Christian living

Housekeeping Matters

The family keeps the house in order…

When I was a kid, my family had fun times. We went camping, roasted marshmallows in campfires, went on hayrides, and swam in almost-always-cold Lake Michigan.

But we also had a lot of work to do to keep our house in order. If everything we did was just for fun, we would end up in a mess. To make things orderly, we all had work to do. My brother cut the grass and took out the trash. I swept and did dishes. My parents worked, fixed the cars, and paid the bills.

If someone in the family was sick, we took care of them. If someone was sad, we hugged them while they cried. If someone was happy, we all celebrated.

Some people may have had maids or yard people or nannies, but not my family. If the work was going to get done, we had to do it.

The family of God is not all that different. Everyone in the family of God has a role to fill to keep the house in order. If the work is going to get done, we have to do it.

Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God’s grace...

1 Peter 4:10

Every believer has a gift to be used to serve the house. No one is exempted. God has something for each of us to do to keep the house functioning well, to help members of the house, and to reach the community with God’s grace.

Peter gives us some examples of these gifts and how to use them.

For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you…

1 Peter 4:11

There are so many grace gifts given that to make a complete list would be nearly impossible. If you are a baker, use that gift to glorify God. An artist, a carpenter, a computer programmer, a teacher, a doctor—wherever your gifting lies, be assured it can be used to bring glory to God and edification to the house.

Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves…

Galatians 6:4

It’s a blessing and an honor to be part of God’s family. It’s a privilege to be part of carrying out the work of God’s house. When we are committed to working in the house with excellence—using our own unique gifts—we are filled with joy, and the house fulfills its purpose of discipling Christians and leading the unsaved to Jesus. Everything works better when we all work together.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to be part of your family. Thank you for giving me a gift to use to serve the house. Help me work in the house with excellence. Fill me with your joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

. God's plan

Adopted into the Family

With all the benefits that go with it…

The Bible has several stories of adoption. Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Esther was adopted by Mordecai. Jesus was treated as a son by Joseph, even though Joseph was not his biological father.

Adoption is amazing. It turns strangers into family and turns orphans into sons and daughters. But the deepest, strongest, and most amazing act of adoption is not when people adopt children, but when God adopts people.

For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One…and this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure!

Ephesians 1:5-6

We are more than just God’s creation. We are more than just his servants. And God is more than just our judge. He is our father. When we give our lives to Jesus, we become part of God’s family, with all the benefits and rights that come with being his adopted child. Our God-planned destiny from the beginning was to be adopted into his family.

It’s hard to believe, but it gives God great joy and pleasure to adopt us. We weren’t cute, cuddly, and captivating. On the contrary, we were a mess. We were all born with evil, selfish natures. Our lives expressed the depravity inside us, as we pursued any wicked thought springing from our selfish nature. We deserved God’s anger. Yet, when we were unlovable, he still loved us. God loved us so much that he adopted us. He made us his very own children.

What does that mean? When someone adopts a child, they make that child part of their family forever. They give that child their family name, invest their time in that child, bear the necessary costs to support that child, and make that child an heir of their estate. Adopting a child is a huge, weighty, life-altering decision.

God made that decision for us from the beginning. He knew how much trouble we would be and the price it would cost, but he never wavered. He adopted us and gave us the right to call him, “Daddy.” He didn’t do it out of obligation or pity. Our heavenly Father adopted us out of love. We are part of the family of God, dearly loved, forever.

If you are a Christian, you are a child of the living God, adopted into his family. Because you are his child, God loves you, protects you, and provides for you. He will never leave you. He will hear and answer your prayers. He will make a way for you. Always. That’s what a good father does…and God is a very good father.

Father, I am thankful to be adopted into your family. I’m overwhelmed that you loved me enough to adopt me and make me your child. I want to grow into your image. Thank you for your grace, your presence, and your overwhelming love. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Handling Life's Problems

We All Need a Little Rest

When’s the last time you really rested?

They were travelling from town to town, preaching, casting out demons, and healing the sick. It was a busy time of ministry for Jesus and his disciples. Crowds followed them wherever they went. There were so many people with so many needs that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to stop and eat (Mark 6:31).

In the midst of preaching repentance, performing miracles, and changing lives, Jesus said something that sounded crazy. Something unexpected. Instead of doubling down on the work, Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

Even Jesus recognized the need for rest. In our super-busy lives, we may find ourselves exhausted, depleted, empty, and grumpy. To be effective, we need time to rest and refuel.

When is the last time we really rested? Do we feel guilty when we take time to rest and recharge? Do we think someone is going to outdo us if we disengage from work?

Rest refreshes our energy and increases our ability to stick with our work over the long haul. It also makes space to bond with our family. Stepping away from work to relax with family is one of the most important things we do in life. It creates an essential bond and breathes life into our relationships.

Remember, after God created the earth and everything in it, he took the seventh day off to rest. In the Old Testament, God instituted the Sabbath, one day each week when everyone took a break from their work. While we are no longer under Old Testament law, the principle of rest remains.

Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11:28). Psalm 23:2 says, “He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love…”

In the midst of our many tasks, appointments, assignments, and obligations, when we are worn out and exhausted, let us hear the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calling us to rest a while with him. He promises to show us how to relax, how to experience quietness and peace. He will show us the way to recover our joy and our lives.

Resting isn’t being lazy. It isn’t wasted time. Resting is an investment in our physical health, our mental health, and our spiritual health. So, take a deep breath. Slow down. Think about the goodness of God. Enjoy your family. You’ll feel better. You’ll do your tasks better. And you’ll please God.

Heavenly Father, give me wisdom to value rest. Help me recognize when I’m exhausted and when I need some quiet time to unwind and rest. Give me strength to work hard and help me balance hard work with seasons of rest. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Handling Life's Problems

Ready to Build, Ready to Battle

“Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” (Nehemiah 4:17)

Have you ever tried to do two things at once? It can be tough. In Nehemiah, the people working on rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem had to be ready at all times to build or to battle.

Their city was in shambles. The wall that should have protected them and their families was nothing but ashes and rubble. They were surrounded and regularly attacked by enemies who would like nothing better than to see them fail or see them destroyed. For generations, no one did anything about the dangerous condition of the walls of Jerusalem. Until Nehemiah showed up.

But what to do first? Build the wall? Or fight the enemy? Spoiler alert: They did both.

They didn’t stop building because there was an enemy. No, in the face of the enemy, they began digging out the rubble. They began setting stone upon stone. And, they didn’t ignore the enemy because they were building. They built, but they also remained constantly ready to battle, weapons in hand. We too must build, and we must also stay ready to battle an enemy attack.

Nehemiah 4:13 says, “I stationed the people to stand guard by families…” Nehemiah assigned the people to work as families. He told them to stop being afraid of the enemy and, instead, to remember the greatness of God. He said, “Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14). They were building for the safety of their family. They were fighting for the future of their family.

Friend, we’re in the same situation. We’ve got an enemy who would love to see our family fail or be destroyed. We’re building and fighting for the salvation and future of our family. Our family may not look like what we expected. Difficult circumstances may have left our families with broken places that need rebuilt. We may be afraid or discouraged, but we can choose to remember the greatness of God and turn our hearts and hands to doing the work needed to rebuild and fight.

Where we find weaknesses in our ourselves or our family, we rebuild. We listen and pray. We adjust and make changes. We seek counseling. We put down our screens and interact with our family. We read the Bible and we apply what we read to our lives. Rebuilding requires effort. It can be tiring, but the end result is worth the work.

When we encounter attacks from the enemy, we fight. Our weapons are the Word (Ephesians 6:17), our worship (2 Chronicles 20:21), and resistance (James 4:7). Our enemy isn’t our spouse or our children. Our enemy is Satan, who wants to destroy our families. If our family is under spiritual attack, we rely on the Word, worship, and resistance to defeat our enemy.

Here’s some good news: If you fight for your family, God will fight for you! (See Nehemiah 4:20.) That ought to put a spring in your step and confidence in your soul. Friend, don’t give up on your family without a fight. If you fight for your family, God will fight right beside you. You won’t fight alone. God is with you. He loves you. He loves your family. And he promises he will fight for you.

Dear God, thank you for my family. Make me an example of a Godly person to everyone in my family. Give me discernment to see where there are weaknesses in my family and give me strength and wisdom to rebuild. When my family is under attack, give me courage and determination to fight. I give you my family. I give you my life. Let my life lead the next generation to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.

The Power of Words

Speaking God’s Promises

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

God’s word isn’t just something we read. It isn’t just good advice. It isn’t just a collection of amazing stories. No, it’s a weapon to use as we face battles. It’s a promise-filled resource to protect us and guide us and our families into the destiny God has planned for us.

There are some blessings we receive just because we are children of God. For example, we receive forgiveness, grace, and eternal life as a free gift. But there are also promises we must actively reach out for and apply to our lives. We activate the fullness of God’s favor for ourselves and our families by claiming the promises in God’s word and speaking them into our lives.

Promises aren’t about where we are now, but where we are going. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) speaks to the future of our families. It’s not enough just to read that verse and take no further action. We must say it out loud. We must speak it over our homes. We must pray it over our children and our grandchildren.

Here’s a promise of provision in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread.” Our future isn’t begging. God promises to provide for us. When we’re struggling with finances, we can speak, claim, and pray this promise.

Great power and great victories come from speaking God’s promises into our everyday lives.

God always keeps his promises. Do you need freedom? There’s a promise for that. Do you need peace? There’s a promise for that, too.

What word from the Bible applies to your situation?  Find it and declare it out loud. Grab hold of the promises of God’s word and begin to proclaim them against the enemy.

Your breakthrough may be just one proclamation away.

Dear God, thank you for your promises! Thank you for your word! Your word is alive and powerful, and I am protected and comforted by your promises. God, I want to speak your word into my life. I believe speaking your promises into my circumstances will create positive change in my life. Help me seek and treasure your word more and more each day. In Jesus’s name, amen.