Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Worm

Usually the Lord speaks to me when I am out on a walk/jog. (He speaks to Beth Moore when she is doing her hair so... it's possible!)

(oh, disclaimer.. It is never an all out jog because I am SO not a runner, but I TRY to make it more than a walk... it is all in the give and take!)

He uses His creation to speak such amazing and simple truths to me. There was the turtle story ( that is for another time.. and another blog) and then there was the tree story that I wrote about not long ago.

Today it was a little curled up worm. I was in jog mode and I was coming up a little hill when I looked down and saw a worm. He was almost completely dried up. You know the ones.. they are baked in the sun because they somehow got out on the pavement and they are just frying. Poor guy. There he was just struggling to wiggle just one more time before the inevitable happened. He was about to become a dried up and hard little dead worm.

I am sure you are asking youself HOW in the WORLD the Lord spoke through that little guy. Well, I am going to tell you.

I began to think, "Why doesn't he just get back in the grass? He could be in the shade. He could possibly live if the little guy could burrow himself back into the soil."

Then it hit me.

"You know, Melissa. That is exactly what I ask about you all the time!" I heard it... soft and clear.

" When you are just living in that flesh of yours I wonder, 'Why isn't she over here? Why has she left the shade of My right hand to live out in the heat of this world? Can't she see that she is baking out there? If she would just get right back under My wing of protection she would not have to face the heat all alone.' "

Poor guy. He was just wiggling and striving to live... all on his own.

The Lord calls us to holiness. He calls us to be set apart and yet He never intended for us to go it alone. While it can be a lonely place, living the way He calls us to, God promised that He would never leave us. He likens Himself to a mother hen with her chicks under her wing. The safety of His arms and His will is like no other safe place here on earth.

Sometimes we struggle to live in that safe place. This world looks so inviting. They sure look like they are having fun sometimes, don't they? We are tempted and tried at times. We struggle with our thoughts and our behavior can quickly follow... IF WE GET OUT ON THE PAVEMENT!

Stay prayed up my sisters. Stay honest before His throne. We deal with thoughts and ideas that are not of Him. Confess it all to Him every day and come before Him as a clean vessel ready to be filled by HIS Spirit and emptied of our fleshly ambitions.

Stay under that wing of protection so that you don't have to go it alone. He is longing to hold your hand and walk you right through.. or carry you if that is what it takes... right back to the safety of the grass and the place where you can burrow and live!

The pavement is a hot place to stand.

"Show the wonder of Your great love, you who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings..." Psalms 17:7-8
Monday, September 24, 2007

Every Knee Shall Bow

Philippians 2: 10-11 says, "that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Our day at church yesterday was quite emotional. Our music minister's wife, Debra, was in a horrible car wreck last week and she has been in the hospital with several broken bones for a few days.

Our music minister was at church, as always, to lead worship and to praise the LORD for His blessings. It was truly amazing to see his strength in the Lord as he stood before the choir and prayed before we went out to worship. As he stood before the congregation to lead he was obviously burdened, but he was there for one thing... to worship the God that provides and protects. It was very emotional, but amazing!

As we entered inito our usual prayer time the pastor called those who wanted to pray to the alter. Trying not to cry, I kept my eyes open as people came to the alter. I wanted to see how God was working as people came to bow in prayer.

Many different people came.

Moms with kids and husbands.

An older lady with a shaved head... cancer, Lord? More older ladies who gathered around her... her Sunday school class?

A lady, with her palms up, kneeling and tears streaming. Lord, what is she facing?

Some familiar faces come, friends holding hands and kneeling in prayer for their families and our church.

As people get settled I notice one man coming up the aisle. He is alone and he is walking quickly. He is wearing a pair of yellow flowing pants and a long flowing yellow shirt. He is African. His clothes are different from any other that approached the alter that day. He reaches the alter and he kneels just like all the rest, and he prays.

