Category Archives: Devotion and Faith Building

Be Encouraged

I want to encourage you today to keep going and not give up.  Whatever struggle you may be facing in your life, trust your life in God’s hands and believe in his son Jesus.  Believe God is in control, and he can reach you right where you are at,  believe that he wants a wonderful future for you and he will protect and guide you when you put your life and your hope in him.

Circumstances do not define who you are and are not an indicator of your value.  People’s opinions don’t define you either.  Instead of these thoughts, only allow what God your creator says about you to define you.  His written word, the bible, says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He says he has a hope and a future for you and he will direct your path when you seek his counsel. He will answer you when you call on him, and he will show you many things that you did not know.

We are stewards of what we have been given.   We need to be good stewards of these gifts no matter what the circumstance looks like.  Some people have been given more, and some less. But no matter how much we have been given, we can be the best stewards of it today.  Because when we care for what we have, even if it is very little, we multiply the blessings it produces.

Perhaps all we have in our ability today is to choose to have joy.  That is HUGE!   By choosing joy,  you will see it multiply for yourself and it will multiply in the lives of  those around you. This simple choice can bring huge blessings into your life and give you a lot of hope beyond measure even in the toughest situations.   Being joyful is contagious and it can change the way we feel and the way others feel who come in contact with us.

Even if the only thing we have control over is the body we live in, we can choose to be the best steward of that body as we can be, and we will reap a blessing.   We are given one body to live in. We each have different gifts and talents, but we are similar to each other in that we have a body, and it is fragile at the same time it is strong.   We can learn to be good stewards of this body and multiply the blessings in our health and our emotions.

How can you be a good steward of your physical body?  We can learn how to nourish it, rest it, challenge it, strengthen it, and care for it. We can be good stewards of our body, multiply the blessings, and overcome limitations, illness, neglect, and injuries, and be the best we can be.

Perhaps all that we have today is a loaf of bread, then we can share it and see the blessing multiply in another person’s life too.

Hope, Faith, and Blessings

There is a story in the bible about a widow who only had a little flour and oil left to make one meal of bread for herself and her sons.  There had been a long drought and everyone was out of grain and out of money and she knew that their life was over and there was no hope of any food even in the near future because there was no rain to plant and grow any future crops and no money to buy food even if anyone had some to share.

So in desperation she planned her last meal.  But in the midst of her despair, God heard her and sent a messenger, a prophet of God.  He told her to go ahead and “make the last meal”, but to give some of it to him.   Do what?  This was all she had, and her family was about to die, so how could she give this away?  But letting go, and placing her trust in God and his plan for a better future for her, she obeyed the instructions.

 

1 Kings 14 : 7-16

“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him:  “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”  So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”  As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”   “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”  Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”  She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”

It is an incredible story of doing our best in the midst of terrible circumstances, sharing the best (even if all we have is very little) we have to bless another person and meet their need, and putting our trust and faith in God to work out the outcome, in return, we will reap a huge blessing!

Be encouraged today, that no matter what your situation may look like,  by acting on your faith in God as your provider, healer, deliverer, multiplier, protector, and the source of life within you, he will reach into your situation and deliver you.   He says his arm is not short!  His arm is long enough to reach you right where you are.  With the help of the Lord, you can and will overcome and reap a blessing that is more wonderful than you have imagined!

Be blessed!

 

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Through the Narrow Gate

The Lord God offers you eternal life.  The only door into his eternal kingdom is a narrow gate.

The path to the narrow gate is straight.  You can’t turn to the right or left as you walk along, because it will send you in a different direction.  To reach the gate, the doorway of the kingdom, you must stay on the straight path.  The path of the road is not fancy, and it has ups and downs, hills and valleys.   But if you keep walking straight ahead, and don’t look back, you will find the gate.

 

One sure way to miss the gate is to get off the straight path.  For example, the path of personal gain and worldly possessions will lead us a different way.

Mathew 19:16-22

“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”   “Which ones?” he inquired.  Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”  “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (NIV)

To find the gate, you must seek Jesus, the only son of God, as your savior, believe in him and repent of your sins, and follow him.  He asks that you love God with all your heart, forgive others, and love others as you love yourself meeting their needs.  He is the light of the world and he lights the path God wants people to follow.

John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (NIV)

Be blessed today and seek to enter the narrow gate and follow the one who saves and gives eternal life!  His name is Jesus. 

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Noah and the Lego Ark

Got building blocks, Legos, or craft supplies?

Then get your kids busy reading, building, and re-telling bible stories!  Check out The Beginner’s Bible, or another youth bible you have on hand, for an easy to use resource for kids.  This is a great way to build family time together and a great way to incorporate daily devotions into your kids learning.  Your kids will have so much fun interacting with the bible stories and building props and seeing the stories come to life!

