Monday, May 9, 2016

Someone Is Listening

“[The righteous] are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26 

Be careful what you say in the presence of your babies. That’s the advice of a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, who tells us that children only eight months of age are capable of hearing and remembering words, good and bad. In a study by Dr. Peter Juscyzk, babies were exposed to three recorded stories for a period of about ten days. When they were tested in the lab two weeks later, they clearly recognized the words in the stories but failed to respond to those they hadn’t heard. According to Robin Chapman, a University of Wisconsin language specialist, the study demonstrates that very young children attend to the sounds of language and are able to pick out those that are familiar. Chapman concludes that “a lot of language learning is happening in the first year of life.”

Whether we like it or not, almost everything we say and do is observed and recorded—by the patrolman with a radar gun, by the convenience store video camera, and even by our young children. If our marriage models a spirit of generosity worth imitating, it will lead to blessings for everyone.

Just between us…
  • What are some of your earliest memories of your parents’ words and actions?
  • If we videotaped ourselves, would we be pleased by what we saw?
  • Besides each other, whom do we influence with our everyday words and deeds? Are we modeling a spirit of generosity for them? 
Lord, we know that our every action has a tremendous impact on those around us, and we want to be mature, responsible and positive ambassadors for You. Help us glorify You in how we think, act, and speak. Amen. 

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Language research and comments from “Infants’ Memory for Spoken Words” by P. W. Juscyzk and E. A. Hohne (Science, 26 September 1997) and “Parents Beware: Little Ears Are Listening” by Rachel Ellis (Associated Press,, 26 September 1997).

Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople

Today the church remembers Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople, 389.

Gregory was a bishop's son, well-off financially, and educated at the very finest schools of his day, including the universities of Alexandria and Athens. Among his school comrades was Basil (see June 14), and when he finished school Gregory participated in Basil's pioneer monastic community on the island of Pontus. However, he had no intention at that time of entering the priesthood. Then his father called him home and virtually forced him into holy orders. Gregory took the priestly office very seriously and was terrified at having it thrust upon him. He fled back to Pontus and, by much prayer, fasting, and soul-searching, became reconciled to this new vocation.

The ecclesiastical career thus launched was to become a most distinguished one. Gregory was soon elected Bishop of Sasima. He was one of the most effective preachers against the Arian heresy.

The imperial city, Constantinople, was in the hands of the Arians and was ruled by the Arian emperor, Valens. When the emperor died in battle and the city was reopened to orthodox Christians, Gregory was the first bishop to enter the city. He was chiefly responsible for the reconversion of the city and eventually became its bishop. He skillfully led his people through a time of violence and discord in the church, avoiding controversy over all but the most essential issues. "It is unwise for those who walk the high tightrope to lean to either side."

Keep us steadfast in the course of our faith, that we may not be led astray by false occupations. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

