Whatever we focus on tends to dominate our thoughts, and our thoughts determine our emotions. Is it any wonder then that our misery grows when we obsess over the issue or difficulty? And yet, when we choose to praise … Today my sweet friend, photographer, and gifted devotional writer, Susan Aken shares some thoughts on how we can choose to praise God, no matter our circumstances, and why we must.

(The post below first published on March 9, 2017.)

Ps 108_1

Choose to Praise by Susan Aken

My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your faithfulness reaches to the clouds” (Psalm 108:1-4 ESV).

God called King David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). There are many reasons God said this about David but Psalm 108 shows us one clear reason. David was fixed on praising God. He was fixed on praising God not because things always went his way. Not because he never suffered. Not because he was perfect. It was a choice he made. He told God, “My heart is steadfast!” To be steadfast is to be firm, stable, established, fixed. He was set on praising God and nothing would sway him from that. He said:

I WILL sing and make melody with all my being!

I WILL awake the dawn!

I WILL give thanks to You, O LORD!

I WILL sing praises to You among the nations.

David determined to sing for God with all his being. He chose to start his day praising God. He made the choice to give thanks to Him. He was set on praising God in his heart and also chose to praise Him among the nations.

Why? Why would he praise Him in spite of trouble and oppression? Why would he praise Him in spite of his own weaknesses? Why would he praise Him in the midst of daily struggles?

Ps 108_1 (1)For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 108:4-5)

Why would he praise Him? Because God’s love is great above the heavens! His love never fails. His love is everlasting! Because His faithfulness goes on forever!   

He deserves all praise and all glory! His love and faithfulness will never fail us.

Like David, I can choose to praise Him. I can say with David:

I will sing and make melody with all my heart!

I will wake up in the morning praising Him!

I will give thanks to you, O LORD!

I will sing your praises to those around me.

It’s a choice I can make. I can praise Him in spite of circumstances because He never changes. His character is firm in spite of my problems and struggles. I can praise Him because His love for me never fails. He will never love me any less. I can make the choice to sing and make music in my heart. I can thank Him everyday for all He does for me. I can also choose to praise His name to those around me. I can tell them how great He is.

God’s love for me is steadfast. It will never change. His faithfulness goes on forever. He is worthy of all my praise.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD! I will sing your praises to others. Praise your Holy Name!

This is a choice we can make every day! It’s a gift we give to our Lord.

Let’s talk about this! Choosing to praise isn’t always easy, but man, is it important. It draws our hearts closer to Christ and helps us appreciate all the abundant blessings He’s provided. When life is going well, it’s easy to praise. But when life is hard, what can we do to really fix our thoughts on Christ and praising Him, remaining steadfast in our praise? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other.

Get to Know Susan

Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings and check out her inspiring photos at SusanAkenInspiringPhotos

And be sure to check out her wonderful devotional!

Amazing Hope: Reflections on Hope in the Midst of a Crazy World:Amazing Hope - cover sunrise and sea

This is a 40-day devotional book on the topic of hope. Each day’s devotion includes verses from the Bible, inspirational thoughts by the author, reflection questions and a prayer. The topics include many of the struggles common to us all such as parenting, death, fear, sin, and the futility of daily life. There are also devotions on the character of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the power of God’s word and other topics. These writings express the hope that gets me through each day and I pray they will also help you.

You might also enjoy:

Big Me, Little God Syndrome by Jennifer Henn

When There Are No Answers by Tara Johnson

As I’m linking to all these great posts, I’m reminded that I haven’t shared some of my devotions, written for Wholly Loved Ministries, with you. Sorry! For those of you who would like to check them out:

Fearless When Ill-equipped

The Freedom of Living Wholly Loved

And on Crosswalk:

Five Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

How to Develop the Mind of Christ

Also, if you’re in the Omaha/Bellevue/Papillion area, I’d love to see you Saturday! Stop in at Divine Truth Christian bookstore and grab an autographed copy of my latest release, Restoring Love! Reviewers are calling this my best novel yet, and I’ve been told it’d make a great witnessing tool. Plus, it’s set in Omaha, which is crazy fun!

Many years ago, I felt God calling me to launch a ministry only to have it die less than two years later. That was a confusing and painful season where I questioned my ability to hear God. For surely, if the call came from Him, He would’ve kept it–and me–from failing.