I begin to pray, "Jesus. You died for all of these people. How, Lord? Look at their burdens! They are heavy and hard to bear! You are their only hope. You are all that they want to see, Lord. Every person is so different and yet they are so similar because they need a touch from You! They come from all walks of life. They are needy. WE are needy. We all have things that we need to lay before You and yet we walk away still carrying them! Father, do what only You can do. Touch each one of us. Help us to lay our burdens down and leave them at your Holy feet. As we go back to our pews and then back to our lives Lord, help us to take You!"

For one second we were all the same. Needy children at the Father's feet seeking Him earnestly. He sees us that way... all the same... red, yellow, black and white... we are precious in His sight.

He is waiting for us. He is listening. He is doing all that He can to keep our relationship with Him alive. He is forgiving, loving and waiting.

Every knee shall bow, and what a priviledge it is!
Friday, September 21, 2007


So yesterday my little one was sick and we were at home ALL DAY LONG. I am a 'get up and go' kind of girl. I have finally gotten back into working out and then we are in our little school routine of dropping off at 7:50m. Usually I run errands, clean some, do some stuff around the house... you know.. mommy stuff!

The big benefit of yesterday was that I did get TONS-o-laundry done! That is a great feeling to have the eternally filled basket of dirtiness completely empty! (for one second that is... i mean everyone put on pj's and the dirties went into the hamper again... AND it's full again! It just won't DIE!) BUT... The best part of my day... talking to my friends.

If I didn't have the Godly women in my life that I do... WHAT would I do??? They each, in their own way (which is SO cool!) seek to follow Jesus everyday. It is really encouraging to see how this one is thinking and seeking God in a decision and the next one is seeking God in another, and He is speaking to them right where they are! I love that they all have different personalities and gifts and that He uses each one for His glory! It is the church... with all of it's parts... in motion.

Turn in your Bible to Romans 12:3-8. Read what the Word has to say about the body of the church.

Isn't it awesome!? One has the gift of prophecy, one has the gift of serving, one has the gift of teaching. Think about your friends. Who is the server? Who is the teacher? Who is the encourager?

Why not take some time to encourage them? Thank the Lord for the one that you can always count on to listen in your time of need. Write them a note just thanking them for being there for you. Or why not send an e-mail to the one that is always serving and thank them for all that they do to further the body of Christ?

I am so very thankful for each one of my friends. They challenge me to grow. They seek to hold me accountable and they love Jesus. That is the best part of all.. they love Jesus.

What role do you play? Do you point them to Jesus? Ask the Lord to use you in the lives of those who encourage you the most. He will show you how!

A deeper walk girls... that is what we are after!

Palms up.. surrendered life daily... in His Word and seeking His will... even in our friendships!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Deep Hurts

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Have you ever been around people who are really hurting? They are in situations that seem hopeless and they hurt deeply. You know, you can see it in their eyes, and feel it in the air as you are near them. The pain is so deep that sometimes even they can't describe it. It is just there. It is eating at their insides and they do not know how to let it go. Have you been there?

To me those situations are the hardest to deal with. I know that, "I am praying for you" is such a common phrase that seems to be thrown around flippantly. I almost don't want to say it because I don't want the person to think I am just saying that to have something to say. And yet, what else DO I say? Many times their sitations are so hard that there is really nothing else to do but listen and HONESTLY pray.

Only the God of the Universe sees the entire sitation and knows how to help and our finite minds have no wisdom without His direction. Yet for some reason we want to say SOMETHING! Anything to encourage them would be better than standing there shaking our heads at the situation, right?

Even in scripture King Solomon saw oppression in life as a comfortless state. Turn in your Bible to Ecclesiastes 4:1-3. Read and ask the Lord to speak to you, even in this difficult passage.

King Solomon paints a pretty bleak picture of those facing oppression. They have no comforter. He even states that the "dead who had already died are happier than the living who are still alive..."

