Listening to God on image of a flower

God is always speaking to His children, always guiding us toward His very best, but sometimes His voice grows faint amid the noise and confusion all around us.

Early in my parenting days, I was probably the most insecure, and often confused, mother around. I felt bombarded by advice, warnings, and contradicting tips from so-called experts. As a result, I routinely felt overwhelmed. Initially, I tried to raise our daughter in my wisdom and strength, largely because I hadn’t learned to discern God’s voice. Therefore, I gave too much weight to the faulty and often shifting “insight” of others and falsely believed I could make sense of it all.

This characterized every area of my life, actually, and in fact, had for some time. But my so-called intellect rarely brought the results I wanted, nor did I experience the peace and confidence I craved.

Granted, I did pray. Oh, how I prayed. Only I wasn’t always alert to God’s answers—in part because I rarely sat still long enough to hear Him. And when I did, though my heart initially pricked with the confidence and assurance that can only come from God, shortly after “common sense” or popular opinion overshadowed His perfect wisdom.

I often resembled a woman caught on an inflatable in the middle of the tumultuous ocean. James, Jesus’s brother, describes this scenario in James 1:5-8, and while he was speaking specifically on how we as believers ought to handle life’s difficulties, the principles he reveals apply to all of life.

James begins by encouraging us to seek God’s guidance, saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV)

This brings me such comfort because it tells me, in effect, that God doesn’t expect me to know it all. He doesn’t expect me to have life all figured out, or even to know His will perfectly. Rather, He expects me to seek Him, and when I do, no matter the question, no matter the struggle, He responds with grace.

And yet, responsibility comes with this access and invitation, for he goes on to say in verse 6, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,” hold tight to what God tells you, “because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When we doubt the very truths God Himself deposits into our souls, our thoughts become divided and disordered and we become unstable, pushed and pulled in whatever direction feels strongest or screams loudest. What an unsettling, if not terrifying, place to be!

Have you ever tried to swim or paddle in choppy water? I have, and it’s exhausting and defeating. For every stroke forward, the waves pull you two strokes back, then shove you to the right, then the left. Without a bright buoy to mark one’s course, it’s easy to get turned around completely and find yourself, hours of intense physical labor later, a long way from where you need to be.

A few years ago, our family vacationed to Hawaii. One afternoon, my daughter and I went paddle boarding in the ocean—over jagged Prayer for a listening ear on pink backgroundbalsamic rock and in waters where sharks truly do lurk. Close to the shore, I felt no danger, and so I relaxed and allowed the current to gently carry me farther out to sea. At some point, I became more alert to my surroundings and realized how far I’d drifted. The people on the beach looked so small and the water surrounding me so vast and deep!

I felt vulnerable, to say the least, and so I began hurriedly paddling back, but no matter how fast and hard I paddled against the waves, I didn’t seem to get anywhere. I only grew more tired, and certainly more frightened.

Praise God, I did indeed make it back, but that experience painted a vivid reminder of what life feels like when we’re not anchored to Christ and His truth. We’re unstable and unsettled, pinged from one philosophy or decision to the next.

Praise God there’s always grace, but life’s hard enough, y’all, without wasting time and energy heading away from our finish line and all the great things God has in store for us. We can trust Him to lead us toward His very best at every moment. But we must trust—trust that He will indeed guide us in His way and His perfect timing. And trust that His ways truly all best.

That’s not to say we’ll never experience doubt, but when we do, may we bring our questions and uncertainties to the One with all the answers. And when He speaks, we must choose to believe what He says, or soon we’ll discover we’re on treading aimlessly against life’s tumultuous waves.

What is God saying to you lately? How can you hold tight to the truths He’s already given you? How can you move forward in faith?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

Catch my Faith Over Fear podcast HERE.

Snatch my next release, Building a Family, HERE.

And find inspirational messages from my ministry team members HERE.

Additional resources:

The Divine Dance by Jennifer Slattery

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Discerning the Voice of God Bible reading plan by Priscilla Shirer

Also, don’t forget about our online book discussion this evening at 7pm CDT! We’re working through Breaking Free from Fear by MariaBook discussion invite Furlough. Contact me HERE for more information on how you can join us.

I also invite you to join Wholly Loved‘s private online Facebook community, a safe and encouraging place to share your struggles, fears, celebrations, and prayer requests. Find us HERE. And make sure to participate in our #freedomchallenge! All participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win all THIS.