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Noah’s Ark is a great story to retell with Lego’s because just like your child building with blocks of different sizes, Noah was also a builder and he built a big boat with different sizes of wooden boards.  In addition to building the largest boat ever created, called an Ark, Noah was also a husband, a father, and the “ultimate prepper” and “homesteader” and he had to store feed and safely house and care for a huge amount of animals as well as his whole family for an entire year on the floating zoo-boat /house-boat called the ark.  The story of Noah and the ark can be found in Genesis 6, 7, and 8.    As they read the bible, kids will learn about the man called Noah, his faith in God, and also about righteousness, judgement of sin, and God’s plan to save a pure remnant of the human race that were willing to put their faith in him.

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God told Noah it was going to rain, and it would become a flood that would wipe out every living thing on the earth.  Noah was instructed to build a big ark (boat) and he was given the blueprints with detailed instructions to create it.  He built different size pens inside the ark and he was given instructions to save two pairs of every wild animal, three pairs of every “clean” animal,  seven pairs of animals that were to be sacrificed, and to also save his family including his wife, three sons, and their wives, by loading them all onto the ark before the start of the worldwide flood.

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God told Noah that people had become evil and violent and he must cleanse the earth and wipe them out with the flood.  He could no longer stand to live with mankind and watch their evil deeds.   God caused the earth and sky to give forth water for 40 days and nights to flood the earth.  But God promised to protect Noah’s family and anyone righteous who had faith to believe in God.  God gave Noah the plan.  He gave him the specific dimensions, told him what wood to use, and how to build it and save his family and the animals.  His sons helped him build the ark, but the rest of the world mocked him as he worked and preached and did not help him.

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Noah preached and preached to the people about God and the coming flood, but no one believed him and they did not turn from their wickedness and did not worship God. They had never seen rain or a flood before.   They did not care about doing right.  They did not turn away and repent of their wicked sins.  They did not want to trust that Noah had heard the truth from God.  They thought Noah was out of his mind to believe a God they could not see, and believe in a flood and rain that had never happened before, and work so hard to obey God and build a big boat.

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If you don’t have Lego’s on hand, make your boat with paper, or other recycled materials you have on hand, or use other toys your kids might have in their collections.  Besides building a boat, they might have mini characters, and animals, trees, etc. they can also use.  Perhaps they can also create items to represent the weather changes, the flood, and make a rainbow too.   You can use as many props as you want to add to the effect of retelling the story.

Another wonderful way to use this learning opportunity is Language Arts (have the kids read, re-write the story), Science (weather, engineering, physics), Arts and Crafts (create Noah’s Ark themed art and craft projects), Math (how many legos?,  build to scale, use grid paper and draw their own blueprints to scale, etc), Geography (draw or color a map of where Noah was from and where the ark landed), Movie Making (use props and make stop motion animation), Unit Study and LapBook, and have the kids Share their project with Grandparents, Neighbors, and Sunday School class too.  There are lots of ways this method of learning can be used and incorporated into your curriculum.

Your kids will really enjoy this activity.  In addition to building up their faith as they read the bible, kids can relate in a hands on way as they put the story in action and retell the story with their own mini-size boat.

Here are a few Noah and the Ark themed videos we found:

Noah and the Ark Bible Story Animated by Beginner’s Bible

Noah’s Ark Lego Movie Trailer

Arts and Crafts

Noah Preschool Paper Plate Craft and Story

 

Online Bible

If you don’t have a printed copy of the bible, check out Bible Gateway for a digital online version.  You can read it from your computer and your phone and digital reading devices.

You can choose from several languages and several versions to use.   They also offer free bible studies and a free verse of the day they will email you if you desire.

Lapbook and Unit Study

will update more soon.

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Casting Stones

“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Said by the wisest man who ever lived.

He is the living word of God, and his name is JESUS.

casting-stones

(photo source: Morning Star Ministries)

Over the years, I have heard many Christians say mean things about other Christians.  It is sometimes heart breaking to hear their judgmental reasons for choosing leaders, churches, politicians, based on who they think is a better Christian.  But the Savior himself said we are not to judge others, instead we are to forgive them.

I read an article about a young Christian man who made a serious mistake when he was young. At the time he made the mistake, he came forward and repented of his mistake and sought forgiveness and help from his church and family.  However his life and the lives of those he hurt was deeply scared by his actions.  Though several years had passed, and because his family is famous, he experienced more than his share of haters from the Christian community who had no understanding of the situation when they found out about his past.  The pressure on his life is intense due to their fame.  Even though he is surrounded by his family and many loving people of the Christian faith, his life will never be the same, and the public is ruthless, mocking, and unforgiving.  The crazyist thing about the whole “scandal” is the ungodly response of the Christians is worse than how the un-churched public treat him.  They do not act like Jesus Christ.  He had a problem, he confessed and was forgiven, yet the Christians accuse him of his past sin and of practicing fake Christianity.

