Family Devotions

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Although we aren’t always successful, my husband and I try to do a daily family devotion time with my daughter. The way it is supposed to work is that one of us reads the scripture for the day, and we have a discussion about what was read. We mention any new prayer needs, and the same person who reads, prays. Like I said, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

However, there seems to always be something that gets in the way. Usually, it’s our own tendency for distraction. Ed works nights, so on those days, we try to do it shortly before he goes to bed for the day. On his days off, we shoot for after breakfast, but sometimes we get side tracked. Usually, I remember that we didn’t do it when we aren’t in a position to go do it right then. By the time we are, it’s slipped our minds again. Yeah, I know. We’re pitiful. We do keep trying though.

I probably don’t need to tell you that my teenager is less than enthusiastic about the whole process.

If we miss a day or two, we spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what we read last (we work out of four books at once) and whose turn it is to read. Ed writes it down on his calendar, but sometimes it isn’t right, and we have conversations like “No, it couldn’t be Ezekiel 23* because I read last and I read Psalm 19, and so whoever is reading needs to be reading Numbers!”

After we get it straightened out, we decide how much will be read. Chapter and verse divisions were made by the translators, and are not, in any way, consistent. One chapter may have 30 verses and take up a half a page, and another chapter have 30 verses, and take up three pages. We use chapter divisions most often, but sometimes divide them up over several readings. The idea is not to read a lot, but to grasp what we do read and be able to discuss it.

Sometimes, we are able to draw parallels from life today. Sometimes, we are reminded of another part of scripture. Sometimes, we have to honestly say that we do not understand what a passage means, or why it says what it does. Sometimes, we don’t make connections until hours or days later. When we do have those delayed connections and insights, we always try to share them with each other.

Yesterday we read from Deuteronomy 3

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” 23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deut 3:21-29)

Look at verses 23-27, especially verse 26.

That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…”

I know I’ve read this before, but it jumped off the page yesterday, and stuck with me.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but scripture encourages us to keep asking until we get a definitive answer. I can’t think of another time when God says, “stop asking”.

Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn in the flesh, and God told him no.

8 three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:8-9)

Evidently, Paul stopped asking after the third time and changed his attitude toward his problem.

I wonder how many times Moses asked? What lead God to tell him to stop?

As a parent, who has been wheedled by a whining child, I can certainly relate to God’s response.

How many times have I said, “No, and don’t ask me again!”

Often God has used my relationship with my children to help me understand something about His relationship with me. The experience is usually quite humbling.

Yesterday afternoon, Ed and I were talking about something we need to start praying about. Ed said that he had already started praying about it, but more won’t hurt. I said, “No, I really don’t see God telling us to stop asking like he did Moses!”

Ed said, “You know, I kind of feel sorry for Moses.”

I do too.

*If you plan to read Ezekiel 23 aloud with teenagers, you might want to read it first, so that you will be prepared for whatever reaction they have. My then sixteen-year-old daughter looked up from the reading with the most dead pan expression on her face, and said something like “Really…wow…Alrighty then.” We then discussed how God doesn’t sugar coat anything, and calls things as they are, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Connie

Forgetful

I know I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Things just got away from me.

The week before Memorial Day, my daughter and I finished our homeschooling for the year. That Friday (May 26th), was her birthday, and we definitely needed some Mom and daughter time that didn’t involve school. We went to a movie, and then did some window shopping. We had a great day. I am so blessed to have a truly appreciative daughter. We spent Saturday cleaning house, getting ready for some of our extended family to arrive after church Sunday to “officially” celebrate her birthday. All that went well, and we had a nice visit with my mom, sister and nieces.  Yes, we also took the time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

Additionally, I’ve been dealing some health issues, including allergies that became an upper respiratory infection, and an umbilical hernia. I had surgery to repair the hernia on Wednesday. Trust me, pain meds and blog writing really do not belong together, so as much as I have been wanting to get back in here, I thought I should wait until my thoughts were a little more clear.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about rejoicing and giving thanks, and how those attitudes bless our lives and the lives of those around us. I would love to tell you that the epiphany lead to immediate and permanent change, but you would all know better.

Anyone who earnestly tries to walk with the Lord knows that there are a lot of missteps, stumbles, and falling flat on our faces. The best we can do this side of heaven is keep moving toward that goal, and trust the Lord to do what we cannot.

So why is it so hard?
Because we forget.

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Honestly, our forgetfulness is staggering. Think of the children of Israel, who watched the Egyptians experience the ten plagues while they remained unscathed. They crossed the Red Sea on dry land, were given manna and quail, and yet they had Aaron make them a golden calf. We shake our heads, and then we realize that we are just as forgetful.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts the entire story, from the time their rebellion caused them to wander forty years in the wilderness, until the day they were ready to take possession of the land, and Moses would be “gathered to his people”

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them (Deut 4:9)

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (Deut 6:6-12)

Well, as you probably know, Israel did not heed Moses’ instructions and they forgot. The story is repeated over and over in the Old Testament. The people forget about God. God allows their enemies to attack them. The people remember God. God delivers them from their enemies. Some time passes. The people forget about God.

I can’t say much…I’ve done the same thing. I’m sure you have too. James says,

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23-24)

Now, that’s forgetful.

I had been thinking about the whole frustrating topic of forgetfulness, as I was finishing Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts Devotional. On page 189 she says, “He keeps whispering to my trembling heart, to me who knows and then forgets:…” (Italics mine).

The phrase jumped off the page, and I wanted to say, “oh me too! I know…and then I forget.” Lord help me remember. I need to remember!

This is why it is so important to keep our heads in God’s word. We constantly need reminders of His goodness, His compassion, His forgiveness and His love. Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper so that we would remember what He did for us.

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:19-20)

Peter understood the importance of reminders.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. (2 Pet 1:12-15)

We need to remember who God is and who we are in Him.

Connie