Devotions

When Things Spoil

Leftovers | Devotion #1: When Things Spoil
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

“Do you think this is bad?” my wife said to me as I started to watch the first inning of the Tigers’ game. She was prepping lunches for the week and had some left-over chicken from a previous lunch. “Give it the smell test!” I exclaimed. “I’m not smelling this; you smell it.” I reluctantly got up from my comfortable spot on the couch, walked over to the fridge, and cracked the lid. “Yep, it’s bad!”

When food spoils, it smells really bad. You know it, I know it. When family relationships spoil though, it is not so easily detectable. There is this feeling of awkwardness, all of the time. There is a sense of obligation because after all, they are family. There is sensitivity that develops into bitterness. That bitterness develops into anger and hate. Then that hate develops into malice! Before you know it, you actually wish bad on the people you are supposed to love the most. When is enough, enough? When do you cut the cord?

The answer to those questions is never! Need I remind you of two principles found in God’s Word. First, nothing anyone has done to you is worse than what you did to God, and God forgave you.

Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” 

You cannot miss the word “must” in verse 13. We do not have another option besides forgiveness. Why? It is because the Lord has forgiven you. Second, no matter how many times someone offends you, you still find it in your heart to forgive them.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”

You should read the parable after these verses. It is pretty incredible. Here is the point: Enough is never enough when it comes to forgiveness. God also gave you common sense for a reason. If a family relationship has spoiled to the point of continual emotional, psychological, or physical abuse, maybe it is time to distance yourself from that family member. Forgive them, but remove that sin from your life. Pray to God for opportunities to fix it and wait patiently. Pray that God humbles them and brings them back to you. Always be eager to receive them back.

Team Effort

Doing the Dishes | Devotion #6: Team Effort
Danielle Hardenburg

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV) 

I love to cook for my family. I love just being in a kitchen. I find myself loitering at my counter looking for something to make all the time. I enjoy making my family’s favorite dishes and surprising them randomly, but my favorite is making desserts. I like eating them too, but that is another story. We grew up eating as a family around the table almost daily if time, sports, and clubs allowed it. Now, as a mom, my family does the same: however, the cleanup duty has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. Growing up we had two dishwashers, and that was my sister and me (She has never gotten over the fact that while I was in high school our parents bought an actual “real” dishwasher. My life was so much easier than hers). My children think that washing the dishes means tossing a Cascade Pac into the box and pushing a button. Sometimes they assume since the door is closed that it is fused shut forever and the sink is the dumping ground for all. Because I have three growing boys and the dishes are relentless, they now have acquired some larger cleanup chores.  

The first time I enlisted my oldest to hand wash the cooking pans, he asked, “Do I really have to put my hands in the water? That is gross.” After the laughter and suck it up speech, I was able to explain how awesome it would be to have help so we could move onto something fun as a family much faster than if I did it all myself. 

My kids are natural helpers, nonetheless, dishes had been something that I always did on my own. Changing that expectation in my house has blessed us in so many ways. Basically, since that day, my oldest takes to helping a bit easier because he saw how quickly we could get things cleaned up working together as a team. He often also models that example to my younger boys who are more inclined to whack things out so we can move onto something more enjoyable for all of us. They still would rather dry than wash any day of the week, but it has made our “work” time shorter and our family time sweeter. 

Chores do not only help lighten the load on everyone else, but it also helps us prepare our children for when they begin to live on their own. Not only can we train them for the future, but we can also create teachable moments.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Playing Together

Doing the Dishes | Devotion #5: Playing Together
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

This has been a truly exhausting week. I am spent both mentally and physically. My family has endured one of the most shocking experiences of which we can think. It was not a death or illness, but the fall of a man we all love and respected. As I researched what the Bible had to say about playing together and spending time together, I learned that it does not say a lot. It speaks of unity and supporting one another. Both of these are incredibly important.

The idea of playing together, or rather just being together having fun and laughing together is of the utmost importance. Many times this week, my wife and I sat in our home, pondering and processing the weight of this terrible thing called sin. Then my boys, having no idea yet what was going on in our heads, would pop their head out of their bedroom for a moment or a few and just come talk. They might come out and share a meme, and we would all laugh. The helped me through this week more than they will ever really understand. Even after a long Sunday of talking to both students and adults, my family provided me the comfort and distraction we all needed at that moment.

Parents, play with your kids when they are young. These are the times and experiences they will remember and cherish. Spend time with your kids as you age. You will help each other and honor the Lord when you do this. Lean on each other and support each other. You are helping one another in ways you might not know.