Was Peter a fake Christian because he denied Christ 3 times?

Peter fell down in his faith and committed a terrible sin.  He denied the one and only son of God who had shown himself to him, his closest disciple.  If Peter, who was with Christ 24 hours a day for three years and saw everything he did from the beginning to the end, could sin and deny him, isn’t anyone capable of doing the same?  Jesus said to his followers: “If you deny me to others, I will deny you before my Father”.  Was Peter denied entry into heaven?  No.  Because when he repented of his sin, he was forgiven.  Peter was a true Christian, even though he made the same mistake three times, and Jesus Christ chose to build his Church upon the work Peter would do in sharing the gospel,

Let me ask you Christian…are you without sin?  Are there sins you have committed over and over?   Are you a closet sinner and hide the truth?   What is going on in your home?  Is there divorce, stealing, fighting, adultery, lust, pornography, lies, drug abuse, gluttony, hatred, cursing?  If Christians are divorcing at the same rate as the rest of America, and only 1 out of 20 Christian kids remain in their Christian faith after they grow up, then I believe this indicates a basic fact that there is a whole lot of ungodly sin going on in the lives of Christians today.

How many Christian families in church don’t even establish any boundaries at all for their teens?  From the article: “By 17 years old, 48% of teenagers have had sex. One out of every three teenage girls gets pregnant before the age of 20.  And it doesn’t count as consent just because you’re both under 18.  Another 26.5% of 15-19 year old girls are giving birth to kids – and those are just the ones that aren’t having abortions.”   Many of these kids live in Christian homes. Don’t tell me you don’t know. There are kids in your church right now that are sexually active and some are getting pregnant.   Let us take it a step further. How many teachers, leaders, and even pastors were sexually active before marriage? How many are guilty of other sins we overlook because they are in a position of authority, yet we don’t give each other grace for a similar offense?

Are you without sin?  Jesus said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.  No one is without sin, and no one should cast a stone at others.

Let us be careful how we judge.  Christians need to be mindful, because the same measure of grace and forgiveness we extend others, will be extended to us. God is not mocked.  Christians need to be mindful and careful of judging (stoning) others.  Jesus told us to say “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” when we pray to Father God.  He also told us to forgive 70 x 7 even when a person does the same thing wrong over and over.  He said we are to turn the other cheek and forgive them.  He also told us to pull the log out of our own eye before we remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  He wanted us to practice forgiveness in our daily lives and not let the sun go down before we had forgiven and let go of resentment and anger.

It is interesting that several spiritual heroes who sinned are listed in Hebrews 11. These people certainly wouldn’t get to speak at Christian conferences today, and they probably wouldn’t fit in at any of the local churches.  They would be seen a backsliders.  In fact, most of them would probably be straight up kicked out of church.

Abraham lied and sold out his wife twice.  He also committed adultery with his employee and got her pregnant.

Sarah scoffed in unbelief when God said she would have a son.

Jacob was a schemer and deceiver who completely ripped off his brother of his inheritance.

Moses was a murderer and was easily frustrated.  His unbelief kept him out of the Promised Land, though he helped free the Hebrew people from Egypt and did many mighty miracles for the Lord.  He still got angry and doubted God at times.

Rahab was a prostitute who slept around.  Yet she became the grandmother of King David.

Gideon was power hungry, and he built many idols of worship and led the kingdom of Israel astray after God helped him succeed in battles and free the Hebrew people from the Philistines.

Samson was a sex-addict and couldn’t control his anger against the Philistines and caused innocent people to die as well as his own imprisonment.

David was an adulterer and a murderer,

Eli completely failed to parent his sons and they became evil in the sight of the Lord and abused people.

And yet the author of Hebrews tells us to consider all of these people and imitate their faith.  To follow after God just as they did. To walk the same path they did.  Why?

Not one person is any better than the other.

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.   Not one person is any better than this young man or Eli, or Sarah, even Peter, Jesus favorite disciple. They were just people.  They sinned.  Yet they asked for forgiveness from God, and God in his grace and mercy, used their lives in a mighty way to be a blessing, to strengthen our faith, and further the message of God’s Kingdom.

Be blessed!

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Before Anything Else

We took a ride late one afternoon and treated our kids to some fun playtime at the park.

on the road

While driving home from the park, two of the kids had a squabble on the back seat.  As we were trying to talk them through it and get them to settle down, I noticed there was a man walking along the side of the highway.  As we approached him, I felt a nudge in my heart to pay attention to him.  But the squabble in the back continued and I felt distracted.