For a while, that experience left me jaded. Whenever I sensed a divine nudge to do anything that carried a hint of risk, I shut it down, certain my efforts would only end in defeat and discouragement. Thankfully, our God is equally gentle and persistent. He knows we’ll never experience the depth of life He’s promised living in hiding or distracted by our world’s incessant noise. And so, bit by bit, He nudged me forward, revealing His will and drawing me closer to Himself.

With each step, my vision became a little clear, and I began to view my world–present and past–through His truth. In this, He helped me see a major cause of my previous failure-I had attempted to serve Him alone. While revealing His heart for interdependent living, He connected me with others heading in the same direction. He invited us to link arms, and thus, Wholly Loved Ministries was born.

Honestly, serving with others hasn’t always been easy. My rough edges have rubbed against theirs, and vice versa. We’ve had disagreements, and challenged one another’s insecurities on more than one occasion. But we’ve also supported, encouraged, laughed with, and prayed for one another. Together, we and the ministry have experienced incredible growth and a sharpened focus. Our temporary disagreements over nonessentials have clarified and strengthened our commitment to those things that define us and our mission.

I believe, had we pulled away during times of conflict, the opposite would have occurred. I fear, feeding the pride that demands to prove oneself right would’ve driven us to remain staunchly committed to secondary beliefs and convictions, marring the beautiful mosaic God was creating before He’d laid a quarter of the tiles.

This extends far beyond the ministry unfolding within church walls to every opportunity we embrace and encounter. According to Scripture, our ministry includes every area of our lives, from making school lunches, attending work meetings, and waiting in line at the grocery store. This means, we cannot live fully as God desires or accomplish all He’s assigned without asking for help. However, doing so will require a great deal of courage, humility, and strength.

Courage in refusing one of our culture’s most pervasive–and defeating–lies that true strength is revealed through independence.

Humility in admitting that we’re incapable of pursuing our call alone. That we are, in essence, needy, and humility in making our needs known.

Strength to stand against the sin that separates and isolates and to pick up the phone, send that email, or cross the street, to forsake the masks that hide our insufficiencies beneath our polished veneers, look our brothers and sisters in the eye, to seek a shoulder and a hand while offering the same to them.

And if we don’t? If we remain in our self-protected and self-deceived independent states? Not only will that hinder all God wants to do in and through us, but we’ll hinder someone else’s ministry and growth as well. In short, we become roadblocks rather than stepping stones and bridges. Roadblocks to those God might otherwise call to come alongside us, but also to those, like our spouses or children, we inevitably force to help carry our burden or short change in our effort to do so alone.

Consider this poem, written by Susan Aken, a precious and talented woman with whom I’ve had the privilege of linking arms:

Overflowing 
My cup is full.
It overflows!
Brimming over with
Love,
Encouragement,
Inspiration,
Hope,
Peace,
Corrected perceptions.
 
God’s love
Washes over me,
Embraces me,
Gives me vision.
 
I see I’m not alone.
I’m meant to lock arms with my sisters in Christ.
We serve together.
We’re all part of the same picture.
We need each other.
 
No more listening to the lie:
“You can do this alone.”
We are one voice.
A body where each part is necessary.
Each beautiful and unique.
 
Father, help me embrace
the place You have for me and to shine.
Help me support the sisters
you’ve surrounded me with
and encourage them
as they also shine for You.
 
You’re the center.
You’re the head.
You’re the reason we’re here.
 
Be glorified.
Fulfill Your purpose in each one.

Connect with Susan through her website.

Before you go, make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode where I chat with author Jennifer Tucker, author of Breath as Prayer: Calm Your Anxiety, Focus Your Mind, and Renew Your Soul.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Mirror images of a woman

(This first posted in 2018.)

We all have an idea of who we want to be, who we think we are, and who, in Christ, we’re becoming. Sometimes those “identities” contradict one another, leaving us feeling confused, frustrated, and defeated. If you’ve entrusted your life to Jesus, Ephesians 2:10 says you’re His masterpieces, handcrafted for a specific purpose, planned before you took our first breath. As my guest today illustrates, the more we allow God to chisel and mold us, the more we discover who we truly are–who God created us to be.

 

Becoming What God Desires

by Katie Clark.

It’s hard to live as the person God created me to be. Sometimes this contradicts who I think I am. Other times, discovering her involves pain and heartache. I criticize, talk down to myself, and obsess over all my failures.

