Inner Beauty

Singing favorites from the BL songbook around the piano
Singing favorites from the BL songbook around the piano

May 7 was our last meeting for the school year and we had a special tea party while we studied the topic of “Inner Beauty”.  Throughout Set 8, we have been discussed different topics related to our outward appearance and behavior. These are all important, but we want to end by setting our focus on the most important thing of all—having a heart that is right before the Lord.  Yes, we must be wise, discerning, and obedient in regards to our clothing, appearance, countenance, and manners.  But all of these will naturally fall into place if we are loving the Lord with all of our heart.  This is where true beauty begins.

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Object lesson: beautiful package contains rocks; ugly package contains chocolate!

It is easy for us to overemphasize outward things.  We tend to get wrong impressions about people because of the way they look or dress.  We often notice styles, fads, and fashions. We spend lots of time and money on things that are merely external.  While we are using up our time and energy on the outward, God is looking at the inward—the thoughts and motives of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:6-7).  As we get consumed with having a beautiful package, He is focused on the true product inside all the wrapping.  Outward beauty is really just a picture of true inner beauty that God desires to develop in each one of us as He conforms us into the image of His Son.  Physical beauty fades as we get older, but inner beauty will increase with age if we continue to obey the Lord and walk in His ways.

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Object lesson: We had some balloons marked with Satan’s lies and once we read a Scripture to combat the lie we popped the balloon!

Have you ever found yourself wishing that you had someone else’s hair, your sister’s really cute outfits, your friend’s amazing smile, or that you could be just as pretty as so-and-so?  Satan has deceived many young ladies into believing that they need to gain a particular look or certain standard of outward beauty.  But keep in mind that there’s no such thing as an outward ideal—some perfect standard we are all trying to measure up.  The enemy tries to distract us with many lies about our appearance. Some of the lies we looked at were:

  • Lie: God is not enough to satisfy me. • Truth: Psalm 107:9
  • Lie: Being beautiful will make me happy. • Truth: Prov. 31:30
  • Lie: I’m ugly. • Truth: Psalm 139:14
  • Lie: If I don’t wear the latest fashions, people won’t like me. • Truth: Rom. 12:2
  • Lie: My body belongs to me.  I can do what I want to with it. • Truth: 1 Cor. 6:20

Don’t give in to the world’s lies!  They are empty and unable to satisfy.  They bring confusion and sorrow, rather than fulfillment and joy.

P1110324God created everything.  The entire universe already belongs to Him.  Isn’t it incredible to think that something could be “of great price” in God’s sight?  Scripture tells us that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God.   Ornaments of gold and silver and outward beauty may be of great price in the eyes of this world, but not to God.  It is our inner character that is so valuable to Him.  It is beautiful to Him.  It is precious in His sight.  Why is this?  It demonstrates humility.  Pride is something God hates.  Humility is something God loves. Meekness and quietness require humility and lowliness.  This is something that the Lord notices and values (Ps. 10:17).

P1110342So how do we put it into practice? With these thoughts in mind, here are some things we can do to cultivate inner beauty:

  1. Spend time seeking heavenly things instead of earthly things.
  2. Lean as much about Jesus as you can and imitate Him.
  3. Humble yourself daily by putting other people first, serving them, and giving up your own expectations.
  4. Submit joyfully to authorities.
  5. Do not defend yourself—let God defend you.
  6. Respond as Jesus would to those who irritate or offend you.  Speak gently and kindly, forgive them, pray for them, and trust the Lord to take care of the situation.
  7. Rejoice in the suffering God allows, which is strengthening your character and conforming you into the image of His Son.

This is difficult to do.  We cannot do it in our own strength.  We must cry out to the Lord for help.

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Object lesson: every time “Joanna” responded to an irritation in a godly way, she got a piece of clothing or jewelry to wear to illustrate inner beauty

We ended our lesson with a story about a girl named Joanna.  One of the girls volunteered to act out the story.  As Joanna was faced with irritations and everyday problems, she chose to clothe herself with humility and in doing so, was cultivating inner beauty in her life.

For our activity time, we enjoyed making mini paper roses and enjoyed our adorable little tea snacks.

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Everyone dressed up for the tea party, so that called for a group picture!

