So this is the beginning of our blog…the first of many I hope!  This blog is a creation that I felt led to do during our session this morning when we were discussing authenticity of ourselves and our character while following the Lord.  This is a place for us to keep up with each other during the week and also to share our prayer requests and to see over time how they are answered.  It is also a place we can follow up on our Sunday lessons to recap, share some devotionals that I find inspiring or thought provoking and we can question one another and hold each other accountable as well.  I hope that this blog will be uplifting and provide hope along the journey.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23)  We will have hope in His word, faith in prayer, and God’s love brought to full expression in each of us!

Today we talked about “Becoming the Real Deal” and we watched some “taste-testers” try to tell the difference between name brand coke, water, and fig newtons.  We jumped into Matthew 23: 1-3 and 25-28; 1 John 3:18 and Titus 1:16.  I want you to reflect upon actions speaking louder than words and with that there are 4 ways to deepen your devotion to God and develop an authentic lifestyle of living for God.  The first way to deepen your devotion is to be concerned about your heart first. We read Proverbs 4:23 that says “Above all else, guard your heart, or everything you do flows from it.”  Our primary devotion should be to live for God and love Him with all our our heart, soul, and strength.  Take some time to sit quietly before the Lord and ask Him to speak to you about the things that tend to steal your heart from full, authentic devotion…we discussed things like school-work and the general busyness of life, money or material possessions, gaining approval and pleasing others, and physical attraction/hormones.  The second way to deepen your devotion is to be a doer of God’s word. Matthew 7:24-25 tells us that “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  Like that wise man, we too, should think about our actions and where we are building our relationships, our ambitions, and our dreams.  Some additional scripture regarding this issue is John 14:15 and James 1:22.  We should be careful in “practicing what we preach” and should live out what God has commanded us to do, but we should remember that works alone will not get us into heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).  Again, consider something that God has already called you to do and you just need to obey today.  The third way to become more authentic in your lifestyle is to be faithful in prayer. Romans 12: 12 is one of the reasons this blog was created, so that we could see how faithful God is to us in answering our prayers.  Be attentive to the Holy Spirit and the gifts we have been given. We have to have quiet time with God to experience the Holy Spirit and His leading in our lives.  Be aware of the spiritual realm that prayer interacts with. As followers of Christ, the battle for our souls has already been won, however, we all know that’s not to say that we won’t stumble and fall along the way…and that the tempter will certainly use our human weaknesses to his advantage to throw us off course.  Be strong in the Lord and HIS mighty power as Ephesians 6:10-12 reminds us.  And finally, the fourth thing we can do to become more authentic is to be willing to take a risk for the kingdom of God. Hebrews 11:6 challenges us to take risks and have faith in talking to your friends or strangers about your beliefs.  Get off the couch and get a little uncomfortable and you will be highly rewarded and fulfilled!  There is SO much power in EACH of us to trust God in ways that seem unreasonable…in the tough times, give God the glory!  Don’t question or blame Him!  Know that His plan is far greater than our own; God will carry us through the valleys on our darkest days to bring us to a higher place.

I challenge each of you to sit for FIVE minutes each day this week and spend some personal time with God.  I feel that is VERY do-able for all of us…but VERY difficult at the same time.  We so often get distracted by the things around us that the thought of just sitting still and waiting for God’s voice and guidance is such a difficult task, when it should be the part of our day we look forward to the most!  I want you to use this blog this week to keep you accountable.  If there is something you want us to know and help keep you on track, tell us!  I will post something each day and you can comment on that day about what you experienced in your walk with God that day, through your actions, guidance, or your quiet time.  I love you so much!!  I pray that God is in the center of your thoughts this week and that we can keep each other accountable with this great technology.

Faithfully Following…Seeking Authenticity,

Valerie

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