Faith is a vital role in the family unit. It draws us together. Holds us tight. Binds us with the ties of God. Keeping faith in our families secures the values of Christ are embedded in our children
DEVOTION BY Anita van der Elst POSTED 2/5/2023 6:00:01 AM ON 2 Timothy 1:9 NLT
We enjoyed a free grace feast.
“Well, folks,” she said, “I have something to tell you.”
My husband and I celebrated our forty-sixth wedding anniversary at a nice restaurant. Moments before, we had placed our meal order with this pleasant woman. Figuring her news had something to do with an unavailable item, we waited expectantly.
She continued, “You’re really going to enjoy your food this evening. The couple sitting in the booth across the aisle paid for your meal. They didn’t want us to tell you until after they’d left.”
We had no interaction with the two younger diners who chose to bless us. I’ve seen posts on social media about pay-it-forward moments, but we had never experienced one. My mouth dropped open, and I saw my husband’s do the same. I’m sure we’ll remember this for a long time. Of course, I posted our surprise on social media and paid it forward to our lovely food server.
We didn’t do anything to deserve our blessing, nor did we expect it. God’s blessings to us sometimes come when we least expect them and without us deserving them, but His plans to do so are set well in advance.
God’s greatest blessing is salvation and a life lived to please Him. It’s as though He says, “Well, folks, I have something to tell you. I’m showing you My grace through Christ Jesus. He paid the bill so you can enjoy an everlasting feast with Me in heaven.”
I’m sure anyone would accept a free meal readily and gratefully. But even more important is to accept God’s gift of salvation with gratefulness.
Have you accepted God’s gift of grace?
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer POSTED 1/29/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Acts 9:18 NIV
I had no idea how dark my world had become due to cataracts affecting my vision.
As I lay on the operating table, I could hear the surgeon conversing with the nurse assistants as they proceeded with the surgery on my right eye. I could smell the light perfume of one of the nurses and the mouthwash used by the surgeon. Mesmerizing swirls of color filled my vision in that eye. In a way, it was like a fluid version of the kaleidoscope I had as a child.
A Kaleidoscope was a tube between six inches and a foot long. It had mirrors and bits of colored glass on one end and a viewfinder on the other. By rotating the end that held the mirrors and colored glass, you could see an endless array of colorful geometric patterns. What I saw was like that, but it was a variety of shifting colorful swirls instead of the kaleidoscope’s angular shapes.
I was having cataract and glaucoma surgery. The surgeon placed a stint in my eye to relieve the increasing pressure from glaucoma and removed a cataract. They had performed the same surgery on my left eye two weeks earlier.
As I write this, both eyes are still recovering from the surgery. However, the difference in my vision is amazing. The world I see is bright and clean, and colors shine brilliantly. My neighbor’s truck is an entirely different shade of blue than I thought. I can’t wait for my full recovery so I can revel in the beautiful gift of my new eyes.
In the same way that my eyes had grown increasingly dark, so too can sin darken my life. As the years go by, sin closes in around me, blocking out the light of the Son. My walk with Him grows wayward because I can no longer discern the path. Thank goodness He has forgiven me and paid for my sins on the cross—past, present, and future. Accepting God’s forgiveness and payment is like the surgery that reopened my eyes. Suddenly the world is again filled with His light—bright and clean—and the way to Him is clear.
Have you accepted His forgiving sacrifice for you? Are you walking in His light?
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(photo courtesy of pixabay.com.)
DEVOTION BY Jenny Calvert POSTED 1/22/2023 6:00:01 AM ON James 1:14–15 CEB
My two-year-old granddaughter was guilty of giving in to temptation.
She stood on the step in the pool’s shallow end but inched her way to the deep end by clinging to the edge. We knew she would go underwater if she lost her grip on the deck. Her mother and I were there to save her if this happened. Because we loved her, we closely watched this little explorer.
