Frequency Week 2 . The Whispers of God

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV

Here, Jesus give us a metaphor that describes our relationship with God. He says that God is like a shepherd and we are like His sheep.

Jesus also reminds us that we have a speaking God. God doesn’t only speak to us generally, God also speaks to each of us individually. He speaks to each of us by name and He leads us out.

Part of our problem is we have so many other voices speaking into our lives. God is calling us to block out the other voices, reject the other voices, run away from the other voices and hear and follow the voice of God.


Why God Speaks

God wants to have an individual conversation with you, because He is a personal God. God wants to have an up close and personal relationship with you.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”  Matthew 1:23 NIV

Mary and Joseph name the baby Jesus, but they are going to nickname Him, Immanuel, which means “God with us.” There are things that God wants to say right into your heart if you’ll let Him. There are several reasons why God would want to do that.

  • God speaks to facilitate friendship.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  Exodus 33:11 NIV

A lot of people don’t see God that way, as a friend. God speaks to you to facilitate friendship. You can speak to Him in the same manner, as a friend. If you want to hear from God, you need to cultivate a friendship with Him. You create friendship with God by spending time with Him in conversation.

  • God speaks to us is to give guidance.

The Lord sees the dangers ahead. He sees the roads we shouldn’t take and He is trying to guide us. Here’s the tension with guidance; If God guides you away from something you’re doing, you’re probably not going to be happy about it. But God knows what lies ahead and He is trying to turn you from evil and steer you toward righteousness.

God knows what’s up ahead. He sees the beginning from the end. We have to learn to trust God in every situation even if it seems like He’s doing something we don’t like, something we don’t understand. God speaks to you to guide you through the things that you cannot see.

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”  Proverbs 3:6 MSG 

  • God speaks to provide perspective.

God has a perspective that you don’t currently have. Not everything that you see is what’s going on. Not everything that you see in the natural world is actually what’s going on. There is another dynamic, a spiritual, eternal dynamic around us.

God has both perspectives at the same time and He wants to unveil and reveal to you things that are happening in this spiritual realm, not just the physical realm.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for you, but God will reveal it to you by His Spirit. God would love to show you a new perspective on life and on the world.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

God wants you to walk by things you are not seeing on the surface. Walk by faith, not sight.

Don’t just trust what you see, but listen for what the Spirit of God is telling you.


There was a Wisconsin Badgers football game and they were losing the game, horribly. The fans in the stands were cheering like they were winning though. The Badgers would make a bad play and the fans in the stands would start cheering. It was confusing to the players and to the announcers who were calling the game.

Why would the crowd cheer for this horrible play? It turns out that the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team was also playing at the same time in a post-season game and the Brewers were winning, wonderfully. So the fans in the stands had their ear buds in and were listening to the game. So when the Brewers would score a run or make a great play, the fans would cheer wildly regardless of what the Badgers were doing on the field.

The people in the stands are watching a game they are losing, but they are listening to a game they are winning.

They are watching defeat but they are listening to victory. They were looking at one realm, and they were listening to another realm.

They were responding to what they were hearing, not what they were seeing.

God would love for you to respond to what you are hearing from Him not what you are seeing in the world.


How God Speaks

The Bible gives us a number of ways that God speaks to us. He speaks loudly through peals of thunder and rushing mighty waters. God speaks through His word. God speaks through prophets and pastors and leaders, through pain and circumstances.

God is able to and will speak to us in a lot of different ways. But today let’s look at one way in particular that God speaks to us. It’s the way that God uses the most and it’s the way that God speaks to us that we often don’t recognize.

We call this The Whispers of God. It’s a nudging, a prompting, an urging in your spirit.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah fights the prophets of Baal and he wins a great victory over them. Then in chapter 19, after that great victory, Elijah enters into a deep depression.

Often after a spiritual high point, you enter into a spiritual low point. Spiritual highs are followed by spiritual lows. Don’t be surprised by that.

Elijah actually runs off to hide in a cave by himself. He’s become convinced that he is all by himself that he is the only one trying to serve God. That he’s the only one trying to do the right thing. God came to speak to Elijah in order to pull him out of his depression. 

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  1 Kings 19:11-12 NIV

Some translations call it a still, small voice. We need to learn to recognize the whispers of God. Here are four areas where God whispers to you.

1. He whispers encouragment.

God is doing this all day long. When someone irritates you, when the enemy is trying to rob you of your joy, the Spirit of God is right there trying to encourage you.

God is not disappointed in you saying, “Why don’t you read your Bible more? Why don’t you get to church? Why don’t you stop all your bad habits?”

 “The Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our heart and tells us that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16 NLT

God sees you as part of His family.

 “Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life- nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.”  Isaiah 55:3 MSG

God knows every stupid mistake you’ll ever make and He still loves you. He may not like what you’re doing, but He loves you just the same.

Today God is saying:

You are my child.

I love you.

I am so proud of you.

2. He whispers warnings.

Have you ever been heading in one direction in life and then all of a sudden you have a “feeling” it’s not the right way to go? The Holy Spirit can offer warnings to keep you from going off track.

“After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.”  Acts 16:6-7 NKJV

If you give the Holy Spirit room to speak into your life. He will guide and direct and protect you.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

He may be whispering:

Don’t do it.

End the secret.

Get help.

3. He whispers direction.

Some of you are looking for direction in your life about who to marry or where to work or what house to buy. God will speak to you, if you involve Him in the process. Here’s the secret to this one; let the emotion of the excitement of buying something new pass and then place it before the Lord and ask Him what you should do.

Let that first jolt of the emotions pass and then ask God to direct your decision and He will. Luke 2 tells the story of when Jesus was dedicated in the Temple as a baby and Simeon, this old man who had been waiting for the Messiah heard God speak.

Simeon was, “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”  Luke 2:27 NIV

The Holy Spirit told Simeon He had an assignment for him. God wanted him to pray for that Christ child. It was the greatest moment of Simeon’s long life.

Paul, in the book of Acts said, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”  Acts 20:22 NIV

Simeon was moved by the Spirit. Paul was compelled by the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us to direct us. He can speak pretty specifically to you too, if you let Him.

He may give you general directions like:

Slow down.

Do it now.

Take the next step.

4. He whispers dreams.

God will put inside of you something that you never thought you could do. 

“For God speaks again and again… He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night.”  Job 33:14-15 NLT

God speaks to people in different ways. We believe Jesus could come back at any time. It seems as though all the signs of the end times are being fulfilled now.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17 NIV

God says He’s going to put something inside of us so we can be a solution to all of the problems. Your role in the End Times is to be the salt and the light that points people to Christ.

What God might be saying to you today is:

Go all in.

Give God your best.

Make a Difference


So what do we need to do in order to hear the whispers of God? We need a posture and attitude that says, Speak to me LORD, I’m open to hear what You want to say.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:9 NIV

What if before every tweet, every email, every Facebook post, every conversation, every decision and every purchase, we said, “God speak to me and tell me what to do, I am eager to respond.”

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Preparing to Hear? What have you been hearing from God during 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Frequency series on how to cut through the noise and hear God’s voice.  Not only does God speak, but He is speaking to you!  Why and how does God speak?  God speaks because He is personal, close and relational.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:11

God speaks to facilitate friendship, guidance and perspective. That’s the “why” behind all of this.  God speaks because he is seeking a close, personal relationship with you. He is our guide, friend, and Lord. 

