Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Candid Story That Will Give You Hope

May 2006 (Photo by Joan Hodges)
“Lord, I’m messing up badly. I’ve treated Bert so ugly for such a long time. I’ve tried to change – I
really want to change – but I seem to constantly give into yelling and complaining about everything."

For years, I prayed, believed, and dreamed of being a better wife; but I never thought God would be able to do all He has done in me – and in my marriage!

This is one of the reasons I couldn’t wait to begin writing about our last verse as we learn to apply and meditate on Ephesians 3:16-20, one verse at a time:

Ephesians 3:20 (Amplified)
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]

Here’s a little of my story:

For a while, I had been noticing how critical and angry I had been acting, especially when I felt rejected by Bert. And of course, the more angry I became, the more Bert rejected me. My bad behavior and attitudes were so constant that it felt as if they were being permanently added to my character DNA.

Was I able to change? God, please change me!

One morning, after I had my devotions, I opened Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book, Love & Respect, and read several testimonies from ladies who described their disrespectful behavior towards their husbands. I felt shame as I saw myself in many of their stories.

I realized I wasn’t totally responsible for the demise of my marriage, but I couldn’t deny my contributions. The more I read the book, the more I could see how my constant criticism (including the tone of my voice and rolling my eyes) undermined my husband.

During this time, I also read R. T. Kendall’s words in his book, Total Forgiveness, regarding the rewards for totally forgiving those who hurt us. Thankfully, he went on to remind me that I, too, am in need of mercy and forgiveness. I cried into my hands as I repented again for my angry, spiteful and self-righteous heart. Before the day ended, I made Scripture Memory Cards (SMCs) with verses on forgiveness.

As I began to practice the principles presented in Dr. Eggerichs’ and Mr. Kendall’s books, I started to behave and think differently. Instead of nagging Bert to eat healthy, I bought food I knew he liked. Instead of lecturing him about going to church or having a quiet time, I remained quiet and prayed for him. The house, which was always impossible for me to keep up before, now stayed neat and tidy. And when he came home, I made sure I was pretty.  Most importantly, with God’s help, I chose to forgive Bert for his failures, and continued to take responsibility for mine.

I didn’t do any of these things perfectly, but my repentance was real. As I prayed constantly and meditated on God’s Word every day, I could sense God’s presence penetrating my innermost being.

God continued to give me grace to behave like the wife Bert thought he married.

Then one incredible evening, I saw tears in Bert’s eyes. “Sheryl, I never had anyone love me like you do. I never had someone who was willing to stay with me, in spite of my selfish, self-centered behavior.” He reached for my hand and pulled me closer to him. “Will you forgive me?”

Thus, a new, sweeter—more loving and respectful—marriage began.

Now every day, while cleaning the kitchen, making sales calls from my home office, preparing supper, and while lying in bed at the end of the day, I continuously thank God for doing superabundantly more than I ever imagined possible in me, in Bert – in us.

What is your deepest desire?
It may be a desire you’ve never told anyone, maybe never even dared to whisper to yourself because it seemed too impossible or too great.

This week, would you consider doing these things?

  •  For five minutes every day, meditate on and/or memorize Ephesians 3:20

  • Throughout each day, ask God to help you know that He loves and cares about you

  • Purpose in your heart (with God’s help) to grow in your faith to believe that He is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above your expectations

Feel free to share your comments.

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: being a better wife/mom, quiet time moments, immediate goals (setting task-related goals), addictions, eating/exercising habits, etc.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Mind-Blowing Moment – and Prayer

Several years ago while dealing with some personal family issues, I came across a Bible verse that was almost mind-blowing! I literally jumped up and shouted, “Lord, I want to experience Your love! I don’t want to just know about it, but instead I want You to fill and flood me with Your presence!”

See if you can resist getting a bit excited after reading this verse:

Ephesians 3:19 (Amplified)

Photo by Dr. Ashraf Fekry (Flickr)
 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (Emphasis added.)

