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 Maureen Miller POSTED 9/12/2021 6:00:01 AM ON James 1:17 NIV
My first memory includes a dog—two, in fact.
Before I could walk on sturdy legs or talk in lengthy sentences, when all things—colors, sounds, scents—were still new and fresh from heaven, Momma would push me in a stroller. We ventured down a gravel alley that ran behind the houses on our street, dividing the homes which lined King Avenue with those that sat behind. A right turn out the garage door and ten paces forward took us to a small patch of worn grass, enclosed with a chain-link fence. This was the dwelling place of two dogs—their gender, breed, and color no longer etched in my mind. What I do remember is their scent and the happy feelings a little two-year-old girl experienced each time we happened by.
“Doggie,” I’d exclaim, pointing. “D-ood dog.”
And Momma would bend low to kiss my brow before affirming the truth we both believed. “Yes, those are good dogs,” she’d say as she pushed my stroller close enough so I could take in their dog smell—a mixture of moisture and earth and, well, dog. To me, it was the fragrance of joy.
I don’t remember if Mom ever allowed me to pet those mongrel pups or if they ever licked my outstretched fingers through the fence. I don’t know the number of times we passed by or if, one day, we discovered them gone. Like many memories from one’s distant past these, too, although beautiful moments, are like shards of stained glass—pretty to look at but no longer a part of a bigger picture.
To me, these visits of long ago were gifts. My recollections—simplistic though they are—remain treasures. If young children have a unique sense that somehow links them to heaven, then perhaps these dogs were a reflection of their Creator.
In some sort of way, perhaps our “Good dog” exclamations are much like a prayer that God Himself can decipher and know the full meaning.
The Giver of all good gifts, our heavenly Father, hears. He knows. What we’re saying is, “Good God,” because that is what He is.
What good gifts might you thank God for today? He bends low to listen.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Andy Hollifield POSTED 9/5/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 1 John 4:19 KJV
"Can I keep him, Mom? I'll take real good care of him. I promise!"
“I'd love to have a dollar for every time I've heard that question," Mikey's mom replied. "Yes, but he's your responsibility."
"You'll see, Mom. You'll never know he's here," Mikey said with excitement as he rushed into the backyard with his new best friend.
Something about strays and misfits appealed to Mikey. He had a heart of gold. He always wanted to help those whom others seemed not to notice. People, dogs, or pretty much any other creature. It didn't matter to Mikey; he loved them all. He once bottle-fed a baby raccoon whose mom had gotten hit by a car. That momma raccoon didn't know it, but her baby couldn't have fallen into better hands.
Mikey probably developed a compassionate heart because of his time in an orphanage. He could relate to his new dog, Bubba. He, too, had once felt unloved and unwanted. That was before Paul and Gina Jackson came to the orphanage to adopt a child. Mikey was five at the time, but when their eyes met his, he knew he'd finally found a place he belonged. Now, he was an eight-year-old with eyes full of wonder and a heart full of love. Mikey remembered those early days as he scrubbed and brushed Bubba's coat.
We can all relate to Mikey and Bubba. There was a time in our lives when we were unwanted and unfit to be loved. We were alone and unnoticed by most but loved by one. Even in the condition we were in, Jesus still loved us.
The world may have passed us by and written us off, but Jesus came to where we were. He's never met a stray or misfit He didn't love. He took us in, saving us from a miserable future of eternal separation from God. He cleaned us up and made us fit to be loved. He wasn't concerned with others' opinions; He loved us anyway. He saw something in us others couldn't see.
Your needs will be forever met, and you'll always be loved because Jesus gave His life for strays and misfits like you.
DEVOTION BY Kevin Spencer POSTED 8/29/2021 6:00:01 AM ON Psalm 143:10 NIV
Fritz, our large, six-year-old, orange tabby house cat, trotted happily out the door with me onto our front porch. With tail held high, he bounced by my side into the hot, humid August afternoon.
Every day, Fritz would take his “walkabout.” He would take off on a long circuit of his world here on our Tennessee ridge. He is usually gone a couple of hours, returning in time for his supper in the late afternoon. Our property borders a Wildlife Management Area along the Duck River, which is designated a National Scenic River along this miles-long stretch.
The Wildlife Management Area means wildlife is protected, and because of this, we are used to a wide variety of creatures and critters meandering through our yard—deer, turkeys, ’possums, raccoons, skunks, foxes, boar, and a host of the other usual suspects. Fritz is familiar with all these, and despite being quite territorial and possessive of his ridge to other male cats, he adopts a live-and-let-live attitude with nearly all wildlife. I’ve seen a flock of turkeys pass peacefully around him as he lounged lazily on a rock in the middle of them. (Rodents and snakes are another story, however. Frequently, Fritz will proudly bring those home as gifts … sometimes while they are still wiggling.)
