Archive | May 2014

What grade did you get?

2Timothy 2:15 – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

It is my son’s last day of school. He has been studying the last two weeks for finals. He declared yesterday that he was going to “ace” his science test. It is the one he has been studying for the longest. And he knows his stuff backwards and forwards. Both of my kids have really good study habits, for that I am truly grateful.

They have school studying down, but what about home Bible study? That is not where I would like it to be. It’s a goal for this summer.

What about you? How is your Bible study? Do you think that you get all you need when you fill the pew? If you only looked over the material in class, would you be ready for the big test in two weeks? Probably not. You have to take some time and study at home, right? Why do we think it should be any different with our Bible?

Every day is a test. Every day you are tested on the principles of God. Do you pass? Or are you taking the test based on what you caught while sitting in the pew Sunday morning – while the baby was crying, a candy wrapper was being opened, someone else was clipping their nails, and your kids are squirming around looking for a pencil? Think that is the best environment to get you ready to live your life for the week? Nope. Don’t get me wrong, worship service is vitally important. But quiet time with Jesus and studying His word is important as well.

So just remember today, princess, that you ARE going to be tested. And how well you do on that test will be determined by your level of preparedness. What grade are you going to get today?

Part of my fairy tale

Song of Solomon 3:4 – “It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my loveth: I held him, and would not let him go…”

Once upon a time, there was a teenage girl praying. She had been praying for quite some time for one she would marry. As time passed, a young man came into her life. He came because of The Lord.
She was introduced to him and immediately felt something different for him. He wasn’t like the other boys she had met. She could feel deep within her that this one was special somehow.
They began to date. It was a fun time. It was a happy time. And from the first time that he kissed her, she knew that he was “the one”.
The next year, he asked her to marry him. It was the easiest decision of her life. But yet, the hardest one as well. For you see, she would have to leave everything she knew to start a life with him. He lived in a distant land.
The day soon approached for her to say her vows. Her vows that would bind her to this man for all eternity. And she did so without one reservation in her heart.
And God blessed them. They have a love that is true and based upon the principles of God. They try their very hardest to keep Him in the center of their lives. They want to serve Him. He has brought them here, there and yonder and has made their lives amazing every step of the way.

Yesterday, I celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary. 364 days until I have been married half of my life. Wow! Yesterday was filled with crazy parties for the kids, tests that my son had to study for, weariness from all of it and fried chicken loving offered so that I didn’t have to cook.

Believe it or not, the fried chicken made me remember how truly blessed I am. Because as we sat at the table as a family and laughed and joked and just talked, it showed me that God has brought us through so much. He has blessed me in a way that I never dreamed possible. I have a husband that loves me despite my flaws. I have children who are healthy and happy even when they are in trouble. I live in a land where we are safe and free to be who God is making us to be. All of it. All the things that I could never name that I am so very grateful for.

So as I began my countdown to the big 2-0, I want to remember each and every day how much I am blessed. Not only for all the “stuff” around me and my children, but for my beloved. You see, God made him just for me. And for that, I could never thank Him enough.

Be a blessing

Proverbs 3:5,6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Yesterday, I went with my daughter and her class to an amusement park. The girls had a great time together laughing and making memories.

As they were out having fun, it gave me the chance to get to know some of the moms a little bit better. One, I had never really been around and the other, our daughters had been to several birthday parties together.

The great thing about being involved with a Christian school is that the opportunity for you to interact with believers is that much greater. And these two ladies were definitely believers. It was awesome to hear the stories they told that were examples of Jesus in their lives. How He had worked out this problem or that problem by doing this and how that prepared them for something else. And they faithfully recognized that without the valleys and the hard times, they would not be able to appreciate and understand where they are today. Aahh, how refreshing!

And in amongst our day, one of the ladies gets a phone call from her husband telling her that their son had fallen in gym and broken his wrist. And when I say “broke his wrist”, I mean that it was shaped like a “s”! Not good. So silent prayers begin to go up. She is trying to figure out what to do because she doesn’t want to ruin her daughter’s day but she needs to figure out if she should go to the hospital or not. Anyway, to make a long story short, she ended up staying because he didn’t need surgery. But she did make this statement: “I don’t know how people without Jesus make it through something like this. I know He has it all under control. How do they do it without that assurance?”

