Monday, July 26, 2010

Do Not Lose Heart

I don’t know what it was but for the past week or so I just felt so different in my spiritual life. For some reason, I had this overwhelming feeling that what I did was of no value. My service on the ministry team didn’t really matter. I felt so discouraged in my leadership in our life group. I felt drained when I would go to pray, distant from the Father, couldn’t get myself to the Word. It was a strange feeling, not sad or depressed or anything, just sort of foggy. I couldn’t really tell you why. No horrific circumstances or major trials. Just sort of out of nowhere, somewhat subtle, just a little heaviness on my heart. What’s really weird is that I didn’t quite recognize it in the moment. Not until now did I realize I was feeling . . . discouraged.

A sweet friend emailed me with words of encouragement in the midst of this. She didn’t know at the time I was feeling this way, I could barely even put words to it! The LORD spoke to me through her email, lifted me up and reminded me that my service and worship does matter to Him! I can’t believe what Satan was whispering in my ear . . . at one point last week I felt like quitting it all, life group, writing, prayer team, etc. He was whispering that these things are of no value for the Kingdom, and the more I let him whisper, the louder his voice became.

I started to talk about it a little and everyone was shocked and thought I was so ridiculous for feeling this way (not in a condemning way, but surprised at what I was feeling). That made me feel like I need to shake my head around a little and get with it! And you know what, I really needed to just tell Satan to “knock it off” and “get behind me”!! So I did!! I read my friend’s email like 40 times. I thanked the LORD for speaking to me, even when I never spoke to Him about this. He knew what I was feeling, and answered a prayer that was in my heart before it was even in my head!

I listened to another sermon from Chuck Swindoll out of Ephesians 3 today. He was reading Paul’s prayer at the end of the chapter. I love what he had to say about this verse “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” (Eph 3:16). He said Paul prayed this for the Ephesians because they were losing heart. They were feeling discouraged. He said Satan loves to use discouragement because it is subtle, he can get us to quit working for the LORD by making us feel useless and of no value. He said when you’re discouraged it effects you physically-you lose energy, emotionally-you feel useless, mentally-you lose memory (of what God’s done for you), and spiritually-you lose heart(strength in your inner being).

I was so encouraged by Chuck Swindoll’s words and Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians! I felt like that’s what I needed, strength for my inner being! He said when we’re discouraged we should 1) claim His strength, and 2) remember we’re loved. So that’s what I’m doing today. Going back to reread Ephesians 1, pray Psalm 100 and Psalm 145, and lean on Him. I’m plugging my ears to the enemy and looking to Jesus!

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scripture 12

Workmanship & Works
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So, I decided to give painting a try this summer, as a new hobby . . . trying to do something totally different, since my idea of fun is usually organizing or studying! And let me just tell you, I have a hard time painting! I’ve really had a hard time mixing the colors, not doing it perfect, and being “free” as my art teacher tells me! Oh it’s almost embarrassing to admit just how rigid I’ve become. She actually had to tell me “Melissa, the police aren’t going to come and arrest if the colors aren’t perfect”! So needless to say, these lessons have been SO good for me. Painting has been really fun, relaxing, peaceful, and different. I really respect and admire those of you that have artistic ability.

After Brad’s sermon a few weeks ago in James 2 on “faith and works” and these painting lessons this summer, I thought this would be the perfect verse to memorize!

I like this verse for two reasons, “His workmanship” and "good works". Through my very little painting experience, I’ve realized that as the artist you get to start with a blank canvas and make it all your own! So, if He is the artist, I am His workmanship, his blank canvas. The LORD is the one planning the portrait, mixing the colors, and making the strokes. So I’ve been asking the LORD “am I allowing you to paint the picture of my life the way you want it to be? Am I allowing you to make me into the woman you want me to be? Or am I trying to grab the brush and paint the picture that I wanted??? Using the colors I like, the way I want, etc.”

The other reason I like this verse is because of the “good works” part. James 2:14 says “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” I’ve been asking the LORD if I’m living a life of love in response to the grace He’s shown me? Does my faith show itself in works? I’ve also been asking the LORD about the “good works” He’s created me for. What are they? Am I walking in them?

I love how the LORD has used that sermon a few weeks ago and my new painting hobby to bring me to Him in prayer over my life . . . my canvas . . . my works . . . and His plan for me. So, as I memorize this verse, I am trusting Him as the artist, and asking Him to reveal to me what good works He has for me to do. I can’t wait to see the “finished work” . . . with Him . . . in glory!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

And just for fun . . . here’s some of my “original” works from this summer. I'm not the best photographer either, so sorry about that! Can’t quit my day job just yet . . .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010







Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scripture 11

God’s Love

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Someone asked a question that got my mind stirring. “How do I know God loves me? I could think of lots of ways and answers, but there are two words that keep coming to mind.

Depravity & Election.

I have been meditating on Ephesians 2 and thinking on how it says “you were dead, but God made us alive”. I think until we truly understand the depths of our sin and just how sinful we truly are, it’s very hard to understand why we need to be saved from it. If we don’t understand that we were dead, we don’t understand that we need a Savior. If we don’t undertstand that we’re in bondage, we don’t understand why we need a Redeemer. Then, we think of God’s love only in our present circumstances. If God loves me, why is He letting this happen to me? If God loves me, why is this going wrong in my life? We can’t get past the present! We truly have to understand what we have been rescued from in order to understand our Rescuer and His love.

The other thing that brings me to my knees is election, knowing that I was chosen by God. Not only did He save me, rescue me, and redeem me, but He chose to do so before the foundations of the world! (Ephesians 1). God had me in mind and my redemption before he formed the earth. He predestined me for adoption! I can’t help but be grateful to our LORD for that! I think once we realize where we truly are before a Holy God, and think of Him as a Rescuer and Redeemer, we can’t help but fall on our face in gratitude and embrace is grace and love.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:16,19)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)