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).

Striking a Balance

February 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

Have you been accused of being a “helicopter mom”? I have – by my husband. I am not sure whether to feel complimented or assaulted. Since I like to look on the positive side of things, I am going with the idea that he was totally admiring my parenting style.

In caring for our kids, we moms often move handily through the roles of body guard, private investigator, personal tutor, fashion police, counselor and cop. Sometimes, we manage several of those in a single conversation!

Dads approach things a little differently. Most moms have horror stories about what’s happened when children have been left in dad’s charge. Children have been seen in public looking disheveled and in frightening wardrobe combinations. Homework folders have been left unchecked and schedules have gone awry. Scary scenarios! When I have challenged my husband’s level of supervision, he has shamelessly responded that “no one died.” He was right, of course, but that wasn’t exactly the standard I was hoping for.

Dads and moms have different perspectives on child-rearing. We protect and nurture our children differently. While moms may hold too tightly, dads may fail to attend to what their children are saying and doing. Perhaps that’s one reason children need two parents; we do parenting better when moms and dads balance and compliment one another.

Our Heavenly Father knows just how much guidance we need at any given time. He alone provides the perfect balance of protection over us, along with the freedom that allows us to respond or not to His desires for us. And, He will help us do the same as parents when we seek His counsel in prayer.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for being the best parent. Thank You for knowing precisely how to protect, comfort, advise and convict us when needed. We pray that You will help parents as we seek to do likewise for the children You have blessed us with.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm5:11NIV).

Finding Where We Don’t Belong

January 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Janet Morris Grimes –

Have you ever played the game of Sudoku?

It’s a logic puzzle that asks you to place the numbers 1 – 9 in each column and box without repeating any number.  It’s challenging, intriguing and rewarding all at the same time.

The funny thing is that in order to find out where the numbers belong, you must first determine where they don’t.  Then, and only then, do you find the correct answers.

Sometimes I think God works with us like that as well.  We ask Him for guidance, but then it seems like we get a bunch of “no – that’s not it” answers.  But, my guess is that God understands that we are just human enough that it takes something like closing a few doors to nudge us out of our comfort zone; to force us to take a different step; to bring us out into the open, where the only choice we have is to depend on Him, and Him alone.

I can’t help but think that God is playing this game of Sudoku with us as He is creating our future. I jokingly told my boss the other day that I had given him a “two year notice,” because we believed we were getting transferred to another state (for my husband’s job with Ford) for the past two years.  For the first year, we thought we were headed to Louisville.  Then there were a few months of Chicago rumors, which even led us to take a trip up there to search for housing.  Then there was Kansas City, and now Dearborn, Michigan.

All of these locations have one thing in common.  They are far away from everyone and every thing we have known and loved for our entire lives.

So what does this mean for my family?

It means that as He is gently showing us where we don’t belong, He is also preparing us for whatever comes next.  And little by little, step by step, as one door after another is closing, God is slowly leading us out into the open, where we have no choice but to depend on Him, and Him alone.

And I’m okay with that.

I suspect that it will be challenging, intriguing and rewarding all at the same time.

PRAYER: Lord, we want nothing apart from Your plan for our lives.  Please reveal that to us clearly, and put obstacles in our path if that path is not from You.  Show us where we belong, even if it means You must first show us where we do not.  We lay our future in your hands. Please give us the strength, and trust, to leave it there.

BIBLE VERSE: “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths” (Psalms 25:4 NIV).

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).


December 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I have a picture in my kitchen of an older man, possibly a monk, praying over his meal of bread and water. It is not a particularly beautiful picture, but it is a treasure to me, because my grandmother left it to my sister and me. We commented one day during a visit with her that, like the man in the picture, we could envision our grandfather praying over what little he had, whether it was food or possessions.

I’ve heard about people who were left great fortunes by a passing relative, and I often wonder what that would be like. Then I realized that many are left wondering what it would be like to have a possession that means so much because of the sentimental value; more valuable because of the life that person lived.

The Bible tells of a man who receives the most cherished possession a man can leave another. What is it? See for yourself in today’s scripture.

This passage tells of the fulfillment of a covenant with Saul’s son, Jonathan, to honor him as family. As the story goes, Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, has not heard of this covenant and is hiding out of fear because he heard that Jonathan is a great warrior. Instead, Mephibosheth was called before the king and given not just the family possessions, but also the honor and dignity earned by his grandfather.

You, too, have received not only an eternal home, as heir to Jesus Christ, but also have inherited the honor and dignity that belongs to Him. This is truly the most cherished possession that could be left to another.

PRAYER: I praise You, God, for Your faithfulness through the generations, and for the covenants You keep because of those who have been faithful throughout the ages. Thank You for making me an heir to Your kingdom, and ask You to help me walk in honor and dignity as I seek ways to invite others to eat at Your table this week.

BIBLE VERSE: “Miphibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’ Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, ‘I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.” (2 Samuel 9: 8-10 NIV).

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