Broken dreams, failed plans, and unexpected roadblocks have diverted my vision and altered my steps. Instead, I find myself on a different path—the one God put me on.

I’m slowly learning how to be whom God designed instead of the person I thought I would be. I’m also learning, even in my broken places, I’m still the person I always thought I was. I’m broken andflower image with some broken petals and text from the post whole. Broken because of the path my life has taken, but whole because of how Jesus put me back together.

I struggle with knowing whether I can be both at once, but I know it’s true because I’ve lived it. 1 Peter 2:9 tells me I’m chosen, whether I feel this or not. Daily Bible reading, devotions, and prayer time are my most trusted means of coming to terms with who God made me to be.

But I’ve also found being this person—this broken yet whole person who struggles with grief and pain—allows me to connect with others in a way I never knew was possible before. I can see the brokenness in others now, and I want to help them. I believe serving others can bring healing and wholeness in a way nothing else can.

I still struggle with self-degradation and living in regret. Questioning all my choices that led me to this place. But through a gentle walk with God I’m learning I don’t have to listen to those negative voices in my head. I can stand boldly in Christ and be the person He fashions me into each day.

What about you? How do you find strength and courage to step into God’s role for your life? What are some ways you combat negative, self-defeating thought patterns? Share your thoughts, tips, and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

***

Before you go, make sure to sign up for Jennifer’s free quarterly newsletter (HERE)!

You’ll receive great content sent directly to your inbox (a short story, devotion, recipe, and more) cover image for study based on 1 Timothyalong with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook) based on 1 Timothy (sent separately via a clickable link in the follow-up welcome letter). Note: If you signed up for her newsletter but never received your free ebook, please contact me HERE.

Want Jennifer or one of her team members to come speak at your next women’s event? Contact her HERE. 

Get to know Katie!

Katie's author pictureKatie Clark started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes adult inspirational romance, including her novel Securing The Handyman’s Heart, and her Christmas novel Radio Wave Romance. She also writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her supernatural survival novel, Shadowed Eden, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

Check out her latest release, The Rejected Princess:

When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the cover image for The Forgotten Princessmysterious and backwards kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees. But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs.

Before you leave, make sure to catch the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode.

 

Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  4. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  5. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)

Photo from Annie Spratt on Unsplash

(The following is an adapted transcript from the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, which aired on November 3rd, 2021.)

Jesus didn’t say our would wouldn’t hurt. He didn’t promise to shield us from disappointment and struggle, but He did assure us He’d give us the strength to remain standing, to keep stepping, and ultimately, to overcome.

“I have told you these things,” He said, in John 16:33, indicating everything He discussed in the chapters prior, “so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Some translations say, “In this world you will have tribulation,” which would make us think of external problems like storms, wars, persecution, and sickness. Jesus certainly told us to expect all of those things. The word He used in this instance, however, pointed to the internal pressure one experiences outward hardships leave them feeling trapped without options or means of escape.  

It’s like He was saying, “My dear friends whom I love, life is going to become hard, and you will be afraid.” 

This reminds me of His earlier statement in John 14:1 and 27 when He told the disciples not to let their hearts be troubled, adding, the second time, “and do not be afraid.” 

When we read those words, we might feel a surge of guilt or self-condemnation, assuming Christ becomes upset we feel afraid. But I view His statements as gentle encouragement; an invitation to seek Him and His strength.

“Do not LET your hearts be troubled,” He said, as if He knew this was going to be a fight. Adding in verse 27, for emphasis, and do not be afraid.

“Take courage,” he urged, which, based on the original Greek, means to strengthen oneself from within, or better yet, to allow God to strengthen us. 

That is how we battle our fears. By believing in, trust in and rely on, Christ. As we intentionally reflect on who He is, what He’s done, and all He’s promised and evaluate our fears in light of all we know is true, our faith grows.

And so He invites us to believe, in an ever deepening way, in Him. 

Why?

Because He overcame the world. 

Notice, He didn’t say, because “I might overcome” or even “I’m going to overcome” but rather, “I’ve already overcome.” He let His disciples know, before the resurrection, that the victory was already won. He had already overcome. His disciples, His beloved friends who belonged to Him, had already overcome as well. And just as surely as their victory had been already been won, in Christ, ours has also.

Quote from post on white background with plant border.
Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

As 18th century Bible scholar John Ellicott wrote, “The enemies they fear, the world in which they have tribulation, are already captives following in the Conqueror’s train. They themselves have pledges of victory in and through His victory.”

