I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded in you also.
II Timothy 1:5
Two little boys once pressed their bare feet into the soft cement of a freshly paved street and ran away leaving deep footprints. A few days later, after the cement had hardened, a circus parade complete with elephants marched down the same street, Not one of the elephants even left a dent in the pavement. Two little fifty pound boys left impressions in soft cement. Tons of elephants couldn’t make an impression once the cement had hardened. And what is true of cement is true of hearts and minds. They are soft and impressionable when they are young-much harder to mark at a later age.
My grandmother was truly a woman who loved God. She passed the love and faith to my mother. My mother has lived her life as a testimony to all of her children. Now we, her two daughters and two sons, are committed to passing the faith on to another generation. My mother is praying for each of her children daily as we strive to create an atmosphere of love, faith, and prayer in our homes.
Thought: I will reach out today to make godly imprints on those whose hearts and minds are still soft enough to be impressionable.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
My grandfather was ninety-three when she died. Her husband and three sons had gone before her, but she had never lost her radiant faith in God. She died on her couch with her well-worn Bible open on her lap.
The only real certainty in life is death. There is no question that we will die; the only question is how long we’ll live. And God has not promised us long life, but He has provided a way for us to meet death and face eternal life.
It always amazes me that a certainty like death is so overlooked by so many. People fall into denial even in the face of certain death. Some who have been diagnosed with fatal diseases will vehemently maintain there is nothing wrong with them.
Physical death seems so final, so frightening. For a non-Christian, death spells the end of any joyful experiences, of hope, the entrance into everlasting darkness. For the Christian, however, death is only the beginning-the beginning of an eternity we can’t begin to comprehend, the entrance into everlasting life.
Thought: I will bravely reflect today on my own inevitable death, looking to Christ’s death and resurrection and His promise of eternal life.
In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
II Corinthians 11:23
Do your problems cause you to lose your religion or use your religion?
Joseph, in the book of Genesis, had plenty of reason to despair and lose his faith. His eleven brothers were jealous of him, and so they sold him into slavery. And that is the good news; they originally had planned to kill him! While a slave, Joseph experienced seduction and slander. Because he wouldn’t succumb to the romantic overtures of his master’s wife, he was framed and thrown into prison. While in prison he helped free two men who were about to lose their heads. One of them promised to help Joseph once he himself was released.
Through it all, Joseph never lost sight of God’s sovereignty. His basic belief was that God can turn other people’s cruelty into good. This belief kept Joseph going. He coveted God’s blessing on his life more than he desired immediate gratification. Because of this belief, Joseph did his best wherever he was. As a slave and as a prisoner, the quality of his relationship with God positively affected the quality of his work. And when troubles struck, Joseph used his religion. His faith in God anchored him for all the storms life would throw at him.
Prayer: Lord, help me view my problems as an opportunity for strengthening my faith in You.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.
When I sit down for dinner, I often think of all the hands it tookj to bring the meal to the table. Farmers had to carefully plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops. They sold the food to the manufactures, who processed and packaged it. Store personnel placed it on shelves and ran it through checkout lines. I bought many foods and mixed them together to get to the final step of a meal for my family.
Many different people also helped me to be what I am spiritually today. I became a Christian through a televised Billy Graham crusade when I was ten years old. I think of the Sunday School teachers who helped lay the foundations of my faith and the youth leaders who tirelessly worked with me when I was going through those “teen years,” I think of my Bible-study leaders and pastors who have ministered to me so faithfully during my adult life.
What am I doing to give back a portion of what has been given to me? Hundreds of people with many different talents have helped me grow spiritually. I want to use my own gifts to help others grow.
Thought: I am only one, but I am one who can choose to give back a little of what has been given to me.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His People ; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
A beggar agreed to let an artist paint his picture. A few hours later, he was staring in astonishment at the finished canvas. “Who’s that?” he asked, for before him was a portrait of a tall, dignified gentleman. “That’s the you I see.” the artist replied quietly. “Then,” responded the beggar, “that’s the me I’ll be.”
Jesus sees each of us not as the sinner we indeed are, but as the saint we will one day be. We need to learn to see ourselves that way, too. This doesn’t mean we are never to experience negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves. Negative thoughts may indicate that we are aware of our limitations and may motivate us to change. But by constantly putting ourselves down, we choose the pathway to withdrawal. We hide behind the smokescreen of inferior feelings rather facing the truth about ourselves.
A positive view of myself, based on an awareness of both my strengths and my limitations, is the result of seeing myself as God sees me. He knows I am deeply fallen, but He felt I was significant enough to send His only Son to die for me. God loves me greatly. God loves you!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord for looking at both my weaknesses and my strengths with loving accepting eyes.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life.
