The Solution to Restlessness


Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

Truly my soul finds rest in God. ~ Psalm 62:1

 

Cammie is a children’s ministry director at her church. One day, as she was preparing for the lesson she would teach on Sunday morning, she had an idea for a fun illustration that would require a few props. She asked her four-year-old daughter to help.

“Hey, Taylor! Can you please bring me a few of the Fisher Price people from your dollhouse?”

This reply came from her preschooler who was sitting across the room…

“No, Mom. They just want to chill out. They’ve had a long day.”

So funny… yet so not funny.

My word, people! When our children’s toys need a break, you know that it’s time for you and me to hit the pause button. And, truth be told, I live smack dab in the messy middle of this tension.

The Old Testament indicates that David lived in the messy middle of it too. The Bible says that the Lord made David take a break. Yes. He made him do it. Look: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Hemakes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3, emphasis mine)

I love the way Psalm 23 verse 3 is paraphrased in The Message, “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”

Yes. Please.

This is the desire of my heart. That I can catch my breath and be sent in the right direction by a loving God who knows what is best.

So, I – you – we have to be intentional. Life comes at us fast. If we are not careful, the dizzy pace at which we live can unwittingly become our weakness and demise.

I know you know this. I do too and yet somehow it still trips us up.

So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s keep it real here; we have obligations. We have families, jobs, friends, communities, and churches that need us. And though this will look different for each of us in the many seasons of life, our people depend on us a ton. They should. God tells us to put our faith into action (James 2). And we must. We must mobilize the hope we have in Christ. Serve. Show love. Feed the hungry. Minister to the widows and orphans. Yes. We must be women of action.

The Bible gives a clear and compelling teaching, however, about this life-pace topic that establishes our first call to action must be focused on the Lord himself! This get-with-Jesus business is the key to us experiencing the maximum abundance that God has in store for every believer.

What it all boils down to is this: God’s BEST requires REST.

So simple… Yet so complicated.

It was Augustine who wrote, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

Let me take this one step further by breaking down what the Word of God shows us about this very thing. When we rest in the presence of God, He restores our souls. Rest is the central ingredient in the restoration we all desperately need. Just look at the first four letters of the word!

Today (and in part two of this devotion) we are going to break down R.E.S.T. as an acronym and take a walk through Scripture to see just how God’s best for you is fueled by this discipline.

R.E.S.T. {Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust}

It all begins with reflection. There are two parts to this: reflecting ON God and allowing the Spirit of God to work within us so that we become better reflections OF God.

REFLECT on GOD:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago I will meditate on all Your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12)

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” (Psalm 143:5-6)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

REFLECT GOD:

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!” (Psalm 119:5, NLT)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Meaningful reflection leads to the soul rest we long for.

Today let this truth sink in deep: when you reflect on God, you better reflect God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Art of Confrontation

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend ~ Proverbs 27:6

Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!

Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and frail humans who say and do stupid, hurtful things. But we work hard at our marriage and let me tell you one thing – a good marriage requires hard work. We are committed to each other and to making the rest of our marriage the best part of our marriage. It didn’t start off that way.

Before Dan and I were married, I noticed several rough edges that needed to be sanded away and felt like I was just the one who could do it. After all, that’s what wives are for, right?

I decided to lay low for a few months, lulling Dan into a false sense of security and giving him a chance to make the changes on his own before I stepped in with my well-thought-out plan for his life. The only problem was that my plan did not line up with his plan. Furthermore, he seemed oblivious to the character flaws that were blatantly obvious to me.

After a few months of marital bliss during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow in my heart and in our marriage.

The strength I had once so admired in Dan now looked a whole lot like stubbornness.
Dan’s ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing.

What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to be in control of me.

I could go on – but you get the picture.

It was obviously time for the execution of my sure-to-succeed plan of transforming my husband into the man that God and I thought he should be. Looking back, my arrogance and ignorance are laughable, but at the time, they were just plain wrong and yielded painful and disastrous results.

I will never forget the afternoon Dan gently confronted me in love and with amazing patience. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember the words that broke my heart and saved our marriage, “Honey, I’m not sure what is going on between us. But I do know that I want to love you like you need to be loved.”

Boom!

And there you have the recipe for a successful marriage – confrontation wrapped in love for the purpose of restoration. It is also the formula for cultivating peace and unity in every relationship.

Healthy confrontation is especially important when dealing with those difficult people who rub you the wrong way – the Sandpaper People in in your life.

Sandpaper people love a good fight and often mistake combat for confrontation. The two are not the same thing. Combat slowly corrodes and splinters while confrontation is an art that, when done correctly, improves and strengthens relationships.

To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Our heart motive must be love and restoration – not getting even or winning. Confrontation is an emotional tackle for the purpose of resolving conflict while promoting peace.

Most people I know hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it. That is not all bad. In fact, if you love confrontation and drama, you are probably confronting for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if you refuse to confront, you are giving the impression that you are content with the status quo.

Silence is agreement.

Confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain unfettered, free to grow and spread its deadly relationship poison. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship as well as the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle.

As fully devoted followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to bring confrontation into the picture when dealing with sandpaper people. There is a right way and a wrong way to confront. Confrontation is not combat. The success of any confrontation depends upon understanding the difference between the two.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Your Past Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13b, NIV)

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

It’s Not About Me


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

Some of my Girlfriends in God are not going to like this devotion. I’m not even sure I do. But I’m going to put it out there anyhow. During the month of February, I write devotions on marriage. It is the month of love, and marriages certainly are in shambles all around the world. Each February, I am flooded with e-mails: some are appreciative for the reminders on how to love their husbands; some are filled with hurt because they are in their own struggling marriage, and some are broken-hearted because of shattered dreams. These women are so thankful for the balm of God’s truth in a very tender area of their lives.

But I also receive e-mails from women who are not married, who do not like the attention to marriage at all. They are flat out angry and frustrated because the devotions do not pertain to them. “Don’t you know that all of your readers are not married?”

“Oh honey child,” as my grandmother would say.

I’ve seen the same attitude in church. “I didn’t like that sermon.” “I didn’t like the singing today.” “I couldn’t relate to that teaching.” And on and on we go.

You know what I’ve discovered…it’s not about me. It is all about God. If the pastor is preaching on a topic that is not my struggle, I pray that God will open my eyes to new truths that I’ve never seen. If he is talking about losing a loved one, I pray for those who have lost a loved one recently…even though that might not be my struggle at that particular time. Is the teaching on raising young children? I have a grown son, so I pray for those who are raising the next generation.

One Sunday, I was singing in church. Barely singing, I might add. It was a dry old hymn and I just wasn’t into it. Then I looked at an older woman a few seats down and she had tears trickling down her wrinkled cheeks. She was moved to tears by that old hymn and was taken to the throne room of grace.

“Oh Father,” I prayed. “Please forgive me. This is not about me. It’s not about what I like or don’t like. It is all about You. Truth is truth. Worship is worship. Help my focus be on You and You alone. It’s not about me.

Here’s a truth I want you to underline, memorize and ponderize (I know that is not a real word, but it should be.) Say it out loud: As long as I think the world is all about me, the angrier and tired-er I will be. The more I realize it is all about God, the happier and freer I will be. (I know tireder is not a word either. I’m just feeling feisty today).

Listen to how David focused on God during worship:

So let’s commit to remember together…it’s not about me. It’s all about God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!