Category: Devotional Reading

Our Finest Hours

Back in the spring my husband and I went to go see a movie about a rescue mission that took place back in 1951 off the coast of New England. The movie tells the true story of a small coast guard boat which went out in a very bad storm and successfully rescued 30 men off a sinking tanker.

Against powerful waves, strong winds and the darkness of the night, the captain of the coast guard boat and the brave men with him persisted and worked together until they found the tanker.  In the midst of uncertainty decisions were made on instinct, strength, persistence and commitment to the mission.

Likewise the men on the tanker had to do what they could to survive for as long as they could in hopes of a rescue that they did not even know for certain was coming.

Persisting, making good decisions, and hanging onto hope – these things defined the men and their hours in the movie appropriately titled The Finest Hours.

I can’t help but think about the Christian life and our own times of trials. I think of the verses from Paul when he says: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8).

Or from Habakkuk 3:17-19: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines … I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

In times of trials it is hard to persist. It is hard to hang onto hope. It is hard to be brave. It is hard to stay committed unto the Lord. Our trials become our darkest of nights.  But I believe if we do what we were called to do in the midst of our terrible storms, we will define these moments as The Finest Hours of our lives – Our Finest Hours.

 

Cloud-watchers!

Here is a journal entry from one of my mother and son devotional times with Tim when he was six years old. I thought it  was an appropriate one to share after celebrating Easter this week.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.  Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)

Timmy: Mommy, when will Jesus come back?

Mommy: I don’t know, but He is coming back someday.

Timmy: Well, I’m going to keep looking in the clouds.

Mommy: Yes, and I will too.

Timmy’s commitment to watch the clouds is a reminder that we need to live our lives with a hope that says, “My Savior is coming.” It is a wonderful anticipation that can motivate us to pray more, to rejoice and to keep living godly lives. In spite of our circumstances we need to remember to go outside from time to time and watch those clouds. So join Timmy and me as we are now cloud-watchers waiting for the Savior to return.

How is your green thumb?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:33)

My Dad
My Dad

My father is an immigrant from Mexico and a farmer. He had no formal education, but he had a green thumb.  He didn’t read books for instruction on farming.  He just experimented and learned.  He was always successful in whatever he decided to grow in the ground.  He would often give us seedlings so we could plant at our home.  But the seedlings always died no matter how carefully we followed his instructions.

It is not enough to hear and understand the word of God. We all have a responsibility to cultivate a green thumb for the kingdom of God. This is a natural outcome of the word firmly planted in our hearts. We need to produce a crop.  As Jesus said, “He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” This is a natural outcome from hearing the word and understanding it.

We have a responsibility to become fruitful unto Him. We need to commit ourselves to making disciples.  We have a new obligation once we have heard the word and understood.

This responsibility extends even until old age to continue to produce a crop unto the Lord. We must be good stewards of his gift of salvation.  We are all farmers.  How green is your thumb?

 

Extremely well-wrapped, Jesus

(This is a devotional I shared at our church’s annual Ladies Christmas Brunch.)

I used to go all out in gift wrapping.  I took my time with each and every gift – making my own fancy bows, picking out just the right paper, and making sure the wrapping paper had nice crisp edges.  But it got tiresome and nobody in my family really noticed my efforts.  They just ripped the paper open.

Have you ever been challenged with a gift that doesn’t wrap so easily? You know, the gifts that don’t come with a box, and they don’t fit into any box. I have three boys, and we had plenty of those gifts in my house: fish tanks, fire trucks, baseball bats and baseball gloves, skate boards and basketballs, light sabers and so on. Some gifts will never fit into a box.

My boys used to play the guessing game on what was wrapped for them under the tree.  They would picking up each gift and shake it.  As their mom I just wanted to keep the presents I bought for them a surprise until Christmas Day. I didn’t want them guessing. So I had to disguise the more elaborate gifts to keep it a mystery until they opened it.

What is interesting is that when my sons got old enough to buy their own gifts and wrap them … they really got creative.  I guess they knew what big snoops they were themselves.  And just like extreme sports, for them it was “extreme gift wrapping.”  They would use so much wrapping paper.  They would pad their gifts with socks, towels or toilet paper rolls – anything to throw you off.  And they would create shapes.  One of my sons created a dinosaur shape around his gift, even though the gift was not a dinosaur.  I don’t even remember what the gift actually was, but I remember the dinosaur!

One Christmas our son, Sam, bought three gifts for his Dad, and he shaped a letter around each of the three presents to spell out the word “DAD.”   It was so funny.  I don’t remember what those gifts were either, but I remember how they were wrapped.

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These extremely-wrapped gifts were a lot of fun to unwrap, because there were so many layers to get through just to get to the gift. But things are much simpler now, and I am grateful for e-cards and gift cards and, and I love gift bags for wrapping. So much easier!

Well, just as our family did extreme gift wrapping for each other, God also gave us a gift that was masterfully and cleverly and extremely well-wrapped.  (more…)

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

ramon3When my sons were babies, my husband and I established a nightly routine. We would read to them, snuggle and sing. We would pray and kiss them goodnight and then lay them down without resistance. They were cute and snuggly, and we would lay their little bodies peacefully positioned in their cribs. We’d say goodnight and turn off the lights leaving only their nightlight on and the door opened just a crack.