The Daily Readings for May 9, 2016

Joshua 1:1-9
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying, "My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Ephesians 3:1-13
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Matthew 8:5-17
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress." And he said to him, "I will come and cure him." The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, "Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; let it be done for you according to your faith." And the servant was healed in that hour. When Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 89: Part I
1 Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3 I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4 'I will establish your line for ever, and preserve your throne for all generations.'"
5 The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O LORD, and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones;
6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? who is like the LORD among the gods?
7 God is much to be feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible to all those round about him.
8 Who is like you, LORD God of hosts? O mighty LORD, your faithfulness is all around you.
9 You rule the raging of the sea and still the surging of its waves.
10 You have crushed Rahab of the deep with a deadly wound; you have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it.
12 You have made the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your Name.
13 You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; love and truth go before your face.
15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout! they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.
16 They rejoice daily in your Name; they are jubilant in your righteousness.
17 For you are the glory of their strength, and by your favor our might is exalted.
18 Truly, the LORD is our ruler; The Holy One of Israel is our King.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 89: Part II
19 You spoke once in vision and said to your faithful people: "I have set the crown upon a warrior and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21 My hand will hold him fast and my arm will make him strong.
22 No enemy shall deceive him, nor any wicked man bring him down.
23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him, and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25 I shall make his dominion extend from the Great Sea to the River.
26 He will say to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.'
27 I will make him my firstborn and higher than the kings of the earth.
28 I will keep my love for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of heaven."
30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments;
32 I will punish their transgressions with a rod and their iniquities with the lash;
33 But I will not take my love from him, nor let my faithfulness prove false.
34 I will not break my covenant, nor change what has gone out of my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness: 'I will not lie to David.
36 His line shall endure for ever and his throne as the sun before me;
37 It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon, the abiding witness in the sky.'"
38 But you have cast off and rejected your anointed; you have become enraged at him.
39 You have broken your covenant with your servant, defiled his crown, and hurled it to the ground.
40 You have breached all his walls and laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by despoil him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes and made all his enemies rejoice.
43 You have turned back the edge of his sword and have not sustained him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth and have covered him with shame.
46 How long will you hide yourself, O LORD? will you hide yourself for ever? how long will your anger burn like fire?
47 Remember, LORD, how short life is, how frail you have made all flesh.
48 Who can live and not see death? who can save himself from the power of the grave?
49 Where, Lord, are your loving-kindnesses of old, which you promised David in your faithfulness?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant is mocked, how I carry in my bosom the taunts of many peoples,
51 The taunts your enemies have hurled, O LORD, which they hurled at the heels of your anointed.
52 Blessed be the LORD for evermore! Amen, I say, Amen.

The Daily Meditation for May 9, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Joshua 1:9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

My experience has led me to understand that all change comes with some kind of loss.

The Israelites are in the midst of serious change. Moses has died. The familiar leader is gone. They are in a new place in their journey, preparing to cross the Jordan. They are likely fearful of this new leader, Joshua, and his untested ability. Perhaps they are longing for their romantic (and edited) memories of the past instead of looking to the future.

In their fear and anxiety, God reminds them to be strong and courageous. “Do not be frightened or dismayed,” God says. Good advice, even if it’s unlikely to be followed. Because in the midst of change, in the midst of loss, in the midst of the unknown, we are frightened and dismayed. Yet God is with us.

What in your life is changing, causing fear and anxiety? How can you remind yourself God is present with you in this space?

Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

A Fresh Start

Lamentations 3:21–51 

Starting over. It’s the second chance we didn’t think we’d have. It’s a wave of relief that washes over our past mistakes. It is a gift from God we don’t deserve.

In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah looks back at the destruction of Jerusalem. God promised that his people would face punishment for their sinful choices, and he was true to his word. Their city had been ravaged, and they were now living in exile. The temple was completely destroyed.

In the midst of Jeremiah’s lament, however, he remembers the mercy of God. Were it not for God’s mercy, every one of God’s people would have perished. The judgment on them was painful, but God would not leave them ruined. Eventually, after they acknowledged their disobedience and confessed their sin, God would forgive and restore them. He would allow them to start over once more. And he does the same for us.

Maybe you have experienced the discipline of God in your own life. You have suffered painful consequences for sinful choices you have made. Perhaps you feel that God has left you there. If so, remember that although God is just, he is also full of mercy. His compassions never fail. He promises to forgive us when we come to him and confess what we have done or not done. No matter how you have offended God, you can have hope because of his great mercy. You can always have a fresh start with him because his compassions are “new every morning.”

