APRIL 8, 2020
Good Thursday Morning!
Always remember who you are, where you are from, and Who you represent. And be involved in a church service this weekend!
Today’s Daily Devotional:
Carrying the Cross: A Good Friday Devotional
“Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” Luke 9:23-24
As creatures of comfort we try to avoid pain whenever possible—physically and emotionally. Even the most avid adrenaline junkie has soft spots. We cling to what’s secure, safe and feels good in our circumstances and relationships, naturally seeking to protect ourselves. A lot of times, that’s a good thing. We were designed to value life and preserve ourselves. On the other hand if we hold ourselves too tightly, we keep ourselves from following God with our whole hearts.
God often asks us to get out of our comfort spots and set ourselves aside for his glory. He wants us to trust him, but we can only do that when we let go and obey. More than likely, Simon had other things to do that day rather than get personally involved in Jesus’ scandalous crucifixion. His own plans and agenda where interrupted when he was given an order to carry the bloody cross for Jesus. It was hard work, bloody, and humiliating, but he carried the cross for Christ and walked with him in his most difficult hours. In doing so, he became part of the greatest story to go down in history.
What a powerful example of what Jesus had taught not long before. Even more significant is that what Simon was forced to do, Jesus did willingly. He subjected himself to public mockery, severe beatings, and one of the most horrific deaths the world has ever come up with. As the Son of God, he didn’t have to endure anything; he wasn’t a prisoner of the Roman soldiers any more than he allowed himself to be. Even in those last excruciating hours nailed to the cross, he could have opted out. But Jesus understood his suffering was not about him; it was the only way to restore sinners like you and me to our loving heavenly Father.
God doesn’t force us to follow him either. He doesn’t put the cross on us, but asks us to pick it up willingly. Our decision will cost us something; there’s heavy lifting, rejection, and personal interruptions. Actually, it will cost us everything. The only way to get the life we work so hard to protect is to give it back to God and trust him to take care of it.
Do we have it in us to carry the cross with Jesus like Simon did? To publicly align ourselves with him no matter what the rest of the world thinks? To get dirty for the sake of the gospel? Do we have it in us to follow Jesus’ example and submit ourselves to God even when it gets tough?
What do you think Jesus meant by picking up your cross daily? What are the practical ways you do that? Are there areas you’re still holding back from God?
Pray: Ask God to give you the courage, strength, and endurance to follow him every day. No matter how tough the obstacles, how long the dark night, how our plans might be disrupted, may we never forget real life starts when we give ourselves to him.
From The Skit Guys
APRIL 7, 2020
Good Wednesday Morning!
Today’s Daily Devotional is longer than usual, but Dr. Tony Evans, Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, is worth spending a little extra time reading. I hope you are having a great week. Stay strong and safe!
Today’s Daily Devotional:
Your child can have a more complete understanding of what Christ's death and resurrection have already accomplished through your teaching them these four truths about Christ's sacrifice.
When I look at world history, it resembles a cosmic chess match between God and Satan, an epic series of moves and countermoves to determine the destiny of humankind.
We see it throughout Scripture: God makes a move, Satan counters with his move. God creates angels. Lucifer rebels against God and gets evicted from heaven, taking a bunch of angels with him. God creates people. Satan tempts them to sin, turning the earth over to his control. But God responds, providing a redemptive covering for His children.
On it goes throughout the accounts of the Old Testament, through prophets and judges, kings and nations. No, this is not a battle between equal forces. Satan is the creature, God the Creator. And God has already announced Satan’s defeat (Genesis 3:15). But that doesn’t stop the Enemy from trying to destroy God’s work and His people. Move, countermove, move.
But then there seems to be a break — 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. It must be God’s turn because Matthew opens with the lineage of Jesus Christ. And so God himself enters into human history.
Satan counterattacks, tempting Jesus in the wilderness and trying to sabotage His mission. And then Satan aims to deliver a definitive blow: He must destroy the Son of God. So one Friday, Jesus is crucified.
We know the end of the story, of course. We celebrate it every year, dressing our children in their Sunday best and teaching them how Christ’s followers discovered that the tomb was empty. God made the real definitive move. Jesus was alive! It’s easy to view the Resurrection as good news for yesteryear, a mere milestone of our faith. But Calvary is power for victorious living today.
