Devotions

Category Archives: Family Tree

Patience

Blooming • Patience
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

I just got back from two weeks of student summer camps. I had to laugh a bit as I began to type this devotion on patience. My patience was tested more in one week of middle school camp than it had been in the last couple years of serving in student ministry. It has always been a little odd how patience has worked in my life. When it comes to people, I have never had a problem. However, this week of middle school camp was a problem for me. There were three kids that took the vast majority of my time from the rest of the students from our location. Those that know me well know that I am the slowest person to anger or freak out in the history of the world. There was one situation though that I observed a particularly awful piece of behavior that I finally lost my cool. Rightfully so as I was defending a student, I lost all chill. At that moment though, I recognized that I needed to handle the situation with the grace and patience I have been afforded so many times in my life. I had to retreat for a moment, and this Scripture popped into my mind:

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”

I had lost sight of a principle I held very dear to me. At that moment, the enemy had placed a wedge between Jesus and me. All evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit had left my mind and body. It is easy for us to let that happen. Maybe you are a parent with a child that has challenging behaviors. Maybe you are teen struggling with your parent’s authority. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit in those times to carry us through the challenge. It is very easy for us to think we can do it on our own. We live like that until something blows our world up, and it is in those moments that we surrender completely to the will of God and realize that He will carry us through whatever circumstance comes into our life. That is, as long as we rely not on our knowledge and understanding but His.

Peace

Blooming • Peace
James Mann | Children’s Director

The Lord’s Covenant of Peace

“I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them.” Ezekiel 34:25-27

Peace is an interesting topic to study in the Bible. There are many different types of peace that are discussed throughout Scripture. The most important peace to look into is the peace you find in the Lord. Many people are searching for peace in their family’s lives in the wrong places. Mankind teaches us that peace goes hand-in-hand with money and stability. This leads to a false sense of peace that is soon corrupted and then destroyed because it exists without the Lord.

Peace should be searched for and found in Christ Jesus. By reading the passage in Ezekiel, we learn about the Lord getting rid of the wild beasts, which I would like to think of like the sin of the world so that you can sleep securely in the wilderness. As a family, if you find peace in the wilderness, then you will be able to live securely and peacefully. Then Ezekiel goes to explain even further and say, “And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land.” To yield fruit, and then increase, is only accomplished through finding your peace in the Lord.

So you may be asking yourself now, “How can my family find peace in the Lord?” This is a difficult, but rewarding path to take. To find peace in the Lord is to leave behind the things of life that only satisfy momentarily. You must turn to the Bread of Life, who makes it so you never hunger again. In case you are wondering what this bread is, it is Jesus who put His life down for you. Only then will you be satisfied as a family, and only then will you find peace in the family.

Joy

Blooming • Joy
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

I Believe God’s Promises.

Walk in the Spirit!? How in the world do I do that? I have asked this question multiple times. I am sure you have, too. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16 (KJV) to “Walk in the Spirit.” Then he goes on to list all of the things our flesh wants to walk in like drunkenness, sexual immorality, and anger. You know, sin. After listing our fleshly sins, he lists nine things to help us combat those sins and “Walk in the Spirit.” I would specifically like to address joy.

A simple definition of joy is believing God’s promises. Now, it is easy to believe God’s promises when the bills are paid, no major health issues are happening in the family, and everyone is happy and worry-free. However, what about believing in God when something horrible happens? Take Paul, for example, a man who lost his sight for a while, was constantly put in prison, beaten, ridiculed, and lonely, but said, “In all my affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 7:4). Where did he find this incredibly durable joy?

It came from simply believing (with all of his heart) that God’s promises are true. Jesus taught us in the Gospels that the storms of life will happen. Translation: bad things happen, even to good people. Paul’s joy came from something beyond his momentary circumstances. True joy comes from knowing what Jesus did for you and trusting in Him to fulfill His promises to you. So what are His promises?

– Salvation to all who believe in Jesus (Romans 1:16-17)
– Everything will work out for good for His children (Romans 8:28)
– Comfort in trials (1 Corinthians 1:3-4)
– Peace when we pray (Philippians 4:6-7)
– Supplying all of our needs (Matthew 6:33)

I could go on and on. You could read many, many more promises in the Bible. The choice you need to make is are you going to believe (with all your heart) God’s promises. If you choose to believe, your joy does not change when things do not go your way because you trust God no matter the circumstance.

