July 15: Significance of Life

Read Genesis 1:26; Psalm 139:14-16

Life

Playing the game of Life is a lot of fun! I pick my course and control many decisions to make my life better and add to the value of my final destination. Those that play with me are seen as “in the way” or obstacles to my goal.

This is a game, but we may use the same approach in our own lives. Do we see others that same way that God sees them? Every season of each life matters! Our assessment of the productivity and value of life, if different from God’s view, can kill or diminish the view I should have of life.

Genesis 1:26 reminds us that each person is created in the image of the Creator. He has intentionally and purposefully created each one. Let’s take a look at how He views us.

Precious

Loved

Valued

Psalm 139:14 is an important statement about our value to Him. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! The actual word “fear” used here means “awesome” and “revered!” Worshiping the Creator is a great response to life is to this amazing reality. We need to respond as David did! “Thank you God, you made me fearfully and wonderfully! What you made is awesome!” Verses 15-16 allow us to see what was happening as we were formed. Our Creator, was weaving and planning for each of us! He was giving you and me all of our features! He was planning the days of our lives.

He is part of each moment and breath of our existence! We have a moment-by-moment choice to respond as He views our life or as we view it. Don’t try to roll the dice and be in charge. See how He values you and then in turn value others the same!

Choose to worship and follow His path to see your life as precious, loved and valued!

cak

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July 14: Prioritize Forgiveness

Read Genesis 37:18-28 and Genesis 45:2-8

After reading todays passage, I certainly gained a new perspective on what it means to have a crazy family. While my family may be just as dysfunctional as anybody else’s, it seems pretty hard to top Joseph’s. I mean it isn’t every day that your brothers plot to kill you, kidnap you, tie you up, and sell you into slavery… right? While our situations might not be as extreme as Joseph’s, our relatives can still be a great source of pain in our lives.

Growing up in a home without a father, I can empathize with the pain so many are subject to when it comes to “parent problems.” In a world where nearly one in two marriages end up in divorce, and one in three American children grow up without a father in their lives, it is no wonder so many in our culture today struggle with their relationship with their parents. This is a very real pain in the hearts of many, often times becoming a major point of emotional stress.

Joseph certainly had a fair deal of family related trauma he carried. Honestly, it’s unimaginable for me to think about being sold into slavery by your own family. Yet, despite this audacious action by his brothers, notice how Joseph responds when he reunites with them many years later. First, he weeps. Those who have been a major point of pain in his life are standing before him! Surely, that must be an emotional experience. But then he does the unthinkable. Joseph forgives them.

“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Genesis 45:4-5

Do you see Christ in this picture? Joseph’s brothers had committed an unthinkable offense against him, and he forgives them. Much like how you and I have committed unthinkable offenses against God, and He sent his son to die on a cross so we could be forgiven. I’m not going to pretend to know your story, or the pain you might have at the hands of your family or parents. But I do know there is freedom found in forgiveness. Have you forgiven those in your life who have hurt you?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

-TAB

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July 13: Wait, I’m supposed to hate my parents?

Hate is a strong word.  We’ve heard it a lot in the news the last few years.  No matter what side you’re on or what the issue is, hate is heavy.  I think we can all agree that it is a negative word.  When I was a kid, it was a strong and heavy word in our house and it wasn’t to be used flippantly.  I remember being corrected when I said I hated a toy or a type of food.  “We don’t hate.”  But never were the reprimands more serious than when the “h” word was used in reference to a person.  That was just plain wrong.  Most would tend to agree right?
However, in this passage, it seems that Jesus is telling us that we have to hate in order to follow him.  Wait… what?!!!!  This does not compute!  And hate our “father and mother” no less.  At face value, this seems contradictory at best.  BUT we know that our Lord commands us to love and He does not contradict Himself.  So, what is He REALLY saying here?
Well, as we read on in the passage, we see that Jesus is talking about counting the cost of following him.  In fact, Jesus doesn’t just refer to our father and mother, but also our brothers and sisters and even our own lives!  He says everyone who follows him has to “carry his cross”.  We also see this principle of cost in the form of 2 metaphors (Jesus loves those).  One is a builder counting the cost of what he’s going to need to finish the project while the other is of a king preparing to go to battle and making sure he’s got what it will take to win.  In both scenarios, NOTHING would be withheld at the expense of the completed building or the victory.
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  Jesus isn’t commanding us not to love our families… or even ourselves for that matter.  He IS saying that we can’t love ANYTHING more than HIM. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus… even our most loved family members.  But here’s the cool thing…
If you truly give up everything to follow Jesus, He will empower you to love your family and loved ones even better than you could’ve on your own!  
 
So, here’s the question for today:  What are you loving more than Jesus?  What are you unwilling to sacrifice for the sake of your relationship with Him?  Ask Him to reveal that to your heart and surrender it today!
Matt Carter
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July 12: Honor Parents While Leaving

Read Genesis 2:18-25

This week we learned about the commandment to honor our parents, but how does that look after a person gets married? How should a couple properly honor their parents when scripture says they should leave their father and mother?

To describe this challenge, let me illustrate with this: I love to weld – there is something amazing about taking two different pieces of steel, positioning them just like I want them and making something new. After the process is complete, it is hard to remember the new creation ever being two individual pieces. There are occasions that I change my mind and decide to remove the two pieces, if my weld was good, the two pieces of steel are both severely damaged as I cut the weld apart as they truly have become one piece. That is an accurate picture of marriage, the new union is meant to last the course of time and never to be broken apart.

