Christmas! A Good Time For Giving

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There’s a phrase that comes up a lot this time of year. You hear it on commercials, maybe see it in department stores, but most don’t know it’s actually a quote from Jesus. The reason we remember it and say it is because the Bible tells us to remember it.

“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 NLT

This weekend in this Christmas season, we’re going to talk about giving. A lot of people follow God the wrong way. Most people are following God and doing what God wants them to do from a sense of obligation rather than passion. Many don’t enjoy praying, reading their Bible, enjoy going to church, or want to give, they just feel they have to.

They’re seeking God out of a sense of duty but not enjoying the ride. That’s not God’s best for us. We want to be people who can’t wait to give in a way that grows God’s Church, enables the Church to reach more people, helps a helpless child, rescues someone from human trafficking, or brings Truth to someone who has never heard it before. 

The goal is to give out of passion, not duty. Of course there is a place for sheer obedience and doing something because God says so, there’s discipline in all things. But God doesn’t ask you to stay there. You can actually come to a point where you delight in the ways of the Lord. Serving God can be a delight not a duty.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT

Any farmer or even anyone who’s planted grass seed knows if you put a few seeds in the ground you can expect a small harvest. If you put a lot of seeds in the ground, you can expect a larger harvest. So today, scripture is asking you to not give reluctantly, and to not be pressured into giving out of high emotion or compulsion.

The Bible says decide in your heart. Why? Because:

“For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

And, when you are generous, here are the blessings promised to you:

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-12 NLT


Why Give To My Church?

How do you get this kind of perspective on giving? Where does a passionate desire come from? It happens when you define why, the why motivates it all.

When I lose my why, I’ll lose my way.

Some of you have lost your way because you forgot your whys. Your marriage is in trouble because you’ve forgotten why you married them in the first place. You’re not enjoying your job because you forgot there was a day you were asking for that job. There was a day you chose to serve the Lord and you forgot what he’s done for you. All of the sudden you find your relationship with God struggling.

Why should we give and why should we give to the Church? There are actually many more reasons, but for now we will look at four. 

1. Jesus gave to us first

God sent His only son to earth and asked Him to give it all. He asked Jesus to give His life, dreams, position, career, family and body in hopes that each of us would receive His gift of eternal life. We don’t want to ever forget where we would be without Christ.

This is the message of Christmas:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NLT

Ephesians five further explains what He has given:

“Christ loved the church and gave himself for it . . . He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault . . .” Ephesians 5:25,27 NCV

We want to be like Christ. We want to love the Church and give our lives for the Church. One of the most Christlike things you can do is love the Church. When you want to know what something is worth, you look at what someone is willing to give for it.

2. It’s the direct way to give to God

Christian giving is not about giving to a cause; it’s about giving to a person. It’s different than any other type of giving. When you give to the Church, you are giving a gift of thanks to God who breathed life into you.

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

The Church is Christ’s body. This is more than a metaphor. The Church is actually the body of Christ on Earth, His presence here until He returns. So, gifts given to the Church should be thought of as being given to Christ himself.

God’s plan is to group us together. The devil attacks your relationships. Your full potential can be reached only when you find your covenant family in your local expressions of the Church. You need to find one and when you do, something powerful happens. Because the Church is the most powerful force in the world.

Jesus: “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!” Matthew 16:18 NLT

The Church has survived every crumbling culture for 2000 years. Jesus is in the Church building business. He’s not interested in building your reputation, building nations, building businesses, building clubs or organizations. He says He is going to build His family, His Church. All of the global problems cannot be solved without one third of the world which happen to be members of churches.

“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” Colossians 1:6 NLT

3. My heart follows my money

Financial giving is one of the primary things we can do to grow our faith. People who get stagnate in their faith tend to find breakthrough when they start giving more.

Giving works. Giving gets results.

Time and time again this one discussion has the ability to create spiritual growth in a way that most other discussions do not. So much of our faith is words. We sing words. The Bible is made up of words. Sermons are filled with words. We sit around small groups and put our thoughts to words.

