It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

Pouting Pains

Rebellion has many faces, and the big pout on my daughter’s face was definitely one of them. With three other children in our homeschool classroom, she didn’t like being the one who had to wait for help with her questions. Watching her body language, I realized there was a much bigger problem waiting to be dealt with than the one in her math lesson.

My daughter’s actions brought back memories of the beginnings of my own rebellious days. What had started as simple, little pouting episodes to get my own way had turned into all-out, get-in-your-face rebellion toward my parents as a teenager. Being the last of seven children, my parents were usually too busy to put out the flames of my sinful rebellion when they erupted. Because these seemingly small pouting sessions were left unchecked, they burned a hole in my character and my life. Many years of pain from getting my own way passed before my heart was humbled before a mighty God.

Have you bought into the world’s lie that you deserve what you want, when you want it? Dear one, don’t go down that path of destruction! Although there may be joy for the moment, pain and suffering will meet you at the end. “An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him” (Proverbs 17:11). Jesus loves you too much to let your pouting spoil things. Trust Him to meet every need you have, and you’ll never get burned again by the world’s empty promises. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).

Jesus, I submit my life to You again this day. Forgive me when I try to take control and fail to trust You. Help me fight off the fiery darts of the devil that tempt me to rebel against Your will. In Your name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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What’s Cooking?

What type of food do you serve at your homeschool cafeteria? My children’s favorite benefit of homeschooling was the fresh and delicious meals we made together as a family. No canned or prepackaged entrees were allowed. Learning how to cook was a mandatory lesson we incorporated into each child’s curriculum. All the family appreciated the tasty A+ lessons of lasagna, stir-fry, oven-baked pot roast, fresh pies, cakes, breads, and salads.

However, teaching your children how to cook also means making messes. Peeling potatoes, mixing batter for cookies, and measuring spices and ingredients led to many accidents. Learning how to wipe up a spill, clean flour off containers, and wash the extra baking dishes were skills that also needed to be learned before enjoying the benefits. Of course, these skills were never quite as fun as the process of preparing the food. Our children wanted the fun of cooking without the hassle of cleaning up.

Our Christian walk is much the same. We want to sit at God’s table and enjoy the benefits of the Holy Spirit without going through the disciplines of living a holy life. We make a mess of devotions and prayer times and wonder why God is not using us more. We use canned approaches in witnessing and fail to seek God first in prayer.

Is there an area of your life that needs disciplining — reading magazines and books that honor the Lord, making time for devotions and prayer, or maintaining a pure thought life? Share your area of struggle with a trusted friend and make yourself accountable. Find the help you need to stay disciplined and close to the Lord. “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

Lord, show me the areas in my life that fail to honor You. Please, lead me to a Christian friend who will help me stay disciplined in those areas, so my life will glorify You. Thank You for loving me so much and always forgiving me when I fail. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotion

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A New Perspective

Imagine going to a job each morning where you can set your own schedule. You arrive when you want, take breaks whenever you want, and leave for an extended lunch hour without anyone breathing down your neck. Answering your phone calls and emails is regulated to a minimum each day, and the work responsibilities and goals you have are varied. There is no dress code or security passes to wear around your neck, and no one cares if you eat at your desk or play your favorite radio station. Your boss is off-site, and you can manage your workload to best suit your needs. Your work is rewarding and exciting, and you usually see immediate results from your efforts. Wouldn’t we all love to have a job that fits this description? As a homeschooling parent, you do!

Many homeschooling parents get caught up in the fact that they never receive a paycheck like their working counterparts. However, if you look at the God-given task of teaching your children at home from a new perspective, you begin to see what a blessing the career choice of homeschooling is for you. So many drawbacks of the typical job do not relate to your world. You have the freedom to pursue your position in ways many parents who work outside the home never do.

Too many times in my years as a homeschooling mother, I failed to see the bigger picture of what God was doing in my life and the lives of my children. I needed to have my eyes opened like Elisha’s servant who saw the whole army of heaven around him (2 Kings 6:17). From God’s perspective, what you are doing as a homeschooling parent has long-lasting and eternal value.

As you homeschool today, picture yourself at the best job you could ever have. The grass is greener on this side of the fence, and your regular paycheck of hugs and kisses from your family is more rewarding than what any company can pay you. Enjoy the freedoms you have as a homeschooling parent and be the successful teacher God intended you to be! “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Jesus, what a wonderful opportunity You have given me! Not only do I get the blessings of being a parent, but You have also blessed me with an awesome career of being a teacher. Help me keep my eyes on You each day as I homeschool. In Your name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Under the Bed

I’m sure I wasn’t the first mother who had to deal with her child’s deception while homeschooling. One day I found toys that were supposed to have been picked up and put away pushed under my son’s bed. I sat down on the bed and wished I could escape the correction that needed to take place in my child’s life. The mess under the bed would be much easier to ignore than dealing with my child. Thankfully, at least this deception could be fixed, even though the time needed to discipline would rob teaching time from our homeschooling day.

