Fast to Feast to Fast

January 3, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I confess. Sometimes I fast to feast and feast only to fast again.

How many Thanksgiving Days have I gone without breakfast—maybe even no lunch—so I’d have room for more Thanksgiving dinner? More turkey, more mashed potatoes and gravy, more stuffing, relishes, scalloped corn, rolls, frozen cranberry salad and pumpkin pie. M-o-r-e, please. Eat some more! Won’t you have some more? Look how much is left; have some MORE! And then I skip the next meal or two afterward because the thought of food makes me feel ill.

I don’t mean to cause a guilt trip here (not that I think you’ve ever done this). But I pondered this subject when I read an article, “Extending the Table” by Leslie Leyland Fields, in Kyria magazine.

Feasts and fasts—each can have a meaningful place in my life rather than be a gut-level response to a harried holiday time or to a family reunion.

A feast might be held in celebration of the Lord, one’s faith, country or family.

A fast might be physical (cleanse the body’s system, increase mental clarity, reset one’s body clock, change habits or diet). It might be spiritual (deny the body’s appetites to gain discipline, rely more on God, grow closer to Him).

In the future, I’d like to think things through in advance. To be intentional about it; purposeful. Not a fast to feast, or a feast to fast.

AUTHOR QUOTE: Feast or fast: without intent, they are harmful at worst and pointless at best. But what a productive thing either can be, if carried out for a good purpose!

“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting” (Daniel 9:3a NKJV).
[They celebrated] “…with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another” (Esther 9:19b NKJV).

Beyond Understanding

December 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

“Can you tell me that my son has gone to heaven?” the mother asked the hospital chaplain.

Not knowing the family, and only knowing that the boy had committed suicide, the chaplain looked deeply into the soul of the seeking mother’s eyes. He wondered, What do I tell her? What is the right thing to say, Lord? Then he tenderly said, “Tell me about your son.” As the mother poured out her heart about the life of her only child, she heard within her own words the answer to her question, and the chaplain was once again reminded that true wisdom isn’t always the textbook answer. God’s answers sometimes carry wisdom that is beyond our understanding.

When God offered Solomon whatever he wished, he asked for wisdom or discernment and not wealth. God was pleased with his request and gave him an abundance of wisdom, and in the first account of the use of Solomon’s gift, he found himself in a dilemma between two mothers. This scenario would have been difficult for anyone, yet Solomon knew he possessed something outside of himself that would make all the difference. Often the solution to our own dilemmas is not logical, easily seen, or reasoned. But when the solution comes from God we will know, for His solutions are perfect and wise.
“Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice” (1 Kings 3: 27-28 NIV).
PRAYER: I praise You God for Your perfect wisdom. Help me seek Your wisdom when it would be easier to rely upon my own logic, reason, or understanding. Thank You for always providing Your wisdom that is beyond my understanding but not beyond Yours.

Visibility

December 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I can not see the road in front of me. I don’t dare stop the car, or I might get hit from behind. Besides, I can’t even find the shoulder of the road if I wanted to pull over. The wind-hurled snow looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie, where the space ship leaps into hyperspace—white lines are coming at me, or maybe emanating from me—who knows anymore?

My visibility is nearly zero.

It’s dangerous not to have vision while on the road. My car might go too far in either direction; I could collide with another car head-on, or end up sideways in the ditch.

It’s also dangerous not to have spiritual vision. Without it, I have no grounding, no focus, no purpose, no moral compass to keep me from destruction. But with it—with spiritual vision, I have Someone to guide and direct me. Someone who has a plan for my life, who knows what is best for me and what I should avoid.

He can keep me safe, no matter the conditions of the road.

PRAYER: Lord, my vision will be perfect if I keep my eyes on You. If I trust in You, You will direct my path.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV).

Out Of … Into

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

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Entering the air conditioned building, I left the mugginess of topical humidity. It was a relief to get out of the oppressive heat and go into the refreshing and revitalizing cool environment. When we leave something restrictive and enter something free and life giving, our mind and body breathes a sigh of relief.

In the Old Testament, God brought the Israelites out of the slavery they were enduring in Egypt and brought them into His promised land of bounty and freedom. Moses reminds the people that “God pulled us out of there (Egypt) so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors” (Deuteronomy 6:23 TM). Similarly, God provides this opportunity for each of us by accepting the new life Jesus offers. When we leave our life of sin, we enter the full life He has promised.

In pondering this reality, I started a list of what I have come out of by entering into this relationship with Jesus:
 self-protection that hides
 fear
 sporadic obedience
 independence that hinders relationships with God and others
 a less than truthful existence
 a desire to gratify myself with lesser gods, including excessive food, accomplishments, status
 the tyranny of sin
 and the list goes on…

Whenever we go out of a place, the obvious is that we then enter into something else. So if the previous list represents what I have left behind, here is the companion list of what I have entered into, through Christ:
 absorption of God’s love
 experiencing unexplainable grace
 faithfulness
 an open spacious life
 interdependence on others
 the paradox of a full dependence on God that brings freedom
 and the list goes on…

Those are quite the comparative lists! Why would I desire to stay or return to the first list when I have such a compelling and amazing life offered through Christ? The promised land awaits.

Quote: “Never under-estimate the energy of unholiness in the human heart.” Larry Crabb

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13 -14 NIV).

Advisers

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).

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