Family Devotion: Christmas {5 minute devos}

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

Elizabeth & Zacharias: Patience

Read Luke 1:11-25

The Bible tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6 NKJV). Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple. We’re also told that they were “well advanced in years.”

Despite this, they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. This could not have been easy on them. For the people of Israel in this time, it was considered shameful if a woman was unable to have a child. Imagine the grief this must have caused them, particularly Elizabeth. No doubt, the light of hope in a child of their own must have dimmed and burned out long ago.

Around the time of the first century, the duty of burning the incense in the temple fell to Zacharias. As he stood alone in the Holy Place, the angel Gabriel appeared before him to proclaim that their long wait was finally over . . . God had ordained for them to have a son named John. Gabriel told Zacharias that his son would be his joy, great in God’s sight, in the vein of Elijah. He would be the forerunner for the King of Kings; the one who would “make straight the way for the Lord.”

Sometimes, God puts something in our hearts, a great passion and desire, but then wants us to wait for His timing so His perfect plan can unfold. The wait, especially if it’s a long one, can cause us to doubt and lose heart.

You’ve probably heard the age-old expression, “patience is a virtue.” All throughout the Bible, we see God rewarding those who patiently wait upon Him, who trust in His promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them. We also see those who don’t wait and often learn difficult lessons. Elizabeth and Zacharias patiently waited upon God and trusted He knew best. Though the reproach of others hurt, this righteous couple found comfort in the arms of the Lord, and in His time, He took their shame away!

It’s not always easy to wait on God’s timing, but the rewards we reap when we do are well worth it!  

Are you experiencing some situation that, like Elizabeth and Zacharias, is testing your patience?

What might God be teaching you?

Elizabeth didn’t see what God was up to …for years.  Even if you can’t see how God is at work, what can you do to trust Him?  Will you trust Him?

*This devotion was edited from a devotional from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale called The King Has Come: Prepare Your Heart.  It can be found in the Bible app.

BE THANKFUL

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Family Devotions

2015-09-30 13.10.45These women laughed with surprising joy when I asked if I could get a picture with them.

I would not have been so happy had I been carrying a pile of wood on my head so I had a way to cook dinner for my family.

When you think you have it tough, there are those in other countries (and possibly next door) who have it worse.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

QUESTIONS: (Add your own personal questions, too.)

  1. What is one thing you aren’t content about right now?  Why? What’s happening?  (Maybe you can help your kids by suggesting something you see they aren’t content.)
  2. How does Philippians 4:11-13 encourage you?
  3. Where will you get the strength to be content? (Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit and prayer!)
  4. We may not be able to see it now, but God may be teaching you/us something.  What do you think it might be?
  5. Close in a short prayer: “Lord, help us be content.  Help us to trust you in all situations.  Help us to depend upon your strength.”

Shrimp & Ketchup

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Dads, Faith Conversations, Family Devotions, Moms, Praying Together

Over lunch with a radio talk show host last week, I was enlightened.  I ordered fish tacos and he ordered fried shrimp.  When our meals arrived, he did something strange; he moved his little dish of cocktail sauce out of his plate and squirted some ketchup in its place!  Who does that?

I had to ask.

He said when he was a child, that’s the way him mom served shrimp.  Since that’s the way he was brought up, that’s the way he eats them now.

I laughed.

He looked at me with a question mark on his face.

I chuckled because, it was a great example of the influence of the home.  What we do at home will shape our children’s spiritual lives even as it shapes our taste buds.

We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.

Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Psalm 78:4-7

I have to remind myself that what I’m doing now with our children is not only impacting them; it’s also impacting their children, too.   We are influencing our grandchildren; future generations.  Our children can pass the love and trust of the Lord onto their children and their children’s children.

Whatever we choose to dip our shrimp into doesn’t matter, but the way we spend our time connecting our children’s hearts towards God’s can have an eternal difference.  The habits we instill in our children while they are at home will carry on long after we are gone.

