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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bird Struck! Whippoorwill

Family Devotional

Day Thirty-One

“I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered me.” Psalm 120:1

The elusive whippoorwill is named for its call. It is frequently heard at dawn and at dusk when it feeds, but is almost never seen. Its characteristics and habits are mostly known from anecdotes told to ornithologists.

In general only trained and observant bird listeners can tell the differences in many bird notes. However anyone who hears a whip—poor—will can identify it immediately. It’s fun to repeat its call too.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

Sometimes our own thoughts and the opinions of others jumble up in our mind and they become just a bunch of noise to us.

Just as Jesus said that the world would know His voice, He also promised to give us insight and guidance when we need it.

Sometimes our answers come from reading, or a surprising idea jumps out clearly, or we remember some encouragement from a conversation. But we know it is clear and sharp and we immediately recognize its “call.” There are many ways that Jesus helps us to know what to do when we are confused. When He gives guidance, we can recognize His voice even though we can’t see Him.

1. Every day this week when you need guidance, pause for a few moments and ask God to give you guidance.

2. Spend one hour listening to voices around you. How can you tell what their attitude is based on the sound of their voice?

Read More
Psalm 86:5-7
Psalm 116:1-2
Jeremiah 33:3

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bird Struck! Masked Booby

Family Devotional

Day Thirty

“Instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

These dazzling birds live and breed in tropical climates. Except for breeding time they spend all their time at sea. To feed they make high-velocity dives from as high as 100 feet.

Sailors gave these birds their insulting name because they considered the birds to be stupid due to their lack of fear around humans.

But these birds had no reason to experience fear from humans until they met the sailors.

When the early church began their witness of love and caring to each other and to their community, many onlookers spoke of them with derogatory names. Some thought of them as harmless fools, and some thought of them as radicals that required imprisonment or death.

Even in our world today, many people still view acts of kindness and compassion with distrust. And although it is necessary to use common sense when encountering strangers, it doesn’t mean people cannot trust others, especially if they meet in safe environments.

It really wasn’t the masked booby that had the problem to trust, but the sailors who allowed their own fears to mistrust innocence.

When we follow Jesus’ ways, often others don’t understand and they say bad things or call out embarrassing names.

1. Say something kind to as many people as you can today. Was it hard to do? Why?

2. Do one act of kindness for one person every day this week.

Read More
Matthew 25:40
Galatians 6:10
Philippians 2:3-5


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bird Struck! California Condor

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Nine

“For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:5

The California Condor is the largest soaring bird in North America. Despite their size, these giant birds fly in a steady pattern of flight unlike other vultures that tend to appear wobbly.

Their steadiness extends to their habits as well. They are monogamous and stay with their mates for life. It takes sixty days for an egg to incubate and up to a year before a young condor can survive on its own. Both parents remain faithful in the process.

In the 1800s this species existed all throughout the West as far north as Alberta, Canada, and as far south as Baja, Mexico. But like many other species that were once abundant, they were reduced almost to extinction.

In Jesus’ time there were certain occupations that were also considered “unclean” and their workers had to live apart from the community. A tanner fell into this category. Peter himself stayed as a guest in a tanner’s home showing that these people were just as acceptable to God as anyone else.

It was there that Peter had a vision that helped him realize that God also loved the Gentiles too, even though they were considered “unclean” like the tanners.           

1. Some jobs are hard to do because they feel disgusting. What chores do you think are the hardest to do? Offer to help someone in your family do them so you can both finish faster.

2. Be extra nice to people at your school or in your neighborhood who are willing to do the yucky jobs. Say thank you.

Read More
Matthew 7:12
Matthew 15:10-11
1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bird Struck! Skimmer

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Eight

“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3 (NAS)

A skimmer catches its food through its unique bill which cuts into the water with its lower bill, catches its prey, then the upper bill snaps shut. It is so precise that as they skim over the water their bodies rarely get wet. However, their most interesting characteristic is that their lower bills grow twice as fast as the upper bill. They have a built-in replacement warranty on the friction of wear and tear.