Life will feel hard at times. Frightening. Jesus didn’t deny that, nor did He condemn His disciples for the emotional struggle they’d soon experience. As He was speaking to them, laying out all that would soon happen, not once did He chastise them for their sorrow and fear. Instead, He acknowledged it, validated it, but then He spoke His truth, peace, and love into them. 

He invited them let their fears drive them deeper in their relationship with Him. That was how they’d “take heart” or have courage, as some translations phrase it. 

And in this, we see His tender heart to comfort and encourage us. To love us, because He knows it’s His love, not His anger or judgment, that has the power to cast out all fear. 

What is one truth regarding Christ-His character, power, or promises-you can focus on the next time you feel afraid?

Speaking of enduring hard circumstances, make sure to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode to hear how God helped Wholly Loved’s Kelly Campbell hold tight to hope when she began slipping into despair.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the spiritual conversations I could’ve had but didn’t, and therefore, all of the potential life change I could’ve witnessed, but didn’t. The hurts that may never have occurred and the healing that could have, once Jesus got a hold of a person, and then a family, and then a community …

As you can imagine, I found today’s post, sent to me by my friend LoRee Peery, timely. In it, she asks a vital question. In essence, what are we doing with this precious gift of life we’ve been entrusted with?

Blog title image

How Tenaciously Are You Sowing Seeds

by LoRee Peery

I opened the email with today’s post attached. Have you ever asked yourself if you are tenacious in spreading God’s words? Are you familiar with the Parable of the Sower? Those who grew up in the church most likely heard this tale of Jesus told in Sunday school. One of His famous, this parable regards planting seeds and is recorded in Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:13-20, and Luke 8:5-15.

The farmer/sower planted seeds in various types of soil: on the road where it was trampled or eaten by birds, on a rock where it withered due to lack of moisture, among thorns where it was choked out. And of course, the seed that thrived in good soil where it produced a hundredfold.

I have a patch of four-foot-tall hybrid tiger lilies that bloom in late July. The gorgeous clusters of drooping orange petals dotted with black spots and fragile middle parts, which I can’t name, are captivating to a creative eye. The original bulbs were planted in rich loamy garden soil, fertilized many years ago by the cattle that grazed where our acreage is now. But the stalk of the plant produces seeds that have dropped and thrived abundantly, sometimes in unbelievable places.

To prevent more lilies from taking root, one year I deadheaded them by plucking off the dark seeds before the floral petals started to fall. Some of the larger seeds had already split and rooted.

Quite a few of the obstinate tiger lily seeds dropped amongst the bigger rocks of a neighboring garden and took root where I don’t want them to grow. Unbelievably, I found them under rocks, on top of the ground cover, sideways, hidden in the dark, without soil. And they grew!!

I discovered piles of seeds anywhere they rolled to the lower contours of the earth, especially under the heaviest rocks. When I saw the sideways, flattened bulbs, with twisted roots spreading and seeking nourishment, I couldn’t help but think of the original black seeds. Those seeds were bound and determined to grow despite opposing forces.

Other biblical seed phrases also came to mind:

Seedtime and harvest, kingdom of heaven like a mustard seed, the seed is the Word of God.

And then I considered seeds I’ve encountered mentally, followed up with cultivating and watering. I’ve had seeds of doubt, seeds of faith, seeds of ideas, and seeds of sins.

By that time, I was more than ready to quit digging the itsy lily bulbs (seeds that had taken root) for the day. Grandma on her knees atop rocks is not a pleasant sight. (It didn’t feel too terrific either.)

I carried the seed of a plan with me as I put away my tools. The remaining orange petals would be done and/or dropped a couple days later. I strategized to cut the stalks so I could get around easier in the tiger lily garden spot. That would enable me to hunker down and pick up black seeds from on top of the soil before they began to bury themselves and take root, and also would give me clear access to bulbs in the fence line.

The thought of seeds wouldn’t leave me. I’m still old-school and have a dictionary tome on one corner of my desk. I dare you to check the various meanings of seeds. Then consider the kinds of word and/or action seeds you’ve dropped, and to whom.

I dare you to pray about those words and actions. There’s a chance bad word seeds need to be dug up long before they can sprout. Also, follow up on the good word seeds (telling others the Good News of Jesus) to full reproduction.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess. 3:12-13, NIV*).

