Biblical Homemaking is a website about desiring to glorify God in everything we do as women. BH is a blog about living for Jesus through homemaking, marriage, parenting, home remodeling, fitness, food, and more. Audio devotionals, quick and easy recipes, and frugal living are just some of the topics featured at Biblical Homemaking.
Every March, when the weather turns sunny for half a minute, I suddenly get the itch to clean every dusty corner and crevice in my house. :) All those spring cleaning endorphins must have made me a little crazy this time because in the middle of pulling out everything, cleaning out old clothes, ransacking the lego closet, reorganizing the bookshelf, cleaning out the office, and rearranging the living room, I also decided it was time to potty train Ivy-loo! These kind of productive spring days feel so great.
I think (maybe?) this means I'm rounding the 8-month postpartum corner and getting my second wind (or at least catching my breath, anyway! Yay!) It feels amazing to have more energy again!
Here are a few shots of the household mayhem as it's been happening:
After I worked on cleaning for a long while yesterday, I opened the windows and took advantage of the breeze to air out the house. It felt SO good:
I repurposed a jar we had on the shelf to be a vase for the flowers Robert bought me:
And while we're working, the littles are always nearby these days (especially the toilet-training one!):
Zane is such a good big brother, he peeled two oranges for his potty-training sister to enjoy while she sat. :)
This little puppy dog is growing up fast:
She likes to be right there with me in the kitchen while I cook:
And our love-bug is growing up too. She is becoming quite mobile so we have to keep her busy and away from small objects now! We all take turns with her (another reason why it's AWESOME to have lots of older kids!).
I think I've probably shared about it a time or two :), but I really love the E-meals/Walmart pickup combination. It's been one of the most timesaving additions to my homemaking routine! It's so much a part of our life now that I'm not sure if I can even walk into Walmart or stand in a line anymore. :)
There's only one thing that trips me up almost every time I shop for groceries online: the size of the items I'm purchasing.
I think a 1 oz. bottle of vanilla should be pretty big for $6, so I select it, only to get home and find it fits inside the palm of my hand. I should know better by now, but somehow no matter how hard I try, the same thing keeps happening to me! :)
Just last week I ordered corn tortillas for tacos, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I pulled out the tiniest tortillas I've ever seen in my life:
tortillas almost as big as her paci
I tried to get another reference point because they are so hilariously little-bitty:
I think the kids are going to have fun making them, but I have a feeling they won't be quite as filling as I hoped. :P The name sold me (street tacos sound good!), so I didn't even consider the size when I went to buy them! :)
It seems counterintuitive, but I think we experiment way more than usual thanks to online shopping because I find options I would never consider when I search digitally. Of course, the nature of experimenting means the results don't always land in your favor (hello, underbuying!). You never know what you're going to get when you try something new. It's always an adventure! :)
I do enjoy surprises, but when it comes to buying groceries online I think I may to have to start looking for item measurements. :)
the end lies just aheadLike we mentioned last week, we have been traveling down a timeline from the beginning of creation, through God's redemption plan, to our present day and how we live for Him. This week we are finishing our study with our eyes on the future: the end of our earthly race and what is to come.
Eternity is forever, from now on. If you put your faith in Jesus Christ, He promises you will never die (John 11:25-26). When your flesh is taken off in this first earthly death, your soul will be saved to be with Jesus forever, and your body will be raised to life again when He returns to the earth. (1 Corinthians 15)
All who believe in Jesus look forward to this day! This day when He returns, and death, sorrow, and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11), and we will be able to see the face of our Master and be with Him forever in His kingdom.
The Lord promises that nothing between here and there can separate those who believe in Christ! Even death here cannot separate us from God. Romans 8 tells us:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can bei against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
So no matter what happens to you, from now into eternity- even if you lose your life, you cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus!
That's why we can walk in joy.
walking forward in joyBecause we rest in what God has done for us in Christ, we can leave behind anxiety, fear, and despondency and actually rejoice in the Lord no matter what happens. If God did not spare His own Son, what would He hold back from you? You can take great joy in the fact if you are saved, your Father cares for you and knows all things!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Sometimes it's difficult to feel joy when we're in the midst of suffering, but we can preach the Gospel to our hearts and in the Holy Spirit we can remember that God is fully in control of our lives and that we can trust Him. When we relinquish control (or thinking control is in our hands), we find such joy because we can rest in His work and grace. God has already done the work, and we are not in charge! What a relief to give up our will for His. What peace we have when we fully trust in God.
walking with eternity in mindWe have to think in terms of the long range. What is coming just around the corner? Life with Jesus for eternity!! Jesus will return for us, and before we know it, this life will end and we will all be bowing before Him.
