Bible Reading · Healing · Spread Joy

My biggest new adventure!

I am thankful for the fun I’ve had practicing and learning how to blog on Seeking His Peace. It has all come down to my latest dream coming to reality, an online ministry called “Guarded Hearts Ministries” based on the principals of my life verse. Please read all about it here, and of course go check it out:

http://www.guardedheartsministries.com

So, Why Guarded Hearts? And whats with the reference to Proverbs 4:23?

Early on in my faith walk, I realized Proverbs 4:23 is a life verse for me, in the New Living Translation (NLT) it reads:

“Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

This verse came to me after several periods of growth and regression as a Christian. I began to realize the truth behind it – the more I immersed myself in the truth of the Bible, the more I felt closer to God. The more I felt closer to God, the happier and more joyful I felt. The more joyful I felt, the more I sang praise and worship, and sought out private time to pray to God through out my day.

On the contrary, when I would miss a few days of Bible reading, I would find myself quick to react, frustrated and just down in the dumps. I would avoid prayer because when I’m angry, I don’t feel the least bit interested in praying to God (most times if I’m being honest, it’s because I know my anger is not justifiable, and is instead caused by my own selfish thinking.) I would spend more time watching TV that I knew was not at all helpful in my life (lets all compare ourselves to a pretend storyline), reading things I shouldn’t be reading (lets all complain about our spouses) and then would drown my sorrows in some music that often had selfish motives. I’d wonder where God was, but it was clearly me that moved.

I began to recognize over and over the importance of my relationship with God and what I fed my mind. Just like I take vitamins to help my physical health, so too do I need to take something for my spiritual well being. When I’m spiritually well and healthy, the rest of my life seems to follow suit: my anxiety lessens, my patience increases, and most importantly I am just overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I am literally that person walking around with a dopey grin on my face, just loving life.

I recognized how much this verse was not just a reminder for me to immerse myself in the goodness of the Bible, prayer and meditating on how God sees me, but also a way of life. My Christian faith doesn’t just guarantee me life in heaven when my time here expires, but also promises victory in there here and now, and honestly who doesn’t want that?

I was very fortunate to have several leadership opportunities before me, which enabled me to teach others discipleship tactics. I still can not believe the blessing I received to be able to speak into the lives of others, and encourage them in their faith. It was an incredible opportunity that showed me I was made for ministry work. On a personal note, I also began to really work on healing from the pain of my past, and I have found so much victory in the Word of God and this life that I never knew before now.

That is what motivates me: I want to encourage others to pursue the victory God offers them! I was surprised when many people began to speak into my life, and tell me I should be writing, and that I had a way with my written words. I started with a simple blog and honestly most posts were written because the message was in my head and was burning a hole, like allowance money in a child’s pocket.  But, this lead to confirmation that God was indeed calling me to write.

I was away at a Christian camp when I had this vision of a webpage, full of encouraging discipleship material, things to encourage spouses, parents, and Christians in general. I pictured guest authors, and a community full of encouragement built from the authoritative Word of God, the Bible itself.

I knew right away the name, Guarded Hearts. When you guard yourself in God’s word, keep yourself covered in prayer, and spend time reflecting on Jesus and who he is, you are immersing yourself in victory. You are literally guarding your heart, and determining that the course you take will be one of victory.

That is my goal: to encourage readers to victory in their lives. To instill in them a desire to open their Bible and read. To strengthen their knowledge of God, and what he wants for them.

So here we are.

Guarded Hearts Ministries… a place of encouragement for all aspects of Christian life, with an emphasis on Christian truths. A place where people can be encouraged to immerse themselves in all of the goodness that God has promised to his children. A place of different areas built on one key ministry concept: Guarding your heart above all else, and letting it determine your steps.

Thank you for reading, encouraging me and praying for this ministry as it begins and hopefully grows for the years to come.

www.facebook.com/guardedheartministries
@guarded.heart.ministries on Instagram.
& Click “Follow” and fill in your email address to be sent postings to your inbox. 

