5 Habits to Improve Your Relationship with God

I know having a relationship with God seems like it should be easy; but in all honesty, it isn’t.  Having a relationship with God is more than just showing up to church each Sunday. A real relationship with God takes a lot of time, work, and dedication. Today I am going to share with your five habits that can strengthen your relationship with God!

1. Morning Quiet Time

Having quiet time with God is vital to having a healthy relationship with Him. Having your quiet time in the morning is especially great because it puts you in the right mindset and the scripture(s) you study will be on your mind for the rest of the day.

I know some people aren’t early birds like I am but if you can manage to just get out of bed 15 minutes earlier than usual for a short devotion and prayer you will definitely reap the benefits!

2. Keep a Prayer Journal

I know you may be thinking that journals are for adolescent girls with too much drama in their lives, but I assure you that this habit is especially rewarding. You do not have to write down your prayers everyday but keeping track of your prayer requests at least 3-4 days a week helps you to later look back and see how God answered your prayers.

Your journal doesn’t have to be fancy or it can be as fancy as you want. I use $1 composition notebooks from Dollar General. In fact, I just finished one yesterday and it was amazing to look back on nearly 200 pages of my heart’s cries to God. It was especially rewarding to see how much I have grown in my prayer life! I started that particular notebook in March of this year and at the time my prayers were insincere and pretty much the same exact thing everyday. By the end of the notebook I could feel the passion and fire contained within my words.

3. Develop a Prayer Strategy

Prayer strategies combine a Christian’s two most valuable resources: prayer and the Word of God. To get started, grab a pen and some paper and write down all of the area’s of your life that you feel you need to pray over (school, work, faith, family, forgiveness, etc.), then grab your Bible and start finding scriptures that coordinate with these areas of your life. For example, when I pray for myself I pray that I will trust and submit to God (James 4:7), that I will remain humble before the Lord (James 4:10), that I will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40) and that I will be the woman God intends me to be (Proverbs 31:30). By doing this I am applying God’s truths and blessings to my life and the lives of others. I’ve been praying this way since January of 2017 and I have changed not Just in mt faith, but also as a person. I am much more confident in myself and in God because I now know God’s Word and His promises for my life!

More here: Praying With A Purpose: Developing a Prayer Strategy.

4. Keep Track of Answered Prayers

Every time you realize God has answered your prayers in any shape or form (even if it wasn’t the answer you were wanting), write it down. Before I started doing this, I thought God rarely answered my prayers and often wondered if He even listened to me. But then I started actually looking for His answers;I found them. This has helped me to become more confident in God, in sharing my faith with others, and it is a great comfort to go back and read over all of the ways God has answered me (especially when it sometimes feels like my prayers have fallen on deaf ears).

5. Be Grateful

Each day make sure to thank God for something in your life. It can be anything that you are truly grateful for: His love and grace, a car, your home, food, a warm bed, your pets, anything! I actually have a chart where I go in and write down what I am grateful for each day.Just the simple habit of thanking God everyday will not just make you happier, but it makes God happy to now that you appreciate Him!

Will be you be trying any of these habits? Do you have other ways that you foster our relationship with God?

Have a blessed day!

-Sierra

 

Identity Crisis: Who Does the Bible Say I Am?

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Identity, or one’s sense of self, is one of Satan’s favorite areas of life to target. He loves to twist your perception of yourself until you see yourself as so messed up that you believe nothing positive could ever come from your life; his goal is to distract you from who God has created you to be.

But Satan is a liar (more on that here) and today I am going to share the truth of who you are in Christ!

You Are In God’s Image

Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Satan may try to convince you that you are a mistake; that you are completely messed up and can never be fixed. This could not be further from the truth! God literally created you in his image and because of this, you are able to reflect God’s character, His love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, etc.

You Are Chosen

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

You are God’s chosen! God could have chosen any species (both on the earth and not on the earth) to call to be His children and yet HE CHOSE YOU! Think about that! Our God is all knowing which means he knew every mistake, every sin, every mess up you would make before you even came into existence and He still chose you!

You Are Forgiven

Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

You are forgiven. Every mistake, every mis-step, every mess up; God will forgive if you ask. Do not let Satan convince you that you have messed up too many times. Jesus died on the cross so that you could be redeemed from all sin; believing that you cannot be forgiven is believing that there is no power in that precious blood He shed.

You Are Loved

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

You are loved. Let me say it again, YOU are LOVED! When Jesus died on that cross He saw you and He thought of you and He loves you! Never lose sight of this love!

 

The Bible tells us many, many other things about our identity. It tells us we are powerful, we are redeemed, we are strong, etc. Whenever Satan starts to bombard you with lies about your identity, open your Bible; the lies of the enemy will never be able to stand against the truth of the Savior!

