“Celebrate With Your Whole Heart”

For some, today is a joyous occasion. The little ones come bounding in bouncing on the bed: “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! We made you breakfast!” The joy of the moment cannot be match as each year it grows deeper and more profound, and as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did, you treasure all these things in your heart.

But for some this is a very tortuous day. Their own mother has recently passed or they have lost a dear one through a miscarriage or death. Or they cannot have any children of their own. I cannot imagine the sorrow and grief that these events have brought, and to say to you to “Celebrate with your whole heart,” would seem like pouring vinegar on baking soda or scratching an old fashion blackboard with your nails or worse….

For you, I pray peace and comfort from the God of all Comfort and the Prince of Peace. Only He can mend your wounded heart. Flee to Him and find comfort and grace….

For all of us, let us celebrate motherhood with all our hearts. Celebrate the joys and the sorrows. Do not let the enemy rob you of this Joy you have in Jesus. Remember, we have a Loving Savior who was “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NKJV)—acquainted with your grief! And yet for the joy set before Him, He endure the pain of His Cross.

My dear sister in Jesus, endure the pain of your cross for the joy set before you—the Joy of seeing Jesus face to face, the Joy of knowing He is good all the time no matter what cross you are carrying on this side of the veil.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

Main Text— Matthew 12:47–50 (NIV84) 47 Someone told Him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is My mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to His disciples, He said, Here are My mother and My brothers50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.(Hebrews 12:2–3 NIV84)

 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.—John 16:22 (NIV84)

 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.— Psalm 34:2–5 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, I seek You out in the joys and sorrows of my life. I draw close to You as infant to her mother. Lord Jesus Christ, be my Peace. As You mend my broken heart, I will yet once again hear laughter and rejoicing, for You are my God. I rejoice in Your Mercies and Grace doing so In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Persistent Prayer”

Date: 01-09-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:4 —  When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: It is in the very darkness of our grief that we must continue to persistently offer prayers to the God.

My Thoughts: 

Usually the first “thing” that goes in a grief cycle is prayer. As CS Lewis once put it: “Where is God? … But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence” (A Grief Observed, p. 9). So why pray? As our emotions scream to us, “ It’s not fair,” and “if God really loved me, this wouldn’t be happening,” we hear the subtle gurgling of our soul’s draining of hope….

But Lewis groped through his darkness to realize that, “I need Christ, not something that resembles Him” (Ibid, p. 51). He observes that he does not need his own idea of God, but God as He is; not some icon or image he’s conjured up, but the real Christ, the real God. Only this reality will see him through this profound grief….

Lifestyle worshipers, it is in the very darkness of our grief that we must continue to persistently offer prayers to the God, Who is real in the person of Jesus. In these heart-cries, He is stripping away our Sunday School, childish images of God & Jesus that have been marred by adult disillusions, and replacing them with a truer picture of the Jesus who was well acquainted with soul sorrows and gut retching grief. At the very least, you can prayer to the God of Hope for those you know who are still groping in their darkness, hearing only the echo of the double-bolted door. Persistent prayer got Nehemiah through his grief. And it can see you through yours. Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 

— Matthew 7:7 (ISV)

  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah! He is our merciful Father and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God. For as the Messiah’s sufferings overflow into us, so also our comfort overflows through the Messiah.

— 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ISV)

    Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

— Colossians 4:12 (NIV)

Lord Jesus Christ,  You are my Hope of Glory. Shine in the darkness of my grief so that I may intercede for others in their darkness. Infuse in me a passion for those who have yet to find their voice in their grief.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Give Yourself Time”

Date: 01-08-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:4 — 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: So let us be gracious one to another and allow “some days” to mourn.

My Thoughts: 

When something sad happens, do you give yourself time to grieve? Depending on the sense of loss, the grief may be deep or shallow: The greater the loss the greater the sense of grief. Our culture doesn’t seem to afford us a time to grieve. We need to get right back to work…. So we stuff our feelings of loss and move on, but the weight of the loss doesn’t dissipate. In fact, it seems to get heavier with the passage of time.

However, if we do what Nehemiah did, who gave himself time to grieve, it may lessen the weight of the grief, and even give us perspective. Losing a loved one, especially a child, is a grief that seems to never leave us, but in time we can gain perspective and see how the Lord is going to use this tragedy for His glory….

Lifestyle worshipers, we dare not minimize the loss—ours or someone else’s, but likewise, we dare not minimize the time it takes to grieve over it. So let us be gracious one to another and allow “some days” to mourn (v. 4 above). Oh, and be gracious to yourself, eh? Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Jesus wept.  — John 11:35 (NIV)

   Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)

   and [Herod] had John beheaded in the prison. …  John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place …. — Matthew 14:10, 12-13a (NIV)

Heavenly Father,  as I give myself time to grieve, open my eyes to the larger perspective. Though I may never fully understand what glory you are getting out of this, I trust that You are Good all the time no matter what.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike