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)

Pride in Our Humility

July 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

How do you describe humility? Doormat…subservient…inferior?

I grew up being taught to never think too highly of myself. The attached interpretation was that I best not consider myself good at something. The only acceptable pride was the extent of my humility.

Jesus’ life and words give evidence that the humble are blessed when we have an accurate perspective of who we truly are. Humility is not abasement or self-ridicule anymore than it is elevated and cocky. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us – nothing added and nothing subtracted.

Humility does not allow us to hold on to our past sins and failures, thus defining ourselves by them, which deflates our character. Christ has forgiven our sins and in His sight we are righteous. Humility accepts the clean slate offered and prompts us to move forward from our mistakes. We become blessed when we see ourselves as God sees us.

Conversely, humility does not allow us to revel in our accomplishments thus hoping to receive significance from them. God has not chosen to love us because of our excellent works. Rather, He loves us and proclaims esteem on us because we are His creation. He loved us enough to have His Son die in order for us to be in relationship with Him. We are blessed because of Christ.

Seeing ourselves as God sees us – nothing more or less – is humility. When we accept God’s view, we truly do inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). We inherit the opportunity to let go of our past mistakes and move into the possibilities of today. We inherit a freedom that was previously stifled by perfectionism or shame. We inherit a glorious future of acceptance and esteem. We inherit hope.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to take off my glasses of both inferiority and arrogance and instead put on the glasses of humility so I might see myself as You do.

BIBLE VERSE: Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…” (Philippians 2:5 – 11 NIV)

Characterology

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I love learning new words, especially when they have fifteen letters in them. I recently heard the word “characterology”. I immediately was drawn to understand its true meaning. “Ology” refers to the study of something and “character” could be described as the combination of features and traits that form our individual nature. So, characterology is taking a good hard look at who we truly are, especially when no one else is around or watching us.

This resounds with the psalmist David who cried out to God to study his character. “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 139:23-24 NIV).

One of the Holy Spirit’s roles is to illuminate sin in our lives. Sure we’d rather call them character flaws, but things like pride, envy, and deception are not just imperfections, they are sins. Like Adam and Eve, we will try to hide our sin from God, others and even ourselves. I often make the study of my character as superficial as possible. I skim over actions and attitudes that fall outside of God’s desires for my life, choosing to slough over them rather than confess and change them. I cheapen God’s grace by ignoring the repentance to which He calls me.

All too often the study of my character is at a third grade level rather than a more advanced level of spiritual maturity. The hard work of characterology, involving true study, will bring about maturity and transformation. Being a student of the character of Jesus will help me become more astute at discerning and responding to the Holy Spirit’s revelations of the offensive ways in me.

Characterology is more than a big word. It is an advanced class in spiritual formation into which we can to delve wholeheartedly with God’s guidance.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for courage to delve into the study of my character.  Thank You for Your love and grace in the midst of my mess.

BIBLE VERSE: “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalms 51:6 NIV)

Whatever

May 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten

What is on today’s to-do list? Is it to put the finishing touches on the big presentation? Is it to clean up a lingering mess in the storeroom? Is it to grade papers? Is it to get to your exercise class? Is it to have lunch with your daughter? Our lives are full of tasks, some menial and routine, others extra special. Whatever the task you will tackle today, God has gifted you with this opportunity for a purpose, and His directive is for you to do your work in such a way that it glorifies Him.

It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher, plumber, corporate executive, child care attendant, nurse, computer programmer or salesperson, God has called us to do our work to the best of our ability. Usually if we do our work well there is affirmation that comes our way. We may even get paid for the work we do. But momentary compensation, affirmation or esteem should not be our primary purpose for our work. The Apostle Paul instructs us that “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

Synonyms for the word “whatever” include all, everything, and encompassing. The “whatever” in this scripture is not just talking about the ministry you lead at your church, the Sunday School class you teach or the shut-ins you visit on the weekend. Rather, it encompasses everything we do –working, driving, eating, sleeping, chatting, and exercising. Everything is an act of worship and should be done so that God is glorified, uplifted and extolled.

This may seem plausible when all is going well, your coworkers are picking up their share of the work, your boss is congenial and you feel confident in your abilities. It takes a much greater commitment to see the opportunities to glorify God when the project list is too long, your employees are threatening mutiny and your friend just screamed at you. Glorifying God in all we do is not dependent on situations. It is to occur in spite of our situations.

What are you tempted to do poorly or exclude from your “whatever” list?

PRAYER: Help me this day to choose to glorify You in all that I do – from the menial to the meaningful.

BIBLE VERSE: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

Next Page »