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Joy in obedience 

Psalm 35:9 – “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” 

My daughter had believed she was saved for quite sometime- that is, until last summer. During VBS, she came to me and told me that she thought she had just prayed the prayer and did not mean it in her heart. We talked about what that meant and before our chat was over, she was a true blue Princess. She truly and completely accepted Jesus as her Savior. 

Sunday night, our church observed the Lord’s Supper. It’s a very somber and reverent time for our little congregation, yet so very sweet. We observe this ordinance twice a year. I’m not sure where we were when we observed it in the fall, but we must not have been there because my daughter said this was her first “real” observance of this ordinance. 

She said, “Mom, I used to smile through it. But tonight, I couldn’t. It just reminded me so much of what Jesus did for me. But now, all I can do is smile because this time I did it for real.”

Joy. Real, honest joy in being obedient. Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever been so overflowing with joy just because you have done what Jesus asked you to do?

It is an amazing feeling. It makes me smile just thinking about it. 

We should experience joy when we are obedient to God. It shouldn’t be burdensome and weary. It should be joyful and energizing and rewarding. 

Matthew 11:30 – “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

How many of us feel like this at the end of the day? We have done all that God has called us to do and what do we do? Complain. Moan. Groan. Whine. 

Some days, His yoke doesn’t feel light. Why is that? I know in my case, it’s a “me” problem. I’m so busy being focused on me and my problems that I forget to see the joy in being obedient. 

So let me encourage you today to choose to see the joy in doing what God has called you to do – whether it be serving on the mission field or serving dinner to the family. Find joy in all you do, especially in your obedience to Him. 

My Time

Ephesians 5:15,16 – “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Hello. My name is Melissa and I waste time…sometimes.

I think we are all guilty of wasting time. There are things that need to be done, things that should be done, but I just can’t muster the strength or the desire to get them done.

But here, we are warned to not let time go to waste. “Circumspectly” means “cautiously; vigilantly; heedfully; with watchfulness to guard against danger.” Most days, I don’t incorporate any of those actions into my day. I just go along my merry way doing what I think that I need to do and sometimes getting it done.

One of the many specific definitions of “redeeming” is “to save”. We are “to save” our time. We need to rescue it. Something or someone is trying to take it away – evil, sin, the devil, that is who or what is stealing our time.

What are we supposed to redeem it to? What should I be doing with my extra time? Theoretically, I should be doing something to advance the cause of Christ. Ideally, that is what I would be doing with all my redeemed time.

But you know what? Sometimes, I find that staying out of trouble is enough. Sometimes my redeemed time is used to relax and keep my heart and mind from the sin of complaining and being mean spirited. On days where I am stressed to the utmost, I treasure wasting time. I need that. And I am learning to be grateful for the unexpected opportunities to waste time.

I am also learning to appreciate how God can work in my life to provide the time that I need to get accomplished all that He wants me to do. Sometimes I stop and review my day thus far and think, “How did I get all of that done? Thank you God for giving me the stamina and the desire to get it all done!”

So, let me encourage you today to waste time but don’t waste time. Don’t let your time be used in activities that don’t honor and glorify God. Redeem it for His use – even if that use is relaxing. God knows that we all need that sometimes.

The crazy plant and the sprinkler head

Lamentations 3:21-26 – “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”

A few weeks ago, I was removing some bushes. There was a sprinkler problem around one of the plants. So, I get in there with my shovel and rake and begin to attempt to unroot this monster. I’m carefully poking and chopping and otherwise mauling this thing to death when I notice the sprinkler line. It is up in the plant. And not just a little, I’m talking like 12-18 inches of it! The plant had eaten the sprinkler!! It had consumed it! It took me a good solid 20 minutes to dig that sprinkler out of the plant. The plant had taken the sprinkler line and grown in such a way that it had pulled the line away from the original PVC line and water was spraying everywhere every time the sprinkler came on. It was crazy!

It made me stop and think about life according to the sprinkler head. Yes, my mind works in mysterious ways, I know.
The job of a sprinkler is to water the vegetation. It does not make the vegetation grow. It just broadcast what the plants need – water.
It is our job to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every one. We are to broadcast it out there and let God do the growing. But sometimes we forget to do our job. Or we get swept away in something that keeps us from doing our job. That plant had grown around that sprinkler head and had started to grow another direction. If we aren’t careful, we will see a sin and allow it to give us a squeeze. And before we know it, we are totally wrapped up by it and are being pulled another direction. Sin will keep pulling and pulling until it tries to pull us away from the Source. And that makes our ability to broadcast unprofitable.

If someone had been paying attention to this bush of mine, maybe I could have rescued it. It needed to be trimmed and manicured. But sin isn’t like that. You can’t manage it and make it do what you want it to. It’s like Kudzu – it takes over everything, unsparingly. The best option is removal – total and complete removal.

So today, princess, be on guard for that sin that is trying to creep into your life. Yank it out before it takes root. And if you have sin in your life that is consuming you, ask the Master Gardener to remove it. It may be painful and scary, but you won’t be facing it alone. It is keeping you from so much. Don’t live in the shadow of your sin any longer. Get out and enjoy the Son-shine!

One heartbeat away

Philippians 1:21 – “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

In my Sunday School devotional this morning, the writer made the statement that we are all one heartbeat away from eternity. That made me stop and think a minute. One heartbeat.

