Read: Psalm 127
Children are a heritage from the Lord. — Psalm 127:3
A friend of mine wrote recently, “If we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family left behind would feel the loss for the rest of their lives. Why then do we invest so much in our work and so little in our children’s lives?”
Why do we sometimes exhaust ourselves rising up early and going late to rest, “eating the bread of anxious toil” (Ps. 127:1-2 esv), busying ourselves to make our mark on this world, and overlooking the one investment that matters beyond everything else—our children?
Solomon declared, “Children are a heritage from the Lord”—an invaluable legacy He has bequeathed us. “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” (v.4) is his striking simile. Nothing is more worthy of our energy and time.
There is no need for “anxious toil,” working night and day, the wise man Solomon proclaimed, for the Lord does take care of us (Ps. 127:2). We can make time for our children and trust that the Lord will provide for all of our physical needs. Children, whether our own or those we disciple, are our lasting legacy—an investment we’ll never regret.
Our children are a heritage,
A blessing from the Lord;
They bring a richness to our lives—
In each, a treasure stored. —Fasick
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
My daughter is allergic to peanuts. Her sensitivity is so acute that eating even the tiniest fragment of a peanut threatens her life. As a result, we scrutinize food package labels. We carry a pre-filled syringe of medicine (to treat allergic reactions) wherever we go. And, when we eat out, we call ahead and quiz the wait staff about the restaurant’s menu items.
Despite these precautions, I still feel concerned—both for her current safety and for her future safety. This situation is not something I would naturally be thankful about. Yet, God’s Word challenges: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). There’s no getting around it. God wants us to pray with thanksgiving when the future is uncertain, when heartbreak hits, and when shortfalls come.
It’s hard to be grateful in difficulties, but it’s not impossible. Daniel “prayed and gave thanks” (Dan. 6:10), knowing that his life was in danger. Jonah called out “with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9) while inside a fish! These examples, coupled with God’s promise that He will work all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28), can inspire us to be thankful in all things.
Thanks for thorns their stems contain.
Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain! —Hultman
Read: Ephesians 1:15-21
A prisoner who survived 14 years in a Cuban jail told how he kept his spirits up and his hope alive: “I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I ‘saw’ in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door.”
Ironically, some of the most hopeful books of the Bible—Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians—come out of Paul’s house arrest in Rome. The letter to the Ephesians gives a hint as to what the apostle Paul saw when he thought about life beyond his place of confinement.
First he saw the spiritual growth in the churches he left behind. This book opens with a burst of thanksgiving for the vitality of the Ephesian church (Eph. 1:15-16). Then he sought to open the eyes of their hearts to even more exalted sights: the “exceeding riches” of God’s grace (2:7). When Paul cranks up the volume to express God’s plan of love, not one low, mournful note sneaks in.
If you feel discouraged or question whether the Christian life is worth it, Ephesians proves to be a great tonic. It prescribes the riches in Christ available to all.
good news of the riches of Your infinite grace.
Thank You for the encouragement and hope
we find in Ephesians. Amen.
Read: Luke 19:1-10
It was a perfect day for our garage sale—bright and warm. People rummaged through clothing, paperbacks, and mismatched dishes. I noticed a young woman looking at a string of white beads. A few minutes later, the necklace vanished along with its admirer. I spotted her in the street, jogged the length of my driveway, and discovered the missing jewelry nestled in her palm. As we faced each other with the knowledge of what had happened, she volunteered to pay for the stolen item.
Zacchaeus, the tree-climbing tax collector, met Jesus and was changed. He vowed to repay four times the amount of money he had dishonestly taken from others (Luke 19:8). In those days, tax collectors frequently overcharged citizens and then pocketed the extra funds. Zacchaeus’ eagerness to pay back the money and to donate half of what he owned to the poor showed a significant change of heart. He had once been a taker, but after meeting Jesus he was determined to make restoration and be a giver.
Zacchaeus’ example can inspire us to make the same kind of change. When God reminds us about items we have taken, taxes left unpaid, or ways we have wronged others, we can honor Him by making it right.
In all that I say and all that I do;
Give me the courage to do what is right
To bring to the world a glimpse of Your light. —Fasick
Read: Romans 5:6-15
My friend was having a conversation with a man who didn’t have much good to say about the Christian faith. My friend knew that if he were to sound too “religious,” he would jeopardize any chance to witness. So, in the middle of their discussion, he said, “Hey, Bob, do you know where sinners go?”
“That’s easy,” he replied. “You’re going to tell me they go to hell.”
“No,” my friend responded. “They go to church.”
Bob was speechless. That wasn’t what he expected. He wasn’t ready to hear from a Christian who realized he wasn’t perfect. My friend had a chance to share that Christians understand their sinfulness and their need for continual spiritual restoration. He was able to explain grace—the unmerited favor we have with God despite our sinfulness (Rom. 5:8-9; Eph. 2:8-9).
Perhaps we don’t give those outside the church a clear picture of what’s happening inside. They may not understand that we’re there to praise our Savior for providing “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).
Yes, sinners go to church. And sinners—forgiven ones—go to heaven because of God’s grace.