We are instructed to live in brotherly love over and over again in Scripture. Psalm chapter 133 tells us this, even though it is only three verses long. Verse 1 tells us, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

God uses the family as a picture of what the church is supposed to look like. Let us take time to think about how our families honor God in that picture. Love each other and live together well. Enjoy each other with the same zeal that Jesus calls us.

Gathering Together

Doing the Dishes | Devotion #4: Gathering Together
James Clouse

One of the things that our family enjoys doing is hopping in the car and going for a car ride. Most of the time, it is nowhere in particular. Sometimes we will just get in the car, pick a direction, and start driving. We have found some really interesting places in our family drives. We have run into some amazing flea markets, thrift stores, some hole in the wall diners, and even some small city festivals such as the Bean Festival. On those nice summer days, we will drive rocking out to some classic rock or top Christian artists with the windows down. I enjoy this time with my family because I am getting time to gather with them, worship together, talk together, and enjoy time with each other. We talk about everything from time with the church, school, our future, and many more things. 

God’s Word has a lot to say about gathering together and doing things together as a family. One passage, in particular, came to mind when I was thinking about my time together with my family.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Anytime we are spending time together and gathering together with our family; we should be focusing on this passage. Every time that we sit down with our family, when we sit in our house, when we are going for a walk, when you are putting our children to bed, and when we wake up, we should be reminding our family of our need to love God with all of our hearts. Have talks about events in life and how God can use those events to grow in the Lord. Use every opportunity you have to talk about His love for us. 

One of the things I have started doing with Lorelai, our daughter, is having her come to a gathering with us every Sunday morning. She goes to one of the children’s gathering and then comes into one of the church gatherings. This time is not only for her to learn but for us to spend time learning as a family. This time we get to worship together, learn together, and have things to talk about after the gathering. Encourage your family to be attending gatherings together to not only grow as a family but to grow in the church. 

This week go for a drive. If you do not have time for that, I encourage you to listen to a sermon together, do a devotional together, or maybe even go for a walk and talk about God’s love.

Serving Together

Doing the Dishes | Devotion #3: Serving Together
Jake Blaska

When I was sixteen years old, my parents told my siblings and me that we were going over to our relatives to help them get “situated” in their new home (It is funny how my Dad always says that word). My Mom was pretty sly, forgetting to tell us that there was no service where they lived. I could go a day without my phone, but to miss the Michigan vs. Michigan State game was a dagger in the back. 

This led to a series of complaints, whines, and fits. Due to my frustration and immaturity with the whole situation, I took no time to vent to God; rather, I continued to quarrel with my own family.  

  • “Why are we here?” 
  • “All these people do is take from us.” 
  • “They do not treat us well.” 
  • “They don’t deserve it!”

I did not see or care for God’s plan for having us there to help our relatives get settled. I missed an opportunity to serve others and exemplify who Jesus was and is, and I did my younger brother no favors. 

What is the first thing you say to a family member when you get home most days?

  • “Hi, how was your day?”
  • “Is there anything with which I can help you?”

Have you ever been so concerned about yourself that the first thing you say is, “What’s for dinner?” I am so guilty of this! We all have days where we feel drained from work, school, or sports, and we miss out on opportunities to be used by God at home. I will not lie, there are days when I just am not “feeling” it, but I need to remind myself with almost an ultimatum-kind-of Scripture. 

Joshua 24:15 says, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

My favorite meal for dinner growing up was sloppy joes, cheesy potatoes, and absolutely no vegetables. Everyone in the family has a job when it comes to dinner. One of my parents would cook, and the other would clean the kitchen after dinner. My siblings and I would set the table, do the dishes, and take out the trash. Teamwork makes the dream work! 

However, I need to be honest! It was not like that every night. One of us was always “not feeling it,” which made at least one other individual quite bitter. As parents and older siblings, you are called to a higher standard. Family dinners are important, so it is vital not to let one’s selfishness spoil your opportunity to show them who Jesus was and is. Serving together as a family is a necessity because it gives us an opportunity to teach our kids, siblings, and others to think beyond themselves and their own needs.

Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We have got this backwards. Everyone thinks if they can get others to serve them, or if they always serve themselves first, then they will be happy. What brings the most joy is having joy in the Lord. It is hard at first to sacrifice things that we are bound to like missing a football game, but it cannot be compared to the joy that comes from humbling yourself before someone else who “does not deserve it.” 

Parents have a huge influence on their kids. Older siblings have a huge influence on their younger siblings. We need to choose every day what kind of influence we want to be to them, so we do not miss or choke an opportunity to show Him to our family and through our family.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.