Pray together as a family.  Read the Word together and tell your children the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord…Then they [will] put their trust in God and [will] not forget his deeds but [will] keep his commands.”

 

Discussion Questions for parents and small groups:

When do you share with your children the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord?”

How are you developing spiritual habits in your home?

What is a habit you are going to start?

When is the best time to pray together as a family?

Find someone to share this with, so they can ask you about it.

 

The Greatest Gift {5 Minute Devo}

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

(Click here to download this devotional: EnglishFrench, 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

 

Read Luke 2:8-11

 

Ask:

Can you imagine being the first to hear about the first Christmas morning?  How would you have responded to the Angel of the Lord?

 

Say: 

The shepherds were told about the true meaning of Christmas; plain and simple.  But there are a lot of things that distract people from the real meaning of Christmas.

 

Ask:

  • What distracts people from experiencing the true meaning of Christmas?
  • How do you think Jesus would want us to celebrate His birthday? (Staying focused on Him and doing what He would want us to do is the most important. Have you ever thought about singing Happy Birthday to Him? Giving Him a present?)
  • How have you already gotten distracted?
  • What will you do to help you stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas?

 

Pray: 

“God, Thank you so much for giving us the greatest Gift possible!  Help us to stay focused on You!  Help us to love others and just as you gave your Son Jesus for us, help us to give to others.”

God Sends Reminders {5 Minute Devo}

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

(Click here for the download of this devotional:  English, French, and Spanish)

 

God comes through for us, but we are often in need of reminders.

 

Read Matthew 2:9-11

 

Why do you think the timing was perfect for the wise men to visit Mary and Joseph? Do you remember what they had been through?

 

They probably needed confirmation of what God was calling them to.

 

• Mary became pregnant before she was married to Joseph.

• They fled the country in fear their son would be killed.

• They had to spend the night in a stable and gave birth to their Son, who was foretold to be the Savior of the world. His crib was a manger (the feeding trough for animals).

 

At this point, they must have needed a reminder of who this Baby was and that God was really watching over them! I don’t know about you, but I might have had my doubts that this really was the Son of God to be the Savior of the world, too!

 

Can you think of other people from the Bible who God reminded He was still in charge?

 

• Daniel in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6)

• The Israelites trapped at the edge of the Red Sea and God splits the water, so they can walk on dry ground. (Exodus 14)

• Jesus rose on the third day. (Luke 24)

• Healing the guard whose ear was cut off by Peter. (Luke 22:49-51)

 

Life isn’t always going to be easy, but God will come through! God’s plan is perfect. God’s timing is perfect. Our response has to be to trust him, just as Mary and Joseph did.

 

Questions for children:

• How do you think God reminds us He is here?

Through other people, especially your parents. The Bible. The Holy Spirit.

 

• Has there been a time that you know God reminded you? How?

 

• How will you respond to God the next time things are going your way? (Someone doesn’t treat you fairly or even lies about you?)

 

Questions for teens:

• Do you ever wonder about the things God does that you didn’t notice?

 

• When has God reminded you He is helping you?

 

• Do you expect God to come through for you?

 

• What is the worst that can happen to you?

Ultimately…Death.

 

• For the Christian, how is God victorious even in death?

Even in losing our own life, it means we will be with Him in heaven.

 

Since you are reading this, you aren’t dead. Look for God’s encouragement. Look for God working. Look for His reminders that He is still in charge. Mary and Joseph had no one else to turn to. They were completely dependent and desperate for God. This is usually when God shows up. When we know it can be no one else but Him who rescues us!

 

Prayer:

“God, help us see You at work. Help us to trust in You more. I believe You can help us, but help me really believe it! Help me to really trust You. Thanks for Your Word and how it shows us we can rely on You!”

 

Get in Touch

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Melbourne, FL 32904

321.223.1163 jc@homesdevoted.com