>Enemies

>If you ever want to know what the voice of the enemy sounds like I recommend reading Isaiah 36-37.
After you prayerfully read these chapters I promise you will better recognize his slimy little lies. It truly is a must that you learn to recognize his voice… because he will speak to you. No one is exempt. If Jesus was not exempt why on earth would we ever even consider that we should or would be?

As you read to learn his voice, you must also pay close attention to how we are to respond to his voice. The only way to fight the voice of the enemy is with the Voice of Truth, the Word of God. Jesus showed us that. Hezekiah shows us that in Isaiah 36-37.

What’s important to know as you look at Isaiah 36-37 is the condition of Hezekiah’s heart before this enemy was permitted by God to approach him. You see only a short while earlier Hezekiah had become deathly ill, but he prayed to God and asked God to heal him… and God did. However, the Bible tells us that “Hezekiah gave no return for the benefit he received, because his heart was proud; therefore wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:25).

So God permitted this enemy to come against Hezekiah.
It can be hard to swallow can’t it?
It’s hard to believe that this God that loves us so much allows our enemies to come against us. It can be hard to take in that it was indeed God that allowed this calamity, this enemy, this illness, this voice that hurts to the core and shatters you to the bone.
Many refuse to believe that.
Even men from the pulpit many will try to convince a congregation that a God of love wouldn’t do that… to say that is to negate much of the Word of God. For God clearly says “…I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” (Isaiah 45:6-7) 

Many will hear God in this light and say well, that’s not my god. To that I must say, then you serve a false god. 

So why would God allow “calamity”? Why would He allow an enemy to come against us? Why would He allow an illness into our lives? We must learn “that an enemy is more than an enemy and an illness is more than an illness. It has been permitted by God for our good.” (Kay Arthur)

Here is some insight, some life lessons, to hold on to that I learned while studying these chapters of Isaiah with Kay Arthur through Precept. These insights will help you learn how to recognize the enemy and also how to understand how if you have faith any enemy or illness becomes a blessing:

-> An enemy wants to take you into captivity
-> An enemy challenges your faith (faith just is not faith until it has been tested)
-> An enemy tests your loyalty (he will offer compromise and compensation and even rewards if you will just come on over to his side)
-> An enemy can talk with God talk (yes the devil can quote Scripture)
-> An enemy talks will test your knowledge of God’s Word (the enemy always speaks God’s word out of context and he uses words of truth but perverts the truth)
-> An enemy will challenge your ability to hear God’s voice for yourself (you know, “well God told me that…”)
-> An enemy attempts to rule you by fear
-> An enemy seeks to divide and separate
-> An enemy will drive you into the presence of God and cause you to remember who God is
-> An enemy will drive you to your knees in prayer
-> An enemy will cause us to remember our dependence upon God

The thing about enemies is that they can blindside you. A lot of times they can come out of no where, well personally I think most of the time they come out of nowhere. Life can be great and wonderful and then BOOM!

So when these enemies come we have a choice, to quote Kay again, “we can faint or we can wait”.

We can fall down and faint before this enemy or we can stay silent and wait on God to fight for us or for God to tell us clearly how to respond. What we cannot do is respond out of our flesh.

I have learned that my biggest challenge in this process is not the attack, it is not staying silent or waiting for God to tell me how to respond to the attack, it is what I do with the hurt. I have a tendency to stay silent before the enemy and then become an enemy myself to someone else. I can just see the devil rolling over with laughter when he accomplishes this in me.

So why does God allow enemies and illnesses and calamities in our life?
To make us more like Him.
That is His goal.

I have learned that it also is to prepare us for the future. Before David ever faced Goliath he first faced a lion and a bear. If God has plans to use us for great things in His kingdom we have to be ready for the battle. Jesus tells us that we are not greater than our Master and if they hated Him they will hate us as well. If we are on the side of God we have just made an enemy of the world, our flesh, and Satan himself.

