When we encounter someone from a broken family, we should respond with compassion, not judgment.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.
Family can be complicated—we can’t choose the one we’re born into or control how it evolves. So though we hope for the best, not everyone can depend on family for support, and those without it are left vulnerable.
Some believers might be tempted to shame or judge broken families, but our job is not to determine whether a person deserves our compassion—only God is judge (James 4:12). Instead, we are simply to be compassionate and remain humble about our own circumstances. If God’s love is truly in our heart, we can—like the Good Samaritan—move beyond judgments and draw near to fully understand someone’s story (Luke 10:33). Then the love will follow (1 John 4:7).
God’s Word is full of commands to care for widows and orphans because He believes everyone belongs. Let’s watch for people going through life alone—and offer them the love and support of a family.
Think about it
Do you know someone who’s without loved ones or who suffers from loneliness? Consider offering an invitation to join you in a family activity this week—dinner at home, movie night, a walk through the park, or even a trip to the store.
Teenage gang leader Casey and his followers broke into homes and cars, robbed convenience stores, and fought other gangs. Eventually, Casey was arrested and sentenced. In prison, he became a “shot caller,” someone who handed out homemade knives during riots.
Sometime later, he was placed in solitary confinement. While daydreaming in his cell, Casey experienced a “movie” of sorts replaying key events of his life—and of Jesus being led to and nailed to the cross and telling him, “I’m doing this for you.” Casey fell to the floor weeping and confessed his sins. Later, he shared his experience with a chaplain, who explained more about Jesus and gave him a Bible. “That was the start of my journey of faith,” Casey said. Eventually, he was released into the mainline prison population, where he was mistreated for his faith. But he felt at peace, because “[he] had found a new calling: telling other inmates about Jesus.”
In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul talks about the power of Christ to change lives: God calls us from lives of wrongdoing to follow and serve Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9). When we receive Him by faith, we desire to be a living witness of Christ’s love. The Holy Spirit enables us to do so, even when suffering, in our quest to share the good news (v. 8). Like Casey, let’s live out our new calling.
“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . correction” (2 Tim. 3:16).
God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.
If you’re a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:1-3).
Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.
The word translated “correction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God’s Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.
Job 17:9 says, “The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Paul added, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and . . . sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).
I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God’s Word to do its sanctifying work within you.
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word.
If there’s an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.
Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.
— Zechariah 9:12 (AMPC)
Hope is a powerful force that will bring you through any storm. Our hope is in God; therefore, we can hope without any natural reason to do so. Hope is a positive expectation of good. Practice saying, “Something good is going to happen to me today, and something good is going to happen through me today.” God is good and He wants to shower His goodness on you.
There are times of difficulty, loss, illness, and disappointment in life, but if we will endure with hope in our hearts, we will be rewarded with a double blessing for our former trouble. Let me strongly encourage you to refuse to be hopeless. Put your hope in God and things will always come around to being right in due time. I can’t guarantee how long it will take, and it may not be quick, but hope will strengthen you to face life with joy even in the midst of trouble.
Live daily thinking, Today may be the day of my breakthrough. It could happen suddenly . . . at any moment. Hope is the anchor of our souls. It keeps us from giving in to wild emotions that attempt to lead us to do things we will regret later on. The wise man puts His hope in God. He listens for God’s voice and follows it, knowing that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. God is that Light and He is urging you to be a prisoner of hope.
Prayer Starter:Father, anytime I feel discouraged or weary, help me remember that there is always hope. Help me be filled with hope in You and positive expectation. You are good, and I believe You want to be good to me.
Thanksgiving should always follow answered prayer, just as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground.
Has the Lord been gracious to you and inclined His ear to the voice of your prayer? Then thank Him as long as you live. Let the ripe fruit fall upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Do not fail to sing in praise of Him who has answered your prayer and has given you the desire of your heart. To be silent about God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as poorly as the nine lepers who after they had been cured of their leprosy did not return to give thanks to the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of our spiritual lives. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthy and invigorating exercise that quickens the pulse of the believer and prepares him for new enterprises in his Master’s service.
To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellowmen; “let the humble hear and be glad.”1 Others who have been in similar circumstances will take comfort if we can say, “Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. . . . This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him.”2 Weak hearts will be strengthened, and sagging spirits will be revived as the saints listen to our “shouts of deliverance.”3 Their doubts and fears will be rebuked as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They will also “sing of the ways of the LORD”4 when they hear us magnify His holy name.
Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels do not pray, but they do not cease to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, are never tired of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”5
“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5)
Did you know that there are said to have been “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”? They were: The Great Pyramid of Giza (in Egypt), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (in Iraq), the Temple of Artemis (in Turkey), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (in Greece), the Mausoleum of Maussollos (in Turkey), Colossus of Rhodes (in Greece), and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (in Egypt). The only one of these wonders that has not yet been destroyed (by earthquakes or fires) is the Great Pyramid in Egypt. If you wanted to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, you would have to go all the way to the continent of Africa!
There are also Seven Wonders of the Natural World, and Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Human beings like to make lists of unique, amazing things around them. All of these “wonders” are called “wonders” because they are unusual and hard to believe. It is difficult for us to imagine the amount of work and planning that must have gone into making a monument as large and long-standing as the Great Pyramid of Giza. To stand in front of it, or to reach out and touch it with our hands – this structure that was built over 2000 years before Christ was born! That would be something very special. We would probably look up in wonder and awe at the Great Pyramid.
When the LORD explained to Joshua how He was planning to bring the children of Israel over the Jordan River and how He planned to help them conquer the wicked people living on the land there, Joshua understood that the LORD was going to fight for them and do great miracles for them. He was right. God was preparing to do great wonders on behalf of this group of people. They were not a large nation (in comparison to the nations they were fighting, their armies were small). They were not trained soldiers. And there were many things they could not do on their own – like crossing rushing rivers without drowning or losing all their belongings.
God told Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan River, and He told him how to do it. The evening before the crossing, Joshua got up in front of all the people. He told them they needed to sanctify themselves (consecrate, purify, prepare themselves spiritually), because the LORD was going to do great wonders for them!
How would you have felt if you were an Israelite the next day? What if you waited in a crowd and watched the priests set their feet in the river’s current? What if you were able to see the waters start to pile up into a giant heap? What would it have felt like to walk across the riverbed on dry ground while God Himself – the same God Who created the universe and you yourself – held back the entire river? Surely you would agree with your leader Joshua: The LORD was doing wonders for you.
One reason the Old Testament tells us stories like this one is to remind us that the God Who created the world, and the God of the Israelites, and the God of all the prophets and poets and kings – He is the same God we have today. The God of the Bible is a wonder-working God. His wonders are more numerous and more marvelous than anything ever thought of or created by mankind. What a good and great Creator-Redeemer we have!
The God of the Bible is a wonder-working God.
My Response: » Do I believe the stories I read in the Bible about God’s greatness and goodness? » Do I prepare myself spiritually when I am praying for the LORD to do great works? » How can I magnify the goodness and greatness of my God in front of other people?
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