My prayer is that we will be faithful until the end.
The Bible warns us about the seriousnesses of this race and holding our confidence firm to the end. The Bible calls us to endure the race that is this life, looking to Jesus, the reason for our faith:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
If we don't hold our confidence in Christ, and we don't finish the race with Him, we can be sure we didn't have Him to begin with, because He is faithful to complete the work that He begins (Philippians 1:6).
We must cling to Jesus with all our might- we must abide in Him, and live in Him. This is what God does in the life of a new person who is born again- He becomes the most precious, wonderful prize, worth more than life itself. (Matthew 13:44)
We look to Jesus, our joy and our only Savior from the wrath of God that we deserve:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
And God is so good to His children that He gives us a guarantee of our salvation until we see it- the Holy Spirit:
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
So we walk with our eyes ahead on Christ, our Savior, and we trust and walk in joy that God is going to do this work in us- that it doesn't rely on our ability to be good enough, but our salvation relies on the faithfulness of the One who promised it to us:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
And this is the very good news of the gospel: the blood of Jesus washing away our sins, giving us new hearts that truly worship God! Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, we can be confident that we are God's children and that He will complete His work in us. We can be confident that one day we will see Him and will be with Him forever to worship Him, the very thing our hearts long to do! He is our Lord and Savior, and we have nothing good apart from Him.
That's the long range vision. Eternity with our Father in Heaven, worshipping at the feet of Jesus, where we will see our One True Love. (Revelation 22:3)
This is the joy, this is the future for those who believe.
Jesus is worthy of everything.
We set our eyes on Him. When you know His love, there is nothing else that can satisfy your soul.
you can experience the goodness of God
I can tell you all about the gospel; indeed, we've talked about it for 13 weeks, but I can't give you the experience of knowing the One, True God. He alone can give you that, and I plead with you- if you haven't known Him, please seek after Him with all your heart. Ask Him to show you Himself, and who He is. He promises He will answer if you search for Him with all your heart.
I long for you to taste of His goodness too. Oh, what mercy the Lord offers us!!
What a sweet gospel it is.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through the gospel- I am so thankful that you were with me for these three months of studying God's Word!! Please let me know if you have questions or if I can help you in any way. You can message me on Facebook here, or email me at mandy @ biblicalhomemaking.com.
How is February almost over? I don't know how it happens. We had a great Valentine's Day as a family last week! I made cinnamon rolls (from a can) in a heart shape for breakfast:
And then we had a little exchange. :) When I was a kid, we made Valentine's mailboxes for our school party, so we did our own homemade/homeschooling version this year. The kids had fun putting each other's cards into their boxes:
I didn't make a box, but the kids found a basket to deliver ours to: :)
I had no idea they made presents for each other! Noah made rainbow crayons for the little kids using his sister's hair dryer:
And Ava made me a necklace!! I think she used a tag from something we bought, and a few stones and beads she had! I loved it!
Noah made the girls bracelets for their dolls:
We did school, filmed the video for last week, and then we went to lunch together as a family and dropped the kids off at my dad's. I love that Papa gave his girls Valentine candy: :)
They were SO excited. :) I remember my dad doing the same for me when I was little! It was super special. :) We had the chance to grab some coffee alone, then we went back home to work, and back out for a quick dinner with just the baby. It was so nice to have a few hours of quiet and a chance to go out on a date!! :)
My mom came to visit and our weekend flew by in a happy blur. A new week begins so quickly around here! Does it for you too? Our days feel very full right now!
Here are my goals for this week if the Lord allows them to happen:
personal: Bible reading (daily) pray alone (daily) exercise or stretch (crosstrain 2x, run 3x, free day/stretch 2x) listen to 1 sermon practice 20 minutes a day read 1 hour/week
homemaking: sweep under couches + mop floors (1x week as a family) clean master shower inventory freezer + make a list finish cleaning out 2 kitchen drawers (didn't finish this one yet, I did about 1/2 of each!) make bread 3x in breadmaker (the kids are doing this one now!) reorganize linen closet change sheets errands: get car aligned pick up Walmart order return library books
Last June we switched to a computer-based curriculum, and after six months of using it, I was feeling pretty certain it wasn't a good fit for us as a family. I liked the affordable price and the independent style of the work, but it was difficult for the younger kids and I had a hard time monitoring how well they were all doing with it each day.