Mathew 6:23

“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”

I caught just a quick glimpse of him as we passed him. I wasn’t sure, but I thought his side profile looked elderly, and he was carrying two packs, maybe duffel bags or back packs, in his hands.  He looked tired and as if he could barely carry them, and as if his strength was giving out.  He was walking very slowly.  He was in the middle of a rural area of farms and at least 15 miles from town.   He was headed in the same direction as us, but it would take him a long time to get there and it was starting to get dark.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.”

I don’t know how far up ahead we had drove before we slowed down and turned around and headed back to pick him up. By the time we made it back to him, another vehicle was stopping to give him a ride.

My heart sank.

I felt that the squabbling in the van had been a distraction from what was really important.  I was distracted from hearing what the Lord wanted us to do.  We had missed God’s divine appointment to help this elderly man get to his destination.

I knew without a doubt that God had a timing for this man to be picked up. It was as if he had been issued a “bus or taxi pass” for such and such a time at such and such a location.  He had caused us to be at the exact time and location to pick him up.  But I wasn’t listening close enough to hear that God wanted me to stop and get him and fulfill the “get a free ride pass” the Lord had issued him.  I was the taxi the Lord had sent him, and I missed the call.

Even though I realized the message moments later, I missed the divine appointment.   However, this man did not miss the appointment. God sent another laborer in my place.

Hebrews 13:21

“I pray that God will make you ready to obey him and that you will always be eager to do right. May Jesus help you do what pleases God. To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever! Amen.”

May we always listen to the nudges God puts on our heart before we listen to anything else, and may we always be ready to do His good will.

May you be blessed!

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Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright

Have you ever come under attack because you stand up for something?  Have you been critisized because your talents and skills cause you to stand out?  Be encouraged today, because God has placed talents and gifts inside you that are meant for you to stand up and shine brightly with them, expanding the light of his Kingdom, illuminating a dark world, and bring Him glory through it all.

shine

As I listened to the words of Jesus this morning in my bible study, I realized he is saying he wants you and me to Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright.   He wants you to do good and stand out so others can see his light shining from you. That is not boastful. That is not prideful. Those are the words of Christ Jesus.

Jesus told us to “DO” and to  “STAND” and to “SHINE”.

To “do”, to “stand”, and to “shine” are ACTION words.   They are the opposite of “take a seat”, “stay seated” and “you may be seated” words we hear spoken today.   I don’t think Jesus would have defined his followers the way they appear today, seated and asleep.

If you asked the average person today how they would define a Christian, most would say something like:  “A Christian is a person who follows a religious teacher named Jesus by going to a building with four walls on Sunday to sing about him, pray, and hear a bible story”.  Jesus NEVER ever said for his followers to live like that.   Jesus gave his followers an assignment to stand out, to do good, and to shine and illuminate the darkness.  He told them to go out two by two to heal the sick, cast out demons, feed the hungry, set captives free and preach the Kingdom of God in all the earth. Yet sadly, the “Christian life” amounts to sitting in a pew on Sunday for most believers of Jesus today.

If a person, or group of people, are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will do what he did and obey what he said.  The churches who are doing, standing, and shining, are the churches we see growing exponentially today, just as the early church that Jesus created did. Miracles are happening as those believers pray for others, cast out demons, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, raise the dead, and set the captives free, and thousands of lives are being fed, clothed, and transformed, and the Christian believer is a bright light in that city.

Christians, and their churches, that shine the brightest in a city, also take the most criticism from other Christians that don’t choose to shine.  They have let their lamps grow dark outside of their four walls of their buildings, and they criticize those who stand out and shine bright.

This happens constantly, but I will use this one recent example to illustrate this point.  I recently heard a pastor of a small church in a decaying city criticizing pastors of larger churches.  He often points fingers at them and puts them down in discussions with his congregation.   He says that these larger churches are not truly following God or else they wouldn’t have such large congregations of people.  He says that they are prideful to have musical instruments and singers on stage and putting on a show.  He says these pastors are misappropriating funds to have large budgets for their church to fly around the US and the World and put money into these large outreach efforts.  He says they are showing off and worldly to draw in large crowds.

Yet while he critisizes others,  his own church’s light is dying.  He has no impact in his decaying city.  Even though he stays busy going here or there doing this or that, he and his congregation contain no new life and no change or growth.   In the community and even within the four walls of his building, there is no opportunity for the followers of Jesus to shine, even though he states weekly that they are in the midst of “revival”.   They host revivals (evening sermon meetings that last from anywhere from 3 days to 7 days) monthly through out the year.  I have attend several at that church and other local churches, I have spoken to these pastors and their guest evangelists, and from what I can tell, these churches are not really in revival.    It is just a word that label their meetings that they host that are different than Sunday service.

