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Secretly Hurting

24 Feb

Julia said she could feel her parents’ love reaching out to her when she was back home during spring break. Although her mom and dad didn’t realize it, their hugs and kisses were helping to heal hurts she was hiding inside.

Have you ever been around someone who’s secretly hurting on the inside? Have you ever been that person yourself?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT)

Never underestimate the impact of a smile, kind word, or an embrace. Don’t undervalue those little kindnesses.

If the Holy Spirit prompts you to call or text a friend to see how she is doing, that may seem trivial to you, but to her, it could mean everything. In fact, your acts of Christ-like love may be healing wounds you cannot see!

Journal to the Lord and ask Him to make you sensitive to the needs of others. Ask Him to help you show the kindness that will bring healing to hurting hearts. If you have hurts that others cannot see, ask God to begin healing you. Then tell a trusted adult so they can support you as you heal.

The above is an excerpt from The Journal (workbook for novel 1).

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Juicy Information

6 Feb

In our current culture, everyone is quick to believe the stories they hear about other people—stories from friends or off Facebook, Twitter, etc. People don’t consider the pain they cause by passing on what they hear (whether true or false). Hope this excerpt from the Journal helps you think through what you do when someone shares something with you or when gossip comes your way…

The night that Julia found Gretchen crying in her room, Gretchen blurted out some personal details about her life. Really personal. When you read the novel, did you notice that Julia never repeated what Gretchen said that night?

Take a minute and think about what you would have done with such juicy information! Would you have kept it to yourself like Julia did, or would you have at least shared it with your best friend after swearing her to secrecy?

A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. Proverbs 11:13 (NLT)

When someone shares her heart with you, are you faithful to keep it confidential? What if you hear something about someone else—are you willing to believe the best, pray for him or her, and seal your lips? Or do you take it upon yourself to spread around what you’ve heard?

As women of Christ, we don’t want to be known as gossips! We want to be women who can be confidently trusted.

There may be times, of course, when someone shares something so serious, you can’t keep it confidential. Maybe a friend is using drugs or fighting an eating disorder. Serious issues like those must be dealt with promptly. In those cases, you need to break the confidence and make someone like a parent, teacher, or church leader aware of the situation. Although it’s admirable to keep a secret, you’re a truer friend to get help for that person—help that might even save his or her life! With this journal entry, however, we’re talking about sharing confidential information simply because you like repeating what you know about others.

Journal to the Lord about your ability to keep a confidence. Then take this opportunity to forgive those who have betrayed your trust. If you need to, ask God to forgive you for having loose lips and a lack of self-control regarding gossip. Ask Him to create a faithful spirit in you so that you can be a blessing to those around you. Remember, you always have God to talk to when you’re just bursting to tell someone!

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Remind Yourself

6 Jan

Recently, my mom and I both encouraged you to reflect on what you’re thankful for in your life. If you missed those posts or didn’t have time to do it due to the holidays, let this short excerpt from The Journal (workbook for novel 1) encourage you. It’s a great one to read as you begin the New Year this week!

Spending time with her mom in the hotel reminded Julia of the close relationship they had always shared. She realized that her mom was more to her than a great parent; she was a good friend as well. In the blur of the last semester, she had foolishly forgotten all of that.

When we are focused on the wrong things, it’s easy to foolishly forget what was once precious to us. In fact, human nature tends to zoom in on the negative, obsessing about what’s wrong and forgetting all about the positives that are happening as well.

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 forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)

The psalmist David tells himself not to forget the good things that God does for him. Apparently, he recognizes how easy it is to get caught up in the struggles of life and forget the many benefits of belonging to God. In fact, he dedicates an entire chapter to remembering, to listing all the wonderful things that God has done, is doing, and will continue to do for those who fear Him. If you have given your life to Christ and made Him your Savior and Lord, that includes you!

Take a moment to list of all the good things in your life right now. Try to find fifteen things minimum. That may seem like a lot at first, but when you start to be thankful for things like having food to eat today or being able to hear your favorite music playing, the list will grow quickly!

Journal to the LORD about all you’re thankful for today. Refuse to foolishly forget the benefits of your relationship with God, and like David, remind yourself of them often.

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First Love

16 Dec

Because of yesterday’s post, I thought this excerpt from The Journal would be perfect to share with you today. Enjoy!

…Julia reflects on her mom’s statement that Julia had lost Jesus as her first love during her time at college. Julia’s mom is referring to a message that Jesus sent to one of His churches:

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…” Revelation 2:2-5a (NLT)

Notice that this church was actually doing a lot of things right! Yet what was most important to Jesus? That they truly loved Him and each other.

