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Day 1

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

And so it begins…..

Today is the first day of school for my kids. My son will be in 11th grade and my daughter will be in 10th grade. Where, o where, has the time gone?

It is my prayer today that they be an example of Christ through their service to others. They are both in student government and and in another club that focuses on service. I am blessed that we are able to send them to a Christ-centered school. I know that today they will pray and be encouraged in God’s word.

I have this verse on a chalkboard at the top of the stairs at my house. I know that it has been there so long that they probably rarely see it. But it is something that they need to remember. It is something that we all need to remember.

In fact, let me relate this to another matter. I went back to see a patient yesterday that I had not seen in a couple of months. He was expressing to me that his arm strength just wasn’t enough to help him do what he wanted to do. When I asked him if he was completing the arm exercises I gave him when I left, he replied “no”. Now, how in the world did he expect to get any stronger if he didn’t complete the exercises I gave him?

How in the world do we expect to get any stronger in our faith if we don’t study? How in the world do I expect my children to be successful in school if I don’t encourage them to study and do their homework?

It takes work and effort to be successful. It takes work and effort to make time to be in God’s word. It takes work and effort to apply the information that we learn in our studying. It takes work and effort.

I think that is a point of break down in things. Too many people don’t want to put in the work and effort – at school or in their relationship with Christ. If it doesn’t come easy, then some people just don’t want it. And that is sad. There is great reward and encouragement in a relationship with Jesus Christ. There is great reward and satisfaction in a job well done and/or a goal accomplished.

So this year, as kids all across the nation get ready to go back to school, let’s take this time to use their new start as a new start of our own. Let’s make a commitment to get more into His Word and more into His will for our life. Let’s put in the work and effort that we so easily shy away from into our relationship with Him. Let’s make this Day 1.

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Going to the water

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:8-9‬ ‭KJV- “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”‬‬

You know, learning is a choice. You can’t make a child learn something. Sometime, somewhere in that little brain of theirs, they have to decide that they want to learn something before they can actually learn it. I can remember helping my kids learn their memory verses for school. (They have always gone to a Christian school.) There were times when I thought they were just going to have to take a poor grade on it because they just couldn’t get it into their little heads. But alas, somehow, they would recall it. They would remember all that we had gone over and the little tips and cues that I had used to help them remember what they were trying to learn. It was definitely a process.

Many people have pets. They work and work to teach them to do tricks or not go to the bathroom on the floor or roll over. They want them to be able to accomplish something on command. Some are successful. Some…..not so much. 

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” sometimes stands out loud and clear for some of us. We see it in the lives of the people around us and, sometimes, we see it in our own life. 

How many times do God attempt to teach us a lesson and over and over again we fail? I don’t know about you, but I can look into my own life and see that over and over and over again. I sometimes feel like I am the horse and God keeps leading me to this beautiful, cool, abundant stream and I am just standing there like, “nope, not gonna happen.” It makes you shake your head when you see people like that. And then, when you realize that person is you….it makes you shake your head again. 

God has left a stream of abundance somewhere around you – the Bible. He has preserved His Word for all these years just so that you would have this instruction, this comfort, this Life giving opportunity. It is not hard to get your hands on, at least in America it’s not. You can get it on your phone or in book form. So many options. Yet, there are still people that will hold this glorious opportunity in their hands and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. 

And from time to time, I am one of those people. 

So I want to encourage you today to see value, see worth, see the need for the Word of God in your life. He is leading you to this amazing opportunity to get to know Him better, to make your life more meaningful, to encourage you to keep going. Don’t just stand there and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. Get in there and make it happen. Let Him do what He does best – making you the best version of you that there could possibly be. 

Inside the Box

Numbers 7:89 – “And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.”

Last night, we were in Bible study at church. Our teen group is not yet meeting. We are on break in between semesters. Our preacher has been giving a study into the Tabernacle and the items found inside. Last night, he was looking at the Ark of the Covenant. 

I’ve been thinking about it last night and this morning. 

Let me give you what I have been thinking about so far. There were items inside the Ark – the staff of Aaron that budded, the Golden Bowl of Manna and the Ten Commandment Tablets. Each of these items had a specific reason why they were preserved inside the Ark. They were for rememberance and as symbols to represent the Savior to come. These reasons are very important. Yet, as the saying goes, they were out of sight and easily out of mind. You see, in my mind, there were times that the children of Israel forgot where God really is – everywhere. 