We talked over the options at the midyear point: we could pick a new math curriculum for the children, or possibly go with another printed workbook system where we could easily see how they were doing with each question. We definitely knew we didn't want to spend a ton of money since we'd already purchased so much for this grade year.
After going back and forth about it, I prayed that the Lord would help us make the right decision, and that we would be wise and know whether we should stick it out or if He would help us find a new curriculum that would work better for the children.
Not long after that, I hopped back online to look at my cart of curriculum ideas when I saw a recommendation below it for a Masterbooks worktext (at a really good price!). I had never even heard of MasterBooks before, but when I looked it up and saw what they were all about, I felt like the Lord had led me to them and that this workbook style was the answer to my prayers. (literally!)
After showing it to Robert and telling him all about it the next morning, he liked it and thought it would be worth trying too. It was really affordable, so we ordered an entire set for each of the five oldest kids about three weeks ago. It was an exciting day at our house when the boxes arrived!
Just to give you an idea of what the daily work looks like, here is our 5th grader's Apologetics question:
And here is an exam question for our 8th grader:
Can you see why I LOVE this program? I have never seen a more Gospel-centered, evangelistic curriculum!! :) In our 7th grader's math, he was instructed to copy down verses from Hebrews and Jeremiah while studying how math points us to an Almighty Creator.
Each workbook lists the assignments for the day, and most of the "textbooks" are books my kids would read for fun:
8th grade Christian History
7th grade science
This kind of schoolwork makes me more excited about homeschooling than I have ever been in my life! We have a lot more daily questions to answer, and a lot more grading to do, but I love it so far. I really enjoyed the style of Classical Conversations and this feels similar to their big-picture style of learning (especially Challenge in regard to apologetics), but simpler with all their printable work, answer keys, and lesson plans in one book to make it easier for me as the teacher. :)
I am not good at homeschooling. I would say it is definitely not my area of special gifting, but God put it in the hearts of this publishing company to write a God-centered, simple curriculum I could only dream of putting together on my own. Of course I've only used it for two weeks, but I'm excited because this is the kind of thing I want to teach them about the most. I couldn't be more thrilled to find something that makes it possible- even easy- for someone like me to help them learn this way during this stage of having littles, preteens, and teenagers all at once.
Homeschooling is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It challenges my patience (daily) and sometimes even brings me to tears, but year after year, I see more of how God helps us, guides us, and never leaves us to fend for ourselves! How kindly He leads us when we seek Him! Oh, that every single thing we learn and every single thing we do would be for the glory of God! What a blessing it is to freely be able to learn about Him together all day. This review was in no way facilitated by or paid for by MasterBooks. I just wanted to share what the Lord found for us. I had no idea it even existed until last month! :)
While we don't know what God has planned for the events of our future specifically, we do know from the Bible what God wills for us to do! God gave us specific directions about His will for our life and how we are to walk with Him in His Word.
Here are just a few of the very specific things the Lord wills for us as believers:
He wants us to love Him with everything.
Jesus makes it perfectly clear that God's desire for us is to love Him with all our hearts and everything we have:
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)
The Lord is worthy and when we love Him with everything we have, our vision of what is important to do with our life starts to become more and more clear. Loving Him with everything is the highest calling we have on our life- no matter where we live, who we marry, or what job we choose.
As John Piper often says (to paraphrase him): loving God with all our hearts actually brings us the highest joy we could ever experience, and loving Him reaps for us a greater satisfaction than we have ever known, because worshipping Him is what we were made to do! :)
He wants us to love others like we love ourselves.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)
And not only does He call us to the highest joy of worshipping Him, God has called us to love others. Through the Gospel, we realize that Jesus forgave and loved us, and so we do the same. We want to give up our lives for the sake of others.
Through the Gospel, we tell others the truth about the Good News so they too can be rescued from the power of sin and death. Even if it costs us to speak, we want to tell others about His great love.
