Tag Archives: Family devotionals

How’s It Growing?

bigstock-Growing-green-plant-22764032How’s it growing? Your faith, that is.

Hebrews 11:1 says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

I’ve also heard faith explained as believing God will do what He says and acting on it.

So, how’s it growing?

Is God fighting for time in your thoughts? Or do they go to Him automatically? Does prayer come easily? Or as an afterthought when something goes wrong?

Paul tells us in Romans, our faith is linked to hearing the word of God:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV)

So, how’s your hearing?

For those of you with non-readers, the responsibility of making God’s word heard falls on you. But don’t despair. These principles apply to all of us:

  • Read the Bible at the table. Even one verse before school starts the day with Scripture on the brain.
  • Music: Play praise music. Often. At home. In the car. Change it up to meet everyone’s tastes.
  • Memorize Scripture. Tape a verse in the middle of the table or on the bathroom mirror. GT and the Halo Express is great series for the younger ones. For you older folk, there is plenty of Scripture set to music. Win-win!

Hear the Word, out loud or through your favorite headphones, and watch your faith grow.

Questions:

How many times each week are your ears exposed to the Bible?

In Isaiah 55: 10-11, God promises that time in His word is never wasted. What is competing for your attention?

What verse has helped you in your faith? Have everyone share a favorite.

Would these verses be a great start for memorization? Pick one. Give a prize at the end of the week for successful memory work.

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Refreshing!

bigstock-Man-And-Ventilator-5390740I walked out my front door this morning to run and it was—cool.

So?

Summer lingers in Texas like an unwelcome guest. But this morning, the breeze was out of the north. It was wonderful.

Texans appreciate refreshment, especially in the form of lower temperatures. One hundred degree summers will do that to you.

When June hits, my husband starts asking, “When is it going to get cool?”

I roll my eyes and say, “November.”

So think of your favorite cold beverage. That’s how a cool fall day feels to a Texan. Refreshing!

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day . . . is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”(Proverbs 25:20 NIV)

Here, Solomon reminds us to refresh one another through song. Now before you break into Daniel Powter’s, Bad Day, look around. Any heavy hearts?

How about your struggling classmate stressing over the next test?

A teammate nervous for the coming game?

A neighbor whose kid is a real challenge? You know the one.

The single mom at work who can barely make ends meet?

Be a cool breeze in someone’s life today. Give some refreshment to a heavy heart. And by all means, sing.

Questions:

Who comes to mind when you think of a heavy heart?

What cheers you up when you’re having a hard day?

Commit to pray for one person this week.

Start with those around your dinner table. Who is struggling at home? If it’s you, speak up.

Bake something and pass it out to the neighbors just for fun. Make someone’s day.

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Riding Shotgun

bigstock-Man-taking-car-key-41217067Individual rights. Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the American way.

But is it God’s way?

God loves freedom too, but not how we think. He gives us free will and allows us to make our own choices.

Yet, He asks us to lay down this right. When presented with God’s way and our way, He wants us to choose His. Scripture tells us:

“You are not your own, you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6: 19b, 20a NIV)

When we accepted Christ’s payment for our sins, we handed Him the keys to our lives. Jesus slides into the driver’s seat, and we ride shotgun. He leads, we follow. Even if we know a shortcut, or it’s Happy Hour at Sonic and a cherry limeade sounds good.

The good news? You’re in for a great ride. An adventure guaranteed to stretch you and change you forever. It’s like the guys in the Volkswagen commercial who head on a road trip and put in a CD to learn Spanish. Hours later when they finally stop for gas (because it’s a Volkswagen), they’re speaking fluent Spanish.

There’s no telling what will change when you let Jesus do the driving. The choice is yours.

Questions:

What rights do you most protect? (For me, it’s how I spend my time.)

When is yielding control to someone difficult? Easy?

Where does yielding to God fall on the Difficult to Easy spectrum? Why?

<———————————————————————————>

Difficult                                                                                              Easy

Think of one thing or area where you are willing to scoot over and let God drive. Now scoot over.

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Unchained

cross-training“Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”(Acts 26:29)

Shackles.

Unwieldy things. Heavy. Noisy. They don’t go with anything, yet Paul wore these less than lovely accessories for over four years. Look at the final verse of Acts:

“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about

the Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts 28:31)

Boldly, clinking and clanking with every step, yet without hindrance.

Are you dragging some chains? Demands at work? Demands at home? A wounded heart? How about the kids? Oh, kids wear chains too. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can cause internal bleeding and sometimes, chains. Chains like:

Anxiety over tests and grades

Sibling rivalry

Body or image issues

But look at Paul. Boldly. Without hindrance. In spite of his chains.

