March 4 – I’m Blessed, and That’s My Problem!

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The relationship I have with my wife is very special to me. We enjoy working together and love facing the daily challenge of life. Yet, sometimes our focus temporarily shifts to the “things to do” list, instead of relishing in all the blessings we enjoy right now. I have come to realize this is a trait of humanity; more blessing equals more pressing!

To those who see great provision, protection, and success comes the challenge close behind. God warned His people in the days of Moses to remember all the blessings when they came into the land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 6). He knows in the midst of greatness, the temptation to become disgruntled can be pretty strong.

Jen and I have discovered that when we take a moment to rehearse just a few of the good things we’ve experienced, our attitudes shift to the positive in a hurry. We find ourselves invariably giving thanks to God because we see His fingerprints all over the place.

That is my prayer today for every person on this planet. This is my prayer for America and every free nation in the world. May those who live and legislate in them awaken to the handprints of God and see all the blessings He’s poured out on them. May the sacrifices of those who’ve gone before speak loud and clear. And may we all realize and never forget that without the presence of God we would be nothing.

Lift up your head today. Look up from the task at hand for just a moment. And catch a glimpse of all the blessings surrounding you!

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.   Exodus 23:20

 Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

February 22 – Home Sweet Home

frnt_angle_lightboxOur relocation to the country has been a blessing. Maybe I’ll be talking about it for many devos to come. Much of what we know God has asked us to do is continuing without a pause. The surroundings we are in just play a different kind of part in enhancing each day’s work. Here’s a little sample of what I heard from Benjamin, our 4 year-old, tonight.

Mom, why is this bug I caught called a lightning bug?”

 “Well, because he lights up.”

 “Is it because he hates darkness?”

 (Long pause) “Yes, I guess he does his job because he hates the darkness!”

Wow! That little guy just hit me right between the eyes! He lights up because he hates the darkness!! What a beautiful, powerful picture of all that God has given us to do and be in this dark world. We have no idea or clue who or what we are affecting, just by living our everyday lives.

Anytime I watch the combines roll through the fields, I can’t help but get teary. Not just because I love observing the familiar process that breathes hundreds of childhood memories, but because I am seeing first hand an example of ripe and ready fruit getting plucked out of the field and whisked into the harvest truck. Have you noticed lately? Doesn’t the time seem short?

Don’t be weary in well-doing, and most of all, don’t forget what home really is. Let the mission we’ve been given infiltrate our hearts, our actions, and our words, so that through each of our days on this earth, all the rest of the harvest can come home, too.

Jenny 🙂

When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. Matthew 21:34

 Biblical Meditation: John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

February 10 – True, Through and Through

 

 

Have you ever heard, “A hard head makes a soft behind?” Well, I must say, I am all too familiar with this phrase. It simply refers to those individuals who tend to make things hard on themselves by not heeding the warnings of the wise.

That was the case when I decided to buy a pricey gold necklace for a young lady I admired in high school. At best, she considered me a friend, but I, however, thought she was pretty special. My mother warned that the necklace was a bad “token of our friendship” idea.

But my mind was made up. Bad move! By the time that deal was over, I was so soured on jewelry that my wife, years later, almost didn’t get a wedding band (a little exaggeration, but not much).

Yet over the years and with the birth of each child, my love for Jennifer caused me to search for something, something that would express what she truly is to my life. It was then I came across the Character First lesson on sincerity and the attributes of the pearl.

Previously, I thought diamonds were by far more superior. But as my sincerity story described the difference between cultured and genuine pearls, I knew I had found my something. Although the cultured pearl comes from an oyster, just like a genuine one, at its core it is really a ready-made glass bead.

On the contrary, the genuine pearl is the result of a tiny piece of sand or debris getting trapped in a very sensitive spot when an oyster opens up. And in an effort to ease the pain, the oyster coats the particle with endless amounts of a tear-like liquid called nacre.

 And over time those many layers of tears form something very precious. That’s my Jennifer! Time and tests only seem to make her shine brighter because her heart is true.

But ponder this. God thinks the same about each one of us. We are His strand of pearls. He paid a premium price for us; the precious blood of His Son, Jesus. And there is nothing in this world that He won’t do for us. So, the least we can do is draw near to Him with a Teachable, Respectful, Undaunted, Eager heart.

Having a true heart doesn’t mean you are “mistake-free.” It simply means you are real before God. It means that you are “all in.” No games. And that guarantees you will miss it from time to time. But that’s what sets you apart. Because you love Him enough to continue to pursue, His love will cover your edges and make you true, through and through.

The Character First Five I WILL’s for Sincerity:

I WILL be all that I can be.

I WILL take responsibility for my own actions.

I WILL respect others’ opinions.

I WILL always mean what I say.

I WILL not take advantage of other people.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 KJV

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.

