NEW TESTAMENT READING PLAN

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway 1 Timothy 3 Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. Reasons for Paul’s Instructions 14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory. New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Correct Connection Devotional

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”—Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV)

For practically two chapters of this four-chapter epistle, the apostle Paul has stacked one layer of truth concerning Jesus upon another. The objective of unveiling both who Jesus is and all He has done has been accomplished, which is why Paul now transitions to a new emphasis . . . warning! He warns the early church against its greatest threat. Interestingly, it’s not persecution nor is it some sinful behavior that we’d consider heinous or depraved. It’s legalism!

Remember, Christianity began as a predominantly Jewish movement. Its first followers had to transition from an identity rooted based on the Law of Moses to an identity rooted in the liberty secured by the cross. They were free from the Law’s obligations, but as you can imagine, this freedom was hard to fully accept. As a result, many stood in a sort of “spiritual no-man’s land” with one foot in legalism and the other foot in liberty.

To make matters worse, false teachers were making the rounds and leveraging this insecurity to draw followers (and finances) to themselves. This was a blatant contradiction to the sufficiency of what Christ had done for them. So, Paul tells them to tune out any teaching that said they were still obligated to observe Moses’ Law because all of that merely pointed to what they now possessed in Christ. And Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to diagnose where those teachings came from: “And not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (Colossians 2:19 NKJV).

These false teachings were coming from those who weren’t even connected to Christ. But Paul points out to his readers that they were connected. And just as the head of a body makes life possible for the rest of that body, Jesus was their source of life, not those who were disconnected from Him and them. So, they shouldn’t put themselves under their judgements on how they should live!

The underlying truth here isn’t something that just applied to those first followers of Jesus. The same spiritual reality flows through our veins, as well. As believers in Christ, we’re connected to Him. He’s our Head, our source of life, and it’s vital to our spiritual lives that we see this. Otherwise, we’ll open ourselves to the false influences of legalism, hedonism, fatalism, or any other “ism” out there that’s not of Christ. Let’s live according to the One who gives us life!

DIG: What transition does Paul make here with his readers and why?

DISCOVER: What’s the connecting truth we need to understand?

DO: This week, determine what would be a wise filter for you as it relates to the influences in your life.

Family Talk Night Light for Couples

Duration: 365 days

“THE FACE OF MY ENEMY”

by Corrie ten Boom

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavy‐set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken and moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. The year was 1947, and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

This was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed‐out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’”

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, collected their wraps in silence, left the room in silence.

And that’s when I saw him working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

The place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the cruelest guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face‐to‐face with one of my captors, and my blood seemed to freeze. “You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein”—again the hand came out—“will you forgive me?”

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again needed to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow, terrible death simply by the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were also able to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that, too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Jesus, help me! I prayed silently. I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.

So, woodenly and mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, and sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart.”

For a long moment, we grasped each other’s hands—the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so, I realized it was not my love. I had tried and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5: “Because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

LOOKING AHEAD…

I can’t imagine any situation or circumstance in which the obligation to forgive would be more difficult than the one Corrie faced. She had lived with routine murder, humiliation, cruelty, and starvation at the hands of the man who now faced her. Every natural impulse—every angry emotion—would cry out for revenge against her former tormentor. She still carried with her the images of her father, emaciated sister, and other family members who died at the hands of the Nazis. I wonder if I could have had the moral strength to forgive this guard and release the passion for revenge and retribution. Yet, Corrie ten Boom was able to do just that and thereby show the world what Jesus meant by His commandment to “turn the other cheek.”

Here’s the question of the hour: If Corrie ten Boom could forgive her captors—and if Jesus could forgive the Roman soldiers and you and me for killing Him on the cross—can’t we find it in our hearts to forgive the mistakes and hurtful actions of our imperfect mate? We absolutely must, or we’ll become pathetic invalids trapped by bitterness and hate.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “The Face of My Enemy” by Corrie ten Boom. Taken from The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. Used by permission of Chosen Books LLC, Chappaqua, N.Y.

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

SWEET DREAMS

by Jeannette Clift George

My mother was a gifted pianist. Music never left her fingers, her heart, or her home. Even though she gave up a concert career when she married my father, she loved to play the piano and she thought I would feel the same.

I practiced obediently, if not skillfully, doing endless scales or one-note melodies punctuated by chords repeated with little variation. My assigned music was in a large and floppy collection that kept sliding off the piano as though it, too, wanted to leave the room. I was not a gifted student. At a piano recital, I took twelve emotion-packed minutes to introduce my piece, which I forgot the moment I sat down to play it.

One afternoon I was laboring joylessly over “The Happy Farmer,” and Mother was out in the backyard laboring with great joy over her day lilies. As I played, Mother called from the yard, “No, it’s F-sharp, honey, F-sharp!”

I struck every note my two hands could reach and began to cry. Mother hurried in to me. “What’s the matter?” she asked.

“How did you know it was wrong?” I cried. “You were out in the yard and I was here with the music. What I played sounded just fine to me!”

Mother looked at me in dismay. She had not intended to discourage me. “Besides,” I said, still spattering tears upon the keyboard, “I’m only doing this to please you.”

My mother stared at me in astonishment. Never in her life had she imagined that anyone did not want to play the piano. All her dreams of handing down the joy of music to her daughter melted in the glare of my outburst. And in one instant, she accepted the painful revelation.

She came to me, smiling, and hugged me. She brushed away my tears and said, “Well, honey, you don’t have to do it. We’ll find something that pleases you.”

Now I wish I had learned to play the piano, but I think back to that moment in awed awareness of my mother’s instant understanding. She looked into my heart and realized that I would not be happy living out her dream. She freed me to pursue my own dream: theater.

My mother and father attended every performance of mine in the Houston area. No matter how demanding the role or how critical the production, my mother would always say, “Sugar, you can do it. I know you can.” And something in me deeper than fear and doubt believed her. Even in the wearying long hours of rehearsals and performances my mother’s creative encouragement was a joy.

One night after a late performance that had been further lengthened by a picture call, I came home after Mother had gone to bed. There was a light on in the kitchen and downstairs hallway. Tiptoeing, I climbed the stairs to my room. I was very tired, and in that moment stumbled upon the deep loneliness that seems to haunt the actor after working hours. As I moved to turn off the light, I glanced down the stairwell.

A large chrysanthemum plant was on a table in the hallway. That night it bloomed with greetings from my mother. She had cut out tissue paper faces and placed them in the center of each blossom and had printed messages on the border of each face… “Good Night, Jeannette…Sweet Dreams.” No bouquet ever meant more to me or has stayed so fresh in my memory. When I think of how God has gifted all of us with our own unique creativity, I think of those flowers, and I thank God for my mother.

LOOKING AHEAD…

It can be easy for us as parents to place expectations on our children, nurturing our own dreams rather than allowing theirs to blossom and grow. Much more difficult is the challenge of getting behind the eyes of your child, seeing what he sees and feeling what he feels. When he is lonely, he needs your company. When he is defiant, he needs your help in controlling his impulses. When he is afraid, he needs the security of your embrace. When he is curious, he needs your patient instruction. When he is happy, he needs to share his laughter and joy with those he loves.

If you truly know your child, you’ll be in a much better position to respond to the ups and downs of parenting—and while you’re at it, to actually enjoy the process! We’ll talk more in the next few days about how to become “wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:6, nkjv) and gain an intimate understanding of our children.

jcd

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

“Sweet Dreams” by Jeannette Clift George. From Mothers Have Angel Wings, compiled by Carol Kent © 1997. Used by permission of NavPress/Pinon Press. All rights reserved. For copies call 1-800-366-7788.