Archive | November 2016

Hope. 

Revelation 21:4 – “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

I woke up yesterday morning with something I have I never experienced before – severe pain in my shoulders and upper back. I turned over to turn off my alarm and felt like someone had stabbed me in the shoulders! And it nagged me all day. 

And then I saw the news – a plane full of soccer players went down in Central America. Six people survived. Three were on the soccer team. My son came home and informed me that one of the men who died had just learned he would be a father. My heart broke. 

So much pain. So much sorrow. So many tears. So many fears. 

Bummer. Right? Geesh, Melissa. You sure know how to throw on a wet towel!

But wait! There’s a bright side!

My God, MY GOD!, shall wipe away ALL tears. Not some tears – all tears. All the tears from losing a loved one. All the tears from physical pain. All the tears of the broken hearted. All tears. They shall be wiped away by the hand of the tender and loving God. 

I’m looking forward to that day. It has been a wild and wacky year filled with uncertainty and confusion and anger and frustration. But it has also been a year of hope and laughter and joy as well. 

But one day, when Jesus returns, He will set all things straight. He will make all things new. He will take all the yuck out of the world and make it so much better. 

I’m looking forward to that day. I’m ready for it. And as much as I enjoy the twinkling lights of Christmas, I look forward to the everlasting Light of the world shining for all to see. 

Hope. 

Friendship

James 2:23 – “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

We have all had or do have a best friend. That person who we tell everything to, with whom we discuss our problems, share our dreams and hash out our fears. That person who understands when the words just won’t come. That person who is not afraid to tell us that we are acting stupid. We all need that person in our life. 

So, what does it mean to be a “friend of God”? God doesn’t need council. He doesn’t need someone to hear His fears or tell Him when He is doing wrong. He doesn’t have those issues. So, how can we possibly be a friend to God?

James reminds us that Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed. He listened and then he acted. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do. He doesn’t need us to solve problems. He wants us to obey. 

Now, here is the difference in a relationship and a religion- rules. God wants us to obey Him out of love not out of a desire to keep rules. Some people love rules. They love the structure and security of rules. They need rules to have order in their life. I guess that’s why when the writers of the Bible were inspired to write what they did, they speak of “commands” or “commandments”.  Rules can be broken or bent. Commands leave no room for option. They require obedience. When you think of those people in a military type position following commands, they are doing so because they love what they do. They have a sense of honor and respect and a love for what and whom they are fighting for. 

When God gives us commands, He gives them to us in love. And when we follow them, we follow them out of love and respect and honor for Him. 

When our friends give us advise, they are essentially giving us commands. They are giving them out of love and respect and the  desire to see good in our life. When we listen and go through with their “commands”, we are doing so because of our love for our friend and the respect we have for their suggestions. 

Being a friend of God doesn’t mean that we are commanding Him. No, just the opposite. We are following His commands because we love Him. His commands are not rules to be broken and bent. They are commands for our life to create righteousness within us. 

A New Look

Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13 is one of my most favorite verses in the Bible. I have found comfort in it when the tough times are upon me. I have looked to it when I am stressed and confused. 

But the other day, I was reading it for my devotional reading and suddenly it took on a whole new meaning. I actually stopped and read the verses before it. And when I did, I was taken aback. 

Paul is speaking here about contentment – being satisfied no matter what situation or time you find yourself in. Be satisfied. Be content. 

And Paul doesn’t ask us to do this alone. He knows that he can’t. He needs Jesus to be able to make it through contentment. 

Contentment is somewhat a mystery to our culture of constantly wanting more. We are urged from a young age to work harder, do more, be the best you can be. And that’s all well and good, until it becomes an obsession and we allow ourselves to make our “wanting to be more” take over everything. And believe me, it can happen. 

So what is contentment? Here is the good,old Webster’s 1828 definition- “Content; a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence.” Dictionary.com describes it this way “the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.”  See the common word here – “satisfaction”.

But here’s the reminder – you can’t be satisfied without Jesus. What does Philippians 4:13 say? “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Doesn’t say “if Melissa tries real hard, she can do all things, including being content.” Nope, it says I need the strength of Jesus Christ to accomplish ALL things, including contentment. 

We sometimes think that contentment is a state of mind or just an attitude adjustment. But the more I think on it, it seems like a job because it takes work. You can’t just get up one day and say, “well, I’m gonna be content today.” Nope. You gotta work at it every moment of every day – hence the reason we need the strength of Christ to get it done. 

So, it’s Thanksgiving week and “Black Friday” is quickly approaching. One day for being thankful for what we have and the other to be greedy and demanding what we probably don’t need. A bit of a contradiction if you ask me. 

Are you going to work at contentment this week? Are you going to make it your goal to be satisfied this week? 

I’m going to try. Now watch, the devil is going to have it out for me. I’m going to need the full armor of God to make it through. But know what? I won’t be doing it on my own. I will have the strength of Jesus in my corner. Thank the Lord Almighty!

No changes

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

On occasions, I have a chance to be still. And when I have that opportunity, I realize something – no matter how crazy and technologically advanced our society gets, the birds are still going to sing and the squirrels are still going to throw acorns and the weeds are going to grow in my garden. As much as things change, some things stay the same. 

And there is a comfort in that. Especially when it comes to Jesus’ love for me and His grace and His mercy and His promises. 

People can get so consumed with the next best thing. With Christmas coming up, retailers will be vying for our attention to their “amazing” price and “unbeatable” deals on this wonderful, new do-dad. Chances are, you don’t need that do-dad but the retailer convinces you that life will never be the same without it. Know what? They’re wrong. Now, true, life is more convenient with gadgets but will we cease to exist without the latest and greatest? I doubt it. 

My point is this – sometimes we need to take the time to be away from the “stuff” of the world and listen to the birds and the squirrels and watch the grass grow. Sometimes we need to unplug and get lost in the truth that Jesus never changes. Let me encourage you to take that time. I think I’ll take some right now and listen to the birds for a while. Happy weekend. 

Flying and falling

Psalm 37:23,24 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”

My daughter got in the car yesterday with her lip dragging the ground. She was so upset. She is a base on her cheer team and she had dropped her flyer. 

My daughter knows and understands that it is her responsibility to get under her flyer and protect her at all costs. And when the unthinkable happens and she drops her…well, despite the fact that no major injuries occurred, my daughter is wounded. She feels like she has let her teammate down. She let her fall. 

She has taken kicks to the neck, scratches and pokes like you wouldn’t believe- but she does her job. She gets under her flyer and protects her. It is very special to watch – even when it’s ugly. 

I was never a cheerleader in school. I tried  out but didn’t make the team. So my perspective of cheerleading was pretty rotten, I’ll admit. I was wrong. Now, I’m sure there are exceptions to this but the girls I see on my daughter’s team are devoted. They are devoted to one another. They are devoted to their team. The feats these little girls can accomplish is amazing. 

But despite how utterly amazing and strong these girls are physically, they have the God who is stronger. 

My God is my base. He is the One throwing me up in the air to show how amazing I am. And then when I come crashing down, He is under me and breaking my fall. He catches me. But unlike my daughter’s stunt team, He never misses. He ALWAYS catches me. And when I’m ready, He tosses me up again. He loves me. He wants everyone to see what He has done in my life. He want me to cheer and yell and shout to the moon about His goodness and His mercy. 

I’m not a cheerleader – I have trouble following the cheers sometimes! But I can talk and share and write and listen and give encouragement and comfort. I can work and be obedient and hug and make yummy food and laugh – all for His honor and His glory. It’s about letting Him direct my path and give me words. It’s about listening to His Holy Spirit telling me what to do. It’s about flying. It’s about falling. It’s about trusting – trusting that He WILL catch you when you fall. 

Life is beautiful even when it’s cloudy. Life is warm even when you need a sweater. Life is trusting Him when your a mile above the ground. Learn how to fly and learn how to fall. 

Forgiveness 

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Forgiveness. 

How many times as a kid did your mom say to you, “Now, say your sorry”? You begrudgingly say the words but mean none of them. Or maybe you just blow over the whole idea of asking forgiveness whenever you KNOW you are wrong. I think we have all been in one or both of these boats more often than we care to admit. 

But in these verses in Matthew we are commanded to forgive. Forgiveness means letting go and not picking it up again. It means giving up your right to retaliate. It means not reminding someone again and again of the wrong that they have committed against you. 

It’s a tough business, this forgiveness. But God never promised us an easy life once we accept Him as our Savior. In fact, in Matthew 18:21,22, Jesus told Peter this lovely gem- “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Ok, so that means….490 times. Four hundred ninety! I don’t want to count anything up that high. The point is this- there should be no limit to the amount of forgiveness we should offer those around us. 

God is not sparing on His forgiveness of our trespasses. We need to follow in His steps and do the same. Forgive. 

This week, you will be wrongly accused. You will be offended. You will do something that causes grief in someone else’s life. You will need to give out forgiveness and you will need some yourself. Whatever the case, whatever the cause – don’t be stingy with it. Forgive and be forgiven. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”