Devotional YouVersion

How You Can Live Differently
You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. — Desmond Tutu

Our church supports a missionary family in India, a family that displays perfectly the family of God—not because they are perfect (Ha!) but because they aren’t perfect, yet they have been assembled perfectly, just as God has assembled us. 

It all started one day when they came out of their home and found a naked, one-day-old girl lying on their front step. Alone, abandoned, dying. They picked her up, bundled her up warmly and held her to their chest. She lived, and they kept her as their own. They began to hear about others who had been thrown out like trash (literally) on the side of the road. One by one these newborn girls have been brought into the missionary’s home. At last count there are more than twenty of them who are growing in Christ in this crazy family. It’s messy and loud, but it’s real. Really real. When the mother was asked what she was going to do with all these girls, she replied, “I’m going to give them my name!” And in a sea of nameless orphans, that’s a huge, life-changing gift. With a name, they belong. 

Another picture of what God has done for each of us—and a challenge to live differently in the family of those who are saved. 

The Church takes orphans, the Church takes deserted people, the Church takes abandoned people and pulls them in, and He gives them His Name, and He gives them a family.  

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Father, by Your love and strength, may it be so. Amen.

Devotional YouVersion

What It Means to be Part of God’s Family
It was Sunday morning, and all hell had cut loose that weekend. Literally. The one they called Jesus had been beaten, bloodied, and hung in the Middle Eastern sun to die humiliated. And with Him died the dreams of the masses who had followed Him as their Lord. That morning, Mary Magdalene discovered through her tears that even His body had been stolen. When all hope was lost, a man who Mary thought was the gardener, turned and said to her,  

“Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:16-17)

The nuances of His words were lost, I am sure, in the light of what had just been revealed: …my brothers… my Father and your Father… to my God and your God… It was a power-packed morning, with enough blatant impact to last an eternity. But in between the lines, Jesus also affirmed what He had been displaying His whole earthly life: That He was a son, dependent on the Father, and that the ragtag collection of men and women who followed Him were sons and daughters of the Father too… making them (and us) siblings of the firstborn Son of God.  

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

God’s purpose in redemption is to give Jesus brothers and sisters. How cool is that? God wants a big family! He wants you and me to be in it, children of the perfect Father, siblings of the ultimate big Brother. 

Our Father, Your Word says that if we receive Christ, You give us the right to be called children of God. Lord, I want to be a part of that family. I want to live as Your child; I want to be a sibling of Your Son. I want to learn dependence on You as I learn to live by grace with my other brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Your love. Amen. 

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Devotional YouVersion

God Always Has Time For You
I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy—“Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be *&$% if I’m going to pay for a landslide.” — John F. Kennedy

It’s one of the most famous photos in America: A picture of a little boy playing under his father’s desk while the father goes about his work. Sure, it’s “cute,” but “cute” doesn’t make a picture famous—yet this photo has endured (and endeared) for more than four decades. Why? Because of who the father is and where the child is. It’s JFK Jr. in the Oval Office.

Complete access to the most important people in our lives is one of the most important things. My dad continues to travel the world and I’m one of the few with his personal cell phone number. He will pick up any time he can. No, I’ve never called him in the White House, but I always have access to him. 

The same goes with our Abba Father. 

As brothers and sisters in Christ, our Father has left open the door of the Oval Office of the universe, allowing us unhindered access, because we are in Christ. The heavy veil that symbolically separated sinful humanity from the holy presence of God was torn the day Jesus died:

Sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body… (Hebrews 10:18-20)

The Son promised that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). He promised the Holy Spirit would always be in us (John 14:17). With His life, He gave us complete access to the office of the Father. That’s a pretty good family to be a part of, I’d say. 

Our Father, I praise You and thank You that You have given us uninhibited, 24/7 access to You through Christ. I praise You that You are never too busy for us, that You are never distracted by other things, that we can experience Your intimate attention and full affection any time and all the time. Amazing.

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Do you believe you belong in the family of God and that you’re fully accepted by Him? 
Are you willing to be used by God to expand His family? 

Devotional YouVersion

God As Your Father
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. — 2 Corinthians 6:18

I love my dad. My dad loves me. That’s important. For one thing, it makes it a lot easier to believe that our heavenly Dad loves me too. Psychologists and counselors tend to agree that our view of our earthly father really shapes our concept of our Father in heaven—both good and bad. 

On the down side, my dad was gone a lot when we were kids. Mom was always there to fill in the gaps, but Dad’s ministry often left an empty chair at the dinner table and an empty seat in the bleachers. During those formative years of faith, it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to view God the Father in the same way.    

What good attributes of your earthly father coincide with the truth about our heavenly Father? (Forgiving, generous, stable, intimate, understanding, etc.)
What negative attributes of your earthly father have infiltrated your thoughts about our heavenly Father? (Distant, critical, abusive, condemning, unsatisfied, absent, etc.)
The truth is that our Abba Father is our perfect Daddy, the One who is all, knows all, and works all things for our good—even when our earthly fathers drop the ball… or worse. 

Our Father, We need You, desperately, to show us where our fathers have influenced our perceptions of You. We need You, desperately, to empower us to forgive where we have been neglected and abused. We need You to replace lies with truth about who You are, so that we can be free to be all You have created us to be in Christ. Thank  You, Daddy, for doing this.