Unless the Lord Builds the House: One Step

Psalm 94:18-19 “When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.”

One step, just one step that faltered and the young man’s life was changed forever. We were not at the house the morning one of the roofers lost his footing and tumbled from the top of the roof to the concrete below. We were not informed until days later, but even when we heard our hearts were broken for the young man. They had just started their morning of work. He was on top of the roof with two others. They had turned their heads busy with a project and then they heard their co-worker tumbling head over heels down the valley of the roof. He was able to stop his descent at the edge of the house but was unable to hold on. He landed on his hip and the bone and socket were pushed into his pelvic. Both arms were broken and he had gashes on his head and arms. There was no apparent reason the young man fell. The roof was moist but not wet from rain. There wasn’t a high wind or even distraction from other activity. He just slipped and was unable to keep himself from falling.

As I have prayed for this young man and his family, I have pondered how easy it is to lose footing spiritually. So often we are going along trying to make good choices and out of the blue Satan temps us. It isn’t always a black and white issue. It is more like a small enticement. Before you know it you are tumbling! It may be an email that leads to pornography, a temptation to cheat just once, a small piece of gossip that opens the doors to wrecked friendships and broken hearts. Temptation usually comes with a small slip. We are usually ready for a big issue, but even a minor slip can have huge consequences.

If you find yourself being tempted, stop and look for 3 things:
*A rope to prevent the fall before they happen. God’s word can and should be your security and prevention. As you know and live growing in God’s word, even if you slip you are listening for God’s voice and sense immediately conviction. Quickly confess any sin and shore up your steps.

*A friend can be super helpful. The other roofers were scrambling to help the young man who fell. They had a rope to throw to him, but they were too late. Don’t wait until too late to hold the rope your friends are offering. Hold each other accountable and when needed speak truth to the one walking closely to a slippery spot. Have a rope in hand for those slipping and lovingly help them find firm footing again.

*Be on your guard! Satan would love to take you down! In the case of our young worker he just lost his focus and was not as careful as he should have been. He did not aim to fall, but because he was not as cautious he did. As we acknowledge the enemy’s constant attack we are more prepared. Stay alert! Satan is like a lion seeking to devour the bible tells us. As we look for those slippery spots or areas we may be vulnerable, we will be less likely to fall prey.

When you do slip having faith family around to help you is super important. As faith family we need to be quick to forgive and willing to help restore. We ask you our faith family to pray for the young man who fell. He will have a long road to recovery. Pray for fellow believers you know who have taken a spiritual spill as well and need to find firm footing again. Pray for yourself that you will be able to see the spiritually slippery places before you come upon them and know your Heavenly Father is there beside you to help you over with firm footing.

2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36:1-21, Jeremiah 52

Once again we visit the same story we have read earlier this week but found told 3 more times about the fall of Jerusalem and specifically King Zedekiah. After reading this story over and over there are 2 things that stand out.
1. It did not have to be this way. The King chose death of his family, burning of his home and city and the ultimate destruction of the walls and temple in Jerusalem. Jeremiah had told him this would happen unless he surrendered to the King of Babylon. He chose the path of death and destruction.
2. God told this story over and over so that we could avoid the same thing happening to us. When a culture runs from God’s way the end result will always be death, destruction and captivity. Historians would tell you that we study history so we can learn from it and not repeat it. Every great civilization fell from within as it followed pleasure, self indulgence and godlessness. The further our nation gets from a love for God and holding to the founding Fathers’ original intent we too will see our nation slipping further and further into the great decline. The only hope is to turn back to God and to choose to work hard for the common good not selfish gain.
You may be like me in thinking, I am only one person…but it all starts with one. As we commit ourselves to God and His ways we will be a Jeremiah in a land of Zedekiahs.

Give and Take

“I AM NOT HAPPY!” That is how my text to Les began.

I had rearranged my entire schedule, driven back from another state, stayed by the phone expecting a call from the man who was delivering the very storage units that I had told Les from day one I did not want! (I am smiling about it now)

When Les and our contractor determined we would need some type of storage to hold supplies as we makeover the house they determined a steel container would be the best thing. I had already told Les that the one thing I did not want was a big box in my front yard that looked like it fell off of a rail car.