Love Grows

Love is motivation

  God so loved,

    He created all life

The Lord loves

  His love grows

    In His people

His love flows

  One to another

    Love grows Christ-like

God’s love strengthens,

  The heart muscle

    Becomes more holy

Blameless is the goal

 To be Holy in God’s eyes

    Motivates life with Jesus.

~~ LoRee Peery

*Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Get to Know LoRee:

Nebraska country girl LoRee Peery writes fiction that hopefully appeals to adult readers who enjoy stories written from a Christian perspective, focusing on the romance. These include novels and novellas for women and men in the Contemporary, Romance, Historical, Time Travel, and Mystery/Suspense categories. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. Her Frivolities Series launched her releases, and the book based on her father’s unsolved homicide, Touches of Time, was a personal relief. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother and great-, sister, friend, and author. Connect with LoRee at www.loreepeery.com, find her on Facebook, and check out the rest of her titles at Pelican and Amazon.

Check Out Her Highlighted Book:

Talia Ashby is a perfectionistic data analyst who, on occasion, sees her “fat” self when she looks in the mirror. As a svelte former obese girl, she reunites with her secret teen crush, now a pastor in the church she attends.

Cooper Valiant is dazzled upon meeting a high school friend he doesn’t immediately recognize due to her drastic weight loss. Since his sister had an eating disorder, he’d often felt empathy toward Talia as classmates teased and bullied her. In his pastorate position, he asks her to help girls in the youth group come to grips with body-image.

While working with the girls, Talia’s recollections of youthful hurts stir up past insecurities. She must reassess her spiritual journey, and what bothers her in the present.

Added to the mix are her reawakened emotions toward the man who once came to her rescue. Will their joint journey include a personal relationship?

Buy it HERE.

And before you go, make sure to check out the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode.

Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  4. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  5. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)

Jesus should’ve given up on me long ago. But each day, despite my sins and failures, God draws and holds me close.

In Christ, I am held secure.

I never fully understood God’s heart for me until I became a parent. But having walked beside my daughter through her obedient and rebellious times, I’ve come to understand the love that never lets go and never gives up.

When our daughter was young, we moved across the country, a transition she struggled with. Though initially we were oblivious to her pain—seven-year-olds aren’t often able to express their emotions—we soon became alert to a drastic change of behavior. Our normally cheerful, affectionate little girl had become sullen and angry.

I was confused and concerned.

One afternoon, she grew quite upset with me (for reasons I can’t remember), and shouted, “I hate you!” then slammed her bedroom door.

That was the first, and perhaps last time she’d ever said something like that to me, and it broke my heart, but not for the reasons you may assume.

My heart broke because I knew hers was breaking. Beneath her anger and harsh words, I saw her pain, and in that moment, what I longed for most was to draw her near and hold her close.

I’ve displayed a similar response toward God as she had to me, numerous times, throughout my faith journey. Like when my friend was dying, and I struggled to reconcile my circumstances with what I knew regarding God’s love, power, and sovereignty. Once my emotions settled down, guilt and fear followed. Had my anger angered God?

Had I—or would I—do something that would drive Him away for good?

But each time, I discovered not only had He remained, but He was actually taking giant, loving steps toward me.

In John 10:29, our Savior said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (NIV).

That’s a promise we can hold tight to. Christ holds me, and you, secure and His love will always, always remain.

Graphic made from quote pulled from post.

Unshakable. Immovable. Solid and Sure.

Let’s talk about this! How can you rest in the security of Christ today? Sometimes this starts with a reminder. The reminder that we don’t have to have it all together or know all the answers. We simply need to turn and surrender to and rely upon the One who does.

Speaking of reliance on Christ, make sure to check out the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode on living in Christ’s perfect guidance.

Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  4. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  5. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)

There’s new content on Faith Over Fear as well. Find it here.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

May 12

(This first posted on September 14, 2017.)

Every day is a battle—for truth versus deception. For relational intimacy versus isolation. For growth and godliness versus sin and self-destruction. Ultimately, for love toward God and others versus idolatry of self.

This—the battle against self—is by far my greatest battle. This is what threatens to derail me more than any outward casualty or setback I may experience. Self-love leads me toward self-elevation (which is idolatry). Agape love centers me in the will of Christ.

At their root, each of these is a battle between light and darkness.

Two extremes, continually pitted against one another. The only solution? Surrender to Jesus Christ.

