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 Tez Brooks POSTED 2/18/2024 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV
“Forget everything you ever learned about writing, mate.” My Aussie friend winked.
As a missionary, I had one assignment that led me and my family to Australia. We enjoyed associating with the nationals and made lifelong friends. But as I began writing for Aussie audiences, I learned their communication differed from American English. I struggled to give up the rules of writing I’d learned back home.
Words that meant one thing to me meant another to the folks who lived Down Under. I even made a few faux pas by accidentally using Aussie profanity.
Over the months, my writing evolved as I adjusted my language to fit in with my surroundings. It was against my nature, but as I assimilated, people accepted me, and my influence grew.
Much like missionary Hudson Taylor, who labored in China in the 1800s, I found it easier to share the gospel with Aussies when I wrote, spoke, and dressed like them.
Paul, the apostle, also said he would be anything if it could point even a few to Christ.
When we finally returned to the States, I required several months to revert to using American spelling and dialect again. But it was inevitable. Surrounded by Americans, I couldn’t help but abandon my Australian mannerisms. Even my young children lost their Aussie accents after a while.
As believers, we struggle to reach others for Christ. Sometimes it means doing things we usually wouldn’t do to befriend the lost—as long as our testimony is not compromised. It’s much easier to stay in our Christian bubble.
Jesus also hung out with people who were quite different from him. Why shouldn’t we do the same? When we leave our comfort zone and learn to be approachable to everyone everywhere, we find ourselves reaching everyone everywhere.
Being counter-cultural is often needed for people to see we are different from the world. Still, we must have a passionate burden for the lost to become whoever Christ needs us to be to win them.
What are some ways you can assimilate with others?
(Photo courtesy of pixabay and JRAQUILES.)
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DEVOTION BY Nwosu Ugochi POSTED 2/11/2024 6:00:01 AM ON Colossians 3:13 NCV
Two out of my five brothers had a horrendous and prolonged quarrel. They did not see eye to eye. Not even my mother could settle this before she died.
Then, weeks after my mother’s burial, my father did something that shocked me. Early one morning, he went to the house of the younger of the two brothers, knelt before him and his wife, and asked them to forgive the elder brother.
Seeing this act shattered my brother and his wife. They broke down in tears and immediately went to the elder one’s home, forgave him, and made peace.
Paul tells us to get along with each other. The reason we can forgive is because God has forgiven us.
Thinking we do not need forgiveness is terrible. Instead, we should remember that God forgave us first. The Bible makes this clear.
Quarrels, malice, pain, frustrations, and troublesome thoughts can keep us from forgiving family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and church members who have grievously wronged or hurt us. We must let go and get along, remembering that our heavenly Father has forgiven us of our shortcomings.
Who has wronged you that you need to forgive?
(Photo courtesy of pixabay and Alexas_Fotos.)
DEVOTION BY Harriett Ford POSTED 2/4/2024 6:00:01 AM ON Luke 10:20 NIV
“I smell a stunk.”
We laughed at our four-year-old granddaughter Brynn’s wrinkled nose as our vehicle filled with a strong odor. She coined the word as an appropriate name for the black-and-white critter and, subsequently, we called it that. I suppose the skunk won’t mind. It is a name, after all, that gives him a certain distinkshun among the animal kingdom. (Yes, I know that’s misspelled.)
I have always longed for a new name. Mine is the name of the housekeeper or old maiden aunt in fiction, not a glamorous heroine. Imagine my delight when I read how God gives us a new name in heaven. I have wondered what mine might be. Will it reflect the calling of God on my life in its different seasons? Daughter, wife, mother. Biblical people often had name changes when God appointed them to a specific service. That’s a scary thought.
Jesus’ disciples rejoiced after returning from their appointed mission, exclaiming how even the demons were subject to them. Jesus, however, directed them to the most crucial cause for rejoicing. Not just their authority over sickness, disease, and evil spirits but their eternal privilege to sit with Him in heaven.
I think back to when I chose to follow Jesus as my Lord. Since that day many years ago, I have probably deserved to be called a stunk at times. How wonderful to know that, unlike that little critter, I will not be known by that name for the rest of eternity.
