I Know That I Haven’t Lived The Way That I Should Have, But …

     Every year as we head towards the new year, I look back at the previous year and realize that I haven’t lived the way that I wanted to live. That there were parts of my life where I behaved in a way that was wrong. I could easily make an excuse, but if you only knew what happended to me that day, or what I had been up against the month before then you would understand. I don’t want to live my life with excuses that allow me to keep being the same way that I have always been. I need to stand up, look at myself in the mirror and change. Easier said than done!

 

Why Would I Want to Examine Myself


This post came from the sermon that my Pastor was preaching about this past Sunday. When he asked, “Why examine yourself,” all I thought about was because I want to be more like Jesus.

I read the Bible quit a bit, (I would love to say everyday, but I can’t). I love the words that jump off the page. Wise people hold their tongues, love your neighbor, in prayer and petition, etc. It is only when I put these words into practice that they ever really make sense to me.

So when I examine myself, I need to do so with practical testing. A test looking at what I have physically done. I can put down check marks for each day that I read the Bible, however, if I do not physically do something with those words, then I have failed the practical testing portion of my examination.

 

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ

Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

To refine a piece of metal you need to first get rid of the crude metal (impurities) that is within. You can do this with fire, that melts the metal down, causing the impurities to seperate. Sometimes this method takes more time than others. It depends on what type of impurities are in the metal. Other times, you would need to make the fire hotter for the impurties to come to the surface, so that you can remove them. Once the impurities (crude metal), is removed then it is thrown away. It is of no use to anyone.

 

“Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will

understand, but those who have insight will understand.” ~Daniel 12:10

 

God continuallys tries to refine us. Everyone feels pain, heartache, and has bad times. It’s through these times that we have the chance to change. To get rid of the impurities within us that shouldn’t be there. Some of them may be removed easily, others may take more time or more fire (hard times) for us to even see that they need to be removed. This is why at the end of each year, we should really take the time to examine ourselves and see what impurities we still have within us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because

you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work

so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1: 2-4

 

By What Test do we Examine Ourselves With


     It’s easy to walk around the world looking at how others live their lives and determine what we think is right and what we think is wrong.  But we should not trust our own understanding and knowledge of what is right or wrong. It differs from person to person, as it should, and that leaves a society whose moral compass sways from one side to another, causing a ripple effect of emotions, leading to a roller coaster type of life.

 

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge

another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know

that God’s judgement against those who do such things is based on truth.” Romans 2:1-2

 

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in

his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since 

he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us live to 

himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or

whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. Why

do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God;

for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an

account of himself to God.” ~ Romans 14:1-12

 

Our judgement of what is right and wrong can not come from our own knowledge of what we have seen in the world. You must use the Bible to test yourself in the true way. And in knowing the Word of God, then and only then can we go before God to truthfully examine ourselves.

 

” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important

thing is for the Lord to commend them.” 2 Corinthians 10:18

 

 

How Our Pride Gets in the Way


Do NOT let stubborness and pride get in the way.

I don’t know about you, but I am about as stubborn as they come. I have come a long way from where I was, thank God, but I still have a ways to go before my stubornness is conquered.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfactionof a job well done, 

and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” ~ Galatians 6:4

 

I spend way to much time of my life, comparing how I am better than others (pride). Then if people suggest that I have done something wrong, sometimes I bristle right up, get defensive and start proving how they are wrong and I am right (stubborn). This can happen a lot when it comes to my spouse. The check lists of, but I did this and this and this, and what did you do? I love you more than you love me. See I can prove it. The problem is all of these strategies that I have used my whole life, set me up for a false interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. So this year I am setting out to find the truth in all of this, by practically testing myself a lot more and finding the impurities that are not suppose to be there.

 

Setting A Goal or Two


My family and I decided to sit down and write out a few goals for the year. We each did a spiritual goal and then at least one other goal. We sat down today and started looking up Bible verses to memorize to help us to accomplish our spiritual goals. My younger son chose anger. My middle daughter chose doubt. I chose peace. So I showed both of them how to look up these topics in the back of the Bible and then how to find a verse. They had to write down at least 2 verses and start memorizing them. These verses will be the foundation for everything that we do spiritually this year.

