Archive | October 2015

Hiding behind the mask

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Tomorrow is the designated day to dress up like someone or something else and go around and collect candy. People across the country will be pretending to be something they are not just to get sugar that they don’t really need. Yep, I said it – “don’t really need.”

I don’t want to focus on the candy today but rather on the dressing up part. This is a socially accepted time to be someone or something other than yourself. But don’t people do this every day? Don’t people put on a mask and walk among us with pain in their heart and destructive thoughts in their minds? Aren’t there people that we hear of every day who do something that no one would have ever dreamed that they were capable of? 

As followers of Christ, we need to be genuine. What you see is what you get. There should be no mask, no false pretenses, no hidden agenda. In my book, hiding something is lying and nothing gets me fired up more than someone lying to me. My kids know that lying will get them in more trouble than pretty much anything. 

In these verses, Jesus was encouraging His disciples to love one another. He meant it too – He reinforced it 3 times in two short verses. He didn’t tell them to hide their love. He didn’t tell them not to love those outside their little group. He wanted them to show it. He wanted everyone who came in contact with these guys to know that they were His disciples. There was to be no doubt, no falsehood, no misconception. 

What about you? Are you hiding behind a mask? Are you dressing up like a “Christian” every day and playing the part? Are you going out into the world all dressed up looking for the sweet things that you think Jesus has to offer only to get home and find that you have a bag of rotten fruit? 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus is ready to take your mask and give you the real deal – His love, His salvation, His peace and His joy. And that, my friend, is way sweeter than anything the world has to offer. 

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Laughter

Proverbs 15:15 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

I read a saying one time that said this – He who can laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. That is so true. We need laughter in our life. 

Last night, I was picking my daughter up from dance class. I had been sitting in the car messing around on my phone while I was waiting for her. I saw her coming, so I fastened my seatbelt and turned on the car. When she got in, I touched the gas pedal without putting the car in drive. It revved up and my daughter just looked at me like I had lost my mind. All I could do was laugh and laugh really hard. It had been a long time since I had done something like that. 

The other night after church while the kids were eating dinner, my son decided we had to see some of the funny videos he had found online. My husband was rolling, he was laughing so hard. Tears were streaming and we were all bent over with laughter. It was a good time. 

I believe that Jesus had a sense of humor as He walked this earth. I believe that He has a sense of humor now.  There have been times when I know He has to be up in Heaven looking down and laughing with me, or at the very least, He has a big smile on His face. 

We are created in His image. The Bible tells us that there is nothing that we go through that He didn’t face. I don’t want to take away from the holiness and the seriousness of God. I just want you to put yourself in the shoes of a nonbeliever and see yourself from their eyes. Do they truly see Jesus and all that He is or do they see someone caught up in self-imposed rules that they think makes them holy?

People need to see you and I enjoying life. They need to see that we take life seriously but not so seriously that we forget to enjoy it. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for everything. We don’t have to act the same way all the time. 

So today, let me encourage you to enjoy life. Laugh when you can. We only get once shot at this. Make it a good one. 

Convictions

Hebrews 3:14,15 – “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

Conviction. Webster’s 1828 defines conviction like this – “the act of compelling one to acknowledge…the truth of what is alledged.” (Note: Most of the definitions I found related to conviction of sin, especially when related to legal matters. However, this definition is plasible with relation to the subject matter.)

Conviction in one’s life is sometimes a hard thing to come by. I don’t live my life with the passion that I should. If I did, I would be telling every person I come into contact with about Jesus…but I don’t. I live my life with more fear than I do courage and passion. And that is so sad. Last night at church, we were reminded that we serve the same God who called Gideon out from his hiding place and labeled him a “mighty man of valor”. This fellow, hiding from the enemy, was considered by God to be someone of standing and courage. God sees us the same way. Gideon was no super man who was going out there spouting off Godly wisdom and making a name for himself. He was just this guy who wanted to have some wheat for him and his family without someone taking it away from him. He was scared; he was timid; and he questioned God’s instructions. Sounds a lot like me. 

But Gideon was able to turn things around by trusting in God. Actually, Gideon didn’t turn things around, God turned Gideon’s life around once Gideon decided to let go and let God. God developed a passion in Gideon. God developed courage in Gideon’s life. God developed leadership in Gideon. You see, God would not have done all of this in Gideon’s life had Gideon not surrendered. 

I want more passion in my life for Christ. I want more conviction in my life. I want to be so closely associated with Jesus that I would be convicted of being a Christian with only one accuser. 

I know that this sort of thing takes time. I need to be diligent in praying for this level of conviction. If I don’t pray for it, how am I going to express my true desires to God? I know that He knows my heart, but He also wants to hear it from my lips. 

So this week, think about it. Do you have the level of conviction in your life that you truly desire? Or are you like me and find yourself lacking? Have you hardened your heart and convinced yourself that things are “good enough” or do you want more? The day that Gideon got up and decided that he was going to go thresh his wheat behind the wine press, I’m sure he never dreamed that an angel of God would be calling him a “mighty man of valor” before the end of the day. God can take anything and make it into something amazing. We just have to decide that we are going to let Him do His thing. 

The Pursuit

Luke 15:3-7 – “And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

Well, I had a first yesterday. I was driving down a busy interstate when I saw police lights flashing in my rear view. So, I slowed down and pulled over a bit. I knew they weren’t after me because they hadn’t been tailing me for a while. And then all of the sudden, vroom! A car speeds past me doing at least 90-95 mph. And then here comes Mr. Policeman, vroom! Right on that car’s tail. It was a high speed chase! They were weaving in and out of traffic just like something from a movie! It was crazy!

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Seriously, Melissa. You chose a verse about sheep.” Well, as I was running this scenario over and over in my head, I asked God, “Okay, so what do you want me to do with this?” You see, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe I have a lesson to learn in every event that occurs in my life. So, what is the lesson here that I learned?

 We all mess up sometimes. We all find ourself far from the fold from time to time. It’s the nature of the sin inside of us. And God understands that. He know that from time to time, He is going to have to chase us down and bring us back. Sometimes that chase is a simple one like a shepherd searching out a sheep. And sometimes, it becomes a high speed chase where we are running with wreck less abandon toward an unknown destination. When this situation presents itself, we put others in danger. In our selfishness, we fail to see the potential for harm to others. But God is faithful and He will turn on the warning lights for us to see, if we are aware. Sometimes we can help the person making the bad choices and sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let God take care of things. 

Either way, when the chase is over and we have decided to return to the fold, there is great rejoicing. Forgiveness has been doled out and hugs are in order. That is the beauty of being a child of God – forgiveness. And not just forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, but forgiveness from our brothers and sisters here on earth. It makes my heart sing and rejoice when someone I know who has made some poor decisions and is in the midst of consequences decides to seek forgiveness because I have already forgiven them. In my mind, I have forgiven a long time ago. They just needed to ask. We say our forgiveness words and then move on to loving them through the consequences. And that, in and of itself, can be a beautiful thing. 

This is what God taught me in this scenario. I know, my mind is a crazy place. 

It makes me smile to think about the rejoicing in heaven over someone coming back after they have made the choice to wander off. God always rejoices when we choose Him. It’s just especially sweet when we choose to come back. 

A little quiet time

Ecclesiastes 5:2 – “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

I like to talk. Oftentimes, I talk when I should be quiet. I have been known to say things I shouldn’t. Sound familiar?

When I’m praying, I find that many times, I’m the one doing all the talking. I spew out my needs, my wants and my concerns. And yes, God wants to hear them. He wants to address them. If they are important to me, they are important to Him.  

But sometimes I need to be quiet, especially before God. He is the Creator of the universe. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is the Alpha and Omega. And that’s just naming a few of His titles. 

Do I really consider this fact when I am speaking to Him? Or am I rambling on to Him like He is only my friend? I mean, yes, He is my friend, but He is so much more than that, and I think that sometimes I take that for granted. 

Without the blood of Jesus, I would have no way of even being in the presence of God, much less even be able to utter a word before Him. But with that covering, I have VIP access. I am able to talk with the One and Only God. 

I just want to encourage you today to keep that in mind. Remember that Jesus is not just a friend, He is God. And that distinction demands that sometimes we just need to be quiet before Him. 

Looking back

Luke 9:62 – “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Rear view mirrors. They are quite helpful when driving. I use them to see who is behind me, how close they are and such. Some people use them to put on make up and check their hair. Some people use them to check on the people in the back seat. Each one of us have many reasons that we use our rear view mirror on a daily basis. 

As I was driving last night, I was listening to a song about a girl who had ripped off her rear view mirror because she was determined that she was never looking back. How much different would our lives be if we did not have the ability or the desire to look back? 

I know of people who spend as much of their waking hours as possible living and remembering life in the past. Now, I’m not saying that remembering the past is necessarily a bad thing. I just think that constantly dwelling on it makes us neglect the here and now. I think that we need to learn from the past, apply the lessons to our life and move on. People change. Circumstances change. Life changes. 

I think that in this verse Jesus is reminding us that we can’t get stuck in the past. We can’t live in the past. The kingdom of God is out in front of us. We have to stay focused on the future while applying the lessons of the past so that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. I don’t believe that Jesus wants us to neglect the past – otherwise, why would God have preserved His word all these years? His word has been left for us to learn from, to understand principles and lessons without having to necessarily learn the lessons from experience. God wants to provide us with the best opportunity possible. He wants us to learn from the past, not live in the past. 

It’s Friday. Hopefully, you have a nice relaxing weekend planned out. Why not take some time this weekend to think about your past. Don’t live in it, just remember the lessons that you have learned from it. Sometimes we all need a little reminder of where we have come from to prepare us for what lies ahead. 

One of THOSE days

Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

I think there are days when this is the hardest command in the Bible. I know there are days when I don’t feel like being kind or forgiving or tenderhearted. I just want to wear my feelings right out there on my shirt sleeve like a badge of honor for anyone and everyone to pick at. And that’s not good. It makes me more suseptible to hurt feelings, hostility and grudges. It makes me irritable and weary. I just don’t want to do anything when I get like that. I throw this giant pity party and plan my escape to my little hole in the ground. It’s not very princess-like. 

My solution? Usually complaining and that just opens up a whole new can of worms. Fussing and whining have never gotten me anywhere in life. It may work for some people but for me, it just makes me feel worse. The devil likes for me to believe that vocalizing my woes will make me feel better. Generally speaking, no. No, it does not. 

So how am I supposed to handle these days? Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. I need to remember that if I’m going to vocalize my woes, I need to do it solely to Jesus. I need to cancel the pity party and decide to let the Lord handle things. Yes, I need to choose to be kind. Yes, I need to choose to be tenderhearted. And yes, I definitely need to forgive. But, I need to do all these things because Jesus did this for me. And He continues to do this each and every time I ask. 

So when the going gets tough today and you feel like your kindness gene is shot and your heart is stone and forgiveness is far from you, remember that you have been shown kindness beyond measure by One whose heart is the most tender and Who forgives every single time you ask. It’s hard, but you can do it.