However, let us never forget…

“If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31
and
“But in all these things
we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life,
nor angels,
nor principalities,
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor powers, 
nor height,
nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 3:37-39 

>Driving School Part 2

>I have completed my driving school adventure and am determined to not be there again.
It makes me sick to think that the money that is going to pay for this is coming out of my families budget. It makes it worse for me as a stay-at-home mom, a housewife. You see I don’t add to this budget. So I hate taking from it… always have. I try to cost my husband as little as possible.

*** (Please know that it frustrates my husband to know end that I feel this way… but I can’t help it, I just do. He does not push me to work outside the home and is very supportive of me being at home with our girls and homeschooling them. We both thoroughly enjoy the fact that our family is together more than it is apart and that we are not dependant upon the state of Alabama to tell us when we can take a family trip or take our children to the doctor. We have never been a scheduled family. My husband’s work hours have always crazily fluctuated… so homeschool just works best for us for a plethora of reasons. Besides the fact that we absolutely love being able to teach our girls from a Biblical worldview.) 

When something like this speeding ticket happens, heaps of condemnation are dumped upon my shoulders by the enemy of my soul. I immediately begin to think that I need to quit teaching at church and at home and I need to just quit writing books and studies and go to work outside the home full time so I can be a contributing factor to our household financially.
Then with that thought comes… well who would hire me? I am a thirty-four year old woman who has never had a full-time job. The thought of filling out a job application or trying to put together a resume makes me cringe. All my past part-time employments are now out of business… well with the exception of substitute teaching. By the time I get to this point I feel as if I am a nobody who has nothing to offer anyone.

Oh how thankful I am that I am aware that my feelings will lie to me. How thankful I am that my God has warned me that my heart can and will deceive me.
“We will know by this that we are of the truth,
and will assure our heart before Him 
in whatever our heart condemns us;
for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.”
1 John 3:19-20. 
How thankful I am that He has give me His word in which to hold up the Light of truth to the darkness of lies and expose them for what they really are. How thankful I am that my Jesus warned me that the flesh was weak. How thankful I am that He taught me that man does live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. How thankful I am that He has told me over and over that He is Lord. He is Jehovah-jireh. He is Creator. He is the One who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. The world and all it contains are His. Yes indeed, the truth will set you free.

“Who among you will give ear to this?
Who will give heed and listen hereafter?
Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned,
And in whose ways they were not willing to walk,
And whose law they did not obey?
So He poured out on him the heat of His anger
And the fierceness of battle;
And it set him aflame all around,
Yet he did not recognize it;
And it burned him, but he paid no attention.”
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
“Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
Isaiah 42:24 – 43:4
You see the Lord has burned me several times for speeding, but I have not paid attention. I have had no regard for the authority of these posted signs and chose to believe that what I had to do, where I had to be, overrode these signs. I would even justify myself by convincing myself how ridiculous that speed was on that particular road anyway. But the bottom line is these signs are put in place by a government that my God ordained whether my government recognizes it or not (Romans 13:1-7). And I am to obey them as I obey God, as long as they do not contradict the higher law of my God. So by not obeying these, I am not obeying God. So I can be mad at the police officer that, (as my driving school instructor liked to say), blessed my heart all I want, but the truth that I cannot escape is that it was my God who gave me up for spoil. 
BUT, He still loves me. I am still His. I am still precious in His sight. He still has redeemed me. And as I go through whatever waters or fire He has me pass through to burn away this rebellious flesh of mine I know that He will be with me, because He said He would be.
   
Now my mother was so kind as to hire me out to clean her house. Which thankfully was enough to cover my driving school fees and a fourth of my court cost. So I thank God for that. And of course the Clorox high I received from cleaning all the baseboards and doors and kitchen cabinets Friday afternoon possibly made driving school more bearable this Saturday morning (ummm just kidding). Can you really even get high off of clorox, lol? I did make the almost fatal mistake of mixing clorox and ammonia one time when I was cleaning the bathroom when we first got married. DON’T EVER DO THAT! 
I suppose from now on I will have to become the woman you are passing instead of the woman passing you.
I might make it fun and get me a special hat when I drive… the kind of hat I used to see through someone else’s back window and know that I was going to have to get around them some how or loose my mind.
Yes, I think that just might be what I do…and as a matter of fact I do believe I already own said hat, courtesy of my wonderful great grandmother. I even have her gloves to boot 🙂 