I did not want the neighbors to immediately think we were “That Family” who doesn’t care about their property or the property of their neighbors. Les and our contractor proceeded to convince me of all of the benefits of the very storage containers I said I did not want. They sold me by saying we could convert them (yes 2 of them) into a barn with a roof and a place for the horses to run into. So, I caved knowing at least they would be to the back of the property and out of sight.

You can imagine my horror when I drove out to the house to hang out and wait on the delivery since I had not been called. As I drove up to the drive, the delivery man was preparing to exit my drive having delivered the two storage containers.

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He had dropped them right in front of the house beside the drive! I stopped my car in the middle of the road preventing his exit and turned on the flashers. I stomped right up to the delivery man’s door and said “This Will Not Work!” I was pointing to the horrid boxes bearing the name of a foreign company. My next statement was “Why didn’t you call? I have been waiting all day.”

Immediately the driver realized he was not dealing with a rational woman and he did his best to find some answers. He said “I did call your contractor and he said to leave them here and he would move them to the back in a few days.”

I eyed the containers weighing a ton each and decided it was too late to fix the problem and I could not lift them. I was hotter than the summer heat! I moved my car allowing the driver to leave and fired off the pictures and my “note” to my sweet husband.

He responded with “I will call you.” After a conversation and his allowing me to rant he got in touch with the contractor who got in touch with the right people and before the sun set the containers were moved to the back.

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You may wonder why I share this story. It is because I want you to know that Les and I are far from perfect people who face real struggles just like you. We love each other beyond words, but we don’t always agree. We have learned over the years to respect each other and to give and take when necessary, remembering to always try to honor the Lord and do what is best for our relationship and our family.

Sometimes that means one of us yields our desires so that the best can happen. Marriage can be hard, but the end result is that we want our marriage to represent Christ and the church.

That means:

*love is evident,

*pride is lost,

*humility reigns,

*and our first thought is for others not ourselves.

The further we go with this house I pray that our attitudes toward each other and toward the Lord’s priority in our lives is evident. That is why we chose the theme, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Psalm 127:1

We covet your prayers, and we encourage you to invite others to share in this with us as we all build this house together with God as our lead contractor. I also encourage you to think about the truths we just shared and if they are not evident in your relationships pray about making them priority.

May the house and our relationships be built for His glory be used to make His name great for years to come.

Isaiah 40-42, Psalm 46

It is so easy to get discouraged these days. When we see the violence and ungodliness all around us our courage and strength can be zapped. I could fill pages from the verses we read today that would encourage you. If you are down hearted please go to your copy of God’s word and read them for yourself. Here are the couple I chose.
41:9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

If you are one of those who are discouraged or down hearted I challenge you to take your eyes off of the destruction and violence and focus on God. He is still in control!

Isaiah 38-39, 2 Kings 20:1-21, 2 Chronicles 32:24-33:

Hezekiah was faithful to follow God. Jerusalem turned back to worshiping God alone and they saw God do amazing things because of that. Yet God still tested Hezekiah in many ways. We read this week about how the Assyrian army was camped outside the walls and all looked lost yet God gave victory and He killed 185,000 Assyrians and the leaders who survived fled. In our reading today Hezekiah’s health failed and he was dying. Due to his prayers and tears before God he was given 15 more years to live. Then men from Babylon came to bring letters of thanksgiving to Hezekiah for being healed. God was testing Hezekiah to see if he would be proud about all he had. Indeed he was and showed the visitors everything he had. Isaiah responded what have you done? Those same men will come back to attack and take your riches. 2 Chronicles 32:31 says, “God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.” Tests are just a part of life. We never get too old to be tested, and the kinds of tests change. I know we have certainly been tested with trying to get this closing on our house done. I pray that I will pass each test relying on the Father, giving Him praise for what He has entrusted to me, and passing the test when my patience and perseverance are tested. May you too find yourself faithful even when the tests come your way.

