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).

The Perfect Stone

February 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

Have you ever watched or participated in building a house? My husband and I own a cabin in the Tennessee mountains, a dream of ours for the first twenty years of our married life. It is on a rental program, so it isn’t like we are moving in next week, but it is still ours. We bought it while it was under construction so we saw it in its unfinished state. Then several months later we saw it in its final state with just the punch list of things to touch up. It is very gratifying to be a part of something in which you can see progress being made. Sometimes progress slows down or halts because a problem is found or something was not done right. In order for the house to stand when it is finished, it needs to be built correctly, each step of the way. God knows a lot about building a house and can show you how.

Stones were an important Old Testament symbol of God and the coming Messiah. The early church understood from this Stone the nation of Israel would rule forever, however, here the term ‘Living’ is added to remind them of the new understanding of the role of Christ the Messiah. The church is described as the new spiritual house, constructed of the living stones of believers who continue the role of priestly people declaring the wonderful works of God and offering our own lives as sacrifices.

PRAYER: God, I praise You for how You perfectly fulfill every detail of the Old Testament teachings. Thank You for being willing to be the capstone that was rejected. Help me stand as a solid rock You can build upon to further Your kingdom.

BIBLE VERSE: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5 NIV).

Take the Money and Run

January 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer –

There is a new TV show that had a short run this summer titled “Take the Money and Run.” Its premise is that two people are given a briefcase with $100,000 inside. They are given one hour to hide the briefcase anywhere they want. At the end of that hour they are picked up by two investigators and taken to individual holding cells for 48 hours. During this time, two interrogators get to question them as much as they want as with various methods. The investigators and the interrogators are provided the GPS coordinates of their route, phone records and any receipts they may accumulate during that one hour time.

The people try to lie and tell the truth. They try to keep their stories straight. They try to keep the investigators as far away as possible. Ultimately, the people are trying to outfox the investigators and interrogators for the sake of greed. In the context of the sport, they are greedy, not wanting the other people to have the money.

The premise of that TV show made me think about the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. Jesus comes in contact with ten men who had leprosy. They cannot come close to Jesus, due to their uncleanness. He tells them to go show them to the priests. Along the way, they are healed. Only one comes back with appreciation. Jesus asked about the other nine.

There is a lesson in that the one who came back was a Samaritan. As some know, Jews and Samaritans did not get along well. However, I want to focus a bit on the fact that the other nine “took the money and ran.” They were greedy. They received what they were looking for and then took off.

I have been one of the nine. Whether it was after I received some money from my parents or grace from God. Either way, there have been times I was taking it and running. Glad that I received what I wanted, but took off with it without expressing thanks.

I would guess you’ve been “one of the nine” also. You have probably been “the one” too. However, may we be challenged to be “the one” more than “one of the nine” with both God and with others.

PRAYER: Father, though I may “take the money and run” more times that I would like, thank You for your forgiveness in times of my greediness. May I strive to be “the one” more than I have in the past.

BIBLE VERSE: “Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17 NIV).

Incredible Grace

January 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

With the temperatures climbing like they have been lately, I was reminded of a group of people from an area church who decided to take bottles of ice-cold water to people who were working outside. They thought this simple gift of love and compassion might be a chance to witness and would also be something  “Jesus would do.” Two team members set out on a Saturday with four bottles of water to give away. They were very discouraged after several hours. No one was mowing their lawn, walking their dog, or washing their cars. It was too hot.

Just when they were about to give up they drove by a laundromat and saw two women who looked a little weary from the heat. When they gave them the bottled water they discovered the women were living with their families out of a van parked out back. The two water-bottle-missionaries were able to help this family find shelter and a meal in addition to giving them water. Not the opportunity they thought their day would provide, but it would be what Jesus would do. God desires us to extend grace to the weary.

In the book of Romans, Paul encountered a lot of people who thought they were safe and secure because of their lineage, their wealth, their position in life, their deeds of charity, or their allegiance to Paul. Paul wanted to make it very clear that although the Jews were the chosen people, it wasn’t their heritage that saved them. It was God’s grace. And His grace is given freely to those who deserve it and to those who don’t. If we are to do as Jesus would do, we need to look on the needs of others as an opportunity for us to share grace, especially when those who need it don’t really deserve it.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for the opportunities You give to share Your grace and love with those around me. Help me broaden my view of those who are in need so that all Your children might come to know Your incredible grace.

BIBLE VERSE: “’I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:4-6 NIV).

Audience of One

January 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Elaine James –

I woke up this morning with a whisper from God.

“Read Proverbs 3.” Before I did so, I asked God to tell me what I personally need to understand from the word. I became an audience of one.

Whenever this happens, I get excited to see what God has for me to read and learn.

Read Proverbs 3 for yourself and ask like I did “What do you want me to learn?” Proverbs 3 has the famous verses 5-6, which begins “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding,” which is great to memorize. But today I was compelled to concentrate on the words “Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health; your very bones will vibrate with life!” (Proverbs 3:7-8 MSG)

Do I think I know it all when it comes to the knowledge of the Bible? Am I humble? Answering many Bible questions frequently and being deeply passionate about Christ is great, but I need to stay humble about that knowledge/wisdom.

I stopped, reflected and prayed a prayer of repentance that I would stay humble. So many times I find myself alone about moral subjects and I speak out and many don’t agree with me. I ask God “Am I coming on to strong?  Do I have too high of expectations for others?”

I could always use wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. I do want to stay humble.

I am reminded of another scripture “humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”(James 4:12)

I sense a deep connection with God from reading Proverbs. I love to be reminded of God’s wisdom and passion to have us close by Him to learn. Why do I need to know it all? I mean, do I lack faith to just trust God? What about you? Do you need to know it all or can you let go and let God?

Being the audience of one allows you to discover such wonderful truths as in verse 8: “Your body will glow with health and your very bones will vibrate with life!”

I think I will make some popcorn and read some more.

PRAYER:  Lord forgive me for not always being humble. Help me to have Your peace-loving wisdom.

BIBLE VERSE: “Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health; your very bones will vibrate with life!” (Proverbs 3:7-8 MSG)

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