Take some time to thank God for the specific ways he has acted mercifully toward you. Thank him for forgiving your sin. Express gratitude to him for actively restoring you. You may even want to sing or pray the words to the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”:

>“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth

>Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

>Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

>Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”


  1. Recall a time in your life when you experienced God’s discipline for disobedient choices. How did you feel?
  2. When you disobey God, do you quickly respond with repentance and confession? Why or why not?
  3. In what way have you experienced the ever-new compassion of God?
Lamentations 3:21–23 
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Related Readings 

Jeremiah 3:12–13; Zechariah 10:6; Luke 15:3–24

His Princess Every Day - Monday, May 9, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

I Will Care For You When You Are Sick
My Bride,

There will be times when you will experience sickness as you walk through this life. I want you to rest assured that I will always be with you, in sickness and in health. Let Me take you to a place where your soul can be at rest even when your body is ill. I will provide comfort and healing for my girl. Not to worry, my beloved; I was there when you took your first breath and I will be there when you take your last. I can heal you with just a touch or I can take you home. No matter what happens I will hold you till we see one another face to face.

Your Prince and Healer 

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. - Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT) 

Prayer to my Prince 

It is so hard on me when I am sick. Please comfort me and touch me with your healing hands. Give me physical strength when I am weak. I am weak, but you are my strength. Feed me with spiritual nourishment, that I may say "It is well with my soul." 

Your Princess who trusts you 

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
And you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death. - Psalm 30:2-3 (NIV) 

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Women of the Bible - Abigail

Her name means: "My Father Is Joy" 

Her character: Generous, quick-witted, and wise, she is one of the Bible's great peacemakers.
Her sorrow: To have been mismatched in marriage to her first husband.
Her joy: That God used her to save lives, eventually making her the wife of David.
Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 25:2-42 

Her Story

Blockhead, numskull, nincompoop—the words strike us as both harsh and humorous. But any woman married to a man worthy of such labels would have little to laugh about.

Abigail must have felt suffocated, having been paired with just such a husband. Her father may have thought the wealthy Nabal was a catch, little realizing the man's domineering attitude might one day endanger his daughter's future. But fools and ruin often keep close company, as Abigail discovered.

For some time Abigail had been hearing of David: his encounter with Goliath, his ruddy good looks, his prowess in battle, his rift with King Saul. Recently, he had become her near neighbor in the Desert of Maon, west of the Dead Sea, where he had taken refuge from Saul. Since David had arrived with his six hundred men, marauders kept clear of her husband's livestock, and Nabal's flocks prospered as a result.

But when David sent ten of his men to ask Nabal for provisions, Nabal, who had grown richer by the day thanks to David, nearly spit in their faces. "Who is this David? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?" Rich though he was, Nabal had just foolishly insulted the region's most powerful man.

Aware of their danger, one of the servants ran quickly to Abigail, begging her to intervene. As Nabal's wife, she must have suffered his arrogance every day of her life. But this time his folly jeopardized the entire household. Wasting no time, and without a word to her husband, she loaded a caravan of donkeys with gifts for David and his men—freshly baked bread, skins of wine, red meat, and various delicacies—and took them to David's camp. As soon as she saw him, she fell to the ground at his feet, making one of the longest speeches by a woman recorded in the Bible:

"My lord," she pleaded, "let the blame be on me alone. May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him. But as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my master sent. Please forgive your servant's offense, for the Lord will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord's battles. Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone pursues you, your life will be held securely by the Lord your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling."

Her well-chosen words, of course, reminded David of his success against Goliath, erasing his anger and enabling his gracious reply: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. If you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak." In addition to saving lives, Abigail's wisdom had spared David from sinning, reminding him that vengeance belongs only to God.

After her encounter with David, Abigail went to Carmel, where Nabal had been shearing his sheep and celebrating his good fortune. Once again, she found him playing the fool. Oblivious to danger, he was drunkenly presiding over a festival banquet, like a great king. She waited until morning, when he was sober, to tell him what had happened. As soon as Nabal heard the news, his heart failed. Ten days later he was dead.

Arrogance, greed, and selfishness had conspired to rob Nabal of any good sense he might once have possessed. Thinking himself a great man when he was only a small one, he lost everything. Abigail was Nabal's opposite, a woman whose humility, faith, generosity, intelligence, and honesty made her wise. Rather than putting others at risk by an ungoverned tongue, her gracious words saved lives.

