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8.12.2017

Submission [Enough Study]

DEFINITION:


"The action of yielding to a superior force or accepting the will of another person."


Submission is a humbling experience in which we let go of our pride, selfishness and our control over our circumstances. It's difficult to place our precious plans, needs, wants and desires into the hands of someone else. It's hard letting go and remaining calm when the struggles we're experiencing are in the hands of a God we can't hear or see. It truly does distinguish how strong our faith is when we can submit our life to God on the hardest of days.




I have so many plans I wish would occur in my life. Things I want to accomplish. The person I hope to become. Ways I want to grow and strengthen. People I want to inspire. Changes I wish I could make in the world. Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. The dreams and desires we have for our lives don't always occur. We have plans, but God has better ones. Sometimes I grow discouraged with where my life is at and I wish my life had more meaning. I look at the tiny life I lead and wish I could be doing greater and better things. I've come to realize that I often overlook the small things. God is using even the smallest of details to be used as something great. He's molding and shaping our hearts right now for what is to come. Whether it be later in this life on earth, or for our eternal home.

Submission might feel like you're giving up the dreams you have and giving them over to God to take control of. It might feel like you're missing out or being let down of what you desire. God never lets us down. It's impossible for Him to fail us. You're never missing out when God's in control of your life. He's brought special circumstances into your life for a reason. They may sometimes feel like burdens, but they are opportunities. Use what you have, no matter how small, and take advantage of what God's given you. It may not be what you wanted, or expected, but He's placing it in your lap for a reason.

Submission gets hard when we have to give up the life we had planned out. Submission is emptying ourselves of our wants and desires and letting them go so God can work through them. Submission is not knowing what God's plans are, but trusting He knows what's best. Submission is respecting God enough to know that He is for you and is using whatever happens for a perfect purpose. Submission is letting the worries and wants of your heart to be set free and no longer letting them only be your burden to bear.


Isaiah 55:8-9


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


In our afflictions we are either submitting to our circumstances or we're submitting to God. We can't submit to both. For me it's usually a constant battle between the two. One minute I'm submitting to God and the next I feel myself quickly putting up a wall of resistance to take control. When we're submitting to our circumstances we are letting Satan win. We are letting our doubts and desires overtake God's truth. We are questioning God's goodness and wisdom. Submitting to God displays that we have faith that God will work through our situations, and no matter what the outcome, it is for a perfect purpose that we may not understand. Submitting to God is giving Him the steering wheel and taking the back seat.


Remember what is true of God. He promises to provide exactly what we need. He doesn't promise a happy life. He didn't promise that we'd have a clear direction and that He would provide direct answers to all our prayers. Instead, we try to take control of our lives and work things out on our own. We act like God isn't enough for us. Don't live in such a way that if something is taken from your life it would cause you to question God's goodness and hinder your drive to continue on. Don't let the very things God has blessed you with become more prominent than Him and overtake the special place He has for them in your life. Everything in our life may not feel like it's working out, but it doesn't have to work out yet because this is not the end. A perfect life isn't the key to our purpose here. An easy life isn't the goal. It's using our life to fulfill God's purpose, love others and glorify Him.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


We don't have to protect our life from everything. We'll never have a life untouched by pain or heartache. Choose to build things with your life for a greater purpose. Even if it costs you in this life, you have a greater future when you submit them over to God. Submission to God is telling Him that He has you no matter what happens. You'll keep trusting even when it doesn't make sense. You believe in His goodness even when all the signs are screaming at you to doubt and question His presence. Although submission often brings more suffering than we intended, our worst day with God on our side is more fulfilling than even the greatest satisfaction or success that we could ever experience here on this earth.

7.29.2017

Enough Study | Developing Patience

Have you ever felt like every day was a struggle. You've grown weary in performing the day to day tasks and you wish there was more to you everyday life? Do you find it difficult to keep an eternal perspective when the world and all it's pleasures, expectations and stresses are thrown at you daily? Have you placed other desires in place of God and relied on them for your happiness? Do you allow your worth to be determined by something you will lose?



