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Family Devotion 5.22.24

“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to excel still more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1

My mom and dad taught me so much growing up. As I look back, I cherish all those things that I learned. Especially, how they taught me to love God with all “my, heart, soul, and mind.” However, one overriding principle that they taught has helped guide me all these years.

This principle is one that they encouraged me to apply to everything I did. They taught me to do everything I did in life with 100% effort and determination so that I might always get better and never be satisfied with where I am at in life.

The attitude of wanting to get better, improve, and go beyond the call of duty is an unusual attitude today as we live in a culture that many times encourages us to do only what’s necessary to get by. 

The Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 sends us the exact same message when he tells us “to excel still more.” He is essentially reminding us to never be satisfied and to continue to live in a way each day that “pleases God.”

So then, how can we live in a way that pleases God and that allows us to “excel still more?” These are some ways God has reminded me of in HIs Word:

1. A Complete Commitment to Him

We prioritize those relationships that are most important to us. We should continually examine our lives to see where we are spending our time, with whom, and on what in comparison to what we offer the Lord. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

2. A Worthy Commitment

Most of the time eating leftovers are never as good as they when were first prepared. Giving God our leftover time, treasure, and talent are not going to allow us to grow and excel as a believer. He deserves our best and as David says it ought to cost us something. “I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” 1 Chronicles 21:24

3. An Attitude of Excellence

 I want to have an attitude that fixes “my thoughts” on the things of God.  I want to focus my

 effort what is excellent in God’s eyes and things that will be worthy of praise to Him.“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

My prayer is that these unusual attitudes would permeate all of us!

Family Devotion 5.15.24

“May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:21

I love to travel but unfortunately, I tend to rush through one of the most important parts of prepping for overnight travel. I tend to rush through the packing of my personal belongings and as a result I quite frequently forget essential items. It can be very frustrating to find myself out of town and improperly equipped.

As a dad, I have found that one of my greatest challenges was to make sure that my children are properly equipped for life. I am convinced that almost every parent wants the best for their children. Unfortunately, many times this pursuit takes a detour and leads us toward just providing stuff for our children. The pursuit of stuff will not only be expensive but will also prove to not really be what our children need to be equipped for the struggles of this life.

Hebrews 13:21 provides us as parents with great insight into how we should equip our kids to live this life. First, this verse tells us that our plan for equipping our kids should be centered on giving them the training and tools they need for doing the will of God in their lives. What does this look like?

We as parents should model for them a lifestyle that seeks to love God with our whole heart. From there, we should also live in such a way that our children see us daily seeking God’s will for our life. To accomplish this, we must teach our children the importance of pursuing a relationship with God through Bible study, worship, service, submission, stewardship, and prayer.

In essence, we are equipping them with the essentials of what they need for doing the will of God. Providing our kids with more stuff is great but it will never produce what they really need. What do they really need according to Hebrews 13:21?

The verse goes on to tell us that what we all really need is the power of Jesus Christ living through us so that we can do every good thing that is pleasing to Him. This is the life that will bring real joy, peace, and contentment to our children. Paul confirms this in 1 Timothy 6:6 when he declares: Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”

We all do strive to prepare our kids for the future so that they might achieve success one day. The question we all need to consider then is what type of success we are equipping them for. Are we equipping ourselves and our children to pursue worldly success alone or are we equipping them to live Godly lives that seek first the Kingdom of God? The world would have us chase things that will never produce the wealth that Paul is describing.

The essence of a life that is filled with contentment is found in equipping ourselves and our children to live a Godly life. Paul says this type of life makes us very rich people according to God’s standards.

Are we packing our kids with the things of God so that they are ready to go and meet the challenges of the future?

Family Devotion 5.8.24

In 1519, Hernando Cortez sailed into Mexico. He did not want to leave his men with an option to retreat so he ordered them to burn the ships so that they would know that there was no turning back. Cortez wanted full commitment. Similarly, God wants full commitment from us. The decision to live for God can be a challenging decision. It involves eternity and it involves change. It is a tug of war between two worlds.

Moses faces this type of decision. Hebrews 11:24-28 speaks of his choice between being somebody in Egypt and leading his people out of Egypt.

“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.  It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.”

To live as Pharaoh’s adopted son, Moses was a man of distinction and looked up to. With the Jewish people he faced humility. In Egypt, he enjoyed all the pleasures of the world. With his people, he suffered persecution. In Egypt, he had riches. With his people, he faced ridicule. Moses chose to “burn his ships.” He chose not to turn back from living for God. He chose to walk away from all that Egypt offered him. The decision to live for God is a compelling decision.

