The King | Week 2: The Wise King

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King Solomon’s Wisdom: The Rise

Today we are looking at the Rise and Fall of King Solomon. Ancient literature usually only includes kings’ great deeds and daring exploits, lists victories and skips over defeats. But the Bible is more honest about its heroes than that, it gives us both the rise and the fall of King Solomon. 

Solomon had a pretty meteoric rise.

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 1 Kings 10:23-24 NIV

As a young 20 something king, Solomon quickly secured his throne and his power. Which was pretty amazing because even his father David referred to him as soft and inexperienced. David said, “This is my son. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t have a clue how to fulfill the call God has placed on him.” But in spite of that glowing recommendation, David wanted the people to give Solomon a chance at being king.

Recognizing that he truly is untested and inexperienced and soft, Solomon himself, prays this prays a desperate prayer:

Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the Lord in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. 2 Chronicles 1:6 NIV

And then…

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 2 Chronicles 1:7 NIV

And Solomon made a very interesting request from God. He made a request that most of us would not have made if given the opportunity to ask God for ANYTHING.

Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people… 2 Chronicles 1:6-10 NIV

Solomon admitted he was untested, naïve, and unready to be king, so he asked God for wisdom.  

Solomon’s asking God for wisdom showed that he was already wise. And God answered Solomon’s prayer and granted him extraordinary wisdom that became the catalyst, the foundation, for Solomon to build an extraordinary kingdom and live an extraordinary life.  

Because God said, “Since you didn’t ask for all the things that most people would have asked for: money, power, and pleasure, I’m going to go ahead and give you all those things as well as wisdom.”

This is what led Solomon to write, 

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! Proverbs 4:7 NLT 

Solomon became famous very quickly because of his wisdom. One of his jobs as king was to rule over the people and to make decisions when no one else knew what to do. It was part of his job to settle disputes that no one else had been able to settle. Solomon was able to take complex issues and make them simple. That’s what wisdom does.  

We all have moments in life where we ask God for wisdom. Moments where we need God to help us cut through the clutter of the complex and come up with a simple course of action that makes sense.

Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have… Proverbs 4:7 NIV

The idea here is that wisdom is the most valuable thing you can get. The word “get” there is actually a financial term. Wisdom is worth whatever it costs you to acquire it, because it is foundational to every aspect of your life.

Do you want a great marriage, great kids, or a great career? Get wisdom. Do you want great friendships and great finances? Get wisdom. Everything you want in life is built on the foundation of great wisdom.

Cherish her (wisdom), and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. Proverbs 4:8 NIV

Wisdom will give you a life a significance, a life of honor.

Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. Proverbs 4:10 NIV

Wisdom will give you a rich and prosperous life.

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12 NIV

People often make bad decisions that lead to setbacks, but if you seek wisdom, you can forge ahead and you don’t have to be afraid of being hampered or held back, you don’t have to be afraid of stumbling.

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:14-15 NIV

Solomon says that one of the keys to success in life is making good relationships. Stay away from the wicked and the evil doers. One of the hallmarks of Solomon’s life was his ability to make good treaties, to make good contracts, to make good agreements with good people who were able to help him reach his goals and accomplish his agenda. Wisdom helps you to make healthy, productive relationships that are beneficial to both parties and avoid foolish and evil people who will drag you down and destroy your life.

Now, the pursuit of wisdom does not mean that you won’t face problems. Trials and tribulations and trouble will come into your life. But the wise person knows how to deal with trouble so that it doesn’t destroy their life. The wise person isn’t overcome or defeated by trouble. Seek wisdom and your marriage will become better, your children will become more obedient, your job will become more fulfilling, your finances will become stronger, and your friendships will become healthier.

If you get wisdom that means that someday your lows will be higher than your highs used to be because God is raising up your life through wisdom. But how do you get wisdom?


Three Keys to Getting Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5 NIV

This verse lists three keys that will help you to become a pursuer of wisdom.

  1. Recognize that WE NEED WISDOM. 

The first step to getting wisdom is to realize that you don’t have it and that you need it. None of us have all of the answers to the problems in life. That’s why Solomon tells us:

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  Proverbs 3:7 NIV

That’s the folly of youth. When we are young we think we have it all figured out, we are wise in our own eyes. There is a lot to be said for the zeal and energy and enthusiasm of youth, but there is also something to be said for the wisdom of our elders.  

Solomon, in his youth, had the wisdom to say…

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 1 Kings 3:7 NIV

Solomon had the wisdom, the humility, and the authenticity to say, “I don’t know what I am doing.” He recognized that he needed wisdom and you and I need to do the same.

There is a difference between humility and humiliation. Humility is voluntarily recognizing my limitations, lack of knowledge, and lack of wisdom. Humiliation is involuntarily feeling reduced or shamed for my lack of wisdom and foolishness. The person who thinks they know it all and fails is laughed at and humiliated. The person who admits they don’t know it all is admired for their wisdom.

  1. Recognize where WE GET WISDOM. 

Since we don’t have wisdom, where do we get it? James tells us that if we lack wisdom we should ask God, which is exactly what Solomon did. Solomon recognized that God is the source of wisdom. In Proverbs, he said:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 NIV

The word fear in the Hebrew is the word for respect, awe, and reverence. We recognize that we do not have wisdom but God does. You can’t get wisdom in your life until you dethrone yourself and recognize that God is God and you are not. Once we do that, then it becomes possible for us to pursue God for wisdom.

  1. Recognize how GOD GIVES US WISDOM. 

So how does God give us wisdom? Let’s break down James 1:5 (“gives generously to all without finding fault”) and see how God gives us wisdom.

Gives: the word there means to give CONTINUOUSLY.  God knows that we need wisdom more than once, over and over again. It’s not like God gives us a “box of wisdom” and when that’s gone we’re out. It’s not like He dumps the whole load on us all at once and suddenly we have all the wisdom we will ever need. No, He gives us a steady supply of wisdom as we need it.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34 NIV

Jesus said that every day is going to come with a dose of trouble and everyday God promises to give us a corresponding dose of wisdom. Everyday, in every way, we need wisdom. And everyday God promises to give it to us. His wisdom is never late and it’s never early. As we trust Him moment by moment God’s wisdom arrives right on time.

Generously: that word means to spread out or to make wide. No matter how many people are asking for wisdom, God doesn’t run out. God doesn’t have decision fatigue, God is a never ending supply of wisdom

All: All does not mean to everybody, but to everybody individually. God doesn’t give everybody the same dose of wisdom. When God gives wisdom it is not one size fits all. No, God gives you the wisdom that you need for your specific, individual situation. God gives you wisdom to navigate the exact issue that you are facing. 

Without Fault: God is never upset because you have to ask. Even when you ask again and again and again. God gives wisdom happily. He’s glad to do it. You ask God for wisdom and God says, “I’m glad you asked.” Free from condemnation. Free from guilt and shame. You don’t have to worry that you don’t know the answer. God is happy to answer every time you ask.

This is what makes THE FALL of Solomon so tragic.


King Solomon’s Wisdom: The Fall

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 1 Kings 11: 7-10 NIV 

What happened to wisest man in the history of the world, to make him do such a tragically, dumb, stupid, foolish thing as this? As a young, naïve, inexperienced king, Solomon built the Temple for the Lord God of heaven and earth. And then as a “wise” old man he turns around and builds temples for these despicable, false Gods.

How did that happen? Because he stopped asking God for wisdom. Because once he had accomplished so much, he became wise in his own eyes. Because he thought wisdom was a thing that God gives you.

But, that’s not how God works. God doesn’t give us stuff. God gives us Himself. This is not about improving the quality of your decisions, this is about improving the quality of your relationship with God. The quality of your relationship with Christ. The quality of your walk with the Spirit.

Because the closer you get to God, to Christ, to the Spirit, the more you open your life to them, the wiser you get. That’s why the Apostle Paul says,

…in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and understanding.  Colossians 2:3 NIV

If you’re facing difficult, complex decisions, draw close to God. You want to get wisdom, get close to Jesus Christ.


Check Back

Quickly check back on your discussion from last week, “The Untested King.” God uses four qualities to redeem our weakness: Clarity, Teachability, Tenacity, and Purity. How has God used those qualities in your life to strengthen you this past week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

When Solomon became king he quickly asked God for wisdom in 2 Chronicles 1:6-10. God answered his request. King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 1 Kings 10:23-24 NIV

Application

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NIV 

  1. Recognize that we need wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom… James 1:5 

Why do you think it is difficult for us to admit that we are not wise? What is the danger in that? 

  1. Recognize where we get wisdom. …he should ask God… James 1:5 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 NIV

Where do we often turn for wisdom other than God? Where did Solomon start to turn for wisdom later in life? Read 1 Kings 11:1-3 NIV.

