Tuesday, May 15, 2018

All that I Am

 (Just FYI: Today I felt led to share the same post for both Blogs: SALT & HOPEFUL HEART. If you are subscribed to both, I am sorry for the same message but felt I needed to share to both groups of readers)

Good morning!  Hope you are doing good today!  I was wondering if anyone could use some encouragement this morning.  I sure needed some and God delivered!

During my quiet time this morning, I poured my heart out to God.   I told Him of my concerns and  burdens.   I told Him how weak I felt and how unworthy I felt to share with others. (as if He didn't know) Finally, I opened my Bible and the pages fell open to Psalms 103.  As I began to read, God's Spirit strengthened my soul.   Psalms 103 is packed with awesome encouragement.   I want to challenge you to read it today!   However, several verses really spoke to me.

Psalms 103:1-2 (NLT) says:

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.  Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.

What jumped out to me in that verse was "all that I am".  All that I am!?  You mean the sometimes moody, emotional, grumpy Melaina?   You mean the Melaina that sometimes forgets to be thankful?  You mean the Melaina that sometimes lets anxiety win over faith?   The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and answered my questions:  Yes, even then....ALL that you are praise Me.  It's not about perfection, it's about faithfulness and love.   I was instantly encouraged because sometimes I feel I'm such a mess I don't know where to start praising God.   However, God reminded me to just come to Him mess and all!  If you are feeling like a mess today, don't let the enemy make you think you need to hide from God.  Adam and Eve tried that and it didn't work!   On the other hand, RUN to Him and give thanks for His faithfulness.  Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)

Psalms 103:11-14 (NLT) says:

For His unfailing love towards those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  For He knows how weak we are, He remembers we are only dust.

Wow!  God is so good.  Do you remember who wrote this Psalm?  David did!  David certainly was a mess at times and needed much forgiveness and mercy!  These verses remind us of God's amazing unfailing love and compassion for us.  We are also reminded that we can be forgiven from our sins and He removes them from us!  Praise God.  Sounds like our God knows we are messy and still offers love and forgiveness.  In fact, He knows we MUST have it!

Are you trying to impress God today?  Are you trying to hold it all together as you go before Him?  I want to encourage you to run to Him, just as you are.  Let Him refresh, forgive, and restore you. He knows our weaknesses and still loves us!  He's waiting for you! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Work it Out

 In Philippians 2:12 the Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.What does it mean to "work out your salvation"?  Some denominations will tell you it means you get to Heaven by your works.  You work really hard and (as if you could) you earn your salvation.   Think about it.  Could we really earn righteousness?   Was the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus all in vain?  Absolutely not!  While I am certainly not a Bible Scholar with a Biblical degree, I do have the Holy Spirit living in me.  Recently, I was sharing with someone about how we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Christ and we do that by renewing our minds and walking in Him. (Romans 12:1-2)  Christ has done all the work for us to be righteous and we have to receive it.  However, there is something else we must do:  BELIEVE in the finished work of Christ in our lives. 

Let me give you an example. I have shared with you before that I have struggled with anxiety alot in my life; when I was young and some even now.  When I first got saved I felt overwhelming peace most of the time.  I didn't feel anxious at all.  When people asked me how I could be so calm, I would tell them what Jesus did for me.  Some years later however, I went through a season of feeling anxious alot. I would pray that the anxious feelings would go away. I would also rebuke the spirit of anxiety in the Name of Jesus.   However, often the feelings didn't go away and I just assumed I had no choice but to react.  I would get upset and begin to fret and worry.  Sometimes I would let the worries get me really down.  I didn't understand until recently that I had a choice and I was choosing anxiety!

