Wash Versus Soak

October 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I have a favorite cookie recipe that’s loaded with oatmeal and raisins. If made correctly the tasty morsels come out chewy and rich, perfect with a glass of ice cold milk. My usual method involves soaking the raisins in hot water for a couple of hours so that they are plump and juicy. The last time I made them I was in a rush and so just measured out the one cup, quickly washed them and then dumped them into the batter. Surely soaking wasn’t that important to the quality of the final product?

Haste makes waste. The cookies, although they had the same ingredients were not supple and chewy. I discovered the hard way that the extra moisture that came from soaking the raisins was critical to the cookies successful finish.

Jan Johnson in her book Savoring God’s Word describes the difference between typical Bible study and a type of Bible meditation where we soak in the 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.”

Do we just wash in Scripture or do we soak? Do we sit with a verse and allow its truths to seep deep into our minds and hearts, creating a supple hunger for more of God. Or do, we feverishly plough through our daily reading plans, simply making our Bible reading an item to be checked off?

Scripture is living and active, and was given to us so that the Holy Spirit would judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart. It is meant to illuminate our shortcomings and our need for God. Its corrects and challenges. It soothes and breathes. It ushers in peace. It enlivens joy.

Soaking is not done on the run. Soaking requires stillness. Soaking produces change.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to slow down and to soak in Your Word so that its truths may penetrate my heart and produce a life that resembles Yours.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

A Thorough Housecleaning

September 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

The mocha cheesecake had served its purpose. Our dinner guests had exclaimed about its silky texture and rich coffee and chocolate flavor. But now the last half sat on the third shelf of my refrigerator. Every time I opened the frig door it seemed to call my name and lure me in for just one more bite. By the end of the weekend, the majority of that cake had made its way from the third shelf onto my muffin top.

During this same weekend I was reading the book of Joshua where the Israelite’s fearsome leader gives his final charge. Joshua knew the Israelite’s propensity to allow their hearts to wander away from the true God and that they were at greatest risk of doing this by allowing the subtle infiltration and acceptance of other gods. His admonition? “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)

I was quick to congratulate myself that I didn’t have any god statues in my house. But, as I licked the remaining crumb of cheesecake from the corner of my mouth, I was reminded that gods are anything we idolize and give our devotion. I had to admit that that cheesecake had a hold on me. That weekend I had given my devotion to a mixture of cream cheese, coffee and sugar and in doing so I had not upheld my commitment to God to eat healthily and disciplined.

So the choice lay before me. My frugal upbringing reasoned that it would be wasteful to throw out anything edible. “Keep it. Someone else in the family might want it”. But as I stood before the refrigerator, I knew I had to act on the Holy Spirit’s prompting from Joshua’s words, “Throw away the foreign gods among you.” Oh, the freedom my spirit felt when the last of that cheesecake made its way down the garbage disposal. It was gone and I was no longer held captive by an idol in my midst.

Do you have any idols that linger, pulling at your desire and causing you to stumble? Be ruthless. Nothing is worth taking the risk of allowing our hearts to be pulled away from our one true God. Do a thorough housecleaning today.

PRAYER: Help me to be strong and courageous to rout the idols from my life.

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5 NIV)

A Spiritual Lifeline

August 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

Rosemary Flaaten –

Struggling in the churning water, my tattered lifesaving vest threatened to disintegrate with each wave slamming over me. My eyes, clouded by the sea water, barely distinguished the sailors feverishly trying to get close to me. With full strength they threw the rope and despite my fatigue I caught it and held on. Just as hope started to surge, a wave hit with unbridled fury. The lifeline that had promised to draw me to safety, instantly snapped and I was engulfed by a wall of water. That’s when I awoke.

Such nightmares highlight the feeling of being lost and our need for a secure and trustworthy lifeline. As we go about our daily lives we put our trust in many things. We trust that if we drive defensively, we won’t end up in an accident. If we raise our kids right, we hope they’ll mature into upright citizens. If we stick to our Bible reading plan we’re confident we’ll measure up as a good Christian.

But when a wall of tragedy slams against us, do these lifelines hold or do they snap? Are we relying on our good Christian works to secure us in the storms of life?

The writer of Hebrews gives what he calls “an unbreakable spiritual lifeline” (Hebrews 6:18 TM). He outlines several attributes of God’s character that if held onto will become a lifeline that will never break in the fury of life. What is it that is so completely dependable and completely trustworthy?

God has made us a promise that He will never leave us or forsake us and that His purposes will be fulfilled. God has a plan for each of our lives and it is a future with goodness, hope and prosperity. And how do we know that this promise can be trusted? Because God has given His word. He has made us an oath and it is impossible for God to lie.

Therefore, be encouraged today. Grab hold of the hope God offers. It is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline.

PRAYER: Forgive me for my apathy and doubt and instead help me to grab hold of Your promises and to place my full trust in Your goodness.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Word Scramble

August 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

What word can you make from these letters – N T S I L E ?

If you figured out the word “silent”, you’re right. If you unscrambled the word “listen”, you are also right. Isn’t it interesting that the same letters spell both “silent” and “listen”?

What do these two words have in common?

In order to truly listen, one must be silent. Silence is a required element of listening. Unfortunately listening is not a guaranteed outcome of silence. You can have silence and still not listen.

Recently my daughter and I were painting her bedroom. In the emptiness of the room, the only sounds were the paint brushes against the walls and the creaking of the ladder. Silence prevailed. But as my daughter embarked on a story that had little interest to me, I quickly tuned her out and allowed my own thoughts to crowd out her tale. Despite the silence, I was not attentive to her.

Conversely, I’m also discovering how often I keep the noise level high enough in my soul so that I am unable to distinguish my heart’s longings and thus am dulled to the Holy Spirit’s movement in my inner being. Busyness and inner turmoil snuff out the quietness that is required for soul care.

Silence is making no noise, being quiet and refraining from speech. Listening is giving attention and paying heed. The inner work that occurs in silence prepares us to be competent listeners, whether it is to our child, friend or the Holy Spirit.

In a world where noise bombards us from every angle, let’s cultivate havens of silence where are hearts can be transformed and our ears will be attuned to hear both God ‘s quiet movement in our lives and the tales of others that deserve our undistracted attention.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to cultivate quietness such that my listening ability is sharpened.

“Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say” (Isaiah 28:23 NIV)

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).

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