The Blessing, Part 5

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Family Devotions this week continue with "The Blessing" as we look at the next 2 elements: picturing a special future and an active commitment.

MONDAY, May 13

 

To Talk about:  When and to whom last week did you purposefully express high value?  What are some of the terms God uses for us to express our value to him?  What words do we use for God?

And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. Acts 20:32

The Blessing, as we’ve discussed so far, includes meaningful touch, spoken words and expressing high value.  The fourth element is picturing a special future.  The words we use need to build up and provide a hopeful future.  Children are literalists, especially when it comes to the words of your parents.  Compare Mark’s mother’s harmful words to him and his sister: “You might as well drop geometry now; that’s for smart kids.” Said in jest perhaps, but wounding deeply as her son believes he is too dumb for school.  In Mark it produced extreme workaholism as he tried to prove her wrong.  His sister, the “ugly mess,” believed her mother’s words and quit taking care of her appearance at all.  Positive words that picture a hopeful future, however, draw children to a positive attitude on their life like we are drawn to a campfire on a dark night.  Instead of teasing children with words they take literally and end up fulfilling, or instead of saying nothing to children about their future, we can fill them with a picture of potential – based not on their abilities but on their character: “God has given you such a sensitive heart.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up helping a great many people when you grow older.”  What future do you hope for in the lives of the ones you love?  Can you use words today to encourage them with a picture of a special future?  Each of us has the promise of a special future – an eternal future – with God because of Christ.  Through Him, we pass on a picture of a hope-filled future to others.

Father, let my mouth open today only to communicate blessing, value, and a bright future.

 

TUESDAY, May 14

To Talk About: Did anyone ever picture a special future for you at any point in your life?  What did they say or picture for you?  How did that impact your life?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

“Picturing a special future for a child, spouse or friend can help bring out the best in their lives… We can see this very thing in our relationship with the Lord… Time and again, God gives us a picture of our special future with Him in His Word.”  He also gives us gifts of nature to communicate the message that He can transform us by picturing a special future.  Consider the butterfly.  How does it start out?  It’s a fat, ugly worm that it doomed to crawl around the earth.  Yet it has the potential to be transformed into an eye-popping, colorful work of art, delighting us as it flutters gracefully around, bestowing beauty wherever it goes.  “What does this have to do with the blessing?  Words that picture a special future for a child, spouse, or friend can act as agents of transformation in their lives.”  Our verse for today indicates the transforming power of words.  “Godly thoughts and thinking patterns have the ability to transform us into godly men or women, rather than leaving us to be squeezed into the imperfect mold of the world.”  In a similar way, the words you communicate to child, spouse, or friend can transform the way they think about themselves.  Are they smart or dumb?  Ugly or beautiful?  Good-for-nothing or filled with gifts to offer?  Much of what a child thinks of himself or herself is based off of what he or she is told.  Parents have incredible power to develop their thoughts, and loving words that picture a positive future help children change and develop in a positive way.

Father, you have blessed and transformed me with a hopeful future through Your Word.  Help me do the same with the people You have placed in my life.

 

WEDNESDAY, May 15

To Talk About:  How is the butterfly a good metaphor for “picturing a special future?”  What are some specific thinking patterns that have been changed by God and His Word in your life?  Why are the words of others – especially our parents – so powerful to transform how we think about ourselves?

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:10-11

Words that communicate a special future are essential, but the other ingredient that must go with it is a commitment to help see that special future happen.  Today’s passage says that the words God speaks do what He says they will.  Throughout Scripture, God’s credibility is based on his fulfillment of past commitments (see Psalm 105:5).  If you tell your child that they have a compassionate heart for animals and could be a great vet someday, but never give them opportunities to care for animals, they will learn to doubt your words.  If you are always too busy to teach your son to catch, he’ll never be a great ball player as you said he would.  If you don’t take time to make your wife feel loved, she’ll start to doubt your promise that you’ll love her forever.  Words without commitment are absolutely empty.  But there is always room for grace.  It is never too late to start following through on your commitments if you’ve been unfaithful in the past.  Ask forgiveness from the ones you’ve hurt and our always-faithful God, and seek strength from him to start today in following through on the commitments you’ve made and the positive futures you’ve blessed others with.

Examine the futures you’ve pictured for others and see if you have failed to keep the commitment behind it.  Pray for forgiveness and the strength in Christ to follow through.


THURSDAY, May 16

To Talk About: Why are words empty without action or commitment behind them?  Share a time when you were blessed by someone’s words and their following actions.

 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  James 2:15-16

We have four of the five pieces for The Blessing now: meaningful touch, spoken words, expressing high value, and picturing a special future.  The fifth and final element of the Blessing is an active commitment, which ties in with yesterday’s theme of commitment.  An active commitment is the mortar that holds all of the other elements together.  What is meant by an active commitment?  Consider the words of today’s passage. The answer to the question, “What does it profit?”: nothing.  “Such words are about as useful as a crooked politician’s shouting promises on election eve. Children of all ages need the daily ‘food and clothing’ of love and acceptance that the blessing can provide… but mere words of blessing are not enough.  We must “talk the talk” of blessing, but then also “walk the walk.”  If you “talk the talk” but fail to put the elements of the blessing into practice, our children are left undernourished and ill-clothed in their need for love and acceptance.  We have probably all dealt with people who promised to do something for us and then failed to follow through.  If we are honest, we know that sometimes we have been those people.  A person who desires to bless others must see the blessing through by fully committing to help make it happen.  We put our hands where our mouth is and rely on God to give us the strength to commit.

Pray for parents today, that they would recognize the importance of blessing their children and then taking the time to help that blessing happen in their child’s life.

 

FRIDAY, May 17

To Talk About: Can you name an example from life or a movie or story where the commitment of one person transformed the thinking and future of others? 

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.  Deuteronomy 3:28

What subject did you dread the most in school?  Most kids have at least one subject that proves to be their worst nightmare lived out every single day.  Some teachers don’t help matters because they send the message that they are certain you are going to flunk the course, and we tend to live up to expectations.  But what happens when a student has a teacher who makes a commitment like this: “If anyone fails this class, then I have failed.”  According to Gary Smalley, for whom this actually happened, it meant that instead of half the class failing, the entire class succeeded and far surpassed expectations, even earning A’s!  Why?  Because the teacher pictured a positive future and put in the time and effort needed to help each student succeed.  We need to do the same for one another in our weaknesses.  We need to encourage and support in weaknesses, helping others succeed, and we need to hug and praise for strengths.  Children and spouses and friends also need to us the hold them – physically and emotionally – when we are hurting.  God asked Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua when it was time for him to become the new leader of the entire nation of Israel. They were poised at the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter but not knowing what they would face.  In the same way, we can encourage and strengthen those we love, especially when they face challenges.  It’s part of an active commitment, and is essential to the Blessing.  Next week we will look further at how we can commit to our children and loved ones.

Father, strengthen and encourage me so that I can pass it on to others.  Amen.

 

 

All quotations are from The Blessing pages 88-106.

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