I feel like this year is going to be the best year for us spiritually. It may not be the most blessed year, the happiest year or even the year where everything goes just the way that I want it to (how I can hope). It will be a year where the Holy Spirit encompasses our lives more, to allow us to have peace no matter what happens. Faith when it feels like every news channel is reporting that the world is coming to an end. Even Joy, in the midst of the hardships that are sure to come.

You see, we need to learn to evaluate ourselves so that we can live the life that God wants us to live. No matter what that may look like. And not just live it, but really enjoy every moment. That also means JOY during doing the dishes, when the kids are fighting, when your husband is grumpy because you won’t give him any that evening.

I want to live a life just like that. I want to say that I not only believe in Jesus but that I am walking very close with Him. I hope you want the same for you and your family this year. Please take the time to write down your families’ goals for the year. Post them in a place where everyone will see them everyday. Help your kids learn how to find Bible verses that match their spiritual goal for the year and write the verses down on index cards. Tape them up in a place where they can read them everyday (bathroom). And take time for your own spiritual goal. We are of no use to our kids if we are not modeling what we expect from them.

Please take pictures of your family holding their goals or working on their goals and post them on here or the Homeschooling Women of God Facebook Page. Lets encourage one another throughout this year to change spiritually and become more like Jesus everyday.

 

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30 Day Positive Thinking Challenge – Day 28

Can You Be Positive Without God?

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There are definitely positive people out there that do not believe in God. But what about the times that bring them down? What do they hold on to? How do they get through the storm with their positive thinking intact? Most of them do not.

God is the light that shines when all else is dark. You may not believe me but it is true. When I first left my ex-husband, I hated when night time came. I would become afraid, I didn’t want to be by myself, and I didn’t want to go to sleep. The thought of closing my eyes terrified me. Every single night, I had horrible night mares. The kind where you wake up sweating, shaking, crying and too afraid to go back to sleep. These nightmares plagued me for over 2 years. Just the thought of having another nightmare would scare me. I had to learn to let go. I learned that God was right there with me, all I had to do was ask for help. Once I realized that, yes the nightmares are scary, but that they are just nightmares, they stopped. I needed God to intervene in the middle of my storm, to help set my sails in the right direction. Fear had overwhelmed me and driven me off course. God came to set me free.

What in your life is holding you back from experiencing the joy that God wants you to have? Do you feel like you are drowning in a situation that never seems to end? Are you having a hard time making a decision about which way to go in life? Let God be the one who helps you. Let him wrap his arms around you and hold you, so that you can have rest.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mathew 11:28)

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'” (Mark 10:27)

Assignment:

 Pray. Tell God that you are tired. That you need him so that you can rest. He will be there for you and guide you in the right direction, if you just listen. He is strong when we are weak. Run to him. Hold nothing back. Fall on your knees and cry if you need to. God will cherish every tear that falls.

I want you to find Bible verses about all the things that God can do. www.biblestudytools.com is a great resource for looking up specific verses. I want you to find two verses that really speak to you about how strong God is. Write them down on a piece of paper or index card. Then read them at least three times today. Know that God is always with us, ready to hold us up when we are starting to fall down.

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30 Day Positive Thinking Challenge -Day 27

The Greatest of All of These is Love

Without love we have nothing. Jesus died for us the most horrible death, while we were still sinners. “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”(Luke 23:34). In his time of torture, he asked God to forgive us. So, why are we not out there loving the least in the world? Why are we not forgiving those around us? Why are we not being the hands that heal, the mouth that speaks words of love, and the ears that listen?

love

It is hard to find time to love others on a daily basis. You wake up with all of the things that you need to get done on your mind. Your day revolves around you, from the moment that we wake up. What if we changed our view, and thought positive, thankful thoughts towards God, when we first woke up? Would our love change?

