It's All Grace

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

Can you successfully hide your deceit?

Obedience brings blessings . . . Disobedience brings curse.   Deuteronomy 28

How will your life play out based on the choices you make as well as the motives behind what you do?

You cannot make a good choice with an impure motive and come away smelling like roses or sneak by the hand of God.  Consequences DO come.  Some will be immediate, while some are far reaching.  Nonetheless, consequences will not escape those who choose to deceive.

In Genesis 27, Jacob is given instructions by his mother to deceive his father for a blessing.  Jacob is aware that he will be deceiving his father, yet follows through with his mothers instruction.

Jacob, in his younger years (whose name means deceiver, heel grabber) experienced the receiving end of deception.  He was manipulated and deceived by Laban, his father-in-law, (his mother’s brother).  Jacob purposed to honor what he said he would do, yet his father-in-law deceived Jacob by not giving him the woman he asked & worked seven years to gain.  As a result, Jacob had to work an additional seven years (totaling 14 years) to obtain the woman he intended to take as his wife.

It wasn’t until years later, Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32, that Jacob chose to “grab” onto God.  God achieved a firm hold onto Jacob causing him to quit deceiving and rely upon God.  God is capable of getting our attention.

Are you like the young Jacob causing God to track you down in your own deceit?

Can you think of a time where God has made himself known to you as he did to Jacob?

At that point of change Jacob walked much differently purposing no longer to deceive.  That day, Jacob saw God face to face and his name was changed to Israel.

Numbers 32:23  . . . be sure your sin will find you out.”

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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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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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Can You Hear Me Now?

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Mark 4:9

Numerous times Jesus includes the equivalent of saying, “Listen up!” when He speaks. His expression, He who has ears to hear,”makes us realize how often we use our ears for other purposes—to secure sun glasses, to keep our hats from falling over our eyes, and to hang jewelry. But we’ve got ears in order to hear. Jesus wants to provoke attention, even though He knows some will not listen.

When we look at the reasons why people don’t listen, we can group them into four categories. As you read them, do a spiritual hearing check-up by asking yourself, Am I like that?

Immaturity. People of all ages can have this problem. Immaturity is the inability to connect actions and consequences. The immature person doesn’t get it. They can’t make the connection between their choices and what comes because of those decisions. They need to discover the unbreakable law of cause and effect that God has established in the universe. If you choose to sin; you choose to suffer. That’s what’s coming. People frequently say, “I’m going to beat the odds. I’m going to cut the corners.” Then they hit a brick wall or disappear in a bottomless pit. Often, painful experience is the only effective teacher to improve an immature person’s hearing.

Rebellion. “My will. My thrill. You chill.” Those are the proud declarations of rebellion. “No one’s going to get between my will and my thrill! This is what I want to do. You back off! Don’t tell me anything.” Rebels won’t listen and they try to cut off any attempts by others to help. They are stuck in overdrive, headed for a wall—and they don’t care! But hardship and humiliation can make a rebel’s heart attentive.

Woundedness. Hidden hurts close hearts and ears. They can’t hear because something happened that left unseen scars. Sometimes in a family or a church things happen that few know about. The person holds it all inside and drifts away. They’re hurting, but don’t bring it out in the open. They can’t listen to reason because all they hear is their hidden wound.

Relationships. Peers could be the problem. Peers in the ears block fears. Warnings we should hear and be afraid of don’t register on our radar. Like a teen who feels the need for speed, with a friend in the passenger seat shouting, “GO!! GO!! GO!!!” There are many times we should be afraid, but we’re more concerned about impressing our friends and the people around us.

Most of us can relate to one or more of the reasons above. But He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus’ words remind us He has spoken even when we are not listening. And His Word is always ready when we’re ready to use our ears for their designed purpose—to listen. Until we’re willing to respond to the truth He has for us, we’re not really listening.

How did you do with the hearing check-up? If you realize you are being influenced not to listen to the Lord because of one or more of these causes, it’s time to let God do some hearing correction. Ask Him to tune your ears to hear His voice.

Pastor James MacDonald

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To Die Might Seem Easier

Even though God allowed King David to live after committing adultery with Bathsheba, his son to be born, would die as a direct consequence of David’s sin against God.

As parents we can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult that would be to live with. Thoughts “that your child died BECAUSE OF YOU AND YOUR SELFISHNESS”.  Wow, to die would be the easier thing, BUT God didn’t leave us here to do the easy!  He left us here to accept the gospel, be the gospel and share the gospel, not marring HIS image in any way!

Are you doing the job HE gave you to do?

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