For some people their entire relationship with God happens only with their mouth. Words are very, very powerful. But we must put our money where our mouth is. Giving is the best way to do that. Giving is an action.

You’re doing something very real that’s going to stretch your faith. There’s nothing elusive or mysterious about it. You either give or you don’t. But when you do, it moves the needle.

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT

You have two accounts going in life. You have an earthly account and a heavenly account. Which one are you investing in? The one that’s temporary, or the one that’s eternal?

One thing about giving is that it leads us to more freely enjoy what we have on earth. We can have some nice things and not feel guilty about it because the chains of materialism are broken.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:34 NLT

This order is so important. He’s not saying you give to what you care about. What Jesus is saying is far more interesting than that! He’s saying how you use your money determines what you care about.

You don’t become more generous, and then give. You give, which makes you more generous. You don’t develop more faith, and then give. You give, and it grows your faith. You don’t grow closer to God and then give. You give, and then start to feel closer to God.

4. One day I want to hear Jesus say, Well done.”

We will all meet Him one day and it will be the best thing to hear, “Way to Go! You did it!” The Bible says He’s coming on the clouds one day to meet you and He’s bringing His rewards with Him. The word in the Greek means He wants to pay us back. This verse will keep you going:

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” Matthew 25:23 NLT

One day your name will be called and you’ll be with Jesus, and you want to be prepared for it. If you’re discouraged or it’s not working for you in this life, remember there is more to this life than this life.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, a good time for gratitude. How has giving thank IN all things gone for you this week?

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

Hear the Word

This week’s message focused on celebrating through giving. We can celebrate through giving and through our serving, but the most important thing we can give is the hope we have in Christ. We can either give through obligation—because we think we have to, or delight—because we find joy in making a difference through our giving, deepening our relationship with Christ and being rewarded by Christ.

Spend some time in the word. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35 NLT

Application

1. Get the conversation on giving going. What’s one of the most generous things you’ve ever received?

2. Throughout scripture, God has desired a willingness to give on our part, and a willingness on his part to provide for us and protect us. Have you settled giving out of passion rather than duty? Explain.

3. Discuss the four reasons to give. Do they resonate with you as a motivation for giving?

4. Share some other reasons why you give. What are some things you could focus on to remind yourself WHY give? How has your motivation to give changed as your faith has grown?

5. Who’s the most generous person you know? How have you seen that affect the joy in their life?

Prayer Focus: Thank God for giving you life. Ask for courage to spend your life giving back to him. Ask Him to give you a heart of generosity toward God, your church, neighbors, family and world.

Tell Someone Else

Share with the group who you’re praying will respond to invite to a Christmas service at Rock Brook this year.

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Christmas! A Good Time For Gratitude

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It can be hard to be grateful when you feel overwhelmed. How are you supposed to be grateful in this holiday season?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The keyword there is “in.” It doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances. There are many things in life you shouldn’t be grateful for. If someone gets cancer, we’re not grateful. If a woman gets raped or somone is treated unjustly, we’re not grateful for that.

We’re not to be grateful for sin or evil or for the suffering that comes from those things. To be thankful FOR everything is sick. To be thankful IN everything is maturity.

Even in the darkest days of your life, there are always some things you can be grateful for. There are always some good things you can be thankful for. No matter how dark the days or how tragic the news, you can be thankful in all things.

Thank God for the grace He has shown you.

Grace is getting what I need not what I deserve. If I got what I deserved, I wouldn’t be alive. Grace is God’s free gift.

“You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.”  Ephesians 2:8

We can’t earn our salvation. We can’t bargain our salvation. It is simply a gift from God. That’s grace. We can always be thankful for God’s grace.

God loves us. Not because we deserve it, but because of His grace. God blesses us, uses us, protects us and takes us to Heaven, not because of what we do – but because of His grace. It is a gift of God.

“I will…not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love… He fills my life with good things… He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry… He never bears a grudge… He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.” Psalms 103:2-10


One way we express our gratefulness is through singing. In the Bible it says, “make a joyful noise”

“Let us come to God with thanksgiving, singing songs of thanks to Him!” Psalm 95:2

No matter what you’re going through, no matter how difficult the days, you can be thankful to Him for the grace He has shown you.

