Distraction of Daily Devotions

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Since Easter I have had the opportunity to travel with both friends and family. I just returned from the WinSome Women conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. This island is like stepping back in time. When getting off the boat you are met with a horse drawn carriage to take you to your destination. Bicycles are the only other mode of transportation. As I stood on the porch of the hotel, I was surrounded with expansive views of Lake Huron, lighthouses, and the Mackinac bridge. It was beautiful and I felt close to God surrounded by His creation.

The conference with its theme of Precious Promises was also inspiring through the messages of the speakers and the fellowship of the women. I find I reconnect with the Lord through these experiences and His revelations can include both encouraging messages and difficult ones too. Once again God convicted me about the importance of daily devotions. Yes convicted. He revealed to me that if I was praying daily without carving out specific time for reading scripture and devotions, it was like driving a car and never refueling.

Daily devotions provide that time of refueling. It is when I am able to connect in a deeper way with our Lord Jesus, through His word, study, reflection, and yes, prayer. When I fix my eyes on Him each morning, He is able to fill me with His wisdom, His strength, and His peace. During this time of stillness before Him, He may comfort me or convict me to address those areas that are challenging. Whatever happens, these moments help me to grow in my relationship with Christ and equip me to be more effective in my service to Him.

So why do I return from experiences like this and quickly allow the daily events and distractions to fritter away my time? How do I make these devotions a priority in my routine? The following quote is one that truly convicted me. “Excessive planning can cause stress and perpetuates an undue focus on the importance of self. This in itself is a form of idolatry and hinders our relationship with Christ.” If I continue to make excuses about my distractions, letting the planned and unplanned events of the day control me, it can be a form of sin and idolatry. Ouch!

Remember one of the Ten Commandments was “You shall have no other gods before me.” The gods of our lives today are not golden calves, but come in the form of schedules, technology, media, materialism, exhaustion, challenges, worries, prestige, goals, dreams, fitness, and even the god of wasted time. These “gods” can clutter our mind causing us more stress and perpetuate the focus on our own importance. This hinders our relationship with God and is a form of idolatry. When we allow ourselves to focus on earthly stresses, without taking them to God, we are no better than the early believers that made graven images. There is to be nothing, absolutely nothing that is set higher than your relationship with God.

Taking all our cares and worries to our Lord Jesus who loves us and died for us on the cross, is a privilege. To honor that privilege, daily devotions are one of the most important things we can do to honor Christ. By spending those moments with Him, He can help us to focus on what’s important, organize our time, and give us strength and wisdom to handle whatever distractions or challenges that may invade our thoughts and our schedule. It is when we lose focus of Him that we become vulnerable to the demands of those around us. Lamentations 3:22-24 says “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” You don’t have to travel to a remote place to connect with Christ, He is waiting for you right where you are now. Take time and start refueling with Him.

Dear Loving Lord, Forgive me when I make excuses and leave You out. I never thought that my surrender to the distractions in my day was creating an idol that removed my focus from You. Help me to seek and refuel with Your mercies every morning. I want to find my strength in You and intentionally live each moment for Your Purpose. Amen

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Distraction of Doubt

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”Matthew 14:31

Have you ever been in a situation where you are asked to step out of your comfort zone? During those times, do you feel that you have not been equipped with the abilities or the confidence to complete the tasks that you face? Think about a time that you were asked to take on a new job, make a presentation, start a new business, watch a friend’s child, plan an event, move, teach a class, or some other responsibility.

Did you face it with confidence? Were you excited to “step out of the boat?” Or did you second guess yourself and ask the questions;

Why me?

What do I have to offer?

Who wants to listen to me?

Why would they trust me?

Why didn’t they ask her because she would do it so much better.

Or worse yet, “If they really knew me, they would never have asked me to do this! “

Self-doubt, it is a voice that can control, haunt, limit and/or paralyze you from accomplishing things that God has equipped you to do. The world holds up a measure of perfection making us doubt ourselves as parents, friends, workers, teachers, and more.

Doubt: defined as the state of being unsure of something, is an internal message that can rob us of the confidence to accomplish a goal. It is a thorn that slivers into our spirits and festers into a wound that if untreated could leave a scar for life.

            Doubt may come from voice in our past telling us we would never measure up. Doubt may come from the comparisons of society that tell us we are too impatient, too disorganized, too young, too old, too heavy, too thin, too lazy to shy, too outgoing, too injured, too   ______ . You fill in the blank.

If we listen to these voices of doubt over the voice of God, we allow ourselves to be filled with a constant questioning of our abilities. These voices distract us from the gifts and talents God has equipped us with and limit our own potential. Would we ever allow a child in our care to question his or her worth and abilities in the same way? Then why do we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of unworthiness and doubt?

            I have to be honest with you that I experience times of doubt. Like Peter, when I am put into a situation of “stepping out of the boat,” I am not sure if I have confidence or feel equipped to accomplish the task that is before me. My friends and family will tell me that I have the abilities, but, for instance, when preparing to speak, sing, perform or even write this blog, I am very vulnerable to those voices inside that say:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • What makes you think you have something worthwhile to share?
  • Why would others want to listen to you?

My stomach can become tied up in knots, my legs become shaky and sometimes I become so nervous, my insides feel like mush. Just as Peter doubted the ability to walk on water with Christ, right there in front of him, I am doubting my God given abilities. Yet, what happened with Peter? When he kept his eyes on Christ, he would stay on the top of the water. But when he looked away from Christ and doubted, he would begin sinking. I need to remember every day that doubt is not from God and doubt will limit what God can do through me. It is only by girding myself daily with the reassurance of God’s word, and keeping my eyes on Him that I have the confidence to accomplish the tasks I am required to do.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Do you believe that Christ has created you with gifts and equipped you with the abilities to do His will in whatever environment He has placed you? Do you feel God calling you into a new direction? Guard your mind and spirit from the voices of the world that want to distract you with doubt and fill you with lies of unworthiness. You are worthy, step out of the boat, keep your eyes on him, listen to His voice and take His hand, Jesus will not let you sink!

