Live by the Spirit

YouVersion Devotional

The Spirit is God’s Delight The Holy Spirit is God. The person who indwells us, leads us, and purifies us is no one less than God, the Holy Spirit. The simple evidence for this is the frequent designation “Spirit of God.” The Spirit is “of God” not because God created him, but because he shares God’s nature and comes forth eternally from God (see 1 Corinthians 2:10–12). If the Son of God is equally eternal with the Father, as John 1:1–3 makes clear that he is, then so is the Holy Spirit equally eternal with them both, because, according to Romans 8:9–11, the Spirit of Christ is one and the same with the Spirit of God. If this were not so, we would have to imagine that there was a time when the Son had no Spirit and the Father had no Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is essential to the relationship between the Father and the Son. He is, to use Handley C.G. Moule’s words, “the Result, the Bond, the Vehicle, of their everlasting mutual delight and love” (Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 28). As far back into eternity as God the Father has loved the Son, there has been an infinite Holy Spirit of love and delight between them, who is himself a divine Person. Therefore, as Jesus prays for the church in John 17:26, he asks his Father for nothing less than the Holy Spirit when he says, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. The most glorious of all truths that we will discover in these 7 devotionals is that when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, he comes not merely as the Spirit of the Son, nor merely as the Spirit of the Father, but as the Spirit of infinite love between the Father and the Son, so that we may love the Father with the very love of the Son, and love the Son with the very love of the Father. Learn more: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-holy-spirit-he-is-god

Family Talk Night Light for Couples

Duration: 365 days

A MOST EXTRAORDINARY EVENT

by Jo Ann Larsen

Larry and Jo Ann were an ordinary couple. They lived in an ordinary house on an ordinary street. Like any other ordinary couple, they struggled to make ends meet and to do the right things for their children. They were ordinary in yet another way—they had their squabbles.

Much of their conversation concerned what was wrong in their marriage and who was to blame—until one day when a most extraordinary event took place.

“You know, Jo Ann, I’ve got a magic chest of drawers. Every time I open the drawers, they’re full of socks and underwear,” Larry said. “I want to thank you for filling them all these years.”

Jo Ann stared at her husband over the top of her glasses. “What do you want, Larry?”

“Nothing. I just want you to know I appreciate those magic drawers.”

This wasn’t the first time Larry had done something odd, so Jo Ann pushed the incident out of her mind until a few days later.

“Jo Ann, thank you for recording so many correct check numbers in the ledger this month. You put down the right numbers fifteen out of sixteen times. That’s a record.”

Disbelieving what she had heard, Jo Ann looked up from her mending. “Larry, you’re always complaining about my recording the wrong check numbers. Why stop now?”

“No reason. I just wanted you to know I appreciate the effort you’re making.”

Jo Ann shook her head and went back to her mending. “What’s gotten into him?” she mumbled to herself.

Nevertheless, the next day when Jo Ann wrote a check at the grocery store, she glanced at her checkbook to confirm that she had put down the right check number. “Why do I suddenly care about those dumb check numbers?” she asked herself.

She tried to disregard the incident, but Larry’s strange behavior intensified.

“Jo Ann, that was a great dinner,” he said one evening. “I appreciate all your effort. Why, in the past fifteen years I’ll bet you’ve fixed over 14,000 meals for me and the kids.”

Then, “Gee, Jo Ann, the house looks spiffy. You’ve really worked hard to get it looking so good.” And even, “Thanks, Jo Ann, for just being you. I really enjoy your company.”

Jo Ann was growing worried. Where’s the sarcasm, the criticism? she wondered.

Her fears that something peculiar was happening to her husband were confirmed by sixteen‐year‐old Shelly, who complained, “Dad’s gone bonkers, Mom. He just told me I looked nice. Even though I’m wearing all this makeup and these sloppy clothes, he still said it. That’s not Dad, Mom. What’s wrong with him?”

Whatever was wrong, Larry didn’t get over it. Day in and day out he continued focusing on the positive.

Over the weeks, Jo Ann grew more accustomed to her mate’s unusual behavior and occasionally even gave him a grudging “Thank you.” She prided herself on taking it all in stride, until one day something so peculiar happened that she became completely discombobulated.

“I want you to take a break,” Larry said. “I am going to do the dishes. So please take your hands off that frying pan and leave the kitchen.” (Long, long pause.) “Thank you, Larry. Thank you very much!”

Jo Ann’s step was now a little lighter, her self‐confidence higher, and once in a while she hummed. She didn’t seem to have as many blue moods anymore. I rather like Larry’s new behavior, she thought.

That would be the end of the story except one day another most extraordinary event took place. This time it was Jo Ann who spoke.

“Larry,” she said, “I want to thank you for going to work and providing for us all these years. I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate it.”

No matter how hard Jo Ann has pushed for an answer, Larry has never revealed the reason for his dramatic change of behavior, and so it will likely remain one of life’s mysteries. But it’s one I’m thankful to live with.

You see, I am Jo Ann.

LOOKING AHEAD…

As Larry demonstrated, a little encouragement can transform a marriage. None of us—king or queen, president or business leader, husband, housewife or child—is without the human craving for appreciation. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” A kind word is like that. It fuels our energy and infuses us with new enthusiasm for facing the challenges life throws our way.

