Relationships

When Relationships Fail–Our Role

Sometimes no matter how we try, no matter how grace-filled our conversations and Christ-led our attempts, relationships implode. People remain hurt. Barriers remain erected, and isolation, regret, and pain occur.

quote image-beauty is in the obedienceBut the beauty’s in the obedience, not the result.

Some time ago, something I did deeply hurt a woman I cared for. I didn’t intend to wound her, and honestly, I didn’t fully understand her response or interpretation. In fact, initially I felt quite indignant. She was being over-reactive. I’d done nothing wrong!

And yet, she was hurt, and Jesus said, if I know someone is upset with me, regardless of the why, I’m to initiate conversation. (Matthew 5:23). To do what I can to make things right.
To, “… as far as it depends on [me], live at peace with everyone.”

Biblical peace goes much deeper than simple conflict avoidance. In fact, that type of behavior will take us in the opposite direction—to broken relationships, unresolved issues, and, often, harbored bitterness.

Biblical peace, eiréneuó in the Greek, points to wholeness.

Consider Ken Sande’s words, taken from his book, the Peace two children holding hands and text of Romans 12:18Maker: “Token efforts will not satisfy this command; God wants [us] to strive earnestly, diligently, and continually to maintain harmonious relationships with those around [us].”

This is a big deal. Not only does this help protect unity within the church, but Sande goes on to say, seeking peace can “turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships … and make [our] lives a testimony to the love and power of Christ.”

Perhaps this is why Jesus placed such emphasis on conflict resolution, so much so that He told us, if we’re about to worship Him and remember an offended brother, we’re to immediately stop and seek reconciliation.

Only after we’ve done that are we freed, emotionally and spiritually, to truly worship God.

But what if the other person is unresponsive?

In that case, we can walk away with clean hearts and hands knowing, “as far as it depended on us,” we attempted to live in peace.

Because it doesn’t always depend on us. We have no control over how another person will respond, but we have full control over how faithfully we obey Christ and how well we reflect Him.

As I reflected on my situation with the offended woman, I thought of how Christ treated me. When I was living in complete rebellion against Him, He pursued me, diligently and patiently. When I sinned again and again, He forgave me. And when my sin created a barrier between us that I couldn’t cross, through His death, He tore it down. And I knew, regardless of how this young woman received or reacted to my efforts, I needed to reach out anyway.

So I did. She responded exactly as I’d feared, but that didn’t mean my efforts had been pointless. Despite my fear of rejection and my desire to avoid the entire situation, I’d chosen to obey, and hopefully, in doing so, had provided a glimpse of Jesus … and reminded myself afresh of the beauty of grace.

Let’s talk about this! How do you typically react when someone hurts or abandons you? Why do you think it’s important God’s children learn to reconcile with one another?

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Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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Highlighted Resource:

20 Days of Relational Health Bible reading plan.

image for reading planOur hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you grow 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.

Find it HERE.

Resting in Christ

God Sees You––Video Devotion by Kat Lewis

Do you feel unseen and unheard? Does it appear, sometimes, like God is inattentive to your prayers? If so, we hope this video devotion by Kat Lewis encourages you. Read the full chapter this devotion is based on HERE.

If this video encouraged you, make sure to check out our Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which covers the full story surrounding Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, and most importantly, our God who sees.

Find the free ebook version HERE.
Find the print version HERE.
You can also find our latest devotional, Anchored and Secure, HERE.

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

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Hearing God

Learning to Hear From God

When decisions loom and uncertainty hits, do you ever wish you could have a face to face conversation with God? Or at the very least, to receive clear, if A then B guidelines, preferably etched in stone. We often hear others talk about how our faith is not a religion but instead a relationship, implying two-way communication. But how can we experience that kind of intimacy? Our guest today, a sweet friend and gifted writer with a heart for Jesus and others, shares some thoughts on how we can become alert to God’s voice. As you read her thoughts, consider how God might be wanting to speak to you.

How Do I Hear from God?

By Susan Akenwoman holding phone

I’m waiting for that phone call from God.

Moses, the man God called to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, spoke to God face to face. Saul, who wrote much of the New Testament, met Jesus on the road to Damascus and heard Him speak audibly. How often do we wish God would communicate so directly with us? We want clear directions.

graphic using text pulled from postWe do have detailed guidance from Him in His word, the Bible. To truly understand God and His will it’s crucial to know and comprehend Scripture. God never leads us contradictory to His word and His revelation to us is complete.To truly understand God and His will it’s crucial to know and comprehend Scripture. God never leads us contradictory to His word and His revelation to us is complete. Click To Tweet

The first step to hear from God is to know the Bible well. He most often speaks to us through its message.

We don’t see God’s face, but we can still talk to Him directly. We can pray anytime, anywhere, and tell Him whatever is on our hearts bringing any request to Him. He tells us to pray about everything and to ask Him for anything (Philippians 4:6-7). That doesn’t mean He’ll always answer as we want but He’ll do what’s best.

With faith, we study and obey His word seeking Him in prayer, and He directs our steps.

