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Photo by Geralt taken from pixabay.com

Note: This post first published on May 5, 2016.

“I’m quitting my job.”

It was the last thing I expected to hear from my ultra dependable, hard-working husband. And yet, looking back, I should’ve seen this coming. He’d been beaten down and overworked for far too long. I should’ve responded to his statement by wrapping him up in a giant hug.

Instead I hit freak-out mode. He was our sole bread winner. We were living in an expensive suburb of California. I stayed home with our daughter, homeschooled her in fact. And had zero desire to change our education plans.

Fast forward a few months, and my husband handed our house keys to our realtor, in essence declaring to her, our neighbors, our friends and one another that we didn’t plan on returning.

He’d turned his work keys in the night before.

My husband still hadn’t found a job, though we were hopeful. And I was panicked, like ready to vomit panicked, though I largely kept my emotions in check–to Steve and my daughter. My prayers, however, were another matter entirely:

Help us, Lord! Fix this! Give me just a hint that all this will work out. 

Then, we packed our van, and headed for the Grand Canyon. For a family vacation.

Because everyone goes on vacation when unemployed right? Made perfect sense to me.

Not.

Long story short, God came through. My husband received a job offer that very day. Our house sold for full asking price. That very day. We went on our vacation and the Slattery family lived happily ever after.

Not. So not. Because life is full of upheavals, uncertainty, set-backs and gut-churning panic moments. But over the years, having made it through numerous unexpected and sometimes frightening situations, I’ve learned how to find peace in times of uncertainty. All I needed to do was follow, cling to, believe in, and live out, to the best of my ability, God’s wisdom and truth. Because His promises will never, ever fail. 

The next time you’re facing a panicked moment, follow the steps laid out in Psalm 37:

3 Trust in the Lord and do good.

    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. (NLT)

Trust. Not in our circumstances, our spouse, our savings account or that job, but trust in the Lord. Remember His character. He is always and only faithful, loving and true. Remember His promises and how He has proved them true for you in the past. Center your mind on truth–what you know from God’s Word, and refuse to engage negative, fretful thinking.

Do good. God has a good, eternal work for us to do each day. Some days that ministering to a neighbor or serving the needy. Other times it’s building up our family and pointing them to Christ. Consider that God may have put you in the position you’re in, as uncomfortable or frightening as it may be, to touch a heart or reveal His grace through you. So do good. Serve Him in the hard and the easy. And take joy in knowing your purpose extends beyond you and your circumstances. 

Delight in Christ. Draw near to Him through prayer, music, and Bible reading. Soak up His presence; let His Holy Spirit fill you completely, knowing He will be strong on your behalf. Don’t let the uncertainty of the moment rob you of the sweet treasure of resting in His presence.

Commit everything to Christ. I could likely write an entire book unpacking this one but I’ll sum it up with one word: surrender. Surrender the moment, the situation, yourself, your heart and plans, to God. Leave it all in His hands, knowing He’s working at this moment on your behalf.

Be still and wait patiently. He will fight for you. He is working out a plan for your life, for your family, for your marriage–for whatever you’re facing. You won’t move things along any faster by fretting, but you may when you take the time to be still in His presence, soaking up His strength and listening for His direction. At least, when you do that, there’s a much better chance you won’t do anything to make matters worse through a panicked reaction.

Follow. If you belong to Christ, your spiritual ears have been quickened so that you can recognize His voice (John 10:16). Scripture promises God will and does speak to us (Isaiah 30:21). Psalm 16:7 says, “Even at night my heart instructs me.” So listen. Then obey.

Let’s talk about this! What are some ways you grab hold of peace when life feels crazy and uncertain? Do you have any go-to verses you like to pray or meditate on? Any songs you find especially helpful? 

 

 

Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8) Faith Over Fear

It’s one thing to internalize a promise from God, it’s another to make that a public proclamation. When we’re open about our faith and the promises we’re holding onto – especially in a difficult or unknown season – we’re inviting others to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God, too. While it’s not always the easiest step to take, proclaiming our faith publicly has greater impact than we might imagine. Find Kimi at: https://kimimiller.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LivingReflectionsMinistry/ https://www.instagram.com/livingreflectionsministry/ Find Tami at: https://www.tamiwittrock.com/ Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Support GroupJoin the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): When in your life, have you made a public proclamation of faith? How did that impact you and/or those around you? Is there an area or season of your where God is asking you to make a public proclamation of faith? Is there someone in your life who might be encouraged by your proclamation to stand on God’s promise? How can you stay encouraged when all you have is God’s promise to hold onto? What have been some faith markers in your life? How did those reassure you to keep holding on?  What are some ways to express your gratitude for God’s faithfulness? How can praising God encourage you and others along the way?  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  2. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  3. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  4. Breaking Free from Dysfunction
  5. 4 Powerful Actions to Fight Anxiety

(This first posted August 3rd, 2017)

If you’ve seen me in my sweat pants and favorite tattered nightshirt, chances are we’re besties. You can tell how close we are by how I dress around you and how long it took me to doll myself up. Before Bible study or church or speaking engagements, I fix my hair, put on make-up, and sift through numerous outfits. But most days, I’m in my writing attire, also known as pajamas, with my hair frizzed and mascara smudged under my eyes.

