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Something Beautiful for Mother
By Karen Kingsbury
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Chapter OneProtecting Grace
Read 2 Chronicles 16:7–10.
The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
One of the most common responses my freshmen college students experienced each fall was eagerness to escape the watchful eyes of their parents. To these students, leaving home and moving into a dormitory with other young freedom seekers was a dream come true. In contrast was the little boy who, after wandering from his mother's side, soon found himself in the toy department. His mother rushed over to him. "Bryan, I've been frantic. I had no idea where you were!"
Unperturbed, he looked up and said sweetly, "But, Mama, you always know where I am. See, you're right here beside me."
For those of us who wander into the toy department and hope not to be discovered, remember that God views us through the lens of grace. That grace seeks to protect us as well as love us.
Called to Liberty
Read Galatians 5:1–15.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Many years ago I learned what it means to be free. Until I went to college, my family had attended a denominational, legalistic church that preached performance. Everything about it encouraged conformity, compliance, and criticism toward those who did not "follow the rules."
While I was away at college, Mother and Daddy changed churches, and upon my first visit, I began to learn the meaning of big biblical words like predestination, justification, and sanctification and how the truth of those meanings work in little words like peace, grace, and freedom.
This free life in Christ permits us to accept and love others just as they are. Not only that, but it encourages us to serve people we don't even know. It can take us to a mission field on the other side of the world or down a dormitory hallway to help someone in need.
Read 1 Peter 3:15.
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15
I'll never forget the time I prayed about whether or not we could adopt a child. In His unmistakable voice, the Lord gave me Proverbs 13:12 as a promise: "When the desire comes, it is a tree of life." Not if, but when! I rested in the hope that God would send us the right child at the right time.
A friend later asked me how I could have such confident hope. "I don't know if my faith is that big," she said.
"The size of my faith doesn't matter," I answered. "I'm confident in the size of my God."
Angela Elwell Hunt
The Joy of My Heart
Read Jeremiah 15:15–18.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16
When my children were young, they would head straight for the kitchen after walking in the door from school. The work and stress of the day seemed to melt away with one glance at a plate of cookies waiting on the counter.
Jeremiah wrote about similar appetites. He also headed to the "kitchen" to eat—to consume or devour—God's Word. We, too, will know we are walking closely with Him when we find childlike joy in feasting daily, not only on Scripture but also on the knowledge that Someone knows and loves us so much that He leaves us plates of goodies.
Lynda Hunter Bjorklund
Read 1 Peter 1:6–9.
In this you greatly rejoice ... that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6–7
When gold is refined, it is a fiery process that separates what is true from the flaws and impurities that have become one with it. The process is faithful, but it is temporary. We are called to more. We are impressed with gold and fine jewels, but God is blessed by faith that has come through fire hot enough to burn away what cannot last in His kingdom. At times we are so blistered by the blaze that it seems no good can come out of this fire. In those moments, we must hold on by faith to what we know is true. When we cling to Jesus at the height of the inferno, we will see when the furnace has cooled that what is left is faith—pure, genuine, and honoring to Christ.
What Does God See?
Read Deuteronomy 10:12–15.
What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul? Deuteronomy 10:12
When I met my husband, Dave, I liked him. As I spent time with him, I got to know him more and more. We talked, laughed, and even cried together, and I realized my "like" had turned into love, and I couldn't get enough of him.
When God surveys our love for Him, I wonder what He sees. Does He find us being in "like" with Him only? Is He sorrowful for what He knows our relationship could be but isn't because of the absence of time together? Is He sad when we talk and laugh and cry only with others? Does He weep when we let the fire of our love grow cold?
Falling in love with God happens through time spent. The more time we spend with Him, the more we fall in love. It's that simple. It's that joyous. It's that wonderful.
Lynda Hunter Bjorklund
The Garden of God
Read Ephesians 4:30–32.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Here's an exercise: each morning when you wake up, check the fertile soil of your heart to see if any bitter seed has taken root. That friend who betrayed you, the boss who berated you, the husband who barely understands you—bitter seeds will try to take root in every garden. Weeds are like that.
Next do this: for every bitter root that's come up, apply the greatest weed killer of all—forgiveness. To forgive is to cultivate a garden God will delight in, one filled with the flowers of kindness and tenderness.
The Model of Truth
Read verses 3–4 of 3 John.
I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John vv. 3–4
When my four-year-old niece, Abbey, comes to spend the night with me, we always have so much fun together. We get excited and say, "We'll have more fun than a barrel of monkeys!"
We also have our serious moments, often when we read stories or just talk and pray together. One of the things we talk and pray about is truth.
I remember the night Abbey said to me, "I didn't get spanked today."
"Do you usually get spanked?" I asked.
"Only when I sin," she answered. "Like when I push my brother down or take his toys." Then she looked me in the eye and said, "You sin too, Sa-sa, but your sins are different."
Now that's the truth! And we all need to take ownership of those sins by admitting, or confessing, them to God—and sometimes to one another (see James 5:16).
Gifts of the Spirit
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4–11.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 1 Corinthians 12:4–6
Spiritual gifts are given to each individual Christian for the common good. Gifts—as Paul explains in another part of this letter—are not toys, but rather tools. The Corinthians, like the baby Christians they were, were playing with their gifts as if they were playthings instead of using them to serve others in the church.
