Thursday, November 18, 2010

God Means What He Says

Hebrews 13: 5-6 says "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'"

When I read that this morning, I thought of how hard it can be to be content with what you have when you are struggling financially. It's easy to think of things you need or want but can't afford to buy. It's even harder to be content when unexpected bills pop up. Just because I am a Christian does not mean I don't worry about money just like so many others do. There are times I am able to say "We'll be ok. God's in control." and not worry about the situation. There are other times I feel almost overwhelmed with fear over how in the world we are going to pay our bills.

Over the last month and a half, I worried about the damage the leaky roof was causing. I worried about whether mold would form on the walls and floor. I worried about it causing damage to the floor and walls, as well as the ceiling of the floor below. Every time it rained, I felt sick to my stomach from worrying about how much rain would come in and whether the buckets would catch it all. I worried about how paying for it would cause us to possibly not have enough money to pay other bills in the coming months. Even though the price we wound up paying was a great price, it was still a lot of money for us. Yet, in spite of all my worries, I kept trying to give it all over to the Lord. I knew He understood my worries, and I saw how He answered our prayers.

It might be easy for some people to think that God abandoned us. They may say, "If God knew how bad your finances are, why would He allow your roof to leak and cause you to pay a large amount of money that  you really needed?" To that I say God uses ALL things for good. Could He have prevented our roof from leaking? Yes. Could He have provided a way for us to get the roof fixed without paying anything? Yes. I know it could have been very possible that someone could have stepped forward and gave us the full amount of money needed to pay for the roof repair, but I'm glad that's not the way it happened.

I can almost hear people saying "What?!" As a result of all this happening, I learned SO much about trusting God when things seem worse. He spoke to me through my devotions and constantly reassured me that He was there. I learned anew that God really does mean it when He says "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you." He was there whenever I prayed for the rain to stop. He was there when it was raining and I started to worry. I would pray and feel His presence, and peace would start to replace the worry. I can say with confidence that the Lord is my helper. He helped alleviate my fears by providing a lot of sunny days. There were times when it did rain, but the roof didn't leak at all. There were days it was suppose to rain, but it didn't rain in our town. I saw how much God loved and cared about us through all of this, so I can say with confidence that I do not need to be afraid.

Monday, November 15, 2010

God's Perfect Timing

For those of you who have been following our leaky roof situation for the last month and a half, you will be very happy to read this blog! The roofer showed up today!! Yes, the same roofer we had originally called at the beginning of October. The same roofer who didn't return any of my calls that I had left for him. He didn't call so we had no idea he was coming. He simply showed up ready to work on the roof! He wanted to beat the rain that they are calling for us to get tomorrow. I'm truly hoping that we won't be seeing any water in those buckets up in the attic when we get rain!

The fact that the roofer showed up today is amazing to me for a few reasons. One is that we had contacted another roofer, who had showed up last Monday and then called us with an estimate. The amount he quoted us to fix just ONE window was the amount our original roofer had quoted us to do BOTH windows. We knew we could have chosen to just do the window that was leaking, but we knew we'd be constantly wondering when the other window was going to start to leak. The other window was the one that had been leaking a few years ago and was the reason we had the whole roof redone. It hadn't leaked since the roof was fixed, but then the other window started to leak. We just felt it would be best to have both windows removed so we didn't need to worry about it. We chose to wait a little while and not go with that roofer, and the weather was beautiful all last week!

The day after we declined to go with the second roofer, the friend from church who had referred us to that roofer let me know that his brother is a contractor/roofer. His brother was suppose to come Monday or Tuesday and he would probably be able to give us a better quote than the other roofer. I had just sent a note to our friend with directions to our house so his brother would know how to get to our house when he showed up. Minutes later, I had to send him another note letting him know our roofer just showed up. The man's brother didn't come today, but we were able to let our friend know that we would still like him to come over since we will need drywall put up in the spaces where the skylights were so the walls are smooth. Even if we can't afford to do it right now, we would be able to find out what exactly needs to be done and we'd have an estimate of what it will cost to do it. We also will have a contractor who we know we can call to do the work!

God's timing was perfect! We didn't hire the other roofer to do just one window instead of two. It didn't rain today so the roofer was able to get both skylights removed and the roof repaired. The amount we paid was exactly the amount I had told God I wanted to pay. This roofer had quoted us $700 to do both windows. I prayed and told God I only wanted to pay $500. A couple at church gave us $200 just 3 days after I prayed that. $700 - $200 = $500! The contractor/roofer did not show up today, which may have been awkward since our roofer was here. We won't be home all day tomorrow so if he comes early enough, we'll be able to talk with him about what needs to be done and what he thinks it will cost. If we don't get to see him tomorrow, we know how to get in touch with him. Best of all, it is suppose to rain tomorrow. For the first time in a month and a half, I do not feel any anxiety about that. God is good! All the time!! And His timing is PERFECT!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God is Listening!

