Tag Archive | Christianity

Day 2 – Put Jesus Christ First In Your Life

Parent’s Commitment To Put Jesus Christ First In Your Life
HOMEWORK
Perhaps you have struggled in some areas of parenting and have come to realize that your struggles are a result of a weak or inconsistent spiritual life. God promises to bless, encourage, and strengthen us as we submit to His lordship in our life.

“The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with
peace.” Psalm 29:11

Write a prayer to the Lord, committing to put Him first in your life and asking Him to help you
parent the gifts (children) He has given you.

Perhaps you have never surrendered your life to Christ. Know that God loves you
and has provided the way for you to have a relationship with Him. You must simply,
1. Recognize and admit you are a sinner.
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”

2. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that He is the only way for
sinners to be forgiven and reconciled to God.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to
the Father except through Me.”
Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved.”

3. Confess your sins to Jesus and repent (be sorry), asking Him to forgive you.
Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so
that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart
that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

4. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and receive Him as your Savior and Lord.
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children
of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Repeat the following prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin. Thank you for dying on the
cross for me and paying the price for my sin. Please come into my heart. Fill me with your
Holy Spirit and help me to be your disciple. Thank you for forgiving me and coming into my
life. Thank you that I am now a child of God and will one day follow you to heaven.” Amen

 

This was a direct copy and paste of the worksheet written by Pastor Craig Caster and can be downloaded for free from the following website:  http://www.parentingministry.org/component/content/article/14-main-menu/150-parenting-is-a-ministry-video  I take no ownership of the things written on this page.

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Day 2 – Developing Intimacy with God Through Daily Devotions

How to Develop Intimacy with God Through Daily Devotions
HOMEWORK
Intimacy – Marked by very close association, contact, or friendship developing through
long association; very familiar; suggesting informal warmth or privacy; of a very personal
nature.

1. Choose the best time of day (morning or evening) to commit to setting aside devotional
time. Don’t set yourself up for discouragement by setting a goal that you will not be able
to keep. Start small, and then add time as you grow. Begin with 15 minutes.

2. Choose a book of the Bible. Read one chapter, or less if it is a long chapter or verses
that you want to ponder. In addition, you may also want to read a daily devotional. See
suggestions listed below.

3. Pray. Specifically pray over the truths you have read, asking God to speak to you about
how you can obey; what you should do or what you should change in your life in order to
obey.

4. Spend a few minutes in quiet listening. This may be uncomfortable for you at first.
Living in a noise-filled world, most of us are not accustomed to sitting quietly. Persevere
and God will be faithful to speak to you. Remember that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in
your heart and mind and can minister to you in your thoughts!

5. Journal. Write out what these verses mean to you.
• Journal – A record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use.

6. Pray. Use the following to help you pray effectively:
Adoration – Worship and praise God
Confession – Confess and repent of any known sins
Thanksgiving – Expressing gratitude for God’s blessings in your life
Supplication – Humbly make requests for your needs and the needs of others

7. Pray that God will help you to know and acknowledge His presence throughout your day.

Suggested Devotionals
Biblical Principles for a Strong Foundation, by Craig Caster
Daily Experience with God, by Andrew Murray
Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith, by John F. MacArthur
Every Day with Jesus: First Steps with New Believers, by Greg Laurie
Experiencing God, by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King
Meet the Bible: A Panorama of God’s Word…, by Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn
My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers
On the Other Side of the Garden, by Virginia Ruth Fugate (married women)
Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
The One Year Book of Psalms, by William J. Peterson and Randy Petersen
The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian (married women)

This was a direct copy and paste of the worksheet written by Pastor Craig Caster and can be downloaded for free from the following website:  http://www.parentingministry.org/component/content/article/14-main-menu/150-parenting-is-a-ministry-video  I take no ownership of the things written on this page.  I will not be including any answers of my own since this is more of a guide and not really something you write answers down to.  😀

Day 2 – Video & Notes

OK so todays video was a bit longer than I realized but it was still very good!  totally worth the extra time I had to take to watch it.  Here is the Link!!   http://www.parentingministry.org/parenting-class/session-1-mainmenu-67/session-2-mainmenu-74

