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 Drifting #devotionblog

anchor

This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven. Hebrews 6:19 (TLB)

Throughout my childhood, my family spent a good part of the summer vacationing on a spring-fed lake, nestled in the wooded hills of northern Michigan. Each day was filled with endless opportunities. Our time was consumed with hikes in the woods, fires in the fireplace, card games, hours in the water and much more.

One of my favorite activities as a teenage girl was sunbathing. Often I would do this with a girlfriend, a sister or a cousin – on towels on the dock. Sometimes we would swim to a raft and lay out until we were dry. Then we had to brave jumping into the cold water to return to shore. One day in particular, I remember, the sunlight shimmered on the lake like sparkling diamonds. My girlfriend and I decided to take her little sunfish sailboat out. We weren’t great sailors, but we wanted to take the boat out to just drift aimlessly while we basked in the sun. The wind was calm, but unlike the anchored raft, we drifted far out of sight from our familiar shoreline. This caused a bit of a panic when we realized what happened. Since our sailing skills were limited, it took us quite a while to return home. We realized that we might need an anchor the next time!

Every day, I am vulnerable to drifting. Whether it is the waves of distractions ebbing me away from tasks and relationships, the wandering thoughts sidetracking my prayer time or the worry waves consuming my mind and causing panic and anxiety. During these times, I am much like that boat, drifting in the middle of the lake and in need of an anchor. An anchor is not meant to be a burden to weigh me down, but secure me and keep me centered to my purpose.

The early Christians referred to Jesus as their anchor. He was the source of their hope and strength in times of persecution and challenge. As an anchor, Jesus does not weigh me down, but connects me to His power and direction. His anchor has a line providing some freedom of movement, but always keeping me tethered to Him, even in the midst of stormy seas. As my relationship grows with Christ, I become more aware of His presence and keenly sense His gentle pull when I begin to drift with the waves of distractions.

How do I keep this connection? How do I strengthen my awareness of Christ presence in the midst of the many distractions? My daily devotions are a time that center and anchor me each day. But sometimes, I am in need of more. I just read the book “Addicted to Busy” by Brady Boyd. Pastor Boyd focuses on the importance of carving out a Sabbath. He explains that it is important to schedule a regular time where we do NOT focus on tasks and productivity but intentionally take time to rest and connect to the Lord. At first, it may feel like you are drifting from one activity to another, but just like daily devotions, by carving time out for a Sabbath, you are purposefully choosing to strengthen your relationship with Jesus, increasing your awareness of His will and His presence.   This is not an easy thing to do, as it requires carving out time in a busy schedule for this focus. Pastor Brady shares ideas of how his entire family prioritizes scheduling their Sabbath together.

Hebrews 6:19 reminds us that our hope of being saved is the strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls which connects us with God himself, behind the sacred curtains of heaven. How do you connect to the hope and strength of God? He can be your anchor when you are drifting in the waves of distractions or tossing in the turbulence of the stormy seas.

Dear Lord, I confess that I tend to try to do things by my own strength, I leave things undone, I focus on the unimportant and I respond to the voices of urgent. Help me to place my hope and strength in you, so instead of drifting to the aimless wind, I am aware of Your presence and anchored to Your purpose and Your course. Amen.