Tuning Out Distractions

RESTNotes

But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you . . . Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you! (2 Chron. 20:17 NLT)

Writing my first book initiated one of the most intense spiritual battles of my life.

I worried about my family—especially my seven grandchildren. I had not been available for their needs with all my blogging, speaking, and writing. Guilty thoughts saturated me like a heavy rainstorm. And worry encompassed me like a dark thundercloud overhead.

Then, a Word broke through the storm clouds like a ray of sunshine: “[T]here is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NLT).

My husband, Dan, had scheduled his retirement date just weeks before the deadline to turn in my book manuscript. So my direction faltered, and my thoughts were like a honeybee, flitting flower to flower. Lord, how will I ever finish this book in time?

I completed my book, but not without spiritual battles. Ephesians 6 offers us this truth:

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. (Eph. 5:13–17 The Message)

Red Flags

How do you respond to distractions and discouragement when you’re seeking direction?

GraceTalk

What scriptures have helped you during the spiritual battles of your life?

Reflection

Can you remember some of your own spiritual battles? Who was involved? Where were you? What happened?

This excerpt taken from my eBook, RESTNotes. Be sure to get your FREE copy today!

Spending Time Alone

RESTNotes

I was hurt and felt sorry for myself.

How could she say those mean things about me? Were they true?

Weren’t we friends? Yet she was devaluing our friendship for some reason.

Should I lash back at her unkind words and defend myself?

Instead, I retreated to a place where I could pray about her comments. I knew I shouldn’t say anything to anyone while angry, especially the one who had attacked my character and integrity.

In the solitude, a still, small voice whispered, “Forgive.”

Forgive? She’s the one who’s hurt me!

Then, a disturbing scene from the Bible came to mind. As Jesus suffered on the cross between two criminals, he looked down at those who were crucifying him and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 niv).

How could I not forgive? I continued to wrestle with my thoughts, but I chose to forgive.

A few days later, I called and invited her to go to lunch. There, I asked for her forgiveness.

I may never see reconciliation with this friend. But I’m at peace, knowing I did the right thing.

Red Flags

How do you respond to an offense? Anger? Gossip? Bitterness? Bad language? Some other responses might include passive aggression, emotional withdrawal, crying, depression, or even agreeing with the offender to avoid conflict.

GraceTalk

What promises from God’s Word help you when you’ve been offended or rejected?

Reflection

Consider a time when you’ve struggled with anger or bitterness. How did you settled your conflicts?

This excerpt taken from my eBook, RESTNotes. Be sure to get your FREE copy today!

Searching for Truth

RESTNotes

I felt discouraged and depressed, but I didn’t know why. I just couldn’t get a grip on my emotions.

I didn’t think I was angry, but I was impatient and irritable, with a sarcastic tone to every word I spoke.

Lord, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. And I don’t know how to snap out of it. Please help me.

A few things surfaced as I confessed my confusion and conflicting attitudes to the Lord. I realized my bad mood started as I was getting dressed for church that morning. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror.

It’s amazing how a “bad hair day” can impact my life. Thankfully, a scripture came to mind that provided insight into my emotional turmoil: “[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matt. 6:25 niv).

The source of my problem became clear as I understood the solution revealed in God’s Word: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matt. 6:33–34 NLT).

Red Flags

What are you focused on today? Are your thoughts negative or positive?

GraceTalk

What scriptures have helped you overcome negative thoughts?

Reflection

Consider some of the seasons in your life where you faced discouragement or failure. Were there any special songs or music that helped you? Is there a special place you have gone to overcome your negative thoughts?

This excerpt taken from my eBook, RESTNotes. Be sure to get your FREE copy today!

Claiming Your Promised Land

RESTNotes

As I compiled RESTNotes, the devotional guide to my book, Words That Change Everything, other commitments and obligations kept getting in the way.

Plus, I was exhausted because I had just completed my book. And that process birthed more challenges than I’d like to admit.

Also, my husband, Dan, had just retired. And I was ready for some REST and time off, too.

Lord, I’ll never keep up with all my commitments!

I thought of the story in Matthew where the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. After that trial, “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:11 niv).

Even Jesus grew weary in his battles. And he called on his heavenly Father to give him the words to defeat his accuser. But he also experienced the spiritual comfort provided by his Father.

I’m thankful that I can trust the Lord to provide that same kind of comfort for me.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Cor. 1:3–5 The Message)

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Raising the White Flag

RESTNotes

 

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (John 12:27 NIV)

I believed that God was leading me to write for publication. But soon after I finished the first leg of my journey, doubt and fear undermined my confidence.

Attending college in my forties changed all my plans. But after spending five years in the academic world, I sensed God renewing my initial call to write for publication. So I signed up for my first Christian writers’ conference in New Mexico.

When the day arrived to leave for the event, I didn’t know how long Mother would survive; she was terminally ill. Plus, I also struggled with my family relationships because of my intense focus on completing my degrees in writing during the past few years.

Okay, Lord, I give up. All of my plans seem impossible. I can’t do this anymore. If you want me to abandon this calling, I will.

I thought of Jesus as he chose to submit to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matt. 26:42 NIV).

Sometimes obedience feels like sacrifice. But when I think about the sacrifices that Jesus made, I can’t help but be thankful that he has given me the opportunity to serve him, even if it means making costly decisions.

Red Flags

Are you willing to obey God’s direction and trust him with all of your dreams and plans? As you focus on your times of surrender to God, can you recall your initial responses? What emotional reactions in your life came to mind as you read this chapter?

GraceTalk

What promises from God’s Word have helped you during a time of accepting God’s direction for your life?

Reflection

Consider one of your own moments of surrender. How and when was this challenge was resolved?

This excerpt taken from my eBook, RESTNotes. Be sure to get your FREE copy today!

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