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

quote from Keller with woman gazing toward sunset

Our trust in God is often most clearly seen in our checkbook. Our finances are also often the hardest areas to surrender, because we’re apt tie our sense of security to our paycheck more than we do to our Lord. At least, that’s my tendency. Unless I regularly guard against this, I can easily make our savings account my god, but like so many other idols I’ve clung to at various periods in my life, those crisp little green bills make lofty but empty promises.

As I read my guest’s post last night, I thought back twenty-some years ago to all the financial struggles my husband and I used to have, all the tension and stress and conflict that seemed to plague our home, back when we bowed to the almighty dollar.

No more leftovers: A gift for my God

By Jessica Brodie

I used to be that girl who’d slip a dollar, maybe a five if I were feeling flush, into the collection plate at church and feel just fine.

“God doesn’t need my money. He’s God. He’s ‘above’ such things,” I’d tell myself. Besides, I was a broke college student, or later, just scraping by in the workforce. Tithing was an Old Testament concept, or something only wealthy people did… or so I thought.

Much later, I came to understand tithing was for me—a way to honor God, to acknowledge Him tangibly as Lord over my life, to know that everything in my life (including my bank balance!) belongs to Him and I am merely His manager, His overseer. Twice a month, I forced myself to allocate ten percent of my paycheck to God’s tithe. Soon it became a habit, and eventually a joy. Some months, when finances were tight, I’d hold off on my tithe until I’d paid all my other bills, or I’d double up and pay it all the next pay period. But it always got paid.

I was feeling proud of myself… until this morning, when I was reading the Bible.

In the Book of Nehemiah, the Israelites had recently returned from exile to Jerusalem and had just learned through the Instruction Scrolls all the ways they’d disobeyed God’s Laws. Feeling horribly guilty about their behavior, they made a covenant with God to follow His commands, include pledging not to let their children intermarry with other faiths and to keep the “sabbath year,” which meant forgiving all debts and letting the land rest from crops every seventh year.

They also pledged to give toward the upkeep of God’s house—not just with what was left over, but with their “firstfruits,” the best and initial results of whatever it was they could offer:

  • “…the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree…” (Nehemiah 10:35 NIV);
  • “… the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks…” (36); and
  • “… the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil…” (37a).

The point hit hard within me: These Israelites pledged to bring the first, the best—not the leftover.

And that was what I needed to do, too.

Ouch.

See, the Israelites had gotten off track in obedience. Some of this wasn’t necessarily their “fault,” for their parents hadn’t taught them these things, and no one in their life remembered God’s rules because His commandments were all hidden away.

They’d forgotten or never understood what God had commanded His people way back in the wilderness: “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 23:19a NIV) and “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest” (Leviticus 23:10 NIV).

But when they learned all those years later what God had asked of them, they wanted to do right. They wanted to honor God with their very best.

What I was doing—making sure God “got paid” His tithe—was behaving as though my tithe was a bill and not a sacrificial offering. And that was not the point. My tithe is not a bill. It’s a gift and an honor.

Just like the Israelites, I was off-track in my own obedience. And now that I understood this, I needed to make things right.

This morning, as I write this, happens to be payday. Yesterday, I’d planned to postpone my tithe until Sunday, after my fridge was restocked and my other bills paid. But now I know what I need to do.

Before anything else, I need to give over my firstfruits to God. And for me, that means heading to my church’s website and paying my tithe online, so it can go right away to all the ministries and mission work God is doing through His people and His church.

It’s a simple distinction in my life, but it’s important. It says “God comes first,” both literally and figuratively.

After that, I can hit the grocery store. For I know He will provide. He always does.

It’s an honor to kneel before my Lord, whether at His altar or online, and offer Him what I can.

Get to Know Jessica!

Jessica Brodie's headshotJessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com. Connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

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If this  post hit your insecurities, now with everything related to the C!9 virus especially, you might find my latest article on Crosswalk discussing wise financial choices we can make today to help us weather whatever comes well. Read it HERE.

And make sure to listen to my latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode on living deeper anchored in grace––especially when we feel we’ve messed up. Find it HERE.

