Time For A Good Soak

January 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I recently pulled out a familiar cookie recipe, and upon reading through it, discovered that I had previously missed a step. I am used to simply giving the raisins a quick rinse before adding them to the batter, but the recipe actually called for the raisins to soak for an hour. I scoffed at the notion, thinking that raisins are dried fruit and should be simply eaten as dried fruit. But I decided to follow the recipe’s directive and covered the raisins with water and let them soak. The cookies that resulted were incredibly moist and much more flavorful than the previous batches. Soaking the raisins had a profound effect not only on their cleanliness but on their tastiness.

I wonder how often we simply rinse off in Scripture rather than soak in it? Daily reading programs help direct us through the Bible and gain a overall perspective. Serious studying helps us delve into a deepening knowledge. Wherever we are on the scholarly scale, at some point we must move from being a student to being Christ’s disciple, choosing to meditate and soak in God’s Word. Soaking produces heart change.

Jan Johnson, in her book, Savoring God’s Word, describes the difference between typical Bible study and  meditating on Scripture. “When we study, we dissect the text; when we meditate, we savor the text and enter into it. When we study, we ask questions about the text; when we meditate, we let the text ask questions of us. When we study, we read and compare facts and new ways of applying facts; when we meditate we read to let God speak to us in light of the facts already absorbed.”

What is your habit? Do you have a tendency to simply have a quick rinse in Scripture?  Do you dissect, ask questions and compare facts? Or, do you sit and soak in God’s holy words, allowing their truth to seep into your soul. The God-flavors that will then permeate through us and emanate out of us into our world, will be rich and life changing.

Is it time for a good soak?

PRAYER: Lord, May the truth of Your words, soak deep into my soul to make me more like You.

BIBLE VERSE: “Blessed is the man… (who) delights in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:1 – 3 NIV).

 

 

 

The Long and The Short of It

January 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

“Give me the long and the short of it,” queried a friend regarding my recent trip to South Africa. The dichotomy of this statement resounded with my experience in that fascinating country.

Wealth and poverty are simply separated by a municipal boundary and white and black mingle, yet remain deeply segregated.  A personal experience occurred on a visit into a township. The entire house of our hostess was smaller than my master bedroom back in North America.  Each member of her family would be fortunate to have one meal that day, while I had already eaten a hearty breakfast and my rumbling tummy meant that I would soon be headed for a satisfying lunch.

This setting was enough to shake up my worldview, but as I stood at the bedside of a woman whose body was ravaged by the effects of HIV, I was struck by the difference within our spiritual reality.  As my African cohorts began to pray, the Holy Spirit’s presence became so real that all I could do was kneel, knowing that I was standing on holy ground. The physical poverty that surrounded me mirrored the spiritual poverty that gripped my soul.

What was it about their prayers that made them feel so forceful?  Did they demand that God would touch this woman’s physical body?  Did they plead for food or protection from thugs?

No!  The power in their prayers came from practicing the discipline of worship.

You see, in the midst of abject poverty and fatal diseases, these people approached the throne of grace, first and most forcefully, with praise for a God who created everything and cares for them by holding them in the palm of His hand.  Their unabated worship led them to praise Him for being full of grace and mercy, compassion and love.

In this African setting, God showed me that my prayers are mixed up. I am quick to approach God with my long list of requests but my offering of praise is meager. Conversely, my African sisters come to God full of praise and worship and then simply asked Him to meet their needs.

What’s the long and short of it? Worship redirects our perspective, helping us see our needs in light of our awesome and loving God.  God inhabits the praises of His people.

PRAYER: You are an awesome God, full of mercy and grace, Creator of everything and Sustainer of all.  You are magnificent and beyond comprehension.  You are Alpha and Omega.

BIBLE VERSE:  “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name” (Matthew 6:9 NIV).

Letting Go to Take Hold

November 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Letting go is hard for me, especially with something precious or significant to my life.  It seems like only a few sleeps ago that I chose to let go of my first born so the neonatal nurse could take him to the nursery.  Then there was his first day of preschool.  As I walked to the parking lot, my arms felt heavy in their emptiness.  My “baby” had left my embrace for the big world.

