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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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Becoming

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

Last night, one of the guys at my church brought a message partially centered around this verse. He did a great job.

I had listened to a podcast earlier in the day about becoming who you are. Of course, it was a secular thing and there was really no spiritual meaning attached to anything they said, but I believe that God brings things into your life to teach you and grow who you are, no matter the source.

So, those things together got me to thinking about becoming. What does it actually mean? Off to Dictionary.com I went. Here is the definition I found – “to come, change, or grow to be (as specified)”. The 1828 Webster’s definition is this – “to pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character”.

I am not the same person I was yesterday. I will not be the same person tomorrow that I am today. I should be growing and changing and becoming closer to the person God would have me to be.

When Jesus called out His first disciples, they were a ragtag bunch of men that really had no significant background. They were fishermen who had probably been fishermen since they came into that area. It was what they did and who they were. They weren’t great scholars or problem solvers or men of renown. But Jesus saw something in them that made Him call them away from their nets and everything that they had ever known.

And they weren’t great missionaries straight off the starting line. It was something they had to grow into. It was a pattern of growth from one state to another by the learning of new qualities and the refining of pre-existing qualities. But it required challenges and choices and being thrusted into situations that were confusing and combative. It wasn’t an easy growth period to be sure. But each one became someone different, someone better, someone who would advance the Kingdom of God beyond all human comprehension.

Where does that leave me? Have you ever heard that song “He’s still working on me”? That’s where I am. I am still becoming. I am still becoming the wife, mother, employee, blogger, daughter, friend, occupational therapist (and whatever other word to describe me that I’m currently leaving out) that He wants me to be. I’m a process – a work in progress. I need a sign some days.

I guess what I want to send out to everyone is this – be patient with yourself and with others. We are all becoming. We are all works in progress. It might take a while to get where God wants us to be, but one day, we will get there.

Identity Crisis

1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭KJV – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”‭‭‬‬

I have an exercise for you today – get out a piece of paper and write “I AM” on the top of it. Then below that, I want you to write words that describe you – character traits, career choices, hobbies – anything and everything that describe you. Then, I want you to cross out all the words that describe your personality, your career, your hobbies and anything else that describes you. Now, I know that you are thinking, “Good grief Melissa, that was dumb to write it all down and then cross it all out.”

Here is the point –

We tend to think of ourself in certain ways. We see ourself as defined by words that man has made up to describe things and actions. But is that really who you are? Are you really nice? If I had to guess, if you’re like me, not all the time. Are you really hard-working? If you’re like me, laziness creeps into your life sometimes. You see, the words that we describe ourself with are temporary and unreliable. In reality, they limit us. They put us in a box or in a column that restricts who we can truly be. 

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, oh dear, you are so much more than adjectives on a page. You have been created and designed for a special purpose that it is your duty to fulfill in this life we live on a daily basis. Adjectives on a page don’t begin to describe the beauty and purpose that God has in store for you.

BUT, you have to make a choice. You see, you can see yourself as the world sees you all day long. Or, you can see yourself in the Light of Heaven and find freedom. 

Those adjectives you used to describe yourself are bars around you that keep you from reaching your full potential. The world will tell you – “It’s your life. Live it how you want to live it.” Oh, that may sound like freedom and options and all sorts of wonderful things, but in reality, when you are in control of your life and you are trying to figure out how to live it, things get messy and restrictive. 

But when you let Jesus drive your life, when you let Him describe who you are and what He wants you to do and how He wants you to do it, things begin to loosen up. You are no longer bound by the limits the world places on you. You are allowed to dream big and hope fully. And you can do this because you don’t have to worry about how things are going to work out. You know that when Jesus is in control that everything works out in His time and according to His will. You just have to follow and not stray onto your own path. 

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately trying to tell me how to be the best version of myself and how to improve my quality of life and so on. But the one thing that all of these “professionals” have failed to mention is the importance of Christ in my daily life. He is the One who makes every little thing I do worthwhile. 

So, today is Thursday. The weekend is just around the corner. Take some time to think about how you see yourself. And then, ask Jesus how He sees you. And then, make His perspective, your perspective. When you realize that your identity isn’t found in the limits of the world, you’re scope opens up in a whole new way. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭KJV)

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Contemplations

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:”
It is a simple idea – seek the Lord. If it is so simple, why do we make it so hard? 

God has told us that He is near us.  ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:57‬ ‭KJV‬‬ -“Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.” Why do we feel He is so difficult to find? It seems that all we have to do is “call upon” Him. Why is that so hard?

