Faith is a vital role in the family unit. It draws us together. Holds us tight. Binds us with the ties of God. Keeping faith in our families secures the values of Christ are embedded in our children
DEVOTION BY Seana Scott POSTED 8/13/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Isaiah 43:2 NIV
I wondered how God would see me through challenging parenting, medical needs, and a grieving heart.
My mom died unexpectantly in March—less than one year after my brother-in-law committed suicide. The week before Mom passed, my parents-in-law were involved in a head-on collision, and my mother-in-law broke her back and ribs. Since my son struggled with medical issues, I pulled him out of school to teach him at home.
I clung to the Scriptures for truth while the circumstances whirled around me. God provided manna in the wilderness for His people. He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the flames of the furnace. I trusted Him to lead me through my wilderness too.
Whatever flames of suffering we face, God stands with us. When we encounter various trials—job losses, sick loved ones, financial ruin, strained relationships—we choose to stake our ground in the Lord or face it alone. To place our confidence in our own ability to navigate the wilderness or to follow Jesus even when it seems like we walk in circles.
Jesus said, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:4). Never. He is the faithful one, our redeemer, lover of our souls, and the great I Am. He created the world with a word. He spoke and it appeared. He knitted us together in our mother’s wombs and numbered our days before one of them began.
Our God remains good even in the midst of stormy waves. We can trust Him, even when it hurts to pray. Speak to the Lord about your circumstances, and ask for His help. Then wait. Turning your soul over to Him in expectation sometimes brings to mind the Scripture you need to remember, the truth you need to cling to, or the sin you need to repent of. God confirms His leading in the Bible you’re reading.
Seek God in the threatening waters. He will meet you as you seek Him.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Ezeh Goodness POSTED 8/6/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Hebrews 13: 2
The instance when my mother welcomed what she described as an angel remains a wonderful memory.
My mother operated an eatery in a market, and we children helped serve after school. One day, a man came into the shop, and I asked for his meal choice. At first, he was reluctant to reply, so I left him to wait on others. In time, I lost interest in him and was overwhelmed by the welfare of the other customers I was serving.
When I had waited on all my customers and collected their money, I decided to have a rest in our dining spot. It was there that I beheld the man in question in a serious discussion with my mother. The end result of a long conversation was that his bill was canceled. He had eaten to satisfaction and was asked to go his way.
At the end of the evening, my mother said she had received more than she gave, stressing that the man had told her deep things about her life. To her, she had had a discourse with an angel of God.
The writer of Hebrews concluded his thoughts with some exhortations for community life, including that his readers should continue to welcome strangers. He may have been referring to Abraham and Sarah, who welcomed three strangers—reaching out to them with generosity and treating them to a feast, as was the custom in biblical times. They didn’t know they were entertaining angels who brought them a message of blessing.
We don’t ask people into our homes in the hope of gaining from them, but often we receive more than we give. May the Lord spread His love through us as we reach out with His welcome.
Don’t be afraid to entertain strangers.
DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer Patricia Lefler POSTED 7/30/2017 12:00:01 AM ON John 16:33 NLT
Let Him Say So
The scars are still on my forearms—and always will be. Stark white parallel slashes just below my elbow. I usually wear my sleeves at about three-fourths length to hide them. Tanning doesn’t hide them. They stand out more the deeper my tan gets.
I got the scars early in my incarceration. I was new to the system and not able to recognize the signs something was wrong. I was alone in the shower, and then I wasn’t. There was no time to think. A demand was made. I refused. I bled.
The details are mental snapshots: a rough knife glistening, red-colored water flowing, a gripping fear and desperation. Adrenaline kicked in as I struggled to keep the knife away. Knees and elbows were everywhere. The knife fell and bounced before sliding across the white tile. And then it was over.
Just because we give ourselves to Jesus doesn’t mean our lives will be milk and honey—especially if you’re incarcerated. My heart was full of the Lord, but I was still locked up. Even after I had a significant reawakening in my life with the Lord, I was just a “number” bound for prison. Each morning, I arose from my thin mattress—placed on the cold concrete floor—and prepared to fight for my breakfast tray. It was either that or starve.
We all have troubles. In prison or in life, we have to contend with a fallen world. However, Jesus also said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Paul the apostle knew a thing or two about troubles and said, “For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Regardless of what troubles you face, keep your eyes on the joy to come. And remember, Jesus has overcome this world for us.
