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

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