It’s almost ironic, as I type this this morning, over a week before it will go “live,” I am and have been in the throws of this battle, one I thought I’d won but a week prior. And the week before that. And the week before that as I prayerfully “crucify my flesh” as Scripture puts it, asking the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to offer all of me to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

And yet, here I am again, resisting the ugly within me so the pure, honorable, self-sacrificing love of Christ can shine forth.

My battle plan? Prayer and praise as I seek to be filled with more and more of Christ, knowing when that happens, all else will fade away. Because He is my treasure, and this present world is short but eternity is forever.

About five years ago, I spoke to women living in a women and children’s shelter in Kansas City, women who had lost nearly everything—their homes, their livelihoods, their self-respect. Some were experiencing the consequences of poor choices. Some were, but not all. Others were simply in a really rough place, likely crying out to God, asking Him why. Why had He allowed them to reach that place?

Did He not see them? Was He deaf to their cries? Had He forgotten them?

Did He not care?

But what if, in fact, His attentive eye was zeroed in on them, in the middle of their darkness, as He shined His love and light through them?

That night, I shared the story of Joseph, a man who, from the very beginning had been given an incredible promise from God—that God would raise him, second to the youngest of twelve sons, to a place of leadership, where the rest of his family would “bow down” to him.

photo by Viktoria Hall-Waldhauser from Unsplash

If you’re familiar with this account, you know God had much more planned for Joseph than simply familial leadership. But first, Joseph went through some incredibly hard years facing struggles and humiliation that would, quite frankly, send me hiding in by bedroom with the blankets pulled up to my chin and a big ol’ bag of tootsie rolls within reach.

You can read his story in its entirety in Genesis 37-51, but to paraphrase, God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery, dragged to a foreign land where he was stripped of all rights and forced to spend his every waking moment in service to another, and then thrown into prison. And at each step, he was given a choice: focus on himself and all he’d lost or perhaps all he “deserved,” (after all, he’d been called, personally, by Creator God!), or surrender and live, 100% in obedience to and for the glory of His Creator.

Because he chose the latter, he shined the light of God in the middle of some incredibly dark places.

I believe this was the battle God had called him to, and make no mistake, it was an intense, moment-by-moment battle! This was also the battle God called Timothy to, as he pastored that church, filled with false teaching and division, in Ephesus. And it’s a battle God calls each one of us to, as we stand against discontentment, selfish ambition, and greed—the very attitudes that had caused the false teachers in Ephesus to wreak such destruction (1 Tim. 1:6-7, 6:4-5).

And so, this brings our study full-circle with the reminder that it’s all about love. God’s kind of love. A love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

We can fight many battles in any given day, but the battle that wars within is the most vital, because everything else stems from that. We are most effective when we are most yielded to God’s Spirit at work within and through us. He has a plan, a good, victorious plan, for tackling whatever battle is warring around us, and He may (or may not) use us to fight it.

But make no mistake; He’s the One who will do the fighting. He’s the One who will win the victory. Our role is quite simple—to surrender and obey. If we do anything else, we’ll merely be getting in His way.

For those who’ve been following the 1 Timothy Bible study, this weekend, I encourage you to take time review what you’ve learned in the previous weeks. Journal what God has shown you, and simply take time to rest at His feet. Make Romans 12:1 your prayer:

Dear Lord, in view of Your mercy, in view of all You’ve done for me, help me to offer my body—my time, my thoughts, my will; my whole self—to You, as a living sacrifice because of all You have done for me. May that be how I, daily, worship You.”

Pray this prayer often, and then wait and see what God does. Wait and see how He uses you to bring healing to the hurting, life to the dead, and sight to the blind.

What resonated most with you in today’s post? What inner battle do you tend to fight the most, and what can you do today to strengthen your connection with Christ–the One who has equipped and empowered us for victory? What are some ways you fight the battle against self-love?

Share your thoughts and insights with us, because we can all learn from one another! And make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episode.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

And catch the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode here:

Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  4. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  5. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)

My Secret to Joy

by Carol McClain

Has life discouraged you? Does society seem strange? Have we normalized destructive behavior so that we’re confused if we can classify anything as right or wrong?

If the answer to any of these is yes, I’m not surprised. We’re awash with bad news: war, disease, inflation … I can add to the list, but I’d rather count my blessings than the downfalls of our era.