  1. Recognize how God gives us wisdom. …who gives generously to all without finding fault… James 1:5

God gives (continuously) and generously (enough for everyone) to all (each one individually) without finding fault (He’s happy to give every time you ask). If this is true, why not ask God for wisdom for a difficult situation you are facing right now? 

The Rise and Fall of King Solomon: Solomon’s rise came as a result of pursuing his relationship with God. His fall came when he began to trust in his own devices and when he began to forsake God and pursue idols. Read 1 Kings 11:1-13. What were the poor choices that led to Solomon’s fall? What poor choices are we at risk of making? 

Tell Someone Else

Ask for prayer requests from the group and pray for one another. Pray specifically for God to grant each person the wisdom that they need for the situations they face this week and beyond.

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The King | Week 1: The Untested King

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King Solomon was one of the wisest, wealthiest and weirdest people to ever live. This verse in 1 Kings sums it up, and this will be our theme verse for this series of posts.

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 1 Kings 10:23-24 NIV

This man was an incredible figure in history and in the nation of Israel. First, let’s go through some basic facts about Solomon.

Solomon was the third king over Israel. His father, David, was an incredible king and man. David is most known now for writing most of the book of Psalms. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba with whom David had an adulterous affair. There was a baby produced from that affair that ended up passing away. To cover up the affair, David had Bathsheba’s husband killed. There was lots of major problems and dysfunction in Solomon’s family and much controversy surrounding who he was because of who his mom was.

Solomon was about 20 years old when he took over the kingdom. He was immediately saddled with one of the largest construction projects in human history, building the first temple in Jerusalem. In today’s money, it would have cost somewhere around 150 billion dollars. Solomon also built a palace in Jerusalem, fortified the city walls and changed the landscape of the nation of Israel.

Solomon established a variety of trade relations and treaties. He had a shipping fleet and brought incredible wealth to the nation of Israel. He established a formal taxation process with 12 different provinces that would each provide for the palace. He put systems and structures in place that the nation had never seen.

Finally, he was filled with wisdom. He wrote three books of the Bible found in the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

The Bible also depicts his failures, like marrying 700 different women and on top of that having 300 concubines. These divisions in his heart eventually led his life into a place of idolatry that left behind a broken kingdom. At his height, he was wise. But he didn’t start that way.

Today we’re going to study 1 Chronicles 22. This is David passing the kingdom to Solomon and here is his introduction.

David: “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations.” 1 Chronicles 22:5 NIV

Now, this introduction to the nation was quite a statement telling people that their next leader is young and inexperienced. The word “young” here meant he was untested, never been in any leadership role. While the word “inexperienced” would have been used to reference the type of cattle you would kill if you wanted a really good steak, soft, tender and weak.

So David is saying to the nation of Israel, here’s your next leader, he’s about 20, untested, never had to make a difficult decision, never been in leadership and he’s soft.

David is announcing him as untested, yet there’s a reason because he is supposed to build God’s temple of great magnificence. We can learn from this because God has a plan for us yet, many of us identify with Solomon’s weakness.

Out of our weakness, God builds greatness.

We recognize that none of us are kings over a nation and tasked with building the temple in Jerusalem, but God does have a calling on our life. He has given us people with whom we have influence. He’s given us opportunities. Even in our weakness God can be strong and be glorified.

The Christian is not one who says, “I’m growing to be more competent and strong every day.”

The Christian is one who says, “I’m becoming increasingly aware of how weak and incompetent I really am and how strong and competent Jesus was, and continues to be for me through His spirit.”

There are things that God has called us to grow in and called us to do, but this is a life-time journey of seeing God’s grace be sufficient for us in the midst of our weakness.

So let’s take a look at some of the principles that helped Solomon in the midst of his weakness as David is imparting to him the building of the temple and leading the nation of Israel.

1. CLARITY

You have to have clarity about what it is you are called to do. David is delivering this clarity, this vision to Solomon.

“‘…the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for it.’ So David made extensive preparations before his death. 6 Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. 7 David said to Solomon: ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. 8 But this word of the Lord came to me: You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. 9 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, his name will be Solomon 10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name.'” 1 Chronicles 22:5-10 NIV

Solomon is learning about a prophecy David had before Solomon was even born. He’s giving Solomon this incredible clarity and vision. Solomon understood the need for clarity.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”  Proverbs 29:18 KJV

Most people who are physically fit have a lot of clarity in how that happened. Parents of well behaved kids have a lot of clarity about how that happened. People who are debt free have a lot of clarity about how that happened. People who quit smoking or drinking have a lot of clarity about how it happened. Meaning, most of them will not tell you, “I don’t know, it just happened.”

They had a clear vision, they worked a plan. For many of us, we have these ideas, but no clarity. But it takes clarity, it takes vision to have a strong marriage, to be closer to God. It take clarity to be kinder, to respond well, to excel at our jobs or have a great family. But clarity begins even earlier than that.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

If you’re hurting or suffering or in your darkest moments, God has a great plan for your life. Plans to give you a hope and future.

The problem is that often times we interpret messages like this through the lens of Hollywood. We have been led to believe this principle, but removed the God aspect. When we hear about a vision for our life, our natural tendency is to ask, “What do I want to do?” Because the world has told us, deep within our heart lies our purpose.

That’s not what this verse says. It’s not about my plans, but God’s plans. We cannot remove the God part of this.

We are not using God to accomplish our planGod is using us to accomplish His plan.

Many of us really see ourselves as the main character of our own story. We’ve fallen prey to a false gospel that says God exists to make my dreams come true. You may even falsely hear, if I press into God he’ll do good things for me. He’s obligated to keep me from all trouble and adversity. That’s not the gospel. You’ll end up drifting away from the Lord but that’s not what the Lord said.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’”  Matthew 16:24 NIV

Don’t embrace yourself, die to yourself. If you want to have clarity in life, don’t look within yourself, look to your Creator. Let’s submit to Him and follow Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways SUBMIT to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

There are many times you’ll be confused in life. Do you want clarity for life? You’ll have to get to the place where you settle in your heart that God has the right to be God. We can’t accomplish much at this church until you and I say, “God’s word is right and true. The same yesterday, today and forever.”

When God has an opinion, we will submit to his opinion. If you really want God’s plan for your life, in all your ways submit to him.

Submission isn’t submission until you have to submit.

Until God says something we don’t like, we’re just hanging out. Then he asks us to do something hard and all of the sudden it’s submission, it’s trust, it’s obedience, it’s a relationship, because we need to do something in hopes of a straight path.

Solomon is receiving clarity from his father. Solomon could have chosen a better plan. He would not be the man God called him to be. Solomon submits to the clarity. He teaches us in all our ways submit to him.

2. TEACHABILITY

Not only do we have to have clarity for the race we’ve been called to run, we have to be teachable in the process.

“May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God.” 1 Chronicles 22:12 NIV

At this point, David has told him what to do. To which Solomon may have been tempted to rewrite his own plan now that he’s in charge.

There’s a lot of that in our day, isn’t there? In the information age, we have more and more information at younger and younger ages but it’s just that, information.

We can know all the information, but it’s not wisdom until the information has been tested.

Solomon chose to be teachable. He understood he could learn a lot from his dad’s failings and the wisdom his dad had gained through a repentant, teachable heart. The thing about teachability, you’re never going to have a perfect teacher, because we’re all broken. If you never humble yourself to learn from a broken person, you’ll never learn because we’re all imperfect.

“Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the Lord in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. 7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ 8 Solomon answered God, ‘You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place.10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?’”  2 Chronicles 1:6-8, 10 NIV

We know Solomon is teachable because the moment he has the opportunity to receive something from God, he asks for the very thing his father told him he needed, wisdom.

We need the principle of humility, teachability.

Teachability is the ability to learn what you think you already know.

So often we think we have it all figured out. If you’re going to make it in the journey God has for you, you have to be teachable.

3. TENACITY

Solomon has a lot of reasons to be afraid and discouraged. He’s young, he’s never led anyone and he has a big project on his hands. All of these things are being put on him.

Do you have things put upon you that you didn’t ask for?

Family dynamics, a financial situation, marital problems? You don’t ask for many of the problems you face. You need a source and well of encouragement deeper than you.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”  1 Chronicles 22:13 NIV

For 22 years Solomon was in construction. There was a lot to be afraid of and David told him be strong and courageous. Strong is the idea of urgency. Courageous is the idea of bold. Have a sense of urgency and take some risks. If you ever submit to God and then follow him, there will be resistance. There will be times when you want to give up and cash in. If it were easy, everybody would do it.

Very few do because very few have a tenacious spirit that can be strong in the face of resistance. The fact is, it’s very likely you won’t reach 100% of your goal the first time out. There will be critics and opportunities for discouragement. Sometimes those voices are loudest on the inside, especially when dealing with a weakness.

But be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or discouraged.

It doesn’t matter how many times you failit matters how many times you try.