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  Jesus promised to never leave us…nor forsake us (that means to leave us by the wayside).

So, why do we neglect to seek the Lord? 

Pride. 

We like to look into a mirror to see what we look like. There are people that spend what seems like hours in front of a mirror trying to achieve just the right look. And then, once they walk away, it seems as though they completely forget what they look like because each time they see a mirror, they are gazing in it once again. 

What if we did that with the Word of God? What if we spent, what seemed like, hours in it allowing Him to make us into who He wants us to be and then every time we had the opportunity we looked in it again to determine how we needed to tweek things to make ourself even better for Him?

Sounds crazy, right? Or maybe ideal? 

You know, I get up almost every morning and read my Bible. But do I let it change me? Do I take it’s words to heart? Do I consistently go back to it to allow it to continually change me? Sadly, the answer is no, not always. 

Jesus is waiting for me to come looking for Him. He wants to be found. He wants to have a special relationship with me. He wants to talk to me, share with me and be my absolute, very best friend. 

So why do I make it so hard for Him?

I don’t know that I have an answer today. I just wanted to throw that out there. The day is drawing near when Jesus won’t be so easily found. Oh, He will still be there but it won’t be so easy. Now is the time to build that relationship. Now is the time to seek Him out. Now is the time to call upon Him. Tomorrow may be too late.

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. 

Bearing burdens

Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭KJV – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”‭‭‬‬

Galatians, chapter 6, verse 2. A simple verse with profound meaning. But what does it mean to “bear … one another’s burdens”?

Last night, we had our monthly ladies’ auxiliary meeting. We had our Bible study. We conducted our meeting and finalized the plans for our upcoming mother/daughter luncheon. And then, we had prayer requests. 

Now, when some people hear “prayer requests time”, especially amongst women, they might tend to think that this is a time to gossip about others. But I tell you the truth, it is anything but that. 

This is the time when we share the intimate thoughts and concerns on our heart. We share things that we might not share when we are out in public. We express concerns and frustrations and longings that God has placed within our hearts. It is a special time. It is an encouraging time. And occasionally, we even get a good chuckle out of some of the things we share. 

But this is the way we “bear … one another’s burdens”. 

Too often, the devil wants to keep us isolated. If he can keep us from reaching out to our sisters and brothers in Christ, he can keep us right where he wants us – in the pit of despair. He knows that when we share our burdens things become less bleak. 

This simple act of sharing creates hope. We know that someone else is praying for us. We know that we are no longer facing this challenge, this frustration, this fear alone. We know that God has provided someone else to come along side of us and, literally, hold our hand. I know, God is with us and willing to hold our hand anytime we ask. Yet, God also knows that sometimes we need that human touch; sometimes we need our sisters and brothers in Christ. 

So the next time that something has got you down or maybe something has gone incredibly right, share. Tell someone. Tell lots of someone’s – the more the merrier! God has provided people in your life for that very reason. And be a good recipient. “Bear … one another’s burdens” with gladness and seriousness. And remember, you never walk alone. 

Still waters

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1-2‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
I have not been walking beside still waters lately. Oh, nothing has been terribly wrong. I have just been so busy that still waters seems to be a distant memory. 

Last weekend, we went to the beach. The place where we were at had some pretty energetic waves. My nephew and son took quite a face full of sand a few times while boogie boarding. Yet, as I walked along the beach, doing what I love to do – hunt for cool shells, I heard a jingling sound. When I looked, that jingling sound came from the amount of shells that the waves were dropping in this one particular location. They were congregating at this one spot but the waves were so rough that you couldn’t get in there to see what was being left behind. Trust me, I know. I would attempt to get to them and the wave would crash bringing with it pieces of coral and broken shells that rammed into my feet and legs. It was not pleasant, let me tell you.

But if I waited, if I stood there for a significant length of time watching the waves go in and out, a time would present itself, for just a short period, that I could run out there and view the plethora of shells that the ocean had left behind. I found 2 really large clam shells, a very old and small conch-type shell and many very pretty little shells. But I had to be fast. Those still waters didn’t last long.

That’s the way I feel my life has been since my last post. Nothing really exciting or earth shattering has occurred. My waves have just been energetic and and sometimes a bit rough. But when those still waters come and I’m able to be still, man, the things I find are beautiful and sweet. They are rare and beautiful treasures that I can store in my heart.