Could God Do That in Our Family?

April 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Faith, Family

By Art Fulks –

A friend recently said it may have been the most difficult year he has ever experienced. This seems a resounding theme with many, including myself. As we approach the year’s end and reflect, we can
often get lost in the narrowness of our personal journey. For perspective, God directed me to a unique text.

As I looked for a fresh approach to the Christmas story this year, I came to Matthew chapter one. My eyes went immediately to the subtitle at verse eighteen, “The Conception and Birth of Jesus”. As I read, the Holy Spirit reminded me of 2 Timothy 3:16, that ‘all Scripture is inspired and profitable.’

It is possible that the most unread Scriptures are the genealogies. But repenting and refocusing, I returned to verse one, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” I was so excited that I could not wait to continue. (Just kidding.) Certainly this was not a great attitude. But what I knew about God’s Word allowed me to continue. And He did something incredible in my heart.

As I came to each name, God seemed to make me pause and ponder the life of that individual. Some experienced significant tragedy and failure. For sure, many lived through years more difficult than my own. Most had no ‘Red Sea parting’ experiences. Some lived in dark days where the hand of God was not evident at all. Most were ordinary people, Jews and Gentiles, men and women.

However, verse sixteen confirms that God was at work in the good and bad to accomplish His redemptive plan. He was bringing about the birth of His only Son. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, lived a life we could not live, died to pay a debt we could not pay, and rose from the dead to secure an eternal victory we could not win.

I know my family will not be used to bring about the birth of another Savior this Christmas. Jesus is the One and only. But could God use the ups and downs of this year to bring about the realization of the Gospel in the life of someone this Christmas, allowing my life and my family to be part of His redemptive plan? With all my heart I believe this to be true. Could God do that in your family? Certainly!

BIBLE VERSE: “…and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1:16 NASB)

What Does God Want?

March 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

It was a common conversation that I have with believers. Someone wanted me to know and understand his position about a decision that he had to make. I first told him that I loved him and that I wanted God’s best for him. But after listening and probing a bit, I heard something that really troubled me. He said he was going to make a list of pros and cons before making a final decision.

Why does that bother me so much? As followers of Christ, our process for making decisions should be different from that of the world. Yet what we too many times do is avoid the most important question: “What does God want?”

If we believe that God has our best interest at heart and has the power to bring into our lives that best if we follow Him, then why avoid asking the question? I asked that exact question and I believe this person answered it very accurately. He said, “I am not sure I want to know the answer.”

There are many decisions in my life that I wish now would have been preceded by this critical question. Certainly God gives us wisdom and intellect to figure out what to have for dinner. But how often do we get God’s perspective on weightier matters such as finances, relationships, vocation, education, etc.? When we do not ask God for His guidance in the most important decisions, we relegate our lives to asking God to bless our decisions.

God has given us His Spirit in order to make discerning choices. Opinions are everywhere and may even be godly. But as 1 John 4:1-6 tells us, we can ultimately know that our decision-making is sound based on two criteria: (1) Does it glorify Jesus Christ? and (2) Is it consistent with the teaching of God’s Word? If our ultimate goal in life is to glorify Jesus Christ, then it will also be for our best. And God gave us His Word as the fully sufficient resource to all of the questions of faith and life. You can depend on it.

BIBLE VERSE: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…’” (I John 4:1a NASB).

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).

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