I reserve my most frightening moments for my family. (You thought bedhead was bad; try bedhead with rebellious, curly hair.)

Ladies, when did our value get tied up in our looks? Men, has your value become entangled in your strength or achievements? Both scenarios have the same root—pride.

When many of us read 1 Timothy 2:9-10, our minds instantly jump to modesty and all the ways we’re rocking this outward expression of piety. So long as our shorts reach a certain length and our bellies and other body parts are covered, we’re good.

But that’s surface thinking, and I believe God’s much more concerned with the condition of our hearts than our fashion choice. If we get our hearts right, everything else will follow.

This past summer, my family and I took a Hawaiian vacation. It was an amazing time to relax, enjoy the ocean, and connect with one another. We tried new foods, experienced the Polynesian culture, and battled with a wave or two.

We opted not to rent a car and chose instead to rely on the local taxi service. The man who drove us to our hotel thought that was an absurdly expensive idea. “Why pay $50 or more for a cab,” he said, “when you can catch the bus for a couple bucks a piece?”

That sounded fun and adventurous and like a great way to experience island culture up close. So, the next day, we climbed on a bus and headed toward the North Shore community of Haleiwa. The bus ride was a bit longer than we’d anticipated, but we didn’t mind. We enjoyed meeting the locals that merged on and off the bus—teenagers dressed in flip-flops and swimsuit cover-ups, backpacks in hand. Men and women going to work, others who had just gotten off and were heading home.

Not long into our ride, an older woman climbed on. Her hands were knotted, her face leathery and tired. Her shoulders hunched. I didn’t know her story, but as I watched her, a wave of compassion swept over me. I wanted to somehow brighten her day, so whenever I caught her eye, I offered a smile and engaged her in conversation.

I felt benevolence toward her and didn’t give a thought of what I wore or how I was perceived. At that moment, I was focused on her, not me.

But then … not long after, another woman got on, this one entirely different than the first. She had an air about her—nose raised, back straight. She was eyeing everyone else as if they were beneath them. She soon struck up a conversation with another woman on the bus, someone she appeared to know. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember the overall tone. It appeared the entire point of her conversation was to let everyone else know how great she was.

It was ugly and wreaked of superiority. Filled with attempts at self-elevation—the kind one might call bragging in disguise.

Her behavior probably should’ve disgusted me. Or at the least, irritated me. Instead, it sucked me in. I found myself sitting a little taller, thinking prideful thoughts, in essence, mentally comparing myself to her, making sure, in my estimation, I came out ahead, of course.

Isn’t it interesting how, in such a short time, pride entered my heart, and instead of focusing on loving others, I began to focus on myself?

There’s that ugly self-love again, and I believe that’s the root of pride. I’m beginning to think this constant obsession with self is one of our greatest faults and most destructive tendencies.

The next morning I opened my Bible to 1 Timothy chapter 2. When I got to verses 9 and 10, it was like God had shone a flashlight into my heart, and I saw that passage in a way I hadn’t before.

In this verse, Paul tells us not to “draw attention to [ourselves] by the way [we] fix our hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” This reminds me of another verse found in Philippians 2:3, which says, “Don’t be selfish. Don’t try to impress others …”

“For women who claim to be devoted to God,” Paul goes on to say, “should make themselves attractive by the things they do” (1 Timothy 2:10, NLT).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about our appearance. I’m not telling everyone to toss out their nail polish and lip-gloss. Instead, what I’m saying is, as we’re dolling up, as we’re shopping and getting our nails done, and as we’re interacting with others, may we continually do a heart check. May we ask ourselves: where’s my focus? Am I seeking to elevate myself, to somehow make myself feel as if I’m better than everyone else (which is really a sign of insecurity), or am I finding ways to love others, to build them up, thinking of others as better than myself (Philippians 2:3b, NLT).

That’s hard, and unfortunately, not something I do consistently, But this is an area I want to grow in, because this is the type of behavior and attitude, the type of love, to which God calls me.

