How’s Your Memory?

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Rosemary Flaaten –

My personality is such that I tend to live in the moment and dream of the future. I enjoy the friendships of today and am always on the lookout for my next best friend. I revel in that which I’m presently engrossed as well as the opportunities before me.

Unfortunately, my memory of the past is less robust. I have a general recollection of events or people, but details of the past all too often don’t stick to my memory board.

A weak memory muscle can be beneficial. I’m also likely to forget the details of stressful situations or strained relationships and the times I felt embarrassed or ashamed quickly fade. I probably won’t remember people I met who I didn’t like or who brushed me off. The past, rather than remaining detail specific, tends to get put into the blender of my mind and gets chopped up and mixed together.

Thankfully though, I’m also aware that this is a weakness and the negative effect it has on me. I have come to realize that the most acute danger is forgetting the blessings bestowed by God into my life. The Psalmist David directs us to “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:2 NIV). We are directed to remember every single blessing that God has given us.

For a memory–challenged person like me, this presents a real test that requires discipline. Choosing to start each prayer with thanksgiving helps me focus, even just for a brief second, on the faithfulness of God. Every day I choose to reflect on the multitude of ways God has evidenced His goodness to me. God’s unending grace and love is a blessing that must remain in the forefront of my gratitude. I keep a journal that chronicles the details of what I have learned from the Holy Spirit and Scripture. I daily exercise my ability to recall.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to remember Your faithfulness and out of these memories, may gratitude and praise flow freely.

“Yet this I call to mind and there I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21 NIV).

Too Much Baggage

January 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Rosemary Flaaten –

“I’m sorry you have more baggage than is allowed with this ticket.” These words, spoken by the airline employee, sent my mind racing. What would I leave behind? I surveyed the suitcases bulging with books and new purchases. Suddenly the term “carry-on” took on a whole new meaning as I envisioned going into the restroom to slip on another layer of sweaters, change my flats to boots and fill up my briefcase in hopes of falling within the allotted baggage allowance.

“Baggage” can refer to the suitcases we take on trains, but it also is a quasi-psychological term that refers to the emotional things that encumber us. It is our baggage that restricts our freedom, progress, development or adaptability. Let me retell a story from 1 Samuel 8 & 9 that attests to the ongoing struggle with baggage in our lives.

“We want a King!” demanded the Israelites. So, God gave them the desires of their hearts and chose Saul whose view of himself was, “I’m only a Benjamite, from the smallest of Israel’s tribes and from the most insignificant in the tribe at that.”

One would think that Saul, having been chosen by the most highly respected Prophet of the day, having been told that he was to become a leader for the people, and having experienced such personal transformation, would move into this new role with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way!

The people were assembled. The crown was ready. Saul’s name has been called, but where was he? Samuel can’t find him and so enquires of God. God’s response should stop each one of us in our tracks. God finds Saul, the man He has chosen and equipped to become king, “hidden among the baggage.” Saul’s sense of inferiority, based on his heritage, became baggage that impeded his movement into the role God had for him.

What baggage are you carrying around? How are your present circumstances constrained because of a habitual warped view of yourself? Are you carrying so much baggage from your past that you cannot take hold of the new opportunities God is bringing your way?

Learn to travel lightly.

PRAYER: Lord, help me see myself as You see me and to let go of the past.

“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 3:14 NIV).

Making the Most out of Mother’s Day

December 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Mother’s Day is billed as a wonderfully happy day, but that it can be a difficult day for celebration. Being a mom, I love Mother’s Day, but in my role as a daughter, this day stirs up sadness. In my teenage years, my mom developed Alzheimer’s disease and I became her caregiver. I hated Mother’s Day, because it reminded me that life had not turned out like I had hoped.

Maybe you find Mother’s Day difficult as well. Maybe its an abortion, miscarriage or infertility that will have you waking up on Sunday mourning about the baby you never knew. Maybe you have a prodigal child and you wonder if they will even bother to contact you. Maybe, for any number of reasons, your relationship with your mother is fractured. Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year.

