It's All Grace

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

How will you run, & will you conquer?

Hebrews 12:1-2   “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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A race implies an exact distance, a measured course, a starting place and finish line.  It is not a continuous loop that we can repeat over and over until we get it right.  Once the race has started, you cannot start over, go back and erase.  You must keep pressing forward.

The Christian life is also a race, one to endure.  It is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon, and similar to conquering the gauntlet.  There will be those who will not reap benefits, because they won’t run with patience (meaning to persevere & endure).

Many marriages won’t make it because they won’t stay together through the hard times.  The world says, “enjoy NOW” and God says “WAIT NOW & enjoy later”.  Marriage brings with it many obstacles, wounds, and weights even when there is rough terrain that may leave scars and hurts.  Stick it out.  Keep running, laying aside your weights that beset you.

Recently, I participated in an event with friends and family, knowing in advance I would be tested, stretched, left physically exhausted with possible bruises and cuts from trauma to my physical body.  I not only participated, but I had to register and pay a fee that would allow me to endure such things I did not know I would encounter.

Conquer the Gauntlet is an extreme 4 mile run/race/event with 30 + obstacles on grueling terrain, fire, barbed wire, walls to climb over, mud pits, etc., that will challenge you in every area that you can imagine, just as the Christian walk will do.

To endure and succeed in such an event, you must have determination, purpose and will-power.  Qualities required are honesty, courage, integrity and the like.  You will have to overcome or surmount physical, mental or moral force to be victorious, just as you do in your daily life as a Christian.

On this 154 minute journey (for me) in 96 degree temps, to “conquer the gauntlet”, I realized just how deceitful the heart can be.  Your mind and your body are not always in agreement when you are faced with an obstacle you must overcome, by going over, under or through it.  Going AROUND the obstacle that was provided to stretch you, only means you did NOT endure.  Your mind says you can do it and yet your body begins to argue, or vice-versa.

As we set out to run and conquer the gauntlet, we endured and encountered many things that I would like to share, but too many to write in one post, so I hope that you will check in and read the posts to follow.

How will you run the race, and will you finish well?  Will you finish the race standing up or will you be carried out on a gurney needing oxygen to help you breathe, etc?  Will you see it as an accomplishment or a regret and never run again?  How we view what is ahead, is in direct relation to how well we will finish.

Stay tuned as I will be writing about obstacles, weights, accountability, encouragement, thoughts, enduring & persevering, wounds, and even humor!

Conquering the Gauntlet was a journey I gained so much from . . . too much not to share!

One thing is for sure:  We look much different at the starting line, than we do the finish line, when we choose to overcome and conquer!

 

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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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Your Limitations

When you decide you can’t do something specific because you have “limitations”, then you are not living your life to its fullest potential.

We say we can’t sing because we don’t like our voice.

We say we can’t act, yet we are great manipulators.

We say we can’t teach, yet we seem to know it all.

We say we are not athletic yet we don’t have any problems putting our sibling into a “Full Nelson” headlock.

We say we can’t love our spouse, yet we CAN love our neighbor.

When we put our limitations in God’s Hands, moving forward and trusting in Him and how HE has created us, then when anything great comes from THAT, we KNOW that God used our limitations to shine brightly in our lives.

Will you stop limiting God, by limiting yourself?  Decide to live the abundant life.

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Sinking Ship

Are you out in the boat today?  Not sure of stepping out of the boat or whether the storm will take you under?  Do you feel like you’re on a sinking ship?

Remember that NO ship can go down with the Master on board!  Lay your doubt aside and step into the Father’s Will.

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Trial or Consequence?

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  I Peter 4:13-16

Difficulties provoke questions. “Am I suffering in a trial, or is my pain a consequence of something I’ve done?” You need to identify the source of a hard thing in your life because your responsibility in the matter depends on the source of your hardship. Jesus’ disciple Peter will help you understand the difference.

First Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” If you are suffering as a result of representing Christ, you are experiencing a trial. Realize you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and it leads to blessing.

Continuing is this warning of consequence: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”

Peter has listed classic “choose to sin; choose to suffer” actions.Murderer describes anyone with a hateful action or thought—who disrespects life. Thief can refer to anyone who loses his or her job for stealing time; anyone who loses his or her marriage for stealing selfish interests; anyone who loses his or her friend by stealing too much attention. All of these actions involve taking what belongs to someone else. Evildoer is a general term for describing anyone who participates in sinful activity. Meddler describes anyone who, as one translation puts it, is “prying into other people’s affairs” (1 Peter 4:15 NLT). If any of these actions causes hardship for you, you’re suffering a consequence, not a trial.

Next, Peter returns to trials: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” In His kindness, God promises that trials will come. These hardships should never cause us to be ashamed, because God receives glory through the way His people respond to suffering.

When you are enduring a difficulty, decide whether it is a wake-up call to the reality of bad choices, or it has been allowed by God to train your character for His glory. Again, it’s important to ask God for wisdom in seeing the difference between trials and consequences. Many believers are experiencing very painful consequences to sin in their lives. They may call those consequences trials, but “do not be deceived,” Galatians 6:7 says. “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

Look at the following four situations. Which is a trial? Which is a consequence?

