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).

The rooster will not crow

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

November 1
Daily Bible Reading: Jeremiah 37-38; John 13:18-38

The rooster will not crow
Devotional Text: John 13:36-38

In the old mystery spy movies, the characters were always saying cryptic things like, “The sun eats the stinky cheese.” Or you might hear a mysterious man in the shadows say, “If you’re looking for Sam, you’ll have to watch for the white canary to carry the lizard over the pepperoni gate.” None of what they said ever made any sense. You were always trying to figure out what was going on. Jesus, at times, said some things that were just as puzzling.

On one particular occasion Jesus said something to Peter that not only puzzled him, but probably hurt him a little as well. Jesus had said, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later” (John 13:36). Peter, not understanding what Jesus meant replied, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37).

Jesus’ reply was very confusing. “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times” (John 13:38). What did that mean? You can imagine that Peter was hurt and confused by Jesus predicting Peter’s denial. Why did Jesus think Peter would deny him? Had Peter ever done anything to suggest he was not loyal to Christ? We all make mistakes. Jesus knew that Peter in a moment of weakness would deny Him. It could be that Jesus told Peter what would happen so that when it did Peter would realize his mistake and learn from it.

Discussion for the family:
How can we learn from our mistakes?

Daily Devotionals

The following devotionals were taken from "Strength for the Journey" & "In Our Father's Hands." Check back each week to read a new devotional. Book(s) can be pre-ordered at Little Acorn's online store.

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

February 1
Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 9-10; Matthew 21:33-22:14

A Wedding Rejection
Devotional Text: Matthew 22:1-14

We’ve all heard stories of brides and even grooms being left at the altar. Perhaps it is that since a wedding is among the most significant occasions of acceptance, that rejection in that setting is so dramatic. In Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, we’re met with wedding customs different than our own. But the rejections on this joyous occasion are no less striking. The guests originally invited to the wedding reject the call to come when the wedding day arrived. The father of the groom rejects those same guests in rather dramatic, and violent, fashion. A spontaneous and gracious invitation to previously uninvited persons resulted in a full wedding hall. Both the evil and the good responded. This is a remarkable turn of events. Jesus said this parable, like so many of His, was to teach the nature of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 22:2).

God’s gracious invitation to all humanity to participate in the joys of His kingdom, as depicted in this parable of a wedding feast, is not without its own rejection. The king rejected a guest who had come to the wedding to enjoy its pleasures, but had refused to wear a provided wedding garment. In that day more than just the attendants were provided with appropriate clothing for the wedding. Here was someone who presumed to enjoy what the king provided (a wedding feast) without submitting to the king’s terms (wearing the supplied wedding clothes). That person was rejected.

The message is pretty straightforward. If we wish to enjoy the blessings and privileges God provides, it will only be on His terms. Therefore, we cannot presume to come to God on our own terms. It is His or nothing at all. Despite our culture’s message and emphasis, we are not the measure of all things and we are not the final arbiter. We comply to God’s wishes, not He to ours. Simple enough.

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

February 1
Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 9–10; Matthew 21:33-22:14

The chosen few
Devotional Text: Matthew 22:1-14

Picture yourself at a school gym. Several kids are standing before the class surveying everyone. “Bobby,” one of them calls out. A kid named Bobby runs over to the other side. “Oh, pick me! Pick me!” you mutter under your breath. “Susan!” A little girl with long curly hair skips over to the other side. There’s not much time now. If they don’t pick you, it will be too late. You wait, longing to hear your name. You anxiously watch a short little kid in braces as his gaze moves from person to person. He smiles, laughs, then shakes his head at the many attempts from others to win his vote. Finally his eyes rest on you! Could this be it? Will you be the last one picked? The anticipation is killing you. His gaze moves on. “Oh no!” you say, “he’s not going to pick me!” Then with a flash he looks back at you and says your name! You’ve been chosen!

After waiting anxiously for so long, when we finally hear our name, we are so excited! We feel appreciated, validated, loved, admired and respected. Isn’t it a great feeling to be chosen? You bet it is! We would do just about anything to be chosen.

Did you know that God calls all of us to his team, but Jesus says in Matthew 22:14, “few are chosen.” Why? Why would He call us all to him and then not chose us? That’s easy to answer. There are a couple of conditions that must be met for us to be chosen. First, we must be willing to accept the invitation. If we do not accept, we won’t be chosen. Second, those who accept the invitation must then live by God’s word (Hebrews 12:14-17). If they don’t, then they, too, will be rejected. You have been offered the invitation. Will you accept it? Will you live by the word of God? If so, then you too can be among the chosen few!