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 Liz Petruzzi POSTED 10/15/2017 12:00:01 AM ON John 7:38
I wonder if living waters flow from me.
An old man lived in the Alpine forest, high above a village. The village hired him to clear rubbish from pools of water which fed the stream that flowed through the town. Faithfully, he removed leaves, branches, and accumulated silt that contaminated the fresh-water flow. The town possessed such a beautiful, clear stream that it became a popular tourist attraction.
One year, the town council questioned the salary paid to this obscure keeper of the stream and voted to cut expenses by eliminating his position. When fall arrived, trees shed their leaves and small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, impeding the flow of water. Within a few weeks, a slimy film covered sections of water and villagers detected a foul odor. Tourists left and some residents became ill.
Realizing their error, the town council called a special meeting and rehired the keeper of the stream. Soon, the stream cleared and life in the town returned to normal.
When I heard this story, I thought about my stream and the debris that clogs it. Habits, gossip, pride, unforgiveness. Rotten leaves create a dam and keep water from flowing.
I understood my goal was to be so connected with Christ that living waters flowed from me so others may know Him. And I thought about Christ being the keeper who removes what litters my stream.
The danger of no keeper is subtle at first. I may not notice the fresh and flowing water becoming stagnant and still. But eventually, leaves of self and sin pile up, stink, and rot. Just like the town council, I can choose to value the role of the keeper and allow Him to work or I can let my stream stay clogged with stink and slime.
The keeper of the stream is always willing to clean up our mess. He never walks away muttering, “You get what you deserve.” Rather, He lovingly removes the debris and encourages us to flow again. He loves us unconditionally and died to pay the penalty for our sin, junk, and debris.
Let the keeper of the stream remove anything that prevents your living waters from flowing to others.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Josh Clevenger POSTED 10/8/2017 12:00:01 AM ON John 21:6 NLT
Getting stuck in a life rut is a common problem.
Life begins to feel mundane—as if it lacks substance. This emotion makes us feel insignificant and diminishes the reality of our importance to people around us.
The disciples were seasoned fishermen with generations of experience. Peter had multiple boats with fishermen who worked for him, and he knew the sea well. But he was having a bad day fishing and was about to give up. Jesus saw the rut Peter was in and said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!”
Peter and the others obeyed Jesus and caught so many fish their nets could not hold them. But the real truth comes from Peter’s obedience. He chose to humble himself, listen to the voice of the Lord, and try something new. The fish were just on the other side of where he was looking.
Sometimes what we are striving for is in a different place. We get comfortable in our routines and with our own wisdom when what we’re looking for is where we are already standing.
Peter was exhausted but listened to the wisdom of the Lord. Our efforts are not without reward and our wisdom is not without treasure. We only have to change our approach to see what we are searching for.
Joy can be found in our children, instead of a great career promotion. Satisfaction can be found in what we have and not in what we are seeking. Prosperity can be found in the treasures the Lord has placed in our lives and the love He has wrapped us in.
The thing you are looking for may be on the other side of where you are currently looking. Change the way you think about life, and see the great blessings on the “right” side.
DEVOTION BY Norma Mezoe POSTED 10/1/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Romans 8:28 NIV
Graduation is the high point in many people’s lives.
After years of studying and attending a variety of classes, graduation brought me to the end of that stage in my life. When I graduated from high school, our class motto was, “Out of School Life into Life’s School.” The slogan had a nice ring to it, but little did we know how true those words would become.
Many years have passed since I received my diploma and said “Good-bye” to my classmates and teachers. During those years, I have experienced many things. I’ve attained an education never dreamed of. Some experiences were happy—such as becoming a wife and a mother. Other experiences included heartache, health problems, and disappointments.
After a heart-breaking crisis when my husband left me for another woman, I claimed Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).
Christ never promised Christians a life free of bad things. He did, however, promise that He would walk with us through whatever we encounter—the good and the bad.
We do nonbelievers an injustice by telling them, “If you give your life to Jesus Christ, your life will be all roses and no thorns.” But we can give them a promise, which those who have lived for the Lord have discovered: Jesus Christ is always faithful.
I have found this promise to be true. As I’ve walked through other sorrows and disappointments, I have never walked alone. The Lord has always been by my side.
God will be with you also—through the valleys and the mountain-top experiences. As long as you live, you will be educated in life’s school, and you will discover school is always in session.
Never stop learning in the school of life.
DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer Patricia Lefler POSTED 9/24/2017 12:00:01 AM ON 2 Samuel 12:5 NLT
Let Him Say So…
A few years into my incarceration, I managed to get handcuffed and shoved into a security cell. Popular culture would call it “the hole.” We called it “jail.” The idea of a jail inside a prison might strike some as silly. However, in a population of men with serious impulse control issues, there will always be a need for a place to lock people away . . . even inside a prison.
I was here because a tool I was responsible for was missing—a high-end pair of bolt cutters that would go through chain link wire like a welding torch through a hula-hoop. I had no idea what happened to them.