People who have overcome addictions have a saying, “Just keep quitting.” Just because it’s not working right now doesn’t mean God hasn’t called you to it. Just because you’re facing resistance doesn’t mean it’s not the path God has for you.

“…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…”  Proverbs 24:16 NIV

You will have what the world calls failures, setbacks or adversity. It turns out – that was the plan. If we keep getting up, God’s plans and purposes will prevail.

4. PURITY

“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the Lord God…” 1 Chronicles 22:19 NIV

You’d think with a project this size, Solomon would say, “Give you’re heart and soul to building the temple.” What he says instead was, as they pursue God’s plan for their lives, while they are in the business of building the sanctuary, that business, family, calling, or ministry.

Am I devoted to the sanctuary or the Savior?

Because it’s easy to get a vision from God and to have a teachable spirit and become very passionate and go out trying to live for God instead of doing life with God.

That’s not what the Lord intended. He wants to be in relationship with us. He wants to walk with us. At the end of the day it’s important that we know Him.

The vision, the weakness becoming great is a byproduct of living with Him. From that flows clarity, the teachability, the tenacity and purity.


Check Back

Quickly check back on your discussion from last week, “Why The Bible Can Be Trusted.” How has that message and conversation helped you to appreciate the trustworthiness of the Bible? Were there any action steps or questions that need to be revisited?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Big Idea

This weekend we began a 4 week series covering the life of Solomon, including his rise to kingship over Israel, his accumulation of wealth and wisdom, and his horrible demise. While Solomon began his kingship full of God’s great blessings, the king’s disobedient choices eventually revealed that God is true to his word to punish those who serve idols. King Solomon had it all and failed in so many ways, but he found restoration in the arms of God.

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.”  1 Kings 10:23-24

Discussion & Application

Read: 1 Chronicles 22

Solomon had great weaknesses, but God wanted to redeem those and use them for his own purpose. Four qualities that God uses to redeem our weakness:

  1. Clarity — Solomon was given a clear vision to build the temple. Have you ever felt a clear vision regarding a project in your life? Maybe it had to do with your time, work, a degree, finances, a relationship. Why is clarity so important? What does the enemy do to distort and cloud our clarity?
  2. Teachability — When Solomon asked God for wisdom, Solomon was showing he was teachable as he took his father’s advice. How have you seen teachability be the difference between success and failure? What makes you want to listen to someone’s advice? What makes you want to disregard someone’s advice?
  3. Tenacity — “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, it matters how many times you try.” The fact is, we often give up too soon. How have tenacity served you well in your life? Where do you need to remember to be strong and courageous? Proverbs 24:16, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…” Where have you fallen that, by God’s Spirit, you can rise again?
  4. Purity — “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the Lord God…” How can a goal help us stay devoted to the savior? Would you say you’re more devoted to the “sanctuary” or the “savior?”

Prayer Focus

If you haven’t already, ask for prayer requests from the group and pray for one another. Pray specifically for the four character qualities from the message.

Next Steps

This weekend we’ll be celebrating baptisms in all five weekend services. Have you been baptized? If you’re considering it, you can find more information or signup HERE.

 

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Why the Bible Can Be Trusted

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Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Today we’re going to talk about God’s word, the Bible, and why we can trust it to be the lamp and light we need today. The word “Bible” means Book. The greek word is “biblos.” But it’s not a lowercase ‘b’ book but a capital ‘B’ book because it’s a book like no other.

It’s the most read, the most translated, the most sold, most shoplifted, and the most talked about book in history. It’s actually made up of several books.

66 books, 1600 years, 3 languages, 3 continents, 40 writers — 1 Author & Message

If you step back and look at the Bible from simply a literary point of view, that is remarkable. How could you get that amount of people over that long a period of time, speaking Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to have the exact same theme?

Group authorship normally doesn’t work out. You don’t see group authors on the best seller list. But the Bible’s author is God. It’s inspired, only God could have done it.

Man held the pen, but God wrote the Bible.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

These 66 books have two major divisions: The Old Testament and The New Testament. The books that make up the Bible are not in chronological order. They are grouped by the type of book they are.


The Old Testament

Law – 5 books – Genesis through Deuteronomy – It’s written by Moses. This has creation, the flood, Abraham, Moses, the ten commandments, and the law.

Historical – 12 books – Joshua through Esther – This has Israel’s history after Moses all the way to the temple being rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Poetical – 5 books – Job through Song of Solomon

Prophetical – 17 books – The prophets all lived in that historical section. There are five major, meaning that they’re long and twelve minor because they are smaller.

The Old Testament was put together by the Jews long before Jesus time. They had very strict criteria. We have the endorsement that they got it right because Jesus affirmed every section of the Old Testament.

Then, there was 400 years where no Biblical books were written. If you come from a Catholic background or another background you might have a Bible that includes the Apocrypha.

The Apocrypha are writings that happened between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT. They weren’t considered scripture, but added on as an appendix. But, in the 1500s during the Protestant Reformation the Catholics decided to include the Apocrypha in the scriptures.

The problem is no apocryphal book was written by a prophet. None of these books were included in the Hebrew Scriptures or cited as authoritative by later Biblical writers. Jesus, who quoted from every section of Old Testament Scripture, never once quoted from the apocrypha. Neither did any of His disciples.


The New Testament

Gospels – 4 books – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – Four different accounts of Jesus life, death and resurrection.

Acts – historical record of the early church – After Jesus Ascended into heaven, churches were planted and letters were written to these churches.

Epistles – 21 books – Romans through Jude – They give us instruction and teach us how to be the church and how to live and spread the gospel while we wait for Jesus return.

Revelation – prophecy of the last days and eternity

Many have this picture in their mind that a bunch of guys got into a room and held a vote on which books they liked and which they didn’t and that’s how the New Testament was formed.

Different things have given us that impression, like The DaVinci Code. The DaVinci Code is a problem because it’s fiction, it was written to be fiction, but people take it like it’s not. The story he tells is that it was a political thing. How do we even know the right books got included?

What we actually have historically is lists from people who had nothing to do with each other, yet their lists for the New Testament books are the same. It was only when some other books tried to weasel their way in that church counsels made official what was already known – that there was only one set of books that everyone has agreed on for hundreds of years.


Three Criteria for the New Testament

1. New Testament books had to had to be written by an apostle or someone affirmed by an apostle. 

That’s huge because Jesus had chosen the apostles and they understood that the disciples, and later The Apostle Paul were the ones to give us the faith.

2.  It had to be accepted by the early church.

The early church, those first Christ followers, were able to affirm these letters. They were there when Jesus spoke and did these things. They heard Paul preach. They confirmed and accepted these writings and started sharing them.

3. It had to be in agreement with the rest of the books.

You couldn’t have one book say something different than the rest of the books.


Maybe you say, “I don’t know if I can trust the Bible.” Here are some reasons why you can trust the Bible.

1. It is historically accurate

Many will say it’s all made up, but history proves the Bible. It’s not just a book of great principles. It’s historically accurate. Now if you want to know if anything is historically accurate it has to pass some tests like:

  • Eyewitness accounts.

Other religions, false religions, started with one person having a private dream about God, a private idea about God and sharing it with others.

Christianity isn’t some made up story that built momentum over time. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven were witnessed by many people. Those who witnessed it shared it and it spread like wildfire.

These are not hearsay stories that someone heard and wrote down. Almost all of scripture is written by people who were actually there or written by people who interviewed the people who were there.

The gospels for instance were written by people who lived and walked with Jesus. Or, in the case of the gospel of Luke, he went to investigate and interview Jesus followers. They saw and heard these things for themselves.

So that’s why the gospels align the way they do. However, they don’t say word-for-word the same thing. If they did, that would mean they weren’t true.

If you were to take four different witnesses one-by-one into a room and ask for their side of the story and all four said word-for-word the same thing you would know instantly that they had all gotten together beforehand and corroborated the story. But if you talk to each one and they all saw the same thing but maybe a different part of the event stuck out to them from their point-of-view, you would know it’s true.

The second test for historical accuracy:

  • It has to be recorded and copied with extreme care.

The Jewish scribes had a standard that no one else ever has ever had to record history. They didn’t even copy word-for-word. They did it letter to letter. They had systems to make sure it was copied correctly and they weren’t afraid to throw out the whole thing if it didn’t line up.

Maybe you ask, How do we even know if that’s what the original authors even wrote?

People think that it’s a giant game of telephone. But, when a committee goes to create a Bible translation, it’s translated from the original language to the language you speak. It doesn’t get translated from Greek to Latin to German to English.

We don’t have Paul’s piece of papyri that was touched by Paul’s hand. So, how do we know the copies we have accurately reflect what the original author wrote? There’s a science to this. This is an academic field called textual criticism. These scientists study and compare the ancient manuscripts that have been copied from the original.

