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John 15:4,5 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

“Without me ye can do nothing.” I don’t do well with doing nothing. I’m busy from the time I get up until I go to bed. And I guess in a way that’s good, but it can be very tiring. 

But when I stop and consider my spiritual life (which should seep over into my physical life), do I try to do things without Jesus? Do I try and read my Bible without inviting Him to come along side me? Do I try to serve at church without asking Him if it is where I’m supposed to be? Yep. 

So what does this have to do with these verses and this blog title? I need to take up permanent residence in Jesus. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Duh, Melissa. We are followers of Christ. Isn’t that where we should be?” Yep. But are you? Are you truly abiding in the Vine? Are you letting Him supply your every need? Are you producing His fruit or your own? Have you truly established yourself in Him? Could you be the person you are today without Him?

Jesus should be so much a part of who you are that to attempt to disconnect yourself from Him would bring complete and utter destruction. You need to be a permanent resident in Jesus. He has to be your source of life for all parts of you. He needs to be what gets you out of bed in the morning. He needs to be what motivates you to care for those around you. He needs to be the One that you rely upon when the job gets too heavy. He needs to be your Friend when no one else is around. You and Jesus need to be stuck together with eternal glue – no coming apart, ever. 

So let me encourage you today to dig a little deeper. Grow that bond a little stronger. Make Jesus a bigger part of your life. This is what He wants. This is what He desires – a relationship with His child – you. Happy Wednesday. 

Be prepared 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

It seems so minor…

Ruth 4:13,14 – “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.”

Obed. He may not be the most famous person in all Israel, but in the eyes of those closest to Boaz and Ruth, he certainly was famous. He was a child of blessing. 

Ruth was a woman of Moab. She had married an Israelite and was barren for the 10 years (or so) that she was married to him. And then, he died. Long story short – when Naomi, her mother-in-law, decided to go back to Israel, Ruth went with her. She left her family, her country and everything she had ever known to follow Naomi. She trusted Naomi and in some way (although it’s never mentioned), I believe she trusted God. When they got to Israel, Ruth’s reputation proceeded her. Everyone knew what she had done, what she had given up and what all those sacrifices showed about her character. No need for Ruth to brag or put on an act – everyone already knew. 

And then there’s Boaz. He was a godly man from the get-go. He showed kindness to everyone. He was fair and honest. He was compassionate. He was a man of integrity. 

To bring you up to speed on this verse, Boaz procured Ruth as his wife in a legal and binding agreement that was wrought in truth and honesty. And because Ruth chose God’s way in her life and because Boaz demonstrated God’s principles in all he did, God blessed them with a son. And that son, Obed, was in the lineage of David and, therefore, in the lineage of Christ. How cool is that!

My point is this – you never know how far your obedience will reach. You have no idea the impact you are making on some person’s life that you may never know or meet. I mean, think about it – the obedience of Ruth and Boaz has impacted my life – not only in reading and studying about them in the Bible, but most importantly, because of Jesus. That’s enough to get those glory bumps going (goose bumps)! 

Don’t think that your random acts of kindness or just following God’s principles are something minor and unimportant. They are incredibly important! You may be changing the life of someone important with your “minor” acts of obedience. Be that change. See the forest, not just the trees. 

Oh, middle school…

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Middle school girls. Know any? With all the hormones and sudden interest in boys, it can be a terrifying and heart wrenching and just plain stupid experience. It is all drama, drama, drama. 

Right now, my thirteen year old daughter is experiencing friend troubles over a boy – an eighth grade boy. Now, I have had an eighth grade boy, so I can say this – rarely is a female friendship is worth destroying over an eighth grade boy. But this is something these girls are going to have to figure out. My advice seems futile and until someone gives, they are all at a stalemate. It is sad. 

But one thing this whole bit of drama is doing for our precious girls is teaching them valuable life lessons. They probably don’t understand, but they are sharpening one another. They are teaching one another. They are learning how to live in a world where things don’t always go your way and people don’t always behave like you think they should. They are learning that they are going to have to put on their big girl panties and deal with things instead of turning away from the situation. 

Friends are beautiful treasures that can decorate your life like nothing else but can also weigh heavy on your heart at times. But a true friend is one that walks with you through all the heartaches you face – even when that heartache is from another friend. 

Friends sharpen one another. 

So, let me encourage you to be a friend. Be a friend that walks the walk and talks the talk. Be a friend that is life long and precious no matter the situation. 

Roller coasters

Psalm 37:25 – “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Well, I feel like I may have crossed over into new territory. I sat out a ride at a theme park. 

As I sat watching the roller coaster smoothly travel along the tracks, I recall the last time I rode it. I felt like my brain was being sloshed around in my head like a milkshake! I remember the days I could take on something like this time and time again. I remember waiting 4 hours for a 75 second roller coaster that boasted the highest and steepest drop. I remember spending hours and hours riding one roller coaster after another with hardly a slow down for food. Those were fun days. 

But now, I’m content to stay seated by the support pole and watch as my children are turned this way and that and loving every minute of it. 

So what does this have to do with spiritual issues? God hasn’t let me down through it all. He has seen me through the seemingly smooth times of my life. He has seen me through the times when life has thrown me for a loop. He has held me together when I have been jostled like a milkshake. He has kept me from physical hunger and provided me with spiritual food when I ask. You see, He has been there and provided for it all. 

So as you enter into a new week of uncertainty and potential loops and insanity- remember where your certainty lies…Jesus Christ. 

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. 

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.