Let me Always, Let me Never


Praying through Hebrews 11

In my chair time this morning, I was inspired to write a short one-liner for several of the stories Hebrews 11 walks us through – stories of the faithful in God’s family. I’ve shared them here.

 

Hebrews 11:4 –  By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
Let me always offer all I have to you.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Let me never fail to seek you!

Hebrews 11:8 – 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.
Let me always follow you, even into the unknown.

Hebrews 11:11 – And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Let me never forget your faithfulness to me!

Hebrews 11:19 – Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Hebrews 11:30 – By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
Let me always trust & obey you, even when it makes no sense to my worldly senses.

Hebrews 11:21 – By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 
Let me always be found worshiping you, even and especially when I have no strength left of my own. 

Hebrews 11:23 – By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
Let my faith in you always drive out my fears in this world.

Hebrews 11:25 – He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Let me always choose you over worldly pleasures. Let me always place you first.

Hebrews 11:31 – By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
Let me always be bold enough to ask for grace.

Hebrews 11:40 – since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Let my story always bring you glory; let me forever remember that my story is only a small part of your Grand Plan for all your people, til the ends of the earth.

Let me always delight in you first, trusting that you know and will fulfill the deepest desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). All this I pray in your mighty Son Jesus’ name, knowing you are able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what I can even think to ask you for. All the glory belongs to you! (Ephesians 3:20)

Let me Always, Let me Never

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Coming Soon: Rational VS Irrational Fear

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You probably can’t read my chicken scratch because I was writing so quickly so I wouldn’t forget anything… but I just had an awesome God moment. In the Bible God tells us to write wisdom (the Word) on our hearts, because then when we need it, it suddenly flows out. I somehow gave a very good (short) little sermon to Aubrey about rational VS irrational fears, and how we don’t even need to be afraid if our fears are rational. I have no explanation as to where this came from except from the Holy Spirit. God is awesome in so many ways. I promise a post soon in greater detail, but right now this momma needs to rest 😉

All you other mommas, if you need encouragement tonight, remember Galatians 6:9: Do not grow weary in well- doing, for in due time you shall reap a harvest if you faint not.
Keep studying the Word! When you need it, the Holy Spirit will call it up for you and you will find yourself giving a little mini-sermon. Then you’ll bless His name for allowing you to be a vessel, and for honoring you with motherhood. ♡

Autumn Reflections

"For out of the fullness of his grace we have all received blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, and grace upon grace." - John 1:16

“For out of the fullness of his grace we have all received blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, and grace upon grace.” – John 1:16

A week or two ago, I was driving down a road in our neighborhood thinking how beautiful it was. You know, when the leaves on the trees form a colorful canopy over the street. Most of the leaves become a bright shade of yellow, red, orange, or a deep purple. Have you noticed, though, that not all the leaves change? Sometimes one side of the tree has leaves of bright colors, while the other side remains green. Often, the ones that get the best direct sunlight change colors, while the ones that remain in shadow stay a light green.

Distant trees in fall foliage. Acadia National Park, Maine, USA.

The trees look so FULL, and the branches so heavy, that it does seem natural for those leaves to fall off. Necessary, even.

Because this season is when the trees have grown to their greatest potential, and there’s no room left for anything else. Nothing new can grow. The branches droop with the fullness of growth.

So, the leaves fall, cascading onto the road and surrounding yards, turning brown and leaving the tree branches bare and lonely. And in Winter, the branches return to their upright position: tall and straight, reaching for whatever warmth the sun can reign down on them.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines... yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines… yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18

Isn’t it interesting that during the time they have the least warmth from the air around them, the branches are still reaching for the sun, trusting that it is there, knowing they need to store up the nutrients it supplies for the next season?

And after Winter gives in to Spring, new leaves appear. New, fresh leaves that have not yet been on this earth.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Maybe we are like the trees, and our lives are like these seasons. God grows us and grows us, changing us as he shines his light into our life. The places we allow him to see and reign down upon change from a flat, consistent plateau to the new, bright, exciting color of the fullness of life. He grows us until we can’t fathom or hold anything else, and then he strips us of whatever we are too full of, making room for new growth. And if we continue to reach for him during those cold, bare seasons, then he births and brings forth something in us that we’ve never experienced before: new life.

Isn’t it interesting that the position of praise is raising one’s arms high, reaching for the heavens, just like the trees’ branches reaching for the sun?

Those winter seasons in our life, while usually the most difficult, are when we draw closest to the warmth of our Father. And when we come around the corner into Spring, we not only have room in our hearts to receive more of his grace, goodness, and blessings, but we are also prepared with strong tall branches to support new growth.

"So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." - 1 Corinthians 3:7

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”                    – 1 Corinthians 3:7

Disclosure: None of the images above belong to me.

She Shares Truth – Psalm 38

My first response to Psalm 38 was a feeling of unease, and a thought that “I can’t relate. This does not apply to me.” David, who wrote most of the Psalms, lived under the curse of the law – the curse that Jesus redeemed us from. All those rules and regulations do not apply to born-again, blood-washed, freed children of God! God no longer punishes me because of His wrath. He no longer punishes us in the physical realm because of what we’ve done.

But then I remembered what season it is… Lent. (There’s the Lenten Lens again!) We are preparing our hearts to once again celebrate the greatest gift we’ve been given: Our redemption: our sins bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, who was himself blameless.

So this does apply to me – because without Jesus’ sacrifice, this is how I’d live. In constant fear of punishment; constant shame, knowing I’m not enough; constant hysterics, worried about performing the right ritual or what terrible thing would befall me; constant discouragement, because I won’t ever be perfect or able to live up to the law.

