Claiming Your Promised Land

Phil 4 7As 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)

Red Flags

Where do you go for REST when you’re tired or worried? What do you tend to turn to for comfort?

GraceTalk

What promises from God’s Word have helped you as you have stepped out in faith to trust the Lord?

Reflection

Consider some of the times you trusted God with an impossible situation. Describe the dates and details?

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

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Four Promises for Facing Self-Induced Pressure or Deadlines

Photo/KarenJordan“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT).

Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe because of self-induced pressure or someone else’s expectations of me. And at times, I get tired even thinking about trying to follow through on all of the commitments that I’ve made as a freelance writer.

But I know that “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:17 MSG).

So, when I finally sit down and bring my feelings to the Lord, I remember His promises of freedom, strength, provision, and peace.

Freedom from judgment. Romans 8:1-2 reveals the promise that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death (MSG).

Strength for our weakness. God also promises to give me His strength in my weaknesses. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10, I read,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become (MSG).

Provision for our needs. And did you know that God also promises to provide all that you need in Christ Jesus? “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 NLT).

Peace through prayer. So, if you’re struggling with self-induced pressure or fighting a battle with judgment or condemnation, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing for just a moment and voice your fears and needs to God. He promises to provide His peace through prayer.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Phil 4:6-7 MSG)

How do you deal with your self-induced pressure as a writer?

Finding Rest in a Storm

For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. (Psalm 32:7 NLT)

As the autumn winds whispered through our oak trees, dropping the leaves across our yard, my husband Dan mentioned that we probably wouldn’t see any squirrels playing in the trees that day. “In fact, if the wind is blowing when you want to go squirrel hunting in our area, you might as well stay home,” he said. “A squirrel will not move far from his nest on windy days, so you’ll have a hard time bagging any.”

Squirrels. A squirrel knows when he needs to be still and rest—not because he’s tired, but because that is when he is most vulnerable to predators. When the wind is blowing, a squirrel can’t hear the other sounds around him—his instincts are blurred by the wind-tossed branches and leaves rustling.

Dan said the same rule applies to deer hunting in our part of the state. Deer tend to not move around much when they cannot use their God-given senses to protect them from predators.

Storms. I continue to learn spiritual lessons like this one from nature. When a storm is blowing all around me, I need to be still and wait. It can be dangerous to sail into a storm.

I’ve lived in Texas and Arkansas all my life, and we’ve survived many storms—tornados and hurricanes. It’s difficult to prepare for any kind of storm. I’ve run away from hurricanes, and I’ve hidden in our “safe place” during a tornado. But I’ve learned that I can’t stop storms from coming my way.

Shelter. How can I apply this truth to my writing life? I hope to remember this truth the next time that I face serious setbacksparalyzing problemschaotic confusion, or even aggravating attitudes. I can’t stop them. But I can choose to find a safe hiding place.

Learning to find a place of rest in the storms of life isn’t always easy. I’m tempted to keep trying to protect myself. But once again, God reminds me that He is my true refuge during the storms of life. And I’ve found His Shelter to be a great place to rest.

Where do you find shelter on a stormy day?

God-Given, Weird, Unexplainable–Joy!


For the last decade, I’ve prayed for God to give me a word to meditate and think on throughout the year. In 2010, the word was “peace,” and God used the word to convict and heal me of a tendency to worry.

In January 2011, I felt impressed to begin concentrating on the word “joy.” And like a pig-tailed toddler with a sweet tooth, I had pictures of God giving me presents. Maybe He would overwhelm me with material blessings (I entered the HGTV Dream Home giveaway several times, just in case). Perhaps He was going to provide a huge advance check for a writing project…or send me on a national television show to gain much-needed exposure for my blog.

As you can see, my thoughts leaned toward the selfish, temporary, and trivial. I’m so glad He knows what we REALLY need.

I won’t bore you with all the circumstances that hit our family in 2011. Suffice it to say, we were shaken and stretched in ways we never imagined. But in the midst of stressful moments–such as when my father underwent emergency triple bypass surgery–I felt peace, instead of fear. Not that I didn’t have moments of panic, mind you. But when worry showed up like a scorned lover, I took a deep breath and told him: “Get lost. I’ve got a new beau, and He’s not going anywhere.”

Mostly, it worked. 🙂

Just like the arteries near my dad’s ticker were bypassed by a skillful surgeon, my heart had been strengthened the previous year by God’s gentle scalpel of truth. I’m so thankful He tirelessly fought the stronghold of anxiety that had crept into my life.

Want to know something else? During 2011 and into 2012, God DID give me a present, wrapped in a great big, blood-red bow: weird, unexplainable  joy.

It is a spiritual gift, after all–just not one we talk about very much. My friend Megan says, “Joy’s not sexy, like wealth or prosperity. But it’s longer-lasting.”

I like that.

Joy means counting our blessings, both tiny and immense, while the world moans and heaves and believes all is lost.

Joy overcomes me when my eight-year-old cuddles with me and shows me his cursive practice. Joy warms my heart when my hubby texts me–because he misses me. And joy bubbles up when my teenager says, “I love you Mom!” out of the blue (it doesn’t happen often, believe me).

JOY is simply this: Jesus, at work in us, to do what we can’t do on our own.

There are many verses about joy, but one of my favorites is Psalm 28:7–“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” 

My heart has leaped as I’ve spent time with Him. And as I’ve learned to take joy in His presence, He has given me a few answers to the desires of my heart, as well. Those “hugs” from my Father have satisfied my desire to know He’s listening, while whetting my appetite for more of Him–not just His blessings.

As Neh. 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

It has been, and it will continue to be. I am praying the same for you.

Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com