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Just like me…

Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

I’ve been struggling with this concept the last couple of days – What if everyone acted just like me – in regards to family, church, work and community?

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We wish that everyone around us was as smart as we are, made similar choices that we make, and were as dedicated as we are. We see ourself without flaw, without blemish. 

But deep down, we know that’s not true. We know that deep down we get upset when someone does something different that we think that they should. We get frustrated when we have a plan and someone steps in and changes that plan all together. We want to throw a fit and yell at someone when their decision to stay out of things is not the option we would have chosen. We get all flustered when people don’t perform like we know we would in that situation. 

Pride. It’s pride that makes us feel that way. You see, whether it is at work, church or at home, the devil is doing his best to drive a wedge in our heart between us and God. If he can get us to look more at ourself and see only the worst in people and their decisions instead of seeing the beauty of variety, then he can get us to walk further and further from our Savior. 

And it’s so easy to do. It is easy to get frustrated when we don’t understand what is going on. It is easy to get mad when things don’t go the way we think they should. It is easy to want to yell at someone when their choices are wrong in our eyes. 

But here is the thing – we can’t control others; we can only control ourself. We have to trust that God has whatever thing we are dealing with under control. Staying awake all night worrying about it won’t make a difference. Getting mad and yelling at someone will not help the cause of Christ. Not doing your best as a punishment to those who are making what you see as a bad decision will get nothing accomplished. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts and talents. I’m not responsible for my husband using his gifts. That is his can of worms. I need to be focused on whether I’m using my gifts. But I can’t let my focus shift from me doing my best for His glory to me doing my best because I know I’m right. 

It’s hard, but you can’t let people have power over your decision to do things for His glory. Focusing solely upon Jesus will have far different reaches that focusing solely on you and what you do. Pride is an ugly beast that too often rears its head in my life. Pride is what makes you think your way is the best way. Pride is what makes you fail to see your flaws. Pride is what makes us want everyone to act like just like us. 

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This Psalm…

Psalm 147:1-11 – “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”

I have a lot on my heart this morning. I found out yesterday that a girl I know, who is younger than me, suddenly lost her husband. She is now a widow. There is a massive storm hitting tiny islands with many people living on them that will face terrible devastation in the next few hours and days. And here I am preparing as well for an unseen force that I am uncertain of it’s path. 

As my day goes on from hour to hour and I continue to see my clients as if nothing different is going on, I have in the back of my mind a list a mile long of things that need to be done and items that would benefit my family, if I can find them. I am grateful for advanced warning but the waiting can be a challenge. 

And then I can’t stop thinking about the girl I know that lost her husband. It breaks my heart to think about her having to do life without her husband. I can’t even imagine.

Yet, this psalm brings me peace today. It reminds me to sing. You see, as much as I desire to help out my friend, I really can do nothing more than pray for her. I’m too far away to be very effective in a physical sense. But I know the One that can heal her broken heart and mend her family’s spirit. And as much as I think on and pray for those in the path of the storm, there is really nothing I can do for them right now except pray – because I know the One that named the stars and prepared the earth for the rain He is sending. And as much as I fret and scurry trying to prepare for the storm coming my way, I need to sing more. He wants me to trust Him through this thing. He wants to show me that He can provide for me in a way that my legs and hands would never be able to. 

This psalm reminds me to trust in Him because He has “the whole world in His hands”. Yes, I need to prepare. Yes, I need to pray. Yes, I need to remember others and the challenges they face in the different aspects of their life. Yes, I need to do what I can for my family and for those around me. But I need to do it with a song in my heart that reminds me to “praise You in the storm”. 

Contentment

Philippians 4:11 -“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Last night while driving to soccer practice, I witnessed a man driving a minivan like a sports car on a raceway. Thankfully, I don’t think there was anyone else in the car but him. However, it reminded me of this – be content.

Contentment is something unfamiliar to us in our society of want. Ask anyone, I’m sure they have a want list. I know I do. We look around us and see things that we want or think that we need. And we typically won’t be (temporarily) satisfied until we get it. 

Contentment is being satisfied with what is around you and being satisfied in the circumstances you find yourself in. Contentment is NOT laziness. Contentment is not always wanting more. Contentment is the absence of restlessness. 

So, if you are content, does that mean that you shouldn’t want to improve your life or make things better around you? I don’t believe so. But there is a difference in making your situation better and wanting things that other people have – that is coveting. For example, we have decided to do some work around the house to get rid of the weeds growing too close to our home. The neighbors all have bushes around their house to keep the weeds away. We thought about getting bushes but decided that with the sprinklers running so close to the house that installing bushes would be too much of a hassle. So we are going another direction. For me, this is an example of being content with changing the improvements. Coveting would be desiring those bushes around my house just so we can be like everyone else. Like I have said before, it is all about your attitude.

Contentment is hugely impacted by your attitude. That is why it is so important for Christ to have control of your attitude. Jesus keeps your thoughts and actions regulated so that you don’t feel the need to drive that minivan like a sports car. Jesus reminds you that it is okay that this person in front of you is driving just a bit slower than you want. That person will get out of the way in just a bit. Hold your horses. Jesus reminds you that you don’t really need those bushes around the house. You are allowed to be different. You don’t always have to fit into the mold the world has made. 

Contentment is being okay with being different. It is being okay with having a different viewpoint. It is allowing God to mellow you out to the point that people say, “Hmm, this person is different. What is it about them?” Contentment is an oddity in our world, and that is a good thing. 

So on this long weekend, be content. Don’t be lazy, be content. Be satisfied where God has placed you and what He has placed you with. Be different. Be weird, according to the world’s standard – but be God’s. Happy Friday.