While I'm constantly learning and growing, over the past few months God has been working on my heart to find satisfaction in Him when my life is in disarray. Life gets hard and things don't go as we planned. It's hard to rely on God when we can't see what lies ahead. It's hard to trust Him when we can't see what He's doing. In this study I hope to share what I've been struggling through over the past months and also what I'm continually learning day by day. In this study I hope to share ways in which you can look at your life full of stress, worries, unknown futures and unmet desires and find peace and contentment knowing that God is enough. Below I'll share the first part of the study - developing patience.

 

Developing Patience

 

 
DEFINITION:

"The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without complaining"

IN HEBREW:

The word patience in the Hebrew is “qavah” which means “to wait for, to look for, to hope, or to expect.”

 
IN GREEK:

In the Greek, it is used most often as “hypomenō” which means “to remain, to abide, to persevere, endure, or to bear bravely and calmly.”


In today's society we have found the word "patience" becoming almost nonexistent. We want instant and immediate. With technology we have easy access to things on our time schedule and we don't have to wait for an answer. Patience has become a hard characteristic to find with today's society. When we have to wait in traffic for more than a few minutes we get agitated and angry. When the cashier takes longer than expected we complain. When the internet doesn't work we become easily annoyed. While patience is one of those characteristics I easily write off as unattainable, I quickly forget that it is a fruit of the Spirit that we as Christians should be continually seeking and growing in.

I've always been one to struggle with remaining patient during the long silent lulls in my life. It always seems like God grows more quiet than ever during these times. When I need Him most is when I feel like He's giving me the cold shoulder. I begin to question His goodness. It is during these times that I question how His plans for my life can be of any worth. I wonder "How long?" I begin to wonder if the things I've been praying for and desperately seeking Him about will ever be fulfilled.

Looking at my life in comparison to other's lives has often left me feeling discouraged with God's reasoning for where my life had ended up. I questioned why others so easily attained the very things I was desiring and seeking God about and I was left with an empty heart. I had faith that God could perform and provide the things my heart desired, but He was working at a colossal pace. Why did God provide and bless others with the things I've been waiting and trusting Him with for years? I began to question God's justice and how this was meant for good. I continually still struggle with finding a better perspective in this area.

Through the waiting and silent times of my life God has often felt farther than ever. The silence brought me to a place of feeling crushed and forgotten. I just wanted to feel Him near, but sometimes He didn't make His presence known. Maybe because He knew that I already knew He had never left my side and He didn't need to prove Himself because He promised to always be there.


Lamentations 3:25-26


The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.


I have grown to realize that the quiet times of my life that God felt farther than ever - the times when my heart yearned for an answer to my prayers, were the times that gave me a deeper reliance on God than ever before. When the nagging desires of my heart weren't being fulfilled or they felt like they were growing stronger than my need for God, those were the times I needed to seek Him for strength. Although it wasn't easy to overcome, I found God giving me strength to get through everyday. He provided a way when it didn't seem possible. Even though it wasn't the way I wanted it.

Patience is embracing your circumstances and accepting them without questioning or complaining. Patience is looking at your circumstances and finding hope knowing that God is working. Patience is when you've done all you can do, and just being still. You don't have to have the control or worry. You don't have to carry the weight of the pressure. You don't have to have it all planned out. You can just be still. Be still and let God work. For me, being still is often the hardest thing for me to overcome. If something is wrong or not how I want it I try to do everything within my power to fix it. I struggle with just sitting by and waiting for things to work out in God's timing. I want to rush and get it worked out. God has a different perspective though. He tells us to "Be still and know that I am God." I sketched this verse on my chalkboard to help as a reminder, but I really began to take a deeper look at it's meaning recently. I've heard the verse many times before, but upon reading it I've come to better understand it's meaning.

