It is my pleasure to welcome ~
~ to Journeys To Joy
Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=Jennifer+Slattery&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.
I have a phrase I repeat often: Dead men don’t bleed. They don’t argue, complain, or get offended. They don’t need the spotlight, accolades, to have the last word, or to win every verbal battle.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me” (John 12:24-26 NLT).
This passage has been repeated in many sermons and memorized by countless Bible study students, but it’s the living it out that becomes hard.
If you’re like me, you struggle with those little day-to-day stuff, all those moments when your inner Me-Monster raises its ugly head. But when Christ made this statement, He wasn’t talking about percentage-based tithing or holding babies in the nursery. He was speaking of His future death and letting His disciples know, there were rough, very rough times ahead, and they needed to be ready to face it all for the sake of the gospel.
Soon, they would be thrown in prisons, beaten and flogged, and even executed for their faith. And yet, they were ready to give everything up–because they believed Jesus was their everything. As a result, they set their world on fire, sharing the gospel with everyone they encountered.
So, what did they do when their listeners weren’t listening, or worse, when people grew angry, confrontational, and derisive–or downright violent?
“Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” Acts 13:50-52 NLT).
In the face of injustice, when a mob went on the attack, what did Paul and Barnabas do? They shook the dust from their feet, but this isn’t what stuck out to me most. Nope. It was their attitude–how they handled what, to the onlooker, appeared a failure. “The believers were filled with joy…”
When I read that, I couldn’t help but think how I respond when others don’t receive my message. I have a tendency to get upset. I can even get defensive. I suspect this is because somewhere during the conversation, it’s become less about sharing the love and truth of Christ and has become more personal.
In other words, about me.
I’m not sure why or how this happens, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with my sin nature, or more specifically, the universal character flaw known as pride.
But if I would just die to myself… and stay dead, I believe I, too, could say, “I am filled with joy,” no matter what–or who–I encounter.
Sound crazy? How can dying to oneself, or, to put it more simply, putting others first, bring someone joy? Jesus Christ told us to die to ourselves, and He also said He came so we could experience abundant life. Therefore, I believe (and have found to be true) we find our greatest joy when we surrender everything–all we have and all we are–to Christ. And I believe the opposite is true. We find our greatest misery when we turn that focus back on ourselves. Don’t believe me? Try it.
What about you? Is it hard for you to die to yourself? And if so, what are some truths that have helped or might help you do so? And when you have set aside your needs, feelings, or rights, what has been the result?
Beyond I Do:
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?
Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.
absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Leave a comment for Jennifer about her devotional or her book ~ Encourage her heart today.