Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
“I’m probably never going to live here again.” Those were the words of our youngest son, Bret, before he left for college this week. He’s twenty-two and still has over fifty hours of school to complete in order to graduate. That means he will stay on campus next summer, and probably the following fall to get his requirements completed. After that, he hopes to walk straight into employment overseas.
His words keep replaying in my mind. Could it be that our season of child rearing is over?
It seems like yesterday when Bret entered the world, a month before his due date. As a small group of friends gathered to celebrate his birth, our preemie emerged, weighing seven pounds, eight ounces. However, he didn’t cry like most babies do at birth. Instead, he bleated like a lamb and quickly turning grey. As it turned out, his lungs were not completely developed so they whisked him off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Bret was in NICU for nine days, hooked up to an oxygen halo. I remember how difficult it was for me emotionally. I desperately wanted to hold my newborn but it was a few days before I was allowed to do that. He had to remain connected to the oxygen because his lungs needed to mature. One of the nurses said, “You’re going to have your hands full with this one.” I asked why she thought that. She said, “Bret doesn’t like the oxygen halo and keeps trying to remove it on his own.” Her words turned out to be prophetic.
Bret is an independent thinker, often pushes the limit, and wears his hair long. At 6’5”, he stands out in a crowd. However, I still love him, even though we do not always see eye-to-eye.
And here’s the truth for all parents. Just because our children are out of the house doesn’t mean we’re completely done with parenting.
One of the most important thing we can do as moms and dads is to pray specific prayers over our children daily. Bret was brought up in the church, but there are many opposing influences in the world that want to take him down. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It is only through intercessory prayer that we can battle the enemy that wants to hold our children hostage.
I am a believer in the old proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). It does not say that he will never drift from the faith. It means that one day, he will come back to it.
And that is my hope. My son may not ever return home to live, but I pray daily that he will come back to the rock that I stand on, the one that has given my life meaning for so many years, Jesus Christ.
Our job as a parent is never done.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Do you remember that saying? It was popular when I was growing up, but it seems today’s society has forgotten to concentrate on the good in people, rather than the bad.
I am tired of the scathing anti-Trump messages I see on Facebook or receive through email, as well as venomous attacks on anyone who supports the President. It’s apparent that many believers are forgetting numerous biblical truths in their lives like:
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1).
Like them or not, the elected officials are God’s people and the Creator of the Universe is going to use them to accomplish His purposes.
Dear brothers and sisters, the LORD is vehemently against hatred and discord. In Galatians 5, these two characteristics are listed alongside sexual immorality, idolatry and witchcraft as “act of the flesh.”
Do we believe the Bible, or don’t we?
And as other parts of the world watch our country’s ever-widening chasm, instead of strength and unity, we project weakness. Is that the image we want to demonstrate? Close friends now divided because of political differences? Political protests. Talk show hosts using their platforms to not just poke fun at, but to make vicious attacks on the country’s highest office? Mark 3:24 warns, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
So let’s go back to respecting each other’s political beliefs. Let’s honors those in authority, even if we don’t agree with their ways. Let’s return to patriotism for a country that was founded on God’s principles and established so that we might have freedom.
Let’s do politics God’s way.
Have you ever had a situation that did not turn out exactly the way you dreamed it would be? Were you able to trust God in the midst of this variation from your plan?
I prayed daily and dreamed that my book, The Only Father I Ever Knew, would be traditionally published. I desired to place it in the hands of countless women and men who have father wounds, so they will discover the Father of all fathers, the one who has His eye on them at all times—the God who loves them with a unfailing love. It turned out that I didn’t have a large enough network to support traditional publishing. It is an understatement to say I am disappointed.
So today, as I prepare to “self” publish The Only Father I Ever Knew, I am trusting my heavenly Father with this book. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times.”
That means we must trust when things don’t go according to our expectations.
We have to trust when the medical diagnosis is scary, when the money is tight,
and when we don’t see an end to a difficult situation.
