Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Defying The Odds

Take a quick read over this past weeks scripture reference 2 Samuel 23:20-23, and reflect on the extreme odds Benaiah overcame and how God used them to bless his future.

We all want to defy the odds at some time in our life. Isn't that why we all root for the underdogs? It is exciting to watch someone overcome something against all odds. It makes for great stories, books, movies, sporting events, etc. However, it is less exciting when we are facing the odds ourselves. In fact the term I would use is frightening.

I believe it is frightening because we don't know the outcome and I believe we all struggle with control issues on some level. Defying the odds in a given situation will no doubt take your faith to the next level, but what about getting to that level? Getting there is always hard to say the least. It is important to remember that there are no rewards for the "easy" things in life. Few things can be as rewarding as marriage and children, but I have also found few things are as difficult. Nowadays, having a successful marriage, and well-mannered, respectful, God fearing children seem to go against the odds.

It brings us back to the question Pastor Scott asked, "How big is your God?" This question took me back to childhood. I was instantly reminded of the song, "He's got the whole world in His hand's". That is how big my God is. My God is all about defying the odds. That is what makes the Bible so fascinating to read. God does everything "Big". Think of your favorite Bible story and I'm sure it's your favorite because it demonstrated how big God is in love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, strength, power, etc.

No matter the odds you're facing magnify God and make Him the biggest thing in your life. He is bigger than whatever you are going through. So, "How big is your God?" He is bigger than your biggest problem, greatest failure or mistake.


Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Friday, March 6, 2009

Embracing Eternity

The challenge this week is to embrace eternity and ask ourselves "then what?" This is the ultimate question. The past several weeks have been to act like we were dying. So what if you did love deeper, spoke sweeter, offered forgiveness....then what?

No matter what situation you are in this is the question we should be asking ourselves. Maybe you have lost weight to become healthier. .....then what? Maybe you have lost your job or just the opposite received a promotion....then what? Maybe you are in debt or maybe you have become debt free....then what? Maybe you have lost a loved one .....then what? Maybe everything you have been praying for is coming to pass or maybe none of your prayers have been answered.....then what?

Every situation in our life is a "then what" situation. When we can really answer the "then what" question we are embracing eternity and we are no longer questioning God. It is at this point we can come to peace with the fact that God is God no matter what.

I believe it is human nature to always want more, but then what? What do you do when you have everything you ever wanted? Is this the time to just lay down and die? I often hear people say, "If I only had (fill in the blank) I would be happy." But that is simply not true. Happiness comes when we can say no matter what I will serve the Lord. It is at this point that we know we serve the Lord not because of the blessings we might receive on Earth, but because He is the Lord worthy of all our praise no matter what. I think of Paul in prison and in chains praising the Lord. This is someone who could answer the "then what" question.

Embracing eternity is not easy. We can choose to Live Like We're Dying (because we are) or we can live in denial and never experience all that the Lord has for us. No matter what you are going through right now ask yourself "then what" and see if asking yourself this simple question can help put things into perspective.

Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forgiveness

This week’s message on forgiveness was very powerful. No doubt if you had unforgiveness towards someone and you have released it rather than relived it, you are living like a new person today. Forgiving someone is literally having a weight lifted. You may notice that you are happier and smiling for no apparent reason, simply because the “cancer” of unforgiveness that you’ve held is no longer in you.

Unforgiveness is truly a cancer. It will eat at you and cause a decay in your body and attitude that will ruin you – not the other person. If you have not made the decision to forgive the person/people that hurt you, why not? Do you really believe you are hurting them in the same way they hurt you? Do you think you will ever find comfort in this? Look at your life now. How long have you held onto the hurt, and what positive things have come into your life because of it?

Don’t wait for someone to ask you for forgiveness. That day may never come. Jesus didn’t wait for you to ask for forgiveness. He forgave you on the cross. Maybe the person that wronged you is no longer living. Did you know you can still forgive them? Forgiveness is a choice. Once you choose to forgive, what the other person does with it makes no difference. You will immediately feel the change within you.
“…it (love) keeps no record of wrong.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

What if the person you can’t forgive is yourself? Why do you hold on to the hurtful memories of the things you did wrong? If Jesus forgave you, who are you not to forgive yourself? If we are supposed to love others as ourselves, then we must forgive ourself. How can you show love to others if you can’t love yourself? It can’t be done. Don’t keep track of your past, “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us”. Psalm 103:12

What if it is God that you are mad at? What if you are hurting and wonder where he is? Maybe you lost a loved one and you still don’t understand why. Maybe you are suffering, or watching a family member suffer and you feel like your prayers go unanswered. What if life is just beating you up and you know God’s there, but yet nothing in your life is changing? How do “forgive” God?

