The Christian Loves God Above All – Week of July 3, 2023

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:11-12

My husband has served with mission work overseas for a number of years. He has countless stories of exciting new ministries, wonderful brothers and sisters in the faith, and people full of excitement and zeal for the gospel. He shared the following story:

A man they had been meeting with came to him with a bundle of papers as a gift. When asked about the gift, the man shared that it was his hand-written copy of the book of Judges. In the area where this man lived, there was always the concern that a meeting of Christians could be interrupted by officials. If the group was found to have a Bible, the Bible would be confiscated. Serious consequences could be in store for those attending the meeting. To protect their copy of the Bible, members of the group would make hand-written copies of a given book and keep the copy themselves. If the group was studying Romans, the individual with the copy of Romans would bring only that copy to share with the group. That way, if officials showed up, only one book was lost. They still had the original, complete copy of the Bible.

As this man handed his copy to my husband, he said, “Please tell our brothers and sisters in Christ in America that we are praying for them.” Knowing the persecution this man had experienced, my husband was taken aback. The man continued that he was concerned for the many distractions of materialism and worldliness that could erode the American Christian’s zeal for faith.

As we look at our daily lives and the opportunities for those things to be true in our lives, we can be struck by the truth of his prayer. Our verses today speak directly to you and me. When we take an honest look at ourselves, we can see our failures in putting God first above everything else. Life is full of wonderful things and very difficult challenges. Both can lead to distraction from our faith, reliance on ourselves, or discouragement. Satan wants nothing more than to use the blessings of this life to draw us away from God. He wants us to feel criticized or attacked because of our belief in the Savior.

The life of a Christian is a daily fight, a battle against Satan. But we don’t fight alone. Our heavenly Father reminds us that we can cling to the gift of eternal life that is already ours. We can fight the good fight of faith, not on our own, but depending on God’s grace, mercy, and strength in our lives.

What a gift that man gave that day. Not only does that copy of the book of Judges remind us of our brothers and sisters all over the world, but his prayer reminds us of where our hope and confidence lie—in God our Father, our Savior, our Brother, our Protector, our Life.

Dear Father, hold me close. Help, encourage, strengthen, and guide me as I strive to grow in faith and in my excitement to share your message of grace to all around me. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
The words of the hymn, “Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spake” (Christian Worship 21 702:1-3), put into prayer and song the thoughts of today’s devotion. Consider reading this hymn aloud this week as a reminder to you of God’s invitation to follow him and his gracious promise to be with us in all things.

Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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