Plus, I’d love to connect with you tonight on Zoom or Facebook for a Book discussion invitegreat discussion on Maria Furlough’s Breaking the Fear Cycle. As an added bonus, she’ll be join us via Zoom for our last week’s discussion! Find the zoom meeting join link HERE.

 

 

hiding in God

What happens when life pummels us from every side, relentlessly? When the dangers seem much larger than we can bear? We hide ourselves deep within Our Father’s embrace. We hide ourselves in the shelter of His wings.

A couple Sundays ago, my daughter was in a car wreck. She called us in tears, and the minutes seemed to tick by so slowly as my husband, her fiancé, and I drove to the crash site. Though my head told me she was fine—she’d been able to call us, after all—my heart worried. I needed to see her for myself; I needed to hold her close, if only to comfort her.

When we got there, our fear immediately turned to praise. Though she’d totaled her car, she was fine. Shaken, but fine. God had sheltered her in His wings—as she had done for her dog, who was riding with her.

Apparently, her reaction was instinctual and instant. Her brain hadn’t even fully registered what was going on, but as another car smashed into her front driver’s side, she folded her body over her dog to ensure its safety. She covered sweet Misha with herself, cushioning her in the most protective position possible.

Honestly, when I first learned this, I became frustrated. I adore her little dog, but my daughter had placed herself in danger by bending forward. But then God reminded me that she wasn’t completely exposed nor was she helpless. She also had been tucked within the protective embrace of the One bigger and stronger than her and the force of metal against metal.

That same morning, this is what I’d read, written by Israel’s second king, a man named David:

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I will look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes” (Psalm 57:1, NLT).

Pause and consider the imagery presented by this verse. Picture the wingspan of an adult eagle, stretching the length of a man. Perched high in a tree and hid deep within its mother’s wings, that eaglet can rest in peace, knowing it is safe and well cared for.

Scripture demonstrates this is how God cares for us.

Perhaps you’re praying as David did so long ago, “Hide me in Your wings, Lord. Keep me safe until the danger passes.”

To which He responds, “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13, Verse imageNIV).

So what does that look like, hiding ourselves in our Savior?

First, we trust. We recognize that this is indeed our current position. We are held by God. He is our Protector and strong tower.

Second, we come away whenever we need and as often as we need to connect with Him. When we spend time with Him, He expels all that threatens to defeat us, to make us cower, with His love and truth.

Let’s talk about this! In what ways do you intentionally hide yourself in Christ when you’re anxious or afraid?

You might also enjoy:

Five Ways Fear Lies to Us

And check out Jennifer’s latest podcast episode, Overcoming Fear of Failure, HERE.

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram and find her ministry, Wholly Loved, HERE.

Book discussion inviteMake sure to join her on Thursday evenings, starting April 23rd, for a faith-building book discussion aimed at helping us conquer our anxieties. Contact her HERE for more info! And as an added bonus, you’ll get to “meet” the author! Maria Furlough, author of Breaking the Fear Cycle, will be joining Jennifer via Zoom, which she’ll live stream to Wholly Loved Ministries private Facebook group (which you’re invited to join) on May 14th for the last week of the book discussion. How fun is that?!

AND … indie singer/songwriter will be live streaming to Wholly Loved’s private group as well, this Friday! Find out more HERE.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Woman walking down dirt road

Thirteen years ago, as we packed our minivan from top to bottom to move literally across the country, I felt as if I was losing myself. I thought my dreams, which God had slowly birthed within me as I served in a close-knit Southern California church, would languish then die.

Ten years later, when one transition after another crippled an organization I wrote for, my journey once again felt unsteady. Fearful to lose something that brought such fulfillment, I began striving and stressing and fighting to control every area of my career. As a result, every opportunity left me with more confusion than clarity, more exhaustion than hope or joy.

It felt as if I was standing at a main trail head with a thousand paths extending before me trying to discern which one would lead to my desired destination. And in my inability to make a decision, to rest in my Father’s loving and faithful arms, I chose them all, or at least, as many as I could, inevitably forfeiting my joy, peace, and effectiveness.

Ironically, my fear of missing out—of that perfect opportunity or experience or role—caused me to miss out on those things that truly mattered. Eventually, everything became stressful and burdensome, like I was constantly kicking against high tide.

Defeated and discouraged, I told God I was tired of the work, of the stress, and the pressure. I told Him I wanted to quit.

