The Ugly Stool

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Last week our family had our annual yard sale at my parent’s house.  Usually the sale includes our family members only, however this year a few of their neighbors participated too.  One of their neighbors was selling items that were probably better suited for an estate sale or even an antique auction.  They were selling all sorts of vintage and antique pieces.  It was unbelievable!  Even though I was determined not to spend any of my yard sale profit this year, I couldn’t resist going over to take a peek at what was available.  As I made my way through all of these lovely antique items in mint condition, I spotted this stool.  It was sort of set off to the back as if they weren’t really interested in selling it or possibly using it as step stool in the garage to reach high shelves.

There was nothing fancy about this stool.  Unassuming, paint splattered, cracked, missing screws, weathered and wobbly – this stool was calling my name!  My guess is that the average person would walk right passed it, to the prettier and more valuable items.  Not me.  As I continued to look around, I couldn’t help but be drawn right back to this stool.  So, I asked the gentleman how much he wanted, and he said $3.00 – “Sold!” I shouted.   He then proceeded to tell me a story about how his mother used this stool to can foods for the winter when he was a boy.  He smiled as he shared this story with me and that made me even happier that I bought this piece.

There is just something about an ugly, but oh so cute piece of furniture that I cannot resist.  This stool definitely fit the bill.  I look at it and see so much potential.  Behind the rough, dirty and battered exterior is beautiful piece of furniture just waiting to shine!

I truly believe one of the reasons that I am drawn to pieces like this is because they remind me of myself.  Like many of the pieces that I have collected over the years, I have a dark past and a story to tell.  I have been through some extremely tough times in life and know what it’s like to feel beat up, neglected and worthless.  Just like this piece, I was completely comfortable being ignored and hiding in the background.  Many people would have preferred me to stay there as well.  Like this piece, I gave up on anyone ever wanting me or thinking that I was worth paying for, fixing up or investing time in.  Like this piece, I had hidden potential, but it would take a special person to recognize that and make me into something beautiful.  Can anyone else relate?

One of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

God, through His Son Jesus Christ, bought me.  He paid a high price for me.  Once I became His, He cleaned me, fixed me, polished me up and gave me a brand new heart.  He filled the empty places, repaired the broken places and beautified the ugly places. That’s not all. He gave me purpose.  A brand new purpose.  As I mentioned above, the stool that I bought wasn’t being used for much of anything.  Once I am done making it pretty, it will be used in a brand new way and have a new function and purpose in our home.

My motto for my furniture refurbishing business, as well as my life theme and one that I love to share with others is – All Things New!  We don’t have to be what we’ve always been. We can become new!

This is just a little reminder that, beyond the outer appearances, there is hidden potential in us all.  Sometimes that potential is covered up by the stains and pains of life, but it is still there waiting to be revealed.  May we begin to look passed the rough exterior of others and see what they could be with a little work.  Lead them to the Master Refurbisher – Jesus Christ!

Revelation 21:5 ~ And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

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Pre-cleaning Not Required

 

Ah….the dentist.  The guy so many of us love to hate.  I actually don’t mind going to the dentist for teeth cleaning appointments. Our family actually had our bi-annual cleaning appointment recently. Before we left the house, I brushed and flossed my teeth like I always do.  When my husband saw me brushing, he looked at me with a very puzzled expression.  He asked me why I was cleaning my teeth. He continued to say, “Isn’t that the reason we are going to the dentist?” I laughed.  He was right!  Why was I cleaning my teeth right before I was going to get my teeth cleaned?! I never really thought about it before, but when I did, it seemed totally ridiculous. I guess my reason was that I was somewhat ashamed for my dentist to see me with dirty teeth. Since his specialty is teeth I always want him to see mine in their best condition – cleaned, flossed and freshly rinsed with mouth wash. I feel a little embarrassed admitting this to everyone, but it’s the truth. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is similar to what many of us do when it comes to God.

Have you ever met someone who says that they aren’t clean enough or good enough to come to Christ?  I have. I have witnessed to and invited several people to church that have told me they are not ready. Many people say that they have ‘work to do on themselves’, or that they have to ‘get things in order’ before they can approach God or have a relationship with Him. Some people have even told me that they won’t even enter a church building until their ‘lives are right’ out of fear that something bad would happen. I get the sense that most people feel this need to clean themselves up before having a relationship with God. I’m not sure where this idea comes from, but it is not true. In fact, it is quite the opposite – we go to God to get clean! 

