We’re builders: Part 6- About our Father’s business

Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” – Luke 2:49

As I’ve been meditating on Psalm 127 it hit me: This means we are to be about our Father’s business.

Let me explain.

I’m a real simpleton in thinking. I need the Spirit to explain things to me a lot! Like a child I find myself asking my Father things like, “What does that mean!?” ALL THE TIME!!

As I wrote in my 5th installment of We’re Builders, I realized that Psalm 127 teaches me to trust God and not be anxious about how my kids are going to turn out, or if they’ll know the Lord because I can’t do anything to ensure how they’ll turn out or if they’ll know the Lord UNLESS God is doing a work in their lives. I can’t “build the house” unless the Lord is building the house.

But I’ve continued asking my Father questions about this passage this past week. One of the questions is, “What’s my role then!? If I can’t build unless Your building, how can I be sure Your building and what am I suppose to be doing?”

Maybe to many of you wise women of the Word this answer is more obvious, but to my pea-brain it’s not. In the everyday interactions of life how am I suppose to be about building up my house for God’s glory through training and raising my children if it’s all dependent upon whether God is building, training and raising them in their hearts and spirits? Am I suppose to try and dig deep into the heart issues of my 3 and 5 year old or am I to not concern myself with that at all since it’s only God who can truly “build” them? These are my questions.

Like I said it hit me the other day. I’m not sure where I was, maybe in the shower, but I heard, “It’s being about your Father’s business Sheila.” In that split second I got it! I understood a bit of the mystery of how God empowers and allows mere men (and women) to do HIS work.

Think about that, God partners with man. It’s HIS work, He is the strength, apart from Him it will not be accomplished, but He choose to let those who trust Him participate in His divine work. Wow! And, Oh my goodness!!!!

And the other thing He spoke to my heart in that moment was, “It’s more than being used. I used a donkey. I’ve used hard-hearted Pharaoh. I used King Nebuchadnezzar. Being used by Me is not the key or point. I can use anything, I even use the devil to ultimately prove the faith of my children and to work all things for good for those who love Me and are called by Me for My purposes. Don’t just desire to be used by Me Sheila, desire to KNOW ME! Knowing Me is the point.”

God is working with a very weak human here and He’s doing it to prove His might. He’s also alluring me to leave being used for being known and knowing Him.

Being builders as women means being intimate with God, knowing Him, and participating in His divine work- doing our Father’s business of building up lives for His glory. As we make homes wherever we are, serving and loving those in our lives, as we train and teach and labor in prayer for those God’s entrusted to our care as our own children (whether they are ours or not- they belong to the Lord) leading them to Christ, we participate in a divine work. A work that could not be done apart from God, and a work God chooses to do THROUGH us!

What a calling! What a privilege! What a responsibility! To be about our Father’s business!

Oh Daddy! Help me! Give me wisdom and cover me with Your mercy and grace. If You aren’t revealing Yourself to my children and to others who are in my life nothing I say or do will mean a thing. But since You’ve called me to this I’m trusting that You are “behind the scenes.” I trust You are digging into the deep issues of the heart with my children and husband and I’ll leave those things to You. Help me to do my part in loving and serving them, and in training the children.

We’re builders- Part 5: Pausing on Psalm 127

In this 5th installment I wanted to continue with that pause we took last week. The pause was stopping to realize- this building of the kingdom work God calls us to do as women in building our homes (whatever those homes may look like) is not JUST for our pleasure (though there is much to be enjoyed in building as God designed), but it is ultimately a work of worship to be consumed and tested even through trials and pain that God’s glory might be seen in us and those around us might worship Him too.

This week’s “pause” has me camping on is Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

What stops me in my tracks here is the reminder that this work of building and watching I’ve been called to do as the keeper of my home (which really means to be aware, watchful, on guard), and as a woman, is not powered by me. God lets me participate and enables me to partake of His building work, but it is really He, not me, who builds.

The other thing that stands out to me and causes me to take a Selah (Hebrew for accentuate or pause) is that this building is directly linked, not to walls and buildings, furniture and dishes, decor and traditions, but to PEOPLE! Children, specifically.

This Psalm is saying, “Hey, you builders and watchers. Don’t start getting anxious and worried about how the building is going or not going or how the enemies are abounding or not abounding. Don’t pace the floors trying to conjure up a good plan or figure out a sure defense, look to ME!