My notes are as follows – (some wont make sense if you didn’t watch the video)

  • God looks at our individual child just as much as His entire church.  My child is uniquely special to the Lord.
  • Just like my child is special to the Lord, so am I!  I need to make sure that I am spending time with Him every day.
  • In Deut. 6 God reveals how important it is for us to maintain that relationship – it was life or death for the Israelites!
  • We must choose to have an intimate relationship with the lord – DAILY! (Duet 6:5)
  • We need to obey Him and abide in Him (Duet 6:6)
  • Most christians don’t realize there is more to our relationship with God than just going to church on sunday and praying from time to time.
  • What is a foundation? What does it look like? There are 3 ingredients –
    •  1. accepting Jesus as our savior “come to me”
    •  2. abiding in Him – relationship “hear my sayings” (can’t hear him if we don’t spend time with Him!) and
    •  3. obey – apply His word in our lives “do them”
  • What is my “relationship grade?”
    • Have I been saved? Yes
    • How is my prayer life? (read Phil 4:6) – I would call my prayer life “growing”
    • Do I spend time daily reading the word of God? (read mark 4:34, 2 Tim 2:15) – off and on 😦 I try but something always seems to get in the way
    • Do I give tithes regularly and according to Gods word? (Prov 3:9-10) YES!
    • What are my priorities? Are they Godly? (1 Cor 14:40, 1 Tim 3:1-13) Currently my priorities are skewed =/ they tend to go – child, work, responsibilities, worries then try to squeeze God in 😦
    • Do I practice Godly principles in my home? (Gal 5:22-23) I try very hard
  • I need to remember that God is my Daddy and I am allowed to get excited about spending time with Him
  • God is excited about spending time with me!!!
  • Ignore the distractions and do what I was created to do – spend time with God! Everything else stems from that relationship and can only be as fulfilling and strong as my relationship with the Lord is.
  • If there is anything that has a higher priority that God – I am the one who will suffer and so will my child
  • Most christians focus on the third ingredient – obey – without realizing that it is the “abiding” aspect that gives us the strength to obey – when we try to obey without a relationship with the one we are trying to obey chances are we are going to fail.
  • Rebellion = Doing things my own way, or prioritizing what is most important to us and not to God.
  • How rebellious am I?
    • Are my first thoughts of the day focused on Him? No- I am usually thinking about and dreading all the things I have to get done in the next 12 hours or all the things that I am lacking
    • Do I daily acknowledge how much I need Him? Yes – I am very aware of my weakness and lack of discipline – doesn’t mean that I am smart enough to go to Him for help daily! >.< Even knowing how frail I am I still feel like I have to do things on my own in order to please Him.
    • Do I put God first and maintain relationship with him?  Honestly – no 😦
  • God knows the trials we will have to go through in our lives when we face a new struggle we can immediately go to Him for direction – He already knows the solution!
  • He uses those trials to transform us but we will only be transformed if we are willing to look to Him to find out how we should respond to those trials and ask for forgiveness for the times we fail.  We have to be willing to admit we are wrong and not strong enough to obey without His help!  If we don’t do this we will stay stuck repeating the same kinds of trials over and over as the Lord tries to get through to us.
  • Jesus sent His disciples out onto the water when He knew that a storm was coming – God sends us into storms too! Then Jesus walked on what they feared the most – the water they did not want to drown in!  By doing that He was showing them that he was more powerful than what they feared!  God is stronger than our greatest fears too!
  • the journey of transformation will last until we die.  We should never stop growing
  • God will foil the best of plans if He is left out of them – He is more interested in the relationship than the plans
  • satan uses our responsibilities and worries to distract us from spending time with the One who can help us get through them all.

Devil, You are Cruel – God, You are Just

I sit here at my computer full of conflicting emotions today.  Pain, anger, fearful longing and tender hope.  I experienced Saturday probably the most cruel attack of the enemy against my very soul and convictions as I ever have and that is saying a lot when you consider the painful events of my past. 