Write your story

Psalm 143:8 – “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

I evaluated a new client this week. When I evaluate someone, I always like to ask them about their past. I think it helps me to better understand their present. This man was a fashion designer in Paris after World War II. Crazy! And what was even crazier was that when he was 60, he took a class at a community college and learned oil painting. Now, his apartment is filled with these giant, museum-quality paintings that are absolutely stunning!

As I was sharing this story with the staff in our office, one of the staff said, “Man, I need to start living! When I’m old, I won’t have any cool stories to tell anyone.”

And that caused me to think, how am I writing my story? What adventures am I having? What beauty am I seeing? What kind of an impact am I making on the world around me?

A friend of ours lost his sister this week. She was in her early 40s and had 3 children ages 4-12. It is heartbreaking. Her story was way too short.

We never know if we will live a novel or a short story. We never know when it will be time to go home. But what I do know is that each and every day is an opportunity to write my story. Each day is an opportunity to weave the love of Christ into the fabric of my life. Each day is an opportunity to see His beauty all around me in the people I meet, the scenery I see and the incredible creations of man. Each day is an opportunity to show the world around me more and more of Jesus – whether it be through my life, in my speech, through my blog or teaching my children to know Him better. 

We have a choice every morning of whether or not we are going to listen to God on that day. We have a choice to accept His loving kindness. We have a choice to trust Him. And when we do, we learn to see His hand guiding our path and showing where He wants us to go. This gives us the opportunity to lift up our heart and soul to Him. We desire and find the need to praise His name when we choose to be obedient.

So this weekend, write your story. Write your story while you spend time with your family. Write your story while you worship Him with your brothers and sisters at church. Write your story while you work around the house. Write your story while you pay your bills. Write your story while you sit outside and enjoy the beauty around you. Happy Friday. 

Sacrifice

Leviticus 4:32-35 – “And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar: And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

I am reading a fiction book about the life of Rahab. In my book, Jericho has fallen and she is now living with the children of Israel. She is learning about God and learning the Law. She just witnessed her first sacrifice for sin. She was called forth to put her hands upon the head of the lamb and then it was slain. The author described her reaction, her fear, her confusion, her humbleness before the Lord. 

It made me stop and think about what the sacrifice of the lamb represented – Jesus. I thought about His sacrifice for my sin. And I wondered, do I truly appreciate and understand that act of love? I don’t think I do, at least not like I should.

So, for a moment, put yourself in Rahab’s shoes as she placed her hands upon that lamb’s head. I’m sure she thought of all the sins that she had committed. She probably thought of all the lies she had told, all the men she had been with, all the evil thoughts she had about others. Maybe all those things paraded through her head like a bad slide show. And then, she felt the life go out of the lamb. At that instance, she knew that the innocent lamb had taken her place for the sins she had “given” to the lamb. Sin has a price and the payment was the lamb. 

My sin has a price. All the bad thoughts, judgments, laziness, lack of self control, bad choices – all of them have a price. And that price was paid with the blood of Jesus at Calvary. I can say that all day long, but do I let it seep into my heart? Do I let it flood my soul and appreciate what He truly did for me?

I need to do better. We are a generation of entitlement and don’t really stop and consider the sacrifice that someone else does for us. There is less appreciation for our military who give their lives for our freedom. There is less appreciation for our police who sacrifice to keep us safe. There is less appreciation for our teachers who educate our children. There is less appreciation for our medical personnel who study and sacrifice all kinds of things to keep us healthy. Everywhere you look you can see the failure of someone to appreciate the sacrifice that someone else has willingly done for them. No better place is this seen than in the church houses of our country where the neglect of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is seen vividly by the declining numbers in attendance. And I am guilty, to a point. There are times when I feel like I need to rest and I stay home from a service. The Holy Spirit gets ahold of me and won’t let go. And for that, I am grateful – I know God is working in my life. But I shouldn’t even allow that thought in my head. It doesn’t show appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. 

So let me encourage you, take some time and read back through the requirements for sacrifices in the Old Testament. Read them, study them and compare them to the life of Christ. See His fulfillment of the requirements with His life and His blood. And then, thank Him genuinely for His sacrifice for you.

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. 

Hiding His Word

Psalm 119:10-12 – “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.”

I’m terrible at hiding God’s word in my heart. Oh, I know story after story and content and reasonings but memorization- nope. Not my forte. And here’s my reasoning behind it…or maybe it’s just my excuse. 

I learn concepts. I learn reasons. I learn the how and why behind things. It is how my brain works. Now, that’s not to say that some Scripture doesn’t stick in there from time to time. But it is more when I can apply it to something or have had some form of close interaction with the verse that I remember it. 

But despite not being able to spout off chapters or verses, God still hides His word in me. His word should be seen in my choice of speech – how and when I say things. His word should be seen in my actions – how and when I respond to things. His word should be seen in my thought process – thinking of others before myself. 

Hiding his word should be more like planting His word. I need to establish God’s word so deep in my heart that when things grow within me, they should shine with the Light of God’s love. Every step I take should be a seed planted further into the ground. Every word I utter should be seasoned with God’s grace and mercy. Every thought I think should be filtered through His word. 

His word needs to be applied and utilized. Anyone can memorize Scripture with enough practice and dedication. At the same time, anyone can apply and live God’s word with practice and dedication. 

So let me encourage you today to plant God’s words. Don’t just hide them on the surface of your heart. Hide them deep within you so that your actions, your words and your thoughts are affected by the power of His word.