Where is your focus?

Where is your focus_ post graphic.png

Where is your focus? Is it on the Lord, or is it on yourself?

I often become distracted from the things that really matter. I become focused on myself: what I want to do, what people think of me, and other things that seem very important, but really aren’t. The Lord should be the highest priority in each of our lives, but how often does He get pushed to the back burner? How often do we roll over and go back to sleep when we know we should be reading our Bibles? How often do we put our nose in a book or turn on the computer when we know we should read a book to our little sibling?

What are your priorities? Make a list in your mind of what your priorities are, from highest to lowest.

Okay, now that you’ve got that figured out, keep reading. Don’t we mix up our priorities? How often is this the order:

1. ME

2. Ministry (or other things I enjoy)

3. everything and everybody else?

In my life, I know where my focus should be. It should be on:

1. GOD,

2. Family,

and 3. ministry, in that order.

GOD, spending time with Him; Family, serving and spending time with them; and ministry, developing my talents to use for His glory.

But how often do I get distracted? How often do I forget to read God’s Word? or forget about my family and focus on myself? and focus on ministry instead?

I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard for me to balance time among ministry, family, and God. I’d rather work on writing a post for this website, or work on a book, or practice my music- all of which I enjoy- when I really should be serving my family. I regularly read my Bible and pray, and I often think that’s enough, but instead of working on something that I’d love to, shouldn’t I be spending even more time with the Lord? He should be my greatest focus! The Bible says,

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

We can’t live on bread alone, or on internet alone, or on books alone… you fill in the blank. We need to make sure that we spend a lot of time with the Lord. This magazine and website is targeted at unmarried young ladies. As single young people, we have a lot more time than we would if we were married. In I Corinthians 7:34 it says,

   “There is a 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.”

That’s pretty obvious. We are to care for the things of the Lord, and spend time doing things for Him. It’s not worthwhile to spend time doing things that will not have an impact on eternity.

Yes, many of the things that I mentioned above can have an impact on eternity: writing an encouraging post for a website like this one may turn someone to Christ, or simply encourage them in their walk with Christ. Writing a book could do the same thing. Practicing God-honoring music, to prepare for a church service, can also be a way to serve the Lord. However, we need to make sure that we have our priorities in order.

Dear friend, I ask you to re-evaluate your priorities. Where is your focus? It is worth it to spend time with the Lord before your day really begins; it will make a big difference in your attitude! Make sure that your family (and house) are doing well before going online, reading a book, or doing whatever else you want to do. Make them your priority! God has given you a family for a reason; shouldn’t we embrace His gift?

 

Note: I apologize that this post is five days late. I also apologize that it was a little disorganized and I didn’t make a lot of graphics. Please forgive me, and I hope you are having a wonderful July! 😉

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Don’t Be Defeated!

Background: I recently heard a message by Dr. Rick Flanders. At the end he said it would be life-changing, revolutionary in your life if you apply it, and I believe that to be true. This message meant so much to me that I thought I would share what I got from it with you. The sermon was based off of Romans 6:1-14 and 7:14-25, if you would like to read it on your own.

Don't be Defeated! 1

Have you ever been discouraged? (Okay, I know we all have!) Does it seem like you simply cannot live a good Christian life? Are you constantly sinning, and asking forgiveness? Well, me too! And for a while, I almost thought it had to be that way. But last night I learned something new.

Don't be Defeated! 3

 

I am free! When I became born again, Jesus Christ broke the chains of sin. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (emphasis added) Did you catch that? We are dead to sin! This is a glorious truth.

 

However, you may ask, “So why do I keep sinning? If I am free from sin, why can’t I stop?” Here’s the thing: we cannot stop from sinning. Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” That verse is confusing sometimes, but we can understand the part that says, “In me… dwelleth no good thing,” right? We cannot do anything good by ourselves.

Wow! So after telling you that we are free from sin (which is still true, by the way), I tell you that we can’t do anything good? Yes, that’s right. To learn more, we need to read more of Romans 7.

21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This says that there are two laws in us: the law of sin, and the law of God. In verse 19, Paul writes, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Basically, we as Christians want to serve the Lord, but the law of sin which is in us does not allow us to. Note that these are laws. Laws cannot be changed.

Are you even more discouraged yet? Well, we’re getting close to the exciting part now. Remember when I said that we are free from sin? That is still true! But we cannot stop sinning in our own strength. We need Someone’s help.

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Now I have to tell you something else; this is the really exciting part!! If you are a Christian, you have that Someone living inside you- the Holy Spirit! John 16:7 says, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” The Comforter is the Holy Spirit. And guess what? Comforter, in this case, means Helper! The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He will help us not to sin.

Dr. Flanders said that he daily asks the Holy Spirit to help him, because he knows that he can not do anything good by himself. I think this is a good plan. The more mature you are as a Christian, the more you will realize that you are simply helpless; our strength comes from Christ.

