In the year King Uzziah died

I requested my friends to give me a verse and I would assign them a week for me to study the verse and pray it over their life. This week the verse is Isaiah 6:1:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

I am not sure about you, but I am not a Bible scholar. When I read this verse, I really didn’t get much from it so I needed to find out what Isaiah meant by those words. Reading scripture can often be intimidating and often confusing. I believe that the Bible is God-breathed. Yes, imperfect humans penned it, but the Spirit of God inspired the words. Since I am not a Bible scholar, I have commentaries from those who are.

Here are the words from The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. I pray they bring this verse to life and when you read it, it will remind you of this powerful lesson.

“Here we see the prophet’s life-changing vision of God’s overwhelming holiness and his call to ministry. It was a very crucial point in the history of Judah. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. So although Judah was experiencing turmoil at the death of its king, the true King was seated on his throne in sovereign glory. Isaiah thus learned that the kingdom of God operates according to his will, not according to outward circumstances. If you embrace this kingdom principle, it will change your life.” (page 639)

Dr. Evans continues to say; “Sometimes it takes a tragedy in our lives, or other negative circumstances, for us to truly see God. We may know him as our Savior but not be growing in a day-by-day experience of adopting his perspective of the world and living in obedience to it. In fact, that’s one reason God sometimes allows difficult situations to come into our lives. They help shift our focus off the created things and onto the Creator. Until we adjust our vision from the temporal to the eternal, we may miss out on seeing the eternal altogether. God is not merely interested in getting us to heaven. He wants us to see and experience him here. Sometimes God is most clearly seen in the midst of painful situations.” (page 640)

Studying this verse and discovering this explanation is a real-life application of what Dr. Evans is saying. It isn’t sufficient to just accept Jesus as our Savior. We are given His word in the form of the Bible as a guide for us to “experience him here”. I encourage you to not skip over verses such as Isaiah 6:1 as simply a colorful description of what Isaiah saw, but dig deeper into why it was included at all. The greatest lessons in life often require some exploration on our part. Don’t miss out on what the Lord God has to say to you in His Word today!

Thanks to Dr. Delight Yokley who gave me this verse to study. May you continue to grow in the knowledge and assurance of how precious you are to God and to us, your friends!

That Friend

Do you know that friend that always has a major crisis going on in his or her life? Every time you talk, their ongoing struggles consume the conversation? And all you want to say is “Get over yourself. You have made it through worse situations and frankly, there are people with even more difficult struggles”. Well, what happens when “that friend” is you?

What happens when you are the one that feels like you are a burden to the people around you? You feel like a Debbie Downer because every time you talk to them or send them a text, it’s about yet another thing you are going through? Right now, I am “that friend”.

Since last June, I have been working with a Counselor on multiple traumas I have experienced throughout my life and although the work done and the Counselor himself are extraordinary, it is completely overwhelming and exhausting.  I get so lost in, not in reliving the trauma, but the years it has stolen from me. Years of anger, depression, oppression, bad decisions that have kept me from the truth and the promises I have been afraid to pursue.

There are mornings that the healing pushes me to pursue God’s truth and His promises for me; and then, there are mornings—like this morning—when it takes everything in me not to call out of work. When I finally willed myself out of bed, instead of putting on my face of fortitude, I didn’t have the energy to put anything on my face at all.  I wanted so bad to reach out to my friends to ask them to pray for me because the weight was too much to bear. I started typing the text, but quickly deleted it as I remembered that just a couple of days earlier I had requested prayer for another crisis that was weighing me down.

Instead of reaching out to my friends as I wanted to, I chose to turn on the Christian radio station to tune out the chatter in my head. As soon as I heard the first song come on, I knew the Lord had taken over the song selection and was my very own DJ. Song after song, I felt the burden that was weighing me down lift right off of me. Song after song, I was reminded that I was not alone.

I was reminded that instead of keeping me from God’s truth and His promises for me, anger and all of the emotions I have felt for 30 years were protecting me from even darker roads than the ones I had travelled. That when I fixed my eyes on Him, I had finally found everything I needed. He lifted my soul and opened up my eyes. He is rewriting my story and nothing could be better.

This healing journey I am on is a difficult one and I know there will be tons more of good and not so good days ahead. But as I listened to the playlist on the radio, I realized that my angst not to text my friends was not because they wouldn’t be encouraging; the angst was the Lord prompting me to reach out to Him. In my fear of being “that friend”, I was reminded that Jesus was the only friend I needed.