After a couple of days—and a pleasant question and answer session with the head of security—I was suddenly released. The bolt cutters turned up in the possession of a trusted co-worker. He confessed to stealing them and admitted I was innocent.
The man was charged with theft and put in protective custody. Although scheduled to be transferred to another prison, someone in security screwed up. The day before his transfer, he was released back into the general population with the four men he almost caused to lose everything: our jobs, our room/cells in the honor dorm, and our earned "good time." The incident could have added years to our sentences if we had been charged.
There on the prison yard in front of us, big as life, was this fool. His kind of indiscretion isn’t just shoved under the rug in prison. There needs to be an accounting, or you are seen as weak—dogfood.
What happened next wasn’t pretty. Without unnecessary details, honor was restored and retribution satisfied. The man was allowed to run back to protective custody until he was transferred away. Despite the godfather face I wore as the leader, I was troubled. It wasn’t until I read King David’s reply to Nathan that my hypocrisy was driven into my heart.
I had been forgiven, and by God’s miraculous hand I was seeing my forty-six-year sentence melt away week by week. Yet, given the opportunity to spare and forgive this man, I urged on the wolves instead. I felt sick. I had failed my Father and Lord.
But like King David, God picked me up and restored me. I can hear His longsuffering sigh though: “Child, what were you thinking?”
Thank the Lord His love is beyond understanding and His forgiveness is eternal.
Let Her Say So…
David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!” 2 Samuel 12:5 NLT
Over twenty years of meth use had taken her front teeth.
This is the woman sent to condemn me? As all ninety pounds of her wailed in my face, she put on a show for the other inmates. However, I wasn’t foolish enough to be baited into a fight. I listened with disgust as this tiny, toothless woman pranced around spewing accusations. Who was she? That woman obviously neglected her children through drug abuse.
I was arrested on fugitive charges—wanted in another jurisdiction for an incomprehensible charge of attempted child abduction. The guards warned me against discussing anything with other inmates, but the story was sensationalized all over the news. They knew more than I did.
I did know one thing. No one was looking for explanations that day. Not them. Not law enforcement. Not even me. My only response to this woman was a rhetorical question, "What happened to your teeth?"
I knew I was innocent, but when you’ve been arrested, perception matters, not truth. To the women that day, and to a community whose bandwagon they jumped on, I was guilty.
Those days are forever etched into my conscience and serve to reprimand words I speak in judgment of others. The prophet Nathan was that reminder to King David when he eloquently revealed David’s faults in a parable.
Outraged by the selfish, heartless man Nathan spoke of, David condemned him to death. I can easily put myself in David’s shoes as Nathan reveals to him, “Thou art the man.” I see young mothers daily who struggle with issues like drug abuse and poor decision making. I question why they deserve their children more than I do mine. But, who am I? The answer is the same one Nathan gave in response to David’s rebuke—Thou art the woman condemned by her own tongue many times.
Like David, my suffering was caused by my own vices. I have been a liar, a thief, and many other things not physically manifested. Instinctively, I believed I was a good person and a good mother. But good was never enough to erase the corrupt nature of my character.
If your harshest condemnation of others happens when you’re most indulgent in your own sin, you may be judging yourself. Be like David after he recognized his sin. Own it.
DEVOTION BY Holly Sanders POSTED 9/17/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Psalm 100:4 KJV
Reasoning with a nine-month-old child can be tough.
Each day when I leave for work, my daughter wails for me. Having not yet fully grasped that something out of sight can still exist, she isn’t sure when or if I will be back.
Returning home proves an even worse experience. She is delighted at first, and it warms my momma heart to see her excitement as she realizes I have come home to her. Her little hands slap at the floor. She bounces up and down, awaiting my arms to lift her to me.
But this joyous reunion is short-lived. Incessant fussing and whining are ushered in for the remaining hours before bedtime. I am told she plays, smiles, babbles, and explores all day long while I am away. It is frustrating that her caregiver gets to see the cute and happy baby while I get the leftovers.
I can’t help but wonder if this is how God feels about me. I stand and cheer at sporting events, throwing my hands in the air in excitement. Then I fall into bed at night in exhaustion and give what is left over to the King. I fuss, whine, and complain to the Creator, giving Him a laundry list of tasks to complete for me: “God, take care of this, do that, heal him, fix her…”
My Savior cares about those requests. He tells me to cast my cares on Him. In a greater way than I care when my little one is upset, He cares for me. I also know that just as I long to see my daughter’s eyes fill with wonder when she looks at me—and to hear her laughter and babbling more than her fitting and fussing—so Jesus wants to spend those moments with me. He wants moments when I stand in awe of Him—when I throw my hands in the air in excitement to be in His presence. He wants to watch my eyes fill with wonder as I enter into His gates and babble happily at His feet.
God deserves and desires my first fruits, not my leftovers. He is worthy of my praise and thanksgiving!
Try babbling at the feet of your heavenly Father.