I don’t have an answer to that one. I know in my own life, God has moved me here and there and everywhere and I’ve always known that He had it under control. I’m not real sure how those without Jesus do it.

So today, princess, let your light shine. Let others know about Jesus’ work in your life. It just may be the blessing someone else needs to get through today.

A walk in the dark

Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

My daughter had her 5th grade promotion ceremony Friday night. It was very sweet and special. The man who is the youth pastor at the church where her school is at gave a little devotion to encourage the kids. He is amazing. He has such a way with words and Biblical examples.

Anyway, he made this statement to the kids: Remember what you have learned in the Light when you are walking in the darkness. That made me stop, grab my phone and quick punch it into my notes. That was good.

We are all walking in darkness. It is all around us, even at noon. The things that we and our children encounter in this old world is pure darkness. There are so many people out there with malcontent in their hearts. So many people looking for a way to take advantage of someone else. So many people looking for an opportunity to mock or criticize someone else. Darkness.

But princess, we have something special. We have the Light. I once heard the verse above described in a very vivid way. Back in Bible times, they didn’t have flashlights (duh, Melissa!). So they would light tiny lamps and attach them to their sandals. Cute, right? But think about the fire hazard! The point is this – the Word of God is supposed to be the lamps on our feet as we walk through the dark. The Word has been preserved all these years to show us the Way. His Word lights our path. But we have to choose to light the lamps.

I know I have been on a kick lately about choice. But I can’t stress it enough. I think too many times in our society we are too quick to blame someone else for our woes when all along it has been our choices that have led to the problems we have. Well, enough! If you choose to leave your lamp unlit, then man up and walk alone in the dark. It is your choice. I know that sounds harsh but there comes a point in time when you either run with the big dogs or stay on the porch.

Princess, Jesus does not desire for us to walk alone in the dark. He wants to walk with us and hold our hand. He stands today with hand outstretched waiting for you to take hold. Won’t you walk through this dark world with Him?

My Anxious Thoughts

Psalm 139:23,24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I’m getting ready to move to another house. My children are wrapping up school. My daughter has a promotion ceremony Friday night. I am speaking at a mother-daughter luncheon on Saturday. I am taking my daughter to a play on Sunday. I need to pack. I have to work. A special dinner needs to be made for tonight, before we go to a cheerleader meeting, for my daughter’s birthday, which is today. I need to go to the bank. Did I mention that I need to pack – that I am vacating my current home in 2 weeks?

I know the meaning of anxious thoughts these days. “The way everlasting”, the way of peace, well, that seems like a distant memory, a dream to be attained. Yet, I have known these days. They are familiar to me. Why do I let them go so easily? Why do I get so caught up in my to-do list that I freak out when the bank is closed? Why not just roll with it?

Because I fail. And I hate to fail. When I come into times where my list of things to do is longer than my arm, I easily jump ship. Little things become deep valleys of despair. And sister, that ought not be.

Sometimes you just need someone to call you back to the land of the living. And God used my children in that way yesterday. They reminded me that it was all going to be okay. They reminded me that no matter what, I always get things done. They soothed my monster inside by just saying, “Mommy, I love you.” In some crazy way, I sometimes hear Jesus telling me that very thing, except He doesn’t call me mommy. He calls me daughter. And I am His daughter. He is my King and my Savior. And He is my Father.

Life doesn’t run smoothly. But Jesus is there to remind you of your offensive ways, those times when despair is deep and you don’t want to come out. He reminds you of a time of peace and invites you back into it. He is inviting you to return to “the way everlasting”. So, go and go quickly. And find peace in your moment. Don’t give the devil a foothold because he will drag you down faster than you can blink an eye.

Give it back to Him

Ecclesiastes 2:24,25 (NIV) – “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”

Life is short. It seems like it is becoming more and more frequent that we see or know of someone who has died young. I don’t remember that happening so much when I was a child. Maybe it did and I just don’t remember.

Every day we get up and go to some type of work. That work may be downtown at a big office or it may be down the hall in a little room or it may be that you spend your day attending to your family. It is all work. Most people get paid to work. Some do not. Homemakers are a special breed that work for no monetary gain. But that is a different subject.

Right now, I want you to take an honest look at what you do. Do you enjoy it? Do you go to bed each night with the satisfaction of a job well done? I know there are a lot of people out there that are just going through the motions and getting a paycheck. That makes me sad. Do you really think that God would want for you a mundane life that just pays the bills? Or do you think that He would want you to be creative in the position He has place you in and find joy? I vote for the later of the two.

But here is the kicker, you can’t find joy in whatever you are doing without the help of the Creator of your job. Your livelihood is a gift from God. Do you believe that? Do you believe that everything you do whether it is running a billion dollar company or scrubbing toilets at home is a gift from God? Come on now, be honest. I would venture to say that most would consider the first example a gift but the second? Not so much. But it is. You are providing a service to your family. You are ensuring that your home is clean and safe for the people you love. And that is important.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is reminding us that the key to finding joy is very basic: be content to satisfy your physical needs and find joy in what you do by doing it for God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

This is polar opposite from what the world wants you to do. The world wants more and more. It wants you to do and have more to keep up with the other guy. It wants to put you on a pedestal and shout “Hey! Look at me!” But God has reminded us here that we should not be doing whatever we are doing for our own glory. The glory is His. He is the One that has provided all that we have. He is the One that gives us the strength to work. He is the one that provides the food for us to eat.

So today, princess, let me encourage you to diligently give praise and honor where praise and honor are due. Give it back to Him. He is One that gave it all to you in the first place. And be content, dear one. Let His peace that passes all understanding wash over you and provide you with perspective and praise.

The Armor and the Sword

Ephesians 6:17b – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Swords are really neat to look at. My husband collected swords for a while. He had long swords, short swords, practical swords, all kinds of swords. Swords come in all shapes and sizes. They have different purposes. They have special meanings. They are made of different materials. But the one thing that all swords have in common is their main purpose: to cut something, to make something come apart.

In all the verses relating to the armor of God, this is the only weapon we are told to bear. Of course, there were no guns at this time but their were daggers that could be concealed that one could carry. But no, we are told to a bear the sword of the Spirit. And Paul leaves no room for doubt as to what that sword really is – the word of God.

The word of God as a sword has been used before in Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yowza! That is quite the sword! Not only does the word of God have the ability to cut out sin in our life, but it also has the ability to rip through the body, even to the point of determining your very thoughts and intents of your heart. That means, the word of God has the ability to help you determine if what you are doing is being done for God’s honor and glory or your own. And this is the very same sword Paul is encouraging us to carry with us into spiritual battle. This is a serious sword. It can do some major damage.
Revelation 1:16 – “And he had in his right had seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Here, John is giving a description of Jesus. Read a few verses before to get the full effect. But it is powerful. Here, we see Jesus with the sword coming out of his mouth. Crazy mental image, right? But when you think about this verse linked with the verse above, that is His words. They are powerful. I don’t think that we really understand the power of Jesus and the power of His words.

The Spirit is God living in us. It is us allowing God to lead us and guide us and empower us. This power is in the sword. And the sword comes from His word. And the only way we can engage this power is to know how to use it. And the only way we can know how to use it is to faithfully read it, to learn it, to ingest it, to apply it. You can’t pick up a sword and expect to win a battle if you have never been trained on how to use it. You can’t expect to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil if you don’t know how to handle your sword. Practice, practice, practice!

Let me encourage you today, princess, to pick up your sword. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Carry it with you and learn its burden. O, the burden is light (Matthew 11:30) if you carry it with the right attitude. But bear it nonetheless. Ask the Giver of the sword to show you how to use it, when to use it and when to stand. Times are a changing, princess, and you have to be ready.