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…the LORD made a covenant with Abram… Genesis 15:18  In Genesis, we read that the people of Babylon were a godless and arrogant bunch. They sought to build a kingdom of their own apart from God as a testimony to...

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25 The story of the Christian church is stunning: a handful of Jesus’ followers have become, two millennia later, a global phenomenon of a few billion people. During...

BIBLE INTERPRETATION: How is Jesus the hero of the Bible? The opening line of Scripture introduces us to its hero, God. Throughout the pages of Scripture this God is revealed. In the closing line of the New Testament Scriptures, we...

You know that studying the Bible together would be good for your family – but life keeps getting in the way. It can be hard to make time to sit in the Word together, but the results are always worth it! So get some tips from Grace and me on how you can figure out what works for you – and build habits to help you grow together in God’s Word.

Some years ago, I was travelling with someone during the winter. Our trip started in sunny Southern California, then continued on to windy and snowy Illinois. Unfortunately, my travelling partner was so excited about going to California that he forgot to pack for the winter weather in Illinois. I was humored when he was trying to hike over a snow bank with freezing feet because the only shoes he packed were flip-flops. This is the law of seasons. The same God who made the natural world with seasons has also woven seasons into our life. When we do not pay attention to and honor the season, we end up making life more painful and difficult than it should be. This is what Proverbs 20:4 means: “Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.”  God wants your life, year after year starting this year, to be like a healthy tree that honors the seasons and flourishes. This is what Psalm 1:1–3 means: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” As we honor the seasons of life and dig our roots into healthy circumstances and relationships, our life becomes fruitful year after year. When we fail to recognize that our entire life, and each year of our life, has seasons, we become confused and frustrated. Something that used to work, no longer works. What used to deliver positive results, no longer does. In this way, the flip-flops that were perfect for the summer become a problem in the winter. How do you know when the season of your life is changing? Transition. When a major life transition comes, you are leaving one season and entering into another season of life. Consider your life. Have you recently experienced any of these seasonal transitions? Divorce Death of a Spouse Death of Parent or Child Relocation Job/Career Change Bankruptcy Major Job Loss Illness (Personal or a Close Family Member) Empty Nest If any of these transitions, or others like them, are part of your life, you need a plan for the next season of life, which we will consider in the next devotional entry. At MarkDriscoll.org there is a special four-part series this month called Four Biblical Laws That Change Your Life, available for a gift of any amount. This brand-new content is a series of lectures and accompanying homework by Pastor Mark Driscoll to help you make this a godly and great year, by God’s grace.

You are likely familiar with something called the “Stages of Grief.” A researcher named Kübler-Ross studied dying patients and those who loved them as they passed from this life. The research concluded that people go through five stages of grief in varying orders: 1. denial and isolation, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. As you read the short book of Habakkuk (you can do this in 10–15 minutes), you will likely see each of these stages of grief as he is processing his pain through prayer. As you arrive at the third and final chapter, you will see something else: worshipful thanksgiving. For the Christian, there should be a sixth stage of grief: worshiping God by faith and trusting Him to one day and some way work it all out for His glory and our good. Habakkuk 3:17–19 (ESV) says, Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. In our day, this would be like saying something like, “Though there is no food in my house, no money in my account, no cure for my cancer, no reconciliation with my loved ones, and no hope for my future, I will put on worship music and sing to God from a glad heart.” It sounds crazy right? It is easy to worship God when life is wonderful. It can be much harder to worship God when life is awful. Worship is by faith trusting that the God who took care of our biggest problem of sin will one day take care of all our problems. The opposite of worship is idolatry. This is a big theme in the Bible, and the focus of the first two of the Ten Commandments; there is one God, and we are to worship Him alone, not idols. The final line of an entire book of the Bible says, “Keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 ESV). Although the thing being idolized may not be bad, idolatry is often a good thing standing in God’s place, which is a bad thing. Idolatry is often the result of seeking to use God to get what we want. The problem with this is that God is not the end we seek, but rather the means to another end we seek. We worship God so that we will get healed, get rich, or get something else we want. When He doesn’t come through, we become agitated and frustrated that our worship isn’t working. This is not how God works. God does not exist to give us our idols so that we can worship them instead of Him. Worship is seeing God as our end, and worship as a means to connecting with and becoming more like God through our relationship. Worship can happen whether we are sick or healthy, poor or rich, dying or living, crying or laughing. Even though life changes, the goodness of God does not. When God, instead of our idol, becomes the gravitational center of our emotional universe, we become healthy enough to process the problems and pains of life with God. When change, crisis, or calamity hits our routine, we are given an opportunity to move from routine to real relationship with God through worship. Practically, this means that we go to church to be with God’s people in God’s presence, learn from God’s Word, and open our mouths and hearts to cry out to God in faith that He hears us, loves us, and will never leave us nor forsake us even if everything else is being taken from us. What is your worship routine at church and at home? Is your worship routine building your relationship with God? If not, what changes can be made?

We live and minister in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful dry desert that is, for most of the year, barren with red clay dirt and green cactus as far as the eye can see. But, everything changes during monsoon season....

When you are a kid in school, teachers tell you that you need food, water, air, and shelter to live. But, you also need love. Without love, we literally die.   Some years ago, there were beautiful medical facilities built to house newborn orphan children who did not have parents. The children were given a clean environment, sunlight, healthy food, fresh water, a comfortable bed, and fun toys. Yet, the children grew sick and died in staggering numbers. The doctors did research and could not figure out why the healthy children were dying. An outside group was brought in to research the crisis.   Can you guess what they concluded?   The children needed to be loved. The children needed to be held, cuddled, and spoken to multiple times every day. Without love, children literally die. God made us for loving relationship and human connection. Knowing this, God who made us and knows what we need says over and over in the Bible, in places like 1 John 4:21, “whoever loves God must also love.”   Love.   It’s a little word with big implications.   When you tell someone you love them, and mean it from the heart, it reveals that something profound and priceless has happened in your relationship. When Grace and I decided that we not only loved one another, but that we would say “I love you.” then our relationship would never be the same.   Christianity is about many things, but one of the most important things is love. This is why Jesus says in Mark 12:28–31 that it is “most important” to “love.” In 1 Corinthians 13:13 we are told that the “greatest” thing in all the world “is love.” Love is sometimes what you feel, sometimes what you say, but always what you do. Love is ultimately shown in action. True love is unselfish and does what is in the best interest of the beloved. This results in acts of service and sacrifice, much like Jesus Christ who served us by sacrificing His own life as the greatest act of love the world will ever know.   How are you doing at loving your child in word and deed? How can you love your child better? How can you help your child to love God and others?

Like every child who is part of a family, in the Church God’s children have their part to play in the family of God. This is what the Bible means by ministry service unto the Lord. Ministry grace is the spiritual gift or gifts that God gives to Christians, enabling them to have fruitful and fulfilling kingdom service. First Peter 4:10 connects spiritual gifts to God’s grace: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Ministry grace transforms our entire life so that everything we do is seen through the lens of ministry to God by the abilities and opportunities he has given us. God gifts every Christian for meaningful and rewarding kingdom service to be done at work, home, church, and wherever else they find themselves. The results of using our gifts are glory to God, help to others, and joy for us. The Christian who serves according to the grace of their spiritual gift is able to live a purposeful and passionate life of humble service, which is itself a gift of God. And, as we step out in faith to serve we find that God gives us wisdom, courage, and perseverance that we did not have but that God has provided for us through the grace of the Holy Spirit. How have you seen God’s grace at work through the Holy Spirit in your ministry service?