Unless the LORD Builds the House…and If He didn’t?

Fredericksburg black and white w porch light (002)

Psalm 127: 1-2

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.

Did you put the cart before the horse? Since you did, do you fret because you didn’t seek God fully while raising your little ones? Now it is late and they don’t listen or…maybe they are on their own and you have little (if any) influence.

Do you find yourself anxious over it all? That normally means guilt and regret about what you did or didn’t do…plus worry about how they are, or might be, living their lives. Anxious while raising them…anxious after they are raised. It can be all-consuming.

Are you young and starting a family…or will soon? Do you fret about that? Do you fear the mistakes you will make? Fear and anxiousness can keep you from seeking God as to the timing of starting your family.  Conversely, if a baby is on the way and that was not in your plan…it can rob you of the joy you should have in the journey.

Regrets and fears are common no matter what stage of life you are in! Chances are, you have some!

Read the verses  above…ask God to open your heart and mind to the truths.

Prayer is God’s way of allowing us to leave the porch light on and giving our  kids hope that it is on!

Prayer enables us to forgive and to anticipate rather than dread. It gives us hope for our loved-one’s future and for ours.

Prayer is God’s way of bringing heaven’s provision to our lives here on earth.

Pray…PRAY! Never give up…NEVER GIVE UP!!

! Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

 

 

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YOUR WAR ROOM…

Sunset sunburst

SNIPPETS

YOUR WAR ROOM…

God calls you to purity because He wants your heart protected and at rest, inhospitable to the devil and his intentions. God wants you full of power and confidence and spiritual vitality.

He wants you free to bless and encourage others and to receive and celebrate His goodness, to become such a stick-of-dynamite prayer warrior that satan just hates hearing your coffeepot heat up in the morning.  (Priscilla Shirer, “FERVENT”)

Psalm 107:28-30 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Ephesians 3:14-21  For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

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It Isn’t Finished…There is More Than Meets the Eye!

Sunset Frame House 3 not sure.jpg

It seems so many are discouraged right now. There is so much disappointment and darkness in the lives of those we care about.

Those of us who are believers have prayed…and prayed and prayed. Some of our prayers seemingly have gone unanswered.  Some of those unanswered prayers are final…very final. There is no going back. There is no possible way for our specific prayer to be answered. Maybe there was a divorce, or a death. We prayed so hard for it all to look so different. God would surely have been glorified, had it not ended this way and… “I was on God’s side in this!”

Praying for marriage is being on God’s side…praying for kids to be strong in the LORD and “not skip a beat” is being on God’s side!

But…in view of divorce, untimely death and extremely wayward children, God did not answer our prayers…did He!

Is He?

Look at this verse: Proverbs 16:3 “Depend on the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”

Really? You might be saying, “I prayed for direction, made the choices and it all turned out terribly!”

“All of these prayers, seemingly going unanswered and I am supposed to believe that verse? I was depending on God for my marriage, my direction, my career, my child…my loved-one’s life and look how it has ended?”

Has “it” ended?

I read that verse with you and me in mind and thought about Paul, David, Joseph, Moses and the others. What terrible experiences they all had! Yet…they prayed hard and walked by faith! They believed God. They often came into His presence with thanksgiving, just as God has asked us to do. But their lives and hopes and dreams did not all turn out the way they believed and planned. Paul was imprisoned and killed for his faith, David had many losses, Moses didn’t get to go into the Promised Land, Joseph followed God all the way through and was imprisoned and wrongly accused. Early in his life, he was left for dead in an abandoned well by his own brothers!

Yet…God moved and provided and protected in ways these men had no idea were even needed, in order to fulfill His broader plan.

During the excruciating times, we may not feel thankful or like we have the even the tiniest bit of faith to even want to pray. But once we obey His loving instructions and choose to come into His presence with thanksgiving, He will always, always encourage us…if we will accept His encouragement (and correction).

Intentionally choosing to pray and to be thankful when we do, recalculates our feeling that He is not on our side. It recalculates the way we pray, because we realize how He has blessed us, despite the hard things that have happened or are happening right now.