Revival is basically spiritual CPR.  To revive is to breathe new life into a dying or dead situation. Their church and their city continues to die despite their efforts at “revival”.  It is not effective. There is no spiritual CPR happening in the revival meetings that I have seen for many years.  Many years ago in the 1970’s and mid 1980’s I did witness true revivals that changed cities. But after that, except for a few dynamic on fire churches, what I witnessed across this nation was a sleeping church who’s light grew dim in their communities.

Christians speak about revival, but many have become lukewarm in allowing God to be Lord in every decision.  They trade out God’s word about living: eating, raising children, marriage, healing and raising the dead, casting out demons, etc. instead for an acceptance of government guidance in regards to daily living, education of children, health care, jobs, morals, etc.  They enjoy a “tax exempt” status and follow the social / political rules.  They may get a pat on the back or their name in the paper if they do a good event, but sadly most churches, don’t bring positive change to their communities.  Though God is honored during the service on Sunday or Wednesday, God is not the Lord of their daily living decisions 24/7.   Instead the congregation often seems to hide behind the four walls of the church building, hides their gifts and talents that were purposed to expand the Kingdom within their cities, and wait…wait…wait…asleep…until Jesus returns…all the while they never realize their lamps ran out of oil and they no longer were effective to shine God’s light into a dark world.

I just want to shout from the rooftops “WAKE UP O CHURCH!  WAKE UP O BRIDE OF CHRIST WHO HAS FALLEN ASLEEP.  YOUR LAMPS NEED TENDING.  KEEP SHINING BRIGHT AND STAND UP AND STAND OUT”.

“Your eyes are like a window for your body.
When they are good, you have all the light you need.
But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark.
If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark.”
Mathew 6:22-23

How do we keep our lamps supernaturally full and shining bright?  Jesus is returning for a Bride who is awake and her lamp is full of spiritual oil and she is shinning bright and doing good, obeying the commands of Isaiah 58 while she loves God with her whole heart and loves her neighbor.

Jesus said to becareful because you will fail at shining if your light goes dark.  That seems obvious.  But he made it very clear as if it were not obvious or like we might forget if not reminded.  As if we are like the man who looks in the mirror and steps away and forgets what he looked like in that mirror.  He is right.  We easily forget that we must not let our light go dark. Jesus said if your eyes are bad, and you let darkness into your life, you can not shine.   How can your eyes bring darkness into your life?  The eyes are the door that Satan uses to tempt you. When you follow through with that temptation you bring darkness into your life.  So it is key to remove the darkness and temptations from in front of your eyes and look upon Jesus and obey him.

Jesus said if you love him, you will obey him.  He said to shine bright, stand out, and beam as brightly as you can like a lighted city on a hill, and a lamp on a high stand in your house.   Think about that for just a minute.  Has your power in the house ever gone out and you had to light a candle or use a lamp for light?  I have had this happen many times in my life, and I put that candle or lamp on the highest table in the center of the room so that the room is lit up and I can see where to go and what I am doing.  That candle or lamp can shine so bright that we can even cook a simple meal, or play games by it’s light.   However, if I placed that light in a corner of a room, it would not light up the room well enough for us to see.

When we stand out and shine, we send forth HIS light that is in us so that God will be glorified. Others will give God praise when they see you doing good and shining bright. Christians who stand out, who shine bright, often come under attack from both other Christians and non-Christians.  It can be a hard and lonely choice to stand out, and would be much easier to hide, or sit on a pew and let others do the shining.  But to obey Jesus (not your denomination, not your pastor, not religious rules or traditions),  as a child of God, you must be placed on a high place and stand out so that everyone around you can see what is around them with the light that you are shining forth.  The darkness of their situation is transformed and lit up by the light you shine.  You are the lamp that must shine bright while you are doing good. Don’t get burned out doing good, don’t fall asleep, and don’t hide your light or let it go out.

Think about it.  If every Christian obeyed the words of Jesus and stood out on a high place and shined forth God’s light while doing good, surely this world would experience true revival.  It would look a whole lot different. Surely multitudes of people would come to Jesus and give God praise for the good they see you do and the church would truly experience a spiritual CPR revival and grow exponentially.

“You are like light for the whole world.
A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden,
and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot.
A lamp is placed on a lampstand,
where it can give light to everyone in the house.
Make your light shine,
so that others will see the good that you do
and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Mathew 5:14-15

 

O Church!

Wake up, stand up, and be the light of the world, giving light to everyone while we stand out and shine bright while doing good.

Be blessed!

 

This post will be linked up with:

Raising Homemakers

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iWitness Review

I have another great homeschool resource to tell you about today!  We are reading the iWitness series of books by Apologia Educational Ministries in our biblical studies.  We were sent three of the books in this series to review: Old Testament iWitness, New Testament iWitness, and iWitness Biblical Archeology.

