Daily Devotions

Sweet Dreams

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In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.’ (Acts 2:17)

I love to sleep. I go to bed and read for about 45 minutes before the light goes off. Then, I offer God my prayers and then roll over. I am blessed with the ability to fall asleep quickly. My issue is that throughout my life I have required eight hours of sleep. I’ve never been able to function with less. When my wife, Jill, was doing shift work, as a nurse, she could get little sleep for days at a time, then crash and sleep long hours, and catch up. If I tried that, I would literally pass out. But why? What is going on when we sleep that is so important?

Writer Markham Heid, in an article on sleep says, “According to Dr. Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, a sleep research and professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, ‘We also still don’t know why we dream.’” Heid continues, “What experts do know is that sleep is a surprisingly active and fertile time for the brain. Sleep seems to play a crucial role in helping your brain sort, process, store, and make use of the stuff you encounter during your waking hours.” 

Successfully organizing and processing our thoughts is the road to a healthy and meaningful life. When we are processing properly, we trust ourselves and have a clear idea of who we are and what we stand for in life. When we are stressed and exhausted, we cruise through life reacting and feeling out of control.

Living a life of faith requires the ability to process our lives and invite God’s Spirit into the process. The Spirit is incapable of making much of a difference in a mind that is incapable of processing due to sleep deprivation. Today, plan how you can get eight hours of sleep. Perhaps that means not watching television so late. It will not be easy to break your routine, but it is worth the effort. Consider sleep a spiritual discipline and watch how God blesses your sleep hours and the way you meet each new day.

The Curse of Stress

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When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. (Psalm 94:19)

Recently, I saw a Gallup poll stating that “People around the world are becoming more angry, stressed and worried.” Gee, did I tell you something surprising? I don’t think so. We, in the United States, do not have the most stress. “The most negative country was Chad, followed by Niger.” Understandably, these countries have enormous stress due to fear and bloodshed. The United States was the 39th most positive country. What is surprising, is that we are a safe nation, with a high economic standing.

Interestingly, “Latin American countries including Paraguay, Panama and Guatemala topped the list of positive experiences, where people reported ‘feeling a lot of positive emotions each day.’” These are relatively poor nations, without a lot of power, but they are cultures that have strong family structures, where family support is high. These nations, so poor that many have traveled across many miles to try to emigrate to the United States, have blessings that may elude we Americans. I wonder if they realize that 55 percent of Americans are stressed out. Guatemalans, for example, are fleeing poverty and gang violence, but are walking into a different kind of stress.

It is a huge challenge in our society, to create a life that does not require vast amounts of stress. If we find ways of creating more time, then we worry we will not have enough money. If we strive for financial security, we stress that we are not good enough parents to our children because we’ve sacrificed too much time. It can appear that every decision is fraught with untenable options. But that doesn’t need to be the case.

Today, take some time to reflect on the stress in your life. Where does it come from? Some level of stress is necessary for life, but it doesn’t take much to become unhealthy. Is your stress over the healthy line, and into the physically, emotionally, and spiritually hurtful line? When our stress level is greater than some Latin American nations – with all of our blessings – we need to consider changes in our lives. Prayerfully ask God to help you navigate this life, and to bring proper perspective. God has brought us life and calls us to live it abundantly. We cannot do this if we are crippled with stress. With God’s help, we can find peace and blessing in this life of ours.

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