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Keeping God First While On Vacation

For the past three years our family has vacationed together in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Two grandparents –us (Pappy and Nana), our two daughters and their families, including our six grandchildren. Each year we’ve made many special memories. The grands all agree that tubing on the lake is their favorite. This year we had the opportunity to rent a boat for the week, so it was one big splash after another.

Each year Jeff and I intentionally prepare for the spiritual emphases. Since we are at the lake over a Sunday, Jeff (Pastor Pappy) shares a special message and serves our family Holy Communion. It is such a precious time. This year’s message was about David and how he was an unlikely candidate to take down Goliath (but he did…with just a slingshot and a stone), or to become a king, being a simple shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons (but God chose David to reign over Israel for forty years).

Jeff told our grandchildren that God has a special plan for each of our lives, and that God wants to use our unique qualities and abilities to honor Him and to help build His eternal Kingdom. In conclusion, Jeff singled out our youngest and shortest grandchild (Jocelyn), illustrating how God looks at the heart and not our outward appearance. “So, whether young, old, short, or tall, when God calls us to serve Him, He also equips us and helps us overcome obstacles that attempt to thwart His plan and purpose in our lives.”

Desiring to keep our family God-focused throughout our vacation week, I thought it would be helpful to share devotions. Knowing I had only a couple weeks to prepare, I initially thought of grabbing a faithful devotional book from our library, but then God directed me to google the Internet. Sitting behind my computer I began the search and within minutes I landed on: Keeping God First While On Vacation. As I felt my heart resonate with this title, I opened the link and it took me to this site: Growing Kids For The Kingdom (https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/) and to the post, Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional.

I emailed the author, Taylor Johnson, requesting a copy of the devotional and she quickly replied, attaching a copy to the email. After reading through the devotional I knew it was for our us. The devotions are perfect in quantity and content. (A total of five, counting the preparation and follow-up devotions.) This is especially true when you have younger children in your family. More lengthy devotions may not hold their attention. Plus, there’s plenty of Scripture to read and elaborate on as the Holy Spirit directs.

Prior to our departure, I emailed copies of the first devotion to our family members and suggested that they go over The Before You Leave: Preparing Your Hearts section. Jeff and I read this section together and I asked Taylor to help us pray for God’s guidance. She eagerly agreed, and we are thankful for her prayers and for her vacation devotional.

Here’s how God answered our prayers!

Knowing everyone would be anxious to begin their play each day, I knew I must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. He impressed upon me to be flexible with the time of day to share the devotions. (This goes totally against my nature, as I like to have all my ducks in a row). I’m so thankful I listened and heeded to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

Monday morning arrived and several family members were already at the boat dock, leaving a few of us to begin eating breakfast. Unsure of when everyone would be together at the same time, I chose to share Vacation Day 1 – Loving God and His Creation. After reading the entirety of Psalm 104, I asked everyone to look for ways God shows His love through creation. Soon after, I brought the remaining family members up to speed on our devotion for the day. Later that evening our family all came together to celebrate my birthday. Following this very special time, I asked if there was anyone who would like to share our family devotion for Wednesday? Not expecting this at all, our ten-year-old grandson Jack immediately said, “I will!” With no reservations, I handed him a copy of the devotion.

After my sweet birthday celebration, we were visited by a four-legged fury friend…a small beady-eyed raccoon. Our grandkids affectionately named him Ronnie, and of course, they left a plate of goodies on the deck to ensure his return visits. Everyone agreed Ronnie showed us God’s love and vice versa.

Early Wednesday afternoon, I caught Jack sitting on the deck with my Bible opened. He had asked me the day before to use my Bible so he could begin preparing for our devotion and to mark the Scriptures. He didn’t know I spotted him on the deck, so I quickly snapped a photo of him for memory sake.

Wednesday evening our family gathered together while Jack led us in Vacation Day 2 – Being like Christ in Character. I was so blessed by his preparation and leadership. After reading the suggested Scripture, Jack instructed us to talk about the various character traits and challenged us to live these out during our vacation. Following our devotion, Jack’s sister, Julia, confidently said “I’d like to do the next devotion.” “Can I?” I said “Sure!” Julia’s parents reminded her that she would have to take time to prepare. No problem!