>Waiting in the Wilderness

>“And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” Luke 1:80

What happens in the wilderness?
As we look through the Scriptures what we see is that testing and trials happen in the wilderness. Temptations by the enemy of our soul happen in the wilderness.
Why does God allow this?
And yes He does allow it.
(“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” Luke 22:31)
Let us not forget He is sovereign. Satan has to have permission to touch you and even then he can only go as far as God allows (Job 1:6-12)

In the wilderness God allows us to face trials, temptations, and testing so that we may grow strong in spirit. We can think we believe something. We can think we could stand in a certain situation. We can think, but we just won’t know until we are in the midst of it.
Have you ever let your mouth boast about how you would do something if it was you and then… it is you? In the real situation, not the hypothetical one, how did you respond?

The wilderness is used by God to show us who we really are. In the wilderness we learn that we cannot trust our hearts, our emotions, our flesh. We learn that we are completely dependant upon God.

In the wilderness we also, most importantly, learn that our God is completely dependable.

We learn that if we trust in Him, He will never fail us. We grow strong in spirit, so that in the day of battle, in the day that we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we truly will fear no evil, and no one and no thing will be able to crush our spirit, because we know our God.

It didn’t matter who came against John. It could be the king, it could be a religious leader, it could be soldier, it didn’t matter. He was strong in spirit. He knew his God and nothing would stop him from crying out the the truth. Nothing would keep him from calling out in the wilderness, “Repent the kingdom of God is at hand” Everyone had to repent. His shout didn’t change according to who was listening. In the desert he had learned who his God was and he feared no man.

John waited in the wilderness, growing in the knowledge of God and becoming strong in spirit, and he stayed there until God knew he was ready. Not until he thought he was ready.

The wilderness may not be a fun place to be… but the benefit of it lasts until all eternity. If you desire to be a mighty soldier, a mighty servant of God, to be used by Him to shine the Light of the gospel of our God to those who are hiding in the darkness, then you better be ready for some wilderness training.

You will not learn to speak with bold confidence any other way.
Building a strong brick house with a solid foundation takes a little more sweat and effort than throwing together a grass hut on the sand… but which one is going to stand through the storm? 

>Brick in the Head

>Have you ever had God just pick up a brick and throw it straight at your head and say “Now do you get it?” I would have to say this happened to me today, just a moment ago.

I sat down and was watching a little David Jeremiah on Turning Point and his sermon was on prayer. I’ve been doing a lot of praying, but sadly what I realized was that the majority of my prayers were focused on me. I mentioned others and their requests, but mainly, honestly, I was primarily focused on me.
ME, ME, ME, ME and ME.

As David Jeremiah so kindly pointed out, God did not design prayer to be me focused. It’s primary purpose is for interceding for others.

“The LORD restored the fortunes of Job
when he prayed for his friends,
and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.”
Job 42:10

Who does Jesus pray for? (me)
Who does the Holy Spirit pray for? (me)
Who am I to pray for? (not me)

I have just realized I need to do a Willy Wonka reverse in my prayer life. I need to focus on praying for others and interceding for others and just mention my own request. I know that God has heard plenty from me… and as I look through my journal I can see that they are quite repetitive. So my focus shall be complete intercessory prayer. Yep, this will be a No Whining Allowed prayer zone.

As for my own requests I shall do as the Scriptures commands me.
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch
Psalm 5:3

I shall watch.
I shall indeed shut up and trust that others are persevering in prayer on my behalf as I myself persevere on behalf of them and even if no other saint were to remember my name, the Holy Spirit never forgets me and my High Priest ever lives to intercede on my behalf. The prayers that I shall pray considering myself will be praying back to Jesus the prayer that He prayed on my behalf in John 17. And I will keep watching for Him to fulfill His word in me and I’ll keep praying for others and watching for Him to fulfill His word in them.