Many people don’t realize or they forget that God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves.  He sees everything that we do, think and feel whether we acknowledge Him or not. Avoiding Him doesn’t help us at all. God knows just how imperfect we are and loves us still – unconditionally. He knows our hearts and our deepest thoughts. He knows our flaws, failures and insecurities better than we know them. He desires to have a relationship with us anyway. More than that, He wants us to trust Him.  He does not expect us to clean ourselves up before we come to Him.  He doesn’t want us to fix ourselves before getting to know Him. In fact, we are actually powerless to do so. God, is the only One who can change us completely.  We can try (kind of like me trying to clean my teeth ahead of time), but our ways do not work.  Sure we may be able to make ourselves look pretty on the outside, but God sees past the outer appearance to the deep places of our soul.  We may even be able to change certain behaviors with a little discipline, but that doesn’t deal with the root of the problem – sin.

When I brush my teeth, I am able to get some of the dirt off and my teeth may look a little nicer, however, there are things that I am unable to see, such as plaque, tartar, cavities or worse! It takes a specialist to thoroughly clean my teeth and repair these things by using his special tools and wisdom. In the same way, God is the only One who is qualified to remove our sin, clean us up and deal properly with the deep issues of our heart.  He is THE EXPERT!

Even when I do my very best to clean my teeth before my dental appointments, my dentist always seems to notice something – usually something that I am trying to hide.  At every visit, it never fails, he’ll ask about my coffee consumption. Ugh!  I sit there hoping that I’ve done good enough job cleaning so he doesn’t notice, but he does, because that’s his job.  Do I need to feel ashamed and hide this from my dentist?  No. Seems a little silly doesn’t it? 

It is the same way with God. He sees everything that we would like to hide from him.  He wants us to come to Him, so He can help us. We do not need to attempt to clean ourselves up before having a relationship with Him.  The whole purpose of Christ’s visit to Earth was to do the work that we couldn’t do ourselves.  Once we accept that – God does the rest! 

I know that God can be intimidating.  After all, He is holy.  Do you know what else?  He is love.  He loves us so much and invites us to simply come.  Come to Him as you are.  Come with all of your stains. Come with all of your imperfections, your mistakes, your shortcomings and your baggage.  He wants to do an amazing work in us if we’ll let Him.  He just wants YOU! 

For those who feel unworthy, ashamed or just too messed up to come to God – come anyway!  Stop trying to fix yourselves on your own, and give it all over to the One who cares for you and longs to make you a new creation. Come to God and be healed. Be changed. Be clean.  Be free! The first step is to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Allow Him into your heart and spirit.  I promise that He will do such an awesome work in you – something beyond what you can imagine. 

Maybe you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but have not allowed Him to reign in a certain area of your life. Maybe there is something in your life that you have been trying to manage, fix or clean up on your own. Stop!  Stop trying to fix [by yourself] what can only be fixed by the Expert. Give it over to the One who can truly help you. Run to His throne of grace and allow Him to do what only He can!  

So please remember that while some things in life may require some prepping, pre-cleaning or pre-treating, it is not so with God.  We can come just as we are – no matter how dirty.  

I hope that you find this little word encouraging today.  

Isaiah 1:18 ~ “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Love,

Melissa

ANX4NTN

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Every day I learn something new and disturbing about my place of employment.  I have been there for approximately eight months now and struggle with going in to work each morning.  Without getting into too much detail, it is just a very unpleasant place to be.   I truly believe that I am there to share the gospel with those around me and be a light in the darkness.  With that being said, it is not easy.  At times my frustration level soars through the roof.  I have to continually remind myself that this is a mission field, that God sent me, and my sole (or soul) purpose for being here is to lead the lost to Christ.

In many ways I feel like Jonah.  In fact, God continues to bring Jonah and his experience to my mind.  I wanted to flee from this job at very beginning, but God showed me why I had to go.  It has been an uncomfortable and challenging journey to say the least, and I just want it to be over.  The only reason I stay is out of obedience to God, but there are still many days that I want to just run away.

Last night while driving to the store and sharing my concerns about my job with my husband, a car pulled in front of us.  The license plate on the back of this car read ANX4NTN.  In case you aren’t fluent in the language of license, it said “Anxious for nothing” as in Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ironic? No. God.

God has always spoken to me in very unique ways. This was not the first time that He has said something to me via license plate.  After getting married, my husband and I started to notice messages on license plates quite often, usually when we needed a particular answer or word of encouragement from the Lord. Strange, I know, but true.