He agreed, though He didn’t want me to quit writing and serving. He wanted me to quit striving. He wanted me to rest in Him. To trust that He had a plan and was big enough and strong enough and loving enough to bring that plan to pass.

He’s strong enough to perfect all that concerns me, all that concerns my loved ones, and all that concerns the women I serve.

Like Psalm 139:16 promises, “all the days ordained for me were written in [His} book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16 with sunrise background(NIV).

If I believe this to be true, for me and those I love, I have no reason to fear or to strive. I simply need to listen, surrender, and obey.

Whenever I begin to feel exhausted and overwhelmed, whenever I’m tempted to chase after that next shiny or exciting thing, I have to ask myself why. Because I’ve self-analyzed enough to know there’s almost always something deeper going on—some hole I’m hoping to fill, wound I’m trying to numb, or fear I’m trying to avoid.

True peace comes when I humbly pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Search me: Penetrate to my depths, to those deepest, most hidden parts of me. Expose my self-deception and faulty perception and flood every shadowed crevice within my heart with Your truth-bearing, lie-expelling light.

Know my anxious thoughts: Reveal to me what I’m really thinking and those nagging lies that fuel distrust. Lies such as: God doesn’t care, doesn’t hear, or lacks the desire and power to lead me and those I love.

Lead me in the way everlasting: Purge everything false, everything hurtful or idolatrous, so that Your faith-bolstering truth may reign. Lead me in Your way, for only You and the things of You are eternal, and only You know how to feed and fill my heart.

Let’s talk about this. How often does fear of missing out—the fear that you or someone you love will miss out on something—drive your behavior?

For example, fear that:

  • turning down that extra project will cost you that promotion
  • not signing your child up for that traveling sports team will cost them popularity and social connections
  • declining that invitation will place you on the outskirts of your peer group
  • setting boundaries in that relationship will prevent you from getting married or having a family
  • should you prioritize financial wisdom over that vacation, the opportunity may never come again

But perhaps an even better question: Are you living like a called, empowered, and loved child of the sovereign God or like an orphan?

What is one truth you can meditate on this week to live more consistently as God’s chosen and deeply loved child and move deeper into freedom?

Additional resources:

Four Ways to Fight Fear of Missing Out by Jon Bloom

Have No Fear of Missing Out by

Countering Fear of Missing Out by Jennifer Slattery

Visit Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear page HERE for additional resources.

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing out, and if so how? How does remembering Christ is control and has a plan for you help you move from fear to faith.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, Logo image for Faith Over Fearlisten to the first two episodes of her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE and find her free Bible reading plan HERE.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Quote pulled from post with a night sky background

Where does man’s choice, most specifically, man’s sin, and God’s sovereignty, intersect? I suspect we’ve all wrestled with that question at some point. We understand that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, faithful, and true. We believe the One who formed the stars from nothing and set our world into motion can easily orchestrate the details of our lives.

But what about human choice? What about when our boss makes a foolish decision and the company goes bankrupt, or one person’s sin drastically impacts the life of another? We all watch the news, and if we’re honest, we wonder, Lord, where were You when that parent began abusing that child, or that shooter purchased that gun, or that drunk driver got behind the wheel of his car?

Though admittedly, the answers to such questions are much more complicated than my temporal, short-sighted mind quote pulled from text with sunset backgroundcould ever understand, I’m comforted with this: Today isn’t the end, and one day God will indeed turn all things to good.

Scripture reveals this again and again. Consider Sarai, later called Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Her story is told in Genesis chapters 12-23. God called her and her husband out of a pagan city-state and led them to what scholars refer to as the Promised Land. They followed,  obediently it seemed, until Abraham became scared—twice—and betrayed his wife—twice. She soon found herself in a helpless, terrifying situation.

But God came through. He saw her, He rescued her, and He ultimately penned a beautiful story through her.

Then there was the young Hebrew named Joseph, born three generations later. God called him out from among his brothers for an amazing God-ordained purpose—the saving of many lives. Only shortly after that call, the immature teen bragged about a series of dreams God gave him. His siblings became enraged, beat him, and sold him into slavery. And that wasn’t the worst he experienced. Later, while serving faithfully in a foreign land, his master’s wife hit on him, numerous times. Driven by integrity, he rebuffed her. She became incensed, accused him of assault, and had him thrown into prison.

