Friday, January 20, 2012

Great, Now What!

I am trying to learn to see my trials through eyes that say "Okay God what are you wanting to teach me?" instead of "Great, now what!" Even when that trial is coming in and through my kids...

I am learning to always remember that I am a child to my Father in Heaven. So when my children do things or act in a way that gets all up in my crawl, I have begun to stop and ask God if I behave the same way toward Him.

I began doing this several years ago... but it seems I forget about it for a while... then when I am about ready to knock all my girls out I realize I need to stop and examine myself and my current relationship with God to see if He is trying to teach me something about my relationship to Him or someone else through my relationship with my children.

He has never failed to greatly enlighten me when I come to Him with this question. I don't think He has ever said, "Nope, Nicole, we're great. Your kids are just little hellions and they need their heads pinched off." It usually is a response of opening my eyes to some things that I need to work on.

Sometimes it is to open my eyes to something between me and Him. Sometimes it's something between me and my husband. Sometimes it's between me and my girls. Sometimes it between me and another brother or sister in Christ. Sometimes it's just to teach me so I will be ready because a future issue is coming and God is getting me ready to know how to respond. Sometimes it is just to help me give my children more grace as I sit before Him praying that He will extend more grace to me.

I currently have one child that has been having a whinefest that hangs around the it's-all-about-me-festival and it seems to be becoming a perpetual statute for all days until all eternity and then another that is struggling with truth-telling and truth-doing and trusting to receive the right answer, not one gained by manipulating a situation to get their own way. 

These are all areas that God is constantly pruning in my own heart as well... and as I look at my kids and tell them what they should do, and know that they know what to do, and see them struggle to walk in that knowledge, I learn to give mercy and grace.

And not just to them but to others.
Because God gives it to me.
Now I did not say that I let it slide, that I ignored it, that I don't deal with it... but I do it with mercy and with grace. (And I praise God that He doesn't let foolishness slide with me either.)

It's just that there is a big difference in having knowledge and actually walking and living out what you know to be true and right. This stupid flesh, and the pull of this world, and that old, nasty, sneaky serpent take their toll on our strength and convictions... and they love to offer us up a big ole plate of condemnation when we struggle and especially when we fail.

I have learned that the only sure thing in this life is Christ and all that stems from Him. Like the stem of grace, mercy, faith, love, hope, forgiveness, redemption... I have to keep my eyes on Him at all times... and He's really a beautiful sight... so our eyes on Him should not be that difficult... right?

I have learned that my children will fail. They will struggle. They will desire this world. Their flesh and the desires of this flesh will be used by Satan to tempt them and to lead them to follow the world instead of Christ. But Jesus has prayed for them and we have prayed for them... so that when they fall their faith will not fail. 

So I love them. I learn how to discipline them with "discipleship" mentality instead of "you're getting on my last nerve and I have had it up to here" mentality. I am a trainer at all times. I am learning how to do this because this is how I realize my God disciplines me.

Training me up to serve and to live an abundant life of overcoming victory in and by grace alone.
With much patience my God trains me up...

So when I hit the point that my flesh is screaming "Great, now what!"
I know now to stop.
To just stop and pause for a moment and say "Okay God, what are you wanting to teach me?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Names of God Study: Jehovah-nissi

It's time for another post in the Names of God series. We have done a little study on the names Elohim, El Elyon, El Roi, El ShaddaiEl OlamAdoniaJehovahJehovah-jireh, and Jehovah-rapha.  Today we will look at Jehovah-nissi and discover what this name of God reveals to us about His character.

We are introduced to this name of God in the book of Exodus. I am going to post the entire passage because this event in Scripture is so very powerful and incredibly relevant for us as believers today. It holds the key to a truth that we all must know if we are going to live in the victory that is our in Christ.

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 
So Moses said to Joshua,
“Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek.
Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand.” 
Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek;
and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed,
and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 
But Moses’ hands were heavy.
Then they took a stone and put it under him,
and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other.
Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 
So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek
and his people with the edge of the sword.
Then the LORD said to Moses,
Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua,
that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 
Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; 
and he said, “The LORD has sworn;
the LORD will have war against Amalek
from generation to generation.”
Exodus 17:8-16

Did you see the name of God?
Jehovah-nissi means the LORD is My Banner.

