A Grand Event

March 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Aubrey Spencer –

Nana and Papaw’s house is the greatest place on earth. At least it is for my children. No matter how often my parents see our kids (which is quite frequent now that we live only ninety miles away), they treat it as a grand event. Oliver and Ava
are showered with attention and sugared with kisses. There is no doubt, they are both loved and adored.

The last time we visited there, I tucked Oliver in his bed for a nap, and thought back to the very first time we took him to his grandparents’ house. He was a few months old, and we lived thirteen hours away. So it’s not too surprising that it felt like a grand event. My parents were over-the-top excited for their grandson to be there. They told everyone they knew that he was coming. They bought him a new wardrobe. They bought him a great little mobile for his car seat (which came in quite handy on the thirteen hour drive home.) They also went out the day after we arrived to purchase him a totally tricked out exersaucer activity center, because they said he “needed” it. But the biggest display of grandparent craziness was Oliver’s room. That’s right – Oliver had his very own bedroom at Nana and Papaw’s house. (Both kids have their own rooms there now.) His room housed a crib bought just for him, complete with adorable construction truck bedding. Everywhere we looked, we saw diapers, wipes, trucks, decorations and more. They went nuts. We melted with gratefulness. There were even blocks with his named spelled out sitting on one of the bookshelves. It was too much! Talk about making us feel special. Oliver was a blessed little boy to have grandparents like that. And now Ava gets to enjoy the same sort of royal treatment.

I started thinking about my parents and their excitement over Oliver’s first visit. I wondered how many of us live with such excitement about our God. Does He consume our thoughts and dictate our actions? Do we smile every time we think about Him? Do we long to spend time with Him, eager to be in His presence? Do we tell everyone we know about Him? Do we clean out areas in our lives to make room for Him to dwell there? In fact, does He have His very own place in our hearts, or does He have to share space with other “gods” in our life? Is He the center of our attention? Is His name written on us, displayed proudly, like the blocks in Oliver’s room?

What a powerful reminder for me to check my heart, my priorities, and my excitement level for my God. What about you?

PRAYER: Lord, I long to fill my heart and my life with Your presence, Your will, and Your Word. But, I must confess that I can easily allow myself to crowd You out of my thoughts and my actions when I put other things before You. Help me to treat every moment with You as a grand event. Remind me to share my excitement about You with the world around me.

BIBLE VERSE: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3 NIV).

Seeds of Faith

March 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

In my jewelry box is a tarnished and not-very-beautiful piece of jewelry. If someone broke into my home, they wouldn’t consider this a valuable treasure. But it is to me. It is a tiny mustard seed in a tiny glass ball on an inexpensive chain. The chain is too small to fit around my neck, yet I keep it to remind me of the lesson it brought. On the day of my confirmation, my grandfather gave it to me after sharing Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. He told me that even with a small amount of faith, I had enough faith to become all God wanted me to be. Later, in my turbulent teenage years I needed that promise. That necklace was a tangible reminder that regardless of how small my faith seemed, it was enough.

The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds yet produces one of the largest trees in the Middle East. Like that seed, our faith is worthless unless the Father feeds it. When we come to Jesus in our alone time He feeds us. In the quiet, He can explain unspeakable things and help us to do, be, and have all He has ordained for us. In that stillness, God turns our mustard seeds into giant trees of faith.

PRAYER: I praise You, God, for the gift of faith. Help me believe that the little amount of faith I hold is enough to help me become what You have planned for me since the beginning of time. Help me to set aside time to be quiet and listen for all the things You want to show me.

BIBLE VERSE: “Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade’” (Mark 4:30-34  NIV).

Pleasure Please

March 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

What brings you pleasure?

As I pondered this question, I started a list of pleasurable activities: spending a leisurely day by a tranquil lake with a dear friend, accomplishing a task, put off for too long, and watching my child excel at a newly discovered skill. Enjoyment and delight come from a variety of sources. They are God-given feelings and should be savored for the blessings to which they attest.

What brings God pleasure? A righteous heart, honesty and delighting in the things of God bring delight to our Holy Father. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, clearly and repeatedly states that making the plans to create us and bring us unto Himself before the foundations of the world, gave God great pleasure.

This picture made me reminisce about what it was like being pregnant. I remember the delight I experienced feeling the baby move inside of me. I would lie awake in the early morning dreaming about whether I would birth a boy or girl, what he or she would be like and what great things he or she would accomplish in this world. It brought satisfaction to decorate the baby’s room as I enjoyed the anticipation and wonder.

Now as I see my teenage children moving into adulthood I revel in what I see. They have become so much more than I had ever dreamed for them. Their abilities exceed what I could have wished for. I relax in the deeply held belief that God loves them more than I do and that He has a plan for their lives that exceeds what I could orchestrate for them. Delight comes from seeing my children embrace His plan for their lives. If this gives me such pleasure, imagine how God feels when He sees us living out His will for our lives.

Having experienced the joy of watching my children, I have a renewed desire to bring pleasure to my Father.  Living with an undivided heart that pants after Him brings a smile of approval from my Father. Searching out His will for my life brings enjoyment to God. I want to be like Jesus, whose purpose was to do things on this earth for God’s good pleasure.

What brings me pleasure? I think pleasing God should be at the top of the list.

PRAYER: Father, Thank You that You had Your eyes on me before the beginning of the earth. Help me to live out Your plan in my life for Your pleasure and glory.

BIBLE VERSE:“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” (Ephesians 1:9 NIV).

Better Than A GPS

February 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I was only twenty when Randy and I married and moved to Orlando from Ft Pierce. Two weeks later, we began school at UCF. That first day of school Randy arrived home before me. He sat there waiting for his new bride to come through the door so he could hear all about my day. What came through the door was anything but the girl he married. I was a crying mess. Through tears, I told him about getting lost on campus, not finding anything I needed at the library, and how it took me an hour to get home because of all the traffic. I said to him, “I just want to go home.” To which he replied, “But honey, you are home.” I felt like I was in a foreign land, and in some ways, I was. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I was lost and confused.

How many times do we feel that way? God has an answer for our reluctant steps.

Trusting is a difficult thing for many of us. At one time, all of us were trusting, but some have had that trust betrayed. It then becomes difficult to relate to the words, “Trust God with your whole heart.” But God dangles a carrot in front of us to entice us to trust Him. He promises to direct our paths. He wants us to trust Him, so He can prove His trustworthiness. He wants us to trust Him so He can fulfill His promise. He says, “Don’t try to figure everything out, just listen for My voice and follow Me” Don’t think about it, and don’t try to reason and rationalize. Simply trust, and He will show you the way.

PRAYER God, I praise You for being trustworthy. Help me learn to trust You more fully. I am often lost in certain areas of my life, so enter into those areas and give me the direction I need.

BIBLE VERSE: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6  NIV).

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).

Next Page »