 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation;
the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

The word watching in the Greek means to give strict attention to, be cautious, active, to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.

In Revelation 3:2-3 it is the same word used for wake up.
‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain,
which were about to die ;
for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 
So remember what you have received and heard ;
and keep it, and repent.
Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief,
and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.”

I don’t know about you but God can throw all the bricks at my head that He wants if it is what I need to stay awake, to wake up, to keep watching, to remember what I have recieved and heard.
How easy it is to slip into selfishness… even in our prayer life, or maybe especially in our prayer life.
And is that not the goal of the enemy of our souls.
To keep us so self-centered that we are not God-centered.
To keep us so selfish that we can’t be selfless.
To be so focused on meeting our own needs that we can’t clearly see the need of others.
To be so consumed with talking to God about ourselves that we don’t shut up long enough to hear Him tell us the need of another. You know He’ll do that, if He knows He can trust you.

“Be of sober spirit,
be on the alert.
1 Peter 5:8
In the words of Wyatt Earp, ”I don’t think I’m going to allow you to devour me today, Devil.”
Nope I think I’m going to be alert and watch. I think I’m going to pray with expectancy to see what God is going to do in the lives of the others that I am praying for. God wants to use me to help complete what is lacking in another believer’s faith. What a priviledge.  
“as we night and day
keep praying most earnestly
that we may see your face,
and may complete what is lacking in your faith?”
1 Thessalonians 3:10
I challenge myself to spend the rest of this week lifting up others. Praying for my friends. Praying for my church. Praying for THE CHURCH. Praying for my enemies. Praying for my family. Praying for strangers. Praying for our nation. Praying for others. 
May God’s will be accomplished in every prayer according to His Word.

  

>Humility or Humiliation

>This week has been a trying week… as is painfully obvious from most of my past posts.
I am still not sure if it is to be a week of humility or a week of humiliation.

The week began with Monday bringing driving school.
Wednesday was the whole realtor freak out thing.
And now today… I have to go to THAT doctor. Ladies you know the one.
Then Saturday I get to look forward to going to driving school… again.
Thank God for Sunday!

I shared in my last post that I would give more info into my “blessed time” at church Wednesday night, so here it is, it concerns what I face today… you know… THAT doctor.

Yes, the ob/gyn today. I hate going to see this doctor.

I walked into church visibly not okay… like I said, I just don’t have the time or energy for games concerning putting on a face of fine when all just is not fine. One of my most favorite persons ever came up and said, “You look like you could use a hug.” And my answer, “Yes! I could use a hug”
And I got a hug 🙂

This broke the ice for the conversation to begin… you see my day was not going good at the moment and then I knew that tomorrow would not be better because of where I knew I had to go.
So as I shared what I had to look forward to today, another of my favorite persons ever, replied “I always take myself out to a nice lunch on this day so I know I got something to look forward to.”
To which I replied “Oh I know I just feel so violated”

Then the mention came of the leg position and we know inside we are crying out “No! No! Knees together! Knees together!”

By this time at least four other ladies had joined our conversation as we shared the emotional horrors of this day:
The multiple 2 hour showers (we discussed how it would really be best if they would just install showers at the clinic, then you could get one immediately before you go in and immediately after it’s over)
The nervousness (this is just not fun at all)
The uncomfortableness (you are left so vulnerable)
The embarrassment (and it’s just so awkward)
The emotional stress of just knowing you have to go…

I am sure that some of my emotionalness of the week has centered around knowing this day was in my very near future. Yes I know I am married. Yes I know this woman delivered both my children. But this is awkward nonetheless.

Not to mention I still have this hidden hope deep in my heart that one day God will just choose to reverse my tubal and just decide to begin knitting a life together in my womb. I even justify this thought with a “You know God that would really show the unsaved how awesome You are.”
Unfortunately I am coming to realize that sometimes decisions made in the flesh, without consulting God, come with consequences He sometimes chooses to not erase on this earth in this life…

Then there is the slight fear that something will be found wrong. You know this is a standard yearly biopsy. It is serious business and I have already faced cancer scares with this before…

Ugh not to mention the breast exam… I am only 34 and am already in the mammogram line due to already found lumps.