What about those who say, “God told me to do such and such,” God told them how much to give, where to serve, or whom they needed to reach out to? He does speak to our hearts when we are open to Him. But how do we know when it’s Him?

The Holy Spirit moves and speaks to us as He wills. But we need to be listening with open hearts and believe it is Him by faith.

As I was singing praise to God in church one Sunday, the thought came, “I want you to come early on Sunday mornings to pray for the church.” I dismissed it because I enjoyed attending church with my husband and son. I didn’t want to get up earlier and come alone. But I heard the message again the next week and the week after that. I felt God telling me to invite others to join me each Sunday morning to pray. By the third time, I started bargaining, “What if no one else comes?” God answered, “I want you to pray even if you’re the only one.”

These were thoughts. I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. How did I know it was Him speaking? First, it was in line with His word. Second, it was persistent. I would never come up with that plan on my own. And finally, I knew it was God because He gave me the grace to follow through.

I think we make hearing from God more difficult than it needs to be. He’s always speaking to us through the Bible, nature, other believers, and in our thoughts. The problem is we’re often distracted, not listening, or avoiding His message out of fear. Click To TweetHe’s always speaking to us through the Bible, nature, other believers, and in our thoughts. The problem is we’re often distracted, not listening, or avoiding His message out of fear.

We can come to Him in faith, trusting Him to speak, and knowing He is good.graphic with quote from text

Scripture tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV). In other words, when we seek Him, through prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading, we can trust He’ll reveal Himself and His will to us.

Let’s talk about this! How has God spoken to you recently?

Are you willing to hear what He has to say?

Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or engage with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

 

Get to know Susan!

Susan 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, son, and daughter-in-law to be. Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends, writing, and sitting down with a cup of tea. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! She serves on the Wholly Loved ministry team as a feature, Bible study, and devotional writer. Her work appears in numerous projects, including Becoming His Princess, a Bible study based on Gen. 12-23. You can grab it for free HERE.

Visit her online at Soaring on Butterflies Wings.

Grab a copy of Wholly Loved latest devotional, Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace, HERE.

About the book:

Anchored and Secure Cover ImageThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Connect with Wholly Loved on Facebook and Instagram.

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

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.


 

Wholly Loved Sponsor Interview

Interview With Sponsor Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller's headshotWe love freedom stories, and man, does our sponsor Kathy Collard Miller have a powerful story to share. We know God and does transform lives, but sometimes it can be easy to forget this. Sometimes when I look at our world, honestly, I see so much darkness. So much hurt. It may appear as if the darkness is winning. But then, through stories like Kathy shares below, I’m reminded that God is actively filling our world with life and light.

But first, fun news! Right now for a limited time, the Kindle version of God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature is available for 99 cents. Check it out HERE It’s perfect for an individual or couple devotional time.

How long have you been writing?

A long time! LOL. My first article was published in Moody Monthly Magazine in 1978. I wrote about how God delivered me from being an abusive mom. I requested they publish it anonymously, which they did, because I was still so ashamed of what I’d done.

But that initial confirmation of the importance of my story encouraged me to share. And when an invitation came to speak at the mom’s group for our church, God gave me the courage to say yes! With great fear, I shared my story with the 120 women who were there and their response let me know this was something important giving God glory.

Then I went to a writer’s conference in 1980 and four years later, my story was published as a memoir book. Today that book has been updated and it’s titled, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom.

Of course everyone wants to know about your family now. Give us an update.

I love to tell of God’s healing work. One of the problems contributing to my anger was the unrealistic expectations I had that my husband, Larry, should meet all my needs. God changed my perspective and this year (2020), we’ll celebrate our 50th anniversary. We are more in love than I could have ever thought possible. And Larry actually wants to meet my needs as much as possible even if we both know only Jesus can do that.

As for my daughter who I abused when she was a toddler, we have a very close relationship and she supports my ministry and has aspirations of being a novelist! She is a loving wife of 20 years, mom of two (my grandkids!!!!), and ministry leader at her church. Amazing what God can do!

What would you say to someone who is currently struggling with anger?

God knows exactly His plan for your healing, and it will be a process. He loves to work through our Holy-Spirit-supplied strength because then we learn what we can share with others later. No matter what your struggle is, God is working more than you realize. There will be starts and delays and backups, but God is progressively working. He’d working not just for your benefit but because it gives Him glory.

I love 1 Timothy 4:15: “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” The word “progress” is the idea of a pioneer cutting his way through the brushwood (Vine’s Dictionary). Little by little by little. We would prefer to have God’s instantaneous deliverance but then we would no longer need God’s help.

As we study parenting books, attend parenting classes, study God’s Word about parenting, and share vulnerably and ask for prayer, God will do a work deep in our hearts, not just make everything better. I also recommend getting counseling and spiritual support. I found all those avenues helped me.

What is the main message you believe God has given you and why?

At different times in my ministry of over 40 years, God has made different things especially important to me. Right now, I’m most passionate about Christians knowing God’s attributes in truth. As I’ve grown spiritually over the years, the Holy Spirit has spotlighted different lies I believed about who God is. I might say, “I know He’s trustworthy” but I still worried. Or “I know He’s leading those I care about,” but I still need to tell them what to do. We can subtly respond in ways that reveal our deeper beliefs and heart commitments. We’re acting out lies about who God is and may not realize it.

