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Family Devotional

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Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 1 : Greg Sempsrott, Senior Pastor

The Verse: Matthew 5:16: “...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

The Illustration: A preacher moved to a new town, and, a few weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home into downtown. When he paid the fare, and sat down in his seat, he discovered the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.

As the preacher considered what to do, he thought to himself, “Give the quarter back, it would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget about it, it’s only a quarter.  It’s too small an amount to worry about. The bus fare is too high anyway; They’ll never miss it.”

When he came to his stop, the preacher paused for a moment at the door. Then he handed the quarter to the bus driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.” The driver smiled and said, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?

I’ve never gone before, but lately I’ve been thinking about going to church.  I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change.”

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he grabbed the nearest light pole and sank to his knees sobbing. “O God,” he cried, “I almost sold your Son for a quarter!”

The Application: Say: “What people, who don’t know Jesus, think of Him will usually be determined by what they think of those of us who do know Jesus.”

First, ask each family member if they think that this truth should affect the choices they make each day and how they live their lives.

Secondly, ask each family member if they can think of a time when they had the opportunity to do the wrong thing but chose to do the right thing instead. Explain that if they ever have done that, they were obeying what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16.

The Quote: “Do all the good you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can.  To all the people you can. As long as you can.”  John Wesley

The Prayer:
“Father, help us to always remember that the people in our world are watching us every day and that what they see in us will determine what they think of You.”

 

Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 2 : Chantha Chhim, Executive Pastor

The Verse: John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The Illustration: A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, six contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the one hundred-meter run. There were 50,000 people in the stadium to watch them compete. The kids had prepared all year for this event and they all wanted to win.

The starting gun went off and all six began to run. Although they couldn’t run very well, they were all giving it their very best. At about the 50-meter mark, one of the six runners stumbled and fell down, face first on the track. The little boy who fell began to cry. 

The other five took a few more steps, but then heard the boy cry. They all slowed down and looked back at the fallen runner. The five turned around and went back--every one of them. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “That will make it better.”

Then the six linked arms and walked to the finish line together--all of them crossing the finish line at the same moment. Each one received a gold medal.

The Application: Say: “That true story is a perfect picture of how God cares for us and how He wants us to care for hurting people in His name. God wants us to help others up when they fall down, help make them better, link arms with them, and encourage each other to keep on, keeping on.”

Ask each family member to share something they can do this week to show God’s love to a hurting person.

The Quote: “When somebody needs a helping hand, he doesn’t need it tomorrow or the next day. He needs it now, and that’s exactly when you should offer to help. Good deeds, if they are really good, happen sooner rather than later.”  Marie T. Freeman

The Prayer: “Father, please help each of us care about hurting people the way you do and show we care by the way we live our lives.”

 

Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 3 : Doug Vogt, Missions & Congregational Care Pastor

The Verse: Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

The Illustration:
Corrie ten Boom, the great woman of faith who was the only member of her family to survive a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, told the true story of addressing a church in Munich, Germany in 1947. She had come from Holland to speak to the German people about the forgiveness of God. That evening she told the crowd that anyone who is willing to confess their sins can be forgiven and have their sins cast into the deepest sea by God to be remembered no more.

Corrie said that the service had just concluded, and people were filing out when she saw a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat working his way to the front of the room. The instant she laid eyes on him the horrible memories of Ravensbruck came flooding over her.

The man making his way toward Corrie had been one of the guards in the concentration camp--one of the cruelest of all the guards. The man stuck out his hand to Corrie and said, “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all sins are at the bottom of the sea.”

Corrie said that even though she had just finished speaking on forgiveness she pretended to fumble in her purse rather than take his hand. The man evidently didn’t remember her from Ravensbruck, but she remembered him all too well.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he said. “I was a guard there. Since that time I have become a Christian. I know God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from the lips of someone who was there. Fraulein, will you forgive me?” The former guard put out his hand again.

Corrie said that she stood there--a person whose sins had been paid for by the Lord Jesus--a person who had been forgiven, but yet, could not forgive. She had watched her sister die in that horrible place. Could this man possibly erase her sister’s terrible death simply by asking? Corrie said forgiving would be the most difficult thing she had ever had to do, but she knew she must. 

