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.”

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

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

A Message From God

Exodus 3:16

Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.”

Have you ever felt like God has forgotten about you?  Or felt that He wasn’t concerned about a certain situation in your life?  Have you ever cried out to God for help and felt ignored by Him?  Maybe you are facing something right now that is draining you mentally, spiritually and even physically and you wonder where God is.

Is this you?

If so, I’d like to let you know that GOD IS INDEED CONCERNED ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH!

I’ve read the story of God speaking to Moses many times before, but today as I was reading this story, the verse above stuck out to me.  I thought about what the children of Israel were going through when God gave this message to Moses.  At this point, they had been enslaved by the Egyptians for over 400 years.  They had been praying and praying for God to rescue them and yet nothing ever changed. I can’t imagine how hopeless it must have felt to be born into a life of slavery.  Not only that, but to be taught to trust in God even though many generations of people never saw the answer to prayer they were looking for – freedom from bondage.  I think the problems that we face in life are nothing in comparison to what the children of Israel dealt with.  However, many times our problems seem just as bad to us.  I believe God wants me to share the same message that He shared with Moses with you all today…that He is indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you!

I found this verse wonderful and interesting for a few reasons:

1)      God reminded me that He always cares about us and the things we are dealing with in life.  The world would have us think otherwise – that God is some far off being who is only concerned with huge issues – but that isn’t the case at all. It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a huge issue like being enslaved in Egypt or wondering how you will pay your mortgage on time – God cares!  God concerns Himself with each one of us and the individual issues that we face in life.  He loves you and hears every single word that you utter to Him.  He even hears the unspoken prayers and concerns of our hearts.  Today, God says, “I love you and am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you.”

2)      God waited a long time before giving the children of Israel this message of hope and encouragement.  Can you imagine what it must have felt like to pray and pray to God and not hear from Him for so long?  As I stated previously, these people were in bondage for over 400 years. They prayed and prayed for relief and for a way out of their situation, yet nothing ever changed nor did they hear from God.  God chose to wait until right before the great Exodus (their answer to prayer) to tell them that He was concerned about them and their situation. Feel like you’ve been waiting a long time and haven’t heard from God?  Today, God says, “I love you and am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you.”  Hold on just a little while longer!

3)      Even though God gave this message to Moses for the children of Israel, they didn’t receive help right away. God had their answer, but it wasn’t revealed to them until just the right time (God’s time). In fact, things got worse before they got better as these people went through some serious persecution, because of Moses and witnessed the various plagues in Egypt. We too may face some hard times in life before we see answers to our prayers.  Just know that in the midst of life’s hardships that God loves you and is indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you!

There are all sorts of reasons why we face hard times in life and I don’t claim to know or understand them all. Sometimes things happen as a result of our disobedience to God or as a consequence of a choice that we’ve made.  Sometimes these situations are God’s way of refining us and making us better and stronger.  Other times our trials and tribulations are used to bring God glory and to draw people to Him.  Sometimes these things are just the result of living in a sinful world. The list goes on and on.  The one thing that I know for sure is that God loves each one of you so much, and cares about what you are facing today!

God has not forgot about you and THE ANSWER to any problem you have is found in Him!  Don’t be discouraged by the circumstances of life, but instead find comfort in knowing that God loves you, hears your prayers and is indeed concerned about what you are going through!

Psalm 40:17

Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.

1 Peter 5:7

…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Hebrews 4:16

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Love,

Melissa

Be Mine

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Today is Valentine’s day – a day to celebrate romance and love!  I celebrate Valentine’s Day, do you?  Although I’ve never really made a big deal out of this day, I do enjoy participating in some of the festivities.  I usually make special goodies for my guys, such as heart-shaped pancakes, and we exchange cards and little treats with each other – always fun!  Other than that, it’s not a huge occasion in our home.  I personally believe that we should express our love for those around us on a daily basis, and not just one day a year.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s day or not, you can’t help but notice all of the red décor, hearts and cupids everywhere. We are bombarded with all things Valentine’s Day (as is the case with most holidays). While some people appreciate all of the mushy, lovey-dovey stuff, others do notI find it a bit ironic that a day that is supposed to be about love has many people feeling sad, lonely and depressed.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone complain about being single on Valentine’s Day…I’d be rich!  I always wondered why being single on Valentine’s Day was any different from being single any other day of the year, but that’s a subject for another day.  Interestingly enough, it’s not only single people who struggle on this day, but married people as well.