It is easy to put God in a box. We keep Him tucked away in case of an emergency or crisis or something like that. We don’t appreciate the fact that He will sit right beside you, if you ask Him to. We neglect to remember that He isn’t just in the church house. Rather, He is in our every moment. Just like the children of Israel had all these reminders hidden away in an Ark, we have all these reminders in our very line of sight and especially in our Bible. God has preserved and kept His Word all these thousands of years for a reason – to remind us. Just like He preserved and kept those reminders in the Ark, He keeps His Word, the Bible. 

Now, the children of Israel couldn’t just open up the Ark and look inside to get those reminders. We can. We can open our Bible any time we want and expose ourself to God any time we choose. But do we choose to?

Moses met God at the Mercy Seat. You see, He was there all along. He was out there and among them. They just neglected that memory. Moses had real experiences with God. He spoke with Him. He listened to Him. All of this via the Mercy Seat. 

And you know what? He is still on the Mercy Seat. It has just been relocated to Heaven. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, He went to the right hand of the Father. Just like Moses talked with God at the Mercy Seat, we can talk with Jesus Christ who is on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. 

You know, the great thing about the Bible is that it all works together. The Old Testament helps explain the New Testament. We can look at promises and prophecies made in the Old Testament and see them fulfilled in the New Testament. Yet no matter where you start, all of it points to Jesus Christ. He is the reason for it all. He is the main event. He is the Savior of the world. Without Him, it’s all just a bunch of stories. But I don’t know how you can even begin looking into the Word of God and not see Jesus Christ. I see Him in the Garden, in the Flood, in the Exodus, in the Law, in the Judges, in the Psalms, in the prophecies and so on and so on. He is everywhere you care to look. And all the promises, all the prophecies, they all point to one thing – the salvation and return of Jesus Christ.  

It really is beautiful. I would encourage you today to step into the Word and go on the adventure of a lifetime – no, of an eternity. 

A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.

Learning

Proverbs 2:10-17 – “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.”

I was spending some time with my nephew last night. We were learning about animals and their habits and behaviors. One fact that we learned was that a wildebeast typically have their babies at night. The babies are expected to be able to run 15 minutes after they are born. If they can’t run, the mother leaves them behind. My nephew loves animals and all sorts of facts. He is like a little sponge. He looked up at me after hearing this and said, “Aunt Melissa, there are some facts that I don’t like to know. That makes me sad.”

They say “Knowledge is power.” And in some ways, I guess they are correct. Knowledge helps you to understand the world around you. It can guide you and show the path of righteousness, if you look for it. It can show you what people truly desire. It can help you to identify when someone is trying to lead you away from what you know to be right. 

When accompanied by the Holy Spirit, knowledge can help you see your need for a Savior. 

But sometimes, we pick up the wrong kind of knowledge. We gather and allow the “wisdom of the world” to penetrate our hearts and minds. That knowledge leads us away from the path of righteousness. It tries to take away the truth. 

We need to know and understand this fact – there are two kinds of knowledge and two ways to use them. The Knowledge of God will bring peace and understanding. The knowledge of the world with bring anxiety and confusion. 

The only way that we can absorb the Knowledge of God is to get into His word. It requires us to learn about God, to know His statutes and commands and to walk with Him daily. It means that sometimes we are going to learn really tough lessons. We are going to hear things that make us sad because we are convicted by the Holy Spirit to change. We are going to read about consequences of not choosing God and will learn that Hell is a real place filled with real people who made a real decision. 

Learning is tough stuff. It requires discipline, attention and continuity. It’s not something that you casually do from time to time. It needs to be something you work at every day. Just like a diet won’t work if you follow it one to two times a week, being a student of Christ requires diligence. It is a daily task that you choose to complete each and every day. 

Am I diligent? Nope. Am I proud of that? Nope. Do I want to do better? Yep. I think this is an area that everyone could stand a booster shot in from time to time. The new year is just around the corner. I am already planning how I am going to make next year a more educational year than this year. How about you? What are you going to do next year that will draw you closer to Christ? 

Learning should be a lifelong activity. What will you do to learn more of Him today?

