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).

Family Buyback

February 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Art Fulks –

At age 16, I went to court for my first traffic ticket. The officer said I did not come to a complete stop. I had no defense. The scene is foggy today, but I remember the judge saying, “Son, I hear you are going to college.” A few minutes later, I walked out with a warning and no fines. I was clueless until my father said, “That was the last time I get you out of a ticket.” Then it was clear that someone contacted the judge, on my behalf, as a favor to my father. I never forgot those words, though he never brought it up again.

It may sound minor, but my father was teaching me the principle of grace without enablement. As a pastor, I deal with families and marriages where this is much more serious. Parents often do not know how to deal with wayward or drug addicted child. Husbands or wives do not know how to deal with an unfaithful spouse.

As believers, we are called to reconciliation, if possible. Yet we live in a society that seems to quickly look for a way out of marriage when we are hurt or betrayed. Conversely, some believers find it difficult to set appropriate boundaries. But the biblical model requires both for effective reconciliation and to accurately reflect God’s character.

Compared to my situation, the example of Hosea and Gomer was certainly an extreme case. His wife was a prostitute. No one would have blamed him for quitting. But God called him to not only take her back, He called Hosea to buy her back. What a picture of God’s grace and redemption! Gomar did nothing to earn favor or freedom. But Hosea also set clear boundaries for his relationship with his wayward wife. Likewise, In Luke 15, in the story of the Prodigal Son, the father forgave his wayward son, but did not give him another inheritance to sqander.

God loved us enough to sacrifice all in buying us out of sin’s slavery. We did not deserve it, and could not obtain it on our own. But His calling on our lives is to pursue righteousness. His love is endless, but the enjoyment of fellowship has boundaries. He will not enable us or help us to break fellowship and to destroy our lives. That is the balance to which He has called us. Listening to God through His Word and prayer will help us learn how to display His grace and not become enablers in our own family buyback situations.

BIBLE VERSE: “So I bought her for myself for fifteen sheckels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you’” (Hosea 3:2 – 3 NASB).

The Mystical, Mythical Moon

February 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Janet Morris Grimes –

I have always been enchanted by the moon. Majestically traveling across the night sky, its light stops me in my tracks. Powerful enough to cause the tides in the ocean; gentle enough to appear to be winking at me, at times. Consistent enough to control all calendars, the moon is important to all cultures. And when I see it, I have no choice but to lift up a prayer of thanks. I find it comforting, a peephole into heaven.

It has a strange reputation, that moon. In a survey conducted in 1988, 13% of the respondents believed the moon was indeed made of cheese. There could never truly be a ‘man on the moon,’ as it has no water and cannot sustain life, but that hasn’t stopped us from spending billions to visit and investigate. Due to the lack of gravity, a person who weighs 180 pounds here on Earth, weighs only 30 pounds on the moon.

As it turns out, much of what we believe about the moon is actually a myth. Considered the second brightest object in the sky, other than the sun, the surface is actually quite dark. It’s basically a ball of dry rock, with a few craters along the surface. The temperature, when it faces the sun, is over 300 degrees. For the side that is away from the sun, the temperature is -300 degrees.

Still, I find it mesmerizing. I love that Earth only has one moon, as opposed to the 63 moons of Jupiter. A soldier can be in Afghanistan, looking at the moon, and know that his family back home sees the same one.

Perhaps what amazes me most is that the moon itself has no light to offer. It’s value comes from reflecting the sun. And, the more it faces the sun, the more light it has to offer.

The same is true for myself. My value comes from reflecting the Son. Alone, there is little that is good about me. But the more I face the Son, the more light I can reflect.

The mystical, mythical moon. I want to be just like it, when I grow up.

BIBLE VERSE: “…it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky” (Psalm 89:37 NIV).

Mental Preparation

February 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Elaine James –

Mental preparation, as presented by my tennis coach:
“When the stakes are high, I prepare mentally and get in the “zone.” On my way to a tennis match, I believe I will play well. I focus solely on the game, not on other people or the concern that I may play poorly. My attention is only on my racket, the ball, and the court. I typically do not know how the other games are going because I am so focused on my match.

Taking my time and trying to stay composed allows me to think about my strategy. If I allow myself to consider the possibility of a double fault or service error, it usually means it will happen. Before starting my serve, I visualize where it is going, as well as my service motion. I don’t think negatively, as this causes me to focus on all the wrong things. I clear my mind of all clutter, and seek peace, locking in on the ball with intensity. Losing is not an option. It creates disappointment in myself, because I have let my emotions ruin my ability to play well. At times, it even leads to my abusing my racket and/or body. I am very competitive. I lose self-control.”

Here, I present mental preparation for a day:
When the stakes are high, I prepare mentally, as I get in the “zone”. I believe I will do well. My focus is solely on what I have learned, not on other people or the possibility of failing. I don’t think negatively, My purpose and my focus remain on the Lord. I usually don’t know how others are doing because I am focused on my calling. I don’t rush. I try to stay composed. If I even think of a possible screw up, it usually happens. I visualize where I’m being led and His promises. I clear my mind of clutter, seek peace, and stay composed. If I don’t, I will lose confidence, as I allow my emotions to ruin my ability to do well, or abuse my body. I won’t have the self-control needed to refocus.

PRAYER: Father in heaven help me to mentally prepare for each day.

BIBLE VERSE: “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet” (Ephesians 6:13a, MSG).

 

 

 

Being Different

February 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Jarrod Spencer –

Ketchup, bread, and chocolate chip cookies. What do these all have in common? You can go to the store and have your choice to pick out any one of these in a variation of brands – each one still being about the same idea. There isn’t much difference in the taste and texture in the variation of these three (within their own categories). The idea that they are pretty much the same brings us to this quote by Coco Chanel, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

A few years ago, Heinz brand ketchup came out with variations in order to make their brand a bit different. Bread companies have tried different things to make their bread seem different. Chips Ahoy brand cookies has “Soft Batch” and “Chocolate Chunk” to try to be different. Once a product is made, others will try to mimic that product. So, the constant challenge is to stay ahead of others in the same business, just to make sure you maintain a status of being irreplaceable.

As Christians, we all are equipped with the same amount of bones and other body components as anyone else. So, what makes us different? Understanding that is a constant challenge. We can be polite and kind, but so are others. We have to keep going toward what is uncommon in order to make sure that we are not ‘replaceable.’ For example, are others able to turn the other cheek when being “hit” in life?

How will you be different? I pray that your individual uniqueness will allow you to find ways to be irreplaceable!

Looking for ways…

PRAYER: Holy Father, I am thankful that You are different. That You will forgive when I do not deserve forgiveness. That You sent Your Son to a world that did not appreciate Him. As a human father, I cannot imagine giving up my son for others’ lives. Thank You for being different!

BIBLE VERSE: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a NIV).

 

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