This is just not a good time at all…

Therefore, gentlemen, husbands, any future husbands that might be reading this… when this time of the year rolls around for your wife. Do something extra nice for her that week… something non-sexual please, because I guarantee you this is not a week that she is feeling free and sexy.
My husband came in this morning from work with ingredients to make a meal with one of my favorite foods. He’s a good man 🙂

So how was Wednesday night at church a “blessed time”?
Laughter.
Plain and simple.
Just laughter.
Laughing about the issues of life that make us uncomfortable.
Laughing because as we share these moments we realize that maybe, just maybe, we are not the only crazies out there 🙂
   

>See Told You I Was Crazy

>See I told you I was crazy…

So this morning was a beautiful time with my Lord. I studied through Luke chapter one some and then spent time in Isaiah 42-44 and then went to Exodus, it was wonderful. The Lord had me so full I was crying as I studied. How foolish I felt for ever doubting Him.

In Luke I was reminded how Christ was my horn of salvation. How He is the horn that I can grab hold of when I have sinned against God and against man and no one can fall upon me when I have grabbed hold of Him. He is my sacrifice and He is my High Priest who intercedes for me…

Then I go to Isaiah and I praise and thank Him for not leaving me undone (Isaiah 42:16). I read through these passages of Isaiah and look closely at “Thus says the LORD” and then I write down what the thus is that the Lord says and tears stream my face as I write “I have called you by name: you are Mine!”
You are Mine, exclamation point! Oh I think of my child or any child and the passion with which they grab something that is the object of their desire or their personal possession and say “This is mine!” And I am overwhelmed that my God looks at me and calls me by name and says, “Nicole, you are Mine!”
Oh don’t miss the exclamation point…

Then I open up to Exodus and begin working in Devotions From Exodus and writing on the third commandment of God “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” And then it’s “Oh God let me understand what this means. The totality of this command, because I do not want to take your name in vain. Make me aware of all that this means, for I want Your name to be treated as holy when it comes off my lips…”

Then the call comes that the house is going to show (oh have I mentioned the house is for sale). Oh yeh and did you read the Surrender post from yesterday? You might want to…

So I am immediately elated and confident.

Why you ask?

Well I have just had this amazing morning with God as I repented from my sins and was washed by His word and strengthened and encouraged and reminded solidly who I am in Him and to Him.

Not to mention that somehow since last Friday I have managed to clean the entire house including mopping the floors and rearranging the girls bed room to give them more space (you know space is what everybody on House Hunters wants, right?) All the laundry and dishes were already done. And on top of that Patrick and I had just went through the garage and the attic yesterday getting ready for a yard sale. The house was perfectly staged for a showing.
So this one had to be the one right?
Right?

Well we leave the house everyone all getting along, no yelling at the kids to stop making a mess, you know the “Don’t you see I’m trying to pick up here!?! And you are dragging out faster than I can pick up!”
(Or is that just me?)

Anyway, we spend all day away from the house 12pm – 4pm and no realtor. Then our realtor calls and discovers that oh the realtor that is supposed to be showing our house by 4pm is still in another city that is 40 minutes away.

So we go home.
Let the dog out that’s been in a kennel since 11am (because we had to get all the dog hair up out of the floor one last time)
Patrick gets his work clothes on and get’s to take the crockpot pinto beans by themselves to work, no cornbread because this realtor is now supposed to be here within the hour.
So Patrick heads to work.
And I cry on the way to church. Yes, pour pitiful me cries…

I have already forgotten that I am His.
I don’t know why God chooses to test me so quickly… but for some reason He does. I learn something and I get a pop quiz in 12 hrs or less.
I almost don’t go to church… almost keep going… almost plan to look for a quiet spot where I can attempt to convince myself that I am alone praying, but really I’ll just be having a pity party for one.
So I go to church… and truly have a blessed time.

(PS: Separate post to follow on the “blessed time”)

Would you be believe the lyrics of the closing song tonight was “I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours”
Coincidence?
I think not. There are no coincidences with a sovereign God.

