A LOVE NOTE

Christ summed up the commandments in this – love GOD and love others!  We (believers) have a tendency to get caught up in doing the “Lord’s work” and following all the “rules” that sometimes we forget to simply LOVE.  God loves us, and that love enables us to love Him, then we are able love others.  It’s that simple.

1 Corinthians 13: The Excellence of Love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I was reminded of this chapter over the weekend while attending a bridal shower.  Each of the guests were asked to give a bit of advice to the bride-to-be. My advice was to memorize and practice 1 CORINTHIANS 13.  This chapter makes the command of loving so much easier.  For me it made love easier to understand and apply (in my opinion).  It’s so profound, yet so very simple.

At times we can get caught up in our feelings, and as we all know those constantly change.  So it is important to keep these verses at the forefront of our minds at all times. We should keep this chapter hidden in our hearts (as God instructs us to do with all of His word).  This makes loving so much easier, particularly when our feelings are telling us otherwise and it is difficult for us to do.  

This chapter does not only apply to married couples, although I will say that I began truly clinging to these verses after getting married.  It actually applies to all believers, in all circumstances and situations.

I appreciate how Paul breaks it down into three different sections for us:

SECTION 1: It doesn’t matter how many good works and/or powerful acts that you peform – if LOVE isn’t your motive, they are meaningless.  This is a great place to  ask God to examine your heart (<-speaking to myself here too people). Psalm 26:2 ~ Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart

SECTION 2: This section explains what love is and what love is not.  This is what love looks like.  For those of us who may not have been given the best example growing up, God provides us with a very (clear) picture. I love how God does that for us!  Does this section describe you?  Does your love look like this?

SECTION 3:  This section shows us that love is changeless, steadfast, durable and continual.  Love is everlasting. Love will stand the test of time and beyond.  It is something that will outlast everything else in life and never fade away.  Love supersedes all else!  If this is what God says about love, then I definitely want to keep it at the top of my priority list!  Paul also explains that we won’t fully grasp the greatness of love here on Earth, but for those of us who are in Christ, we will know love {true love} completely one day!

I hope you all are encouraged by this little love nugget today!  It is always a good reminder for me and pray that it was for you as well.  When it is difficult for you to love, please remember that it is not done in your own power, but God’s love for us and through us that enables us to love others.  1 John 4:19 ~ We love, because He first loved us.

Love,

~ Melissa

THE CURE

Breast CancerI can’t believe its October already, can you?!?  I sometimes wish that time would slow down just a bit, however I do love the Fall season; particularly the month of October.  This time of year is full of colorful leaves, cooler weather, football, cozy meals, sweaters and boots…and of course, my favorite – all things pumpkin! October is also known as the month of Halloween, as well as breast cancer awareness month. I am sure that breast cancer is something that most of you are already aware of. It’s hard to miss with all of the (pink) symbols everywhere you go. Pink ribbons adorn stores, products, websites, and NFL players. I even saw a pink fire truck recently – yes, that’s right – a pink fire truck in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Everyone seems to be getting involved with this cause somehow.

The massive attention to breast cancer caused me to ask myself, “What’s the big deal?” So, I decided to do a little research and found out that about 1 in every 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. That means that either you, someone in your immediate family, in your close circle of friends, co-workers and/or acquaintances, will develop this disease. We are ALL affected by this in some way. I personally know women who have won their battle with this disease, and who today, are living healthy, cancer-free lives. On the other hand, I also knew women who are not alive today, because of this incurable disease. There are many treatments for breast cancer, but no official cure. Treatments can be helpful, but those same treatments can also cause the body to further deteriorate; many times leading to death.

As I reflected on breast cancer (and other forms of cancer) and the amount of people who are touched by this issue, I thought how wonderful it would be to find a total cure. Can you imagine?!?!  It would be all over the NEWS – A CURE FOR CANCER HAS BEEN FOUND!  I believe that people would be celebrating, and those with the disease, doing everything in their power to get a hold of the cure.

 
But what if there was only ONE cure that was only administered by ONE doctor, in ONE location in the country? What if the cure was something that didn’t make sense? Maybe it was so simple that it seemed unbelievable. Would you reject it? I believe that cancer patients everywhere (and their loved ones) would take drastic measures to get to this ONE doctor to get the answer that they so desperately need. I am certain that just the thought of being free from cancer, and chance at living a long, healthy life would drive many to go to the ONE who holds their answer.

 
As I thought about this, I asked the Lord, “Why don’t people have that same motivation with you?” After all, we are in need of an answer to our problem, which honestly is much bigger than any cancer.

 
The problem I am referring to is one that has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time.  I am talking about the THE SIN PROBLEM. The very first human on Earth made a choice to disobey God, and the result was death. This sin problem (disease) didn’t stop with that one person, but has been transmitted to every human born after that up to this day. We are all born sick, with this sin condition, and in desperate need of a cure.

 

Moses Staff
The wonderful thing is God – The Great Physician – has provided a cure that is readily available to ALL who ask. There is however, only ONE cure, which comes from ONE God (just like the scenario above). That cure is found in JESUS CHRIST alone.  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me ~ John 14:6
I truly believe that with any terminal illness, people would rejoice at just the thought of a cure, yet this doesn’t seem to be the case with our sin disease. When it comes to being physically sick we are usually open to whatever will work, and wouldn’t argue about having only one cure. Why isn’t this the case with our spiritual condition? People are dying and need a cure! God has provided that cure, yet we reject Him.

 
I believe that many people are either in denial (afraid to face the truth), choose to reject the answer (rebellious) or prefer to try other pointless methods of remedying the problem (none of which will cure).  Just as with cancer, you may find temporal forms of treatment that hide your sin symptoms, but if the root of the problem is not dealt with, you won’t be completely cured – and it is all in vain.

 
God has given me the desire to tell people the truth about Him, and while many may disagree with me – the facts don’t change. The fact is we are ALL in need of THE CURE. The fact is there is only ONE CURE. The fact is that without this cure, we will remain sick and will die (eternally). I am not writing these things to judge or condemn anyone. As I said before, we are all born with the same problem. I too was sick at one time, BUT I was introduced to the ONLY ONE who could cure me – JESUS. I am cured, and long to share THE ANSWER with others now.

 

 

So, as we bring awareness to breast cancer and finding a cure for it this month, I’d like to also bring awareness to the SIN disease, and the fact that there is already a cure.  I’d like to bring awareness to my Lord – THE CURE!  I’d like to encourage you today, to be real with yourself, and consider your life.  Have you been cured from the sin disease?  Have you ever met  THE ONE who can cure you?  If not, I would invite you to do so today?  He is the only ONE who can heal, save, set free and completely cure you!

 

 

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

 
Romans 10:9 ~ That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved

 
Psalm 86:5 ~ For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You

 
Romans 3:23 ~ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

 

~ Melissa

Be Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He even gets jealous for us…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Melissa

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.