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It was such a blessing to have all of you girls a part of Bright Lights this year. Let’s ask the Lord to give us wisdom each day as we seek to represent Him well.  Remember, one of the best ways to be representatives of Christ is by cultivating inner beauty.  As we focus on the inward—loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind—it will overflow to the outward!  Others will see and the Lord will be glorified as we shine brightly for Him.  He is worthy!

What Should I Wear?

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We started Set 8 of the Bright Lights curriculum, titled “Daughters of the King,” on February 26.  If you belong to Christ, then you have been born into the family of God, and the King of the universe calls you His daughter!  With this amazing calling comes a serious responsibility: we are representatives of our heavenly Father everywhere we go.  In this set, we will discuss how to be an example of our King to everyone we meet.

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We’re going to start with a topic that can sometimes be difficult—what should our outward appearance be like?  After all, we’re representing our great and glorious God.  Shouldn’t this calling affect every area of our life, including our appearance?  Since we do not represent ourselves, but the Lord, the question we should ask is not, “What do I like?” but rather “What pleases the Lord?”  Remember, we do not own ourselves—God does! (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

It is important to stress that that the way we dress is not by any means the most important area of our lives.  It is certainly not the most important thing to God, and therefore it should not be the most important thing to us either.

1 Samuel 16:7—“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

The Bible makes it clear that it is much more important for us to focus on the “inward” than the “outward,” but this does not mean that the outward appearance is is irrelevant or unimportant.  God does care about what we wear.  It does make a difference. While it does matter what we wear, it matters much more that our heart is right before the Lord.  When our heart is right, this will naturally affect every other area of our lives—including our outward appearance.

 

There is an enemy who is seeking to pervert anything he can.  Satan doesn’t overlook the issue of clothing or consider it to be insignificant.  Instead, he seeks to use it in many ways for his purposes.  All around us, we see how Satan has attacked and prevailed in the area of clothing.  Some of the strategies of the enemy are:

  • To expose—creating immodesty, temptation, and lust
  • To distort the roles of men and women—urging men to be like women, and women to be like men
  • To distract—directing our focus to unimportant, outward things rather than the inner qualities which truly matter
  • To ensnare—making people slaves to fashions and fads
  • To breed discontentment—causing people to believe they need to have the right outward appearance in order to be happy

How many times have we stared into our overflowing closet and complained that we had nothing to wear?  Or maybe we tried on six different outfits before deciding on something that we liked?  It is not wrong to look nice or dress up.  God created women to be beautiful.  However, our beauty should not bring glory to us, but to our Creator!  The Bible tells us that the beauty we have in this earthly life is temporary (Prov. 31:30).  The inner beauty is what truly matters.

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What Influences Our Decisions Regarding Clothing?

  • Pride—One of the main things to watch out for is pride.  It’s amazing how pride can creep in and influence so many different areas of our lives without us even realizing it.  Are we trying to draw attention to ourselves hoping that people will notice us because we are pretty, slender, stylish, or important?  Are we trying to imitate the latest styles (even if they are sloppy and unattractive) hoping that we’ll be popular if we wear what is “in” or “cool”?  Pride is seeking glory for ourselves rather than acknowledging that all of the glory belongs to the Lord.  Pride causes us to conform to the world’s standards of modesty (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • Fear—Though some wear worldly clothing to attract attention, others wear worldly clothing for the opposite reason: to not attract attention.  This is also a wrong motivation.  These people are terrified of being conspicuous of standing out in a crowd.  Sometimes they are so self-conscious that they will wear anything—even something immodest—so that they won’t be different from other people.  Have you ever acted or dressed in a certain way for one group of friends, and then acted like a totally different person around another group of people?  This is a good indicator that we are trying to please people.  Remember, the Lord never changes! So if we are trying to please Him, we will allow His Word to determine what is right, and our actions won’t be influenced by our surroundings.
  • Insecurity—As girls, we naturally want others to accept and to like us.  We tend to look for approval from other people, thinking that if other people like us, then we’ll be happy and content. But if we have this attitude, we will always be insecure. Fulfillment and security can only be found in the Lord (Psalm 16:8-9, 11).  He is all we truly need.  When we remember who we are in Christ, and trust in Him to take care of us—that’s when we’ll experience true security. When we are secure in the Lord, then we are able to focus on exalting His reputation and ministering to others, without worrying about ourselves or what others might be thinking about us.