So how does God speak? He is not limited to one way of communicating. It may be that God speaks to you in a clap of thunder, a still small voice, or directly through His Word.  The key to an open line of communication with our Father is intentionally keeping our ears open and our hearts receptive to what He is speaking.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV 

Application

1. Tell your group about a time when you heard the whispers of God.

2. Has God ever used the pain of a difficult situation to speak into your life? How did you react? What did you learn?

3. If we need to have the right “posture” to hear God’s voice, in what ways are you posturing yourself through prayer to hear God speak?

4. Do you have any tips on prayer that you can share with your group?  What has helped you to hear from God?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to listen for God’s whispers in their life?

For more information on 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit http://rockbrook.org/events

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Frequency Week 1 . Preparing to Hear

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You could have the nicest radio on the market, but if you don’t tune it in you’re still not going to receive anything. That doesn’t mean no one is broadcasting, someone’s still broadcasting, but you can’t hear it until you tune it in.

The most asked question people ask about their relationship with God is, “How do I know I’m being led by God?” We serve a speaking God and He’s spoken throughout time.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.”  John 10:3

So a shepherd leads his sheep, even sometimes into another flock crossing the same road. The sheep might mix together and all the shepherds would need to do is make their particular sound to their flock the the sheep will follow their shepherd.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:4-5

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, [In everything.] everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 MSG

Many people think that if they could just hear an audible voice from God that it would be the most superior way to hear from God. It’s not necessarily the best way. You can hear an audible voice and still be confused.

You talk with your audible voice to people every day, and people sometimes walk away confused. The times in scripture we read about God or an angel using an audible voice to communicate to someone, you’d think they’d be so sure for the rest of their lives. That they’d never doubt again, but they still doubt. They still get confused.

When we say God is speaking, it can be something that’s even better than an audible voice. It can be so deep within you that it could only be of God. It’s louder than audible.

Jesus makes this bold statement in Luke chapter 8. Here, Jesus tells a parable where he says, “God doesn’t have a speaking problem. We have a hearing problem.”


Preparing to Hear

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!”  Luke 8:8

This verse is right in the middle of a story. Let’s look at the story the precedes this verse. Then we’ll hit this verse again and go beyond it.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. When he said this, he called out, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!’” Luke 8:5-8

In the verses following, Jesus retells the story but with an explanation this time.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11

The Word of God is the voice of God. These were God’s spoken words. He was speaking to his people. The problem isn’t that there’s not a speaking God, it’s what’s on the receiving end.

The farmer in this story is extravagantly scattering seed in all directions. God is extravagantly spreading His word, and you are in one of these four different scenarios.


“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”  Luke 8:12

In the first version He says, birds came and here He’s explaining that it’s the devil. Every time God tries to speak to you, the devil is trying to throw something in the mix so you don’t receive it. God is trying to speak, but you have junk in your heart.

1. The polluted heart.

The enemy tries non-stop to pollute all of our hearts. So it wouldn’t matter what God was saying, the pollution is taking over. That pollution, is coming in one of two forms.

The first one is the choices we make, the sins we commit and the junk we create. We all have sin that we haven’t given to God. Things you haven’t let Him forgive you and it creates pollution in your heart.

The second form of pollution is not from yourself, but other people. People wronged you. Every time we try to draw close to God, the devil will try to stir up any relationship he can, primarily in your family, your marriage, your kids or someone close to you, and that problem between you and that person is not about you and that person.

This was the devils attempt to get in the way of you hearing from God and he’s using that. Because it will mess you up. Every time life slows down or you sit down to pray, you think about it. If possible, you gotta clear the air with them.

If you say God never speaks to you, it may be because of all the junk. Some of us aren’t having conversation with God, because we’ve allowed sin in our life we’re not repenting from and some of us have let something come between us and someone else.

“Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your soul.”  James 1:21 NLT

God invites you to turn. That’s what the word “repent” means. You’re headed in this direction, repent and turn the other way.

We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.


“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13 NIV

It’s because something else competed with it that it couldn’t take root.

2. The distracted heart.

The distractions can even be good things or neutral things, but it has all of your attention. For a lot of us, we’re not hearing from God because we’re hearing from someone else.

All hell is trying to keep us from God. It can be evil things or just all the other voices. In the Bible, Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s house. Both women have 2 different experiences while He was there, because one of them has ears to hear and the other doesn’t.

“And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving.”  Luke 10:39-40 AMP

Serving is a great thing and Jesus asks us to do it, but He wants both. 

To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.

There’s something in the world that has to shut down, that’s fasting. You’ll have to figure out what those are for you. Ask God to show you what’s distracting you and what you need to just eliminate for 21 days. After that, put it in its proper place.

Food is the greatest thing that connects us with our flesh rather than our spirit. That’s why the most biblical fasting is food fasting. You need to have seasons where you tell your flesh no. Where your flesh is screaming at you, and you can tell it no. There are different types of fasts and different things. Take a look at the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting page on our website for resources and fasting information.


“The seed that fell among weeds stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they don’t mature.”  Luke 8:14

3. The immature heart.

Another condition of our heart, you might relate to is the neglected heart. Maybe it’s time to mature. Maturing won’t come naturally to you, but you will be glad you did it.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

When’s the last time you said, I’m going to take this next season and for 21 Days or even the small group semester that starts next month and grow in my faith.

Notice the underlined words this time through, same verse, different emphasis.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

“We” and “Us” run through this entire passage multiple times. Maturity can’t happen without people. You don’t mature just you and God. We’ve got to get in an environment with people who know you. When you get there, the conversation between you and God will change.

When you put yourself in that situation, it grows you. Many of you, your next steps of growth are going to come through leading. It forces you to grow up a bit. Some people never receive because they don’t mature.

Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.

We’ve all got areas where excuses need to turn into changes. Places we need to grow, but you don’t mature alone. You do it with others.


“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  Luke 8:15

4. The prepared heart.

Here are three ways to be prepared:

  • Repent.

Just change your direction. If you’re going the wrong direction, just turn around. God will forgive you. You can run a hundred miles in the wrong direction, it’s just one step back.

  • Refocus.

It’s time to go to bed a little earlier. Renew my morning commitment to God. Get back to reading the Bible. If you haven’t read the Bible in awhile. Just start tomorrow.

  • Revive.

Revive your heart. That’s what prepares the heart. God I want to fall in love with you all over again.

“Let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 MSG

This life isn’t Disney World, there are no seat belts, there are no brakes. You may be going through the toughest season of your life. But there is a guide and He’s not far away. He’s right there with you. He’s speaking, do you know His voice?

God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.

God’s voice is very clear, but you got to get your ears ready. You can’t grow bananas in Alaska. Bananas grow in Jamaica. Put it in the right environment, you’ll see the fruit. You’ll see a great harvest.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on 2 Corinthians 5 and being Brand New? How was Christmas? How was New Years?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6

But how do we hear God? God has already given us the capacity to hear Him, and He is speaking to us, we just have to learn to listen.

How do we do that? We prepare our heart. God’s voice sounds clearest in a prepared environment.