This word of not being anxious about anything truly came at the right time.  Although, I didn’t think of myself as being anxious when sharing the details of my day with my husband, I was.  I was speaking out of frustration, desperation and emotion. I was speaking as if somehow God wasn’t in control of my situation. I was speaking about things, that while annoying, had nothing to do with the bigger picture OR my purpose for being at this place.  Yes, I am in place that I’d rather not be, but I am there on a mission. The distractions are only there to get my attention on insignificant matters and off of God and my true assignment.

Instead of whining and complaining about how bad things are, I should be praying. Instead of talking to my husband in hopes that he would agree with me, I should be taking my wants, needs and requests to the Lord.  I find it interesting that God tells us in this verse that there is NEVER a time or a circumstance that warrants us being anxious.  Never. He says BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING! Does this mean that we will never have that feeling attempt to rise up in us? No.  It means that when it does, we respond with prayer.

God also says that we are to offer thanksgiving to Him.  What?  You mean, when I am feeling anxious, I should not only pray, but begin to thank God?!  Yes.  Have you ever noticed what happens when you give thanks to God or exhibit a thankful and grateful attitude?  I have.  It changes things. It may not change the situation you’re in completely, but it changes your mind about those things.  And just for the record, I have seen it change people around me and situations for the better. With a mind of gratitude, you are able to focus on what is good, instead of what is wrong.

Next God tells us to present our requests to Him.  Most of us don’t have a problem doing this.  In fact, for many this is the only time they come to God – when they want something.  God tells us to come to Him because He is our Father, and He has our answer.  Furthermore He tells us in Matthew 6:8 that He already knows what we need, but He still requires that we come to Him.  I believe this is because coming to Him shows that we trust and rely on Him.

This verse gives us several instructions at one time – it’s a package deal.

STEP 1: DO NOT BE ANXIOUS

STEP 2: PRAY TO GOD

STEP 3: GIVE THANKS

STEP 4: MAKE REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD

So, what’s next?

Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Wow. When we do the first part, God provides the answer – PEACE.  He promises to give us peace and after all isn’t that what we need?  We don’t necessarily need our circumstances to change; we just need to be filled with God’s peace in order to endure whatever it is we are going through.

I thank God for reminding me of this verse.  The timing, as always, was perfect.  I don’t know what you are dealing with in life, or what your specific circumstances are, but I believe this verse is one that all of us can use.  Whether you are dealing with a health scare, financial troubles, concerns for children, or maybe a new phase of life that you are unsure about, this is a great verse to apply.  We have no reason to be anxious, because we know God Almighty, Sovereign Creator of All.  Because of His great love for us, He guides us through life and provides us with the answers we need to deal with any situation.  Above all, He gives us peace – His peace.

I have no idea how long God wants me to stay at this place, but I trust Him.  I will not be anxious, and with thanksgiving, I will continue to pray and present my requests to God.  For I know that His plans for me are perfect, and that gives me peace!  (Jeremiah 29:11)

I hope you all find this verse and little note encouraging.  Be blessed.

~ Melissa

A LOVE NOTE

Christ summed up the commandments in this – love GOD and love others!  We (believers) have a tendency to get caught up in doing the “Lord’s work” and following all the “rules” that sometimes we forget to simply LOVE.  God loves us, and that love enables us to love Him, then we are able love others.  It’s that simple.

1 Corinthians 13: The Excellence of Love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I was reminded of this chapter over the weekend while attending a bridal shower.  Each of the guests were asked to give a bit of advice to the bride-to-be. My advice was to memorize and practice 1 CORINTHIANS 13.  This chapter makes the command of loving so much easier.  For me it made love easier to understand and apply (in my opinion).  It’s so profound, yet so very simple.

At times we can get caught up in our feelings, and as we all know those constantly change.  So it is important to keep these verses at the forefront of our minds at all times. We should keep this chapter hidden in our hearts (as God instructs us to do with all of His word).  This makes loving so much easier, particularly when our feelings are telling us otherwise and it is difficult for us to do.  

This chapter does not only apply to married couples, although I will say that I began truly clinging to these verses after getting married.  It actually applies to all believers, in all circumstances and situations.

I appreciate how Paul breaks it down into three different sections for us:

SECTION 1: It doesn’t matter how many good works and/or powerful acts that you peform – if LOVE isn’t your motive, they are meaningless.  This is a great place to  ask God to examine your heart (<-speaking to myself here too people). Psalm 26:2 ~ Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart

SECTION 2: This section explains what love is and what love is not.  This is what love looks like.  For those of us who may not have been given the best example growing up, God provides us with a very (clear) picture. I love how God does that for us!  Does this section describe you?  Does your love look like this?