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Have you ever been with a particular friend whom you really wanted to impress?  We tend to choose the people whom we want to please. But the truth is, we can’t please everyone.  Who do you want to please or impress?  Your friends?  Or the God who made you, gave His life for you, and has given you the privilege of being His representative here on this earth?  We should carefully evaluate what influences our clothing decisions and make sure that our motives are pleasing to the Lord.  It is so important that we bring our desires under God’s authority and have a heart that desires to to seek and please Him.

During small groups, we discussed the three wrong motives that we can have for our clothing choices, and what it means to be an ambassador of Christ.  Then for our our activity time, we did skits… everyone’s favorite! :)

skit1

skit3

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Accepting the Way God Created You

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay,
and You our potter; and we all are the work of Your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

It was such a blessing to have 17 girls attend our 6th Bright Lights meeting on March 29.  After reviewing the lesson on understanding the fear of the Lord from our last meeting, which was foundational to this lesson, we talked about accepting the way God created us.

Lesson time

A major struggle young ladies often face is being discontented or overly concerned with their appearance.  This is a wrong attitude that comes from the fear of man rather than a proper fear of the Lord.  The right attitude to have is to be concerned about what God sees when He looks at us.

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

In His great wisdom and love, God created each one of us different than anyone else—yet we are all of equal importance to Him.  God has a unique and exciting plan for each of our lives, and He created us to be exactly the way He wanted us to be to fulfill the plans He has for us.  Our appearance, family, time of birth, and abilities did not happen by accident—God has designed every detail of our lives to work together for our good and for His glory.

We do not need to compare ourselves with others because God has a different plan for each of our lives.  Instead, we need to trust God and the unique plan that He has for us.   If we wish to we could change something about ourselves, we are not accepting God’s design for our lives and it is just as if we were telling God He made a mistake (which He never does!).

“But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’  Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:20-21)

We learned about about brown-eyed Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) who as a young girl asked the Lord to give her blue eyes; He said “no”.  Later in life, she went to India as a missionary.  Dressed in the native clothing, Amy was able to minister in places a blue-eyed foreigner would never have been able to go.  God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave her brown eyes.

We also listened to the story of  “The Elephant Man”- Joseph Merrick (1862-1890).  Joseph was born with a deformity that worsened as he grew older, and he was eventually abandoned by his family.  Thick and lumpy skin covered his deformed body.   A large bony mass grew on his forehead, and the large growth on his lip made his speech nearly impossible to understand.  His one hand and two feet were greatly enlarged causing him to walk with a painful limp.  People were so shocked by his hideous appearance that he had trouble keeping a job until he joined a show on exhibit as a freak.  If anyone had “reason” to blame God for their appearance and difficult life, it would be Joseph Merrick.  Yet in spite of his very difficult life from his severe deformity, Joseph chose to trust God.  He wrote this poem:

“Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God;
Could I create my self anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.”

We were challenged not only to accept the way God created us, but to thank Him for creating us in His great wisdom and love and to trust the perfect plan that He has for our lives.

After the lesson, we split into 5 small groups to read through Psalm 139. There was good discussion and sharing of personal testimonies and struggles in the area of accepting the way God created us.  It was encouraging to hear what the girls had to say on the subject.

As the plan is for the each of small groups to have time to meet together each meeting for encouragement, each group also came up with a name.

For our activity, we did a design experiment.  Each girl folded a sheet of paper in half and drew the top half of a girl, then turned it over passed it to next person to draw the bottom half.  When we unfolded the pictures, we all laughed to see the different pictures with halves that didn’t match.  It was a reminder that God’s has a perfect design for each of our lives.

We concluded our meeting with our usual tea, snacks, and fellowship.  Our yummy treats were provided by Calli, Katie, and Tami.

Enjoying snacks and fellowship

While some of the girls were waiting for their parents to come pick them up, we have an impromptu game of musical chairs to the songs from the Bright Lights songbook.

Musical chairs

And one more special picture from the night… some of the girls were drawing on the board after the meeting.  Notice what one of them wrote! ;)

Drawing on the whiteboard