Wednesday

When You're Too Busy to Rest - A Lesson from Exodus and Chick Fil A

We are driven people. Every day we feel the press to do more, be more, and check off one more box on our To Do lists. 

We awaken overwhelmed and stumble into bed exhausted, mentally scrolling through the list for the next day. Our work overflows into our nights and weekends, and even when we’re not working, we’re not resting either. There’s always one more thing calling us. 

Sadly, this relentless press even threatens our time with the Lord. Sunday, a sacred day set aside to worship God, spend time with family, and rest (in that order), isn’t sacred any longer. 

The Lord knows our propensity toward overwork and under rest. He even tucked a special clause regarding rest into his instructions to the Israelites all the way back in Exodus 34:23: 

“Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.” 

Do you see it? “. . . no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.” God is saying, “Don’t worry that your livelihood is going to suffer because you take time off to worship me. I’ll protect and care for it. I’ll watch over it when you do the right thing.” 

I needed to read this. Perhaps you do too. Sometimes the press of deadlines and the pile of work deceive me into thinking that I don’t have time for worship. That I don’t have the luxury of a day off. That time digging in the dirt with my grandchildren or having dinner with friends is frivolous and presumptuous. 


The truth is that God established a priority list we would do well to heed. It reads something like this:  

1. Spend time with me first. Read your Bible every day. Pray. Worship with other believers. 

2. Don’t neglect your family. 

3. Work hard. Six days if necessary, but save the seventh one for me. 

In our culture, businesses like Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A demonstrate that you can have well-ordered biblical priorities and still succeed. They get it. They work hard six days a week, then they take the day off—to worship God, spend time with family, and rest. They believe God’s promise that he’ll watch over their possessions as they honor him. 

Chick Fil A’s commitment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy hasn’t hurt their business one iota. Last year the Atlanta-based chain opened its 2,000th store. Since its founder, Truett Cathy, opened his first diner in 1946, Chick Fil A has become one of the industry’s most acclaimed brands. 

If you feel like you’re too busy and are afraid to take a day off to honor the Lord, spend time with family, and rest, I hope the promise of Exodus 34:23 will change your thinking. Claim it. Act on it. And watch God work. If you need a bit more persuasion, check out Psalm 127:2: 

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” 

Now it’s your turn. What’s your greatest struggle in the quest to balance time with God, family, work, and rest? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment.

Feeling #overloaded? #Stressed? Here's a surprising tip from Lori Hatcher #faith #family (Click to Tweet).



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Sunday

A Word from God to Those Who Want to Quit

Normally I try to write blog posts that apply to everyone, but not today. Today I’m talking to a specific group of people.


If you feel like you cannot live another day in a loveless marriage, I’m talking to you.

If you feel like you’re holding on by your financial fingernails, I’m talking to you.

If you feel like you cannot pray another prayer for a sick loved one, a wayward child, or a hardhearted spouse, I’m talking to you.

If you feel like you’re the only one doing what’s right while the rest of the world rides the bullet train to destruction, I’m talking to you.

If you feel like you’re the only one committed to remain sexually pure, I’m talking to you.

The rest of you may leave the room.

For those who remain, here’s what the Lord wants to say to you today: You cannot quit. 

Why?


Because Christians don’t quit.

Christians persevere under suffering.

Christians remain faithful during dark times.

Christians pray even when nothing happens.

Christians keep believing even when everyone else gives up.

They say with Job, “Even though he slay me, I will continue to trust in him.”

They say with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, “Our God is able . . . but even if he doesn’t, we will not bow.”

They say with Jacob, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

They say with Stephen, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.”

They say with Jesus, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Your flesh wants to quit, but the Spirit of Christ that lives inside you will give you the ability to hold on. And not just hold on, but be victorious. When you are weak, Jesus will be strong in you. When you think you can’t take another step, pray another prayer, or survive another day, you will, because Christ will strengthen you. And when you get through this—and you will—your faith will be stronger, your testimony will shine, and you will receive the crown of life that God promises to those who persevere under trial (Jas. 1:12).

Dear friend, don’t quit. One day very soon, it will be worth it all.


Now it's your turn. When have you encountered a situation where you wanted to quit but you didn't?What happened when you persevered?





