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 the Dawn 2018 #devotion

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” John 20:1,2

I wish I was a morning person. Morning is a time that engages the senses with the pastel ribbons of the dawning sun painting the sky as it rises over the horizon. The fingers of light float over the earth and give definition to the shadows in the landscape. The birds fill the air with a cheerful chorus and the fragrance of the morning dew refreshes and energizes me. I love taking my coffee out on the deck and just basking in the gift of God’s new day.

Unfortunately, I find it difficult to wake up in the morning. I will lie in bed and tap the snooze button just one more time to garner a few more moments of sleep. But the days I rise early enough to experience the dawn, are the days that I truly feel a connection with God’s spirit and gain strength for the day through the gifts of the morning creation. No matter what challenges the night has held, dawn brings that hope of a new beginning.

I thought about this as I heard the Easter story this past weekend. Mary went to the tomb right before dawn with spices to preserve Jesus’ body. She was grieving the loss of her friend and Savior, probably still questioning why his death had to happen. I am sure she did not see the beauty of the colorful dawning sun or hear the song of the birds in the air. She was using her all her strength to find comfort by caring for the body of Jesus.

Psalm 30:5B Says “sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Mary had no expectations for experiencing joy in her time of grief. She probably had not slept all night but instead tossed and turned restlessly. Yet we know that first Easter dawn did bring the joyful gift of the resurrected Savior not only to Mary but to all believers. Across the world believers seek to capture the inspiration of that moment by worshipping at sunrise services each Easter.

This gift of a resurrected Savior is offered to us at any time, just like the early morning gifts of dawn are available every day. Sometimes our burdens blind our ability to experience the peace and joy that the Lord wants to give us with a new dawn. Other times our own stresses and exhaustion obstruct our ability to connect with energy that comes with the gifts of the morning creation. No matter where you are today, remember, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22,23

Father God, Thank you for the gift of salvation and grace given freely to me through the resurrection of your son Jesus. Help me to experience your presence and the joy of Easter each morning in the gifts of creation and the words of your scriptures. Amen.

A blessed Easter to each of you! Thank you for your support!

Peg is available to speak at retreats, conferences, and more.

Email her today. pegarnoldwow@gmail.com

Peg’s new co-authored book-Reigniting Hope is available now for sale! Just click the link below!

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Distraction of Defragmentation #devotion

 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Ephesians 3:19

I was so excited this year to put some new pictures on my WOW ministry website and start writing fresh devotions. I pulled out my laptop and to my horror, it turned on, but I could not access any of my files. The screen flashed all these messages that I didn’t understand.  I had heard of computers crashing and was fearful this was – now – happening to me! I sought out help to restore my computer and was asked “When did you last defrag your computer”?

“Defrag”? This was a foreign term to me. “What’s that?” was my response.

It was then I learned that the process of defragmentation reorganizes all computer files and partial files by combining similar ones and throwing out the duplicates to clear space on the hard drive. People defrag their computer files to help it avoid crashing and the results is a computer that runs more efficiently. At first I was fearful of defragging my computer files. Would I lose anything important? Would the new organization be too confusing for me? I was assured that the integrity of all necessary files would not be compromised and that I would be pleasantly surprised with the final outcome. It amazed me, for in a matter of minutes, I watched my computer reorganize and delete the excessive files. When it finished, I was pleasantly surprised to have a computer that ran as smoothly as it did when it was new. Thankfully, all my files were intact and easy to find.

Defragmentation? Is that what I do at the beginning of each year when I am inspired to organize and simplify my environment? Am I defragging my surroundings by finding a place for everything, putting common items together and throwing out the unnecessary objects? I love going out and buying those pretty baskets to consolidate items, and create a space of order out of clutter. However, throwing out things is not easy for me and sometimes there is fear that I may need one of those items in the future. Just as defragmentation increased the efficiency of my computer, I find that organizing my environment decreases my stress and actually increases my energy, making me more efficient. Of course, my closet organization process took much longer than the few minutes my computer defragmentation required.