I’m the One who makes what you build stand or fall. If I’m not for you- YOUR TOAST! But if I am for you then it doesn’t matter how bad things seem or how little progress the building seems to be making. I’m in control. So stop worrying. Pray and rest. Look for what and how I’M building and then do it trusting me for the outcome.

And remember I’m not talking about physical buildings here, I’m talking about children, or those souls I’ve entrusted to you to grow and nurture and train. Your best offense against the enemy is not coming up with a good building scheme. Your best offense is to trust ME and train up the souls that only I can give to you.

You can’t build your house apart from Me! Can you create a child? No! Children come from Me. Just as children come from Me, the building of them, the training of souls I put in your care, can only happen because I’m doing the building.”

So many questions and realizations come out of this Psalm for me.

I realize I worry way too much (if I worry at all it’s too much). Does the Lord live in me? Then it’s His ways, His strength and His will that will “build” and “guard” my house, not me staying up late or getting up early fretting or toiling anxiously. “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil.2:13)

I also realize in God’s economy, building as a wise woman is directly connected to the children God’s given me.

I see that God may give me souls to build and train as though they were my children even if I don’t have children of my own. I think of Paul, who often referred to the souls he trained and taught, loved and nurtured in the ways of the Lord as his children (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, and 1 Thess. 2:7-9, and Galatians 4:19).

I realize training my children is a weapon against the enemies of God’s kingdom. And that means I must take much care to see that the weapon God’s given me is prepared to be launched “out there” to effectively combat the enemy’s strongholds.

It makes me ask for wisdom, and again I go back to Solomon who when given rule over God’s people entreated God saying, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people of yours, which is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)

And that’s what I ask for- wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before these people of His, these souls that belong to Him, these sons, this husband, these neighbors, etc.

Lord, I can’t do this building work apart from You. But with You I can do all things, even the divine calling of building up my house for Your kingdom. You’ve entrusted me with at least two souls under my care, and maybe even more I’m not aware of. Teach me how to pray for them and also teach me to rest and trust You. Teach me how to go in and out…to do life in front of them that they might learn Your ways. Please give me wisdom Lord, that I can build for Your name’s sake!

I listened to an AWESOME teaching on this subject through a link from the Rebelution blog. You can go here to listen for yourself. I HIGHLY recommend it!!

Here’s one of the things he said that really got my attention:

In many ways we don’t need to spend more time with our children, they need to spend more time with us.” ( Greg Harris from Covenant Life Church, father of the Rebelution kids Alex and Brett)

What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself “eating the bread of anxious toil” when it comes to how the building of your home is going? Boy do I!!! Do you see your own children as they vessels which God enables you to build His kingdom through? Are you engaging with them and discipling them? Do you have people in your life who are not children of your own but seem to just be following you and looking up to you when you didn’t ask for it or even want it? Maybe God’s called you to be their spiritual mom?

We’re builders- Part 4: Offered to be consumed

I’m in 2 Chronicles in my journey thru the Bible this year (or as long as it takes- I love to stop and camp out so it’ll probably take me 10 years). Yesterday I was really struck by 2 Chronicles 7:1, which says:

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

In 1 Chronicles 29:14-16, David prayed, looking at all he and the people were offering the Lord, and cried, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”

In all that I give, whether by money or time; whether in making things by hand or laboring at something; whether in training my children or loving my husband…whatever I give saying, “Lord I want to build a place for Your name here. This is for You and unto You,” I must realize first that I could never offer the Lord a thing really, because all things I have- money, time, ability, children, a husband, etc.- belong to Him.

I should not approach the Lord with reserve saying, “Here Lord, I give you this,” as though I were really making such a sacrifice. But rather I should say to the Lord who gives me breath each day, “Who am I Lord that I should offer You this freely. You gave it to me, it’s Yours!”

That’s the attitude from which God will enable me to build a place for His name- in my home or wherever I go. The place of humility realizes I can’t give God anything, He gives everything to me, and I say, “Thank You Lord for accepting my offering.”

I should be thankful and glad that He would even accept what I offer, for apart from His sacrifice- not mine- apart from His grace I would not be accepted by Him at all.

So when I get that foundation laid in my soul and am humbled and filled with joy and awe that God will actually accept what I offer Him and allow me to build a place for His holy name, then I face what Solomon faced…the realization that God consumes what I offer Him so that His glory might be seen.

