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 Toni Samuels POSTED 12/16/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Matthew 11:28 ESV
A bundle of energy, Heather determined to make Christmas merry for everyone.
Newly-married Heather made her Christmas project plan in early October. It included guest lists, gift lists, travel itineraries, seating charts, menus, concert schedules, church programs, and photo session appointments.
“Calm down, hon,” her husband, Paul, urged her at least twice a day.
“I’ve got this, babe,” she replied, scanning her project plan and proudly checking off another accomplishment.
Three days before Christmas, Heather’s plan began to unravel. Paul fell while shoveling snow and broke his arm. Two expensive gifts she’d ordered online arrived damaged. Their best friends from college had to take care of a broken water heater and wouldn’t arrive until December 26. Finally, the stress of the previous two months crashed down on Heather, and she was forced to bed with a debilitating migraine.
Often, like Heather, we try to plan the perfect Christmas celebration. But try as we might, those plans never seem to pan out. And maybe that’s the point.
The first Christmas was messy–not merry–from a human perspective. Among the highlights: burdensome government demands, exhausting travel on rough roads, sold-out lodging, shared space with smelly, dirty animals, and a visit from smelly, dirty shepherds. That’s a far cry from the pristine, serene scenes we see on Christmas cards.
Maybe God is showing us a few things through the self-inflicted stress and unexpected mishaps of the Christmas season:
If your celebrations this Christmas season include a little messiness here and there, relax. You’re in good company.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Marcellus George POSTED 12/9/2018 12:00:01 AM ON 2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV
Drive to the summit on the Veteran’s Memorial Highway, built and dedicated in 1969 in honor of America’s War Veterans. Along this very enjoyable 5.5 mile drive up, stop at three breathtaking scenic overlooks, read the travel brochure.
On a warm August afternoon, my wife and I looked forward to the opportunity to view the sites mentioned from the three overlooks. As promised, each provided a more exhilarating view than the previous.
Gazing on the horizon, I could not help but think of the Creator who made it possible. While many people are confused by the Trinity, God revealed Himself as three persons, and all of these were present at creation.
But each scenic overlook promised something more, just as we learn more about God through examining each of the three persons. In the Old Testament, we discover God the Father, the all-powerful One who looks after and provides for His people.
The second view is the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God. This beautiful picture shows God’s mercy and grace toward us. Jesus not only was perfect in every way, but He also willingly died for us because we lack the perfection the Father expects. Because of how He showed God to us in the flesh, it should take our worship up a notch.
The third view is the Holy Spirit who is manifested in the lives of God’s children. He is sent by the Father and the Son into the lives of believers. When we are tempted to think it couldn’t get better, we discover the Holy Spirit shows us our future—being one with God for all eternity by the witness of the Holy Spirit within us.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one with each other, and showing us three different aspects of God. Each amplifies the other, just like the three views of Lake George.
Let these views of God lead you to worship Him.
DEVOTION BY Nydia DiCarali POSTED 12/2/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Joshua 1:8 NIV
Success. We strive for it, rise before dawn to work on it, and work long hours to attain a certain level of achievement.
Sadly, once we’ve arrived, we are never really satisfied, so we search for the next ladder to scale, hoping it will culminate with a sense of fulfillment.
Interestingly, the success Scripture speaks of has nothing to do with achievements, having an expensive home, or earning a six-figure income. Instead, God places a high premium on retaining His Word. He sets an even higher value on obeying it. These two principles should go hand in hand.
Retaining God’s Word isn’t enough because we may become puffed up with knowledge. The Pharisees and Sadducees were masters of pontification, yet their hearts were far from God (Matthew 15:8). God expects us to do something with what we know. His truth should be lived out, not just discussed. When we purpose to be doers and not merely hearers of God’s Word, God will not withhold His blessings.
Too often, we correlate material possessions with blessings. Yet it isn’t what we possess in the natural realm that defines success—that is only excess. Real success and blessings come with spiritual maturity.
Scripture shows God blessing His people (Psalm 1:1-3, James 1:21-25). God wants us to understand His blessings trump worldly wealth or the accolades of others. The dividends of our spiritual growth far outweigh all the riches of this world.