For Christ is our righteousness, Lord, and our Savior;
No justification for sin can we offer,
Yet sanctified fully, we’re now His forever. —Lee
Read: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Karl Elsener, a Swiss designer of surgical equipment in the 19th century, worked for years on perfecting a military knife. Today his Swiss Army Knife is associated with excellence in blades and a variety of utilities. One model includes knife blades, a saw, scissors, a magnifying glass, a can opener, a screwdriver, a ruler, a toothpick, a writing pen, and more—all in one knife! If you are out camping in the wild, this one item can certainly make you feel equipped for survival.
We need something to equip us to survive spiritually in this sinful world. God has given us His Word, a kind of spiritual knife for the soul. Paul writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The word translated equipped means to “furnish or fit completely.” How does the Bible equip us for life’s journey? It provides spiritual truth in doctrine; reproof in showing our imperfections; correction by revealing our sinful failures; and instruction in living a righteous life. There’s not a more valuable tool than God’s Word to make us fully equipped for spiritual survival and personal growth.
inspired Word. You’ve given us the tools we
need to live for You. Help us to take time to read
it and to follow what You tell us. Amen.
Read: Psalm 146
Recently, I saw a television ad for a restaurant chain that made a dramatic claim. At those restaurants, the ad said you could “Help Yourself to Happiness.” Wouldn’t it be nice if a helping of potatoes or meat or pasta or dessert would be all that was needed to provide happiness? Unfortunately, no restaurant can fulfill that promise.
Happiness is an elusive thing—as we can see in almost every area of life. Our pursuit of happiness may involve food or a host of other things, but, in the end, happiness continues to escape our grasp.
Why? In large measure it’s because the things we tend to pursue do not touch the deepest needs of our hearts. Our pursuits may provide moments of enjoyment, distraction, or pleasure, but the cry of our hearts goes unheard—the cry for help and hope. That is why the psalmist points us to a better way when he says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:5).
Help yourself? Yes—if we are seeking the happiness found in the Lord. It is only when we entrust ourselves to God and His care that we can find the happiness we seek. Our hope and help are found only in trusting Him.
in You will I know the real joy and satisfaction that
my heart longs for. Help me to look beyond the
surface things of life to what really matters.
Read: Luke 15:1-7
Whoever dreamed up T-ball is a genius: Every kid on the field gets a taste of the fun and joy of the game before they taste the disappointment of striking out.
In T-ball, a baseball is placed on a rubber tee about waist-high to the 5- and 6-year-old batters. Players swing until they hit the ball and then run. On my first night as a coach, the very first batter hit the ball far into the outfield. Suddenly every player fromevery position ran to get the ball instead of staying where they were supposed to. When one of them reached it, there was nobody left in the infield for him to throw it to! All the players were standing together—cheering with unrestrained exuberance!
Those who have recently come to know Jesus as Savior have an unrestrained joy that is a delight to be around as well. We rejoice with them, and so do the angels in heaven! (Luke 15:7). New Christians are in love with God and excited about knowing Him and learning from His Word.
Those who’ve been Christians for a long time may get discouraged with the struggles of the Christian life and forget the joy of new-found faith. So take the opportunity to rejoice with those who’ve come to faith. God can use them to inspire you to renew your own commitment to Jesus.
For all your sins on Christ were laid;
We’ve been redeemed, we’re justified—
And all because the Savior died. —D. DeHaan
Read: 1 John 4:7-11
Katie nervously walked into the church youth group party that Linda had invited her to attend. She hadn’t been to a church since she was a little girl and didn’t know what to expect at a Valentine dinner with mostly strangers. But her heart started to calm when she found valentines at her plate that had been written for her from everyone there. They had cards for each other too, but it touched Katie’s heart that they would think to do that for her, a visitor to their group.
Katie felt so welcomed that she accepted Linda’s invitation to a church service. There she heard about God’s love for her in spite of her sinfulness, and she embraced Jesus’ forgiveness. The youth group had given her a fragrance of God’s love, and God opened her heart to trust Him.
“If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” the apostle John said (1 John 4:11). That’s a love for our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as for those who don’t yet know Him. Ray Stedman wrote, “As God’s love shines into our hearts, we become more open to others, allowing the fragrance of love to drift out and attract those around us.” The youth group did that for Katie.
God can spread the fragrance of His love through us today.
I am able to love others. Please spread the sweet
fragrance of Your love through me to everyone
I interact with today. Amen.
Read: Colossians 3:8-17
One day my wife called me at work and said, “Something’s going on next door. Lots of cars are there.” Because of my neighbor’s occupation, I feared the worst, and soon those fears were realized. Our neighbor, policeman Trevor Slot, had just been killed in the line of duty, trying to stop the escape of two bank robbers. Our community was stunned.
Trevor had no time to prepare for his death. Yet he was ready. His faith in Christ was secure, and his reputation as a remarkable man was intact. At his funeral, attended by hundreds of fellow officers, his colleague Detective Brandyn Heugel said, “He was a dedicated police officer, but first and foremost he was a loving husband to Kim and a doting father to Kaitlyn and Abbie.” Indeed the theme of Trevor’s tributes all centered on his great personality and his love and care for his family.
Trevor’s life exemplified the words of Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.” Those traits leave an inspiring legacy.
We don’t know when God will call us home, but we do know this: Each day is an opportunity to leave a testimony worthy of our faith.
May the fire of our devotion light their way;
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey. —Mohr