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

Advertisements

Be Mine

Image

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!

rejoice1

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!

Breakfast with God

IMAG0183

My home is quiet once again! Yay!  My children went back to school after their 2-week long Winter break and my husband went back to work after about a 4-month long hiatus.  I love my family dearly, but so appreciate a nice quiet home and special alone time with my God.

This morning I happened to wake up with a song in my heart – Great is Thy Faithfulness.  I just love when that happens.  Does that ever happen to you?  Ever wake up with a song on your heart?  It’s like God is giving us a special message to prepare us for the day ahead; something to think about throughout the day.  Songs are an easy way for us to remember things, so I believe many times God uses that method of speaking to us in order to get His point across.

While I was singing ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ I made my way downstairs to prepare breakfast for myself.  Nothing fancy, just a nice bowl of cereal and freshly brewed coffee [I just started drinking coffee, and it has become one of my favorite things].  After that, I went to sit down at our dining room table in the large comfy chair that faces the back of our home.  I like being able to look outside when I eat breakfast and admire all the beautiful trees [although they are pretty bare now].  Every once in a while I see a red robin, a rabbit or even a deer pass by…oh so nice.

“Aaaaahhhhh….thank you Lord” I said.  Just to be able to relax and take some time to be silent feels so good.  Many times that’s all our soul needs is just a little quiet time with God without any distractions.

I also opened up my Bible and spent some time reading.  In between reading, I spoke to God and asked Him questions; questions about the things I was reading and even seeking His direction for my life and for this day.

After my breakfast and my time with God, I felt completely refreshed, motivated and ready to tackle the day ahead.  I felt physically and spiritually nourished.   My mind was clear and I was able to focus on the tasks ahead.  I felt God’s presence immediately. I knew that no matter what this day brought, the Lord was with me.  What a wonderful feeling!  Oh, how I love having breakfast with God.  It’s the one time of day when no one else is around and I am able to enjoy special quality time with my Lord and my Savior.

What about you?  When is the last time you had breakfast with God?

I know that many of you have very busy schedules.  With work, school, families, homes and everything else in life, it’s hard to find time to spend with God. The idea of having a sit down breakfast with Him seems almost impossible for many of us.  So, maybe breakfast won’t work for you.  What about lunch, dinner or a mid-night snack?

When I was a single mother working full-time, I found it a bit challenging to fit in alone time with my Lord.  I worked all day and when I came home, I was busy taking care of my sons.  I learned that having lunch with God worked best for me.  Most of the time I would “brown bag” it to work, grab my Bible and sneak away to a park somewhere in the middle of the day….just me and the Lord!  I always came back with a clear mind and a burst of energy to finish out the rest of my work day.  There is something so therapeutic about spending time with Jesus.  There is just nothing else on Earth like it.

Is it necessary to have a sit down meal with God?  No.  Although, I find something so special about doing so.  Additionally, the Bible talks about it on a few occasions.  Look at Revelation 3:20…

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Interesting, right?  I thought so too.  Of all of the things that Jesus could have said he wants to come in and do, He chose dining with us.  One Bible version says sup, another eat, and yet another share a meal.  Clearly all meaning the same thing.

How about all of the times when Jesus sat down and ate with His disciples?  I recall one very special meal referred to as The Last Supper. Then after He died and prior to ascending to Heaven, Jesus chose to eat with two men on the road to Emmaus.  One thing I find interesting about this instance was the fact that the men didn’t recognize Jesus until AFTER they ate with Him .  After dining with Jesus their eyes were opened and they had a new realization of who He was (Luke 24:30-31).  I wonder how many things God wants to reveal to us that we miss out on, because we don’t take the time to sit down and dine with Him.

The Bible mentions another important meal – The Marriage Supper of the Lamb!  This is a feast for those of us who are saved, and takes place in Heaven with Jesus.  We get to dine with our Lord and Savior (Revelation 19:9).   What an amazing meal that will be.  I so look forward to that day!