 

January 29 – He’s Just My Dad

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When I was a kid, there was a popular 7-UP commercial featuring the welterweight boxing champ of the day, Sugar Ray Leonard. The soft drink company capitalized on the father-son relationship between Ray and Ray, Jr., his son.

The climax came when a group of young boys came through the boxing gym, spotting Sugar Ray in the ring. After recognizing him, they shouted, “It’s the champ!” And Little Ray came back with a simple, “Naaah, it’s just my dad.” What an impression that made on my ten year-old mind.

At the heart of every person is a child longing to know their daddy better than anyone else does. And that little person also wants to be the one who says to the whole world, “Hey, if you want to meet my pops, you’ll want to follow me, because he’s my dad.”

This, in a nutshell, is the beauty of Christ. Through Him, we can waltz right in and take a seat in the lap of the Creator of the Universe. To the world and all that’s in it, God is often known as the Invisible, All Powerful One. But to Christ, He is Abba (another way to say Daddy!).

For all who have discovered the marvelous Christ-connection to God, He is your Papa too. And that places you in a privileged position; you are “Junior” to the world. Now, while the masses seek a glance of the One True God, you can help them out. Yes, He is God, and yes, He is awesome. But to you, He’s Dad!

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18

Biblical Meditation: Romans 8:15-17 Message This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

 

 

January 27 – This Thing Called the Body

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 When it comes to Christianity, I struggle sometimes with the “how comes.” Why are there so many fragmented pieces? Why is there so much duplication and yet, limited unity? And why, if our Savior and Lord came and healed the sick, prospered the poor, fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, and opened prison doors for the captives, why do we struggle so in doing the same?

In all honesty, there are many times I get so caught up in this type of thinking, I lose sight of what God taught me years ago. During a time of “wandering through the why’s,” I asked God for help with some of these questions. And instead of answering me in an audible voice, He led me to the prayerful words of Christ in John 17.

There I saw the Lord prophetically praying His will for those who would one day be known as Christians. He knew unity and harmony would be a feat that only His Father could muster. There would be so many from different walks of life, with so many mindsets. That is why it is a sign of maturity when we choose to pray as Christ did for the Body of believers instead of critiquing and criticizing its shortcomings.

This morning I was moved by the thought of this great Body, more than a billion strong world-wide, united through prayer and harmoniously representing Christ in its manifold languages and flavors! There is nothing like it in the entire universe! So I commit once again to pray for her and play my role. And may the world feel the weight of Christ’s love for them through our obedience.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. . John 17:23

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 2:8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.

 

January 19 – Pattern of Three

of-three-strandsIn all God does, He weaves layers of meaning. That’s why studying how it all began on planet earth yields so much insight for daily living.

For instance, take the account of the day when God hung lights in the heavens. In my estimation, it is not coincidental that there are three elements of light; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars.

Based on an underlying 3-in-1 theme that occurs throughout the Bible, I believe God is giving us a clue to building a sturdy foundation of bond and balance.

Think about the dynamics that constitute a family: dad, mom, and children. In the order God prescribes, the male (dad) comes before the female (mom) and the children are the result of their union.

However, each role is beautifully bonded by necessity. Neither is more important than the other, yet role-respect is key and vital to their overall success. That’s why it is a sad and sick strategy when modern culture strives to manipulate the delicate strands of this holy institution.

Blinded by selfish intelligence gone wild, the ignorant and in-charge often seek to make changes that would in essence eliminate life as God designed it. Thank God for divine intervention!

Today, look for the “pattern of three.” It may come in the form of three individuals seeking your help in same, yet different, ways.

It may be the same piece of news coming to you via three different people in three different locations. And it could even be something as simple as the eggs you whip for breakfast.

Whatever and whomever might be used to remind you, let it be just that; a reminder of how God braids, bonds, and balances life. For if He cares about the little details like “1-2-3,” surely, He can and will take care of you and me!

 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Genesis 1:16-19 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

January 15 – Please Ask First

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Has there ever been a time when something bad happened because you were doing something you didn’t ask for permission to do? Well, that has happened to us many times! One particular incident stands out in our minds.

On a Saturday morning Nathaniel woke me up to suggest that we try to make some oatmeal for breakfast. (And of course we didn’t ask.) So, I got up and we quietly went to the kitchen so we wouldn’t wake up anyone (especially Micah, because she was still working on having an inside voice).

But what can we say, she was only 2! Anyway, we poured a whole box of oats in a pot of water and turned on all the burners. Now just think, a 5 & 3 year-old messing with a stove? Not good!

So then we decided to go tell mom about this idea when all of a sudden she runs in saying “something smells like smoke!’’ Well, our basket near the stove caught on fire!

Thankfully, dad hadn’t left yet and he carried us all to the garage and put the fire out with mom’s water bottle.

So the moral of that story is always, no matter what, you must always ASK FIRST.

For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened. Luke 11:10J

A Dunford Family Classic written by Hannah at the age of 14.