Tears dripped down my cheeks as I commiserated with a mother’s emotions as she described her sense of loss as she pinned her son’s corsage on his wedding tuxedo.  She realized that no man can be held by both his mother and his wife.  It was her job to let go so he could grasp onto what lay ahead of him.

This truth permeates our lives.  We must move our belongings out of an old, familiar house in order to move in and live in our new home and neighbourhood.  We must let go of the emotional ties to our old job and move with conviction and perseverance into new opportunities.  We must leave our old life, ruled by sin, in order to take hold of the grace and love that God offers through Jesus.

“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 3:13, 14 NIV).

Has God put before you a new goal for the fall of 2011?  There may be something that has brought you pleasure or significance last year, last month or even yesterday, but today God is saying He has a new thing.  “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18, 19 MSG)

May we have open hearts that can hear and discern the movement of God’s Spirit that is propelling change in our lives and in our church.  Be alert.  Be Present. Let go of the old.  Take hold of the new.

PRAYER: Lord, shift my focus onto the goal that You have set before me.

BIBLE VERSE:  “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus.  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Philippians 3:19 – 20 TM).

A Dangerous Exception

October 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Rosemary Flaaten –

My task was to whip up a skillet of scrambled eggs for my hungry family. As I cracked one egg after another into my mixing bowl, suddenly an egg hit the mixture that looked a little odd. The yolk was not firm and was a darker orange color. Had the bacon not been sizzling beside me, I would have also noticed the slight pungent odor that wafted from this latest addition. But in my haste, I rationalized that the yolk in question really wasn’t any different than the others and that it wouldn’t affect the taste or quality. My family had a different response, though, when they tasted those eggs. Disgust and gagging brought our family brunch to a premature close.

All the eggs were fresh except one. That one egg became a dangerous exception.

King Solomon had ascended the throne of Israel and scripture tells us that he “showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3 NIV– emphasis added). Solomon seemed to be doing everything right by serving God, but he, too, has a dangerous exception in his life. God had been very clear that His people were to have nothing to do with the pagan gods and their spiritual rituals. Solomon chose to follow God’s ways, except in this one area, which eventually drew him away from God with devastating results.

My cooking experience and my study of Solomon has caused me to evaluate my own heart and life to see what dangerous exceptions I have allowed in my life. Could it be said of me that I follow hard after God, except that I choose to be self-sufficient?  Am I obedient to God’s commands, except that I coddle the secret sin of envy? Do I love my neighbor, except for when she gossips about me?

Do you have any dangerous exceptions in your life and heart?

PRAYER: God show me where my heart has become calloused to your conviction and give me the courage to deal with the dangerous exceptions You reveal.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 NIV).

Professional Liars

September 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Have you ever been in relationship with someone with whom you were never quite sure if what they said was a true reflection of reality?

The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:2 (MSG) warns that “These [professional] liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth.”

What a sad statement that someone can lose their capacity for truth. Over an extended period of time, these professional liars convince not only others but themselves as well that a lie is the truth and that the truth is false. Their understanding and convictions are characterized by mayhem and they no longer know right from wrong.

Do you work or live with someone like this? When they speak, you wonder if they can be trusted. Their character has been shredded by dishonesty. Their word is no longer valuable.  You wonder when you may be sideswiped by their deception. A loss of integrity equates to the loss of a trusting relationship.

But, before we sit too long in the judgement seat, pointing our finger at others, let’s examine our own propensity for dishonesty. Perhaps its having an over-inflated sense of our abilities that has blocked our capacity to see our limitations. Perhaps it’s our tendency to turn a blind eye, ignoring our persistent sins such as overeating, gossip or pride. Maybe its a lingering memory that turns us away from God in shame rather than accepting the truth of His love and forgiveness.

Have we become a professional liar to ourselves?  These patterns may be so ingrained within us that we don’t even realize what has happened to us.  Its like a color-blind person, unable to realize that they are not seeing all the hues in the rainbow.  Identifying truth versus lies in our inner being is something we are unable to do.  We are desperate for God’s illuminating truth to show us the lies we harbor. Only then will we be able to reverse our tendency and become a person of honesty and integrity; a person known for truth.

PRAYER: Lord, show me where I have become blind to deception and may my heart and mind be opened to Your truth.

What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life” (Psalm 51: 6 MSG).

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