Saturday started out like any other day.  I was watching my occasional weekend group of children (3 precious boys I love like crazy!!) and decided to do a little house/job hunting while they watched a short movie.  I have been trying to take a little time each day to look for what the Lord has for me next in those two areas.  I have no idea what my job will be or what side of town I am going to live on but I am totally open to what ever God has. 

So, I was looking around online and found this ad for a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath for rent with a fenced in yard not very far from my dads house.  I shot out an email to find out the price and was surprised at the reply I got.  apparently, the house was owned by a female pastor and her family and they had gone on what was supposed to be a short-term missions trip but doors had opened and they would be staying for at least a year but maybe even up to 5 years. They were looking for someone to take care of their house for them while they were away.  They were asking 400/month and sent a link to their missions webpage and several shots of the house inside and out.  I thought – no way, this is too awesome….should I even hope?? 

Well, my dad and I decided to drive out there and take a look at the place and the neighborhood ect.  The neighborhood was so cute and quiet.  The houses looked taken care of but in a laid back sort of way.  Nothing was “perfect” but everything looked very loved and established. When we pulled up I couldn’t get out of  the car fast enough.  The house was small and a little run down with some obvious need of repair but to me it looked like heaven.  Literally everything I had ever hoped and dreamed about for a place to live – it had. 

The back yard was huge and fenced in.  It had a chicken coop, storage shed, HUGErope swing (the rope was thicker around than the widest part of my arm – and that is pretty wide!), garden plot, an area that looked like it was used for wood shop type activities, a little koi pond, a gazebo, screened in porch, and great big cedar and eucalyptus trees (my favorite!!)  My dad was so excited he was bouncing up and down like a little kid.  I was so excited I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought ‘if I smile any bigger I might just burst!’  The house had wood floors, tile, a fire-place, a washer and dryer and lots of windows – all of which I LOVE. 

I kept thinking to myself ‘This is it.  This is what I have been waiting nearly 4 years for.  I have been making the hard choices and the painful sacrifices I feel God has asked me to make for him and I am looking at the beginnings of the reward for that.  He is finally giving me the desires of my heart and blessing this next step of ministry.  This is where I am going to raise my daughter for as long as the Lord wills.  This is where I am going to bring precious children to get loved on and heal while their families work to get their lives in order.  And how awesome is it that the family I would be renting from is on a missions trip in Africa spreading the love of God?!’ 

Just to be on the safe side we decided to talk to the neighbor and see what he had to say about the family that owned the house.  When we get up to the guys house there is this big metal plaque nailed to the door that reads “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.  I thought – yay! Christian neighbors!!  This super cute old man answers the door and we start talking to him and his friend who was apparently visiting him at the time.  They had both lived in the neighborhood for upwards of 50 years and it was a good place to live.  When we asked about the family he seemed a little confused.  “No, a guy named “Roberts” (name changed simply because I can’t remember what he said) owns that house.  It is for rent but not for 400/month.  More like 6 to 8 hundred.  Someone is trying to scam you.”

My heart didn’t stop falling until it hit the ground.  Then I am pretty sure I stepped on in when we walked away because as we backed out of the driveway it hurt fiercely. Some one had laid before me all the desires of my heart concerning a place to live and said “its yours for a low monthly price of exactly what you can afford” only to have it be a lie.   Then, to make it even worse the truth was “well, actually you could afford this if you just gave up all your convictions about parenting and ministry and just put your daughter in daycare and got a real job.”  Ouch.  OUCH!  Writing this makes my eyes water and heart ache.  What a horrible realization to swallow! 

****(this next little bit is not a part of my story – added it in as a thought process while writing)****

At the time I didn’t see the similarities between this and when the devil took Jesus up to the mountain top and offered Him the whole world if He would just kneel before him –  I see it now as I write this.

Jesus was taken up to that mountain top and told he could have everything he desired minus all the pain and suffering He knew was to come and all He had to do was kneel.  Such a simple act yet so profound.  To kneel was to renounce everything He had lived His whole life believing and all the choices He had made up that point. To kneel was to admit He did not think He could do what was being asked of Him on the cross.  To kneel was to choose the devils plan for His life instead of God’s plan for His life.  I can’t help but think that maybe up there on that mountain top looking down at the world and knowing all the anguish He was about to go through He just might have felt some of what I was feeling yesterday and today but on an even bigger scale! (now back to the story…)**** 

The more I thought about what had just happened the more I hurt and the more I doubted all my choices up to this point.  Maybe I should just put E.v.e. in daycare.  Most other single moms have to.  Maybe I should give up this Nanny Ministry.  There has to be someone else that can do this job with out it costing them so much personally.  Then, I could get a job somewhere paying minimum wage and then I could afford this place.

I have loved being able to bless the families I work for and their children.  They pay me what they can and I have accepted it as being what the Lord has for me right now.  I struggle with it from time to time but I know these are the choices I have made in an effort to follow after the Lords will for my life.  Never before this day had I ever truly believed – ‘maybe I am really wrong about all this and I just need to give up, get a “real job” and admit I made a mistake’.

Then, and even uglier thought entered my mind.  Maybe, just maybe, what I believed wasn’t a mistake.  What if I was totally right about everything I had heard the Lord speak to me and the choices I had made?  What if those times I can recall hearing a request from the Lord and choosing not to do it for what ever reason – fear, not understanding, lack of faith, whatever the reason, was to blame? 

Maybe I could have had this place if I hadn’t done this sin or that sin.  Maybe, just maybe, God had promised me some amazing things and ment it but then I screwed it up and this was my “Moses Moment” – Here’s the promised land Moses but because you hit that rock out of anger and frustration instead of just commanding it like I told you – you can not enter into this land.  Here is your dream home Nichole – it could have been yours – but because you messed up you can no longer have it.  I can not even describe the anguish I felt – and to a small extent still feel right now.  I started counting down the seconds till Sunday.  I knew I needed some fellowship and wisdom from my spiritual family.

I had saved up money all week and made sure I had enough to pay for the gas to get to church today and I was so looking forward to it.  After the day I had just had Saturday I reallllly needed some refreshing time with my Christian family. I knew I could count on God, my precious Pastor and my family to speak some truth into my situation.  I just needed a little bit of encouragement  and worship and I hoped with that I would be ok. 

So not what I got.  It was no fault of the Pastors.  I am sure his message was very encouraging to others and spurred them on to run the race well.  I how ever did not receive that stimulating message because a few minutes in he talked about Moses not getting into the promised land because of his choices.  Needless to say the rest of the message was lost to me.  I was fighting off despair with everything in me.  I was praying in the spirit, rejecting all the thoughts that were swirling around in my head and just trying to hold it together long enough to get through the sermon and out to my car before I broke down.

I did end up totally loosing it in the front row but not untill most everyone had left.  A precious sister came and prayed with me and I did get to talk to her and a few other women I respect and look up to but there really wasn’t much they could say to comfort me.  I have no idea why the Lord allowed this thing to happen to me.  I have no idea why I am stuck in this same rut I have been in for nearly 4 years.  I don’t understand any of it.  And no one else there did either.  All they could do was pray for me and remind me this is not the Lord being cruel.  The devil is cruel, God is Just. 

All I can keep doing is holding on to my tender hope. The enemy tried to snuff it out this weekend but I can’t let him win.  I may be bruised but the Lord says he will not crush me.  My hope may be a flickering candle but God says He will not put it out.  He will cause justice to be victorious (Matthew 12:20)

 I am afraid to keep longing for the things in my heart but I can’t give up out of fear of being let down or hurt again. I have to keep longing and expecting.  I have to keep trusting that God really does know what He is doing and that He is guiding my path.  I am so willing, so eager to do this work He has called me to – all I can do is keep clinging to Him and trusting that one day it will all make sense – even if that day isn’t until the day I see Him face to face. 

~My love, I don’t understand.  I hurt so deeply.  I want to trust You.  I ‘know’ I can but Love please help me knowit. Yesterday was so hard and today was no better.  I never, EVER want to doubt again that You are directing my path.  That doubt felt like a poison and it ate at my soul. Love please heal my heart. 

I am choosing today – right now – to trust You.  I am choosing to trust that whatever happened yesterday was part of the testing fires – a proving of my faith in You.  I don’t want to be guilty of giving up and choosing the easy, wide path instead of the narrow, difficult one you have set before me.  The narrow, difficult path leads to an eternal life filled with You and what earthly comfort or desire could ever compare to such a treasure as that!

You are Faithful, You are Just, You are Trustworthy, You are my Strength and Comfort in my times of difficulty.  Help me remember that sooner the next time the wolf comes to steal, kill, and destroy. ❤

  ~Nichole

Is there a such thing as a good habit??

As promised, I got together my notes from Maria about our discussion the other day on habits.  I have been so excited about writing this post that I have been thinking about it all day!!

As we talked on the phone Tuesday Maria made some very shocking statements.  She told me about her dream (which I am not going to share – sorry!) and then about how when she woke up she felt pressed to pray.  She began rebuking things that she and I had never considered before to be a demon – habits! As she was praying this she thought to herself – is there even a demon of habits and if so does that imply that all habits are in fact bad? Even the ones we would consider good?  If they are all bad, what is it about the nature of habits that make them so?

The more she talked the more my wheels started spinning and coming up with examples of “good” habits:

Dental floss

Floss Daily - via Wikipedia

 

 
  • reading my bible every day
  • flossing my teeth
  • blessing my food
  • feeding my child on a regular basis
  • changing my undies every day
  • I could go on and on

This strange defensive feeling rose up inside me – “wait wait wait – I have good habits you can’t tell me my good habits are actually bad!”

The conclusion Maria came to was that when you form a habit it takes the choice out of the action.  You are doing that habit as an automatic response.  It takes the love, passion, and desire out. 

At first, you are excited “I am going to read my Bible every night!”  You hop in bed, snuggle into the quilt, grab your Bible and soak up some God Time.  But eventually, a habit is formed and suddenly one night you climb into bed and your bible is in your hand with out you even thinking about reaching for it.  You skim through the next chapter on you bible reading guide and by the time you fall asleep you don’t remember a thing you’ve just read.  Matter of fact the poor Bible is still on your bed getting scrunched up by your pillows! Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but none the less, I think you see where I am going with this. 

As you’re on auto pilot skimming over your nightly read, there sits “bad habit” on your shoulder nodding away “that’s right, you keep reading those scriptures, you better read those scriptures every night!  who cares if you’re too tired.  who cares if you’re not going to remember it.  you better read.”  Then suddenly you have guilt popping up right there with bad habit sayin, ” if you don’t read then you’re letting god down” and now you’re in a real mess because here comes mr.legalist saying, “you haven’t even cracked open your bible all day, you have to read now!”  You are so tired and not even really catching any of the words you are reading so you decide to stop before you finish your chapter and now here comes condemnation, “you never spend time with god. you are so lazy. you are such a looser you can’t even read one chapter. god is mad at you for not finishing that chapter.” Yikes!

 
An explosion

Yea that's about what it felt like - via Wikipedia

My mind just about exploded at this point.  I am suddenly realizing the depth of this issue!  OF COURSE there would be a demon of habit!  If the devil can’t keep you out of church then he will make it as automatic and redundant as possible.  Then once the habit is firmly in place he will use guilt, shame and condemnation against you to the point where you are no longer skipping off to church full of sunshine and joy but instead sulking up the steps dreading the next 2 boring hours but feeling like you HAVE to be there.  Going to church on Sunday is just what you do.  Sunday from 9am to 12pm is the slot of time reserved for church and secret naps while you sit hidden behind the lady with the big hair. You are going because you always go, not because you are expecting and wanting to encounter God and encourage your brothers and sisters.

 

In the middle of this mind explosion I arrived (safely) at home and just had to share all this perspective with my Sweet Dad.  He, in his ‘hmmmm..I don’t know about this’ voice, says, “Interesting…I’m going to have to look into that.”  Which led us on a very spirited Bible search and discussion which I am going to spare you from and just get to the point already!!