But again, God came through. Not immediately, not even quickly, but in His perfect timing. At just the right time, actually. He orchestrated Joseph’s release and placed him in a position of leadership, just as Joseph’s dreams had predicted, decade’s prior.

I could go on, and perhaps you could too. Maybe like me, you could even share examples from your life—of times when others attempted to harm you but God ultimately turned the situation to good, like Romans 8:28 promised. That verse states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV)

Notice Scripture didn’t say, “God will only allow that which is good.” Rather, it says, “He will turn to good …”

In other words, yes, God may very well let us experience some of our worst fears. But when we do, we can trust that those terrifying moments won’t last forever and that God will one day use them for good.

Quote pulled from post with sunrise backgroundThat is where our confidence rests—not in the circumstances of today but rather the promises of tomorrow when God will make all things right. This means we can trust, though life might hurt now, heaven is coming, and I believe when we’re standing on the other side of eternity, experiencing life as God intended it, we’ll deem every momentary struggle endured today not only worth it but insignificant in comparison to the paradise God held secure for us.

Let’s talk about this! Where do you place your confidence? Do you trust that God indeed holds your tomorrow? And if so, how does that trust impact your today? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Also, I realized a bit ago, I never gave a “deadline” for the book bundle giveaway! I will close the contest to new entries pictures of bookson Nov. 16th. Y’all can “vote” on your favorite entry between from Nov. 21st through Nov. 30th. I’ll announce the winner the first week of December–that way whomever wins can use the books as Christmas gifts, should they choose.

For more information or to enter, go HERE.

And if you haven’t done so, make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s latest Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instragram. Check out her blog on Crosswalk HERE.

Sunrise amid clouds with text pulled from post

Everyone has moments of doubts. Some of us have years and even decades of wrestling with deep truths and what we’ve learned about God. But as I often say, doubts don’t so much cause the cracks in our faith as they reveal them. They show us false beliefs, misconceptions, and lightly held truths. In other words, our doubts, when presented honestly to God, when we seek Him and His answers, can pave the way to certainty. Read more from my guest today, Marla Bautista, to see what I mean.

When Hard Times Cause You to Doubt Your Faith

By Marla Bautista

I’ve doubted God, a lot. When my life was at its lowest, I had nothing. I was homeless, broke, and without support from family or friends. I didn’t understand why God allowed me to suffer and wouldn’t alleviate my pain. I was sure He’d left me alone in the world. I spent many nights on the streets, searching for who I was supposed to be, for hope, and ultimately, for peace. I stopped going to church and reading my Bible because I felt abandoned.

Have you ever felt this way?

Yet God promises to remain with us, to help us, and to strengthen us. Isaiah 41:10 reads,: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (ESV).

My life hasn’t been easy. Both my parents passed away before I turned ten years old. I was left with an abusive stepfather. I experienced sexual, emotional, and mental abuse throughout my childhood. I ran away from home many times. Taking my younger brother and sister, I sought refuge from someone, somewhere, to no avail. At the age of 18, I became homeless. I was confused, alone, and scared. I constantly asked myself what I did to deserve the life I received. When I went to church, I was prayed over and ministered to, but I left; homeless, still hungry, and still hurting.

While on the streets, I saw and did things that were far from God’s desire. I was lost. I attempted to restore myself. I struggled. Some days, I didn’t have a place to sleep, others, I slept in a jail cell. Many nights I cried out to God, begging for forgiveness, safety from harm, and most of all, mercy. But I lacked faith that God truly cared for me or wanted to restore me.

Over time, I fell into despair. I no longer believed God heard my prayers. Yet, along my journey, there were signs that He did. I was walking down a street one day, hungry, and in tears. I prayed, “God please, I’m hungry. If You can hear me please help me.” As I walked hopelessly for miles, I felt defeated. Later that day, something told me to reach into my pocket. I did and pulled out two dollars. Initially, I felt scared. I’d had those Jeans on for three days. If there was any money in the pockets, I would have known. Jesus, thank You, I said as tears rolled down my cheeks.

In that moment, God began to restore some of my trust in Him.

Having doubt doesn’t mean you don’t believe in God. It means you’re uncertain about your faith. When things occur that we don’t understand, we question them. Our faith is no exception. If you’re in a period of spiritual wrestling, take it as an invitation to get to know God through Scripture.