❤ Leslie Deane-Mountjoy

 

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Healing · Spread Joy

A Blue Bag

Today I had to go to the Hospital for a breathing test because my asthma has been acting up for a few months.

I met this wonderful older man who ran my tests, and we talked about our lives in between waiting for different parts of the testing. I was so thankful to have such a character to work with, because he eased my tension. I was placed in a plastic box – all the sides, and roof were see-through plastic and sealable so he could control the pressure levels to test my lungs.

I commented, “I feel like I’m in one of those glass coffins they put foreign dignitaries in when they’re dead and on display for the country, like Mao.” “Or Lennon, I think” he added. Clearly he’s had this conversation with other patients.

While he only had the door shut for a few minutes, and even though it was completely see through, I still a heavy feeling over me when the door of this tiny box of solitude was locked into place.

I thought “Thank you Lord that I am alive an other day, and that this is but a test and not a reality for me.”

When I said my good-byes to him, I gathered my belongings and went to the elevator to head out. I was standing there when it happened: two staff wheeled a person in a zipped up blue bag on a gurney past me. It was like the entire world froze, yet for them it was business as usual.

Who was this person in the blue bag?

What was their legacy? Was someone somewhere falling apart because this person is no longer breathing? Did they know Jesus? Was the family prepared or was this a tragic accident? Were they young? Or had they lived a wonderful and long life?

A simple plastic blue bag. That was it.

It just really had me reflecting on the anecdotes people tell about how it doesn’t matter what kind of car we drive, or how much money we have in the bank, when we’re dead, we’re all the same – gone.

This person could have been a multimillionaire, and they were in the same blue bag as would have been used for the poorest person around. This same bag covers criminals, and those who live their lives justly. It doesn’t discriminate. It just sends one message: Your time here on earth is done.

We’ve all been there: a phone call in the middle of the night. An unexpected diagnosis. An act of violence. Suddenly our world is flipped upside down, and a relationship we have is forever broken.

We’re all going to face this someday. Each and every one us will die.  I am thankful for my faith, and the promises of a new body, a place of no trials or tribulations and only love.

But, I have to live here until I get there.

I want to live so that people will be better off when I get my blue bag. I want to have peace with whomever I can while I can. I want to spend less time around those who don’t want to live for peace.

I want to be strong enough to have boundaries in place to keep myself healthy mentally and physically. I want to be happy, and spend a lot of each day smiling, laughing and singing praise.

I want to be known for my positive attributes, so I need to work on them and in doing so naturally my negative attributes will lessen.

I want to inspire others, to give out endless compliments, to encourage, and comfort. I want to love deeply. I want to be known as passionate, kind, and giving. I want to be a friend to all.

I want the world to be a better place when I get my bag than it was the day before my birth.

I don’t want to be wheeled through the halls in my blue bag and have people think “we never got to resolve that issue.” I don’t want people to be relieved when I get my blue bag. I don’t want them to be sad either – rather, I want them rejoice in my new address and be thankful to have known me while I was here.

What do you want to go into your blue bag with you? Memories of bitterness, resentment and anger? Or stories that bring your loved ones joy and peace in your absence?

How will you fill your blue bag?

Only we can control what legacy we leave behind. It is only in our own hands how the world will be when we each receive our blue bag.

“…Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you…” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12 NLT

Bible Reading · Healing

He Took It All…

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

The author of Matthew quotes many Old Testament books in a bid to show the Jewish people that Jesus was truly the Messiah they were awaiting.

One such verse is quoted in Matthew Chapter 8. At this time of his ministry, Jesus was healing many people, including those sick with physical and mental illnesses.  The author writes,

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17, NIV)

He is describing the healing works of Jesus to be in line with what was prophesized about Jesus by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah.  This original quote is from Isaiah chapter 53.

First, I was caught by the wording. The word infirmities literally means ‘physical or mental weakness.’ So the author is stating that Jesus took our physical and mental weaknesses and our diseases. Isaiah predicted this, and Matthew showed it had come true, and is true today.

I thought about the struggles I have with anxiety, and how my biggest relief comes through prayer and meditation on God’s Word.  Often I feel somewhat guilty going to God with my same burdens over and over, and at times equally as frustrated, but this verse showed me that Jesus doesn’t mind. He wants me to give him my mental weaknesses because he already took them to the cross.

To understand this on a deeper level, we need to go back further.

First of all, where do our diseases and mental and physical weaknesses come from? So many people are quick to blame God when they hear of a loved one’s diagnosis, but God never created these things. When he placed Adam and Eve on this earth, in Eden, they were healthy and disease free. They were strong and vibrant. Until, that is, sin entered. When the forbidden fruit was consumed, sin entered the world, and everything changed.

Diseases, physical and mental weaknesses are all a consequence to the sinful choice that Adam and Eve together made in disobedience to God.

But God loves us too much to leave us there. Enter Jesus. His son, our Saviour. Destined to bring about healing and victory to each of our lives. Before he walked on this earth, many spoke prophetic words about him, especially Isaiah. Here is the some of the original scripture that Matthew was quoting from:

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, NIV)

By looking at the original verses, we can understand deeper the truths about the verse from Matthew. Isaiah’s verse shows much more detail, including the words that Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.  These words referring to his death on the cross.  The punishment that brought us peace, the debt for our sins, was laid on him on Calvary’s hill.

The debt Adam and Eve gave us all in their choice to sin, Jesus willingly paid.

Its already been done. Jesus has already paid the price. This means all of our physical and mental weaknesses as well as our diseases don’t have to be ours to bare any longer. We are welcome to give them to the Lord, because he’s already paid the price.

So what physical weakness do you struggle with? What mental weakness can you not seem to escape? What disease inflicts your body?

Keep on handing it over to Jesus, as often as you need too. He already paid the price. Allow him to heal you, to comfort you, and to take care of you.

The best part of this verse is that it covers all of our sin too. Our mental weaknesses don’t just cover things like anxiety, depression, or insomnia, it also covers all the things we think that cause us to sin: our lust, our hatred, our anger, our jealously, our false motives, our rage, our manipulation, our gluttony, our greed, our pride, … Our physical weaknesses aren’t just our exhaustion, our digestive issues, our muscular problems, but they include the physical sins we do, too: our sexual sin, our violence, our addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, whatever it may be you can’t seem to stop abusing, our thefts, our wrong turns – literally all of it, covered!

Jesus took our physical and mental weaknesses and our diseases. He took them. We can stop living in condemnation because of our sin, and claim victory over it because he has already been victorious.  We can stop living in misery, because he has already been victorious.

We can literally give him every single physical and mental weakness and disease every single day and trust in him for a better outcome because he literally took it all.

I am so thankful.

 

 

 

Bible Reading

Submitting to Political Leaders in Uncertain Times..

I’m currently studying the book of 1 Peter with a lovely group of women. The book itself is written by one of Jesus’ closest disciples – Peter, whom Jesus refers to as the rock on which he would build his church. Peter was there to witness Jesus’ ministry first hand, and had great authority when he wrote because he was so close to Jesus himself.

Peter wrote the book of first Peter around A.D. 64 which is a time totally different from today. A lot of the verses in 1 Peter seem counter-cultural to today’s society, and yet the more you study the background and reason for them, the more that they seem beneficial, even now.

That is, until you find something that absolutely makes you uncomfortable.

Respecting People in Authority

 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.” – 1 Peter 2:13-17, NLT

Submit to all human authority? Even the King or Head of State? Those are the officials God has appointed, wait – what?!

Rewind almost 2000 years to when Peter wrote these words. Times were a lot different then they are now.  First of all, who were these words written for? Peter addressed this letter to the Christian believers who were living in the Roman Provinces of Asia Minor (which is the Northern part of Modern Turkey.) Biblical scholars believe that the intended audience was Christian Gentiles, so in other words non-Jewish people who had given themselves to Christ.