-Sierra

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Five Scripture to Read When You’re in Need of Comfort

 

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Being a Christian does not make you immune to the troubles and trials of life; however, it does mean that God will be there to comfort you and guide you through the hard times. I have compiled five scriptures that I have personally found to be comforting in my times of need; scriptures that, when I read them, feel like God is wrapping His arms around me and telling me everything is going to work out. I pray they have the same effect for you!

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

You may already be familiar with this scripture but I still encourage you to take a closer look; read each word carefully and let it absorb into your soul.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 is a good reminder that even though we will experience challenges and heartbreak in life, God is able to work it for our good if we trust him to!

Psalm 91:14-16

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

I highly recommend reading Psalm 91 in its entirety, however, this portion of the passage always gives me hope and comfort.

Isaiah 51:12-13

“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?”

It is okay to feel fear, heartache, pain, etc. however, never forget that God (the Creator of the heavens and the earth) is BIGGER than all of your problems! In this passage God’s people came to fear Babylon (with good reason). Unfortunately, they came to fear Babylon so much that they lost sight of who God is and what He is capable of.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

I love this scripture because it shows that not only will a child of God receive comfort from the Father Himself, but also from their fellow brothers and sisters! We are never alone!

 

So there you have it, five of my favorite scriptures that bring me comfort! I recommend writing them down and placing them somewhere you can see them on a regular basis (I have some of them posted on my mirror so I can read them as I get ready each morning) or even copy them into the back of your Bible as a reminder in times of need!

What scriptures bring you the greatest comfort?

-Sierra

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Dealing With Difficult People

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Let’s be honest, we all have that one person in our life who can ruin our day by just breathing the wrong way. You know, that person who can make your blood start boiling with just one quick glance, the person that makes you want to do and say things that Jesus definitely would not be proud of.

We all have that person and if you don’t then you are probably that person (just kidding. Kind of). For me, that person just so happens to be my brother. My brother and I do not get along at all; our discord goes way beyond any normal sibling animosity.

For a while, I blamed him for the entirety of our squabbling. He was too controlling, self-centered, selfish, and he didn’t have any respect for anyone, etcetera, etcetera. I chose to ignore my own misgivings and justified that he deserved every stinging word and dirty look I could throw his way. This went on for years which only allowed our anger towards each other to turn into bitterness and thrive.

I will never forget the day all of this changed (for me at least). I had started getting more serious about my relationship with God; I was tired of the mediocre- I wanted something passionate. It was early one morning and I was praying after my daily devotion. I had felt very unsettled in my spirit which led me to asking God to reveal any areas in my life that I needed to work on. I’m not even joking when I say that the words had barely left my mouth when I heard that still-small voice in my mind whispering, “apologize”.

I immediately knew what God wanted. The day before, my brother and  I had gotten into a huge argument. I can’t recall what it was about now, but I do remember that it had been explosive. I also know that he had really hurt my feelings and now God wanted me to apologize. Me! Why should I apologize when my brother was the one who started the whole thing? When he was the one who hurt me? God was quick to remind me that I had said some hurtful things too and after a little more resistance, I finally swallowed my pride and apologized to my brother.  I wish I could say that it was some huge, heart-felt apology but it really, really wasn’t. I won’t lie, a part of me got a lot of satisfaction from seeing the dumbfounded look on my brother’s face when I said I was sorry (I’m not perfect, okay).

After that I began studying scripture, trying to find how I could prepare my relationship with my brother; mostly because I knew God was disappointed with my behavior and partly because I never wanted to apologize to my brother again (like I said, I’m not perfect).

God helped me with my search and I was able to identify four areas I needed to work on if I wanted to improve my relationship with my brother:

  • I needed to control my anger
  • I needed to control my tongue
  • I needed to learn to forgive and love
  • I needed to pray… a lot.

Controlling Your Anger

When dealing with a difficult person, you need to keep your anger in check.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV), “In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foot hold.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t be angry. Anger itself is not the problem; the problem is how we handle our anger. We can either control or react to our anger. When we choose to give our anger free-reign, we are actually giving Satan a foot-hold in our life and we can bet he will jump at the chance to take it. When we do not vent our anger properly, our anger can hurt and ruin relationships. When we keep our anger bottled in, anger causes bitterness that festers and infects our heart and mind. It is best to let go of our anger and give it to God. He is just and faithful and will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Controlling Your Tongue

James 3:6 (NIV) says, “The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

If left uncontrolled, the tongue can become a violent weapon at Satan’s disposal. Idle and hurtful words spread destruction quickly and once spoken, the damage cannot be undone. Of course you can apologize, but those hurtful words will still be out there in the open.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV), “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” DP 2

Words have the power to either build someone up or break them down. With every word we speak, we need to consciously consider if we are pleasing or disappointing God.