The thought of actually being flooded with God Himself brought me to tears of anticipation and awe. I was so excited just even imagining the vastness of what I was asking. The joy that followed was astounding. I knew I could handle anything if His presence filled my entire being!

Did it last?

As with most of my spiritual victories, the business of life distracted me, until I gradually returned to a knowledge of Him, rather than daily experiencing His presence and love. But for a while now, and even more since we’ve begun memorizing and daily meditating on Ephesians 3:16-20, I have been enjoying the fullness of God once again!

If you really came to know God’s indescribable love and presence through experience for yourself, how would it change you? Would it change the way you handle stress? How could it transform your prayer life? Your feelings about God, Himself? 

Prayer:
Father, I don’t know if I will ever fully understand Your love! But it is my deep desire to never stop experiencing Your perfect love and presence. I want to be wholly filled and flooded with You! And, Father, – with Your help – I will also commit to pursuing loving You with all that I am.

This week’s goal:
This week, as I continue to meditate on (with the intent to memorize) Ephesians 3:16-20, I will seek to recognize God’s love for me every day, even when I feel stressed, rejected or disappointed. I will also seek to find ways to express my love for God in words and actions, including in the way I love and serve others.

What about you? (Please respond via the comment link.)

  • As we progress in memorizing and/or meditating on Ephesians 3:16-20, one verse at a time, are you gaining a deeper understanding about God’s love for you and others? 

  • Is learning how much God loves you affecting the choices you’re making?

  • If you’ve set different goals for this week to overcome specific behavior or sins, let us know how you’re doing and what Bible verses are helping you. Tell us how we can pray for you.

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, immediate goals (setting task-related goals), addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When You Can’t Seem to Move On

Photo from Facebook Masscovers
“I already said I was sorry – many times,” Carl said to his wife.

“But it still hurts!” Michelle screamed. A tear rolled down her right cheek.

“I know,” Carl answered. “But how many times do we have to go through this? I thought you said you forgave me.” Just before he turned to walk out of the room, he added, “I sure wish you would stop bringing it up.”

Michelle winced. She grabbed his elbow and stood in front of him so she cold look him in the eyes. “I know you’re sorry. I’m sorry, too – I really am – for bringing it up again, Carl.” Her voice cracked. “But I can’t seem to move on. I don’t know how to put this behind us.”
_____

This week, we are on the third verse of memorizing and/or meditating on Ephesians 3:16-20, one verse at a time.
Ephesians 3:18 (AMP)
That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]

Readers, I want to confess that I need to memorize and daily meditate on these verses. I have been experiencing deep insecurities due to a recent painful event. Since I have not yet totally forgiven my friend, the insecurities, hurt and fears have gotten worse; plus, I know God is not pleased with my unforgiving attitude.

Therefore, I am taking steps to overcome this behavior – and the insecurities resulting from the hurtful event – by practicing what I learned from R .T. Kendall’s book, Total Forgiveness and by memorizing (and daily meditating on) Ephesians 3:16-20.

This week’s goal and a New Year’s Resolution:

Photo by Dr. Ashraf Fekry (Flickr)
I resolve to meditate on God’s massive love for me! In fact, every time I begin to feel hurt, rejected 
or frustrated with someone (or even with myself), I will try to remember to meditate on Ephesians 3:16-20.

Think about it: if I was absolutely secure in God’s love for me, I couldn’t help but love others. His love includes mercy and forgiveness, and it would fill every void. His love for me (and you!) is so immense that Paul (the author of Ephesians) prays that we may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp its immensity!

Prayer:
Father, help me to have the power to grasp and experience how wide and long and tall and deep your love is. Let the awareness of Your immense love for me fill every void and heal every hurt. And please, Lord, give me the desire to love others with the same love You have for me!

Let me hear from you:

  • Are you going through a circumstance right now in which you need to better grasp God’s powerful love? Have you been trying to do so in your own strength?

  • How might meditating on Ephesians 3:16-20 help you change that?

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, immediate goals (setting task-related goals), addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

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