He wants us to seek His kingdom first rather than provisions for ourselves.We also know that God's will for us is that we should not worry about money, food, or clothing. As adopted children of God, we can trust our Father will provide everything we need! God owns everything and He promises if we pursue His kingdom (His reign over all things), He will provide us with every resource we need to live:
Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
He wants us to trust Him and give Him every part of our life.Not only does God wish for us to trust Him with our daily provisions, He wants us to trust and submit every part of our life and way to Him:
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:3-5)
And Jesus Himself calls us to lay down our very lives to follow Him:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
When our lives are submitted to the Lord and given to Him, He promises that He will give us the desires of our hearts. If the living Word of Jesus abides in us and we are abiding or living in Him, Jesus also promises that we can ask whatever we wish and it will be given to us!
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
But this isn't necessarily a verse that claims you will be made rich or be given prosperity or whatever you think is good when you follow Jesus. In fact, contrary to all of our earthly (fleshly) logic and intuition, Jesus tells us which kind of people are blessed, and upon which kind of people woes or sorrows will come:
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)
Prosperity in the eyes of God does not look like riches, full bellies, laughter, and being liked by everyone. Blessing comes in poverty, hunger, weeping, and being hated because of Jesus.
His ways are not our ways.
When we read and are transformed by God's Word, our ideas of what is good starts to come in line with God's will for us, and our desires for the things of this world start to lessen as we begin to see things the way God does.
The problem with prosperity is that we become our own gods- we are happy, comfortable, and we don't needJesus. Comfort, prosperity, and fullness leave no room for God to be first in our lives. We become first in our own life, and thereby reject Jesus as our Lord.
This is why prosperity is dangerous for our soul. Riches and the cares of the world are deceitful and choke out the Word of God (Mark 4:19), and when we love and care about those things like the rest of the world we no longer serve God but ourselves, and we become fruitless.
You might be thinking- sure, I could see that- but what does this mean for you, Mandy? Mandy, who loves her life, who lives in a cushy home, who laughs and knows few sorrows, who is full and has everything she ever desired, and who has few enemies because of the cross?
It means woe to me.
Jesus isn't lying. He isn't making this too hard to understand.
That's why God is showing our family that this life is not where life is found. This life - this cushy life- is the kind of life where we lose our soul because we are serving and loving ourselves instead of God.
This good life has to die, as do my desires to save my worldly comforts and my worldly name. As do all of my desires to live out my dreams and passions. All of my desires for comfort, riches, a full belly, and being liked must die, because I want to be poor in spirit, I want to be hungry, I want to mourn, I want to be hated for His name. (Phillippians 3:7-8) That is the life that I must live in Christ, and He is my eternal reward. I want Him to live in me, not myself. (Galatians 2:20) The end and fruit of my own desires is death and separation from God forever, but the dying to my own desires and serving Jesus will reap eternal life in the end. (Romans 6:21-23)
This seems impossible to do- but with God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:23-30) He gives me all the strength I need to do it. (Phillippians 4:13). That's why Jesus came to die for me- to give me the ability to walk in the way I could never walk apart from Him. (John 15:5)
It's His will revealed in the Word of God that He is accomplishing in me by His Spirit. Jesus is giving us something far greater and of far more wonderful reward than I could ever gain by pursuing selfish desires.
He wants us to walk in joy in prayer and thanksgiving.Finally, we know that God wants us to walk where we are right now; in whatever circumstance we happen to be in; in whatever city we live in; with whatever people God put in our life; with whatever job we have right now- He wants us to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks to Him:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
No matter what, no matter our circumstances, God's will for us is to rejoice always!
He also wants us to pray continually. In every situation He invites us to talk to Him as we would to our father. What a gift it is to be an adopted child of God!!
And we know that God's will for us is to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Not just the good, but the bad ones too. What is happening to you is ordained by His hand for your good and His glory, and we can rejoice in His goodness, and give thanks to Him for what He is doing in our lives.
And we can rejoice in the future knowing that we will be with Him in eternity! And that's what we are talking about next week for our final session. :)
this week's assignment
Over the next week, read Week 12 and complete the homework following the chapter. Be sure to be honest with your thoughts, and always ask the Lord to help you understand more about Him as you read the Scriptures this week! :)
If the Lord wills, next Wednesday, I'll introduce Week 13: Walking in Joy with an Eternity Mindset both on Facebook (Live!) and here on the blog.