These people faced serious persecution, often dying excruciatingly painful deaths at the hands of their government for their belief in Christ. The Roman Emperor at the time was Nero. Remember the words Peter wrote above, as you learn some facts about Nero:

Nero was adopted by his biological Uncle, who was the Emperor of Rome, and as such he inherited his position as Emperor in A.D. 54 until his own death in A.D. 68.  Five years into his reign, he had his own mother murdered. It is alleged that he also murdered his first and second wives too. Many ancient scholars believe that Nero started the great fire in Rome in A.D. 64 (right around the time 1 Peter was written) so that he could rebuild Rome as he wanted it to be. In order to stop the rumour that he had started the fire himself, Nero blamed the Christian community and so began intense persecution leading to the deaths of Christians in many merciless ways including being thrown to wild dogs to be eaten alive, being tarred and burned alive as human torches during the night and many other despicable ways.

When you compare Nero to modern day leaders, suddenly they don’t seem so bad, eh? Justin Trudeau wearing the emoji-last supper sweater and Donald Trump claiming to be Christian suddenly pale in comparison! It doesn’t make the actions of modern day leaders right, but it sure does help us to recognize that we have a lot less to worry about under their watch then Peter did while he wrote those words while living under Nero’s leadership.

So how on earth could Peter write those words when he faced such intensely frightening persecution and a leader who didn’t even remotely have Peter’s best interest in mind?

Just prior to these verses, Peter reminds us that we are temporary residents in this world. Peter walked very closely with Jesus during Jesus’ ministry years. He was one of the three disciples who Jesus really brought into his inner circle. Peter had a true appreciation for the temporary life that we have on earth. He was able to keep his eyes focused on the bigger picture: eternity.

Peter’s entire goal in his writing was to remind us to submit ourselves for the sake of the Lord. When we walk in obedience with scripture, we are trusting that God knows better than we do. We are showing that we hold honour to God and His way even when society thinks we are nuts. We are learning to control ourselves and our own tendencies in faith that God does indeed know what’s best for us!

Submission seems to equal weakness in society’s view, but I would argue it is the exact opposite. It takes true strength to submit!

It takes true strength and faith to submit to a leader when you believe in your own self! When you think that you know what is best for you, that you know how to overcome or do what needs to be done. Learning to submit is a process of really demonstrating true faith to God. Its literally giving Him permission to take the driver’s seat of your life, and that is not easy at all.

I compare it to our call to forgive others. Learning to forgive, to actually truly forgive, enough that I was able to pray for my enemies and literally make an active decision each day to forgive was not easy! Its easy to harbour hate and anger, but I know that God’s plan for forgiveness is for my own benefit because it allows me to stop allowing those who have hurt me to live rent-free in my head, stealing my joy. In trusting God, and letting Him be the ultimate judge, I was able to forgive completely and now my life is not rooted in anger, but rather in God’s joy and peace that passes all understanding.

So, now I have to learn that submission to my leadership in government is what’s best for me too. Even though I didn’t vote for that particular party. Even though I don’t agree with what that particular politician is doing or saying. Even though I don’t agree with some of the laws and bills being brought into place. Even though, even though, even though…

Submitting to my leaders isn’t accepting defeat. It is not laying over and letting our leaders walk all over us. It is not allowing anyone to take our fundamental rights away. It is not ignoring my right to vote, or partake in a democratic society. Our submission does not mean that we change our conscience because even with submitting to leaders, we submit to God first and foremost.

So what does submitting to leadership actually look like? It looks like living a life that God called us too. How can we submit to our leaders in today’s culture?

God calls us to pray for our enemies. If you disagree with your political leaders, pray for them! Allow God to change your heart so that it is not filled with anger and hatred for the choices your governing body is making. Allow God room to give you His grace so that you may see your politicians as human, capable of error just like yourself.

If you don’t agree with policies, laws, legislations, bills or even just the current word usage of politicians, take proactive steps to help. This doesn’t mean heckling, or threatening. It doesn’t mean calling them names that would have warranted your mother threatening to bring out the soap. It means being professional and explaining your position perhaps through written word, or even by reaching out to your local representative respectfully and maybe even vulnerably.

If you feel certain issues need to be dealt with, or aren’t being addressed adequately than educate those with like minds. Help them to know how to take a stand respectfully, instead of simply sharing an article on Facebook declaring the idiocy of our politicians. Spend time fact checking things before you share them, so as to share truths and not slander.