Short of the grace of God each of us would feel this way when difficulities come. There are so many suicides and suicide attempts today because people see their oppression as hopeless and painful. They do not see that "the Lord works all things for good" when they are in the middle of such pain. It seems that they rationalize death as the easy way out and so they seek to take their lives away so that the pain will do the same... go away.

Women of God! We have to be interceding for those who are suffering! Those who are in the pit need a helping hand! While we may not have words to say that solve their problems we DO have words to PRAY that will bring peace and restoration from the Creator of their souls.

We get so wrapped up in our own lives that it is easy to forget. We listen. We have compassion and we want to help, but often times we just allow the overwhelming situations scare us into "well, it is sad, but it isn't my problem! I have my own life to live."

It is true that we can't solve the difficulties in the lives of others. Many times they are out of fellowship with God or they are being disobedient and until they submit to His perfect plan their lives may never be what they hope for. BUT we DO have a responsibility to pray and encourage. Buy a devotion book, write a card, show the love of Jesus in as many ways possible! Point them to the throne of Jesus and lift them to Him as you have your quiet time.

Given prayer and His perfect Word He does have the words. He does have the answers and He can deliver them from the pain of oppression. You never know, one day the very ones that we point to the throne may be the ones that point US there when we face difficulties.

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up." Ecc. 4:10
Monday, September 17, 2007


I think I have learned something new about myself, and it is something that I am not especially proud of. I am a "barker". You know how your mom use to get you up in the morning and begin barking orders at you all while telling you how many minutes you had to get something accomplished?

I do that. I bark.

"GET UP! Let's go! We have twenty minutes to get dressed and have breakfast! After that we need teeth brushed, hair combed and out the door! Fourty minutes total! Let's GO!"

I mean I remember, when I got older, saying, "MOM! I hear you! I am moving! I just woke up for Pete's sake! Cut me some slack! I am moving, I am moving! AND I DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH TIME I HAVE!" Ooohhh! I hated it!

I am my mother. The barker.

This morning, as my husband is loading my daughter into the car, and as I am telling Caroline (for the billionth time) "Hurry, honey! You are going to be late! Help daddy!" My husband looks at me and just shakes his head. Almost like he was saying FOR her, "Just shut up! She is moving! Cut her some slack. QUIT BARKING!"

That's when it hit me. I AM my mother.

There are many characteristics about my mom that I value. I love that she is funny and outgoing. I love that she is spontaneous and (for the most part) happy. I love that she is still kind of sassy and she is in her 60's. I love how she loves our family with full abandon and that she is so willing to help any of us with anything that we need.

I have to admit though, that there are times that I wish I weren't so much like her. I look like her and I obviously bark like her!

When I think about my Heavenly Father I realize that He is NOT a barker. He does not sit up in heaven looking down at all of my sluggish ways yelling, "Either get up and come with Me or I will strike you with a lightning bolt in twenty minutes!" (I wonder if He is tempted!?)

He is so patient with me. He is so... EVERYTHING good ...with me! There is not one characteristic of my Heavenly Father that I didn't wish I had! SO if the Lord God of the universe can be patient with ME then how come it is so hard for me to be patient with others?

Look in your Bible at Ephesians 4:1-3.
Notice how the words "humble," "gentle," "love," "unity," and "peace," are all used to describe how Paul was instructing the church to relate to one another.

I really do not want Caroline to grow up barking! The Lord was so creative as He told stories that the people could relate to about fishermen, tax collectors and servants. He used these people and their life examples to point people to His principles and commands without pointing fingers and barking them at those He loved. I think I need to be more creative in how I motivate my girl. While those life lessons that Jesus taught might be a little over her head right now, I can certainly think of other ways to get her going than to bark! His example of teaching others with love and patience is the example that I need to see and live out in my home.

The Lord has a lesson for me at every turn! Every experience I have is an opportunity to learn something new about myself and about my Savior. The contrast between the two of us is SO sharp!!

Jesus, help me to close the gap! I need to draw closer to You so that my life is more blended with You and who You call me to be. Help the stark contrasts to fade into softer lines so that You shine through brighter than I.