Throughout the Bible, it speaks about the restoration of faith through prayer, fasting, and obedience. God invites us to seek Him, then to hold tight to His response when He gives it. James 1:6 reads:

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by Wind-tossed waves and text from James 1:6the wind” (NIV).

I saw this truth played out in my life.

God revealed that He was always with me. He kept a hedge of protection over my life, even in the worst of times. I’m here today only because of His love. He continues to restore me and has equipped me to use my testimony to prove his undying love, and unfathomable mercy toward His children. He will do the same for you.

Are you experiencing a season of doubt? If so, I challenge you to submerge yourself in prayer for seven days. Ask God to reveal Himself and His purpose for you. Study Scripture, take your doubts to God in prayer, and most importantly, obey what He reveals when you read the Bible.

Let’s talk about this! Can you share a time when God met you in the middle of your doubts? What are some ways God has shown Himself real to you? Or maybe you’re struggling right now. What do you most need to hear from God?

Get to know Marla!

Marla Bautista a Military Spouse and mother of three children. She is also the published author of My Thoughts Abandoned, released in 2017. As a freelance writer and blogger, she has written for many publications. Her passion is giving back to people in need. Marla is the Founder of The Bautista Project, a custom décor and apparel company, which uses its profits to provide for homeless communities. The Bautista Project has provided food and basic living essentials to hundreds of people in need.

Visit her online at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

If you’re going through a difficult time, especially if you’re in a period of waiting, you may find this video, taken from the Becoming His Princess Study, helpful.

I also invite you to check out Wholly Loved’s Bible app, 30-Days to Emotional Health, available on YouVersion. Find it HERE. And make sure to join our online community by clicking the button below. Oh, and almost forgot: Only five days to release day! Keep an eye out for my next novel, Hometown Healing, releasing in Walmarts and B&Ns near you on the 20th! Woot!

 

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verse image Isaiah

We can cower to fear or stand firm on God’s truth.

I met today’s guest about a month ago at a writing conference, and we connected relatively quickly. Working on final edits for Dancing in the Rain, a novel with a blind main character attempting to navigate her way to independence (and being a woman, as grown as I am, who’s afraid of the dark, uncertainty, and change), I had recently begun to see my world differently, as the sight-impaired might. And I marveled at the strength one like Loni and Jena Fellers must have to not only survive in this busy, chaotic, rapid-paced world, but thrive and fully live for Jesus, no matter the challenges.

So, I asked Jena, a woman who’s done just that, if she’d share her thoughts on fear. I know you’ll be as encouraged as I was.

But first, I need to share a new law or requirement bloggers have encountered–one I’m still attempting to figure out. I imagine this is to counter spamming and intended to protect all of you. You can read more HERE, but if I understand correctly, I need to send all my subscribers a message re-inviting them to subscribe and letting them know precisely how their information will be used. (In other words, that by subscribing to my blog, you will receive blog posts–and your info will not be used for anything else.) My brain is still trying to process it all, but apparently, I must be in full compliance within 3 days. Prayers appreciated!

Now for today’s inspirational message:

How Truth Expels Fear

by Jena Fellers

“Mommy, there’s a monster in my closet!”

Fear seizes us at a young age. It first invaded mankind in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command  by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Their eyes were opened to good and, evil. . .raising a new awareness. Afraid of God, they hid. (Genesis 3)

Ever since, the devil has put many fears in man’s mind:

* loneliness and abandonment
* spiders, snakes, and mice
* darkness
* accidents,  and natural disasters
* failure, or success
* death, or losses
* inadequacies

Fears will come, but God gave us a tool to defeat it–His Word. With Scripture, fear can flee as fast as lightening bolts strike.

God’s Word worked for me back in college. I suffered from night blindness and tunnel vision, courtesy of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Knowing His protective power from reading the Bible comforted me. I could stroll alone after night classes without fearing muggers, sexual predators, or stray animals.

The funny thing is, nothing scared me, but it’s close relative, worry, consumed me. I felt anxious about:
* passing tests
* hiring assistants
* money
* accessibility  to courses
* housing

I learned worry is the opposite of faith and didn’t want to disappoint my Heavenly Father by not trusting Him. Proverbs 3 :5 tells us to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.Image of man reading his Bible

Phil. 4:6 boldly states “Do not be anxious in anything…” In other words, we shouldn’t worry or be afraid. Those emotions steal God’s peace.