As followers of Christ, we state that we are ready to meet Christ. We are ready to go to Heaven to spend eternity with Him. But are you really ready to give up that last heartbeat?

Have you done all that you are supposed to do or are you waiting for tomorrow? Have you told everyone you can about the salvation of Jesus Christ or are you afraid of offending so your waiting for just the right time? Have you spoken with Him lately? Are you ready for a face to face meeting?

Paul said to the Philippian church that he was ready to live for Christ or die and meet Him. He had his ducks in a row. He knew that he had done, and would continue to do, all that he could for Christ as long as he was given life on Earth. But when his last heartbeat came, he was ready to meet the One who had given him real life.

We go through our little lives never truly appreciating the effect that we have on the rest of the world. We think, and feel, that we are invisible. Unless we live in the spotlight, no one really notices us, right? Wrong. Although we may feel invisible, someone is watching. Someone is seeing the way that you react to situations. Someone is looking at the way that you dress. Someone is looking at the relationship you have with the people around you. Living for Christ means living His principles in your life. As Steven Curtis Chapman says, “Live out loud!” Don’t stand in the shadows hoping to be invisible. Let everyone see Him in you!

And then, princess, be ready to take that last breath. We have no idea when it can happen. Don’t leave things undone. My husband always laughs at me. I like to leave the house with the bed made. If I die while I’m out of the house, I don’t want people to come in and see my bed unmade. Crazy, I know. But I guess in my own little warped mind, it is my way of being prepared. So princess, don’t leave your bed unmade, so to speak. For we truly are just one heartbeat away from eternity.

Move it! Move it! Part 7

2 Peter 1:5-8 – “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today is all about love. Agape love. Self-sacrificing love. Not that warm squishy stuff the world wants you to believe in but rather the stuff that lifetime commitments are made of. That is the kind of love that says take me instead. That is the love that Jesus has for us.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Why? Why, out of this list, is love the greatest?

There are several reasons. One is that it covers sin: 1 Peter 4:8 – “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

When you look at what love is, you see the necessity of it in our life. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, the whole chapter. Paul gives us, through the inspiration of God, what love looks like and how it should manifest itself in our life.

But the most important example of what it is and how we should live it out is in 1 John 4:10-12 – “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Love should be growing in us. It should enhance our faith. It should show that our faith in Him is growing. Love is not stagnant. It doesn’t hang around like a fog. It grows. It develops. It deepens. It moves us to do things. It encourages us to care for one another. Love is imperative in our life.

So, in our final installment of this blog on 2 Peter, let me encourage you to grow. To be increasing in these areas. Let them take you over. And witness the changes. If you are growing your faith, you are being the princess God desires you to be. You will be changing the world around you. You will be harvesting in bundles. You will be storing up treasures in Heaven like it is no body’s business! Go girl! Get to growing and move it!

Move it! Move it! Part 2

2 Peter 1:5-8 – “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today, we are going to look at knowledge. In the Greek, the word used means “knowing”. It comes from the word meaning “to know absolutely”.

So what about knowledge? You may be thinking, “I’ve gone to school. I have various degrees. I have knowledge.” You have the knowledge of man and of this world. I have that as well. But this is not the knowledge we are encouraged to have. Now, don’t get me wrong, if this is the path God has led you down, to get knowledge via an education, get to it. But don’t neglect the most important knowledge available – that from Jesus Christ.

True knowledge begins with God.Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” There are people who will not choose to know God. They have no interest in Him. But blessed are the ones who choose Him.

Knowledge will guide your actions. Proverbs 13:16 – “Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.”

Knowledge will control your tongue. Proverbs 17:27 – “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.”

Knowledge will protect you. Ecclesiastes 7:12 – “Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.” The things this world has to offer can only help you so far. It will do you no good in eternity. Only the knowledge of God will sustain you not only through your journey in this world but also through your eternity with Him.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of knowledge. How do I get in on this knowledge, you may ask. The Bible. Read it. Study it. Pray over it. Ask God for knowledge. Ask Him to show it to you; to lead you to someone who can teach you. It is there for the grasping. All you have to do is ask. Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Today, princess, decide that you are going to add to your faith by choosing to get into the Word and gain knowledge. It will never steer you wrong. It will always lead you down the path that leads home.

And…Action!

James 3:15-17 – “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
We went to the state youth meeting last night. This was the main message that was presented. It was compelling.

Think about it, faith without action is dead. Does that mean you loose your salvation if you fail to produce fruit? No. But it does mean consequences. When you didn’t do what your parents told you to do, you got in trouble, right? Same thing here.

But what I really want to focus on is action. Faith should produce action. And I’m not talking about warming a seat in the sanctuary. I’m talking about getting in and pulling up your sleeves and getting in the middle of it all. Not because you have to but because you want to serve your Savior.

Look at what Paul said of the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” These people had faith – true blue, hard working faith. And Paul was grateful for all that they did.

How about you, princess? When was the last time you got in the trenches and served to the best of your ability? God wants us to care for His people and walk alongside Him. Action requires movement and effort. Lip service is not an action. There are many ways to be active. Your action may be prayer – do it fervently and with passion. Whatever your action, do it with your whole heart. This is an area I know I can improve. Sometimes my service is not with my whole heart. But this has inspired my heart to choose to be focused on action.