Dr. Dobson’s Parenting Devotional – Sept. 3

Empty Shells

I know your deeds…your service and perseverance.
Revelation 2:19

Elmer Bendiner flew on numerous bombing runs over Germany during World War II. He never forgot one of those missions. Bendiner’s B-17 was hit especially hard by enemy antiaircraft guns; eleven shells pierced the fuel tank. If even one of those shells had exploded, the plane would have been blown out of the sky. Incredibly, however, all remained intact. As Bendiner wrote in his book, The Fall of Fortresses, he eventually learned the explanation for this miracle. When demolition experts opened up the shells, they found no explosive charge. All were empty—but one. That shell contained a small note, apparently from a factory munitions worker, written in Czech. Translated, it read: “This is all we can do for you now.”

Scripture says that God notices our persistent acts of faith: “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance” (Revelation 2:19). That includes our small efforts as well as the great ones. When you are discouraged by the evils threatening your children and feel that your “insignificant” attempts to shield them make no difference, remember that the Lord is watching—and when it is within the wisdom of His divine plan, He will honor even the smallest endeavor: “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust” (Psalm 40:4).

Devastated and Delighted

Dily devotional jhon piper

The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

What would the doctrines of grace sound like if every limb in that tree were coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight (that is, what I call “Christian Hedonism”)?

  • Total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to God’s beauty and deadness to the deepest joy.
  • Unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed as the overflow of God’s joy in the fellowship of the Trinity.
  • Limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the new covenant.
  • Irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights.
  • Perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God not to let us fall into the final bondage of inferior pleasures, but to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of fullness of joy in his presence and pleasures at his right hand forevermore.

Unconditional election delivers the harshest and the sweetest judgments to my soul. That it is unconditional destroys all self-exaltation; and that it is election makes me his treasured possession.

This is one of the beauties of the biblical doctrines of grace: their worst devastations prepare us for their greatest delights.

What prigs we would become at the words, “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6), if this election were in any way dependent on our will. But to protect us from pride, the Lord teaches us that we are unconditionally chosen (7:7–9). “He made a wretch his treasure,” as we so gladly sing.

Only the devastating freeness and unconditionality of electing grace lets us take and taste such gifts for our very own without the exaltation of self.

He is With You in Your Valley

Author's Name September 3, 2019
JENNIFER ROTHSCHILD

Listen to this devotion

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Psalm 23:4a (NKJV)

It was a trendy restaurant with bird cages hung across the ceiling, old church pews for seats and an eclectic menu. I was with my husband Phil, so everything was fantastic.

Fantastic until I entered the ladies’ room, that is.

The decorator carried the urban barn theme into the bathroom. All wood and brick and totally funky and eccentric and … confusing. Here’s why.

I’m blind.

I began losing my eyesight as a teen due to a disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Now, four decades later, my world is totally dark.

So, having to navigate through all that creativity alone was hard! Straight lines and predictable layouts are much easier.

I used my cane and ran my hand across the wooden doors until I found an opening. But the stall was at a weird angle and, after I made my way into it, I realized I couldn’t find my way out of it. Every wall in the stall felt the same.

Evidently, when I entered the stall, the door swung behind me and clicked itself shut. But getting out? Well, that was a problem.

Where was the latch?!

Where was the handle?!

Where was the door?!

There were so many hinges and handles inside the stall, I couldn’t determine which were decorative and which could get me out of that cage of confusion.

I panicked.

An overwhelming dread came over me, not knowing how I got so turned around and how I could get out of there. Phil, having heard me from outside the restroom door, poked his head in and asked, “Honey, are you OK?”

I’m not sure what I said, but it was obvious I was not OK. So he marched right into that women’s restroom and knocked on the outside of the stall door until I found it.

When I pulled the latch and tumbled out of the door, I was fighting anxiety.

He asked what happened. But I didn’t know, except that I’d gotten disoriented and felt stuck, afraid, confused and vulnerable.

