Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are You Strong?

Today, the verse that stood out to me during my devotions was Ephesians 6:10 which says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." I am not a strong person...not physically anyway. I guess that's why I like this verse so much. It's a great reminder of HOW I can be strong. It doesn't matter what comes my way, I can be strong IN THE LORD. When I am faced with a crisis or situation that I feel I can't handle, I can give it to the Lord. By admitting I can't do something, you may be thinking that I'm just admitting that I'm weak. You are right, and that's exactly what God wants and needs us to do! To be truly strong in the Lord means we have to admit we are weak so that we can see how strong God can make us. He will give us what we need to handle everything that comes our way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rely on God to Meet Your Needs

This morning, I read John 15:1-8 in my devotions. It is the passage where Jesus is saying He is the vine and we are the branches. Verse 4 includes the words "No branch can bear fruit by itself." At the end of verse 5, I read these words "apart from me you can do nothing." I will admit that the first thought that popped into my head as I was reading those words in those two verses was "What about these people who aren't Christians, but they never have to worry about money. That doesn't seem like they have done nothing to me!" I was almost shocked by that thought coming to my mind, but I realized that it has been very hard financially and all the things that have gone wrong with our house lately have just amplified our financial worries.

Then I read verse 7 : "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." I immediately heard God's quiet words saying "Yes, there are non-Christians who are successful and don't have to worry so much about money; but they don't know that they can come and talk directly to me about anything. You know that you can ask me anything, and I WILL do it. I know what you need. I want to give it to you. Just ask." Just writing those words right now brought tears to my eyes again. I have a God whose resources are limitless. Why would I put Him in a box and think that He can't help me with something?

Yes, we chose for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it can be very hard to make ends meet financially because of that choice. Does God care that we have financial difficulties as a result of that decision? YES! I fully believe HE led us to make the decision for me to stay at home. He has been faithful over the last 11 years to supply our needs. Yes, it has been hard and we have done without some things over the years, but God has always been there to help us pay our bills on time and meet other needs we may have had. Were those needs always met in our timing? No.

We were a one car family for two years. It was hard, but we were able to make it work. God eventually rewarded us for being faithful and trusting Him and provided us with a car....for FREE! Our church had a Family Fun Day and one of the things there was a raffle for a used car that a church member had donated. A couple of ladies from the church knew we only had one car, so they decided to buy some raffle tickets because they had decided they would give us the car if they won. When I heard about it, I cried because I was so touched that they would have even thought to do something like that. The next morning at church, one of the ladies walked up to me and asked "I won the car. Would you like it? I want to give it to you." I could barely speak. I think I said "Are you sure?" and she said yes. So I nodded yes, and then had to go up on stage to sing since I was on worship team that morning. One of my friends who I sing with saw my face and asked if I was OK. I told her what had just happened and she hugged me and we both cried at how God had provided for my family. God met our needs in a way we never would have expected.

That's just one way God has met our needs. So again I need to ask myself, "Why do I try to handle things on my own? Do I think God can't meet me needs? Do I think He doesn't care about even the smallest details of my life, even though He has proven time and time again that He does care about everything that happens to me?" Yes, God does care. Yes, we need to be dependent on Him because He wants to meet our needs. We just need to bring those needs and requests to Him, and then believe that He will answer us. Don't put God in a box! He can handle anything you bring to Him. Don't try to limit Him by thinking He can't or won't help you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Needed: Attitude Adjustment

This morning the verse that jumped out at me while I was reading my devotions was Philippians 2:5. It says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." When I read that this morning, I simply said "OUCH!" Is my attitude always the same as Jesus'? No! It can be very easy to come up with "reasons" that seem to "justify" why my attitude was not what it should have been; but when you come right down to it, there is simply no excuse why I allow my attitude to not be the same as what Christ would have had in that same situation.

I know God is working on my attitude. It is HARD to homeschool or cyber school as I do. I have an extremely strong-willed child who simply does not want to listen to what I say. She wants to do things HER way, even if that means doing school for 12 hours and redoing an assignment two or even three times. On those long, stress-filled days, do I display an attitude that Jesus would? Sadly, my answer has to be no. To anyone else, I could say "Hey! I'm human!" or "She didn't listen to me so she deserved to be punished!". As true as both of those "excuses" are, the fact remains that my attitude at the time should be the same as that of Christ's. He would have shown LOVE first. Yes, it does say in the Bible to "spare the rod and spoil the child" so I do believe in spanking or disciplining when my children disobey and I do not believe there is anything wrong with that. My attitude, however, is what needs to be correct before AND during the issuing of any form of discipline.

I really needed this verse this morning because just an hour later, my daughter needed some correcting. She shot a rubber band at her brother, but it missed him and came within millimeters of hitting me in the face. I knew she was in the kitchen and that the rubber band had come from that area, so I simply said "Sarah, what are you doing?!" Her reply, "I'm washing the dishes". Yes, she is VERY good at finding a way of answering in such a way that it technically is the truth, but she also knows exactly what I am asking and chooses to "lie" by not giving the answer she knows I want. I called her on it and she finally admitted that she had shot the rubber band because her brother had shot one at her first. She started to get defensive like she always does during our conversation and this verse popped into my mind. I was able to remember the reference and verse verbatim (something I can't usually do!) so I told her what I read and then simply asked "Is your attitude the same as that of Jesus? Would Jesus act the way you are?" She lowered her head and simply said "No." WOW! I think this verse is definitely going to be a key verse for us in the next few weeks and months. I'm going to write it on an index card and stick it to the wall next to where she does school. Whenever her attitude starts to turn ugly, I'll simply ask her to read the verse and then ask "Is your attitude the same as that of Jesus? Would He act the way you are?" It will also be a great reminder for ME as well.

Are you in need of an attitude adjustment as well? Maybe you have a child who needs one as well. I think this would be a GREAT verse for both of you to memorize and meditate on. I know it won't be easy, but I know God wants us to have the same attitude as that of Jesus. I also know that He will give us all the strength we need to adjust our attitudes so that they do become the same as His.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do I Make God Proud?

Philippians 1:27a says, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." My first thought when I read that this morning was "WOW! That is NOT easy to do all the time!" First, I thought of times when I am frustrated with the kids for disobeying me for the millionth time. Do I respond in a way that makes God proud? What about when the neighbor is doing stuff just to tick us off? Are our actions and/or words making God proud? Does the way I respond in every situation point people to God? Do I make others want to know God and have a personal relationship with him, or am I turning them away from Him because of how I handle myself when things are going badly? It's easier to conduct ourselves in a manner that makes God proud when things are going smoothly for us, but I want to make Him proud ALL the time! I have a wonderful earthly father, and I know it makes ME feel proud when I know I made him proud. How much more should I want to make my heavenly Father proud?! That is what I want to strive for! I want to make God proud in each and every situation. I want to conduct myself in a manner worthy of Him, and in a way that gives Christians a good name! Are you making God proud?

Friday, October 8, 2010

God is Good...ALL the Time

I almost had to laugh when the title I chose for this note popped into my head, but it fits so well in spite of all we are going through right now that I just had to use it. I'm sure God is the one who put that "title" in my head anyway, so I might as well listen to Him since He's been talking to me a lot lately through the scriptures.

I almost have to start this from a few months ago. We had had a lot of rain during the day and into the night. When my husband woke up at 2:00 am to get ready for work, he discovered his work clothes that hang in the bathroom closet were all wet. He realized that we must have a leak in our roof, which we were definitely NOT expecting since we had put a new roof on our house just a few years ago. We put plastic down on the floor and placed buckets where the water was coming in at. The man who had done our roof came over and told us he strongly suspected the leak was coming from the one skylight (we have two, one on each side of the roof). Oddly enough, it was the skylight on the other side of the roof that caused us to put a new roof on! He put more caulk around the window, but he said he wasn't sure if that would help. He said if it continued to leak, we'd either need to replace the skylights with better ones or just have them removed and fix the roof. We discovered a few weeks later that the roof was indeed still leaking, but it wasn't leaking very much and sometimes it wouldn't leak at all so we decided to wait until we were in a better place financially to do something.

Last Thursday and Friday, we had a tremendous amount of rain so I continued to run up to the attic to check whether the situation. The roof was definitely leaking so I just kept an eye on whether I felt the bucket needed to be emptied. I dumped about an inch of water from the bucket around 11 am. My husband checked on it at around 7 pm and said there wasn't much water in it (probably about an inch), but the bucket held a gallon and figured it would be fine through the night. He was wrong. Sometime after he left for work and before 5:30 am when I woke up, the box which the bucket was sitting on either gave way from the weight of the bucket or became soaked as water started to spill out of the bucket and then partially collapsed. In any case, enough water came out of the bucket that it made its way down to the bathroom ceiling and came through all over the floor. When I awoke at 5:30 am, I had no idea why I was standing in water when I walked into the bathroom. My daughter came in and simply said "The ceiling is leaking." I immediately RAN up the stairs and into the attic and was horrified to see the box soaked through, partially collapsed in the center, and the bucket leaning precariously to the one side. I grabbed the bucket and saw it was FULL. I realized how much worse it could have been had the bucket completely fallen over and all that water had spilled out. Yes, God is good....all the time! I took the bucket down and dumped the water out of it. Then I went back upstairs and cleaned up the water that was all over the plastic...totally soaking quite a few towels and other rags in the process. My daughter brought me another box and I set that up as good as I could to try and catch any more water that came in. Then I went downstairs to clean up the bathroom floor. Finally, I called my husband at work and told him we had a problem!

I called the roofer and was thankful that the rain had finally slowed down. On Tuesday, I left another message for the roofer because he still hadn't called back. That same day, it rained again and we noticed the one wall in Micah's room (which is on the third floor and technically part of the attic) was now wet below and beside the skylight. As the rain continued to come down and my husband was upstairs trying to figure out if there was anything at all we could do, I told the kids we needed to pray for the rain to stop. Micah, who is only 6 years old, said "Mommy? I didn't pray for that. I prayed that God would do a miracle and that our roof would stop leaking." I had to fight back tears at the faith in my little boy and realized I must be doing something right! I told him that was good, but I still wanted us to all pray for the rain to stop. Micah and Sarah both prayed, and then I prayed. As the kids ate dinner, I went on Facebook and asked my friends via my status line to please pray for the rain to stop. Within MINUTES, the rain stopped and the SUN came out! Later, my daughter yelled down that there was a rainbow in the sky. I didn't need to see it. I knew it was there as soon as I saw the sun come out. I knew God was reminding me that He keeps His promises and He was in control. Of course, Satan didn't like that very much and caused me to start worrying later that night because it was suppose to rain all night. I laid awake and literally felt sick to my stomach with worry. I just kept praying for God to intervene. It didn't rain until almost morning. Yes, God is good...all the time!

Wednesday morning, I woke up with the following verse in mind: Philippians 4:19 says "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." I noticed it said WILL meet, not might meet. It says ALL your needs, not some of them. I claimed that verse as my own. Later that day, the roofer finally called. He said he'd have to think about what estimate he would quote us and would call us back. I was worried about how long it would take for him to get back to us with a quote on what it would cost to fix our roof, so I checked the weather report and saw no rain was in the forecast until Tuesday. Yes, God is good...all the time!

Yesterday morning, I was doing devotions and read the following verse: Deuteronomy 31:8 says "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." I was so thankful that God was again reminding me that He was with us. He knew what we were going through. He knows about our finances. All I need to do is trust Him and not be afraid because He will be there to help us through this. Yes, God is good....all the time!

I thought about writing a note last night, but I wasn't sure what all I wanted to say or if anyone really would want to read it. God made it perfectly clear this morning that He did indeed want me to share what He was teaching me. My devotions today were to read John 14:1-6, but it was verse 1 that stood out to me. It was Jesus' own words: "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." I know many people think God and Jesus don't exist, they are a myth, or a fairy tale. Well, I know that they are wrong! I do not have any doubt that God does exist! I also know that He speaks to us and gives us exactly what we need when we need it. I don't think these verses I've been reading the last three days are just a coincidence. I know God has been sending them my way to comfort me and remind me to just keep trusting Him. We still are waiting on the roofer to call back and give us an estimate as to what it will cost to remove the skylights and fix the roof, but I know that God is in control. In spite of all the reasons I have to be fearful and worry, I know that YES! God is good....ALL the time!