Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hope

There is no doubt that your faith has been tested, thus you have had times when it was hard to hope for anything let alone something good. The feeling of hopelessness to me is just being numb. Going through your daily routine, but not expecting anything. It is as if you are just going through the motions. You want to feel something, but you can’t even begin to feel the “normal” emotions of whatever you are going through. You may not even be able to cry anymore. You just become cold and lifeless.

In the 80’s a movie came out that to me is the perfect visual example of what happens when you stop hoping. The name of the movie is called “The Neverending Story”. In the story the mythical characters are troubled by “the Nothing”. The characters are doing life as usual, but the Nothing is destroying their world. They don’t know why it’s happening or how to stop it. In the end we find the Nothing was the lack of hopes and dreams that their world needed to survive. The more they stopped hoping and dreaming the bigger the Nothing became. It fed off their hopelessness. I won’t give away the conclusion in case anyone wants to see it, but it does have a good lesson to be learned.

Just like the characters in the movie, we need hope to survive. We need to believe that the Lord hears and cares about our hopes and dreams because He does. Once we give up and stop hoping we are sentencing ourselves to the worst that life has to offer. God never intended you to live that kind of life. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. John 10:10 NKJV

Maybe you have given up because the promise that the Lord has given you hasn’t come to pass. Has it been months or even years that you have been waiting on the promise? Don’t stop hoping or believing now. I know that it can be discouraging to wait, but if anything is worth the wait isn’t it a promise from God? In the Bible we read in chapters of life changing miracles and promises that take place over just a couple flips of a page. It is important to remember that these people we read about didn’t have their prayers or promises answered overnight. My bible doesn’t say how long Joseph was in jail, but it does say it was two years later that the wine taster told Pharaoh of Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams.

The fact is we have all been given a promise. The promise that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you, a promise of His return, and a promise of eternal life with Him. No matter what you are going through right now I challenge you to say “My God is able!” When you don’t know what to pray, say “My God is able!” When the circumstances seem unchangeable cry out, “My God is able!” Say “My God is able” whenever you are faced with something that is beyond your control. When someone comes to you with a prayer request or need tell them “My God is able”. Thank God that His ways are not our ways and He can make a way when there doesn’t seem to be a way. Remember God is thinking the best for your life even when you are thinking of the worst.

The challenge this week is to start dreaming and hoping again. Can you imagine what your children would be like if they stopped dreaming? You would do everything you could to encourage them to hope and dream because you know that life doesn’t have any meaning without it. Just because you are not a child anymore doesn’t mean that this rule doesn’t apply to you. You are a child of God. Have the faith of a child and dream like one!

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Marriage That Works

I can't remember the last time I was so excited about being in church with my husband. I was all smiles and school girl giddy this past Sunday. I had been waiting all week for the vow renewal. I was just as excited as on my wedding day. On my wedding day I wasn't nervous at all. I remember thinking, "How am I going to get through my own wedding without crying?" In reality I didn't cry at all. I was smiling and laughing just like I was on Sunday. I was also just as anxious to kiss Mark on Sunday as I was 12 years ago! Although this time was much easier without my dad looking on.

I think the reason I experienced such excitement (and still do) was that Mark has always shown me the Agape love that Pastor Scott talked about. Mark was my best friend, but we never dated. When we met I was not serving the Lord and I was not a nice person to put it mildly. Mark loved me anyway and saw past all my faults. Literally at the time he fell in love with me my family struggled to like me. They always loved me because I was family, but because of my actions I can't blame them for not liking me. Only two men in my life have loved me like this, my dad and my husband.

This kind of love can only come from the Lord. He is Love. When you love others with Agape love you are being Jesus in the flesh to them. When you love someone unconditionally you are showing them God does the same. When I gave my life back to the Lord I received His forgiveness because that is the example my dad had shown me all my life. It has been said that the relationship you have with your earthly father can shape the relationship you have with your heavenly father. For example, if you feel like your earthly father only loved you when you did something he approved of then you will feel the same about God. You will see God as someone who loves you with conditions. This is totally wrong.

When we get married it is "for better or worse". When we accept Jesus as our personal savior we become part of the bride of Christ. Jesus already made the decision to you and I to love us "for better or worse" on the cross. When we accept Him we are making the same commitment back. Not that God could ever be worse, but that no matter our situation we make the commitment to love, honor, serve, and obey Him, for better or worse, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health until death or His return.