II Peter 1:2,3
If mechanical ability is a gift, I guess I didn’t get it. I do know if a machine has a plug, it must be inserted in a socket before the machine will work. I have also grasped that there is an “on and off” switch. Beyond that I usually need to read the directions. But some Christians don’t even get to the point of plugging in the plug or turning on the switch. They often try to live their lives without Christ’s power-and end up missing out on His grace and peace. If we interpret our past without calling on His power to heal our wounds, we will continually be turned off.
You may have had parents or significant others who constantly gave the message,”You are not good enough!” You may have had parents who pretended like you didn’t exist or acted as if you didn’t matter. You may have holes in your soul from your past. But Christ offers you the power to break free of all of your past if you will just “plug in” to Him. There will be plenty of work for you to do, and Christ will use other people to help you. But he will be the underlying Power Source, causing “grace and peace” to be multiplied to you.
Thought: I will plug into my Higher Power-Jesus Christ-today, so I can heal the pain of my past.
Give us this day our daily bread.
We have three clear choices as we live our lives. We can look back, look forward, or live in the present.
Continually looking back can cause us to stumble. Whether our past is filled with failure or success, continually dwelling on it will not help us today. We can learn from it , but we shouldn’t live in it.
Living for the future can bring problems too.It’s good to look ahead, to plan better ways of facing future challenges of life. But focusing only on tomorrow can either paralyze us with fear or distract us with pipedreams.
The best way to stay on the journey is to choose each day to live a balanced , healthy life. We pray for God to “give us this day, our daily bread.” We also to need to pray for God to give us daily help for our emotional and spiritual needs. We can avoid failing into depression or despair by focusing on present possibilities instead of future problems or past failures.
Thought: I choose today to learn from my past and hope in my future, but focus on living on a balanced, meaningful life with loving relationships.
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.
I Peter 3:8
Where does a mother go when she needs some nurturing? Until recently, men have not been taught to nor expected to nurture their wives-and many still find it difficult. Children are children; they can’t be expected to meet their mother’s needs. So, where does a mother go for nurturing? On the human level, mothers need to go to other mothers. Who else understands so completely what it’s like to be exhausted because because your entire family has had the flu for a week? Who better can relate to the mortification you suffer when your children throw temper tantrums in the store? Who else understands the feeling of helplessness when you can no longer kiss your child’s hurt away-or the pride-you feel when your child stands on her own two feet.
Mothers share the experience of being women at a turning point in history. We also share the awesome opportunity of loving our children, of being responsible to them but not for them. What a shame if women who have this much in common didn’t get to know one another.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of friendship. Without friends, life would be like a garden with no flowers.
…God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
In history, God has acted in the role of both parent and lover. Both of those roles are involved in the relationships God seeks to develop with us.
Babies depend totally on their parents for every need. They would die if the parents didn’t feed and care for them. And God wants us to depend on Him for what we need. But what is the goal of the parent? It is to teach independence so the children will develop self-confidence to go out into the world. And God wants us to grow and mature as well. Lovers have the freedom to be independent of each other, however, they choose to serve their partners. Their relationship is one of frequent giving. A healthy love relationship is one in which giving is done not out of obligation, but out of respect and love for the other person. God wants our love for Him to be given freely-not out of obligation but out of a sincere desire to love and serve Him.
Thought: If I feel “chastened” or lovingly prodded by God today, I will respond by realizing that it is for my own maturity rather than by getting angry at God for not letting me stay a spiritual infant.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Kimberly loves to weave. As she works she delights in the textures and hues of the wool. Annette plays the piano beautifully. She feels the music. Karen is an expert at decorating with wallpaper. June derives deep satisfaction from resolving tricky dilemmas in her job. Jan delights in working with clay. And all find joy in their creativity.
Creativity is part of the image of God within you, demonstrated in ways that are unique and wonderful. I don’t believe it is the same as originality. Rather, I see creativity as a way of breathing new life into tasks you’ve had to do hundreds of times before. Greeting your husband and kids in an unexpected way-a way that brings joy and delight. Reading a story to a child in a voice you’ve never used before. Living life with flair-tasting it, touching it, smelling it, really seeing it.
Creativity comes to us through our Creator God. As we lose ourselves in His love, our limited interpretations and narrow focus are replaced by love, energy and light. When that happens, everything around us-our families, homes, jobs, ministries-takes on a new hue.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for creativity. Give me the eyes to see myself, others, my responsibilities, and my world through your love and creativity.