Family Valentine’s Day Devotion – He Did It First!

1John419Verse to Remember:  We love because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:19 (NIrV)

Terrific Truth:  We can share Jesus’ love by putting others first.

If you have a brother or sister, you know how important the word first can be.  After all, siblings can be really competitive.  Maybe you’ve heard some of these phrases around your house:

  • I want to go first.
  • I get first pick.
  • Let me have the first piece.
  • No fair!  Why is she always first?

Or how about this one?  Have you ever blamed something you did on your brother or sister because they did it to you first?  Whether it was saying unkind words, making mean faces or hitting each other, kids having been using that excuse for years.

It goes like this.  One kid yells, “Mom, she pushed me!”

Immediately the other replies, “Well, she pushed me first!”

Like that makes it okay!  We all know it doesn’t, but sometimes we use that excuse anyway to try to get ourselves out of trouble.

Okay, so those are some bad ways we use the word first, but what would you say if I told you you could actually use the word first in a good way?  In fact, the Bible tells us that the phrase, “He did it first!” can be an excuse to do all kinds of good things.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first” (NIrV).  Jesus’ friend John wrote this about Jesus.  He’s saying that Jesus’ love should be our example for how we treat others.

Remember, Jesus loves people who no else loves.  Jesus loves people who were mean to him.  Jesus loves people who’ve done wrong things.  Jesus loves everyone all the time no matter what.

Here’s the crazy part.  Jesus’ love gives us the power to love others in the same way.

One simple way to love others is by putting them first.  Let your brother have the first piece of cake.  Let your sister pick the first toy.  Let someone else go first in the board game.

They may look at you like you’re crazy, and may be confused why you are being so kind and loving.  If they are, just point to the Bible and explain, “He did it first!”

Put It Into Action:  Take a whole week letting others go first and see what happens.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for loving me every day no matter what.  Please help me to love other people in the same way.  Amen.

Sign up for Jason’s Family Devotional Newsletter to receive free family devotions delivered straight to your inbox.   The seven-week Easter series, Best Surprise Ever, starts February 14th. 

bestsurprise

Best Surprise Ever – Family Easter Devotional

bestsurpriseWe all love fun surprises, don’t we?  About 2,000 years ago, God gave us the biggest and best surprise of all time.  Jesus is alive!

Help your family get ready to celebrate the resurrection with these seven devotions leading up to Easter Sunday.

Sign up to receive this seven-week e-mail series and other free family devotions here.  You will receive Best Surprise Ever delivered straight to your inbox each week starting Wednesday, February 14th and continuing through Easter.

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Surprising Plan: John 3:16
  2. Surprising Courage: The Garden of Gethsamane
  3. Surprising Power: Soldiers Fall At Jesus’ Feet
  4. Surprising Patience: Peter Denies Jesus
  5. Surprising Kingdom: Jesus Before Pilate
  6. Surprising Love: Jesus Dies on the Cross
  7. Surprising Life: The Tomb Is Empty!



Teaching Your Children How to Lose

My daughter wasn’t crying because she lost the spelling bee. She was crying because she got knocked out in the second round. She’s smart. That’s her thing. So missing the word tofu embarrassed her. To make it worse, she knew every word after that.

The tears started just as I was tucking her into bed. “I didn’t want to win the whole thing,” she said, “I just didn’t want to miss one so early.” What was I supposed to say? Better luck next time? Just keep trying? No one likes tofu?

We spend so much time as parents preparing our kids for success that sometimes we do a poor job of preparing them for failure. We help them with homework, drive them to soccer practice and even arrange play dates to help them thrive relationally.

Yet, no matter how much we set up our kids to win, sometimes they are going to lose. That’s just life in a fallen world. Despite their best effort, they will sometimes fail tests, get clobbered in soccer games and struggle to make friends.

How should we react in moments like this? How can we help them deal with disappointment while also preparing them to handle failure as adults?

Thankfully, the night of the spelling bee, God led the conversation exactly where it needed to go, and in the process, I discovered three things I will repeat every time my kids are dealing with failure.

  1. Empathize

Our kids need to know that we see their pain, and we care. When my daughters are hurting, my first instinct is to fix it. I want to give them advice, correct them or coach them how to do better next time.   However, in moments like these, I’m learning that the first thing they need is kindness. So when I didn’t know what to say, I just hugged my daughter and told her, “I know it’s hard and I’m sorry.”

  1. Affirm their identity.

Kids need to know that their value isn’t based on their performance. They are loved because they are children of God. Failure messes with our identity because we all tend to build our self-image around activities that give us affirmation.

That’s why it’s twice as hard when the smart kid gets knocked out of the spelling bee, or the athlete loses a game. A big part of our identity is based on areas of life where we excel.

That night, I reminded my daughter that she is a child of the king, adored by her Dad in heaven and her dad on earth and no spelling bee could change that. I told her that her worth doesn’t come from what she does, but whose she is. She is a daughter of God.

  1. Talk about kingdom.

Our kids need to discover a redemptive view of suffering in the small things to prepare them to navigate more challenging struggles in life. That’s why we need to point them back to the Bible in small moments like these.

Earlier that day, my daughter and I had been talking about Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (NLT). It had just popped into my head, and I felt prompted to share it with her. At the time I had no idea why.

When the spelling bee drama unfolded, however, I had a pretty good idea what God was up to. I mentioned the proverb again and suggested, “Maybe this is an opportunity to trust God.”

Later she confessed, “As soon as you read that verse to me, I knew it was about the spelling bee. I knew it was about me trusting God.”

I reminded her that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). That means sometimes He says no to a desire of our heart because He has a better yes waiting for us in the future. It means sometimes He lets us go through hardship so we can comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:4). It means that even bad things that happen can give us an opportunity to minister to others and advance the gospel (Phil 1:12).

And that, of course, is the ultimate win.

By reframing my daughter’s loss with a kingdom perspective, God helped me remind her that her life is part of a bigger story and that her purpose goes far beyond winning a spelling bee. At the end of the night, it was that part of conversation that made the biggest difference. She finally had peace about the situation, and soon afterwards, drifted off to sleep.

When it comes right down to it, God’s definition of winning and losing is very different than ours. After all, we follow a Savior who died on a cross. The more we can help our kids see their failures and frustrations from His point of view, the more we can guarantee they will continually experience the only victory that counts.