A father’s compassion

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

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Overcome evil with good

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Spiritual responsibility as parents

If we believe that the eternal souls of our children hang in the balance, why would we take a casual approach to parenting? If our eyes are fully opened to this awesome assignment, why would we ignore and neglect so great an opportunity? The Good News provides the only satisfactory explanation for why we’re here and where we’re going. When we accept our spiritual responsibility as parents, our entire family is likely to follow our example into eternity: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

Are you the parents of young children or a houseful of teenagers? We understand how difficult it is for you to keep this eternal perspective in mind as you race through your days. We encourage you not to let yourselves become discouraged with the responsibility of parenting. Yes, it is incredibly difficult, and at times you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. But we beg you to stay the course! Get on your knees before the Lord and ask for His strength and wisdom. Finish the job to which He has called you!

There is no more important task in this life.

Just between us…
•Can we be more intentional in introducing our children to Jesus Christ?
•How can we keep eternal priorities foremost in our minds?
•Is there a pressing need we can pray about together tonight?

Lord, nothing will count more in eternity than that we’ve been faithful parents who have helped usher our children into Your presence. Give us strength and wisdom for this task. By Your Spirit, draw our children to You. Amen.

Taking your daily supplements

Like the daily supplements we takes to build up our immune system, the Bible tells us to do the same with God’s Word. Proverbs 7:1 instructs us to “… keep my words and store up my commands within you.”

“My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:1-2

One of the meanings for the word “commands” in the original Hebrew language is “prescription.” Our hearts and minds have messages and thoughts coursing through them that have the potential to harm. These untrue messages are working against us, and we need God’s Word as the healing prescription.

Here are just a few of His prescriptions that bring healing to me:

For low self-worth: Take Psalm 45:11, You are enthralling to Me!

For rejection: You are Mine, two times a day (Song of Solomon 6:3).

A messy life: You are perfect to Me, at breakfast, lunch and dinner (Song of Solomon 4:7).

When we store up God’s commands and truths within us, we can access them quickly to take and combat ailments. He encourages us to not simply apply them like a quick ointment to a wound, but to “keep” His words. Cling to them and be secured by them.

Proverbs 7:2 contains the benefit to keeping God’s words and storing up His commands within us. “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” God promises that as we cling to and are secured by His Word, we will live. He will make us alive – preserve, refresh and rebuild our soul. I love how one of my study Bibles puts it: “Man gains life from God’s words. Life is completely related to the Word of God” (Old Testament Lexical Aid Hebrew-Greek Bible).

Not only does God’s Word heal today, it can prevent future ailments. His truth is our daily supplement, building us up so we can stand strong against those things that come to attack our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Whether you need healing or preventive measures, be intentional today to take God’s Word as your prescription and store it deep within your heart.

Dear Lord, I am making a choice today to take Your prescription; giving my heart and body exactly what I need for my well-being today. Amen.

Dreams for the Future

When you were a kid, did you ever wish you could see into the future? Most kids wonder what will happen to them as the years pass by and they grow older. Where will they go to school? Will they go to college? What about a career? Will they get married and have a family?
This kind of thinking doesn’t end when a person reaches adulthood. Singles wonder whether there’s a spouse for them out there somewhere. Parents dream about what their kids will grow up to be. College freshmen wonder about their eventual career path; older workers prepare for—or worry about—their retirement years.
Human nature compels us to look ahead with wonder. Dreams of the future make the drudgery of work today worthwhile. Anticipation of future events gets us up in the morning and forces us to plan for tomorrow. It’s what separates a man from his best friend, his dog.
The Israelites in today’s story were no different from us today. Faced with an uncertain future and an immediate need for food and water, they started grumbling. While they’d labored hard during their years of slavery, at least in Egypt they’d always had plenty of food and water. Now here they were, out in the desert, and they and their kids were hungry and thirsty. Put yourself in their place, and try to look at the situation from their perspective. Chances are you’d have had a few pointed questions for Moses as well.
God heard them, and responded by promising to provide for them. Those of us who attended Sunday school know the story well—each morning, flakes of bread appeared on the ground; in the evening, quail covered the camp. But they couldn’t hoard what they gathered, and they couldn’t store it. Moses instructed the Israelites to gather only what they needed for the day—no more, no less. Tough to do when you’re thinking about what the kids will eat for breakfast!
Why was limiting what they gathered important to God? Because the Israelites needed to understand what we all need to learn—that we can sustain a relationship with God only in the present.
Our past is nothing more than the story of how we got to where we are, and dwelling on it causes us to become stagnant and unsatisfied. We can’t find God by worrying or dreaming about the future, either, because that just makes us want to control whatever lies ahead.
Yes, we have concerns and hopes and dreams for the future. But this story tells us that we can live out our relationship with God only in the here and now. God longs for us to trust him every hour and every minute of today.

Exodus 16:11–21
Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 8:16–18; Matthew 6:31–34; John 6:48–51

Damaged Goods

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

I walked down the aisle of the discount grocery looking for a bargain. It’s always hit and miss in this store … and I had missed … again.
Before giving up and accepting defeat, I passed by a bin that caught my eye. The sign read: “Damaged Goods.” It was filled with dented cans and missing labels … no real rhyme or reason, just random items that were not shelf worthy. I knew just how that felt.

Life sometimes delivers the unexpected. Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks bruise us, dent us and remove the label that we believe defines who we are. A miscarriage strips away the title of mother. A divorce takes away the role of husband or wife. A pink slip eliminates our role of employee.

We can feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on the shelf. With enough dents and damage, we can believe the lie that we are first-class failures and all hope is gone.

I have been damaged. We all have to some degree. I am not living the life that I dreamed about when I was a kid. However, the damage that I have suffered has made the contents of my heart so much sweeter, so much more compassionate, so much more in pursuit of Jesus. I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my labels missing and slapped on their own.

I’ve wanted to say, “Don’t judge too quickly. My damage has not defined me. It is refining me.” I may sometimes be at the bottom of life’s bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as He did for those that are proudly displayed on the top shelf. In fact, Psalm 34:18 reassures me that He is near to those who are crushed and broken. What a relief that is!

Dear Lord, my life hasn’t turned out exactly like I thought it would. But, I know You can still use me. Please forgive me for labeling others and judging them by their outside circumstances instead of the work that You are doing in their hearts. Help me realize that we all have dents but that’s what keeps us desperate for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Careful what you say.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Ephesians 4:29 tells us to be careful to only say things that are useful for building others up. While this applies to everyone in our lives, if we are married, it’s especially vital to practice with our partners.

Fearing the LORD

Proverbs 1:7
The phrase “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of … knowledge” (Pr 1:7) is the cornerstone of Proverbs. Fear is actually another word for reverence or worship, suggesting that wisdom begins when we properly acknowledge who God is and offer him the worship he deserves. It reminds us that life’s true significance is discovered when we approach God with an attitude of humility and awe, not dread and fright.
The remainder of Proverbs explains how we can fear God in our daily lives. Whether the topic is wealth, work or marriage, we are called to give God the honor due him by obeying his will in each of these areas. A wise person will humbly seek God’s perspective on a matter before acting, but the fool will throw caution to the wind and act on his or her own impulses. What’s the result of ignoring God and doing it our way? “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Pr 14:12).
But the person who fears God, who daily worships and honors him, has nothing to fear in either life or death.

Also see Pr 9:10; Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10.