And that is why the Father set up the law – for us to realize we can’t keep it. WE NEED HIM.

Praise Jesus, whose sacrifice brought us out from under the curse of the law, and into the shelter of righteousness and grace!

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

For more on the first and second covenant, and righteousness versus the law, click here.
For more on the #SheSharesTruth project, click here

Through a Lenten Lens

It’s funny how the season we’re in can change the way we see things.

This morning as I was praying for the hubs – I’ve been reading “The Power of a Praying Wife” – I came across Matthew 13:45-46:

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This is a recurring theme in the bible. In Luke 5:11, we learn that the disciples left everything and followed Jesus. Luke 18:22 also tells of Jesus instructing a man who put his physical goods and fortune above God to sell all he had and give to the poor. Jesus was trying to set his heart right.

But today, instead of reading Matthew 13:45-6 as an instruction to US, I read it through Lenten eyes: God was actively seeking and pursuing beautiful souls throughout the Old Testament. When He found each of our souls, which were of great value to Him, He gave all He had – JESUS – and bought our souls for all eternity.

I am starting to love Lent more and more as the Holy Spirit prepares my heart to again celebrate the gift of forgiveness and grace that we could never earn on our own. We were slaves, and he bought our freedom!

What are you waiting for?

I recently found out about a  community called “She Reads Truth”, which encourages women to read the Word and share how it’s changing them. This is exciting, I thought, right up my alley!
Last week they started an experiment of choosing one chapter of the Bible and She Reads Truth Psalm 130. That chapter was Psalm 130.

What stuck out to me most was Psalm 130:5. It reads, I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.

A few years ago, we were in a transition period.  We were planning and getting ready to buy our first home, but we weren’t in any kind of rush – we were correcting our credit, saving for a down payment, and trying to find  something we liked in the area we wanted.  If you’ve bought a house, you know how it is: having a ‘must have’ list, a ‘want’ list, maybe a ‘do not want’ list. You have requirements, but during your search you end up adjusting and refining those lists based on location,  budget, amenities, etc. At the time, we had flexible landlords and were renting a house for an incredibly affordable monthly rate. We were taking our time because we didn’t have a time limit.

That is, until I became unexpectedly pregnant with our 3rd child.

Now we were in a crunch: we would be hard pressed to fit another baby in this house. So we increased the urgency of our search.

After viewing many properties, we came to one that was a little outside our budget but in a great neighborhood. I remember asking the hubs if he even wanted to walk through this one; the pictures made the layout look a little strange. We figured we might as well – what could it hurt?

We ended up loving the house. It was much bigger than it looked from the outside; there were a lot of nice updates and stylistic details; it had a fenced backyard; there was room to grow. We found ourselves talking about what we could do with the basement space when the kids were middle school age.
Just like my current pregnancy, it was unexpected and surprising in the best way.

Long story short, we chose to put an offer on the house, which was a short sale. If you don’t know what a short sale is, it’s when the bank agrees to sell the house for less than what’s owed on the mortgage.  They do this in an attempt to sell without foreclosing on the property. It’s better for the seller and the bank. However, it can be more stressful for the buyer as they have to wait on approval from not only the seller, but also the bank – and if there are more than one institution involved in the loan (i.e. refinancing through a second bank), it can take even longer. We were told the average time was anywhere between 30-90 days, but it could be longer if there were complications. 

We put an offer in in March. My due date was June 26. Part of the reason we chose this house was because we still needed a few months to save, so we were hoping by the time everything was approved and accepted, we would have all our ducks in a neat little row. We took a risk, because if everything was completed in 30 days, we would not have been ready. But it was a risk we were willing to take. We just prayed over it and had faith it would work out.

It was in this waiting period that I found Psalm 130:5 and posted it on our bedroom wall. I knew that if I fretted about the banks, worried about the seller, agonized over budget and down payment details, I could be blocking whatever blessing(s) God wanted for us.  So every morning I looked at that verse and reminded myself, “my soul waits silently on God ALONE.” My trust was in HIM – not in the bank, or our finances, or even our realtor or loan officer, as awesome as they were. I was placing my faith in Him, and His Word says “they shall not be shamed” (Romans 10:11) and His “Word shall not return void, but accomplish [His] purposes.” (Isaiah 55:11)

As a result, God did these things for us:
1. When we made the original offer, the SELLER’S realtor not only accepted our offer, but suggested we come in lower than asking price. (Who does that?!)
2. We closed on the house June 18. Just enough time to do some painting and move in before my due date.
3. Instead of owing the amount we thought we would at closing, we owed much less. I still don’t understand what happened, except that God worked a little miracle.
4. Because of that, we were able to purchase a much needed larger car (3 kids under 5 = 3 carseats… not really possible in a sedan!)
5. C was actually 5 days past due date, so we had extra time to get settled before she arrived. (By the way, her birth story was another show of God’s strength and faithfulness – for another time of course.)

So… I believe that focusing on waiting on HIM and trusting Him allowed His blessings to pour out and overflow. I bought a key hook fit our entry way that has this verse on it: John 1:16 – “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” It perfectly described what God did for us, along with Ephesians 3:20 (I like the Amplified version best! ).

Psalm 130 reminds me that I need forgiveness – but I don’t have to be perfect to receive God’s blessings. All I need to do is wait on Him alone.

So what are YOU waiting on?!?

Thank you to the ladies at #SheReadsTruth for following through with this great experiment!