Let’s talk about this! What about you? What were your initial thoughts when you read today’s passage? How easy is it for you to “consider others more important than yourselves?” What does that look like in the day to day, and how do you think that relates to Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy 2:9-10?

Before you go, did you catch this week’s Faith Over Fear episode? If not, I encourage you to listen to my conversation with Max Lucado on finding fresh hope and strength through the Holy Spirit. 

 

Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8) Faith Over Fear

It’s one thing to internalize a promise from God, it’s another to make that a public proclamation. When we’re open about our faith and the promises we’re holding onto – especially in a difficult or unknown season – we’re inviting others to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God, too. While it’s not always the easiest step to take, proclaiming our faith publicly has greater impact than we might imagine. Find Kimi at: https://kimimiller.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LivingReflectionsMinistry/ https://www.instagram.com/livingreflectionsministry/ Find Tami at: https://www.tamiwittrock.com/ Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Support GroupJoin the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): When in your life, have you made a public proclamation of faith? How did that impact you and/or those around you? Is there an area or season of your where God is asking you to make a public proclamation of faith? Is there someone in your life who might be encouraged by your proclamation to stand on God’s promise? How can you stay encouraged when all you have is God’s promise to hold onto? What have been some faith markers in your life? How did those reassure you to keep holding on?  What are some ways to express your gratitude for God’s faithfulness? How can praising God encourage you and others along the way?  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  2. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  3. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  4. Breaking Free from Dysfunction
  5. 4 Powerful Actions to Fight Anxiety

Zipline Course

I stood on the platform wearing a harness attached to a long, heavy cord. All I had to do was step off and fly through the air. Across the lake my daughter, Hannah, and husband, Tim, waited for me to glide across the zip line and meet them on the other side.

I’d cheered Tim on as he took the trip just moments before. But for some reason I couldn’t take the leap. It wasn’t like I’d never zipped. I’d ridden this same line a year or so before. And I loved it. But this time, instead of embracing the excitement, fear gripped me. My anxiety peaked. I couldn’t let go. Much to my disappointment, Hannah’s friend and co-worker, Rachel, had to help me out of the harness. I climbed down the steps and trudged around the lake to meet my family.

I’d been defeated by fear, one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. Sad thing is, the fear wasn’t real. I’d ridden the zip line before and had no problems at all. How many times do we create fear in our minds? When this happens the story gets bigger and bigger. Most of the time the very thing we fear is never realized. Have you heard the song Fear is a Liar? How the liar wants to stop us from moving forward. He wants us to doubt God. He wants us to be paralyzed in our tracks unable to follow God’s lead. But guess what. God doesn’t want to let that happen. If we turn our fears over to him through prayer, he will walk us through every single doubt and question.

In Isaiah 41:10-20, the prophet is addressing the people who serve God and assuring them that because they serve faithfully, they have hope. Isaiah reminds them not to fear, because God is in their presence. He encourages faith and reminds them God offers strength and help in all they do as He did for the Israelites.

As a writer, fear of failure haunts me, much like God’s servants in the book of Isaiah. Unwanted chants in my head go something like this, “I’m not good enough.” “Why would anyone care about what I write?”  “Who do I think I’m fooling?” These are all the result of made-up fear, conjured in my mind with no grounding in reality.

Tree and skyline with Isaiah 41:13

When I read verses like Isaiah 41:10 and 13, I’m assured that God has me in His hands. He knows every fear and He pours His strength and help over me, giving me hope.

Whatever you’re afraid of, turn it over to God. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Get to Know Penny!

If Penny Frost McGinnis could live in a lighthouse or on an island, she would. Instead, she and her husband are content to live in southwest Ohio and visit Lake Erie every chance they get. She adores her family and dog, indulges in dark chocolate, enjoys fiber arts, and grows flowers and herbs in her tiny garden. She pens romance with a dash of mystery and the promise of hope. Her life’s goal is to encourage and uplift through her writing. Visit her blog at Hope for Today’s Heart, where she brings God’s hope to people’s lives through the written word.

Check Out Her Book!

Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, Sadie Stewart escapes to Abbott Island where she spent summers with her grandparents. Would the love and faith she learned from them be enough to fuel her new life? She wants to believe God’s promises, yet broken trust holds her back. 

Joel Grayson left the island long enough to train at the Police Academy. The community trusts him, even though he’s failed. When he finds Sadie at her grandparents’ cottages, his heart skips a beat. He’d love to get to know her again, but no one needs to share the hurt he harbors. 

When Sadie discovers someone is sabotaging her future, she seeks Joel’s help. As they are drawn together, will Joel let down his guard and let her in? Will Sadie trust the man who loves her and the Father Who cares? 