As soon as Solomon finished praying… boom, fire consumed the offering and sacrifices he made to the Lord. And when that happened, God’s glory filled what He had built for the Lord’s name (the temple) and the people around saw and worshipped the Lord.

This is the way it is with us. We offer God our lives realizing they are not our own anyway. We’re thankful for His mercy and grace; for His sacrifice which allows us to build, sacrifice and offer and be accepted by Him. And then He burns it up.

Something in me (my own mind) thinks, “I’ll offer God my marriage, my parenting, my life as a woman, and He’ll build me up so I can have a nice marriage, kids and life,”…but that’s not true!

Oh yes, it’s true that offering God my life is the only way I could have the nicest marriage possible- God enables me to build by His grace in my marriage, parenting…in my life. But He doesn’t do it so that I can stand there and look at my offering and what He’s allowed me to build and smile at what I’ve offered Him (as though I could have offered it anyway apart from His mercy). No, He enables me to build for His name’s sake, and to make my offerings and sacrifices to Him, so that He can send fiery trials and tests my way to consume what I’ve given Him with His presence and power- so that others might believe.

It’s the genuineness of our faith God is concerned with, not simply the holy offerings (our testimony of a life lived in holiness), or sacrifices (our testimony of a life laid down to do His will). He desires ultimately that His glory, not our offerings only, be seen in us. And the way His glory is seen is when He consumes what we’ve offered with His presence amidst the trials of life.
When others no longer see our holiness or our submitted livesthey see Jesus as our faith endures fiery trials.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him.” 1 Peter 1:6-8

  • So first we realized as wives and as women, no matter our circumstances, we’re called to build.
  • Then we realize He’s given us the calling of home-building…wherever that home may be and whatever souls might be included (husband, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, fellow students, co-workers, etc.)
  • And then we must stop and realize that we aren’t able to build or offer anything to the Lord that isn’t given us by Him and already belongs to Him.
  • And after that we must be ready for the fire trials that come to consume our offering with God’s presence in our lives, realizing that He desires His glory to be displayed in us so others might believe.

(see Part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this series)

Next we’ll continue this pause to realize that unless the Lord builds the house…it don’t make no difference how much we do (my country hick version of Psalm 127) 🙂 And because He does build we can rest!

Would you join me in stopping where you are today and lifting up your hands to the Lord as though you could hold your house… your life, up in your hands? Would you declare with me, “Who am I Lord? And who are these my people that we can offer to You so freely? Everything we offer You is given us by You and belongs to You! Thank You for sacrificing Your life so that I could offer You mine and be accepted by You! Take my life Lord, my marriage, my kids, my time, my money…my life, and send Your holy fire on this offering! I want Your glory to be seen in me that others might believe!”

We’re builders- Part 3

I just realized that the “In Other Words” quote today was on being builders as it pertains to women! Wow! What a “coincidence”- NOT! This is a God thing! He’s totally been speaking to me as I study this ministry God has charged me with as a woman, and now to find it being discussed at In Other Words. So I’m turning this post into an In Other Words contribution.

You can also read Part 1, or Part 2 of my series called “We’re Builders.”

For more blog posts on this topic head over to Chelsea at Joyfully Living, the hostess for In Other Words.
Today’s quote is:“We as women, think of ourselves as mothers, teachers, nurses and son on, but God says that we are builders. We usually relegate this role to the men, but we are building with something far great than brick and timber.” Nancy Campbell, The Power of Motherhood: What the Bible Says about Mothers.
In this series I want to focus on what it means to be a builder as a wife, but I do want to use a post to address the woman who is not a wife.

When I was praying about this subject the other day, thinking particularly of single women and women who are divorced, the whisper in my ears was, “Let her be a homemaker.” What was revealed to me in that moment was not quiting a “job” to stay home particularly, nor was it speaking of being a wife and mom, but rather a ministry that ANY woman can take up just as our Lord took up footwashing.

I pictured a young woman in a dorm. She loves the Lord, she desires to walk in His ways, yet she is surrounded by the ways of the world and the sinful desires of her own fleshly nature. “Let her be the one washing the dishes, picking up, making a nice dinner, bringing a meal to another person in her dorm, hosting or starting a Bible study, visiting a sick friend, etc. Let her be known amongst those she lives as a person who always makes people feel at home and who speaks truth and grace.”