As I was thinking about how this day affects each of us differently, the Lord reminded me of something.  He reminded me that ALL OF US have a desire to be loved.  It doesn’t matter who we are or what our gender, race, age or marital status, we long for love. The need to be loved is inside each one of us!  In fact, God put it there.  That’s right, God created all humans with the desire to be loved so that we would come to know Him and experience His love; true love. While I was pondering this, I felt the Lord say “BE MINE.”

Did you know that God wants YOU to be HIS?  Well, He does.  He wants you more than anything else!  And He has this same desire for each one of us.

2 Peter 3:9  ~ The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Psalm 139:17 ~ How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

God may not give us a little candy heart with the words BE MINE on it, but all throughout His Word, He lets us know that He chooses us.  In fact, He chose us to be His long before the world began.

Ephesians 1:4 ~ Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love.

God wants us to experience His love so much that He sacrificed His only Son, so that we could live with Him forever.

John 3:16 ~ For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

How romantic is that!?!?  Someone gave His life just for YOU!  Now that’s a true Prince in Shining Armor!

Romans 5:8 ~ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God doesn’t love us based on our actions.  His love doesn’t change just because we make a mistake (or many mistakes).  His love is unwavering…

Micah 7:18 ~ Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.

God also assures us that nothing can separate us from His love….

Romans 8:38-39 ~ For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is our provider, protector and source of everything we need; and desire.  In this way He acts as our Husband…

Isaiah 54:5 ~ For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.

He even gets jealous for us…

2 Corinthians 11:2 ~ For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Lastly, God’s love enables us to love others.  Without His love in us, we cannot truly love other people.

 1 John 4:19 ~ We love, because He first loved us.

These are just a few verses that remind me of just how much God loves us.  There are countless others that talk about just how important we are to Him.  Not only does He love us, but He desperately wants a personal relationship with us.  His love is a love that cannot be compared to anything in this world.  God’s love is satisfying, unchanging, unconditional and REAL!

Whether married, dating someone or single, Jesus Christ loves you and wants YOU to be His Valentine! 

When you feel all alone and want to be loved completely, please know that God is right there with you saying “BE MINE.”  Won’t you accept His invitation and allow Him to fill you with His love?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Melissa

LOVE

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ~ 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.

My Thoughts:  The “love” chapter of the Bible…..most people know about it and some even have it memorized, but my question today is…are we doing it?   People use the word love so loosely these days.  My kids say they “love” their video games and their shoes.  I’ve heard adults say they “love” someone, because they look good or make them feel a certain way.  Or what about people who claim to have fallen out of love?  Is that really love?  My guess is that people use this word without truly understanding it’s meaning.  Love is not a feeling, but an action word.  Love is not an emotion, but a duty.  Love doesn’t just happen, it’s a choice.  Love is not “I’m gonna do me” (which seems to be a common phrase these days), but instead sacrifice.   Love is sacrificing your own wants and desires for the betterment of another person.  I spent many a night meditating on this chapter when I first got married, and continue to study it again every once in a while.  I think it’s a great way to remind ourselves of what God’s definition of true love is.  Do you love your spouse?  Your children?  Your parents and friends?  A great way to know is to read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians and ask  yourself, “does what I’m doing line up with what God says?”

The world says one thing about love, but God tells us something much different.  Loving someone does not mean that you will always feel warm and fuzzy inside towards them.  Let’s remember our Saviour and what He did on the cross for us.  He LOVED the world so much that He GAVE Himself for us.  He suffered a horrible death for YOU and ME.  In the garden at Gethsemane, right before His death, Jesus was in anguish.  He was in anguish over knowing that He was about to be crucified on the cross and how painful it would be.  His emotions were telling Him to not go through with it, but His LOVE for us was so great that He continued with the plan.  We didn’t deserve what Jesus did for us, but His LOVE wanted the best for us.  Now that’s true love!

In the midst of all of the hearts, flowers, jewelry and chocolate today, I’d like to encourage you all to remember the true meaning of LOVE.  Happy Valentines Day!