 Now before you choke me, let me explain what I mean.   I was not choosing to "feel" anxious because I had no control of what feelings came my way.  On the other hand, I did have control over how I responded to the feeling.   I had two choices:  Believe my feelings and spiral out of control in anxiety and fear OR believe what God says about me and respond to His Word.  God says that He will keep me in perfect peace if I keep my mind on Him.  God says He didn't give me a Spirit of fear but of power, love and sound mind.  (Isaiah 26:3, 2 Timothy 1:7)   So, I have a choice.   Even though my stomach feels nervous and my mind is racing, I can choose to believe that walking in anxiety is opposite than walking in faith and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)  I then proceed to act like a person who believes God is faithful.  I stop trying to fix the problem.  I stop ranting and raving over my worries.  I stop eating out of stress. I simply say, "God, I trust in you and I choose to walk in peace."   I still feel nervous at times and do occasionally choose to believe my feelings over God's Word.  However, more and more my faith is getting stronger and when I catch myself spiraling down, I stop and repent. (1 John 1:9)

I want to encourage you today to "work out your salvation".  We have a choice how we respond to things that come our way.  If God says you can do everything through Him, then you can!  If God says that if you trust Him and focus on His Kingdom and all your needs will be met, then trust Him!  When you believe God's Word over your emotions, you are truly working and living out the finished work of Christ.  The great news is God has already won the victory for us!  Our job is to not only believe His Word, but to live and respond like we believe it!

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Anchor

This life is really hard.  Each day we are faced with situations that test our emotional well-being.   You can turn on the news and before long feel a sad hopelessness looming over your head.   Life is a struggle!  Sometimes I feel like a ship tossed about the sea that without an anchor, I would be quickly lost.  However,  I praise God that Christ is my Anchor.

I became a Christian when I was 22.   Being a Pastor's daughter I had thought I was a true believer when I was younger.  However, I knew something was missing.  I lacked power and desire to walk with Christ.  Years later when I met Chad, there was something about him that I wanted in my life.  He had a calmness and a peace.  At that time I seldom felt peace or calm.  He had a joy just being alive.  At that time I felt restless, bored and always looking for fun.  He had a sense of direction for his life.  At that time I was lost and felt I was floundering from one day to the next.  When I asked him what made him content and peaceful, he said Jesus had made the difference in his life.  It wasn't long until I was desperate before the Lord crying and asking Him why did I not feel that way.  The Lord showed me that I had head knowledge of Him but never a true heart knowledge of Jesus.  I knew alot about Him but never spent time with Him.   In other words, I talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk because Jesus was not the Lord of my life; I was.  As I surrendered my life to Christ,  He filled me with His Spirit, and for the first time in my life I had deep peace and joy. He became my Anchor. Christ made the difference!

Now fast forward 27 years and I am still walking with Christ. He has never stopped loving me or left my side.  He has given me peace in situations that would normally be impossible to walk through. He is my Rock and my Shield and my stability. Have I failed Him?  Absolutely.  However, as it says in 1 John 1:9 if I confess my sins to Him, He is faithful to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In addition to His forgiveness, He keeps me in the palm of His hand and loves me. (John 10:28-29, Romans 8:28-37)  Saying all of this, there are still days that I am caught off guard by what this life brings about.  Sometimes I find myself struggling to feel anything and am tired and worn.  Does that mean that Christ no longer lives in me?  Does that mean that He doesn't love me anymore?  On the contrary, when I find myself struggling to feel God's presence, I find that I seek Him more.  The first place I start is in examining my heart.  I ask God to reveal any sin that I allow to reign in my heart.  When He shows me things, I agree with Him that I have sinned and I repent.   Secondly, I ask my friends to pray with and for me. This life is much easier with Godly friends by your side.  Lastly, I remind myself of all that God has done in the past on my behalf.   It is in the times that I feel the weakest that I cry out to God the most.  God is not fickle.  He says what He means and He keeps His Word.  If He says "Never will I leave you or forsake you", then He won't leave or forsake us! 

I want to remind you today that no matter how you feel, that God loves you very much; whether you are a Christian or not.  Romans 5:8 says while we are still sinners He loved us and gave His life up for us.  If you don't have a relationship with Him, I assure you that He is inviting you to come to Him and allow Him to be your anchor.  I realize that in this life storms will come.  However, I pray that as you sail life's seas, you will make sure you are anchored in Christ.