To prepare our hearts we repent and turn away from sin, refocus our minds, and revive our hearts. The word repent can sound a little hard and intimidating. In reality, it just means, “to turn away.” If you’ve been headed in the wrong direction, just turn the other way. You can do it today, right now, and prepare yourself to hear from God.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Read: Luke 8:5-15

Application

  1. Of the four heart conditions, which one do you relate to the most right now? Polluted, distracted, immature, prepared?
  2. “We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.” What pollution in your life do you need to turn from so you can tune into God? Is there someone you need to reach out to and clear the air?
  3. “To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.” Discuss the things that distract you most and how to tune those out to focus on hearing God.
  4. “Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.” What changes do you need to make to grow in your faith?
  5. “God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.” Discuss with the group how you create an environment to hear God’s voice. Explain what this looks like practically.
  6. Share a time when you were going through a situation and you heard God speak to you about it. How did you react, and what did you learn from God’s word?

Tell Someone Else

21 Days of Prayer has officially started. Make plans to join us as we pray and seek to hear God’s voice! For more information about 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit RockBrook.org/Events

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message?

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Brand New

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“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV/NKJV

Those who are in Christ, they believe in Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life. If you are in Him, you may be in a place of danger and temptation, and may fail in many ways, but the Lord Jesus has redeemed us.

Old things have passed away. Now that we have trusted Christ. We no longer identify with Adam. We are no longer bound to sin. We are no longer people of the world. We were born into a sin nature, that has passed away.

We are a new creation.

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”. Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up sinful life. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness.

So this New Years weekend, let’s talk about the new things that we have when we become a Christian, when we are in Christ.


A Christian is Defined by Newness

1. NEW BIRTH

Jesus was having a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a deeply religious man. What he was looking for was someone powerful enough to overthrow Rome and build a kingdom.

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  John 3:3 NIV

Jesus interrupts Nicodemus to tell him, you don’t know about the kingdom I’m building. I’m not here to overthrow a government, I’m here to overthrow what’s condemning you. God doesn’t intend to change the old nature. It can’t be changed.

God isn’t in the self-help business. He’s in the new life business.

New birth is necessary because we need a new nature. Why try to patch up an old life when God can give you a new one? Just like you didn’t have anything to do with your physical birth, only God can give you a new birth.

2. NEW HEART

Some of you used to have a hard heart. God doesn’t only soften your heart, he gives you a new heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

3. NEW LIFE

The hardest thing to give someone is something they don’t know they need. God says, “I want to give you a new life.” We don’t think we need a new life, because we have a life. God says, “I’m saddened that you call that living.”

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Romans 6:4 NIV

The believers power over sin and the ability to lead a new life, stems from identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. From God’s perspective, Jesus’ death to sin is ours as well. His rising to new life means that we also begin to lead a new life. And in the future our bodies will also be raised.

This is why the New Testament commands to baptize by immersion, to be buried in the water. Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old way of life. Coming up out of the water symbolizes resurrection to new life with Christ.

If we think of our old sinful life as dead and buried, we have a powerful motive to flee from sin. We can choose to treat the desires and temptations of the old nature as if they were dead.

4. NEW DESIRES

Isn’t it amazing how after you identify yourself with Christ, just naturally, things that you were okay with, you’re no longer okay with?

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 NIV

You have new desires. This passage in Galatians talks about walking in the Spirit. We learn to walk by trial and errorPeople want more & more seminars on the Christian life; thinking the more they learn the less they’ll fall. You’re still going to fall. You need to step out and lean on the Spirit of God and fulfill the new desires. Get up and start again.

5. NEW FAMILY

When you give your life to Christ you have a new family. God created everything so he could have a family. Now when I say that, I’m not saying God was lonely. Before God created anything, there was God existing three in one. The trinity. God wasn’t lonely. He had everything He needed. It was so good, He decided to create the Church to share that connection.

Jesus: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 NIV

In God’s kingdom, one’s true relatives are determined not by blood, but by a faith relationship. God’s family is accepting and doesn’t exclude anyone. Although Jesus cared for his mother and brothers he also cared for all those who loved him. Jesus did not show partiality; he allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God and becoming part of his family.

6. NEW FOES

When you get close to God, some people will not like it. You might get treated differently or get laughed at. They’ll treat you like Jesus. Some people will not like you. They’re going to say weird comments. They’re going to say offensive things.

Jesus: “Everyone will hate you because of me.”  Luke 21:17 NIV

In this passage, he’s telling his disciples that you’ll even get killed, but in the end not a hair on your head will perish. By standing firm you will win your souls. It echos of David in the Psalms saying, what can man do to me?

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 118:5-9 NLT

7. NEW SERVICE

We serve from a new motivation. Before, under the law, there was no joy. The flesh had no desire to follow the law.

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  Romans 7:6 NIV

We’re joined to the living Christ. We are to serve Him, not on the motive of we must do this or ought do this, but on the motive of wanting to please Christ. We’re set free and in love we give ourselves to Jesus. We serve him because we love him.

When Jesus talked to Peter, do you love me? Peter said, you know I love you, but you know what a failure I am. Jesus said, you’ll bring forth fruit, feed my sheep. Peter is the man who opened the door to the Gentiles and preached the first sermon at Pentecost.

God has a lost world, what will you do with Jesus who died for you? You can serve Him.

8. NEW STRUGGLE

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  Galatians 5:17 NIV

Your old nature is going to want to do things. You can’t get rid of your old nature this side of heaven. John says if we have no sin we deceive ourselves. We have two natures. The flesh warring against the Spirit and the Spirit warring against the flesh. They’re in conflict. Have you experienced that? You know that hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Do you ever feel it?

We’re prone to wander and we’re prone to worship. But praise God for the struggle. Some aren’t struggling today, they’re fine with wandering. They’re fine with doing whatever they want.

Freedom isn’t doing whatever you want. Freedom is being able to do what is right. Freedom is the choice to do what is right.  It is not doing whatever you want, because there is no guarantee that what we want is good.  Freedom is the choice to do what is right. To do what is good.

9. NEW MERCIES

His mercies are new. You can’t outrun, they never tire or become old.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT

Jeremiah was down when he wrote this, but he saw one ray of hope, the mercy of God. Maybe you are down and you think God’s grace and mercy has run out on you. You can’t exhaust the mercy of God. It’s a new season, it’s a new day.

10. NEW HOPE

God’s not in the escape plan business, He’s in the restoration business. In fact, in the end we don’t escape earth and go to heaven. God is going to purify the earth with fire and bring heaven to earth. The earth will be perfect.

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”  2 Peter 3:13 NIV

What are you looking forward to? We can joyously look forward to the restoration of God’s good world. Whatever limitations you have on your body, you will not have those forever. Whatever sickness you’re fighting, you will not fight that forever. We have a new hope, the return of our king, Jesus Christ.


Grow Your Faith in 2019

In the next couple of days we’ll start making resolutions, goals, plans and budgets for 2019. What’s your plan to grow in your faith? If you want to grow in your faith, Rock Brook has a plan in place to help. 

KNOW GOD  |  WEEKEND SERVICES

Everything begins with a knowing relationship with God. That you Know God. We want you to have a real encounter with a real God. That’s the goal of our weekend services, to help you Know God, and if you already know Him, that you’d know Him better.

FIND FREEDOM  |  SMALL GROUPS

Once you know Him, He wants to help you with areas that hurt so badly. Areas of addiction. Areas, that don’t only disappoint God, but they disappoint you. Areas where you feel trapped and hopeless and the old things haven’t passed away.

Some people have this inverted, they think they need to get it all together before God will ever accept them.