Todays lesson (SO FAR!) is "Beware of Mom! She BARKS! Run for Safety! The Savior awaits!"

Oh, I have some learning to do!
Friday, September 14, 2007

Living in Holiness- Possess Exceptional Qualities

We will start today by getting into God's Word. Please get your Bible and turn to Daniel 6.

Verse 3 says," Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom."

As you think about your walk with the Lord and how you represent His name, would you say that you have exceptional qualities? As I read this verse today I thought about that. Do I exhibit exceptional qualities in my life?

Daniel was SO exceptional in his obedience to God that the pagan king took notice. I wanted to know how that happened so through out this chapter I found a few things that set Daniel apart. Find them in your Bible and underline them.

Verse 4: " the administrators and satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in government affairs, but they were unable to do so."

Verse 4: " they could find no corruption in him."

Verse4: " he was trustworthy"

Verse 4 "neither corrupt nor negligent."

Verse 10 "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."

Verse 16: "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you."

Verse 23: "And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him because he trusted in God. "

Now, I know, if you are like me you are thinking, "Yea! But he was DANIEL! Daniel in the BIBLE! Surely he had some sort of super power or faith!"

Well, he did. It was the same God that we know and serve. He was just a man, like us. The difference was that he walked with God every day and he trusted God with all of his heart. Not just part, but all!

So.... what exceptional qualities do I possess? Ummm.... are they enough to go through the lions den? Hmmm... would a pagan world notice those qualities enough to notice that I faithfully and continually serve my God?

What a challenge for me today! What about you? How would you answer those questions?

I am such a failure in so many ways! Even this morning, BEFORE 8:00, I really messed up with my daughter!

This week, I messed up with my dad!

I mean... "Mom" and "Daughter of the Year" right here, folks!

It is so hard to possess those exceptional qualities when I am living, in full color, in the flesh!!

Without the blood of Jesus I am just one failure after another! Without Him I possess not one exceptional quality!

Praise Him!! Praise His holy and matchless name that He makes us exceptional in His sight!
Thursday, September 13, 2007

Praying For Our Children

It is just amazing to me that I get so wrapped up and in a wad over the things that happen in Caroline, my six year old's, life. I know, WITHOUT A DOUBT, that I am a mom that is fully dependent on the Lord and I pray with and for this kid all the time... everyday as a matter of fact. Without Him, I could not take one step, make one decision or have one ounce of sanity. I get all worked up about things that, a hundred years from now, will not amount to a hill of beans! Oh Jesus, please, forgive me!

I had the awesome opportunity to spend some time with some sweet moms tonight. They were so precious and encouraging. I wanted to encourage them that through prayer they can do all things and that in the Lord there is much hope! It is true that our Heavenly Father sees all things. He is in all things and all things work together for good for those that love Him.

Being on our knees for our children is really not a choice! It is something that we HAVE to do or we will lose them to this society that is desperately trying to pull them away. NOT ON OUR WATCH GIRLS!

Look at James 5:16. There is power in the hands and heart of a praying mom!
Now look at Ephesians 6:17-18. It is a command to pray and to be specific about praying the armor of God into the lives of our kids.

I just can't help but to be passionate about the importance of this in the life of our church, the life of my family and in the life of my child. I am seeing too much that will hurt her to not be praying!

I also need to trust. I dedicated Caroline to Jesus at 9 months old standing before my church and my family. I can not take her back! She is His and I have to trust His amazing protective hand to cover her as I pray.

Pray for each child. Lift them to the Father and let Him take them into His care. He is bigger than anything this world throws at them or us. He is able to do far more in their lives if we let Him! Live the authentic life before them so that they can see His hand at work in your life. They need it today more than ever before. They need to see what is real and they need to trust Him. They will trust as much as you do!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yesterday I wasn't feeling very well and I stayed home most of the day. I turned the TV on (first mistake!) and The View was on (second mistake!).

I watched as the ladies began to discuss a comedian and her comments on winning an award. She said that she wasn't going to thank God because this new trophy was going to be her god now and she would worship it! One of the women said that she thought those comments went a little too far and that there should be SOME restraint and respect where God is concerned. Another lady said that she didn't think God cared at all. She said that he (or she!... her words!) didn't care about the details of our lives and that he isn't that involved in our world.

I turned it off. WHY did I even turn it on??

God IS in the Details
The Lord God dirtied His hands as He planted a garden in the East. He cares about the details of our world.

The Lord God created trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. He cares about the details of our pleasure.

The Lord God took man, breathed life into him, and put him in the garden to work it and care for it. He cares about the purpose for our lives.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And He fashioned woman, a helper suitable for him. He cares about our social emotional state.

When woman and man ate of the tree, and were ‘lost’ in the garden, the Lord God called to them, “Where are you?” He cares about, and goes looking for, our lost souls.

They were naked, and God killed an animal, and made garments of skin for Adam and his wife. God cares about our vulnerable and needy state.

The Lord God made it possible for them to have children. He cared about them, their choices and the lives that they lead for Him. He cared about all of the things that would affect the lives of Adam and Eve, and the promises that He made to them carried on.

Our children’s pleasure, purpose, emotions, lost souls, and vulnerable and needy lives are all in His hands. He is the same God that created that garden and breathed life into that man. He is the same God who created that woman and found her in the garden after her sin. He is the same God who clothed them with the sacrificed lamb, and He is the same God that does this much and more for us.

He is the same God of yesterday, today and He will be the same God tomorrow. He is in the very breath that the take and knows every beat of our heart. He knows every hair on our head and He can not change.

Isaiah 49:16 “See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Never doubt for a second that He is here, He cares and He loves us deeply!!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Living in Holiness- No Boasting!

"I want to talk about ME, I want to talk about I, I want to talk about number One..." You know that country song, right? The guy is tired of hearing the girl talk about herself. He wants to be heard and he wants to talk about HIMself!

No one likes someone that boasts! It is great when people have accomplished lots in their lives, and it is good to tell a little about ourselves as we get to know others. It is the CONSTANT boasting about how fabulous we are, our accomplishments, and our goals that really just turns people off.

In a recent issue of Golf Magazine (my husband's choice of reading!) there is a Donald Trump article about a new golf course that he has developed. It is true that he is extremely wealthy and has achieved quite a bit, but to hear HIM tell it! WOW! He is very proud of himself! The golf course, the multi-million dollar businesses that he owns, the people that he has around him, etc. are all so important to him that he talks about himself all the time. The sad thing is that all of that will one day go away. I wonder if he knows that Jesus died on the cross for him and that his soul is the most important part of who he is? Judging from his focus, I doubt it.

Paul boasted about things in 2 Corinthians 11-12, but they were not things like golf courses or businesses.

Get your Bible and turn to 2 Corinthians 11:16-30 and read about Paul's boasting. He calls himself a fool for boasting in any accomplishment, but will only boast in his weaknesses.

Now look at 2Corinth. 12:7. Paul is aware of the way that boasting can change our hearts. It can make us conceited and in verse 7 he says, "to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh..."

God does not want us to boast. He has a way of taking us down a notch when we are getting too big for our britches. Just when I start getting proud of myself something happens to take me right back to my dependence on Him. When I get confident in myself and my abilities the Lord just reminds me that it is through HIM that I can do all things... not through me.

Paul even confesses in verse 8 of 2 Corinth. 12 that he pleaded with the Lord to take the thorn from him, but the Lord reminded him , "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Living in Holiness is not about us. It isn't about our abilities or our achievements. It is about Jesus. HIS ability to save. His achievement on the cross to purchase our salvation. Pursue righteousness dear sisters! Seek to boast in Him!
Monday, September 10, 2007

The Judgement Check

Well, yesterday was Sunday, and what an awesome day of worship! Sometimes I almost have to refrain from running my crazy self around the entire church because I am just so thrilled about being in God's house and singing His praises. Then I remember that I am in God's house and there does need to be a smidge of restraint out of respect for Him and others who are also trying to worship. The whole running thing would be just a little distracting to others, don't you think?

