Like many of you, I have made every excuse in the book not to go to church. Of course you don't feel good every Sunday morning, God heals. You stayed up too late, possibly even sinning, God energizes. You are depressed or upset, God can cheer us up. We feel lonely & maybe will have to attend church alone, God is by your side holding your hand. There is no excuse that is good enough. Honestly, if you are making excuses, you probably really NEED to go to church. Please, if not for yourself, your kids, your family, your marriage, your friendships, your job, or even for God.....can I ask you do to me a favor? Please go to church next weekend. If this blog has EVER helped you in ANY way, please go to church for me. Just trust me.
I have only been to a few services in my life where the church has had you, the member, participate in the service. I love that! What a way to make a BOLD statement. Adam & I were fortunate enough to be a part of the cardboard testimonies at Elevation Church last year. If you are wondering what a cardboard testimony is, just watch the video.
I don't even want to explain it, I want you to watch it. This particular link is 8:04 seconds & it is worth every one of them. I cried through the majority of it, so grab your tissues before you start. GOD IS GREAT! You can have a Pastor stand up on stage & say how these people were healed or brought to the Lord, but seeing the actual participation from each member is so much more powerful.
Tonight I went to church & I took more notes than I ever have. Seriously, I need to start taking a notebook. I have so many of these little note cards laying around that get folded up & put in my pockets. I run out of space often & thoughts are jumbled everywhere. Tonight our lead Pastor took a break & let another one of our Pastor's, Daryl Strickland, lead the service. AMAZING!
So, what was the topic? Repentance. Ok, ok, don't leave just yet. Keep reading & bear with me. It will be worth it. What is repentance? Repentance is changing your mind for the better. Just to be clear, this means better in God's eyes, not better in yours. Pastor Daryl said that he was very upset with God that He wanted him to preach on repentance when he really wanted to preach on joy. But God told him that if he would preach on repentance, we WILL have joy. Praise God!
Our lesson tonight was coming from Joshua 7. Basically God said that if you follow HIS plan, that you will win. Not your plan, not your friend's plan, not culture's plan, but God's plan. THE WHOLE PLAN. Not just the parts of the plan that are easy for you. Are you following the whole plan? Are you being obedient to the Lord or are you a "Convenient Christian"? I realize that that is a strong term, but I am here to get real with you, not be your friend.
As Pastor Daryl said tonight, a true friend will stab you from the front. They will tell you when you are being disobedient to the Lord. We all have friends & family that will make us feel better instead of telling us the truth of the Word & holding us to it. However, those "friends" are doing us a disservice. Making us feel better in our sin should not make us feel better at all. You know it & they know it. But, they do it because they don't want to make you mad or lose your friendship. Personally, I would rather help you get closer to the Lord then to make you feel better on Earth. I hope that you can appreciate that.
So why do we sin? Well, because culture has pretty much convinced us that sin makes us feel better. People cheat because they are unhappy at home. Does cheating really make them feel better? Maybe temporarily. But, the Holy Spirit is eating away at them. They can't sleep at night & maybe they can't even eat. People look at pornography for a quick fix to their sexual desire. People slam their spouse to their friends & family when they should just pray for their spouse & trust the Lord with their problems. People have addictions because again, they wanted a quick fix.
The Lord isn't a quick fix. He is a way of life that you have to accept. When you have problems in your marriage, you HAVE to rely on God. You can't change your spouse & they can't change you. YOU can't keep them from cheating. YOU can't heal their addiction. YOU can't make them stop talking bad about you. But, GOD CAN! I struggle with this every single day. God's timing is not our timing. However, when we want to give up, that we can control, that is OUR timing. So we quit, we separate, get divorces, & move on to the next train wreck of a relationship because we have the same theory. If we choose when & what to believe, we will have the same troubles again. GUARANTEED. You didn't trust the Lord so what makes you think that you will trust Him the second or third time around? You know what is right & you have to follow it TODAY. There is no excuse to wait any longer.
Why do you think it is that we say things like, "Oh, I am just using a little profanity. God will forgive me." Or, "I just cheated on my spouse once, God will forgive me." It doesn't work like that. Sin may not seem like a big deal to you, because you are trying to justify it to make yourself feel better. But it is a big deal to God. After all, He did NAIL HIS SON TO THE CROSS for us. Shouldn't that stop & make you think? Doesn't that make you feel bad? It should!
So, what do you do now? Well, the first step of the process is CONVICTION. Hopefully as you have been reading what I have been writing, God has been convicting you of something that you are doing wrong in your life or the life of your family. Maybe you are stealing from your job, doing drugs, drinking, addicted to porn, cheating on your spouse, disrespecting your spouse, not trusting the Lord, worrying, gambling, lying, etc. Conviction can come from a friend sticking up for the truth, God speaking to you, going to church & hearing the message, or even watching a sermon online.
