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Resting in Christ

Making Time With Jesus a Priority — Video Devotion

The shrill bleating of an alarm clock. A steaming cup of coffee. A brisk run as the sun rises. Or hurriedly serving breakfast, combing hair and stuffing lunch bags in the kids’ backpacks as they head out the door…. How do you start your day?

When my eyes open in the morning, my mind immediately begins whirring at a million miles an hour, laying out the day ahead of me. Sometimes in anticipation, sometimes in apprehension, and sometimes in dread.

But no matter my outlook on the day, I’ve learned that if I allow my feet to hit the floor without first connecting with Jesus, I’ll be heading toward defeat, relying on my own strength to get me through. While my efforts will never be sufficient, my Savior’s always will. If your schedule allows you to spend time with Jesus before you begin your day, that’s awesome. But, if you’re in a season where that’s not always possible, (like me!), simply take a moment to pray and intentionally place your day in His hands. I praise Jesus for the new day and His goodness, acknowledge my need for Him, and ask Him to guide my thoughts, words and actions throughout the day.

God provided food in the form of manna to the Israelites who wandered in the desert. It rained down from the sky each morning, not because He couldn’t rain down a week’s worth in one downpour, but because He wanted them to rely on Him daily. The Bible tells us in Exodus 16 that “Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Each family had just what it needed.”

The same is true for us. God knows what we need physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to get through each day, and He lovingly provides it for us…but we have to choose to come out of our tents, so to speak, and meet with Him.

So instead of pulling the covers up over your head tomorrow morning, spend your first few moments in Jesus’ loving embrace, and entrust your day to Him as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

Identity in Christ, Video Devotion

Focusing–Intentionally–On Our Inner Beauty — Video Devotion


I’m diligent to train my daughter not to fixate on outer beauty, but do I protect my heart with the same diligence.

“You are so beautiful!” I tell my daughter as I fix her hair. She responds by telling me that being beautiful on the inside is all that matters. Then she says “silly mom, you taught me that!”

I was speechless. I taught her this, but have I taught myself? Do I see myself as beautiful? When my hair’s a wreck, my jeans won’t button, and wrinkles are popping up everywhere, how do I learn to see myself through God’s eyes?

1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (NIV).

Today’s society over-emphasizes outer beauty. Unfortunately this has become the norm. So much so that my daughter’s words about inner beauty seem somewhat foreign. She believes that inner beauty is most important. I’m thankful for the timely reminder that she gave me when I was doing her hair. I love that God speaks to me through my five-year-old daughter.

Next time you look in the mirror and are tempted to evaluate yourself against what the world says is beautiful, remember God sees you differently—He’s focused on what’s inside, and He’s working to grow that so that you more closely resemble Christ. So don’t buy into the world’s obsession with appearances as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Experiencing Christ, Video Devotion

Empowered to Chase God-ordained Dreams – Video Devotion

When was the last time you chased a dream?

My daughter loves to imagine fantastic scenarios, often saying things like, “What if I could turn into a cat?”, or “I want to invent a car that flies.”

I almost always have the same reaction. I listen, respond with “Wow, that’d be awesome!”, and then start listing all of the reasons she couldn’t do it.

There would be no harm in me just listening and encouraging her. So, why do I feel compelled to snap her back to reality, to suppress her imagination and her desire to wonder? At what point did I give up dreaming?

I suspect I left dreaming in the dust as life experiences created a fear of failure. Or perhaps I shelved my passions believing I don’t have the education, the skill, grit, determination, the “right” whatever to do anything “big” or make a difference?

But, scads of Bible verses assert that we can do anything, right?! And there are countless accounts in Scripture of “nobodies” doing incredible things, so why do we doubt when it comes to our own lives?

Ah, but I’m overlooking a very important detail, aren’t I? Not one of the “nobodies” in the Bible accomplished incredible feats alone. They accomplished them with God—through His power at work in them.

In Ephesians 3, Paul gives glory to God “who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

So, yes, we can do anything…. anything that’s initiated and empowered by Christ!

God, the limitless inventor of creativity and imagination, wants us to dream—to dream big! Not by chasing wildly after whatever our heart desires, assuming because we want it, He must certainly want it for us too. But, to approach Him humbly, asking that He’ll reveal the dreams He has for us, the plans He laid out long before we were born, the mountains He created us to move. I guarantee, He’s been longing for us to ask.

