Faith

Calling Out For Our Savior

Anchored and Secure Cover Image(Taken from Anchored And Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace)

 

Calling Out For My Savior

By Jessica Brodie

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” Matthew 14:30-31a

Between kid demands and colossal work deadlines, I had a major case of stress overload, and my schedule wouldn’t ease soon. By Wednesday, I had a killer headache, and by Friday, I was catching ten-minute naps in my minivan during car line to stay sane.

“Mommy’s just a little edgy,” I’d apologize after snapping at the kids instead of counting to ten.

When I woke up with my jaw clenched tight from grinding my teeth all night, full-on dreading the day ahead instead of steeped in gratitude, I knew something had to change. My soul cried out: Help. God, please—just help.

Sometimes the last thing I think to do is turn to the Lord. In my pride, I think I should be able to handle the demands of life.

But I’m not my savior—Jesus is. In looking up, in reaching out, I find relief.

In the passage today’s verse comes from, Peter saw Jesus walking on water and wanted to join Him, and so, Jesus invited him to come. Peter began to do the impossible. But then he saw the strong wind and became frightened. He faltered and began to fall.

The same happens with us. We start to walk in faith, and at first everything seems fine. Then something happens—calamity befalls, or we lose our nerve—and we start to sink.

If I could only remember the example we get in the Gospel of Matthew, I know I’d save myself a ton of time, suffering, and aggravation. For right there in Peter’s reaction and Jesus’s response, we see what we’re supposed to do when we begin to sink: Not try to fix things ourselves, but call out to Jesus.

In Him find the relief we so desperately crave.

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Cover image for studyWe also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Bible study, Becoming His Princess, based on Genesis 12-23. (Find it HERE.)

Do you ever feel insignificant or unseen? As if what you do or even who you are isn’t quite good enough? Does your confidence level vary based on who you’re around and how their bank account or how accomplishment list compares to yours? If so, this study, based on the life of Sarah from the Old Testament Scriptures, is for you.

For seven weeks, we’ll follow her uncertain and at times terrifying journey from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur to the land promised to her husband, and ultimately, the place of rest God beckons each of us toward. He met her in the middle of her pain, her shame, and all her striving, and rewrote her story—through grace. A grace bigger than her greatest failures and that proved sufficient for all her insufficiencies. Step by step, God taught this once-scorned woman to live as His beloved, His princess.

As we follow her journey recorded in the pages of Scripture, He’ll help us do the same. We’ll learn to center our identity in Christ, recognize His power and presence in our most challenging circumstances, find rest from our striving, and live daily in His grace.

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freedom, God's Will, Intentional growth, obedience, Resting in Christ

Learning to Live in the Now

Image of candles

Learning to depend on God’s plan, not my own, is a constant struggle, and these last few months with the pandemic have made that painfully obvious.

I’ve been both completely aggravated and wildly liberated this spring and summer by the inability to plan—well, pretty much anything. And it’s teaching me a lot about what it means to be dependent on God and live in the moment.

By nature, I’m a planner, which is where the frustrating part comes in. I keep multiple calendars, including six different categories of calendars on my iPhone, a hard copy calendar on my desk and another on my fridge. This doesn’t include the daily to-do list by my side. This all probably sounds completely obnoxious to some of you, I’m sure, but I’m a busy woman and a working mom. For me, it’s how I do life.

Yet as a Christian I’m well aware my craving for a plan is all too often an exercise in futility. We humans mistakenly believe we are “in control” and that planning can put the chaos of life into a tidy little box. That is an illusion, for only God is in control. I know this intellectually. Still, my mind often all-too-conveniently forgets this, especially in times of stress when I crave a plan, order, structure, and routine.

It’s as if the plan, not God, reigns supreme. Ouch.

At the beginning of the year, I had a grasp of how 2020 would probably go—a hot mess of travel between work and a host of family commitments, not to mention the day-to-day juggle of business meetings, church activities, school events, youth theater, and everything else that sucks up all our time. When the pandemic hit and all those things were forcibly paused, I’ll admit I was a bit relieved. For the first time in what felt like eons, I had unexpected free time.

It was both freeing and frighteningly chaotic.

As a planner, this was good for me—really good. I soon trained my brain and my heart to let go of the nonessentials, to let each day dictate what was to come courtesy of God, not Jessica.

When life started getting more normalized and our state began to reopen, that familiar go-go-go began to rise up again inside of me. I found myself impatient again, wondering “exactly when” we’d do this or that.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver. Click To Tweet

God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis.

Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me.
God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis. Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me. Click To Tweet

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

Graphic quote: we're to let Christ live through us.

And, as He says in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan.

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan. Click To Tweet

And God sees how this year, this decade, this century will play out with a perspective only God has. I cannot possibly understand all that God’s plan entails, or even why. All I can do is my part to bring myself into alignment with His plan and work to serve Him and spread His holy truth. All I can do is walk on the path God has laid out for me, and bring myself back on that pathway if ever I walk astray.

I think the Bible’s King David might have felt the same way I feel. For much of his life prior to his rule, David—while God’s anointed—lived on the fringe, his guard up constantly because King Saul resented, feared and envied him. For a time, he was forced to live in the wilderness, taking refuge in caves and other hiding places. Maybe he, too, fancied himself a planner, wanted to be able to say, “Next year, we will go here and do this,” or, “Next week, we will achieve that.” Instead, he lived on the run. Perhaps he felt forgotten or irrelevant. Perhaps he struggled with giving over his plans to God.

