Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.” —Habakkuk 2:2

The word ‘selah’ throughout Scripture is used as an exclamation mark at the end of a verse to help us pause and reflect on its meaning. Today, in day ten of our Christmas devotional series we are resting on Habakkuk 2:2. Selah.

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Daddy, What Does God Want?

by Richard Miller

One of the advantages of parenting a curious five year old is that you often get the opportunity to stop and ponder the mysteries of life. Whether you want to or not. Whether it’s past bed-time or not. (Hint, it’s always past bed-time.)

Where do planets come from?

How come some kids have lots of toys and some don’t have any?

Are there any lions in Newcastle?

How does God hear my prayers if I only think them?

Why do we always have to brush our teeth before bedtime?

Now, some of those questions are fairly straightforward to answer, even for a novice like me. Zero lions. Just brush your teeth, kid.

But some of them are real curlers. Like last night’s: “Daddy, what does God want?”

What does God want?

Five or ninety-five, isn’t that a question we all wrestle with, as people who seek to follow Jesus?

Maybe this year has forced you to stop and ponder it in a new way.

Our family manifesto

You might cringe at the word manifesto because it’s quickly associated with communism, politics, or even terrorists.

But a manifesto can simply be a declaration of who you are and how you will live.

It’s about capturing a vision for the future and putting it down so that you can live it out.

It’s about seeking after answers to questions that seem simple—but, on reflection, contain the depth of human experience: Who am I? How do I live? What does God want?

My manifesto is not a detailed plan of action or an encyclopaedia. It’s a simple iron bar of truth that I’m clinging to this year as reality warps and the framework of life is bent into new shapes.

It comes from a handful of verses in the gospel of Matthew.

An expert in the law tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

—Matthew 22:35-40

Everything hangs on the power of love

These two commandments from Jesus are at the heart of what it means to live a life that is pleasing to God. Everything else hangs on this iron bar of truth.

What does God want? How should we live?

I’ll share with you the same way I shared with my curious, beautiful five year old.

God wants us to love Him with all we’ve got. And He wants us to love each other the same way. We should live that out with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

As far as manifestoes go, it’s on the shorter end of the scale. But I pray that it will take root in my daughter’s heart—and that this simple understanding gives her peace, purpose and hope every day of her life.

As we approach the end of this strange year, I encourage you to think about a manifesto for you and your family for 2021. A declaration of who you are—and how you will live.

At the very least, it will give your kids something to think about as they lie in bed, pretending to sleep.

Dear Jesus,
As we reflect on the steps you walked with compassion, through your earthly days, may we also remember to frame our values by yours. Help us to reframe our vision for the coming season to reflect on those who are facing grave injustice. Help us to gain your perspective over our own. Amen

Richard Miller

Richard works for Compassion Australia, sharing stories of how the global Church is rising as one to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. He lives in Newcastle with his family, including his exceedingly patient wife, two curious, mischievous daughters—and two rapscallion cats.

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At the Table Conversation Starter:

If you were to write a manifesto this coming year, what would be some of the values you would like to focus on?

Let us build a family culture with compassion this Christmas.

Advent Compassion Challenge:

This Christmas, what if you sponsored a child in the developing world to remind your family of the power of compassion—and then shared your manifesto to encourage your sponsored child and their family to also live in God’s love and hope?

Write your sponsored child a letter today at your My Account.