Pesky Gnats

Among the several things and people I pray for, my daily prayer for years has been (in no particular order) for finances, Jake, general anxieties, and ETA of my husband. As I journaled this morning, the Lord took over my pen and wrote these words to me. My prayer is they are an encouragement to you as well:

“You don’t trust Me enough to guide your heart. Trust Me in all things. Trust Me to take care of Jake. Trust Me to protect you in the car. Trust Me to provide for you in so many more ways than food or rent. Trust Me to protect your heart and your mind. There are tons of things you covet in your mind. Help Me as we both, together, fight the thoughts that enter your mind. You are so weak mentally. There is no type of protection over your mind. The anxiety you have, the lust you allow, it is because you haven’t given Me your mind. Your husband won’t come until you give Me your mind.

I love you and the plans I have for you and your husband are wonderful! Way more grand than you could ever comprehend. I am excited for you to meet, fall in love with Me as a couple, and walk on the beautiful and hard terrain I have for you, but you need to be ready to walk that road. You need to prepare now so you won’t fall later. You are My beloved. It hurts Me when you fall, when you allow such things to control what you see and what you do. That is not of Me.

I give you desires for you to control not for them to control you. Those desires are a reminder that I have not forgotten you. But I also know a deeper desire is to follow Me, to do as I have designed for you.

Fear. That thought that just came into your mind that you aren’t good enough; that you can’t do it. See how we caught that thought like a gnat flying around? We can catch it and kill it or we just swat it enough for it to fly away for it to come back at some point. Sometimes you think you have killed it, but you weren’t even close. Don’t let the gnat or the thought of it returning distract you.

Let Me handle the gnats of your mind.”

I pray you are able to identify the gnats in your mind!

But God…

I was recently reminded that often when we are tested and tempted, it could be a sign that a reward for our faithfulness could be right around the corner. That with God and the Holy Spirit within us, there is always victory no matter how often we doubt and stumble.

She awaited the revelation, the appointed time, which spoke of the end and would not be proven false. Though it lingered, she waited for it because she knew it would certainly come and would not delay[1]. She had always prayed for falsehood and lies to be kept from her; she wanted neither poverty nor riches, but only her daily bread. Because she knew if she had too much she would disown her God. Or too little, she would steal and dishonor His name [2]. Yet she sat alone looking out the window, thinking, longing, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish? In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind Your back”[3].

He reminded her that He knew her deeds, her love and faith, her service and perseverance, and that she was now doing more than she did at first[4]. “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach; for I am your Maker, your Husband”[5]. Though once comforting, His words now seemed distant, unattainable. Knowing her heart so well, He continued, “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you now perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland”[6].

His words reminded her that He was faithful to all of His promises and loving toward all He has made. He was near to all who called on Him[7]. That if she delighted herself in Him, He would delight in her ways and make her steps firm. Though she stumbled, He would not fail her and give her the desires of her heart[8].

In her anguish, she cried out to the Lord and He answered by setting her free[9]. She then knew that if she only put her hope in Him, her strength and her spirit would always be renewed[10]. For perhaps the reason they were separated for this short while, was that they may be together forever[11].

[1] Habakkuk 2:3
[2] Proverbs 30:8-9
[3] Isaiah 38:17
[4] Revelation 2:19
[5] Isaiah 54:4-5
[6] Isaiah 43:18-19
[7] Psalms 145:13, 18
[8] Psalms 37:4, 23-24
[9] Psalms 118:5
[10] Isaiah 40:31
[11] Philemon 15

Could he free me?

One of my first assignments for Moody Bible was to compose a letter of someone who had heard or come in contact with Jesus and what their reaction would be taking in consideration the first century world.

Dearest cousin,

I must share with you the happenings of these days. Papa, mama and brother attended a wedding in Cana. I remained at home as I often do. Brother told me during the feast, the wine ran out, but within the hour there was more, much more. Papa told brother the new wine was much better than the first and wondered why the bridegroom had held the better wine until then. Brother did not believe the bridegroom knew from where this new wine had arrived.

Uncle Nicodemus came to the house to speak with Papa several days later. They spoke in privacy as to keep the rest of us from hearing, but mama, brother, and I could not keep too far away. We tried not to listen, but did not want to make too much noise that would disturb them either. As the conversation went on, we could hear Uncle Nicodemus sharing of the signs he himself had witnessed and those, which the other Pharisees had witnessed or had been told of.

He spoke of the temple being turned about and all of the traders being told to leave. He mentioned of the Capernaum official’s son that had been mysteriously healed. He spoke of the man in Jerusalem who had been an invalid all of his life – thirty-eight years, I believe it was – and was miraculously healed as well. In Samaria, of all places, this man spoke to a woman at Jacob’s well who had several husbands and the one she was currently living with was not her husband. Uncle Nicodemus was told that this man, which I believe he called Jesus, told the women of all her doings and she was amazed and shared what he has told her with all who would hear.