A few days ago I wrote some thoughts on being judgemental. We looked at a scripture out of Matthew 5-6 where we learned that we need to be careful about how we judge others realizing that we will be held to the same standards. I have to admit that yesterday was hard. During the wonderful praise time at church there on the front row stood a family, arms crossed, and not singing. Now the rest of the church, from what I could tell was at least singing. Most were singing and clapping. This family gave the appearance that they hated being there and they were going to protest by folding their arms and remaining tight lipped. I even had a friend comment to me, " Can you believe this? How can they just stand there like that!?!"

You know, maybe they didn't know Jesus! Maybe they said to each other, "Can you belive this!? How can they sing and clap like that!?"

A judging spirit is easy to maintain. Just look at the people around you, form an uninformed opinion, then to top it off 'share' that with someone else, and there you have it... judgmental from the word go! It is a real test for me. I need to be careful about my THOUGHTS first and then my judgemental words won't flow quite so easily.

We were reminded in Sunday school yesterday that the same God that created the universe out of nothing also created every single human being on this planet. He loves each one on each continent the same. NO matter their skin tone, hair color, ability or disability He loves them all. And no matter the god that they have chosen to follow, Jesus died so that every single person might know salvation from hell. It is the human race that puts importance on people by their status, characteristics, physical appearance, etc, not God. To Him we are all the same. We all came into the world the same way and we will leave in the same way. His Word and it's promises were written for everyone who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Do you not know, have you not heard.. He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and it's peoples are like grasshoppers." Isaiah 40:21-22

SO who am I to judge?

When will I learn this Lord? Help my judgemental and sinful heart to remember that every single person is a child of Yours. You died for them in the same way that you died for me! Each heart beats the same. Each life is precious to You... Lord, help them to be precious to me!
Friday, September 7, 2007

Living in Holiness- Feet to the Fire!

It is really a good thing that God is God. As I was having my quiet time today I read some scripture that says," The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you becasue you were more numerous that other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers." Deut.7:7-8

The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were something special or never messed up. He did it because of HIS oath and HIS love. Not us, but HIM!

See, as human beings we DEFINITELY look at our love for others (and our affections towards them) and base it on THEIR performance. If someone makes us mad we do still love them, but our affections towards them wane just a bit! It isn't until they admit that they were wrong that we decide that our affections can return to their origial state. OR if someone is sooo sweet to us, they give us gifts, they clean our house, wash our car, do our laundry, or send a sweet note, or pray for us or pay for our lunch or pay us a compliment... oh, sorry, just dreaming... our affections towards that person is heightened and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!

GOD, on the other hand, does not base HIS love and affection on our performance. He bases it on His Holiness. His affection does not change. His love does not change. It is a really good thing that God is God. In His infinite wisdom He knew that no one else could have the job of "God" because our finite abilities to love would doom everyone to hell. If we had to decide who went to heaven or hell... well, it would depend on the day!!!

HE is God and He alone is perfect. His amazing love and forgiveness does not doom everyone to hell. As a matter of fact, He is patient with us, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentence." 2 Peter 3:9

So when our feet are put to the fire, and we are being challenged to love when it is hard to love, what do we do? Well, we give it to Jesus. Since we can not do it on our own we are wise to be honest before the Lord and tell Him of our difficulty. He already knows that we do not have the capacity to love. I am sure this knowledge was why He said over and over again in His Word that we are to love! He was trying to beat it into us that love is a choice.

We must choose to love our children when they are driving us right up a straight wall! We must choose to love our neighbor when they are being difficult. We must choose to love our spouse when they have disappointed us or hurt our feelings. Love is a choice and it is sometimes a hard choice to make!