When David heard the news of Nabal's death, he sent word to Abigail, asking her to be his wife. This time it was Abigail's choice whether or not to marry. She accepted, becoming David's third wife and eventually mother to his second son, Kileab.

Unlike Michal, who had been a mere pawn on a chessboard, Abigail was a woman who rose above her circumstances to change the course of events. Though Scripture doesn't offer details regarding her daily life, it is logical to suppose she was a good wife to Nabal. Even her entreaty to David was the act of a good wife. Perhaps her marriage was the catalyst for her character, helping her to cultivate contrasting virtues to Nabal's vices. Regardless, through her quick-witted action, she spared her husband's life and goods. It was God, not Abigail or David, who paid Nabal back for his arrogance and greed.

Her Promise

Abigail was a courageous woman, who made the best out of a difficult situation. She knew the cultural principles at work here: Nabal—out of just plain good hospitality and out of gratitude for the protection David's men had provided—should have given David's men what they asked for. Yet when David sought vengeance, Abigail interceded, realizing that vengeance wasn't something that was up to David—or her—to give.

Years of living with Nabal did not seem to have made Abigail bitter, nor had the years caused her to look for ways to get back at him and seek revenge. The Lord honored Abigail for her consistency, her generosity, and her willingness to continue on the right path, no matter how difficult. In the same way, God continues to honor those who are faithful even when faithfulness brings difficulty and hardship and pain. He doesn't promise to always deliver, as he delivered Abigail, but he does promise to go with us.

Girlfriends in God - May 09, 2016

You’ve Got What You Need Right Now
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory, (Romans 8:17 NIV). 

Friend to Friend

When my husband, Steve, was in high school, he worked various jobs and was notoriously frugal. His twin brother, Dan, and their best friend, Mike, were not quite as thrifty. Dan and Mike had odd jobs from time to time—flipping hamburgers at the Wild Pig being the most infamous. But their funds disappeared as quickly as they got them. Steve, on the other hand, was a saver. And they knew it.

Steve had a little brown wallet with a horse head on the front and a zipper on the top. It was his “saving wallet”, and he kept it safely tucked away in this sock drawer. Occasionally, Steve, Dan, and Mike would get together to plan an adventure, such as a weekend trip to the beach or the mountains, or just a wild night out on the town playing Putt-Putt. Dan and Mike would often say, “Let’s just pool all our money together in one big fund. Steve, go get your horse head. We’ll put all our money on the table and combine it. We won’t worry about whose is whose. “

They knew Mr. Thrifty would have about thirty dollars to match each of their one-dollar contributions. It was a great deal for them. Not so much for Steve.

When we come to Christ, it is as though Jesus says, “Just put what you have in with what I have. Let’s make one big pot. What’s mine is yours.”

The Bible says that you are a co-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). That means that you get what Jesus gets. You didn’t earn this inheritance. God is not giving it to you because you were particularly good. He has lavished you with blessings because it pleases him to do so (Eph. 1:5).

When will you receive this inheritance? You already have! Notice the verb tense in Ephesians 1:11: “In him we have obtained an inheritance.” You already have obtained it. It is simply up to you to know it, believe it, and act on it.

The Holy Spirit abides in all believers. You’ve already been given everything you need to live victoriously in and through all things. And yet we wonder, at least I do, Why don’t I operate in the power that I already have? Why is my love so fickle? My power so pale? Why do I cower rather than making demons flee? Why do I live in the cul-de-sac of Christianity rather than venturing out on the highways and byways of the adventurous faith? 

I believe living bold comes with practice. First you know the truth. You know it, right? Secondly, you believe the truth. I don’t mean just believe that it is true, but believe that it is true for you and in you. Thirdly, you act on it, walk in it, stomp about in the surefootedness of it.

God does not need to be stirred, prodded, or roused as if from a sound sleep. We do. We need to wake up, take hold, and live in the power that is already ours.

