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Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

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Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event  and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE  and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


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Today's post first published on JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com on May 23, 2019.

Before you dive into today's post, I have some fun news! My friend and super talented author and speaker Grace Fox and I have transitioned to hosts of Bible Study Tools Your Daily Bible Verse podcast. You can listen HERE

 

Discouragement, fatigue, and feelings of defeat are perhaps the most powerful vision destroyers and faith derailers. These emotions, often fed through negative thinking, paralyze God's people. I know, because I've allowed momentary setbacks, lack of results or response from others to hinder my productivity—my obedience—on numerous occasions.

This morning, I made a list of my greatest challenges to obedience:

  1. Focusing on results rather than obedience. If I dig to the root of this obstacle, I discover I've likely forgotten that God's wisdom is greater than mine, that He's always present, is always working out His plans, and, in His sovereignty, will ensure that everything plays out precisely as He desires. And since He knows best, the results, whether deemed "successful" by human standards or not, will be good because He is good.
  2.  Allowing my identity to get tied up in that "thing." It's interesting, or perhaps sad would be more accurate, how often I entangle who I am with what I do or don't do. When I look to accolades, roles, or outcomes to define me, my security becomes unstable and my confidence subjective.
  3. Focusing on others—what they are or aren't doing—rather than God's leading. When God calls me to something, especially if that something is hard or requires perseverance and sacrifice, my eyes can begin to roam. I can begin to compare my assignment or results with others.
  4. Fatigue. Sometimes I simply need to rest—in God's presence.
  5. Fear of failure. This fear tangles challenge one with challenge two. To overcome this fear, I must shift my focus from results to obedience and remember, regardless of the results, that role or achievement doesn't define me. I belong to God, am chosen by Him for an eternal purpose, and He will perfect all that concerns me.

God addresses each of these faith-hindrances in Daniel chapter 10. Daniel, a prophet living in a foreign land during a time of oppression, was devastated by his circumstances. He’d cried out to God, acknowledging the sins of his people and asking for forgiveness and restoration. (Daniel 9). God had responded by telling him further destruction would come. And Daniel fell into a three-week depression. (Daniel 10:2).

God responded not by changing his circumstances but instead by centering him in His love.In the middle of Daniel’s despair, a man dressed in white whom some believe was Jesus Himself, appeared and said, “Daniel, you are very precious to God” (v. 11). “‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’” (v. 19).

I love that this man affirmed Daniel twice: “You are precious to God. You are precious to God.”

How often do we need to hear those words? When we’re doing all we can to raise responsible, Christ-loving children, but they rebel against us. Or when we’re faithfully performing our work responsibilities each day, but coworkers or perhaps a hostile boss continually stands against us. Or perhaps when we’re following all the doctors tell us to do, praying daily for healing, and yet the tumor grows.

In those moments, it’s easy to feel discouraged and deflated. Completely alone. But God says to each of us, “You are precious to God. Don’t be afraid. Be encouraged! Be strong!”

What are you facing today? Don’t fight that battle alone. Press into Jesus and  Text from post with mint backgroundremember, you are precious to Him. He’s standing beside you and going before you. He hears you and sees you and promises to never leave.

For those wanting to follow my Bible reading (largely following chronologically with Ezra, though Daniel 9, which should fall on day five, is presented first to correlate with today's post):

Day one: Daniel 9

Day two: Haggai 1

Day three: Haggai 2

Day four: Zechariah 1, 4

Day five: Ezra 5

Day six: Spend a day reviewing, journaling on, and praying over what God showed you during your day one-five Bible reading time.

You can use these questions, pulled from Wholly Loved' Becoming His Princess Bible study, as a guide each day.

Who are the main characters in this passage?

What does this passage reveal about the human condition, such as:

  • Mankind’s rebellion against/obedience toward God?
  • Mankind’s attempts to fill their needs apart from Him or relying on Him for their needs?
  • Mankind’s attempts to reach Him on their own terms?

What does this passage reveal regarding God’s nature?

What does/might this passage reveal about God’s plans?

How might this passage reveal mankind’s need for the gospel?

In what ways are you/have you been similar to one or more of the characters in this passage?

What might God want you to know through this section of Scripture?

What might He be asking you to do?

Want to join the Wholly Loved Facebook community to connect with other ladies who are growing closer to Christ, find a place to authentically share your struggles and celebrations, and explore God's truth? Then click below! Find us HERE

 

Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event  and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE  and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


John Piper quote on grief.

Guest Post: 

God—Our Source of Hope When Life Hurts
by Grace Fox

I knew something was seriously wrong the moment I answered my phone. My sister-in-law choked back tears as she told me that a doctor had just diagnosed my 88-year-old mother with a life-threatening condition. “She has twenty minutes to talk with each of her kids and to decide whether or not to have surgery,” she said. Twenty minutes to choose between life or death. The clock was ticking.

