Resolutions

Can you believe that 2010 is nearly upon us? I can hardly believe it has been 10 years ago since the Y2K scare that held us all in suspense as we awaited the “clock rollover.” Would the computers be able to handle it? Would the banking system survive? The Y2K fiasco sounds so crazy now!

 As we approach a New Year, have you begun your New Year’s Resolution list? Or are you like me, not even caring to make a list because you know you will “miss the mark” by February?

 In years past, I have made lists upon lists and failed miserably and for the past 2 years I have refused to even make a list! But this year…well….this year will be different! Yes, I am making ONE New Year’s resolution this year. Why only one? For me, I can only focus on one thing at a time, and as I am successful at this main thing, I can then begin to work on another area of my life.

 As I battled within myself this week, about whether I should even make a New Year’s Resolution, God sent 2 confirmations to me, that Yes I should—and that I should not JUST make a New Year’s Resolution, but also ongoing lifestyle resolutions! The first confirmation came as I listened to a sermon which was an interesting perspective on setting New Year’s Resolutions. The primary text was from James (the pull no punches book!): James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Our ultimate priority in making New Year’s Resolutions is to go to God and His Word. We must HEAR Him speaking to us and DO what He says! Making a New Year’s Resolution is not about me and what I feel I must do to make changes in my life; instead it is about God! What is God calling me to do? What is God laying on my heart, showing me, calling me to walk in? My New Year’s resolution must reflect God’s leading in my life!

The second confirmation came when I took time this morning to look up the meaning of the word “resolution”. I was totally blown away! I always considered resolution as “make a promise to do better”—but was I wrong! Resolution is a much stronger word! The word resolution means a “fixed purpose or determination of mind”. A fixed purpose—when something is fixed it is unmovable. As you consider a New Year’s resolution, are you making the determination that when you set this resolution, that it will come to pass…regardless of what happens? The definition for resolution continues with this profound thought: “the act, operation or process of separating the parts which compose a complex idea; analysis.”
                                                                     

I just love this!! Within the definition of a resolution is the idea of GOAL SETTING! It is not just a “pie in the sky” what I want to change about me….A true resolution includes the ideas of having a vision for change in your life, setting goals and creating action steps to reach that goal. We are to analyze the change and separate the steps to achieve our resolution! Now this kind of resolution is do-able!

How many times have you sent a resolution with absolutely no thought of how to pull it off, except for the vague, “well tomorrow’s the new year, it will just happen”? Ah but this is not what is meant behind a resolution! A resolution is having the end in mind (a vision), setting your heart on it, determining the steps to being successful and then DOING it!

At the beginning of this article, I began with the text James 1:22. Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Have you ever considered that God has a lot to say about setting resolutions? In the Bible, we are called to be like Christ in our attitude (Philippians 2:5), and we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16; 2 Peter 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9 Hebrews 12:14) and within these 2 callings is a multitude of fleshly, sinful desires! I know as I battle each of them myself!  Oh how I praise God for His Word! In His Word, you will find behaviors/attitudes we are called to “put off” and the right behavior God calls us to. (See Colossians 3; Ephesians 4:25-32 and 5:4; 11; 18; Philippians 4:6; Romans 13:12-14) Oh, dear sisters, lest we become overwhelmed with the prospect of so much change—let us not grow weary or burdened…instead let us lift our eyes to the hills from where our help comes from—our help comes from the LORD (Psalm 121:1-2)

Hebrews 4: 15-16 tells us that Jesus (our High Priest) is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and will give us grace and mercy to help us in our struggles (time of need) IF we approach the throne of grace. We simply must ask Him. And when we ask, we must believe that He will hear us and answer! So many times, I have struggled to approach God for help as I *think* that He will not hear me, because He expects me to be holy and perfect…and I am not. Oh, this is not God’s heart. God desires us to seek Him out for strength, help, and the power to overcome our temptations and sin. He knows we are in a daily battle, He knows our weaknesses; He knows we cannot overcome it alone! Listen to the words of Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers (and SISTERS!), I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Oh sisters, we must PRESS on toward the goal. We must seek God for any areas that we are not obeying His call, we must seek God for areas of temptation that we are losing the battle in and we must continually seek Him to remain strong in the battles we are winning (or even have won historically!)

