Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 5: Devotions, God has a plan

It should provide much reassurance to know that God has a plan for our lives. Each day as we wake up, the goal should be to ask God to reveal that plan to us, so that we might follow it to the best of our ability. But most often, when we wake in the morning, the last thing on our mind is to think about God’s plans. Instead, we usually start thinking about our own plans. What to wear? What to eat for breakfast? Am I late? Again? At times our thoughts as we wake are much more troublesome. The fight that we had right before bed. The bills that are not paid and won’t be for a while. Do we really have time to find out God’s plans? Do we really want to know? What if His plans include more trials? This is the time that we must remember that God’s plans are perfect. It is truly amazing how he can use the most insignificant or the most awful circumstances and turn them into good. We might come to Him at our worst, and He will show us His best for us. Absolutely everything that happens in our lives, every time we mess up, or do our best, it is part of God’s plans.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jer. 29:11

Thinking of this verse first thing in the morning might help us to remember that God’s plans are always for good, and we need to seek them out. God wants us to seek Him, He wants us to pursue Him and find out what His plans are for our lives. Hearing God’s plans for might be scary at first, but knowing them seems much scarier.
Your challenge for this week, when you wake…pray that God will reveal His plan for you.

Then think of the children in your class, how is God using them to fulfill His plans? Are you helping them by encouraging their talents and abilities or are you standing in their way? Pray that you will be an encouragement to them every day.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Read: Genesis 12-20, Go ahead and skim through it, to make sure that you remember the key parts.

-being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, Col. 1:11

Waiting, waiting, waiting…patience, patience, patience. I know we have all heard before that you should never ask God to give you patience. Because He will make sure that you get plenty of practice.  But in our society today, we have very little patience and very little willingness to wait for things.
In our bible story this week God asked Abraham to wait, God kept telling Abraham don’t worry, it will happen. The promises I made to you will be fulfilled, but you must be patient, you must wait. Abraham did wait, and God was faithful to Abraham. God did give Him what He promised.
So has God asked us to wait for something? Is God asking us for patience, is God telling us not to worry, because He will fulfill His promise to you? Is God asking us to be faithful to Him? To not give up on Him?
Ask yourself all of these questions, write down something that God has asked you to wait for. That He has promised to you, but has asked you to wait.  Now stop and pray. Ask God to reveal His plans to you. Tell God you are willing to wait, even if it is for a long time.
STOP…WAIT…PRAY…LISTEN for God to speak to you.

Now I want you to think about your children, the children in your classroom. Have you shown them patience this week? Have you waited for them? These are little children, they are God’s gift to us. Maybe you have been teaching them rules, now teach them grace. How do we do that?
Every time they “break” one of “your” rules. Show them grace, not anger. Show them love, be patient, be kind. Is this not what God expects of us? Can we show our children the same grace, the same kindness, the same love, the same patience that God surely shows us each and every day?

Your challenge this week is to not scold, or yell, or punish. But to show grace, patience, kindness, and love. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Read Genesis 6-8, the story of Noah
Now reread Genesis 7:5 “and Noah did all that the Lord commanded of Him.”
How difficult that must have been for Noah, think about what God asked him to do.  First God asked Noah to build an ark, a huge boat, in the middle of the desert.  The task itself must have been daunting, overwhelming to say the least. To build anything alone, is quite an accomplishment, but to build something of that size without help? But really, Noah did have help, he had God there with him the whole time, guiding him, leading him through each step.  But the building was just the first step. Then Noah needed to gather all the animals, all of the food, everything he would need for this journey that he knew nothing about. Noah and his family did not know what to expect. Instead they just trusted in Him. Which is where verse 5 comes in, “and Noah did all that the Lord commanded of Him.”  If we substituted our name for Noah, would that verse still hold true? Have we been asked by God to do the seemingly impossible task? Do we obey God to the fullest? As I pose this question to myself, I would honestly have to say no. I look at what God has asked me to do, and sometimes I do not trust enough to allow Him to help me.  Specifically, I look at the challenge that God has given me in regards to writing this devotion for you and the bible curriculum. Every week I struggle with the right words to put down and constantly wonder if they are my words or God’s. God has put this on my heart, that we need a new way to reach the children of our center, a different approach. One that speaks directly to our little ones. My desire is to glorify God in my writing and at the same time help you, my amazing teachers, while bringing the simplest of messages to our students. I believe that Noah spent the entire time that he was building, gathering, and floating in that arc speaking to God. I need to do that, keep in constant prayer as God trusts us with the tasks he presents to us. I want to be able to say that “I did all that the Lord commanded of me”.

