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.

Grab a copy of our latest devotional HERE.

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.

We also invite you to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and to join our private Facebook community HERE.

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.


 

Faith

Accompanied in the Furnace

Image of Victoria Mejias and her daughter

My daughter burst through the door shouting she made the honor roll! My son trailed behind her with his head down low.

She is bubblier by nature. He has always been more pessimistic. But something was different. Something was off. He wasn’t his normal self. He didn’t even say, “hello.” Instead he strolled into his room, laid his stuff down, sat down and just stared off.

What was going on with my baby? My first born. I wanted so badly to console him but he wouldn’t let me in.

Two sleepless nights followed. Two consecutive days of no rest – not for either of us. I even asked my daughter what was going on but she had no idea. He was desperately trying to work through a struggle all on his own. But why? He didn’t have to?

On the third night, he asked to come into my room. We sat on the edge of my bed as he looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “Mom, can we talk?” My heart leapt hearing those words. “Of course, honey,” I responded.

There he unloaded a very heavy and unsettling story about a racist altercation in the locker room.

At first I fought back tears while I listened. It broke my heart. The whole situation was disturbing. I couldn’t take away his pain. But I decided to cry with him, to comfort him and stay by his side. I thank God he allowed me to share in his pain. Click To Tweet

I could relate. That seems to be my lot in life. Not to have my suffering removed but to feel relieved knowing God is with me through my toughest moments.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages. Scripture recounts the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three Jews who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar. These three men remained faithful. Each time the king demanded they worship him they responded that “…the Lord would deliver them.” And one of the most powerful statements yet, “But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up,” as they rejected the king over and over. (Daniel 3:16-18, ESV)

They took a stand for what was right. They were faithful to God. Were they spared suffering? 

No, God didn’t swoop in on a magic carpet and rescue them. They were thrown into the fiery furnace. And did the door swing open? Were they saved from danger? No, instead, the king had the temperature of the furnace turned up seven times hotter.

Isn’t that how life works much of the time? You do the right thing and you’re punished. At least that’s how it goes for me. You pray for a break. But, no, the flames grow and the fire intensifies.

And that is what makes Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s stance so powerful. They recognized they were in danger and still believed God would rescue them but “if not, be it known to you,” they said, they still wouldn’t bow down. The furnace would not break their faith. Click To Tweet And the story did not end there.

Scripture says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’” (Daniel 3:24-25, ESV)

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“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!’”  (Daniel 3:26, ESV)

What an amazing testimony! That the Lord would accompany us in bad times. That we’d not be alone. That He’d be fully present in the furnace. And not only that but that we’d come out on the other side – freed! 

And “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.” (Daniel 3:27, ESV) The only damage the fire caused was to burn off their shackles. Click To Tweet

The truth is we will encounter good times and endure bad ones. But I praise God that we are not alone in our struggles. The Lord is available to us. We need only let Him in.

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Know that when you hurt, He aches and He wants to be with you in your roughest moments. Click To Tweet

Like my son, I think our tendency is to hide and internalize pain. But Jesus is waiting for you with arms open wide. He will see you through the suffering. Refuse to surrender to your trials and turn to Him when you’re hurting. 

So what battle are you fighting? Are you facing trouble or experiencing hardship? Have you let God in to comfort you in your pain?

Get to Know Victoria:

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Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria received her Certification in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute in 2012. She has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally as far out as Damoh, India at the World Leaders Evangelical Conference. Recently Victoria was the recipient of two Congressional awards for her service by Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Nebraska’s Congressman Don Bacon during a floor speech at the US House of Representatives.

Victoria serves with Wholly Loved Ministries in numerous capacities, including functioning as one of their feature writers, writing articles on behalf of the ministry for iBelieve. She has two children, loves the Lord, reaching the lost and enjoys travel, arts and culture. Visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

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.

Make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

If you’re looking for more support and to connect with a community of women all growing in their faith, make sure to join our private community. You can find us HERE. 

Faith

Countering Fear With Praise by Virginia Davidson

 

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The CD player in our minivan is broken. It plays the same CD on loop and won’t stop without ejecting the disc and starting anew. Often my brain does the same thing with thoughts that loop and loop until I have to deal with them either in quiet prayer time or if left unchecked, in a moment of anxiety.

When my thoughts spiral out of control, I need to intentionally focus on truth. Click To Tweet

Philippians 4 is full of encouragement. If you’re at home like most of the world right now, you have the time to sit and reflect. Verse four to seven say,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (ESV).

Let your gentleness, reasonableness, be seen by all! This isn’t always easy when we are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. We cannot control the virus painting our world sick and anxious. But we can tell our thoughts and fears to the One that can handle them. Click To TweetHe’s not shocked, He knows them already, and doesn’t turn us away. He’s our Healer, our Shepherd, our Savior. He gives us His peace, His wholeness, and guards our ever-changing emotions and thoughts.

Philippians four verses eight to nine can help us do that. It states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (ESV).

It’s easy to fall into the “What-ifs”, but we are called to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure ... Click To Tweet Quote image pulled from post

These verses are a great reminder and encouragement. God created us, He knows where we often let our thoughts take over and loop. But Philippians 8 tells us what to think about, what to loop in our brains, the true, the honorable, the just, the pure, the lovely, the commendable, the excellent, the praiseworthy.

So as we notice the thoughts that so easily get stuck in our minds, may God graciously eject them, and remind us of all of His lovely Truths.

Let’s talk about this! Do you find yourself looping the what ifs right now? If so, join us by sharing something lovely or praiseworthy below.

Let’s share a new playlist below, not of songs, but of something lovely, honorable, and praiseworthy you’ve seen this week.

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Ginny Davidson's author headshotGinny Davidson is an overcomer, brain tumor survivor, wife, and mother boldly declaring God’s hope and peace. After completing her M.A. in Education from Grand Canyon University, she speaks so others can experience freedom from anxiety and life change. Whether it’s a conversation over a steaming cup of chai on her couch or sharing with a group at a retreat or Bible study, Ginny is compelled to share the message of the peace-filled life to a world of women plagued by fear. In the evenings she can be found outside with her husband and kids, attending dance parties around the record player in the living room, or highlighting a great book.

 

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

Also, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, available for free on the YouVersion Bible Reading App:

Grace Reading Plan ImageChrist’s grace has the power to change everything. We don’t have to strive, to compete, or compare, or question whether or not we measure up. We’re enough because Christ in us is enough. The cross of Christ sets us free.

Find it HERE.

Make sure to join our private Facebook community, a safe place to share your struggles, doubts, celebrations, and prayer requests. We also invite you to join our private Facebook group where you can share your struggles, prayer requests, praises and celebrations with other women who love Jesus. Find us HERE.