I believe that there is definitely something special about having a meal with our God; a way of connecting with Him on another level.  Maybe a meal is out of the question for you, but is there a time of day that you could designate to sit quietly before the Lord?  To read His word, and talk to and listen to Him?

I’d like to encourage you to spend some time with the Lord today.  Some quiet time.  Some private time.  Share a meal with Him.  Share your thoughts with Him. Set aside some time for Jesus. I guarantee you will be blessed!

I Know Who, Do You?

How many times in life do we go through trials and tribulations and ask WHY?  Have you ever prayed for a particular person, situation or circumstance, and wanted so badly to know HOW and WHEN it would be answered?   Or have you ever wondered WHAT is going to happen next and WHERE it will take place?  I’m sure that I am not the only one to ever have these questions.  As a matter of fact, I believe that ALL humans want to know the answers to these questions at some point or another.

I think about the very first people on Earth – Adam and Eve.  God provided so abundantly for them, but gave specific instruction to not eat of one tree in the middle of the garden – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).  Eve just had to find out what and why and even convinced her husband to follow along and their curiosity literally killed them (spiritually).

It seems to me that when we want so badly to know the what, why, when how and where of it all, we end up either frustrated and/or in a not so favorable predicament.  Just look at Adam and Eve.  Their desire to find out those answers (and disobey to God) cost them their spiritual lives.  Fellowship with God was broken all because they HAD TO KNOW.  This not only affected them, but all of humanity as well.

Now, I am not saying that curiosity is wrong.  As a matter of fact, I believe that it is natural to be curious and to question things in life.  I also believe that God places that feeling and the longing to know in us.  I do believe, however, that the purpose of that feeling is to draw us to HIM!

My family has been going through a lot of life changes lately.  Most of which pertain to my husband’s job.   It seems like every time we get comfortable with a certain position/department/schedule/etc., things change.  The most recent change that took place was a total shock to us and interfered with my plans for the next year.  I had everything figured out.  I knew what was happening next (or so I thought).  I even scheduled certain activities and events around what I thought was going to take place.  Now all of a sudden things aren’t happening the way I thought they would.

My first question upon hearing the latest news was WHY?  Why is this happening?  Then I asked myself WHAT?  What is going on?  What is the purpose of this change?  After that I wondered WHEN?  When would we know something?  Followed by HOW is God going to work this out and WHERE is He taking us?  The not knowing was enough to drive me crazy (not literally of course).

It wasn’t long after asking those questions that I felt the Lord say, “All you need to know is WHO.”  What?  What does that mean?   That means that out of all the questions that we have in life, the most important one is WHO.  Who is my answer?  Who has my answer(s)?  Who is sovereign?  Who orders my steps in life?   If we know WHO, then we will have peace about not knowing the answers to what, when, where, why and how.  In fact, not having all of the answers only proves that we are human and not God.  We are the creation; created to depend on the Creator.

I believe that this is the same thing that God wanted Adam and Eve to know.  He wanted them to know WHO He was and to trust Him enough to follow His instruction.  I also believe that this is the same thing that He wants us to know today (Proverbs 3:4-6).

You know, God tells us in Hebrews 11:4 that it is impossible to please Him unless we have FAITH!  How does it take faith if you already have all of the answers?  How do we truly TRUST God if we have it all figured out beforehand.  If you believe that God is WHO He says He is, then you don’t need to know the answers to those questions.  The only one that matters is WHO!

So, I’d like to ask you today…  Do you know WHO God is?  Do you know Him personally?

If you are a born-again believer, I’d like to encourage you today to relax and trust God.  He is sovereign and has wonderful plans for your life.  We don’t always know what that plan is, but we can rest assure that it is GOOD (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11).

Many times situations look grim, but we can only see a small piece of the puzzle.  God knows what the puzzle looks like when it is complete.  In fact, He created the puzzle.  We just have to be obedient, making sure we listen to Him (His instruction) as he guides us through life; telling us which puzzle piece goes where.

Stop asking WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE AND HOW….and TRUST IN WHO!

Psalm 71:5 ~ For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.

