The Biggest Piece of Pie

January 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the lesson of the biggest piece of pie. Whenever mom made a pie, cake, or any form of dessert, my sister and I were taught the biggest piece always went to daddy. At the time, I hated this practice in our home. She explained to my sister and me that we wouldn’t have dessert if it weren’t for daddy’s hard work.

This was so much a part of our homelife that when I went to a friend’s house and the children received the biggest pieces of pie, I actually felt strange. Later, when I married, this lesson of serving others the biggest piece of pie was one I really appreciated. God wants us to take that lesson a little further.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus makes the point that service is more important than status in His kingdom. If we are always expecting the best seat in the house, the last soda in the refrigerator, or the biggest piece of pie, then we’re not seeking God’s way, we’re seeking ours. The way we view others and ourselves is often not seen in the big things we do, it is demonstrated in the little ways we serve others.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for all the little ways You show how much You care. Reveal to me today ways I may need to give someone else a bigger piece of the pie.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited” (Luke 14:8 NIV. See 7-14 for full parable).

Making the Most out of Mother’s Day

December 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Mother’s Day is billed as a wonderfully happy day, but that it can be a difficult day for celebration. Being a mom, I love Mother’s Day, but in my role as a daughter, this day stirs up sadness. In my teenage years, my mom developed Alzheimer’s disease and I became her caregiver. I hated Mother’s Day, because it reminded me that life had not turned out like I had hoped.

Maybe you find Mother’s Day difficult as well. Maybe its an abortion, miscarriage or infertility that will have you waking up on Sunday mourning about the baby you never knew. Maybe you have a prodigal child and you wonder if they will even bother to contact you. Maybe, for any number of reasons, your relationship with your mother is fractured. Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year.

So how can we make the most of Mother’s Day? Start by acknowledging the pain we are feeling. If we don’t recognize that we are feeling sad about our circumstances, they will be like a trap door that will engulf us, causing the day to turn out even worse. Keeping things in the dark, by ignoring them, becomes our greatest threat. Part of my routine on Mother’s Day is to take a few minutes in the morning to think about my mom, even shedding a few tears. Mourning is the best path to healthy emotions as long as we don’t wallow in it.

Which leads to the next step – accept the love that comes your way. Accept the breakfast in bed with a heart of gratitude, even if it is cold, burnt toast. Be thankful that you are treated to dinner at a restaurant, even if it isn’t exactly the one you would have chosen. Cherish the handmade cards and the goofy lawn ornaments. Accepting love, even if it is flawed, will help us shift our focus off what we don’t have onto the good in our lives. A little gratitude goes a long way!

The third step to making the most out of Mother’s Day is to pass on love to others. You may not have a mother to celebrate, but be on the lookout for women who have influenced your life. Take this opportunity to express your appreciation. Make this a day to celebrate womanhood.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to make the most of this day and to look for ways to show love, acceptance and appreciation.

“In everything gives thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

A Shark Story

December 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Elaine James –

It was after 10 o’clock in the evening, my family and many onlookers were screaming and jumping at the edge of the ocean on a Florida beach. We watched for 20 minutes as my husband battled to bring a six- foot Bull shark in on the beach. The adrenaline rush for my husband was so awesome, after a long day of disappointment where he caught sharks on the line only to have the line suddenly break, allowing them to get away. Finally with information that the locals offered, he had the right equipment and he ended up catching two six- foot sharks. He did not keep the sharks, cutting the line instead to let them swim back into the ocean.

I was sitting on the beach, watching my husband teach my kids to fish. They would learn from his instruction and by simple observation. They now have pretty good skills as well. I can just see them teaching their children to fish someday. For sure, we will be passing down some pretty cool YouTube videos that show us screaming, laughing and even being scared.

I was reading my Bible and felt lead to read Psalm 78, the first six verses. From the beginning God has used life stories to teach spiritual lessons to the Israelites. Over and over, stories of the marvelous works of God were passed down. Those people piled up stones to mark the spot where the Lord did great things, to help them remember. The Psalmist urges us to not let the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord be hidden from our children. He commanded them to teach their next generation down the line.

Through the years, I have taught my children that Jesus loved them so much that he died on the cross, rose from the dead so that their sins can be forgiven and they would one day go to heaven to be with Him. Then, when they were ready, they realized all that Jesus did for them and they prayed to receive Him as their Savior. These are priceless moments, truly worth remembering.