Since the end of the war she had run a home in Holland for victims of the Nazi brutality. Over and over she had seen those who forgave their enemies return to the outside world and rebuild their lives. And she had seen those who refuse to forgive become bitter, emotional cripples.

“Jesus, help me!” She prayed silently. “Help me lift my hand.” Corrie said that as she thrust out her hand, not because she wanted to or felt like it, but only in obedience to God, something incredible happened. She said it was as if healing seemed to wash over her whole body and tears immediately came to her eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” She cried. “With all my heart, I forgive you!” For a long time, the two grasped each other’s hands, the former guard, and the former prisoner. Corrie ten Boom said that she had never known God’s love so intensely as she did at that moment.

The Application: Say: “If we have been forgiven by God, then we must forgive others if we want to show the world what God is like. We must also be willing to ask for forgiveness when we have offended someone else. There are six little words we must make a part of our vocabularies and practice using every day. Those words are, ‘I was wrong, please forgive me.’”

Ask your family members to explain how forgiving others and asking others to forgive us shows the world what God is like.

The Quote: “If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives.”  D. L. Moody

The Prayer: “Father, please help us be willing to ask for the forgiveness of others when we are wrong. Help us also forgive others just like You have forgiven us in order that we may show the world what You are really like.”

 

 

Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 4 : Tim Smith, Elder

The Verse: Matthew 5:14-15: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

The Illustration: Years ago in a small mid-western town, one man’s job was to watch the railroad crossing. When a train approached at night, he was to wave a lantern to warn those driving on the narrow road that a train was approaching and to stop until the train passed by.

One night the train was coming down the tracks as usual and the man took his place to warn any oncoming cars. He could see a car in the distance approaching the railroad tracks so he began to wave his lantern in the moonlit sky. The car continued to come so the man waved his lantern even harder. The train was only seconds away from the crossing but the car was not slowing down. He waved the lantern harder; Still the car kept coming. Again, he frantically waved his lantern and the car continued to come at full speed.

Finally, the man jumped out of the way as the car sped by and was hit by the train. Everyone in the car was killed. At the investigation, the grief-stricken man explained to the authorities how he tried to warn the car, but it would not stop. The officer in charge said to the man, “Sir, you waved your lantern--but you forgot to light it.”

The Application: Say: “Christians are not the source of light, but we are to light up this dark world by reflecting the light of Jesus.”

Next, hold up a small hand mirror in front of a lit candle. Say: “Just like a mirror reflects light, our lives are to be like a mirror which reflects the light of Jesus (the candle) to our world.”

Now hold up a second mirror that has been smeared with soap in front of the candle. Say: “When our lives get smudged by sin, Jesus can’t shine through our lives.”

Ask: “How important is it to people who are lost in the darkness of sin that our lives be able to reflect the light of Jesus?”

The Quote: “It is better to live a holy life than to talk about it. Lighthouses do not ring bells; They just shine.”  D. L. Moody

The Prayer: “Father, the people in our world need to see You. Please help our lives to clearly and accurately reflect what You are really like.” 

 

Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 5 : Jeremy Van Valkenburg, Multimedia Pastor

The Verse: Philippians 2:5-7: “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.”

The Illustration: A man who was an alcoholic came to know Christ at a Bowery mission in Chicago. Prior to his conversion, Joe had gained the reputation of being a drunk for whom there was no hope, only a miserable existence in the street.

But following his salvation experience, everything changed in his life. Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever known. Joe spent his days and nights at the mission doing whatever needed to be done.

There was never any task that was too lowly for Joe to take on. There was never anything that he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up the bathroom after someone had been sick or scrubbing the filthy floors, Joe did what was asked of him with a soft smile on his face and with seeming gratitude for the chance to help.

He could always be counted on to feed the men who wandered into the mission off the streets.  He would undress those who were too drunk or sick to care for themselves and tuck them into bed. 

One evening, when the director of the mission was delivering his evening evangelistic message to the usual crowd of pitiful men, there was one man who looked up and came down the aisle to the altar.  The man knelt to pray, crying out to God to help him to change.

The repentant drunk kept shouting, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!” The director of the mission finally leaned over and said to the man, “Son, I think it would be better if you prayed, ‘Make me like Jesus!’” The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression on his face and asked, “Is he like Joe?”

