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And the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?' He answered and said to them, 'Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. ... Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
"‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
‘Til we meet again
A couple of months ago I said good-bye to my granddaughter. I had never met her because she was stillborn. But I know she was beautiful—because God’s beauty is everywhere. I know she was gracious because God fills us with His grace. I know that she is loved, because she is now in the hands of God.
Psalm 139:13-16 reads, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
She had no days ordained for her here on earth. We didn’t get to see her first tooth, hear her first words, or watch her take those tentative first steps. I mourn the loss, but I rejoice that she will never feel pain, never know heartbreak or toil, never shed a tear, and never be afraid.
I won’t get to know her, her favorite color, her favorite toy, or song. But God knows her, she was made by him in the secret place then ushered straight into heaven by Jesus.
And now, like her name—Kaydance—she is dancing on the streets of gold with God and with other friends and family who have gone on before me.
Jennie Atkins writes contemporary romance from her home located in Ohio. During the day, Jennie is a Project Manager. Along with writing, Jennie loves to garden, sew, or go four-wheeling with her husband of almost forty years. Jennie has four children and four grandchildren.
More of Jennie Atkins: http://www.jennieatkins.com/
Don’t Say Everything You Think
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. —Proverbs 12:18
Not long ago, I was around thousands of people in different environments, watching a multi-day volleyball tournament and visiting attractions and theme parks. I’m a people-watcher by nature, and having the opportunity to sit closely with people, wait in lines, and gather in crowds, I had lots of time to observe others.
Boiling down my observations into two categories, here’s what I most noticed:
1) Spouses saying unkind things to one another, and
2) Parents verbally belittling their children.
I’m sure these observations don’t reveal anything new or surprising, but they occurred so frequently that I couldn’t escape noticing. People can be quite nasty to one another.
Since it doesn’t take intelligence to be critical, let me suggest one relational principle that has helped me. I realize that this is easier said than done, but it is as simple as this: Don’t say everything you think!
I realize that holding your tongue takes self-control and a degree of humility, but the results are amazing! When someone triggers an emotion in you and you want to react with a verbal dagger…don’t. When someone injures your pride and you want to say something that will be a zinger comeback and put the other person in his or her place…don’t. When someone exhausts your patience and a strong reaction will make you feel better…don’t.
I have a quick wit, and a propensity for sarcasm, and with this amazing combination of skills, I create some really strong statements…that no one hears but me. Why? Because as a spouse and parent, I’ve learned that I don’t need to say everything that I think. When I slip up and allow the statements to escape my mouth, I end up wounding others, triggering more reactions, demeaning those I love, heightening tension levels, and create negative memories.
Words are always powerful. But misguided words hurt, and they hurt deeply. As today’s Scripture points out, using reckless words is like stabbing another with a sword. In almost every instance, it’s best to keep the sword in its scabbard.
Try this today: Don’t say everything you think! Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it. Not all words must be spoken.
1. Under what circumstances do you find it most difficult to avoid saying what you think?
2. What actions can you take to become more successful at not saying everything you think?
Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 15:4; Ephesians 4:29
DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California.
More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com
Fresh and Flourishing -
Read Psalm 92:7-15
Someone has said that there are three stages in life: childhood, adolescence and "My, you're looking good." We can't stop aging. But no matter how old we grow, we ought to continue growing in the Lord. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing" (vv. 12-14). I am greatly encouraged by those words, because as I get older, I want my life to count more and more for Jesus.
God tells us to be like palm trees. That means we should be planted--"planted in the house of the Lord." We must abide in Christ, whose roots are in the spiritual. What a tragedy it is to get older and move into the world and into sin, abandoning what you were taught from the Word of God.
We should also be productive. "They shall be fresh and flourishing"--fruitful trees to the glory of God. Palm trees stand a lot of abuse, storms and wind. The wind that breaks other trees bends the palm tree, but then it comes back up. Palm trees have roots that go down deep to draw up the water in the desert area. They can survive when other trees are dying. And palm trees just keep on producing fruit. The fruit doesn't diminish; it gets better and sweeter.
Finally, we should be flourishing "in the courts of our God." When some people get old, they get grouchy, mean and critical. Let's not be like that. Allow the Lord to make you fresh and flourishing. Have roots that go deep. You can stand the storms and still be fruitful, feeding others from the blessing of the Lord.
* * *
God wants you to grow like strong, productive trees that bear much fruit. He wants your roots to grow deep to draw nourishment from His hidden spiritual resources. Are you planted and feeding on the Word of God daily? Are you producing fruit and bringing glory to Him? Are you flourishing and feeding others?
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Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
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Grace that Waits for us to Get There -
How fitting that our Monday posts are about grace. I always need more grace on Mondays. Don’t you? I almost always feel like I’m trying to turn the crank on a rusty machine that will put my household back in motion. I pray that the grace shared here will be oil to those creaky gears.
Grace is more life and breath to me these days than it used to be–more obviously necessary for my survival than I realized it was in my “normal” life. My husband deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of July for 10 months. I have three boys (ages 11, 7 and 5). It’s been three years since his last deployment and that was only for four months (some of you might be thinking, “only?” That’s certainly how I felt at the time).
We’ve known about this deployment since February, so I had a whole lot of time to think about what this was going to be like. It occurred to me today that it really doesn’t look like I thought it would. It is incredibly hard at times, but also very different than what I anticipated.
I think most things in life are like that.
We can look down the road and imagine what something would be like, but what we can’t imagine is the sufficient, particular, specific grace that waits for us in the reality of that moment. I can remember standing in worship services with my husband next to me and thinking, how will I do this without him? In the raw emotion of a worship service how will I be able to do anything but run to the cry room. . . and cry.
We made it to the early service this morning, but we were running late (those of you who know me are incredibly not shocked by this). It was crowded today, and the only seats were on the very front row of the overflow chapel, and I had all three boys, who had begged in desperation not to go to their classes, in tow. Incredibly, my children actually behave much better when they are sitting four feet from one of the worship leaders. As I stood there with my boys next to me, I thought about the cry room and how I wasn’t in it. Now this is a long journey, and I’m sure there will be days when I feel more of the sadness, but for now I feel a peacefulness and strength that I never expected. Despite what might come in the days ahead, I’m incredibly grateful for the grace of today.
God’s grace is waiting and available to us, but we also must choose to accept it. And sometimes I just forget how badly I can mess up this thing called motherhood when I try to do it on my own. It’s in these trying situations that doing life on our own strength gets messy and ugly really fast. Trust me—I know. You should have been in my bathroom this morning when my son was wetting the brush I needed to do my hair so we could leave for church. I did not use my inside voice.
Our pastor taught from Jonah today, and one of the things he said was that God uses adversity for our redemption. Being constantly reminded of my utter dependence on God is a blessing. I believe that one of God’s redemptive purposes in this adversity is to teach me to turn to Him more quickly—to live reaching for grace, and to not try and muscle through it on my own until it gets really bad. Because like I said, these days that takes about 12 minutes.
In our Monday morning messes, whether it’s the normal mess we’ve grown accustomed to, or we’re in way over our heads and we know it, His sufficient, particular, specific grace is waiting here for us. We just have to reach out for it.
Motherhood is not one size fits all.
Grace for Moms is a community of moms growing together through multigenerational connection, relevant family resources and beYOUtiful grace!
Our hope is that women will feel at home at Grace for Moms – comfortable enough to share their unique story and be encouraged by others along their journey.
This post was originally published for Grace For Moms and is used here with permission.
More of Grace For Moms: www.graceformoms.com