Be grateful for the plans He has for you.

You can be grateful for the good plans that God has for you. Life is not always good, life is tough. The sun doesn’t always come out tomorrow. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world all the time. Life is not always good, but God is always good. His plan for your life is always good.

Not everything that happens in your life is something He planned. But everything that happens in your life, He fits into your plan.

“I have good plans for you, says the Lord. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” Jeremiah 29:11 ICB

A lot of people go around thinking that God is mad at them. God isn’t mad at you, God is mad about you. He loves you more than anything else. The only reason you are alive is because God created you to love you. If God didn’t want you around, you wouldn’t be able to take your next breath. You are alive because God made you to love you.

God tells us He has good plans for your life. Some walk around thinking God causes all their suffering. We worship a God who took on all our suffering. Look at the cross

The Bible says He was bruised and crushed for what we did wrong. He was wounded for our sins by the strips of flesh that were ripped from his body, we are healed. Our sin, guilt and shame was on Him. We have a God who doesn’t just suffer with us, He suffers for us. That’s good news.

God says, I have good plans for you. God doesn’t plan your sins. Many things that happen in your life are because of dumb decisions, God didn’t plan those things. Many things happen because other people make dumb decisions, God doesn’t plan the sins done by you or the sins done against you that hurt you. You make choices and God can fit that into His plan for your life. God has no Plan B for your life. He already knows the dumb decisions you and other people will make and His plan for you is still good.

God’s plan for your life is greater than the problems you are going through. God’s purpose for your life is bigger than the problems you bring on yourself.

When we go through a difficult time, when something hits us and we have no idea why it is happening, we always want an explanation.

Explanations do not comfort.

What comforts is the presence of God. You don’t need an explanation. Instead, thank God that His grace is sufficient and His plan for you is good.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

What has you worried this holiday season? Is it your finances, your health your relationships, your job?

You feel the tensions, anxiety and insecurity and wonder, “How can I be thankful in this situation right now?”

If you put your life in God’s hands, all things are working for the good. You’ve got somebody on your side. The antidote starts with singing spiritual songs and the next part is prayer. The Bible tells us to cast our cares and our worries on God. We are told to not worry but to pray.

“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything. Instead pray about everything always making your requests to God with thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6

If you are not praying, you are worrying. If you are worrying, you are not praying.


Stop and think about what you are worried about most right now and read Philippians 4:6 again.

“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything. Instead pray about everything always making your requests to God with thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6

Pray this prayer right now:

“God, You know this problem I am worried about. It’s got me upset and I’m stressed out about it. God, take the problem away. Solve the problem and show me the answer. Show me the way out. Thank you for the grace that You have shown me. How You forgive me, You rescue me from Hell, You surround me with love and You fill my life with good things. Thank You for all the gifts of grace and the plan for my life. God I want to thank you that with all the things happening in my life, You are working them for the good. I love You and I want to fulfill Your purpose. In Jesus name I pray, Amen”


“I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Some of you have been abandoned by a father, a boyfriend, girlfriend, a brother or a spouse. God will never leave you. You may be hurt or broken – But God will never leave you.

The great violinist, Itzhak Perlman, was performing a concert at Lincoln Center and he walked out on stage. Itzhak is crippled and wears leg braces and uses crutches. It takes him a long time to walk out on stage and take the braces off to then sit down and begin playing. As he got ready to play, he broke a string. Everyone in the concert hall heard it break. So now he either has to put his braces back on, get up and walk back off stage to get a new string or go on the way he is.

Itzhak chose to play the entire concert with one less string. He played the entire concert on a broken instrument.

At the end of the concert, the entire audience rose to its feet in thunderous applause for this magnificent feat. They had just watched a man play an entire concert on a broken instrument.

Itzhak Perlman said something very profound and it applies to your life.

“Sometimes it is the artists task to find out how much music you can still play with what you have left.”

Between now and when you die, how much music can you play, for the glory of God, with what you have left?