Let Her Say So
My first experience in the backseat of a patrol car was a rear-view perspective with blurred images of a world I knew nothing about. I couldn’t make sense of it.
When my siblings and I were very young, my mom left us alone in a Florida trailer park. She needed a vacation. After a couple days, our neighbor called the authorities. We were busted.
In the 1970s, sensitivity training for men in law enforcement probably didn’t exist. The five of us were handled like little jailbirds and booked into a group facility.
That childhood scene played out in my mind the day I left prison. I had one final charge to face, and two officers from that jurisdiction came to give me a ride. Once again, my view of the world was from the back window of a squad car.
Along the way, they stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch. As I was shuffled toward the restroom in chains, people held their gaze. I saw curiosity, judgment, and contempt. Each expression said I was a rogue—unworthy to be in their presence.
This isn’t all I am! I didn’t do anything . . . recently, I thought. I wondered if I’d ever stop paying a price for my past. Remaining silent was difficult. Somewhere in the moment, I escaped behind a spirit of equanimity and held my head high.
As prison ministers say, we don’t go through anything Jesus hasn’t endured. How sad to think of Him being displayed as a condemned man. Jesus knew suffering and expected more of it. He warned His disciples of pending trouble so they’d be at peace when it arrived.
Staying in the Word throughout my incarceration helped me prepare for trouble. My trouble wasn’t like the disciples’, but Jesus was the same source of strength and hope for me. Through my guilt and consequences, He was there. When I was consumed with fighting for the injustices of this world, He understood.
I don’t have all the answers I want. I don’t know why children have to suffer or why the indigents of society go to prison more than others. Life’s not always fair. I do know I couldn’t have been content without God.
When we put the Lord first in life, it doesn’t matter where we are. We have a rear view that is out of this world: peace.
DEVOTION BY Sarah Hurlburt POSTED 7/23/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Mark 10:45
Pericles said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
The words “at your service” or “I’m happy to serve you” are often seen at places of business. Whether or not they have a service job, some are naturally inclined to serve others and may not even give it a thought. But for those who want to follow Jesus, we must consider a life of service.
Paul wrote of Jesus, “Having this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7).
If anyone had the right to be served, it was Jesus. He was God. Yet, never once did He demand to be served. He dwelt among people and let humanity see Him, touch Him, laugh with Him, and cry with Him. He showed what it meant to serve and love people. He gave His life to redeem ours.
Living a life of service is easier than we might imagine. Not all acts of service must be huge, obvious acts. Most service acts that really mean something to another person are often the little things in life. Seeing someone in need and asking how you can help is the best way to start serving. Some acts of service may not be known to anyone but God because even the people we are serving may not notice.
Regardless of whether we are a waitress or the CEO of a large company, we’ll be happier and more fulfilled if our focus is on serving instead of being served.
Look for ways to serve those around you, and see what happens. The world always needs more kindness.
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Stacey Pardoe POSTED 7/16/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Isaiah 62:5 NASB
His eyes were the captivating blue pools for which I’d always wished.
Our eyes met across the expanse of the deck while a guitar-picking cowboy strummed songs about mountains and love. Everything about the moment seemed like a romance novel … frozen in time … inviting me in.
A dozen years later, his eyes catch mine across the living room. A six-year-old struggles through her reading lesson on my lap while her two-year-old brother drives plastic cars over my head. They have their father’s eyes. And despite the chaos of the moment, I see his smile. My husband still rejoices over me.
This is what it means to be loved. He sticks with me through the blissful romantic seasons of life, and he adores me through the mundane seasons. He rejoices over me as I devote myself to serving others, and he delights in me when I glance in his direction in the midst of my service. I know I’m deeply loved, and I rest in the security of his promise to walk with me through life.
Marriage is a dynamic example of God’s fervent love for us. Christ is the bridegroom, and His people are His bride. As my husband rejoices over me—even when I’m covered in sticky handprints and spilled milk—God rejoices in each of us when we commit to walk in a love relationship with Him. He is delighted in the relationship, and we captivate His heart.
God has a joyful heart toward you. He loves you with the tender affection of a devoted spouse. He longs for you to slip away to a quiet place and connect with Him through his Word, through worship, through prayer, and through simply resting in His affection.
Respond to God’s tender pursuit today.