We’ve Moved!

Friends!

I have exciting news! We have moved to a new home:

http://www.melissapereira.org

I would like to take the time to thank all of you who have been following this blog.  I would love if you would join me on this exciting new journey as we transition to our new website.  Please take the time to read about the mission of Cultivating The Harvest and subscribe.

Today is Good Friday, and we have a new series to kick-off Easter weekend titled—Because He Lives! Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros of Cisneros Cafe has given us a closer look into the significance of the crucifixion.  

It a whole weekend filled with stories that will inspire you as you reflect upon the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross and his glorious resurrection. Tomorrow we have Christina Hubbard of Creative and Free sharing with us! And finally, we will end our series with Jessica Galán as she inspires us with words concerning the resurrection of Christ.

I hope you will join us because you don’t want to miss it!

Thank you and I pray that you all have a Happy and Wonderful Easter Holiday!

Blessings,

 Melissa 

 

 

 

 

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Supper With My Enemy

“It’s almost time,” Jesus thinks to himself. His eyes slowly gaze upon his disciples. They are settling down as they take their places at the table. The sounds of boisterous talking, as they recount the act of the woman and her alabaster jar of costly oil.

“Why would he talk about his burial preparations?” Thomas wondered.

“Brother, you remember what the Rabbi told us. The time will come when He will suffer great things for the sake of mankind,” responded Peter boldly.

“So now you are confident in this?” retorted Thomas sharply.

“He is the Messiah, the son of the living God,” Peter answered. Thomas looked at Peter with a questionable glare.

Jesus overhears the conversation taking place, but his concern lies with one in particular.  He is still missing. “Judas,” He motions with his lips.  Suddenly, the door opens as Judas walks in, the last of the twelve to arrive.  He is greeted warmly as the others stand to embrace and kiss him. A kiss? Irony can be so cruel as it is the same gesture he would use to betray the Messiah.

They are all seated.  The celebration of the Passover begins as they feast on the meal that was prepared.  Jesus, who is reclined at the table (Luke 22:14), begins to bless the supper one last time.  The disciples have no idea that their world will be turned upside down in just a few hours.

“This is my body” Jesus states.  By His stripes people shall be healed (Isaiah 53:5)

“This is my blood” He continues to say.  The blood that was shed on the cross will pay the price for the wages of sin and death. (Ephesians 2:13)

“One of you will betray me,” Jesus calmly announces.

The twelve begin to question who will be the one to commit such a treacherous act against God!

Judas doesn’t utter a word.  He shifts in place. 

“How could he know?” He mutters to himself.  “Did someone tell him?” He looks up as he locks eyes with Jesus.  Finally, he responds,“surely, it is not I Lord?”

“It is as you say,” Jesus replies.

As we are on the cusp of celebrating the Superbowl of all holidays (as my Pastor likes to call it!), I was reminded of the last supper.  The scriptures don’t explain why Judas betrayed Jesus.  He walked with Jesus.  He saw him perform many miracles such as healing the sick, casting out demons, and even raising the dead back to life.  Similarly, we may have those who walk in our circle; however, they don’t have our best interest at heart.  We never even see it coming.  These are the types of people who will flash a fake smile and yet, whisper behind your back.  Friends, have you ever felt the sting of betrayal?

I have experienced that feeling far too often in my own lifetime.  It hurts like heck.  You are left feeling abandoned, and naked as your wounds are open flesh for the birds of the air to pick on.  Vivid memories flash before me as I think of the people who I loved, and entrusted my deepest secrets and fears to.  As a part of me grieves for the lost friendships, the holy spirit reminded me of the scripture found in the book of Psalms, chapter 23 verse 5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”

Jesus never once called Judas out.  He never treated him any different, nor stopped sharing the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and loved him unconditionally.  He defied all odds by allowing his enemy to sit at the table and partake of the special meal that was intended for him and his companions.  It was a foreshadow and a reminder to Judas that he was the word that became flesh and his mission was soon going to be fulfilled.

