The Parable of the Birds {5 Minute Devo}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Family Devotions

(Click here to download this devotional: English, French, Spanish)

Read Matthew 1:2

 

Share this illustration:

 

The Parable of the Birds

 

This is a story about a man. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family and honest.  He just could not understand the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.  It did not make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend he believed it.

It was Christmas Eve and the family was getting ready for church. “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this evening.” He said that he would feel like a hypocrite.  Rather, he would stay home while they went.

Shortly after the rest of his family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. It was one of those picture-postcard winter evenings. So he walked back to his comfortable fireside chair and began reading his newspaper.

Soon, though, he was startled by a loud “thud,” quickly followed by another. And then another. “What could that be?”

At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to investigate, he found a pitiful flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large picture window.

“I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. He was, after all, a reasonably compassionate man. “But how could I possibly help them?”

Then he remembered the barn out back.  That would provide a warm shelter — if only he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light to show the poor birds the way.

But the birds didn’t come in.

“Food will bring them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house and fetched bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail from near where the birds were into the safety of the barn.

But the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. None of that worked. Instead they scattered in every direction — except into the protection of the warm, lighted barn.

He said to himself, “They find me a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. If only I could convince them… If only I could show them that I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how?” Any move he made tended to frighten the birds and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

In frustration and with a growing sense of urgency as the storm worsened, an odd thought came to him: “If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. If only I could speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand and not be afraid.”

At that moment, he heard the sound of the church bells. He stood there, suddenly awestruck.  These were all Christmas carols he had heard since childhood: Joy to the World. Oh, Holy Night. Away in a Manger. But they had never before affected him in the way they now did.

Then, there in the snow, he sank to his knees, gazed heavenward and, choked with emotion, whispered, “God, now I understand. Now I see why You had to do it.”

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him… And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:9,14.)

 

Discussion Questions:

 

  • How would you have tried to get the birds in the barn?
  • What did the man not believe in the beginning of this story?
  • The man tries everything before realizing the only thing that would work is if he became a bird so he could communicate with them to tell them the good news of the barn.  How does this illustrate what God did by sending Jesus?
  • If you were God, how would you tell people about the good news of heaven?
  • Who do you know could use this story as an illustration of what God did for us?  You could email it to them or tell them yourself!

 

Prayer:

“God, Thank you so much for giving us the gift of your Son.  What an incredible gift!  Help me truly understand Your love for us and help me share it with others who don’t really know.”

 

A Christmas Devotion {5 Minute Devo}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Christmas, Christmas, Family Devotions

{Click here for the download of this devotional: English, French, Russian, and Spanish}

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:8-11

 

Can you imagine if you were there…if you were one of the shepherds? 

 

Have someone read this again while the rest of the family closes their eyes.    Picture yourself there, seeing and hearing these words.  Can you hear them yourself? 

 

What would you have thought if you had been a shepherd?

 

Possibly:

….A baby?  Why a baby? 

….What would you have thought after seeing that it was just a baby?

….Maybe you might have asked, “Is this how the Savior of the world comes…as a baby?  In a stable?” 

 

Isn’t it interesting that God never seems to do things the way we would?

If you were God, would you have sent your Son into the world, as the Savior, like this? 

               How might you have done it? 

 

What are other things Jesus says to do that just seems backwards from the way we would most probably do it?

  • Turn the other cheek
  • Serve without expecting anything in return
  • Forgive 7 times 77
  • Love your enemies

 

God gave us His Son.  I’m not sure I would have. God does things the best way.  Can you trust Him?

 

This Christmas, the best gift you can give back to God is listening for how He wants you to do things around here a lot differently than what we usually do.

 

Questions:

What is one thing you can do differently as a gift to God? 

How might this world be different if we all loved the way God loved?

How might our family be different if we treated each other the way God treated us?

Thankful in Everything

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Family Devotions

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There are times in every believer’s life when you can truly see God had His hand at work through a not so pleasurable experience.  One that comes to my mind is when I (Carrie) was struck by lightning.  I was 17 years old and I felt like I was pretty much in control of my life and felt somewhat invincible.  During a lightning storm, all of my co-workers at the animal clinic refused to take the dogs out for an evening break for fear of getting struck by lightning.  I, on the other hand, had no fear and volunteered readily.  As I stood with the dog by a giant metal dumpster, God sent me a message; a lightning bolt.  Thankfully, it struck the dumpster, traveled through the ground, the leash, the dog and then through me before it bolted out of my ear!  But, after that, I realized how fragile I really am and how dependent on God I should be.  I am now more thankful for every moment and stand in awe of our creator and His power.  Sometimes it takes a lightning bolt to get a person’s attention and make them aware of their dependence on God.  That is what it took for me!