It is so easy for me to get lost in the day, worrying about, cleaning the house, running errands, finishing homeschooling for the day, working on this website, playing with my kids, loving my husband, that I forget about the world outside of my house. I can so easily forget to call a friend back, or help someone in my community that needs it. Besides, it’s easier to just worry about my life. When I start to think of others, I can get overwhelmed. But think about all the things that we do, that could have waited.

What if I woke up in the morning and decided that I am not going to clean my house today. I am going to welcome a new neighbor into the neighborhood. Maybe, I will take the time to visit a friend who is sick today. Maybe, I need to love more husband more, because I have been neglecting him. Maybe I need to spend a day playing with my kids and making memories. There are so many ways to love others, the list is endless.

Sometimes, I think that we get so busy with our lives that we do not see the needs of others around us. Our vision, only allows us to see our daily routine. This is where God comes in. If I take the time each day, just to ask God to show me who needs help, I usually get an answer within the next few days.

The idea of loving others, is so important to me, that my kids and I will be taking Fridays off next year, from homeschooling to do community service projects. I am not sure what we will be doing each Friday, but I know that God will help us with that part. Some weeks I am sure, we will be called to help someone on another day. Whatever happens, I believe that it is so important to show our children, how to think about others and love them. Especially in a society that really focuses on living your life for yourself.

Assignment:

Pray. Pray that God would open your eyes and help you to see those in need around you. Ask him to show you who needs help in your area. He might even show you people that need help, somewhere else in the world.

I want you to help one person out in the next week. Maybe somebody just needs someone to talk to. You could be the one who listens. Maybe someone in the community is really sick, you could make them a meal and take it over to them. Maybe, someone at work has had a bad week, surprise them with their favorite coffee or dessert. There are so many ways to love others. Try to include your kids in the process too, if you can.

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30 Day Positive Thinking Challenge – Day 26

Lack of Faith Leads to Uncertainty

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Faith is the glue that holds you together in times of trouble. Without faith we literally crumble into many pieces. How do you find faith? Better yet, how do you find a faith that withstands the storms that come?

Two years ago, I resigned from my job, so that I could follow God. Talk about faith. I have a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, that I am still paying for, and I just up and quit my job. God had asked me to homeschool our three kids. I didn’t really like the idea at all. I liked that school that we were at. A lot of the teacher’s were Christians and did a fantastic job caring about all of the kids. But, God kept asking me, and asking me and then shouting at me. I knew that I could no longer tell him “no.” I know that this sounds crazy to some people, hearing from God, but, I took a big leap of faith that year, by giving my life over to God.

Less than a year after I quit my job, my husband lost his. We now had no income in our house. You think that I would be frantic, but I wasn’t. I was very calm and peaceful. God had let me know that my husband wouldn’t be without a job for very long. My husband on the other hand, was upset (which is understandable). At first he didn’t believe me that this was only a short trial period. I think that God was testing our faith. We started to pray a lot more. Isn’t it funny how we pray more in the bad times, then the good times. Within three weeks, my husband landed another job. The job was within 15 min. of our house, with a man whose wife had homeschooled all 8 of his daughters, all the way through highschool. It was amazing, because my husband still struggled with the idea of me homeschooling our three kids. Once, my husband had chance to get to know his boss’s daughters, he started to ease up on his idea of homeschooling. God, had put my husband in just the right place at the right time, to help our family. God is good at all times!!

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So how do you come to have faith in your life? Pray. Pray when the times are good and bad. Pray knowing that God is in control of our world, especially yours. Pray, with the peace that Jesus left you, know that they will never leave you side. Pray.

The second step in your faith, is to start to give control of your life to God. You can start with something small. Maybe, you are having a hard time with someone at work and you are not sure how to handle the situation.  Maybe, you are struggling with how to parent one of your kids. Maybe, you can not decide if you should buy a new care or not. Maybe, your marriage is sinking and you do not know how to save it. For all of your maybes, pray to God about them. Tell him that you need his help. Give control of that area in your life to him. Eventually, you will let God have control of your life. I did. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Assignment:

Pray. Pray to God and tell him that you need him. Ask him to take control over one area of your life. The one area that you feel is falling apart the most.

