It's All Grace

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

99 Sheep or ONE?

In the story of the 99 sheep and one who left the flock, could it be that because God says to leave the 99 to go find the one, is because the 99 have been born again, and the ONE is lost?

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It’s almost odd to think we’d risk losing a whole flock of sheep just to find one who doesn’t want to stay.  Seeing it from that angle, changes things!  Do we care more about our lives, than we do souls?

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What Are You Housing?

THE wagon

God loves Roy Ratliff!  I love sharing our lives with you and all that the Lord allows us to be a part of.

One afternoon, as we passed Texanna Rd Fire Department, the kids yelled, “hey look!”  They saw something that DID NOT look like modern transportation!  A wagon with horses and a bearded man unharnessing his horses.  They wanted to stop and see, but I was on a mission to get Olivia to her piano lesson, while dropping Brady off at the ranch with dad on the way.

Barry and Brady drove back by the fire department on the way home and saw the wagon and horses, turned around and stopped to visit with the man for about an hour and took the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ.  His name was Roy and had been traveling this way for about the last 10 years and gone through 5 teams of horses exclaiming, “JUST CUZ he wanted to!

“Roy’s Stage Lines” houses a team of horses, 2 chickens, 1 dog, a solar panel for electricity, small flat screen tv, a laptop, a sock hanging on the wall to hold his “mouse”, 3 large barrels on the roof to hold his water, outdoor shower and an old seat bolted in the front for driving the team!  He explained to my husband as he opened up one of the feed drawers underneath, that about a week prior, one of his chickens were inside feasting, and much to his surprise, the opening of the drawer cut off the chickens head!  Oops!  The rear view of the wagon displayed approx 10-12 car tags.  Olivia noticed a sign on the front of the wagon that said, “redneck wind sock” that was screwed to an old white sock.  What a unique collection for all to SEE!

I had to ask myself, that just as this mans wagon was his home and a picture of what was important to him, how much more does what I possess, how I chose to live my life and what I allow others to SEE, affect the Kingdom of God?

During my family’s visit with Roy, he said he wasn’t a “religious” man, just an old country boy that doesn’t know nothing! Barry shared his testimony, his life and about his dads salvation (who was just another old country boy who didn’t “know nothing”), etc. and left him with information to seek out the scriptures.  Roy DID SAY that he had a Bible he reads every night!

The next morning we were headed out to a funeral and the kids wanted to stop and say “good-bye”.  Roy gave the kids a shirt and a cap with his name on it!

I just LOVE the things God allows into our lives for HIS GOOD PLEASURE!

Please pray for Roy Ratliff and his salvation, as God loves him too!

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Why is Grace so Amazing?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ—by grace ye are saved—and hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.   —Ephesians 2:4-9

While all believers have a God-given measure of faith (Romans 12:3), what saves us is the work God’s grace accomplished in Jesus Christ.  No matter how big or small our faith, it could not be effective if God wasn’t graciously willing to save us.  We are saved by grace—through our faith in Christ.

G – God’s

– Riches

A – At

C – Christ’s

E – Expense

Scripture drives home the point: not a result of works, so that no one may boast. If it’s all God’s work by God’s grace, there’s no room to claim we contributed ANYTHING to our salvation.  Grace saving us through faith means we stop working to try to save ourselves!

Grace is unmerited favor.  It is in no way a result of your performance, your attitude, your victories, or your defeats.  Why is the fact that it is undeserved important?  If you had to earn it, you could lose it—or more likely, you would never get it in the first place.  If somehow you received salvation because of what you did, it wouldn’t be grace.  It would be wages or reward.

One of the ways we show the world how God’s grace is amazing is by living out that grace, as well as returning it to others.  We fall.  We get up.  We fall.  We get up.  Why do we get up again?  Because His grace allows us to endure.  His grace makes His strength available to us.  His grace will be sufficient no matter what we meet each day.

Whether you have been living in victory or defeat, if you are in Christ, God has graciously set His love upon you.  And that is truly amazing!

God’s grace is like an ambulance.  That ambulance does not arrive at your address, unless you have first humbled yourself acknowledging your need for help and assistance.  God gives grace to the humble.  (James 4:6)

** If you had to describe your own experience of God’s grace, where would you start?

When we realize just how much grace HE has poured out on our lives, we are humbled.