Even Jesus on the cross asked, “… "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:45. Remember that God gave His only Son to not only die, but also to suffer a horrible death for you and I. If you think of it, He suffered life on this earth. To come from heaven to earth is suffering a poverty that we will never know.

His story has similarities to the story of our lives. This life is not perfect. Everything you are going through, the Lord has been through. Every tear you shed has been seen by our Father. When you were alone and cried out, He heard you. Although you may not understand what is happening to you, God does. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have to remember that you can trust in Him. Isn’t that why you are hurting? Isn’t it because you feel like the One who came to save you has given you false hopes? Aren’t you mad because His promises appear to have not come to pass? Are you angry because the losses you have felt are as real to you today as they were then?

The answer is not a simple, “Let go and let God”. We overcome the weight that holds us when we trust and really believe in God’s promises will come to pass. Trust and believe that the hurt you feel now will fade away. Trust and believe that you can open yourself up again to others. Trust and believe He knows exactly where you are. Trust and believe He knows exactly what you are going through and He already knows exactly where He is taking you.

Will you make the choice today to forgive someone else, yourself and/or God no matter how hard it may be? Abundance and freedom are on the “other side” of forgiveness!

Melissa - MWM Team

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Loving Deeper

Have you done your spiritual EKG yet this week? Remember that we don't love by accident, and love is not love if it is not an action. Define yourself as a Christian and be Christ like……LOVE!

I was also challenged this week not just to love deeper those you already love. Anyone can show more love to those they think are "worthy." The Lord is challenging us to love the "unlovable" more deeply. Think of it, Jesus came to love those who crucified him, those whom we might refer to as "unlovable".

So what are we doing to be more like Christ? If you think you are doing everything right, and yet you don't find yourself loving deeper, then we need to change our habits. Pastor Scott challenged us to do 3 things this week to love deeper. They are:

1. Do the unexpected.
2. Do something unaffordable.
3. Do it now.

Jesus did the unexpected when He promised Paradise to a criminal.
Jesus paid the ultimate price with His life. What a deep expression of love!
Jesus did it that day.
Luke 23:43

What have you done this week to love deeper? If you haven't done anything yet, DO IT NOW!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Speaking Sweeter

Jesus was a man who spoke sweet words. He chose every word carefully. He knew full well the impact and power of His words and how to use them. From the beginning until his death and resurrection His words brought life, hope, and blessings to those who chose to listen to Him. Could it be that Jesus was born to die and lived each day fulfilling that destiny?
I think so often we go through life as though we were born to live and not die ourselves, when in reality we die more every day. I think about Jesus' life like this. He is my father that is dying. I sit at His side listening to every word He has to say. I know that on His death bed the most important things He wants me to remember will be said.

Now here is the reality, I am dying and people are listening to every word I am saying. Are the words I speak important? Do they matter? I am encouraging someone, or tearing them down? Am I leading someone to Christ, or am I pushing them away with how I speak to them? Are my words telling others about Christ, or meaningless words that no one will ever remember? Will I say, "It is finished," or I wish I had more time? What words will people use to describe me?

As always, Jesus is the perfect example. He is patient, gentle, loving, forgiving, and merciful. His words express everything about who He is. Will we make the effort to start using words to become more like Jesus? Will we have the courage to use words to ask for forgiveness? Will we right a wrong, encourage someone, and let our words lead someone to Christ?
This will no doubt be a challenging week for many of us. Pastor Scott has given us a challenge this week. We are to:

1. Say thanks to the people that "serve you".
2. Say thanks to the people who "shaped you".

Use words to bring life to someone this week!

Melissa - Mid Week Minder Team

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beginning to Live Like You Were Dying

So have you made the decision to “Live Like You Were Dying”? Are you ready for the abundant life? Have you made the commitment to live with a sense of urgency, eternity and priority? If you did than I’m sure that “life” has already bumped into you. Isn’t that just the way it goes? You make a decision to live a better life and something immediately is there to trip you up.

I have to think that this is a good sign. If you weren’t serious would satan waste his time trying to discourage you? He doesn’t want you to have to a breakthrough, and he is scared. Shouldn’t he be? You are about to embark on a journey that will change your life for the better. I believe relationships will be restored, and those you already have will be taken to the next level. What you have been worrying about will no longer seem important. The schedule you keep will actually mean something rather than being a nuisance. You will get busy about sharing God with others before its too late!

This journey will no doubt be different for everyone. We all, however, will share in the blessings that God has in store for us by living with the right intensity and priority. I am excited about the future even though we are talking about death. How many times can you say that you felt that way? Take a moment to really think about it. I will never be able to think of dying the same way again, and hopefully neither will you.