SECTION 3:  This section shows us that love is changeless, steadfast, durable and continual.  Love is everlasting. Love will stand the test of time and beyond.  It is something that will outlast everything else in life and never fade away.  Love supersedes all else!  If this is what God says about love, then I definitely want to keep it at the top of my priority list!  Paul also explains that we won’t fully grasp the greatness of love here on Earth, but for those of us who are in Christ, we will know love {true love} completely one day!

I hope you all are encouraged by this little love nugget today!  It is always a good reminder for me and pray that it was for you as well.  When it is difficult for you to love, please remember that it is not done in your own power, but God’s love for us and through us that enables us to love others.  1 John 4:19 ~ We love, because He first loved us.

Love,

~ Melissa

We’re Not Out of the Water Yet

My family and I [do our best to] read through the entire Bible each year. In addition to our own personal Bible studies, we try to meet each night after dinner and read a chapter or two together, and then discuss our thoughts with one another. We’ve had a bit of an inconsistent start this year, but are slowly and surely making our way through. We are [still] in Genesis. Last week while reading the 8th chapter, I received a little nugget of encouragement that I’d like to share with you all. Hopefully it will encourage you as it did me.

Verse 1: But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.

But God remembered Noah. Let’s stop right here. What simple, yet powerful words! Ever feel like God has forgotten you? Ever feel like the storms and floods of life have consumed you and wonder if God remembers you? I know I’ve been there. I’d like to remind you that God loves you and God does remember you [and what you are going through].

Noah had great faith in God. Noah had enough faith to do what God said even though it didn’t make sense. It had never rained prior to the Great Flood, so Noah had no idea what that meant or what to expect when God told him to build an ark. He was also ridiculed by the people around him when preparing for the flood. People thought that Noah was nuts and made a point to let him know it, yet he continued to build the ark like God told him to.

The rains came and the flood waters grew deep – deep enough to cover the mountain tops.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear the violent waves crashing against the sides of the boat, or the sounds of the people screaming as the flood waters came [and overtook them]. It must have been scary to feel the boat rising with the waters, and not having any idea what was going to happen next or when it would end. Talk about trusting God!

“But God remembered Noah” – I believe that God remembered Noah, because Noah remembered God. Noah honored God, therefore he and his family were kept safely inside the ark [along with quite a few other companions].

“But God remembered Noah” – God remembered His great love for Noah, as well as His promise to him and made the rain cease.

This really spoke to me. I thought about How God does that for us. If we’re obedient to God, then we can trust that He will remember us!  He will not forget us in the midst of the floods in our lives. Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Verse 2 & 3: Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.

God remembered Noah, then [immediately] actions followed. We see here that God kept His word – as He always does – and the rain stopped. God closed up the sky and that was the end of the storm. What I found interesting about this verse was that even though God stopped the rain, the water didn’t dry up right away. It says here that the waters “receded steadily” from the Earth. God could have made the flood waters just miraculously disappear. I mean after all – HE is God. Instead, He allowed the waters to dry up slowly. Noah had to wait. There is something very special that takes in our spirits during times of waiting [waiting on the Lord]. Isaiah 40:31 ~ Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Sometimes we experience floods [trials] in our lives and while the rain may stop falling, we continue to see and experience the after effects.  There are times when there is nothing more that we can [or need to] do. It is quite simply time to wait for God to complete His work.  Just as in the case above, it takes time for the waters to subside, the sun to shine, and the mountain peaks to become visible to us once again. It took 150 days for the waters to decrease in this case.

Has God spoken a word to you and you are waiting to see it come to pass?   Are the waters in your situation so deep and you’re wondering if and when they will ever decrease? May I remind you that – THEY WILL!  It may take time [in some cases a long time], but you will see dry land again some day. Just continue to wait on the Lord.  He won’t let you down.

Most of us know the end of this story. The waters completely dry up and Noah and his family come out of the boat and begin a new life. They started repopulating the Earth – and so began the Nations of the World as we see and know them today.

I’ve read this story many times before, but I never quite saw it from this perspective before.

I was reminded that what God says will happen – WILL HAPPEN.  I was also reminded that He remembers me. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, many of us forget these very simple truths.

