A WORD for the Week
Best Friday Ever by Talia Steinhauer
Best Friday Ever. That is what “K’s” shirt read as she walked into the courtroom that Friday morning hand in hand with her foster mom and dad. As she hit the gavel that day wearing a pink tutu, vest, tiara, and her Best Friday Ever shirt, she made official what we had all known in our hearts for the past year and a half—the man and woman who sat on either side of her were not just her foster mom and dad, they were HER mom and dad.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
My sister mentioned after “K’s” adoption that it made her think a lot about our adoption by God. He walked hand in hand with us and declared that He wanted us to be His children. He saw all of our flaws,
but wanted us anyway because of our washing through Jesus. Foster children can come with a lot of baggage from their past life. They’ve seen more than any child should ever see, and their actions are the products of those experiences.
Are we not the exact same? We have a ton of baggage! Who in their right mind would want to call us their children and adopt us knowing all of the terrible things we have done? Our incredibly loving Savior, that’s who.
Thanks to our Savior, we now can say that every Friday is the Best Friday Ever!
“Come as you are” by Erica Koester
A couple years ago, I was sitting in church behind a man who had, just a few months’ prior, broken free from a decades-long addiction. We began to sing “Come as You Are” by Crowder and I was so filled with joy as I considered the significance of these lyrics in this man’s life:
“Oh wanderer come home, you’re not too far. Lay down your hurt, lay down your heart, come as you are.”
This man had walked out of his addiction and straight into the arms of his Savior. God had never left his side. The joy and freedom that overflowed from this man’s heart was such a testament to the redemptive work of God. It will forever be one of my favorite “church stories.
Isn’t it so beautiful that God operates in this way?
Consider the parables of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 1-7) and the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-31). God makes it abundantly clear to us that He rejoices when one of his lost children returns home. And He wants us to rejoice, too!
The man or woman recovering from an addiction is welcomed in God’s house with open arms. The man or woman still struggling with an addiction is welcomed, too. The person with a rough past is welcomed. The pastor who wrestles with a recurring sin is welcomed. The person who wrongly screamed at their spouse on the drive to church is welcomed. All of us, in our sin and brokenness, are welcomed. May we rejoice with Jesus for every single soul that walks through our church doors.
Sin is sin is sin by Diana Kerr
Let’s talk real for a minute. We are often way more concerned about certain sins than others.
I rarely see Christians worked up about the spiritual dangers of overeating, gossip, worry, or excessive spending. However, homosexual attraction? College partying? Living together before marriage? There is loads of judgment doled out in these areas. Sadly, we even get more worked up about things that aren’t sin—how to worship, vote, or raise kids—than we do about some of the “lesser” sins.
I get that it makes sense practically speaking to get more worked up about certain sin than others. But all sin is dangerous. It all separates us and distracts us from our loving, amazing God. The scary thing is that the seemingly less intense sins can cause these results just as easily as the “big” ones because they’re so sneaky. We don’t expect them to cause a rift between us and God, but they can and will.
Jesus warned his disciples, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day [Judgment Day] will close on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
Every time Jesus lists out a sin like worry right along with the classic big, bad sins, I feel uncomfortable. I should. I want to watch myself carefully, own up to the fact that even my “little” sins are a big deal, and then run to Jesus for forgiveness.
Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org
Falling for Satan’s Lies by Janet Gehlhar
It was one of those days when everything overwhelmed and I was having a pity party. I wallowed, feeling so alone. And then I realized that I had fallen for Satan’s lie. Which lie? The lie that I am all alone and even God doesn’t care and won’t help me. Sigh. After a moment I felt a bit of rage that I have fallen for that same lie again. Which led to another lie of Satan . . . you are worthless and stupid. And now I’m in even deeper.
Then I looked up and saw the loving face of Jesus framed on my wall with the passage, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) And the decal on my wall, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) And the eagle picture with the passage . . . “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Take that, Satan!
I have found hope when I read about people in the Bible who share my same struggles. They messed up, repented, God forgave them, and God ALWAYS used their mistakes for their eternal good.
When I read about how Joseph was a bit full of himself and his angry brothers sold him into slavery, was imprisoned unjustly, was forgotten after interpreting dreams, and yet in the end God used him as a high official to save His people from famine, I marvel. (Genesis 37) Just as our loving God took care of Joseph, he’ll take care of me – especially during the times of duress when life looks bleak.
How often I allow myself to be overwhelmed when I need to simply remind myself that God is charge and He has a plan. He doesn’t reveal the whole plan to me at once, but rather unfolds each piece one at a time and on His timetable.
Today I’m focused on trusting God to lead the way – His way.
357. Hot Blood, Cold Heart by Julie Luetke
How long does it take for your blood to boil when talking politics? Shamefully, not long for me. I don’t want to hear anything that disagrees with my opinion. I cannot imagine how anyone can think any view other than mine—surely they have lost their mind to think the way they do. When my blood begins to boil, it turns my heart into ice, even with family. It ruins my entire day. In my mind, I justify my words and beliefs, and plot for just the right comeback, which thankfully God keeps me from voicing. My soul gets no satisfaction.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; (Psalm 51:4a NIV)
I am so frustrated. I don’t want to take this to the Lord in prayer, because I know Jesus will show me my faults in the conversation. He’s done it before. When I seek His wisdom, He will open my eyes to a lack of humility, an unwillingness to listen, and the consideration to
end the conversation before feelings get hurt. He will patiently show my unwillingness to give the same grace He unconditionally gave to me. He shows me that when my blood is boiling, I have chosen anger and hate over love.
In Matthew 24, Jesus includes the decline in civility and faith when describing the End Times. In verses 10 and 12, He warns, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,”
Who am I fooling? I can ‘say’ that the other person, article, newscaster or politician makes my blood boil, but it is my own choice, my personal responsibility. In the face of an opposing political view, I choose to get angry. No one has the power over my feelings but me. When my blood boils it is because I choose to take off Jesus’ white robe of righteousness so it doesn’t get dirty and deliberately jump into the mud of sinful self-righteousness.
Jesus, forgive me! I don’t want a cold heart, ever! Spread your love over me, melt my frozen heart, and help me be an instrument of Your peace.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18, 21 NIV)