Do you read the Bible enough to be able to pass the stories on to others?

PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank You for Jesus and what he did on the cross. Help me to renew my mind with the word and pass it on for the next generation.

“O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old– what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (Psalm 78:1-6 NIV).

Beneath the Brush

December 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

Parents love their children at each of the developmental stages they experience, but I think it is natural for us to have our favorites along the way. Many love infancy, because it makes for some wonderfully warm cuddle sessions. Others like to observe the wonder in the eyes of preschoolers as they explore and learn new things. I enjoy my children as they have gotten older. Mine aren’t much for snuggling these days, and they are sometimes hard to impress. However, they now express and impress me with their interests, hopes and dreams.

And, then there is the yard work. Perhaps that gives me extra incentive to enjoy this phase of their lives.

My fourteen-year-old son says he wants to be a landscaper. He is also my capitalist. While our daughter may never manage money well, her brother is always ready to earn some. So, on a recent warm day, I proposed some chores to him. Some stepping stones needed to be replaced. Bird feeders to be filled, and a repair to a wind-damaged piece of porch trim. I also wanted dead foliage cut, raked and removed from flower beds.

As I demonstrated the final task for my son, I was once again pleased to see that underneath the waste of winter, there were short green sprouts making their appearance. Hiding below the weathered remains of last year were the starts of new growth—hyacinths and hostas ready to usher in the season. How reassuring that perennial gift of spring is to us!

God’s Word is full of wonderful symmetry, and this is just another example of the poetic truth we find in Him. I knew what I would see beneath the brown brush when I coached my son on his assignment. I’d have been shocked not to see those beautiful, emerald signs of life. I know with confidence they’ll come this time each year, just as surely as I know God’s promise of salvation is real, and He can be counted on to fulfill His promises to us.

When we remove the worn and ragged parts of our being to become Christians, we are made new. That is something we can rely on, too. And, when we awake each day, God has blessed us with another opportunity to serve him better than we did the day before. How blessed we are that God uses stages and seasons, promises and opportunities to show His love and His plans for us.

PRAYER: Most Gracious Father, thank You for the promises provided in Your word, as well as the infinite and beautiful ways that You communicate to us through Your awesome creations. May we receive Your promises and messages, and be made anew each day.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NIV).

Katelyn’s Cross

November 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Susan Dollyhigh –

Instead of her usual style of bouncing, running, or skipping, six=year-old Katelyn walked into the house after church with her head lowered and forehead furrowed.

“What’s wrong, Katelyn?” I asked.

She looked up at me. The frown remained.

“My teacher told me something sad. Let me show you.”

She placed a white sheet of paper and a box of markers on the coffee table, got down on her knees, and went to work. I squinted, confused as Katelyn pulled a brown marker from the box.

“Don’t watch, Nana. I’ll show you when I’m finished.”

“Okay,” I said, and went into the kitchen to prepare lunch. Within a few minutes, Katelyn appeared.

“Here, Nana. This is what’s wrong.” She handed me her drawing; a yellow sun in one corner, grass sprouted from the bottom of the page, and a big brown cross reached to the sky. Scrawled in childish handwriting were these words: “Jesus died here. So sad.”

I looked at Katelyn and our eyes met. “He died, Nana. Jesus died on the cross, and I am sad. Does that make you sad, too?” She tried to choke back the sadness.

My precious granddaughter had learned what Jesus endured to be our Savior, and the awful truth broke her sweet heart.

“Oh Katelyn, yes, it makes me sad, but I need to tell you the rest of the story. Jesus died on the cross because He loves us so much. He died on the cross for you and for me and for everyone in the world so that we can be forgiven when we sin, or do something bad. Jesus died so that someday we can go to Heaven and live forever with all the people we love. And do you want to know the best part of the story, Katelyn? Jesus came back to life – did you know that? God raised Him from the dead and took Him to Heaven where He still lives today. We can talk to Him anytime we want by praying.”

“Oh,” she said. The sorrow melted from her face. “That’s good, Nana. Okay, I’m going to play.”

Katelyn heard the news, and joy returned to her heart. She bounced down the hallway to her room, all the while singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know….”

Katelyn’s reaction to hearing that Jesus died on the cross caused my heart to ache, and I experienced anew the sorrow of my Savior’s torturous death. But then I remembered the rest of the story, and like Katelyn, joy flooded my soul.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus – for the rest of the story.

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV).

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