It's All Grace

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

Pouting Pains

Rebellion has many faces, and the big pout on my daughter’s face was definitely one of them. With three other children in our homeschool classroom, she didn’t like being the one who had to wait for help with her questions. Watching her body language, I realized there was a much bigger problem waiting to be dealt with than the one in her math lesson.

My daughter’s actions brought back memories of the beginnings of my own rebellious days. What had started as simple, little pouting episodes to get my own way had turned into all-out, get-in-your-face rebellion toward my parents as a teenager. Being the last of seven children, my parents were usually too busy to put out the flames of my sinful rebellion when they erupted. Because these seemingly small pouting sessions were left unchecked, they burned a hole in my character and my life. Many years of pain from getting my own way passed before my heart was humbled before a mighty God.

Have you bought into the world’s lie that you deserve what you want, when you want it? Dear one, don’t go down that path of destruction! Although there may be joy for the moment, pain and suffering will meet you at the end. “An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him” (Proverbs 17:11). Jesus loves you too much to let your pouting spoil things. Trust Him to meet every need you have, and you’ll never get burned again by the world’s empty promises. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).

Jesus, I submit my life to You again this day. Forgive me when I try to take control and fail to trust You. Help me fight off the fiery darts of the devil that tempt me to rebel against Your will. In Your name, Amen.

AOP Homeschooling Devotions

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Our Old Nature

Our old nature is like the pig and the raven, always looking for something unclean on which to feed.

Our new nature is like the sheep and the dove, yearning for that which is clean and holy.  No wonder there are so many struggles in the life of the believer!

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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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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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Living By Faith

What happens when you live by “FAITH”?  Your life is all about the future . . . your theology will be challenged. . . it WILL cost you . . . and God will take you places you’ve never been before!

If you are not willing to suffer, you will never live by faith.  If faith is NOT tested, then how is it faith?  If it was easy, everybody would do it!  However, most of God’s people are content with being comfortable . . . not stepping out and living by faith.

Abraham lived by faith, but he didn’t get to “see” the end results of a life lived by faith.  He never saw the great nation God promised, nor did he see the land.

We are to do what is right, “now” because we are looking and living towards the future, and many generations are coming behind us!  Where do you find yourself today?

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Suffering Shatters!

When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces.  But He doesn’t put us back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves.  Instead He sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project – a mosaic that tells the story of redemption.

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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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Measured Perfectly

God has appointed to each of us a season of adversity. What God allows into your life, He allows At the right time, IN the right measure, FOR the right duration, IN the right amount! You are NOT going through more than you can handle! That is a lie from the enemy! You are still here! You can handle more than you THINK you can handle ONLY with God’s strength!

Just think: What if it is “THIS GENERATION” who is raising the next generation of martyrs? If so, we have a tough job ahead of us that requires staying in the battle, no baling out, if our children are gonna go through greater fires than even those we think are more than we can bare!

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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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