Forgive and Love

Romans 12:21 (NIV), “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

When someone hurts us our first reaction may be to get revenge rather than to forgive. However, if we want to love someone the way Christ loves us then we should be willing to forgive. Once we experience God’s grace we should want everyone to experience it. A common misconception is that by forgive someone, we are excusing their wrong doings. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our God is just and by forgiving others we loving them despite their mistakes just as Christ has loved us and trusting God will take care of everything else.

Pray

And I have saved, perhaps, the most difficult for last: pray.

James 5:16 (NIV) says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

When dealing with a difficult person we need to pray for ourselves. Almost every day (and multiple times a day) I am asking God to grant me the patience and grace to deal with my brother in a pleasant manner and to help me to control my anger and my tongue.

We also need to pray for our difficult person and I do not mean that in a negative way (you know, like the country song where the guy prays his ex-girlfriend will get knocked in the head with a flower pot.) We need to pray peace, comfort and healing over our difficult person (because chances are the reason they are so difficult is because they’re dealing with something difficult.)

My relationship with my brother still isn’t perfect and some days I lose control and say hurtful things  (those are usually the days that I forget to pray and ask God to keep my anger in check.) However, little by little, God is helping me repair years worth of damage between my brother and I. Hopefully, one day, my brother will become that person to me; you know, the one you can always depend on and will never let you down.

-Sierra

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Lioness Arising Book Review

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I am an avid reader and Christian literature is my favorite- fiction and non-fiction. I thought it would be fun to start reviewing the books I read here for you guys.

The first thing I notice about a book is its cover. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I cannot deny that the cover is usually what draws me in and leads to finding out more about the book. Lioness Arising by Lisa  Bevere definitely has a captivating cover. Everything from the sleek, powerful lioness stalking through the high, golden grass to the bold proclamation of “Wake up and Change Your World” catches one’s eye. The cover of this book feels like a foreshadowing of what may happen if you dare to read the pages within.

Excerpt from back cover:

“The lioness rises from her slumber, a magnificent image of strength, passion, and beauty. Here mere presence commands the landscape, protects her young, and empowers the lion. In groups, lioness become a creative and strategic force to be reckoned with, acting as one to change the world around them.”

Lioness Arising is based on a dream Lisa Bevere had which she claims was given to her by God (I am not saying I believe or disbelieve God gave her this dream.) In this dream, Lisa saw a beautiful lioness along with a mention of Numbers 23:24 and God told her a lioness was going to awaken. After this dream, Lisa began researching the lioness and studying the Bible to reveal how God’s daughters are to be likened to the great and mighty lioness.

This is the first book by Lisa Bevere that I have ever ventured to read and therefore I was not familiar with her style of writing.  I’m not going to lie, at first I found the book very dry and I had to force myself to read it. There seemed to be a lot of talking and not much being said.  However, whenever I read a book I always try to invest myself and learn something so I buckled down, asked God to reveal himself to me through the book, and kept reading. I am happy to report that the further I journeyed into the book the more interesting it became. I do wish the author had spoken more about the lioness than she did about herself, however I am now reading Without Rival (also by Lisa Bevere) and I am seeing that this is just part of the author’s writing style; Lisa Bevere uses a lot of examples from her own life to get her point across which can make it seem like her books are more of an autobiography than they are Christian Living.

The one thing that I absolutely did not like is that Lisa often used the Message Bible translation to quote scripture and I’m honestly just not a fan of the Message. I made the habit of looking up the passages of scripture she quoted in my ESV Bible which was a tad time consuming.

Overall, I think how much you enjoy this book will depend on what season of your life you are in.  I really enjoyed the chapters on being passionate, bold, and unified. However, the chapters on parenting and being a mother were not as appealing simply because I am not a mother. This book has sparked a passion within me; I am becoming more bold in my faith.

I would rate this book 3/5.

Have you read Lioness Arising? Do you have any book recommendations?

-Sierra Smith

Top Five Affordable Beauty Products

top-5-beauty

I love makeup. There’s is hardly anything better than finding the perfect shade of lipstick, foundation, or blush- especially when it comes at an affordable price. Though I occasionally indulge in a luxury beauty item, I prefer scouring the aisles of my local drugstores to find that special “wow” product.

I’ve compiled a list of my five absolute favorite affordable beauty products:

1. Say Yes To… Moisturizers

I am an avid believer that good skin care should be a priority in everyone’s beauty routine and the Say Yes To line has some amazing (and organic) skin care products. I am in love with the Say Yes To Grapefruit moisturizer. It keeps my face soft and smooth while soothing any redness along my cheeks and nose (I strongly resemble Rudolph at times.) Also, it smells yummy. Of course, everyone’s skin is different so you will need to pick a product that works for you.