Isaiah 14:27 ~ For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

Isaiah 30:21 ~ Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”

Isaiah 55:9 ~ “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Matthew 6:27 ~ And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

What’s in Your Closet?

Last week I started doing a little Spring cleaning.  Okay, okay so its Summer time and I’m a little late.  Better late than never, right?  I’ve been meaning to get around to cleaning out several closets in our home for some time now, but for one reason or another, I put it off.  With the new school year approaching, I decided to tackle it now.  I believe that organization helps everyone (especially myself) feel better prepared and able to focus on life’s priorities.

I started going through my clothes closet first.  I hesitantly picked through a few items trying to decide what I could get rid of.  It’s amazing how attached we become to things, and specifically things that we don’t even use or wear anymore.   I picked up each item and thought to myself I may need this one day and then put it right back in my closet.  After a while I realized that I was getting nowhere, so I came up with a new method – if I haven’t worn it in the past year…GET RID OF IT!  My give-away pile of clothes grew quickly.   At one point while going through my closet I realized I had ten pair of black pants.  Most of which I don’t even wear anymore.  Why on Earth did I still have these?   I ended up getting rid of half of them.  I dug a little further in my closet and found all types of clothes that either didn’t fit me or weren’t really my style anymore.  It’s amazing the things we hold on to.  There was one particular pair of pants that I had a hard time parting with.  I’m really not sure why, other than they were my “comfortable pants.”  I didn’t really like them, but often wore them when I didn’t know what else to wear.  I finally got up the courage to part with them.  By the end of the evening I had a huge garbage bag full of clothes to give away.  It was strange, but after cleaning out my closets, I actually felt like I had more clothes than before.  I was able to put new outfits together with clothes that I already had.  I didn’t recognize it before, because of the clutter.  It felt so good to purge and do away with my old stuff!

During the process of cleaning out my closets I thought about how many of us have spiritual closets full of stuff that we don’t use anymore. I wondered how many born-again believers have spiritual closets full of things that don’t fit them, yet they still hold on to them.  I think it’s time for us to do a little spiritual closet cleaning, what about you?

Before we came to know Jesus Christ most of us had closets full of all kinds of stuff…wrong thoughts, wrong attitudes, wrong behaviors, wrong language, wrong desires and so on.  Maybe these things suit us before we were born-again, but now we don’t have room for them.  Prior to giving our lives to Jesus Christ, we clothed ourselves with things like lust, pride, drunkenness, strife, envy, gossip and greed.  However, those things don’t work for us anymore.  Our old wardrobes consisted of all types of items that just aren’t conducive to our new lives.

We (believers) have been clothed with salvation and the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  So many times though, I see Christians wearing their old clothes; things that are contrary.  Not only does it not look right, but it doesn’t work!

Mark 2:22 ~ No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.

Have you taken the time to clean the old things out of your closet or have you just pushed them to the back?  Even if we don’t wear these things anymore, holding on to them can still cause problems for us.

In the same way that holding on to my old clothes caused my closet to be a bit cluttered, holding on to things in our spiritual closets can cause our lives to be cluttered.  It can cause confusion, double-mindedness, complacency and hinder our spiritual growth.  Remember the black pants that I had a hard time letting go of?  There was nothing special about these pants.  They didn’t even look that good on me, but I wanted to hold on to them just in case.  I wanted to have the option to turn to them in case nothing else fit me.  They were my comfort pants and my safety net.  What does that sound like?  FEAR maybe?  When we hold on to things because we are afraid to let go for one reason or another, we are not operating in faith.  Faith told me to get rid of those pants, because I don’t need them and God will provide ALL of my needs.  Fear on the other hand told me to hang on to the pants, because I may never get another pair like them.  I may need them one day.

Holding on to things in our spiritual closets can also tempt us to want to wear those things again.  Even though some items in my closet only sat and collected dust, they caught my attention every time I walked by.  At times, I would even think about the time when these things fit me.  I would dream about being able to fit into them again.  I would pick up the size 6 jeans and hold them up to my body, trying to see how many inches I need to lose around my waist in order for them to fit again.  The reality is I probably will never fit into a size 6 again and if I am able to, do I really want to wear the old ones?  Do I trust God to provide something new and better by keeping the old stuff?  The answer is NO.