Have you forgotten how to dream? Or gave up after you experienced disappointment? Ask God to help you rediscover childlike wonder as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

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Showing love

Living Out God’s Crazy Love

I hope someone has told you how crazy you are or recently given you a baffled look. There’s no doubt that we live in a society overrun with comparison and consumed by peer opinion. But Christian, what people say of us shouldn’t fit the mold. As the public watches us live for God’s glory, they should see a bit of crazy.

As I read through 1st and 2nd Corinthians my heart was curious what Paul’s audience thought of his actions inspired by God.

I wonder if they were shaken that Paul would endure beatings and imprisonments for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps they thought he was a little strange choosing to be a nomad, walking the globe, telling people about Jesus. Did they think he was wrong for preaching love and faith in a time of persecution?

Paul hints that the Corinthians couldn’t quite understand such a bold and divinely purposed way of life. Image of a laughing woman with verse 2 Cor. 5:13He wrote, “If we are out of our mind it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (2 Corinthians 5:13 NIV).

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

This hits a chord in my heart. How many times have I sought the world’s good opinion instead of my Father’s—sought my glory instead of His? If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for? Whose purposes am I seeking? But if our lives look strangely different than the world in a faith-filled, exhilarating, divinely loving, powerfully reaching kind of way; perhaps it is a glimmer that we are living for God’s sake instead of our own.

Seeming ‘out of our mind’ to the world is a small price to pay for living out divine love in Christ. But that leaves the question of ‘Why?’ I think the Corinthians were wondering the same about Paul and his gang. What in the world would make mere men live so boldly?

Paul explained to them, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV).

Knowing the depth of God’s love has the power to change a person. When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

As we let the truth of the cross and the love of Christ permeate to the hidden parts of our soul, we can’t help but have a new perspective on what is important in life. When you understand that God loved you enough to exchange His life for yours, it gives your life importance. And that importance gives way to a new purpose—to live extravagantly for the one who took your place. This is not out of obligation, but out of complete and utter thankfulness and joy as we live in such a love.

Paul puts it another way saying, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58 NIV).

We handed God our sin and death, and in return he showered us in victory and life! And Paul says in thankfulness of that amazing and undeserved switch taking us from the losing team to the winning team, we know that every battle we sweat in the name of Jesus on this earth will be victorious. And that makes us bold. It makes us act a little different.

Living in Christ’s unconditional love helps us live out life-changing love to others.

His love urges us to forgive instead of condemn, encourage when we see sorrow, keep peaceful words on our lips when attacked, and speak truth in love when it’s hard. It makes us desire to live for others like Christ lived for us.

It makes us want to live a bit ‘out of our mind’ for Christ knowing our purpose is found in Him and not in the opinions of this world.

Let’s talk about this. How do you see your life choices changing as you know Jesus more and more?

What do you feel He is asking you to do in response to His love for you even if it might look crazy to the people around you? Join the conversation here in the comments below or on our Facebook page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! And make sure to join us for one of Wholly Loved’s upcoming conferences. Explore how you are wholly loved, purposed, and unique in Christ and how knowing that empowers you to be bold and brave in His name! Find out more HERE.

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Hardships and Trials

God’s Favor–The Gift of Presence

If God’s favor meant great health, I’d missed it. If it meant worldly success, happiness, prestige and an expanding ministry, God had abandoned me. But if favor—if grace—meant a vivid revelation of my Father’s heart and a deepening intimacy with Him, then even as I lay in bed sick and fatigued, I rested squarely in my Daddy’s hands. Right where He wanted me to be.

Image of a light with quote from blog post

It just took me a while to see it, cherish it. In fact, it wasn’t until my body started to recover that I saw the precious gift God had given all those mornings months before.

Sometimes it takes a crisis—an illness, a tragedy, having one’s life tilted upside down—to grab hold of what really matters. In 2011, after a lifetime of great health and athleticism, after nearly two decades of walking closely with Jesus and two years of surrendering to His call, colitis knocked me flat. Shifted my identity and for a while, left me grasping for answers.

If I could no longer run, who was I?