Find it HERE.

Before you go, make sure to catch the latest Faith Over Fear podcast. In this episode on embracing risk, my husband joins me for a discussion at the seventeen-ish minute mark.

Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8) Faith Over Fear

It’s one thing to internalize a promise from God, it’s another to make that a public proclamation. When we’re open about our faith and the promises we’re holding onto – especially in a difficult or unknown season – we’re inviting others to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God, too. While it’s not always the easiest step to take, proclaiming our faith publicly has greater impact than we might imagine. Find Kimi at: https://kimimiller.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LivingReflectionsMinistry/ https://www.instagram.com/livingreflectionsministry/ Find Tami at: https://www.tamiwittrock.com/ Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Support GroupJoin the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): When in your life, have you made a public proclamation of faith? How did that impact you and/or those around you? Is there an area or season of your where God is asking you to make a public proclamation of faith? Is there someone in your life who might be encouraged by your proclamation to stand on God’s promise? How can you stay encouraged when all you have is God’s promise to hold onto? What have been some faith markers in your life? How did those reassure you to keep holding on?  What are some ways to express your gratitude for God’s faithfulness? How can praising God encourage you and others along the way?  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  2. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  3. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  4. Breaking Free from Dysfunction
  5. 4 Powerful Actions to Fight Anxiety

(This first published on Sept. 7, 2017.)

What temporary filler has distracted you from the One who truly fulfills and, as a result, has deepened your ache and left you hollow?

If we were to unpack greed and selfish ambition, I believe we’d find a host of fear, sorrow, insecurities, and emotional wounds beneath them. I’ve noticed my contentment meter shifts dramatically depending on my situation and who I’m with.

Most often, when we’re clamoring after stuff, whether that’s shiny gadgets, fancy clothes, accolades, or fame, we’re not really after the stuff. We’re seeking to find fulfillment and value outside of Christ, and as result, we end up empty and grasping for more.

It’s a depressing cycle.

Greed, at its core, reveals our core beliefs about ourselves and God. Do we believe we have value, not because of what we’ve earned, achieved, or how many likes we’ve accumulated on Facebook? Do we believe God is good, loving, and faithful and true?

Or do we suspect that He’s holding out on us, that He longs to see us miserable, or that He’ll forget about us all together?

This is what happened with Eve back in the Garden of Eden. Perhaps you’re familiar with her story. God had placed her and her husband in a literal paradise, with lush vegetation, beautiful flowers, and absolutely everything they could need or want. Every tree, rose, and softly chirping bird revealed God’s heart, like a thousand love letters scripted just for them. No good thing had He withheld from them.

But one day, Eve entertained an insidious thought, planted during what may have appeared to be a casual, harmless conversation.

The Serpent, “the shrewdest of all the wild animals God had made,” approached Eve and asked, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:2-3).

Nope. In fact, God had said the opposite. Eve and her husband could freely enjoy every nut, berry, and sweet mango. Surrounded by all this abundance, there was but one tree they were not to eat from. And this, rather than all the blessings she’d been freely given, is what Eve chose to focus on.

She took that initial seed of doubt, so carefully planted, and worked it, until she became convinced God was holding out on her.

“She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it too” (Gen. 3:6)

And suddenly, that which initially looked so good, so beautiful and alluring, destroyed them, filling them with shame and shattering the intimacy they’d previously felt with God. By chasing after what God hadn’t granted instead of enjoying what He had, they lost it all.

That’s what greed does. It deceives us into thinking we haven’t been given our due and that what we have isn’t enough. It destroys our ability to enjoy the abundant blessings God has provided. It hurts others, destroys relationships and our integrity, and leads to isolation and ever-increasing discontentment.

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”

Paul understood this. As a Pharisee, he’d probably seen countless men consumed with greed, who, like the elders in Ephesus, “showed” godliness merely as a way to become wealthy. The result—emotional and spiritual sickness, arguments, jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. In other words, ugliness and a life of drama. These men acted godly but lacked the power to experience the abundant life Christ promised, and instead of turning to Him in order to receive it, they stuffed their hollow and decrepit heart with one empty filler after another.

But God had set Paul free from all that and had given him something deeper, more fulfilling to live for, making everything else appear as rubbish. “Yes, everything else is worthless,” Paul said, “when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Can we say the same? If not, I suggest we ask God to help us love Him more. As we do, everything else will fade.

Let’s talk about this! How does our focus impact our contentment or lack of it? How does a right view of God—who He is, how He loves, and who we are in Him—enable us to feel content with what He’s provided?

Share your thoughts here, in the comments below or in our online Bible study group on Facebook. 

Local friends, join me next week at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Omaha as I share how we can find peace and refreshment in the middle of our crazy and replace anxiety and fear with a deep and abiding faith. You can register HERE.

You might also enjoy:

A Still and Quiet Soul: Embracing Contentment by Cathy Messecar

(Today’s post is taken and adapted from the December 7th Your Daily Bible Verse episode titled Seeking God’s Guidance in Times of Crisis. You can listen to that episode HERE.)

But first, fun news! New Hope Publishers has made Intertwined, one of my backlisted titled, available for free via Kindle from July 25th-29th. Save THIS LINK and mark your calendars!

This is one of the most powerful prayers in Scripture: “God, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12c, NIV).

Such an honest, humble declaration positions us to receive God’s power, which He loves to display through our weakness. It is in our desperate places, when we feel we have nowhere else to turn, that we most experience Him.

The king who spoke the words recorded in 2 Chronicles 20:12 was in a terrifying place. Shortly after initiating a sweeping religious reform throughout Judah, he learned numerous allied nations had declared war against him and his people.

By the time King Jehoshapat learned about this army, they were only 35 miles from Jerusalem. The King didn’t have a whole lot of options. He and his people could’ve tried to hide in caves and the clefts of mountains, like they had back in Judges chapter 6, when “the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country” (v. 3, NIV). Or he could’ve fled to a neighboring country, forfeiting his throne and abandoning his people.

In a panic, he could’ve sent commanders out to gather all the fighting men they could find, but they’d still be outnumbered, out-skilled, out-weaponed, and outmuscles. 

He could’ve allowed his fear to drive him to increased reliance and chasing after false securities. This inevitably would’ve distanced him from God and distorted his perception, causing the crisis to feel exponentially larger. Making his all-powerful God to simultaneously feel smaller.

That wasn’t how King Jehoshapat responded.

In the middle of his fear, he hit pause. Before he took a single step forward, he turned his face and his heart upward, proclaimed a fast for all of Judah, and cried out to God.

When facing a life or death situation, for him and his nation, the king of Judah immediately turned to God in prayer. And called all his people to do the same. Such a powerful example of God-led, leadership! In a life-or-death situation, he showed everyone what it looked like to live by faith; complete dependence on God. 

And notice the result. Verse four states, “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

Because King Jehoshaphat sought God in his fear, his people did as well. Then, once they’d all gathered, Scripture tells us the King stood in front of the courtyard and spoke an incredibly powerful prayer.  

First, he acknowledged and proclaimed God’s sovereignty and limitless power, a power greater than their worst and most viscous and numerous enemy, saying, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”

Then, in verses 7-8, he reminded God, and through this, the people, of who they were to Him. The men, women, children, and soldiers of Judah were God’s chosen people, whom He had placed in and given the land they now occupied. A land that, ultimately, God owned. 

He reminded himself and the people of God’s constant presence. Regardless of how they felt or things appeared, their God was with them and heard them, He stated, in verse 9, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us” (NIV).

Then, after all this, after remembering and proclaiming God’s power, sovereignty, attentiveness, and presence, knowing that God would hear and respond, he ended with, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

In other words, guide us, Lord. Tell us what to do here, and whatever that is, we’ll do it. Because we trust You.

The next morning, he and his people put feet to their faith. At God’s command, they appointed men to sing praises to God, and sent them out at the head of the army.

They led with praise.

They entered the battle with praise, singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” With every step, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love” –His heced in the original Greek, a fierce, steadfast, enduring love– “endures forever” (V. 21, NIV).

God’s love was their armor and their defense. The Israelites advanced in confidence knowing Almighty, all-knowing, sovereign, Creator God loved them and would fight for them. 

And he did. Scripture says, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another” (V. 22-23, NIV).

Their enemies fought against one another! Not one of them escaped. 

When we find ourselves in frightening situations, often our first response is to react–to shut down, lash out, or to flee. But what if we turned to God first? What if we hit pause, took a breath, and prayed?

What if we fought our battles through surrendered dependence and our hands lifted high in praise? 