Then I thought about my spiritual life. What type of thoughts and feelings fill my mind, slowing me down and making me less productive in my faith and witness? What if I tried to defrag those things? Things like discouragement, discontent, unforgiveness, anger and doubt? It surely isn’t as easy as pushing a few buttons on the computer. And there isn’t a store with pretty containers to reorganize those thoughts and feelings. But I do have a God to teach me His ways and give me an undivided heart.  Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.   Instead of pushing a few buttons or spending a day throwing out and reorganizing clutter this takes spending time with my Lord, seeking Him daily. He meets me every day to help me sort out the unproductive and negative thoughts, tossing them out and replacing them with His love and acceptance, for He has created me in His image.

Dear Lord, I know you must be dismayed when you see me trying to wade through life carrying burdens of the past and present by myself. Help me, Lord, to identify those things that take up space, weigh me down and keep me from experiencing your Spirit and hearing your voice. I long to experience the freedom that You alone offer. I want to begin with one area this year Lord. Today I name it “____________” and I place it in Your Hands. Teach me your ways and help me rely on your faithfulness so that I can serve you with an undivided heart. Amen

Peg’s WOW website is http://www.pegarnold.org

 

 

 

Distraction of Denial

photo 1Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

It’s nearing the end of Lent, the 40 day period of time (not counting Sundays) which many faiths use to prepare themselves for the celebration of Easter. In my church, it’s a time when many reflect and practice a new spiritual discipline such as daily devotions, serving others, reading the Bible, while others choose to fast from or deny themselves of a specific food or activity.

I was not raised with the tradition of fasting or denying myself during the Lenten season. However as an adult, I became more aware of this practice. As I studied Jesus’ time of preparation for ministry when He retreated to the desert to fast, pray and be tempted, I realized the purpose for this discipline of self- denial or fasting. I began with small personal sacrifices and when my children were young we attempted to choose a common focus as a family. Each year, as Ash Wednesday approached, the question arose, what would we give up? One year, we tried to deny ourselves TV. That was a learning experience! Other years, it was a specific food, such as cookies or chocolate. My kids would want to give up something like spinach. This was followed by the discussion of whether that was a sacrifice for them or not. I had to admit that limiting my choice to cookies wasn’t really a sacrifice either because I would satisfy my sweet tooth with other decadent cakes and sweets. Who was I fooling with my righteous statement of “giving up cookies for lent”? In reality, there was really no sense of denial or sacrifice.

I had to question, why I was doing this? Was it truly a spiritual discipline? Was it a true sacrifice or was I just going through the motions in giving up sweets? Was I secretly hoping for weight loss more than spiritual growth?

When Jesus was in the wilderness, he suffered and sacrificed for forty days. My pitiful sacrifice of cookies or chocolate didn’t even compare. If I intended to be serious about spiritual growth, I needed to take inventory of the things that distracted and separated me from Christ.

Recently, I presented a Martha and Mary drama (Luke 10:38-42) for several different churches. While preparing the personal reflections that follow this drama, I had a revelation. I had been facing my Lenten sacrifice like an action to be completed and checked off my Martha list. I was in the accomplishment mode. When in reality, I should have been listening to the voice of Christ saying “Peg, Peg, you are distracted by so many things, but Mary has chosen the better part.” Light bulb moment! My Lenten sacrifice should be emulating Mary’s heart of worship and drawing me closer to Christ.

So what did I do this year? True confessions? I took a personal inventory and identified one of my time-consuming distractions, cell phone games. Yes, “my name is Peg and I am addicted to Words with Friends.” I love the competition, the connection with friends and family, and the brief messages we share in the process! Yes, it’s a cell phone game but it is also a virtual visit. However, one turn leads to another, until time has escaped me and I am behind on other responsibilities! So this year, I decided I would use that time for spiritual disciplines such as additional prayer time and devotions to help me grow in my relationship with Christ.

It does not need to be Lent to take a personal inventory and identify those distractions that steal away your time or separate you from Christ. Do you feel distanced from your walk with Christ? Do you feel you are consumed with the “Martha” or worldly obligations? Would practicing the spiritual discipline of denial, help you to find that time to kneel at the feet of Jesus?

