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Family devotions don’t have to be dull. Courage, Contentment, Creativity. Listening, Leisure, Love. Money, Memory, Meditation. Patience, Peer Pressure, Peace. These are only some of the topics Family Walk tackles in this family devotional guide from Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, the experts in innovative teaching of the Word of God. Family Walk tells you what the Bible has to say about issues vital to your family today. It will help you draw your family closer to God and closer together. Family Walk tackles 52 different topics-one a week for a whole year. Day One of each topic brings your family a definition of the topic and a key verse to guide your discussion in the coming week. Each Tuesday through Friday, you’ll explore the answer to a new question as you: · read a contemporary story · take a look at a key passage in God’s Word, and · take a step toward putting the Bible to work as you deal with the problem. Stroll through the Bible a few minutes at a time with Family Walk and find answers to your most pressing problems. Family Walk is a compilation of daily Bible studies from Family Walk, a devotional guide published monthly by Walk Thru the Bible and dedicated to bringing families together around values that really count.
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Family Walk52 Weekly Devotions for Your Family
ZondervanCopyright © 1991 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew Starts
This is like the movies, Jerry thought to himself as the cell block gates clanged shut behind him. But it wasn't a movie. It was real-as real as the day Jerry first entered prison. The judge had sentenced him to ten years, but now, after only five, he was being paroled-given a new start.
"And I'll do it," he promised himself. "I won't mess up this time. I'll start over and do it right ..."
But six months later, the cell block gates clanged shut a second time behind Jerry. Once again, he was starting over.
Thinking About New Starts At the beginning of each year we think about new starts, fresh opportunities to do something or be something different-new beginnings, second chances.
The blank pages of the new calendar urge us to improve. We make resolutions to be more patient, to study harder, to diet, to exercise, to practice our music, to read the Bible every day. For many of us, the resolutions we make on January 1 are as hard to keep as it was for Jerry to go straight.
But new starts are possible-if we make them with God's help! The apostle Paul wrote these encouraging words to the church:
Key Verse on New Starts If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Looking Ahead This week we'll talk about new starts from God's perspective. You can get off to a good start by answering these questions: "What is one thing we did as a family last year that we would like to do again? What is one thing we would like to do differently in the coming year?"
After everybody's had a chance to answer, mark your family calendar with the dates you'll need to remember. But before you make final plans, read Proverbs 3:1-2.
If at First You Don't Succeed, You're Still Okey!
Q: Why is it often necessary to start over?
A: New starts are sometimes necessary because sin came into the world.
It's impossible, Mom. Just look at this mess. It's hopeless. And Miss Hodges is going to grade this project on Friday. I'll probably make a D in Home Ec, and it'll go on my permanent record. All because I can't put in one lousy zipper."
"Cindy," her mother replied as she carefully examined the skirt her daughter was sewing, "what you did was put the zipper in backward. All you have to do is take it out and start over. It's not hopeless. You've done a great job so far, and when you correct this mistake your skirt will be beautiful. You'll probably make an A-and you'll have something new to wear!"
Take a Look Genesis 3:14-24 From sewing a skirt to practicing the piano to building a relationship, God gives us many opportunities to start over-to learn from our mistakes and move forward.
New starts are necessary because we are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world. The Bible teaches that when God first created the world, everything was perfect-sinless. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, death and decay entered the world. From that time on, all things (including you) have experienced the effects of sin.
The entrance of sin into the world is sometimes called the "fall of man." Read the account of how it happened and what its tragic results were in Genesis 3:14-24.
Take a Step Though the penalty of Adam and Eve's sin was death, God promised that one day someone would come to crush the head of the serpent who had tempted them to disobey God (Genesis 3:15). He gave them a new start-a hope for the future. And that hope was fulfilled in Jesus Christ:
Because of his great love for us, God ... made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5). Even though everyone and everything still experience the effects of sin, God offers a fresh beginning through Jesus Christ. That's comforting news whether your name is Adam, Eve, or Cindy!
Today, as you close your family time, reread the Key Verse for this week. Aren't you glad God doesn't give up on You-even when you are sometimes tempted to give up on yourself? Tell Him thank you right now!
Where Do I Start When My World Falls Apart?
Q: How can I start over?
A: New starts can happen when I admit I was wrong and am willing to make things right.
Mom, Dad, I've got to talk to you. I've done something terrible, and you're going to hate me for it." As 15-year-old Becky spoke, her lip quivered and she began to sob. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis knew this was serious.
"Becky," her dad said gently as Mrs. Lewis gave Becky a tender hug, "you're very special to us. We won't stop loving you, regardless of what you've done. Whatever it is, we'll work it out together. Now, come sit by me and tell me what's wrong."
"Oh, Dad, I can't ..." Becky's voice broke again.
"Becky, you've got to. We can't help you until we know what the problem is. Once you've told us, we can all begin to look for the best way to set things right."