My challenge to you this week:  First, pray! Pray for your own challenges that God is giving to you.  Second, ask someone else to pray for you and a challenge you face. Third, think about what you are asking of your children. God knew exactly what He was asking of Noah, and He knew that Noah would do it. When you ask your children to do something, are you sure they can do it, are you prepared to walk with them, step by step until they are successful? 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week 2 Devotion-Adam and Eve

Read Genesis 2
Now reread Genesis 2:2-3.   By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
Rest, siesta, break, vacation, etc. all of these words describe a particular action that means to take time off, smell the roses, appreciate your blessings. But we have a hard time with this. For us, resting feels wrong. We feel bad when we are not working. Even on our days off, we have long lists of things that we need to cross off. So we do not rest. Have any of you ever needed a vacation after your vacation? You come back more exhausted than when you left?
This is problem that goes back to the Old Testament. It was not enough for God to say “Rest” instead, He needed to make rules, He needed to tell the Israelites exactly what they could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath.
As Christians, we do not follow the Sabbath rules anymore, we do not live by the legalistic rules of the Old Testament instead, we live in the Love of Christ. But maybe we need to reconsider our Sabbath. Maybe we need to make it Holy again.  We need to make REST a four letter good word, not a bad word.
It is time to sit back, relax, put our feet up and open our bibles, and spend some time soaking in some of Jesus words, close our eyes and feel His love, be quiet and listen for His whisper. Because He is whispering to us. Jesus is saying. “Nothing else matters, only Me.” “Put your trust in Me” “Put your hope in Me.” “I love you” When was the last time you were quiet enough to hear those words? Make today that day.
Your challenge for this week is to take a moment to sit in your classroom either when it is empty or when the children are sleeping and just listen for God to whisper to you. Ask Him for guidance with the children that you have and then sit back and wait.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Devotion Week 1-Creation

Read Genesis 1
Creation is such an amazing story. It signals beginnings. The beginning of everything. It is like the beginning of school, when all the school supplies and clothes smell new. When the tennis shoes are still white or the lights still light up. The same is true for creation. Everything was new. Nothing had ever been seen before. The sun, the moon, the stars! Imagine seeing stars for the first time. Or the first babbling brook. Eating the first apple, laying on the soft grass, looking up at the trees swaying in the wind.
As teachers we can see our children in the same way. Exciting and new, pretend like you have never met them before and look at each child as a creation of God, can you see them in a different light? Can you forget the naughtiness or the defiant for a moment and just love on them? Can you tune out the crying or screaming and just hear laughter and see joy.
God calls us to do that, He expects us to treat His children like He treats us, with love, compassion, and never-ending patience. His expectation is that we will cherish the children He has entrusted us with. Sharing His love with them at all times and in any way we can.
So for this week, observe and note not the bad, but something amazing about each of your students.    
See them as God sees them.
This weekend and throughout this upcoming week take time to pray about seeing your kids in this way.  To see these children not as hard or difficult but in a new way. Take some time to really try to have a new outlook on each kid both the "difficult" ones and "less difficult" ones. Pray about the situations that you have encountered so far and the ones that are still to come. And pray for the families that are connected to you through your children.

