Tag Archives: Wholly Loved

Keep Looking Forward

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:10-14
I’m sometimes obsessed with examining my weaknesses and how far I fall short in my devotion to Christ, and I end up feeling like a failure. Like Paul, I want to know Christ and experience His power in my life (v. 10), but I often stumble because I concentrate on my own efforts.

The Apostle Paul’s deepest desire was to know Christ fully: to become like Him in his willingness to die and experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead. He knew he hadn’t achieved that kind of maturity, but he continually pressed toward that goal. Forgetting past victories and defeats, he focused on obedience and the eternity he’d soon spend with Christ.

Paul didn’t worry about results. He moved forward in a single-minded pursuit of Christ. He fastened his gaze on the future rather than obsessing over his abilities.

Dwelling on my failures or what appears to be a lack of progress discourages me. I start fretting about what I’m not instead of following Jesus. When I concentrate on Christ and His Spirit in me, His power works through me and enables me to unite with Him.

Paul encourages us to:

Keep pressing on.

Continue on today, even if you messed up yesterday.

Pursue Christ and take the next right step, even if your last step was off track.

Look forward.

Lock your eyes on Jesus.

Fall a hundred times, get up, and follow again no matter how often it is necessary.

Remain laser-focused on Jesus Christ, not your weaknesses or strengths. Remember His call to greater intimacy, relinquish the past, and take the next step. Ultimately we can rest in the knowledge that we will experience the joy of a deeper relationship with Christ and spending eternity with Him. 

Excerpt from Philippians: 14 Days of Hope and Encouragement at YouVersion – A Wholly Loved Bible Reading

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Is God Asking the Impossible?

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 1:1-4

Value others above myself? I tend to focus on me. Paul, writer of much of the New Testament, admonishes us to do nothing from a self-first or prideful attitude. It feels like he’s asking us to achieve the impossible. Does God expect Christians to always be unselfish? He knows we’re incapable of living this way in our own strength. 

Trying to live like Christ by sheer effort leaves me frustrated and ineffective. I continually default to self-focus. This passage usually discourages me because I struggle with pride. I’m unable to imagine what a world of humble people would look like. Too often, even when I’m able to obey and act charitably, inside I’m still thinking of self. 

So how can we value others over ourselves? We achieve such kind-hearted living one step at a time as we look to Jesus and depend on His Spirit in us. If we could make a one-time decision to be humble, we wouldn’t need God. He wants us to listen to Him and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in each encounter. I must make this choice step by step, seeking to have the mind of Christ day after day. 

Paul reminds us that we are one with Jesus: The One who gives us encouragement, comforts us with His love, and fills us with His Spirit. Because His Spirit lives in us, He gives us the grace and humility to unite with other believers in spite of our diversity.

God calls us to choose to consider others before ourselves: not in the sense of being a weakling, but by acting from the love we’ve received. 

When we’re tempted by selfishness, we find freedom not by our own goodness but by relying on God. We connect to Jesus through prayer, read His Instructions in the Bible, and ask for the grace to obey. He then works through us, helping us to have the same mind as He does.

We won’t live up to this perfectly, but as we focus on Christ and yield to His Spirit, we will grow in loving others. 


Excerpt from the Wholly Loved Bible reading plan: Philippians: 14 Days of Hope and Encouragement  found on YouVersion

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Jesus’s Example of Humility

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end...so He got up from the meal, took of His outer clothing...and began to wash His disciples' feet” (John 13:1,4-5).

I felt a moment’s hesitation as I saw poop on the toilet, wall, and all over the legs of the older child I’d taken to the zoo. We were in the family bathroom and I knew what had to be done. Could I handle this uncomfortable situation?

My love for the ten-year-old boy enabled me to calmly clean up the mess. Being disabled, he was unable to clean himself. At that moment, Jesus gave me grace to think of my young friend before myself. I was happy to care for him in this way. 

Not long before Jesus Christ would be arrested and face death, He demonstrated His love for the disciples in a beautiful way. At the last supper He shared with them, Jesus, God in the flesh, got up and began to wash His disciples’ feet. He performed this lowly servant’s dirty job to set an example for us.

Jesus portrayed how He wants us to live. He calls us to willingly humble ourselves and meet needs. Our default as humans is to demand our rights, take care of ourselves, and let pride reign. To follow the example of our Lord, we must lay down our self-importance.