You might say, well people can make copying errors. Yes, they can, but 24,000 people don’t make the same error. That’s how many ancient manuscripts we have.

  • The third historical test that something has to pass is archaeological confirmation.

Sites, events, people, places, and names have been found where we have dug in the Bible lands. King David’s palace. Luke will talk about a governor, we have his name. Pilot, we have an inscription with is name on it.

There are some things in scripture of a historical nature that haven’t been verified archaeologically. But there are more and more discoveries made that don’t disprove the veracity of scripture archaeologically, but bear out the veracity of scripture.

For instance, they’re still excavating areas where Biblical events happened. The Old Testament talks about a Hittite empire and many have said the Bible writers just made them up because it wasn’t anywhere else. And that was the only empire they couldn’t prove. But, in the early 1900s they dug around in Turkey and found 10,000 tablets and a 1,200 year civilization. What they found was the Hittite capitol and all their records.

It was said that the Bible can’t be true because of the sophistication with which Moses writes in the Pentateuch. Then they discovered the code of Hammurabi which was written 300 years before Moses writings and it’s one of the most sophisticated levels of writing that people didn’t believe existed.

You have Solomon who supposedly had the stables of a thousand Arabian horses and skeptics said, we’ve been digging for a lot of years, if that’s true that should be found somewhere. Then a number of years ago in Megiddo they found 1,000 plus stalls where all these horses were.

We don’t have time to go through many of the archaeological discoveries. There are over 25,000 specific places in the Old Testament alone that are verified in history.

2. The second reason it can be trusted is because it is scientifically accurate

The Bible has an answer for origin. It has an answer for how the first cell began. When Hubble discovered the universe had a beginning that of course lined up with scripture.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV

What we see is that creation is ordered. It’s designed. What we’ve learned about our world and living organisms at the DNA level is incredible. The complexity of living organisms doesn’t just happen by chance. There is an intelligent designer. 

3. It is prophetically accurate

The Bible is predicated on a setup and a payoff. If man wrote the Bible it’s a great risk for them to fill it with things that are foretold and then have to come true. Because if anyone of the prophecies doesn’t happen it’s not reliable.

There are over 1,000 specific prophecies in scripture. They’re not generic prophecies like a team with red on its jersey will win the Super Bowl. There are over 300 specific prophecies for Jesus alone. How would the prophets know all that?

“For Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 NIV

It takes more faith to believe the prophecies of the Bible are coincidence than to believe that God planned them. 

4. It is thematically unified

There is a 1600 year span that somehow hangs together as one book. The first page and the last page use the same image as bookends.

Well couldn’t the people who wrote the later stuff read the early stuff and made it fit? In some cases no, they didn’t even have access. But even if they did have access, some of the stuff that was written doesn’t even make sense until you bring in the other parts of scripture.

If it were only one person who wrote it, that would make sense. The Quran was written by one person. The writings of Buddha. One person. As you look around at all the sacred texts from other religions, most of them are written by one person.

Some have the contributing factors of several different people. But as you read the Bible you get the symmetry of one powerful story and that is how Jesus is creating and restoring all things, from people who never met each other dealing with different issues under the influence of one God.

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

5. It has survived all attacks

There have been people and governments who have tried to burn Bibles and persecute and kill Bible translators. It’s supernatural work that it’s here. It’s still changing lives. No one has been able stop it. And it will change your life in Jesus name.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25

6. It has transforming power

There is no cause that has done more good for the human race as a whole, in tangible ways, than God’s church following God’s word. There’s a lot of misinformation on this point. Sometimes people get away with making the absurd claim that the Church has done more harm than good.

This is laughable statement. Because where Jesus is exalted and the Church flourishes, there is inherent value of human life and caring for the handicapped and the sick and dying… Slavery and racism are intolerable… Women and children are defended and cared for… There is justice and legal systems…

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

If you go all in on the Bible it will transform your life for the Good. Many think that the principles in this book will ruin your life. That God is out to steal the fun out of your life. Wrong. The Bible will set you free.

7. It is trusted by Jesus

Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the very words of God and predicted the New Testament to be likewise. Some Christians claim that, “The Bible contains the word of God, but it is not all the word of God.” They say, “We believe the words of Jesus, but everything else we’re not sure about…” They’ll say things like, “The Apostle Paul was writing to the cultural backdrop of his day. His words aren’t for us.”

But Jesus handpicked Matthew, Peter, Mark, John, and Paul. He inspired them to write the New Testament.  Jesus believes it all. God inspired it all. The whole thing is the word of God, not just the red letters. For those who don’t trust the bible its not usually due to one of these seven reasons.

What actually happens is our feelings tell us there are things that contradict our basic values, beliefs and culture. We get offended. So, we couldn’t possibly believe it all. But, If the Bible is really God’s book and written by Him, then its not a product of any one culture. It would contradict every culture on some point. Different cultures — different points.

The fact that the Bible contradicts your personal feelings or cultural values, that doesn’t cut against it being the word of God, that proves even more so that it is indeed the word of God. If you have a God that agrees with you on everything, never agues with you, always does what you want him to do, and perfectly fits your image of what you want a God to be, you know one thing for sure… you don’t have the real God. You have a product of your imagination.

The only way to get the real God, the God who is sometimes hard to understand or sometimes calls you out is to take the Bible as it is and don’t edit. Because, if you don’t believe the parts you don’t like, how can you really believe the parts you do like?

Some people struggle to believe that God is gracious and that we can be forgiven. We want to believe we are children of God. The Bible says these things but we may struggle to believe them. This happens when people choose part of the text and slash out the rest. 

This does violence to God himself, just like we did with Jesus. He came, people followed him by the thousands because he said all these wonderful things. Then he started saying some hard teachings and things that were difficult to understand, and we fell away and eventually killed him.

We have the option to do the same thing today – kill the real God and invent a God of our imaginations. If you do that, initially at least, this new God you make up for yourself, will have a lot more in common with you and be a lot easier to get along with. But you will miss so much if you do that. You will miss the warmth, love, relationship, and grace of the true God. You miss salvation.

The only way you get those things, is if you take Him as He is. Because, that’s what He does with you. He takes you as you are. Or at least, that’s what the Bible says.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “It’s Time To Get Together?” How do you think the challenge to, call out the best in each other, call out to God for each other and call out the truth to each other might impact your group this semester?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

Almost all Christians believe this verse is true, but were never taught the fundamentals of the Bible. How did this sermon help you in your basic understanding of the Bible?

Which of the seven reasons why the Bible can be trusted stood out to you the most?

  • It is historically accurate.
  • It is scientifically accurate.
  • It is prophetically accurate.
  • It is thematically unified.
  • It has survived all attacks.
  • It has transforming power.
  • It is trusted by Jesus.

Application

  • What stood out to you in this message?
  • Which of the seven reasons stands out to you the most?
  • Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV) Could you point to a verse, Biblical principle or sermon that had transforming power in your life?
  • The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
  • Have you ever been in a discussion or argument with someone about the validity of the Bible? Was it productive? Why or why not?
  • Which version of the Bible is your most favorite? Is there a study Bible or a Bible study tool that has been helpful for you that you would recommend to your group.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message? How might this change your defense of the scriptures?

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It’s Time | Week 4: It’s Time To Get Together

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Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  Matthew 3:2 NKJV

Many of you, when you hear that word repent, have negative images and emotions tied to it. When you understand what it means. Repent is a positive word a life-changing word. Repent is God’s way of telling us He has a better way.

The rest of the verse says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  There is some urgency here. This verse is very fitting for this series, It’s Time. God says, “I have a better way for you and and it is time.”

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” Jeremiah 29:11-13


It’s A Group Project

This is an Old Testament verse where God makes this incredible promise to the Israelites. Plans to prosper, plans for a hope and a future and a relationship with Him.

These words were spoken while they were in captivity. God wanted to encourage them because they were going to remain in captivity for 70 more years. But what we learn from this verse and other scriptures is God has a plan to give a hope and a future to all those that seek Him, and call on Him.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

God reminds us that He has a hope and a future for you, but you only have so much time. So here we are today, at the beginning of 2020. We are at the starting line, we have a new hope and future in front of us.

For us to be successful, it is going to have to include something that’s is all around you, it’s relationships. One another.

When God created Adam he said, Adam “it is not good for you to be alone”. We are not going to get where God wants to take us without each other. We often think alone is the best plan.

  • Together is God’s plan

Christianity is a group project. Together can be messy and together makes you vulnerable. That is why it says in our verse “let’s not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.”

  • Together isn’t always easy

Together isn’t easy, but it is so important. Don’t give up on each other, it is God’s way. Some of you are all in and want to deepen your relationships with others. But for others, they would say many of their biggest wounds are from other people. Some of you are around people and still alone. You wall your life off and won’t let anyone past a certain point.

