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

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Peace or No Peace?

Well, Troy Davis was executed last night despite all of the protests, petitions and witnesses coming forward recanting their original statements.  I will admit that I am a bit saddened by this, although I am not very surprised.  Our justice system has been making a lot of mind-boggling decisions lately in my opinion.  However, today I am not interested in discussing our justice system, but instead an entirely different aspect of this case, as well as another case.

Last week I watched an interview on HLN with Ms. MacPhail (the murdered policeman’s mother) and before this woman even opened her mouth, I could tell that she was angry.  Her body language spoke volumes.  As she began speaking, my assumption was confirmed.  This was in fact a woman who was extremely angry and bitter about losing her son.  Someone killed her child and someone would pay seemed to be her mindset.  She wasn’t concerned the least bit about the witnesses who came forward saying that they didn’t believe that it was Troy Davis they saw at the scene of the crime.  She didn’t seem concerned with the lack of evidence at all.  In her heart she had already decided that this was the man who killed her beloved son and she wanted him to pay for it.  I mean after all, if Troy Davis didn’t do it, who would she blame?   Who would be her “scapegoat” then?  Where would she direct her anger, bitterness and pain?  If Troy Davis was not guilty, she would have to go through the process of re-living the entire ordeal all over again in search of the truth, which would be quite painful I’m sure.

Now, I am no analyst, but this woman obviously has not forgiven the person who is responsible for taking her son’s life.  When asked by the interviewer if Troy Davis’s execution would bring her peace, she talked about possibly having closure, but no peace.  She wanted Troy Davis to die so that someone else would feel the same pain that she feels.  What she wanted was revenge, and she didn’t care who paid as long as someone paid (by death).  She wanted (equal) payment for what was taken from her….death for death, a life for a life (Leviticus 24:17).

My heart ached for her as I watched this.  Troy Davis’s death is not going to satisfy her I thought.  This woman has no peace what so ever.  The peace that this woman is looking for is not found in the execution of Troy Davis.  True peace is not dependent on our circumstances in life, nor is it found in another person.  We do not obtain peace through seeking revenge or anything else in this world for that matter.  True peace is found in Jesus Christ ALONE!  You see, Jesus has already paid our debt on the cross.  He became the “scapegoat” for us.  All of our sins were placed on Him.  He gave His life to spare our lives.  He died so we might live!  This is where we find peace.

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

Prior to seeing the interview with Annelise MacPhail, I saw another interview.  The interview had nothing to do with the Troy Davis case, however it was similar.  This was an interview with Mary Johnson.  She is a 59-year-old mother whose 20-year-old son was murdered in 1993 by 16-year-old named Oshea Israel.  Oshea was convicted of the crime, charged as an adult and sentenced to 25 years in prison.   He served 17 years and is now a free man.  Mary Johnson is a believer in Jesus Christ and while she was heartbroken about losing her son, she was comforted by the Lord while her son’s killer was serving time.  The Lord was working on Mary’s heart and she CHOSE to forgive the man who murdered her son.  One day, she felt the Lord prompting her to go visit her son’s murderer in prison, so she did.  Because she had already forgiven this man in her heart, she had absolutely no feelings of resentment when she visited him (which surprised even her).  In fact, both parties described the meeting as being a blessing and very healing.  Mary described the meeting as being all about FORGIVENESS.  The two met regularly after that.  Here is what Mary said about forgiveness…

“Unforgiveness is like cancer,” Mary says. “It will eat you from the inside out. It’s not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he’s done. Yes, he murdered my son – but the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”

And that’s not the end of this story.  They became very close over the next few years, so much so that when Oshea was released from prison, Mary helped him get a place to live.  That place was RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HER!  Unbelievable, right?!?!  They are closer than ever, and she looks at him like a son.  She even calls him her “spiritual son.”  Oshea is working full-time, going to college and sharing his testimony with churches and prisons all over the country.

I was so blessed by hearing this story and could not keep it to myself!

Here we have two interviews, two mothers, two very similar situations, but two very different choices and totally different outcomes.  God began to show me the clear difference between someone who knows Jesus and has peace vs. someone who doesn’t know Him, therefore does not have peace.  Some people look at this second story and think this woman is crazy.  People cannot comprehend how she could ever forgive someone who killed her son, let alone continue to have a relationship with him and even live next door to him.

I look at the story and see the power of God!  Mary Johnson knows the Lord and understands just what He has done for her.  She understands that although we (humans) are undeserving, Jesus Christ forgives us.  She understands that we have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone else.

Romans 5:6-8 ~ For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

She understands that without the forgiveness and mercy of God, we would burn in hell.  It is only by God’s grace that we are saved.

Ephesians 2:8 ~ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

When we truly realize the magnitude of what Jesus Christ has done for us, by taking our place on the cross, it makes it so much easier to forgive others (no matter what they’ve done).  We can’t forgive until we have been forgiven, and without forgiveness, there is no peace!

I look at these two stories and I see one that is hopeless, full of sadness, death and unforgiveness.  Nobody in the Troy Davis story wins.  On the other hand, with the second story, we see an unpleasant circumstance turned around and ending beautifully.  There is life, hope, peace and forgiveness in this story.  What an awesome example of God’s power, love and mercy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible References:   

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

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