#memoryverse Psalms 121:2 ~ providence, provision & protection

Psalm 121 2 My help comes from the Lord chalk#memoryverse

“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

My husband and I can work as hard as we can to make a life and a home for our family, but in the end, we know that GOD is our provider.

Every time my husband arrives home from a business trip, it is because God kept him safe and returned him to us.

Every time we leave the house, it is by God’s grace that we aren’t involved in the accidents we see as we rush from one place to another.

Every time my son stepped out onto the football field or the basketball court or the track, he walked away uninjured because of God’s mercy and protection.

Every time my daughter sings I hear God’s gift to her.

Every time I arm our alarm and our family curls up in our beds in the air conditioned house that God has provided for us, I trust Him for another night of safety and rest.

I know how fast a home can be lost, a person can be taken and safety can disappear. It is by God’s grace that we experience undeserved provision and unconditional love.

To claim those things as a result of our own efforts is an expression of ingratitude.

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ give people permission to tell you the truth.

Courage Dear Heart C S Lewis#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

It’s January, time for new year’s resolutions and fresh starts. New goals. New plans.

I feel a metaphor coming on.

When I use my GPS to help me get somewhere, I not only have to set a destination, but I have to set my current location.

I don’t know about you, but in life, when I set a goal, I don’t intuitively take an honest, objective look at my current situation. Intellectually, I know that when I want to “go somewhere,” I need to have a clear and realistic understanding of where I am now, before I start trying to figure out how I’m going to get where I’m going. I wish I could say I always take stock of my current situation before I start.

But.

When I STOP and pray about a goal,
when I ask God to show me if the goal is in line with His Word and if it’s a goal He even wants me to pursue,
when I ask for His guidance on how to achieve it,
when I ask Him to show me who and what I need to help me,
I see things much more clearly.

When I genuinely pray for Him to help me figure all that out, the Holy Spirit leads me to reflect, not just on my desires and plans, but also on where I am right now.

rose colored glassesSometimes, that means taking a long hard look in the mirror. An HONEST look. I don’t like seeing my weaknesses. They ain’t pretty. But I need to know the truth.

Sometimes God reveals it to me.
Sometimes God uses people to reveal it to me.
Sometimes the truth comes unsolicited and wrapped in emotionally charged language. I can dismiss the words because they were spoken in anger instead of “in love” but when I’m smart (and brave), I strip away the emotion and search the content for nuggets of truth.

Just because feedback is mean, doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in it.

Sometimes, I need to give people permission to tell me the truth. Friends, acquaintances, experts, strangers…

When the only feedback someone ever gives me is positive, I usually say that person “blow rainbows.” Their feedback loses credibility with me. It’s statistically improbable that I’m great at everything I do.

Sometimes a friend who loves me will take me aside and tell me a hard truth.
Sometimes I need to ask a friend what they think and give them permission – encourage them – to tell me the truth.
Sometimes, I need to pay people. In my life, I’ve paid therapists and voice teachers to tell me the truth.

And then I need to be quiet and listen. Because my knee-jerk reaction is to explain how they are wrong. How they don’t understand. To try and get them to see things from MY point of view – the point of view I had before I asked for the feedback.

Then, I need to process what I hear. Investigate. Search my heart and the circumstances to determine if there’s truth in the feedback. I’m not the most objective person when it comes to evaluating my “current location.”

Are you making new goals? Pray and ask the Lord to show you your current location.

and “Courage, dear heart.”

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ Plan B

Plan B#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

I had such a great plan. I had prayed and I thought God had answered with a big ol’ “YES!”

and then things started to fall apart.

What do you do when a plan begins to fall apart? I’ve tried to force circumstances before. To create situations and opportunities. To manipulate them. To push them.

It’s taken me decades, but I’ve learned that my efforts are only effective when God intervenes. Especially when a plan requires more than one person to accomplish it.

I find myself thinking of Nehemiah. He didn’t rebuild the wall all by himself. And he wasn’t the one who convinced the king to allow him – to actually help him – rebuild the wall. After finding out the wall had been torn down, the first thing Nehemiah did was pray:

“O Lord, please hear my prayer!…Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

After praying, Nehemiah didn’t say anything to the king at all. He had prayed and he trusted God to answer. He waited. He continued doing the work he was supposed to do.

The king noticed there was something wrong. Was he just a perceptive man? Or did God make him aware there was a problem?

The king asked Nehemiah what was wrong. He made a few guesses, but not assumptions. He didn’t presume to know. He asked. Was he just a curious man? Or did God prompt him to ask?

Nehemiah told him what was troubling him, but didn’t ask the king to do anything for him. Why not? He could have just asked the king for what he wanted right then. But he didn’t. He waited on the Lord. He had prayed and he trusted God to answer.

And the king said, “How can I help you?” Was he just a kind and compassionate man? Or did the Lord “put it into his heart” to help Nehemiah?