It is very much a compelling decision for us to do the same. To live for Him completely does involve us walking away from some things that are not beneficial for us. Fear of these losses will sometimes overwhelm people and cause them to delay in giving themselves completely to the Lord. When I made the decision to live completely for God, I moved on from some lesser pursuits. I too was afraid at the time, but I can tell you in all honesty that I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination and have never missed what I gave up.

The greatest blessing of our lives is to choose to live for Him completely. I am amazed at what God has allowed me to be a part of all these years. However, this compelling decision has come at a cost. It is cost I would pay again but still it does involve “burning the ships” so we cannot turn back. Is there something that you may still be holding onto that keeps you from living for Him completely? I pray that today you might “burn that ship” that may be holding you back from giving yourself completely to God.

Family Devotion 4.24.24

“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

I am an avid sports fan and I love to see a team play hard regardless of talent level. I get frustrated when I watch a team that is not giving an all-out effort in a contest. Similarly, I believe that God expects us to give our best in our daily walk with him. God desires that we be committed to Him and make Him the top priority relationship of our lives.

The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 31:21 that Hezekiah “sought God with all his heart and as a result he was very successful.” God has used that verse in my life as a powerful example of what faithfulness should look like.

There are two key phrases in that verse that teach tremendous life lessons to me. First, it says “in all that he did.” In other words, there was a consistent approach to obedience in Hezekiah’s life. I think sometimes we are tempted to think that there are areas of life that do not require us to be as devoted as others. In those areas, we may not always give our best.

Unfortunately for Christians, people are watching us closely to see if we live up to whom we say we are. When we are not giving our all-in serving God and obeying Him, we present a not so good testimony to those around us. I am afraid this happens all too often for Christians. It is no wonder then that many who are without Christ bemoan the fact that there are too many hypocrites in church. We need to give our all to serving and obeying God.

Second, “Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly.” Hezekiah had an undivided heart towards God. God was indeed the priority relationship of his life. What about us? Is there a consistent approach in our lives towards obedience to God and His Word? Are we seeking Him wholeheartedly?

Is there anything in our lives that is crowding out God from being the top priority of our lives? Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher of times past, once said: “That God does not give great harvests to idle men.” 

I do not know about you, but I do not want to live my Christian life in a mediocre fashion. I desire to see fruit in my Christian life. I would never want anyone to look at me and say that I am no different than any other Christian who does not live up to the faith. I know that I am not perfect or that I have arrived, but my desire is to “know Him and to make Him known.”

There is no greater joy than to serve Him with all our heart, soul, and mind and then pass that onto our children. I want to be “All In” when it comes to my relationship with God. I want my life to be one in which God can give a great harvest to.

Partnering Together 4.23.24

One of the big challenges of being a parent is getting caught up in what is best to give or provide for our children as they grow up. What is best for them? I believe that the absolute best thing to give them is a heart for the Lord. 

Yes, it is ok to allow them to have fun and yes, it is ok to have things but imagine what their lives would look like if we could help guide them to have a heart for what the Lord desires for them.

To do this, I believe it must first begin with us as parents. Psalm 37:5 tells us to “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” This verse is telling us that if we want what God wants for us then He will surely provide us with those things. If we seek God and His will for our lives, then we will see our kids grow up with a bent and a passion towards God.

God has used this verse in my early years of being a parent to change my heart and consequently my desires. Now, my heart’s desire is that when I am gone from this earth that my children would describe me to others as a man who walked with God and loved God more than anything else. 

I would love to have said of me that which was said of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:5-6. The Bible says there that: He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he drew close to the Lord, and departed not from Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord commanded Him.”

Parents, I would encourage you to begin praying for God to give you the strength and the courage to follow Hezekiah’s model in 2 Kings 18. To raise kids who have a heart for the Lord, we must trust and follow God like none elseI am still a work in progress, but I do have this desire in my heart to follow God passionately.

I ran across a poem years ago that really changed my perspective on what to prioritize for my kids that I want to share with you in closing.

“We give and give and give some more, yet we still feel guilty for not giving them more.
We get up early and come home late, leaving little time or energy to relate.
We seem to always be on the go, but love requires the gear of slow.
We start them early so they’ll be a star, then spend weekends in the car.
We buy them computers and fancy phones, only to discover they feel all alone.
We celebrate their role on the traveling team, then wonder later why at church they’re rarely seen.
We make success what we reward but show little passion for His Word.

If you look carefully at the first line of each statement, you’ll notice that each statement comes from a pretty good motive. Those desires aren’t wrong in themselves. But sometimes those things take over and it replaces what they truly need.

Rev. Rick Calloway
Head of School


 

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