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Wednesday

What Your Suitcase Is Trying to Tell You -- Tips to Prioritize Your Life

Have you ever put your suitcase on the scale at the airport and discovered it was overweight? 

I recently helped my daughter and her husband pack for an overseas move. The airline allowed two checked bags each weighing less than 50 pounds. Even half a pound over the limit would cost them dearly. 

As they prepared to fill their suitcases, they made three piles—Yes, No, and Maybe. In the Yes pile they put necessities—clothing, personal care items, and important paperwork. In the No pile they put the non-essentials—books they weren’t really interested in reading, older clothes they didn’t wear any more, and a game they had never played. In the Maybe pile they put items they liked, but weren’t vital to day-to-day living—a souvenir coffee mug, decorative tableware, and some food items. 


They packed the important items in the suitcases first and filled most of the space, then they filled in the remaining space with items from the Maybe pile. The No pile went straight to the trashcan. 

My days are very similar to my kids’ suitcases. And I’ve realized I can use the same principles they applied to their suitcases to help me decide how to spend them. 

First, I can only cram so much into a day before I get into trouble. Overfilling my calendar is always counter-productive. It guarantees I’ll eventually crash and burn. Exhaustion, frustration, and inefficiency are common side effects of overloaded days. 

Second, I must choose wisely what I put into a day. Some activities, like reading my Bible, caring for my family, working, and attending church, are vital. I can include other activities, like talking with a friend, surfing the Internet, or reading a book after I’ve completed my most important responsibilities. Other pursuits are simply time wasters I’d be better off tossing aside. 

Third, sometimes, despite my best efforts, my days become overweight. When my kids were packing their suitcases, they knew it would be wise to check the weight before we got to the airport. I pulled out the bathroom scale, and, as we suspected, the biggest suitcase was seriously overweight. 

“I guess we’re going to have to leave some stuff behind,” my son-in-law said. He removed a few of the Maybe items, but it was still too heavy. 

“Why don’t we try to redistribute the weight?” I suggested. We pulled a few books out of the suitcase and exchanged them for clothing and shoes from a less full suitcase. When we weighed the heaviest suitcase again, we were delighted to find it was a few pounds lighter. The true test, however, would come at the airport. 

Some of my days resemble my son-in-law’s suitcase. In order to be able to manage them, I must remove some things altogether and redistribute others. The litmus test I use to determine what has to go comes from Oswald Chambers: “The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.” It’s easy to fill my days with good things, but when the good things begin to crowd out the best things, I know it’s time to reevaluate and reorder my priorities. 

When I pray, God shows me what to remove and what to consider delegating to someone else. This frees me up to spend my time on what’s best in my life right now—the tasks God has called me and only me to do. 


Now back to the luggage. When our turn came at the baggage counter, my son-in-law hoisted the biggest suitcase on the scale, and we held our collective breath. For a few seconds the red numbers jumped around—51.2, then 49.8, then 50.9. Finally it blinked three times and was still—50.0

Whew! Not an ounce to spare. Our happy smiles and high fives made the ticket agent grin as she slapped a sticker around the handle and waved us on. 

What about you? Are your days overloaded? Or perhaps you’ve filled them with good things that are squeezing out the best God has for you. Prayerfully ask the Lord to help you evaluate how you’re filling your days. Commit to make the necessary changes, and live each day seeking God’s best.





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Sunday

Two Ways the Holy Spirit Speaks to Us

Have you ever heard God speak? 

If you’re a Christian, you have the ability to hear God speak every day, because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, lives inside you. Ephesians 1:13-14 describes this: 

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession . . .” 


The Holy Spirit speaks to us in different ways, but today I’d like to focus on two, found in John 16:8: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness . . .” 

First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. This is how he calls us to himself for salvation and how he enables us live a godly life after salvation. To be saved, we must first become aware of our sinfulness and our need for a savior. 

Oswald Chambers described it this way:

"Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses the conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God." 

To be a child of God, we must first realize the depth of our sinfulness and how our sin separates us from God. Once we understand this, we can confess (agree with God about our sin), repent ( want to change), and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf. Romans 10:9 puts it this way: 

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit’s job changes. Now, he convicts us of sins that hinder our relationship with God and each other. 