I can rejoice instead because Jesus knows my name, which God has written in heaven. How about yours?
What does your name say to others?
(Photo courtesy of pixabay and LeniG.)
DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer POSTED 1/28/2024 6:00:01 AM ON Mark 4:20
There were six of the tiny leafy green things, looking more like someone had dropped green paint on the potted soil than actual living plants. They were wrapped in thick plastic, in a container the size of a size thirteen shoebox and delivered by UPS. The brown-dressed delivery man gave me a conspiratorial wink as I electronically “signed” for the plants. I have no idea why he thought I would actually be signing my name for something worthy of a conspiratorial wink, but I smiled back at him, giving him something to tell his wife about over supper that night.
What I had, in fact, were six very small Edelweiss plants shipped by air from Germany. They were a birthday present for my Bavarian-born wife, Charlotte. I knew she would be delighted with them. Whether she could get the Alpine Mountain plants to grow in Tennessee soil—and survive a Southern summer—was another story altogether.
Charlotte, with her typical Teutonic efficiency—once she wiped away the birthday tears of delight and surprise—set about to read everything available online about the care and feeding of the fragile plants. She decided to try three different locations, two tiny Edelweiss seedlings to a site. And so for the next two years, summer and winter, we watched the delicate plants. One after the other, four of the seedlings gave up the ghost and died.
But the last two, in a site with more shade than sun, had a protective wooden border that Charlotte used to cover the plants with leaves to get them through winter. Much like they survived their native Alpine Mountain winters under a protective bed of snow. Of the two remaining plants, one grew slowly, holding its own in a strange soil but seemingly uncertain of its surroundings.
But the sixth plant embraced its home and flourished. It has grown steadily over the past two years, climbing to almost a foot tall. And a few days ago, to Charlotte’s teary-eyed delight, her Edelweiss finally bloomed. The delicate white blossom in a strange soil—and in a stranger climate—had opened against all odds. And just to show that our Father always has perfect timing, Charlotte’s Edelweiss bloomed on the very day that she herself—51 years ago—had first come to the Uni … ted States.
As Jesus taught us, our Father’s Word works in exactly the same way. We plant it in our heart, nurture it, water it, and pray over itand the Word grows and blooms in us. As the song goes: “Blossoms of snow, may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever.”
Nurture your seeds of the Word so they will bloom and grow … forever.
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DEVOTION BY Theresa Siller POSTED 1/21/2024 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 6:12 St. Joseph’s Edition
Forgiveness is a tall order.
Years ago, my mother gave my family a generous financial gift. As a low-vision sufferer, she wanted to thank us for caring for her for ten years. My adopted sister, who had miraculously sobered up some years before and became a successful speaker, ambushed us with a public smear campaign and false accusations of stealing money.
As a child, I had been afraid of my adopted sister, but as adults, we had been close for two decades. She was smart, funny, and talented. So, we were blindsided when she turned on us.
During this tornado, I had too much anxiety to eat adequately. My mother was hurt by this too and lost weight she could not afford to lose. Our three daughters were puzzled that their doting aunt could trash our entire family this way.
One day, with my mind whirling and twirling in the grocery store, I spotted a forgiveness book in the Hallmark aisle. God is so creative. He always astounds me. That book changed my life.
If I claim to be a Christian, I must figure out how to forgive fully, no matter what. Jesus calls us to forgive as He forgives us—seventy times seven times daily if needed.
But how on earth can I do that? I know this is impossible, but I’ve learned I can draw on God’s unlimited power anytime. I humbly remember I need the Lord’s forgiveness too. I’m puzzled that He is patient with me and loves me unconditionally anyway.
Could I love my adopted sister from afar? Could I let go of the hurt and pray for her every day, even with clenched teeth? Yes, but only with divine assistance.
I think of Jesus, beaten, bloodied, and hanging on the cross, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He exemplified radical love for the ages. We can dip into this power every day. We can step into another’s shoes and borrow Jesus’ compassion for that person. He is our forgiving Friend and helps us find a way to forgive others.
Make it your goal to learn to forgive like Jesus.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay and fancycrave1.)