Take time to consider that we will some day answer for our own behaviour. Can you imagine trying to justify the word choices you have used for your leaders to God someday? Regardless of how far apart you are in beliefs with your leaders, they are still children of the Lord in His eyes, whether they are serving Him or not.

My words are not coming with judgement, but rather with personal application. I tend to be like most – angry and disrespectful – when I see a political leader make a decision I disagree with.  Now that I have studied and reflected on these verses in depth, I need to put them into application and practice what I preach. For me, this means actively praying for my political leaders. First, for their salvation if it is not yet there, but also for them as individuals. When I began to pray for the strength to forgive my enemies, it didn’t necessarily change my enemies, but it did change me!

So, now I will pray for the same thing to happen regarding my political leaders. I will pray that God will equip me with the strength that I need as a person entitled to free-speech in the 21st century, to submit to my authority figures. I will pray that God will show me how to obey Him first, and how to show respect when my governing body defies the Word of God so that I may defend my rights as a Christian adequately and responsibly.

I will celebrate the victory that the leaders of today can not light me on fire as a human torch for believing what I do. I will take the time to consider that the leaders I may disagree with are there for a reason, with a purpose even if I can’t understand it. I will submit understanding that my God always has my best interest in mind. I will consider the Non-Christian world as they watch me and how I speak about politicians, leadership and authority.

If all of us as Christians dutifully submitted to our leadership and held them up in prayer instead of hate filled comments and Facebook fuelled debates – what could happen? Jesus said mountains could be moved if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, so what could be done if our entire body of Christ prayed dutifully or our leaders?

Ultimately, God establishes all authority. He is sovereign and in control. Our submission ultimately shows our trust in Him, not in our politicians. Our submission does not make us doormats, but rather it makes us respectful and honourable so that we may demonstrate God’s calling on our lives. Our submission allows us to stand out from the crowd, and speak with an ease that other groups may not show. Our submission allows us to not resent the rules and regulations that are designed to keep us safe from chaos and sometimes even danger.

Most importantly, our submission shows honour for the Word of God, and truly that should be our ultimate goal.

 

 

 

 

Healing · Spread Joy

A decade of difference

I turned 20 years old when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first child. I was dating his father, on and off since I was 17, and I was in my last year of school working towards my Social Service Worker diploma. We had dreams of marrying, but upon the news that we were expecting our first child, the best thing we thought we could do with our money in our eyes then was buy our first home. So at 19 years old we became home owners to a small, and very old bungalow. We didn’t have much, but we had each other and the promise of a bright future together.

When our son was born, they placed this new life on my chest and instantly I knew there was not way this was strictly science: a random egg meeting a random sperm and tada! Yes, that is how he got here – but the level of love I felt the instant I looked at this new person whom I had grown and birthed was not explainable by science. Before he was five minutes old, I easily would have given up my very life to give him his. I can not fully explain the instant and preposterous love I felt. To be honest, it’s quite vulnerable.

Slowly, as I watched this new life develop and grow I wondered about God more and more. I had always felt because of the circumstances of my childhood and life that He must really hate me. But now, staring at the face of the little boy I loved deeper than anything in this world, I knew I’d endure anything to be this guy’s mom, and I began to wonder about God’s love, and why He found me worthy of becoming a Mom to this sweet son.

If you were to tell that 20 year old new mother that just before her 31st birthday, she would become a Tyndale Student pursuing a diploma in Religious Education, or that by now she would have written and preached two sermons, lead multiple bible studies and worked for two churches she would have laughed at you and said, “no f—ing way!” I’m not kidding.

Yet. Here I am. How on earth did I get here? Reflecting on my 20’s and the last decade has been quite humorous to say the least. In my 20’s, I would go on to marry that man, give birth to 3 more absolutely incredible children, sell and buy 2 new homes, each time in a different community, witness the death of my mentor, my Grandmother, and witness deaths in my family that included suicide and murder, burying several people much too early than they should have been gone. I would live through my biggest heartbreak, a story for an other day, and not just survive but turn the trials into triumphs! I would travel and see much of North America. I would survive several dysfunctional relationships, some now ended, and some restored by God’s grace. The theme of my 20s was definitely self building.