No matter how high the flood waters of life may rise, God is still God.  The Great Flood was all a part of God’s plan all along and His plans will NOT be thwarted. Job 42:2 ~ “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

Just know that He will only allow the flood waters to rise so high, and will protect His people [just as he did with Noah].  Trust the Author and know that the ending is good!

 

~ Melissa

 

 

THE CURE

Breast CancerI can’t believe its October already, can you?!?  I sometimes wish that time would slow down just a bit, however I do love the Fall season; particularly the month of October.  This time of year is full of colorful leaves, cooler weather, football, cozy meals, sweaters and boots…and of course, my favorite – all things pumpkin! October is also known as the month of Halloween, as well as breast cancer awareness month. I am sure that breast cancer is something that most of you are already aware of. It’s hard to miss with all of the (pink) symbols everywhere you go. Pink ribbons adorn stores, products, websites, and NFL players. I even saw a pink fire truck recently – yes, that’s right – a pink fire truck in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Everyone seems to be getting involved with this cause somehow.

The massive attention to breast cancer caused me to ask myself, “What’s the big deal?” So, I decided to do a little research and found out that about 1 in every 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. That means that either you, someone in your immediate family, in your close circle of friends, co-workers and/or acquaintances, will develop this disease. We are ALL affected by this in some way. I personally know women who have won their battle with this disease, and who today, are living healthy, cancer-free lives. On the other hand, I also knew women who are not alive today, because of this incurable disease. There are many treatments for breast cancer, but no official cure. Treatments can be helpful, but those same treatments can also cause the body to further deteriorate; many times leading to death.

As I reflected on breast cancer (and other forms of cancer) and the amount of people who are touched by this issue, I thought how wonderful it would be to find a total cure. Can you imagine?!?!  It would be all over the NEWS – A CURE FOR CANCER HAS BEEN FOUND!  I believe that people would be celebrating, and those with the disease, doing everything in their power to get a hold of the cure.

 
But what if there was only ONE cure that was only administered by ONE doctor, in ONE location in the country? What if the cure was something that didn’t make sense? Maybe it was so simple that it seemed unbelievable. Would you reject it? I believe that cancer patients everywhere (and their loved ones) would take drastic measures to get to this ONE doctor to get the answer that they so desperately need. I am certain that just the thought of being free from cancer, and chance at living a long, healthy life would drive many to go to the ONE who holds their answer.

 
As I thought about this, I asked the Lord, “Why don’t people have that same motivation with you?” After all, we are in need of an answer to our problem, which honestly is much bigger than any cancer.

 
The problem I am referring to is one that has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time.  I am talking about the THE SIN PROBLEM. The very first human on Earth made a choice to disobey God, and the result was death. This sin problem (disease) didn’t stop with that one person, but has been transmitted to every human born after that up to this day. We are all born sick, with this sin condition, and in desperate need of a cure.

 

Moses Staff
The wonderful thing is God – The Great Physician – has provided a cure that is readily available to ALL who ask. There is however, only ONE cure, which comes from ONE God (just like the scenario above). That cure is found in JESUS CHRIST alone.  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me ~ John 14:6
I truly believe that with any terminal illness, people would rejoice at just the thought of a cure, yet this doesn’t seem to be the case with our sin disease. When it comes to being physically sick we are usually open to whatever will work, and wouldn’t argue about having only one cure. Why isn’t this the case with our spiritual condition? People are dying and need a cure! God has provided that cure, yet we reject Him.

 
I believe that many people are either in denial (afraid to face the truth), choose to reject the answer (rebellious) or prefer to try other pointless methods of remedying the problem (none of which will cure).  Just as with cancer, you may find temporal forms of treatment that hide your sin symptoms, but if the root of the problem is not dealt with, you won’t be completely cured – and it is all in vain.

 
God has given me the desire to tell people the truth about Him, and while many may disagree with me – the facts don’t change. The fact is we are ALL in need of THE CURE. The fact is there is only ONE CURE. The fact is that without this cure, we will remain sick and will die (eternally). I am not writing these things to judge or condemn anyone. As I said before, we are all born with the same problem. I too was sick at one time, BUT I was introduced to the ONLY ONE who could cure me – JESUS. I am cured, and long to share THE ANSWER with others now.

 

 

So, as we bring awareness to breast cancer and finding a cure for it this month, I’d like to also bring awareness to the SIN disease, and the fact that there is already a cure.  I’d like to bring awareness to my Lord – THE CURE!  I’d like to encourage you today, to be real with yourself, and consider your life.  Have you been cured from the sin disease?  Have you ever met  THE ONE who can cure you?  If not, I would invite you to do so today?  He is the only ONE who can heal, save, set free and completely cure you!