Training

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

My son is preparing to make a presentation to the church tonight in regards to his trip to Haiti. While preparing for it, we came across the concept of a local, New Testament church sending out missionaries. It was a great opportunity to explain to him the why behind this concept. We were training him on how to properly go about being a missionary, which is what he will be doing in Haiti.

It made me stop and think about children and how we teach them and why they leave. 

I have been going to church my whole life, literally before I was even born. I have been at church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other night in between that my family could get to. My parents taught me commitment by bringing me to church every time the door was opened. My parents made sure that I had my Sunday school lesson prepared on Saturday night (back in those days you prepared the lesson the night before). My extended family, both by the blood of man and the blood of Christ, made certain that I understood the concepts in the Bible and why I should believe them. I wasn’t spoon fed God’s word. I didn’t memorize it just to make someone else happy. No, I was trained up in it. I was trained to see how much God loves me. I was trained to use His Word, the Bible, to learn how to live my life. I was trained to be committed to Him because that shows obedience in my life. 

Some may call me a trained animal, and that’s okay. I would rather be a trained individual for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than an individual who thinks that I don’t need His training and spend my eternity in Hell. No, training is good. Training is what gets me closer to my Savior. I’m good with that.

Now then, let’s get real. 

Are we just allowing our children to memorize concepts in the Bible or are we training them in it? There is a difference, you know. I “learned” a lot in my 3 years of Spanish class. I memorized words and phrases and could decently write in Spanish. But can I do that today? Nope. I can ask where the bathroom is but when they tell me how to get there, I have no idea. I have departed from my knowledge of Spanish. As wonderful as my teacher was, I never developed a passion or saw the necessity for it in my life. I was more concerned about getting a good grade and keeping my average up rather than seeing the importance of being trained in another language. 

How often do we, as teachers and parents, allow our children to learn just enough to keep us happy and make us look like we are doing a fair job in raising our children yet all the while we are failing to train them on how to rely upon the Lord? It hurts to think that this is going on, but when I see young people go off on their own, too often they leave God just where they found Him, at church. And that makes me sad. I don’t blame anyone. I don’t point fingers. I have 3 pointing back at me. 

I bring this up because we, as followers of Christ, have a problem. 

I have the opportunity right now to train my children. I will never get this opportunity again. I have the opportunity to train them to rely upon God. I have the opportunity to train them in commitment and respect and love for God. I have the opportunity to train them to absorb God’s word and apply it to their every day life. When my children leave my house, I want God to be so real to them and be such a part of their life that leaving Him at church would make them feel naked. 

I don’t know that I expect anything profound from this blog today. I was just thinking about this last night as my husband sat at the dinner table with my son and was explaining missions work to him in a way that he could understand and appreciate. My son had heard it before, but when you live it, you learn it better. It really was special, watching my husband train my son. I am truly, truly blessed.

Pancakes and a 5K

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

This weekend, my family and I participated in a 5K – a pancake 5K at that! It was a lot of fun. We were able to run through a really nice neighborhood and have some yummy pancakes afterwards.

But oh my, that afternoon and Sunday came. And boy, were me and my husband feeling it! Stairs became our mortal enemy. As long as we weren’t asked to move, we were fine. But getting up, no fun at all. Yet, we survived. We had some good laughs over it and we persevered. 

Now, my son, on the other hand, played a soccer game after running that 5K and did an amazing job. My daughter was able to finally accomplish her first backhand spring yesterday after church at her lesson. They didn’t seem to have near the challenge that my husband and I did with our little adventure.

You know, God oftentimes asks us to get outside our comfort zone and do something we don’t normally do. He asks us to stretch our faith. We sometimes think that this stretching and growing is too much to ask. There is no way. We limit God and try to get ahead of Him. But when we are willing to wait on Him and allow Him to stretch us in ways we never dreamed possible, amazing things begin to happen in our life. We find that the challenge wasn’t near what we thought it would be. We find that we are seeing and experiencing God in a whole new light and way. We find that there is time to get it all done. And when we lay our head on our pillow at night, we have a peace that is beyond understanding.

Following Christ is a challenge. It is not easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise…well, let’s just say I would think twice about listening to them. 

This week, get out of your comfort zone and listen to what God is telling you to do. Read His word and learn His principles. Then, when you are asked to move, you are ready.