 

That’s why my two most recent books are devotionals which explore how God reveals Himself –His true nature–in the Bible. Kathy's book cover imagesInterestingly it’s through the questions He asks. In the Bible, God/Jesus asks more than 300 questions. Isn’t that fascinating? He doesn’t need information but He still asks people questions to help them examine their beliefs about Him and their own motives. Just think, why did God ask Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” and why did Jesus ask the sick man, “Do you want to be healed?” Both questions offer opportunities to delve into the longings and motives of the person He is addressing. God and Jesus are the expert question-askers with a purpose!

My husband, Larry, and I wrote these two books which are:

“God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature”

“God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 Old Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature”

Kathy, what is your favorite attribute of God?

For me, it’s His sovereignty. He is totally in control and in charge of everything that happens even as He doesn’t take away human choice. How that all works, I don’t know exactly. But I do know how much peace, confidence, and desire to obey God comes from my growth in knowing God is sovereign.

Find her author page HERE.

Visit her on YouTube HERE.

Do you have a freedom story to share? We’d love to hear it! Find out how to participate in our freedom challenge HERE. See what you could win HERE.

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

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Faith

The Key to Navigating Change Well –– Guest Post

Quote pulled from post

Change is seldom pain-free. Even good changes carry challenges, right? Becoming a parent, for instance, means learning to function on very little sleep. Starting a new job may require moving to a new city. Seeking better health often means changing one’s eating habits.

In contrast, life sometimes deals a blow that requires change beyond the scope of our imagination. COVID-19 falls into that category. Some of the changes you and I are undergoing fall into the category of minor inconvenience. Others are monumental. So, how do we cope? How do we walk this journey when the path before us constantly shifts direction? Our personal circumstances will dictate specific steps we take, but there’s one principle that remains the same for everyone.

With my whole heart, I believe the key to navigating change well lies in where we camp our thoughts. Click To Tweet

With my whole heart, I believe the key to navigating change well lies in where we camp our thoughts. If we linger on the what-ifs, then fear will rule us. If we park on the disappointments, then anger, bitterness, or self-pity will take control. But if we park our minds on truth, then we will walk this journey with maturity and grace.

So—what’s the truth? God still loves us. He always has our best interest in mind, and nothing can touch us that He does not allow. Click To Tweet

For me, COVID-19 has been and continues to be an opportunity to walk out what I teach—that understanding God’s love helps us get through the challenges we face when everything familiar shifts. With that in mind, here are three truths to help keep us grounded and secure as we try to understand what our new normal might look like.

  • God’s love will calm our fears.

Freedom from fear comes when we remember that God’s presence is with us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet He will teach us, guide us, and comfort us through the disruptions we’re facing. It also helps to remember that God delights in us and rejoices over us, therefore He would never do anything designed to destroy us. We can rest in His care like a newborn rests in her mother’s arms.

Quote pulled from post“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

  • God’s love is stronger than any force seen or unseen.

COVID-19 has upended our world, but this crisis doesn’t mean God loves us less. No matter what the future holds, He holds us close to His heart. Nothing—absolutely nothing—can separate us from His love. He’s got our backs as we navigate the changes thrust on us.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

  • God’s love gives us the ability to rejoice in every situation.

We certainly don’t rejoice in COVID-19 and the way it’s wreaking havoc. But we do rejoice in knowing that God’s love will never let us go. We rejoice in His provision and protection. We rejoice in opportunities to connect with friends and family via technology. And we rejoice in knowing He will use this difficult season to deepen our faith and make us more like Jesus.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)

When the enemy tries to fill your mind with anxious thoughts, fight back with these three truths about God’s love. Write out the three Scriptures and post them in an obvious place. Keep your mind fixed on them, ask God to make them a living reality in your life, and you will navigate these changes well.

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

Get to know Grace!

Grace Fox's headshotGrace Fox is a career global worker and the author of nine books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. She’s a member of the “First 5” Bible study writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ annual devotional, Mornings With Jesus.

Grace and her husband Gene co-direct International Messengers Canada, a sending agency with career missionaries in 28 countries. She leads short-term mission teams to Eastern Europe annually, trains nationals for career ministry in the Middle East, and provides missionary care.

Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and Gene celebrate three grown kids and nine grandchildren.

Learn more about Grace on her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Moving From Fear to Freedom: A woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation:

From Fear to Freedom CoverFears, if left unchecked, can tie us in knots and hinder us from enjoying life and becoming who God intended us to be. Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation identifies common fears women face and then provides practical solutions for overcoming them using real-life stories and biblical truth. Discover how to experience peace while facing an unknown future, accept the exciting assignments God has for you, say goodbye to the ghosts of your past, and more. (Harvest House Publishers)

*Wholly Loved Ministries takes no responsibility for guest’s theology, associations, and interactions shared apart from our blog and may not be cognizant of these things.

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