Although defeated, Satan still hopes to take us down with him. He prowls about, hoping to devour us and destroy our faith (1 Peter 5:8). That’s why we need a more complete understanding of what Christ’s death and resurrection have already accomplished for us. Help your kids manifest God’s victory today by teaching them four truths about Christ’s sacrifice:
Evidence of God’s love
How often do you say, “I love you!” to your children? Maybe it was just this morning, part of the farewell you tossed out as someone left the house. However it happens, you recognize that these words are not the only evidence of your love. Kids understand love when proclamation is backed by demonstration — your ability to meet them in the areas where they are struggling or need comfort, your capacity to offer the time they crave with you.
We understand love through action. Thankfully, God isn’t just about talk. He lovingly provides for our needs and lends us His wisdom and direction every day. But the real evidence came at Calvary when God laid everything on the line to demonstrate His love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Satan wants to draw us away from the reality of God’s love. It’s his oldest trick, getting humans to doubt the truth that God loves them. Help your kids recognize the reality of God’s love as they face a world that can often feel very unloving. The King of the universe loves us, and He demonstrated that love on the Cross.
Proof of forgiveness
Your kids probably understand a few economic principles. When they go shopping for something, they must pay for it. And when they pay, they get a receipt. This receipt validates the purchase. If there is ever a question about the item, the receipt proves that payment was made.
According to Scripture, Christ’s resurrection serves as a sort of “receipt” from God to prove that our sins are forgiven. When we confess our sin and ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, salvation itself is already secure. But our kids may succumb to periods of doubt. Maybe they’ll feel guilty from this or that sin. Does God really forgive me for that?
Issuing a receipt was actually God’s idea. Romans 4:25 says, “[He] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” The Resurrection is God’s proof that Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient payment for our sins.
This side of heaven, we will always deal with the consequences of sin. But help your kids recognize, every day, that the eternal bill has been paid.
Restoration of relationship
In our family, we’ll often conclude prayers with “In Jesus’ name.” Do you pray the same way with your kids? It’s easy for it to become a reflex, a little tagline at the end of prayer. But the expression is a good opportunity to teach kids that Christ’s death and resurrection grants us a relationship with God.
Scripture says that Jesus stands before the Father as our advocate (1 John 2:1). Why do we need this representation? Because sin has broken our fellowship with God. And Satan is constantly bringing these transgressions before God, knowing His holiness is incompatible with our sin (Revelation 12:10). Satan wants God to reject us. Help your kids imagine a courtroom, with Satan pacing before God, laying out sins as evidence against us. Now imagine Jesus stepping forward: “Father, I object. I have already paid for these transgressions at the Cross. The defendant is one of those I have redeemed and restored.”
When your family prays “in Jesus’ name,” remember that this isn’t just a cute catchphrase. You are saying, “God, I come to You and lay these requests before You. But since I’m not qualified, I come under the righteousness of Your Son.”
Victory for the future
The only power Satan has over us is what we give him. He knows he is a defeated enemy, crushed at the Cross and the empty tomb of Christ. Help your kids understand that our enemy needs our cooperation to sustain any attack.
I once heard a story about a father and son back in the pioneer days who were trying to outrun a fast-moving prairie fire. The fire was about to consume their wagon when the father turned the horse around and went to a spot that had already been burned. He told his son to jump out of their wagon and stay put.
His son said, “But the fire is all around us!”
The father explained: “This spot has already been burned. The fire can’t get us here.”
It’s a good picture to help kids understand the victory over sin that Jesus gives us. He has already been “burned” at the Cross so that we don’t have to be.
There will always be temptations to sin. But Jesus has endured it all — temptation without failure, punishment without cause. The Devil’s fire can’t harm us as long as we are standing firm in Jesus.
This Easter, help your kids remain close to Jesus, to His Word and His teachings. Satan has no countermove to stop what God has already done.
Dr. Tony Evans is the president of The Urban Alternative, an organization that seeks to bring about spiritual renewal in urban America.
APRIL 6, 2020
Good Monday Morning!
A new week full of new opportunities to meet the needs of your students and make a difference in the lives of not only your students, but also their families during this time in our world.
A current teacher in Winnsboro, and former student of mine, Melissa Brunson sent this to me last week and wrote that I could share this. It comes from Andy Andrews.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for today and for the future being designed by this present. We know the hardest steel is created from the hottest fire and that the most valuable diamond is a product of great pressure. Therefore, it is not surprising that times of calamity and distress have always been producers of the greatest people.