And speaking of love, first flowing into us, then flowing from us, make sure to listen to the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode:

My Soul Finds Rest in God (Psalm 62:5-8) | So Much More Your Daily Bible Verse

If you enjoy listening to Your Daily Bible Verse, we've got another great show that you'll want to add to your playlist. Let us introduce you to So Much More: Creating Space for God, hosted by Jodie Niznik! So Much More helps you create space to be with God through his Word, prayer, and meaningful conversation. The first part of this podcast is a guided Scripture meditation using either Lectio Divina or Imaginative Prayer. As Jodie peacefully guides you through the passage, you will have space to be attentive to the Spirit and what he has for you in the living and active Word. After you’ve meditated on the passage of the week, then listen in to the companion episode to hear a thoughtful conversation with guests about the passage or a theme from the passage. CONTINUE LISTENING TO SO MUCH MORE:Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3DjDagr Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3HcTTmD LifeAudio: https://www.lifeaudio.com/so-much-more-creating-space-for-god-lectio-divina-and-scripture-meditation DISCOVER MORE EPISODES OF SO MUCH MORE:  Finding Peace Amidst Life’s Storms (Meditation on Luke 6:46-49): https://apple.co/3WGuSWM  3 Ways to Stay Standing in Life's Storms: https://apple.co/3JkoJfG  God’s Invitation to Rest (Meditation on Isaiah 30:15-16): https://apple.co/3JoeC9J   What Kind of Rest Do You Really Need?: https://apple.co/3XNSWbt    CONNECT WITH HOST JODIE NIZNIK: http://www.jodieniznik.com Your Daily Bible Verse will be back tomorrow with a brand new episode. 🙏 Thanks for listening.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. My Soul Finds Rest in God (Psalm 62:5-8) | So Much More
  2. Experiencing the Full Freedom of Grace (Psalm 32:6)
  3. How Do I Know if I’m Prideful? (Daniel 4:37)
  4. The Key to Lasting Inner Peace (Isaiah 26:3)
  5. When Our Words Carry Extra Weight (James 3:1)

What most tends to make you anxious? Where do you find it hard to trust? Your loved ones? Your career? Your health? Some of you may be nodding affirmative to each of those questions. I get it. I know that queazy stomach feeling that comes from watching someone I care about struggle, from stepping into the unknown, or waiting for news that could either allow me to catch my breath or cause my heart to race.

If you can relate, I hope you’ll find encouragement in my friend, Grace Fox’s guest post below.

Deepening Our Trust in God

by Grace Fox

In a recent conversation about trusting God with our concerns, a friend reflected on bygone days when her kids were young. She recalled sleepless nights, laundry piles that multiplied by the minute, and temper tantrums (not hers!) over simple things like broccoli touching macaroni and cheese on one’s lunch plate. “Those times were challenging,” she said, “but they were nothing compared to the challenges I face as the parent of adult children, especially when they make choices that hurt themselves or others. I can’t tell them what to do. I have to just pray and trust God to work in their lives.”

Another friend told me about her dad. Widowed and in his 90s, he’d recently moved into a seniors’ care facility and was finding the transition difficult. “I worry about him,” she said. “The facility is short-staffed. What if Dad’s needs can’t be met adequately? I begin every day by asking God to watch over him. When worry starts to creep in, I have to intentionally choose to trust God with my concerns.”

I just returned from moving my youngest daughter and her family to northern B.C. As a mom, I pray that they’ll adjust well and find friends who not only share common interests but who love the Lord and make His kingdom their first priority. Today I’m heading south to visit my other daughter. My prayers for her focus on persevering with hope through chronic pain. Oh, how I wish I could fix it for her, like in those bygone days when I could kiss my baby’s boo-boo away. But I can’t. I can, however, trust God with my concerns.

The Bible tells us over and over to trust God with our concerns.

Philippians 4:6-7 is one example: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Trusting God with our concerns is easier said than done, but it can be done.

Paul and Barnabas put this into practice. On one particular occasion, they’d been crisscrossing the country to preach the Gospel and encourage believers to continue in their faith despite suffering. They’d also helped churches set up their leadership. They could have hovered over the new leaders to ensure they understood their roles and did things right, but they did not. Here’s what they did: “Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)

Don’t you love that? Despite the potential for things to go sideways, Paul and Barnabas trusted the elders to God and headed to the next location to continue the work He’d called them to do.

My friend, what concerns are on your heart today?

Are you like me, feeling concerned for your adult kids? Maybe you’re concerned about your marriage, your church family, your financial state, or a major decision coming your way. Isn’t it reassuring to know that we don’t have to carry these alone? God invites us to give them to Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) He also commands us to combine prayer with fasting as a way of showing that we depend on Him more than on physical food. (Matthew 6:16-18) There are different types and lengths of fasts, and He’ll teach us what to do when we ask Him for direction in this regard.

No matter what worries weigh us down, let’s acknowledge our need for God’s help, invite His intervention, and expect Him to answer in His way and in His time.

The One who is all-wise and forever faithful knows our hearts and hears our cries. He holds us and those we love in His hands. Our souls crave peace, and trusting God with our concerns is the pathway to finding it.

