Family Devotional

Perseverance

I’m back from vacation and back in the saddle. I do want to say that these next few weeks will be a bit more muted with the devotional as the Reflections class has nearly caught up with my (slow) writing. In any case, let’s get your family together and continue our journey through the Westminster Confession (for this devotion, you will need your Bible):

Let’s see who can persevere the longest. When I was in elementary school we had to do a drill in gym class called “Six inches.” In this drill, we had to lay down on our backs, but raise our unbent legs six inches (from our feet to the ground) off the ground and hold them in that position for as long as we could. Let’s see who can hold them out the longest! If you have better core strength, you will be able to do it even longer. Sometimes some of the littlest kids are the best at this because the ratio of their core strength to the weight of their feet is in their favor! (This might make a great opportunity for your littlest ones to outlast the older ones!) Now let’s see if you can hold it for 60 seconds!

Was it hard to endure the “Six Inches” drill? In your mind, did you start looking forward to the moment you could put your legs down and rest? Did you start to think how silly this whole exercise was and start to justify how easy it would be just to give up? What kept you going? The idea of the reaching your goal! The Christian life is very similar. God promises that His people will persevere to the end (Philippians 1:6). God will finish the work that He starts!

Let’s start by reading Hebrews 10:32-39 together. The writer of Hebrews is writing to a people that faced very difficult days. In fact, they were given the option of walking away from Jesus or being thrown out of their communities. Many of them were thrown in prison for following Jesus and their property was confiscated from them. They are being urged to endure through the pain, because the goal in mind – life with Jesus – is better than property, better than freedom, and better than a good name.

If you don’t persevere then you don’t have the Spirit who gives us the ability to endure! He is the one who is doing the good work in us (Philippians 1:6) to make us more like Jesus. But hear how the Spirit of Jesus closes out the section in vs. 39: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” If you are united to Jesus in faith then you will persevere because you have the Spirit of God who works in us to make us like Jesus. And God has never in the history of the universe left anything unfinished. He finishes what He starts.

Let us encourage one another in our persevering in the faith. We are going to need it.

Reaction Activity

  • Let’s sing He Will Hold Me Fast together again as a family.
  • Let’s ask the Lord to hold us fast. Let’s thank Him that though our love grows cold, He is stronger than our hearts.

Evidence of the Spirit

Let’s get your family together and continue our journey through the Westminster Confession (for this devotion, you will need your Bible):

Your body is constantly giving signs of life. You breathe in and out, your heart beats and gives a pulse on your wrist or on your neck. These are indicators that your body is functioning just the way it is supposed to. When you visit the doctor and he puts on his stethoscope and listens to you breathe, he is looking for signs that everything in your respiratory system is working like it should. These vital signs are so helpful in warning us and informing us about our health.

Did you know that there are actual signs of spiritual life as well? Does sin bother you? Do you do good to others? Do you long to worship God with your life? Do you pursue and think on what is good? These are all signs that will tell you whether or not the Spirit of God is working in your life.

Let’s start by reading 1 John 3:4-10 together. John lived in an interesting time. He got to live with and walk with Jesus. He lived longer than any of the other disciples, and cared for Jesus’ mother after all of her other sons had passed away. But even in John’s own time there were a group of people that sprang up in the Church who said that it didn’t matter if you did what was right. These people said that the physical world wasn’t important, and so your physical actions didn’t matter only your heart mattered. John looked at this false teaching and punched it in the nose!

John said that what you do in your action reflects who you are and more importantly whose you are. John said if you do devilish things it is a sign that you belong to the Devil. If you are alive in Christ then you will show signs of Christ’s life and live for Him, not the Devil. Our physical actions are connected to our hearts and so ALL of our physical actions flow from and impact our hearts. This is why we feel guilt in our conscience when we sin – because our bodies and our hearts were meant to live in unity with God.

Why were you created? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever! You need God’s goodness in your life like – or rather – more than you need bread. Is your life giving you signs of spiritual life or spiritual death?

Reaction Activity

  • Let’s sing Wholly Yours together again as a family.
  • Let’s ask the Lord to help us live a life that tells us we belong to Him.

Good Works

Let’s get your family together and continue our journey through the Westminster Confession (for this devotion, you will need your Bible and a lantern):

Let’s play a game of hide and seek but with a twist: let’s play it in the dark. But let’s make it more interesting: only one person is hiding while everyone else searches. BUT let’s make it even MORE interesting: They have to hold this lantern. It’s really hard to hide a light in a dark room, isn’t it? The darker the room, the more visible the light.