You don’t change your life to get to God, you get to God to change your life. He accepts you just the way you are. Once you know him, the power of God comes in your life to Find Freedom.

This is why we love Small Groups. They’re not mini-bible studies. Not mini-church services. You’ve already had that, it’s an opportunity for you to connect, encourage and grow together. You need people that can help you and you need to help others.

Life change happens in the context of relationships.

DISCOVER PURPOSE  | GROWTH TRACK

You can’t see what your life is about because all you see is the old. Once you settle that, the lights come on and you see the new. Yout can stop looking through the lens of yesterday and start looking through the lens of tomorrow. You begin to realize you’re here to do something.

You’re not an accident, no matter what narrative your parents or someone has put on your life. Growth Track is a great way to help you with this. We can begin to connect the dots of your personality, gifts and passions to find out your purpose here on earth.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE  |  DREAM TEAM

Do something with your life that brings about the new. You can make a difference in Jesus name. Many people want to make a difference, but it only lasts if you do it in Jesus name. One of the most fulfilling things you’ll do is help someone. You cannot do what you do, on your own. That’s why we have the Dream Team, where we serve together.

Here’s the issue:

When I don’t see God’s vision for my life, I’m in danger of settling for an earthly counterfeit.

Everything God does, the devil creates an earthly counterfeit. It makes some promises, but never delivers. The devil will offer you everything and deliver you nothing. He offers you a counterfeit to God’s vision. It looks something like this.

Instead of Know God, I want to Know MeI’m going to make it about me. I just need to find myself. I just need to live my best life.

Instead of Find Freedom, we want to Find Fame. We build our own name. We want to be famous in this building or this company.

Instead of Discover Purpose, we want to Discover a Platform.

Instead of Make a Difference, we want to Make a Dime

It’s a promise that is so empty. We don’t want you fall for the counterfeit. We offer ways for you to take these spiritual steps.

Lean in this year and see where it takes you. See if 2019 is your best year yet.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Restoring Joy? How did trusting God’s plan, letting go of resentment and following God’s light one step at a time affect your Christmas joy?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”.  Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up life, but they could never be their best. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness. A Christian is defined by newness.

  • New Birth (John 3:3)
  • New Heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • New Life (Romans 6:4)
  • New Desires (Galatians 5:24)
  • New Family (Mark 3:35)
  • New Foes (Luke 21:17)
  • New Service (Romans 7:6)
  • New Struggle (Galatians 5:17)
  • New Mercies (Lamentations 3:22-24)
  • New Hope (2 Peter 3:13)

Application

  1. Which of these ten things that are new, stood out to you the most?
  2. Have you identified yourself with Jesus Christ through baptism? (For more information about baptism, visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism)
  3. Do you feel the struggle that Galatians 5:17 describes in your life? How so?
  4. How have the people in your life responded as you’ve started growing closer to God? Have they been supportive? Have they been perplexed or frustrated? Discouraging?
  5. Where is your hope today?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message? Who needs to hear about the new life that Christ offers?

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Restoring Joy

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Robbers are on the loose. Your gifts and deliveries may make it out untouched, but what about your joy? Has your joy being stolen from you this Christmas?

This is a season of joy. The word Joy is mentioned 8 times in the Christmas story. It’s a celebration, a birthday. What comes to mind when you think of the word joy? Do you know joy is far more than just an emotion? Do you know the difference between happiness and joy?

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Happiness is not a bad thing, but joy is deeper. You can be joyful even in the middle of grief, even in the middle of a depressing situation.


 

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There are joy robbers. We protect our things, we must protect our joy as well. Now, if you want to restore joy, first thing you have to do is you have to know what steals it. So here are three things that want to steal your joy.


Three Choices That Will Restore Your Joy

The 1st Robber of Joy: Anxiety

You cannot be joyful and fearful at the same time.

The first Christmas was incredibly anxiety-producing for everyone involved. Mary was a teenager and she’s engaged to be married to Joseph. Then she has what’s called a “virgin birth.” How do you explain that to your family and friends? 

Then, just a few days before she gives birth, she has to take two or three-day trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. Then, when she gets to Bethlehem, all the rooms are booked and she has to deliver with no midwife, no doctor. Here’s the choice Mary had to make.

  • When Mary was afraid, she chose to trust God and accept his plan.

In the first story of Christmas, the word afraid is used seven times. Every time an angel shows up, the first thing the angel has to say is, “Don’t be afraid.” Why? Because anxiety robs your joy.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’”  Luke 1:26-37

What are you anxious about this Christmas? No matter what you’re worried about, the antidote is trusting God and accepting His plan. Just take everything you’re worried about and you put it in God’s hands.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”  Luke 1:38

Have you ever told God that you are willing and accept His plan? At some point in your life, you have to come and say, “I don’t get it all, but I’m going to trust God. He made me and loves me. I’m going to accept His plan even though I don’t understand it.” 

Until you do that, you’re not going to have lasting real joy in your life. What is the result of telling God you will trust Him completely? The result is always joy. After Mary got with Elizabeth, she sings this song of joy.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47 NKJV

What are you magnifying today? Your worries or your king? Where does your spirit rejoice today?

The 2nd Robber of Joy: Resentment

Everyone has been wounded. Our rebellion and sin against God causes us to hurt each other and we hurt each other, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. As a result, we’re all wounded.

Regardless of how you’ve been hurt, you have control over your response. Have you ever considered how wounded Joseph was when he gets this news? They were planning their wedding and they haven’t slept together, but Joseph’s soon-to-be wife is now saying, “I’m pregnant.”

How would you feel? You’d feel just like Joseph. He felt betrayed. Many of you know this feeling. You know what it’s like to be betrayed. The second truth is a choice you’re going to have to make with the hurts in your life.

  • When Joseph was hurt, he chose to offer grace and let it go.

God could have saved Joseph all this pain by telling them both at the same time. But God didn’t do it that way intentionally. He just tells Mary. Joseph has to go through all of this agony, thinking his fiancé’s been unfaithful to him.

Mary is struggling with fear at the first Christmas and Joseph is struggling with anger. These happen today in marriage after marriage. One spouse is dealing with fear and the other is dealing with anger. Yet, Joesph offers grace.

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:18-19

Are you still hanging on to a hurt? Resentment will never change the past. Bitterness doesn’t make you feel better. It only makes you feel worse. We think that holding on to that hurt, somehow, we’re getting even with them. We’re getting revenge. We’re not hurting them at all. We only hurt ourselves with resentment.

Maybe you don’t think they deserve forgiveness. Nobody deserves forgiveness. You forgive people because you don’t want to hold on to the pain anymore. You don’t forgive for their sake, you forgive for your sake. Now, fortunately, with Joseph, God didn’t keep him in the dark forever.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:18-21

Because Joseph didn’t get bitter, God blessed him in an incredible way. He gets the blessing. He is given the privilege of raising the Son of God. Now, you’ve got to decide what you want in life. Do you want to be bitter or do you want to be blessed? Do you want to choose joy or choose resentment?

If you don’t think you have the strength to forgive, that’s why you need a Savior. That’s why you need the power of the cross. Because you can’t do this on your own.

The joy of the Lord can be your strength.

The 3rd Robber of Joy: Confusion

At the first Christmas, everybody is confused except the angels. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the innkeeper, the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem was confused. The wise men’s confusion had to deal with what direction to take. 