Lord, despite all we see and hear, we vow to remain grateful for we know that You will allow us to see the truth with proper perspective even during this situation. Let those of us who have enough to eat during this time not forget those who don’t. Neither should we forget that in our midst are children who have never had enough to eat.
Let those of us with roofs, walls, and dry places to sleep remember the 1.6 billion people in the world who lack adequate housing. Similarly, for those of us forced to work from home, remind us to be grateful that we have a home from which to work. And for those of us who are working, let us remember those who, for whatever reason, cannot.
Allow those of us who are inconvenienced during this time to remember we are “inconvenienced” in a country that—because of its many blessings—has a totally different definition of inconvenience than do many countries around the world. There are billions of people (and we know this) who would do anything for the chance to live at the level about which we sometimes complain.
May those of us who’ve had to cancel vacations, remember those who have never been able to take one in the first place.
For those of us who complain about the shortages of medical equipment and test kits for the virus, remind us that a shortage is always better than none at all. And let us remember the times throughout history when disease swept through populations and there were no test kits because no one knew what to test for or where to begin looking for a vaccine.
Thank you for the opportunity to live in today’s world and in a country like America. Though we do not deserve Your attention or Your mercy, thank You Lord, for both.
Finally, Father, we ask for your blessing in the same way King David did so long ago, by saying, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind and turmoil fills my heart, quiet me; give me renewed hope and cheer.”
APRIL 3, 2020
The end of another week of differentness! You have continued to answer the call. As I observe social media and talk to superintendents from all over the state, the stories are abundant of educators going above and beyond the call to meet the needs of their students. Your light is shining through your attitude and willingness to do what it takes to help the students and parents with questions and other issues when it comes to learning. WOW!!!! What a great opportunity to be a witness to your families and community.
I pray for a quick end to this illness and patience for everyone. I also pray you will make it a point of emphasis to support your church through continuing to tithe and participating in the services, however they are being conducted.
THANK YOU for being a part of ECF and for answering God’s call to educate our children!
Always remember, who you are, where you are from, and who you represent!
APRIL 2, 2020
Good Thursday Morning!
A Goal and a Purpose
My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.
2018, endurance athlete Colin O’Brady took a walk that had never been taken before. Pulling a supply sled behind him, O’Brady trekked across Antarctica entirely alone—a total of 932 miles in 54 days. It was a momentous journey of dedication and courage.
Commenting on his time alone with the ice, the cold, and the daunting distance, O’Brady said, “I was locked in a deep flow state [fully immersed in the endeavor] the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey.”
For those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, that statement might strike a familiar chord. It sounds a lot like our calling as believers: focused on the goal of walking through life in a way that glorifies (honors) God and reveals Him to others. In Acts 20:24, Paul, no stranger to dangerous journeys, said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
As we walk on in our relationship with Jesus (especially during this different time), may we recognize what we know about the purpose for our journey and press on to the day we’ll see our Savior face to face.
Thank you for answering God’s call to be a teacher!
APRIL 1, 2020
Good Wednesday Morning!
Here we are, another day in one of the craziest times our world has ever seen. I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of our teachers, (let’s name them Tracy and Belinda) at the post office Monday where I live in Commerce, TX and they had the greatest attitude. When I asked them how things were going they responded with an enthusiastic “Great”! They were pleased with the kids getting things done and turning in their work. Students and parents/guardians have been calling if they had questions and all has gone well. As I stepped back into the truck with my wife, I mentioned to her how inspirational it is to see our teachers be so positive during such a time as this.
Stop and think about you have had to do over the past couple of weeks; For most, you have had to totally change a delivery method and learn technology that you never would have envisioned. This has meant a crash course in Goggle, Zoom, or other types of platforms. This has meant new routines in your house while juggling meeting the unique needs of students, parents, and your own family.
What does this show? It shows how awesome you are and what educators are willing to do to meet the needs of students. I have said before, that if you gave teachers a slate and a piece of chalk, they would figure out how to teach their students! Well, this is not a slate and chalk, but it is totally different and all of you are answering the call.
Bottom line, I believe God’s plan is not always one that we comprehend because sometimes God has to force us to stretch ourselves. As a Christian, how are you handling this trying and crazy time. Is it a challenge or a hindrance. Is it an opportunity to learn something new? Is it an opportunity to be a light to others in that house and have communication that you never would have had otherwise? I hope you are taking advantage of this opportunity to let your light shine into the homes of your students!
Thank you for answering God’s call to be a teacher!