My marriage is in trouble after many years of neglect.

 My husband lost his job because the automobile industry is suffering.

 My husband lost his job because he was stealing materials from work.

 My son has a serious illness and is in the hospital.

The answers: (1) consequence; (2) trial; (3) consequence; (4) trial for you, possible consequence for him.

When you are suffering consequences, repent immediately. Turn around and, don’t walk—run back to God. When you are suffering for Christ, seek His grace to rejoice over your participation in events that will bring glory to God.

– Pastor James MacDonald

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Take A Stand

It is EASY to stand up and teach what is right, yet it is HARD to stand up against what is wrong.

Standing up for what is right, is not all that is required of us .  We must stand against what is wrong!

Will you be a Christian that makes a difference to a lost world, by what you teach and the stand you will take?  Or will you waiver and falter in denial as Peter did when he denied knowing Christ?

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Straight Line or Circles?

Are you walking the straight and narrow or are you turning in circles?

We once had a horse at the trainers who WOULD NOT turn TIGHT to the right, without a fight.  After the trainer loped him 4 miles around a race track, he was still fighting.  She tied his face (bit) to his tail and made him walk in circles to the right all day.  No matter which end he pulled, there was pain inflicted.  We laugh as we visualize what this might look like!  However, aren’t we the same way in a spiritual sense?  OH!  We will turn to the right gently as long as it doesn’t require much of us . . . But when asked to “give a little more” (turn a little tighter), we put up a fight that might land us in a position where we are chasing both ends, bringing about self inflicted pain!

Are you willing to give in to change so that your life and your walk with Christ can grow? Or will you buck any little pressure or change of direction, fighting to stay in a place that is comfortable?
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Marriage and Sin

Anyone planning on getting married soon?  If you’re afraid to face your sin, don’t get married, because marriage will expose your sin like no other relationship known!  This is what happens when two sinners live under one roof!

Many times people get married with the idea that the “other person” will make them happier.  What if God designed your marriage to make you holy . . . even more than to make you happy?  This thought certainly puts a different perspective on marriage.

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God’s Peace is 18 Inches Away

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.  Philippians 4:7 

Just yesterday, our family received word that some missionary friend’s 7-year-old son had been taken to the hospital with Malaria.  Just a few hours later came more news that their 8-year-old daughter was now in the hospital as well, with Malaria.  As these two children were showing signs of recovery, their 3-year-old son was vomiting with fever and in the hospital this morning.

How does one get through something like this?  There are those that would be angry at God and demand better treatment “as they ARE doing the work of the Lord”!  This mindset comes from a twisted belief that “it’s all about us” or “God owes me”.  However, this family is quite the contrary and will bring God glory trusting HIM through it all.

As a mom, I couldn’t begin to fathom this type of adversity, nor the magnitude in just a few short hours.  But because I know the Lord and HIS character, HIS grace would be sufficient and HIS love and peace would sustain me for whatever HE would allow me to go through.  I immediately began to pray and put myself in these parent’s shoes!  What would I want, desire, or need during these difficult hours?  The closeness of God?  His grace?  Strength and Comfort?  To sense HIS presence and feel HIS arms engulfing me?  All of the above!

God gives peace and protection in our hearts and in our minds.  God will guard these two parts, that remain 18 inches apart, which seem to conspire against us.  If our hearts are troubled, it won’t be long before our minds will be in turmoil.  If our thoughts are headed in the wrong direction, our hearts will soon follow.  But God’s peace can guard both heart and mind no matter what we are facing.

Today, there are Christians all over the world, going through unbelievable things with God’s peace.  Their assurance in the face of evil and pain is a testimony that brings glory to God, for it is clear to those watching, that something which passeth all understanding is going on.  These Christians are getting supernatural help, as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego while in the furnace, walking around.

Can you imagine those three Jewish men standing near a roaring furnace, KNOWING they were about to be fed to the flames (Daniel 3:8-30)?  The weren’t sure they wouldn’t die.  Their peace came from being sure that no matter what happened, God would deliver them.

Peace is easy to understand when everything is going well, but not so easy when circumstances get hard.  God’s peace is always available, and HE wants us to rest in it — especially in season’s of darkness and difficulty.

Remember, you don’t get to choose your furnaces.  But you can choose to live rejoicing in the Lord.  You can choose to get along with others and practice anxiety-free days as you turn everything over to God with thanksgiving, even if you don’t fully understand how to go through challenges with a calm, quiet confidence, this will not prohibit God’s ability to give you the gift of peace.

What is your belief about God?

Anything and everything that happens to you must FIRST be filtered through God’s Hand.  All that HE allows is for your greater good and His glory!

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Just One More Day

Pharaoh wanted one more day with the frogs . . . The prodigal son wanted just a few more meals with the hogs . . . and Israel desired the fog rather than to trust in the Lord completely.

What are you hanging onto that’s keeping you from “walking daily with the Lord”?  Pastor Tim Turner

 

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