The enemy has a plan. His plan for you is alone. The enemy’s plan for your life is not to get together. It’s is to isolate you. He will use that pain and that hurt from others, and keep recycling it over and over so you stay isolated. He will use fear to convince you it is not worth having relationships.

If you are new to the Christian faith you need to get together with some mature Christians. If you are sick physically, emotionally, mentally or have a sin you are struggling with, you need to get together with some other Christians.

As we get older we start to think that small group is for the youngsters. Not me. One of the most alone groups in America are the elderly. Right now we have something very unique going on in our culture. More people are connected than ever before because of social media and at the same time feel more alone than ever before.

  • Together takes a choice

A choice is a starting point, but no one can make this choice for you. As a church we do everything we can to facilitate Getting Together. 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, Growth Track, Dream Team, Serve Days, Men’s and Women’s Events, and Small Groups.

Our desire for our church is that everyone who calls themselves a member, belongs to a small group. We are built around this idea that we need to do life together. We believe that it is God’s way for us.


When We Get Together

The win for our small groups is not the number of people in the group, it’s what we do to and for each other. Our number one value in small groups is building relationships. A relationship with Jesus and a relationship with each other.

Let’s see how our value of relationships plays out through the life of David in the Old Testament.

One of the things that makes his story so significant is that he started from the bottom, he was number 8 in a family of 8 kids. Being number eight his parents didn’t expect much from him. David spent his early years isolated, he was a shepherd. He spent most of his time out in a field, by himself, surround by sheep. You would never expect him to later be known as a warrior, a poet writing many of the psalms, and a King.

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22  

God himself says David is a very special man. How did David go from a nobody to God declaring him a man after his heart and then trusting David to do everything He asked him to do? People.

There were people in David’s life that helped him go from shepherd to a man after God’s own heart. When we study David’s relationships we discover what kind of relationships we should be looking for and how to be there for others we are in relationship with.       

 “…then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’” 1 Samuel 16:12

Samuel is a very famous prophet and David is a young man. God speaks to Samuel and tells him to go to David. So Samuel anoints David and by anointing David, Samuel is calling out the very best in David.

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…” 1 Samuel 16:13

No one had ever called out the best in David until now. He was number 8 in the lineup of brothers; parents didn’t really pay much attention to David. So, in the presence of David’s brothers Samuel calls out the best in David. God wants to send you people to call out the best in you and he wants you to call out the best in others. God wants to equip you with His Spirit every day.

1. We call out the best in each other.

For a lot of us we have plenty of people in our lives telling us what were not doing right. We need to be looking for opportunities in our Small Group to speak over someone and bring out the best in them.

Some people a have lived their whole life being ignored or have people telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. We need to surround ourselves with others who are going to build us up not tear us down. Let’s breathe life into one another and call out the best in each other.

For some of us. We need to remove some people from our lives and replace them with godly people that want to bring out the best in us. Maybe you are dating someone that is a negative influence in your life, it’s time to say goodbye. Maybe your person to disconnect from is at work. You can’t fire them but you can stop gathering with them at lunch or on breaks.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Proverbs 27:17 NLT

We need to surround ourselves with people who will call out the best in us.

2. We call out to God for each other.

David is anointed, but he hasn’t become king yet. Saul is the current reigning king and David does his best to serve and respect Saul. But the Spirit of God is on David and this threatened Saul. Look what God does He brings someone else in David’s life.

“While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Johnathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1 Samuel 23:15

So Saul is trying to take his life and God sends Saul’s son, Jonathan, to help David. Here is the second person God puts in David’s life. David had a Samuel in his life and now he has Johnathan.

Don’t miss this. David created an environment where he allowed people in his life. But God also said these to these guys, to go to David. Who is missing out because you won’t get together with others? Who is not being blessed because you’re not there? You matter!

Jesus tell us to GO and make disciples. People in this church need you! David is facing a difficult time in his life. King Saul is trying to kill him and God’s plan is that we don’t go through hard stuff alone.

One of the things about small groups, if you are having a good day they are going to celebrate with you. If you are having a bad day, they are going to pray for you. We are going to stand with each other.

More often what matters is not the words we say, it is just having a presence and listening. That is something very powerful we can do.

Sometimes we wonder where God is in our darkest times in life, not realizing He’s present through the people He has surrounded us with. God is using the people around us to help us find strength in Him.

We don’t want anyone to go through life alone. That is why Small Groups are important to us.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Proverbs 17:17

3. We call out the truth to each other.

Let’s jump ahead in the story with David. King Saul is no longer in the picture and David is king. He has power, which we all know can be a dangerous thing. David makes a terrible decision and the Israelites are at war.

Typically, the king goes out on the battlefield with his troops. David was known as being a great warrior. He gets a little comfortable with the king thing and decides to stay home instead of going to battle. He is on his rooftop and sees this beautiful woman taking a bath. He calls for her, sleeps with her and she gets pregnant.

Her husband is one of his best commanders in David’s army, so David orders him to the front line of the battlefield so that he gets killed in battle. David keeps making things worse.

That is how it is often when we are in the middle of doing something wrong. We don’t see that were making things worse. We keep making one bad decision after another and were blind to it. We need people to call out the truth to us.

“The Lord sent Nathan to David…” 2 Samuel 12:1 

Nathan is another person in David’s life. Nathan is a prophet who comes to David. David is blind to his sin and things keep getting worse. Nathan confronts David and tells David this story about a situation that is very similar to what David had done.

David, gets very angry about the man in the story and began arranging punishment for his actions…

“Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’” 2 Samuel 12:7

And in that moment, David breaks down and confesses and God forgave David. His brokenness came because a friend was willing to speak truth in his life. If a man after God’s own heart can blow it, so can we. 

If we are not careful, we will be blind to that mistake. We need people in our life that will call out the truth. Small groups are a place to find godly people who will speak truth into your life.

We need people to tell us there is a better way. That is what is so good about God’s way, there is always a way out.

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT

WHEN WE GET TOGETHER:

  • We call out the best in each other.
  • We cry out to god for each other.
  • We call out the truth to each other.

That is what we want when our small groups get together.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ~Corrie Ten Boom


Check Back

What have you put into place this week to strengthen your spirit? In what ways have you seen the 3 areas that weaken your spirit appear in your week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

God wants us to do life together. He wants to bring us out of captivity and give us hope and a future. He never intended for life to be an individual project, but a group project. Life together will not always be easy but when we make the choice to step into God’s plan, we defeat the enemy’s plan to isolate us.

Living out life together has distinct benefits as we call out the best in each other, call out to God for each other, and speak truth to each other. Even when life is messy, or when we need lifting up, or even when we need the voice of truth, together is so much better than alone. We all need people who will sharpen us, help us find strength at our lowest point, and be honest with us.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV

Application

  • What benefits have you realized from being in Small Groups?
  • What do you believe are the biggest obstacles people face to participating in a Small Group?
  • What can you do to help people overcome those obstacles?
  • Ever thought of starting your own small group?
  • Is there a passion, hobby or activity you could turn into a small group?
  • What other people do you group with besides your small group?

Prayer Focus: Thank God for His plan for each person. Thank Him for a life plan that is predicated on the reality of faith and hope. Thank God for the people He provides so that we live life with others. Ask God to surround you with other brothers and sisters in Christ and to show you relationships that are designed for His purposes.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you invite to your Small Group this semester? Ask again. Share with them how being connected to others has made an impact on your life.

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It’s Time | Week 3: Strengthening My Spirit

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You don’t grow stronger by accident. You grow stronger spiritually by intentionally walking with God, the Holy Spirit.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16 NIV

Let’s look at the life of Samson, who was known as the strongest man in the Bible, but had glaring weaknesses. You find the accounts of Samson in the book of Judges Chapters 13 through 16.

Physically, Samson was a Dwayne The Rock Johnson. But spiritually, he was a Pee-wee Herman. He had everything going for him and started off great, but he fell hard and he became a failure. His physical talents and abilities were lost because he grew weak, spiritually.

Samson fell into three traps that weakened his spirit and we need to avoid these traps in our life as well.


Three Attitudes That Weaken Your Spirit

1. Self-indulgence weakens your spirit

We find an example of this in Chapter 14 of the book of Judges, verses 1 through 20. Samson lived a very self-indulgent life. He lived only for his feelings and his biggest weakness was women.

In fact, in three chapters he falls for three different women. He keeps running into and out of relationships. The Bible tells us in Chapter 14, the first three verses, he sees woman and says, “She looked good.” He says, “She pleases me.” He says, “Get her.” She wasn’t even the right woman that God had chosen for him, but that didn’t matter.

Let’s just be honest here. Sex is God’s idea. There’s nothing wrong with sex. But the point is that even good things can become harmful if they are out of control. Food, money, sex, sleep, anything out of control will weaken you. So the first trap that weakens your spirit is when you make decisions based on pleasure rather than principle.