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Revelation 2:4 (AMP)

When we love the Lord with all our heart, we try our best to imitate Him, to do what we know He would do. While our actions are important to Him, what does Jesus want the most from us? According to Revelation 2:4, He wants our love! Jesus apparently feels dishonored in His relationship with us when we go through the motions without lovingly connecting with Him.

 Many times we only consider how much we need the Lord and His great love for us. Can you see now how important your love is to Him? Doesn’t that make you feel incredibly treasured and special? Jesus genuinely wants to be your first love in life. It means something very precious to Him!

Think about whether Jesus is your first love right now. Like Julia, He’sprobably one of your loves, but exactly which one? First, second, last?

Journal to the Lord about these verses in Revelation. Choose to put your relationship with Christ first in your heart. You will find that as you focus on getting to know God better, making good choices will become much easier. After all, when Jesus is truly your Lord, your life can’t help but show it!

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Guaranteed

2 Dec

Julia’s mom spent a lot of time explaining relationships. She emphasized that our relationship with God is the only one that’s guaranteed; we can rely upon the Lord completely.

Doesn’t it feel great to know that God will always be with you? He’ll never turn from you or leave you all alone. Never. No matter what you do, no matter what happens to you, God is with you.

…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5b-6 (AMP)

Unlike imperfect people, God will never let us down.

Journal to the Lord about these powerful verses. Take time to read through them slowly, thinking about each statement. Thank Him for loving you so much, for promising to never leave you or relax His hold on your life. Write to Him about what those promises mean to your heart. If you’ve been fighting alarm, fear, or dread in some area of your life, give it over to the Lord, knowing that the God of the universe is your helper. 

(Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from The Journal–workbook for novel 1.)

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Moment by Moment

18 Nov

Here’s an excerpt from The Journal (workbook that goes with novel 1.) Hope it encourages and challenges you today!

 

When Julia first opened the sorority invitation, she sensed a warning in her spirit. She knew that sorority had a reputation for partying and would not be the best environment for her. Later, when Theresa talked to her about pledging, Julia again sensed the need to say no. She felt she should read her Bible and pray about her decision, but instead of yielding, she stubbornly resisted doing what she knew was right. Knowing the rest of the story, think of all the tears Julia would’ve been spared had she chosen to obey that day!

Have you ever been drawn to read your Bible or to pray about a situation but then talked yourself into doing something else instead?

We are all tempted at times to ignore the promptings of the Lord and do what is easier or feels better at the moment.

Galatians 5:25 (NLT) Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Following the leading of the Holy Spirit is not a one time choice; it’s a moment by moment decision.

Journal to the Lord about your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of your life. Write down any areas where you know you’re being stubborn right now. Ask Him to help you yield to Him in those areas, knowing that His promptings and instructions are always for your good—whether to guide you, protect you, or simply cause you to grow.

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Just One Date

4 Nov

When Julia wouldn’t go out with J.R.’s roommate, Fran didn’t understand what the problem was. She knew that Julia wanted a Christian boyfriend, but this was just one date. She wasn’t expecting Julia to marry this guy!

What Fran failed to recognize is that a marriage doesn’t usually come from out of nowhere; it typically comes out of a dating relationship. We don’t see many arranged marriages in our culture nowadays, so realistically, any man that you date could potentially become your husband.  

 

Good Advice: If you never date a non-Christian, you won’t put yourself in the position to marry one. In the same way, if you choose to only date a man who loves the Lord and is sincerely serving Him, you’ll end up marrying that kind of man.

Sad Truth: Too many girls have compromised that standard for the thrill of having a boyfriend.  A girl may rationalize having a non-Christian boyfriend just for a season; she doesn’t plan on actually marrying him. Yet feelings and attachments develop in relationships, and often the girl will find herself emotionally unable to walk away. She eventually marries that boyfriend hoping that everything will somehow work out. But many times it doesn’t. Not only does her husband continue to have no interest in God, but her time spent in compromise has caused her to drift pretty far from her original relationship with the Lord as well. All of this could have been avoided by sticking to one simple principle: only date a committed Christian.

 

Proverbs 9:12 (NLT) If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.

You must be very selective regarding whom you date.

 

How firm is your determination to only date a committed Christian? It’s critical that you make up your mind now, before an unwise but tempting offer comes along.

Remember that God is always right beside you. If you ask, He will strengthen you.

 Psalm 16: 7-8 (NLT) 7 I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

 

Journal to the Lord about your commitment to stay strong in your dating relationships, to wait for Him to bring the right man into your life. It may not always be easy, but you will be happy that you did in the years to come.

 

*The above is an excerpt from The Journal (workbook for novel 1)

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