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 DEVOTIONS POSTED IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS

I'M READY TO GROW UP

1  CORINTHIANS 13:11  When I was a child I talked like a child.  I thought like a child.  I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Children, in their negative traits, are self-centered, stubborn, self-willed, rebellious (testing boundaries), unable or unwilling to reason with facts, easily angered, sneaky, gullible, destructive, undependable, fickle, rude, insensitive, and sometimes deceitful. On the other hand, their positive traits include being innocent, trusting, carefree, teachable, flexible, loyal, and forgiving. Scriptures give us two concepts regarding "putting away childish ways." The above verse clearly indicates that we are to move away from childish talking, thinking and reasoning. However, Jesus taught that unlessyou change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven(Matthew 18:3).  Doesn’t this seem to be a paradox?  
            While Paul encourages us to throw away the negative traits of childishness as we grow into complete maturity, Jesus reminds us to cultivate and grow even more in the positive traits of a child.  The negative traits can be summed up in two words--self-centeredness and rebelliousness (the flesh).  Paul encourages believers to crucify the flesh daily.  We are to become willing to obey and follow God's commands and not our own desires.  On the other hand, the positive traits are summarized in one word--trust.  God is asking us to retain our child-like trust while we die to our selfish ways. 
            It is helpful to remind ourselves of the difference between children and adults. We cannot expect children to act likeadults without training and maturity, but we MUST require mature action and thinking ofourselves.  It makes sense that we, the adults, would have more tolerance and understanding of them than they would of us.  We must be prepared to quietly and consistently train, reprove and correct as the situation requires.  We must not condemn the child for being childish. We should accept him for where God has him--a child.  We should continually require adult maturity from ourselves.  God can help us when we are willing to ask Him for wisdom and understanding.

Dear God, I desire to be spiritually and emotionally mature. Remind me when I get angry or disheartened with my students. Help me to mature fully into the adult leader that pleases you.


THAT I MAY DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD

​Psalms 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. 

David’s devotion to God is reflected throughout the Psalms.  He panted for God.  His desire was to “dwell” with God every day in every situation.  The appeal of the Psalms comes from the deep love and commitment the Psalmist had for his LORD.  
Do you pant for God?  Do you say to yourself, “I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’”(Psalms 121:1)  Or do you feel it is a strain to get up on Sunday and get to church?  I’m meddling, now, but your relationship with God will affect your leadership with your students.  You must be renewed spiritually to have spirituallife to pour out to others.  An empty cup has nothing to spill out.  A life filled with joy and the excitement of God will “win” others to Christ.  Hebrews 10:22-25 says, Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 
Draw near to God today.  He’s as close to you as your breath.  Renew your commitment to prayer and Bible study.  He calls you to His Secret Place with Him.  Don’t be embarrassed if it’s been awhile.  He’s been waiting for you.  Take your burdens, your frustrations, and your trials to His feet and leave them there. He cares for you and wants to set you free from the cares of the world.  He invites you to come.


Dear God, Forgive me for neglecting the secret place.  It’s not that I don’t want to pray and study the Bible.  Life just gets so chaotic sometimes.  Often I realize life gets hectic because I am not coming in prayer to leave my burdens.  

SET A GUARD OVER MY TONGUE

Proverbs 25:2  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Proverbs 10:12  Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