Back to Nehemiah. A powerful king just asked him “How can I help you?” Did Nehemiah blurt out his request? It’s interesting to me that the question and Nehemiah’s first response are both contained in one verse. The actual request follows in the next verse:

4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

Nehemiah didn’t say a word without God. He knew that the king would only say yes if God willed it.

That story has changed the way I approach problems and decisions. If a plan requires other people to accomplish it and God wants the plan accomplished, God will “put it into their heart.” When he doesn’t do that, I have a choice. Do I push through anyway?

or do I start praying about Plan B?

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ send me.

Send Me I trust You Lord#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

When I ask Him to allow me to serve Him more, when I ask Him to “send me” I have to trust that

sometimes, He sends me and doesn’t let me in on the reason why.

sometimes, I get exactly what I’ve prayed for – He allows me to serve Him more – and I don’t even realize it.

sometimes, He allows me to be a part of His story while not allowing me to read that part of the book.

My obedience doesn’t need to follow my understanding and it doesn’t need a promise that understanding will follow my obedience.

The only prerequisite is prayer.

And prayer needs to be the FIRST thing I do, not the last resort after I’ve tried everything else.

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ trust or do not trust.

Trust or Do Not Trust there is no middle ground#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

I can pray and ask God for what I want and/or think I need to achieve my goals, but in the end, He is all-knowing and all-powerful. I either trust His sovereignty in EVERY situation or I don’t.

No middle ground.

He knows what is best and He has the power to make ANYthing happen.

When I live grounded in that awareness, disappointment doesn’t form a pit in my stomach like it does when my mind is relentlessly plagued with multiple scenarios of “what ifs.” I know my current situation is a result of God’s providence.

Sometimes, my disappointments are actually His protection, preparation or redirection.

When I COMMIT my will to Him and GENUINELY trust Him to lead me in His way,

He will.

He does.

He has.

four minutes with God: in the dark, surrounded by trees.

peace is not the absence of darknessa Quote:
“A friend of mine is a singer. From time to time she goes to record vocal tracks at a studio here in town. One evening she went and she was in a different room than she had ever been in before. In a studio, there is always some form of sound absorbing material, so that the recording is clean and clear, but in this case the sound materials were unique. The guys in the studio called them “trees” because instead of being attached to the walls, the whole room was full of these sound absorbing columns. My friend would stand on her mark, and they would move the columns around her, surrounding her with the trees. Well at one point, the lights went out and if she hadn’t already been on her mark, she would not have known where she was, and would have been bumping into the “trees,” and unable to find her mark. Because her feet were planted before it got dark, she felt secure and confident, she just had to wait until the lights came back on. Do you see where I’m going with this? There will be struggles in this life. You will have suffering, and loss, and confusion. But the question is not “where are the trees,” but “where are your feet?” If you understand that Christ has made a way for you to be in the presence of God both now (through the Holy Spirit), and in the end (in the New Heavens and New Earth); if you cultivate a relationship with his Holy Spirit–becoming ever-more aware of his daily, constant presence with you; if you worship in light of these truths–knowing that God is here in Christ’s name, and if all of this seeps down into your heart, then when the lights go out you’ll be on your mark, you’ll be secure and confident, and you just have to wait until the lights come back on–in this life, or in glory.”
by Curtis Froisland
[to read my version of this story, CLICK HERE]

the Word:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

my Prayer:
Father, thank you for turning the lights out. again. Thank you for stripping away all the tangible, visible things that had become a stumbling block in my pursuit of an intimate relationship with You. Only You know the extent to which the extraction of those things rocked my faith and shattered my confidence. Even though these last 5 months have been the darkest of my life and I may never fully understand them, I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned. Thank you for striking me full in the face with the reminder that if I sincerely want the intimacy with You that I say I do, I have to be willing to be vulnerable. Transparent. I need to wholly surrender to Your sovereign plan. Thank you for helping me to find peace in the process and result of letting go of my own dreams and plans. Please help me find sustaining and true joy in trusting You and following You NO MATTER WHAT. Please, please help me find that fine line between dying to self and being a good steward of the gifts You bless me with. Please help me to relentlessly pursue my passions without allowing them to become idols. Please help me to overcome my fear and determination to NEVER put my love for them above my love for You ever again and to boldly “go and make disciples” in every single area of my life. Help me to step forward even though I know one of those steps could result in disobedience and discipline. again. Please help me to remember that pruning is necessary in order that I “bear much fruit. Thank you for helping me to understand Your silence doesn’t mean You’ve left me alone in in the dark.”

the lyric.
“You move in the unseen. You set the captives free. As I stand and sing, you’re breaking the chains off me. Breathe in me Your life, I can feel You are close now. I can never hide You are here and You know me. All I need is You
And I love You…Breathe in me Your life ’til Your love overtakes me. Open up my eyes, let me see You more clearly.”
by Bones (Live) by Hillsong