I want you to write a prayer to God. A prayer of giving control over to him. A prayer that lets him know that you need him. A prayer that builds your faith up and in turn will start to give you peace and joy in your life. Once you have written the prayer, place it in a spot where you will see it and read it everyday.

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30 Day Positive Thinking Challenge – Day 25

Unforgiveness is The Tiny Monster That Destroys Your Positive Energy

unforgiveness

So many people that have unforgiveness in their life, think, that if they forgive the person that hurt them, that they have given them a get out of jail card. The person that really gets to break free is yourself. Most of the time, the person that hurts you, doesn’t spend time wallowing in guilt for what they have done. So, not forgiving someone, really only hurts you.

I spent years being angry at my ex-husband. I did not understand how someone could stand before our families and God, and proclaim to love me, protect me, and hold my heart in their hand with gentleness, till the day that we died. But only a few months after we were married, it all came crashing down. He started staying out all night. If he came home, he was drunk and had drove home that way. Then he would proceed to pass out on the couch. He might get up and go to work the next day, or not. Then I started yelling and nagging. He started becoming emotionally and physically abusive. To the point of him buying a gun with no serial number on it. Taping it to the back of the dryer, in plans of killing me with it. Then to top it all off, I found out that he had been cheating on me for quite a while, and I was six months pregnant. I never wanted to forgive him. Someone that had not only hurt me, but also our two daughters, it made me angry. I was also so sad. I just wanted to crawl into bed and stay there for a few years.

I left my ex-husband August 25th, 2008. I remember that day, like it was yesterday. I moved in with my step-mom, and tried to move on with my life. I started going to ladies Bible study and church every Sunday, as soon as I left him. I literally ran to God, because I knew that I was not strong enough on my own. I wanted to go to the bars and drink away my sadness. I knew that doing that would cause more heartache for me and the girls. So, I ran to God instead. At first, I was very shy and timid. I didn’t want to join in talking to others during the Bible study time, or say much at church. Eventually, slowly, I started to open up and tell others about my situation. It was really hard. I would have tears in my eyes and barely be able to speak at first. But, opening up was the best thing that I ever did. They prayed over me all the time. They talked to me more during church time. I felt like I had a new family, not only in the members at the church, but also in God.

I started feeling stronger and less anxious. I knew God cared, because when I would pray, go to Bible study time, or be at church, there was just this overwhelming feeling of peace. I was safe. I didn’t have to be someone I was not to get others to like me. I was home.

I eventually met my current husband, Jason, 6 years ago. At first, it was hard, because I had not forgiven my ex-husband and it showed. I would get tense or shutdown when Jason would do something. It was like a trigger within myself, would be set off. I knew that if I did not let the baggage from my past go, that it would eat me alive and I would end up in another divorce. So I started to pray. I prayed everyday, probably 20 times a day. All I did was ask God to help me forgive my ex-husband. I wanted the feeling of being free from what he had done to me.

It took time, but, God heard my prayers. He helped me to forgive my ex-husband. I even sat down about 7 months ago and wrote him a letter of forgiveness. It felt so good, to say good-bye to the past. To be free. To love Jason in a way that would never be possible, had I not forgive my ex-husband.

Assignment:

I want you to really examine your life for unforgiveness. No matter how small or big it is. I want you to pray, everyday for God to help you. For him to give you the strength to forgive, whom ever in your life that has hurt you. I want you to give it to God and let him truly change you. Know that you can not do this on your own. Trust me when I say, that the more you pray, easier it will be to forgive and let go.

Once, you have forgiven someone, I want you to write them a letter telling them so. It may seem unfair at first. You may be thinking, why do they get to get off the hook, for something that they did to me? Realize though, that you are setting yourself free. You can do this. You just have to work at it and let God guide you.

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