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.”

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

 

 

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).

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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

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

Lay it Down and Get out of Town

Genesis 35:1-4

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

 As my sons and I read Genesis chapter 35 this morning for our daily Bible study, verses 1-4 really stood out to me.  One of the things that I love about God’s word is just that – THAT IT IS GOD’S WORD!  The Bible isn’t just a book, but a very real (and alive) vessel whereby God Himself speaks to us; AND He speaks to each of us personally.  It always amazes me how after reading the same exact passages, my husband, sons and I can each receive something completely different.

So, as I read the verses above, I felt like the Lord was telling me to get rid of ALL my idols [foreign gods].  In addition, I felt Him saying to rid myself of all things that keep me captive.  He reminded me that I cannot enter into His house unless I have done so.

Sometimes the stories in the Old Testament seem a bit out-dated and inapplicable to us and to life in 2013.  However, these stories are very real and pertinent to our lives today.  With the exception of technology and a few cultural differences, things haven’t really changed much.  Take the foreign gods or idols for example…I may not have statues of people or animals, totem poles or crystals and gold laying around my home, but I definitely have things that I cherish.  At times, the things that I cherish take precedence over my relationship with God. The idols of our time may include things like money, our homes, our cars, our jobs and even our children.  Idols could be things like clothes, books, T.V. shows, music, and other treasured belongings.  My boys mentioned video games and electronic devices.  You may be wondering how those things could be idols.  Well, I think of an idol as anything that I give more thought to, more time and attention to and get more excited about than God.  This could also include relationships with people, our thoughts and our feelings.  Another way something can be considered an idol is if we place more trust and hope in it than we do God.  That may sound silly to you, but think of how many people place their hope in a job and/or money.  Doesn’t seem so silly anymore does it?  Please note:  If you have statues of Buddha or any other foreign god in your home, clearly these are idols and not pleasing to God.

I prayed after reading this chapter for God to show me areas of my life that I have put before Him.  I asked Him to show me things that seemed to have more significance in my life than they should.  I also asked Him to reveal things that were a hindrance to my relationship with Him.

Psalm 26:2  ~ Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart.

Lamentations 3:40  ~ Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.

The next thing that I felt God was saying to me was to rid myself of anything that keeps me bound.  In other words, those things that prevent me from being completely free or things that I have become a servant to.  In verse 4, the people of Jacob’s household not only got rid of their idols, but their earrings as well.  I thought that was interesting.  Earrings have been associated with slavery for thousands of years and in many different cultures (to include the Israelites).  These people knew that they could not go to Bethel (The House of God) with their earrings, so they removed them.

God reminded me that we cannot truly enter His House if we are in bondage.  We may not be slaves to men in the way that we understand slavery, but there are so many things that we are slaves to in life and so much of the time we don’t even realize it.  This can include fear and other emotions (this is a big one), unforgiveness, pride, complacency, lying, lust, people pleasing, profanity, food and even drugs and alcohol…and the list goes on. Sometimes, the things we become enslaved to are more subtle and not as noticeable to us or others.  But God sees right past our outer appearance and our works and right into our hearts. He knows better than all of us the things that have us bound.  Even more than that, He wants us to be released from these things.

What God was saying to me through these passages is that He wants us to grow in Him and grow closer to Him every day.  We should not be staying in the same place our entire lives.  And in order to progress, there are things that we have to lay down and get rid of.  These things will be different for all of us.  However, the one thing that is the same is that God wants us moving forward…and has wonderful things waiting for us when we do.  We can’t get to those wonderful surprises if we refuse to leave our idols and the things that enslave us.

We have been set free through the blood of Jesus Christ and have been given the power to live successful, abundant lives of liberty!

Galatians 5:1 ~ It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

So what things have become idols in your life?  And are there things that have you bound?

I’d like to encourage you to deal with those things TODAY.  Examine your hearts.  Ask God to show you what areas of your life (and things) you need to let go of, lay down and leave behind.  God will not ask you to give up something that He doesn’t already have something better to give you in exchange.

Love,

Melissa

Rejoice Always and Always Rejoice!

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I used to think of rejoicing as a way of expressing myself when I was happy; when all was right in my world.  If I was sad, then rejoicing wasn’t something that I did.  However, the more I studied the Biblical view of rejoicing, the more I realized that God commands us to rejoice always – no matter what we are dealing with or going through.  Are you wondering how in the world this is possible?   I used to wonder that too, but the Lord really opened my eyes and taught me how to always rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 ~ Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

As I was going through a trial last year, God led me to the verse above.  It was the Apostle Paul who wrote this verse while he was imprisoned Philippi.  From what I have read, the prison conditions were not only unfavorable, but quite horrific. Here we have Paul instructing others (including us) to rejoice, but he was also rejoicing himself.