So how can we make the most of Mother’s Day? Start by acknowledging the pain we are feeling. If we don’t recognize that we are feeling sad about our circumstances, they will be like a trap door that will engulf us, causing the day to turn out even worse. Keeping things in the dark, by ignoring them, becomes our greatest threat. Part of my routine on Mother’s Day is to take a few minutes in the morning to think about my mom, even shedding a few tears. Mourning is the best path to healthy emotions as long as we don’t wallow in it.

Which leads to the next step – accept the love that comes your way. Accept the breakfast in bed with a heart of gratitude, even if it is cold, burnt toast. Be thankful that you are treated to dinner at a restaurant, even if it isn’t exactly the one you would have chosen. Cherish the handmade cards and the goofy lawn ornaments. Accepting love, even if it is flawed, will help us shift our focus off what we don’t have onto the good in our lives. A little gratitude goes a long way!

The third step to making the most out of Mother’s Day is to pass on love to others. You may not have a mother to celebrate, but be on the lookout for women who have influenced your life. Take this opportunity to express your appreciation. Make this a day to celebrate womanhood.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to make the most of this day and to look for ways to show love, acceptance and appreciation.

“In everything gives thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Out Of … Into

December 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Entering the air conditioned building, I left the mugginess of topical humidity. It was a relief to get out of the oppressive heat and go into the refreshing and revitalizing cool environment. When we leave something restrictive and enter something free and life giving, our mind and body breathes a sigh of relief.

In the Old Testament, God brought the Israelites out of the slavery they were enduring in Egypt and brought them into His promised land of bounty and freedom. Moses reminds the people that “God pulled us out of there (Egypt) so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors” (Deuteronomy 6:23 TM). Similarly, God provides this opportunity for each of us by accepting the new life Jesus offers. When we leave our life of sin, we enter the full life He has promised.

In pondering this reality, I started a list of what I have come out of by entering into this relationship with Jesus:
 self-protection that hides
 fear
 sporadic obedience
 independence that hinders relationships with God and others
 a less than truthful existence
 a desire to gratify myself with lesser gods, including excessive food, accomplishments, status
 the tyranny of sin
 and the list goes on…

Whenever we go out of a place, the obvious is that we then enter into something else. So if the previous list represents what I have left behind, here is the companion list of what I have entered into, through Christ:
 absorption of God’s love
 experiencing unexplainable grace
 faithfulness
 an open spacious life
 interdependence on others
 the paradox of a full dependence on God that brings freedom
 and the list goes on…

Those are quite the comparative lists! Why would I desire to stay or return to the first list when I have such a compelling and amazing life offered through Christ? The promised land awaits.

Quote: “Never under-estimate the energy of unholiness in the human heart.” Larry Crabb

“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 3:13 -14 NIV).

Advisers

November 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Who gives you advice? For many of us, when someone gives us unsolicited advice we bristle and the relational walls go up. Generally, we don’t like to be told what to do. .

However, the book of Proverbs, which offers much advice on how to avoid being a fool and how to live wisely instead, gives us a picture of the wisdom of counsel. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV).

Andy Stanley, in his video series “The Best Question Ever,” states that a wise person knows when she does not know and is not afraid to ask for advice. Being cognisant of our inabilities is a critical piece of emotional intelligence. If we ignore our weaknesses, assuming or pretending to be competent or all- knowing, we will end up sitting in the chair of the fool instead of at the podium of the wise.

Although we must surround ourselves by people we can trust, knowing they have our best interests at heart, we must be careful to not limit ourselves to only those in our inner circle. At times wise counsel may come from unlikely sources. A new hire at work may be able to see a hole in the business plan to which the old guard is blind. Your mother may not have the same level of formal education but she may have wisdom earned through the school of hard knocks. A friend of a friend of a friend may be the person who can help you through a struggle. A homeless person can teach us about generosity and kindness.

Going it alone is a dangerous pattern. Independence, by definition, is the freedom from the control, influence, support or aid of others. That may sound appealing but biblical wisdom would tell us that two is better than one and that a cord of three is not quickly broken. A wise person will be open, even seeking the advice of others and realizing that it can come from unlikely sources.

Are you going to be wise and open to advice or foolish and live as a proud independent?

PRAYER: Lord, give me discernment and humility to hear truth when it is spoken. .

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12 NIV).

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