The Application: Say: “Jesus said in John 14:9, ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ The same thing was true of Joe’s life that was true of Jesus’ life--to see them was to see God. Could that be said of us? If we are going to show the world what God is really like then we must have the same humble attitude Christ had when he lived here on earth.” 

Ask your family members if they can think of anything they have done recently for someone else that only Jesus would have done. 

The Quote: “Our walk counts far more than our talk, always!”  George Mueller

The Prayer: “Father, please give us a heart for people who need to know what You are really like. Help us see others through Your eyes and love them with Your love.”

 

 

Showing the World What God Is Like

Day 6 : Tim Velde, Elder

The Verse: Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

The Illustration: One day, an Indian brave found an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet finally hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. 

He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

“What a beautiful bird!” He said to his neighbors. “What is it?” “That is an eagle, the chief of birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”

So the eagle spent his life looking up at the eagles in the sky and longing to join them among the clouds. It never once occurred to him to lift his wings and try to fly himself. Until the day he died, the eagle lived his entire life thinking he was a prairie chicken.

Growing up among prairie chickens, the eagle thought he was a prairie chicken, so he acted like a prairie chicken. How sad that he never realized who he really was and that he, too, could soar with the eagles.

The Application: Say: “If we are going to give the world an accurate picture of what God is like by the way we live our lives, then first we must know who we are. Christians are meant to soar in the heavens like eagles and not live in the dirt of this world like prairie chickens. Secondly, we must learn to live our lives like the eagles God created us to be.”

Ask each family member to share what they think that statement means. Ask them if they can think of an example of how some Christians live like prairie chickens.

The Quote: “A person ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian.”  D. L. Moody

The Prayer: “Father, we need to live like what you have created us in Christ to be, so the world will know You for who You really are. In order to do that, we need to keep our eyes and our minds on You. Please give us the desire to do that every day.”

 

 

Sharing What We Have with Others

Day 7 : Dave McQuinn, Elder

The Verse: Acts 3:6: “But Peter said, ’I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’”

The Illustration: Edward Kimball was concerned about one of his young Sunday school students who worked at a shoe store in town. One day Kimball visited him at the store and found the student in the back, stocking shoes. Mr. Kimball led the boy to Christ then and there. Dwight L. Moody was the boy’s name and he eventually became one of the greatest preachers and evangelists of all times. 

Moody, whose international speaking took him to the British Isles, preached in a little chapel pastored by a young man with the imposing name of Frederic Brotherton Meyer. In his sermon Moody told an emotionally charged story about a Sunday school teacher he had known in Chicago who personally went to every student in his class and led every one of them to Christ.

That message changed Pastor Meyer’s entire ministry, inspiring him to become an evangelist like Moody. Over the years Meyer came to America several times to preach. Once in Northfield, Massachusetts, a confused young preacher sitting in the back row heard Meyer say, “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” That remark led J. Wilbur Chapman to respond to the call of God on his life.

Chapman went on to become one of the most effective evangelists of his time. A volunteer by the name of Billy Sunday helped set up his crusades and learned how to preach by watching Chapman.  Sunday eventually took over Chapman’s ministry, becoming one of the most dynamic evangelists of the 20th century. In the great arenas of the nation, Billy Sunday’s preaching turned thousands of people to Christ.

Inspired by a 1924 Billy Sunday crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina, a committee of Christians there dedicated themselves to reaching that city for Christ. The committee invited the evangelist Mordecai Ham to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in 1932. A lanky 16-year-old sat in the huge crowd one evening, spellbound by the message of the white-haired preacher, who seemed to be shouting and waving his finger at him. Night after night the teenager attended and finally went forward to give his life to Christ.

The teenager’s name was Billy Graham--the man who has communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than any other man in history.

The Application: Say: “Remember the man named Kimball?  He wasn’t rich or famous. He wasn’t a preacher or an evangelist or a missionary. He was simply an ordinary man who cared enough about a boy to take the time to share Jesus with him. By sharing what he had to give with others, Mr. Kimball helped change the world. Millions of people have had their lives affected over the years, and millions more will continue to be touched by the Gospel because of Edward Kimball. God wants us to share what we have and make a difference in our world, too.”