 

 

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

 
Romans 10:9 ~ That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved

 
Psalm 86:5 ~ For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You

 
Romans 3:23 ~ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

 

~ Melissa

Finding Hope Through Daffodils

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The other day while driving along in my car, I noticed beautiful yellow daffodils sticking up out of the ground on the side of the road. There were only about four of them and they were surrounded by bare trees, rocks and dirt. The area around them looked drab and lifeless; yet right in the middle were these brightly colored flowers blooming.

I live on the East Coast and we’ve recently experienced (what seems like) one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters that I can remember. It’s been rough, and at times I’ve wondered if spring would ever arrive. The constant gray skies and temperatures below 20 degrees for days, can definitely take its toll on some of us. I for one am affected by different weather patterns and this winter has definitely affected my mood. When I saw these daffodils however, I got excited. These little yellow flowers filled me with hope – knowing that winter will end soon and spring is right around the corner. It may not have come as fast as I would’ve liked it to, but spring is coming!

God will use the world around us to explain His principles, and He showed me something very simple through these little flowers. He reminded that the seasons WILL come and the seasons WILL go. Each year we can expect four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall). I’m sure each of us would probably admit to having a favorite season, yet all of us go through them all. Although I am not a fan of winter, I do understand that God does something amazing to the ground during the colder months. I know that there would be no spring without a winter. I understand that He has a purpose for each season, so I trust Him. I may not always like the season I am in, but I do trust God!

In the same way, we ALL go through different seasons in our lives. We have periods of time when everything is going well for us, we have little to complain about and feel like we are on top of the world. We have seasons of relaxation, and seasons of business and preparation. We go through seasons of change and seasons of stability. We also have difficult seasons in life; times of mourning, loss, sadness, trials and tribulations. We all have experienced each of these at some point. Did you know that these life seasons are ordered by God? Yes, that’s right. Our (Sovereign) Heavenly Father uses the seasons of our lives to teach us, discipline us, strengthen us, shape us and help us – ultimately for His perfect plan (and for our good). It is no accident that we experience four seasons of weather here on Earth, and it’s also no accident that we experience the different seasons in our lives. God is in control and always doing something wonderful during each season, but specifically during the difficult seasons.  I’ve been going through a bit of a challenging season lately, and while it’s not easy, I see God doing something miraculous in it.  I was reminded of that truth when I saw those beautiful daffodils blooming in the midst of the rocky ground, on that dreary winter day.

Although the seasons of life will change, God remains the same – always good and always faithful! This truth is what helps me through the difficult times of life.

I don‘t know what season of life you are in right now, but just remember that it won’t last forever. I’d like to encourage you today to have hope in God, and what’s to come!  Rejoice in the Lord always!  Winter won’t last forever – there are daffodils in your future!

Genesis 8:22 ~ “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night shall not cease.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~ There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven

Psalm 30:5 ~ … may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning

Hebrews 13:8 ~ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever

~ Melissa

Encouragement for Day 5

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

There is nothing better than spending time with the Lord in the morning! This morning while reading God’s word and praying, I noticed the verse above. I love the fact that God says, “He hears my voice.”  That’s always reassuring to know, wouldn’t you agree?  The part of this verse that really caught my attention however, are the last three words – and eagerly watch.  Are you eagerly watching? 

Many of us pray. Some of us pray more than others.  Some of us have designated times to pray, and some of us pray continually every day. I believe God is less concerned with when we pray, and how much we pray and more concerned with our attitude towards prayer.  I think He is looking at how much faith we have in Him when we pray. 

Do you pray, believing that God is going to answer? Or do you pray, because you feel it’s your duty or for some other reason? 

I love this verse, because not only is it a reminder to us that God hears our prayer(s), but that He honors the one who prays with the expectation of seeing a result. 

The word eagerly means to show keen interest, and intense desire or an impatient expectancy.  Are you praying with this sort of attitude? 

I also love how David says that “he orders his prayer.”  He put his prayer to work for him.  He instructed his prayer, and expected a return.

I don’t know about you, but this encouraged me to not only lift my voice before the Lord every day, but to then to wait anxiously for the restult. It reminded me to not pray in vain, but to keep my eyes wide open each day, looking for the answer that God will provide! 