The Bible tells us that they had come from the east, but we don’t actually know where they came from. They’re following a star, they’re astronomers and scholars. So they just take off, following the light they’re given. When they got to Jerusalem, they had to ask for directions. They said, “Where is this king of the Jews to be born?” Here’s the choice.

  • When the wise men were confused, they chose to follow God’s light one step at a time.

They didn’t have it all mapped out in front of them. It was one step at a time. If they’re coming from Persia or India, this is not a day trip. It took them months. They had invested time, money and energy to find Jesus. What are you willing to invest in time, money and energy to get to know your Creator?

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”  Matthew 2:1-3

When they showed up, it upset King Herod, because he thought he was the king of the Jews. This tells us that there’s a downside as well as the upside of seeking after Jesus. If you genuinely seek Jesus, somebody’s not going to like it. When some people try to get close to God, it makes other people very uncomfortable. Now, here’s how the story goes.

“King Herod sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’” Matthew 2:8

Herod’s not going to go worship this new Messiah. He’s going to go assassinate him. He doesn’t want any competition. The reason we know he wasn’t intending to go worship Jesus is because when the wise men did find Jesus, then in a dream they were warned not to go back through Jerusalem and not to go back to Herod, they went back another way.

Herod sent his army to Bethlehem and had every baby under two killed. He’s that paranoid. Now, Mary and Joseph had already been warned by God, and so they had already left and gone to Egypt. Jesus, in his early years, was in Egypt because of the attack on him. These wise men, they don’t give up in their search until they actually find Jesus. Don’t give up on your search either.

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”  Matthew 2:9-10

God didn’t give them a map. All he gave them was a guiding light and they eventually end up getting to where God wanted them to get. He gives you a compass and a guiding light too.

A compass just says, “Go that direction.” It doesn’t tell you all the things that are on the trail. What is the compass for your life? For Christians, it’s the Bible. The Bible gives you the direction to walk.

What’s the guiding light? God’s Spirit in your life. He’ll give you the nudges and guidance along the way.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11

The three gifts given to Jesus actually have symbolism relating to Jesus’ life and his death and his resurrection. The incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. Without those three things, there’s no Christmas to celebrate.

The incarnation: That he lived a perfect life that you and I or no one else could ever life. 

The crucifixion: That he went to the cross as a perfect sacrifice, carried our sin. 

The resurrection: That he proved he was who he said he was, he conquered death and the grave, he’s victorious and holds the keys to our future now.

If Jesus doesn’t nail those three things, the whole world isn’t celebrating Christmas. The wise men finally meet Jesus. Have you ever met Jesus? It’s not just in knowing about him or believing Jesus is the Son of God, it’s meeting Him personally.

How do you know if you’ve ever met Jesus personally? The two things that the wise men did when they finally personally encountered Jesus, are the same two things that happen when you personally encounter him.

First, it says they bowed down. The more you know Jesus the more humble you become. Have you ever fell to your knees before God and said, “God, I am so grateful for your love.” You may have gone to church your entire life. It’s the difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally.

These are magi, deep thinkers and analyzers. Bowing down isn’t just for the more emotional people. Worship isn’t just for the more expressive people. Joy isn’t just for the heart types on the personality scale. These guys are truly and humbly joyful and grateful. Why? Because he’s the king. Why do we worship him? Because He’s the king. Some of you know who Jesus is, but you haven’t ever had humble worship.

The second thing these guys did, it says, “They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts.” When you really know Jesus, you want to give him the best you’ve got. What do you give the guy who has everything. The only thing he doesn’t have. You.

Have you lost your joy this Christmas? Have you lost your joy from anxiety, resentment or confusion?

2,018 years ago, an angel came and announced this, “I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be for all people.” All people. There’s no sin that could exclude you from salvation, if you’ll choose Jesus today. 

This Christmas, you need to pray what David prayed after he had really messed up his life and committed some horrible sins. Look at what he said,

“Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Psalm 51:12


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on God’s Greatest Gift? Did you invite anyone to the Christmas services? Did they come?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear The Word

Read Luke 1 & Matthew 1-2

You know, robbers are on the loose. Your gifts and deliveries may make it out untouched, but what about your joy? Has your joy being stolen from you this Christmas? This is a season of joy. The word Joy is mentioned 8 times in the Christmas story.

The first robber of joy is anxiety. So, when Mary was afraid, she chose to trust God and accept his plan.

The second robber of joy is resentment. So, when Joseph was hurt, he chose to offer grace and let it go.

The third robber of joy is confusion. So, when the wise men were confused, they chose to follow God’s light one step at a time.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in the message?
  2. How has this Christmas season been for you? What has you nervous, grumpy or worried this season? How can you trust God and accept his plan?
  3. Is there a wound in your life that you’re still carrying resentment over? How can you offer grace and let it go?
  4. What has you confused this season? Are you confused about your life and direction? How can you follow God one step at a time?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message?

For Mobile Wallpaper

 

God’s Greatest Gift

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Have you noticed that gift giving can get a little crazy and expensive sometimes? But giving gifts is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Christmas started with the giving of gifts.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11 NIV

The best part of Christmas is not the gifts that were given to Baby Jesus, but the gifts that God gives to us.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”  2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

There are three things we do with gifts at Christmas. We give gifts, we receive gifts and, after Christmas, we exchange gifts. Let’s focus in on exchanging gifts, because God has this great gift exchange plan.

Usually when we exchange gifts, we give back something we don’t want for something we do want. But in God’s gift exchange is far, far greater than that. Let’s look at five specific things from God’s great gift exchange.

We give God our worst and He gives us His best.


1. When we give God our worry, God gives us His peace

We all worry, especially at Christmas. The crazy, busyness of this time of year means there’s a lot to worry about. Our bodies were not designed to worry. Study after study shows the toll worry takes on our bodies; insomnia, stomachaches, headaches and even heart attacks. The number one day of the year for heart attacks is Christmas Eve. We literally worry ourselves sick. The way to stop worrying is by taking advantage of God’s gift exchange program.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

When you give God your worries, you recognize two things:

  • God is in control

We worry because we’re trying to control things. We’re trying to control the uncontrollable. When we can’t control things, we worry. Worrying then makes us think we’re controlling it. So instead of trying to control things by worrying about them, we need to recognize that God is in control.

  • God cares

No matter how big or small the worry is, God cares about it. God cares about you and what you care about. The reason why there’s Christmas is because God cares about you. Jesus came to earth because God cares about you. So take your worry, give it to God and then notice what God gives back in exchange.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid”  John 14:27 TLB

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

Who do you know that’s worried or needs to take heart? Who do you know that needs to know you care about them? Think of someone and send them a message right now telling them you are thinking about them and praying for them. As you do that, you’re passing along the gift that God has given you.

2.  When we give God our hurt, God gives us His healing.

Everybody’s hurting; emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3 NIV

God sees your hurt and He wants to heal the brokenhearted. The verse says, “He binds up their wounds.” When you get injured, they bind up the wound to give it time to heal. Hurts don’t heal in an instant, they take time to heal. So God binds up the wounded places in our broken hearts so they can begin to heal. 