Dear Jesus, Thank you for your patience with me as I stumble along and make mistake after mistake. Denying myself is not the easiest thing to do. I am tempted to see denial through worldly eyes when denial in Your eyes is what helps me grow closer to You. Open my eyes to help me identify ways to grow closer to You. You have called me to deny myself, take up Your cross daily and follow You. In addition, You have promised that I never do this alone. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Distraction of Dust

 

Proverbs 19:21 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

 

            Do you ever have those days where it seems like nothing gets done?  I am talking about the day that starts out with a plan of things to accomplish, a list of tasks to do, or a schedule of obligations to fulfill. You wake up with every intention to accomplish it all but somehow it is the interruptions that seem to control the day.

            I started my summer break last month and was so excited to finally have some unstructured time. I would be able to accomplish some tasks around the house.  My plan was to start each day with a morning walk, and my devotions.  This would set the foundation for a great day.  The first day finally came.  I had my list of things to do and started my day with the morning walk.  So far so good!  When I returned to the house, I had every intention of fixing my breakfast and retreating to the porch for my devotions.  As I ate my breakfast, I thought I would just take a moment to check my emails, which, before I knew it, consumed more time than I had planned.  So now I needed to get my breakfast dishes put away and I noticed the dishwasher had not been emptied.  I thought if I empty this now, then I can go to the porch for my devotional time. 

            I finished the kitchen and finally retreated to the porch, sitting down with my prayer shawl, devotional, journal and Bible.  I truly had the best intentions to spend time with Jesus, however when I sat down and opened up my Bible I looked at the table. There was enough dust on there to write my name in it and underneath it there must have been six stinkbugs.  Needless to say this was distracting me and I needed to take care of this before I had my devotions.   I got up and went to get a dusting cloth and spray from the cleaning closet, but when I pulled the rag out, several things toppled over requiring me to take the time to clean and reorganize the entire closet (after all, this was one of the tasks on my list of things to do).

            When I finished reorganizing the closet, I went out to the porch to dust the table and pick up the stink bugs. This turned into a much more involved cleaning project than just dusting the furniture and sweeping the floor, since I discovered the results of a leak in the corner. While getting this project completed, the phone rang. It was my father, which consumed the rest of the morning.

            Did I ever do my devotions?  I have to be honest with you.  The day seemed to fill itself with one distracting activity that led into another one, from laundry to cleaning out drawers to making dinner for a friend. While I was working on each task, I felt the guilt looming over my head that I had not completed my devotional time yet.  I was seeking God as I worked, but I had not spent time reading His word, His wisdom and listening to His voice.

         Whether your distraction is dust, dishes, dirt, or other demands of the day, how do you handle the detour from your original plan and priority?  Do you allow the day and the events to control your time and activities? Do you look at each task and assess its importance to your goals? Or, do you fall victim and give complete power to the distractions?

       Each day is a new beginning of making a conscious choice to look to Christ for guidance in the activities for the day.  Sometimes our days are scheduled tightly with obligations and activities planned for every moment.  Other times our days are filled with our own plans and goals and sometimes it is completely overwhelmed with demands of others over which we feel we have no control. Whatever your day brings, distractions are likely to occur.  It is a choice to let the distractions and demands have control or to take control and find contentment in the choices that you make.       

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In other words, we have a choice as to what voice we hear as we make decisions for our day.

 

  So as I look back at the frustrating detours to my day, I will try to make each task a basis for a prayer. For instance, praying for the shelter of my house as I clean the dusty areas and even throw out the stink bugs. I will pray for the people in my family that own the items in the closet as I clean it out.  My closet involved organizing church meeting notes, my school lunch bags which would allow me to pray for my church and school.

We can use any distraction or task as a basis to pray.  This can extend to laundry, cleaning your bathroom and even making dinner.  Praying for those who wear the clothes, sleep in the beds, and with meals there are multitude of blessings to praise God.

Of course there will be days when circumstances consume more time than we had planned, but remember, if we do everything for the glory of God, He will bless us richly giving us a true sense of purpose and peace, even in the distractions.

Remember Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

 

Dear Loving Lord, How small and narrow my thoughts can be.  I truly want to turn my distractions to time with you, praying for my blessings and interceding for those whom I love and for those whom are important to You. Help me to rejoice always, pray continually and intentionally live each moment for your Purpose. Amen