So then I come home to discover that the realtor never showed.

Yep, tears again… ugh, see I told you I was crazy… a life of insanity… have I not been here before.
I know I have, because I sometimes date Scripture references in my Bible as God speaks to me on certain occasions with them and well I found one of those this morning in my study time… found, ummm most likely was led there by my ever-patient, long-suffering God.

“They quickly forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But craved intensely in the wilderness,
And tempted God in the desert.
So He gave them their request,
But sent a wasting disease among them.”
                                                      Psalm 106:13-15

Out beside this verse I have written “Oh Father not my will but Your will be done” with Your will be done being double underlined.
The only thing that makes me feel even slightly better about this constant prayer I have of not my will but Your will be done comes from the fact that Jesus prayed this 3 times in the garden…
He is my example…
So if He prayed it 3 times then it must be okay for me to have to pray it at the very least 3 million times… right?
Right?

>Surrender

>I never knew surrender could be so free,
I never seen such meekness in majesty…
And now I sing freedom for all of my days,
it’s only by the power of the cross I’m raised…
The King of Glory rescued me…

I’ve had this song in my head for about a week now. I have noticed that I begin to sing it when I begin to try to take control of life again. Isn’t it mind-blowing how we can know beyond the shadow of any doubt how freeing surrendering into the sovereignty of God can be, yet we still find ourselves fighting it.

I know with all that I am and all that I ever hope to be that He is faithful.
I believe with all that I am and all that I ever hope to be that what He has spoken will come to pass.
I trust with all that I am and all that I ever hope to be that my past, present, and future are in His hands.

Yet still I constantly find myself in the same place as the father in Mark 9 as I come to God with my petition.

“But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:22-24)

Although my faith has moved past the “if You can” I still struggle with unbelief. Unbelief that I even deserve to have Him answer me with a yes to my request. I am fully sure of His ability. I know all things are possible with God. I know what He can do, it’s just the will do that I struggle with. So I too cry out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

So many times my prayer, (or more accurately called pout, or as I shared before whine), is “God I know You can do this if You want to, so why haven’t You done it? Is it me? Am I doing something wrong? I don’t understand?”

I can have a petition before my God, then out of the blue an idea will come to me on how to fix it… and then I will get irritated because my response to my thought is, “Well great… Yep that sounded all good and all, but since it popped into my head I know You are not going to do it that way. So just strike that as not gonna happen.”

So many times I come up with what I consider to be a brilliant plan and then I just pass it on up to the Creator of the Universe and ask Him to put His God stamp on it and call it good… you know, “Dear God could You please submit to my will… k… thanks”

So many times, God whispers let Me help you, and I put my hand in His face and say, “No, that’s alright God. I got it.”

I mean really, is that the kind of attitude to have before a holy God?
I would think probably not… so then comes the thanking Him for the promise 1 John 1:9 and then immediately putting it into action.

How I wish that I could just always remember that I am to trust.
I am to surrender.
I am to submit.
Not my will but Your will be done…

Jesus came that we may have life and freedom. For whom the Son has set free is free indeed. This freedom is meant to free us from the worries of this world, so that we might rest in our God and just focus on worshipping Him. Not that worries won’t come, but they are not to consume or control us. This sweet surrender of our life is a freedom like none other. It is freedom that is full of grace and truth and hope when we choose to rest in it. It is a surrender into the incomprehensible sovereignty of a Most Holy Creator God. It is a surrender to the unknown by faith in the One who is slowly revealing Himself to us because we could not handle Him any other way.

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:2-4)

I so look forward to the day that I will know as I have been known.
(1 Corin 13:12).

Until then I will keep praising and thanking Him for what He has allowed me to know and keep praying that He will continue to let me know Him more and more.


>Driving School Part 1

>I am home from my first 3 hour driving school class. It ended not so horrible…

I was fine for the drive down the mountain to class, was still good as I walked into the building. I was going to be a big girl. Then I turned the corner into the room. People! Lots of people. Standing in a line, well 2 lines actually. So I just jump in line and the woman in front of me informs this is the correct change line only. For once I was able to say, well I have correct change. So, whew, I do not have to change lines.