When we love as Jesus did, we serve each other.

How can you help someone today?

Excerpt from His Cross Our Hope Wholly Loved Bible reading plan at YouVersion

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You Are Loved

I know from a human viewpoint I often don’t measure up to others, and it’s impossible for me to reach God’s perfect standards. These thoughts assail me at times:

“I’ll never achieve what she’s accomplished; God must like her more than me. She’s so competent and productive.” 

“She’s more loving, wise, and obedient than I am. Of course, God favors her.”

How can I respond to this struggle?

I remember the truth:

“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love...May Your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You” (Psalm 33:18, 22, NIV).

I hope in God’s Hesed, most often translated as mercy, loving-kindness, or steadfast/unfailing love. This word has such deep meaning, Christian musician Michael Card wrote an entire book, entitled, Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness.

God’s abundant care for us is incomprehensible. We receive this truth by faith but its depth is beyond our knowing. If we could understand, we’d never question if He prefers someone over us. He’s loved all His children since before time began. He knew, when He created mankind, we would choose sin. He cherished us so deeply, He planned from the beginning to send Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and then die to pay for our wrongdoing. 

I can’t fathom His merciful kindness which has nothing to do with my performance. Yes, He calls me to obey, but His affection is unconditional, unchanging, and eternal. I show my devotion for Him through my obedience. Whether I succeed or fail doesn’t change how He cherishes me. His love is rock solid, immovable, and always with me. 

He always calls us to seek Jesus, believing in and remaining in Him. We are to walk with Him, talk to Him about everything, listen and obey His teaching. He holds all His children dear and knows how frail we are. 

Do you wonder if God values others more than you?

Find a quiet place and meditate on these verses:

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your unfailing love, LORD, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Believe He calls you beloved.  

Thank You, Father, for Your eternal and unchanging love! Help me rest in You, rejoicing in Your grace. When thoughts come, tempting me to compare myself to others, leading me to jealousy or insecurity, please help me bring those thoughts captive and replace them with the truth. Thank You that nothing I do can make You love me more or love me less. Your love is an undeserved gift. Praise Your holy name!

What does God’s unfailing love mean to you?

How does His love change how you view others?



First published at WhollyLoved.com

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Joy in Chaos–Day 7

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.” Philippians 4:12

I’ve never known true hunger, and compared to most of the world have never experienced the want of basic needs. It’s easy for me to say I know how to be content and find joy in any and every situation.

I’m writing this devotion in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and discontent has come easily to me. I have plenty of food but I long for some of my favorites. I don’t really need anything but I miss shopping. Not being able to go to the hairdresser feels like a big problem. I struggle with discontentment which robs me of joy.

How did Paul, the author of today’s passage, find this place of contentment, and even joy, despite beatings, imprisonment, hatred, and rejection?

He said, “I have learned” the secret of how to be content in any circumstance. He learned the secret to letting go of striving, grasping, and the crying demands of discontent. The secret to accepting whatever came: sun or storm; fullness or emptiness; nothing or everything.

He told us how in the verse that follows: “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Paul’s focus was on Jesus, not himself. His hope was in Jesus, not this world. He looked forward not behind. As a result, gratitude and praise characterized his life.

In chains and in freedom, he praised God.

In weakness and in strength, he praised God.

When bruised and beaten or when in comfort, he praised God.

Paul viewed this life of turmoil and pain as nothing compared to the future he had living in the presence of Christ with a perfect, glorified body of his own, free from sin and death. (Romans 8:18; Philippians 3:20-21)

To find this contentment, and fully experience the joy it fuels, we keep our eyes on Jesus and the future we have with Him. We praise Him, worshipping Him in good times and bad. We rely on His strength because we can’t do it on our own.

Paul was weak as we are but he depended on Christ. He chose contentment by faith finding lasting joy, and so can we.

Excerpt from Joy In Chaos Bible Reading plan. Go to Bible.Com to find this plan

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Don’t Give Up On Your Calling

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Thanks to Patti Shene for hosting me on her site: (click to visit)  The Over 50 Writer 

This is what I shared about not giving up on writing:

I used to be a secret writer, writing for myself or occasionally for an individual. Almost 30 years ago, a friend helped me take the step to start sharing publicly. Soon after, I self-published my first book. Some years after that I discovered blogging and thought, now I would have a platform for my voice. But over time I began to get discouraged sometimes thinking, ‘What’s the point,” because it seemed no one was listening. Then God would remind me of who my true audience is—Him. I kept coming back to writing, not giving up entirely, and in recent years He has connected me with Wholly Loved Ministries where I’ve had opportunities to contribute in various ways. He has given me the platform He wants me to have. It was always His will to use my writing. My part was to stay faithful and follow His leading.