New Year’s resolution? Yes, I have set one. God has shown me what the one area I must work on and that is to seek Him first and not become bogged down with theological arguments and the like, but to keep my focus on Jesus Christ and HIM ALONE. He alone has all the answers I need, He alone is the “Theology” I must learn.

And dear sister, I encourage you to seek God for your new year (and throughout the year!) resolution. What is the one thing you need to work on?  Let your vision and goal be His vision and goal and look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith for the strength, courage and power to succeed in living a godly life for His glory!

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Soul Nourishment

As I have “walked out” God’s gentle drawing of me back to prioritizing our relationship (and not my check list) I have been praying for a fresh hunger and thirst for His presence.

 As I was praying, He brought to mind a tremendous article I read a couple years ago. The article was called “Soul Nourishment First” and was written by George Muller (reprinted in Denny Kenaston’s Remnant Magazine).

In this amazing article, George Muller determined that his primary goal EACH day was to “have my soul happy in the Lord”. A soul happy in the LORD…can you even imagine a greater goal?

George Muller continues, “The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord or how much I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how my inner man might be nourished.”

 As I re-read this article, I was really impressed with my own life and my failure at having my soul happy in God. I was focused (consumed?) with my “check list” quiet time, my    “to do list”; college planning for my oldest  and planning out my son’s high school years…Ah, yes I am  the perfect Martha!

But listen to George Muller’s words, “For I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might seek to benefit believers, I might in other ways behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world, and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in the right spirit.”

 Ouch Hallelujah! How many times can you look back over your homeschool day or even the ministry of motherhood that we are called to, and see that we have attended to our children “not in the right spirit”!

 How often do you respond to your children in the wrong spirit, only to realize that it is because your own relationship with Jesus is malnourished? Yet, according to the writings of George Muller, it is only by nourishing our inner man, meeting with our Lord each day that we have the strength and ability to minister in the right spirit in our families.

 According to George Muller, nourishing our inner man is simply being in the Word of God. He relates,“Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God…but considering it, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

 Is your inner man like mine…desperate and hungry for nourishment—not just any nourishment but the satisfying nourishment available only by His power and grace? 

George Muller outlines a very simple way of reading God’s word with a heart to consider it, ponder it and to apply it. He states, “I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after asking the Lord’s blessing on His precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of public ministry of the Word (our for our children!) not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.  The result I have found…after a few minutes, my soul has been led to confession or to thanksgiving or to supplication; so that though I did not as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.”

 I have made a 30 day commitment to meditate on God’s word in the manner of George Muller, outlined here—and if you are interested in joining me on this 30 day adventure—leave a comment, stating your intent. Let us hold one another accountable to be meditating, pondering and applying the Word of God, every day for 30 days!

 I am excited to see to see the results George Muller writes of: “How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in morning, form what it is when without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one.” 

I would LOVE for you to share your insights over the next 30 days as you meditate on God’s word. I will also plan on sharing the things the LORD is showing me!

Spiritual Disciplines

When you hear the words “Spiritual Disciplines”what is your gut reaction?

Do you want to hide your head in shame, because you know what you should be doing and once again you are reminded of what a tremendous failure you are? I know for me, I quickly hand my head  because I  know exactly what I should do, yet fail so miserably.

Let us be honest…for most of us, Spiritual disciplines are something we know we SHOULD do, and yes, most of us probably have a deep desire to do them…yet, we fail. Am I the only one who finds it is easy to get distracted, weary or even some days just be too lazy to do them as I imagine they should be done?
I once heard Bruce Wilkinson (Secrets of the Vine) make a statement that radically transformed how I view my devotional time. After challenging his veiwers to  develop a life long habit of devotions, he stated, “Devotions are NOT something you do. We are to be devoted to a person, to a relationship”

 
Devotions are not something we do…yet, it is frequently HOW we define our Christian walk. I found myself thinking about the innumerable  times  that I have become wrapped up in my “to do list” or with my Quiet time “check list”.

 But devotion is so much more than that! Devotions are not simply a check list of the super spiritual threes….You know, the 3 things we believe that all good Christians do everyday.

–sing a hymn/worship song

–pray

–read my Bible

Please hear my heart!! I am NOT saying these things are wrong. In fact, these are very good things—and we can grow more devoted and in love with our God through them. However, they are not devotion.

 
According to the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, devotion means to give up wholly, to direct attention to completely and wholly and to (I just LOVE this!) be addicted to!

What are you addicted to? What do you give your attention to?

I have heard it said that you can tell what or who you truly love by examining your check book. Where is your money going? We spend our money on that which we are truly committed and devoted to.

What about your time? What are you spending your time on? I believe that for many of us single income families, our time is as much if not more valuable to us as money. For this scenario, I am assuming that your check book is reflecting the basic necessities with little left over for frivolous spending….so lets look at your time. Time is a valuable commodity to many of us. What are you spending your time on? Do you waste hours surfing the web? Are you spending too much time in the kitchen (the Martha syndrome)? Could you honestly say that when you look at the 24 hours God has given to you, that they reflect a heart and life that is devoted, committed, ADDICTED to Him?
For me, I quickly say, “Absolutely! I live my life in obedience to Him…look at me, I have given up______ to homeschool my children”…ah, but the heart, the heart is so very deceitful (Jer. 17:9)…

As I allow Holy Spirit to examine my heart (Psalm 139:23-24), He quickly brings to mind, the many, many ways, that I allow other things to take the place of devotion in my life that He desires and deserves!

Oh beloved, my way we all live a life of devotion! God calls us to BE devoted and not to DO devotions. Although, to be honest, “doing” devotions is often far easier than BEING devoted! As I looked to the Bible for references on devotion, I found that repeatedly the various Greek words of the New Testament that had been translated “devotion” contained similar messages. In the Colossians 4:2 “Be devoted to prayer”, the word translated devoted actually means to endure, to continue, to tarry, to cleave faithfully to someone” and in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve 2 masters….for he will be devoted to one and despise the other” (ESV), devoted is a different Greek word that means, ‘to cleave, hold firmly to”.

As you consider and meditate on God’s original intent for “devotions”, you find it is a far different idea than what we are so apt to call devotions! God’s word shows us that devotion is so much more than checking off time spent in prayer, Bible study and worship.

Devotion is truly a LIFE committed, a LIFE addicted, a LIFE faithfully enduring…a LIFE holding onto HIM! As I read these words, I very much got the picture that God knew devotion to Him would not always be easy…He knew we would have to make a real effort to continue with Him every hour of every day. He knew that we would have times of trials that would make it difficult to continue to cleave faithfully to Him. But a life that is devoted to God is a life, which knows these trials come, still chose to continue with Him, enduring to the end. May God bless each of us with His enduring, staying power—no matter what comes our way!

 

“Grant that it may not be in the power of any to rob of the pain that results from a firm trust in Thee. Whatever crosses or troubles are met without, may all be well within” Susanna Wesley

A Thanksgiving Prayer…

This morning, I asked myself, for what am I most thankful? There are many things that I am thankful for and about this year, but for what am I MOST Thankful for? Not an easy question to answer! The more I considered all the things I am thankful for, I found myself revisiting my relationship with the LORD. I can honestly say my relationship with Jesus is the ONE thing I am most thankful for. I did not “meet” the LORD till my adult years (you can read a brief testimony here) and to be honest, my relationship with the LORD has not always been a comfortable one…nor has it always made me “happy”. Instead, it has shaped me into the woman HE created me to be…and that alone brings joy and peace into my life…
Several years ago, I read this poem..and I must confess it is a beautiful summary of my relationship with Jesus –I am among women richly blessed!

The Prayer of the Unknown Confederate Soldier

  I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for-but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I among all men, am most richly blessed.

The Word of God

 

 How do you view the Word of God? Is it something that is read on Sunday morning’s and then is remanded to a shelf until the next Sunday? Is it something that is read a couple times of week, and as you read it, you think “WOW, that’s good!” but then it just becomes another piece of “useless” information that floats around in your brain, so that on the next Jeopardy show, you know answers to questions in the “B.C. Women” category? Or do you find that the word of God vital to your daily walk? Is it a lamp to your feet and a light to your path? Do you rejoice in His word, gain strength from His word and live according to His word?

Have you ever considered the  Word of God to be  THE guide in your life? Jack Hayford writes, in the Spirit Filled Bible, “We are all inexperienced in too much of life to be without a guide. God’s word is that guide. The whole of Psalm 119 unfolds manifold features of God’s word, showing how dynamically it will assist us in life’s most practical circumstances. But no single verse focuses this more than verse 105, which shows us how God’s word lights the way, giving direction for each step (”to my feet”) and wisdom for the long range plans (”to my path”)…Proverbs 6:23 reminds us that the “reproofs” or corrections the Bible gives are as much a part of the light it provides as any positive or confirming direction we find therein. Let God’s word guide, correct, instruct, lead, teach and confirm. Do not hasten ahead without it –ever.”

 Let’s pray— O’ Lord, we praise You and thank You for giving us Your Word, speak to us today through Your word, give us insight and wisdom. Put Your Word in our hearts that we may apply it to our lives.

In  Psalm 119:105, we read, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”

 Oh beloved, is God’s word truly a lamp to your feet?   Does it provide light to your path?

Thomas Manton, is quoted in the Spurgeon’s Treasury of David  as saying, “the word path notes our general choice and course of life and feet our particular actions” and in the words of Jack Hayford, His light is to “give direction for each step (”to my feet”) and wisdom for the long range plans (”to my path”)”

Is the word of God an active participant in your daily choices and in your long term goals and plans?  Do you find answers to guide you in your decisions? Have you ever been in a situation that you did not know how to react or respond? You prayed for guidance and then during your Bible reading time, you read something that was the ANSWER you had been praying for? Oh beloved, HE is that interested in our lives! He has done this many times for me and my family…Our God cares about the smallest detail of our lives, and His word will give us the guidance we need to make decisions…large or small! God has given us His Word, that we may know His ways…His heart…His plans for our lives. Through His word we are given commands, instructions, wisdom and so much more! We have the testimonies of those who have gone before us that can shed light on situations we face today! His Word is complete, lacking nothing and available for our benefit!

 C.H. Spurgeon writes, “We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word, lest we slip with our feet. Each man should use the word of God personally, practically, and habitually, that he may see his way and what lies in it…. Happy is the man who personally appropriates God’s word and practically uses it as his comfort and counselor—a lamp to his own feet.” It is a lamp by night and a light by day and a delight at all times! He who walks in darkness is sure, sooner or later, to stumble; while he who walks by the light of day or lamp of night stumbleth not, but keeps his uprightness. Ignorance is painful upon practical subjects, it breeds indecision and suspense and these are uncomfortable: the word of God, by imparting heavenly knowledge leads to decision and what is followed by determined resolution, as in this case, it bring with it great restfulness of heart.”

Wow! Did you catch all the wisdom here? God’s word is to be used personally, practically and habitually! His word gives us the ability to wisely make decision which will give us peace and “restfulness of heart” in those decisions! I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE the idea of having a restful heart!! Amen! Oh dear sister, Spend time in His Word. Learn of Him through His Word. Let it guide your path, the Light of your step and allow it to bring you a restful heart in the midst of your homeschool day!!

 ( copyright 2007 excerpt from Treasure’s of Psalm 119: A Bible Study for the Heart of a Woman)

Today I choose…

As we begin entering the hectic holiday season, I wanted to share something I read several years ago. May it encourage you as it has me, to keep my focus aright.

 

Today I choose……..

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming. In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. THe calm of the solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace fo the human race. The refuge of the the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next 12 hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose—-

I choose love……..
No occassion justifies hatred; no injustice warrents bitterness. I will choose to show love to my children in every circumstance, at every moment.
Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy……….
I will invite my God to be the God of my circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anythihng less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God. I will choose to be joyful in my home.

I choose peace…
I will choose to create peace within my home. I will choose to maintain peaceful relationships with my husband and my children.
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience….
I will choose to be patient as my child struggles with phonics or Algebra. I will choose to be patient with my husband as he “works through” the difficult situation he is facing.
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I will invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fists at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness……
I will be kind to the poor, for they area alone. I will be kind to the rich for they are afraid. I will choose to be kind to my children. And kind to the unkind for that is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness….
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I boast. I will confess before I accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness….
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My husband will not question my love. My children will not question my love for them.

I choose gentleness…
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice to my children may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self control…
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will “binge” only on the Words of God.  I will taught only by Christ. I choose self control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness,gentleness and self control. To these I commit my day.

If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Homeschooling and LOVING it!

Homeschooling and Loving It! is an awesome book that helps YOU to create a plan for homeschooling your children based upon their individual needs and interests. And for a limited time, this book is available for FREE from the author (you simply pay shipping)

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Also be sure to check out the other great articles and homeschool helps available at homeschool.com