It's All Grace

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

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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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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Taking Shortcuts

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:13.

Life is full of shortcuts. High-priced technology has changed the way we live and made shopping so easy we can get what we want with a simple click of a mouse or a wave of a debit card. Although technological advances have also made homeschooling easier, there is one aspect to teaching our children at home that can’t be fast forwarded — your children’s spiritual growth. Developing biblical values and godly character requires a daily, concentrated effort in building God’s truths precept upon precept. Money simply cannot buy instant access to Christianity or purchase shortcuts in learning God’s lessons in humility, obedience, and submission.

Trying to fast track Christianity has been a problem since the Lord returned to heaven. In Acts 8:13-24, Simon, the ex-magician, thought he could bypass the disciplines of being trained in righteousness. Wanting to impress the crowds and perform miracles like Peter, Simon offered money to find a shortcut to the Holy Spirit’s power. Rebuking him for his fleshly attempts to control God, Peter said, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:20b-21).

What about you? Are you guilty of looking for shortcuts in your spiritual growth? Quick prayers and short devotionals are not enough. Spend time alone with the Lord today in prayer and Bible study and let the Holy Spirit reveal those changes that need to take place in your life. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection” (Hebrews 6:1a).

Lord, forgive me for being like a child and looking for the easy way out of Your lessons. Help me to walk with You today and not run ahead of the disciplines that teach me Your truths. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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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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Pruning Pains

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

As we walked through the garden one morning during our summer break from homeschooling, my daughter watched as I began to pinch off the tops of several tomato plants. With a shocked look on her face, she cried, “Mom, what are you doing? We’ve been trying to get these plants to grow for weeks, and now you’re destroying them!”

“No,” I gently responded. “These plants have grown tall enough. If I don’t cut them back now, they’ll only grow more vines instead of tomatoes. We need to break off the top, so the energy of the plant goes toward bearing fruit.”

“OK,” she replied hesitantly in disbelief, “but I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”

The process of pruning can also seem shocking in our spiritual lives. When God allows circumstances that outwardly appear to destroy our hopes and dreams, we may react like my young daughter in the garden. Not understanding the purpose behind the pain, we are tempted to believe that God doesn’t know what He is doing or He doesn’t love us. However, if we learn to come to the Lord in humility and total dependence during these trying times, He will carefully shape our character into the image of His Son. In the end, the fruit of righteousness that God desires in all His children will be produced from His careful and loving pruning.

Do you feel like your life is in the pruning process? If circumstances seem to be robbing you of joy and causing you to doubt God’s love, don’t let your pain cause you to run from the Lord. Instead, run into the arms of your loving Father and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you as God continues to perfect the good work He has begun in you. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 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 1:2-4).

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Unanswerable Questions

Do your younger children drive you crazy with all their questions each day? With an insatiable desire to know “why,” they ask a barrage of unending questions that homeschooling parents are forced to answer as best they can. Some questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and “Where do babies come from?” might set us back for a few minutes as we think of the best way to answer. But other questions like, “Why did Grandpa die?” and “Why did God let my sister get cancer?” pose a much bigger challenge. Sometimes, questions are simply unanswerable and the “whys” of life’s problems have no answer keys for us to use.

Like little children, countless men and women in the Bible also asked questions when they struggled through the “whys” of life’s difficulties. Job’s life is one such example. After suffering horrific loss of belongings, family, and health, he sat down and asked God “why” in Job 31. God never gave Job an outright answer, but He did counteract Job’s question with a few questions of His own, like “Where were you when I created the world?” Confessing his ignorance in questioning a Holy God, Job reached the point of submissive humility and brokenness. “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not”(Job 42:3).

Are you looking for some answers to the “whys” in your life? Is the pain and suffering that you’re experiencing causing you to wonder, “Where is God, doesn’t He know what is happening to me?” Perhaps God is taking you to a new level of trusting in Him or He is trying to teach you a deeper truth. Either way, God has not left you. He sees your every tear and will deliver you in His time. Will you continue to hope in Him and wait for His answer? “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

Taken from AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Commissioned to Serve

“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44).

 When was your defining moment of deciding to homeschool your children? Mine came one day as I stood over the kitchen sink washing dishes for the fourth time. After running all day to keep up with my preschoolers and the housework, I felt as limp as the dish rag I was holding. I had been thinking about homeschooling, but quite frankly, the thought of being a homeschooling parent for the rest of my life wasn’t too appealing right then. As my children entertained themselves with one of their favorite Christian music tapes, the words to the song they were playing echoed in my thoughts. In that moment, something happened. The Holy Spirit convicted me and said, “Are you willing to be my servant?

“Yes,” I replied.

 “Then teach these children about Me,” He said lovingly.

 “But I don’t know how, God,” I cried.

 “Trust me,” He said in return.

 Throughout my homeschooling experience, no other moment was quite as powerful as that one. Taking God at His word, I began to learn that you can’t be a good homeschooling parent without learning how to be a servant first. God gave me a new love for my children and the wisdom to use my spiritual gifts of teaching, administration, and exhortation to benefit the people I loved most, my family. Although plenty of “rag days” were still to come, I knew I was serving my Lord right where He wanted me to be!

 Learning how to be a servant doesn’t come easy for any of us. Our selfish flesh screams so loudly, “What about me?” Homeschooling may take you to a new dimension of sacrifice, but it will never be as great as Christ’s sacrificial love for you. His death on the cross washed away every mess you will ever make, and He never complained once while doing it. With Jesus as your role model, will you pick up your towel and continue serving the Lord in your homeschool? “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Taken from AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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