You don’t need any more of this. Neither do I. Life is short, and for me, definitely getting shorter faster than I like. I’m not flooded with despair. God granted me blessings piled on top of blessings, so instead of grousing, I decided to focus on joy.

But how does one see the good when so much is wrong?

This is an odd thing for this woman who was raised with my family’s Belorussian attitude of fatalism. Why hope for the best when you’re going to be stuck with the worst?

Balderdash. Here’s my epiphany on the day that joy finally became my go-to emotion.

On a frosty morning, I drove to my favorite hiking spot in our beautiful Smoky Mountains. I swerved around curves. A glorious stream flowed over rocks and cascaded downhill to my left. Narrow lanes and curving mountain roads caused me not to ogle the jaw-dropping beauty of the overarching rock face of the mountains. Here, icicles clung to the ledges and sparkled in the early morning sunlight.

I raced toward my mission late and fearful my tardiness would upset my hiking buddy. Besides, I’d seen the scenery this before.

As I approached Meigs Falls, two tourists stepped out of their car. With cameras poised, they shot pictures. The falls, in flood stage, roared gloriously. Only one car carrying two middle-aged tourists noticed the roaringly pristine view.

I hurried on, but what was I thinking?

Focused on my destination, I ignored the journey. Teal water falling, forever falling and never running dry, danced over slate-grey cliffs. Spray sparkled in the early morning. A canopy of rocks with water dancing over its ledges in the dawn should never become a humdrum appearance.

Graphic with quote from post.

When my friends first showed me this waterfall, I found the scene a beauty worthy of continual photographs from every conceivable perspective. For many months, I strained to glimpse the falls. That day, though?

Why did I let my vision grow stale?

During this drive, my spirit finally absorbed my favorite scripture. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8, ESV).

A simile jumped to my mind as I thought, “If there is anything worthy of praise,” think about these things like a tourist.

As a visitor (as I am here on earth), I might never get this moment again. Life is fragile. I need to be ready—in season and out. Vacationers come prepared with cameras and clothing and maps. They search, look, and see. The friend I rushed to meet knows and loves me. She would understand if I were delayed. I needed to take my time, to forget the bad things and remember Philippians. I need to concentrate on what is lovely.

As I drove, I switched the radio from the news droning on about the latest crisis in politics and tuned into my favorite Christian station. My favorite group, For King and Country, sang “Joy.” The song made me want to dance because God is good, and I am blessed. I live. I’m loved. The world is beautiful.

So, dance I will.

Practice being a tourist. Focus on joy. You’ll find yourself dancing and singing even when your world falls apart.

Get to Know Carol:

Carol McClain is the award-winning author of four novels dealing with real people facing real problems. She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.

Bio picture - Carol McClain


Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained-glass artist, an avid hiker and photographer. She lives in East Tennessee. Her most recent interest are her two baby does Peanut & Buttercup. Like all babies, they love sitting on our laps and. Being bottle fed.

You can find more about Carol McClain at carolmcclain.com, Facebook,  BookBub, and Goodreads

Check out her latest release Prodigal Lives:

Life keeps piling problems on Meredith Jaynes. She loses her second foster child—one she was scheduled to adopt. Then Parker Snow refuses to marry her. With only her goats and artisan soap to support her, life will get no better.

Cover image for Prodigal Lives by Carol McClain

If she is honest, though, she still has Crystal. Her funny, happy, loveable toddler makes the sun shine and reminds her of the never-failing love of God.

Pearl Solomon loves her life with her grandfather Guy, but every one of her triumphs is overshadowed by her sisters’ lives. With Mama Meredith, they live a life she envies. Because of her jealousy, she refuses to contact them.

Years later, life for both families twist down paths they do not wish to travel. Pearl knows she’s lost what was most precious in life but has no means of fixing things. Left to her own devices, she spirals out of control.

Meredith finds it harder to mask the despair infertility has brought to her life.

Both families believe they must reconcile themselves to their fates as reality shatters their dreams unless they dig deep for the promise of love.

Buy it HERE.

Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/Meet Our Hosts:Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.comFollow Jennifer:https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/https://www.facebook.com/JenSlattehttps://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/Grace Fox has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.comFollow Grace:Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.authorInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor
  1. Don't Get Tired of Doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. Lessons Learned in the Waiting Room of Life (Genesis 8:1)
  4. Maintaining and Honoring Healthy Boundaries (Luke 10:40)
  5. A Scripture-Based Prayer for Your People (Joshua 22:5)

(The below is a transcript, edited slightly, taken from an iBelieve video devotion.)