Years later, after losing all sight, I put this concept of trusting deeply in God and His Word into practice. On a Sunday evening, a storm blew in from nowhere.

The sunlight peered through our country home  windows as the television announced a severe thunderstorm warning. My pastor husband chose to hold evening services since it should miss us.

Hail soon pounded our van. On the ride (over the phone), I attempted to calm family members who were afraid it was a tornado; not a thunderstorm. I was oblivious a rope-like tornado had started playing chicken with our van.

Realization dawned as Steve whipped in our church parking lot, told our daughter to run inside, grabbed me, and promptly laid me down next to the external wall. We prayed as his body covered mine, and the tornado struck the opposite side, spraying debris all around us.

I was amazed at the overwhelming peace I felt, especially learning the reason we stayed outside was because the wind had hurled a board directly at my head.

When praying, I focused on asking God for help, and peace. I concentrated on placing my complete verse image for 2 Tim 1:7trust in Him, regardless of the outcome. Trust is faith. It also helped knowing fear doesn’t come from God, but from satan. “For God gave us a  spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).

We don’t have to live enslaved to fearful thinking. According to Romans 12:2, we can renew our mind, and Phil. 4:8 tells us how.

Next time fear’s symptoms arise (nausea, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, anger, or light-headedness), choose to stand on the truth of God’s Word. If you’re stubborn like me, then ask yourself whose report will you believe? You’re either believing a lie or God’s truth. Will you believe the lie trapped in your mind, or God’s Word?

We have the power to take every fearful thought captive, lock it up, and throw away the key. The choice is ours.

Let’s talk about this! What fears haunt you, and how do you fight it? What other verses are helpful

Get to Know Jena!

Jena Fellers walks by faith; not by sight. . . physically, and spiritually. Three adult children and four Author photo of Jena Fellersgrandchildren fill her with joy. Serving alongside her husband, they have pastored Trinity Worship
Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas for twenty years. Having little to no vision hasn’t stopped her. They founded Word in Action Ministries in 2009. It rebuilds lives through feeding and more.. This year marks their millionth meal served – all without knowing where money, or  help, would come. God truly provides.

Jena plays her flute on the praise and worship team, and teaches Children’s  Church and Sunday school. Thanks to an affordable screen reader, Jena now pursues writing. She loves to  excite, educate, and encourage others to follow Christ a little closer through speaking and blogging. Her first book, “Faith Footprints” is underway.

Visit her website HERE, follow her on Facebook HERE, and check out her ministry (cofounded) HERE.

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For those who are local, make sure to join us for Wholly Loved’s next Bold and Brave Conference on June 23rd in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can find out more and register HERE.

Before you go, if you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I encourage you to do so.

Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox, and a thank you gift–a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

I also encourage you to sign up for Wholly Loved’s free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month.You can do that HERE 

Speaking of freedom, I also invite you to read my latest Crosswalk article on 10 prayers that can help transform your finances. You can read it HERE.

I also invite you to visit Wholly Loved’s website to read about those fears that creep up on us and how we can fight them. You can do that HERE.

Image by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

I’m not a fan of long car rides filled with squished and soggy sandwiches that fell to the bottom of our cooler. I never enjoyed listening to our daughter ask, a thousand times: “Are we there yet?” And I don’t like traffic or long stretches of highway with no rest areas in sight.

And yet, our family has intentionally engaged in numerous road trips. The most memorable, and miserable, was when our daughter was twelve. The day before we left, I took her to the orthodontist to receive braces and a contraption called a mara designed to help her lower jaw, which wasn’t growing, catch up with her upper jaw.

The orthodontist warned us she’d be uncomfortable for a day or two, but nothing she couldn’t handle with a steady dose of Motrin. And perhaps that would’ve been true, had she not made a face-plant into the asphalt during recess that very afternoon.

I cleaned her up, gave her some Motrin and a smoothie, and sent her to bed.

The next morning, hours before the sun rose, I loaded our van with snacks, drinks, suitcases, and water toys—everything we’d need for a wonderful Florida vacation. Then, ready to embark on a long-anticipated trip, I dashed inside and upstairs to wake our daughter. (My husband was meeting us there by plane.)