Discuss with your children:

  • Have you had a lightning bolt experience in your life that has made you more thankful?
  • Be thankful in everything?  Rejoice always?  Really?  Does God really expect us to do this?
  • Notice Paul, doesn’t say to be happy in all circumstances, does he?  Can you be thankful and joyful in a situation you aren’t happy about?
  • Consider….
    •  Joseph’s trial when he was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37)
    • Jonah’s experience regarding Nineveh (Jonah)
    • Paul’s trials with a shipwreck, a snake and prison (Acts 27)
  • How was God glorified through those struggles?
  • Even when it’s hard to see God at work and we wonder what He is doing, can we still believe He is allowing us to go through it?  Can we believe God will take care of us? That God will never let us go? (We may not understand it, but God can use any situation for His benefit.  The key is for us to trust Him enough!)
  • A friend of mine said, “ultimately complaining is really a lack of trusting in God.”  Do you agree or disagree? (When we complain, we are not rejoicing, praying, thanking God.  We aren’t trusting in His sovereignty.)
  • What situation are you in right now in which you are having a hard time rejoicing and being thankful?
  • Can you see how God might use the situation for His glory? (You may never know or maybe God will show us.  Either way, He will see us through, even if it’s when we meet Him in heaven!)

Memory Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Close in prayer. You can say, “God, help us to trust You; to acknowledge that in every circumstance, You are bigger, You are more powerful.  You will see us through.” 

Click here for editable down loadable version.

My Lord and My God {5 Minute Devo}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Family Devotions

(Click here to download the editable version of this devotion: EnglishSpanishFrench, and Russian)

 

Back in the days of kings and queens, what did the king have power to do?

(Almost anything he desired.)

 

People in the kingdom would answer the king by saying, “Yes, my Lord.” “Right away, my Lord.”  “As you say, my Lord.” 

(Feel free to add more sayings and add an accent as you say these or even act it out.)

 

Here is a fun activity if you have time.

(Even if you have teens!  This will be short and fun.)  Pretend someone is the King or Queen (sit them in a chair as their throne or sit them up on a higher place) and have the rest of the family pretend he/she is the King or Queen) and address them appropriately….The King/Queen could even “command” their subjects to do things for them.  Mom/Dad could even take a turn at being King/Queen.  Have fun. Laugh and within limits, allow the “subjects” to do what they command.  (Keep it simple or if you have time, have fun with it.)

 

Read or have someone read: John 20:24-31

 

When Thomas says, “My Lord and my God” what does he mean by “Lord?”

(He was saying that He believed in Jesus so much he was making Him ruler, giving him control.  That he would follow Him wherever and do whatever he said.  He would obey Him no matter what.  He was submitting to His rule.  NOT OUT OF FEAR, but he was willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ, because of who he believed Him to be: God.)

 

How do we make Jesus “Lord” in our lives today?

(By submitting everything to Him, to His rule. We give Him permission to rule in our lives because we know He knows best, cares, is creator and God!  Not because we are forced, but because we decide to, we choose to.)

 

What does this look like (specifically)? 

  • How does mom/dad live differently than others?
  • How does a teenager live differently when Jesus is Lord?

[NOTE: Mom/Dad, when you answer questions, too, you reveal to your children that you are learning and growing with them.  Want your kids to catch your faith? Let them see you seeking, growing and learning, too.  It’s not just something they need to do. They need to know you have not “arrived.”  Because, you don’t want them to grow up thinking they have to be perfect.  Why? Because they will feel defeated when they realize they never will.]How does making Jesus your Lord and your God affect: (use some of the suggestions below or your own.)

  • How you do your homework?
  • How you do your chores?
  • How you act?
  • How much you worry? (If He is God, do you have faith He is in control?)
  • What you say?
  • How you practice?
  • How you do something you really don’t want to do?
  • How you obey when it’s really hard?
  • How you treat others, even when it’s not cool or easy?
  • How you spend your money?

What is one thing you need to make Jesus “Lord” of?  Why haven’t you before?

Faith Conversation 3: Taming The Tongue Part II: Reckless Words

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Family Devotions

DOWNLOAD & PRINT: Taming the Tongue Part II Reckless Words

Taming the Tongue Part II:   Reckless Words

Our children need to realize how our words affect us and the others around us.  Our tongue can get us into deep trouble or be a blessing to others.  Here is a Faith Conversation you can have with your kids on this important and sometimes overlooked subject.

Conversation Starter:

Gossip, backbiting, name calling, put-downs, hurtful sarcasm… They all hurt.  How do they affect others (esp. brothers and sisters)?

One minute video for all ages:

http://www.sermonspice.com/product/17001/the-power-of-the-tongue

For teens: You may find this video more impactful for your junior high/high school teen:

http://www.bluefishtv.com/Store/Downloadable_Video_Illustrations/2049/Gossip

DOWNLOAD & PRINT: Taming the Tongue Part II Reckless Words

 

Resources

Get in Touch

694 Hammock Rd.
Melobourne, FL 32904
Phone: 1-321-223-1163