So what is a banner? What exactly does this name of God tell us about His character? What does it mean to have the LORD as your banner? It might help to see a picture...

Those men are raising the banner of the United States of America. When our soldiers go into battle this banner goes before them. They have this banner to remind them what they are living, loving, and fighting for. Notice also that one could not keep the banner up alone... his brothers helped him.

But Moses’ hands were heavy.
Then they took a stone and put it under him,
and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other.

This banner is the banner of my earthly nation. I am a citizen of the USA while on this earth. I pledge allegiance to this flag and to this country, but this is not my eternal home. I have a citizenship in a kingdom that has supremacy over my allegiance to this United States.

For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 
who will transform the body of our humble state
into conformity with the body of His glory,
by the exertion of the power that He has
even to subject all things to Himself.
Therefore, my beloved brethren
whom I long to see, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Philippians 3:20-4:1

In this kingdom I am to stand firm and the banner I am to be raising is my God. I am to go into the battles of life with Jehovah-nissi before me to remind me what I am living, loving, and fighting for. I am to keep my eyes on Christ and keep Him lifted up before me. 

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
 John 12:32

Why do we need a banner? 
Every kingdom on this earth has an enemy. The kingdom of God and those who are citizens of it are not excluded from this fact. So exactly who or what is the enemy?

Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes
and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.
1 John 2:15-16

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
Your adversary, the devil,
prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

Did you discover the enemy?
Now scroll back up and read Exodus 17:8-16 again and this time replace Amalek with flesh.

Our own flesh, the world system, and the devil himself are your enemies if you are a citizen of the kingdom of God... and they are your enemy if you are not, because they are doing all they can to keep you from crossing the border into the promised land.

So now that you have met the enemy, how do you fight?

So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed,
and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 

Israel was winning the battle as long as Moses had his staff lifted up. As long as the Lord was lifted up they had victory. As long as they were being led by God and were focused on Him they were successful in their battle... but when Moses became weary and his hands became heavy and his staff fell then the enemy prevailed. Oh precious one, it is no different with us and our enemy.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
for these are in opposition to one another,
so that you may not do the things that you please...
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus
have crucified the flesh
with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:16-17, 24

since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance
and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Now I don't know about you... but my flesh is pretty tough, and the pull of the world and all it's glitz and glam and shiny new stuff is pretty catchy to my eyes and well that Satan is pretty darn sneaky and quite persistent... so I get tired in this fight. What am I to do when I get tired? What am I to do when I see a fellow believer is getting tired?

 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Isaiah 35:3

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak
and the knees that are feeble, 
and make straight paths for your feet,
so that the limb which is lame
may not be put out of joint,
but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:12-13

God created this amazing thing called the church. Not the building... the body. He said the gates of hell would not be able to prevail against His church. It is here that we find strength, encouragement, hope, help, fellow soldiers... It is here where we find those who gather around us and help us raise that banner. We need each other. We have a real battle, against a very real enemy, and our enemies are strong but...

 You are from God, little children,
and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you
than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

My friend... before a soldier goes into battle, they make sure their armor is on and they have all their weapons ready... then they are prepared to fight and they are prepared to defend and help others...

Remember to go into each day with your Jehovah-nissi!  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not Fearing Any Man

Men of God, women of God... look in his eyes... he means what he says and he says what he means... he was willing to lay down his life for the will of God... are you?

I can honestly tell you that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have walked beside this man. I feel it in the core of my being. Because he stood for the truth of his convictions. He was not swayed by a gallop poll. He did not take back a word he said and re-word it to make people happy.

He wasn't doing what he did, or saying what he said to make someone happy. He was obeying what he believed to the core of his being to be truth and knew God was with him.

Did you notice the end of the video. Dr King walked away and those gathered around grabbed him and were all smiles and reached out to slap him on his back with a "good speech" kind of slap, but Dr King did not return this. His arms remained stiff at his side and he stood firm, solid in his words. He did not say them for the accolades of those around him. He said them because they simply were to be said.

This my dear friends is the picture and the example of a man.

This was not our politicians of today who will only speak what their party tells them too. The ones that don't have the backbone to tell you what they really think. They will not share their own personal stance but will only regurgitate their parties platform. The ones that stand behind a podium with a stupid arrogant grin on their faces making empty promises and speaking flattering lies...

