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).

Have You Ever Thought of Fasting?

October 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Fasting. Isn’t that just for the Super-Spiritual-Christian? Isn’t that what you do the morning you have to weigh-in for your weekly weight loss program?

I hate fasting. I hate feeling hungry. Maybe it’s some deep fear that if I don’t eat when food available, there might not be any left. “Eat now, or your food will be sent to starving children in Africa and you’ll regret not cleaning up that plate” says a voice from the past. Probably though, it’s much more about a stubborn human will that has a stronghold on my heart that is fighting tooth and nail to not lose its grip on my life.

The heart of spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, is to take part in an activity where the Holy Spirit enables us to do something that we cannot do by willpower alone. Fasting gives us a physical means to experience what must become a spiritual reality in our lives.

The dictionary describes discipline as “an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.” Spiritual discipline helps us practice the regime of detachment. We need to engage in activities that help us to let go of our attempts to do it our own way. Peter said it this way: “Abstain from fleshly lusts which ward against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11 NIV). Fasting, as a spiritual discipline, affords us such an opportunity.

When I abstain from food, my desire for indulgence takes a beating, propelling me into an offensive stance against my fleshly will. There is a recovering of lost territory and a moving into previously unoccupied territory. Realms of my will that had been ruled by my flesh are now occupied by the Holy Spirit. Fasting sharpens my dependence on God.

Let me be honest. When the topic of fasting surfaces, my human will still resists. However, I have experienced the joy and freedom that comes with disciplining my desires and detaching from its stronghold. As I practice the discipline of fasting, my resistance is turning to acceptance and I suspect that someday, as I grow in maturity and wisdom, I will embrace it.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the desire to follow You even into the discipline of fasting so that I might grow in my likeness of You.

“His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love” (Ephesians 4:16 The Message).

A Healthy Appetite

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

As my age has increased, so has my waistline. You may understand this. Extra weight creeps on and before we know it, we’re 10, 20, 50 pounds overweight. Despite many different methodologies and programs, there is no secret formula for losing weight. If we want to lose that extra fat, the number of calories that we expend must be more than the amount we take in. Recent studies show that the type of food from which those calories come from are less significant than the simple volume we eat.

And that’s where appetite comes in. My desire to put more food into my mouth than what my body needs is my problem. I don’t just eat because I’m hungry; I eat to experience satisfaction. Rather than listening to my God-given hunger reflex, I respond to my desire for love, approval, comfort, and strength by opening my mouth and eating. My hunger is not for food, it is for fulfilment. In my attempt to satisfy this need, I have made food an idol in my life.

God spoke these words about His people’s incessant idolatry: “They’ll realize how devastated I was by their betrayals, by their voracious lust for gratifying themselves in their idolatries.” (Ezekiel 6:9 TM)

This verse hits me between the eyes on the topic of self-indulgence. I set out to satisfy my deepest longings of my heart, but instead of turning to God, who has promised everything I need, including all the food my body requires, I seek to gratify myself. I stuff my face with food that quickly shows up on my hips and in doing so, my heart remains impoverished and gaunt.

I realize we cannot stop eating. We require physical food. But when we allow God to fill us with Himself, then our deepest needs will be met with the Living Water and Bread of Life. Instead of eating for reasons other than physical hunger, we will feast on the riches of the Holy Spirit. Food will take its rightful second place and become a means of sustenance rather than indulgence. That’s when we’ll have a healthy appetite.

PRAYER: O Father, show me where I have replaced my first love of You with a desire for food.

“Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John 6:35 NIV).

Who’s Listening?

September 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten  –

Listening for God’s voice sometimes feels like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. We’ve been told He’s out there. We may even experienced His work in our lives, but at times, when we desire a direct answer on an important matter, the phone line to heaven seems to be out of order. We quickly assume that the trouble is on God’s end. We’re looking for His help. We’re all ears.

But are we? What does it really mean to hear from God?

I have a daughter who loves to talk. She communicates brilliantly about the details of her day. The problem is not in her speaking but in my lagging ability to listen. As my daughter talks, my mind ends up on rabbit trails and before I can stop myself, I have that far-away gaze. She knows she has lost me. To be truly attentive to her, I have to stop talking and stop thinking about what I’m going to say next or how I can correct or encourage her. I have to put aside my agenda, and simply listen.

When it comes to connecting with God, I’m just like my daughter. I like to talk to God and tell Him all about what I did, what I am desiring and what He should do about it. The breakdown in our communication lies not my unwillingness to talk. Nor does His mind wander when I’m talking to Him. God is present and listening.

The breakdown in our communication is not God’s inability, or unwillingness, to speak but rather my construed expectations of how He ought to interact with me. I long to have Him appear in a burning bush or send writing on the wall or even sit face to face like He did with His disciples. It seldom happens this way. God communes with us at the spiritual level. His Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds not in an audible voice but through the awakening of our mind and heart to His movement in our lives. This demands stillness and intimacy.

PRAYER: O Lord, teach me to recognize the gentle movement of Your whisper.

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you’re not disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 MSG).

Unswerving Hope

July 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

The rain pelted against my windshield with such force that the wipers could not keep it clear. The overwhelming volume of rain pooling on the roadway created a slick covering. As I crept along, hands tensely gripping the steering wheel, I feared that at any moment my car, with its bald tires, would be caught by a gust of wind and skid across the sea of water. Suddenly from behind, a large pick-up truck approached and passed with confidence and precision. This heavy bodied vehicle enabled the driver to manoeuvre the treacherous highways without fear of swerving or hydroplaning.

There is a phrase in scripture that reminds me of my stormy driving experience. Numerous times when we are admonished to hope, the adverb unswervingly is added. Hope by definition is having a desire for something and a reasonable confidence that it is going to happen. As Christians we say that our hope and confidence is in God. But, is it really?

When the torrents of life strike – teenage children go astray, a scary diagnosis is received, a spouse betrays, a parent dies, a friend ridicules, loneliness looms dark – does our hope hydroplane? Battered by the wind and rain, do we skid from one side of the road to another, perhaps even ending up in a wreck? Or, do we have an unswerving hope in God?

I surmise that my fellow driver in the large pick-up truck, who cut through the storm without fear, knew the capacity of his vehicle and was accustomed to driving in the present formidable circumstances. This leads me to ponder how well I know God? Have I studied His character and trustworthiness? Have I prepared for the storms of life by going deep into God’s word and fostering an intimate relationship with Him? Can I recount the storms I have weathered with Him remembering that He has proven faithful?

When our hope is placed in God’s faithful presence in our life, then we will have the confidence to go through any storm knowing that God is carrying us in the palm of His hand and nothing will overcome us. God is trustworthy. He will make our paths straight. God alone is our Rock.

QUOTE: “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible.” Anonymous

BIBLE VERSE: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

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