"Okay, but you won't like what you hear ..."
Take a Look Psalm 51:1-4,13-17 Mr. and Mrs. Lewis loved their daughter and encouraged her to confess what she had done. They knew that to make a new start, you have to have a starting point-a time when you face up to what you've done and are willing to make it right.
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13).
King David provides a good model to follow. At one point in his life he committed two terrible sins-adultery and murder. He thought no one knew what he had done. But God knew and sent a prophet to tell the king so.
David realized he could not escape the consequences of his wrong actions. But he also knew that if he confessed those actions and was sincerely sorry, God would forgive him. Read David's confession in Psalm 51:1-4, 13-17.
Take a Step New starts are necessary because we are sinful people living in a sinful world. We make mistakes-sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. Often we are like King David and behave sinfully in our relationships with other people.
When we sin, a new start is possible only when we admit that sin and are willing to make it right. Think back to Becky and her parents. How did Mr. Lewis encourage Becky to admit her wrong action? What did Becky know about her parents that gave her confidence that she would be forgiven?
A Broken Law and a Broken Heart
Q: How can I help someone else start over?
A: New starts often begin with Christlike forgiveness.
Becky's voice trembled as she began. "Oh, Dad, I'm so ashamed. You remember when I was baby-sitting to earn Christmas money? Well, one night Mrs. Morris left her tiny diamond earrings on the table. I tried them on ... and then I just put them in my pocket. I don't know why I did it-I know it was wrong." Becky paused. She started to chew on her lip.
"Becky," her mom interrupted, "is there more?"
"Well ... I put them in a jeweler's box and gave them to Liz for Christmas. Liz couldn't believe I had given her such an expensive gift, and she wore them all the time. It was awful. I wanted to take the earrings back, but by then I couldn't.
"Then last night Liz baby-sat for the Morrises. Right away Mrs. Morris spotted the earrings. She called Liz a thief. When Liz told her I had given them to her, Mrs. Morris was furious. She told Liz neither of us could ever baby-sit for her again. Now Liz hates me, Mrs. Morris hates me, and nobody will ever trust me again. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."
Take a Look Luke 22:59-62; John 21:15-19 Peter, a disciple of Jesus, also needed a new start. He had promised to stick by Jesus no matter what. But on the very day of Jesus' death, Peter denied Him-three times! Read Luke 22:59-62 to see how Peter felt about his failure. Then turn to John 21:15-19 to see how Jesus responded to Peter after His resurrection. As you read, look for clues that show you how to help someone else who is going through a "Peter Problem."
Take a Step Peter had denied Jesus three times. By giving Peter three opportunities to express his love for Jesus, our Lord showed Peter that He forgave him and accepted him completely. This is the kind of forgiveness that helps others start over, the kind described in Ephesians 4:32:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
In Becky's confession, she showed true sorrow for what she had done. She had broken God's law; she had grieved her parents, and had gotten Liz in trouble. Becky realized that people now thought she was untrustworthy. From this starting point, what should she do next? If you were her mom or dad, what would you tell her to do?
If God Can Forgive Me, Why Can't Others?
Q: What happens if others won't forget the past?
A: I can still experience God's forgiveness, make a new start, and leave the past behind.
Mom and Dad have sure been super, Becky thought. They knew what I did was wrong and that I really felt bad about it. They could have treated me like the family outcast-but they didn't. Or they could have just ignored the problem and let me get away with it, but they didn't do that either.
The stolen earrings were returned to Mrs. Morris. Becky apologized to her friend Liz and assured everyone that Liz had not been involved in taking them. Everything should have been back to normal. But Becky's eyes told another story.
"Oh, Mom," Becky cried softly, "Richard asked me to go to the Valentine Banquet ... but when some of the girls in the youth department heard about it, they told him they couldn't believe a Christian guy would go out with a thief. I've done everything I can to make things right. What if people won't forget?"
Take a Look 2 Corinthians 2:5-8;Philippians 3:10-14 "Forgetting what is behind." Sometimes it's easier for you to do than it is for those your actions have affected.
After the apostle Paul became a believer in Jesus, other Christians had a hard time forgetting the suffering he had caused. Even the leaders of the church "were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple" (Acts 9:26). For three long years, only the Lord knew that Paul was sorry for his past and was no longer a threat to the church.
Turn now to 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 and read Paul's own words describing how believers should treat someone who has sinned, confessed, and repented-someone who needs a new start. Then read Philippians 3:10-14 to learn how Paul found strength to start over, even though others wouldn't forget his painful past.
Take a Step Like Paul, Becky repented of her sin. She confessed it to God, to her parents, and to everyone else involved. She knew God forgave her because ...
If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9).
Becky did what she could to make things right. But she couldn't control the hurtful things unforgiving people thought and said about her. On the basis of the verses that you have just read, what advice would you give her now?
Excerpted from Family Walk Copyright © 1991 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsCONTENTS
Fear of the Lord