Isaiah 31-35

It is so tempting the older we get to give up or give over things we have worked so hard to achieve. We think, “is it even worth it?” Our bodies are tired from hard fought victories. We can be wearied and worn out and yet here is Isaiah’s challenge to us.
35:3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
In the New Testament we are challenged to not grow weary in well doing. Both scriptures are reminding us that there will be difficult and tiring times, but don’t give up, Jesus is going to return. God will send Him and by His might and power He will make all things right. So grab a good meal, take a quick nap and return to today’s battle knowing He is fighting with you and for you. Press on.

Shallow Roots

Psalm 1:1-3 “How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers. 2Instead his delight is in the Lord’s instruction and he meditates on it day and night. 3He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

I have spent many hours lately pulling weeds and cutting back trees. The yard has been allowed to grow without any intervention for over two years. In that time many weeds and small trees that would normally be plucked or cut down in their infancy have been allowed to take root and grow. I have not looked forward to attacking some of these weeds that were about 3 or 4 feet tall but today I was pulling them one by one with hopes of removing them from the root so they would not grow back. After pulling a few I was surprised that their roots did not go down deep due to a black cloth being under them. The cloth had served as a barrier to the weeds finding the depth that would have made them hard to remove. Though the work was still hard and tedious, it was made easier by the shallow roots. My mind then began to ponder the spiritual implications of this. How often do we have a relationship with God but it is more of a surface relationship? We may attend church, give to the needy, or even teach a class, but as far as a deep growing relationship with God it is just not there. I am sure there are many reasons for this lack of depth. Psalm 1 points to some great truths that will help us to grow deep roots.
• When you walk with those who seek God you are much more likely to seek Him yourself. Run with those running toward God.
• Take time daily to seek God in His word. There are many ways to do it. Read a Psalm or a Proverb daily. Set a goal of reading through the New Testament. Read the bible through in a year. No matter how you choose to spend time in God’s word, make sure you are feeding yourself on the Word daily. What you feed will grow!
• Spend time daily in prayer. Talk to the Lord giving thanksgiving and praise. You don’t have to be eloquent of speech. God knows how you talk. Just spend time talking to Him like you would a dear friend. Share with Him your struggles. Know He really does care and wants to help you.
The end result of walking in these truths is that you will grow deep roots that will allow your life to produce spiritual fruit. When the enemy comes to try to pull you up, or even tempt you to leave what you know you should do, you will have depth of wisdom and experience to remind him Whose you are and that he has no authority in your life. Growing deep roots is not easy, but it makes a huge difference in living a life filled with spiritual blessing or as the Psalm said, Happy.

Isaiah 23-26

In a week when we have seen again tragedy upon tragedy these verses are so perfect.
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
Though our times seem to get more violent and evil we can be run to the One who is able to make the wind and waves be still. He will comfort us and allow us to run to Him our shelter.

Micah 5-8

The Muslim community has just completed the season of Ramadan. It is a time where they sacrifice daily by doing without food or drink from sun up until sun down. The strictest Muslim will even refrain from swallowing their saliva. Their purpose is to show sacrifice to Allah and to ask him to give them dreams and visions. My heart breaks because their acts are ernest, but they are giving an empty sacrifice because it will never get them into right standing with God. It is no different than what we read in Micah 6:6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Jesus is the only sacrifice needed for our salvation. He alone could fulfill the obligation for our sin. We as believers fast and pray out of thanksgiving for what God did for us through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. We practice walking in justice, loving kindness and love as an outward sign of what He did on the inside through forgiveness of sin. Our sacrifices are gifts of praise to the One who gave all for us. Oh that Israel would have humbled themselves before Him. Oh that men and women today would do the same. May we be willing to sacrifice not out of obligation or to earn our way to heaven, but as a supreme gift of praise to the One who gave all for us.

Isaiah 9-12 and Micah 1-4

Pay day came for Israel and the cost was very high. They were captured and taken into captivity by a ruthless people God used to discipline them. Jerusalem and Israel were destroyed and rubble was all that was left. Prophecies came to pass and the once great people of God were now reduced to a remnant. And Yet! God was still there and in His mercy He reminded them that they would one day return and build again.
12:1 You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
May we as a nation not have to come to destruction before we look to our Salvation! May we even now turn to God our Hope!