God desires to prosper you spiritually. Be faithful in doing His will so He can. Remember, the true measure of success in God’s estimation is all that matters.
DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer POSTED 11/25/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Psalm 24:1 NIV
On a cool spring day, I stood on a lonely stretch of North Carolina beach.
The Atlantic rolled her breakers onto the shore behind us in a gentle rhythm. Susan and I, and my wife Charlotte, stood a few hundred feet east of Oak Island's Ocean Crest Pier, looking inland at something that was no longer there.
A family member once lived at that spot on the beach. Susan and I had spent many of our childhood Thanksgivings there. That "member of the family" was a quaint, 50's-era, flat-roofed beach cottage named "Sea Lane" that my Granddaddy Lane had built. It had a unique and unforgettable personality our family loved. But it was gone now. As with all things built on sand, the inevitable will happen. As we stood on the beach, the only thing left for Susan and I were the memories.
Every Thanksgiving our family gathered at the beach to help close our grandparent's beach house for the season. Repairs were made, windows boarded, refrigerator and freezer emptied, water pipes drained—everything necessary to preserve an oceanfront house until spring.
There were trips in Granddaddy's Jeep around the island to gather the translucent red Yaupon berries and the huge Carolina Longleaf Pine cones Grandmother Lane used in her award-winning Christmas decorations.
We kids played on that cold November beach while our mothers scurried around fixing the usual wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. Food cooked at the beach always had its own unique flavor.
Sea Lane survived Hazel and Hugo and all the big-named storms that lashed that portion of the coast over the years. But as anyone who has ever built sand castles on the beach knows, the ocean always wins. A succession of lesser storms in the early '90s with names like Bob, Earl, Grace, Danielle, and Emily eventually eroded the beach from under the foundation of the cottage. She was gone.
All of the earth is the Lord's; we just get to use it for a time while we're here. Susan and I stood on the sand and remembered the beach God had let us use. I'm so thankful for those memories. Thank you Lord, for the times we had there. Thank you, too, for the family and friends I was blessed enough to have and share those beach days with.
I love you all, dearly. And thank you, readers, for letting me share my memories and stories with you. May your Thanksgiving be filled with joyful memories and gratefulness to a Father who loves us enough to share His creation.
(Photo courtesy of writer.)
DEVOTION BY Marcia Vogl POSTED 11/18/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Psalm 102:17 NIV
He walked through the junkyard, looking for something he treasured—and he found it. The first car his dad had given him.
He ran to the junkyard owner and asked, “Is that car for sale?”
“Why do you want that thing?” the owner asked. “It’s a mess—rusty, falling apart, not able to do what it was made for. It has been in a few crashes and isn’t worth fixing.”
“I don’t care. How much?”
The owner rubbed his chin and, with an evil eye, quoted an outrageous price.
“I’ll take it,” the man said and paid the price.
The man took the car home, planning to restore it to its original glory. He put it on cinder blocks. The engine started, but with grinding and sputtering. He cleaned and restored the most vital sections of the engine, put new tires on the car, and took it for a spin around the neighborhood. The neighbors saw a dilapidated car with dents, rust, broken glass, and a trashed interior, but the man knew someday it would be the boast of the town.
His mechanic friends joined him on his new project. Some restored the interior with new seats, upholstery, and mats. They installed new windows and a new steering wheel. Then another group of friends came to do the body work. They scraped, sanded, and pounded out dents. They refitted parts, painted, and polished until the car was a work of art.
At each stage of the restoration, the man drove the car around the neighborhood to show it off. Eventually, the neighbors looked forward to his drive, and they cheered when he took it out on the first road trip.
Sometimes, we end up in a junkyard—battered and in disrepair, Jesus is the Man looking for us because His Father gave us to Him. When He takes us into His garage, He puts us on cinder blocks for a period of time. His friends—teachers, pastors, doctors, friends—join Him in working on us. They work on how we think and behave. Interior restorers work on our emotions, choices, and relationships. Body workers address our health and appearance.
As the psalmist said, the Lord will not leave us in a junkyard when we call out to Him. Let God—and those who help Him—restore you.