I took the broken and confused little girl who thought surely God must hate her, and turned her into a confident woman, a loving mother and wife and an advocate for the Kingdom of God here on this earth. And even I still can’t believe it!

So how does that happen?

I carried my own weight and burdens for years. I knew I could get through every trial, because I had so far, so my thought process was just to keep persevering and keep going. I was doing well too, mostly. I was a good Mom from the moment I saw the two lines, immediately quitting smoking and focusing on finishing my studies. I made positive choices like breastfeeding, and staying at home with my son when I was financially able to. I read a lot, and looked for mentors who could guide me and I tried my best at maintaining a positive relationship with my spouse. I slowly got better at keeping the house tidier, cooking nutritious meals, learning how to be frugal. I grew up, essentially.

But despite seeing life get better, I still struggled internally. My husband and I were newly married and both had families who had been broken. He lived through his parents divorce at 14, and I was born to separated parents who had married my ‘step’ parents by the time I was 2, so my norm was always two homes and four parents. My husband struggled too. We were simply doing our best as broken people to help unpack the baggage of each other’s pasts, but when you are broken yourself, its incredibly hard to put someone else’s broken pieces together.

We both had a curiosity for church, and even tried a church at one point, but it was kind of out there and not your typical church and it scared us off temporarily. I was invited by a woman I really admired to come to her church. She promised me it was super laid back, and they even had guitar and drums as opposed to an organ, ha! So, my husband and I went together and the first sermon was so amazing that it was like God was yelling at us from a megaphone himself. Boy, did we hear Him loud and clear!

There are so many little stories from that time, seeing God provide what we needed, exactly when we needed it, the conception of our daughter after a period of secondary infertility, peace where there hadn’t been peace, comfort when anxiety arose, protection, provision. You name it, God did it just to draw us closer and open our eyes to His amazing deep love. We both began to see God all around us in ways our eyes had not been open to before.

Slowly, we changed. It wasn’t some miraculous overnight experience. Hooray, we found Jesus now we’re mature and we’ve got it together! Ha, I wish! Slowly we gave up things that were detrimental to us. Slowly we learned how to gain momentum to move foreword again after we backslid numerous times. Slowly we learned to reach out to other Christians. Slowly we learned to read, and study the Bible. Slowly we learned how to pray and developed habits of prayer. Slowly, we found community and friendship. Slowly we developed an indestructible bond with God Himself. Slowly, we became new creations in Christ. Slowly we learned how to put the broken pieces together with God as the glue.

And now, I look back on so many little moments and I see God all around them. How did I get here? Slowly. One step at a time. By seeking to grow a little bit here, and a little bit there. By training for endurance rather than sprinting. By being available when God spoke. By saying “yes, I can try that” even when it was outside my comfort zone. By many, many apologies to God for not connecting with Him through prayer, or reading His word that day and the promise to try again tomorrow. By dealing with one burden at a time. By learning one new skill or ability at a time. By painstakingly self assessing and recognizing I was heading down a road I didn’t want to be on, and having the courage to redirect myself. Slowly, one victory over an other.

And somehow I made it here. A happily married mom of four kids who loves Jesus with all her heart. A confident, and happy woman who walks around with a huge smile on my face. A person full of joy and peace. A woman who is not perfect, but strives to be stronger, kinder and better each day. A child of the one true King who no longer feels shame for her brokenness, but rather feels encouraged and loved deeply by Her creator.

Start somewhere. Pick one small area and work on it. Then, pick a different thing. Life changes happen as a result of the small things we do day to day, not always the big moments. The small things really do matter and add up. Suddenly, you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come!

I wonder where God is going to take me by the time I turn 40! I cant wait to see. This past decade has been one of contrast and difference. What will the next one hold?