God wants to do more than just heal us. He also wants us to use our healing to help other people who are hurting. When we receive God’s healing, we can then pass it on to someone else.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

Some of our wounds are self-inflicted, but God never wastes a hurt. Who do you know that’s hurting with a broken heart? Take a second right now to send a message to someone you know who is hurting and tell them you are thinking about them. Invite them to come to small group or church this weekend with you. That simple invitation can change a person’s life.

Jesus Christ can make a difference in their life through you sharing what God’s done in your life. The great thing about God’s gift is it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Whenever you share the gift, your gift multiplies.

3. When we give God our grief, God gives us His joy.

We all grieve. The only way not to grieve in this world is not to love. In this world, people don’t last forever. So if you love someone you run the risk of losing them at some point, which means you will face grief.

Especially at Christmas, we think about the people that we’ve lost. As you encounter grief this Christmas, you may be tempted to just push it aside. There are three things you need to know about grief.

  • Grief often comes undeserved.
  • Grief usually goes unrecognized.
  • Grief often stays unresolved.

Christmas turns up the volume on whatever’s going on in your life. If good things are happening, Christmas turns up the volume on that. If you’re grieving, Christmas turns up the volume on grief. That’s why we need to give each other a lot of grace at Christmas. You don’t know what grief or confusing emotions people are experiencing.

The way to deal with your grief is not to deny it, but to give it to God. Only God is greater than your grief. When you give your grief to God, He gives you something even greater than comfort.

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”  John 16:20b NIV

We give Him our grief and He gives us His joy! That seems unbelievable that God would give us joy in the midst of grief. God gives us His joy when we recognize this world is not all there is. As we realize that the person that we’re grieving isn’t gone like we think they are gone, that if they are a beliver, we will see them again in heaven. There is hope when we know, in heaven, God will resolve the circumstances that didn’t work out like we wanted.

That terrible tragedy in your life, God’s going to turn that tragedy into a blessing in heaven. If you hang your hope on this world, of course you will grieve. But if you put your hope in heaven, God will turn your grief into joy. It doesn’t happen instantly, but over time God turns grief to joy.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 NIV

Christ is our Savior. The word “Savior” means Rescuer. Grief turns to joy when Jesus rescues us.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15 NASB

Who do you know that’s grieving? Here’s a chance to send a message to someone who could hear that you are praying for them. When we share somebody’s grief with them, we help them realize God is a part of their lives. Tell them they are not alone.

4. When we give God our fears, God gives us His love.

The way to deal with fear is to find something greater than the fear. God’s love is greater than any fear you’re facing. God’s love is greater than any problem. God’s love is greater than any illness. How does God deal with your fear?

With His love, He will calm all your fears.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  1 John 4:18 NIV

Fear has to do with punishment. Often we’re afraid because we think we deserve what we’re getting. If you think that God is out to get you because of the wrong you’ve done, you don’t understand the message of the Bible. God is not out to get you, God is out to love you. God is not out to punish you, He’s out to forgive you. As you lean into that truth, the fears in your life are driven out by God’s love.

Who do you know who needs to hear the message of God’s love for them? Who do you know who needs the most famous verse in the Bible?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 NIV

To be part of the whoever, you need to believe in Christ. Think of the least likely person to accept an invitation to come to church with you and invite that person. Take the risk to let them know that you love them and God loves them. This might be the year when they really need that invitation. This might be the year when their heart’s ready to respond to God.

5. When we give God our sins, God gives us His forgiveness.

“When people sin, they earn what sin pays – death. But God gives us a free gift – life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NCV

Sin promises so much, but in the end, the payoff for sin is always death. Jesus tells us that instead of death, I’m going to give you eternal life.

If you’ve never accepted that gift, you can accept it right now. You can pray, “Jesus Christ, I accept the gift of your forgiveness. I accept the gift of your eternal life. Thank you for dying on the cross to rescue me.” It’s a very simple prayer that changes everything, it changes your eternity.

Can you remember who first shared the message of God’s forgiveness with you? Who’s the person you need to share it with? God gave you the gift through someone else, who do you need to share the gift with?

“God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And He has given us the work of sharing His message about peace.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 CEV

There’s no better time than Christmas for sharing this message. At the bottom of this post is a digital invitation you can download and text or email to a friend. Invite someone to come to a Christmas weekend service with you. You can also invite them to one of our three Christmas Eve services. These services will be different from the weekend services.

On Christmas Eve, we’re going to celebrate the message of Christmas using the popular Christmas movie, Home Alone. Jesus would do this, not with a movie, but He would use familiar stories to illustrate a spiritual truth. So, at the Christmas Eve services we’re going to examine the film Home Alone. Tucked amid the laughter and fun of that familiar Christmas movie is a message that many people struggle with at Christmas. On Christmas Eve we will use some clips from Home Alone to illustrate the sermon. 

God’s greatest gift is the gift of peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness. Everyone needs these gifts. We all have people in our lives who need these gifts.

“As you share your faith with others, I pray that they may come to know all the blessings Christ has given us.”  Philemon 1:6  CEV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Ephesians 6:10-17? Have you been using your spiritual weapons to gain victory?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

As we celebrate Christmas with the giving and receiving of gifts, let’s remember that God invites us to exchange our worry, hurts, grief, fears and sins for his peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness. Each of these gifts are ours because Jesus came to earth and died for us. As Christmas nears, let us give up the things that bind us and receive what only God can give.

Application

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

1. Discuss a gift you have received in exchange for your worries and sorrows.

2. How can a sorrow on earth become worry free, allowing you to experience the gift of peace of mind and heart?

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I will bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 NIV

3. How can grief keep people from fully experiencing God’s joy this Christmas season? Share a time when you were struggling with grief. Which one of God’s promises could help someone find joy in the midst of grief? How might helping someone walk through their grief bring them more quickly to joy?

“When people sin, they earn what sin pays – death. But God gives us a free gift – life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 NCV

4. Reflect on a time when Jesus healed one of your hurts. What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? How can the healing you experienced improve the way you help those around you who are suffering or struggling? Why is love the greatest gift we can give another person?

“With His love, He will calm all your fears.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to find God’s peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness this Christmas?

Download Digital Invitations

 

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More Than Conquerors :: The Weapons of a Conqueror

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So far in this series of posts we’ve been finding out how to conquer certain things in our lives. When you’re just a conqueror, you have victory over a negative thing in your life. When you’re more than a conqueror, you take that negative thing and use it to serve you. Take a look at the topics we’ve covered so far:

In this post, let’s zoom out and look at what the Bible says about the battle we are in. We know that we have an enemy who attacks us in different ways. We call it spiritual warfare. Too many Christians are simply just not engaged in the very real war that’s happening.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemesFor our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:10-12


The Heavenly Realms

Here, we read there’s another realm than the one you’re currently experiencing. You’ve sensed it and know it. There are simply some things you cannot explain. Tragedies aren’t random. They happen at certain times. There’s a supernatural battle of good and evil going on around us. That’s why Jesus came. He came to do supernatural battle.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:13

The end goal is to be able to stand in the middle of your battle. What would it be like to not be a casualty of our battles and begin winning these battles? You can be a conqueror.

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

Some of us are dabbling in that darkness, because of what we’re participating in. Have nothing to do with it. Instead, let’s expose the devil for who he is. 

  • The devil is real.

He’s not a symbol of evil or a metaphor. He’s a fallen angel. At one time, Lucifer resided in heaven. (see: Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28The Bible records a time where Satan said that he wanted to keep all the worship for himself that was intended for God. God didn’t stand for it and He cast Satan out of heaven. Jesus saw it and he said in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning out of Heaven.”

