Walking Through Advent In Song

Join me over on my FB page {Melanie Self} where I am walking my way through Advent in song! Melanie

Monty and I stood in our driveway late last night anticipating a view of the SpaceX Satellite. I was overwhelmed with emotion. What an incredible experience it was as it appeared and took up such significant space in the night sky. The wonder of technology and its display brought me right back to Christmas.
To the sky where the star pointed the way to the baby Jesus and to the manger where our Messiah and Savior lay.

Could those who followed the sign in the sky have ever imagined the galaxies and all that it holds in this way? The King of the heavens, the creator of it all continues to draw our eyes upward. While I am absolutely astonished by the wisdom God has given to mankind, I felt more compelled to fall on my knees and worship HIM. The words from the simple song “Away In A Manger” kept playing over and over in my head.

“The STARS in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

When God the Father scattered the Milky Way and hung Saturn’s rings in place, He thought about Christmas. As God the Son, working in unity with the Father, fashioned the lumbering oxen and the gentle cow with His creative power, He thought of the day when the Father would speak and He’d become flesh. On that day He would gaze with “baby eyes” upon the very creatures He had made.

God the Holy Spirit, moving as a shadow upon the face of the waters in Genesis days, knew one day it would be necessary to move again. This time He would overshadow Mary’s womb, that “the Holy One” to be born of her should be called the “Son of God.”

Isaiah told us that God’s gift would come via special delivery, a son born of a virgin. This son would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Four hundred years later, as an elderly Elizabeth was thinking about the promised gift, God was busy wrapping His Christmas present from heaven in human flesh. And Christmas came early for Elizabeth. When Elizabeth welcomed her cousin Mary, the outcast, ostracized, pregnant girl, God pulled back the wrapping to let her have a peek at His present. Elizabeth’s own baby leaped in her womb for joy, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit, saying:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:42-45)

Encouraged and strengthened by her cousin, Mary also prepared. She knew the anointed One was coming soon—as she was the earthly vessel for God’s divine action.

God couldn’t have a Christmas without a Mary. He needed more than just a devout person, someone who attended synagogue and said her prayers. The child Christ needed a body to live in! So Mary offered the gift of hers:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

Christmas is a time for giving. The prophets gave their promises. Elizabeth gave her praise. Mary gave her body. Joseph gave his reputation. The innkeeper gave his stable; the shepherds, their time. And God gave His Son. Tell me, do you see your present there?

What are you giving for Christmas?

By His Wounds We Are Healed

Suffering and Healing

“….after you have suffered a little while, the Lord will restore…..” 1 Peter 5:10

Now for the rest of the story…..

The Lord began to speak to my heart early Thursday morning- LAST Thursday morning that is. Just after midnight, I experienced tightness in my chest as I went to bed. I followed the protocol: aspirin and two nitro with no relief. So I woke Monty and we left right away for the hospital.

As we would learn, it is all a bit complicated and something that I have quietly battled off and on for two years. But praise be to God that we have answers for future direction and that my friend is answered prayer.

This particular Thursday morning, we were to leave for work with MRO in Watkins Glen. As the Lord would have it, I was exactly where I was preordained to be that morning. By 7:30am, all of the tests were starting. Echo, bloodwork, nuclear stress test, etc….. A long and arduous day but one filled with so many opportunities for faith conversations. While it was no walk in the park as they tried to figure out what to do first, I knew such peace. Truly, the peace that passes understanding. The Lord covered me with such mercy and every caregiver that I had was kind, compassionate and gracious.

By the end of the day on Thursday, three souls would all in some way share in each other’s woundedness, never in total, but enough to faithfully carry another’s burden. Hearts and bodies war-torn who bear scars, brokenness, healing, challenges and all still battling right now in some way.

Throughout the day I went over every story and conversation. Three separate storylines alongside of mine that connected us heart to heart. And the thread of gratitude that bound our hearts, was all about Jesus- healer, comforter, provider, way-maker, messiah, our peace….They were there to serve me but we all cared for each other. And oh how I carry them with me close in prayer daily.

We all bear wounds and scars in this life. Some seen. Some unseen. Physical. Spiritual. Mental. But my heart kept beating with the rhythm of “by His wounds we are healed”.