Leaning over her bed, I gentle nudged her. “Sweetie, it’s time,” I said in that sing-songy voice every parent gets when waking their child for their first ever Disney World vacation.

She moaned and rolled over.

And I blinked and stepped back.

Her face! It was swollen, her lips, also swollen, were horribly scabbed, and I hated to think what the inside of her cheeks might look like.

It was obvious she was in pain, and we had a 1,237-mile drive ahead of us—with nothing to distract her from her throbbing face. Stuck in a vehicle for twenty-four hours, not including stops, would be difficult for any fifth grader. But one with a swollen, sore, and bloodied mouth?

And yet, neither of us considered, for an instant, not going.

Why? Because we knew the fun that awaited her would make all her discomfort worth it. Would perhaps even make her forget her pain entirely.

I believe this was the same understanding Paul, the author of Philippians, had, as he sat in a prison cell, waiting to learn, post-trial, whether he’d be allowed to live or die. He knew the glorious future that lay ahead, not just for himself, but for all who believed in Christ. This is why he could say, without hypocrisy, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1, ESV).

A young girl’s trip to Disneyland, sore mouth or not, might seem an insufficient comparison to the persecution Paul suffered and his hope of heaven. And yet, to a child, Disneyland is about as big as it gets, and the pain our daughter endured was significant enough.

But not so significant that it hindered her joy and anticipation of what was to come.

Life is full of frustrations, disappointments, and difficulties. Sometimes our pain is transient, like my daughter’s was. But for others, like those dealing with chronic illness or depression, it can feel like the darkness will never end.

And yet, Disneyland is coming. That is where our hope lies, when we stand before our Savior, enveloped in His love—in heaven, when He’s made all things right and all pain nonexistent.

On our darkest nights, when the road ahead feels steep and long, may we intentionally turn our eyes off of the struggle and instead onto what we know lies ahead.

Before you go, if you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I encourage you to do so.

Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox along with a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

I also encourage you to sign up for Wholly Loved’s free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month.You can do that HERE 

 

Two stark contrasts placed back to back. One an example of complete, unhindered trust and the other of self-reliance.

Parents, do you remember what it was like when your kids were young? When they followed you around everywhere and valued whatever you said? And when life became frightening, they ran to you for comfort and affection.

Little ones don’t worry about where they’ll go tomorrow or whether they’ll have enough to eat or drink.  They simply proceed with their day, laughing, playing, perhaps throwing a fit on occasion, but for the most part, enjoying life.

They come with empty but open hands. And 2,000+ years ago, when they were brought to Jesus, He said, in essence, “Take notice. Watch these little ones and learn. This is the kind of faith that pleases Me.”

And then “He took the children in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 13:15-16), and then He sent them away with peace and joy.

They came empty handed, humble, expectant, and left blessed.

Full.

Some time later, a rich young man came to Jesus with pockets full but heart depleted. Upon seeing the Christ, something within him sparked, and he soon broke out into a run. Kneeling before the Savior, he asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

What was the cost? Donate ten denarii to the poor? He’d do it! Say a certain number of prayers each day? No problem. Serve in the temple or in Man prayinghis community? Whatever it was, whatever Jesus asked, he was ready!

Until Jesus required the one thing the man wasn’t willing to give—his money. Upon first glance, it appears Jesus was calling him out for his wealth, calling him to a life of financial martyrdom. But that’s not the case. This went much deeper. Jesus was touching him at his core, asking him to surrender what he’d come to rely on most—himself.

To come humble, teachable, trusting, and with empty but open hands. Trading that which he held so tightly for something of much greater value—freedom.

The man decided that price was too high, and so, he walked away with full hands and an empty heart.

I don’t have great wealth, but I have plenty of self-reliance. So often, like the rich young man, I come to Jesus, longing to experience deeper freedom, while holding tight to the very things, like my agenda or well-thought out plans, that keep me from it. But if I want the joy and peace of a child, I need to learn to come to Jesus as those little ones from so long ago did—with empty but open hands, relinquishing those things I’ve come to rely on. To gain something much greater–intimacy with Christ.

Trusting God to lead me, to provide for me.

To fill me.

For those of you who like to follow my writing online, pop over to my blog on Crosswalk to read my post on living as Ambassadors of the God Who Sees.

And make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great content, sent directly to your inbox. You can sign up HERE.