It's All Grace

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

Unexpected Places

Sometimes God will take us to unexpected places. But we can rest assured, based on his promises, that in every situation that presents itself, he will provide beyond what we can imagine and so much more than we can fathom!

When we completely trust in him, our faith will begin to go through the roof and we will find ourselves trusting in ways we never knew were possible, walking in ways we didn’t know existed!

It is IN those unexpected places that we learn more about his character and his love for us!

When you find yourself in “unexpected territory”, step forward in faith and trust him . . . COMPLETELY!

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Present your body

         “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye PRESENT your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.  Romans 12:1

Once we have given our hearts to Jesus Christ, we are beseeched (ask, implore, plead, beg) to present our bodies to the Lord.  It is the least we could do, when we consider what he gave for us.  When we present our bodies, we willingly lay it in the hands of our Lord.  HOWEVER, it is not fully presented until we take our hands completely off of it!  Picture yourself laying lifeless in the arms of Jesus Christ.  That is what  our lives should look like when our bodies are presented.

A LIVING SACRIFICE means that I die completely so that Christ can live.  We need to quit trying and start dying, because the best that we can do is not good enough.

God wants more than just our hearts, he wants our bodies also.  Let Christ live in you daily as you fully & completely present your body a living sacrifice for him!

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Will you walk, fall or fly?

What are you hanging onto, trying to accomplish in your own strength?

Many times the Lord is just waiting for us to let go, fall down, open our clenched fists and completely surrender, so that his strength can be made known in our weakness.

When God leads you to (what feels like) the edge of the cliff, trust him fully and let go!  Only one of two things will happen.  Either he will catch you when you fall . . . or he will teach you how to fly!

Whatever it is for you:  Step into the water, step out of the boat, step into the river Jordan, or just move to the edge of your cliff and walk, fall or fly by faith . . . either way you win!

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Decide Today

What kind of woman do you want to be?  Decide NOW . . .  regardless of your age, because life is not going to get any easier, regardless of where you live.

Where do we get our views of womanhood?  Do we get our view of life from the culture and magazine covers?  Do we allow ourselves to be taught and tutored directly by the worldly woman?  Have we reduced man to nothing more than the price of a loaf of bread as spoken of in Proverbs?

Proverbs 14:1 speaks of the wise woman who BUILDS her house.

As a woman, YOU have a powerful influence where you live – a greater influence than you know!  On your husband, on your children, on your church and on your community, your influence will be for good, evil or nothingness!  You decide.

Are you going to remain neutral, not taking a stand for anything, calling sin – sin, because you want people to love you and to be accepted?  Or do you want to be a woman who has raised her children according to I Timothy 2:15, to walk in faith and in love and restrain themselves to have disciplined lives?

As women, we play a pivotal role in the future of a nation as well.  The Lord has entrusted us with so much, yet we believe the lie, that we are nothing, OR that we are greater than men.  The truth is we are equal in creation yet different in our roles and authority.

Womanhood pivoted in the 1960’s as the feminist movement began and this has drastically changed our homes and world for the worse.

Decide today if you will build your house by doing that which is hard, or if you will plucketh it down with your hands contributing to the downward spiral of disaster.

If you are going to be a woman of God, then the Bible must be your daily bread.  Remember . . . there is no retirement in the middle of war!

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What to Do When You’re Going Under

