Then and Now

March 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

We all love life-change stories. Someone was once a drug addict, living on the streets, and now they have a family and are a contributing member of society. Someone was bankrupt, and now they own a multimillion dollar business. Someone chose adultery, but now have returned to their marriage and are loving, honoring and devoted to their spouse.

Then-and-now stories are inspirational. They give us hope that, despite the mistakes we have made, we can enter a new present that will enable a future of change.

Reflecting on then-and-now stories made me think of my own story of transformation. No, I never lived on the street, suffered bankruptcy or cheated on my spouse. But, before asking Jesus to be my Lord, I lived a life without God.

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossian church gives a then-and-now story that mirrors my life: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:21-22 NIV).

Before I committed my life to Christ, I was fearful of death, failure and just about anything that went “boo” in the night. Now, I have an abiding trust in God’s goodness and His plan for my life. I may not get it right all the time -– actually I will not get it right all the time – but God, in his amazing grace and love, picks me up and sets me back on the path of grace.  He never shames me, but simply loves me and draws me further to a likeness that reflects His character.

What’s your then-and-now story? How has God’s presence in your life brought about transformation? What change has come about in your life because of God? I encourage you to tell others your story of transformation. Don’t ever feel its not dramatic enough to speak about. Every little step of change is worth celebrating. The angels are rejoicing, so let’s celebrate on earth, as it is in heaven.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for opportunities to share my story of the difference You have made in my life.  Use it for Your glory and to further Your kingdom.

BIBLE VERSE: “Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” 1 Peter 3:15 (The Message).

A Suspicious Thought

March 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I generally don’t think of myself as a suspicious person. One of my strengths is positivity and, perhaps  to a fault, I see the best in people, believing them to be trustworthy. But, I’ve noticed a sliver of suspicion, not so much about others but towards God. Oswald Chambers is noted as saying that the root of all sin is the suspicion that God is not good.

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, aligned themselves with the questioning of the serpent, “Is that really what God said?” Up until that moment, they believed that God loved them, and that He had their best interests are heart. That simple question flooded their minds with doubt and sin was ushered in on the wheels of suspicion.

We do the same thing. Deep in our souls we wonder, “Is God really good?”

I’m not going to offer a trite response, instead, I offer you this challenge: Take two pieces of paper, placed side by side. At the top of one, write “good” and on the top of the other write “bad”. With pen in hand, start creating a list on each page of all the things in your life that fit on either one of those pages. Things such as a house to live in would go under the good. It may not be big or fancy and it may have a large mortgage, but if you have a roof over your head, then it goes on the “good” page.

Family members and friends should be listed on the “good” page. Perhaps, within those relational spheres there are unhealthy relationships. Those names can go on the “bad page,” only if nothing good has ever come of those struggles.

Hopefully, our physical or emotional health is readily placed on the “good” page. But, there are seasons in our lives when our health is more bad than good, so place it accordingly.

I am amazed that my accumulation of “good” heavily outweighs my “bad”. The prolific blessings in my life give evidence that God’s promise through Jeremiah continue in my reality: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them” (Jeremiah 32:40).

God’s goodness is truly astounding!

PRAYER: O God, enlighten the eyes of my heart that I will see your goodness so prolifically bestowed on me and then grant me a heart of gratitude.

BIBLE VERSE: “Your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6 NIV).

Pleasure Please

March 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

What brings you pleasure?

As I pondered this question, I started a list of pleasurable activities: spending a leisurely day by a tranquil lake with a dear friend, accomplishing a task, put off for too long, and watching my child excel at a newly discovered skill. Enjoyment and delight come from a variety of sources. They are God-given feelings and should be savored for the blessings to which they attest.

What brings God pleasure? A righteous heart, honesty and delighting in the things of God bring delight to our Holy Father. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, clearly and repeatedly states that making the plans to create us and bring us unto Himself before the foundations of the world, gave God great pleasure.

This picture made me reminisce about what it was like being pregnant. I remember the delight I experienced feeling the baby move inside of me. I would lie awake in the early morning dreaming about whether I would birth a boy or girl, what he or she would be like and what great things he or she would accomplish in this world. It brought satisfaction to decorate the baby’s room as I enjoyed the anticipation and wonder.

Now as I see my teenage children moving into adulthood I revel in what I see. They have become so much more than I had ever dreamed for them. Their abilities exceed what I could have wished for. I relax in the deeply held belief that God loves them more than I do and that He has a plan for their lives that exceeds what I could orchestrate for them. Delight comes from seeing my children embrace His plan for their lives. If this gives me such pleasure, imagine how God feels when He sees us living out His will for our lives.

Having experienced the joy of watching my children, I have a renewed desire to bring pleasure to my Father.  Living with an undivided heart that pants after Him brings a smile of approval from my Father. Searching out His will for my life brings enjoyment to God. I want to be like Jesus, whose purpose was to do things on this earth for God’s good pleasure.

What brings me pleasure? I think pleasing God should be at the top of the list.

PRAYER: Father, Thank You that You had Your eyes on me before the beginning of the earth. Help me to live out Your plan in my life for Your pleasure and glory.

BIBLE VERSE:“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” (Ephesians 1:9 NIV).

Moving Away from Fear

February 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

While on a recent African safari, I had an elephant encounter. Unwittingly, I found myself between two magnificent, but very large, creatures who seemed none too pleased. Barely protected by a flimsy compact car, I cowered between them. One elephant was roaring and swinging his trunk as if to say “get out my way, lady!” With adrenaline coursing through my veins, and every fibre in my body screaming “YIKES”, I gingerly moved out of harm’s way. I have not been that scared in a very long time.

Most of my fears come, not from real and present danger, but from the cesspool of “what if ?” What if the medical results show abnormalities? What if my contract is not renewed and my stocks never rebound? What if my teenage child turns away from God?

Fear is characterized by Allister McGrath in The NIV Thematic Reference Bible, as “an attitude of anxiety or distress, caused by concern over a threat to one’s future.” Our future is unknown, and in many cases, uncontrollable. Fear begins as an idea – What if? This seed of possibility takes root, and soon, various scenarios play out in our mind that nurture a future that is less than ideal. What began as an idea grows into a full fledged fear that strangles inner peace and joy.

Enter God. “When I said ‘My foot is slipping’, Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:18-19 NIV).

God has called us to fear not. The absence of fear does not depend on our circumstances. Fear dissolves when we trust God in the midst of our circumstances. Fear of deteriorating health is calmed when we know that God has numbered our days. Fear of losing our job or financial security is consoled when we know that if God cares for the lilies of the field, then how much more will He provide and care for us. Fear of the ungodly choices family members will make is soothed by knowing that God loves them, even more than we do, and that He will not let them go from His grip of grace.

What do you fear?  Invite God to enter that cesspool of anxiety to calm your worries and to bring them into the light of His joy and peace.

Quote: “We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow” (Fulton Oursler).

BIBLE VERSE: “Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18 NIV).

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).

 

 

 

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