We are such a broken people, who live in a very broken world. But our God is the Healer and Redeemer and is ever at work in us and for us, even when we barely believe that He is. Even when we forget that the mess we are staring at is not the finished product!  The picture is bigger than what we see…

His ways are higher than our ways…and so much broader than we can imagine. We are all a stubborn and stiff-necked people. We want to change and cannot seem to find a way, or maybe we don’t realize we need to change.

Isaiah 55:8-9  (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God knows that our character is way more important than our comfort. From what I can tell, it takes some struggles to build in all of the ways we want and need to be truly authentic and filled with grace and empathy and love.

We are ever in the making…He loves us enough to allow us some deep wounds. When He does, our roots grow even deeper into Him. Our foundation in Him becomes stronger, and our structure more sound.

 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+11&version=NIV

 

 

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Your Perfect Shot…

downtown Georgetown Sky fixed-2

I wanted to get a shot of a certain beautiful old building in our town square in the morning sunlight. This time of year, it is bordered by blossoming trees.  I got out of the car, scampered around feeling a little like I was doing something illegal, as I wiggled in and out of different spots trying to get the best shot. “Nobody cares, Judy…relax!” I got all situated…this shot was going to be perfect! I was holding perfectly still, not even breathing, my finger on the shutter ready to press!  Whoosh…a little white car pulled right into to the middle of my scene.

My first thought was, seriously?!!  My second reaction was a giggle at the absurdity of my first thought. That poor driver was just trying to go to work! My next thought was, such is the life of a photographer…get used to it…enjoy the adventure…and come back a little earlier in a day or two!!

As I look at the picture I did get…I think of how similar photography can be to life.  You know what you want. You plan the moment, the day or the way your life will turn out and whoosh…something pulls right into the middle your picture-perfect scene.

How are you reacting?  Is it a momentary frustration where you have practiced catching yourself and reworking your thoughts? Do you allow your disappointments and frustrations to escalate much further than they should? Are you ruining your own day or are you going on to an alternative plan?

How about the bigger things? The excruciatingly painful things? Has your life turned out vastly different than you imagined? How are you responding? How am I responding?  Are we allowing everything else to be marred, or are we yielding to God and asking Him to show us how to respond? Are we developing gentler, kinder, more empathetic personalities or are we getting angrier, more sad and more useless even as we work hard to control everything around us so that we can feel useful?

We make choices that continually develop our personalities. God has a plan for our development too. We choose His plan or ours. We will reap greatly if we choose His and lose greatly if we choose ours.

He asks us to choose a life of wisdom and love.  His love, His life can only be lived because of His Spirit in us. Even then…our choices are continual…moment by moment…daily!

It is a journey that we take by choosing to walk closely with Him…or not.  Choosing His way is…our perfect shot!

James 1:2-18 (ESV) 2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10  and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV) 1  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8  Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 


 

 

 

 

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GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING GOOD…

momma 2 and fawn sailing together

GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING GOOD…

Proverbs 16:33 (NLT2) 33  We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Max Lucado:

We have a good God and God is up to something good and in all things, even the evil plots of others, God is at work. So do not lose hope, do not give up. Do not assume the story you are a part of is the only story. Listen…listen to me, there is another storyline and that storyline is being written by the Almighty God.  God declares that, in that story line, He works the full story for the good of those who love Him.

“Paul didn’t say, ‘In each thing’ there is good.”

Think of the thing that has (or is) hurting you the most. Is it good? Not unless it is surgery of the body or heart. I think of the things that hurt me the most and many times I can make no sense of them, until I remember our God.

Pastor Lucado says, “The Apostle Paul says that when all these things come together, God uses them to create the higher good.”

The example he used was coffee. The one I usually think of is cake. Would you take a big old bite of coffee grounds and call it good? Would you take a sip of vanilla or a big bite of bitter cocoa, flower, baking soda, and call it good?

“He can take all of these events, joyful and hurtful, and mix them together into a story of deliverance! Just like He did in the lives of Esther, Joseph, David and most of all in the story of Jesus Christ!”