Ultimately, God always foils the plans of our enemies.  In our darkest hour, with our backs up against the wall, we have confidence in knowing this—God is our protector and he will stop at nothing to see you through because victory has been won.

Blessings!

~Melissa

I AM – Attributes of God

It was the greatest revelation recorded in the old testament–I AM.  It was the answer to a question that was asked by Moses during a time of great peril for the Israel community.  He was tending to his father-in-law’s flock when he beheld a great light.  Curiosity compelled him to go and walk towards what appeared to be a bush on fire.  “So Moses said, ” I must turn away (from the flock) and see this great sight– why the bush is not burned up” (Exodus 3:2).  I want to ask you today–During this season of your life, in what ways has God revealed himself to you?

Elohim: My Creator (Genesis 1:1)

Jehovah: My Lord God (Genesis 2:7)

El Shaddai: My Supplier (Genesis 17:1)

Adonai: My Master and Lord (Genesis 18:3)

Jehovah Jireh: My Provider (Genesis 22:14)

Jehovah Rophe: My Healer (Exodus 15:26

Jehova Nissi: My Banner and Victory (Exodus 17:15)

Jehovah Mikkadesh: My Sanctifier (Leviticus 20:7-8)

Jehovah Tsidkenu: My Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

Jehovah Shalom: My Peace (Judges 6:24)

Jehovah Rohi: My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)

Jehovah Shammah: My Abiding Presence, The Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35)

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true [supreme and sovereign] God, and [in the same manner know] Jesus [as the] Christ whom You have sent.” ~ John 17:3 (Amplified)

Friends, it is the heart of God for you and me to discover WHO He is! Just as he revealed himself to Moses on the mountain of the burning bush, God wants to unveil his divine attributes to all of us.  He is our peace, healer, provider and so much more.

Today, it is my prayer that you find encouragement in knowing that we serve an all-sufficient, all-knowing God! Take the time to read each name, and meditate on each scripture provided.  Let it serve as a gentle reminder of God’s love and goodness intended for all of us.

 

Blessings and Love,

Melissa

It’s Not Over! – A Story of Faith

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Happy Sunday!

I pray that this finds you filled with peace and joy.

Here’s some good news:

“Renegade faith is like no other because it challenges you to abandon your norms. It pushes you to step outside of the borders that you define as safe. Faith requires you to talk BIG, become DARING and live FEARLESSLY!”

Today, I am over at Cisernos Cafe with my hot steaming cup of bustelo coffee as I share about awakening your giant for her new series-Begin Again.

So, grab your hot beverage of choice, and come join me as we find the soul grace to begin again by activating our faith in Christ!

http://www.cisneroscafe.org

Blessings and Love!

Melissa

 

 

Renewing The Mind: Redesigning Our Thoughts in Christ

Scriptures to read: Romans 12:2; Psalms 57:10-11; and Joshua 1:8

I am on a journey.  It all started in 2016 and rolled over into the new year.  I wander in the desert with nothing more than my bible in tow.  Throughout the tedious process, I have cried, thrown my hands up in the air, questioned, and even doubt crept in.  I am naked before the eyes of my Lord, as he is remolding and reshaping my life.  Most importantly, my way of thinking.  To tell you the truth, it hurts like HELL!  For a time, I thought that my way was always God’s way (Isaiah 55:9).  But, clearly, evidence of life has proven that this was never what he had intended for me.  And so, I must lick my wounds and hold on to the hem of Jesus’ robe as he gently leads me.

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You have all heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for.”  Needless to say, I was asking the Lord to purge my heart and soul.  I was praying for a huge makeover.  Our God is a gentleman and he never imposes himself on us.  On the other hand, once we invite God in to do damage control, he’s ALL in! Surely enough, as the days and weeks slowly roll by, He has exposed me; leaving me raw.  The Lord was showing me one area in my life that I had too much control over, my mind.  He revealed that my thought patterns were slowly choking the seeds of God’s truths planted in my heart.