Yet the psalms, thought largely to be written by David, are filled with verses that acknowledge God’s reign and almighty power, a power we can trust and shelter beneath. Take a look at these three just as an example:

Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 28:7-8, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

And Psalm 62:6-8, “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Again and again, the message is clear: I can trust God. God is my refuge. God is in command.

Today is a good day, for today I remember the truth: When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me.

When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me. Click To Tweet

One day, maybe life will go back to the kind of existence I feel I can “manage” with multiple calendars, to-do lists, life goals and more. But right now, God is showing me a new challenge—what I call a “no plan” challenge.

And it’s good for my soul.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

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Intentional growth, Loving Others, obedience, Relationships

A Great Time to be God’s Church

What’s become very clear to me during the coronavirus lockdown: The church isn’t a place but a people and exists beyond any walls or boundaries.

And now is a wonderful time to be God’s church in the world.

This is not to make light of what we’re experiencing. People are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate—and soon, if they aren’t already, these could be our friends and family. It’s scary. Our routines are upended, many have lost jobs and financial security… It’s both surreal and terribly frightening.

But it’s also an opportunity.

See, we hear all the time that the church doesn’t have walls, the church is the people—but still we think of church as a place, a building we go to every Sabbath to sit, pray, sing, hear God’s word, and experience fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing.

We are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing. Click To Tweet

We know church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. And church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or we’re gathered online. But sometimes in the busy rush of life, we get so caught up in the day-to-day normal routine that we forget this.

Church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. Church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or online. Click To Tweet

Right now, though, nothing is normal—except the things of God, which never change. The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. And for those of us who are believers, who understand Jesus is the Son of God and the One who saves, the Holy Spirit still ignites our hearts.

The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. Click To Tweet.

I believe the Holy Spirit can and does move through each of His children regardless of physical proximity. The Spirit moves through phone lines, through radio frequencies, through the internet and any other brilliant technological method we can imagine. The Spirit moves as we engage on social media, and it’s a glorious thing.

In fact, if you pay attention to faith on social media like I do, you’ve probably noticed some of these extraordinary, innovative things. Phone trees, YouTube and Facebook live worship services, video conference devotionals, and even church radio stations are helping God’s people stay connected. People at one church I know with a daily soup kitchen for the food-insecure are now offering free grab-and-go sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and other prepackaged items each weekday to anyone in need.

It’s beautiful and inspiring, and it all fills me with hope and deep admiration for the children of God who work tirelessly for His Kingdom, who strive day after day to share the Gospel and be God’s hands and feet in the world, whatever that looks like.

I’m not sure how Jesus pictured His church when He stood before His disciple, Peter, and told him, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18 NIV). But I don’t think He imagined any kind of earthly building. For we know structures, like earthly kingdoms, rise and fall. But God’s kingdom will never be overcome. For God, and God’s people, live on forever, ushering in His glory and His will on earth by whatever means possible. Even in the pandemic. Especially in the pandemic.

bethechurchFB

Jesus knew the future of the church, knew that what would start out as small gatherings would lead to bigger buildings and places, but maybe He’s calling us back to the beginning, to remember it’s more about the togetherness- hearts united and hands clasped.

However we spread the word of God, however we make God famous, however we model His ways and His love in pointing people toward heaven, is “doing church.”

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. What does that mean to you?

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. Click To Tweet.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

The church isn't a place but a people and exists beyond any walls and boundaries. And now is a wonderful time to be God's church in the world. Click To Tweet

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Enduring Trials, Hardships and Trials, intentional living, living in grace, Resting in Christ, surrender, Video Devotion

Peace in the Stress, a Video Devotion

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Hardships and Trials, Resting in Christ, surrender

Peace in the Stress

By Jessica Brodie

I’m stressed—and I mean capital-S stressed. Do you feel me? Have you been there, too?

My to-do list overflows beyond anything I can comprehend. The days are blurring one into the next. I’m so frazzled. I can’t even remember what I need at the grocery store, let alone whether that event with my daughter is tonight or tomorrow (and I’ve checked my calendar four times today).

It’s enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. (Oh, wait—maybe that’s what this is!) Kidding. Sort of.

I started out this year with one word in my heart: Peace. We’re not even halfway through February and I feel like a hypocrite. Who carries on about peace in one’s heart when they’re so stressed and busy they don’t even know what day of the week it is?

Is it even possible to have peace when we are stressed out?

Good news: we can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad.

How? Because of Jesus.

We can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad. How? Because of Jesus. Click To Tweet

This isn’t a platitude; it’s a perspective switch. I used to think I could weather storms by hanging on and “being strong.” Now I know there’s only one way I can make it through—by clinging to Jesus, who gives me true peace.

Every day we have a choice as to how we look at the world. Sometimes our view is near-sighted—all we can see are the details, the to-do list, the piddly (and not-so-piddly) concerns. Other times, we get a glimpse of the big picture, a “God’s eye” view. And that’s the key.

Even when we are caught up in the difficult daily details, such as a sick child or a looming deadline or a catastrophic phone call, Christians can trust there is a bigger plan at work—far bigger than what we are going through.

While my life might be out of control and stressful today, I choose to rest in an important truth: I am God’s daughter. I follow Jesus and have the Holy Spirit in my heart. That means His plan is my ultimate plan—even when I can’t see His plan.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV).

And in the Gospel of John, He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. God’s master plan.

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. Click To Tweet

I can have peace even in the stress by reminding myself I am His. I serve a mighty, mighty God of heaven and earth and everything else in the universe. His way is the priority. When I can step outside myself and allow myself to know and trust this, I have true rest.

When I can step outside myself and trust I belong to Jesus, I have true rest. Click To Tweet

Do you have trouble coping with stress? How do you handle this?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free ecopy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.