I hope this verse will encourage you to eagerly watch as well!

Love,

Melissa

The Diet

So recently I started a new diet.  Actually, it’s more of a permanent change in my eating habits…otherwise known as a “lifestyle change”.   For years I have had symptoms and reactions when I ate certain types of food.  I never wanted to address this issue, because I knew that it meant giving up foods that I LOVED.  My body has never reacted well to things like dairy products, fried foods, breads and sugary foods.  All the good stuff – I know!  While I love food (all types) I was tired of being tired (literally).

apple

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to just do it.  To just stop consuming the things that were hurting me and preventing me from living AT MY BEST.  So after much research, I began a strict NO sugar, NO gluten, NO dairy diet.  Many of you are probably thinking that’s NO FUN.  Well, I thought so too for the first two days.  However I quickly began to enjoy my new eating habits.  I find myself looking forward to getting creative with the foods that I am able to eat now.  I took a trip to the local health food store and found an abundance of options.  Not only are these options healthier for me, but they actually taste good too.  I will admit some of the foods take a little getting used to.  After all, I was eating things that were processed and full of sugar for so long, and my taste buds had to adjust.  Now I am truly enjoying the taste and benefits of eating healthier.  I feel a lot better.  I sleep better.  I’ve even been told that I look better.  Most importantly I have peace of mind in knowing that I am filling my body (which houses God’s Spirit) with wonderful things instead of junk.

Not long after I began this new way of eating, I read an article about “the die off effect.”  It basically talked about the parasites and unhealthy bacteria that live in our bodies.  Over time, as we continually ingest unhealthy foods, these bacteria begin to take over and attack our organs, which can eventually lead to many diseases.  The diet that I started actually causes these bacteria to die off; because they are no longer being fed the things that make them grow.  You see, they can only feed on the unhealthy items.  So, if they don’t receive them, they eventually die.  Over time the body can be free of these bacteria and restored to a much healthier state.

This article as well, as my dieting experience over the past couple of weeks reminded of so many spiritual principles.  Today, I’d like to share some of those with you.

1.       What you feed on determines your level of health. 

 Just like our physical bodies, our spiritual bodies need good food.  Our success as Christians is determined by what we take in (eyes, ears, etc).  Are we filling our spirit man junk or are we meditating on God’s word?  Are we spending time with ‘toxic’ people or with spiritually healthy people?  We can’t feed on the same stuff that the world does and expect to be spiritually healthy.  God tells us how to have an abundant life and what we should be feeding on.

Matthew 4:4

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’

Joshua 1:8

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Psalm 34:8

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

 

2.       It won’t grow if you don’t feed it.

The bacteria in my body can’t survive if I don’t eat the things that cause it to grow.  I do have cravings and am tempted at times to eat the things that I shouldn’t.  I must however, resist those temptations in order to be healthy and successful.  In the same way, we have to resist the temptation(s) to sin.  The Bible says that if we resist Satan – HE WILL FLEE.  Sin grows in our lives as we give in to it (or feed on it).  We can defeat our enemy and the desire to sin by just saying NO.  Eventually the urges to sin will be less and less, until one day the things that once tempted us are no longer an issue.  Just like the die off effect I described earlier.

James 4:7

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


3.       Think on good things.

 Instead of dwelling on the things that I was unable to eat, I decided to get excited about what I could eat.  I soon learned that there were SO many healthy (and delicious) options out there for me.  In the same way, we should focus on the wonderful blessings of God and not on the things we can’t have.

God gave Adam and Eve the entire Earth and everything in it.  They lacked NOTHING, yet one small creature planted a seed of doubt in the mind of Eve, causing her to look at a tiny little tree that she couldn’t eat from.  Her focus was wrong.  She should have been looking at the abundance around her instead of the one little thing that was unhealthy for her to partake of.

Many times when we are newly saved (and sometimes after we’ve been saved for years), we tend to focus on ALL of the things we can’t do anymore instead of what we can do.  We think of what we don’t have instead of what we do have.  There is actually more freedom to live in Christ then there ever was when we were slaves to sin (unsaved).  God’s supply of good things is unlimited!  Focus on those things!