Here’s a simple but powerful exercise to do today. Take Acts 14:23 and make it personal by filling in the blank: “With prayer and fasting, I will turn _____________ (identify your concerns) over to the care of the Lord, in whom I have put my trust.”

Feel free to post your completed statement here so others can pray for you, okay? Know you are loved.

Get to Know Grace!

Grace Fox is the author of 12 books, a member of the “First 5” writing team (Proverbs 31 Ministries) and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ annual devotional, Mornings With Jesus. She also co-hosts the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” A career missionary for nearly 30 years, Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren.

Her latest release, Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm, is available wherever Christian books are sold. https://www.hendricksonrose.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517

You can subscribe to Grace’s weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website – www.gracefox.com/blog

www.fb.com/gracefox.author

https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/

Check Out Her Latest Release!

Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm

The storms of life hurl us into uncertainty and leave us longing for rescue. In times like this, we need the hope God’s Word offers, and we need it in snippets our overloaded minds can absorb. Keeping Hope Alive delivers. Ninety brief meditations offer nuggets of encouragement, a sentence prayer, a point to ponder, and a thoughtful quote by someone who’s survived the storm. Its daily messages and beautifully designed full-color interior soothe the troubled soul and remind readers that God is faithful and sovereign in their circumstances.

Available wherever Christian books are sold.  

Before you go, make sure to check out the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode!

Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8) Faith Over Fear

It’s one thing to internalize a promise from God, it’s another to make that a public proclamation. When we’re open about our faith and the promises we’re holding onto – especially in a difficult or unknown season – we’re inviting others to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God, too. While it’s not always the easiest step to take, proclaiming our faith publicly has greater impact than we might imagine. Find Kimi at: https://kimimiller.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LivingReflectionsMinistry/ https://www.instagram.com/livingreflectionsministry/ Find Tami at: https://www.tamiwittrock.com/ Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Support GroupJoin the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): When in your life, have you made a public proclamation of faith? How did that impact you and/or those around you? Is there an area or season of your where God is asking you to make a public proclamation of faith? Is there someone in your life who might be encouraged by your proclamation to stand on God’s promise? How can you stay encouraged when all you have is God’s promise to hold onto? What have been some faith markers in your life? How did those reassure you to keep holding on?  What are some ways to express your gratitude for God’s faithfulness? How can praising God encourage you and others along the way?  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  2. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  3. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  4. Breaking Free from Dysfunction
  5. 4 Powerful Actions to Fight Anxiety

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!

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.

Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8) Faith Over Fear

It’s one thing to internalize a promise from God, it’s another to make that a public proclamation. When we’re open about our faith and the promises we’re holding onto – especially in a difficult or unknown season – we’re inviting others to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God, too. While it’s not always the easiest step to take, proclaiming our faith publicly has greater impact than we might imagine. Find Kimi at: https://kimimiller.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LivingReflectionsMinistry/ https://www.instagram.com/livingreflectionsministry/ Find Tami at: https://www.tamiwittrock.com/ Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Support GroupJoin the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): When in your life, have you made a public proclamation of faith? How did that impact you and/or those around you? Is there an area or season of your where God is asking you to make a public proclamation of faith? Is there someone in your life who might be encouraged by your proclamation to stand on God’s promise? How can you stay encouraged when all you have is God’s promise to hold onto? What have been some faith markers in your life? How did those reassure you to keep holding on?  What are some ways to express your gratitude for God’s faithfulness? How can praising God encourage you and others along the way?  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  2. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  3. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  4. Breaking Free from Dysfunction
  5. 4 Powerful Actions to Fight Anxiety

quote from post with a floral designed graphic

 

What happens when you lost a document? One you remember writing, reading to your husband, and setting aside to share here two weeks later, yet you can’t remember its title nor seem to find it no matter how many times and ways you search your documents folder?

You re-share a piece from … 2017, updated slightly to make sense when read five years later. Wow, five years. Is it a sign of aging when half a decade seemed to zip by? 

And now, back to our regular programming … or blogging. (And thank you in advance for your grace!)

***

When in the middle of a crisis, one word dominates my mind—help! I’d do anything, give up anything, if only God would come through. But oh how quickly pride and entitlement creep in, once the chaos has passed.

It was maybe ten years ago, we were living in a beautiful, spacious home in a gated community, attended a church we loved, and I spent my days doing what I loved—homeschooling our daughter.

In a flash, everything changed, leaving me scrambling, fearful, and crying out for aid.

Our daughter and I were sitting at the breakfast bar, completing her lessons, when I heard the familiar screech-rumble of the garage door opening. I glanced at the time, finding it strange that my husband would come home so early.

