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).

Spiritual Muscle

November 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Donna McCrary –

Stress. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Strenuous. These words are not typically associated with making things stronger; except in the world of muscle building. Look up any blog or “How-to guide” on ways to increase muscle and you will find phrases such as ‘trigger the muscle building process by stressing the muscle;’ ‘fatigue the muscle to breakdown muscle fibers;’ ‘work the muscle to the point of exhaustion;’ or ‘muscle fibers will breakdown after strenuous exercise.’ The process to develop stronger muscle requires exercise designed to rip tiny fibers in the muscle. After a time of rest, the muscle will heal and become stronger.

Is spiritual muscle built in the same manner? In order for us, as Christ Followers, to grow stronger and become more resilient in our faith must we first be stressed, fatigued, and exhausted by strenuous experiences?

A quick journey through the scriptures confirms that spiritually fit people experienced times of stress, fatigue and exhaustion. Think about it. Living inside a great sea creature for three days like Jonah had to be a little stressful. Standing in front of a nine-foot-something warrior must have been stressful for David, the puny red headed baby of the family. Spending the night with hungry lions in a den must have been exhausting for Daniel. The one that makes me laugh is Peter. Image how stressed, frustrated and exhausted Peter had to be to scream at a little girl who simply asked if he knew Jesus. Big Peter versus little girl. Little girl wins. Now that is stress!

God uses stressful, exhausting, strenuous experiences in our life to help us strengthen our spiritual muscle. These times of intense training break down the fibers of who we are. Then after rest and healing, it produces stronger spiritual fibers because we gain a deeper understanding of who we are in Christ. During these strenuous training periods we recognize our strength comes from Christ. We recognize the truth of His Word. We stretch our faith to extents we did not think possible. Each training session requires us to build spiritual muscle.

Every soldier has to go through exhausting training exercises before they reach the battlefield. Every athlete participates in strenuous training before game day. Every farmer labors beyond fatigue before they reap the fruit. Every Christ Follower experiences seasons of stress, exhaustion, and fatigue in order to produce strong spiritual muscle.

Don’t forget – Training is hard but victory is sweet!

PRAYER: Father, help me desire to grow stronger in You even though that could mean struggles and difficult circumstances. Help me embrace the training necessary to fulfill the purpose You have established for me.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV).

Don’t Make ‘Em Hunt For It

November 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer –

Last year, I pulled in to Sonic Drive-In to get a late night snack. As I was perusing the menu, I noticed the Easter-themed promotion of the Sonic Card (aka gift card). It read, “Don’t make ‘em hunt for it.” That phrase grabbed my attention.

One of the common events around the Easter holiday is egg hunting. When I was younger, I enjoyed hunting for the hidden eggs when I was younger. The mystery alone was fun to solve: where are they hidden? In addition, who can resist the candy that waits inside? That delicious, cavity-enhancing material is very appealing.

Easter should be about the tomb and the Resurrection. In the early morning, the tomb was found empty. However, in the days prior to this, it had been filled. Though it wasn’t filled with chocolate, marshmallows, or jelly beans, it was filled with something sweet to the soul. Jesus occupied that tomb. Jesus had been flogged and tormented, resulting in His death on the cross. To make sure he was dead, they pierced His side. Then, they took Him down and laid Him in the tomb.

Three days later, on the first day of the week, two women approached the tomb, only to find it empty. Others looked inside, but there was no Jesus. Where was He?

He had risen. And Jesus chose not to make His followers hunt for Him. He came to them.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:16) doesn’t instruct us or allude to the “come” concept. The first imperative in Matthew’s account is for us to “go.”

Easter is this month. Go. Go to the people and let them know the greatness of your Savior. It may lead to questions. It may eventually lead to someone being saved. You never know. However, accept His mission to go to the people, not expecting them to come to you.

The sweetness that comes as a result of the Gospel will also create a cavity. A cavity created as Satan and self are pushed out, now can be filled with Jesus!

Remember, don’t make ‘em hunt for it…Go!

PRAYER: Father, may I reveal to others what You have revealed to me. May the ‘good news’ of my sin-disease cure be something I share with others. Thank You for making a way for me to return to the glory I lost as a result of sin. Thank you for clearing the Tomb where Jesus’ was laid and demonstrating the power that comes through You.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

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).

No Victory in Mud Slinging

October 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer –

Complaints are a dime-a-dozen. A child complains about what’s for dinner. A fan or player compains about an official’s call, or lack thereof. A customer complains over dissatisfaction with their food. We complain over an actor’s work in a play/film, the weather, the government, or how a church operates. Quite simply, we find it easy to complain. We want to be satisfied, so when we’re not, we don’t give second chances and we let people know about it.

Have you been receiving complaints?

I’ve had my fair share. I once thought I wanted to be a “famous” preacher. However, after knowing all that they go through from skeptics, I reconsidered, and no longer want to be well-known.

If you have been experiencing some complaints lately, the following quote from Rubel Shelly is for you: “If criticism is mistaken or mean-spirited, rise above it. Maintain the high ground when you’re under fire. No victory is worth winning at the expense of picking up the mud that has been slung at you and throwing it back.”

Would you agree it is easy to throw mud back? There are people out there that will always complain about something I have done. They have slung mud when they were upset. It took a lot to imitate Christ and not sling it back. Though it may make me feel good to throw it back, there is no victory found in mudslinging.

If you are thinking about slinging some mud, don’t. If you’ve been slung at, don’t sling back. There is no victory in that. Rise above being under fire! You can gain victory by rising above, rather than lowering yourself to their level.

I am ever trying to maintain the higher ground, with his help.

PRAYER: Father, may I imitate Your Son’s example when He was on the cross and did not sling the verbal mud back that was hurled at Him.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (I Peter 2:21-23 ESV).

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