When God decided to get in on the fight, there wasn’t a big power struggle where God just barely got him down. It wasn’t like a 4 hour Marvel movie, it took a mili-second.

“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enoughand they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”  Revelation 12:7-9

Earth is where the devil is operating right now. He’s against you. Here are some verses that tell us of the dynamic that is happening right now.


ruler of this world – John 12:31

the god of this age – 2 Corinthians 4:4

prince of the power of the air – Ephesians 2:2

whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one – 1 John 5:19


  • The devil is at war with us.

He is strategically scheming and devising a way to destroy you. Just because you don’t believe it, doesn’t make it go away. Just because you don’t fight, doesn’t mean he won’t attack. He often wins by convincing us the battle is not real.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”  1 Peter 5:8-9

  • The devil has power.

Christians have the Spirit of God in them so they can’t be possessed by the devil, but they can still be harassed, oppressed and attacked. You can suffer greatly into his hands, but you have more to do with that than you know.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

We see here that the enemy loves unresolved sin. He loves it when you don’t reconcile with the people in your life. You have a lot to do with how successful the devil is in your life. But the good news is…

  • The devil is subject to our God.

He trembles at our God. He already had one fight that lasted a second, once God got in. He trembles at our God and when you align yourself with him, you become just as victorious as God is with the devil.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

All of us are not so great, but the One who is in you is greater than the one in the world. There’s a dynamic going on, a spiritual warfare dynamic that too many overlook. We forget to respond in the spiritual as much as the natural.

We have to remember there’s more going on spiritually than we think. What’s going on in our nation and our world is spiritual, not natural. We need to attack this thing spiritually. The Bible says you’re in a fight. You need to learn how to fight.


The Weapons of a Conqueror

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-4

There’s nothing about this fight that is passive. You have to buckle up and dress for battle. Stand your ground, fight your fight.

Realize there’s a part of your Christianity that is communion with God but there’s another part that’s confrontation with an enemy.

1. The Name of Jesus.

Many of our songs just boast the name of Jesus. “What a wonderful name it is. A powerful name. The name of Jesus.” Why? Because names have power. Cancer is a powerful name. Debt is a powerful name. Addiction is a powerful name. Depression, if you’ve ever been depressed, you know it’s a powerful name. But there’s a name that is more powerful than any of those names.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every namethat at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:9-11

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13

Call on the name. Use the name. Sing the name. Worship the name of God. God, we know you are powerful. The demons have to line up at the name of Jesus. This is why we pray in Jesus name.

The prayer below, names the battles you’re dealing with every day, and then it names Jesus. Pray this over your life and put your own battles in there, because the name of Jesus is more powerful than your struggle.

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2. The Word of God.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…”  Hebrews 4:12

The word of God has power. All throughout scripture the word of God is called a sword. It’s the only offensive weapon listed in the armor of God.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Ephesians 6:14-17

On all three occasions the devil came after Jesus, He responds to the devil with scripture. It’s our weapon. Read it, learn it, quote it to the enemy. Use it as a weapon.

3. The Power of the Cross.

The cross of Jesus defeated the devil. The cross saved you from your sins. It’s power didn’t stop there, however. After Jesus died on the cross, he went to the depths. He stood face to face with the devil and said, “I just paid for everything, hand over the keys.” He did that so He could be the one to control your eternal destiny.

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  Revelation 1:18

The cross of Jesus didn’t just pay for sins, it conquered death. Whatever the devil can throw at you, Jesus has already won. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, because we ultimately win. We spend eternity in heaven with God.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”  Revelation 12:11

We just have to say,  “I am saved. I am healed. I am delivered from every attack of the devil. God has forgiven my sins. I was going to have to pay for my sins in hell, but God stepped in and saved me, healed me, redeemed my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things and placed my feet on a rock. He transformed me. You’re looking at someone who is free.”

“Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”  Romans 8:35 NLT

It goes on to say:

“In all these things, we are more than conquerors.”  Romans 8:37

We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS!


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on conquering temptation? How are you doing at conquering temptation vs. confessing sin?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: Ephesians 6

Spiritual warfare is going on all around us in the heavenly realms. The devil is real, he is powerful, and he is at war with us; but the good news is that the devil is subject to our all-powerful God. When the devil plots evil for us, we can be more than conquerors because the cross of Jesus gives us power over the devil. Since Jesus took the keys of hell and grave, we can successfully engage in spiritual warfare. Our spiritual weapons are the name of Jesus, the Word of God and the power of the cross. With them, we can overcome anything the enemy might throw at us. These weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds, and we need to keep fighting, keep standing, and always keep trusting in Jesus.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:10-13

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Ephesians 6:14-17

Application

  1. Focusing on Ephesians 6:14-17, discuss practical ways to use the weapons we have to fight against the schemes of the devil.
  2. The Bible is one of our greatest weapons in spiritual warfare. Talk about times you have used the Word of God in an attack from the enemy. Share with the group any verses that are your “go-to” verses when you are facing struggles in your life.
  3. What is an area of your life right now where you need to claim and speak God’s Word so that you can gain victory?
  4. As you pray this week, remember that prayer is not just communion with God, but also confrontation with the devil. Pray about the areas in your life where the devil may be attacking you that have become strongholds you are battling. Pray in the name of Jesus to fight against the devil in these areas. Also, use Scripture as you pray.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message? Who do you need to praying for more intensely?

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More Than Conquerors :: Conquering Temptation

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In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37 NIV

God wants us to live as MORE than conquerors. Today’s post is on Conquering Temptation. There are times when we end up doing things we don’t want to do. We want to do what’s right, but end up doing what’s wrong.

We all have persistent temptations that cause us to stumble over and over. Maybe it’s anger you can’t control or fear that sends you into a panic. Maybe your temptation is resentment you can’t let go or lust and sexual thoughts. It could be greed, envy, gossip or gluttony. What persistent habits are messing up your life?

“I don’t understand myself. For I really want to do what’s right but I don’t do it. Instead I do the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15 NLT

There has to be a way to break your bad habits, because the guy who wrote Romans 7:15 is the same guy who wrote Romans 8:37. So how do you get from Romans 7 to Romans 8. Here are seven ways to conquer your temptation.

1.  Determine your pattern of temptation.

Everyone has unique patterns in their lives. You have a unique fingerprint, unique thumbprint, unique eye print, unique voice print and even your heart beats in a unique pattern. Your physical patterns are unique. Your emotional and spiritual patterns are unique as well. We all have temptations, but they come at us in different ways.

There are some things you will never be tempted to do and things that seriously tempt us to the point that we fail. You need to know your pattern of temptation, because the devil knows it. If you don’t know what trips you up, you’re going into a battle with a blindfold on.

The immoral person does not care about the path of life.  She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t even realize where it leads.”  Proverbs 5:6 NLT

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.”  Lamentations 3:40 MSG

Identify the patterns that tempt you so you can avoid those situations and conquer your temptation. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to pin-point the patterns around your temptation. 

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2.  Plan to avoid it.

Once you know your temptation triggers, you can set some boundaries to stay away from those situations. 

