Family Buyback

February 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Art Fulks –

At age 16, I went to court for my first traffic ticket. The officer said I did not come to a complete stop. I had no defense. The scene is foggy today, but I remember the judge saying, “Son, I hear you are going to college.” A few minutes later, I walked out with a warning and no fines. I was clueless until my father said, “That was the last time I get you out of a ticket.” Then it was clear that someone contacted the judge, on my behalf, as a favor to my father. I never forgot those words, though he never brought it up again.

It may sound minor, but my father was teaching me the principle of grace without enablement. As a pastor, I deal with families and marriages where this is much more serious. Parents often do not know how to deal with wayward or drug addicted child. Husbands or wives do not know how to deal with an unfaithful spouse.

As believers, we are called to reconciliation, if possible. Yet we live in a society that seems to quickly look for a way out of marriage when we are hurt or betrayed. Conversely, some believers find it difficult to set appropriate boundaries. But the biblical model requires both for effective reconciliation and to accurately reflect God’s character.

Compared to my situation, the example of Hosea and Gomer was certainly an extreme case. His wife was a prostitute. No one would have blamed him for quitting. But God called him to not only take her back, He called Hosea to buy her back. What a picture of God’s grace and redemption! Gomar did nothing to earn favor or freedom. But Hosea also set clear boundaries for his relationship with his wayward wife. Likewise, In Luke 15, in the story of the Prodigal Son, the father forgave his wayward son, but did not give him another inheritance to sqander.

God loved us enough to sacrifice all in buying us out of sin’s slavery. We did not deserve it, and could not obtain it on our own. But His calling on our lives is to pursue righteousness. His love is endless, but the enjoyment of fellowship has boundaries. He will not enable us or help us to break fellowship and to destroy our lives. That is the balance to which He has called us. Listening to God through His Word and prayer will help us learn how to display His grace and not become enablers in our own family buyback situations.

BIBLE VERSE: “So I bought her for myself for fifteen sheckels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you’” (Hosea 3:2 – 3 NASB).

Prodigal Parties

January 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Art Fulks –

All of us stray at times. It is our nature, as sheep.

When we read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, most of us see the story as primarily being about a rebellious son who, at his lowest point, comes back home to find a compassionate, welcoming father. This story displays an incredible picture of the grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, while providing us a wonderful example of family reconciliation.

It would be safe to say that I have heard this text taught at least 20-30 times over the span of my life. But while recently telling this story to a small group of believers, two probing questions were asked. First, what does the story teach us about God? The answers were consistent, that the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father are overwhelming.

The next question inquired as to our personal identification with the three main characters. Was it the father, the lost son, or the older brother? Everyone in the group agreed that we could identify with the lost son because of periods of personal rebellion. But when we got below the surface, another common theme was revealed. At some time, we all had been the resentful elder brother who would not even attend the homecoming celebration.

At some point in our lives, many of us have felt resentment toward a sibling, parent, spouse, friend, or co-worker who was rebellious, irresponsible, dishonest, or even adversarial. While we had remained faithful and loyal without any great display of appreciation or notice, the rebellious person experienced grace, favor, and even notoriety.

How do you feel when a lost son comes home and is met with compassion? According to the Apostle Paul, we are given a ministry of reconciliation, yet we often find it difficult to accept. Being reminded of the grace God has extended to us personally can really help us to not only forgive others, but also to rejoice when they experience grace.

Have you partied lately with a returning prodigal?

BIBLE VERSE: “But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found” (Luke 15: 32 NASB).

Devo Family Topics

October 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

Hope After ‘I Do’ – Art Fulks

A little girl recounted the story of Snow White to her mother. After telling how Prince Charming kissed Snow White, bringing her back to life, she asked, “Do you know what happened next? 

Her mom answered, “Sure, they lived happily ever after.

The girl frowned, “No, they got married.

Getting married and living happily ever after are not always synonymous. God created marriage to be happy, but sin disrupted it. Hope in Christ makes it possible again. 1 Peter was written to persecuted believers who faced great financial and cultural pressure. Yet he says there is hope in following God’s prescription for marriage.

Peter encourages wives to focus on their own actions, even if their spouse is unreasonable. By not preaching or nagging, God uses you to reach the heart of your husband. Ruth Graham once said, “My job is to love Billy. It’s God’s job to make him good.

He also encourages wives to not merely focus on their appearance, but on character and attitudes. Physical beauty is quickly overshadowed by harshness or a quick temper. God places high value on spiritual fruit like gentleness and self-control. And healthy reverence for the husband’s God-given role allows His blessing and intervention even in difficulty.

Peter writes one very challenging verse directly to husbands, calling us to not simply coexist with our wives, but to do life with them. We often compete to have our needs met, but God calls and enables us to be completers of each other, to become a vivid picture of Christ.

He challenges men to intentionally work at knowing the intimate part of their wife’s heart, which takes a lifetime. Chuck Swindoll says, “Most wives who are walking with God won’t fight you for it, but they will long for it…some die longing for it.” Your pursuit of knowing her will make your wife long to be in your presence.

Finally, Peter prescribes granting wives a place of honor. She may not think like you, but she is an heir of God and He has honored you with the privilege of being her husband. No more tearing her down publicly or privately.

Taking God’s prescription is not always easy and cannot be applied only as a contingent to your spouse’s response. But you can trust God’s plan. Remember, God’s timing is not ours and He is at work.

There is hope after ‘I do’!

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7 NASB).

A Father’s Day Gift to My Kids

August 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Art Fulks –

This is a really weird year for our family. This year, our oldest daughter’s birthday is on Mother’s Day. Our youngest son’s birthday falls on Father’s Day. So who decides where we go to dinner? This dilemma caused me to consider their gifts. Our daughter wants clothes and our son wants a new guitar. But what could I give them as a dad that would really last?

This week, I spent a considerable amount time thinking about it and realized how fleeting and perishable my gifts usually are. Then I read a bit from Peter and Paul. They really loved their spiritual children. And their writings gave me two potential gifts to give my kids this Father’s Day.

How about hope and holiness?

You probably had the same reaction that I did when these ideas crossed my mind. But after a bit of contemplation, I realized that there are no more valuable, lasting gifts that I could give them than the message of hope found in Christ and a model of holiness founded in the truth of God’s Word.

In this fatalist culture in which we (and they) live, they need to be consistently reminded of the incredible, Living Hope who is Jesus Christ. His gracious gift of salvation and grace even during the most difficult of circumstances will never fail them. It provides a perspective that allows them to see through the deepest, darkest days of their journey.

The holiness part was a bit harder to deal with considering they know how imperfect I am. However, the challenge is not striving for perfection, but for consistency. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, stated that through Christ we have the ability to experience “moment by moment non-transgression of the known will of God.” Could I give my kids the gift of a consistent life pursuing full surrender in worship of my Heavenly Father?

I realized giving my children these gifts would require sacrifice of my will and desires on a daily basis. But just as much, it would require the courage to say with the Apostle Paul, “Imitate me.” It sure is a scary gift to give, but there is nothing more valuable!

“I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:16 NASB).

Appropriate Vacation Worship

July 28, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

It is almost summer time and for many this means vacations. Recently, I heard a radio commercial that declared what most of us know to be true. Visiting family is wonderful and you can call it anything you want. But we all know that it is rarely a vacation.

With multiple children, especially in diverse age brackets, parents can often need to go back to work in order to get any rest. Resort activities, amusement parks, beaches, and swimming pools can drive you to the brink of exhaustion. As a father of four, let me encourage you that most kids eventually begin to appreciate their sleep.

Eventually, you may find yourself alone, sitting in front of a large window overlooking an incredible mountain view like I am right now. It is mid-morning and my first cup of coffee is still too hot to drink. Everything is quiet as I pier over what seems a limitless supply of peaks and valleys. As I asked myself what would be an acceptable act of worship, the words of Psalm 8 came to mind. In the quiet of the moment, it seemed God spoke to me and said, “Thanks for taking time to notice and admire My handiwork.”

God seemed to know that I needed a couple of days away from the fast paced race I have been running to sit in quiet mountain cabin and acknowlege His Sovereignty. Through an unexpected invitation, here I sit. And God seems to be reminding me that the beauty of His creation is all around me every day. It is in the starlit sky at night and morning sunrise. It is in the eyes of the people I love so much, as well as the eyes of those that I should love more.

Whether your vacation pace is relaxed or faster than normal life, God can use the change of scenery to speak. He can show you something new, or just to help you refocus. Either way, I am learning that the proper response in worship is to pay attention! That is something the Psalmist seemed to get.

AUTHOR QUOTE: Whether you go to the mountains, the ocean, or to some brightly lit kingdom dedicated to a popular rodent, God desires to speak to you.

“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who has displayed Thy spendor above the heavens!” (Psalm 8:1 NASB).

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