Unplanned But Part of God’s Plan

April 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten -
“You were unplanned but definitely wanted.” These words from my mother confirmed that my conception had come as quite a surprise to my forty-year-old parents. However, God never makes mistakes and so Mom always backed up her statement by affirming that I had been planned by God before the beginning of time.

God has had a purpose for every moment of my life, and that plan will continue until the moment I die. These holy plans have been evident as a child growing up on a farm on the Canadian prairies, a student at a secular university, a nursing aid and daycare worker, a music teacher, and an ex-pat corporate wife. Being a pastor in a mega church, a writer and a corporate trainer have all been surprises to me but have also been part of God’s plan before the beginning of time. To many my journey may seem like a mismatch of pathways but God’s plans are higher than my vocation; they are my calling.

The path of our lives may start with a bump or two, be full of winding roads and mishaps, and have their share of both mountain tops and deep valleys but through it all we must continue to believe that God has a plan. Our lives our not random or purposeless.

Wherever we find ourselves, we must be attentive to the God-tracks in our history. History is really God’s story and we get the privilege of living His-story in our skin. When we can believe that God has brought us to this place, on this day in history for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14 NIV), then we will view each unexpected diversion in our path in a different light. Instead of being setbacks, they will be stepping stones on the plan God is unfolding.

May each of us be attentive to the portion of His-story that we are part of this day and commit to living out our potential in His holy plan.

PRAYER: O Lord, give me the faith to catch a fresh glimpse of Your holy plan for me this day.

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you” (Jeremiah 1: 5 TM).

Today’s Devotional is by Rosemary Flaaten. Her successful book, A Woman and Her Relationships, and its accompanying DVD small group resource helps women bridge the gap between their spiritual lives and everyday interactions. Her newest book A Woman and Her Workplace delves into 9-5 relationships. A dynamic speaker—Rosemary challenges her audiences to view their workplaces as opportunities to live out Christ’s love. Rosemary lives with her husband and three children in Calgary, Canada.

Spring Cleaning

April 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Hally Franz –

It’s that time again. Who doesn’t enjoy spring cleaning? I look forward to that first 70-degree day when I’m moved to turn on Jimmy Buffet, open the windows to enjoy the warm air and sunshine, and spend a block of time to get down to some serious cleaning. I’ll dust, vacuum, change sheets, eliminate clutter and clean bathrooms. That’s it, right?

I saw a talk show on the topic of household germs and bacteria, and the well-known host said that her bed sheets were changed every other day. Clean sheets are splendid, but in the real-world they usually get changed weekly. In the real world, sometimes spring cleaning doesn’t happen like it is supposed to. It doesn’t always include washing windows, taking down and cleaning drapes, and organizing all the closets. It may just be music, fresh air and the regular routine.

Even if my deep cleaning doesn’t get done on schedule, I do savor the first-day feel of fresh sheets. They’re tucked in nice and tight before a week’s worth of sleep wrinkles and pulls at them. They have that slick, smooth feel before little bits of grit make their way in, and pillow cases smell nice until morning breath odors attach to them. Clean sheets are one of life’s simple pleasures.

It’s unrealistic for me to think that I will awake every day with the spiritual feelings of being newly baptized. There are days when I am neither excited nor inspired. In the real world, our days cause us to be pulled in lots of directions. We get dirty with the sin that inevitably makes its way into our lives, and we may face situations that really stink. That’s the real world.

However, it is possible for us to become refreshed and renewed each week when we meet on Sundays for a time of study, praise and fellowship. Sunday services always leave me with that “clean sheet feeling” in my soul. The study of scripture and the message from our minister help to smooth the wrinkles in my furrowed brow. I feel washed in the sounds of voices raised in song, and greetings and hugs from church family feel like fragrant, warm breezes.

My usual routine includes a weekly change of my bed sheets and Sunday mornings in worship. While the other chores may wait a season, these are done right on time.

PRAYER: Merciful God, thank You for the opportunity to be refreshed each Sabbath by Your Word, songs of praise and fellowship with other Christians.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 NIV).

Today’s devotion is by Hally Franz. Hally is a former high school guidance counselor, turned homemaker. Hally sees each day as a new exercise, where routines change and weights vary. Her goal is to maintain all-around fitness for service, while training her children to be competitive, compassionate and Christ-like in the world in which we live.

The Power of Encouragement

April 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Carin LeRoy –

Encouragement is important in everyone’s life. While living as missionaries overseas, my husband and I went through some discouraging trials in our earliest years on the field. During those difficulties, the director of Pioneers, Ted Fletcher, wrote us letters of encouragement. His words gave us the boost we needed. He even came to where we lived for a visit. Without his inspiration and support, I wonder if we would have made it through the obstacles we faced.

One of my favorite Bible characters (among many!) is Barnabas. His name means “son of consolation,” or “comfort.” In Acts 13-15, we read the story of Paul and Barnabas and their missionary travels to spread the gospel. On the first part of their journey they took John Mark along as a helper. But during the trip, he deserted them. Later when planning other places to visit, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark a second chance and take him along. Paul disagreed. Their sharp argument separated them, and they departed for different areas of ministry. Barnabas took John Mark, and Paul left with Silas.

Both were great men of God, but Barnabas was a mentor. He saw something in John Mark that he deemed valuable and worthy of his time and effort. After spending time working with John Mark in ministry, he soon became an important asset, even to Paul. Later he said, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11 NET). I wonder if Paul would have said that had it not been for the encouragement and mentoring that Barnabas invested in John Mark’s life.