Uncle Nicodemus finally told Papa of how he had went to see this man, Jesus, during the night and had spoken to him of all the things that happened. Unfortunately, during this time, Uncle Nicodemus was whispering, so we were not able to hear all of the details, but we did hear the need to be “born again” meaning not of flesh, but of spirit. At one point, Uncle Nicodemus seemed to be angered because Jesus had questioned him as teacher of Israel.

Oh, cousin! I do not understand what this all means. Papa spoke with mama after Uncle Nicodemus had left and I later heard her speak with the ladies while they fetched water at the well. It seems some have been angered by the actions of this Jesus and others seem to have chosen to follow his teachings. Philip and Nathaniel chose to follow this man’s teachings and they have not only shamed themselves, but their entire families. It seems as if the life provided to them was not good enough. Their responsibility was to guard the traditions, the status, and honor of their family, but they chose shame in it place of responsibility.

I will do as Papa and Mama instruct, but I often wonder what is truly behind the signs and acts of this teacher, Jesus. Could he possibly be the Son of God? Could he be the promised Messiah that has come to save us? I have heard so many stories of the healing and promise he professes. I have even seen some of those who he has healed and they look so different, so free. I would never do anything to bring shame to our family much more than I already have, but Cousin, what if this man is the one who can free me from this curse? Oh, cousin, it has been a long twelve years and I long to be clean. Maybe if I touched him just once, could he free me?

With a deep longing for your return and companionship, your cousin, Veronica.

Static

In early June, Jake and I went to Boston to see my family for a much-needed vacation. In later June/early July, I went to Guatemala on a mission trip. In between those two significant events, Jake and I moved from Thomasville, AL to Jackson, AL (depending on where you are, it can be a distance of 30 to 40 miles). I kept my job at Pineview Baptist and Jake will continue going to Thomasville High when school starts up again, so not much has changed besides a longer commute. I used to be able to roll out of bed 20 minutes before I needed to be at work and still make it on time. Now, I drive longer than it takes me to get ready.

The only problem with the commute is the sporadic radio station signal. I listen to K-Love Christian Radio and although there are two dial stations in the area, the signal is pretty bad which often causes more static than music.  Trying to recognize a song in midst of the static can get quite frustrating especially if it is a good song. When I can recognize the song, the static doesn’t bother me as much. However, when I can’t recognize what song is playing that is when the static became more annoying and distracting. At one point the static was so loud, I turned the radio off. That is when I heard Him.

We are in a patch of static, Jen. You haven’t spent nearly as much time with Me as you once did and our relationship is being affected. During our time together, your strength is renewed. Knowing a few, even several Scripture verses, isn’t enough. To minimize the static and ensure a clear connection, you need to be in constant prayer and studying of My Word.

Of course, He was right. My quiet times are the antenna that allow for a clear connection with my Savior, and not having quality quiet times was causing lots of static which translated in physical and emotional exhaustion. Instead of addressing the connection issue, I was trying to listen to His song around the static. Although I heard Him loud and clear, I have yet to get back to where I need to be  in my quiet times. But I praise God that He continues to send me messages through the static.

Changing My Heart

“Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart”

Ever hear words that cut so deep into your heart, it takes your breath away? That is how I felt when I read this quote today. I have heard it before, but where I am in my life at this moment, they are the exact words I needed to hear so I could stop playing the victim…

As far back as I could remember, I have never had enough to pay my bills. At times it was because I would manage the money given to me incorrectly and selfishly. When I made an offering to the church, it was not my first fruits and I did not give it with a cheerful heart. It was such a burden for me to give to the church because they had plenty of it and I “needed” it more than they did.

It was not until a few months ago that I confessed to a friend of mine how tired I am of the constant financial struggle I am in. I let her know that I was just tired of being poor. Her question to me was “is it a sin issue?” I immediately responded “of course, it is.”

Money has always been my nemesis. I never have enough of it. I live beyond my means. I struggle with being a good steward with the provision God has given me. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 teaches how we need to be good steward even with the little we may have. This was (and unfortunately still is) a major sin issue in my life.

Since that conversation just a few months ago, I have been pretty consistent with my tithing. It s the first fruit of my labor and although still difficult to part with that percentage since I could definitely use it, I choose to be obedient and trust God to bless me for it.

As Jake and I prepare to move to another city not to far from here, I am feeling the constrictions of my financial status becoming quite overwhelming. It is like this chapter can’t close soon enough. This week, especially, has been extremely difficult for me to bear. I find myself in a sinking pit of despair and depression; not seeing light through the drowning mud. Prayer, Scripture, worship, nothing seems to help. I know that there is a greater purpose for this, but I do not want any part of it. I know God has provided in the past, but could He just provide just once and for all and let me be? Then through the darkness, through the mud, I see those words: “Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.” 