What I’ve found is that when I trust God in every situation, peace is a natural byproduct of that trust. I don’t get anxious. I don’t worry. I figure that God has a better, and more intricate plan than I could ever fathom.
So with The Only Father I Ever Knew nearing release, I am trusting my Father to bless this book, written for Him and about Him. He is the ultimate marketer and opener of divine doors. I want to thank Him publicly, in advance, for His holy book launch in the days to come.
Heavenly Father, you are trustworthy.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
My legs felt like they had heavy weights strapped to the ankles as I lumbered up the stairs to class. It was the second semester of my first year of seminary and I was dead tired. Juggling school, a full-time job, and two young children during the first semester turned out to be too much for me. To top it off, my husband worked out-of-town during the week, so I was like a single parent Tuesday-Friday.
I prayed silently, Lord, if you want me to continue in seminary, please restore my joy because I don’t have it anymore.
As I walked through the door of the classroom, God supernaturally answered my prayer. I felt something like a gust of wind jettison through me from head to toe and I immediately felt joy again. When I saw the professor, I playfully bopped him on the head with my notebook. He turned a bright shade of red and laughter filled the room. (I regret doing that to this day but I couldn’t contain my joy!) When I looked at the faces of my classmates, I was overjoyed to see them again and felt giddy as I sat at my desk.
How could I go from one state of mind to the next—in a split second?
It could only be the work of the Holy Spirit. My joy had been renewed. John 16:24 says, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
Are you lacking joy today?
Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22). That means we have access to joy at all times because the Holy Spirit resides in us 24/7. When we’re feeling down, do we request joy, or do we settle for a demeanor that is short of upbeat?
God can, and will renew our joy if we ask him to do so.
We also need to remember the most joyful thought of all. Our heavenly Father loved us so much that through his Son’s sacrifice, we will spend eternity with him. No matter what we are going through, that should cause us to smile. Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Peter also talked about this concept in 1 Peter 1:8 when he said that through believing in Jesus Christ, we are filled with an “inexpressible and glorious joy” as a result of the salvation of our souls.
If you’re feeling sad today, claim the joy Scriptures over your life. There are many. Also ask God to renew your joy through the Holy Spirit. We shouldn’t dwell in sadness. Joy is there for the taking.
Have you ever taken one of those StrengthsFinder tests? What was your #1 strength? Mine was “futuristic.” This “strength” is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it makes me a vision caster and a pretty good event planner. The curse is that I analyze everything and consider the “what ifs” more than I should. I find it difficult to live in the moment and “abide” as the Bible talks about in John 15. So for me, renewing my mind is a discipline. It is a constant battle to focus on “today” rather than “tomorrow.”
Does your mind need to be renewed?
Do you think negatively?
Do you worry constantly?
Are you angry too often?
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
God sees mind renewal as a holy, pleasing sacrifice. A sacrifice means it’s against our human nature and not easy to turn our thinking around, but If we do it, we will better understand God’s purpose for our life.
So how do we renew our minds?
We must focus our thinking on God’s truth, found in His word.
The MacArthur Bible Commentary says, “This kind of transformation can occur only as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation on Scripture. The renewed mind is one saturated with and controlled by the Word of God.”
We must humble ourselves and pray to see situations as God sees them.
What is running through our minds may not be a thought from above. In 1 Corinthians 3:19 it says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” Are you willing to allow God to renew your mind so you can see things His way, to be wise in His eyes, not your own?
Renew our minds can prevent the wrong words from spewing out of our mouths.
The mind and the heart are often interchangeable in the Bible. What we are thinking in our minds may emerge as hurtful words. Like garbage, we must throw out the corruption that begins in our minds and submit to the renewal found in Christ Jesus. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:8–9).
Today, consider doing a self-examination. Ask God to expose any ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ that exists in your mind, and then submit yourself to His renewal. If you do, you will have more peace and will also have a much clearer picture of your life as God sees it.