The next step is CONFESSION. Tell someone that loves you & THAT LOVES JESUS. Not a friend or family member that is going to make you feel better. Someone that is going to talk to you about your sin. Someone that you can trust. Someone that won't tell everyone else in the world. Someone that will hold you accountable.
CORRECTION. Ok, so now we are getting into the hard stuff. Using profanity, getting convicted, confessing, & then doing it again is not going to help you. You have to make a correction. You have to stop doing it. You know it is wrong & you have to change it. Continuing in the same behavior is just compounding your disobedience. Do what you have to do to make things right. Forget about the temporary satisfaction that you are getting from your sin. Look away from the devil, turn to the Lord, & believe that He has the best plan for you. Do not rely on your own understanding. You do not know what is right for you. The Lord does. Accept His plan & follow it.
The last step is CONSEQUENCES. You may have to face consequences for your actions. If you are stealing from your job for instance, you may have to pay money back, you may get fired, or you may even face jail time. If you are cheating, you may lose your spouse, or you may just have to beg like crazy & earn their trust again. No matter what has happened or what your consequences are, you HAVE to trust the Lord.
Don't confuse God's patience with His approval. He does not approve of your sin. To have rhythm with the Lord requires repentance. Not repenting will haunt you day & night (Psalms 51). Repentance will bring refreshment. If your sin has been against your spouse, let's say you have been disrespectful, you must correct this even if your spouse does not deserve it. We have spoken of this many times before. If you have turned the other cheek time & time again, it doesn't matter, do it again. It is what you are commanded to do. Matthew 18:21-22 says...21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Can you imagine forgiving your spouse seventy times seven? God will hold your hand & He will help you. You will not be able to do it on your own. We all want to give up at times. Ask any couple that has been married for a long time & they will be sure to share stories of hard times. Marriage isn't easy & if you are reading this blog at all, you have experienced that. There aren't so many of us reading this blog because it is "just our spouse" that is "this way". EVERY marriage is work, not just yours. So stick it out with the person that God created just for you. Forgive them for their sins. You will need them to forgive you for yours. We all have issues. If the Lord can forgive us after He gave up His son for us, we can forgive each other for anything, right?
Tonight our church took this one step further. They gave us an index card & we had to write our sin or sins on the card. We could write one thing or we could fill it up, but we had to be honest. They had two giant crosses in the church & we were to get up out of our seats, if we were comfortable, & we had to go pin our cards on the cross with a push pin. Some people folded their cards to remain private & some displayed them for all to see. I had folded mine but opened it at the last second. Many people were crying, after all, they were freeing themselves in that very moment from their sins. We were all committing to the 4 steps that we spoke of in this blog post. For the record, I will be emailing my accountability partner to discuss my card tomorrow. After service they had many staff members on site to pray with you specifically for your sins & for your repentance. It was truly an amazing experience that I wish you all could have been there for. Here are a few photos.
You could see all of the index cards stuck on there. Again, there was another cross & this was a VERY small service. Seeing people being so vulnerable & letting God take over their situation was amazing. It is very hard to do, I know. I did a card too, I am in the same boat. Will you join me? Will you allow yourself to be convicted of YOUR sin? Will you confess it today? Will you start correcting it today? Will you accept the consequences today? If so, your new life will start today as well.
Please get out a piece of paper, sticky note, index card, or whatever else you have. Write down your sins. You probably don't need to think that hard about this. You know what you are doing wrong. Especially if the Holy Spirit is in you. Call, email, or text someone that loves you & THAT LOVES JESUS. (That is really the most important thing. They have to love Jesus) Confess today.
If you don't have someone that you feel comfortable confessing to, email me at Aimee@WomensMarriageMinistry.com. I may take a few days to get back to you, but I will try my hardest to get back to you quickly. This is important & I don't want to leave you hanging.
I also want to remind you, beg you, encourage you, or whatever it will take to get you to church next weekend. Please, please, please do it. You may have a spouse that is a non-believer, has already left your home, or is simply not your spiritual leader. I won't lie, going to church alone is hard. But you CAN do it & it WILL be worth it. In the end, hopefully your obedience to the Lord will rub off on your spouse & they will begin going with you. In the meantime, you have to worry about YOUR relationship with the Lord.
I am going to post this sermon as soon as our church posts it on their website. I hope that I did the sermon justice. I hope that it helped you. The service sure helped me. I will say a prayer for all of you tonight before I go to bed. Please pray for me as well.