When the Old Testament prophet, Samuel, was searching for the next king of Israel, he requested that Jesse’s youngest, David, be brought to him:

“Then the LORD said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’ So, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” 1 Samuel 16:12-13 (NIV)

God directed Samuel to anoint David as the next king of Israel when he was around the age of 15-17. He would not take the throne of Israel until he was 30 years old (2 Samuel 5:4). During those 15 or so years he was either running for his life or fighting for his right to rule. His life was in danger multiple times and he was on the run for years. All this after God revealed it was His will for David to be king.

Just because we know or firmly believe something to be God’s will for us doesn’t mean it will be easy or happen right away. We may have to fight for it. We may have to endure years of waiting. When we pursue His calling, we may have to seek confirmation at some point and sometimes we might discover we were off the mark. But we should never think that because something is difficult or because a long time goes by without fruit that it isn’t God’s will for us.

If what you feel called to do is in line with the Bible and God has put it in your heart to do this, then pursue it with all your being until He shows you differently.

Check out the new Wholly Loved devotional book. I contributed 6 devotions to this one:

anchored and secure

Blurb for Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace

“Thanks 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…This 60-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.”

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We All Need Grace

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“God doesn’t want us to live enslaved to insecurity, futility, defeat or fear. Christ died to set us free, and the deeper we anchor ourselves in grace, the more we experience Christ’s freedom.

Thanks 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; 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.

This Mother’s Day, start a new tradition of reading and discussing devotions together.

Buy a copy for yourself and gift one for your mom or a woman you’d love to see

grounded firmly in God’s love and grace.” Wholly Loved Ministries
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088B9ZCKR/

 

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I’m Kept Firm to the End

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Please join me on Crosswalk.com today:

“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8

I’m no longer the idealist I was in my twenties. Back then, I believed if I checked all the right boxes and followed the correct formula, I’d struggle less with sins like selfishness and pride. I never found that formula. Although I’ve grown in my faith and obedience to Christ, I still battle some of the same weaknesses. Life and growth are a struggle. We’ll fight sin until the day we die. Strength and wisdom come only as I rely on God’s power. It’s a relationship not a formula.

Continue reading at Crosswalk.com

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Fighting Against Guilt

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“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us …” Ephesians 1:7

My failures weighed me down like a suffocating blanket. Others appeared better than me. Accusations bombarded my mind:

“You’ve wasted your life!”

“You call yourself a Christian; look at all the people you’ve ignored!”

“What do you have to show for yourself?”

One day as I was getting into my car, I felt overwhelmed with negativity. Then, a song came to mind describing how God, within me, is greater than he who lives in the world (1 John 4:4). I turned on the car and those exact lyrics were playing on the radio!

Later that day, as I shared my struggles with a friend, she said, regarding my negative thoughts, “That’s the enemy! God doesn’t talk to us like that.”

A light came on in my heart, and I remembered the words from the song. I was under attack. Our enemy, Satan, was filling my heart with accusations. Yet, I knew, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b).

I wish I could say I had victory from then on, but the enemy doesn’t take a vacation. He looks for an opportune time, then strikes. He mixes in enough truth to discourage us and make us feel defeated. It’s true that I struggle with pride, selfishness, laziness, and jealousy. But, I’m no longer under condemnation! (Rom. 8:32). I always have the grace of Jesus.  When I fail, I confess and ask for His help. God never prompts me to give up because of my sin.

He calls me to repent and keep going.

The Holy Spirit will convict us of a specific sin and call us to change, but He doesn’t oppress us with guilt or condemnation. In response to His gentle prompting, we humble ourselves, confess, and move on in joy.

Are your thoughts condemning you? Call out to Jesus, confess, and move on. Resist the lies that seek to defeat you.

Published at Crosswalk.com

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Are you Building up or Tearing Down?

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“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

It’s easy to destroy but constructing takes work and patience.

Join me at Crosswalk.com to read my thoughts.

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