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Sometimes It's Hard

The following devotional was taken from "Strength for the Journey" and written by David Deffenbaugh.

January 2
Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 3-4; Matthew 2

Sometimes It’s Hard
Devotional Text: Matthew 2:16-18

A recent survey conducted by a major news magazine has found that 79% of Americans believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Sure, it would be nice if that number were higher, but it is rather astounding considering the consistent bashing the Bible and Christianity have taken in the mainstream public for many years. Though many aspects of Jesus’ life and teaching have not attained such a high level of acceptance, the accounts of His birth are widely acknowledged (witness the Christmas celebrations each December).

The arrival of Jesus on earth is a story that continues to thrill the human heart. But let’s not be too taken by all of this. Not everyone is excited to hear about Jesus’ arrival. What was good news to the magi (wise men) was troubling news to Herod and turned into very sad news in Bethlehem. The excitement of the birth of the king of the Jews was soon drowned in the tears of “weeping and great mourning.”

Not everyone is glad to hear that Jesus has come. To those who love the darkness rather than the light, to those who would love their lives rather than loose them, to those whose treasures are on earth rather than heaven, news of Jesus arrival is not well received.

Blessedness, joy, and peace are all part of the Christian experience, but there is a hard side as well. Jesus talked about his followers being hated, insulted, ostracized and persecuted (Matthew 10:22; Luke 6:22; Matthew 5:10-11). We should not pursue the former and be surprised when we find the latter as well. If all we want from our faith is pleasantness and tranquility, following Jesus will be a bitter disappointment. It is not this life, but the next, that promises “joy inexpressible” and “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (1 Peter 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:18).

Building Character

The following devotional was taken from "In Our Father's Hands" and written Tyrel Hatfield.

March 9
Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 5 – 6; Romans 5

Building character
Devotional Text: Romans 5:3,4

I’ve learned many lessons in my short time on earth. I’ve learned that stove tops will burn you when turned on, I’ve learned that trash does not take itself out, and I’ve learned that “cuttin’ wood” builds character. “Building my character” seemed to be my dad’s favorite pastime. He would wait and take his vacation time when my brothers and I were out of school on fall break so we could all go “cut wood.” Our father was a sick man with a sick sense of humor. “Why do we have to cut wood?” we would bellyache. “Because it builds character!” was always his response. Builds character? How was “cuttin’ wood” going to build character?! But never-the-less, “cuttin’ wood” was much better that a “whippin’ and cuttin’ wood”, so I always made the right decision.

As much as it kills me to admit it, dad was right. Those miserable fall breaks spent “cuttin’ wood” did build character. They assisted in shaping the person I am today. When we are placed in situations like this we can learn many things from it. I learned the value of hard work, endurance, and submission to my father’s will. I even learned how to handle an axe. In view of the discipline and submission I learned from my father, how much more should I submit to my Heavenly Father? Listen to Hebrews 12:9, “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” Our earthly parents are parents of our bodies, but God is the author of our spiritual life. Through events and trials in our lives, he molds and makes us. And how we respond to these events reveals our character. When faced with events in my life that don’t fit my agenda, I need to remind myself who’s in charge. (Read devotional text) So next time your parents give you a job you’re not happy with, just be happy and think, “I’m building character!”