Every Christian is gifted. The Spirit will indicate what our gift is if we ask Him. One way to really find out is to start serving others, and our spiritual abilities will evidence themselves!
Jill P. Briscoe
Be a Peacemaker
Read James 3:13–18.
Wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17–18
Hi, Mom." My eight-year-old son skipped across the room and gave me a hug. "Guess what? I was a peacemaker today."
"You were?" My eyebrows raised a notch. "How did that happen?"
Joshua went on to explain that in a lunchtime game of soccer he had scored a goal against the other team. "But the goalie was mad at me, so he pushed me down, but I walked away, and the yard monitor told me I was a peacemaker."
"Josh, honey, how come you walked away? How come you didn't fight back?"
"Because, Mom, I know that boy's dad, and my dad's bigger than his dad." To this day, when I'm troubled by something unfair, I remember that God wants us to be peacemakers and leave the rest to Him. Our Dad's the very biggest Dad of all.
The One Who Heals
Read Isaiah 57:15–19.
Thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.... I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him." Isaiah 57:15, 18
What a picture of the beauty of God Isaiah offers here! The One who is high and lifted up in glory, whose robe fills the temple (see Isaiah 6:1), is the same God who draws near to the humble and contrite of spirit. Though He is high and holy, He comes alongside broken people who turn to Him.
When life has rolled over you like a dump truck, how do you see God? Is He far removed, waiting for you to get up and dust yourself off? Isaiah declares that God comes near in the moments we would least expect. He breathes new life into our broken places. He takes us by the hand and comforts us. The One who inhabits eternity restores our souls.
The Creator of All
Read Revelation 4:9–11.
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11
This hymn of praise is sung to the Lamb who was slain (see Revelation 5:6), who alone deserves glory, praise, and honor. One day we will cast our earthly achievements at His feet.
Who ever earned a reward without His giving the power to win it? Who ever earned a degree without the given blessing of intelligence? Who ever did the right thing without the moral knowledge written in our conscience and revealed through His Word?
We owe our next breath to His will, our finest hour to His enabling, our little triumphs to His grace. What have we that we have not received? One day we will cast these earthly crowns at His feet where they belong!
We can start practicing now, while we are going about our daily doings. What can you cast at His feet today?
Jill P. Briscoe
Acceptable in Your Sight
Read Psalm 19:12–14.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
I love words! In the night they accumulate inside me, and then at daybreak I split open like an overripe watermelon, spewing words like seeds. It is said that women have more words and a greater need to speak them than men. I collect quiet friends for obvious reasons. I can't risk loquacious gals like me, who might suggest I hush up, but those given to silence allow me to speak for both of us. I like that.
So imagine when I stumbled on Psalm 19:14 and realized the words I speak should be acceptable to the Lord. Acceptable? In Hebrew, acceptable means "full of favor, kindness, goodwill, and grace." Hmm ... I'd been given to bouts of nitpicking, sporadic sessions of whining, and spouts of vanity. Conversationally, I was at least three quarts low on grace.
With the Lord's help I have given up my endless verbiage (generally) and weigh my words more carefully (usually).
Boundaries of Freedom
Read 1 Peter 2:13–17.
This is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 1 Peter 2:15–16
I grew up cautious. I lived in mortal fear of getting in trouble. I only remember being in trouble twice in my entire childhood, but I thought I might get in trouble, so I stayed on the safe side.
Luci Swindoll has been good for me. She enjoys tremendous freedom and drags me in that direction all the time. Yet she knows that liberty has God-given boundaries. She understands that in Christ we are free and our freedom enables us to follow Him joyfully. In fact, living in freedom as His bondservant is the only way to stay out of trouble.
Our Hope Is Jesus
Read 1 Peter 1:3–5.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
Jesus established hope on the cross and forever wrote it into history. How do we know hope is alive? Because Christ is alive.
I have analyzed no other topic more than the one of hope. Without hope, without dreams, we wither and die. I have come to believe it is the number one reason so many walk around as depressed believers. We have consciously and subconsciously put our hope in things of this world. All of those things eventually die—each and every one. When they die, we feel the loss.
Hope in Christ, however, is fully alive. It will never die. Think about that ... a hope that can never be silenced. It's an eternal flame that will never be extinguished. It's living now, and the inheritance it establishes is reserved in the heavenly realms. Look skyward and hope again. Watch Him move on your behalf.
Gladness, Joy, and Honor
Read Esther 8:7–17.
The city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor. And in every province and city, wherever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Esther 8:15–17
Wow! "Light and gladness, joy and honor." What a combination! If you have just one of those qualities going for you, it's a pretty good day, but to have "light and gladness, joy and honor" working for you is almost too much to contemplate. The grand question is, "How can you have those four qualities in your life at one time?" Those four words seem so splendid when life can be so daily. I believe the order of these words is no mistake because the process has to begin somewhere, so light is the starting point. If you want your life to be marked with gladness, joy, and honor, you have to have light. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). So when Jesus is in your life, you see things differently because you have light. The dark places that trouble you are illumined, and you look at them differently. You see that you are never alone.
Excerpted from Something Beautiful for Mother by Karen Kingsbury Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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