2. Rimmel Kate Contour Palette

You would have to be living under a rock to not know about contouring. I enjoy this palette because it has a contour shade, highlight shade, and a blush all conveniently together. The contour shade (at least in the palette I purchased) is a tad too warm to be a contour and is better suited for bronzing. I mostly use this palette for the gorgeous blush and highlighter.

3. Maybelline Better Skin Powder

better-skin-powder-2I can appreciate a full face of makeup but most days I just don’t have time for that. I like this powder because it has enough coverage to mask my Rudolph nose and it keeps my oily skin matte. This powder is very light coverage but you can easily achieve medium coverage by layering it over a BB cream.

4. CoverGirl TruNaked Palettes

pp-3The TruNaked palettes are CoverGirl’s version of the Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palettes which are priced at $54 a piece. I have the Nudes, Goldens (pictured left), and Roses palettes, all of which I like but the Goldens is my favorite because I feel like it has the best pigmentation and blend-ability.

5. CoverGirl Katy Kat Matte Lipsticks

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I am not a fan of  Katy Perry, nor are these lipsticks matte; however, the colors and pigmentation of these lipsticks are very nice and they do not break the bank price wise. My absolute favorite shade is Sphynx, a pretty pink nude (middle shade on right.)

 

 

What are your favorite affordable beauty products?

-Sierra

(P.S. The Glam Gala (watermark on photos) was my old beauty blog which is no longer in existence.)

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Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

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Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

            I started this blog because I felt God leading me to create a safe space for young women and teen girls to be able to talk about the “real stuff” without fear of condemnation or embarrassment. For a lot of my walk with God I felt completely on my own. I thought something was wrong with me because I seemed to be going through things that no one else was. However, as I matured (both in age and in faith) I began to see that what I had experienced was normal, people just didn’t talk about it.

I will be starting a new blog series called “Let’s Talk About It…” and then discuss a subject that I have struggled with or am still struggling with (you guys can feel free to share a subject you would like discussed.)

First in the series is temptation. If you have read my post on Profiling the Enemy then you know that Satan is a no good, rotten scoundrel and one of his favorite things to do is trip up Christians by tempting them to do something that isn’t Christ-like. Satan will use anything and everything to tempt a child of God, however, you should know that the devil isn’t stupid; no, he’s quite smart. Satan knows you and your weaknesses; his attacks are personal and are meant to hit you where it hurts.

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Everyone is tempted by different things in different ways (i.e. what tempts you may not be able to tempt me.) I have always struggled with lust and Satan constantly tries to exploit this. However, if he were to try and tempt a greedy person with lustful thoughts it wouldn’t work as well as tempting them with money.

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I was tempted because no one else seemed to be going through it but then I discovered even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 4:14-16 (Amplified) says, “Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted on every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”

Jesus is the only human in history not to give into sin and temptation which tells me that everyone else has been tempted and has sinned. You are not alone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you (I wish I had realized this when I was younger!)

We’ve established that being tempted is normal. Now let’s talk about what you can do to fight back against Satan’s attack. Well, verse 16 from above is a good starting point. I know the Amplified version of the Bible can be a lot to swallow, but I chose it specifically for this post because of how it included the original meaning of the word “grace” (“God’s unmerited favor to us sinners.”) The above verse says that we must “approach the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners” and seek His mercy and unmerited favor.

If there is one thing I have learned about temptation (other than that it is something that everyone faces) it’s that I cannot resist it on my own. I need God’s help. James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I didn’t find triumph over temptation until I admitted that I need God’s help and then gave Him complete control over all areas of my life. In other words, the more you try to fight on your own, the more you’re going to fail; let God do the fighting for you! (P.S. I love reciting James 4:7 in times of weakness!)

Ephesians 6:13-17 (ESV) says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” God has literally given us everything we need- an entire suit of armor- to withstand Satan’s attacks! We have the built of truth to stand against Satan’s lies, the breast plate of righteousness to protect our heart from deception, the gospel of peace so we need not fear where we step, the shield of faith to defend against everything Satan throws our way, and the helmet of salvation to protect our minds which have been transformed into a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17.)

As I close, I encourage you to let go of any guilt or embarrassment you may harbor over being tempted (I know I had a lot.) Instead of worrying, start focusing on dressing yourself in the full armor of God!

God, I pray for each and every person who reads this. Touch their hearts Lord; let them know that they are not alone in this struggle and that You too have once been where they are. I pray that You will give them the strength to submit their lives to You, to let You start fighting for them. Let them be dressed in the armor you have given them!

In Jesus’ holy name,

Amen!

Thank you guys so much for reading! Is there anything you would like me to discuss in my next “Let’s Talk About…” post?

-Sierra

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