 

Lord, Forgive me when I spend my time doubting the gifts and abilities you have entrusted to me. Help me to see myself as you do and ignore the doubts the world screams into my ear. I want to hear your voice, focus on your eyes and step out of my boat. Amen

 

Distraction of Denver

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth
,” Psalm 121: 1, 2.

On my first trip out west, I was mesmerized by the ever changing landscape. The Rocky Mountains slowly rose as white ghosts of snow-capped summits into view and took my breath away. For the first time, I was witnessing the sights that must have inspired the lyrics, “purple mountain majesty” and “the mountains declare the glory of God.”

As I arrived to the city of Denver, the sights quickly consumed my view: the new baseball stadium, quaint café squares adorned with statues and fountains, remodeled antique store fronts contrasted with shiny modern architecture. These new highlights diverted my focus from the beautiful landscapes in the distance. I loved the sights of the city, but they completely distracted me from the splendor of the mountains on the western horizon.

Then it struck me. How much is this like my daily life? I often spend devotional time in the morning when I lift my eyes vertically to the Lord and am refreshed with His power and glory. But when I leave my devotional time and jump into my day, I become consumed with the horizontal demands and sights close at hand.

God is like those mountains that surround the western side of Denver. He is always there watching and waiting to offer strength and refreshment. When we look vertically to Him, we are aware of His presence, but many times our thoughts and view are consumed with our horizontal daily demands.

We are called daily to lift our eyes, vertically, to the hills. This is where our help comes from.

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth
,” Psalm 121: 1, 2.

It is only then that He endows us with strength and empowers us to reach out horizontally to others.

Dear Lord, How Majestic is your name in all the earth. As I seek to serve you daily, help me to focus on the glory of your vertical insights that will strengthen and guide me in my horizontal demands. Amen

Note to my readers I want to share an exciting opportunity I have to publish some of these devotions in a book called Devotions for the Distracted Heart. I will keep you posted on the details when the book comes available, hopefully by June 2019. This has consumed much of my time, so I wanted you to be the first to know about this.

Also if you are interested in meeting in person, Check out this link for some of the places I will be speaking or conferences I will be attending. Let me know to look for you there!  https://wonderofwomen.org/events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February Love Verses Album 2

Here are the rest of the February Love verses. I pray these are an encouragement to you. You may share these freely. The images are taken from Word Swag Free images.

I look forward to sharing some exciting news with you next month. Its a project I have been working on this month also.

 

Distraction of Doughboys #devotion

 Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The snow falling this past weekend reminded me of the wintry mornings when my children were little. There was one storm in particular that had everything closed for the day. This gave me that gift of time to prepare a special breakfast for the family. I had all the ingredients to make one of the kids’ favorite treats, cinnamon surprise rolls. They loved helping to dip the marshmallows in cinnamon sugar and butter, then wrapping a crescent roll around them before putting them into the oven.

I had just started to assemble the ingredients and hadn’t even opened the crescent rolls when I heard a little voice call out, “Mommy, me help you!” My son toddled into the kitchen dressed in his footie pajamas and not waiting for a response, used all his strength to slowly push a stool over to the counter where I was working. He looked at the roll and said, “me do it?” I helped him to begin peeling the label off . When he completed that task (leaving piles of blue and silver confetti on the floor) he looked at me and said, “Now?” I nodded my approval and he slammed the tube against the kitchen counter… nothing happened. With every ounce of strength in his body he tried again, still nothing happened. Frustrated, he handed the tube to me and said, “you do it mommy”.

I took the tube while he watched every movement I made. I slammed it on the edge of the counter, breaking the seal, allowing the dough to ooze out. I half anticipated a cheer from my son, but when I looked down at him, he peered up at me with tear filled eyes, whimpering “ Where’s the little man?”

The little man? I immediately knew what he was looking for. His little toddler heart was expecting the Pillsbury Dough Boy to jump out of the tube when it broke, just like in the commercials. I had to stifle my giggle as I tried to explain and comfort his disappointment at the same time. It didn’t take much time, before I had him distracted with marshmallows, cinnamon and the fun of wrapping each one in dough.

Have you ever experienced circumstances where reality did not match your expectations? In my child’s case, it was media images that inspired his false hope. Sometimes the expectations are set by our own dreams and goals and sometimes they are set by others. It’s not a question as to whether we will ever experience shattered expectations, but how will we respond when it occurs. Do we get angry, cry, pout, ignore, or respond in some other way that shuts us down?

I know that my response to shattered expectations can lead to me to a place of disappointment, worry, stress, anxiety and more. With my toddler, it was easy to distract him from his initial disappointment, but how do I bring myself back to a place of acceptance and move on? It’s not as easy or quick for me but seeking wisdom and counsel from others can provide balance. Focusing on prayer or attitude of joy and thanksgiving helps me more than just deal with disappointing situations but also grow in understanding and God’s purpose. Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Thessalonians,  Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I’ll be the first to admit, that rejoicing always is not the easiest thing to do when expectations have been shattered, but having that mind of joy, prayer and thanksgiving, can truly help to redeem a seemingly disappointing situation into one from which I can learn and grow.

Dear Loving God, You yourself knew many shattered expectations including the first betrayal of Eve and Adam in the garden. Yet you continued to love, sacrifice and guide. Help me to know that when reality does not meet my expectations, you have a plan, a plan to give me hope and a future. Sometimes, my plan is not the best and I need to trust in you and not my own understanding by seeking your will through prayer and gratitude. Thank you Lord! Amen