So now the butterflies are flopping as I stand there in this line among strangers and I am looking at the faces and the atmosphere in the room is one of ick. It’s not like a line at a concert or conference or sport ticket booth where everyone is excited and talking with each other (whether they know them or not) about how excited they are. It’s not even like waiting in the line at Wal-Mart or Target. It’s a line that no one wants to be in and no one wants to be seen in.
Then at this moment I am thinking about the great white throne judgment as people wait in line to pay their fine because they refused to accept Christ’s payment on their behalf…  Another moment where I am overwhelmed with the grace of my God.

So I finally make it to the front of the line and pay my class fee and then it’s time to find a seat. I have visions in my head of the day Forrest Gump got on the school bus the first time and heard “can’t sit here.” and “seats taken”. I scan the room and find an empty seat in the back and head to it with determination and turn to sit down and low and behold a face I recognize. So now the choice… pretend I did not see them and keep moving to another seat and hope they do not recognize that I was there… or stop and say hi and hope they offer me the seat next to them. I chose to stop and say hi and yes they did offer me the seat beside them.

So now we are filling out our information cards and then the panic comes that I will do it wrong and why yes I did… but it didn’t matter because I was called out in front of the entire room. So I am glad I did not try the duck and hide and head down approach earlier because my presence in that room was going to be made known.
The instructor asks, “do we have any level 2ers in here?” And my head goes down and my hand goes up… one of only three hands… and the others were in their part 2 phase. I was the only one here for part 1 of part 2. So he says “well ma’am let me see your paperwork. And you are filling out the wrong card. You need the blue one”. Now the instructor stands over me as I transfer my information to the right card and I almost forget how to sign my name.

Then this teenageish kid beside me goes “Whoa, what did you do to get level 2?!?”

Yeh…

Once the class finally got started it was actually quite informative. The instructor did not speak down to us and he tried to make it fun. During the course of the evening I learned some interesting facts. Here are some of them. Let me share my knowledge with you. After all these are highly paid for facts.

1) Alabama is ranked 5th in America for road rage fatalities
2) Alabama is ranked 2nd in America for fatality accidents per one thousand households
3) When you get pulled over and your licence is scanned the officer will know if you have traveled down I-10 because it is lined with cameras that constantly send info of tags to the government
4) Failure to yield to the right of way is the number one cause of accidents containing fatalities
5) One person every 8 hours and 15 minutes is killed in an automobile accident
6) Police officers for the first time in history are concerned for their jobs and ticket writing will increase in order for them to prove their worth to the county and state so drive carefully

I am thankful that driving school part 1 is now behind me… paying for our sin is just no fun at all.

>Speak Kindly

>So as I shared some of my overflow from my Sunday morning class I thought I would also share some of the overflow from my Sunday night class… Oh yes let me proclaim His excellencies!

On Sunday nights I currently am leading a Precept Upon Precept class from the book of Isaiah. This past Sunday we looked at Isaiah 40-41, the Lord has had me in Isaiah 40 for months. He just keeps pulling me back there to soak in His truth. And that is perfectly fine with me, Isaiah 40 is a wonderful place to be.

Isaiah 40 begins with “Comfort, O comfort My people“. You really cannot grasp the mercy in these words if you have not looked through and read the previous 39 chapters in Isaiah. In the first 39 chapters comfort is the last thing that the Lord is calling out for His people. You see they had already found themselves too comfortable as it was. So comfortable, that they had forgotten their God. They had forgotten His holiness. They somehow thought they were now above His law and no longer had to do more than go through the motions of religion and appease Him.
God, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord of hosts, then decides it is time to deal with his wayward children. The first 39 chapters sound very familiar as you read through them. You see it sounds just like our nation today. It sounds just like much of Christendom today. Read it sometime and see for yourself…

So the previous 39 chapters are filled with God revealing the wrath that He is going to bring on His rebellious children. Those who have forgotten that He is holy. Those who have forgotten that He is the Creator God, the One enthroned above the cherubim, the One who holds all the waters of the universe in the hollow of His hand, the One who breathes their very breath of life in their nostrils.