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If you have questions about the bible, the iWitness series of books will help you find answers through the investigation and study of facts. The bibles says: “Seek and ye shall find.”

What is the bible? Who wrote the bible? Where did the events take place? What is the difference in the old and new Testaments? Is the bible fact? How do we know the events recorded actually happened?

Each book presents logical layers of questions, and also facts. They take you on a journey to seek and discover the answers about the bible. The iWitness series of books were written on an 11 year old reading level, so students 11 and older should be able to independently study them. But they are a good fit for all ages. You can read them aloud to younger students, and even adults will glean wonderful truths from these books too. I think they would be a great tool in a group bible study too.

My children and I enjoyed using these books. The books are colorful and full of pictures.  Each book is less than a hundred pages long, so it doesn’t take long to read through them, but you will want to keep them on your reference shelf and use them again.

I definitely see how these books will be used again and again in our home to refer back to who is who and who did what. I read these books to my kids, we discussed the information, and I was surprised by how much these reference books helped us. I think that associating a graphic with information helps you grasp it. It is no longer just some random piece of information, but instead there is a visual to associate with those facts.

Here is a little bit more details about each of these books:

iWitness

Old Testament iWitness

old-testament-iwitness

Softcover, approximately 72 Pages

Reading age range is 11 and older.

Retails for $14.00

I really enjoyed how the information is presented. Each page has lots of colorful “old world” graphics. Each of the writings on the pages are presented on a graphic of a scroll or ancient document.

I enjoyed learning about the different Prophets in the Old Testament. The books gives a lot of descriptions about who they were, when they lived, what king they served, and what their purpose was. Different prophets had different purposes.

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New Testament iWitness

new-testament-iwitness

Softcover, approximately 62 pages

Reading age range is 11 and older.

Retails for $14.00

Topics: Councils Of Hippo and Carthage; Cannon Criteria; Athenasius; Eusebius; Church Fathers; Cannons; The Gospel, Apostles, and much more.

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New Testament iWitness explains how the Christian church recognized what specific writings to include in the New Testament. It introduces the reader to Apostles and leaders in the church. It explains who wrote what and how the church made decisions. It also explains how the writings were copied. I didn’t realize before that the churches shared a copy with another church and they copied it and sent another copy on to the next church and so on.

iWitness Biblical Archeology

iwitness-biblical-archaeology

Softcover, approximately 64 pages

Reading range for ages 11 and older.

Retails for $14.00

Topics: The Flood; Noah’s Ark, Egyptian Chronology; The Exodus; Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus Judges, New Testament Locations, Shroud, and much more.

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I enjoyed iWitness Biblical Archeology the most because of the amazing photos through out the whole book. There are so many amazing artifacts to learn about. The bible contains a record of history that is proven over and over with each artifact found, each community unearthed, and each scroll that was discovered.  Archeology is an amazing gift of proof in biblical facts.

Apologia Educational Ministries is a wonderful curriculum company with a mission to help your students education and your “family to learn, live, and defend the Christian Faith.” Be sure to check out their various curriculum and online class options and how they can benefit your homeschool.

You can follow Apologia Educational Ministries on their social media links for all the latest news and updates.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld

Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

Click to read Crew Reviews

Be sure to check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using iWitness curriculum in their homeschool.

Crew Disclaimer

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Lego Adventures At Homeschool Coop

David and Goliath Lego Adventures at Homeschool Coop.

We had a great time learning about robotics, physics, faith, and retelling a story using Legos at homeschool coop.

David and Goliath with Legos

I chose the bible passage of 1 Samuel 17 for our lesson. This bible passage is about David going to visit his brothers who were in the Israelite Army. They were on the front lines in a battle against the Philistines. The Philistine Army had a warrior named Goliath. He was a giant of a man standing very tall and he was very strong and covered in metal plated armour, and no-one could defeat him in battle. He often said bad things to the Israelite Army and made fun of their God. He challenged them to a fight and if they could defeat him, his army would be their slaves, but if he defeated the Israelite who fought him, then the Israelite Army would be the slaves of the Philistines. David overheard this challenge and the horrible things Goliath said against God. David saw that everyone in the army was afraid, but he was not afraid and knew God would help him defeat the enemy of Israel and the enemy of God. David accepted the challenge to fight Goliath. He trusted in the Lord to help him. He chose five flat stones from a river bed and put one of the stones in his sling, swung it around, and let the stone go into the air. He had learned to fight off animals like wolves, lions, and bears that tried to attack his flock of sheep so he was very good with the sling shot. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead and killed him. David had trusted in God to deliver him from Goliath, and he defeated the enemy of Israel and the enemy of God.