Okay so maybe the closet analogy is a bit of a stretch, but do you get what I am saying?  It’s time to get rid of certain things in our lives once and for all.  Its time to deal with and remove the things that are keeping us from being ALL that God created us to be.  No more pushing things to the back of the closet just in case.  No more holding on to things from our past.  The Bible says that once we are born-again we become a NEW CREATION.

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.

These are God’s words, not mine.  He assures us that we are a new person, a new creation and have a new life once we accept Christ Jesus.  The old person, along with his or her habits, is GONE!   There is no need for us to hold on to the old, and there is no benefit to us by doing so.

You know, two days after cleaning my closet out I was blessed with some new (very cute) clothes.  I didn’t ask for them and I didn’t have to pay for them.  They were just simply given to me.  God reminded me right then that when we give, we receive.  When we empty ourselves of the old, God fills us back up with something new; something greater.  He can’t bless us with something new if we are holding on to the old stuff though.

I would like to encourage you to take inventory of your spiritual closets today.  Are there things in there that don’t fit you anymore?  If so, what is keeping you from getting rid of them?

If you are like me, the Holy Spirit constantly brings things to your attention that you need to deal with.  He reminds you of things that need to be purged out of your life.  Are you listening to Him?  Or do you shove that thought to the back of your head and say “Later Lord?”  I think it’s time that we all do a little spiritual Spring cleaning!  Let’s get rid of the junk that doesn’t belong.  Let’s do away with the old attitudes and behaviors that no longer fit the new us!

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Isaiah 43:25 ~ “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

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.

Ephesians 4:31 ~ Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

Are you a coffee drinker?  Up until recently I was not.  As a matter of fact I thought coffee tasted terrible and couldn’t understand why so many people were FANS of it.  My friends would often try to convince me to drink it by offering all sorts of delicious trimmings.  The trimmings included things such as cream, sugar, chocolate, flavored creamers and even liquor.  One person even suggested I add lots of sugar – 6 packs to be exact.  None of these things worked and I still was not convinced.

A few months ago I saw a segment on the Dr. Oz Show about the health benefits of coffee, and decided to give it (yet) another try.  I am willing to do almost anything if it is beneficial for my health.  Shortly after watching the show, I asked my husband to pick up a coffee for me on his way home from work, and he did.  He brought me home a small ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts that included a turbo shot of Espresso and one pack of sugar.  It tasted okay.  A little bitter, but doable.  Even though I wasn’t completely sold on the taste, it wasn’t as bad as I expected.  I was so motivated by the health benefits that I didn’t really care about the taste as much anymore.  I likened it to taking vitamins or medicine.  They don’t always taste good, but they keep us healthy.

So, it’s been a few months now and I continue to enjoy my little weekly coffee treats.  Two weeks ago I stopped adding the sugar and I now drink it black.  My taste buds have adapted to the taste of coffee so much that I no longer need sugar to cover up the bitterness.  I now appreciate the taste of black coffee and love the benefits that I receive.

God reminded me of a couple of things through this experience.  One, that many of us don’t automatically have a taste for His word.  Two, that many of us want the word of God sweetened up and can’t take it straight.

You are probably wondering how I got that from drinking coffee.

Well, the coffee represents God’s Word (The Bible).  The sugar, cream, liquor and anything else that we add to coffee represents the things that we use to mask the taste of God’s word – to make it more palatable.

God’s word in and of itself is full of benefits…too many to list here.  These benefits however, can only be experienced when God’s word is ingested.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ~ All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

When we add things to God’s word or try to change it in order to make it more appetitive, it takes away from its effectiveness.  In fact, Jesus is very clear that we are NOT to do this.

Revelation 22:18 ~ I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book…

God doesn’t need our help to make His word more appealing.  He doesn’t need us to tweak it a bit by adding sweetness here and there.  He doesn’t need us to soften it up in order to make people want to try it. Like coffee, God’s word is powerful and the benefits are in receiving His word straight.  God’s word is PERFECT JUST THE WAY IT IS!  The reason God’s word is perfect is because He is perfect!

Psalm 34:8 ~ O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Like the coffee, I didn’t readily receive God’s word at first.   It seemed a little bitter to me.  I only wanted to hear it if it was wrapped in a sweet package.  I only wanted to read the things in God’s word that were nice and pleasing to my ears. If it didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, I didn’t want it.  The truth is I learned some not so nice things about myself through reading God’s word.  There were times when God’s word didn’t condone my lifestyle and made me feel guilty about the way I was living.  There were times when God requested something of me that wasn’t easy to do; challenging me to come out of my comfort zone.  So much of the time I didn’t even understand what God was saying through His word, but  I believed that it was beneficial for me, so I pressed on. I continued to take in my daily dose of Bible and after a while I actually enjoyed it.  I acquired a taste for God’s word like never before.  I began craving it more every day.  Just like the coffee, today I enjoy God’s word straight.  It no longer seems bitter to me.  I can’t imagine going a day without speaking to my Creator and hearing from Him through His perfect word.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to acquire a taste for God’s word.  Seek God and learn to enjoy His word straight.  While there isn’t anything wrong with adding a little sweetness or flavoring to God’s word to help it go down a little easier.  There is something wrong if we become too dependent on those things (ex. adding 6 packs of sugar to your coffee). Get rid of the ‘sweet trimmings’ if they have become your focus.  That will only keep you from reaping the wonderful benefits of God’s word.  If you don’t recognize the benefits of God’s word in your life, then maybe you aren’t getting enough and need to increase your daily dosage.

Hebrews 4:12 ~ For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 40:8 ~ The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

Whatcha Growing?

I was outside in my garden this morning checking on the vegetables and flowers that I’m trying to grow.  I say trying, because I have never been able to grow anything before.  EVER!  Even store-bought plants and flowers that only need to be maintained, seem to die in my care.  It’s actually pretty sad.  No matter how many times I try or how many methods I attempt…I never have success.

Some people have suggested I start with growing something small indoors.  So, I did.  I attempted an indoor herb garden and wouldn’t you know it, not even one herb grew.  I began to think that growing just isn’t my thing.  I don’t have a green thumb, and that’s okay.  I mean, after all, we can’t all be good at everything, right?  I came to accept the fact that this is just one area that I am not gifted in.

A few months ago, I decided to pick up a rose-bush and some vegetable seed from a local store.  They were on sale, so I figured why not give this growing thing one last try. I took the plants home, read the instructions and planted everything accordingly.  Shortly after, I began to see little buds popping out of the ground where I planted the lettuce seed.  A few feet over, I saw little sprouts coming through the ground where I laid the green onion seed.  Amazing!  About a week later, little pink flowers began to blossom on the rose bushes that I planted.  Could it be?  Could I be capable of growing things?!?!

It has been a couple of months now and most of what I planted is growing just fine.  I do my best to care for the plants properly; making sure they are watered, weed free, etc.  My rose-bush continues to produce new blooms and it is absolutely beautiful.  I am very happy to see that things do grow when I don’t give up, have patience and most importantly follow directions!

While in my garden this morning, the Lord brought something to my attention.  He reminded me of the principle of reaping and sowing.  This is a principle that God established in the Earth at the beginning of time.  It applies to ALL people, whether believer or non-believer.  Reaping and sowing simply put means you get out what you put in.  A person can’t sow the wrong things or nothing at all into their lives and expect to get blessings in return.  My plants didn’t grow when I rushed through the process; when I just threw a few seed down, and provided no care afterward.  They only began growing when I followed the instructions properly.  I got exactly what I had put in.  The same thing happens in our spiritual lives.  We cannot expect to be blessed in our lives when we don’t follow God’s directions.

Many of the people who I come across want the abundant life that God promises without sowing anything.  These people have lives that are void of joy, peace, provision, understanding, and even faith, yet they often wonder why.  It all goes back to God’s principle about reaping and sowing.

What are you sowing into your life?  Are you sowing the things that God says to or are you trying to do things your own way (by either sowing nothing at all or sowing the wrong things)?  You can’t plant pepper seed and expect to grow squash.

What are you putting into your relationship with God?  Are you spending quality time with Him; getting to know Him?  Or do you spend only a few minutes each morning with Him; rushing through your prayer time?

Do you spend time reading and studying the Bible or do you simply read a quick scripture each morning in hopes that it will get you through the day?

Please don’t think that I am here to judge.  My hope is to encourage!  Trust me…I am speaking to myself as well.

The key to seeing growth in our lives is to do the things that God tells us to do.   The way to receive blessings is to first BE a blessing!   What area of your life do you want to grow in?  Start sowing seed in that area, nurture and care for that area and watch amazing things happen!

Here are a few of my favorite verses regarding reaping and sowing…

Ecclesiastes 11:4 ~ He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.

Hosea 10:12 ~ Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

Luke 6:38 ~ Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

2 Corinthians 9:6 ~ Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Galatians 6:7 ~ Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Galatians 6:9 ~ Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

HAPPY SOWING EVERYONE!   May you see the fruits (or in my case the flowers and veggies) of your labor sooner rather than later!

 

ATTENTION: Immediate Response Required

Going on from there He (Jesus) saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. ~ Matthew 4:21-22

When I read this today, I was amazed at how quickly John and James responded to Jesus when He called them.  Here they were, busy working, yet they left everything (including their father) to follow Jesus.  The Bible also says that they did so IMMEDIATELY.  Wow!  I’m not sure I would have been able to do that.  Would you?

I am the type of person that goes through a bit of a process before making a decision like that.  My process usually starts with me asking questions such as what, when, where, why and how?  I want to know all the details and exactly what I am getting into.  Second, I check my calendar to find out if I already have things scheduled or planned.  I want to make sure it is going to be convenient for me.  Third, I usually take some time to think and pray about the situation.  Lastly, I like to seek advice from friends and family before making a final decision.  This process could take some time, and that was something John and James didn’t have.  Jesus was calling, and they needed to answer one way or another.  I find it interesting that these brothers didn’t wait to reply to Jesus, and it’s a good thing they didn’t.  If they had, they would have missed out on a lot!  John and James would have missed out on the opportunity to be Jesus’ disciples.  They would have missed out on hearing the teachings and instruction of Jesus.  They would have missed out on witnessing all of the miracles performed by Jesus.  They would have missed out on God’s blessing for their lives!

As I read this, I wondered how many of us don’t answer Jesus right away when He calls.  How many of us know that God is speaking to us about something, yet we don’t answer?  How much are we missing out on, because we don’t respond immediately to God?

John and James were working at a job, and didn’t give any notice before leaving.  They weren’t concerned with how things would get done after they left.  They didn’t make a big deal about having to leave their father either.  Jesus called, and they answered.  It’s that simple.  Why is that?  I believe it’s because they understood who was calling them.  They knew that Jesus was God in the flesh and reverenced Him.   They knew that He had an awesome plan for their lives.  They didn’t worry about the details, because they trusted Jesus.  They were focused on the bigger picture.  They were focused in Jesus Christ!

Are you like John and James?  Do you respond to the call of Christ immediately or do you procrastinate?

I bet some of you are like me and hold off on responding, because you want to make sure all of the details are squared away first.  I’d like to encourage you (and myself) today to respond quickly to the Lord.  When He is calling you, prompting you, convicting you, impelling you, nudging you, urging you or motivating you…RESPOND!  Don’t wait.  Don’t let the opportunities God has for you pass by.  You may not get the same chance again.  You might not have all of the details figured out, but rest assured God does.  You may not know all the answers or what the final outcome will be, but you know God.  Trust Him.  Don’t doubt.  Have faith.  Don’t be afraid, because God  is with you.  If you hear Him calling you…ANSWER! God is so pleased when we answer His call immediately.  Let your answer be, “Yes Lord!”

Psalm 95: 7-8 ~ For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.  Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts…

Hebrews 11:6 ~ And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.