Plan carefully what you do. Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way.”  Proverbs 4:26-27 GN

Too many of us spend time planning how we can get away with sin, rather than spend time planning how we can avoid sin. The goal is not to see how close you can get to temptation and resist it. The goal is how far away from temptation can you get?

Plan your day ahead of time. Quit falling for the same old traps and anticipate the new ones. Put a porn filter on your computer and on your phone. Don’t walk down the liquor aisle in the grocery store. Prepare a shopping list and only buy what’s on the list. If you’re going to stop falling for the same old temptations, you have to have a plan to avoid them.

3.  Protect the condition of your heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, For it effects everything you do.”  Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Take a look at this little heart exam. Here are ten different areas of your life to assess yourself on.

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  • 30 – 40 = Good Shape
  • 20 – 30 = Be Careful!
  • 10 – 20 = Extreme Danger!
  • 0 – 10 = Crisis!

If you scored between 0 and 10, you need to call a counselor immediately. You need professional help right away. Don’t put it off any longer. The longer you stay at a lower level the more vulnerable you become. Make that call and go to the appointment.

Do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:27 NIV

The devil doesn’t try to take over your whole life all at once. He starts by getting one little area. Satan is not going to be satisfied with only one small area of your life.

Jealousy can give Satan a foothold in your life. Greed, fear, resentment, lust, anger, boredom or gluttony can be footholds. When you mix several of these heart conditions together they’re very potent. If you’re tired, frustrated, hurt and lonely, that sets you up for temptation. The more of those things that get in your life the more vulnerable you become.

4. Pray for God’s help.

Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.”  Matthew 26:41 NLT

Call to Me when trouble comes; I will save you.”  Psalm 50:15 GN

Pray or temptation will over power you. When trouble comes, immediately call out to God. It can be a one word prayer: Help! And when you do, God answers.

If there is a turning point in this process, this is it. When you fall into temptation and sin, God says to confess your sin and He is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. It doesn’t matter how many times you sin, if you confess it God will forgive it. Every time. God doesn’t want you to stop there. God doesn’t want you to spend your life falling into sin and confessing it.

God wants you to move on so you can stop confessing your sin and instead, conquer your temptation.

This is a tremendous benefit of being a believer. Unbelievers don’t have that benefit. They have to live with the guilt of their sin. It’s important for you as a believer to move beyond confession, because while God forgives your sins, you still suffer the wounds and bear the scars. The pattern of falling into sin, confessing it and being forgiven, is a far more brutal way to live than conquering your temptation.

When you get to the point that you no longer wait till after you have sinned to cry out to God, but you cry out to God before you sin, you are at a turning point.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”  Romans 8:26 NLT

We think God wants us to learn to stand on our own two feet and be stronger. No, God wants us to fall on our knees and call on Him even when we don’t know what pray.

5.  Point your attention elsewhere

Change the direction of your thoughts and refocus on something else. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5 NIV 

Temptation always starts with a thought in your mind. Whatever captures your attention captures you. The more you think about something the stronger the hold it gets on you.

Temptation starts with attention, something tempting grabs your mind. Next, it moves to arousal, your emotions kick in when you think about that temptation. That leads to action, you do what you don’t want to do…again.

The secret is to catch it at the attention stage and divert your attention. Divert your attention to something else, specifically to Christ.

We capture every thought and make it obey Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV

You cannot control all your circumstances. You certainly cannot control the people in your life. But you can control what you choose to think about. You will never feel better about yourself by focusing on yourself. It’s when you divert your attention to God that things change. Learning new patterns of thinking is not easy and it does not come quickly, but by God’s strength it is possible.

6.  Pick an accountability partner.

The reason most people never conquer their temptations is they’re unwilling to pick an accountability partner. There are some temptations in life that you have to team tackle. You can’t break free on your own.

Two are better than one, because together…if one falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls…there’s no one to help him.”  Ecclesiastes 4:10-11 GN

Admit your faults to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16 LB

You don’t have to tell everybody, but you have to tell somebody. At least one other person. Everybody needs one friend like that. When you’re honest with one other person about your struggles, three amazing benefits take place in your life. 

It’s Liberating

The moment you share your secret sin with somebody else all of a sudden that guilt that’s got you by the jugular, is broken. It’s liberating. It sets you free. Hiding a hurt only intensifies it. 

It’s Empowering

God gives His power to us when we humble ourselves. He gives grace to the humble. If I can’t talk about it because it’s too painful or too embarrassing, it’s out of control. In fact, if you can’t talk about it, it’s controlling you. When you talk about a problem, that’s how you gain control of it.

It’s Endearing

When you’re honest with somebody about your weakness, it draws that person closer to you instead of pushing them away. We think people will like us if we pretend we’ve got it all together, but actually we gravitate toward people who are open about their faults. We gravitate toward people who are humble. Authenticity causes people to be closer to you not further away.

As a believer, we have two significant advantages. One, we have been saved by grace because we’ve put our trust in Christ. We all have the same sins as everybody else, but believers don’t walk around with a guilt complex because we can confess our sins and be forgiven. The second thing is your church family. This is where you can find other people who support and help you. 

The church is not a hotel for saints who dress up for a parade. It’s a hospital for sinners who want to conquer temptation.

7.  Persist in believing you can change.

You don’t have to stay the same. You may have dealt with this temptation for 15 or 20 years. But change is possible, you can conquer it. 

No temptation that comes your way is beyond what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down. He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit. He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG

We are continually put in situations we can’t handle, we can’t help ourselves. That’s why we need to call out to God for help. That’s why we need Jesus Christ, because we don’t have enough power.

Declare this today:

I decide to move from repeatedly confessing my sins, to conquering my temptations.

“Call to me when trouble comes; I will save you.”  Psalm 50:15 GN


Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word + Application

1. Determine your pattern of temptation.

  • When am I most tempted? Which day(s) of the week and what time of day?
  • Where am I most tempted? At home or at work or somewhere else?
  • Who is with me when I’m most tempted? Am I alone or with friends or family
  • What temporary benefit do I get if I give in? What is the payoff?
  • How do I feel right before I’m tempted? Know your emotional triggers.

2. Plan to avoid it.

  • According to Proverbs 4:26–27, how are we to deal with evil?
  • In our spiritual battles, if we have no plan, we will certainly lose. What steps can you take to avoid the temptation that you face?
  • What back up plan can you have in case things don’t go as you expect?

3. Protect the condition of your heart

  • What does Proverbs 4:23 say we should guard above all else?
  • What is the condition of your heart right now?
  • What consistent steps will you commit to take for lasting change?

4. Pray for God’s help.

  • What does Matthew 26:41 say we should do?
  • What will happen if we ignore the command?
  • Can you think of and share any examples when God saved you from trouble after praying?

5. Point your attention elsewhere.

  • How can obedience to 2 Corinthians 10:5 help us break the attention, arousal, action pattern of sin?
  • A decision to serve in ministry is a practical choice to conquer evil with good. If you are currently active in ministry, share how this choice keeps your attention focused on God. If you are not yet involved in ministry, ask the group to pray for you to find a place to serve.

6. Pick an accountability partner.

  • What does James 5:16 say will happen if we admit our faults to each other and pray?
  • Once we do admit our faults, how do we feel?

7. Persist in believing you can change.

  • What does 1 Corinthians 10:13 say God will never let happen to us?
  • Why is it reassuring to know that others have faced the same temptations we do?
  • When you are pushed to your limit, how does this verse give you strength?

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