I invite you during this week’s discussion to consider the incredible power of encouragement. As you apply each principle, I think you’ll find that the sun shines a little brighter and your day runs a bit smoother. You might begin by simply telling your partner how much you appreciate having him or her around.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “A Most Extraordinary Event” by Jo Ann Larsen. © 1992. Used by permission of the author.

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

HOLDING ON TO INNOCENCE

by Dale Hanson Bourke

The sun had just risen over the Chesapeake Bay when my son shook me awake.

“Time for our adventure,” he announced. I groaned, glanced at the clock, and tried to think of something that would convince him to let me sleep a little while longer.

“It’s too early. The crabs are still asleep,” I replied in a groggy but authoritative voice.

“But, Mom,” he pleaded. It was guilt that finally drove me out of bed. I had promised him an adventure that morning, a time when he wouldn’t have to share me with his little brother. I could see the excited look on his face even with only one eye half open. Sitting up in bed, I tried to quiet Chase down as I pointed to his once-sleeping father.

Pulling my clothes on, I went through a quick checklist of gear: crab net, bucket, towel, string, bait. My stomach turned at the thought of the raw chicken necks in the refrigerator. Why are crabs attracted to such disgusting things? I wondered. Then I laughed to myself. Part of what attracted my son to this “sport” was the chance to watch me cringe at the sight of raw chicken hanging on a string.

Walking down the hill on our way to the water, Chase chattered excitedly. “Do you think we’ll catch lots and lots of them, Mom?” “Will you tell me if we catch a baby and have to throw him back?” “Can crabs jump out of the bucket and come get you?”

I listened to this little man-child with amusement. One minute he bragged about his ability to catch crabs, even though he had never gone crabbing before, and the next he was afraid. Last night at bedtime, he had prayed, “And please help me be very brave when I go to catch crabs.” He clutched my hand as we walked, and I knew he was a little nervous about this unknown experience. But he trusted me, and I promised I wouldn’t let any crabs “come get him.”

I laid our towel out on the dock in a little ceremony meant to help him appreciate our adventure. Out of the bag came string and dripping chicken pieces ready to attract our prey. We sat on the towel, eased our lines into the water, and waited.

Less than thirty seconds had passed when Chase asked, “Should we check our lines, Mom?”

“No, Chase. You’ll feel a crab pulling on the line.”

Another thirty seconds passed. “You think we need to find a better spot?”

“No, Chase,” I replied. “We just have to be patient.”

Chase shifted on the towel and peered into the water. “I sure don’t see any crabs in there.”

Suddenly, his string moved. “Mom, help!” Chase yelled, nearly dropping the string. He grabbed me as I reached for the net. “We got one,” he announced to the world. And then, “Careful, don’t let him get us.”

The net wrapped around the Maryland Blue, and I lifted him out of the water, legs thrashing, mouth still holding the chicken. He fell into our bucket with a plunk, opening and closing his claws menacingly.

Chase stood back, eyeing him suspiciously. “Are you sure he can’t get out?” he questioned. I assured my son of his safety. “Maybe we should put him back now so he can breathe,” Chase said.

Breathe? I wondered for a moment why this mattered—and then I understood. My son did not know that most people catch crabs in order to eat them.

We netted two more crabs before we decided to show them off, then throw them back into the bay. As we carried our bucket back to the cottage, Chase began to play one of his favorite games. “Mom, why did God make trees?” he asked.

“To give us shade and wood,” I replied.

“Why did God make chickens?”

“To give us eggs and meat,” I told him. “And crab bait.”

“Why did God make crabs?” he asked, and I realized that he suspected the worst.

I debated over my answer as I saw the look of concern in his eyes. Then divine inspiration struck: “So we could have an adventure,” I said.

My son smiled at me as he took my hand, holding on to innocence just a little while longer.

LOOKING AHEAD…

Children are born into this world as precious creations of God. They are filled with a purity and innocence that we parents should attempt to preserve whenever possible. This doesn’t mean that our babies are born innately “good,” as some would have us believe. Scripture reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), babies included. That is why even the youngest of children soon display tendencies toward rebellion and selfishness. Yet these youngsters are still innocent lambs entering a world filled with hungry wolves; they are absolutely dependent on their parents for protection and guidance.

When God formed Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they were innocent in their nakedness and in their understanding of the world. But when Eve listened to the serpent and she and Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened, and they covered themselves (Genesis 3:6–7). Their innocence was permanently lost.

Our culture is filled with serpents that attempt to fill the minds of our children with evil. These predators include drug pushers, unprincipled movie and television producers, sex abusers, abortion providers, heavy-metal freaks, and many who inhabit the Internet. Once our children encounter these evils, their innocence—just like Adam and Eve’s—is gone forever.

We’ll talk more this week about our culture’s relentless assault on innocence—and about how you can preserve the simple, pure spirits of your children by heeding the words of Scripture: “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Holding On to Innocence” by Dale Hanson Bourke. From Everyday Miracles by Dale Hanson Bourke (Nashville, Tenn.: Word Publishing, 1989). Used by permission of the author.