You may be wondering how so? For example, I have struggled with low self-esteem for most of my life.  The word tells me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made..” (Psalm 139:14), but years of hurtful comments from others suddenly became my truth.  It superseded what God spoke at the time of my birth.  Our thoughts can hold us captive and bound in chains.  We never realize that we are the ones keeping ourselves imprisoned in our own illusions.

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TRICKY LITTLE DEVIL!

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

The daily battle we face is a tug of war between flesh and spirit.  The enemy will attack the first line of defense, which is the mind of the believer.  He will try to infiltrate our thoughts and bombard us with lies of loneliness, doubt, depression, etc.  It’s a strategic plan devised to rob the living word of God from you and I.  Here’s the good news-God doesn’t leave us defenseless.  1 Corinthians 10 verse 4 states, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”  The word of the Lord breaks the yoke and stronghold of the enemy over our lives.  Right now where you are, begin to open your mouth by declaring and decreeing the word of God over your mind!

 

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As my journey continues, I grow stronger, wiser, knowing that I am not alone.  The battle of the mind wages on, but I now stand fully equipped and empowered in God.  Ultimately, I choose to trust the process as the blessed assurance of renewal and sanctification await me at the start of each new day (Lamentations 3:23).

Will you join me today and pray the following:

Heavenly Father, I thank you because you are making a way for us during this season of our lives.  You are teaching and equipping us to use the heavenly weapons to fight and stand against the daily battle of our minds.  I pray that you would renew, and refresh our thoughts in the precious name of Jesus.  We yield the sword of the spirit, which is your precious word to pierce through any thoughts and old mindsets that are not aligned with your spoken word.  I thank you, Father, that you never leave us defenseless us as you gently guide us through the valley.  It is our prayer that you continue to perfect our faith in Christ as we trust in you, in the mighty name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Connected To The Source

Imagine a world without cell phones, iPads, or the internet.  Scary thought isn’t it? A few centuries ago, before the invention of mobile devices and Google, we were a society that somehow found a way to stay connected.  I remember a time when we put a pen to paper and perhaps wrote the best love letters that would even rival the works of Shakespeare.  We know how to stay connected to our gadgets, but are we taking the time to recharge our spiritual livelihood? As people of faith, if we don’t plug in to our greatest source – God, eventually our batteries will die out.

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Here are a few things you can do to recharge your spiritual livelihood.

SHUT IT DOWN.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:16 (NIV)

As a society, we have grown accustomed to being glued to our devices.  So much so, that we find it nearly impossible to unplug ourselves every now and then.  Jesus knew the importance of staying connected to the Father.  He would leave the crowds and find a quiet place to commune with God.  Take some time out today to spend with your creator.  In His presence, we are rejuvenated, refreshed and strengthened.

SING YOUR HEART OUT!

Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. – Psalm 96:2

I love to sing my heart out to God.  Anyone close to me knows that I will belt out in a song any chance I get.  When you begin to worship, a sound is released that is unique and unlike no other.  Remember the story of Mary and her alabaster box? The costly oil was her most treasured possession, it was all she had.  Without hesitation, Mary realized that her worship to Jesus was far more valuable than the small jar she owned.  In turn, Jesus was pleased and blessed her obedience.  Beloved, if you find yourself with nothing left to give, rest assured that there is a melody in your heart waiting to be sung.  The word says that He will inhabit your praise (Psalm 22:3).  It is the heartfelt cry of our spirit man that captures the heart of God.

See related article: Worship: The Cry of the Spirit Man 

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DO LIFE TOGETHER.

There is something to be said when people come together in fellowship.  In the book of Acts chapter 2, we read how they all assembled in one place and experienced a super natural encounter that changed their lives forevermore. As we continue to read on, verse 44 states:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. ~ Acts 2:44

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There is power when two or more people are present (Matthew 18:20). Like a well-oiled machine, we need each other.  The bible teaches us to encourage, pray and lift each other up continuously.  Just the other night, I had my very first life group with a few sisters from my local church.  My spirit leaped inside as we broke bread, studied the word, and shared about what God is doing in our lives.  Human connection does good to the soul because we serve a relational Father.