I watch this man, Dr Martin Luther King Jr... and my stomach churns when I see those who claim to be the leaders of our country today. They simply cannot compare.

So I look at him and I wonder is there anyone out there who is willing to stand up and lead us as a nation with as much strength and boldness as this man. Where are the men who are willing to stand up and say that you will not legislate God our Creator out of our nation... because if you legislate Him out then how can the rest of our constitutional rights stand since they are based on the fact that they are endowed to us by our Creator and entitled to us by God?

So men and women of God are we really more worried about losing our 401K rather than our country? Do we really value our paychecks more than our freedom? Our houses more than our homes? Our immediate relief more than our children's future sufferings?

I was in a store once several years ago on MLK day, a store I used to shop in quite often, it was a small antique shop, and there was a group of 4 or 5 people standing there, one of them being the owner. They were discussing Dr King and how he was just a "trouble maker". I was younger then, not a believer, and not quite as bold as I am today. But I loudly placed down my items for purchase and turned and walked out of that store and have not set foot in it again, nor will I ever.

All I can say is we need some "trouble makers" like Dr King in our day. 

If God called you to stand and it meant your job, your house, your comfort, your very life... would you be willing to stand for the will of God?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something's Missing

My husband works a swing shift. He swings from days to nights. Before the swing shift he worked nights or second shift. I have to keep his work schedule in the kitchen to keep up with when he works and what shift and if he is working overtime or swapping with somebody and he also travels a good bit with his job. So obviously we have never been a family of routines or perfectly kept tight schedules. We don't know if we are coming or going half the time.

With this crazy life we have there is nothing strange about me going to bed alone or waking up alone. On day shift he is up and out the door before I am awake and on night shift he is in the car and gone before most families are even beginning to cook supper. I say all this to share my moment this morning.

It happens to be an out of town time for my husband {so our Amos is going to get to sleep out tonight even though the stupid (this was a bad word in our house until Amos moved in... there is no other word accurate enough to describe him) dog decided he would sneek on the couch a few days ago after we went to bed and then when my husband caught him early the next morning and told him to get down, the dog chose to mark his territory on the couch cushion. I shall brave the possibility of a peed on couch for peace of mind as I sleep and trust the ferocious, yet stupid, beast to pee on any intruders}. Anyway, I woke this morning enough to tell my man goodbye and that I loved him... and then I rolled over to catch my last hour of sleep before my alarm went off.

Then my alarm went off and I rolled over and started my day, I was up and fixing my coffee, and gathering my stuff for church, and considering my plans for the day... and then I realized I had went back to sleep and was dreaming all of this. (Yep, I do that.)

So now I am fully awake, feet on the cold floor, socks in my hand, and heading to the bathroom. I turn on the light and look to the sink and then my heart falls. I see it. I see the evidence. I see my reminder, my sign, that my husband is gone out of town not just to work. His toothbrush is missing. Who would have ever thought that a toothbrush could do that?

For some reason I saw my sign and then my mind went to my grandparents. You see I remember when my Papaw Harris went to be with the Lord. My Mamaw Lola could not sleep in their bed. She had slept on her side with her back up against my Papaw's back since she became his wife close to sixty years earlier at the age of fifteen. Now his back was missing. She chose to sleep on the couch because she could put her back to the couch and when she closed her eyes... she could imagine it was him.

So I saw my sign, my husband's missing toothbrush, and I thought... I will never throw it away. Sixty years from now if the Lord calls my man home before He calls me... don't you dare touch his toothbrush. It will stay in its place and my heart will leap with joy each morning because at least for a moment, before I fully awake I would forget that he was gone. It may seem silly... but it is what it is.

So what's your sign that something's missing to remind you that someone's missing?

You Were Made To Be Courageous

My youngest always wants to know what a song means. We never get to just listen to a song. I have to explain the meaning behind every chorus (thank God we only listen to Christian music on a regular basis. I really would hate to have to explain the chorus to one of today's mainstream songs).

Well the other day we were on our way home from somewhere and this song came on the radio and my seven year old, says "Oh he just sang that they were made to lead the way, just like Jesus leads the way, like Daddy leads us... that's what that song's about... that's what that movie was about!"

That's right man of this generation... even a child knows that you were created to lead them like Jesus...

Are you ready?