In the past we have had children in certain classes that the teachers had a hard time with, then the teacher was told to pray about the particular child. After taking time to really pray and look into how she could help the child and not how the child could change, she ended up finding the situation to change for the better. Please take this to heart and really look at each child and see them for who they are and how God sees them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The first day of school is like New Year to me. As a teacher it is a new beginning, fresh start. How can I do better, what can I change? But with these questions, one must also ponder what has happened in the past to encourage a person to do that. I look back at this last year and nothing anyone could have said would have prepared me for the year ahead. If someone had told me that two of my children would be married by the beginning of this school year, I would have laughed at them. First grandbaby coming any day? No way. Depression and anxiety taking over my common sense and sometimes will to live and move forward? Nope, not me. Unbelievable grief over losing my Mom. None of these things were a part of my life one year ago, but now they are my reality.  Even finishing graduate school seemed a bit too far-fetched for who I was. I am a person who loves to start new and exciting things, but I am not likely to finish.  Even when I was asked to start a new classroom at work, everyone knew I would find someone else to take over very quickly. But I didn’t, I actually stuck it out for the entire year. That little class was the best thing that happened to me in the school year, it gave me purpose. I loved those kids, for one year, they became my life. It gave me a glimpse of who I used to be. But now those little guys are starting Kindergarten, hopefully prepared for the year ahead. All of them meeting new teachers and beginning new adventures of their own. So where does that leave me? Back in my little hole in the wall office, away from all the action, missing my spot at the front where I could greet each parent individually. Now I have a new role and I have to recreate myself again.  The question I have now is can I do it? Do I still have the ability, the desire, the energy? I am not the person I used to be, I am not a better version of my old self.  For the first time I find myself not wanting to go ahead, but rather, return to my old self. The person I was.  But is that even possible? What if I can’t, what if this new me, is my new reality? I am not sure I can live with that.

My bible verse for this year was so simple, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Cor. 12:9 I had no idea that when I picked it (or God revealed it to me) that I would rely so heavily on it.  I have never needed a verse so badly before. One that I could hold on to.  Hold on to like a life raft. Until this year, I did not know that my bible was just that, a life saver.  But now I know. I learned a lot this year, when nothing else matters, God still thinks that I matter. So I can share that, right? I can share that God does not abandon us, no matter what we are going through.  No matter how badly we want to abandon Him. God will pursue me, He will pursue you also. My prayer for this year…Lord, please pursue me, even when I don’t want to be pursued. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Devotion of Hope

In today’s world, hope is something we are wishing for. I hope that everything turns out okay. I hope my car starts in the morning. I hope it snows tonight. As a generation we have lost some of the faith that is needed to have a Godly, biblical definition of hope. According to hope is indication of certainty. A strong and confident expectation. That is what I want hope to be. Not something that I cannot count on.  Psalm 147:11 says “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love”. We can move on from any fear, any anxiety, any problem when we have the Hope that Jesus fills us with. The Hope that says I am always with you. “Cast your burdens, on the Lord, for he will care for you.” Psalm 55:22. That is the kind of Hope we have, no more wishy washy Hope, but real Hope in the one who created Hope. Created Hope for us.

As a group or a network of believers, let us embrace these facts and look to instill it in our work. Let’s collectively work to make this a part of our classrooms and more than that a fixture in our lives. This Hope should be displayed constantly and consistently, our kids should be able to sense this hope. Just as prevalent as Hope is in the Bible so should it be in our hearts, minds, souls and actions. 
This year my school will be focusing on three different character traits. 
Our HOPE is in GOD
Our JOY is in JESUS
Our God provides for us and wants us to SHARE with others.
Every bible story & every theme will focus on one of these three traits. 
Once a week our staff will spend a few minutes focusing on the theme. We will read scripture together, have some devotional time and then pray together. This will set our week on the right path. We will be ready to share the love of God to our little ones. That is our goal.