When I woke early that morning, I had no reason to suspect that crisis would strike my family before noon. I would never have guessed that within hours I’d leave home to sit vigil at Mom’s bedside until she took her last breath on earth a week later.

Life is anything but predictable. When 2020 dawned, who could have guessed that a mystery virus was about to strike and bring disappointment, loss, and division? Who could have guessed that a pandemic would force us into isolation, upend our plans, throw us into turmoil, and leave us longing for hope?

Life changes in a nanosecond, and it deals blows we don’t expect. How easily those blows can push us into a place of despair unless we stand firm on the truth found in God’s Word. Scripture has given me consolation day after day as I’ve grieved for my mom and for the  Romans 15:13 on multi-colored backgroundlosses suffered by so many around the world. Romans 15:13 has proven especially meaningful: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Hope is mentioned not once, but twice in this verse. One Bible dictionary defines it as “trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance.” This contrasts to a dictionary definition of hope as “a feeling that what we want to happen will happen.”

The first mention of hope in today’s verse refers to God as its origin. We anticipate a favorable outcome not based on circumstances but on His person. In this life, we will face disappointments or life-altering detours. We will experience the death of a dream or the loss of a loved one. But no matter how difficult our circumstances, we can have hope because of who God is—powerful, wise, sovereign, and good. He’s our guide, our comforter, our rock that remains steadfast when everything around us crumbles. He’s our constant companion who has promised never to leave us—not even for a moment.

The second mention of hope refers to us as the recipients. God pours hope into us when we choose to believe that He is who He says He is and that He always keeps His promises. When we do this, He gifts us not with a flimsy optimism that everything will somehow work out okay but with a rock-solid anticipation of a favorable outcome under His guidance. And because we live among humanity desperately seeking hope, He wants our supply to spill over and splash those around us, creating in them a curiosity to know our secret. We can’t concoct this hope in our own strength; He makes it possible by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Imagine—this is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19,20)

The more I meditate on Romans 15:13, the more God heals my hurting heart. He wants to do the same for you, my friend. We can hang onto hope knowing that someday Jesus will return and set everything right. Someday He will wipe every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 21:4) In the meantime, we can live in hope because the Source of hope lives in us.

May I pray for you today? “Dear God, we acknowledge You as the reason for hope. When life hurts, help us keep our thoughts fixed on the truth about who You are. Remind us that You live in us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. And fill us to overflowing with a hope that reflects You to those around us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

Get to Know Grace Fox

Grace Fox's Author photoGrace Fox is a career global worker and the author of ten books including her new devotional Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. 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. 

As a career global worker, 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.

Connect with Grace on her website, on Facebook, and subscribe to her blog.

Cover image for Finding Hope in CrisisCheck out her latest release, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos:

Life changes in a nanosecond, and circumstances can shift our minds into overload. That’s when we desperately need the encouragement God’s Word brings, but we can scarcely remember what day it is let alone focus on a lengthy Scripture passage. Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos provides the daily nugget we need to find strength and peace in God. Ninety meditations focus our thoughts on the truth of who He is and what He longs to do in and through us and our hard places.

Buy it HERE.

Before you go, make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s resources on joy:

The Unshakable Unbreakable Joy Bible Study:

Joy. We all want it, and in Christ, we can all have it. Regardless of our circumstances, our  Joy Bible study cover imageblessings or challenges, we can have unshakable unbreakable joy in Christ. And this joy begins by understanding what true biblical joy is, where it comes from, and how we can best cultivate this precious spiritual gift.

We can experience unshakable, unbreakable joy no matter the situation because true biblical joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances. Joy is a gift God gives us come to know Him better and deepen our intimacy with Him. This study helps women experience the abiding joy of an ever-deepening relationship with Christ and reliance on His grace.
A ten-week study with:
• Weekly video sessions
• Group discussion questions
• Take-home lessons

Find it HERE.

And the Wholly Loved Joy in Chaos Bible reading plan.

Joy in Chaos Bible reading plan logoGod did not create us to live empty, discouraged, fearful, and defeated lives. He created us for joy. A joy greater than our most challenging and chaotic circumstances. Edited by Karen Greer, Rachel Vaughn, and LaShawn Montoya. Voice talent by Linda Goldfarb.

Find it on the YouVersion app HERE.

Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event  and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE  and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


Long before the taliban came into existence and the CoronaVirus hit our world, eighteenth century theologian Matthew Henry wrote, “All human life is warfare.”

I imagine, many of us have felt the reality of that statement over the past few years. We have a real and relentless enemy bent on our destruction. And every mighty movement of God seems to trigger an explosion of evil. 

Yet, quickly review our world’s history and you’ll see, every explosion of evil also triggers a mighty and beautiful movement of God. A movement revealed not through loud displays of power but rather quiet, yet inspiring and contagious, demonstrations of grace and love. 

Radiant displays of beauty that reveal our radiant Lord.

This battle, at times, is exhausting. But we must never allow it to become defeating. Or deceiving.

What we’re experiencing and witnessing today, it’s not new. The players may shift, but wars continue to rage, terrorists rise up, are conquered or supplanted and new ones take their place. Friends and family betray one another and children experience abuse and neglect, and often, by the hands of the very ones who were supposed to keep them safe. 

Surrounded by such ugliness, it’s easy to get caught in the fray. To allow the ugliness to seep in and then out of us. Adding hurt upon hurt, brokenness upon brokenness. 

But God infused within us incredible, untarnishable beauty: life, love and light strong enough to shatter the darkness that tries to press in. 

Decades ago, our family visited the Grand Canyon, and I went hiking along the Kaibab trail. I don’t know what the trail looks like during blooming season, but when I was there, it was dry and largely barren. Which is why each desert flower I saw had such an impact. The colors were so vibrant against the landscape of brown. Each one drew me, and I was intrigued by the tenacity with which it grew. 

The tenacity that allowed the seed that became that blossom to grow while other seeds remained dead in the dry soil and other emerging plants withered away in the unrelenting heat. 

Reflecting back on every sign of life I encountered, I sense God asking me, “Which will you be? The seed that never grew. That lay dormant, engulfed, lifeless by its environment? The blossom that sprouts for a moment, maybe a day or a week, but then allows the harsh realities surrounding it to destroy the sweet aroma I created it to produce?”

Who will claim the victory of my life, my enemy, who is bent on my destruction, or the God who died that I might live?

And I’m not speaking about salvation here. I’m assuming most of you reading this belong to Christ. That you’ve accepted His gift of spiritual life, but that doesn’t mean you’re living in the victory of it. 

Are you believing the lies that say you’re powerless, ineffective, unimportant, and besieged? 

As I said previously, for every miraculous movement of God, our world experiences a countermovement of evil. Consider all that occurred after Christ’s death. In a moment, the church was born and division and social hierarchies broken as the gospel united people of all nations. (Acts 2:1-41) Soon after, however, a wave of persecution hit. And to some, this may have felt like the end. Their circumstances hopeless.

But just as life ignites our enemy to attack us with death, so his attacks spur God to unleash unconquerable bursts of life. In the first century, He did this by inspiring His persecuted children to share the gospel in each place to which they’d fled. 

Dotting the landscape with beauty through His ever-blossoming, soul-beautiful children.

Just as He’s doing today, through you and I. 

This war we’re in, it’s personal. We’re called, empowered and commissioned, which is precisely why we’re under attack.    

Satan will try to destroy the most beautiful parts of you. The parts of you that most radiate Jesus. That gift of compassion that reveals the heart of the One who wept over Jerusalem’s hard-heartedness, deception, and impending destruction (Luke 19:41-44), and who wept before raising Lazarus from the dead as well (John 11:38-44). 

A gift intended to radiate a unique, life-changing aspect of Christ, of who He is at His core. A gift that should, in its expression, bring joy, but that Satan will twist to feel burdensome. Or, through the hurtful words of others, diminish by telling you that you’re defective, too sensitive. That you feel too intensely, enticing you to withdraw and isolate. To hide behind a facade of “strength” and stoicism.

If God has planted leadership skills within you, satan will tarnish your strength with pride, causing that gift intended to unite and mobilize the kingdom to wound and divide. Or, again, through the hurtful words of others, tell you you’re domineering or prideful. Maybe too loud. Tempting you to hold your tongue, to keep your head down, and to “go with the flow” even when you know things are flowing toward a deadly waterfall. 

In short, satan will try to entice us to fight one another and ourselves. To become self-obsessed, easily offended, and defensive, rather than leaning deeper into Christ and His love. 

But we know our enemy’s tactics. We have an entire book recording his futile attempts, and they are indeed futile, because our play book assures us, Christ has already won. He broke the power of death and replaced it with vibrant and beautiful life. 

And He’s working, day by day and wound by wound, to replace our rubble, the ashes our enemy created in our lives, with untarnishable beauty. 

That’s why Jesus came. Speaking of our Savior, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NASB).

That’s what God did through Jesus. He turned our mourning into dancing, swept away the ashes and rubble our sin and the sins of others created, and gave us a Spirit of strength, joy, and praise.

Now, He’s inviting you and I to live in that. To be part of the mighty movement of God that will, and even is now, rising up against the onslaught of our world’s evil. And not through ugliness and arguments but, through our words and actions, by sprinkling flower seeds wherever we go and plunging our roots deep into the One who nourishes and refreshes our souls. 

Consider, what is one way God wants you to shine light into your world, your sphere of influence and contact, today? 

And for additional encouragement, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter (sent via email). As a thank you gift, all subscribers receive a free e-version of her and Maria Morgan's Bible study, Developing a Life of Faith and Love, based on 1 Timothy (download link sent as a separate email).

You can sign up HERE.

Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event  and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE  and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


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