It is interesting to know that in Acts 9, the disciples rejected Paul because they feared he wasn’t a believer and might persecute them. Barnabas became his advocate and supported him. He not only mentored John Mark, but also Paul! Both became great missionaries in spreading the gospel.

We underestimate the power of encouragement. Each day we encounter people who need a word of praise, a kind word, or time from us. Who are they? Maybe they are within our own family, in the work place, or a neighbor across the street. Let’s also take heed of God’s reminder to “encourage one another and build up each other” (I Thessalonians 5: 11 NET). Be a Barnabas in someone’s life today.

PRAYER: Father, help me learn to be a person of encouragement. Keep me mindful that people are more important than my goals and schedule. Show me today how You can use me to build up and show kindness to others.

“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (I Thessalonians 5: 14, 15 NIV).

Today’s devotional is by Carin LeRoy, wife to Dale and mother of three grown children and one almost-grown teenager. She has been a missionary with Pioneers since 1982. Her passions are family, missions, piano, and writing to challenge others to live faithful lives for God.

Diligent Walk

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Carin LeRoy –

As a piano teacher for 15 years, I see all types of students—ones who diligently practice, those who hardly place a hand on the keys from one lesson to the next and ones who struggle to learn but put forth effort. I see some who are half-hearted at practice, and those who hate it but do it because Mom makes them. Over the years, I’ve had several students who had ability to be proficient at piano. They were great note readers, had good finger control and caught on quickly learning with ease. Sadly, after a year or two they quit because they did not have the desire to learn piano. Their potential as a talented musician will never be realized.

To be a good pianist takes years of hard work, diligence and time. I remember many times while my friends were out playing, I sat on the piano bench preparing for my next lesson. I wanted to join them, but a price had to be paid if I wanted to learn.

We can be the same in our spiritual walk with God.

Some are diligent about their faith in following God and being obedient. Others put forth effort, but don’t understand what a real relationship with Christ is and how He can create change in their life. There are those who claim to be Christians but hardly open their Bibles for study, and there is no evidence of faith in their life. Then there are the half-hearted efforts of some who don’t like the constraints of the Christian life and would rather go their own way, and those who feel like they are forced to be a Christian by family tradition or expectation. But the saddest of all is to see those who have the knowledge and ability to make a mark for Christ, but walk away from it all to pursue selfish gain and worldly pleasure.

Where does each of us stand?

It takes diligence, faith and obedience to be the Christian that God wants us to be. I am reminded of the verse in Psalm 119:30-32 when David says, “I choose…I am committed…I hold fast…and I run.”  Even after times of failure, his heart had a desire to follow after God. He was focused on his relationship with God. I hope we will be too.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be diligent in my walk with You. Give me a heart that is determined to follow after You.

“I choose the path of your faithfulness; I am committed to your regulations. I hold fast to Your rules; O Lord, do not let me be ashamed! I run along the path of Your commands, for You enable me to do so” (Psalm 119: 30-32 NET).

Today’s devotional is by Carin LeRoy, wife to Dale and mother of three grown children and one almost-grown teenager. She has been a missionary with Pioneers since 1982. Her passions are family, missions, piano, and writing to challenge others to live faithful lives for God.

My Mom’s a Brunette, I Promise

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Hally Franz –

I can’t remember which image I caught first. After numerous psychology and education class discussions of the classic drawing, I’ve forgotten whether my eyes and brain first registered the lovely, young Victorian lady or the wrinkled, hooded, old lady. You know the one I’m talking about. The lesson pertains to perception. Some people see the young lady, others the old one.

If asked what color my mom’s hair is, I might say she’s brunette. In fact, I have. In my mind, that’s the truth and, without thinking, that’s how I have described her. I was raised by a dark-haired mother; she’s the one that sent me off to college. Over the years, though, she has become increasingly blond. She’s practically platinum, but my mind has been slow to recognize the change.

We all know how critical first impressions are. We are particularly aware of them when we meet a potential employer. Those first impressions are often the moments and pictures remembered by those we encounter. They are brief spans of time that become perceptions, opinions and beliefs.

At first glance the lesson seems obvious. Let’s make sure we show everyone we meet the Christ-like person we hope they see in us. When we’re granted only seconds or minutes, let’s put our best face forward, lest we never get another chance.

That’s the lesson I see first here. It’s the one that registered with me initially. After another longer look I see an extra bit of insight. It occurs to me that I have some impressions-turned-beliefs fixed in my head that may require second looks and updates. A few go back 40 years to elementary school! I don’t know about you, but I hope others see me differently than they may have 40, 30 and even 20 years ago. I hope they’ve given me a longer look over the years.

After repeated college lectures and visual examinations of this exercise, I can see both the old and young lady. Which one I saw first is of no importance now. I think I’ll thumb through my brain’s personnel files, do some reviews and update some old perceptions I have about people. That’s a goal with merit, I think.

While, most of us have learned to interact in a Christian way, we may still have head and heart issues to focus on. You see, I am a brunette—even when my hair leaves my colorist seeing red.

PRAYER: Gracious Father, open my eyes to see people as they truly are without making judgments based on glances and fleeting moments, just as You look deeper at all Your children.

“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27 NIV).

Today’s devotion is by Hally Franz. Hally is a former high school guidance counselor, turned homemaker. Hally sees each day as a new exercise, where routines change and weights vary. Her goal is to maintain all-around fitness for service, while training her children to be competitive, compassionate and Christ-like in the world in which we live.

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