        Gossip is fun!  If it weren’t, it would not trap people.  Soap operas play on people’s desire to get the latest “scoop.”   We get hooked into watching the continuing stories. We don’t want to miss the latest trauma or victory.  We not only want to hear about new developments, but we also want to discuss it with our neighbors and give them our opinion of what’s happening.  It is a clever way to use a perpetual “story” to build patterns of gossip and judgment in our lives.
       During the school year, teachers, parents, students, and administrators work closely together. Our strengths and weaknesses become evident.   (We all have them!)  It pleases God for us to choose to conceal or protect our brother's weaknesses from exposure rather than to make that difficulty a point of conversation.  In Matthew 18, we are instructed to go to our brother and him alone to discuss such a matter.  The weakness does not have to be a sin issue; it could be an irritating habit or oddity. Damaging slurs toward parents, teachers, or students can infect the entire school climate.  A negative statement could be something as simple as "I don't like the way that teacher talks to the students on the playground."  Or, it could be in the form of a question, "Do you think he might not being telling all he knows?"
       Peace should always be our goal.  Remember, slander is a hindrance to your Christian walk.  Slander can be defined as “causing someone to think less of someone else.”  I think Thumper, the little rabbit in the Walt Disney movie, BAMBI, had the best idea--"If you can't say something nice, don't say nuttin' at all!"
       People leave jobs, schools, and churches as a result of gossip.  Even when a bad report is true, the report can create disappointment and disillusionment among the younger members and can harm the entire workplace. It is easy to recognize the damage that careless words bring after the fact, but avoiding the harm is our calling. It is usually beneficial and appropriate for the matter to be handled privately.  As a staff, your school can agree to refuse to repeat gossip in the teacher’s lounge, hallways, and lunchroom. Avoiding gossip takes effort; it takes a commitment.  Self-control will be easier if we can remember that God's love covers a multitude of errors.  "6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."                     (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).  
        This also applies to the classroom setting.  When a student is being disciplined, the issue should remain between the child and the teacher.  Discipline is always for the purpose of training the student.  We, as school leaders, must never bring harm to the student's social standing.  Restoration is our goal.  This is what pleases God.  Revealing details of an offense is the desire of man, but God's desire is to protect and restore.
 
Dear God, Make me sensitive as I discipline my students and as I observe the struggles of my coworkers.  May I never be anxious to reveal someone's weaknesses.   Should I desire to become involved in gossip, quickly reprimand me.  Tug on my heart and remind me to seek the glory of God rather than the glory of man.   


AS LONG AS THERE IS LIFE, THERE IS HOPE AND VALUE


Ecclesiastes 9:4  Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!


    Do you ever feel that there is no hope for you or possibly no hope for one of your students?  This  Bible verse reminds us that where there is life, there is hope.  As the school year winds down, we realize that the productive school days are almost gone.  Our accomplishments seem small; we wish we could have done more.   The students we did not reach, and the students who never cared seem to haunt our memories.  Our victories seem insignificant. STOP!  LISTEN!  As long as there is life "It ain"t over."  
    God grants life for a "purpose."  He has a purpose for your existence.  Your place of employment and/or job assignment may change through the years, but you will always have a "purpose."  We need to discover God’s purpose in each day and pursue it with all our might. Too often we seek the "big picture"  before we begin  the puzzle.  But often God asks us to place each piece of our puzzle before Him daily, and He will bring the big picture into focus in His time.  
    Only God knows who the Lions will be.  His purposes are valued differently than man values things.  Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.  Turn from your self-centered thinking to God-centered thinking and leave the final results to God.  Set God's work and His love as your goal and press toward it with all your might.  Only in eternity will you know how valuable yesterday was in His Kingdom and what today's plans will accomplish.  Live today to its fullest.  The secret to success is purpose and perseverance.  God will lead you if you will follow.

Dear God, Help me to persevere.  I choose to not be weary in well doing.  I will run the race with patience.  Thank you for life and purpose.  Lead me down your good path planned for me (Psalms. 16:11; 27:11).


REST FOR THE WEARY

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
     When the cares of the world press in on you, and you feel you do not have the strength to teach, stop a few minutes and talk to God.  There is no problem too great or too complex that God cannot bring a solution.  Rest comes when we become as a little child and trust God.  
    A master teacher has learned to put aside personal problems and take on the responsibility and concerns of the classroom.  With God's help and your understanding of Jesus' words in Matthew 11, you can enter your classroom peacefully and confidently even when your personal life is unsettled.  
    In reality, only God is big enough to solve your difficulties.  Not one minute of worry can change your situation.  Not one minute of fretting can protect someone you love.  Not one minute of regret can change what happened yesterday.  The answer to your struggles is in your ability to exchange "burdens" with Christ.  Leave your burden at the cross and pick up His burden (the work of the Kingdom).  Rest comes through trust.  There is no other way.  It begins with a decision--an act of your will, but it is completed by the power of an Almighty Creator who is touched by your feelings of pain. He is concerned, and in His time He can, and will, make all things beautiful.  You can rest through prayer, praise, and trust.

Dear God, Please help me to trust you more.    I lay all of my burdens at your feet today.  Take care of them as I set my thoughts and actions toward the task of teaching.  I choose to trust you.  I will not be afraid, or dismayed.


SERVANT LEADERS ARE SHEPHERDS


Matthew 20:26-28   Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.