Stay tuned! 😉

For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Psalm 57:10

 

 

Christmas Devotional

Day 24: Love

As the ever popular wedding adage from 1 Corinthians 13:13 states, “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” The very reason we have Christmas is because of God’s unending love. The free will that God gave us allows us to chose whether we love Him or not, but He has provided His Son to redeem us strictly out of love for us even though we are undeserving in every sense.

Christmas is the ultimate reflection of love. Love for the Saviour. Love for God. Love for one an other. The greatest thing, lasting forever: love. The perfect finale for a devotional series that wraps up all the previous themes together: God loved us, so he gave us Jesus. Jesus taught us to enter into a close bond with God, our Father, to allow us to be consumed by love. Is there anything better?

Today, I will not be paraphrasing verses. Instead I will directly quote some verses about how loved you are directly from God’s True Word, the Bible. May you meditate on them, remember them and share them. I encourage you to read your Bible. There is no greater love letter than the Bible itself, as these words will demonstrate.

Know every single day that God has chosen you as his child, and you are so loved – more than you can ever imagine or understand!

“For you bless the godly, O LORD;
you surround them with your shield of love.”
– Psalm 5:12

“Give thanks to the God of Heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:26

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!

    His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;

    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;

    therefore, I will hope in him!”
– Lamentations 3:22-24

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.”
-Luke 6:35

“For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
– Luke 12:32

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
– John 1:14

“This is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his son into the world not to judge the world, but the save the world through him.”
-John 3:16-17

“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.  And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
– John 14:21

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”
– John 15:9

“But God showed us his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
-Romans 5:8-11

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:38-39

“Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirement of God’s law.”
– Romans 13:10

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
-Galatians 2:20

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sin, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
-Ephesians 2:5

“Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Ephesians 6:23-24

Praying for each of you to have a wonderful Christmas, full of God’s love, and gratitude for the baby in a manger who would save us all. Thank you for participating in this journey with me, I hope it has blessed you. 

Leslie Deane-Mountjoy 

 

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This concludes the series. Thank you for reading! 

 

 

 

Christmas Devotional

Day 23: Mercy

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Christmas story, is the fact that Jesus came in a manger, not a castle. He was born into filth, literally. This reminds us that God cares deeply about every single one of us, regardless of the filth around us, whatever that filth may look like in our own lives. Jesus showed great mercy in every part of his life towards people whom society saw as pathetic. His examples are countless, and these paraphrased words from Matthew 25:34-46 remind us how important it is that we act just like Jesus, showing mercy to all, now and everyday.

Beloved Child, 

My Son revealed many secrets about My kingdom. One of them was the image of the King separating those whom I bless, and those I deem cursed ones. Those blessed are the ones among you who will truly inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, they are My Children who show deep mercy for all. This doesn’t take riches, fancy abilities or smarts, it just requires consideration of the needs and conditions of those around you. When you see a need, do you fill it whenever you can? I’m not asking for you to give up all that you have and need yourself, but I am asking you to start with little things: a listening ear, a warm meal, a cup of coffee with a lonely person, inclusion to all, sharing the things that you can with those who need them, helping those who are struggling physically, mentally or spiritually, encouraging others, praying for all, being kind to the unkind to name a few. There are limitless fantastic ways you can show mercy to everyone around you. Make a habit of being merciful and it will become as natural as breathing to you. I always provide, and sometimes I do so by providing My children to care for others. Remember that when you are being merciful, you are being used in a practical way by Me to reach the world. I am so thankful when I see you accept this task and demonstrate My love to others.  When you allow yourself to change and conform to My will, you will be recognized as merciful and righteous by all, Myself included. A true child of Mine is one who is merciful whenever possible. Thank you for being this way My Beloved Child. 

Love Always, 
God the Father

Matthew 25:34-46 paraphrased

Application Questions:

  • What area can you improve on showing mercy in?
  • How can you commit to look for opportunities to show even small acts of mercy today? Spend time thanking God for using you to meet these needs as they unfold.
  • How has someone else’s mercy helped you in your life? How can this strengthen you to show the same mercy to others?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • Matthew 9:13
  • Micah 7:18-20
  • John 3:16-21
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Colossians 3:12-15

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