Although it seems like common sense, I was able to find a deeper meaning to the verse that helped me through the impatient times in my life. When I've done all I know to do and I feel like I want to fix my problems, I can just be still. I don't have to worry. I don't have to continually think through my problems. I don't have to harbor on it. I don't have to question or doubt. I don't have to run it through my mind a million times. I can rest because I know who God is. God promises to never fail or forsake us. He promises to provide exactly what we need. He promises to protect us. He is in control of all things. He is busy at work even when all we hear is silence. He is the Creator of all things. So we don't have to become anxious or take things into our own hands because we can remember how great our God is. He's got this. So you don't have to carry the burden. You can just be still and rest knowing He's in control.


Psalm 37:7


Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
 

Although God promises us that He will always be with us and He will never fail us, He doesn't say that He will answer our prayers immediately and with a fast turnaround time. When we are taught to wait for an answer it teaches us endurance and perseverance. If things came easily we wouldn't have the opportunity to be strengthened in our character and relationship with God. We wouldn't be learning dependence on God for our heart's deepest desires.

How many times have I grown weary with God and wondered what He was doing. I questioned why He wasn't changing my circumstances and how much longer I had to wait. Instead I failed to realize what I could be learning and gaining from what I was experiencing right then. What is God trying to teach you right now that maybe you've been failing to realize when you're so caught up in what you wish you had? Often times our circumstances don't need to change. We do. Our hearts need to be broken in order for us to change our perspective.

7.13.2017

Trusting God with Your Future Husband & Ebook Giveaway

Trusting in God has always been one of my shortcomings when it comes to my walk with God. I struggle to let go of things I desire and entrust them with Someone I can't see, hear or touch. I struggle especially when it comes to my future husband. I see so many men out there, but I don't see many who are living for God, let alone are even interested in talking to me. Sometimes thinking about my future husband can feel discouraging because everyday I grow more worried that he doesn't exist. Maybe he's just a fantasy man that I think is out there and it's just a desire that I have that will never be met. My expectations are high, so meeting the right guy who likes me and values the same things I do sometimes feels quite intimidating.

It is then when I remember the God we serve. He is the Maker of the universe. The One who created all things. He knew what I would need before even the earth was created. If God had created me with all my desires, I know that if God has a husband out there for me, that He would have prepared him (or is preparing him) for who He knows I will need as my husband.

Sometimes I grow weary in the big "if" questions. "If I only knew God has that special guy out there for me. If I only knew he existed, then I could trust. If I just knew when I wouldn't feel so discouraged" Asking God to give me insight into the future is not a burden I need to carry. I don't need to know all the answers. I don't need to know the future. If I knew God had a husband for me, then I wouldn't have this opportunity to truly rely on God and seek Him during this season of life. I don't have the answers. I have no clue what God is doing during this time in my life, but it's nice knowing that Someone does. God's got it. He always has.

I like to think that if God ever brings the right guy into my life I will treasure it even more because of the waiting I've experienced during this time in my life. Through this season I can look back and see the ways in which God has been strengthening my relationship with Him. At times it felt like He was breaking me, but through it all He's been there teaching me through the struggling. Being 24 and never being in an official relationship has often left me feeling like I'm lagging behind. I'm missing out. I'm unattractive or incapable of being in a relationship. I look to those who seem like they're jumping in and out of relationships and don't even value or have the opportunity to trust God when they are alone and don't have someone in their lives.

I've always struggled finding lasting friendships. None of my friends ever seemed like they stuck around for very long. I've had seasons of loneliness and feeling invisible to the world. Times when I wondered why God hadn't provided a true friend or boyfriend to come into my life to care and be a friend when I needed it most. It was there where I found my best Friend was always there - God. During the lonely seasons of my life I found that God was my support and my faith strengthened in Him, knowing He was providing all I needed, even when it felt like it wasn't enough. It's still a continuing struggle, but I have found that God is truly all we need in this life. Things I thought I needed, God just kept stripping them away from me to show me that I never needed them to find satisfaction, pleasure or happiness. God is the source to all we have and He's the One who will provide all we need for the future.

When things don't feel like they're moving along fast enough or work out the way we would like, it's a constant reminder that God is the One in control. His timing is perfect. He is providing exactly what we need in the perfect of timing. I can look back over the years of my life and find that promise true. He's protected me from wrong roads, led me down paths that I never would have chosen, but all of them were creating me into the person God wanted me to be. As long as we are seeking God with our life now we can rest assured that we are right where we need to be. We aren't lacking anything or missing out. God has you right where you are right now for an amazing purpose. Don't miss it.

It may feel like God is withholding something from you that you feel is a hole in your heart that is missing, but He's the missing piece. Without God the center of our lives we will never feel joy or contentment. A joyful heart comes when we can look at our broken lives and find hope and strength in God knowing that He's present and working. He's using this time in your current circumstance to strengthen you in ways that you never could be if you had all the desires of your heart. He wants you to rely on Him and not get hurt with the ever-changing pleasures of this world. Trust in God with what you have currently and He will bless you for your faithfulness to Him. He's got it. You don't need to stress or worry over it! It may take longer than expected, but it is well worth the wait!

Free Ebook Giveaway


I'm partnering with Livy at the Crown of Beauty since she just released a new PDF ebook and is offering a free ebook giveaway here on my blog. I'll list the details below...



About the Book: The Coronation is about a modern day monarchy, telling the stories of a Royal, Christian, homeschool family who lives in the fictitious nation of Tarsurella. The eldest son, Addison, is predestined to inherit the throne on his twenty-first birthday, and must fully rely on the Lord to help him take on such a monstrous responsibility. His younger siblings, all seven of them, each have adventures and trials of their own in the midst of preparing for Addison's Coronation. The teenage Princesses, Bridget, Chasity, and Hope, learn that trusting God to bring their future husbands is far more challenging than they ever dreamed it could be. Guarding your heart, trusting God, and allowing Him to write your love story, are all major themes in this tale.

How to Enter: To be entered in the giveaway and receive a free digital PDF of the ebook please leave a comment below and answer the question: "If you were royalty for a day, what would you do?"

The giveaway will end on July 15th, so be sure to check back in the comments to see if you won!

7.08.2017

New Release!
Armored Against the Enemy Magazine

I'm excited to finally share the release of my first devotional magazine from a study I had previously shared on my blog "Armored Against the Enemy." I'm attaching the details below to the product on my website where you can purchase it. If you have any questions or would prefer to contact me to purchase it please don't hesitate to email me at britt@brittlaurendesigns.com!


https://brittlaurendesigns.com/product/armored-against-the-enemy-magazine-study/

Armored Against the Enemy Magazine Study  


A 7 day study focusing on the armor of God and how we can use it to defeat the enemy. Each day focuses on one of the seven pieces of armor and includes application and Scriptural references for encouragement.

$9.00

Product Details:
– 5″ x 8″ saddle stitched binding
– 33 pages
– Glossy print in full color


7.06.2017

Jehovah Shammah [The Lord is There]

Questioning God's presence and activity in my life has always been something I've struggled with. I look to the past and see how God has worked, but I grow doubtful when I look at my present circumstances and my future because all I see is so much uncertainty. I wonder what God is doing and how this is all working for my best. I question His plans and wonder how this is strengthening me.

Weight of Your Burdens

Sometimes I feel so alone. I feel like the worries and burdens on my heart that tear me down every day are only mine to bear. While I'm responsible for my actions, words and choices, my life was never truly mine, because it is in God's hands. I was never meant to carry the weight of my circumstances and burdens on my heart by myself. I like clarity and direction and it seems like this life always has some gaping hole of uncertainty that leaves me anxious and doubtful of what lies ahead. I have slowly been learning to view uncertainty as an opportunity to strengthen my faith, patience and trust even when the future seems dark and unknown.

Let Down

Trust is one characteristic I struggle with most. I've been let down, hurt and disappointed countless times (as I'm sure you have too). Although, trust in man is different than trust in God. People will let us down, but God always has a plan. He sees the big picture and there is a purpose to what we are experiencing. When we trust God we never have to worry if we will be let down. Although it may seem like God is breaking your heart, you can rest assured He's got it and He knows what He's doing. He's in control and sees all things. He is working for your absolute best and will provide for you in the perfect timing.



When you're growing weary and looking to the future, full of uncertainty, rest in the promise that God is there. He sees your future and not one thing is incorrect or missing. He's provided just what you need and will continue to work in your life to the fullest. He hasn't forgotten you. He is present with you in your current circumstances and has never left you alone to fend for yourself.



PROVERBS 16:3


Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.




Character Example

Abraham was a Biblical character that came to mind that related to this characteristic of God. I can't imagine the thoughts running through Abraham's mind when he was traveling with his son Isaac to sacrifice him. The fear and anxious thoughts must have been running rampant through his mind as every step led him closer to sacrifice him. I know I would have questioned God's sovereignty and provision. I would have questioned God's goodness and wondered how slaying my son would have a good outcome? I would have questioned why all the days of my faith and trusting in God had led me to do something so difficult to someone I loved so much.

It is here though that I like to notice two things. First, Abraham's faith in God. He trusts God's will and knows that He has a perfect plan and still follows through even when the future looks terrifying. Abraham knew God's character and that He wouldn't allow him to do anything that wasn't for the best of him and Isaac. He knew God was a good God and didn't set out to hurt them. Second, God shows His character here. He went ahead and was there with Abraham and Isaac all the way up until the moment He allowed Abraham to keep from sacrificing Isaac. Although to Abraham, God may have seemed far and mysterious, God showed His character and reminded both Abraham and Isaac that He was there and saw their faith and trust even amidst a trying circumstance. He saw their true faith when they didn't understand and blessed them for their faith. I can't imagine the relief for both of them afterwards!

He is Present

Sometimes it feels like God is so far away. Like we can't feel Him. It's like He's given us the cold shoulder and has rejected us forever. I've heard countless times not to base our thoughts off of feelings. Feelings aren't truth. They can deceive us and get the best of us. God promises to always be with us, so when we feel like God isn't near, it reminds me that my feelings are faulty. I'm basing my joy and trust in something other than God and allowing it to get the upper hand. Don't let your feelings or Satan get the best of you. Remember God's promises. You don't have to be afraid or question the worth of your future because the Lord is there. When He is present and working you know that your life is exactly how it should be and nothing is lacking or missing. He's provided you with exactly what you need and in the perfect timing. When it feels like everything else has been stripped from your life, know that you have all you need because the Lord is there.

Prayer

Lord, right now you feel far. You feel silent and I'm not sure what You are doing. Give me faith to keep trusting even when I don't feel you. Help me not to base my faith and thoughts on my feelings, but rely on Your truth. You are always working, even when I don't see You. You never leave my side and You are with me even when the road gets dark. I'm never alone. You will never forsake me and You already have great plans in store for me. Remind me that when my life feels far from perfect and I feel like I'm lacking, that You are providing just what I need. I'm not missing out. I'm exactly where You want me when I'm seeking after You. Take my fears, worries and uncertain future and give me confidence knowing You are there and working through it all.

6.16.2017

El Shaddai [The All Sufficient One]

When first beginning to study this name I have to admit all I could think of was the song by Amy Grant - "El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai, age to age, You're still the same by the power of the name..." I never really took the time to focus in on this name of God even though I've listened to the song countless times.

Upon further study, "El" is translated into "might and power" and "Shaddai," although it is known to be more difficult to decipher, it's root word is often translated into "God Almighty." While God is definitely all-powerful and mighty, in this case His name is relating more to His sovereignty and authority in our lives rather than His actual strength.

In Every Detail

It is neat to think that everything we own, all our possessions, who we are, all our abilities and talents were given by God. He has blessed us with all that we have. It may feel like you obtained and earned them on your own. It may feel like you can take credit for your successes and abilities, but everything was given by God. And just as God provides and is intertwined with every detail of our lives, we too have a desire that can only be satisfied by God. It might be placed deep inside and hidden behind all the temporary satisfactions we desire, but it is there. We have a longing within our hearts that can only be met by God.

Although it may seem like some of the desires and aspirations of this world will fulfill us we often quickly find our heart longing for more or searching for something better. We must completely empty ourselves of selfish desires, lust and pride so we can be filled and used by God in an extraordinary way. When we are empty and waiting to be filled by God it can often feel like we are a broken piece of pottery waiting to be turned into something of worth. We feel like we lack purpose. But in due time God will fill us with the purpose He created and molded us for.