We are often like this with sin. We have the power through Jesus to overcome, but we still give in to our cravings, which entice us to dabble just a bit. Little by little, we inch deeply into the trap of sin and dangerous situations.
We never expect with our first action that sin will be so destructive. Instead, we suddenly become aware of our circumstances and wonder how we got to this place. We grip for dear life onto our marriage, children, health, self-respect, testimony, and anything that once gave us joy.
Thankfully, we are blessed with a heavenly Father who never takes His eyes off us but guards us with His love. Christ is our anchor, and He tethers us to His heart. Even if we let go of Him, He will never let go of us.
Instead, He supplies a way out so that we can endure our temptations. When we sink into the deep end of sin and call out to our Savior, He lifts us and places us back where we belong. But what began as exploration may take tears, sweat, and years to heal and restore fully.
Sin will take us down a path we don’t want to travel and keep us longer than we want to stay. When we find ourselves inching that direction, we can call out to the One who knows us better than anyone. We can immerse ourselves in His love and hide His Word in our hearts. He will open our eyes and ears, helping us to remember all that is ours through Him. There is no sinful craving as splendid as His treasure.
What are some steps you can take to help you overcome temptation?
DEVOTION BY Macy Johnson POSTED 1/15/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 16:3 NIV
My husband and I once learned how committing plans to God looked.
Our new house had Bible verses inscribed on its wooden frame. God’s words above doorways and windows and hidden under sheetrock and paint reminded us who owned the property.
Our new home took three years, three sets of drawings, and three builders to complete. We had our plans and our timetable, but God had something better in mind.
I grew up near the water. Relocating to Birmingham in 1992 forced us to leave behind our beloved Catalina 22 sailboat. We invested in a pontoon boat five years later to enjoy Alabama lakes. A weekend place on Lake Martin and twin jet skis soon followed. Unpacking boxes in Georgia in 2009, I declared, “No more vacation homes!”
We lost the internal battle five years later. I created a spreadsheet of more than one hundred properties to check out on Lake Sinclair, an hour away. Then a place closer to our Morgan County home popped up on the internet. On that same street appeared a For Sale sign on a property not listed on the internet. When I inquired about this unadvertised waterfront lot on Lake Oconee’s north end, our realtor explained, “That place is not for sale.”
She was wrong. It was for sale. God prepared it for us. We moved into the cabin on the lot, sold our house in Madison, and built an attached minimal main house. God puts His desires in our hearts and then fulfills them in His way and time.
I learned to commit my plans to my heavenly Father and trust Him to provide and bless beyond my wildest imaginations.
What are some ways you can commit your plans to the Lord?
DEVOTION BY Anita van der Elst POSTED 1/8/2023 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NLT
I discovered I could turn the corner to God’s will.
Twenty. Twenty-three. The first number refers to how many times I’ve moved in almost seven decades—back and forth from one state to another a few times, as well as several moves within one state or the other. The second number is the variety of jobs I’ve toiled in—not all gainfully to my chagrin (picking berries as a youngster, I may have eaten more than I put in the bucket), but thankfully all legally.
Having taken paths that seemingly led nowhere, I wondered where God’s will was in all of that? Did I follow His will? Did He direct me to turn one specific corner rather than another one?
Being married, most of the decisions weren’t mine alone. My husband and I prayed as we made the choices and felt we had God’s blessings as we went forward with each one. But nowhere did we see any clear handwriting-on-the-wall instructions, although I’ve heard some people do—and what a blessing that must be.
So, where does that leave a Bible-believing, God-trusting, Christ-belonging woman? I found something in God’s Word that reassured me: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Reading what Paul wrote to his friends in Thessalonica, I determined I could know God’s will.
God can show us exactly when and where to move—down to what avenues of employment we should pursue. But if that’s not how He works in our case, we can still know how to be fully in His will. We can turn the corner to joy, prayer, and thankfulness.
When you are in a quandary about whether something is God’s will, turn to the things you know are.