Last Sunday, my husband and I were talking with a man at church. He asked if we had gotten our roof fixed yet and mentioned the name of a roofer, but I didn't think much of it at the time since we had a roofer who was suppose to be fixing our roof...even though we hadn't heard much from him and it had been almost a month since we initially contacted him about the leak in our roof and wanting to get both skylights removed and the roof fixed. On Thursday morning, I was doing school with the kids and I suddenly felt very strongly that I was suppose to call this other roofer. I sent a message via Facebook to the man we had talked to the previous Sunday asking him if he could give me the name and the phone number if he had it. Within minutes, the man responded back and said it was "funny" that I had just asked that because he had just called the guy about 10 minutes ago. He gave me the guy's name and phone number and I thanked him.

I waited until my husband came home from work because I didn't want to call another roofer without talking to him first to see if he agreed to it. He said it was fine so I called and left a message for the roofer. The next day, I received a phone call from the company and was told that the roofer was away this week; but he would be back on Sunday and would call me on Monday. It felt amazing to me to actually receive a phone call letting me know that "we got your message and we'll get back to you." since I haven't had that with our current roofer.

On my way to worship team rehearsal on Thursday night, I felt that I needed to pray to God and claim the price that I wanted to pay for our roof repair. A price came to my mind that was what we originally were hoping for, but our roofer quoted us something $200 higher than that. We had said ok, but we knew it was going to be a stretch for us. Now a month later, the roof had still not been fixed, but I knew God had been faithful in protecting our house. We had been praying every night that either the roofer would call or that God would "put an umbrella over the roof". When my husband first said those words, the kids laughed. We explained that we wanted God to protect our roof however he saw fit. Many of the days in the last month were sunny. There were days it was suppose to rain, but it never did. There were days it rained lightly and no rain came in. There were days it rained and the roof did leak, but it wasn't as bad as it had been. No matter what the weather, we knew God was protecting our house and watching over the leak in the roof. So now I decided to claim the price I originally was hoping for even though in my mind I felt our roofer had probably given us a price lower than any other roofer we would call and it would be impossible to get a lower price. As soon as the thought "impossible" popped into my mind, I thought "NOTHING is impossible with God!" Then I said "Lord, I want to spend $____ to get this roof fixed. I know it seems impossible, but I know nothing is impossible with you. You can do this, Lord! I trust you!"

Even though I didn't get to talk to the roofer the next day, I knew that I would be talking to him soon. I knew in my heart that God was in control. We went to church today and afterward, a couple came up to us. I had spoken with them about two weeks prior because they had heard about our roof situation. We talked for awhile because they totally understood what we were going through since they too had a leak in their roof a few years ago and had a lot of trouble finding a roofer. They prayed with me and I went home. Today at church, they came up to us and handed us an envelop. They said they felt God told them to give it to us and had blessed them with it so they could bless us. Inside was the EXACT amount of the difference between what our roofer quoted us to fix the roof and the price I claimed to God on Thursday that I wanted to pay!!! As soon as I saw the amount, I felt God saying to me, "I'm listening!"

I don't know what is going to happen when I talk to this other roofer tomorrow. I don't know when he'll be able to give us a quote. I do know if it is the same amount as what we were expecting or less, than we will have a new roofer! If he quotes a higher price, then maybe the amount given to us today will cover that difference and we will be able to hire him. If his quote is too high, then we'll just continue to wait for God to lead and direct us. I have a peace in my heart though because I know God is listening. He knows we've been patient and kept trusting Him to protect the roof and our house, and He has been faithful to do that. He knows the price we can afford, as well as what we can't afford. He knows what price I claimed in faith is what I want to pay and I truly believe that it is not impossible for Him to make that happen.

God is listening when we pray! He hears us! He knows what we need before we even ask, but He wants us to ask anyway. He wants us to show Him that we trust Him. He wants us to give everything over to Him and then just watch what happens and how He works through it all. I am truly looking forward to seeing what happens this week! God has been listening to my prayers for the last month and I think I'm about ready to experience His answer in a big way!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Lord is Near

This morning I read just one verse - Philippians 4:5. That's all I needed to read. God spoke to me in a huge way, and it was not pleasant! I am so thankful for His forgiveness, because I needed it this morning!

Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." The first part of the verse spoke to me immediately because I had a very frustrating day doing school with the kids yesterday. I knew my gentleness would NOT have been evident to all. I thought of my two kids and knew that they certainly didn't see my gentleness! I asked for forgiveness for that and prayed for the Lord to help me be gentle ALL the time, even when I have a reason for feeling frustrated or angry. I may have a perfectly good reason for having those feelings, but I still need to be gentle with my words.