After two weekends of sickness in a row, this last weekend was wonderfully uneventful. :) Most of us had colds two weeks ago (which I think turned into bronchitis for me the second week!), and then one weekend ago I ended up in the ER with the worst case of mastitis I've ever had. After more than two weeks of feeling kind of terrible and fatigued, I took my last antibiotic Sunday afternoon and am excited to finally starting to feel more like myself again! :)
On Saturday, I felt so thankful to get a run in after more than a week off from working out. I have to say, there is nothing more motivating to run to than the Olympic games:
All the effort they put in is just incredible. If they can do years of training, surely I can run for a mere 30 minutes, right? :)
After church on Sunday most of us took a nap, and then we had a quiet day of rest. The kids played while we read and talked on the sofa:
The little kids played too: :)
The grocery bill for that growing crew of kiddos is driving me to get our shopping budget back in shape. On Friday afternoon I made a loaf of bread, and I'm thinking we need to bring this habit back asap...
In addition to making more bread this week :), here are a few of my other goals if the Lord allows me to accomplish them:
personal: Bible reading (daily) pray alone (daily) exercise or stretch (crosstrain 2x, run 3x, free day/stretch 2x) listen to worship music 3-5x Scripture journal 2x
homemaking: finish sorting leftover toiletries from bathroom cleanout mop floors clean out 2 kitchen drawers plan meals from current stock make bread 3x in breadmaker errands: get car aligned
homeschooling: kids recite Psalm 27:1-4 bake Valentine's cupcakes with kids + decorate exercise activity for entire family kids- walk/run 1 mile (24 laps around the outside of the house)
blogging: study/ prep/ film Sweet Gospel Week 11 edit 1 video for YouTube (or have the boys do it) post update on new curriculum I hope you have a great (and healthy!) week! :)
A couple of weeks ago (three now?), we had tickets to go to the G3 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. My in-laws had kindly agreed to keep the kiddos, so we bought new tires and everything to go on a long road trip. The day we were prepping to leave, that gigantic winter storm rolled in and we ended up being snowed/iced in at home instead of traveling as we intended to.
But God knows everything, and the morning we were supposed to be traveling to Atlanta, the city had iced over and had 93 car wrecks in 11 hours (and all the airports shut down too!). So the Lord's definitive answer was "no" for us at every turn, in spite of all we had planned. We felt kind of disappointed that our trip was cancelled, but we knew it wasn't in our control.
I have to tell you this story though: just weeks before, at the very moment I was about to book our airline tickets, we both felt really uncertain about the flying we had previously been set on. So rather than hitting the book button, we decided to stop and pray to ask God for wisdom. A minute after we were done praying we both felt sure we should drive instead of fly. Come to find out later, the Lord's provision was planned far in advance and we didn't lose a penny on travel costs because of the help and instruction of the Holy Spirit! :)
As soon as we realized we couldn't make it because of the storm, we cancelled our Atlanta hotel. Since Robert's parents had already bought the groceries and arranged for everything, they encouraged us to bring the kids when the ice cleared and go somewhere close by to stay! It was the BEST idea ever.
We booked a room about two hours away at our favorite hotel, and we had the most fantastic and restful time.
We mostly stayed in, and once we started watching the conference online we realized it would have been much tougher to keep a rowdy 6-month-old quiet in a big convention center church setup. Instead of keeping her quiet with people all around, we had the chance to watch it in the privacy of our hotel in a big cushy bed while the baby played. It was awesome. :D
We also had breakfast made for us every morning in the restaurant. What a blessing it was to rest and not put much effort into anything! (ha!)
One night we went out for Indian food at a place in Allen called Spice Creations, and it was delicious! We had chicken korma, chicken kebabs, garlic naan, and khichdi:
I had a gift card so we wandered into Anthro at NorthPark after we ate. I didn't need or find anything (I was looking for a pair of good sandals with it!), but that store is just so lovely a trip there is like going to the park or something. :D
One thing we did find was a good hiking/travel pack for a trip we hope to take soon. I felt like a real backpacker! :D I can't wait to use it again:
By the time we arrived back home, our crazy Texas weather went completely in the opposite direction:
After that weekend, we came home even more certain of this: the weather is in His hands, as are all of our plans. And He always knows what's better for us, even when we can't see it at first. :)
Last week we talked about what it looks like to be alive in the Spirit but still wearing flesh, and how grace comes in when we sin, and this week we are taking a broader look at just a few of the changes that the Gospel brings about in the lives of believers! We are stepping back to see the fruit of Christ in our lives as we become sanctified in Him, and just a little bit of what it looks like in a bigger picture.