We decided that there really is NO such thing as a good habit!  There is only one reference to what might be considered a good habit in the bible, which I will post and discuss under the “daily dose” topic, and aside from that all the rest of the habits are bad in the Lords eyes! 

In both the old and the new testament there are examples of God chastising the Israelites and Pharisees about their tendencies to perform good Godly actions out of habit rather than out of a heart of love and service to the Lord. They do them to be seen of man – because they are supposed to do them – not because they want to connect with God and please Him.

“Wait, Wait, Wait!” My dad says, “You can’t just throw out a blanket statement though and declare alllll habits as bad ones! What about changing your underwear?” (Okay, so his real example was making the bed every day but underwear is just funnier;)) 

Love ? I love love love you.

God wants our heart not just our time - via Flickr

From there we decided that there has to be a distinction between actions that you do that require no heart: brushing your teeth, going to the gym, making the bed, and actions that do require heart: praying, reading your Bible, kissing your honey when they come home from work.  If the action is supposed to come from your heart but comes from a place of automatic reaction it has lost its ‘goodness’. 

God isn’t looking for people to be in the habit of reading His word or going to church.  God is looking for people who love Him and long to spend time with Him.  He is looking for people who talk to Him/pray with fire and passion, people who treasure His word and plant it in their hearts so they never lose it, because those are the ones who can go out and impact the world of lost, hurting people. 

Maria pointed out as she read my rough draft of this post that even heartless actions can’t really be considered a ‘good habit’ so much as just self-discipline.  The more self-discipline you have the more likely you are going to brush your teeth every day or walk the dog.  This might really seem like splitting hairs at this point but I think she is on to something.  🙂

Revelations 1:20-2:1-5

I often will start reading at the beginning of a chapter and read until the first point is made, whether that means one or two verses or a full chapter, and then mull over in my mind what that point was talking about and life applications and such. 

Today, I got a wonderful example of how stopping and starting where the Chapter Markers are is not always the best of plans!   Revelations 2:1-5 has always left me feeling a little uneasy.  I would read it and due to lack of understanding think, “ok, this sounds a lot like if I mess up I could

 

 loose my salvation! YIKES!”  I have always associated ‘lampstand’ with my ‘light’ as in the light of God inside me.  Seems obvious when you look at it sort of squinting while standing on your head, right?

I have even heard other people make this same assumption and had a very dear friend walk away from the Lord because she cited this as proving that even when ‘saved’ by grace there is a chance you are still not good enough so whats the point?  I must admit this scripture has never helped me feel any better about my decision to walk in faith on grace – until tonight!

The Son of Man and the seven lampstands

 My Sweet Dad came up to me, Large Print Bible in hand, and said ” I found some gold! Wanna hear about it?”  OFCOURSE! I quickly finished up getting little E.v.e. her glass of warm milk and honey (mmmmm) and tuned in full attention on what my Sweet Dad had discovered.

 

If you go back a little into the last verse of Chapter 1 Jesus, Himself, explains the mystery of the golden lampstands and the seven stars.  I have read over it a million times (ok maybe only a couple dozen but none the less…) I have never caught it!  The Seven Stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven churches which are represented by the seven lampstands.  Right there in black in white plain as day!

Now, when you hold on to that little clue and then go on down into chapter two where the Lord starts talking to the first messenger you can clearly see that he is not talking to a heavenly being – he is describing a Pastor and by the sounds of it a good one that looks after the safety of his flock.

Church in Maransart (Lasne), Belgium

Image via Wikipedia

Ok, so the star is a pastor and the lampstand is his church….that means that when you get down to verses 4 and 5 (the scary ones!!) he is charging this pastor with forgetting his First Love – God.  This pastor has gotten so wrapped up in his “job” as a pastor that he has forgotten what it is all about and the Lord is telling him that if he doesn’t come back to him he is going to remove….DUN DUN DUUUNN – his CHURCH!!! Lampstand = church = Lampstand not salvation – woo hoo!