Stripping Away

Lately it has felt as if God has been stripping away everything in my life. Friends. Relationships. Work. Success. Confidence. Through this time it has honestly been difficult to find contentment with my life. I've struggled to accept that the things I once had, desired and attained will not satisfy my heart. Even though this current season that has seemed long and ever-so-quiet, I have been applying this truth ever so slowly in my life - that God is all I need. While it is beneficial to have friends, family, possessions, a career, etc. they will not satisfy our hearts. Without God we will never feel satisfied. While there are days that I feel so empty, God has been continually teaching me to seek after Him and focus solely on Him. Others may reject us. They will let us down. They will fail. But God will never fail or forsake us. He promises to fill our empty hearts and have them overflowing with blessings.

Often times it is hard to trust that God is near. It's difficult when we can't see Him or hear His voice. When it feels like everything is stripped from us, and on top of that, God feels far away, it can often leave us feeling forgotten and forsaken. It's easy to find our satisfaction in God when we feel like we're on top of the world, but when our world is shaken and the mountains are crumbling it is challenging to find contentment in Someone we can't physically see, touch or hear. When it feels like God is all we have left and we can't feel Him life gets hard. We feel like we're alone to fend for ourselves. Please let me tell you that God hasn't forgotten you. He's been there all along. He is still all you need. Rest in the promises He has provided you with.

In Due Season

Almost every year we plant a garden in our backyard full of tomatoes, corn and beans. My mom had just finished planting everything and tonight while I was having one of my long talks with her, as I always do, I got to thinking how seeds work. Isn't it interesting how seeds can still grow even when they have no sunlight underneath the deep soil in the earth? We can't see that they are there or how much they have grown, but underneath the soil it is developing and strengthening. Then the day arrives that we see it burst through the soil and it's life is revealed to us. I thought of how this can relate to our lives. We may not see anything but barren unfruitful soil, but in due time the seed of our faith will burst through and will be revealed to us. We will see that our desire and acknowledgement to solely find our satisfaction in God will be worth it.


Matthew 6:33


But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


Character Example

Job seemed like a good character to correlate with God's sufficiency. I admire Job's life and his reliance on God even after all he owned was taken from him. God states in the beginning of the chapter of Job that he was upright and loved God. Even though he served God and loved him, Satan sought out to test Job's faith. All his children were killed, along with his livestock, wealth and possessions. Nothing would be the same as it was. The pain of continuing on after all seemed like it was taken from him must have been devastating. His wife told him to curse God and die and his friends accused him that the trial he was experiencing was a punishment for sins he committed. God saw potential in Job and allowed Satan to test him to reveal his reliance on God.

All that Job had was taken from him, but one thing remained - God. Although God seemed silent, Job continued to focus and seek Him. Job encountered periods of doubting and questioning why he was experiencing heartache, but he continually remained faithful. Here we can see God acting as El Shaddai. Everything Job knew had changed. He had nothing left to rely on, but God remained. He was able to find satisfaction in God knowing He was present even through the most darkest of times. He didn't know what the future would hold, but he held onto the truth that God keeps His promises and won't forsake us even when He feels silent. God later blessed Job's life by giving him twice as much than he had before and he lived to be 140 years old.



Jeremiah 29:13


You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.


Prayer

Dear Lord, through this time right now it's difficult to find complete satisfaction in You. Please give me the desire to seek after You with my whole heart. Help me not to place other desires before You. Let me entrust them to You and find complete sufficiency knowing that You love me, accept me, chose me and desire to be my Friend. Thank You for loving me and always listening even when I don't take the time to spend with You. Help all of the chaos from this world, the struggles, pain, sorrow, worries, desires and dreams I have fade into the background and allow Your voice to become the only one I hear. Strengthen my relationship with You during this time. When I'm focused on You, I know that You will never let me down because You always are working for my best. Help me crave You more than anything this world can offer!