Often for us the excuse we make to be self-indulgent is to say, “Just this once.” We say, “It won’t hurt that much if it’s just this once.” But if you took a boat out to sea and at the beginning of the journey someone punched a hole in the bottom, would the excuse “just this once” make any difference? No, a hole in the boat is a hole in the boat. A leak is a leak. And a small leak will sink the ship, just like a large leak will, it just takes a little bit more time.

Another excuse that comes with this one is “I owe it to myself.” What do you know in your life is wrong but you just keep saying, “I owe it to myself… Just this once… It’s okay.”

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

The point is this: any area that you’re undisciplined in is going to weaken your spirit. And any area that you’re undisciplined in will eventually catch up with you. You sow what you reap. To be strong in spirit you must discipline your desires. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you should have it.

2. Resentment weakens your spirit

Resentment will weaken you spiritually because resentment is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. It opposes the Spirit’s work in us. We find this in the next chapter, Judges 15.

Samson lived his entire life in a continual state of disappointment, anger, resentment, and bitterness. He was a very angry man who felt misunderstood and disappointed and reacted violently to everything. His primary motivation in life was to get even. He had a victim mentality. One time Samson actually killed thirty men just to get even on a bet.

In Judges 15 you find his excuse is this: they hurt me first. But, we have to let go of old hurts. Holding on to hurts will shrink your ship and shrivel your spirit. Resentment is always self defeating. It always hurts you more than it hurts the other person.

“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” Job 5:2 NIV

Samson lost his spiritual and physical strength because he never managed his anger. He let other people control his emotions. He never learned to let it go. To be strong in spirit you must control your reactions.  The Bible says the person who learns to control his reaction is stronger than a walled city. And the person who doesn’t know how to control their reactions is as defenseless as a city without walls.

3. Carelessness weakens your spirit

Carelessness will sap your spiritual strength. We see this in the next chapter, Judges 16:1-20.  Samson had amazing strength and his strength was actually a gift from God as a result of a commitment that he’d made. Samson made what was called a Nazarite vow, a a vow to live holy before God. As a symbol of that vow there were a number of things he was not to do. He had to be dedicated to God 100%. He could not have alcohol. He had to eat a special diet. He also was to never cut his hair as a symbol of his commitment to God.

People made the Nazarite vow as a way of saying that God’s servant is to live differently than the rest of the culture. However, Samson was careless with his vow. He continually compromised his commitment when it wasn’t convenient for him. He toyed with temptation. His attitude was not, “How close to God can I get?” His attitude was, “How close to the fire can I get and not get burned?”

In Chapter 16 we have the story of Delilah. Delilah is hired by Samson’s enemies. Samson is an enemy to them because he represents the strength of God. The people who hated God wanted to destroy Samson, so they hired Delilah to find his secret of strength.

Samson knows exactly what’s going on, but he toys with her and teases her, getting closer and closer to the line. In Judges 16:15-16, he’s careless once too often. He finally tells her. He says, “If you cut my hair then I’ll lose my strength.” He finally gives in and his lifestyle had become so weakened from compromise after compromise after compromise.

He made this excuse: “It will be different for me.” Nobody ever plans to fail spiritually. Nobody ever plans to have their marriage fail, their life fail, their business fail, their health fail, their finances fail. But it’s one little decision after another and all of a sudden they’ve lost their credibility and they’ve lost their reputation, or ministry, or finances.

You are only as strong as what you’re committed to. If you’re chipping away at that commitment you’re getting weaker and weaker every day.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

What is your character conforming to? The pattern of this world? Or Christ? To be strong spiritually I must develop good habits. You are the sum total of your habits. Your character is your habits.


Three Habits that Strengthen Your Spirit

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Every man or woman of God who has been used in history has developed these three habits that will help to strengthen your spirit. They learned that you have a part in building your strength, and God has a part. If you will develop these habits you will strengthen your spirit.

God says you build up your strength by being in union with Christ. Then he puts his power in you.

1. Get time with God every day.

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4 NLT

You need this daily time for guidance. You’re going your own way, your own path, at your own pace, in your own direction because you’re not getting daily guidance from God.

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

Do you think Samson’s life would have been different if he did what Jesus did? What Daniel did? You get in a place where you can be alone with God and you worship him. You pray, read the Bible, sing.

2. Get in fellowship with other believers weekly

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV

There are going to be times when you need somebody else to be there for you. Do you have that safety net in place? The crisis, the rogue winds, the terrible storm – those are going to come into your life and you need some people in your life who you’ve already made contact with when that happens. Who in your life would show up right now if you had a disaster? Who would you show up for if they had a disaster? Does anybody know they can count on you?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Notice the habit of meeting together. It’s like a fire. The coals are hot. If I were to take one of the coals out of the fire and set it off by itself, it would grow cold and it would lose its heat. But if I take that coal and put it back in the fire it gets hot again.

This is what fellowship does. By yourself, you’re going to grow cold and weak. You’re not going to have the spiritual strength that you need. You need a daily time with God and you need a weekly team for God.

3. Give to God before anyone or anything else

Give a tithe to God every weekend. Tithing is the habit of returning the first ten percent of my income back to God. It’s a symbol to say He’s really first.

Our culture worships money. We’ll give God everything else, but hold it back. If you don’t want to conform to the pattern of the world and you want to be renewed, give the first back to God.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Habitually giving regularly to God will get you results in getting closer to God and strengthen your spirit.

Here’s the question: Which of the three weaknesses are you most likely to fall into? And which of the three habits do you need to start? Spiritual strength is not accidental. It’s the result of choices we make and habits we develop.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “Why Must I Keep Praying Persistently?” How have you demonstrated persistence in prayer this past week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Samson was the strongest man in the Bible, but that strength meant nothing after he became spiritually weak. This weekend we’ll look at three attitudes that weaken our spirit, as exhibited in Samson’s life, and three habits that will strengthen our spirit, making our relationship with God stronger. Read the story of Samson in Judges 13, 14, 15, and 16. If you do not have time for all that… read the passages referenced on your outline: Judges 14:1-20, Judges 15:1-17, Judges 16:1-20.

Application

1. “A man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows! If he sows to please his own wrong desires, he will be planting seeds of evil and will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death.” Galatians 6:7-8 LB Perhaps you struggle with self-indulgence. There are so many ways our culture tells us it’s okay to do what feels good and there won’t be any consequences. Share an area of struggle you would like to have victory over. Invite others to speak encouragement to you and pray for your victory in this area.
2. “Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk.” Psalm 25:4 NIV Why do you think it is so difficult for most people to develop a quiet time habit? Which one of these reasons is the most difficult for you? What positive differences have you noted in your life when you have developed the habit of a consistent, rich quite time?
3. “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together… Instead, let us encourage each other…” Hebrews 10:25 NIV How has your small group helped you stay a red hot Christian? Take a few moments to thank anyone in your group who has helped you mature in Christ. Are there any new habits your group can cultivate to continue the work of encouraging each other and growing mature believers?

4. “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.” Deuteronomy 14:23 LB Why do you think tithing is important to developing a strong spirit? How have you experienced God’s faithfulness to you especially in the area of finances when you have been faithful to tithe? What steps can you take in 2020 to give control of your finances to God?

5. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11 NIV It can be hard to leave past hurts in the past. What resentment might you be carrying? Can you identify how it is hurting your present? Pray to forgive those who hurt you and start this new day fresh.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message of this series? Pray and ask God for the boldness to share.

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It’s Time | Week 2: Why Must I Keep Praying Persistently?

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There are a lot of mysteries about prayer that we do not understand. We may not understand how the sovereignty of God and the free will of man work together when you’re praying for other people with free will. But, what we do know is that God said to do it.

Now, we know that our heavenly Father loves us, we know that He wants to answer prayer, He has commanded us to ask in prayer, and He is eager to meet our needs. Then the question is – why do we have to pray more than one time? Why do we have to make the same request over and over to God? The Bible says…

Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, always giving thanks to God.” Colossians 4:2 TEV

Why does God want me to keep on praying, seeking, asking, knocking? Why does God want us to pray the same request over and over and over until He answers it?


Why Must I Keep Praying Persistently?

  1. IT KEEPS MY ATTENTION FOCUSED ON GOD.

When you pray about something over and over, your attention is focused on God. Attention is the greatest gift you can give someone. When you give your attention to somebody you let them know they matter to you. Just like people crave attention, God craves your attention. The Bible says God is constantly thinking about you. What if you thought about somebody all the time but they never thought about you?

One of the reasons God loved King David in the Old Testament so much is because David gave God his attention all the time. In Psalm 25:15 NLT, David says,

“My eyes are always on the Lord, for He rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”

You’re going to face a lot of traps in your life this next week. God’s the only one who knows them in advance. Focus on Him and He’ll rescue you from all of the traps.