But this day differed. Fritz took a couple of steps onto the porch and froze. His nostrils went into overdrive. Hopping up on a table for a better look, he slowly scanned the front yard while tasting the air, his tail occasionally swishing with concern. Eventually, he focused on the thick woods that border the eastern edge of our property, the tree line about a hundred feet away.
His body went rigid, and his hackles rose. His tail sliced the air. Occasionally, he would look back over his shoulder at me to make sure I was still close, his green eyes as wide as quarters. Something was out there. A something he didn’t like and even feared—and I have rarely seen Fritz fear anything. Cats aren’t called nature’s gunslingers for no reason.
I didn’t see a thing. I scanned the area carefully with binoculars but saw nothing. When I got up to go back inside, Fritz dashed to the door with me and slipped safely back into the house. Definitely no walkabout today.
Fritz sensed something he couldn’t see, and he heeded that warning. I, too, have an early warning system. God’s wonderful gift, His Comforter, His presence in the form of His Holy Spirit, lives in me. The Spirit sees things I don’t, sees across time, teaches me, and helps guide me through the hidden dangers of this fallen world. Often, my problem is stilling the clutter in my mind long enough to hear the Holy Spirit’s soft voice speaking. I must focus on God’s Word, let His peace soothe the chaos that usually swirls in my head, and most importantly, listen for and recognize that sweet soft voice.
Are you listening for the Spirit’s voice?
DEVOTION BY Joel Berry POSTED 8/22/2021 6:00:01 AM ON James 4:8 ESV
On one Thanksgiving, I enjoyed a round of golf with my two adult sons.
I learned the game in my mid-thirties, then taught them to play as youngsters. We spent many summer evenings walking as many holes as we could play before dark.
By their late teens, my sons could outdrive me. By the time they reached their thirties, they beat me whenever we played. I didn’t mind. I valued the time I spent with them on the golf course, and I took satisfaction in knowing I had taught them to play.
My sons once needed my help to brush their teeth before bed, to put on a sweater as they dressed for church, and to tie their shoes multiple times throughout the day. I carried them on my shoulders when they were tired, and we had a long walk ahead. I remember when they climbed on the sofa as I watched a football game, just so I could hold them in my arms where they felt safe and secure.
Whether they were happy or sad, obedient or disobedient, pungent and sweaty from playing outside or smelling like baby shampoo after a bath, they did not hesitate to draw close and feel my embrace.
James tells us we can do the same with God. Regardless of what we have done or what we are going through, God invites us to draw near.
We draw near through confession, prayer, worship, and meditation on God’s Word. When we draw near to God, He does not turn us away. He draws near to us, wrapping His arms around us when we need His comfort and assurance that He loves us.
If you need to feel God’s love and acceptance, draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.
DEVOTION BY Macy Johnson POSTED 8/15/2021 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 8:2-3 NIV
We are under attack. Sin, all around us, is contagious. The world’s ways are not God’s ways. Evil forces push and pull at us, wanting us to accompany them on their deadly, destructive path.
Many years ago, an audit manager asked me to pirate a software package—to make illegal copies. She told me it was permitted “because everyone else does it.” I refused, obeyed the truth, and left the company.
Once, after leading a Bible study at church, I was drained and beaten down. My daughter was with me and refused to sit still—a distraction. What a test. Then, someone complimented me on my presentation. I thought I had failed, but everyone signed up for the class. God rewarded my obedience.
But on one Thanksgiving, I disobeyed. As our family sat around the big table, my husband leaned over and asked if I wanted to give thanks. Stressed from the preparations and confusion, I announced, “Let’s individually thank God in our hearts.” That was disobedience. I’m sorry I didn’t allow my family to openly express their thanks to God for His amazing goodness.
People near Jesus refused to touch a leper, afraid of contracting his disease. Jesus boldly pushed past their reluctance. Allowing Himself to come in contact with the man’s leprosy, Jesus pressed His healing love into the beggar’s darkness. He obeyed his Father’s command to bring life from death.
We are created to be obedient, contagious, and spreaders of the light of God’s love in every situation. In this way, we can enjoy a deeper relationship with God as we connect to Him and each other.
Seek to glorify God as you travel toward eternal life with God. Chose to be obedient and filled with His love.