If I couldn’t push through this physical obstacle, was I still a woman of strength? An overcomer?

Why would God allow this? I’d been serving Him, writing for Him, speaking for Him, but now I was reduced to a tired, thin woman who often couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time let alone serve outside the home. Wasn’t I more effective when well?

I was failing. I wasn’t using the gifts God had given me. I wasn’t tending to my family as I felt called to do. I hadn’t touched my keyboard in months and wasn’t sure I ever would again.

I wasn’t any good for the body of Christ. I wasn’t any good for my family.

This was an incredibly painful time. A period of refining and stripping. A year I will always remember. The time when, as I read my Bible each morning and I clung to God’s Word lovingly preserved through the ages, He drew me to Himself and held me close to His heart. Those moments between us, when all the rest of the world faded from view, are precious beyond what I can express.

… there’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

There’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

verse image of James 1:2 with a sunrise in the backgroundPerhaps this is, in part, what James meant when he said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …” (James 1:2, NIV). Though in context, he’s referring to the joy of knowing God has a purpose in our pain. But this points to an even bigger truth–God loves us always. In our times of health and pain.

I’ve known joy. Not the momentary elation our world teaches us to chase after, but the deep, unyielding, persevering joy of knowing God, truly knowing Him, and being known by Him.

If favor is found in what I can do or the wealth I attain, if it’s found in prestige and accolades, I failed. And I’ll gladly fail again–to gain something much more enduring and fulfilling.

Time with Christ. To be held and to know His hands are strong and firm and ever-present, that’s joy. And that’s the greatest gift Christ died to give us—unhindered access to Himself. He’s always there, always reaching, always loving. But sometimes He needs to help us see that, rest in that. Sometimes that help comes through pain; a pain with the sweetest of dividends.

Let’s talk about this! When has God turned a difficult time into an enduring blessing? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

When life hits hard and we feel used up, it’s easy to think we’re somehow less valuable or perhaps overlooked by God. But our value is immutable, and we can live out our purpose in every season, if we choose. Join us for our next Wholly Loved Conference on January 20th hosted by Beautiful Savior in LaVista, NE to learn how to discover and live out your purpose.

Then, join us in February for our Bold and Brave Conference, hosted by St. Paul’s United Methodist in Papillion. You can check out all our conference dates and register HERE.

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spiritual passion, Video Devotion

In A Spiritual Funk–Video Devotion

In a Spiritual Funk from Wholly Loved Ministry on Vimeo.

 

I was in a funk. And I was baffled by it. There was nothing blatantly “wrong”. In fact, my life was overflowing with blessings. I was healthy, had a wonderful husband, beautiful kids … the list goes on and on. So why did I feel so “off”?

Have you ever felt like that? You have every reason to count your blessings, but you can’t shake the feeling that something just isn’t right?

I love to listen to worship music in my car, but during my “funk”, even that proved frustrating. One day in particular, I impatiently flipped through radio stations. Once again, I found nothing worthwhile, so I shut off my radio in a huff. In the silence I heard God say to my heart … you can’t hear Me above the noise.

The realization reverberated in my chest. I’d let the noise of life–the busyness and comfort of routine, drown out God. Without a strong connection to my power source, God, I’d begun to lose my fire. I’d been reading my Bible, praying, and serving at church … but without the fire of the Holy Spirit fueling me, it was like I was just going through the motions.

God showed me that I need to stay on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what He will do next. Otherwise, I can become distracted by the noise of life. If I’m distracted, I stop looking for the ways He’s working around me, and I can no longer hear Him clearly. In fact, if I’m distracted enough, I can forget that I’m even supposed to be listening for His voice!

I believe we’ll all experience seasons of distraction. It’s our human nature! But recognizing when we’ve become distracted, and getting out of that place, is what’s really important.

Scripture says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you” (Proverbs 4:25, NLT).

I got down on my knees and prayed for the Holy Spirit to fall fresh on me … to fill me up … to light me “on-fire” again. And I asked others to pray those same prayers for me. God loves when we seek Him with such earnestness. He was faithful to answer me, and I know He’ll do the same for you.

So, the next time you find yourself buried in the distractions of life, turn down the noise and pray for God to help you refocus on Him, as you learn to live wholly loved.