Remember how we talked about God giving us a new heart?
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
It's this heart that is made alive in the Spirit that allows us to be transformed by the good news of the Gospel of Jesus! Though there are many changes that come along with this transformation, we're talking about three big ones today. Here they are:
believing in Jesus allows us to respond with love in our wordsWhen my children drop my favorite coffee mug, and the anger rises up in me, the Holy Spirit raises a big red flag in my spirit so to speak which makes me cry out to God for help because I’m about to lose it! Instead of letting it all out, He helps me take a breath and realize it is just a mug. He helps my blood pressure go down and I somehow find myself saying, "it’s okay” rather than letting out my initial thoughts. This is the love of God overtaking my fleshly desires! :)
In the Bible Jesus says this love for each other is how people will know they are His disciples!
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
This works itself out in so many ways. You can imagine what loving words sound like: they are kind, patient, encouraging, and full of goodness. :)
When we're given these difficult situations, they are opportunities for God's glory to be put on display, because we are saying no to what we want and saying yes in obedience to the Holy Spirit. And He helps us in that very moment to do what seems and feels impossible!
So through the Gospel of Jesus doing for us what we could never do on our own, we can love others and honor God with our words.
believing in Jesus allows us to love with our actionsNot only can we love with our words, we can love with our actions!
When we read God's Word and are transformed by Him, our new heart wants to obey His commands. And His commands look like loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Obedience to God looks like giving Him full reign in our hearts- giving up our success, our money, our titles, our houses, our status, our entertainment, and our obsessions- and doing what He says. It’s caring for people in need, and putting their needs above your own- loving people like widows and orphans, and serving instead of being served.
To tell you frankly, obedience to God often means doing things you don’t normally want to do in your flesh. But in light of reality we see that this very kind of giving-up-your-own-desire love is the most beautiful kind of love. We recognize this beautiful love in our hearts already!!
It’s the love of a mother staying up with a sick child; it’s the love of grandparents putting their plans on hold to keep their grandchildren; it’s the love of a soldier rescuing his friend in battle; and it’s the love of a father who jumps in front of a car to save their child. In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
Sacrificial love exemplifies Gospel love- it’s the love of Jesus who laid down His life for us. And Jesus, our ultimate example, says:
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
This love for each other in word and action is how we are known to be God’s people!
The Gospel allows us to love with our actions. And Jesus came to serve first so that we could have the ability do the same! He came and laid down His life for ours so that we could rest in His perfection and sinlessness!
believing in Jesus allows us to face trials with hope
Along with our love displayed in word and deed, I believe trials are one of the brightest ways that believing in Jesus and His Good News displays God’s glory and grows us as Christians. The Gospel of Jesus is SO good; His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but have no doubt that you will face trials, and you will suffer. Our human thinking wants to downplay this aspect of Christianity, but suffering is part of the call of Jesus. God has ordained that we should suffer like Jesus did on the earth:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-13, 19)
But God’s plans are not ours, and His ways are so much higher and better than our ways. These trials that God will allow to come into your life are going to be used for your good, and growth in Christ, and for God’s glory.
When a believer suffers, they realize that every single part of their life is orchestrated and ordained by God for their good and and His glory. None of their suffering will be a waste:
1 Corinthians 4:7-18 tells us this:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This trial now is stripping away our dependency on the things of this world. When sickness comes, when death happens, it makes us cling to Jesus all the more, displaying His glory in our life- showing the world that He is greater and more important to us than anything else in this world. And so when bad things happen to us, our hope in the face of a hopeless situation shows we trust in God more.
This is the beautiful good news of Jesus that changes our heart and makes us love Him more than everything, and helps us lay down our own lives to love Him and others in a supernatural, incredible way. This is the Spirit of God at work in us!!
This is what we call the transforming power of the Gospel! :)
this week's assignment
Over the next week, read Week 11 and complete the homework following the chapter. Be sure to be honest with your thoughts, and always ask the Lord to help you understand more about Him as you read the Scriptures this week! :)
If the Lord wills, next Wednesday, I'll introduce Week 12: Seeking God’s Will in Our Lives both on Facebook (Live!) and here on the blog.