Let's face it... only God can love perfectly, but that is no excuse! The standard that He has set is one worth striving for. Not long ago, Dr. Rummage said that one thing we can never have too much of is love. He said you never hear someone say "you know, we just have TOO much love in this family! Let's get rid of some of it!"

I choose love.

Lord, thank you for loving me when I am unlovable! Please give me the capacity to do the same!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Living in Holiness

"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is not darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. "

1 John 1:5-7

Unfortunately, my little Caroline can have a BAD tendency to lie. Usually, when she lies she is trying to avoid getting in trouble for something she has done. And ususally when she lies she gets in bigger trouble than she would have than had she just owned up to her first offense! Though she is only six, she has had some hard lessons to learn about lying, just as we all have. It is a hard lesson to learn that LIVING by the truth is most important. Not just saying that we value the truth, but LIVING it.

This scripture is one that I have read hundreds of times. It is funny how we can be pretty familiar with a passage and then read it just one more time only to have it slap us in the face with it's truth?

God isn't looking for children who SAY they have fellowship. He is looking for faithful followers of Christ how LIVE in fellowship. Living in holiness does have it's requirements. While we are washed in the blood of Jesus and cleansed 100% from our sin, we also have expectations on our lives to live it the way He calls us to.

Not long ago our power went out at our house. It was really kind of strange. There was no storm or strong wind... it just went out. As it got later in the day our home began to get darker and darker (and hotter and hotter!). Around 9:30 the lights in the houses around us began to come back on, but our house was still dark. My husband called the power company to find out why we were still in the dark and they informed him that they were working on it, but that some homes were restored quicker than others. We needed to be patient.

What good would it have done for us to claim that we had power when we didn't? We did not have light to see, power to cook by or the coolness of the air conditioner. We could say "Oh yea! We have power! Our lights are fine! They are called flash lights and candles!! That is our light!" While we did have those small sources of light we did not have the REAL source. We could claim that we had light, but really we were still walking in total darkness.

God it telling us... perhaps we do know about Him. Maybe we even go to church and sing to Him and hear things that make us feel good about Him. Knowing things about Him is great, but are we IN FELLOWSHIP with Him?

Knowing about your mom's best friend does not make you have a relationship with that friend. You are not directly in fellowship with her, your mom is! Knowing about our friend's God is not being in direct fellowship with Him.

The scripture says " If we claim to have fellowship yet walk in darkness we lie and do not live by the truth." (vs 6) If we are claiming to know God, and are not living it we are lying. We are lying to God and we are lying to ourselves. We have to be plugged into that source of power in our lives. We can say, "But I am a good person!" and that may be true, but that is only a candle burning compared to the source of God's goodness! Fellowship with someone means that you begin to relate to them, and in that relating you pick up on their characteristics or their habits. When you are with someone that gossips you are more likely to become a gossip. When you are around someone that is happy they usually can rub off on you and you feel happy.

So get this... when we fellowship with God He rubs off on us too! His holiness.. oh, I want to be holy or set apart! His goodness, His kindness, His faithfulness, His patience, His love, His joy, His peace, His gentleness... they all become a part of us because we are allowing our relationship with Him to grow and the Holy Spirit can fill us with His blessings.

Let's not lie to ourselves. Let's not lie to God! Let us seek to have fellowship with Him that is authentic (the REAL deal!) and let us live set apart lives that honor Him.

"We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. But if anyone obeys His Wrod, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:3-6
Monday, September 3, 2007

Living in Holiness

The past couple of devotions on Living in Holiness have been about dwelling in the presence of the Lord. We looked at what the Psalms have to say about dwelling in His sanctuary.

Let me just say that I love being in His sanctuary! There is no other place on earth that I would rather be! Just to be there and pray and worship and be challenged to live this life to the fullest for Jesus is absolutely the best part of my week and my life!