Many years ago, Jacob’s deception couldn’t be fixed when he fooled his father, Isaac, into blessing him instead of his brother, Esau. At his mother’s prompting, Jacob went the full length in deceiving his father by feeling, smelling, sounding, and acting like Esau as he prepared his father’s favorite meal. Jacob walked away, stealing the blessing of his father and the firstborn birthright intended for Esau (Genesis 27). Esau anguished in his heart that no blessing was left for him (Hebrews 12:16-17).

However, it was many years before that blessing was enjoyed. In fear of his brother’s wrath, Jacob fled to another country and was alienated from his family. After working seven long years for his wife, Jacob experienced Laban’s deception when he substituted his daughter Leah for Rachel at the wedding. Although Jacob was allowed to marry Rachel a week later, he was forced to suffer an additional seven years of working for his father-in-law.

Deception always works that way. What seems to be an immediate reward turns out to be an ongoing burden. Are you trying to make your life easier by hiding things “under the bed”? Do you think no one sees the deceptive patterns you’ve allowed to take over your life, such as little white lies, taking advantage of the goodness of others, or making others look bad, so you can get ahead? Unlike Isaac, God isn’t fooled, and He sees and knows what you are doing. Will you confess and repent today and let God discipline you to fix the mess you have made? He’s the only One who can.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Mrs. Clean

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:13.

Inside the house, the kitchen sink was full of dishes, and the laundry baskets were piled high with dirty clothes. The floors were full of crumbs, and the windows had enough fingerprints to fill the files of the FBI. Outside, the lawn looked like a herd of horses needed to chew it down, and the children’s toys were scattered from one end of the farm to the other. Company was scheduled to arrive for supper, and the meal was not yet prepared. I laughed to myself, wondering which of these tasks I would actually accomplish in addition to our homeschooling day.

Thinking about all the work made me tired and unable to even know where to start. Looking to God, I felt Him gently urge me to begin. I did, and somehow a miracle began. The day became supernatural, and I literally felt like angels were working with me to get every job accomplished. There were no interruptions, no accidents, and no fights. Nothing was lost, and nothing broke. I flew from one chore to the next, while keeping an enthusiastic smile and teaching my children their lessons. I couldn’t believe the amount of work I accomplished that day, and I’ve never had another one quite like it.

Sometimes the numerous issues in our spiritual walk also seem daunting. We wonder how a family member will ever be saved, why we keep falling into the same old sins, and if we can ever forgive other’s thoughtless remarks. Temptations and trials attempt to render us impotent. We become discouraged and give up in despair before we ever begin to live for the Lord. You don’t need to live under the weight of sin and pain. God sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from a defeated life. Jesus arose and left an empty grave as proof that we have access to the same mighty power that raised Him from the dead (Ephesians 1:19). All your burdens can be lifted by the miracle of His grace.

Is life too heavy to bear right now? Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

Give it ALL to HIM and watch HIM do it through you.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Will You Quit?

Once you have homeschooled for a few months, have you found it difficult to stay motivated? Is homeschooling not quite what you expected — too much work? Giving up is not the answer — giving in to the Lord is.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” James 1:3-4

Homeschool parents don’t always realize they are attending classes each day just like their children. God’s assignments may not be on a computer or in a workbook, but they are just as real and challenging. The basic courses of Patience for Parents, Forgiveness Forever, Endurance 101, and Sacrificial Servanthood cause us to grow more Christlike in our actions. We study the Scriptures and look for answers to new questions we face each day. We pray at test time, hoping to pass. We pray for God to grade on a curve, or at least to allow a retake.

God knows what He is doing. Both you and your children are being schooled at home. Together you will learn all the lessons of life He has prepared for you. Hang in there — it’s always too soon to quit!

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (vs. 4).

Father, I don’t know if I have what it takes to keep homeschooling. Stretch me Lord! Help me to see those areas in my life that are slowing me down and causing me to stumble. Thank You for all You’ve done for me on the cross. Give me the strength and wisdom to keep going. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Glory Days

“I’m bored,” complained my oldest son.  “I don’t have anything to do.” Normally, those words created images of countless tasks to give my son during our homeschool day.  However, today I sensed the Lord asking me to teach a lesson from His Word instead.

“Mountaintop experiences don’t happen every day,” I said.  “You’ll find that life is usually 80% ordinary and 20% extraordinary.  Most of your life will involve being faithful in the normal everyday routine, but when God chooses, He will give something that changes your life forever.”