What does it mean to rejoice?   The prefix “RE” means “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition and “JOICE” a form of the word “JOY” meaning to feel or express great joy or delight.

This means that God wants us to be joyful again, and again, and again, and again…. (You get the point).

So, you are probably still wondering how it is possible to rejoice always if you don’t FEEL great joy or delight all the time.  Here are some simple instructions that God gave me recently to help me to rejoice always. When I am not in the mood to rejoice, I go down the list and see if I am doing these things. I noticed that exercising these truths daily helped me to stay in a state of rejoicing continually.  I hope you will find them helpful as well.

R – Renew your mind.

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.

God tells us to renew our mind daily, because our minds are bombarded and flooded with all kinds of junk each day.  We may not intentionally fill our minds with junk, but unhealthy stuff gets into our minds and spirits all the time.  All we have to do is watch the NEWS for a few minutes to become discouraged.  Reading God’s word and spending time in prayer helps to keep our focus in the right things and give us clarity regarding all things in life.

E – Enter His Gates.

Psalm 100:4 ~ Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

There is something special and supernatural that takes place when we begin thanking and praising God simply for Who He is.  It’s almost as if us giving thanks and praise to God opens the door to enter into fellowship with Him.  In fact, He instructs us to do this even before we enter into a discussion with Him.  Jesus shares this concept when sharing “The Lord’s Prayer.” Thanking and praising God changes our entire attitude.  How can we not rejoice when we are in constant fellowship with God?

J – Jesus focused. 

Isaiah 26:3 ~ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

When we are truly focused on our Lord and Savior, it is quite impossible to not rejoice.  For me, when my eyes are on Jesus first, everything else seems so unimportant and so minimal.  Yet, when we focus our attention on the circumstances of life, those things seem bigger; and those things steal our peace.  I think of the time when Jesus walked on water and He called Peter out of the boat.As Peter looked at Jesus, he was able to walk upon the water, but when he turned away (for just a second), and focused on the storm…he sank.  This same principle applies to us in life.

O – Open your mouth. 

Proverbs 18:21 ~ Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

We have more power than we know when we speak things.  God spoke the world into existence, and by His word all things have their existence.  We can choose to praise God with our mouths and speak goodness into our lives or keep our mouths closed and/or speak death.  Something amazing takes place when we open our mouths to praise God.  God shows us the importance of confessing (speaking) what He says to all throughout His word, to include Romans 10:9 where confessing leads to salvation.

I – Interact with other believers.

Hebrews 10:25 ~ not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I think so many Christians ignore the importance of connecting with other believers on a regular and consistent basis.  The Bible tells us that where two or more are gathered in HIS name, that He is present.  The Bible also talks about how together we are like iron sharpening iron.  We gain so much from interacting with other believers: strength, love, knowledge, encouragement, wisdom, support, etc. I know that I always feel refreshed after spending time with people who love Jesus like I do.

C – Celebrate! 

1 Chronicles 16:12 ~ Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done

I don’t know about you, but I love celebrations!  Did you know that God does too?  All throughout His word we have examples of Him instituting feasts in order to celebrate and or remember events. In our family, we always find things to celebrate from finding a great parking spot, to getting good grades, to financial blessings, to our friends and family getting saved!  There is always something to celebrate; we just need to diligently look for those things each day.

E – End your day with the Lord. 

Joshua 1:8 ~ This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…

Like most people, there are nights where I go to bed feeling mentally and physically exhausted.  It’s so hard to rejoice when we feel so tired and overwhelmed.  Each night before closing my eyes, I spend time either in prayer or in the Bible (or both).  We tend to carry whatever has gone on during the day to bed with us.  Filling our minds with God’s thoughts before we go to sleep instead of our own thoughts calms us down, gives us something wonderful to think about while we sleep and promotes healthy rest.  I love ending my day with Jesus!

You know… if God never did another good thing for us – we should still be able to rejoice.  We are instructed to rejoice in the Lord, not in the world or in life’s happenings.  We can rejoice because God loves us. In addition, if you have accepted His offer by accepting His Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you have eternal life!  Your sins have been paid for by the precious blood of Jesus and you have been forgiven and set free.  In my humble opinion, that is one great reason to rejoice always.

I pray you all will join me in working towards rejoicing always!