But, friends, we cannot expect to see it, believe it and wait for it unless we are leaning hard into Him! That means obedience, forgiveness, choosing to wait in faith, and understanding that we will not truly know the full story until heaven. Still, that said…we will see some of His purposes if we only have eyes to see.

Without intentionally developing a deeper relationship with our God, through Jesus Christ, which takes prayer, God’s word and a willing heart of obedience…how can we say…

This is…or will be…good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BElOl0m2tHY

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AMAZING GOD…REMEMBER IT…

flower

AMAZING GOD…REMEMBER IT…

Below is the link where you can listen to the song but…it is worth it to go over the words and meditate on them. Our choir sang this on Sunday…how thankful I am for the ministry of music, whether at home, in my heart or at church.

God gave us every blessing (and…the enemy does all he can to distort each one). Whether it is music, your marriage, your child, your view of God, or the way you look at your daily circumstances or your life as a whole…recognize Who He is!

Meditate on and absorb who God really is! Do this often throughout the day! Music is one of the ways we can do this. Through truly recognizing Who He is, we can “recalculate” the way we think and the way we choose to live out our lives.

We change…when we stand in awe!

This song describes the One who loves us.

This…is the One we can trust!…

 Indescribable:

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea Creation revealing Your majesty From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring Every creature unique in the song that it sings All exclaiming

 Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name. You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable, Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim You are amazing God

 Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night None can fathom

 Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name You are amazing God

 All powerful, untameable, Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

 Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name

You are amazing God

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zfHQdQTVo0

Songwriters: Laura Story

Indescribable lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

 

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Turning Sadness to Joy…

fawn running

Turning Sadness to Joy…

Do you sometimes awaken sad? You may know the reason or…you may not. Some days it can feel like you are trying to climb/claw your way out of a dirt hole that is several times taller than you are and much wider. Big enough to need someone to throw you a rope.

The rope is most often my quiet time. Today…I wasn’t sure why I was feeling sad and I wasn’t sure I could figure it out or…even wanted to. So…I did what I do every morning…started my quiet time. This time, there was no anticipation. It was simply a discipline. I reluctantly grabbed my “Sunday School” (Bible Study) quarterly. My childhood memories are that the material was dry and the questions redundant. As an adult, God often teaches me through that “old dry material”.

As I read the first verses in the Psalms, I felt even more perplexed as to why I was feeling down. I feel like I am walking in His ways…where am I missing the boat?

I was confused. But God reminded me of the verse that says, “God is not the author of confusion…” (I Cor 14:33).

As I continued to read and pray, God began to clarify for me where the sadness was coming from. Some things I can do something about. Some things I need to pray and leave to Him. He will be guiding me through the maze and so…why should I be sad?

If He is not the author of confusion, and He works all things together for our good and His glory (as we walk closely with Him) why be so troubled? His ways really are higher than our ways. He knows the road we need to take…the joys and sorrows we will encounter; can I not trust His heart and His plan?

How many times the enemy whispers lies in our ears and then…we shout them at ourselves! Why do we forget and fall into fear or dread?!

The answer to the fear and dread is to listen to the truth of God in His word. Rehearse His ways. Obey Him. Shout The Truth…not the lies! Sing His praises and recall the love and strength of His Holy Name! Rehearse the Truth of Who He is and who we are in relation to Him.

Rehearse the Truth and praise Him, thank Him for all of the ways He has shown you His love.

Do yourself a favor and keep a “blessing journal” nearby. Jot down the prayers He has answered…His present and past faithfulness. When you feel sad, fearful or discouraged…pick up your journal and read what you have written. It will remind you that you are loved and taken care of. Then…even though you still might not feel all that thankful…don’t listen to the lie. Shout the truth that you are blessed! Pick up that pencil and add several more lines to the journal!

Your thank you can be as simple as the soft light streaming through your window. It might be the quiet in the room, or the noise of “life” in your house.

No matter what our hardest situation is…there are blessings to be counted and joy to be found in the midst of the struggles.

Thank Him…your eyes will open and your joy will return!

Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Psalm 119:105 – Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Joshua 1:9 – Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your god will be with you wherever you go.

Psalm 32:8 – The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

 

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