Peter protested at first when Jesus knelt to wash his feet. Then he immediately asked for more when Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” But Jesus also explained, “One who has bathed does not need to wash except for the feet, but is entirely clean.”

Just like our feet get dusty when we go barefoot in the summer, so can we get discouraged when we see bad things happening in the world. Yet Jesus restores us every day when we stay close to Him. When parts of our hearts get rubbed with dirt because of friction with people and hard circumstances, the psalmist promises, “He restores my soul.”

Some days we face difficult choices and tough obstacles, but they all can be only outside struggles that don’t harm our hearts when we trust Jesus to take care of us.

1. Sometimes we need to “wash” away bad attitudes towards others. Watch what words you think for a few days this week that would be mean or hurt someone if you said them out loud.

2. Think of ways you can change your attitude without agreeing with ideas that are wrong.

Read More
Psalm 23
Matthew 11:28-30

John 13:5-11

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bird Struck! Swan

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Seven

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” Ephesians 5:1

There are swan legends and stories spread throughout almost all cultures. At the heart of most of them is a tale of transformation. A good one is when the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan. A sad one is when a power-hungry queen changes her six stepsons into swans.

It was thought for centuries that all swans were only white. So much so that the term black swan became a symbol for the impossible. Then when a real black swan was discovered in Australia, it was a huge surprise!

A scientific term for the difference has been coined Black Swan Theory. The concept is based on the foundation that important differences happened historically and were unexpected.

Jesus prays for all His disciples to be in the world but not of the world. This concept is difficult to understand. It seems impossible. Yet that is just how Jesus lived.

He kept His heart and His values based on what mattered to God and what was true to His words.

He didn’t follow the religious leaders’ worldly definitions of possibilities, but looked to do God’s creative power instead. No matter how unexpected the action would be.

All swans have one interesting characteristic in common. A swan’s feathers do not get wet although it swims in the water. They have a special natural oil that keeps them dry.

Jesus also prayed for the Holy Spirit to cover His disciples. By his oil of presence we can learn to be in the world without getting wet.

1.What are some of the world’s attitudes that are different from God’s love?

2.How can you choose to walk away from a conversation or situation that you know is not right?

3.What good attitudes can you imitate this week?

Read More
Matthew 5:13-16
Matthew 16:24
John 15:18-19

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bird Struck! Roadrunner

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Six

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.” Deuteronomy 30:19

The roadrunner is a type of cuckoo bird. Although they have the ability to fly, they prefer to run. They can reach speeds of up to fifteen miles per hour.

In Mexico they are often called paisano because they are easy to train. They fiercely attack snakes and are a good protection.

Like other cuckoos they have zygodactyl feet, which means there is no way of knowing by their tracks in which direction they are going.

One time Jesus told His disciples that if they were invited to a banquet they should sit at the lowest place instead of seeking the place of honor. He told them to let the host choose if they were to be moved up.

Another time Jesus told a story encouraging them not to pray as the Pharisees. They prayed loudly and publicly for show so everyone could see them. Jesus said instead pray quietly in private with God.

Whenever Jesus talked about God’s kingdom, He turned over everyone’s expectations of what it would be like. Having ability, or power, or a special position, was not the important characteristic. Heart attitude mattered more.

His disciple John the Baptist said about Jesus, “I must decrease. He must increase.”

Jesus’ ways turned the world’s ways upside down.

A roadrunner can fly but chooses to run. We too can choose to do the unexpected if God asks us to. We can choose to return hate with love and anger with peace.

1. What are some situations at school where you have to make choices on how to act? How do you make good choices even when others jeer at you, including your friends?

2. Choose to sit in a different place than usual at lunch break. What do you notice that is different?

3. Next time someone says something mean to you, say something nice back to him.

Read More
Deuteronomy 30:15-18
Amos 5:14-15
Luke 14:15-24

Matthew 6:5-6

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bird Struck! Puffin

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Five

“He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:25

Have you ever seen a puffin run on water? They almost look like circus clowns with oversized feet and large noses stumbling about in funny situations.