No matter what you are going through today or will go through tomorrow, your destiny is greater than your difficulty, greater than your dilemma, greater than you discouragement. And God has given you everything you need to get there.

John wrote: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). To lavish is to give freely, profusely, extravagantly, and abundantly. He doesn’t give us everything we want when we want it. No father wants spoiled children. Rather He gives us everything we need to produce well-behaved children who bear His name well.

Another translation of 2 Peter 1:3 says that God has “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness . . .” (NASB). The word granted paints the picture of transferring something from one person to another. And isn’t that exactly what God did for you? He transferred these precious promises from His heart right into your account—not because you deserved them or earned them, but because of His magnificent grace. And notice the verb tense of the word granted. It is past tense. It has already been done. This is not something that you will receive in the future, but you have access to it right here, right now. 

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, I don’t deserve a single blessing—not one. I am so thankful that You have given me everything I need pertaining to life and godliness. I’m thankful that You don’t give me everything I ask for. What a mess I would be. I’m also thankful that You have given me everything I need.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Make a list of ten blessings God has given you. Then click over to my Facebook page and let’s share

More from the Girlfriends 

Today’s devotion was taken from my new book, Take Hold of the Faith you Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. A mediocre, mundane faith is not what you were made for! In Take Hold of the Faith You Long For, I reveal the most common reasons we get stuck in our Christian faith, living less than what we had hoped. I show you how to break free of all that holds you back, move forward with all that God promises, and live the adventurous faith of bold believing. It’s time to leave behind feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy that hold you hostage and take hold of the mountain-moving faith God intends. Let’s uncover untapped sources of confidence and courage, and see how to move from simply knowing the truth to actually living it out boldly. It’s time to TAKE HOLD of all that Jesus has already taken hold of for you and placed in you! Click on the book cover to download a sample chapter and view a quick video. And if you’re looking for a new study for your women’s group or individual study, Take Hold includes a Bible Study guide in the back. Also, you’ll find out about some free gifts with each purchase.

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As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-60 

One of the costs of following Jesus is the impact on our children. If we, as parents, try to shelter our children from the cross then we are guilty of the third temptation of Christ. Our children need to understand that there will not be a victorious life in Christ without following the footsteps to the cross. Not around the cross, as we often desire, but through the cross.

A co-worker once asked a Christian in Vietnam how he introduces the gospel in the villages where people have never heard about God. Without hesitating he answered “Oh very easily. I simply say, ‘I have good news for you but it might cost you your life, would you like me to continue? People want to hear good news and most of the time they eagerly ask me to tell them. But the introduction is always that there will be a cost involved because for us in Vietnam, being a Christian means a life of self-denial. When they are persecuted and imprisoned they are not surprised. They expect it.”

The co-worker went on to say, “It sometimes amazes me how we find it suitable to counsel our children regarding the costs involved in buying a new bicycle or starting a new hobby but we never sit down and discuss the cost of following Jesus. We need to train our children in no uncertain terms that being ridiculed at school, being rejected and facing mockery, is part and parcel of being a Christian. It comes in as a package and you cannot have the one without the other. We need to train our children to sacrifice; we need to train our children to count the cost; we need to train our children that they do not belong to themselves.

“Our lives are often based on our expectations. If we are confronted with the unexpected, we seldom know how to react. If we neglect to teach and expose our children to the reality of the cross, difficulties will come as a surprise.

“But, once again, if we as parents cannot testify through our lives by being examples of living sacrifices, our teachings will be futile. When was the last time you were ridiculed for the name of Jesus? When was the last time you sacrificed your time and money to work among the lost? When was the last time you sacrificed anything to visit the persecuted church?” 

RESPONSE: Today I will be an example to my children and teach them the cost in following Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be willing to sacrifice everything to follow You and to be an example.

Verse of the Day - May 09, 2016

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) [ Life Through the Spirit ] Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Read all of Romans 8