Strength • Devotion #4: Mother

The second Sunday of May is always Mother’s Day, but I want to start a petition for Mother’s to be celebrated more than once a year! If you are a young mom or know a young mom, I think you understand why I want to petition for this. I have a cousin who has three boys under the age of five and I do not know how she does it. How does she ever find time to relax? I do not think she does! Whether it is keeping them occupied, feeding them, keeping them out of trouble, cleaning up messes, or one of million things required of a young mom, there is so much to do with young kids. In addition to the physical needs of kids, there are also emotional, sociological, and spiritual needs. It is caring for them when they have been hurt, are feeling sad, or are lashing out at a sibling, to name a few. I genuinely do not know how Mothers find the strength to do it all. Mothers are not appreciated enough!

My mom (along with my dad) raised me and my two younger siblings who happen to be twins. While I am thankful for all the physical things she did for me, I am beyond thankful for the way she met my spiritual and emotional needs. She gave me strength in my weakest moments. She was always there; some days it was crying with me when I did not make the middle school basketball team, other days it was disciplining me for the way I treated my siblings, and still other days it was grappling with the difficult facts of leaving the church where you grew up where everyone was like family.

In 2 Timothy chapter 1, Paul is writing to his friend and spiritual apprentice, Timothy. Throughout the letter, Paul encourages Timothy to stand firm in the face of false teachers and to look to Christ as his foundation. Before getting there though, in his greeting to Timothy he said this is 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” He sees in Timothy a sincere faith, a faith that was passed down from his grandmother and mother. As you read this you may be mourning that your mother does not know Christ or you may relate to Timothy and me, having a mother who raised you in Christ and constantly pointed you to Him. No matter which party you are in, your mother has affected you in deep ways.

If your mother, like Timothy’s, has been used by God to bring you to Himself, take a few moments, and thank God for her. Reach out to her and thank her for the ways that God used her! If your mother does not know Christ, take a few moments, and pray that God would bring her to a saving knowledge of Himself.

Strength • Devotion #3: Father

When I was a young child, I spent much of my time outdoors. I grew up without much influence from video games or television. We lived on ten acres and had a garden, chickens, and a lot of open space. I spent most of my days scouting in the woods while using my imagination. One such day, my younger sister and I were in the yard playing while the chickens roamed around. Most of the time, the chickens were friendly and paid us no mind. This day, however, one of the chickens became upset with my sister. I am not sure what my sister did to upset the chicken, but he began to chase after her and peck at her legs. My sister was terrified and began to scream and cry as she ran from the now deranged monster that chased her. I watched helplessly, unsure of what help I could be for her. Suddenly, my father came dashing down the hill with a hockey stick in hand and an unsettling fire in his eyes. I had never seen my father move so quickly before nor with as much purpose. In mere seconds, my father was upon the chicken and chasing it away from my sister. I never saw what happened next as my father chased the chicken around the pole barn, but I do know I never saw that chicken again. 

My dad always took charge and knew when the right time was to step in and intervene. Growing up, he allowed us to make mistakes to allow us to learn, but there would come moments when there was no room for mistakes and my dad would step in and guide us back to safety. My father was a leader and a teacher and always took pride in seeing us learn, most often from our own mistakes. 

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” My father did not grow up in a church family so when he came to know the Lord, he knew better than anyone how important it was to have a friendship and a relationship with the Lord. Growing up, he raised us to be disciplined in the time we spend with the Lord and in our Bibles. He always set an example for us; I would frequently see him in his Bible in the early mornings. It was very obvious how important it was to him and it made it that much more important for me. Even more than just spending time with the Lord, my dad was vigilant in raising my sisters and me so that we can live our lives in a way that glorifies God. My father was a strong man and an incredible leader and teacher. He led by example and taught through experience. 

Even if you are not a father, there may be people who look up to you spiritually and it is important to consider what examples you are setting through your actions and your habits. The strength of your diligence and commitment to the Lord can have a massive impact on those around you. I think of a member of the church that I volunteered under as a high-school student and how his relationship with the Lord gave me direction as a young man. He may not have known it, but I looked up to him and saw him as something of a mentor.

I implore you to consider who around you may be looking up you. Which of those around you view you as a mentor? What example are you setting for those people?

Strength • Devotion #2: Wife

Have you ever worked in a job that you were not qualified for when you started? It is probably safe to say that all of us have entered a new job, a new role, a new position, or even marriage with some anxiety about what to expect. Entering the unknown requires the flexibility of being “teachable,” and a “quick study.” Job descriptions do not always prepare us for the responsibilities that are required. The role of a wife as described in Proverbs chapter 31 (a virtuous woman) is a bit different, it describes her character and heart with one constant thread through the verses – “Her Strength!” From verse 10 through the end of the chapter, unfolds a description of a strong woman who puts God’s wisdom into action in her life and through the work that she does to serve her family and others. 

When I Google searched what does the virtuous woman mean, I found this: “In the Bible, Proverbs chapter 31 describes a virtuous woman as the one who leads her home with integrity, discipline, and more. All the virtues she is practicing are aimed at making the life of her husband better, teaching her children, and serving God.”