However the puffin is an expert fisher. They can dive as deep as thirty feet and can stay under water as long as a minute if they need to. Usually though, their dives last 20 to 30 seconds. They know how to find the food they need to survive. They will go as deep as possible to get it.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Often we are in situations that make us feel as clumsy as a puffin. Or there are people around us who make fun of us because of the way we look or talk.

But when we read our Scripture verses and pray, we find a special kind of food just for us. It’s a special relationship with Jesus that helps us to see what is important and what is not.

When we have this light, we know just where to find the right words or the right attitudes to give us strength. We can be patient when we are learning new skills that make us feel awkward at first.

The deeper we dive into understanding God’s words, the more filled up we are. We have fuel to keep us from getting discouraged or upset.

1. Do you remember playing dress-up when you were little and wore clothes that were too big for you? Did you clomp around in oversized shoes? What might you be trying to learn to do now that makes you feel like that?

2. Learning to do new things can make us feel awkward. Write down some Bible verses to encourage you or a friend who is struggling with learning a new skill.

Read More
Psalm 36:6-9

Luke 12:24

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bird Struck! Eagle

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Four

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10

Eagles are among the longest living birds. They are known as faithful partners and parents. From the times of ancient history they have become a symbol of power, whether in military terms, or in legends.

However, the bald eagle is also known to steal prey from other birds. So because of this habit there were objections to it becoming the national emblem of America.

The golden eagle has neck feathers that reflect light. So they have become a symbol of rebirth.

Jesus said, “But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:21

Jesus reminded His disciples that those who do not want their deeds to be seen hide in darkness.

People see our actions and make judgments on our character based on these observations. Then what we do and how we act also reflects on Jesus’ name when others know we choose to follow Him.

Eagles don’t always steal food and they don’t need to steal food to eat. They choose how to behave towards other birds.

We also make choices everyday that either highlight the light in us or the darkness we choose to hide behind.

1. Pay attention to some decisions you make today. Which ones give light and which one are dark?

2. What reasons did you have for making those choices?

3. Which ones do you think would please Jesus? Why?

Read More
Ephesians 5:1-2
Ephesians 5:8-10 (fruits of the Spirit)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bird Struck! Osprey

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Three

“He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4

To watch an osprey dive is an enthralling moment. At first it lifts itself from its perch, almost as if in slow motion, then dives directly at its prey like an arrow plummeting into water. The osprey then carries the caught fish out of reach from the water and swallows it whole.

Many comments written about the osprey over the centuries include descriptions such as majestic, industrious, and noble. One quote Diana Wells shares is, “clean industrious bird... living through its own skill and labor.”

The apostle Paul exhorts early Christians who were still bound by slavery laws, to work even harder for their masters, especially if their masters were fellow believers. He said to work as for the Lord.

When work is hard or boring or it doesn’t seem to matter, it seems easy to spend less energy on it.

But God always sees into our hearts and our thoughts. Even if no one else ever sees how hard we work God does, and he appreciates our effort. And sometimes others will notice that we do our own work well.

1. Look at some chores in your family. Is there someone who could use some help today?

2. On your next weekend ask if there is a special job that you can do for your family or help one of your parents to do.

3. Is there a chore in your family that no one does very well? Can you learn how to do it and make it yours?

Read More
Proverbs 16:3
Romans 8:28
1 Corinthians 3:9-11

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bird Struck! Loon

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-Two

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Loons are known for their distinct mournful cry. It can be heard from quite a distance. Often one pair of loons will be the only ones on a lake or a river and to watch them swim is almost like watching a ballet because they are so graceful.

But on land they are clumsy and vulnerable. Some early nature writers often made fun of their land movements.

The psalmist tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Like snowflakes, we are each unique and have different talents and abilities.

Until we discover and grow into our parts, sometimes we feel clumsy and awkward and feel like others are making fun of us. It’s normal, especially when we have a growth spurt.

But when we are being the unique people God created us to be, we can then recognize our beauty regardless of what others see or say. And we know that we will get used to the changes that are happening in us.