I am also learning that while His sanctuary is a physical place, it is also a state of the heart. I can be in His sanctuary while in my car with the praise music blaring or on a walk with His creation all around me. It is becoming more apparent to me that it is about my submission and His filling no matter where I might be.

But, I do love the physical place of the sanctuary of His church. Just to be with other believers who love and worship our Heavenly Father is a gift that no other venue on earth offers. No work place, no shopping center, no friends home, no restaurant can give the sense of security, peace and refuge that His church can give. It is an amazing place to meet Him face to face and to sense His presence like no other.

Today in Sunday School Chad was teaching on the Pharisees and their legalistic interpretation of the Law. He did such a good job of explaining that Jesus taught His followers that while the law did say certain things, HE came to explain what they really meant. He came to shed light on the fact that our obedience to the law is really a state of the heart. Jesus came to tell us that while the Pharisees did interpret the law to the best of their human standards they were still legalistic and the law, the way they interpreted it, was impossible to fulfill.

I find it interesting that during my quiet time this past week there was a small commentary on the Pharisees. The comment that was made was that the Pharisees really did try! They were men of God. They were men that loved God and while many of them may have been hypocrites they still tried to understand and interpret the Bible to the best of their ability. They were very well read and knew the Old Testament better than most of their day. Many of them felt that they had the right to judge the actions and hearts of others. They were, however, men. Men that were schooled in the scriptures, but also men in need of a Savior. Their own interpretations were so strict that even they could not live up to them, and yet their judgment of others was the very thing that Jesus addressed as He spoke to them.

We are much like those Pharisees. We are men, trying to do our best to praise and love and worship our Father. Many of us are trying to know His Word and be obedient to His commands. We do love Him. But despite our attempts to be all that He calls us to be, we desperately need a Savior. NO Pharisee had it all together. No one could make it into heaven without the shed blood of Jesus. No good works, no worship experience, no church building, no perfect living could save them, and none of it can save us!

Living in Holiness is a pursuit. Not one of us will ever arrive. The scriptures make it clear that while we LOVE our Jesus and while we are seeking to please Him in every way we must be careful about our judgmental hearts.

YOUR TURN: Look in your Bible at Matthew 7:1-5 and read this familiar passage.

Jesus has just been teaching the Pharisees what He really meant with the different commands that they have been living by. Matthew 5-6 are chapters where Jesus speaks to their interpretation of the Law and HIS interpretation of the Law. He follows those chapters with the charge to "not judge others, or you too will be judged."

I do not want to be misunderstood. I do think that it is VERY important that we are in His sanctuary, that we read His Word and that we follow His commands. It is also essential that we share our faith and that we are in a Bible believing church and a church that falls under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I just believe that we must be very careful within those parameters that we do not judge the faith and worship of others.

Not too long ago I was on a team that went to visit a family that had visited our church. They were precious people and were very kind. When asked if they were planning to join the church their response was that they didn't really understand our worship. They didn't see how we could stand in such an awesome church with such awesome preaching and music and not have more emotion.

I later asked some other members about their thoughts about this view of lack of emotion, and they said that no one can see how they are worshipping in their hearts. Some feel such emotion that they can hardly contain it, and yet that worship is between them and their Father.

I share this to say that each of us are different. Each of us encourage and love on others in different ways. We pray differently. We sing differently. We are individuals, each with a different story of how we came to Christ. While each of us can certainly grow in our walk with Jesus we need to be careful about judging others and their walk. Jesus sees each heart as it comes before Him. He is the one that convicts and changes each one of us as we yield to His authority.

Lord, thank you for your church. Thank you for meeting us there each week as we long to worship and surrender to You. Father, help us to be mindful of our brothers and sisters and the fact that you created each of us differently. Holy Spirit, please work in us, change us, and teach us to walk with You. Forgive us when we judge others and help us to keep our eyes on You. Help us to be an encouragement to those who do not know you, and give us the hearts to see them as children that You love! Lord, You are so faithful to love us even when we fall. Help us to love others the way that you would have us to! Amen!