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)

Obituaries and Eternity

By Peter Lundell –

For a brief time I read obituaries in the newspaper—just for fun. It didn’t last long, because they got repetitious. Besides, reading about dead people can get morbid. Yet I learned something.

All the deceased were good people and were missed. Of course they were; people don’t spend money on obituaries for people they don’t like. I didn’t see any for jerks—no one missed them. Or if anyone really was bad, the description was whitewashed.

Each obituary listed the career highlights and accomplishments of the deceased. Some were impressive: degrees, important jobs, civic activities, and contributions. Most folks appeared to have been nice people, good people, ones we’d like if we met them. I found myself being impressed. I imagined meeting them during their lifetime and being impressed—even envious and wishing I had accomplished the things they had.

But there was always one catch: They were dead. This single fact changed everything. After reading all the impressive things they did, I found myself oddly unimpressed. I kept thinking, So what? Their life achievements are over, and now they’re in eternity.

I scoured each obituary for indications of whether they had prepared themselves for eternity. I can’t say whether they or not they did, but nothing was ever said about it. I’m sure some did and some didn’t. Some knew God and some had positively influenced others, but most centered their activities and accomplishments on themselves.

Crossing the line into eternity changes everything—everything that on this earth is impressive or important or worthwhile.

Someday people will read my obituary. Yours too. What if we live our brief lives in ways that reflect and prepare for eternity? After all, that’s where we’re all going. And besides, we’ll almost certainly end up living better lives.

PRAYER: “Lord, teach me to live with eternity in my heart, eternity in my thinking, eternity in my actions, and as I do to change the world I live in.”

BIBLE VERSE: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 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)

Losing Fear

By Jarrod Spencer –

It lurks around, a g-force, always present and more powerful than gravity, keeping you down. It is fear. It lurks even in the daylight. It doesn’t have to jump out to scare you anymore; you’re already past that point. You know it is there. It has encompassed you to the point that you think about it throughout the day.

What causes this fear for you? Would you like to be free of that fear? Would you like to be fearless?

To identify the possible fears that many people share would be a writing that would be way too long. But, all fears have similarities. They consume. They errode common sense thinking.

Jesus’ followers also were afraid when the storm came while they were on the water. They exclaimed in panic, “Lord save us!” Similarly, in a loud voice, since it was in the midst of the storm, Jesus replied, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?!”

In the midst of your storms, times of panic, or times of desperation Jesus is calling these same words out to you.

Perhaps we can use this section of text to help us conquer our own fears. First, make a list to identify your fears. Writing them down may make it easier to visualize, which may make it easier to confront and overcome.

Secondly, remember that as the thunder roars, Jesus snores. Imagine trying to sleep on a hammock while it was being tossed back and forth. I don’t know if the storm was that rough, but Jesus was able to sleep in the midst of it. I find value in the fact that He was able to sleep, which should bring peace to me in my storms, knowing that I can “sleep” as well.

Thirdly, you’re not just a “number.” We are so valuable to God that He knows the numbers of hairs on our head and our worth is greater than the sparrow (Matthew 10:31). God finds so much value in you that He gave up His son for you.

Finally, Jesus is always available. He is on call “24/7”. So, “do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1-3) and take advantage of that availability whenever you feel fear weighing you down.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for calming the storms in my life.

BIBLE VERSE: “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-25 NIV).

Hidden Gifts

June 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Susan Dollyhigh –

I discovered the tiny red package hidden behind the Christmas tree. The white bow I’d taken such pains to tie was undone, a ragged corner had been chewed by the dog, and the once shiny wrapping paper was dull and wrinkled from water that had leaked from the tree stand. Even in its tattered state, I recognized this package that held a precious gift I had purchased for my niece. On Christmas Eve, my large family became caught up in the frenzy of ripping off bows, tearing into packages, and oohing and aahing over presents, and this gift remained hidden and was overlooked. I delivered the sad-looking little box to my niece and told her, “This package has had a rough life but the gift inside should be fine.” My niece gently opened the neglected and overlooked box and found a shining golden locket inside, perfect and intact.

My heart was much like that battered Christmas package. A difficult childhood, an early marriage and a tumultuous life had left me feeling that I didn’t have even one gift to enjoy, much less one I could share with the world. Even though I’d accepted Christ as my Savior as a young girl, it wasn’t until my adult years that I became intimately acquainted and fell in love with Him.

Finally accepting the fact that He created me and unconditionally loves me allowed my tattered heart to heal and as it did, I discovered precious gifts, perfect and intact, that had been hidden for decades. I found self-worth and self-esteem, laughter and playfulness, a deep love and caring for others, and the totally unexpected gift of writing. My loving Father had given me many gifts to enjoy – even ones that I could share with the world; I just hadn’t guarded my heart and had almost missed out on His blessings.

When we allow Jesus into our hearts, He can heal the scars caused by abuse and repair the broken spirit. Wonderful God-given gifts are then just waiting to be discovered.

PRAYER: Loving Father, thank you for your healing grace. Thank you that it’s never too late to discover the gifts that you have given us and to use them to bring glory to You.

BIBLE VERSE: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

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