The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“How blessed are you parents.” Ps 127:5 TM
Here are another two parenting myths. (1) Good parents always produce good children. If only that were so, but it’s not! Even when you do all the right things, your children get to make their own choices in life. Cain and Abel were raised in the same home by the same parents. But Abel’s choice pleased God while Cain’s led him to commit the first recorded murder. Even model parents have no control over the choices their children ultimately make. This doesn’t mean your attempts to be a godly influence on them are wasted; not at all! It just means that when you’ve done your best you should: (a) recognize and accept your limits; (b) teach your children wisdom, allowing them to be responsible for the consequences of their decisions; (c) trust God to do what you cannot do. Some kids get the message quickly, others like the Prodigal Son take detours. But God never gives up on them—and neither should you. (2) Good parents treat all their children the same way. The Bible says, “Teach children in a way that fits their needs” (Pr 22:6 ERV). Every child is wired with a unique set of needs and abilities, and wise parents recognize and work with these characteristics. Your responsibility isn’t to try to make them the “perfect kid.” It’s to try to discover the distinctive pattern God built into each child, and work to develop that pattern in them. The reward God promises such parents is, “When they are old (detours notwithstanding!), they will not leave the right path” (v. 6 ERV).
“Children are a gift from the Lord.” Ps 127:3 CEB
Here are two myths of parenting: (1) Good parents always keep tidy homes. We think our house should look picture-perfect, so we get upset when our children turn it upside down. But an obsession with neatness can result in missing precious moments that never come again. Unintentionally, we teach our children that things—not people—are important. We instill the idea that keeping up appearances matters more than enjoying life together. The truth is, the house will be orderly sooner than you think, and quiet, and empty! So enjoy the disarray, the laughter, the spills and scrapes. Let the nicks and scratches on the furniture become memories of precious moments with little people who’ll grow up feeling loved and important to you. (2) Good parents must always be “right.” Writer and mother Ann Peterson shares an insight that struck while she was engaged in a run-in with her son. “Finally, through clenched teeth I managed to ask him, ‘Why must you always be right?’ He responded through clenched teeth (must have learned that from his father), ‘Because you always have to be right.’ I sensed God watching that moment. Words were unnecessary. I got the message loud and clear. From that moment on, being ‘right’ lacked the luster it once held for me.” The relationship with her son became less resistant, “something I’d have missed had I not conceded the need to be always right.” So choose your battles carefully! Good parenting isn’t about racking up “victories” and dishing out “defeats,” it’s about enjoying your family.
“If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” Mk 11:25 NIV
The hardest offenses to forgive are committed by the people who are closest to us. Why? Because we have to live with them every day! When we’re young, our emotions are so intense that wounds and injuries may stay with us for a lifetime. And the pain is worse when the one who wronged us was a parent. Perhaps a mother rejected us instead of providing the love we needed, or an alcoholic father was sexually abusive in the midnight hours. Victims of such horror may still be consumed with resentment and anger many decades later. This can cause you to “act out,” and hurt the people you now love and need most. What’s the answer? Forgiveness. Dr. Archibald Hart defines forgiveness as “giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” Only when you find the emotional maturity to release those who’ve wronged you, whether they have repented or not, will your wounds begin to heal. Jesus put it this way: “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Here’s something you may not have considered: God’s willingness to forgive you depends on your willingness to forgive others. You say, “But if I forgive them, I’m letting them off the hook.” No, you’re letting yourself off the hook! You’re setting yourself free of pain and resentment, and positioning yourself to walk in God’s blessing. Leave the offense and the offender with God; He’s the only one who understands what they did and why they did it. As far as you are concerned—forgiveness begins the healing process.
“You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.” 1Sa 20:18 NIV
Who’s the one person whose death you dread most? Is it causing you anxiety? If so, begin to put these things into practice: (1) Ask God for the grace to accept death as an inevitable part of life. Both you and your loved one will eventually die, and no one but God knows who’s going to do so first. Therefore, worrying about something outside your control only robs you of your peace and joy. (2) Maximize each moment. If you knew the exact date of your loved one’s departure, what would you wish you’d done? Or not done? Would you take that trip you’ve always talked about? Would you be less critical and more complimentary? Would you spend more time with them, and tell them more often that you love them? (3) Don’t give another moment of your time to silly arguments and little irritations. (4) Make every effort to be sure your loved one is in right standing with God. Then you can be assured they’re at peace, and that you’ll spend eternity together. (5) Remember, your loved one is God’s loved one too. And He loves them even more than you do. When the time comes, God will be right there with you. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Ps 23:4). (6) Try to picture your loved one in heaven. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn 14:2-3). The parting will only be momentary, but the reunion will be forever.
“The commands of the Lord are radiant.” Ps 19:8 NIV
Observe: (1) “The commands of the Lord are radiant.” When people like Plato and Shakespeare speak, the effect of their words on us depends on what we bring to the process. Some of us may be informed and entertained, while others may be indifferent or bored. Their words could be described as intrinsically neutral. But this is not so with God’s words: They radiate! Like heat and light, they are sources of spiritual energy. They possess a dynamic power that produces change wherever it goes. Likewise, God’s Word is dynamic. It radiates transforming power that changes anyone who lives in its “environment”! (2) “The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy” (v. 9 NET). The Hebrew word for “trustworthy” comes from “certainty, honesty, and faithfulness.” With absolute confidence, you can stake your all on the reliability of God’s Word. It guarantees you that God says what He means, and means what He says. You can stand secure on every syllable of it. In other words, you can “live…by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4 NKJV). (3) “By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded” (Ps 19:11 CEV). God’s Word is more than just a list of “do’s and don’ts.” It’s like radar that signals you when you’re in danger of straying off course and getting into trouble. Your conscience alone is inadequate. “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults…Don’t let them control me” (vv. 12-13 NLT). By obeying God’s Word, you will be “greatly rewarded”!