving and kind. There could be more to their struggles that you see. Pray for them and be willing to listen. One thing I want to work on is asking my brothers and sisters how they are doing and being willing to share my heart also. When we are sensitive to our siblings, they will learn to trust us and share their burdens.

Most importantly, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord, Who makes all things possible (Matthew 19:26). Pray that He would fill your heart with love for your brothers and sisters and seek to be a blessing. These relationships are precious, and will last a lifetime, so let’s treasure the time we have together!

“…by love serve one another.”
(Galatians 5:13)


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