Just so you know, my physical heart is diseased but the Lord continues to protect me from damage and they smile when they say- you have a very strong “little” heart.

Truly the only part of this story that really matters is God’s great love for us in sending His son Jesus to carry the burden of sin mankind inherited after the fall.

He was wounded for our transgressions.

He was bruised for our iniquities.

When I consider HIS scars and HIS woundedness, nothing we will ever experience in the way of suffering this side of heaven can compare to the scars/wounds that Jesus endured so that we could have a relationship with Him.

The following are words that I wrote throughout the day on Thursday and Friday until they transferred me to Concord. I simply share the following as a way of reminder of so great a love and the agony He endured for our salvation.

After His resurrection, after the piercing and the crushing, after death gave way to glorious life, Jesus appeared to the disciples. I don’t know about you, but when I imagine a perfected body, I don’t picture scars, wounds, or bruises. But Scripture doesn’t say Jesus showed up with perfect skin and perfect hair and a perfect smile. No, Scripture says that in response to their fear and doubt, Jesus shows them His . . . wounds.

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.

Luke 24:38-40 (NLT)

We don’t know exactly what Jesus’s resurrected body looks like, but Scripture is clear on this: Jesus still has scars. It’s His wounds that show it’s truly Him, His scars that the disciple Thomas wanted to see (John 20:19-29).

I wonder if one day we’ll lean in close to see for ourselves, only to find His still-scarred hands reaching out for us.

I wonder if we’ll look for a wound and discover the scar is in the shape of our very own name, inscribed forever on His palm (Isaiah 49:16).

(I wonder if I’ll cry at the sight, and chances are good since I’m crying now just writing this sentence.)

Perhaps it’s worth saying:

Scars are signs of survival, a mark of a cutting open that didn’t end in brokenness but in healing. Your scars show what you’ve been through, yes, but they also show that you made it through. You’re still here.

If Jesus didn’t leave His scars behind, if He chose to keep them for the rest of all time, maybe we can choose to see our own as something beautiful instead of something to wish away. I’m talking about the ones we bare on our bodies and the ones that can’t be seen on our skin.

I’m not advocating that we all walk around showing everything to everyone or sharing every part of our story with complete strangers.

But maybe we could simply say “thank You” next time we look in the mirror. Maybe next time something that bruised us deeply is bumped by words or actions or the date on the calendar, we could bring our hurt to the One who truly understands. Maybe we could begin by asking the Healer to help us see our scars through His eyes.

Precious one. You are loved and cherished by our Lord. Nothing is too difficult. Like Paul and the other disciples, we must keep fighting the good fight. Keep the faith. Everything we do, no matter how hard, doing it all in the name of Jesus and for His sake.

Need a friend? Need to say it out loud and wrangle through it? I promise to be there.

MRO One Summer Edition

Natalie Grant

MRO One “Summer Edition”

One serves as a time to pause during the busy season, worship together and to be filled with hope and faith. Due to Covid, things will be different than in years past. We are excited to try a new venue in downtown Kannapolis, The Gem Theatre. There will be no dinner served though. Tickets are $20.

Purchase tickets https://www.go2mro.com/event-details/mro-one-summer-edition

Time & Location

Jun 23, 6:30 PM. 111 W 1st St, Kannapolis, NC 28081, USA

About the Event

Motor Racing Outreach is pleased to announce, Christian singer Natalie Grant for our MRO One Summer Edition. It is a signature event, formerly known as Summer Caution, which ministers to women in the racing community, whose involvement ranges from broadcast, public relations, marketing and Motorsports charities to being mothers, wives and sisters of men who work in the sport.

Morning Twenty-Eight: A Morning Prayer of Praise

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

We did it!! We have stayed our mind in prayer and we have much to be thankful for. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. I pray that your morning prayer time has been enriched.

Keep an eye out for our next journey through 2021. God is doing amazing things. Blessings on your day of praise as you go!!!

