Put Your Family First . . . Right?

Wife.  Mother.  Daughter.  These titles come with joyful responsibilities (most of the time.)  We work hard to take care of our families.  All other commitments are under the umbrella of our primary task which is to provide for those we love.  They are “our job;” very often, they are our responsibility in addition to the work outside the home, making them our second, third, or even fourth job.  Many times, we sacrifice ourselves to ensure they get what they need.  But in our determination to fulfill these responsibilities are we forgetting the One who gave us this task in the first place?

Abraham is known for being a faithful follower of God.  He was always willing and ready to do whatever the Lord told him to do, even sacrificing his only son.  According to Genesis 22:2-3a

He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey . . . 

Abraham obeyed. The Bible never mentions him protesting or coming up with an alternative plan.  In fact, in Genesis 22: 12b (NIV) we read, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac and provided a ram in some nearby bushes.

Notice how many times the phrase “your only son” is used.  Throughout this chapter the Lord uses this phrase 3 times. The first time He used the phrase He made a point to say “whom you love,” just to be clear.  The Lord emphasized this phrase because this account was foreshadowing how God was going to save us.  He sacrificed His Son, His only Son, whom He loved as a sacrifice for us so that we might believe and get to spend eternity with Him (John 3:16).

God wants all of our heart.  And he should get all of our heart.  He sacrificed His only Son for us after all.  He demands to be our top priority, even ahead of our family. Nothing can be more important than Him (Exodus 20:3). We have been given stewardship over the blessings God has given us, and that includes our families. Anything that replaces God as a priority in our hearts becomes an idol, even the blessings He gives us to manage.  Abraham realized this and lived it out, despite not having an example (or multiple examples) of faithful men before him as we do.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

One of the most memorable professors I had in college was a middle-aged, never-married woman who had a fierce love affair with the English language. Every year she took a pilgrimage to Oxford, Mississippi, William Faulkner’s home. She returned animatedly to class describing tidbits of information concerning her favorite author. As a newly engaged 19-year-old, I was in love, but it certainly wasn’t with English, nor Faulkner. All I could think about was finishing college early and marrying my fiancé, who I was sure would fulfill my deepest longings for happily ever after.

We both loved Jesus, and looked forward to a life in vocational ministry. However, my devotion during that final year of college couldn’t be described as sincerely and purely given to Christ. We took as many classes together as possible, one of which was the Southern Literature class taught by the Faulkner-loving professor. We remarked how sad that her devotion to a long dead writer, given to run on phrases and strong liquor, seemed a substitute for relationship with a living person.

Fast forward a few years, and our own fairy tale was neck-deep in babies, bills, and bad attitudes. What started out as stars in our eyes became a meteor shower of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. My devotion to the idea of my husband meeting all my heart needs wore thin, as did his patience in dealing with a perfectionistic wife. Thankfully, God answered our desperate prayers for help, and we met some wise counselors who redirected our focus back to the only One Who truly fills the holes in our soul.

Like Eve, the first woman and mother of us all, our hearts are easily led astray when we look to anyone or anything other than Jesus to be our everything. Eve’s sin was in believing that God hadn’t already given her what she needed for life and godliness. The serpent seized the opportunity to appeal to Eve’s desires, which in themselves were not wrong. What was wrong was allowing those desires to replace God’s plan for fulfilling them and believing a lie.

As this new year begins, let’s allow Christ alone to capture our heart’s devotion. Let that apple fall far from the tree!

About the Writer:
Nan Haines is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

The Goldilocks Disorder

My name should be Goldilocks!

When ordering from a menu, I like my food to be “just right” – dressing on the side, no cheese, water with lemon. When folding laundry, I fold towels so they fit “just right” in the cabinet. When dusting, which I probably don’t do as often as you, I return decorative items so they sit “just right” in their assigned places.

How does trying to live in a “just right” Goldilocks world affect my spiritual life? It’s like oil and water! It doesn’t work!

Sometimes when I pray, I tell God how I would like things to be “just right” in my life – a quiet child, a calm day, good health, a check in the mail. Very seldom do my requests become reality because God is a good Father and a wise Sovereign. He allows only what is best, and I’m learning His sovereign plans for me really are “just right.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What does it mean to say God “plans to prosper us”? He doesn’t promise to prosper us by putting money in our bank account or giving us a better job. His plans are custom-designed to teach us to thrive . . . have fortitude . . . have courage in times of trouble. I would not have chosen some of the situations God has allowed for me, and some of life’s difficulties have been lingering for many years, as possibly some have been for you as well. I’m learning God’s Spirit enables me to persevere through the challenges He allows. Because of the situations God allows in our lives, our faith can grow stronger and we can have empathy (your pain in my heart) with others. God wastes nothing.

What does it mean to say God “plans to give us hope”?  Hope in scripture is not crossing our fingers – hoping a husband won’t leave, hoping we can get pregnant, hoping a child will graduate, or hoping we’ll be able to retire. Hope in scripture is a blessed assurance…a peace that comes during difficulties. God is ready to give us an inner quietness even when life is hard.

What does it mean God to say “plans to give us a future”? As God’s children, our future is assured (guaranteed . . . secure) because He has prepared a place for us to live eternally with Him.  As the old hymn says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.”

For those of us who have The Goldilocks Disorder, how should we face the new year?  We can rest in God’s plans.  Rest?!  In 2019 God wants us to rest?!  Life in the 21stcentury is on the fast track and there’s very little time to rest physically, emotionally, or spiritually – right?

 

Where was Goldilocks at the end of the fairy tale?  She was resting . . . she was even asleep!!  She had given up trying to make things “just right.”

Yes, the story of Goldilocks is a fairy tale, but God’s Word is not. He is our Faithful Father and His plans are always perfect. God promises His plans will give us hope in 2019 and an eternal future. He allows only what is best, and His sovereign plans are always “just right.”

About the Writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.