As we read Genesis 2:24, we learn that a new couple is to do 3 things: leave, cleave and become one flesh. As we read these verses, it is important to understand that the parental authority relationship is a temporary one, whereas the marital relationship is permanent and “welded together” for a lifetime (see Matthew 19:6).

So here is the challenge, when a couple has successfully “left mom and dad,” how do they honor them?

Scripture is very clear about caring for our parents later in life, especially if one of them has passed away. We read these words in 1 Timothy 5:4  “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”

Aside from the honor of caring for our parents later in life, there are many ways to honor them while still abiding by the “leave” principle in Gen 2:24. How about these: Advice (I love when my son asks my advice on something…I feel honored by that). Other acts that might bring honor are timely visits, calls, cards, mowing their lawn or tending to a flower bed.

In God’s wisdom, He has commanded us to honor our parents… it is up to each of us to honor them the best way we know how.

 

RM

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July 11: Seeking Parental Wisdom

Read Job 12:12 and Proverbs 20:29

This week, we are digging a little deeper into the commandment to honor our father and mother. As you have seen and will continue to see, this commandment looks a little different depending on your stage of life.

Throughout my life, one of the dearest relationships has always been with my parents. I have told them before that if it wasn’t culturally frowned upon, I would still be living in their basement. My mom is one the most joyous, caring, loving and godly women that anyone will ever have the pleasure to know. She is a fierce prayer warrior and never shies away from telling people about how awesome Jesus is. My dad, quite simply, is my hero. Alongside Jesus, I am who I am today because of him. He is driven but caring, relentlessly pursuing perfection but sarcastic at the same time. I model my life and my manhood after my dad.

Over the last couple of years, my relationship has changed with them. I am no longer living with them, but with my wife and child. I am no longer directly under their authority; I am building and leading a family of my own. Although my relationship with them looks a little different, one thing that will forever stay the same: my willingness to seek their wisdom .

Among other passages in the Bible, Job 12:12 and Proverbs 20:29 speak to the value of seeking wisdom from those older than us. Our elders shouldn’t be people that we grow to resent, as is common in the world we live in today, but cherished allies.

We are foolish if we tell ourselves that we have it all figured out and don’t need anyone to coach us along. What if, when you moved out from your parent’s house, you still chose to heed their wisdom? This doesn’t mean that you need to blindly follow what they say because they said it. However, it is wise to listen to what they say and compare it to your own thoughts and opinions. Whether we like it or not, our parents are intelligent. They know what they’re talking about. Why not still care what they have to say?

This isn’t just something that’s a good idea, it’s a Biblical commandment. Why not give their thoughts and opinions the time of day? You may find yourself surprised!

JL

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July 10: Honor Parents Who Need Help

Read 1 Timothy 5:1-16

What does conduct in the church look like? What kind of leaders and servants should a church have? How do people in the church relate to one another? Those are the kinds of questions that Paul is answering in this first letter to his dear friend Timothy (3:15). In doing so, the fifth chapter of this book also gives you insight into how you are to respond to the fifth commandment to “honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12).

As a background to Paul’s thoughts, you should note that caring for widows is close to the heart of God (Deut. 14:28, 29; Js. 1:27). Thankfully, that kind of care was also important to the early church. Just a short time after the birth of the first church in Jerusalem, you can read about the concern they demonstrated as they offered food to widows on a daily basis (Acts 6:1-6). That kind of widow care apparently continued beyond that place and beyond that point in time. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives clarity for this ministry of the church in Ephesus.

While the apostle gives a fairly detailed list of qualifications for receiving help, that is beyond the scope of our intentions here. Key for us to recognize is the priority that the Scriptures ascribe to family members in providing care for a widow. Here is the clear teaching:

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” (v. 4)

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (v. 8)

“If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” (v. 16)

The point is clear. God has designed the family to be first in the line of care providers for other members of their family. Demonstrating this care is both a means of saying “thank you” to the generation ahead of us and a proving ground for our faith.

Are there family members (parents and grandparents especially) that you need to honor in this way?

sbk

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July 9: Honoring Parents as an Adult

Read Matthew 15: 1-9 

“God clearly says, Respect your father and mother.” (v.4)

In his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, Rick Warren writes, “You are not an accident…Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not unplanned by God.” To honor, love and respect your parents is something Jesus emphasizes. It is an attitude and action that we can strive for every day, whether our parents are with us or not. They are special people, unlike any others. Let’s value, love, forgive and cherish them. They are not perfect. Nobody is. Except one guy, named Jesus Christ. And he said to respect your parents.

The poem by Russell Kelfer sums it up:

You are who you are for a reason,

You’re part of an intricate plan.

You’re a precious & perfect unique design,

Called God’s special woman or man.

You look like you for a reason.

Our God made no mistake.

He knit you together within the womb,

You’re just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were what he chose,

And no matter how you may feel,

They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,

And they bear the Master’s seal.

We all have various experiences, of course. People become parents usually in their 20’s or 30’s when they bring their baby home from the obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) hospital wing. There is no job description. They have their own parents as role models, but they make mistakes. Love them anyway. Parenting might be the most difficult job on planet Earth. It may not be easy to provide a home for their child, to protect and maintain their child and to choose and provide for their child’s education. This job continues through childhood, adulthood and until death. Honor your parents, or your parents’ memory, and recognize the challenging job of parenting that they took on when you were born.

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1

Rick Johnson’s book “10 Things Great Dads Do: Strategies for Raising Great Kids” is a book to give to a new (or older) father. Also, “The Parenting Book” by Nicky and Sila Lee, is a book to give to a mother or father.

Tom Weckesser

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