1. What do you love to do so much that you forget what time it is?

2. What actions make you feel clumsy?

3. What actions make you feel wonderful?

4. Think of ways you share them with others.

Read More
Psalm 139:13-16
Psalm 40:5
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bird Struck! Raven

Family Devotional

Day Twenty-One

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.” Matthew 11:10

Ravens also have the ability to mimic human speech. Stories about them include them being sent as messengers and prophets, both good and bad.

A single raven sits quietly on a tree branch, very regal, very beautiful. But smaller birds do not scatter into flight the way they do when a hawk approaches. The raven is not seen as a threat.

It was the ravens that God called upon to feed His prophet Elijah when he was in the wilderness. Ravens keep their surplus food hidden and often have extra resources in times of drought.

Elijah had done a great work of witness for God, but now he needed both food nourishment and soul nourishment because he was exhausted. After he slept and the ravens fed him, Elijah was ready to hear God’s words again.

Sometimes we also need God’s messengers through our friends and family to comfort us when we are sick or sad or disappointed. They share themselves with us and give us their strength until we are ready to take care of ourselves again. Other times God might ask us to be a messenger to someone in need.

When we listen and repeat God’s words so that they are true and familiar to us, then we have the right resources to share with others.

1. Every day for a week, look for someone who needs a message of hope.

2. Share with them words of comfort, or time to listen, or food to cheer them.

Read More
Malachi 3:1
1 Thessalonians 4:18
1Peter 4:9

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bird Struck! Elf Owl

Family Devotional

Day Twenty

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

In North America, Elf Owls are found in desert regions. They can be as small as a sparrow and often nest in old woodpeckers’ holes. They can also camouflage themselves up against a tree when they suspect danger. They are known as the smallest owl in the world.

Like all owls they see extremely well in the dark because of extra-long light- gathering rods in their eyes. But to look around, they need to be able to turn their heads. They can move up to 270 degrees.

Because the edges of their wings are fluffy, rather than stiff, they are able to fly without making a sound. Their prey doesn’t hear them coming because the softness of the wings muffles their approach.

Since their size makes them vulnerable to predators, these attributes of stealth make it possible for them to hunt for their food and keep hidden at the same time.

There is wisdom in silence. Sometimes it is as uncomfortable as when we see an elf owl turn its head and suddenly see its gleaming yellow eyes. Yet if we learn to listen carefully in silence, we will have a clearer understanding of where we are to go or how we are to act. No matter how small we may feel we are.

Our lives are often so busy that our feelings and thoughts need time to catch up with us. So the silent waiting of an elf owl gives us a good example to watch carefully.

1. Turn out all the lights in your bedroom and stay very still. What do you see and hear that looks different?

2. With an adult’s supervision, play a game of hide-and-seek using camouflage. Who did the best?

3. Next time you have to wait for someone, wait in complete silence. What do you notice?
Read More
Psalm 130:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bird Struck! Hawk

Family Devotional

Day Nineteen

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” Matthew 13:16

Hawks have precise vision. They can see from a distance eight times clearer than people. Some have been measured from as far away as a mile. They are also ferocious hunters and swoop down on their prey almost in an instant. In ancient times men often used hawks to hunt for them. A hawk that became attached to a master loved him and would always return.

Jesus asks us to see the world through His eyes. Only we are not to swoop and hurt like a hunter, but rather to see with love and understanding.

It takes a special perspective to see past actions and attitudes that to recognize someone who needs a friend. Or who needs a kind word. Sometimes all we can see are people acting grumpy or sarcastic, and it annoys us. But maybe it is because they are hurting inside because of mean words or a problem they don’t know how to fix.

However Jesus can see what is in each person’s heart. When we are willing to be His servants, He will show us who to talk to and give us the right words to say.

And when we are tired and confused ourselves, we know we can return to Him and find rest. In Psalm 23 the psalmist says He restores our souls.

1. In a safe place at home try putting some wax paper or see-through paper over your eyes and look around the room. What can you see clearly and what is blurry?

2. Over dinner wear a set of earmuffs and don’t talk but try to listen to the conversation around you. How many words do you have trouble hearing correctly?

3. Choose two days at school this week and for the whole day say something nice to whomever you talk to, especially if they are rude to you.

Read More
Luke 11:34
Luke 20:23
Proverbs 29:18

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