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Isn’t this amazing?!? We will try and try to be a good Christian, but we will always fail. Just as we have depended on Christ for salvation, we must depend on the Holy Spirit for daily sanctification. This is a blessed hope! We do not need to always fail; we can ask for help.

 

 

As I listened to this message, tears welled in my eyes. I have been struggling lately in my walk with Christ, and I, like Paul, can say, “…The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19) But praise the Lord, that is not the end of the story! This message is changing my life, like Dr. Flanders said, and I pray that it will do the same in yours. ♥

 

Fear.

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   Fear. It holds us in its’ grasp. It keeps us from doing things that we want to and makes us do things that we’d rather not. Fear is a big problem.

Why am I talking about fear today? Because I have seen how it has made others act. They do things that they don’t necessarily want or need to do, because of fear. Because I have been struck by fear at times, and I wanted to share why I am not afraid any more.

For example, I was struck by a bit of fear yesterday. For some reason, we were talking about a disease. I found it all interesting… until my mom said that doctors don’t know what causes it. I thought, What if I got this? It’s possible! Oh, no! 

2Then I realized that there are so many things that we could be afraid of. Friends or family dying (I’m not talking about real health concerns here; just if we are thinking about people dying out of the blue… but honestly, should we not have faith even when there are real health concerns?), we could get some random disease, someone we hold dear could get into a car accident out of the blue, you name it. We can always think of something to be afraid of. But why should we?

 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

3 As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that He holds the future in His Hands! We need not be afraid, for He has everything planned out for us! Yes, part of His plan could be that we (or someone we love) lose our job, or die early, but if that is His plan, God’s Will be done! He has the best plan, and we need to have faith in that. We should not do things out of fear if we are truly following Christ.

 

 

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

If our faith is firmly grounded in our Lord Jesus Christ, we will not be afraid of what the future holds. If you are afraid, read the promises of God’s Word. The Psalms are a great place to start; they have encouraged me time and time again. Also, please remember that God is in control. He may call us to go through hard times, but we must remember that He knows best.

 

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Dear friend, don’t let fear hold you in its grasp! Trust in the Lord! 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I would like to close with the words of a hymn, God Leads Us Along. I believe that it is very encouraging, and I love it. My dear friend, as you read the words of this hymn, please reflect on it. Let it sink deep in your mind, and realize that the Lord is in control of all! He does not wish for us to suffer our way through life; He desires that we serve Him faithfully and rejoice in that.

 

1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Refrain:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.
3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.
4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

~G. A. Young

   Note: Here is a link to a beautiful arrangement of God Leads Us Along. I enjoy reading the words as I listen to it. ♥

 

Issue Two Released

Hello, everyone! I wanted to let you know that Radiant Hearts Magazine’s second issue has been released. You can read it by clicking on the cover below.

SPR18 cover

The third issue of this magazine, which is scheduled to come out on August 1st, will be on the topic of God- Who He is, what His attributes are, and why we should serve Him. If you are interested in contributing to this issue, please check out the Article Submission page.

Thank you, and I pray that May’s issue will help you to grow in your walk with Christ!

In Christ, Leona ♥


 

Faith

As Christians, we talk a lot about faith. Yes, we have faith in Jesus, but do we really believe all of the promises of Scripture? In trying circumstances, do we trust in God?

Recently, I was in a trying situation. At the height of the problem, I ran to my room and lay on my bed, sobbing, “Why me, Lord, why me?” I felt so ashamed to be saying it, but I really was wondering why He put me (and my family) in that situation. Then it came to me- faith. The Lord uses situations like this to test us, to try us, to grow our faith.

Faith graphic 1

Think about Job. Job went through extremely trying situations, more so than any of us ever will (at least more than I have). And why? Because God was testing his faith. I hesitate to say that God would test me just as He tested Job, because that seems prideful. However, I believe that He does use trying situations to make our faith greater. Certainly, we probably won’t have everything taken from us, but God uses little things to draw us closer to Him.

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Most of us probably wouldn’t choose to go through a hard situation. But really, what is more important in life than a close relationship with God? Isn’t a (relatively) small situation worth being more like Christ? It is hard for me to type this, as I’m not sure if I would choose to go through a trial “just” to be closer to God, but shouldn’t that truly be our greatest desire? Should we not make Him the great pursuit of our life?

Back to the subject at hand- faith. Most of us say we have faith. And most of you who are reading this post probably do have faith in God, have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour. However, do we really believe that everything in the Bible is true? We may say we do, but how often do we doubt? How often do we, like I did, ask why, God?

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I believe that if we know the truths of the Bible well, we will have a greater faith. If we read our Bibles often, and know God’s Word well, we will trust Him more fully. I enjoy searching for promises in Scripture- Psalms is a great place to look! There are also truths to be found that are not easy to find. Searching for nuggets of truth- and finding them!- is a great pleasure. God rewards those who diligently seek Him!

