faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: The First Martyr

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

(Acts 7:60, NIV)

Stephen was a Christian living shortly after the ascension of Jesus. Though little is known of his life, he first appears in Acts 6. At the time, some of the widows within the church were being neglected.

The apostles recommended that seven trustworthy men be chosen to distribute goods to the widows and care for them. Stephen was one of the seven chosen, and the writer of Acts notes that he was

“a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”

(Acts 6:5, NIV)

Stephen performed several signs and wonders among the people, most likely because of his close relationship with the Lord. Although others tried to debate his theology, Stephen was known for his wisdom.

Because he carried so much wisdom, some members of the early church were unhappy with him. They put him on trial, bringing his case before the Sanhedrin (or counsel).

Stephen eloquently defended his beliefs, but he was dragged outside. As his accusers began to throw rocks at him, Stephen looked to Heaven and called out for Jesus to receive his spirit.

Then he made a humble plea:

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” 

(Acts 7:60, NIV)

At that moment, most people would be tempted to make a different request. Perhaps, “Lord, avenge me,” or “Lord, deliver me.” But Stephen, knowing the full power of God, did not ask for vengeance or deliverance.

Instead, he accepted his death, and his final thought was not of himself but of those who were hurting him. What a beautiful testimony to his faith.

Jesus, when others are hurting me, help me not to focus on how I can get even. I long for others to come to know You, no matter what the cost is to me personally. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

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Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Pondering Mother

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19 (NIV)

When the shepherds came to visit baby Jesus, they shared the story of the Star of Bethlehem and how it had led them to find the Messiah. In hushed tones, they repeated the words of the heavenly choir and shared the awe they felt in the presence of such praise.

Mary tucked away their words in her heart to ponder them. She probably thought on them during the long nights she rocked Jesus to sleep and the day His tiny tongue formed His first word. 

Little ones require around-the-clock care and need constant supervision. Even older children sometimes require a lot of attention.

In the day-to-day work of raising children, it’s hard to find time to do more. You may not be able to read lengthy devotionals or have hours to dedicate to searching the Scriptures.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be close to God. Like Mary, you can take truth with you and reflect on it as you nurture your children. It could be as simple as singing a song of praise while you’re doing laundry or whispering a prayer for your child as you unload the dishwasher. By doing these things, you can transform ordinary moments into beautiful experiences with God.

God, we want to be close to You. Like Mary, let us ponder Your words in our hearts as we care for our children. Please meet us in these ordinary moments. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms: Mother of Israel

“Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.”

Judges 5:7 (NIV)

Deborah was a judge in Israel. As a judge, she was a spiritual leader for the nation. One day, she called a man named Barak, who God had called to be a military leader, and shared with him that what God had revealed to her. God commanded Barak to take an army and defeat the Canaanites – specifically, their commander Sisera.

At this time in history, the Canaanites had been oppressing the land of Israel. The Israelites had tried to fight against them, but they were defeated and unable to reclaim their freedom.

So, when Deborah issued the command to Barak, he didn’t want to carry it out. He proclaimed he would only go into battle if Deborah herself were willing to come with him.

“Certainly, I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

Judges 4:9 (NIV)

Deborah wasn’t just a prophetess. She was also a courageous patriot who fought for her nation. Her story illustrates that women can be fierce mothers even if they don’t have children of their own.

God, please give me courage in the middle of my battles. Let me remember Who I’m really fighting and honor You through it all. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.