When I first read the second part of the verse, I thought "The Lord is near." was referring to His second coming. I thought of how if His coming was near when this was written, how much closer it is now! Then the Lord gently said to me, "No, I am near." That's when it hit me. The Lord was near when I was not displaying gentleness to my kids yesterday. He saw and heard everything. OUCH! How I must have saddened and disappointed Him. There are times I feel the Lord's presence and I am so thankful He is there. There are other times it seems I "forget" that He is always there. He is always in the same room with me. He is with me wherever I go. I realized how much I need to think before I speak. I need to stop and ask Him for His help. He is right there with me and I don't ever want Him to have to see and hear me acting in a way that displeases Him. So, I apologized and asked for His forgiveness again.

Yes, I am thankful for the Lord's forgiveness today because I needed it...twice! He understands that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes. He understands that I will feel frustrated or even angry, and He understands why I am frustrated or angry. I need to remember that whenever I feel myself getting frustrated or angry, I need to ask for His help. I am thankful that He is always ready and willing to forgive me when I ask Him to. I am thankful that He is always near to me. I need to keep that in mind though ALL the time!

I felt I needed to share this today. Maybe you have the same problem I do with not always being gentle with your words, especially when you are frustrated or angry. The Lord wants us to let our gentleness be evident to all. That isn't always going to be easy, but I know God will help all of us do it if we simply ask for His help. Maybe you needed to be reminded that the Lord is near. I know sometimes it may seem that He isn't there, but He has promised us that He is always with us. He will never leave us. Trust that He is there even when you don't feel Him. Perhaps you needed to be reminded of both of these things, the same way I did. Just ask for His forgiveness, and be thankful that He is there and ready to forgive you. Be thankful that He is near to you all the time, and use that reminder to help give you the strength to display gentleness even when it isn't easy. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rejoice in the Lord...always?!

As a mom, I've done my fair share of having to repeat something I just said. The main reason for me having to repeat myself is the simple fact that my kids weren't listening the first time I said it. Sometimes they didn't hear it because they were so busy being loud that they simply couldn't hear me talking. Other times, it is due to them tuning me out. I can usually tell by the expression on their face or the fact that I can see them looking around or doing something else as I'm talking that I'm being ignored. Regardless of the reason behind it, I find myself often repeating something that I find to be important and I want to make sure my kids heard.

I thought of this today as I read Philippians 4:4 which says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Paul was writing a letter and he told the people to Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I emphasized that last word because I know that it can be very hard to rejoice in the Lord in each and every situation. I'm sure Paul knew that sentence was read, people would probably be thinking "Is he serious?! Does he really expect me to rejoice all the time, even when something really bad happens?!" I think Paul knew those kinds of questions would arise, so he immediately repeated himself so that the people knew what he had just said was important. He wanted to make sure they heard what he was saying.

When I read that verse today, I knew that rejoicing in the Lord always must be important if Paul felt that he needed to repeat himself and say it twice. I then started to think about times when it is not always easy to rejoice, and then think of how I could possibly find a way to rejoice even when it might seem impossible or at least very hard to do so. The first situation I thought of was when someone dies. I almost laughed when I thought of how it is not my first thought to yell "Praise the Lord!" when I hear that someone has passed away. I then thought of my sister who died suddenly at the age of 28. Even though this happened sixteen years ago, I remember that day very clearly. I remember that the farthest thing from my mind was rejoicing in the Lord. However, I also remember knowing that she was now in heaven and seeing the babies she had lost. I was sad for all of us that were left behind, but I was comforted in knowing that I would see her again one day. In a way, I was "rejoicing" that she had lived her life in such a way that she had heard "Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter in to the joy of the Lord." and that one day, all of us who had given our heart to the Lord would see her again. When someone is sick for a long time, people may breathe a "Thank you, Lord" when the person finally passes away because they know that person is no longer in any pain. It is a lot harder to find the "good" in a situation when it comes so unexpectedly, but God wants us to rejoice even if it is to say "Lord, I don't understand why you allowed this to happen, but I know that you are in control. Thank you for the promise that you will comfort us during this difficult time. Thank you for loving me and being with me every step of the way. I know I will make it through this with your help." If you know the person who passed away is a Christian, you can thank the Lord that person is in God's presence. You can thank the Lord for the privilege of knowing that person. You can thank Him for the blessing they may have been in your life. Focus on all the positives of that person's life and you will find yourself rejoicing in the fact that God had placed that person in your life and you will never forget them.

I know it won't always be easy to rejoice in the Lord, but I am sure that you can find SOMETHING to say "Thank you" to the Lord for in EVERY situation. It may be that you can rejoice you are still alive. It may be that you can rejoice the bill wasn't more than it was. If you can't think of something specific, just rejoice that God is in control and has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!