The Holy Spirit is not our conscience, although sometimes he uses our conscience. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, he applies the truth of God’s Word to our present situation or behavior. If our thoughts or actions don’t agree with Scripture, he alerts us. We feel a check in our spirit, or a sense that what we’re doing isn’t right. It’s a warning designed to steer us away from dangerous or ungodly thoughts or actions. 

The second way the Holy Spirit speaks to us is to convict us of righteousness. Unlike the first example, where he points out behaviors that are harmful, when he convicts us of righteousness, he nudges us toward good and helpful behavior, behavior that is part of his will for us. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of our purpose:

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Sometimes the Holy Spirit will bring someone to mind. Perhaps we need to pray for them or reconnect. Other times the Holy Spirit will plant a thought in our minds. Send Jackie a card. She’s been discouraged since her sister died. Or Sarah just had a baby. I bet she could use a meal and an offer to babysit. 


Sometimes we wonder if what we’re sensing is really coming from the Holy Spirit. The most dependable litmus test is to compare what we think we’re hearing to Scripture. The Holy Spirit will never tell us to do anything that contradicts the principles in God’s Word. 

When we sense the Holy Spirit instructing us, it’s important to obey. James 4:17 warns us, 

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” A favorite Bible teacher of mine often said, “To delay is to disobey.” 

The more we grow in Christ, the better we’ll become at discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit. A sure sign God is speaking to us is that the words we’re “hearing” in our hearts come directly from the Bible. This is why it’s so important to learn and memorize Scripture—so the Holy Spirit has a wealth of material to draw from. 

I’m often humbled and comforted that the God of the universe has not only invited us to have a relationship with him, but desires to talk with us every day. Many times, that conversation begins with a whisper from the Holy Spirit in our hearts. I love this promise of Jesus: 

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). 

The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of sin so we can become more like Jesus. He also convicts us of righteousness so we can be his ambassadors in the world today. What a comfort. What a privilege. 

Now it’s your turn. How have you sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment there.

And if you'd like to learn more about how to know God's speaking to you, CLICK HERE to read my viral blog post, "How to Know It's God Speaking to You." More than 104,000 readers have read this post so far.




If you’re a Christian, you have the ability to hear God speak every day, because the Holy Spirit lives inside you. Click to Tweet.


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Wednesday

An Alternative to Complaining

Oh, how we love to complain.


It's our default setting whenever something doesn't go our way. And we're not alone.

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus in my quest to read the Bible in a year. Almost without fail, every time the children of Israel had a need, they complained about it. They fretted. They whined. They lamented that God had abandoned them, and grumbled about how much better things were back in Egypt. 

Most of us probably aren’t wishing we were back in Egypt, but we often wish for “the good old days.” We complain, fret, and whine. 

Frightening circumstances and overwhelming odds? The Israelites complained against Moses. 

Bitter water to drink? The Israelites complained against Moses.

No food to eat? The Israelites complained against Moses. 

Absent in each of these wilderness crises, however, is what should have been their default response—prayer. It never occurred to the Israelites, with the exception of Moses, to take their needs to God. 

Oh, how I often walk in their fretful sandals. 

I can learn a valuable lesson from my shortsighted compatriots and from their leader, Moses. He saw their complaining, fretting, and whining for what it was—not a statement against their circumstances, but a complaint against God. 

“The Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him,” he said. “And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord” (Ex. 16:8). 

Yikes. 

Every complaint I make isn’t really against my circumstances, but against the Lord. My grumbling goes straight from my mouth to God’s ears. 


In contrast, Moses had a different type of conversation with God. “So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him . . .” (Ex. 15:24). Every time Moses saw a need, he asked God to meet it. And God did. Gladly and generously. 

James 4:2 bluntly states the obvious: “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” 

Moses got it. So should we. 

What situation is making us whine and complain? What if we take it to the Lord and see what he will do?

Father, I confess the sins of grumbling and complaining. Please forgive me. Help me, instead, to bring everything to you in prayer, and then trust you to answer according to your wisdom and grace. Help me complain less and pray more. In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.




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