I also pictured a woman worn. She works full-time. She’s divorced. She’s a single-mom. She loves the Lord and desires to walk in His ways, yet she is also engulfed in worldliness and accusations from the enemy along with the weakness of her own flesh. “Let her be concerned with homemaking wherever she is. Let her be the one picking up the break room and bringing in goodies to her co-workers. Let her be known for her kindness towards her ex-husband and not speak evil of him. Let her be known for her care of her children and not her annoyance with them. Let her be prayerful and hospitable. Let her lay a foundation for her own children in Christ through what she speaks to them- teaching them about the God she serves, and letting them see her attitude of trust and worship.”

I just wanted to address these two areas because they seem to be the areas that the enemy often accuses me in as I seek to fulfill the ministry of building in my own home as unto the Lord. I’m not a single-woman in a dorm, or a single-mom (though I was at one time), but the enemy wants to accuse the Lord of excluding these in His way for a woman. In my mind I often hear his accusations but he’s a liar. As women in the body of Christ our “wifehood” is to Jesus. So that whether we serve Him as single women, divorced women, or married ones, we serve HIM! We are all “a wife” in a sense. Our lives should speak a legacy of building our homes to the magnification of Christ, whoever that home includes. Whether it is a husband, children, co-workers, girls in our dorm room, etc.

Isaiah 54 speaks to the building or enlarging work God does through ANY woman who serves Him. A barren woman, a woman who’s never been in labor (I think of a single woman when I read that) a widow, a shamed woman (maybe a woman with a promiscuous past) a divorced woman, and a married one- all are mentioned in this chapter which has often given me much courage as a woman. ( Just for the record, I know that this passage speaks to us now because the end of verse 17 says, “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord…” Are you a servant of the Lord? Then this is for you!) It says:
  • Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married, says the LORD (ESV)
  • Enlarge (that’s building) the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations (that’s your “home”) be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. (ESV)
  • Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. (ESV)
  • For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. (ESV)
  • For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. (ESV)
  • No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord. (NKJV)

Where do you fall in these differing versions of the woman of God? Are a single? Are you married? Are you divorced? Do you have a shameful past? Are you a young woman still living in your father’s house? Whatever your circumstances are or have been they cannot and do not negate the building work you are called and enable to do through the Lord.

The scripture is full of examples of women with less than ideal situations who were used by the Lord as they submitted their lives to Him to do a building work for His kingdom.

Here’s just a few:

  • Rachel. Rachel was a barren woman. (See Genesis 29-30)
  • Leah. Leah was an unloved wife. (See Genesis 29-30)
  • Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute. (See Joshua 2)
  • Ruth. Ruth was totally foreign to the ways of God and a widow. (See the Book of Ruth)
  • The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). She had 5 previous husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband when God gave her a taste of the Living Water and she stopped thirsting for men to satisfy her. Immediately she was used to build God’s kingdom.
  • Mary, the woman who mothered Jesus. Mary was single, a virgin, yet was called to be a homemaker for a man chosen for her and the Son of God in flesh.

If a woman has tasted the mercy and grace of God through Christ for herself, her circumstances will not matter. She will seek to build a home for the glory of God…whether the souls who make up her home are her own husband and kids, or strangers (as in Rahab’s case), or neighbor’s (as in the Samaritan woman’s case), or an in-law (as in Ruth’s case).

What souls are you making a home for? Jesus gave us a taste of our eternal home in His years of serving and loving here on earth…all the way to the cross. We women who have His life in us can also let the majesty of God be touchable by humbling ourselves as our Lord did, and washing some feet, or dishes. We can be the vessels through which souls around us are encouraged to trust in the living God by whipping up some breakfast, whether it be fish by the sea as Jesus did in John 21:12 or pancakes and eggs in your house or brought to the souls you seek to build up for the kingdom.

Lord, help me to be a kingdom builder, a home maker for Your glory wherever I am. Right now I have a husband and two children, I pour my life out into them for You my sweet Jesus! When I have opportunity to be stretched to include in my building other souls let me be a home maker for them too!

We’re builders- Part 2

So much for next week, I’m just going to keep posting on this topic till I stop scribbling notes in my journal at home.

What does it mean to be a builder as a wife?

First I must remember that it’s not just wives who are called to be builders in the kingdom of God. All of us who are in the Body of Christ are being built up by Christ and are used by Him to do His building work. I think that passage in Isaiah 58:12 says it so well, “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” Those from among the Lord are builders.

So why the distinction at all for the wife? Why doesn’t scripture just lay out the character of faith in a believer’s life without distinction to roles? Why is there a Proverbs 14:1 or a Titus 2:4-5, or any other passage directed particularly to a wife? I believe the answer lies in the examples of the positions of service, and tools used in service, in the Old Testament temple of God and also in the description of the body of Christ being made up of many parts with varying gifts and roles in the New Testament. We’re all one in this (that is, those who trust in Christ), but we’re not all the same. We each have different parts to play in the building up of the kingdom of God.

And I really believe it’s that and that alone which is the cause for any distinction being made as to the wife’s role or any other role. For as the Spirit wrote by Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) That oneness is in Christ not in everyone doing the same thing, otherwise, with the examples of the temple and the body, Christ would be, say… an incense burner only, or a foot only, and not a complete temple with many functions, or a complete body with many parts. Our oneness is the life of Christ being lived out in our varying roles.

For the wife, God’s word is clear, there is a distinct arena for her “building.” Just as in Nehemiah there were many different people who worked on the wall of Jerusalem to build it and each had a different spot on the wall (see Nehemiah 3), wives have a spot assigned to them- their homes. Does that mean their use in service will never leave the home, not necessarily, but it is to be the focus. God’s given us an assignment, a place on the wall, a service in His temple, a function in the body and to leave it to go chase other “good” things would be to disregard God’s word to us as trivial.

That’s why the Spirit wrote through Paul that the word of God is not reviled when a wife gives herself to loving her husband and children, to being self-controlled, pure, a homemaker, kind and submissive to her own husband (Titus 2:4-5). And again in 1 Timothy 5:14, “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” (ESV)

So, being a builder as a wife begins with turning our eyes toward home and embracing it not as our own, but rather as a piece of the wall on which we’ve been given the honorable assignment of building God’s kingdom for God’s glory.

I do believe the enemy is about the same business now as a “Sanballat” and “Tobiah” in our minds and lives as he was when Nehemiah set out to build as God had put it in His heart to do (see Nehemiah 2:10, 19-20). He still seeks to fire his words of accusation and doubt, threat and mockery to bring fear into our hearts and to cause us to become discouraged with this holy work. But like Nehemiah we must fix our eyes on doing the will of God. May our “it is written” response to the enemy’s lies be, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” (Just as a side note, the Bride of Christ is the New Jerusalem, see Revelation 21:1-27. As a part of the body of Christ, Satan has no portion or right or claim in our lives, for we are a piece of the eternal Jerusalem).

Are your eyes turned towards your home? Are you setting about today to do the work of building in the lives of those who make up your home? What lies and thoughts distract you from being about this work?

Next: Looking at the examples of Nehemiah, David and Solomon, and Ruth (along with Leah and Rachel).

We’re builders

The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”- Proverbs 14:1

I can’t help but think of Bob the Builder when I see, hear or say the word build. It’s my little guys. Whenever we drive past a construction crew or a guy on a bulldozer they shout out, “Look mom! That guy’s a Bob the Builder!” I usually respond with, “Yeah, they’re building like Bob the Builder aren’t they. Jesus is a builder you know! He was a builder like that when He walked on the earth and He’s still building. He’s building a new heaven and a new earth for us.”

That usually spawns all kinds of conversation, “When’s Jesus gonna be done building it mom?… I want to be a builder mom!… When I grow up I’m gonna drive a big machine like that mom!…”

And I always think of me when we have this little conversation about being a builder. Why? Because of Proverbs 14:1, “A wise woman builds…”

As I was thinking about what it means for me to be a builder the other day several stories from scripture came to mind: Nehemiah who set out to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. David and Solomon who set out to build a house for the name of the LORD. Ruth who the elders of the land prayed would build Boaz’s house like Rachel and Leah built up Israel. Each of these were builders and they bring to mind this passage in Isaiah 58:12, “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
Truly those from among the Lord will be builders and in some way He will move in them to do a repairing and restoring work here on the earth. He moves still even in wives to raise up the foundations of generations.

But how do we do this work of faith as builders in our everyday lives? This has been my question to the Lord as I have sought His face and opened up His word. And next week I’ll explore what it means to be a builder as a wife.

What are your thoughts? How can you live out your calling to be a builder?