Search for the LORD and for His strength; continually seek Him.” Psalm 105:4 NLT

  1. HAVING TO WAIT TEACHES ME ABOUT MYSELF.

You’ll learn things while you’re praying for an answer that you won’t learn any other way. You learn not just about God but also about yourself. Some prayers are answered immediately, but some take time because while we are working on the prayer God is working on us.

“I will test and purify them as silver is purified by fire. I will test them as gold is tested. Then they will pray to me and I will answer them.” Zechariah 13:9 TEV

Gold is tested and purified by placing it in a big vat and heating it up until all the impurities burn off. When you can see your reflection in the gold, it’s pure. God can see His reflection in you when all the impurities are burnt out of you. Notice that the answer to prayer comes after the test.

God tests you with stress before He trusts you with success.

Having to wait on God tests four things:

  • It tests my DESIRES

When you pray persistently over time your prayer changes, grows, and develops because you realize what you really want. Persistent praying reveals the difference between a whim and a deep desire. God is not in the business of fulfilling every whim you get. Persistent prayer sifts out what’s really not that important to me. God wants to give you your deepest desires, but He wants to make sure that He’s in the first place.

Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NLT

  • It tests my PRIORITIES

When you have to pray for something more than once it tends to clarify what’s important to you. You can you know what’s really important to you by figuring out what you worry about the most. The problem is, every time you worry you’re acting like an atheist. Worry is acting like you don’t have a heavenly Father who has promised to take care of you. But, when you pray you’re acting like a child of God.

 “Why be like an unbeliever who worries about everything? Your Heavenly   Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need if  your first concern is to live for His Kingdom.” Matthew 6:32-33 NIV

When your priorities are right, God’s answer is yes. If your first concern is God’s Kingdom, God says He’ll give you all you need. You may be waiting on God to answer a prayer. But, are you waiting on God or is God waiting on you to get your priorities right?

“No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right.” Psalm 84:11 NLT

  • It tests my MATURITY

When God doesn’t give something to you immediately, He is testing your maturity. He’s testing whether you’ve grown up or not. God is not a vending machine or a genie, He wants to reveal your character. He wants to show you the areas where you need to grow.

If you tell a toddler, “You can have it in a little while,” do they get that? No. If you tell a toddler, “You can have it later,” they throw a temper tantrum and say, “I want it now.” That’s called immaturity. Toddlers don’t know how to wait. Immature adults don’t know how to wait.

God wants to meet your deepest physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, and relational needs. He’s even promised to meet those needs, but He’s far more interested in your character development. God’s more interested in your character than your comfort.

One of the characteristics of Christ is patience. Patience is a fruit of the spirit. How do you learn patience? Through persistent prayer. When God thinks you’re mature enough He’s going to let you go through a period where you feel alone and you don’t feel His presence. The question during that time is, will you depend on your feelings or on God?

God doesn’t want you living by your moods. He wants you living by your commitments and by your trust in His Word. It’s part of your development and spiritual growth. You’re building spiritual muscle. When God thinks you’re mature enough, He’s going to leave you alone for a while to test your character.

God left Hezekiah on his own for a while to see what he would do; God wanted to test his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31 MSG

Hezekiah was a very good king, but God still left him alone for a while. Before God answers your prayer for a breakthrough, he’s going to test your heart. He wants to know if you are ready to handle the blessing.

Before every blessing there is a testing.

God did this for the entire nation of Israel. He had a blessing for them called the Promised Land. But before He let them go into the Promised Land, He wanted to test them so see if they were mature enough to handle the blessing of the Promised Land. They could have gone from Egypt to Israel in a matter of weeks, but God kept them out in the desert for 40 years because God was testing, developing, and growing them.

“The Lord led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey His commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT

When we are in pain – emotional, physical or spiritual pain – we cry out to God to remove the painful symptom but God wants to remove the cause of the pain. That takes a little more time. When things are not going good in your life, you just want God to make you happy and put a band aid on it, soothe it, take away the pain. We aren’t looking to clear up the relationship or deepen our character, we just want God to change the circumstance not change our character.

God wants to get to the root of that marital problem. He doesn’t just want to get us out of debt, He wants to deal with what caused us to go in debt. It’s a whole deeper level. Here’s the big question. When praying to God for a breakthrough…

Am I willing to let God change me instead of changing the circumstance?

That’s a whole different issue. This is what’s called the point of surrender. The point of surrender happens in every breakthrough prayer before the breakthrough happens. If you don’t get to the point of surrender, you’re not going to get through the breakthrough.

Give yourself completely to God, to be used in the hands of God for His good purposes.” Romans 6:13

  • It tests my FAITH

We know God has said He will meet our needs, but we may not see the answer coming. In that instance, do we trust our feelings or our Father? It is a mistake to trust your feelings. God will never give you anything unhelpful or harmful. He’ll never give you anything detrimental or deadly. He’ll only give you what is good and He knows what will make you happy more than you do.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They’re plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11 LB

God has plans for your life that aren’t going to just happen overnight. You have to wait on God’s timing. In fact, the bigger the thing God wants to do in your life, the longer the runway it takes to get it off the ground. When God wants to do something really big, it doesn’t happen quickly. It happens when you’re praying and trusting and growing in desires, priorities, maturity and faith.

“Let us not get tired of doing what is right for at the right time at the right time, we will we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

Your faith is more desirable, important and precious than anything God could possibly give you. God wants you to keep praying because in that persistence God is changing you.


Four Ways God Answers Prayer

God always answers prayer. There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. He doesn’t always answer the way you like, but He always answers in one of four ways.

  1. When my request is not right, God says NO.

God’s not going to give you something that’s harmful for you. God won’t give you something destructive. He’ll only give you what’s good for you.

  1. When I’m not right, God says GROW.

God may want to give us something but He knows when we may not be ready yet. We may not be ready for the responsibility. We might need a little growing to do in character, maturity, faith, or surrender.

  1. When the timing’s not right, God says SLOW.

In Habakkuk 2:3, he says, “Do not be discouraged if the vision isn’t fulfilled overnight. Surely it will happen. It will not be overdue a single day.” God says it’s coming, but it’s slow. It’s all working together in God’s time.

  1. When my request and the timing and my character all line up right, God says GO!

Those are the four ways God answers prayer. No… Grow… Slow… and Go. This is the reason why we do what Ephesians says:

“Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Always stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Pray at all times. On every occasion. Always stay alert. Pray for all Christians. You need to be praying for other people. Everywhere. Now, what is not included in that verse? Nothing. God wants us to pray persistently.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. In “The Light Is Green” sermon, Pastor Ryland encouraged you to Get Closer to God; Get Honest with a Godly Friend; Get in Tune with God’s Purposes and your SHAPE; and Get to Doing Something Greater Than Myself. What progress did you make on these goals last week? Be specific.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

“Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, always giving thanks to God.” Colossians 4:2 TEV

God wants us to pray persistently. Let’s look at how asking God for something repeatedly over time helps us learn more about ourselves and tests our desires, priorities, maturity, and faith.

  1. It keeps my attention FOCUSED ON GOD.

“My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.” Psalm 25:15 NLT

Thinking about your experiences, can you describe a trap that God helped you escape?

  1. Having to wait teaches me ABOUT MYSELF.

“I will TEST and PURIFY them as silver is purified by fire. I will test them as gold is tested. Then they will pray to me, and I will answer them.” Zechariah 13:9a TEV

What has God taught you about yourself by having you wait for an answer to a prayer? What evidence of God’s testing and purifying have you seen in your life?

  1. God tests my DESIRES, my PRIORITIES, my MATURITY and my FAITH through persistent prayer.

Have you ever prayed for something and then found that your desires changed over time?

How has God reordered your priorities in life? Did persistent prayer play a part in that life change?

What evidence of spiritual growth and maturity can you point to in your life?

How has your faith grown as you have seen God answer your prayers?

Application

Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father … will give you all you need if your first concern is to live for his Kingdom.” Matthew 6:32-33

What do you think “live for his Kingdom” means? How can we know whether we are doing this? What part do you think “surrender” plays in living for his Kingdom?

Tell Someone Else

Who could you offer to pray for and with this week that you have never prayed for or with before?

“Pray at ALL times, and on EVERY occasion, in the power of the Holy Spirit, ALWAYS stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for ALL Christians EVERYWHERE.” Ephesians 6:18 NIV

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It’s Time | Week 1: The Light is Green

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God has a very clear goal and purpose for our church. It’s rooted in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Here is our vision:

  • Know God

God is not your religion, He is actually someone you can believe and trust and know.

  • Find Freedom

You can know God and be saved but still have issues that keep you from being who God wants you to be. So we let God take us on a journey of settling some of our issues and we want to take you on that journey.

  • Discover Purpose

You are no accident. It doesn’t matter what your parents version of how you came about. God has always had you on his mind. God has a purpose for your life.

