Family Talk Night Light for Couples

Duration: 365 days

NUMBERING OF OUR DAYS

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

I (jcd) had invited fellow‐believer Pete Maravich to join me and a few others for a pick‐up basketball game the day before he was to appear on a Focus on the Family broadcast. It was an audacious thing to do. Though retired for nearly eight years, “Pistol Pete” had been one of the NBA’s all‐time best players. Nevertheless, he joined us, and we scrimmaged for about forty‐five minutes.

During our break, I asked Pete how he felt. He answered, “I feel just great.” Those were his last words. As I turned away, he fell hard on the court. He died seconds later in my arms, the victim of a congenital malformation of the heart that had never been diagnosed.

Moses wrote this prayer: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). That is a strange verse at first glance. What does knowing that life is short have to do with wisdom? Everything, in fact. If we retained an eternal perspective, we would surely order our choices by eternal values. Would a husband pursue an adulterous affair? Would a wife belittle her mate for his failings? Would both devote their lives to the pursuit of power and wealth? I think not.

Time is an embezzler, juggling the books at night when no one is looking. So remember to use each day for the Lord as though it could be your last. All too quickly, it will be.

JUST BETWEEN US…

  • Do we live each day as if it might be our last? Why or why not?
  • What does it mean to “live in light of eternity”?
  • How can I encourage you to live for things that really matter?

Father, each day of life is a gift, and we do not know when we will draw our last breath. May we live circumspectly, with eternity always in view. Amen.

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

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

JOYFUL HARVEST

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest. Galatians 6:9

Gigi Graham Tchividjian and her husband, Stephan, are experts on the trials and joys of parenthood—they had seven children. Not surprisingly, considering the twenty-year span between their oldest and youngest kids, they often struggled with family activities such as devotions. It was a constant challenge to present material that held the attention of the older children and was also understandable to the younger ones. Sometimes it was a battle just to get them all into the same room!

Yet Gigi and Stephan persisted. They knew that family devotions often led children to a deep love for God’s Word. And years later, they began to see the fruits of their efforts. Stephan, for instance, ran into one of his sons walking in town with his fiancée. The son remarked, “We’ve just finished having our devotions together in the car.” Another son related to Gigi over lunch how much their family devotional times had meant to him. They’d shown him that the Christian life was a daily, workable reality. Gigi realized then that the years of struggle had been worth it.

You, too, may wonder if you’ll ever see the fruits of your parenting efforts. We believe that if you persevere, then at the “proper time” you will indeed reap a joyful harvest.

BEFORE YOU SAY GOOD NIGHT…

Are you persevering in your spiritual goals for your children?

In what areas did you struggle most when your kids were small, and what solutions did you find?

How can you help each other “not become weary” as parents?

Dear Father, sometimes we become so bogged down in the daily battles that we lose sight of where we’re going. Help us, Father. Empower us to make the most of our opportunities today…to love, to counsel, to warn, and to teach. Amen.

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

Illustration adapted from Weatherproof Your Heart by Gigi Graham Tchividjian (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 2000)

Standing Strong Through the Storm

Duration: 365 days

WHAT MADE THE ANGELS SO EXCITED?

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14

A depressed Chinese communist local party boss went to an official church to hear the preaching of a very sincere and learned elder he knew. Here is his story in his own words:

It was the first Sunday of December. I remember he talked about “The Angel’s Song.” After the service I spoke to him, “You know, I really can’t see what all the fuss is about Jesus. He was a man of moral ideals, and died for his belief, but lots of other religions have such men, too.” This elder smiled and said, “Are you looking for God?”

“I suppose I am,” I admitted to him. He asked again, “Well, if Jesus doesn’t seem to be up to much, what sort of God would you be looking for?” I answered slowly, thinking it through, “I guess a God who first of all is totally powerful, and then is also totally just or fair.”

The elder probed again, “But how would you know a God like that was interested in you?” I said, “Then he would also have to be a God of love.” The elder challenged me by saying, “If you find a God who is all three: powerful, just, loving, would you trust Him?”

“I might,” I replied “but I would need to find an event that proved he was all three.”

“Take this Bible,” said the elder, handing me what I saw was his own copy of the Bible, “and come back to me if you find an event that shows God is supremely and uniquely all three.”

I started reading the Bible and pretty soon I came across that verse the elder had preached on the morning I attended the church. “Glory to God in the highest.” What was it that made the angels so excited? After all they had witnessed, what was so unique about the birth of Jesus?

I had little time to brood on this because my wife was expecting our first child. All went well with the delivery and I held the little warm bundle, gazing into his peaceful sleeping face. What perfection the baby seemed. As I looked, the more I was amazed by the sheer miracle of birth.

Had I really used the word “miracle” to describe the birth of my son? Then I thought, the miracle of the birth of Jesus had to be more than just a miracle of birth to impress those angels so much. I read on, and the Spirit of God gave light to my eyes. God had become a baby.

I looked for three characteristics of the God I would trust. Power. This had to be a greater act than the creation of the world. In the beginning God was merely bringing a world into being.

Love. God came! If He wasn’t interested, He would not have bothered to come at all. After all, Jesus had a very hard life, not the kind of life that anyone would wish for.

Justice. God loved us so much, He came. He came Himself to redeem sinful man. Here was the meaning and glory of Christianity – all captured in the incarnation.

I wept and wept in my little study. I must have stayed on my knees for hours. When I looked at my watch, and suddenly noticed the date…it was the 25th of December…Christ’s birthday! That Christmas was so real. I saw in the cradle the infinite power, justice and love of God supremely and uniquely illustrated. As long as I live, I will celebrate Christmas every day.

RESPONSE: Today I will worship the God whose power, love and justice came in the form of His Son.

PRAYER: Thank God for Jesus. Ask Him to help you celebrate Christmas every day!

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.