On Thursday, we visited the beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens. This turned out to be a delight for all. We experienced so much of God’s marvelous creation. George, the resident male peacock greeted us at the entrance. George was thrilled when we fed him some almonds. We saw lizards, snakes, fish, bugs, waterfalls, and trails leading to a gigantic tree house, a crawdad waterhole with beach balls, and a wrong turn leading us to a beautiful lake view. Here we captured the beauty of the moment.

Friday quickly arrived and I thought maybe we should have our family devotions in the morning, but no, God had other plans. Again, trying hard to be flexible, I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading. After much play on the lake, fishing, boating, and just having fun together, my precious Julia (eight years old) approached me and asked if I would help her prepare for our devotion. My heart leapt with joy as I sat down with her at the table as she read through the suggested Scripture, and we talked through the discussion questions.

Knowing in advance we would face some opposition from the enemy to keep our family from having devotions together, I began to pray for the evening. God was honored when all family members and a family friend listened intently as Julia read the Scripture and led us in Vacation Day 3 – Sharing God’s Love With Others. It was such a tender and Spirit led time. After sharing how we had shown love towards each other during our vacation and ideas for sharing God’s love with others, Julia asked us all to pray. She specifically called out each of our names to let us know when it was our turn to pray. At the conclusion, Julia asked for prayer requests. There were several and as she closed our time in prayer, Julia recalled each request and prayed for them. I knew Jesus was in our midst. What a glorious moment! Our Julia has expressed interest in becoming a missionary. I’m sure God is pleased and will guide and direct her life, along with all our family, as they trust in Him and strive to keep Him first in their lives.

Throughout our vacation week, the Holy Spirit was faithful to remind us of our devotional time together. While trying to decide on where to eat lunch one day, several family members paused to allow differing ideas, demonstrating the Christlike Character of kindness. Another time, I overheard a grandchild say, “Let’s remember to show the love of Jesus.” And parents who praised God and thanked Him for the beauty of His creation; demonstrated by stopping to examine an unusual looking bug, and a dad taking his family on an intentionally planned hike by a creek.

The memories we’ve made on our family vacations are all very special and will remain in our hearts a lifetime. But by far, the greatest memories that I will cherish above all are those of our grandchildren growing closer to God through His love, His Word, and through His creation.

I personally want to thank Taylor Johnson for providing such a wonderful resource for our family to use while on our vacation. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I highly recommend Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional. To read about this devotional and to learn more about the Growing Kids for the Kingdom ministry, you may click on the following links:

Growing Kids For The Kingdom: https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/

Keeping God First while on Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/

Creation Vacation by Covenant Heirs: https://covenantheirs.org/2017/09/22/creation-vacation/

And for further study:

What does it mean that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Article by Got Questions Ministry. https://www.gotquestions.org/God-looks-at-the-heart.html

Disclaimer: Covenant Heirs Ministry recommends this article but does not necessarily endorse all the content found on the God Questions website.

 

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“Sometimes I do mean things.”

For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).

Children speak from the honesty of their hearts, even when it reflects their sinful nature.

Julia 1While finishing eating our cupcakes for Julia’s 4th birthday, Julia surprised me with these words, “Nana, sometimes I do mean things.” Prior to our little party, Julia had been in our backyard running water from the hose, making a puddle to jump in with her sparkly new shoes. Her mom caught her and gave her a little talking to about her misbehavior. No spanking though, since it was her birthday. I later gave her four affectionate old-fashioned birthday spankings and a pinch to grow on…fondly recalling my childhood memories.

Now back to Julia’s concern over her naughtiness. I asked her, “Why do you think you do mean things?” She quietly answered, “I don’t know, I just do.” Okay, got it! Julia’s sinful nature is becoming evident to her and to others. Because Julia has received the primary teaching of sin from her parents, and by the faithful conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, Julia is clearly beginning to recognize the reality of her inherited bent toward sin.