    Too often teachers figuratively stand at the top of their educational pinnacle looking down on their students, saying “Climb up to my level—stretch, grab hold and climb the mountain.  Those who can make it, I will reward with good grades. And for those who can’t,  you will just have to try harder next time, or you will never make it.  It’s up to you.”

    Jesus said that the greatest teacher would be a servant.  A servant-teacher shepherds students.  The teacher encourages each one, allows those who can to climb independently, but assists those who are unable to do it alone.  A servant-teacher never allows any student to feel alone or unsupported in the climb.  A servant-teacher also realizes that some students will climb more naturally than others will.   In fact, the teacher may need to come down the mountain to meet the failing student where he/she is.  The teacher willingly gives extra time to review the basics of mountain climbing with the faltering student in hopes that he/she will learn the skills and begin the climb to the top.  A servant-teacher anticipates the growth and development of all of her students.   Not all students will reach the top at the same time, but the desire is to see every student become proficient in climbing and finish the climb.
     A servant-teacher gives to the students according to their personal needs.  Each student’s needs are considered individually the same way God deals with each of His children uniquely. Only God can give you the creativity and sensitivity to be a servant-leader that shepherds your students.  Ask Him for guidance and a willing heart to serve.

Dear God, I do care about all of my students.  Give me the sensitivity and creativity to usee the needs of my students and the courage and fortitude to minister to each individual in my classes.


HELP ME BE A SACRIFICE FOR YOU!

Romans 12:1   Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

    Behold the Lamb that was slain.  Jesus was the sacrifice of God!  Sacrifices die.  They bleed.  However, in the verse above, Paul is referring to a different kind of sacrifice.  He wants you to be a living sacrifice.  Your body continues to live, but you live like a dead man.  You are to have no will but the will of God--no mind but the mind of Christ--no emotions but the love of God that blesses and does not curse.
    `Your sacrifice is to be offered up to God for the benefit of mankind.  You go to your job for the profit of those you serve, not for your own gain.  You are a servant, and you are there to serve the needs of others. You don’t get angry about being asked to work.  That is why you have the job.  Let all that you do and say be done for the glory of God.
    As we serve our fellow man, we are to be prepared to give an answer—a soft answer (Proverbs 15:1). A soft answer allows you to turn an unreasonable foe into a friend.   As you sacrifice your right to be respected and treated correctly, your right to answer back defensively or any other right you may feel you have, you will gain the self-control necessary to represent Christ with a "soft answer."  "Soft answers" can bring the unreasonable parent, student or coworker back to being reasonable and able to hear what you are saying.  An apology may follow, but do not expect one as your “right.”  You must forgive their outburst regardless of their willingness to deal with issues in a mature fashion.  You are the professional; strive to always respond professionally and like Christ—as a living sacrifice acceptable unto God.

Dear God, This is a hard thing that you ask of me.  I do not like to be mistreated; in fact, it makes me angry.  Give me the ability to understand your ways of dealing with personal attack.  Teach me to be more like you.  And when the attack comes, please come to my aid quickly.  Give me the soft answer that will bring the situation back into control.  God, I really need your help on this one.


DELIVER ME FROM MY RAIN CLOUD

1 Corinthians 4:12-13  We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;   13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly…

    Being pleasant is not difficult when things go your way, but have you learned to shine during rainy weather?  Have you died to your flesh enough to bless when you are cursed, to answer kindly when you are slandered or to endure quietly when you are persecuted?
    You only have control over yourself.  If you wait for others to treat you right or for things to go better before you have a good attitude, you are giving up your control to someone else.  This is a victim’s approach to life.  A victim feels powerless; they hopelessly wait for someone to change before they can find happiness.  But, being happy is a choice.  You must take control of your feelings and your behavior if you are going to find peace and contentment. 
    In Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.  Joseph’s trials were just beginning.  He suffered through betrayal, false accusation, and neglect, but Joseph did not sit back and feel sorry for himself.  He made the best of each situation he faced.  He became the “sunshine” in the dreary prisons.  He knew how to choose happiness rather than remain a victim.  Joseph knew his God, and he trusted God to always lead his steps for good.  This ability to overcome brought him recognition, promotion, and success in the middle of the bad situations.  And, in God’s time, he was promoted out of the pit into the palace.  
    Learn to act rather than react to life.  Make choices—purposeful choices that will bless and not curse others.  Do not give your power away by allowing others to steal your peace and joy with their bad attitudes.  Remember that the other guy is the one with the problem, not you; therefore, choose to keep your good attitude in spite of his words or actions.  With God’s help and your commitment to do things His way, you can find sunshine in your life today.