Lord, Your grace is amazing to me because the more I understand what You have done for me, apart from anything I could have ever done, the more I am convinced of my own helplessness.  Thank You that though I was lost, You came and found me.  I was sold into sin, but You bought me back.  I was a determined rebel, but You won me over.  This was all You.  I’m looking forward to an eternity of appreciating just how amazing Your grace has been toward me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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It’s the End that Counts!

This devotion is TOO GOOD and too true not to share.  God said HIS word will divide (Matthew 10:34-39) and cut like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 12:4) , cutting as it goes in and comes out.  We are seeing many “fall away” from the truth and it saddens me, as there are many who will claim the name of Christ, yet HE does not KNOW them (Matthew 7:21-23).  The end is nearer than it’s ever been.  Praying that you continue to run the race AND finish well – enduring to the end!

“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” 
—Mark 13:10-13

This passage presents Jesus’ realistic appraisal of how things will unfold on earth as the end approaches. Not only will the gospel be proclaimed to all nations, but those who proclaim it will also bear the cost. Some will be brought to trial, some betrayed by siblings, parents and children, and some will give their lives. Those associated with Jesus’ name will be hated by all. Then He adds, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Jesus’ closing thought ought to concern you. He was stating a condition to salvation that is both easy to miss and easy to misunderstand.

Here’s the part we miss: He who endures “to the end will be saved”—not the one who starts well, but the one who finishes well.  Although the context indicates that Jesus was speaking about the close of history, His words also apply to the course of our lives. Unless Christ returns during our lifetime, you and I will have a final breath. The point isn’t when, but how we will get to the end of life. Will we cross the finish line enduring or not?

And here’s the part that is easy to misunderstand: Jesus is not saying you are saved by enduring. He is saying that those who are truly saved do endure.

This is reinforced in 1 John 2:19, as the apostle John writes of those who claimed to be believers, but who didn’t endure and didn’t persevere. John said, “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had of been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us so that it might be manifested that they were in fact never really of us.” 

That’s not talking about local church membership. John was not describing people who leave a church; he was talking about people who leave the Church—people who depart from faith in Christ. People who backslide and never return make it very clear they never really had saving faith.

The longer you follow Christ, the clearer you can see how easy it is to pray a prayer of confession, to walk an aisle, or to confess faith in Christ in a safe and loving environment. But the steps of Jesus don’t take us the easy way; they take us the way of endurance. It takes perseverance to keep on following Christ—even when it’s hard, when the pressure is on.

He who endures to the end will be saved. Let Jesus’ words guide you as you examine yourself. Do you see evidence of your salvation? Then you can rest and rejoice, because when you are truly saved, God will give you everything you need to endure—to the very end.

Taken from Pastor James MacDonald

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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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Will You Falter?

Tribulation can take you by storm, fast and furious, altering life forever. Or a trial can stretch over months, or years, or in some instances, decades.  A trial can be small and irritating or huge and shattering.  The one thing we know for sure about trials is everyone experiences them. In fact, if you’re one of God’s children, you’re probably going through a trial right now.

And God says, “I love you, so I’m putting you through what will bring the best out of you.”

Small problems seem big to us, but we’re not God.  He is completely aware of all you face and every situation in which you find yourself.  God allows you to go through a trial to change you and to bring glory to Himself.  It’s not going to go on forever.  It’s not going to get too deep.  It’s not going to get too hot.  So you need not falter.  God is watching—and that is an exceedingly great and precious promise!

When He saved us, He started the process and He will continue until the day we die. Salvation is just the beginning.  Trials mean God is working on you.  When His work’s done, it’s heaven for you!

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My Personal Testimony

I’ve been redeemed from the rubble!

I grew up in a Nazarene church and a religious home with wonderful parents who were “good” people and demonstrated a love for each other and us 3 girls.  We had a large family Bible, but I didn’t have a Bible of my own.  My parents would read us stories from the Bible, but didn’t elaborate, “teaching us” what the Bible said to do and not to do – how to live our lives and crucify our flesh.  Maybe they believed some of the same lies that many parents today believe:  That it’s the churches’ responsibility to teach their children, or that we were just “good kids”.   I’ve recently learned after 26 years of being a mom, that if you’ve missed your children’s heart, you’ve missed it all.

At 12 years old I made a profession of faith at church camp after seeing a movie called, “A Thief in the Night”.  I spent a lot of (17) years living in fear of being left behind and knowing that God, heaven and hell was very real.