Exciting experiences can be bought in this life, but the life-changing moments that give true satisfaction and fulfillment come only through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who faithfully lived a quiet life until the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to the Savior.  Joseph became ruler over Egypt after years of suffering and separation from his family.  Moses met God through a burning bush after 40 years of isolated living as a shepherd.

Looking back on your life, how many extraordinary moments have you had? Faithfully serving God in the ordinary makes you a candidate to serve God in the extraordinary.  “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

Father, help me remember that You have a special plan and purpose for my life. May I be found faithful in the everyday things, so I am ready for the extraordinary moments when they come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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By Their Fruits

Is the fruit on your tree rotting or inviting?

Just yesterday morning my daughter Olivia and I laughed and enjoyed our day as we traipsed through the muck and mire of Math!  A subject I love and one she dreads due to frustrations in the past of not understanding as well as my ability to explain in a way that “her” brain could understand.  I have spent many months homeschooling in my own strength.  However, the Lord has given me insight, grace and  patience needed to continue marching through the pages of life and Math, while showing love, laughing and building memories and demonstrating the joy of Christ we can have through and in every event in life – even math!  Praise the Lord His mercies are new every morning and HIS grace is sufficient!

How long do you need to teach your children at home before you “officially” become a homeschool family?  Like the tests that evaluate a child’s academic performance, you can assume homeschooling has arrived at your house when the following are true:

You have more books in your house than groceries.

Your children show up for school in their pajamas.

Your house décor consists of time lines, maps, assorted craft projects, and half-finished science experiments.

Your trips to the library require a laundry basket to hold all the books.

Your refrigerator is perpetually covered in art projects and completed assignments.

Your children think reading history is best achieved while lying on your bed with the family cats.

Your kitchen pantry holds more school supplies than cooking supplies.

Your children’s favorite classmates are their siblings.

Christians, too, have distinct marks that help us gauge whether we are growing more like Christ.  In Galatians 5:22 we read of fruits that should be displayed if we are truly following the Lord — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  As these fruits become more evident in our lives, we can trust the Holy Spirit is working to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

What about your life? Is there fruit that proves you’re a follower of Jesus? “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a).

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Reflections

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

As my eight-year-old son and I observed the craters on the moon for science class, his simple observation of the moon’s reflection left a profound teaching on both our minds.

“Mom,” he asked. “The moon really has no light of its own, does it?”

“No,” I replied. “It simply reflects the light from the sun. If the sun was gone, the moon wouldn’t shine either.”

Thinking deeply, he looked at me and said, “That’s the same way we would be without Jesus.”

Amazed at his understanding of the two concepts, I answered, “Yes, that’s right honey.”

As homeschooling parents, we like to think that we are the ones who teach our children.  But anyone who has homeschooled for more than a few years knows this fact: apart from Christ, we are totally inadequate to teach our children.  No college degree, teaching certificate, or earthly intelligence can prepare you to teach your children the right lesson at the right time or how to incorporate into your lesson the true wisdom that comes from God.  Like the moon without the sun, we have no understanding on our own to impart the truths that will forever change our children’s lives.

However, the good news is that you have Christ, the “Light of the world” in you (John 9:5).  Not only are you filled with His presence for teaching your children, but you also have the ability to reflect God’s love to others by shining hope and encouragement into a very dark world.   Just as Moses needed his shining face veiled after being with God (Exodus 34:29-35), your challenge as a homeschooling parent is to live in close obedience to God to reflect His light into your family and the world. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2).

Lord, let me reflect Your love and wisdom as I homeschool my children. Reveal any sin in my heart that would block Your light from shining in my life. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Dead Pencils

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).

My children hated pencils without erasers. Being a thrifty homeschool parent, however, I couldn’t understand the thought of throwing away perfectly good pencils just because they didn’t have an eraser. Purposely, I left these “partial performance pencils” in the supply cabinet; however, each morning when we started to homeschool, I would hear my children rummaging through the pencil can until they found a pencil with at least part of an eraser. Even though I bought new replacement erasers to put on the ends, nothing changed. The substitute erasers would crack or fall off within a few days, and unfortunately, I had to admit my children were right. There was simply no use for a pencil that couldn’t write and erase.

Like pencils without erasers, so are Christians who have lost their saltiness. Christ tells us in Matthew 5:13 and 16 that we are the salt of Earth, and we should demonstrate our faith in Christ to the world through acts of love and service. If we don’t, we are as useless as salt without taste or pencils without erasers. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).

What about you? Are you known like Dorcas in Acts 9:36b for being “full of good works and almsdeeds?” Even though your days may be full as a homeschooling parent, God still desires for you to share your faith with your hands, as well as your lips. Why not let the Lord use you today to bless someone in need? “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

Lord, so many days my energy is gone after homeschooling, and I have nothing left to give to anyone else. Give me the desire to see the needs of others and fill me with Your strength to reach out in love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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