I pray that these little golden nuggets will help you navigate through the waters of life as you find unique and different ways to recharge your spiritual battery.

 

Blessings!

 

Finding Your Happily Ever After

“And they lived happily ever after.  The End.”

Every romance novel seems to end with a heroine triumphantly riding off into the sunset with her knight in shining armor.  If only our lives would mimic the classic fairy tales we all grew up reading.  Instead, our perfect rendition of a happily ever after is an evening of watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones! But, seriously, we long for love.  Our hearts were uniquely designed for this purpose.  Our creator is inviting us to join him on a journey of romance that would rival the famous fairy tales of old.

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“My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.” ~ Song of Songs

Long ago, before the foundations of the world…

God looked upon your unformed being and was immediately captivated by you (Psalm 139:16).  It was at that precise moment that God made an eternal vow to love you with an everlasting love.  It is a covenant forged out of the very heart of our creator.  A love so deep, that it would compel him to make the ultimate sacrifice known to mankind.  He would step down from heaven to take on human form and eventually embark on a 3 year mission to romance the hearts of the people.

I always imagined love to be a beautiful tapestry of vivid colors that were woven into the fabrics of our hearts.  Some would describe it as an exhilarating high that sets us free the moment we allow it to penetrate our soul.  To be quite honest, I am no expert when it comes to the affairs of the heart.  My own lackluster in this particular department had left me to piece together what I had read in novels and watched on the big screen.  I wanted so badly to be the damsel in distress.  To experience an undying love that would leave me breathless.  I prayed for someone to rescue me from the seemingly dismal life that had no future, no room for a happy ending.   Why was everyone around me getting engaged, married or starting a relationship? I asked the Lord, “what is left for me? Suddenly, something beautiful began to emerge from the ashes and it all started with an invitation.

He called out to me…

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away! ~ Song of Songs 2:10-13

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I’ve had my heart-broken once too many times. I spent many nights spilling thousands of tears over empty promises that robbed me of my “happily ever after.”  Unbeknownst to me, Jesus was extending a hand towards me.  He wanted to romance me in the way he has always intended for his princesses. He gently reminded me through my pain, that the love he has for me, is unfailing.  

I was placing my heart in the wrong hands.  The bible tells us that we should guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).  My search for love and romance had taken me down a wrong path.  I didn’t need to look for love in someone, in fact, I needed to go straight to the source which was Jesus.  When you totally surrender your life to God, he leads you to discover love through his eyes.  I no longer needed the validation of a person’s love to make me feel complete.  The moment I allowed that nugget of truth to take root deep in my heart, I experienced a new level of love for Christ and in Christ like never before.

Beloved, on the evening of this Valentine’s day, I want you to know that your love story is far from being over.  It hasn’t even begun! Open your heart and allow romance to take hold of you as you explore daily doses of God’s immeasurable love for you.

Let the finger of God rewrite your love story!

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Blessings,

~Melissa

Thoughtful Thursday

Just a Thought: 

Our monthly ritual of gathering together was met with warm hugs, stories and a good dose of laughter.  As we sat in a semi-circle, one friend shared, “You know, we have to be thankful- thankful that we have a job to pay our rent, purchase food, etc.”  She is absolutely right.  How often do we stop and THANK God?

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I am thankful that I was able to open my eyes and see the snow falling;

I am thankful for hearing the words, “I love you Momma” from my little one;

I am thankful for the tender shoulder from a friend that I can lean on;

I am thankful for a Mom whose faith compelled her to always pray for her children;

I am thankful for being able share the good news of Christ to those around me;

I am thankful for the trials, storms and circumstances, because it has only further cemented my foundation in Christ.

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Friends, we all have something to be eternally grateful for.  Let us begin to offer God sacrifices of praise in all things.  If we can grab hold of this kingdom principle and apply it daily in our walk, it will awaken the spirit of Thanksgiving from deep within.  