Let’s start by reading Matthew 5:13-16 together. Jesus was teaching a new and higher Law to his people. Jesus wasn’t telling them how to be saved, He was telling us the ethics of His kingdom – the Church. This is what life looks like under the good reign of our king Jesus. Jesus begins by blessing His people for their suffering, and then he takes a long discourse to apply the Law of Moses not just to our actions, but to our heart’s motive! But he opens up this section by saying our good works from the heart will cause others to glorify God in heaven.

A couple months ago, when New York City was being hit incredibly hard with a COVID outbreak, a group of Christians opened up a field hospital in Central Park. The leaders of that city responded by calling the Christians hateful and meanspirited! Can you imagine?!? But that is exactly what Jesus tells us will happen in vs. 11. But for those who were treated by these Christian doctors, many of them have given testimony of the kindness and love of the Christians. This is what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus was kind and healed, and the world cursed Him for it. We are not greater than Jesus and when we do good works, whether people like us for it or not, God is glorified in heaven.

Why were you created? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever! It matters so little what people say about us. All that matters is whether God is glorified and Jesus is made known. Jesus tells us that one of the clearest ways to do this is by living holy lives.

Let’s thank God that He has given us the opportunity to testify about Him with our lives.

Reaction Activity

Repentance

Let’s get your family together and continue our journey through the Westminster Confession (for this devotion, you will need your Bible and this declutter video from youtube):

Did you know that there are people who have difficulty throwing out junk? Let’s watch this video on a messy home. They allow trash to accumulate in their homes to the point that friends can no longer come visit, bugs and pests begin to move in with them, and even emergency services cannot get in to help them when they need it! This is a serious problem! In the video we just watched, Mrs. Kimura couldn’t have her family move in with her, until she realized that her messiness was a problem — she needed to change her habits!

Pastor Jim often tells us we are saved by faith alone, but faith never is alone. Faith is always accompanied by something we call repentance. What is repentance? Repentance is what happens when we 1) Begin to hate sin; 2) Confess our sin to God, and 3) Choose to turn away from that sin.

Let’s start by reading Genesis 39:6-12 together. Joseph loved God. Joseph loved God and hated sin. So when Potiphar’s wife demanded that Joseph be her special boyfriend, Joseph knew that it was sin not just against Potiphar, but against God. So Joseph ran away from sin! That’s exactly what repentance looks like at the beginning and at the end – it begins with a hatred of sin and it ends with a running away from sin. If we love God, we realize that sin separates us from Him and cannot be tolerated. We cannot hug God and hug sin at the same time; one will crowd the other out.

But we also see that repentance means confessing our sin when we do sin. In Psalm 32:1-5 David tells us that when he hid his sin from God, his bones wasted away within him. This means that his soul was tormented by sin because it was standing in the place of God (remember we were made for God, not pickle juice!). Puritan Nathaniel Vincent wrote “He who hides sin loves it.” And this is true! But we also must remember that Martin Luther’s first protest against the Catholic Church was: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” The Christian life is filled with repentance from beginning to end.

Let’s thank God that He has given us a gracious opportunity to believe Him today.

Reaction Activity

  • Let’s sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing together as a family.
  • Let’s take some time to confess our sin before the Lord. He is merciful to those who come to Him!

The Gift of Faith

Let’s get your family together and continue our journey through the Westminster Confession (for this devotion, you will need your Bible):

Have you ever thought about how great it is to have the family that you do? You can think as you pass each house how you could have been born into that home or the next home, and life would be completely different. There are 7 billion people in the world. And out of all of them, God gave you to the family that you have, to the home that you have, in the place that you are in. In fact of all the 7 billion people in the world, you are the only one who gets to sit with the family you have and hear God’s Word being opened up right now. God has given you a great gift!

We’ve talked about faith last week and hopefully we were able to do some “trust falls” to illustrate that faith means action. But today, we are going to talk about the part of faith that has nothing to do with us. Faith is a gift. We cannot make faith appear in our own hearts. It comes from God!

Let’s start by reading all of Genesis 12:1-9 together. What made Abram special that God would even choose him? Was he smarter than the other people? Was he holier than the other people? Was he better looking than the other people? No! The Bible tell us that Abram was old. Abram worshiped false gods (Joshua 24:2). There was nothing about Abram that would make God go, “That guy is worthy of me choosing him.” But God came to him and spoke to him! We’ve talked before how it is an incredible act of grace when God speaks. Whenever God speaks, He is offering the chance to believe Him.

God gave Abram the gift of faith, and Abram responded in the actions of faith. Now God has come to you in His Word. He has spoken. Will you hear His Word? Will you act on faith and obey His Word? Not everyone was born into a family that reads God’s Word. You have been given a great gift. But a gift needs to be received. Will you receive Gods’ Word?

Let’s thank God that He has given us a gracious opportunity to believe Him today.

Reaction Activity

  • Let’s sing How Firm a Foundation again together as a family.
  • Let’s thank God that He has given us the opportunity to believe Him.

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