God has an Agape love for you. A love that is unconditional, a love that waits for you no matter how often you have rejected Him, a love that nailed Him to the cross for you. Whether you are married or not you need God's Agape love and you need to show it to others. Many of us can remember a time in our lives when someone showed us this kind of love though we did nothing to deserve it.

  • Is there someone in your life right now you are struggling to love without conditions?
  • Do you know someone who could be transformed by this kind of love?
  • Does your husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, etc. know that your love is totally unconditional because God's love for them is the same?
  • What greater gift could you give someone than telling them of God's love and how you love them the same?


Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Freedom

Well there is nothing that I could add to the testimonies given on Easter, except “How awesome is our God”!

Every testimony this past Sunday seemed to have a common thread of hopelessness. Each person couldn’t have survived without the hope that comes with freedom given by the Lord. I love that our God seems to work best when we give up on everything and when everyone has counted us out. I believe it is here that He can really “show off”.

God’s freedom from the grave is our ticket to free us from whatever burden is holding us back. No matter where we are right now God is waiting for us to ask to be free. He is waiting to show us what only He can do. Do you want to be the next to share your testimony of what God has done in your life? Your testimony isn’t something to haunt you. You don’t need to be ashamed. It is a symbol of your freedom.

“For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay - the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command - will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.” Romans 8:20-21

Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fireproof Your Marriage - Part 4

Forgiveness

Are you going to let Satan outwit you, or are you going to forgive someone? How often do we forget that unforgiveness opens the door for Satan in your life? I don't know about you, but I have enough struggles in my life and I don't need Satan creeping in the backdoor.

Pastor Scott gave us 7 ways to forgive:
1. Make a decision to forgive.
2. Say the words - at least to yourself.
3. When you forgive, do just that - forgive.
4. Forgive completely.
5. Forgive repeatedly.
6. Remember that forgiving doesn't mean forgetting.
7. Remember that forgiveness doesn't mean trusting.

Forgiveness is free. It cannot be earned. We cannot confuse forgiveness with trust. Trust can't be given it must be earned. They are not the same. Just because you may struggle to trust someone doesn't mean you have the right to with hold forgiveness towards them.

Let us never forget that the Lord forgave us before we ever asked and is faithful to continue forgiving when we do ask. Pay it forward and forgive others the way the Lord forgave you.

Remember, Jesus taught us in the Lords Prayer to pray..."forgive us our sin "as" we forgive others..."

Another way to translate this is...

"forgive me 'Just like' I forgive others"
"forgive me 'with the same attitude' as I forgive others"
"forgive me 'with the same urgency' as I forgive others"


Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fireproof Your Marriage - Part 3

TEMPTATION....what's yours? We all have them and we all need to be real about what they are. There is no shame in being tempted, even Jesus was tempted. If you're not being tempted from time to time you're not breathing (or are not being honest). Temptations can grow into problems that consume more and more of our lives and cause crises when we allow them the time and access to our minds and bodies.

Pastor Scott talked about men and their struggles on Sunday, and touched a little on the struggles that women face. I won't elaborate any on men's struggles, since I've never been one, but I wanted to add a couple things about women. I believe that one of the greatest struggles women face comes from what I call "fantasy thinking." The fantasies can come from romance novels, soap operas, watching certain TV shows, etc. We begin to try to live out the lives of these fiction characters and expect the same from those around us. This is a recipe for disaster!

We also need to choose our friends carefully. There is a common saying among women (often older women teach it to the younger ones) that goes like this, "The first time you marry for love, and the second time you marry for money." This saying illustrates the need to be careful of who we are sharing our thoughts and feelings with. Men are not the only ones that can put destructive thoughts in your mind. This is why it is so important to have Godly women friends.

It is so important for us to remember that no matter the temptation we are facing someone else has faced it, you are not going to be tempted by something you don't have the power to resist and there is always a way out. I tell my children not to do certain things and go certain places, but if they do I will be their way out. They can call on me and I will come get them.

Maybe you have already been infected by a parasite. But you are not too far gone for the Lord to heal you! The Lord's mercies are new every day. Ask forgiveness from the Lord and forgiveness is yours. Then make the necessary changes to your life to keep moving forward. There is a famous baseball player (Josh Hamilton who came back from addictions to drugs and alcohol) that feels like he can't face his temptations by himself. So when he is on the road he takes a trusted friend with him to help battle his temptations. Everyone should find someone or a group that holds them accountable. We all need accountability.

In every sport you are always taught that the best defense is a good offense, and facing temptation is no different. To defend against temptation be prayed up, filled up with the Holy Spirit, and read your Bible. This won't stop all temptations, but you will be able to resist them!

Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team