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

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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

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

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.”

 

 

Worship: The Cry of the Spirit Man

“What a beautiful name it is, what a beautiful it is, the name of Jesus Christ, my king…” echoes from the beats pill, as the sounds soothe and saturate my soul.  My heart is calling out to the Father, my spirit man yearning to bathe in the presence of the my heavenly Father.  “But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers” (John 4:23 Amplified).  There is nothing in this world, that can compare to the intensity of an individual who worships the Father in spirit and in truth.  I dare to say, it is a beautiful symphony that is harmoniously composed from the melody of a song inspired by the worshipper to the Father.

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Worship is a deep outpouring of love.  It is the measureless form of human expression to the creator of life.  It is an act of adoration so profound, that it can cause one to wail or even moan.  Thereupon, the person cannot help but to bow, prostrate, or fall on their knees because the presence of God suddenly becomes so tangible (Psalm 149:4).  The Lord of heaven and earth, delights in the praises of His people.  The invitation has been sent and His response? He comes with such unfathomable joy as He enthrones in the center of the heart.

We were created to worship.  Our God is a relational being, and we were created in His very own image and likeness. He formed Adam and Eve with the purpose of having a personal relationship with them.  Take a moment, and just imagine God walking in the garden with Adam by his side.  The Father is engaging with his child.  A smile, a laugh, and an infinite love is surrounding them.  God is enamored with Adam, and Adam of God.  It explains why we long for companionship with others.  God recognized the importance of its need for Adam (Genesis 2:18), and He formed Eve. One of the greatest pleasures of life is spending time in the company of those that we love.  In essence, worship fulfills a deep need for intimacy with God.

Worship is an act of humility.  As we come before the presence of God, it’s a time for laying aside “self” (flesh like desires) and recognizing the greatness and goodness of God. We offer praises of joy and thanks for freeing us from the law of sin and death.  For it is by the blood of Jesus that we are able to enter into His presence.  Let us be mindful that we are the temple of the holy spirit, a dwelling place for Jehovah to reign in our soul.  As it is written in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 19, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?”  Worship gives proper place to God by expressing our need of Him.

This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?
Could you build me such a resting place? – Isaiah 66:1 (NLT)

Worship is vital to the life of every believer.  I can’t begin to express in my own words how essential worship is to us.  In my most difficult times, I’ve turned on the radio, hummed a sweet melody, or belted out loud (perhaps off-key) a song of thanks and praise! The enemy hates when you begin to worship and praise.  The devil knows that there is power in the name that is above all names, the name of Jesus.  It loosens the chains, breaks the shackles and brings deliverance to anyone who calls on God.  Worship is the power cord to help regenerate and sustain our spirit.

All things considered, I can go on listing the reasons why every believer should practice the beautiful art of worship and praise. It’s as personal as your walk with God.  I encourage you to take some time and read the book of Psalms.  It captivates the cry of a soul who is athirst for God. Jesus is seeking those who long to be in His presence. God is looking for open vessels that are willing to invite Him into their temple.  We all long to be lost in the presence of our savior, as He lovingly surrounds us with His cloud of glory.

Do you hear that? Does your soul stir at the still small voice? God is calling out to you.  He is patiently waiting for you to invite Him into your heart and compose a masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Thankful…

Thanksgiving.  In the Merriam Webster dictionary the definition is, “a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.”   It contains three syllables and two words, THANKS-GIVING.  The word thanks is an expression of gratitude, and the word giving means to carry out an act.  When we usually hear or read of the word Thanksgiving, it’s usually synonymous with the annual holiday in which we stuff our faces (especially me!) with roasted turkey and all the rest of the delicious trimmings.

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But, have we really given thought to the meaning of the word? What perspective do you have about the significance of Thanksgiving? I have much to be grateful for as I reflect over the past year.  I can’t help but to feel overwhelmed with gratitude towards my Creator for all things, the good and the bad.  On days when I feel as though the whole world is against me, I “selah” (the Hebrew word that means to pause, think about it) and meditate on all the positive things in my life.  Life is not easy, but then again, who said it would be? Jesus once said:

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  (Matt. 11:28)

What is life without experiencing some kind of pain or lost.  It helps us to become stronger, and in time we become better equipped to handle the next challenge.  It’s comforting to know that we are not alone and with time, things will eventually get better. There are many people who are going through rough times.  We can become so consumed with ourselves that our vision is clouded to see the need of another soul.

Here are few facts to think about….

783 million people don’t have access to clean water,

610, 042 people who are homeless and have nowhere to sleep tonight,

1 in 9 people in the world will not have a meal tonight,

Instead of focusing on what we do or do not have, let us gather around the table and give thanks for our health, our families, the clothes on our backs and food to nourish our bodies.  I also challenge you to reach out to someone in need, whether it’s a friend or neighbor and step outside of your own comfort zones and make a difference in someone’s life this Thanksgiving.

You may be surprised in finding that taking the time to lend a hand is the greatest gift to be thankful for.