Oh I Wish…

July 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

Rosemary Flaaten –

Have you ever found yourself wishing you had the life of the rich and famous? Whether it’s the free wheeling love life with the newest most beautiful person or the gluttonous lifestyle that enjoys the pleasures of the moment without concern for any long term consequences. Although I cognitively know that their lifestyle choices will end in harm, I find my heart wandering toward envy of their sinful ways. Immediate gratification—whether its excess amounts of fine wine and rich foods, buying the latest gadget or stealing a look at a pornographic image—provides on-the-spot enjoyment. Throw out self-control, caution and denial. Eat, drink and love for who knows what tomorrow will hold.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord for there is surely a future hope for you” (Proverbs 23:17) This proverb breaks down in three parts – present, past and future.

The present is the “good times” we see around us and in our interior world we wish we could be free of restraint. Our longing for independence, which we inherited from Adam and Eve, causes us to pursue self-indulgence.

The second part of this proverb is regarding the past. Our ability to fear the Lord develops as we ponder God’s character and take stock of all He has done for us. The awe that develops comes out of the history we have with Him.

The third part of the proverb peers into the future. Hope is directed toward something we do not yet have. Our present envy comes from a lack of retention about God’s goodness and thus our hope is thwarted. We wrongly believe that we must have our desires for pleasure met now or the opportunity will be missed and no more will come our way. But pondering God’s track record will help us to postpone immediate gratification with second rate options and instead wait for the top-notch gifts from His hand.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to believe in the core of my being that Your way is truly life-giving and that the path of sin leads to destruction.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12 – 13 NIV).

Treasure or Trash

Rosemary Flaaten –

What do you do when someone says something to you that you don’t like? Do you lash back with harsh words meant to cut them down to size or do you pull away, determined to never let that happen again? Have you ever been guilty of separating yourself from people who do not speak positively to you or about you?

This was the setting in 2 Chronicles 18. King Jehoshaphat enquired of King Ahab as to whether or not there was a prophet who might give advice regarding the pending war. King Ahab affirmed that there was another prophet but because this prophet had never prophesied anything good about the king, Ahab hated him.

When I first read this, I felt affronted that King Ahab would be so judgemental and shallow, until I took time to reflect on my own response to receiving harsh words. When someone compliments or speaks positively to me, I readily accept their words as true. But, when offered criticism or negativity, I quickly dismiss their comments as off base. Am I any more fickle than King Ahab?

So what should we do with negative words or criticism? Let me make a suggestion thorough the metaphor of receiving mail. On the outside, a letter may appear shabby or nothing more than junk mail. However before we throw that letter into the garbage it is always wise to open it to ensure it contains nothing of value.

Likewise, we need to have the emotional maturity to be able to examine negative statements to decipher if there is any truth to them. Perhaps this person sees something in us to which we are blind? Is there is anything of value in their remarks that could benefit or stimulate growth? If so, then we should grab them, holding on to them like a gift. On the other hand, if the comments represent their struggles and are indicative of their issues, then we should treat them as junk mail and simply throw them away. If we hold onto these garbage statements they accumulate and clutter our lives. Examine the words we are given and categorize as treasure or trash.

PRAYER: Lord grant me the courage to accept correction and to toss out foolish barbs and the wisdom to know the difference.

“The fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction show prudence.” (Proverbs 15:5 NIV).

Resisting Stillness

May 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I felt the blood draining out of my legs as they dangled over the hard wooden pew. Confined to my limited square footage, I simply wanted to wiggle and squirm in an attempt to find a spot where my bottom could feel some reprieve, but instead my mother’s strong hand rested on my knee as a means of quieting my movement. Sitting still in church was a requirement, but seemingly next to impossible for me as five year old.

Roll forward forty years—I still find it hard to sit quietly. All my kids had flown the coup leaving an empty nest. There were no mounds of dirty laundry to wash and sort. There were no groceries to replenish. There were no slamming doors or buzzing cell phones. The house was quiet. Life was still.

But my soul was not.

The passage “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV) always makes me squirm. I am a doer. I like to accomplish things and prefer the verse “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26 NKV). But how can I reconcile my physical need for action with my spiritual need for stillness? They seem to be at odds with each other.