Oh friend, have you been there?
His child… yet somehow managing to forget how very big He is and forgetting that He is holy.

Then we turn to Isaiah 40 and we see how our loving Father will hand out His discipline, He will indeed remind us who He is, but then when the discipline is past, He gathers His children in His arms and tenderly holds them close to Him and says “Comfort, O comfort…” 

God then says, “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2)

Not only does He forgive us, and cleanse us, and gather us into His arms, but he looks at the other children, those who did not stray in the way that we did, He looks at them and He says, now comfort, O comfort my child, speak kindly to this child of mine. Yes, she has received my discipline. She has paid double for her sins. She received it at My hand. She needs no more from you. You comfort. You speak kindly. She is My redeemed. She has repented. Her iniquity has been removed. I do not condemn her, neither are you to condemn her.

How merciful is our God.

I cannot even type this post that speaks of His mercy without tears brimming my eyes, because I know the great mercies He has shown me. I know the times I have fallen. I know the consequences I have endured from my sin. I know what He has forgiven… and not just forgiven, but chosen to take this broken vessel of clay and restore it, instead of trashing it. And then to take it, me, and use me to hold His righteousness, His holiness. To call me His treasure, to call me precious in His sight. Oh what do I know of this love?

I love this song I have added to this post, What Do I Know of Holy by Addison Road. It reminds me of myself, how just when I think I have a grasp on this Christian walk, just when I think I understand my God and I have Him “all figured out” He never fails to blow my mind and put me in my place and remind me that even after all eternity has passed I still will not have a full grasp of this God of everlasting endless love…

I know nothing of His holiness.
I just know I want to know.

Is He fire? Is He fury? Is He Sacred? Is He Beautiful?

Yes, yes He is…

>Mary’s Sweet Sixteen

>I am teaching through the book of Luke in our Sunday morning small group class. We are not even out of the first chapter yet and God has already overwhelmed me with Himself. He is such an amazing God. I love how God sends Gabriel to Zacharias with His message and how God picks up right where He left off 400 yrs before in Malachi. God has Gabriel speak to Zacharias as though He had just spoke through Malachi 4 days before not 400 years before.
Why shouldn’t He?
His word endures forever and it does not whither or fade and Zacharais was a priest, a man of the covenant and He was to remember the words of the covenant and to live them and teach them to others… so this message of God given through Malachi should have been right on the tip of Zacharias tongue and at the front of his mind as if it had of been spoken just 4 days before. 

As is should be with us… after all man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Then as we go further into the first chapter of Luke there is that wonderful message that Gabriel delivers to Mary as he is reminding her who her God is, “For nothing (not any word) will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).

Once again words of truth that we should hold to, live by, and teach to others as though God just spoke them 2 days ago and not 2000 years ago… for His word endures forever.  

Then Elizabeth full of the Holy Spirit declared, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

How could Mary help but respond with praise?
I call Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s sweet sixteen. I call it this because in her prayer of praise she gives us sixteen amazing facts about our amazing God.
So here it is:

 Mary’s Sweet Sixteen
1) He is Lord
2) He is my Saviour
3) He has regard for the humble state of His bondslave
4)He is the Mighty One
5) He has done great things for me
6) His name is holy
7) His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him
8) He has done mighty deeds with His arm
9) He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart
10) He has brought down rulers from their thrones
11) He exalts those who were humble
12) He has filled the hungry with good things
13) He sends the rich away empty handed
14) He has given help to Israel His servant
15) He remembers His mercy
16) He keeps what He has spoken forever
I adore this prayer of praise. Just remembering one of these sixteen can keep my mind steadfast and in perfect peace because I know that He is faithful and His word endures forever. So as the dreaded Monday quickly approaches, I encourage you to begin your work week with Mary’s Sweet Sixteen and may you too be blessed because you have believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to you from the Lord…

The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn