Be Satisfied

Kyndel Kelly, GFC Carrollwood

I truly believe finding satisfaction in the Lord is a lifelong pursuit. Different seasons of life bring different jobs, responsibilities, family dynamics, and the list goes on. It can be hard when you feel like you’re following God, doing all the right things, but still feel unsatisfied in the day-to-day.

After getting married, finishing school, getting my dream job, and living the life I dreamt up, I felt sad. Empty. My journey to uncover these unexpected feelings led me on a path I’m still on. A journey to truly be satisfied in the Lord.

When my life was moving along, productive, and I felt successful … I was satisfied. But, when I felt it stand still, the future unknown, in tension, or even during a time when I was waiting on God, I felt unsatisfied. I felt worthless. Like I had failed in a way.

I had a fresh revelation during that time. You see, I was trying to satisfy my soul with everything but the Lord. All the things I accomplished and all the blessings were great, but the high I felt was only temporary.

Maybe you’ve done the same thing.

In John 4:14 Jesus says, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life.”

This visual is so beautiful to me. I imagine the Holy Spirit creating a home in me so deep that it is like a well. I have access to it 24/7. This well will never run dry. Not only can it quench my thirst for more in life, but it actually gives me eternal life. Eternal life with my Father in heaven.

Satisfaction in Jesus isn’t found when we check off all the boxes and do all the “right” Christian things. Satisfaction in Him comes when we know Him. When we spend time in His presence. When we obey His commands and find that His ways really are higher and better.

It’s found when we eliminate distractions and behold Him. Behold His creation. Treasure His people. Serve the way He calls us to serve. Fall in love with His word.

While I know there is no special formula to being satisfied in the Lord, I do want to share a few practical things that have helped me grow in this area.

1. Take a chance on God: Test Him and watch your faith grow as He shows up in unimaginable ways.

2. Sit in the tension: When you don’t know what’s next, don’t force something to happen. Allow God to lead you and don’t move until He tells you to.

3. Eliminate distraction: Put down the phone for some time. Enough said.

4. Worship and give thanks no matter the circumstance: When we fix our eyes on His goodness and seek Him everyday, we WILL find Him. Praise changes our perspective.

5. Stop comparing: When we look to the left and right, we miss what God is doing in us, through us, and for us. Let’s all run our OWN race and cheer each other on in the process.

My prayer is that as women of God, we would rise and pursue the living water. As we find that nothing can satisfy our souls like Jesus, we are strengthened when the wind blows and the ground shakes beneath us. We remember that He is eternal and this life is temporary. At the same time, we know that what we do in this life is not insignificant. So we run towards Jesus until we, one day, run into His arms and are made whole; being satisfied forever.

Scars

Jenny Smith, GFC Lutz

My kids love a book called “The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls” that’s about siblings that go back in time to see some of the popular bible stories happen. I was reading it to them the other night and one of the characters in the story hurt his leg and asked Jesus if He would heal the cut. The cut was healed and the only thing left was a small scar.

“I left the scar so you will remember,” said Jesus. “Don’t worry,” said Peter. “I will never forget.”

I was shocked at how deeply these two sentences hit me. It got me thinking about the scars that are left from my wounds… and I’m not talking about physical wounds. I’m talking about the wound from when my father passed away unexpectedly… from being hurt by someone I love… from a season of fear regarding my child’s health… from getting a phone call with bad news… and the list goes on.

What if we were intentional in how we view the scars from our wounds so that we always remember what God did in our hard time, in our pain. The scar is a reminder that He was there and He healed something. Maybe we can change the way we think about our wounds. Maybe when we get a little sting and remember the pain, we can see that while we have a scar there it’s the most beautiful reminder of how He held us, how He healed us, and what He did for us when we were hurting. And, maybe then we won’t be bitter either. Maybe when we see our scar and remember the pain, we can turn it to praise, turn it to thanks.

What if when we are hurt and the wound is open and bleeding, in that moment we can be confident and joyful knowing that a scar will form, and it will be a memory of how HE healed us. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3. Imagine if we think about the scar before it’s actually there… how much greater would our perseverance be? I want to be open to this kind of healing. I pray I am.

It’s so interesting to me how Jesus resurrected and left His scars for us all to see. I think He wants our scars to mean something. His certainly do. It is because of His wounds, His scars, His sacrifice, that I am healed. “He himself carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we would be dead to sin and live for righteousness. Our instant healing flowed from his wounding.” 1 Peter 2:24.

If there was no scar, would we even remember that we had been hurt? Maybe sometimes He allows a scar to remain so we won’t forget. I certainly do not want to forget. I want to be constantly reminded of what He did so the next time I am wounded I will be encouraged. I also want others to be able to see that scar… I want others to know what my Jesus did for me and that He wants to do the same for them.

My son is all boy and has many scars. He runs into things left and right and falls doing all sorts of crazy stunts. If his scars could tell a story, they would tell of myself or my husband hugging him, soothing him, wiping his tears, putting a band-aid on, and caring for him throughout his healing process. How beautiful would it be if we remember that this is exactly what our Savior does for us when we are hurting? “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted: He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 “I left the scar so you will remember”… when I see my scars I want to remember what Jesus did for me when I was hurting and I want to remember that it is because of Him that I made it through and because of Him that I will make it through again.

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.””