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”~Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV). 

God Bless!

There and Back Again, a Wayward’s Tale.

December 2016

I’m sitting in church.  The music is roaring.  A man is singing his heart out to God.  I am moved to tears.  The story was about me.  In fact, it is me.  I break down.

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. ~ Luke 15

The Only Way In

September 2004

I made an unprecedented move that would change the course of my life.

It’s the tale of the wayward child who turned his back on the only family he’d ever known. A biblical story that is all too familiar.  Unlike the prodigal son, I didn’t leave with a trust fund. But, I did inherit a wounded heart and my 8 year-old boy in tow.  And just like him, I ran away believing that starting a new life in a distant land would erase painful memories. A lost childhood. Broken promises. Dead-end opportunities.

Why did he run?

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise. ~ Proverbs 12:15 

The parable doesn’t go into why he chose to leave in the first place.  We are only left to wonder what drove him to leave home.  Did he have something to prove? Did a fight ensue between himself and his brother? Did he get along with his Father?

The 10 year-old in me was ready to bust out of the joint I called home.  But, I never fathomed that my past would collide with my present in such a way that it nearly annihilated my future. When we’re standing at a crossroad, isn’t it just easy to pick up and go? Or maybe if we snap our fingers and *POOF* everything will disappear.  It was settled, I made up my mind and there wasn’t anyone who was going to stop me.  I was headstrong in my decision.  Stubbornness can cause blindness to the truth.  Often times, we harden our hearts when a friend or loved one extends a word of advice or encouragement.

“Don’t go,” my Mamí pleaded.  “Why do you have to go so far away?

I left with a HUGE chip on my shoulder.  

I was the second oldest of the bunch, but felt neglected emotionally.  I craved for any scrapings of attention from my parents, friends, etc.  Nothing could satisfy my insatiable desire for attention.  I felt unworthy of love and incapable of capturing anyone’s affection. My biological father kicked my mother and I out when I was only a year old.  The seeds of rejection were planted into my young heart, and for rest of my adulthood it wickedly teased and taunted me. My Mom eventually married, but the new man in my life who would raise me as his daughter could never fill the void of emptiness in my heart. Something was missing.

June 2016

I pulled into the paved driveway of my apartment complex.  I had a pit in my stomach.  I was expecting a white envelope with “Tenant Apt. C” to receive me when I arrived at my front door.  I reluctantly let myself out of the car and slowly made my way to the entrance of the building.  I stopped mid-way up the stairs, as I caught sight of the wretched white envelope.  I finished the last few steps and walked over to pick it up.  I unlocked the door and let it slam behind me.  With fingers trembling, I ripped it open, …“This letter is to serve notice that you are being evicted from your apartment and you have 30 days to answer…”  12 years of running led up to this moment.  I had lost it all.  I couldn’t finish reading it.  I felt nauseous.  I picked up my cell phone.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ ~ Luke 15

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THE AHA! MOMENT.

The prodigal son had a “AHA!”- moment.  In his own quest to find himself, he actually lost a valuable piece of who he was and who he belonged to.  He allowed the lures and cares of this world to entice him to live outside the will of the father.  It forced him to rise above his present situation and go back to his roots.  I too realized that I left with an inheritance that I neglected for so long.  A spiritual inheritance whose foundation was fortified with faith, hope and love that only comes from Christ.  It wasn’t too late to go back.  Sometimes in life, God needs to bring us back in order for us to move forward.  My healing was going to start where it all began, home.

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. ~ Luke 15

December 2016

I wiped the tears as I glanced over at my Mom who was sitting next to me, smiling. There was no need for words.  We sat in awe.  It was that night, that the Lord reminded us of His merciful love for all who are lost.  He is, and always will be waiting with open arms, ready to receive his prodigal children.

The world had stopped for a moment as I heard the gentle voice of the Father whisper –

“Welcome Home Melissa.”