Ask your family to think of just one thing they can do to make a difference in their world.

The Quote: “I’m thankful for a church that remembers that we exist primarily for those who aren’t here yet.”  Bob Record

The Prayer: “Father, help us love lost people the way You do and please show us practical ways to demonstrate that love every day.”

 

 

Sharing What We Have with Others

Day 8 : Nate Swearingen, Student Ministries Pastor

The Verse: Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

The Illustration: Little River Community Church was located just down the street from First Memorial Church.  Since they were located on the same street in the same town, the two youth groups from the two churches were often competing. 

They participated in the same softball league, the same basketball league, and had become intense rivals.  Little River Community was always trying to outdo First Memorial and vice versa.

One Sunday, following a Bible study on serving others, the youth group at Little River Community Church fanned out into the neighborhood and started serving.  One group washed cars for people up and down the street. Another group pumped gas for free at a self-service gas station.  Another group went to a convalescent home and sang songs to the shut-ins who lived there.

After the time was up, all the ministry teams returned to the church and reported what they learned and how it made them feel. One of the groups told of how they had gone to serve an older woman who lived close to First Memorial Church.

“We mowed her grass, raked leaves, and did yard work for her,” said one of the students. “She was real nice. After we were through, she invited us in and prayed for us. Then she said, “You young people from First Memorial Church are always doing such nice things for us old folks.”

“Oh no!” said the youth pastor. “She thought you were from First Memorial?  Well, I hope you set her straight. Did you tell her that you weren’t from First Memorial but from Little River Community?” 

“Well, no, we didn’t,” said the student, surprised by the youth pastor’s question.  “You told us to do what Jesus would do, didn’t you? We decided that Jesus wouldn’t care who got the credit.”

The Application: Say: “If we are going to share with others and serve them the way Jesus would, then we can’t be concerned about who gets the credit. Everything we give and everything we do, should be as if we are giving it to, and doing it for, the Lord. He, and He alone, is deserving of any praise. Our goal should not be to call attention to ourselves, but to turn people’s attention to God.”

Ask your family members if they can think of a time when they shared something of theirs (time, money, possessions, food, etc...) with someone who needed help, and no one else knew but God.

The Quote: “Nothing is really ours until we share it.”  C. S. Lewis

The Prayer: Father, please help us to remember every day that in all we do, we are to do to honor and bless You; Then help us to bless others in Your name.”

 

 

 Sharing What We Have with Others

Day 9 : Michael Ott, Administrative Pastor

The Verse: James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

The Illustration: A man once worked in the Sporting Goods section of a big Department Store.  His area was right next to the candy counter. One day he noticed a little boy about six years old with his nose pressed against the glass looking at all the different kinds of candy. The man could tell from the way the little boy and his mother was dressed that neither he, nor she, probably had any money for extras like candy.

The kind man felt sorry for the little boy, so he went up to the little boy’s mother and asked her if it would be okay for him to buy her son some candy. She smiled gratefully and said, “Yes.” The man turned to the little boy and told him to pick out whichever candy he would like to have. The boy’s eyes lit up, and he hurriedly pointed to the chocolate-covered caramels that he had been looking at longingly.

The man told the clerk behind the candy counter to give the boy a pound of the candy he had chosen. Then the man took out his wallet and paid the clerk for the candy, and the clerk handed the bag of candy to the little boy. 

The little guy immediately opened the bag and began to eat the candy. The man who had purchased the candy for the boy said, “Son, may I have a piece of your candy?” The little boy looked up at the man who had just paid for the candy and shouted, “NO--this is all my candy,” and he ran away!

The Application: Say: “Do we ever treat God like the little boy treated the man who bought him the candy? God gives us everything we have. All He asks is that we give back to Him a small portion of what He has given us.

Do we ever act like God has no right to ask that of us? Do we ever act like all the money and possessions we have belong to us?”

Ask your family members how they would have reacted to what the little boy said if they had been the one who bought the candy for him.

The Quote: “How generous you are does not depend on how much you give, but how much you have left.”  Anonymous

The Prayer: Father, please help us to remember that we don’t have anything that didn’t come from You. Convict us to give as freely to You and to others as You have given to us.”

 

 

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