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

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.

What label are YOU wearing?

Have you ever thought about how many labels you wear?  I am not talking about clothing labels, but labels that are given to you by the world.  All of us have been given labels by either our parents, the government, society, our employers or by some other means.  Last year I had to fill out the form on behalf of our household for the 2010 Census.  As I was filling it out I thought about just how much the world tries to define us by labeling us.  Here are just a few that were included in the form:  Age, Sex, Race, Relationship Status, (Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter, Cousin, Aunt, Uncle), Military, Civilian, Employed, Unemployed, Student, Owner, Renter…..just to name a few.

I began to think of other labels that are put on people, and here are just some that came to mind…

Black, White, Latino, Foreigner, Asian, European, American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Bi-racial, Multi-Racial, African-American, Bald, College Graduate, Uneducated, High School Graduate, High School Dropout, Widow, Rich, Poor, Middle Class, Lower Class, Upper Class, Old, Young, Single, Married, Organ Donor, Unwed Mother, Single Mother, Fatherless, Alcoholic, Minority, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Christian, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, Licensed, Redneck, Hippie, Gangster, Professional, Promiscuous, Overweight, Short, Tall, Prep, Jock, Goth, Punk, Thug, Supervisor, High-Risk, Senior Citizen, Employee, Laborer, Student, Mentor, Over the Hill, Teacher, Leader, Colonel, President, Manager, Secretary, Mother, Father, Orphan, Good, Bad, Enemy, Hyperactive, Normal, Not Normal, Disabled, Step-father, Step-mother, Niece, Step-child, Half-brother, Half-sister, Divorced, Pedophile, Victim, Infected, Failure, Citizen,Homeless, Patient, Prisoner,Felon, Drug Dealer, Prodigal, Drug addict, Latch Key Kid, Evangelical, Athlete, Multitasker, Self-Motivated, Smart, Stupid, Non-Hispanic, African, Menopausal, Senior Citizen, Toddler,Teenager, Adult, Nerd, Cool, Nephew, Grandmother, Grandfather, Engaged, Separated, Suspect, Veteran, Big-boned, Thin, Adulterer, Con-artist, Middle Eastern, Canadian, Consumer, Participant, Active Duty, Volunteer, Customer, Mentally Retarded, Autistic, Indian, Genius, Director, CEO, Assistant, Vice President, Business Owner, Groupie, Yuppie, Negro, Japanese, Samoan, Filipino, Junkie, Light-skinned, Dark-skinned, Red-boned, Scholar, Professor, Petite, Plus-sized, Average, Hawaiian, Mid-western, Southern, Country, Yankee, Racist, Bigot, Homophobic, Radical, Episcopalian, AME, Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, Criminal, Irish, Italian, Protestant, Religious, Non-religious, Geek, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, Charismatic, Retired, Dependent, Parent, Licensed Driver, Resident, Client, Smoker, Non-smoker, Diabetic, Cancer Survivor, Witness, Recovering Addict, Naturalist, Evolutionist, Scientologist, Existentialist, Urban, Lazy, Hick, Hillbilly, Over Achiever, Caucasian, Insured, Welfare Recipient, Illegal Immigrant, Executive, Pregnant, Sterile, Post-abortive, Unstable, Anglican, Unitarian, Californian, Advanced, Roman Catholic, Apostate, Pastor, Deacon, Usher, Alumni, Invert, Extrovert, Spouse, Chauvinist, Feminist, Rebel, Capitalist, Communist, Naturist, Tax Payer, Voter, Greek, Australian, Preteen, Friend, Graduate, Episcopalian, African Methodist Episcopal, Mexican, Spanish, Seventh Day Adventist, Pagan, Entrepreneur, Self Employed,  Independent, Green, Anti-social, Undocumented, Old School, Sexy, Ugly, Opinionated, Reserved, Worldly, Biblical, Well-spoken, Jamaican, Brazilian, Blue-eyed, Brunette, Freckled-faced,  Blind, Blond, Amputee, Rapist, Supporter, Oppressor, Critic, Baha’i, Occultist, Guru, Wesleyan, Jewish, Anti-Semitic, Theologian, Mexican, Ethnic, Juvenile Delinquent, Premenstrual, Bi-polar, Depressed, Protegee, Tenant, Roommate, Fraternity Brother, Sorority Sister, Lawyer, Defender, Judge, Apologetic, Irish, British, Statistic, Official, Bi-lingual, Tri-lingual, Neighbor, Sexually Active, At Risk Teen, Suicidal, Survivor, New-Ager, Liar, Free Spirited, Physically Fit, Japanese, Obese, Spiritual, Elite, Famous, Loser, Popular

Wow, that’s a lot isn’t it?!?!  I am sure that all of us have been placed under one or more of those categories at some point in our lives.  From the day we are born, we are labeled.  People want to be able to identify us somehow; to put us in a category.  While some of the labels are important, because they were God-given, such as male and female, others are not.  As a matter of fact, it is my humble opinion that other labels can many times hold us back in life, and even more important, hinder our relationship with God.

For example….Say you were born to a family that associates themselves with a certain religious group and you have been told your entire life that is who you are since you were born into that family.  You just accept that as being the “way it is” and begin to identify with that.  You never venture out to find out if what you’ve been told about the religion is even true. You’ve accepted the label that was given to you.

Another example may be a young girl who becomes a teenage mother.  Many times people assume (and will tell her) that she will be just another statistic.  They also say that she will need to take advantage of the government welfare system. They tell her that she will most likely be a high school drop out, and will definitely not be able to go to college.  People will typically assume (and tell her) that she will not be very successful in life.  People will even go as far as to say that her children will most likely become teen parents as well (labeling her children before they are even born).  If she believes what people tell her, she will most likely end up wearing those labels.

When Jesus clothed himself in human flesh and came to Earth, the world didn’t recognize Him.  The Bible says in John 1:10 that Jesus was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not.  Why didn’t the world recognize Jesus for who He was?  Why didn’t they see that He was the Messiah that was prophesied about in the Old Testament?  I believe the reason they didn’t is because they had already made up in their minds what the Messiah was going to be like.  They decided what He would look like, how He would act and what kind of clothes He would wear.  They expected the Messiah to be from some famous, well-to-do family, dressed in royal clothes (royal according to their standards), and be extremely wealthy.  Jesus was the total opposite of what they were expecting, but they had already labeled Him.

In John 1:46 a man named Nathaniel was told about Jesus being the Messiah and he responds by asking, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  Today, this would be the equivalent of someone asking if anything good could come out of a poor, rough, drug infested part of town.  They had already labeled Jesus based on where He was from; His home town.

Isn’t this exactly what the world does to us?  They look at where we live, what clothes we wear, what kind of car we drive, where we work, how much money we make, what politician we vote for, whether or not we have children and what we look like to determine who we are.  Then they put those labels on us and guess what?  We believe them.

Romans 10:11-13 says this…For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.

Isn’t that awesome!?!?!  God is telling us here that there is no difference between people, whether they be Jew, Greek, White, Latino, American, Chinese if we are in Christ Jesus.  The only label that matters in life is whether you are SAVED or NOT SAVED.  Another name for being saved is being BORN AGAIN.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to Earth to give us abundant life.  The Bible tell us in John 3:3 that in order to have this abundant life, and to live a life free of labels we must be born again.

John 3:3 ~ Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The titles and the labels that the world gives us are of no eternal importance.  We may think highly or poorly of ourselves based on the labels we’ve been given here on Earth, but God isn’t concerned one bit with those things.  The only thing that He is concerned with is whether or not you accepted His Only Begotten Son as payment for your sin. The only thing that matters is whether you know Jesus Christ or not.

1 Samuel 16:17 ~ …for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart

I like to think of Jesus as the ANTI-LABEL.  He came to break all types of barriers between the religious and non-religious, the righteous and unrighteous, the Samaritan and the Jew…and most importantly the barrier between God and man.  Jesus came to do away with the world’s labels and give us the one label that truly matters, the one that says “BORN AGAIN & SAVED BY CHRIST”.

Romans 6:10 ~ For the death that He died, He died to sin once for ALL; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

If you are interested in knowing Jesus Christ personally, please send me a message at melissasbeehive@yahoo.com.  I’d love to hear from you!