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


4.       God gives us SELF CONTROL.

When I first started my diet, I was a little doubtful.  Not about the diet itself, but about my lack of control when it comes to food.  I’ve always just ate what I wanted when I wanted.   This experience has truly exercised this gift that God has placed inside of me.  As believers, God has given us His Spirit.  He indwells us.  One of the benefits of this is the ability to control what we do. We don’t have to be led by our senses and feelings. I don’t think some of us realize just what this means.  It means that All Powerful God lives on the inside of you!  You can do ALL things!  We have access to the Creator of the world and don’t have to operate in our own strength.  We don’t have to give in (in any area of life). God gives us the power to say NO to sin and temptations, as well as the power to do the things that we couldn’t do otherwise on our own.

Galatians 5:16-17

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.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

I hope these principles were a good reminder to you, as I know they were for me.  God’s word is so full of help for us in life.  Not only did He save us, but He continually guides us and gives us the answers we need in order to be successful.  Whether you are starting a new diet or just want to be better at this thing called life, I believe these principles, when applied, are beneficial for us all!  Be encouraged.

Love,

Melissa

Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday!  Whoot!  Whoot!

I just love celebrating my birthday! It’s the one day of the year when it seems acceptable for people to make a huge fuss over me…to spoil me and treat me like a princess {or Queen for that matter}. I appreciate every minute of it!

What about you?  Do you love celebrating your birthday?  I’m always surprised that some people don’t get very excited when their birthday comes around each year.  I’m the type that begins the ‘countdown to my birthday’ about 30 days prior.  Some laugh because of my excitement over my birthday.  I personally believe that it is something that all of us should celebrate in a special way.  I believe that birthdays are God’s way of saying, “I still have a purpose for you on Earth.”  And doesn’t God say that long life is a blessing from Him? (Psalm 91:16, Proverbs 3:2)

I don’t know about you, but I am thankful for my blessing!

This morning as I was sitting quietly with the Lord, I began to ponder my life (my 30-something years here on Earth).  All of a sudden I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards God.  Why me O Lord?  Why am I deserving of this?  I thought about the years that I spent searching for satisfaction and meaning through people and empty things in this world.  I thought about all of years that I ignored God.  I thought about the time that I wasted on being selfish and seeking temporal things.  I thought about the times that I made really poor choices that could have ended my life. I considered what I deserve vs. what I have been given…and thought…I shouldn’t be here.  BUT GOD!!!  But God had another plan.  But God in His love and mercy chose to spare my life. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  But God saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.  But God had a purpose for my life – a plan to use me for His glory!  Why me O Lord?

Then the Lord whispered, “It has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with Me.”  God doesn’t deal with us according to what we deserve, but according to His loving-kindness; His goodness.  His word says that He does these things for “His Name’s Sake.”

God also reminded me of how He loves to use the weak things of this world to shame the wise; the useless things to reveal His power.  It’s all about Him!  I am so amazed at the way He takes the despised things of this world and makes them into something great.

1 Corinthians 1:28 ~ the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are…

This is my story!  God took me with all of my flaws, failures and shortcomings and called me HIS.  Most importantly, He gave me a new heart and a new life.

It all began with one simple decision to invite God to live on the inside of me, through accepting His Son Jesus.  It all started with me coming to my whit’s end and realizing that there is no way that I could ever truly be fulfilled {alive} apart from Jesus Christ.

Today, more than celebrating my physical birth, I celebrate my spiritual birth.  I celebrate the new life that I have been given through Jesus Christ.  God chose to redeem me; to save me.  He chose to place His Spirit inside of me, clean out all of the junk (an ongoing process) and fill me with His goodness.  I celebrate these things!  I celebrate my new life!

While our physical birthdays are fun, the most important birthday is the one where WE BECOME BORN AGAIN SPIRITUALLY!  In John 3:3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  THIS IS A REAL BIRTH DAY!

The Bible also tells us that the angels actually celebrate with us when we have a spiritual birthday.  Luke 15:10 ~ “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

If you have NOT had a spiritual birthday, you are {like a} zombie, aimlessly walking around Earth; dead.

Ephesians 2:4-5 ~ But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.  We ALL need to be born again!

Would you like to join me in celebrating your birthday today?  If you have not already made Jesus LORD of your life and accepted Him as your personal SAVIOR, I’d like to invite you to do so today.  It’s quite simple.  God requires only two things (Romans 10:9-10):

1) That you {honestly and genuinely} believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, whose holy blood was shed for the sins of humanity (for YOUR sins), and that He raised from the dead.

2) That you confess with your mouth (the things that you already believe in your heart) that Jesus is Lord!

If you have done this, then I’d like to be the first to say – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!  I celebrate with you, and pray that you have a wonderful day as this TRULY is the beginning of a whole new life!

Love,

Melissa