Once again I am reminded that although I have done good for a short while, it doesn’t mean I will always be good. I am reminded that my strength and my faith are not as strong as I believe them to be. I do not trust Him enough to provide when I need it. I do not trust Him to keep me from the darkest pits. I simply do not trust His love for me. And yet His love for me has never changed.

He continues to see the woman He created me to be. He sees the woman I will one day be. He sees the desire of my heart to follow Him wholeheartedly. He sees nothing else. He is not discouraged by the long, hard road because the destination is far too amazing to be overshadowed by the cares of today. He is using this situation, this struggle, this season of my life to change my heart. His love for me is far too grand for Him to allow me to remain as I am.

I am not all better. I am still angry, frustrated and tired of this financial state I am still in, but I am recognizing that I will remain here until my heart has indeed changed. And by my attitude and short temper, I have a long way to go.

Endurance for the Long Journey

The promises You have laid before me, Father, have required much of me. When I first accepted this journey, I was eager and excited. As of late, the length of the journey has left me exhausted and resistant to continue.  All I see before me is an endless sea with no land in sight. Yet, I look back and You remind me how far we have traveled and it stirs my heart to continue. Your words, your love, give me comfort. I may be exhausted, unmotivated, and often plain lazy, but search my heart and know that my desire is to follow You until the ends of the earth.

In the midst of this journey, I will rest on the promises of Your Words to me:

 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord
    he brought me into a spacious place. ~ Psalm 118:5

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God. ~ Proverbs 30:8-9

I know your deeds,
     your love and faith,
     your service and perseverance,
     and that you are now doing more than you did at first. ~ Revelation 2:19

For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~ Isaiah 43:18-19

Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while
     was that you might have him back forever~ Philemon 1:15

 

Guatemala Bound x 2!

The Lord has Blessed me…well, let me say He ALWAYS blesses me, but this has been a special shower of blessings.

As you all are well aware, a large piece of my heart is in Guatemala and I have literally ached because I have not been able to go since last March. Well, the Lord has heard my cry and is allowing me to go TWICE this year!! Isn’t He awesome???

The first trip will be from June 25-July 5. I just got word of this trip this week! I will be going with the local leaders as their translator. The team, which will arrive a few days later, will be doing a mini-VBS and mini-medical clinic.

The second trip which I had signed up for will be from October 21-28. This will be an Encouragement and Evangelism trip. The cost of this trip will be approximately $1,500. If you feel led to do so, I would be extremely grateful for your financial support towards the October trip. We all know that whenever we are on the path the Lord has for us, the enemy attacks, but we serve a MUCH GREATER God, so in addition to your financial support, I covet your prayers during the next few months!

Donations can be made out to Thomasville Baptist Church and can be either be mailed to me or directly to the church. If you send it to the church, please include a note that specifies it is for Jennifer Sanabria’s trip to Guatemala, October 21-28, 2014.

Jennifer Sanabria
656 Old Hwy 5 N
Thomasville, AL 36784

or

Thomasville Baptist Church
210 Wilson Ave.
Thomasville, AL 36784

P.S. If you are wondering where Jake will be during my trips, he will stay here in Thomasville with some friends. He is very active in the theater team (both in school and community) and he is also part of the sound/technical team at church, so he will be well occupied! 🙂

Shelter from the Storm

The storm raged. The rain poured. The thunder roared. The lightning filled the sky. Nevertheless, she had no trouble falling asleep; it was late and she needed rest. Not long after, the room seemed warm. She thought to adjust the thermostat or turn on the fan, but not even a warm spell could fully disturb her slumber. Despite the warm temperature, her body was comfortable and at peace. She removed the top comforter, rolled over, and nuzzled into her soft bed.

When she awoke the next morning, only a remnant of the prior night’s storm remained. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, a new day had begun. As she looked around her room, she noticed the clock was blinking 4:37; evidence that the storm was indeed bad enough to cause the electricity to go out and return while she slept. She immediately thought of the warm spell which had attempted to disrupt her rest. “That must’ve been why I was so warm”, she thought. She then heard a soft whisper, Though the raging storm scare and even cause you discomfort, rest in Me. I will hide you in my arms and the storms of this world will not disturb your slumber. She was taken aback by such words of comfort and security.

Once again her Heavenly Father had used a storm to bring her a message of assurance, joy, and above all peace. He reminded her how “He made the storm be still” (Psalm 107:29) and, if she would seek Him as her refuge, He would be her ever shelter from the storm.