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The kids used Lego’s to retell the story. We also set up a robotic Goliath with Lego WeDo. The Goliath robot is built with Legos, pulley gears, worm gear, lever, motor, axle, and movable joints. The kids programmed the computer software program to tell Goliath to stand up and to sit / fall down. They can time his movements and change the speed, as well as program sound effects. They had Goliath stand up and growl his threats to the Army, programmed the sound of David, and his stone hitting Goliath, and then also programmed cheering by the Army after Goliath is hit with the stone and falls forward.  It is really neat how you can program sound effects to go along with the robot’s movements.

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Everyone took turns manipulating the computer software and retelling the story with Legos.  They also take apart the giant and rearrange the location of motorized lever attachment to learn how placing this in different positions, and rearranging the software commands caused the giant to move (or not move). They could re-engineer the set up and try out different ideas. They also completed a coloring page about the battle between David and Goliath and a vocabulary word puzzle.

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We also did some physics science in the gym.  We used rubber bands for sling shots. We used a large basket placed several feet away on the floor as the target.  We took different kinds of balls (cotton, pompoms, foam, and rubber) to learn what materials would be more accurate to hit a target.  The kids learned about trajectory, mass, stored energy, kinetic energy, and how to aim at a target.  They learned that the more dense their ball was, and the further back they pulled their sling shot, the better and faster the object was able to hit the target.   The kids also spent time playing in the gym.  They played basketball, tag, hide and seek, and raced each other all around.  The gym is such a great place to do a variety of learning, skill building, and physical activities.

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Logos are a great teaching / learning tool that can be used in so many fun ways.  I love teaching and learning with Legos.  I have taught Lego and Robotics Academy Club and several workshops with homeschool and 4H kids in North Carolina for several years, and I have missed it terribly since moving last summer.  I hope in the near future I will be able to host Learn It Build It workshops again in the community, and also start a Lego and Robotics club again and perhaps eventually have teams that can compete in First Lego League.  But right now, started a new class called Lego Adventures and I am blessed the local homeschool coop has invited me to teach these great kids,  and we can learn about science-technology-engineering, and robotics, and use bible stories to build their faith in the Lord.  Be sure to check back each month for more Lego Adventures.

Be blessed!

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Blessings From Praise

Did you know that offering praise to God can bring blessing?

God inhabits your praise, and exchanges  your praise for blessings.

God inhabits your praise, and exchanges your praise for blessings.

We frequently speak by faith that Jesus said “where two or more are gathered in his name, he is there in the midst of them”.  We speak this forth knowing with confidence that Jesus is wtih us when believers gather together and he hears our prayer and intercedes for us.

But did you know that Father God also said that he inhabits (dwells/lives in) the praises of his people? God is there with you and he is physically dwelling inside your praise.

There is also an exchange that happens when we praise. An exchange is when you give something and receive something back. There is a promise of blessing according to Psalm 112:1 “The Lord will bless EVERYONE who praises him and gladly obeys his teachings.”

That is awesome! You can receive blessings today, right now!

There are at least 477 verses in the bible that mention praise. That is a whole lot and it is very clear that God wants us to know about praise and what pleases him.

My earnest prayer is that you will take time today, and each day, to give him PRAISE and be BLESSED!

 

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Praise

Did you know that PRAISE is mentioned in the bible 477 times?   Praise is very important to God.  The bible says that God inhabits the praises of his people.  Imagine that for just a minute.  God inhabits…your praise…

Webster’s dictionary says that inhabit means “to occupy as a place of settled residence” and it means “to live in”.  source

Webster’s dictionary also says that praise is an “expression” and it means “to glorify”; “to esteem”; “to express a favorable judgement, or to commend”; and that it is an expression of “love, thanks, appreciation, respect, in spoken or written form”. source

Praise is God’s home.  Let me say that again, just incase you missed it.  Praise is God’s home.  God dwells in praise. God lives in YOUR expression of praise whether you vocalize it (speak, sing, shout, pray, mutter, mumble, groan, hum, etc) or write it out.  How awesome is that ?!

Do you celebrate when you offer praise?  I noticed a key theme in researching the bible about praise.  It should be filled with celebrations!

Praise should include:  shouts of joy, shouts of praise for all that God has done for us, prayer, offerings, lift your hands to God, praise him by dancing, playing instruments, play the harp and the tambourine, trumpets, stringed instruments, and woodwinds, cymbals and clashing cymbals, new songs, thankful heart, celebrate God’s wonderful deeds and victories over evil and enemies, sing songs and praise his name every day and announce “He has saved us”, sing praises to God in every nation of the earth, and so much more.   If you don’t believe me, do a search of the bible’s 477 verses that contain the mention of praise and find out for yourself.