Paul’s God was bigger. So big, the chains were overshadowed and forgotten.

God’s bigger than our chains too. Look past the chains and focus on Him. Allow the shackles to dwindle in the light of His Presence. Be bold. All things are possible.

Questions:

What chains are you dragging? Worry, pressure, hurt feelings, insecurity?

How have they hindered you? What have you been afraid to do because of ___________?

Paul is arrested in Acts 21. Skim through Acts 21-28. Look at Paul’s physical situation and contrast it to his spiritual state.

Bring your chains to Jesus and ask for help in overcoming them. Keep a journal over the next several days and weeks. Record His response.

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This Person Will Self-Destruct in Five, Four. . .

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“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.”(Proverbs 19:3)

Have you ever tried to help someone who was obviously in need only to have them refuse your help? Then, you watched as they went their own way, only to crash and burn. A brother or sister, a best friend, even a child?

Look at the verse above. Scripture defines folly as foolishness or poor choices, especially when one knows better. Solomon says folly ruins one’s life. We’ve all seen it. A choice you knew was a bad one—but they chose it anyway. Choices to:

  • Disobey
  • Hurt someone
  • Take unnecessary risk

Solomon tells us this person’s heart rages against the LORD and His loving correction. Like my dog Zuno when his ears hurt. He snaps at me when I try to help. When he yields and lets me put medicine in his ears, he gets better.

Do you snap or submit?

Do you stop and listen to wise counsel? Or, when someone tries to head off a wrong choice, are you like Zuno who snarls and runs from the medicine? Learning to stop and count the cost takes practice. Keeping emotions and a strong will in check requires a partnership with God. Now is not too early to start.

Cultivate a responsive spirit instead of one that will self-destruct.

Questions:

How do you respond to correction? Be honest.

How can we test the counsel of others to see if it is wise and to see if it applies to us?(Not all counsel is good.)

What can help you submit rather than snap? (Phil. 4:4-9 How many ideas can you find in this passage?)

How can you cultivate a responsive spirit to God? (Colossians 3:23-24, Galatians 5:16-17,22-25)

How can you give good counsel and increase the chances of it being received? (Phil. 4:3-11)

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Pick Up Please

cross-training“Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

Sometimes I don’t hear my phone.

Sometimes I choose not to look when I receive a text.

This drives my family crazy, but I refuse to be tied to the thing. Especially when certain children text me from school (Aren’t you supposed to be doing something–like school work?) asking me to pick up sundry items while I’m at the grocery store. Really?

Thankfully, God is different. He doesn’t mind being on call 24/7, 60/60. When I call, He always picks up. When I shoot a quick text, His reply may not be immediate, but His attention is. I’m not just some random number. I’m in His contacts.

Are you?

If so, He hears. He knows. From the toddler praying over a boo-boo to the mom praying over an undiagnosed lump, He hears. He cares. He’s picking up, even as we speak.

Talk to Him. His plan includes unlimited texts and minutes, free long distance, and no dead zones.

It’s the family plan, so call.

Questions:

What are your thoughts when a random number appears on your phone versus a name you recognize?

Do you respond differently to the two? Do you think God’s response is different for one of His children versus one who is not a believer yet? (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9)

How about close contacts? Do you have a special ringtone for them? What would God’s ringtone for you sound like?

Does the fact that God’s response is not always immediate affect your belief of whether He is listening?

How can you and your family cultivate the habit of calling God first?

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What’s Your Point?

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My son’s Navy training includes land nav—land navigation. Because I am such a military wanna-be, I’m brushing up on my compass and map skills. To keep from becoming lost, my handy-dandy wilderness survival guide advises me to choose a stationary focal point and use it to plot my course.

Hmmm. Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 17:24–God thought of that one a long time ago:

“A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.”

God applies the principle to character. God is our wisdom, our strong, immovable Rock, and our stationary focal point. He doesn’t change. Not in bad weather, hard times, whatever. When we keep Him in view, we know where we are. Rain may fall. Bees may hover in the next tree and a skunk may lurk in the next bush.

But we are not lost.

And knowing where you stand(literally) is a good thing.

Questions:

What is it like to be lost? Do we even know it at first? Describe the process.

How do you feel when you know where you’re going?

How do we know where we stand? What tells us?

What does God’s Word tell us?

How do challenges or obstacles affect your attitude when you know where you’re going? When you’re lost?

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