We all have those things that make us feel afraid, confused and vulnerable. A difficult relationship, discouraging situation, chronic or fatal diagnosis, or even painful memories. I’ll just call them valleys.

And, when we find ourselves in the valley, we can feel vulnerable and long for a rescue, a shelter … a Shepherd for our souls.

The Lord is our Shepherd, and He is with us in our valleys.

Valleys might bring out our fear, but they also bring us closer to our Shepherd.

King David reminds us that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” (Psalm 23:4a).

So, if you’re in a valley, you might not be able to get out of it. But here are some ways to get through it:

1. Look to the Shepherd.

Oh sister, we are just as easily rattled as sheep! So when we’re startled by situations and looking for a way out, we can look to our Shepherd first. He’s with us in our valley. He promises He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.

That means you will never, ever walk through a valley alone. So, if it’s tough and if you’re afraid, don’t look for the exit; look for the Shepherd. He is with you.

2. Listen to the Shepherd

His voice is His Word. Even in your darkest valley, the light of His Word can give comfort and clarity. Listen to Scripture, and be comforted by His presence and promises when you’re in a valley.

Pick just one or two Scriptures to meditate on and see how His Word will be the light you need.

3. Lean on the Shepherd

Valleys make us feel weak. But when you’re weak, He is strong in and for you. And if He leads you through valleys that seem too difficult, He will carry you.

It’s okay to feel weak and need strength — we’re just sheep who need a Shepherd. So many things in this life are over our heads and beyond our abilities. But nothing we face is too hard for Him.

So, don’t rely on your own strength. Lean on God’s instead — He will be enough to get you through your valley.

Dear Lord, when I can’t change my valley, help me change my perspective. Use my valleys to create everlasting good for my life and in it. Help me look to You, listen to Your voice, and lean hard on You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 95:7a, “… for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” (NIV)

Psalm 61:2, “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty? You try so hard to keep it all together, and yet, no matter how busy you are or how much you’re needed, it still doesn’t feel like enough? Don’t miss our next Online Bible Study, Psalm 23: The Shepherd with Me, by Jennifer Rothschild. You’ll learn how to find contentment in the goodness of Jesus and look to Him to supply everything you need … even when life is exhausting.The study begins TODAY. Join us!

CONNECT:
Receive daily encouragement from Jennifer when you connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Plus, receive weekly encouragement to live the “I can” life on her 4:13 Podcast.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What’s one Scripture you will choose today to be a light in your valley? Share it with us in the comments!

© 2019 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.

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PRAYER FOR THE FEEBLE MINDED

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Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. Exodus 6:9

 

Feeble minded ~ the anguish of spirit the Israelites felt while in Egyptian bondage.

 

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Lord, thank you for showing me who the feeble minded are. I’ve been confused. I know some who are continually depressed and angry because they are living out the consequences of their sinful choices. But they aren’t feeble.

 

Oh, but there are others whose yoke is heavy under your providence. Their story has not yet turned. Like the children of Israel under the yoke of Egyptian slavery, they long to see Your face and experience Your hand of deliverance. It is not time yet for them. They don’t know why and they travel the fine line of trust and unbelief.

 

You said, “We urge you to admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” I Thess. 5:14 I can be so impatient with them. Forgive me. I remember the many days I was feeble minded. There was no way I could have hastened my release from the wilderness. I was fragile. My faith was tenuous. I could barely lift my head.

 

So for each one who is under the hand of Your testing, testing for their ultimate good and Your glory, I ask for divine intuition to know how to strengthen them. Is it a prayer? Is it an embrace? Is it a listening ear? Is it empathy? Is it sharing my own story of feeble mindedness? I know there is no formula, Lord. Each one needs something only You know. I will not be effective to show them Your heart unless You speak to me to tell me what they need.

 

Give me Your eyes for them. Give me Your heart for them. Give me insight how to be Your hands of healing and encouragement. Make me a gentle, wounded healer. Make holy intuition my constant companion. Amen