With her pretty blue eyes focused upon mine, I responded to Julia this way. “I know that you really don’t want to do mean things, but the only way that you will be able to stop doing them, is to ask Jesus to help you.” As she seemed to experience a small sense of relief, I told her I would be praying for Jesus to help her.

My prayer for Julia is the same one that I pray for all my grandchildren: That they will come to know Jesus at a young age, to love Him fully, to obey His Word, and to serve Him faithfully all the days of their lives.

I believe that teaching children who God and Jesus are comes more naturally for most parents/grandparents, than it does to teach them about the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

While recently watching the made for T.V. miniseries, A.D. The Bible Continues, my spirit was revitalized by the dramatization of the Acts of the Apostles being infilled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

This same Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) that was poured out upon those early believers is the same Holy Spirit who desires to infill every Christ-follower today.

We need to teach our children the only way to work out the “meanness” in our lives, is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior…to repent of our sins, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His cleansing work in our lives.

Somewhere along their spiritual journey, new believers sense an internal struggle–the “desire” to sin. This desire comes from the original sin nature, (inherited sin of Adam). The only remedy for the sinful nature is heart cleansing by the infilling (or baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

Teaching our children to understand the difference between original sin (nature) and personal acts of sin is a vital part of training in Christian holiness (perfect love).

Pray for your children to be sanctified (or set apart for God’s holy purpose). See Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonica Church:

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 (NIV)

22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

It is true, God is faithful to cleanse (purify) the heart from original sin as we consecrate or surrender ourselves fully to Him. He promises to replace the inbred “desire to sin” with an abiding holy-heart desire to please our Heavenly Father above all other. Of course, we will continue to be tempted to sin, but with a cleansed heart, have the power NOT to sin.

The greatest joy of Christian parents is realizing the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. Sanctification empowers every believer to serve Christ with a joyful heart.

The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace. —Philip Yancey  

When David sinned against God, he acknowledged that he was “born a sinner.” And when David repented of his personal sin against God, he sought to be fully cleansed, or purified.

Psalm 51:  A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a] For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb,[b] teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins.  Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.  You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. 18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

Living in the Light (1 John 1:5-7)

This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Resources for teaching children the basic beliefs of Christianity and the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene.

My Faith: A Nazarene Catechism for Kids is a concise introduction to the basic beliefs of Christianity and of the Church of the Nazarene. It is designed to give 6th graders a solid theological foundation for their lives. My Faith is available as an 8 week course and a 12 week course. http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/waol/innerpage.jsp?c=WAOL&cs=CHILD&sc=MYFAI&ss=NA

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 1: The Father

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 2: Jesus Christ

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 3: The Holy Spirit

  • Beliefs About the Bible, God s Holy Word

  • Beliefs About the Human Race and Sin

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 1

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 2

  • Beliefs About Entire Sanctification

  • Beliefs About the Church

  • Beliefs About the Christian Life

  • Beliefs About the Sacraments and Divine Healing

  • Beliefs About Things to Come

Important Need to Knows

  • The Apostle’s Creed

  • The Nicene Creed

  • The Ten Commandments

  • The Beatitudes

  • The Lords Prayer

  • Agreed Statement of Belief

  • Articles of Faith

  • The Church

  • The Covenant of Christian Character

  • My Faith: Certificate of Completion

A.D.BE SURE TO TUNE IN TO WATCH A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES ON SUNDAY NIGHTS, NBC, 8 PM CENTRAL TIME.  DISCLAIMER: DUE TO THE VIOLENCE DEPICTED IN SOME OF THE EPISODES, PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE DISCRETION WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN.  HOWEVER, I PERSONALLY ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO WATCH WITH OLDER CHILDREN AND TEENS.  FOR BIBLE STUDY AND OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES TO ENHANCE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES, THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, GO TO DR. DAVID JEREMIAH’S WEBSITE: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/therevolution/home.aspx

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 12: 05 pm - in Faith at Home, Holy Living

 

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