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” Daniel 2:20

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” Psalm 34:1

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 150:6

Father, I praise You today for all that You have done in my life. You are faithful even when I am faithless. Your love pursues me even when I am unlovable. Your forgiveness covers my sin and frees me from its penalty. I praise You for your love and faithfulness to me. Your presence in my life changes everything, empowering me to live each moment of every day, content in knowing You are in control. As I face today, Lord, remind me that no matter what happens, I can praise You! In Your Name, Amen.

Morning Twenty-Six: Prayer To Step Out In Faith Today

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Gracious Father, as we begin a new day, help us to engage your will with a reckless faith. Teach us to trust in you, and help us grow in righteousness. Heavenly Lord, give us the courage to step out in faith this day. Fill our hearts with your spirit, and let us speak your words with pride. Amen

Grab your Bible and do a word search for the word “faith”. Prepare for your mind to be blown. Until then- sing along and make this your prayer today!!!

“Give me Faith” by Elevation Worship https://youtu.be/dNwt7LQiYck

Morning Twenty-Five: Pray For The Work Day Ahead

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..” Colossians 3:23

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

A Prayer for the Work Day Ahead:

Father, thank you for all the ways you’ve blessed me, specifically with this job that pays my bills and puts food on my table. Thank you that ALL work has significance because work is good. Help me bring you glory today, through my actions, my words, through the good work I do to bring order to my little corner of the world. Help me view my work as a blessing and not a curse. Give me grace and strength for the hardest aspects of my job. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Note: If you are a career mama, pray this over the home you are building and the work you are doing in shaping the minds and hearts of your children.

Morning Twenty-Four: Pray For and Surrender Your Cares and Concerns

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

“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.” Matthew 11:28-30

Start your day by praising and worshipping Him.

Cast My Cares by Finding Favour https://youtu.be/fS5hb6otvIU

Pray Fervently- surrender every prayer to laying down all your care and anxiety.

Heavenly Father, I’d like to apologize to You right now. Sometimes I forget to cast all my cares upon You, and spend more time and effort in worrying than focusing on the peace that comes from resting in Christ. Help me to open my understanding through Your Word and realize that worry not only robs me of our joy and peace in the Lord, but is rooted in the sin of unbelief. Whenever I am lost, please provide me with a better understanding that You alone are the One that will replace wasted worries with divine wisdom. Amen.

“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Morning Twenty-Three: A Prayer For Contentment

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

6 Ways to Balance Your Work, Life, and Online School Commitments

Contentment is a simple grace. The morning is one of the best times to have an encounter with God. Pray the moment you wake up if you aren’t already doing so. When you wake up with God, His presence is carried with you wherever you go. May you be blessed on your journey today.

It is our Father’s world, so we should rest in His care. While many of us desire to be content, it is not easily attained or kept. For, no sooner than we begin to enjoy the grace of contentment, it is gone and dissatisfaction returns.

The Bible calls us to allow our convictions, not our circumstances, to govern our sense of contentment. True, biblical contentment is a conviction that Christ’s power, purpose and provision is sufficient for every circumstance. We are to learn how to walk through all kinds of adversity believing in and experiencing Christ’s sufficiency. We have to choose to rest on God’s good promises despite what may be going on in our lives.

Start your day off with a prayer for contentment:

Dear God, I pray that I will stay focused on You today. I pray that You will constantly remind me to be content in all of my circumstances. I pray that You will fill me up that I may be joyful all day, even if stress creeps in. I know that through my contentment, You will be glorified. I want to honor You, Father, in all that I do. Amen.

Morning Twenty-Two: A Prayer For Opportunity

28 Days of Morning Prayer Focus

Our Heavenly Father has filled our lives with incredible opportunities. It’s important that we are always ready so that we can hear God’s voice when He is calling us. We don’t want to miss these opportunities when they come to us. Start your day off with this morning prayer for opportunity.

Dear Lord, I pray today that I will yield my spirit completely to You, that You may use me as You please. I pray that You will provide me opportunities to show people how much You mean to me. Give me discretion to know what to say and how to say it. Make me bold enough that I may proclaim salvation cheerfully and joyfully. I pray that the seeds You allow me to plant will grow and mature. I am forever grateful for the cross; may I proclaim it in a contagious way today. Amen.