I am learning that when I discipline myself to sit quietly in the presence of God, He quiets my spirit, allowing my mind, heart and soul to breathe deeply, slowing the frenetic pace of my mental acrobats. I experience the truth of Psalm 131:2 “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (NIV). The gentle hand of my Father rests on my knee, not to chastise me, but to say “Be still. I want to fill you with my love, peace and direction, but its next to impossible to fill a moving vessel. Be still and know Me.”

I am still not good at sitting and doing nothing, but I now relish the quiet moments of each day, when I can soak up the presence of my Heavenly Father. It is from that place of quietness and stillness that I am rejuvenated in spirit and become ready to take on the world.

PRAYER: Father, calm my thoughts and banish my worries. Help me to experience the reality of Your love and approval as I sit and soak up Your presence.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2 NIV).

Comparison or Celebration

May 13, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Two dogs sat beside each other. The older, wiser canine’s paw rested comfortingly on the head of the younger, who looked up with sad and despondent puppy eyes. With feeling and care, the older dog said, “You’re not fat. You’re just a little Husky!”

This Facebook message made me laugh out loud because its truth resounds with my self-effacing thoughts. I spend way too much time comparing myself to the people around me. If I compare myself to the business woman who sports a designer suit and travels in business class I end up on the short end of the stick feeling inferior which quickly moves into envy. Or if I find someone to whom I feel better than, I start to judge them, often pushing them down further in order to feel a greater sense of superiority. Either way, I am swept up in comparison.

Both envy and judgement are sin.

Do you give any mental air time to comparison?

God keeps bringing me back to these verses of confession: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24NIV). Inviting God to reveal every time I compare myself to others has proven to be incredibly enlightening. I had no idea how much time and space in my thoughts were given to comparison. No wonder I struggle with envy and judgement. This offensive way in me runs rampant.

So how do we allow God to lead us in the way everlasting? Earlier in Psalm 139, the writer offered worship to His maker by saying,”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). Offering thanks to God for who He made you to be, where He has placed you and the opportunities He has given will shift your perspective from comparison to gratitude. Celebrating God’s creative genius in making you just as you are takes the sting out of His creativity displayed in others. We are all unique; all wonderfully made and all deeply loved. Just as we are.

May we take to heart the consolation that we are all created to be “just a little Husky.”

PRAYER: Lord, show me what it means to be content and full of celebration for Your creation, most significantly – me!

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 The Message).

Knock Knock

April 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

When the Devil comes knocking at your door, simply say, “Jesus, could you get that for me?”

I smiled as I read this quote posted on my Facebook page. Boy is that good advice, but is it scriptural?

There are two passages that match the intent of this slogan. The first is Genesis 4:7 “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” The second is 1 Peter 5:8. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Temptations abound and my ability to withstand my selfish desires or to dabble with sin does not have the best track record. Some days it feels like sin is incessantly ringing my doorbell. Each time, I am tempted to open the door. You know how hard it is to ignore a ringing doorbell. The urgent and repetitive ‘ding-dong’ eventually gets on one’s nerves. Out of frustration or a caving in of determination, I answer the door.

But what happens when I ask Jesus to answer the door? First, the ringing will stop because the Devil will flee. Scripture assures us that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (Philippians 2:10) and all evil will dissipate (Luke 10:17) The devil and his evil cronies cannot stand being in the presence of Jesus. Even the mention of His name is enough to win the battle. Imagine if Jesus were the One to fling the door open and adamantly say “GET LOST!!” Can’t you see those demons tripping over themselves to flee the presence of the Holy One.

On the other hand, if I answer the doorbell of temptation, I am apt to try and negotiate or rationalize or just simply hear them out. My intentions may be good but all too easily I can be talked into entertaining the idea, and before I know it, sin has entered my life. Now I am in even greater danger. Resistance is just that much harder once I’ve opened the door and I’m fully entertaining that which I said I would normally not do.

So, next time you are tempted by sin, don’t bother wasting your time negotiating, contemplating or arguing. Simply whisper the name of Jesus and let him answer the call.

PRAYER: Jesus, help me to remember that You are only a breath away and that when I call, You will answer. Thank You for your faithfulness. Thank You for being the Almighty God.

“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” (Romans 8:1-2).

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