Friday, January 14, 2011

Holding On

A lost home, no money to pay for rent, moving again and now theft to our car which will make the coming days ahead even more difficult, painful and laborious.  I could cry because of our afflictions, argue with God, doubt where He is taking us or be still and know that He is God.  So, I choose Christ today and what He has planned for our lives.  His presence is all around me.  I can feel His long flowing robe move past me.  I look for Him.  I seek Him.  I cling to Him.  When the waters are deep and the waves are crashing in, I rest in His promises.  I have no other choice but to do those things, well, actually that’s not quite true.  I do have another choice, a choice that the enemy would be so happy for me to make because I know I am making his job difficult.  I could choose to leave Jesus Christ and walk away from the faith because life has just gotten too hard….well, from one determined and tenacious soul, that’s not gonna happen!  I believe in Him.  I believe in His promises.  I believe He will not leave me.  I believe He will carry me when I need to be carried.  I could cling to the things of this world and become discouraged in the process or I can lift up my face to Him. There is a fire that burns down deep inside of my heart knowing that I will live for Him and Him alone.  Without Christ, I do not exist.  I have been made with one purpose, and one purpose only, and that purpose is to bring Him glory.  Period!  There is a purpose for all my pain.  There is a purpose for all of your pain too.  Let Him mold you into His image.  Let Him draw you closer to Him.  Let Him use you even in the midst of your storms because that is when His glory is revealed the most.  Regardless of the damage the enemy is trying to do in your life and mine, our God is greater.  Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  John 10:10   The prince of this world desires to rip apart our lives. He wants to destroy our plans and dreams that we have for ourselves and our families.   Perhaps they weren’t great plans and dreams to begin with because God’s plans for us are to give us a future and a hope.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 This is a promise we can rest on.  Our Creator can create much more greatness than what we could ever imagine!  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  Ephesians 3:20,21  GOD IS SOVEREIGN, we are not!  Even when I am falling apart and my world is crashing in, I want to bring Him glory.  So, I am holding on to Him because that is the best place on earth to be!  Will you hold on to Him as well? 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Have You Been Despised and Rejected?

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, the King of Kings and the Almighty God- "He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him."  Isaiah 53:3   Jesus is Perfect and yet He is rejected.

As I type this verse I can not help but feel pain in my heart for what our precious Savior endured while He walked on the earth and even still today as He is seated on the Throne in heaven.  He came just for our benefit, yet, what He encountered was rejection, sorrow and grief.  He had a longing to have fellowship with His creation, yet, they despised Him.  Do you ever feel like that by others?  Times when you have gone into a situation to have fellowship or to minister to others and they have rejected you and some have even despised you for it?  I know I have, in fact, I think 'rejected' could be added to my middle name because it has been a common theme for my life.  There have been times when I purposefully went into a situation to minister to someone, yet, they rejected me. Along with their rejection came my tears and my heartache and my questions to God.

Perhaps you have experienced an ache in your heart because you have been rejected by your spouse, family member, friend, coworker or neighbor.  Because of this, you have become acquainted with grief just like Jesus. We can't help but ask ourselves what have we done to cause the rejection.

Jesus was blameless and yet he was still despised, but we are not always blameless when someone rejects us. Sometimes we do offend others and they lash out at us for good reasons, yet, other times our heart and motives are pure but others still reject us for the choices we make for our families or the things we do or the convictions that we have or for the God we serve.
We may be despised by many, but never by Jesus because He will ALWAYS love us.  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"  Romans 8:35

The sting of rejection never feels good whether we have experienced it for the first time or the 100th time.  Try to find joy as you cling to this scripture. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 5:10  This has become the verse that I hold on to when I am not received by others.

Although we would all like to be loved and received by many that will not always the case.  However, you and I are loved by the ONE that matters the most.  "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9
Jesus has called us out of darkness so praise His name for this even while you are being rejected and despised.  Remember, you may be persecuted, by you are not forsaken!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Run to Obtain an Imperishable Crown

Overachievement and perfection, accompanied with doubt and fear. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as we homeschool our children. Looking back over your year, you will most likely ask yourself if you did enough. Did I teach my child enough math facts? Are my children becoming better readers and writers? What about science and social studies, did we do enough experiments and read an assortment of books? It is very natural and expected to assess how your year has gone. For the most part, this is a very healthy thing to do.  But sometimes we do it with the wrong perspective or our priorities are out of order and our assessment becomes inaccurate, and when that happens it is very common to feel defeated in our journey.  We often hear the saying, “Put first things first”. So, if you were to assess your year, what were your priorities and what did you put first? Did you place a higher emphasis on teaching your child her multiplication facts over training a rebellious heart?  Or did you work more on shaping your child’s heart towards Christ rather than writing. Perhaps your answer is both. But realistically, you know in your heart that you placed a heavier emphasis on one over the other. I know for myself that when my priorities change I find myself rushing through devotions and Bible reading so I can get to the ‘so called’ more important subjects. Although that is not my heart, it is how I have been conditioned by ‘the world’.  Yes, we want our children equipped so they can build the Kingdom of God and we want them to thrive in life, but there is always a cost to consider. “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6 It is a constant battle of our mind to continue to pursue Christ and His ways BEFORE all other things. We need to always remember what the Bible says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 In this verse, “all these things” refers to our basic necessities of life; food and clothing. Earlier in this passage Jesus said, “these are the things that the Gentiles seek after” and he rebukes his disciples as he tells them that “their Heavenly Father knows that they need all these things.” Will this passage still apply to our children when they are grown? Of course it will! However, it is very easy today in our society to get caught up in the ways of the Gentiles, but that is not how we would think or even speak to others as we purpose to educate our children.  In our minds we are educating them so they could further the kingdom of God and also so they could provide for their families. Our intentions are good and honorable, but God does not require your children to have minds filled with a bunch of knowledge, He is seeking men and women who have a heart after Him, like David. 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'Acts 13:22 The Bible does not state that David was an educated man like Paul, so it is safe to assume that he was not. What the Bible does say about David is that he was a shepherd who tended and protected his flock of sheep from lions and bears; he had boldness as he approached the king, along with courage and faith as a young boy when he fought the giant, Goliath; and he was a servant as he played his harp to King Saul. This was David’s resume before he became the King of Israel! When you read Paul’s resume, most assuredly according to the world’s standards you would be impressed by it, Paul himself said, in Philippians 3:4 that “he was a man who had confidence in his flesh”, he goes on to say, ”But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Philippians 3:7 When you get to the end of Paul’s list of achievements, this is what he had to say about it, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8  Paul knew what mattered most in his life. He spoke with authority about worthless pursuits.  Don’t lose heart or become discouraged if you feel that your children are not measuring up. Are your goals unrealistic or are your standards too high? Perhaps your children are excelling academically but your home life is a mess and you are losing your mind because of all the pressure you put upon yourself. Keep in mind the race that you are running. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 As hard as this journey may be at times, be encouraged to know that you are running to obtain an imperishable crown, one with an eternal purpose. Your children will reflect the things that you pour into them so make sure that the things you pursue will last forever. God does not require your children to have a college degree in order to use them, but what He does require is their heart!