Dear God, None of us like to be falsely accused, slandered or mistreated.  I know you want me to be kind, gentle and good even when others do me wrong.  I invite your Holy Spirit to do that work in me.  Teach me how to choose sunshine instead of rain.

ANOINTED TO TEACH

1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Christian teachers are called by God and equipped to teach by His anointing (Holy Spirit empowerment).

             As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you ready and willing to lead you into all truth.  In John 16:13 we read that the Holy Spirit will be your guide.  You never enter your classroom alone.  God's Spirit goes before you to prepare the way and dwells within you to lead you minute by minute (Deuteronomy 31:8).  Unfortunately, this truth has not become a living reality for many teachers.  Too many teachers still try to separate their "jobs" from their faith.  They lean on man’s knowledge and fail to include God’s supernatural wisdom.
            God’s Spirit, who has all knowledge and understanding, waits for you to ask for his assistance (Matthew 7:7-8; James 1:5-7).   He holds the “keys” to unlock learning for your students.  With His help, you can discern the students’ root problems in their educational and behavioral struggles.  You can receive creative and unusual ideas for problem solving.  He has promised to be your “ever-present help” in your time of need (Psalms 46:1; Hebrews 4:16).  Just ask and believe; with God all things are possible.   
         Learn to rely on God’s anointing.  During times of stress or decisions, silently cry out to God for guidance.  He knows even your “far away” thoughts (Psalms 139:2).  You can walk into any situation with confidence if you rely on God’s Spirit to lead you.  In God, there is no conflict too great or too stressful for you to handle. You have the counselor of counselors by your side ready to advise you if you will just ask for help.   God desires to give you, as a believer, his direction for today.  His still small voice will be there to instruct you about all things.  Learn to be sensitive to His leading.  Pray for the wisdom to walk in the anointing that God has for you and to hear his direction for today.

Dear God, Guide my thoughts and decisions throughout this week.  Open my spiritual ears to hear your still small voice. Teach me your ways and give me the wisdom to follow your direction in my classroom.

MAKE ME A SERVANT LIKE JESUS

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; but in humility, value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.


           Be ambitious to be nothing!  At least nothing except what God designed you to be.  When you gave your life to Christ, you became a servant.  A servant goes where he is directed and does what he is commanded to do.  He takes no thought of whether he "likes" it or not; he simply obeys because of his position.  Jesus Christ is our greatest example of a servant.  Philippians 2:6-8 tells us how Jesus, who is God, did not try to grasp being equal with God, but made himself to be nothing and became a servant in the form of a man.  He became completely submitted and obedient to God, the Father, and submitted even to death on a cross.
         There is something in each of us that recoils and wants to strike back when we hear the words servant and submission.  We want to say, "I'm a King's kid!"  But when searching The  Bible, we find over and over again that those who exalt themselves will be abased, and those who choose to humble themselves before God will be exalted (Matthew 23:12).  Remember, God's ways are not our ways; His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). 
        As we become willing to submit our lives as living sacrifices to God, going where He leads, speaking what He directs, and doing as He asks, the light of God within us will become so evident to those around us that they will want to know what makes us different.  Why?  Because, it is such an unusual way to live.  It has an appeal to those wanting out of the darkness.  Your coworkers, parents, and students have a need to see Jesus in you.  They will be drawn to the light of Christ as you shine for Him in this dark, confusing world.

 Dear God, make me a servant.  Jesus was a servant, make me one too.  You have placed my students and their parents in my world this year for a reason.  Let my light so shine before them that you might be glorified.


HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR

I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

       Even though Mary was the mother of Jesus, there came a time in her life when Jesus became more than her son. She too bowed her knee. Jesus became more than her son; He became her Lord and Savior.  Consider for a moment that awesome transition that Mary experienced.
      We all will face transitions in relationships as we age. We often find ourselves following a supervisor or principal younger than us. And sometimes they are much younger and much less experienced than we are. Our challenge is to respect and follow these younger leaders with the goal of helping them to be successful. If we hold on to our pride, our rights and our need to be acknowledged for our experience and expertise, the transition at work will be uncomfortable. But, if we can humble ourselves and remain determined to make the new situation work, God will exalt us in due time. Remember, a man's gift makes way for him.
     Trust God to exalt you in his timing. I have had this experience, and I have seen God bring me alongside my leaders as a helper after I humbly submitted and served my principal. Humble yourself in the sight of God, and He will lift you up.  Pride will bring you down, but humility will give God the opportunity to exalt you in due time.  Remember, Joseph, how he had to go through the experience of prison before he could be exalted in Pharoah's court.


Dear God, I trust you and I trust your Word. Fill me with your Grace as I seek to serve the leaders you placed over me. I place my professional career in Your hands.

CHOOSE NOT TO BE OFFENDED

James 1:19-20 …Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
 
             It takes practice to learn to be slow to anger.  Anger may come without warning, but what you do with that anger determines whether you win or lose.  You can choose to allow the offense to penetrate your heart, or you can discard it and not let it dwell in your thoughts.
           “That was not kind!” I said to myself.  I could feel the offense rising in my heart. “Why would he say that? What did I do to deserve that kind of response?”  I went on about my daily tasks, but my heart was still grappling with my emotions. “I need to be more mature than to allow an offense to build between my coworker and me,” I told myself. “Besides, he was probably having a bad day, and it was really a small thing.” But my heart kept feeling the offense.  My emotional struggle with the offense continued for over an hour.
            Finally, I made a conscious decision to let it go.  “I choose to not be offended. I would not wait for my coworker to apologize to me before I let my anger go. I chose to not let the dagger of offense penetrate my heart and destroy our relationship!” My mind was working through the offense step by step. I realized that this coworker had said thoughtless, but innocent, things in the past. I chose to trust his heart, not his words. The process of working through my anger and choosing to forgive him set the offense out of my heart. The next day all was well as if it had never happened.
    Without God’s grace, I would not have had the strength to process through such an offense. But, with God, we can release offense because we have been released by the blood of Christ.  We can choose to not be offended.  If the wound is too deep to just let it go, Matthew 18 tells us to go to the one who offended us and work it out. We must be willing to choose to work through it and not let a wedge come between us and those on our team.  As much as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.

Dear God, Give me the wisdom and the willingness to walk through the process of releasing offense. I need grace to face times of stress and conflict

 HELP ME TO WATCH MY WORDS AS I WATCH MY HEART

Romans 3:13-14 Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

          According to Luke 6:45, the words we say reflect the spiritual condition of our hearts.   More and more I understand that my attitudes shape my thoughts and my words.  When I stuff anger and hurt and then refuse to work through conflicts, my words become bitter and attacking.  Disagreements and anger that are allowed to linger affect how I perceive my world.  It’s like looking through a colored lens that changes the color of everything around me.
        Today’s Scripture refers to the throat as a tunnel from the heart to the tongue.  It is an open “grave”—a place of death for those whose hearts are continually evil.  The words of these transgressors are poison to everyone; they are full of deception, cursing, bitterness, and death.  Their antagonism reflects a heart that is out of fellowship with God—a heart that has allowed darkness to overshadow good.
      I prefer to think this verse refers only to non-believers; however, all of us fall short of God’s best (Romans 3:10).  1 John 1:8 tells us that there is no one without sin.  And, my experience convinces me that I have the capacity to build bitterness and anger in my heart even though I am a child of God.  If I allow darkness to shadow my heart, it will tinge my outlook on life.  And, my mouth will reveal my heart’s condition through unkind, thoughtless words. 
      Bitter and angry words warn me of the need to make my heart right with God and my fellowman.  I must put on humility and submit myself before God’s throne.  I then allow Him to cleanse my heart so that my words become pure.  With God’s unlimited power, with His mercy and His grace, He changes my heart and renews my mind because of my repentance.
      As we daily walk upright before God, taking the log out of our own eye, we will be able to help our students get their splinters out too (Matthew 7:3-5).  In other words, teachers who continually cleanse their hearts before the Lord will be better prepared to help their students see their need for restoration with their friends, parents and teachers.  
 
Dear God, Help me to quickly recognize the times when my heart begins to be filled with bitterness and anger.  I want to commit myself to keeping short accounts with my fellowman and with you. Let my words be pure and pleasant as you purify my heart once again.