Then my husband and I would retire to the living room for our time together. All would be quiet and peaceful. And then we would hear this restless shifting, back and forth on the crib mattress. We would hear them turning the knobs on the entertainment center attached to their crib. We would hear them chatter and sing. This would go on for quite sometime, and then it would be quiet. It was so cute. My husband and I would giggle listening from the living room.

But before going to bed we always peeked into their cribs. Sometimes we would find their fitted bed sheets pulled out from the corners. We’d find their clothing undone including their diapers; their hair all messed up; their tiny legs rested up against the sides of their cribs; their stuffed doll or blanket on the opposite side of the room. We even found one of our sons had fallen asleep in a sitting position up against the corner of the crib. My husband and I would laugh and wonder at how they struggled to get their little bodies to sleep.

Sometimes, I have a hard time settling down to my quiet times with the Lord. I can get into such a restless mode. Just as I sit down, I get back up again to get something or to check on the laundry real quick. I will sit down again, and then I remember something else and I begin to scribble on sticky notes one note after another. I feel like a fish flopping out of water. I am restless and fighting to sit still.

Why do I get so restless before sitting quietly with the Lord? It seems I suddenly remember all I have to do and worry that if I don’t tend to it right away, I might forget and that would be disastrous. I pull out my Bible and attempt to read, and it is like looking at alphabet soup. I can’t focus on the words. My mind is still busy racing from one thought to another.

But then I finally tire myself out from restlessness and realize I am wasting time. My morning will be gone soon, and then I will have to leave my quiet time slot and get going on errands. So I pull out my guitar and start singing worship songs. Sometimes I have to pace back and forth and sing until I feel quiet enough in body to come before the Lord. “The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

And when I finally get my body to be quiet and rest before the Lord, it is the best place. I start to pray and pray and pour out songs of praise. I enter into such a wonderful time of quietness before the Lord, and I don’t want to leave. Why did I take so long to get here? It really is the best place for my weary self to be. I find my rest when I am finally still, for then I know that He is God.

 

© Copyright 2015 by Rosi Fowler

 

Where’s My Song?

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My son has a girlfriend. He loves her. They have been dating for over two years. My son is a guitarist and loves writing songs. He especially loves to write songs for his girlfriend. I am amazed how many songs he writes about her. They are so sweet too. He writes about her blue eyes, her smile, and her friendship. He writes about how she makes him happy and fills his life with joy.

I often look at my husband and teasingly ask him, “So where’s my song?” I remember when my husband wrote me songs during our courtship and during the early years of our marriage. And though I am sure I still inspire my husband for a song, he hasn’t written one in quite sometime. And it is okay. He affirms his love for me in other ways too.

So as I ask my husband, “Where’s my song?” I felt convicted. I felt the Lord God Almighty was asking me, “So where’s my song, Rosi?” Gulp.

It is true in my early years of knowing the Lord, I had written a few songs for Him in worship. And I have bouts of inspiration here and there, but it has been sparse. My lips are not always willing to burst out into song. My devotional mornings turn more and more into getting quickly to my prayer requests.

“Where’s my song?” I hear that question now almost every morning, and I pause now and sing His praises. Now we don’t need to write a song of praise in order to worship, but it seems to me our hearts should be filled with worship and burst forth in song as if it were a brand new song.

After all, singing songs for our loved ones affirms our love and our joy in being in relationship. And singing a song to the Lord is a wonderful act of worship and affirmation that He is our God.

Where’s my song, Lord? Here is my song for today: “You are my God, and I will give you thanks. You are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever.”

How about you? Is the Lord asking you, “Where’s my song?”

 

© Copyright 2015 by Rosi Fowler

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord… Psalm 116:7

This quote by John Calvin comes from Day 303 in the devotional Heart Aflame:

If the faithful regain their peace of mind only when God manifests himself as their deliverer, what room is there for the exercise of faith, and what power will the promises possess?  For, assuredly, to wait calmly and silently for those indications of God’s favour, which he conceals from us, is the undoubted evidence of faith.  And strong faith quiets the conscience, and composes the spirit; so that, according to Paul, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding,” reigns supremely there (Phil. 4:7).

Calvin, John. (1999). Heart Aflame Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you – Psalm 63:1

This quote by John Calvin comes from Day 149 in the devotional Heart Aflame:

It is apparent that David never allowed himself to be so far overcome by his trials, as to cease lifting up his prayer to heaven, and even resting, with a firm and constant faith, upon the divine promises. Apt as we are, when assaulted by the very slightest trials, to lose the comfort of any knowledge of God we may previously have possessed, it is necessary that we should notice this, and learn, by his example, to struggle to maintain our confidence under the worst troubles that can befall us. He does more than simply pray; he sets the Lord before him as his God, that he may throw all his cares unhesitatingly upon him, deserted as he was of man, and a poor outcast in the waste and howling wilderness. His faith, shown in this persuasion of the favour and help of God, had the effect of exciting him to constant and vehement prayer for the grace which he expected.

Calvin, John. (1999). Heart Aflame Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company.