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christian lifestyle

Bible Scriptures, Christian Lifestyle, Faith, Family, Inspiration

Devotional 4: Waiting on the Lord

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 NIV

When you’re waiting for God to answer your prayers, do you doubt or have faith?

Three years ago, I sat on a friend’s living room sofa on the verge of tears.

I felt stuck. I wanted out.

More specifically, I was growing weary of living in a two-bedroom, one bath house in a rough part of the city.

I wanted something better for our young family. But “better” was taking too long to get here.

My dear friend listened as I lamented. She offered some encouragement.

While it didn’t make things better right away, the talk did help me gain some perspective. And it gave me a chance to off-load some things that were weighing on my heart.

The epiphany: My lack of faith

It was around that time that I realized I was failing to trust in the Lord.

It had been 7 years since we moved into that house, when we thought we’d only be there for two.

Somewhere along the way, I had lost my faith.

I started wondering if God didn’t want our family to move.

Is there something in my character that God wants to prune?, I thought.

Perhaps there’s someone here that he wants me to reach on His behalf, my mind wandered.

Or could it be that we’re just not ‘ready’ for that kind of blessing and responsibility? I asked quietly.

Over the next several months, I prayed. Studied the scriptures. And asked the Lord to show me where I was falling short.

He did, in fact, reveal some things that was darkening my heart and chipping away at my faith.

Once corrected, I saw the darkness lift.

My faith was restored.

Suddenly, I started to dream again.

Taking steps to receive the blessing.

With the Lord’s help, our family took steps that put us in a position to buy a new home.

But of all the things we did in preparation for the next stage, the most critical step was the clarifying moment when I repented of unbelief.

The writer of the book of Hebrews declared that:

“[W]ithout 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.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV

In reading the gospels, it was evident that people lacking faith displeased Jesus, and dare I say, even disgusted him?

See Matthew 8:26; Matthew 14:31 and Luke 12:28.

Therefore, dear friends, I pray that wherever you are in life, whatever struggle you currently face, that you have faith in the midst of the difficulty.

James 1:6 NIV puts it plainly:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

I don’t share this story to claim that simply repenting can lead to material blessings. That would be misguided and unspiritual. I share this story to show that there is often a direct relation between our circumstance and our faith and obedience to God.

So, what happened in the end?

How does my story end, you ask?

Well, I’m sitting here in a new home that is more spacious and, for the most part, considerably safer. And I praise God for revealing my shortcoming and allowing a chance to change courses.

It only took about two years from the day I sat on my friend’s couch for God to deliver an outcome I had once thought was so far out of reach.

Lessons learned?

Wait “expectantly” for the Lord, as Psalm 5:3 suggests. Trust that He hears your prayers and wants to refine you, and not necessarily to withhold from you. Don’t doubt.

I wonder what God will do in your life two years from now? Where in your life do you need to replace doubt with faith?

Christian Life, Faith, Inspiration

Devotional 1: Fixer Upper

Several months ago, we moved into a new home.

The new home is definitely an upgrade from the two-bedroom, one bath, 800-square foot abode that we owned and resided for 8 years prior.

The new neighborhood is much quieter and safer, too.

But if I’m being honest. The new house is a bit of a fixer-upper, too. And it is not the kind of fixer-upper you’re going to see transformed in a 20-minute segment like that on Joanna and Chip’s HGTV hit show, Fixer Upper.

It’s the kind of house that you know is a bit of a fixer upper when you buy it, but vow to turn it into something beautiful later on. Much later on. Not in, like, two weeks. We’re talking over the course of two years (at least). Because let’s face it, renovations cost money and, like the old saying goes: Money doesn’t grow on trees.

To commence our renovation journey (remember, we’re in it for the long haul), I did several inexpensive DIY projects myself.

I stripped off the dingy, dirty carpet on the stairs. I pried out thousands of tiny, blood-thirsty carpet nails over the course of 8 months.

I sanded the stairs lightly, and then patched a number of holes and gaps with a white putty substance that dries and is paintable in minutes. Lastly, I slathered the stairs with three coats of white paint.

The tile floor was grungy, but in good shape. So I spent a number of days pouring caustic cleaner on it and letting it sit. When it started to bubble and fizz, I knew the dirt was loosening, and I’d scrub the grout lines and wipe away the grime.

I tell ya, those fumes nearly killed me, but I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed until the grout lines started to reveal their original hue.

In the kitchen, I painted the ceiling and walls, as well as put a fresh coat of paint on the surface of the cabinets. Endured more cleaning. And I installed a faux backsplash. (Please try not to judge me for my sink full of dirty dishes.)

In my haste to see the transformation come quickly, I ripped up the laminate wood floors in the dining room, hoping to find original hardwood floors underneath.

To my dismay, what appeared were run-of-the-mill subfloors. I had already discarded the laminate floor slabs, and so we are currently making do with our subfloors.

We’ll eventually purchase new hardwood floors and we plan to invest in a new dining table, but because moving is costly we are trying to be wise with our expenditures, not moving too hastily to buy a new ‘this’ and a new ‘that.’

As I’m making improvements around my new house, I can’t help but wonder if God sees me the same way — that I’m a little bit of a fixer upper, too, that needs some tender-loving care.

In fact, I really don’t need to wonder. Because I’m pretty certain He does. Psalm 139: 13 says that God “created my inmost being” and that He “knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Yes, my sisters, he is restoring me and making me whole once more. That which sin made dirty and unrecognizable from its original conception, He is making clean again.

I was 19 years old when God called me into this life called discipleship.

And since then, through character-building life events, He has chipped away at the faulty exterior and built in me a new way of thinking and patterns of righteous behavior.

With His skilled hand in my life, the good Lord continues to make me over, transforming my proverbial interior and exterior construction into, one glorious day, a sight to behold.

And just like my own home renovation project, this fixer upper called Emily, is still a work in progress.

How is the Lord still working on you?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV

Prayer

Lord almighty, you are a righteous God who sees me in all of my mess and, yet, extends your hand to me with loving grace. I praise you for first creating me, and then making me whole and clean again through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. May I always answer your call to be made new from the inside-out, all the days of my life. Amen.