Pro-Choice

There’s a lot of talk these days about CHOICES, wouldn’t you agree?  We hear about “our right to choose” all the time from many different sources, including our friends, family, politicians, the NEWS, articles, internet and television.  I think some of the most popular discussions regarding choice today revolve around the issues of abortion, gender, same-sex marriage, politics and religion.  Many of these topics can cause some very heated debates, but it seems the one thing that everyone has in common is the fact that they all want “the right to choose.”

Last year, there was a Canadian couple who made news headlines because of a choice they made for their youngest child.  This couple gave birth to a healthy baby named “Storm”, but they decided to keep the sex of the baby a secret from the rest of the world.  The reason they did this is because they didn’t want society to “dictate” to this child what gender he or she should be.  I, for one, was a bit bothered by their decision.  I thought….in an effort to give their child the ‘freedom to choose’, they ended up making a choice for this child.  They decided that his or her gender is irrelevant and not important, when IN FACT gender is extremely significant. God has created each of us with a specific gender, each one having a special and unique purpose in life.  God created this child to be either a male or female, but the parents decided to disregard that completely.  This story was just one of many that came to mind regarding choices. 

Genesis 1:26-27 ~ Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The other day while I was driving in my car and praising God (in my own little world); I began thanking Him for the gift of choice.  I paused after I said it, because it sounded a little strange to me.  The gift of choice?  Of all the things in the world I could thank the Lord for, I am thanking Him for the gift of choice?  God then began to show me just how special it is to have the power to choose.

God created us (humans) in His own image and one of the ways that we are created in His image is our ability to make choices.  He has created us with minds that have the power to make thousands of decisions each day.  No other creature on Earth has this ability (or power).  Some may argue that animals do, but they differ in that they are programmed to do certain things…they have what’s called animal instinct.  It’s a little different from the gift of choice that God has placed inside of humans.

What is even better than having the ability to choose is that God gives us the right answers.  It’s sort of like an open book test.  With an open book test, we are expected to provide the correct answers, but the teacher allows us to look in the back of the book for those answers.  In the same way, there are also right and wrong choices in life, but I thank God that He has given us His Book with the answers, so that we don’t ‘fail the test’. We are free to make wrong choices, but the end result of those choices is never a good one.

The other thing that God reminded me of is the fact that we are created a little lower than the angels, yet He gives us the power to choose. Did you know that angels cannot choose to be saved?  Do you know that they are not able to be redeemed?

Lucipher (who is now called Satan) was God’s right-hand angel at one time.  He dwelt with God in heaven, worshiping God and making music with his body unto the Lord.  He was in charge of other angels.  God adorned him with precious stones and beautiful jewels (Ezekiel 28).  He became prideful, thinking of himself more highly than he ought and wanted to be God.  He was cast out of heaven, along with a third of the other angels that decided to follow him (Revelation 12:4).

This is a done deal.  There is no hope for Satan and the fallen angels.  There are no second chances.  They are no longer to dwell in heaven.  They cannot choose to worship God now.  Angels are not humans and humans don’t become angels.  They cannot choose to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  They are unable to choose salvation, through Jesus, in order to have a right relationship with God.  The angels cannot make these choices, but we can.  God has given us the ‘right to choose.’   Thinking of these facts caused me to be even more grateful for the ability to choose; that God allows me to choose Him.

Here I am, an imperfect person who has made tons of mistakes in life (and still messes up daily), yet God Almighty has given me this great gift called CHOICE.  I can choose God and be saved from eternal punishment.  I can choose to worship Him.  He allows me to make tons of choices each day that will glorify Him.  I can choose life!  I can choose forgiveness! I can choose God!

Deuteronomy 30:19 ~ I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.

Some may ask, “How is it love if God lets us make a choice and some of us choose wrong?”  My answer to that would be…God is so loving and so merciful.  He offers the same invitation to ALL people.  He has compassion on the world and desires that everyone come to Him, but ultimately it is our choice.  I would ask, “How is it love if you force someone to be with you?”  God wants us to choose Him, because it’s not true love if He forces us to be with Him.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be married to someone who didn’t really love me, but was forced to be with me; it would be similar to a hostage situation.  God is not a hostage taker, but a Gentleman.  This is why He gives us every opportunity to come to a place of repentance and acknowledge who He is, and accept His offer.  He loves us enough to clothe himself in flesh, leave His heavenly throne and come to Earth to die for YOU and for me.  In this way God chooses us…

Psalm 65:4 ~ How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.

So…I’d just like to encourage you all to take some time today to thank God for the gift of choice, and ask Him if you are making the right choices in your life.  If you haven’t made Jesus the Lord of your life, I would encourage you to invite Him into your heart today…it is the best CHOICE that you will ever make!

Job 34:4 ~ Let us choose for ourselves what is right; Let us know among ourselves what is good.

God’s love…allows us to go through hard times

I was driving to work the other day, just thinking on the goodness of the Lord.  I began to think about all of the things that He saved me from.  I also began thinking about how hard my life was before I truly came to Christ.  It was burdensome.  It was empty.  It was lonely at times. 

All of a sudden it hit me…God’s love!  The magnitude of God’s love hit me like a ton of bricks!  I began to get overwhelmed with emotion thinking about how God’s love is what allowed me to go through the hard times in my life.  How it was God’s love that allowed my life to get so bad and so painful that I didn’t think I would make it through at times.  It was God’s love that allowed me to hit an all time low in my life.  I know you are probably saying to yourself, “what, how is that love?”  Well, it is.  It is the greatest love I’ve ever known…in fact it is the greatest love of ALL (and I’m not talking about a Whitney Houston song either). 

Have you ever thought about where you would be today had you not gone through some of those tough times in your life?  I know many times I thought that God was no where around me before I was saved.  I thought He was too busy worrying about ‘perfect people’.  I didn’t think He could possibly be concerned with me while I was busy making a mess of my life.  Boy was I wrong!  It was in fact God who allowed me to be in those places, KNOWING that it would eventually get bad enough for me, and lead me straight to Him. 

God is our Creator.  He created each of us just like an artist creates a painting or a sculpture.  He put so much thought and care into making us. Psalm 139:13 ~ For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  Did you see that?  He formed you and wove you or knit you together.  He made sure every single detail about us was perfect.  He knows us inside and out.  He knows when we hurt and when we don’t.  In fact, He knows exactly what it takes to make us hurt and where our breaking point is.  He knows what will break our hearts and our pride enough to realize our need for Him…..and it’s at that place where the love (and life) exchange can take place.  It’s at that place where we humble ourselves before the Lord and He takes all of our brokenness and gives us His love in return.  It’s at that place where He takes our ashes, and gives us His beauty.  It’s at that place where He takes our mourning, and gives us His joy!  (Isaiah 61:3)

I never realized before the other day, however, that God loved me so much that He caused me to go through some of THE most painful times in order to ‘wake me up’ and draw me to Himself.  Did you know that He does the same for YOU!  He does whatever it takes to get our attention.  Some of us learn quickly and realize our need for the Lord at a very early age.  For others (like myself) it takes a lot more, such as near death experiences in order to get our attention, and maybe even going through the same situations over and over again until we get it.

Don’t ever think that you went through the things you did for nothing.  If those situations are what led you to Christ Jesus, they were worth it.  God is amazing for many reasons, one being that He saves us, cleans us up and then uses our past to witness to others who are in the same situations.  God uses our lives, good, bad and ugly for His glory!

Had I not gone through the hurtful times in my life, I don’t know that I would have ever found a need for God.  I am so thankful NOW that He permitted me to go through those things in order to save my life.  Don’t ever think that because you are going through “it” God doesn’t love you.  It is actually quite the opposite.  He loves you too much to let you die and go to hell.  He is doing everything in His power to get your attention (whatever it takes), even if that means putting you in some uncomfortable circumstances in life, because He loves you too much to spend eternity without YOU! 

Bible References:   

John 3:16  says that God sacrificed His Son for us, so we could be saved.  He allowed Jesus to go through “the hard time” of dying on the cross in order to fulfill His greater purpose for humanity….SALVATION!  This is the same thing that He does with us.  He allows us to go through the pain, because He knows that is what will save us in the in the end.  He sees the bigger picture and knows how we will come out on the other side….free, victorious and a new creation!

Luke 15:11-32 tells us that the Father (who represents God) of the prodigal son allowed the son to go through the pains and consequences of making wrong choices in his life, because he knew that eventually he would turn away from that life.  He knew that his son would come home once he had enough of the crazy lifestyle and suffering.  In the same way God allows us to go through sometimes unbearable situations, knowing that these things will cause us to reach out to Him…and when we do, He is right there waiting for us with open arms.  He is ready to welcome YOU home!