You’re never going to be satisfied or happy without God. Go pursue whatever you want without God, and it will always be empty. Those things will never give you the joy you know you could have had.

  • Make a Difference

We want to take you on this journey of Knowing God, Finding Freedom, Discovering Purpose and Making a Difference in Jesus name.

You are somewhere in this process.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in church your whole life, you have another step. That’s why it’s called following Jesus. Some of you even know what the steps are, but the problem is, getting moving.

We need something or someone to push us toward the life you know you’re supposed to be living. The life that you’ve wanted to try, and you just needed the catalyst to get moving. That’s why this series of posts is called, It’s time.

We’ve got a brand new year and it’s time.


Have you ever sat at a stoplight and waited for the cars in front of you to notice the light is green? They aren’t going because they’re looking at something else or doing something else. While everything in you wants to lay on the horn to wake them up, what you really need to do is give a friendly beep, beep to get their attention on the green light.

Well there are some times that in our spiritual journey we stop paying attention and someone needs to come along and give a friendly beep, beep to remind you to keep moving forward. That’s what today’s post is all about.

The light is green. It’s time.

Take a look at this encounter Jesus had with three different people who want to become disciples of the Lord Jesus.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” Luke 9:57-58 NIV

Poverty was part of the curse Jesus carried. So, He told them this is going to be harder than you thought. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, you’d already be doing it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

But if you want the life you were meant to have, we’ll help you but buckle up, because it’s not going to be a bump free road.

“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”  Luke 9:59-60 NIV

This verse has been greatly misunderstood. Jesus isn’t against funerals and he wasn’t forbidding the man to arrange his father’s funeral. Most scholars would say the man was saying he’d like to take care of his father until he dies and then would be free to follow Jesus. This is the person who wanted to but felt like they had viable excuses.

That sounds like a great excuse. Jesus said, you’re missing it. The lights green and there aren’t endless cycles. Jesus takes first place.

“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:61-62 NIV

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and this guy is missing the urgency. Beep, Beep. Let’s go. Seize the day.

This new year and new decade gives us a fresh start. You know the song, Auld Lang Syne, sung at New Year’s celebrations. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”

We all know this song but few know what it means. What the penman of this song, Robert Burns in Old Scottish, was saying was Auld Lang Syne which means Days Gone By. What the song is challenging all of us to do is to think about what should stay in 2019 and never come into our new year and what should we bring with us. So he asks the question, what old acquaintance, like the pains and mistakes and hurts, what should be forgotten and what should stay.

The Bible has so much to say about old and new. This year, let’s move on from three old things.

1. Move on from old hurts

You’re wounded and it hurts. Someone has said or done something hurtful to you. It happened, you move on. You can’t go back and change it, but you can let God clear the page. That’s what the cross and the empty grave are for.

We’re not going to be perfect, we’re going to disappoint people. People are going to disappoint us. But there is one, Jesus Christ, who is perfect and He made a way for sinners like us.

2. Move on from old habits

Move on from our addictions. We’re all an addict. We’ve gotten addicted to certain drugs and meds and drinks or certain foods, certain language, addicted to our phones, addicted to bad patterns bad relationship patterns. What do you do with a bad habit?

That’s the power of the 21 Days we’re about to enter into. At the beginning of each year we make it a priority to seek God first. We do this by claiming 21 days in January as days of prayer and fasting. You can join us January 5-25 and make a commitment to pray each day.

You can choose to fast from many different things during those 21 days as well. We choose prayer and fasting because we know those are two powerful ways to turn down the noise of the world around us and tune in to God’s voice directing us.

Starting Monday, January 6th will offer prayer services in our worship center each weekday from 6-7am and Saturday mornings from 9-10. It’s so refreshing to just have some moments where we seek God together.

For some digital resources for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, visit our website or find the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting section in the Rock Brook Church app.

This is a great opportunity to move on from old habits. Anything in your life that you’re not going let master you, you need to fast from.

What’s fasting? Is it to punish yourself to get God’s attention? No. That’s bad religious teaching and it’s not in the Bible. Fasting separates ourselves from the world to fuel our relationship with God.

3. Move on from old hang-ups

The things that still define you. The debts, patterns and events that have shaped how you view yourself. It’s time to move on from your hurts, habits and hang ups.

These words are pulled directly from Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery program with foundations firmly established in Biblical truth. It exists so you can find freedom from any hurt, habit or hang-up and live fully alive in Jesus. At Rock Brook we have Celebrate Recovery meetings on Wednesday nights at 7:00.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:1-10 NLT


Time To Make A Change

It’s time to make a change in four areas.

1. It’s time to get closer to God

You may already love God. Great, get closer. The light is green.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8 NLT  

We’ve all let our loyalties go to some other places, but not for the next 21 days. How do you get rid of that dividing line? You starve the world and you feed your relationship with God. You do that with prayer and fasting. 

Prayer gets you closer to God while fasting separates you from the world. It’s radical. You can’t do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting all year. It’s an intense radical season that you can’t sustain that long, but that season jolts us into where we need to be. It takes kind of jolt to make the change.

One of the problems of moving on from hurts, habits and hang ups, we think it’s going to be easy.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you need to do something you’ve never done.

Some of you’ve never shown up to church all year long. What would it look like if you showed up to church 52 weekends this year? What would your life look like? You’d be closer to God. Your life and family would be healthier.

What if you participated in all 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting? Your life and family would be healthier.

2. It’s time to get honest with a godly friend

Share the whole real you with at least one other person. You’re not going to be able to get where you want to go alone. God designed this process to be achieved through fellowship with others. You’re not going to get there alone. That’s why we are a church of groups. That’s why groups matter to us so much, we try to cultivate environments where this can happen.

Everyone needs to be in a group or lead a group. Many of you need to lead a group for the accountability you get from leading. You’re going to pray harder knowing they’re coming over to your house. Your next level of growth is going to come through giving and leading.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 NLT

Some of our stuff is big and scary because it’s in the darkness. Bring it into the light and it shrivels. Set your mind to it, that’s what is going to make 2020 better. 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

3. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes and my SHAPE

Some of us have been living for ourselves, our purpose. You tried to find yourself instead of trying to find God. You tried self-discovery instead of God-discovery. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes.

And then our SHAPE. That stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. All of those things make up who you are. God has shaped you. Your life trajectory has shaped you and the goal is that God would use that to help someone else.

Your SHAPE is why some of you walk into a room and see things that needs to be done and some walk into a room and see people who need to be connected with. It gets bigger than that. Some of you are shaped to help people know their Bible better or make an environment more hospitable, some help kids or students or lead people in worship.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 NIV

It’s work, but it’s a good work. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired. That’s how God feels about His workmanship on you. He’s not embarrassed by you, He shaped you for a good work.

We’d love to help you take this spiritual journey. That’s why each Sunday we host an event that’s part of a four part series called Growth Track. This is Rock Brook’s way to help get in tune with God’s purposes and your design. Find out more about Growth Track on our website.

4. It’s time to get on doing something greater than myself

A great life doesn’t come from making money, sunny days, great politics or a great neighborhood. Real joy comes by knowing you’re on a God-driven adventure.

It’s when you do something with your life that actually matters.

If you’ll dedicate your life to something greater than yourself, God will fill your life with passion and adventure. 

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NLT

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking about a mistake you’ve made. You’re looking in the rearview mirror and don’t know the light is green. If you’re trapped by something in your 2019 or before remember this…

You can’t go back and change the beginningbut you can start where you are and change the ending.

You can’t go back and change how the marriage started or something you did in it, but you can get that marriage on a track that has a great ending. You can’t go back and change the things in the past. You serve a God who is the only one with the ability to do this.

It’s time.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “Your Timing Is Everything.” How did that message help you identify some areas where you need to speed up or slow down this year?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Each person has a God-given design and a next step to take, but many of us have a problem getting started. In Luke 9:57-62, three people have the opportunity to follow Jesus but then make excuses for delaying the journey. Jesus plainly says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne” challenges us to leave the unproductive in the past, and Scripture gives us direction for what we should leave behind. 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting is a great time to fast anything that is trying to master our lives.

Let’s stop delaying. It’s time to make a change by allowing Jesus to change our minds and our lives.

Spend some time in the word. Read Luke 9:57-62 and Colossians chapter three.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What past history—hurts, habits, hang-ups—do you think about and are keeping you from seeing the new thing God wants to do in your life? Are they relational? Health? Financial?
  3. How can you use 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting to step into the newness God has for you this year?
  4. Which of the four It’s Times do you need the most right now?

Prayer Focus: Spend some time in prayer thanking God for hope, purpose, salvation and life. Ask him for direction for your life.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message of this series? You could give them an invite to this weekend’s message. You could share with them this message by telling them about it or sharing the podcast with them.

 

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