John 20:24-29 NLT

 

 

Top Seven Tips for a Successful Group

Amy Hafner, GFC South Tampa

I can’t believe our fall semester is almost upon us.  If I haven’t met you yet, my name is Amy Hafner, and it is my humble pleasure to serve as Women’s Ministry Director here at GFC Beautiful.  Only by the grace of God did I get here and get to do what I do. Our team has been working hard this summer, meeting with campuses, having conversations, and creating content that we pray will love you well, challenge you, and help you to connect relationally and grow spiritually.

We have seven campuses, and all seven will be hosting Beautiful Monday Nights, our large group environment aimed at welcoming and making space for everyone.  I want to personally invite you to Beautiful Monday Nights or any of our different small groups – Beautiful Moms, Beautiful Single Moms, Beautiful Mornings, Beautiful Neighborhood, and Beautiful Online, just to name a few.  We want to encourage you to join groups that meet on campus, in homes, or online!

I am incredibly passionate about groups because in a community centered around Jesus, I have been encouraged, transformed, and accepted, and that is my prayer for you this year.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Groups (living in community) are one of our core values here at Grace Family Church. But, joining a group can sometimes be a little scary, intimidating, and sometimes weird.  So, I created a top seven list of tips I have learned along the way (and am still figuring out) to help you get the most out of this semester.

  1. Show Up

I know this sounds silly, but I find my biggest challenge in having a successful small group is, actually, time.  It seems like every Monday, fifteen minutes before I leave home, something happens. Something breaks, someone is crying, and it would be so easy for me to cancel. If you are a leader, pray over your group weekly. If you are new to a group, be committed but also give yourself grace if you miss, it’s ok.

  1. Be Real

One of the coolest things about groups are that we love when you share the tough stuff.  You don’t have to be picture-ready, Pinterest-perfect, or pretend everything is fine when it’s not.  You being real helps others to be real. Always share and allow others to share too. This will help your group trust each other.

  1. Do The Work

Someone once told me, “You get out of a group what you put into it.” We have an opportunity for you to continue the work God is doing in you throughout the week. Beautiful provides a reading plan and S.O.A.R. journal.  It will guide you through the Bible and teach you how to study the scripture. Again, you do not have to do this perfectly, but give it a try.

  1. Challenge Yourself

You may find yourself seeking, questioning, or confessing something as you go through your Bible study. It may be challenging, humbling, and uncomfortable, but I encourage you to lean into it. Talk to someone, connect with your small group leader, coach, coordinator or pastor.

  1. Build Relationships

Community doesn’t just have to happen on your designated small group night. If you find yourself drawn to someone particular in your group, invite them for coffee or lunch. Meet up at church on Sunday, celebrate birthdays, send hand written-cards, or do a service project together.

  1. Forgive

Just a quick reminder that your group is filled with imperfect people just like yourself. A comment may be made, a feeling hurt, or an expectation not met. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again.  Don’t be scared of uncomfortable conversations, but do them with truth and grace.

  1. Be Transformed

Growth happens in groups. There is sanctification through sisterhood. At the beginning of every fall semester, I purposely journal about my current situation and struggles. I pray and ask God for wisdom, discernment, strength, and humility. God ALWAYS shows up, not always in the way I’m expecting, but I am grateful for his correction, patience, and never-ending love.

God Bless,

Amy

 

 

Unanswered Plans

Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz

Have you ever prayed very specifically for something? You outlined the strategy. Provided the roadmap. And, gave God every detail on how you wanted it answered. You even felt quite accomplished in your prayers because you were so specific and consistent to recite them daily. Then, one day, something happens, and you feel like this fervent prayer that you’ve been pouring your heart into has been totally derailed. You can’t understand why God will allow it. You were faithful, right? You stayed persistent. You had been asking God to clean your heart and clear out the clutter so you were praying with the right intentions. But, why does it feel like He didn’t hear you?

There is something I have been praying over for a long time. I had set expectations on how it would be answered. I had a vision of the destination, and my prayers covered the comfortable and convenient details on how to get there. Ultimately, I knew it would require a major breakthrough, but it was the ‘through’ I was focused on, not the ‘breaking’.  So, recently, when I received some news that entirely derailed me in this specific area, I started to question all the prayers I had set forth. Why wasn’t God answering them? Was He listening? Did He even care?

It was in the breaking that my plan was disrupted, but God’s plan was being set up. My plan was coated with ease and comfort. But God’s plan is made to stretch and grow.

Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” And, in verse 9 it goes on to say, “so are my ways higher than your ways…”

Even if you are the most detailed, well-thought-out planner, there are so many pieces we could not ever consider that would compare to God. His ways are so much higher. He is looking at the situation from all sides, through a perfect lens, and He is going before us to set the path. So, when heartbreak, disappointment, or a distraction show up, don’t assume your prayers have been dismissed. More than likely, it’s your plan that has been unanswered, but the prayer is still in motion. And God is working it all to His glory (Rom 8:28), not to our own plan.

Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God’s plans are filled with hope. His plans are designed to prosper you and protect you from harm. God has the very best planned for you, so when we are praying, be reminded that God is in the business of answering prayers…they just may not go according to our own plan.

Lord, encourage our hearts when it feels like our prayers are not being answered. Remind us of the faithful, good God You are and that You have the very best plans for us. Comfort us during those times of disappointment and renew our hope that You are still moving and working to use everything for Your glory. We know Your ways are higher, so guide our hearts to stay in alignment with Your plans for our lives. We ask all in the name of Jesus, Amen.