A much needed reminder as we tend to forget from one day to the next, what the Lord desires of us, and where we are to keep our eyes.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” —Matthew 14:28-31
Whether you are four or forty, there’s nothing like a familiar and confident voice in the dark saying, “I’m here. There’s no reason to be scared.” Regardless of how many times you’ve been in a dark and unpredictable situation, hearing that voice can be the difference between sinking and safety.
Matthew 14:22-33 describes a night crossing on the Sea of Galilee when the disciples got caught in a storm. Jesus had sent them out in the boat alone. Interestingly, about half of the disciples were fishermen. They knew how dangerous the lake could be. It’s hard to know who was more afraid, those who knew what could happen or those who were wondering what would happen. Either way, there was a boatload of nervous men on the water that night.
As the wind and the waves threatened to take them under, Jesus walked by—on the water! Without a flashlight on board, all they could see was a dim figure making His way through the swells toward the boat. Their fear of the storm may have paled in comparison totheir terror over seeing a ghost! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (vv.26–27).
Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (v.28). He apparently concluded, If Jesus says I can walk on water, I can walk on water. As usual, Peter’s mouth and actions were about ten seconds ahead of his brain. But Jesus said, “Come,” and over the side of the boat Peter went. Imagine his wonder when the water held him up—like a kid playing on a waterbed.
Peter was doing so well, “but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (vv.29–30). What went wrong? He took his eyes off the Lord. He forgot the reason he could walk among the waves. And when he did, fear entered his heart, and he started to go under.
Has that ever happen to you? When your eyes were on the Lord, life was good no matter what was going on around you. But the moment you changed your focus to the wind and waves, you began to sink.
Where are your eyes today?
If you’re going under, it may be because you are looking at the waves (of your health or the pitch and roll of your retirement funds). Maybe you’ve been listening to the howling wind (like the voices of doom and gloom constantly heard in our society). Possibly you have been taking your cues from what others are saying and doing instead of keeping your mind stayed on Christ (Isaiah 26:3).
But you can do better. Like Peter, if you get distracted and start to sink, it’s time to call out, “Lord, save me!”
What storms, winds, and waves in your life are distracting you from looking at Jesus?
What’s usually your first clue that you’ve taken your eyes off the Lord?
Lord, I don’t want every storm to feel like my first time out on the water. Help me remember all the times You have been faithful. Forgive me when I forget the constant demonstrations of Your care. Forgive the way I’m prone to wander. Forgive me when I am easily distracted. Thank You for being as patient with me as You are faithful to me. Continue to guide me toward greater faithfulness on my part. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pastor James MacDonald
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Living in Defeat?

Sometimes we’d rather live in defeat for a very long time than to do what it takes to get God’s help. But God loves us enough to keep us in that place of distress until we have no alternative, no option but to cry out to Him.

Step out in faith, KNOWING that If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

In HIS presence we sense the opposite of defeat and distress. We can live in defeat or victory. The choice is ours.

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Faith on Fire

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 
—John 20:24-25

The resurrection of Jesus was the best possible news the disciples could have received, yet not everyone was immediately on board with the story. Thomas was absent when the Lord made His group appearance on that Sunday evening, and gave a skeptic’s response to the announcement that the other disciples had been with the risen Lord: “But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’”

Some have been very harsh about Thomas’ reaction. He seems kind of demanding and disrespectful. Who does he think he is? Actually, though his words may strike us as odd, they were not prideful. Thomas wanted to believe, and he wanted his faith to be authentic.

John 20:20 holds an important detail in Jesus’ original appearance:“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” Thomas was only asking for what he had missed. He was expressing a willingness to believe based upon the same evidence given to the people around him. His request was not unreasonable. He didn’t want to doubt; he wanted to believe!

Thomas sincerely longed for what the other disciples had experienced. He was gathering the wood and getting a match—he wanted a faith on fire. Thomas named the obstacle and was looking for the reasons he too could stand on authentic faith in Christ. This is the lesson: faith is kindled when you name the obstacle.

Identify the obstacle to faith in your life. I got hurt. I have a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m discouraged. I don’t honestly understand how Christianity can be true. Now bring it before the Lord: “God, thisis the barrier between You and me.” Produce your strong reservations and give God an opportunity to put faith where there’s doubt. Once you have honestly prayed this way, give God time to answer. Wait on Him.

This is not a casual challenge. If you’re a doubter, get on your knees every night before you go to bed and bring your barrier before God. You are expecting Him to provide an answer. Pray every day for thirty days. God did not disappoint Thomas and He will not disappoint your sincere approach. Name the obstacle before God and He will kindle your faith.

Pastor James MacDonald

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Faith Produces Faithfulness

Be faithful now.

Be faithful tomorrow.

Be faithful the next day.

That is developing a pattern in your life of faithfulness to Christ, and then you will know that  when THAT hour of trial comes, He will give you the grace to be faithful then.

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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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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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