Love

Blooming • Love
Katrina Young | Nursery & Pre-K Director

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 (NIV)

There is a new craze going on in my family researching our family tree. Some have purchased DNA testing kits to find their ancestry and heritage. It is interesting how easy it is to research someone that lived many years ago. Like putting a puzzle together connecting the dots of lineage, there is a sense of accomplishment finding the missing piece, but there is no real connection to the person, no emotional or spiritual bond, just a name, a year of birth or death that connects them to you. Sadly, this is true in families today, the root of the family tree has withered, some of the branches are broken, and there is no source of love from which to draw.

What does real love look like?

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

As Christians, we are called to love, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It was not until I became a Christian that I began to understand these verses. As I grew in Christ, it became clearer how to not only accept love but to also love others. Loving the way God loves us requires understanding how much He loves us. God’s love is unconditional; learning to love in that way is a walk through patience, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

The love that I have for my kids is beyond measure; there is nothing that I would not do for them. It is within our families first that we begin to understand what unconditional love is, and it is often the ones that are closest to us that can bring the biggest challenge. We, like any other family, have gone through many difficult times. Keeping Christ in the center of those situations enabled us to grow as a family and deeper in our walk.

As believers, we are a new creation; our identity is not in a family tree that extends back centuries and has many branches; it is in Him. When we lean on, trust in, and rely on His word and His ways we strengthen our family and relationships. It is then that we can experience the Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Discipline

Pruning • Discipline
Jeff England | Counseling Pastor

“God does not discipline us to subdue us, but to condition us for a life of usefulness and blessedness.” Billy Graham

We have all watched the scene play out. Maybe in a restaurant, maybe a store, maybe at someone’s home or in your own house, when that child goes wild. That out of control, seemingly spoiled rotten, ill-tempered “brat” unwinds! How quick we are to rush to judgments saying or thinking, “They better get that one under control,” “You know what would happen to that one if he was mine,” or “Someone better start learning how to parent.” It is true that undisciplined children learn quickly how to get what they want and may go to crazy extremes to convince their authorities to say “OK.” I have counseled long enough to know, however, that even the most skilled parents have children that test the limits and act out. I love the quiet confidence of that mom or dad who knows exactly what to do when their little one hits the floor in the middle of a store in a calculated rage. They leave the cart, take the swift removal of the child, and have some “fellowship” back in the car or at home. That child will learn to behave appropriately. Not only do they learn to respect authority and rules but they grow more secure, confident, and the seeds for understanding God’s plan of discipline are sown.

“My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him who he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12

As a parent, we know that it is sometimes so much easier to give in to the demands of that child whose fury is building. I cannot tell you how many times I have helped a parent develop a plan for disciplining their child and then that parent has ended up telling me that the plan was too hard or the plan seemed to punish them as the parent. Discipline takes time, energy, patience, perseverance, and yes, sacrifice! But discipline is truly an act of love. Proverbs 13:24 makes it clear, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” No one likes to be disciplined, but I find great comfort in the fact that as a child of God, He loves me enough to patiently correct me when I stray. From His example, we are taught how to care for our children.

Proverbs 6:23 gives more insight into why correcting our children is so very important. “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” Have you ever watched a sunrise from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean or the heights of a mountain? Beyond the beauty of those moments is the promise of another day filled with light that allows us to more easily navigate our way through the snares and pitfalls of the world. Godly discipline illuminates our children’s lives in a similar manner. When a young person has been taught biblical right from wrong, it is as if you have given your child an endless supply of lamps. Each time they are confronted by the darkness of worldly desires, they need only refer back to one of your lessons – or turn on a lamp. When we have sown the Word of God in our hearts and passed it along to our children, the light of God’s way can help them avoid many struggles. Finally, when our children choose God over the world in their daily lives, no sunrise will ever match the beauty of their growth!

I hope patient, loving correction with a desire to keep your children from going astray is your method and goal. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” I am not only thankful that God corrects his children, but I am thankful that he disciplines with love and control. The parent that lashes out in fits of rage when upset with their child often makes choices that do not teach or demonstrate love but may build a wall of resentment between parent and child that can destroy trust and create long term separation. In Proverbs 29:17, Solomon reminds us of the importance and benefits of godly discipline with our children, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”

My wife and I have been privileged to teach four and five-year-olds during the gathering for the past 14 years. I have not only been delighted by my daughters when they have made great choices, but I feel that same sense of joy when I witness our students demonstrate random acts of kindness, patience, and obedience. The sense of peace we feel as parents when our children consistently make good choices is wonderful.

A final word from Proverbs on the importance of correcting our children is found in Chapter 5 verse 23, “He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.”

I hope you have an incredible day as you ponder the nature of godly discipline. You can do this. Set the godly example of a disciplined life then teach your children to follow it.



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