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As I write this post, I honestly feel guilty. I don’t live up to the standards that I write about. I am not a “model Christian”. But who can be? A great thing to remember is that we cannot do anything by ourselves. We need the Lord’s help. If you are a born-again Christian, you know that you cannot get to Heaven on your own. So why do we so often try to become more like Christ on our own? We simply can’t! We need to ask the Lord to help us, for He is the only One that can.

 

As a side note: Happy Resurrection Sunday! May you have a wonderful day worshiping our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. ♥

 

 

Taking a Stand

Purple Sunset with Barbed Wire
Used by permission

As I recently mentioned, I have been using the Christ-Walk Journal in my quiet time lately. I have also been going through a book called Called to Conquer in a Bible study with the ladies in my church. Using these tools, I have been learning a lot on the subject of spiritual warfare, and I thought that I would share some of this with you.

One thing to remember (that greatly encouraged me) is that, even though we are still sinning after salvation, we don’t need to continue to be defeated by Satan. We need to take a stand and not be defeated, because we have Christ, the Lord of the universe, on our side! There is no need to live a defeated life, and to always be discouraged because of our sin. Instead of constantly focusing on ourselves and our sin, we need to confess, forsake, and forget.

Grow in Christ! Remember that He is always with you, and that He is helping you to live a victorious Christian life! The Lord has given us “armor” to wear, to protect us against the wiles of the Devil. I will be writing about this topic for the rest of the article.

One extremely useful weapon that He has given us is “the Sword of the Spirit,” also known as the Bible. The Word of God is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12 says. It is very important that we daily read our Bibles, and not just read them, but study them! Bible study books are very helpful, and I also highly recommend memorizing Scripture. It has been helpful to me when in situations of temptation to bring memorized verses to mind.

Another important thing to do is to be in a good, solid, Bible-believing church that preaches the Word of God (not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching1).

Prayer is an additional “piece of armor” that the Lord has given us. Pray that God will keep you from temptations, and that He will protect your family members, as well. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.2 We are to be praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.3 Even when you don’t know what to pray in a certain situation, pray that the Lord’s will be done. The Bible says that when we know not what we should pray for as we ought…[the Spirit] itself maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God…4

These are all great tools that the Lord has given us. I would encourage you to do a study on the armor of God. A great passage on the topic is Ephesians 6:10-18, and you can use a concordance to look up more verses on the character traits mentioned there.

One more thing to mention: this is going to be hard. Making time in your life for devotions and prayer is a hard thing, even once you get into the habit of it. Satan wants to stop you. But take courage, dear sister! We have Christ on our side. Keep that in mind, and “force” yourself to make Him a priority. (Believe me, I have to do that quite often, too. 😉 ) It is worth it!

I hope and pray that this post was an encouragement to you! May the Lord bless you as you strive to take a stand against the Devil. May you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.5  ♥

References:                                                                                                                                             1: Hebrews 10:25
2: James 5:16b
3: Ephesians 6:18
4: Romans 8:26b, 27b
5: Ephesians 6:10b

Prayer: An Amazing Gift

 

Pink Roses © Bethany Baas
Used by permission

 

I recently began a program of praying for an hour each day. God has taught me so much through this! Although I’ve heard certain things over and over, I never truly understood them in a meaningful way. In this post, I’m going to talk about some of these things.

First of all, the gift of prayer! It is so amazing that we can come before the presence of the LORD Most High, the Creator of the universe! I know that you’ve probably heard this before, and I know that I have as well, but it’s something that has really “hit home” in the past few days.

Going along with that, God wants to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us! Isn’t that so amazing?!? We, who were lost in sin, we, who are filthy sinners- the LORD Almighty wants to have communion with us! This should cause us to be full of humility and gratefulness (check out the Winter 2018 issue for more on this topic).

Another thing that I have learned is that the Lord holds everything in His hands! He is in control of everything, and everything that He does is for the good of us if we are following Him (Romans 8:28- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”) When you really ponder this, you will understand that we really have no reason to be afraid, to worry, or to try to make things work together the way we want them to; God has everything under control! We need to have full and complete trust in Him.

Well, I’ve talked enough. Now it’s your turn to get out your Bible and meditate on it, learning more truth from the Word of God!

In Christ,

Leona Ruth

Issue 1 Released!

Humble Yourselves Magazine cover1

Hello, everyone!

I would like to let you all know that the very first issue of Radiant Hearts Magazine is now available! The topic is pride. Please click here to view it. Also, there is a wallpaper that you can download to your computer that matches the cover. You can check that out on the Wallpaper page. Thanks! ❤

Question…

Hello! I have been working on February’s issue (on pride), and I was wondering what the subject for the next issue (May) should be. I’ve had some ideas, but I wanted to get your input. Please comment below with ideas! It doesn’t have to be a sin, like February; it could be something like “Serving the Lord in Your Home”, for example. 😉

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

In Christ,

Leona Ruth ❤