As a wife and mother, everything that I do is focused on my family. I strive to meet their needs and would drop everything in a heartbeat to help them. I am not always equipped for what is needed but I know that when faced with a crisis my God is always near. I do not have it all together like the woman in Proverbs but I can teach, I can pray, and I can love and be supportive knowing that it is not our strength that carries us through difficult times, but His. He provides for strength to work through our difficulties in marriage, wisdom to care for our children, patience in the workplace, and knowledge to solve difficult problems. Psalm 31:24 (CSB) says, “Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD.” 

Thirty years ago when my husband and I were married, I would have told you that we could handle anything that life threw at us. Today, I will tell you that I was not prepared or qualified for the role that I was walking into. I am thankful for the “on the job training.” I am so thankful that God is loving and merciful and allows us to adapt and become teachable. 

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

Strength• Devotion #1: Husband

Husband: ​a married man considered in relation to his spouse. 

That is the dictionary definition of the word husband. It is not quite that simple. Like many areas of our lives, there are good and bad. I have seen more than a few bad husbands in my time here on Earth. I have also had the blessing to see exceptional men who are tremendous husbands. I am fortunate to have come into a relationship with Christ before Jamie and I were married. It was my growing spiritual maturity and the examples that I saw in my exposure to the church world that steered me in the direction to be the very best husband I could possibly be. Now, please understand that I am not saying I am a perfect husband. I am far from it. However, learning how this whole marriage thing works made me want to be more Christlike in the entirety of my life. This is a natural thing that will bleed into our marriage. 

We see in Scripture multiple descriptions and directions for spousal relationships. In Ephesians, Paul pretty clearly tells us our responsibility to our spouses. We like to spout it out all the time. In chapter 5 verse 22, he says all we need, right? “Wives, submit to your own husbands.” We guys like that part. Our wives have to be subservient to their husbands. It is a gross twisting of context that is common throughout American Christianity. Read on and it says she is to submit as the church submits to Christ. This is a little different when you think of it that way. We could write chapters of books on this concept, which many people have. 

Husbands, let us fast forward a couple of verses. Let us take a look and see the massive responsibility we have. It is a responsibility that sadly, we have missed the boat on in a massive way. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Love your wife as Christ loved the church. Just to be clear, we all understand the love that Jesus has for us right? We have an idea of what Jesus did and endured for the church. Husband, you have a responsibility to your wife that is of the greatest measure.

We are not only to love, care for, and provide for our wives, but we are to put her ahead of all things. I love my children dearly, but not more than my bride. Are the needs of your wife more important than our own? Looking around our world and even our church, I will contend not in many cases. Do you support her, and do you support each other? I strive every day to be the picture that Paul lays out for our marriage. It is definitely a team effort.

Successful teams have a leader. Who is leading your family? If it is you husband, who are you allowing to lead you? If the answer to that question is not undeniably Jesus, you need to check yourself now. 

Paul closes chapter 5 with a quick verse to clarify the whole thing if there was any confusion, “To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 CSB).

Relapse • Devotion #6: Selfishness

What does it mean to be selfish? Google says being selfish is lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. Do you view yourself as selfish? I think many of us would think that we are not selfish people when we are a lot more selfish than we think. Do others think we are selfish? Often, we are blind to seeing faults in ourselves but are quick to see them in others. 

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

This past year in my life has been truly incredible but a major eye-opener for me. My wife and I had our first child and it has been an awesome roller coaster. Parents out there, you know what I am talking about. I have always been pretty selfish. I think mostly about my wants or comforts. I did not like to go out of my way for others. There are times that I do those things for others, but I often do not like to go out of my comfort. This past year has taught me a ton about being selfless. I thank God for the lessons learned through fatherhood and being a husband through everything.  

A father is called to ultimately be a selfless leader. There are many times I would rather be selfish. There were many times I did not want to help my wife with our daughter. There were many times that I did not want to change those poopy diapers. There were many times that I did not want to do the dishes. Many times, I would come home from work and I would just want to relax like I used to before we had our daughter, but that was something that I could no longer do. I love my wife and daughter. This love drove me to learn to combat my selfishness in many ways. I try my best to put them first in every way, but it is not always easy. I want to show them my love for them through my actions. I want my actions to show Christ’s love to them. I want to be the example of my Heavenly Father to my family and show Him through me.

Philippians 2:5-8 continues, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The world tells you to be selfish. The world tells you to only care about yourself and do what you want. The world will tell you to not do something that is out of your comfort or out of your way. Follow your own heart is one of the biggest lies the world will sell. Your heart is selfish. Jesus, however, shows us perfect love. Jesus shows us the perfect example of unselfish love. Jesus never sinned once, yet He sacrificed Himself in our place on the cross. He died the death we deserve. Even though Jesus is God, He took the place of the lowly sinner to save us from our sin. Jesus shows us the ultimate example of love, sacrifice, and being unselfish. 

No matter what life stage you are in, I am willing to bet you need to work on your selfishness. We need to look to God and others first with our thoughts and actions. We need to put God first in our lives because He put us first in His. We need to put others first because God calls us to show His love to others. Let us look to have the same mindset of Jesus, our Lord, in all of our thoughts and actions. It is not easy, but we can learn from what Jesus did. We can look to Him for help. 

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