We know God commanded us to love, right? Sometimes, the “how” related to that seems clear, like when we serve at a homeless soup kitchen, pray with a hurting friend, or prioritize relationships with friends and family. But what if the person we reach out to consistently pushes us away? How do we know when to persevere, doing our best to initiate connection, and when to respectfully honor the other person’s wishes?

A while ago, I recorded two episodes on loving those who are hard to love. Matt Maciera, the founder of Be Bold Ministries, joined me, for one of the episodes. You can find the second HERE.) In both, I discussed some of the fears you and I might face when attempting to love others as Jesus does us. If fear tends to be your greatest outreach challenge, I encourage you to take a listen. 

What I didn’t cover, however, was how to respond when someone tells you to leave them alone. What is more loving? To honor their request or to persevere in an effort to break through whatever barriers are keeping them in isolation or bondage? 

Or, maybe you’re a parent trying to faithfully raise your kids, or lead children in a school or Sunday School classroom. When they misbehave, how do you know when to offer grace and when to enforce consequences? Perhaps you’re facing the same dilemma with adult employees or those on your ministry team. 

There are times when I find God’s call to love confusing, especially because my heart can be so self-deceptive. My pride and desire to self-protect can taint even my most benevolent acts and desires. I can even convince myself that my selfishly-motivated, prideful, or self-protecting inclinations are from God. 

Therefore, if I want to love well, I must regularly seek God’s deep soul-cleansing. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul, a first century apostle who wrote much of the New Testament stated, “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith” (NIV).

quote pulled from post

Pure love flows from a pure heart. One without mixed motives or the infection of sin. I don’t believe we can reach that state apart from God. He sees gunk in us we’re not even aware of, and this deep-cleansing God does, it’s a continual process. Because if you’re anything like me, selfishness and pride can rise up mere moments after your prayer time. 

I don’t know who God is calling you to love today, or who He might call you to love tomorrow, or the day after that. I don’t know if that person will welcome your efforts or consistently push you away. Nor do I know how God wants you to respond. But I do know you’ll be better able to hear God’s voice, to sense His guidance, and to respond, when you, by His power and grace, maintain a pure heart. One regularly cleansed–and filled–by Christ. 

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Before you go, have you registered for Wholly Loved’s upcoming gala? It is going to be such fun! Find out more HERE.

A quick note, for those who connect with me on Facebook or through Messenger, FB has currently blocked my account (I have no idea why). Therefore I encourage you to reach out to me through this website or Instagram.

How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110 Faith Over Fear

Everything feels easier when we sense God is guiding us. But what do we do when it seems as if God isn’t responding to our prayers? During periods of divine silence, we might assume that we have done something to make God angry or turn away from us. If we carry shame and unhealed wounds, we might be tempted to view God’s supposed non-response as confirmation of the inner lies that tell us we’re worthless, discardable, or a failure. Our assurance grows, however, when we fill those gaps with truth and remember and reflect upon God’s heart.In this episode, Jennifer Slattery discusses some of the common assumptions people make during periods of divine silence, what these assumptions reveal, and various truths that can help us stand in the full assurance of God’s grace. Resource mentioned:Your Daily Bible Verse podcast, April 5th, 2022:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/your-daily-bible-verse/id1477482900Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Questions:1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2. Can you share a time when you felt God wasn’t answering your prayers? How did you feel?3. Did you learn anything through that seemingly silent period?4. Why is it important to remind ourselves of God’s character and heart toward us?5. During times of silence, why is it important to reflect on God’s grace?6. What Scripture passages do you turn to when you wait on God (for answers or intervention)?7. Is there anything you’re doing, or not doing, on your end that might drown out God’s voice?8. What are some of the ways God speaks to us? (Name as many as you can think of.)9. Why is it important that we consistently read our Bibles?10. What is one action step God is asking you to take after having listened to today’s episode?
  1. How to Have Peace When God Is Silent – Ep. 110
  2. The Power of Breath Prayer to Calm Your Anxiety (with Jennifer Tucker) – Ep. 109
  3. The Courage to Embrace Career Risk – Ep. 108
  4. The Courage to Surrender Our Hurts to Jesus – Ep. 107
  5. Trusting God’s Promise to Use Our Suffering for Good – Ep. 106

Also, make sure to catch the latest Faith Over Fear episode: