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Live like you are loved

Jeremiah 31:3 – “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Think back with me for a moment to the time when the love you have with your spouse or significant other was new. Remember how wonderful it felt? Do you remember thinking that if you two stayed together that it felt like there was nothing that you couldn’t overcome? Do you remember your every thought was consumed by him/her? When you weren’t together, you wondered where they were and what they were doing. You could spend hours on the phone with them just talking about the day. Do you remember how the tiniest gesture of love sent you into a tailspin and you felt like one of those cartoon characters with hearts in your eyes? Yep, those were the good old days.

Now then, when was the last time you felt that way about the True Love of your life, Jesus Christ? Because, you know, that without Him, you would have no idea what that feeling was in your heart toward your spouse or significant other. You wouldn’t know how to love him/her. Jesus is the One that showed you what real love is. He is the One that keeps showing you how to love.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want us to look at living like we are loved. I heard that phrase in a song yesterday and it has stuck with me and made me think – do I live like I’m loved or do I live like I’m not? 

When I first entered into my relationship with my husband, everything was bright and new and wonderful and fascinating. We could talk for hours on the phone when we were apart. We asked questions of one another and really got to know one another. Now, we have been married for 22 years. There’s not too much that I don’t know about him. Every now and again, I might learn something new, but for the most part, we are an open book to one another. Yet still, everything is still bright and new and wonderful and fascinating – but in a whole new way. We are learning to live each part of our life in love that is sustained because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some people have a tendency to live life defeated or downcast. They fail to see the newness of each and every day and they choose to turn their eyes from the promises of God. I’m not sure why or how they do this. But they live their life like they have no real love. And these are people who proclaim to be followers of God. Actually, I question the truth in that statement. 

So what does it mean to live like you are loved? 1) I think that it means you have a desire to grow your relationship with Jesus. You have the desire to get into His word and learn more and more about Him – even through the challenging and seemingly redundant parts – there is still something there for you to learn about Him. 2) I think that it means that you have the desire to spend more time with His people. You want to attend services. You want to have friends that believe like you do. 3) I think that it means that you want to talk to Him. You want that ongoing dialogue. It brings you peace and comfort. 4) I think that it means that you want to do as much for Him as you can. You want to show Him that you love Him too by serving Him and His people. 

Living like you are loved brings peace and real joy to your life. It lets you know that you are exactly where you need to be despite what may be going on around you. Life isn’t always going to cooperate. Dark days are going to come and the devil will throw darts at your heart. But living like you are loved makes those challenging days more bearable because you know that you don’t face them alone.

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Permanent Resident

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. 

Bearing burdens

Lamentations 3:27-33 – “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

This was my son’s Scripture choice for the devotion he did for us last night. Deep content for a 15 year old boy, but he nailed it. 

When it comes to bearing burdens, we all are challenged by it. Sometimes we want to take the burden from our friend or loved one and carry it for them. Sometimes we want to give our burden away because we just don’t want to deal with it anymore. 

But neither one of those options is the way God wants us to handle things. He wants us to carry our own burden while allowing Him to lighten the load. Sometimes He does this by sending someone into our life to walk alongside us and help ease the load. Sometimes He wants us to give the burden completely to Him and let Him deal with it. 

Nowhere does it say to let another human take care of our burden. The Bible does tell us to “bear one another’s burdens” but that means by prayer and assistance. Not taking it on completely as our own. We have a tendency to want to take over when it comes to something like that. We want to own it and make it better. I think that’s the pride in our life wanting to do that. 

Yet, when we bear our own burden, it can sometimes get tough. We may feel overwhelmed and overtaken. We may feel buried under the weight of responsibility. Yet, God knows exactly where we are at in the situation. He knows what we need and when we need it. And waiting for Him can be hard. When it gets hard, I think that is when we go running and whining to someone else to take the difficulty away. What we need to do is buckle down and carry on. 

During my son’s devotion, he said that it was good for kids to learn to bear their own burdens while they are young and have parents there to help. He said that they needed to learn to take responsibility even when it is hard. And part of that responsibility is knowing when to turn it over and knowing when to ask for help. 

He’s a pretty wise young man. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with him because I know it will be incredible.

The River

Job 28:7-12 – “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”

Yesterday, we hiked The Narrows in Zion National Park. It was incredible! Words cannot describe it!

I remember walking around a bend and just stopping with tears in my eyes while my heart cried out – Oh Lord, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)  

All along the way, though, I kept going back to one thing – the power of the water. God had sent the worldwide flood upon the earth many, many years ago which created this marvelous beauty that I was experiencing today. The water was rushing in places, shallow in others and chest deep in other places. (We avoided those places by watching the brave souls, or stupid souls, attempt them.) There were rocks strategically places to create bends in the canyon. There were walls hundreds of feet (probably more like thousands of feet) tall that sheltered us from the blistering desert heat. The water was chilly but not too cold. There were birds soaring in the canyon. There was a waterfall (tiny) that cascaded into the river. I’m telling you, it was amazing! And all because God created beauty from tragedy.

So today, if you find the river cutting into your heart, if your day feels like it is dividing you asunder, remember this – maybe God is trying to make something spectacular in your life. God just needs you to hold onto Him and let Him create a masterpiece in you. Happy Friday. 

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.