At age 29, I was invited to a Christian Concert at Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma, where Al Denson spoke and sang – as The Lord was speaking to my heart and drawing me to Himself.  Al shared a personal heart wrenching story of losing his best friend (who he’d spent years witnessing to) in an airplane crash.

The airplane had lost one of the twin engines and as the airplane was descending rapidly, Al made one last attempt to lead his friend to Christ, to which he denied for the last time!  His friend died and Al was in a coma for over a month.  When Al recovered from the coma, he wrote a song called “Do You Know This Man?”.  He told the story behind the song, set the stage, then sang it.  Afterwards, he asked the congregation, “If you knew you only had 60 seconds left to live, do you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW, in your heart, that you would go to heaven?”  I DID NOT!  I felt like I had a bowling ball in my throat.  I (literally) RAN to the altar weeping and asking The Lord to save me because I knew I was headed to hell and needed a Saviour!  I got up from that altar feeling as if I’d lost 500 pounds!  That day, HE set my feet on a path, burned a desire DEEP within my heart to know Him and to know truth.  I knew that moment, my life radically changed and I was definitely a new creature!  I was so excited about what had happened to me and IN me!

January 14, 1996 I GAVE MY LIFE to Christ asking Him to be my Lord and Saviour.  I had made a mess of the last 29 years, and HE has spent the next 17 years cleaning me up, teaching me HIS ways, HIS character, HIS voice, HIS grace, HIS love and mercy, HIS long suffering, HIS healing power, and HIS redemptive plan for each one of us.  He is now teaching me things that I was not willing to learn before.  I will never be the same.  Praise The Lord!

On this journey, God has given me a heart for “women whose hearts are hurting” and burdened me to teach the younger girls how to stay on the right path – the way of The Lord, so that they can NEVER say, “no one told me”.  I want to be a voice of truth, making disciples who will carry the torch into the future.  I heard it once said, “Our children are a piece of time, that we will send ahead to a place in time that we will never see.”  So, we must teach and share all that we know with a fervency.  I know it was my past, and God’s spirit, that has given me a passion to share what I know and have learned through His Word and His ways.

In September 2002, I had been invited by a friend to attend a Precept Bible Study at First Southern Baptist in Del City, Oklahoma.  We studied Precept Upon Precept, the book of Deuteronomy!  I began to enjoy and understand God’s Word.  It was not only real to me but precious.  I couldn’t get enough of it!  I would find myself sitting for 2 and 3 hours in the mornings, studying and not wanting to put it away.  The Bible began to come to life for me in a way I’d never seen it.  God’s timing in my life had always been perfect, as it was during this time in my life when I had 2 teenagers leave home (in rebellion) within 6 months of each other.  It felt as if someone was driving a stake through my heart.  Yet it was in those days, I sensed God’s presence and drew near to HIM.

God was teaching me (in Deuteronomy) the blessings of obedience vs. disobedience, to “do just as I commanded, don’t veer to the left and don’t veer to the right, but do just as I commanded”.  God taught me to focus on HIM and do what is right, what HE had called me to do, NOT what my kids desired.  It was one of the most difficult moments in my life as a mother, yet looking back it was one of the most intimate times in my life with The Lord, because I began to see HIS character and trust HIS hand, even when what I was experiencing was disastrous and heartbreaking to lose two children to the world!  He began to show me that HE had a will for them apart from me, and that although I had lost them, HE knew right where they were.

If there is ONE thing I have come to know since my salvation, it is that HE is always there and can be trusted as you walk through the fires!

The Lord has given me this blog to share truth with others, be a light, sharing lessons learned as well as paths to be avoided.  I am grateful to God, for the grace HE has poured upon me.  That grace is there for you as well.  All you have to do is ask for it, surrendering your ways, letting HIM lead your life.

He can do a lot more with what you don’t have, than you can do with what you do have!

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Nag . . . Nag . . . Nag

As a woman, are you a living testimony or a living nag?  Many times we “nag” and believe we are just repeatedly “asking”.

God created men and women “not wrong but different”.  Different in the ways we perceive what is being said, as well as hundreds of other ways we are different.

How many things around the house would get done if we only asked once and not 5 or 6 times?  How many men would have come to Christ had they not been nagged?  Nagging is NOT a spiritual gift. OUCH!

Inviting them to church instead of nagging them has a much greater success rate.  My husband has a pasture full of nags – he doesn’t need one at home!

May you be challenged today each time you open your mouth to your husband.

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