When he walked past me without a word a moment later, heading straight for our bedroom, I knew something was wrong.

I immediately followed.

The defeat I saw in his eyes tore at my heart, but what he said after weakened my knees.

That morning began a six-month bout of unemployment that left us scrambling and me crying out to God, “Help us, please! Fix this.”

Then one day, He did. By this point, we’d depleted the last of our savings, and, with all our belongings in storage, we’d moved to a 500 square-foot, furnished, rent-by-the-month apartment. My husband had found temporary contract work while continuing to seek something more permanent.

It’s interesting what happens, when life hits hard and everything is reduced to necessity. In that tiny apartment, with its cheap used furniture, paper-thin walls, and stained and torn linoleum, I learned to become content. To rejoice, actually, in what I had. By taking away our big, fancy house and all the other fluff I’d come to rely on, God granted me an incredible gift—the ability to cherish those things that mattered most—time with my husband and daughter.

So when His aid came and He opened a door for my husband at Union Pacific railroad in Kansas City, MO, I thought I’d arrived. I’d learned my lesson, had found contentment, and could move forward, receiving God’s blessings with open hands.

Open hands that, once they quit clinging to Christ, quickly grasped and strived, until my easily-swayed heart became consumed with a sense of entitlement. It started while house hunting. Needless to say, our budget had changed drastically, and the houses our realtor showed us looked much different than the large, newly built home we’d frantically sold in Louisiana. As we toured smaller, older, and less aesthetically appealing homes, a sense of entitlement emerged, initiating an ugly and growing discontentment.

It was as if I’d forgotten all God had done—how He’d held my family together, kept us from debt, and provided for us at just the right time.

I had fallen into the same pattern the Israelites had, after God miraculously freed them from slavery to Egypt, provided for them in the desert, and personally led them, by a pillar of fire by night and a sun-shielding cloud by day, to the Promised Land.

“They forgot what He had done—the great wonders He had shown them” (Psalm 78:11 NLT).

They forgot and became discontent, and their discontentment turned their hearts from God, from the One who saved them, the One who loved them, and who cared for them as a parent for their young.

There’s danger in forgetting. Or perhaps I should say, there’s incredible power in remembering all God’s done. It frees us from entitlement, keeps us humble, grateful, and I believe, surrendered with a heart that’s ready to receive whatever God has for us.

Let’s talk about this! Do you ever find yourself slipping into a sense of entitlement? Do you notice, when you do, that your discontentment and misery increases? What do you do to stay centered in gratitude and surrender? In what ways has God used life circumstances to purge the sense of entitlement from you? Share your stories, suggestions, and examples with us, because we can all learn from each other!

And make sure to check out the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast!

 

My Soul Finds Rest in God (Psalm 62:5-8) | So Much More Your Daily Bible Verse

If you enjoy listening to Your Daily Bible Verse, we've got another great show that you'll want to add to your playlist. Let us introduce you to So Much More: Creating Space for God, hosted by Jodie Niznik! So Much More helps you create space to be with God through his Word, prayer, and meaningful conversation. The first part of this podcast is a guided Scripture meditation using either Lectio Divina or Imaginative Prayer. As Jodie peacefully guides you through the passage, you will have space to be attentive to the Spirit and what he has for you in the living and active Word. After you’ve meditated on the passage of the week, then listen in to the companion episode to hear a thoughtful conversation with guests about the passage or a theme from the passage. CONTINUE LISTENING TO SO MUCH MORE:Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3DjDagr Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3HcTTmD LifeAudio: https://www.lifeaudio.com/so-much-more-creating-space-for-god-lectio-divina-and-scripture-meditation DISCOVER MORE EPISODES OF SO MUCH MORE:  Finding Peace Amidst Life’s Storms (Meditation on Luke 6:46-49): https://apple.co/3WGuSWM  3 Ways to Stay Standing in Life's Storms: https://apple.co/3JkoJfG  God’s Invitation to Rest (Meditation on Isaiah 30:15-16): https://apple.co/3JoeC9J   What Kind of Rest Do You Really Need?: https://apple.co/3XNSWbt    CONNECT WITH HOST JODIE NIZNIK: http://www.jodieniznik.com Your Daily Bible Verse will be back tomorrow with a brand new episode. 🙏 Thanks for listening.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. My Soul Finds Rest in God (Psalm 62:5-8) | So Much More
  2. Experiencing the Full Freedom of Grace (Psalm 32:6)
  3. How Do I Know if I’m Prideful? (Daniel 4:37)
  4. The Key to Lasting Inner Peace (Isaiah 26:3)
  5. When Our Words Carry Extra Weight (James 3:1)