In addition to telling us He lives in our praise, He also offers us a promise.  He will bless us because we obey Him and because we praise Him.

“The Lord will BLESS everyone who PRAISES him and who gladly obeys his teachings”.                      Psalm 112:1

One of the most amazing leaders of praise and worship of the Lord God mentioned in the Bible is King David. David sang, wrote, danced, layed prostrate, prayed, and played instruments in his worship of the Lord.  The bible says that God was pleased with his praise and worship.  Even so much that when others mocked him praising God, they brought a curse upon themself.  His own wife mocked him one time when he sang loudly, clanged cymbals, and danced naked before Lord in public and she was cursed. God was that protective of David’s praise.  Wow!

My dad was a Praise and Worship leader most of his adult life.  I loved growing up watching him lead the assembly of believers in praise.  It was really special to be a part of the congregation singing praises to the Lord with him.  He was so gifted in music and could harmonize in any key.  He died when I was 25 and I cherish those memories of my youth singing with him in church.

I too have served the body of Christ as a Praise and Worship minister.  I joined a Praise team in Kansas City when I was just 14 years old.  I continued participating in church choirs, high school and college choirs, and served on Praise and Worship teams for most of my adult life.  It has been one of my greatest joys in life.  My heart was and is always to lead the assembly of believers into a place of true worship of God as David did. To sing and praise and please God in our worship of who He is.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He never changes.  His love for us never changes.  His mercies are new every day.  He is the beginning and the end.  The is the creator.  He is the author.  He is the provider.  He is the healer.  He is the king.  He is the warrior.  He is the savior.  He is the deliverer.  He deserves our highest praise everyday that we are blessed to take a breath.

Do you need help getting to a place of praise?  First of all, pray and ask God to help you in your praise of him.  Then spend some time learning about what God says about praise in the scriptures.  You will truly be inspired, and maybe even shocked if you have never praised him before, or if you have been part of a religious culture that has rules and limitations regarding praise.

Get encouraged by the example and testimony of other believers who are offering praise and worship to God…

One of the most amazing Praise and Worship Leaders I have ever witnessed in my lifetime is Rick Pino.  I was blessed to be in the crowd of Christian worshipers in August 2008 at Greenville, SC at a Youth Conference with over 5 Thousand people, both young and old.  That is OVER 5,000!  The songs we sang rang out to the heavens!  He led us for hours in the most sincere atmosphere of praise of Father God that I have ever experienced in my life.  His genuine worship of God was contagious and everyone caught it.

That must have been what it was like to praise and worship Father God when King David worshipped.  The bible says David was a man after God’s own heart.  God was pleased with David’s worship.

 

TRANSFORM YOUR PRAISE

Do you want an experience of praise and worship like that?  Do you want to be so overcome with praise of God that nothing else matters?  Do you know that if you don’t praise God, that rocks will cry out in your place?  He is that holy and deserving of our highest praise, that all creation including rocks will praise him!  AMAZING!

He longs for our sincere praise.  He longs for our hearts to worship him in spirit and in truth.  He wants to encourage “normal people”, you and me, to live supernatural lives, to receive supernatural blessings, and experience supernatural praise and worship of the only supernatural God.

My three favorite songs from Rick Pino’s albums I purchased back in 2008 at the youth conference are “Mighty Warrior” , “We Have The Best Dad” and “I Can Hear The Sound”.  I love these songs!  They truly transform your perspective and your praise.

Mighty Warrior: The Lord is with you mighty warrior, so rise, mount up, mount up on the wings of eagles, mount up, so rise, the Lord is with you mighty warrior”.

We Have The Best Dad: We have the best dad in the whole world!

I Can Hear Can Hear The Sound: This song is absolutely one of my most favorites. He sings in this song that he “can hear the sound of the river coming down.. its coming down…your sons and daughters will prophesy…it satisfies…come and drink from the rock…I can hear the sound.”

ABBA:  Abba, I belong to you…you wont leave us as orphans…Abba…I belong to you…

 

PIONEER: I love this song called Pioneer.   “There is a wilderness calling you, and you are the pioneer to keep pressing forward, only a fire (of the Lord) goes before you, your own frontier, you are a pioneer.”

 

You and I are pioneers on the path of life, telling those in our circle of influence (our wilderness) about God.  And if we don’t cry out with praise to God, the rocks will do it in our place.  Yikes!  I don’t want a rock to do what I was created to do!  God longs for me and for you to praise him.  He longs to dwell with us in our praise.

Are you ready?

When you transform your praise, and worship in spirit and in truth, you please the Father, He will dwell with you, He will bless you, and your life will be transformed through your expression of praise.

Give praise a try.  Lift your hands, lift your heart, celebrate, pray, worship the only true living God, and sing out…”Abba, I belong to you…”

 

 

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