You don’t have the body or the energy you use to have. You may not have the support system you use to have or the trust you use to have.

Sometimes it is the duty of the artist to find out how much music you can play, with what you have left.


You can listen to this sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App.

 

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Celebration Weekend

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We put Celebration Weekend on our calendar every year around Thanksgiving to give thanks to God, turn the corner into the the holidays, give to Him and celebrate what God has done in our lives this fall.

With Celebration Weekend, we open up a giving opportunity called the Celebration Offering. Our first priority for you is to give out of your relationship with God and give through the church, that’s called the tithe. If you choose to give beyond your tithe, that is called an offering. The Celebration Offering we bring at the end of the year, to celebrate what God has done in our lives.

The Bible says the way you give to God is through the church because the church is the body of Christ. Here’s how we plan on using the money given during this year’s Celebration Offering.

In previous years, we’ve used part of the offering to give an extra month of support to the missionaries and amazing organizations we support as a church. Through your giving this year we’ve been already able to cover that.

This year, we want to give half of what comes in to church planters. The other half we’ll use for some improvements around here.

In the past, we’ve been able to renovate a room or space or add technology to help us get the gospel out to more people through the Celebration Offering.

If you want to give to that, you can designate your gift, Celebration Offering. You can give online at RockBrook.org/Giving to give online.


“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples…”  Mark 8:34a NIV

Jesus understood all of the people who were following Him. There were people in different stages of their spiritual journey, they weren’t all disciples. He had a crowd of people who were kicking the tires and trying to figure out if Jesus was real. He was talking to both of them at the same time.

“and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34b NIV

In other words, “Let’s go!” Come from where you are to the full potential God has for your life. By the way, all of us need to do that. We’re still growing and learning and becoming more like him.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,”  Mark 8:35a NIV

It says here you have to give an exchange for the things you’re currently doing that aren’t what God wants.

“but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  Mark 8:35-36 NIV

What good is it to have a great marriage, great job, the house, cars or vacations if you don’t deal with your soul issues? The real you and the part of you that’s going to live forever?


One of the things we’re passionate about is making a growth process clear to everyone. Basically, there are four different groups of people that attend our church on any given weekend.

  • Crowd: Come and see

Someone gave them an invitation in some way. The message we say is come and see. Take your time. We’re not expecting anything from you. You don’t need to give or serve or worship the way the rest of the room worships. 

We want a church that’s not full of church people.

  • Congregation: Come and join us

These are the members of the church. First, join Jesus then you join a church.

Christianity is being part of the family of God.

We belong to each other as the body of Christ. This is a local expression of that family. There are so many verses, chapters and whole books of the New Testament that you can’t fulfill if you’re not connected to a local church. So, come and join us.

  • Committed: Come and grow

Christianity doesn’t end a process, it begins a process. We’re becoming more like Jesus. Believing happens in a moment, you get saved in a moment of belief. But there’s a long process where we’re becoming more like Jesus. That’s why this entire Fall Spiritual Growth Campaign was built on Small Groups.

Life change happens in the context of relationships.

  • Core: Come and serve

Don’t just attend church, participate in your church. 

Worship one, serve one. Come be a part of the Dream Team that has over 400 volunteers of people on it serving together. You might say, “With that many people you probably have everything covered.” We’re doing okay, but it’d be a lot better with you on the team. We want to make a big impact this Christmas season and in 2020! There’s a place for you! You’re not only welcome, you’re wanted!

If you’re wonder where to start, we’ve designed a process that ushers you through this journey called Growth Track. Four steps, four Sundays. We cycle through it every month.

The first step is next Sunday, December 1st, the membership class. StepONE just explains our vision and what being a member here looks like. This would be a great time to jump in.


Baptism

We have many people on our Dream Team that have a unique story about their journey to Christ, to Rock Brook and to serving and making a difference. Many people you see serving around our church would tell you they got serious about their faith when they took a step of obedience and got baptized. Let’s look at what baptism means and the power of obedience.

“Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”  Acts 2:41 NIV

Notice that baptism is a post-decision to believe, not pre-decision. So we don’t baptize infants here. Some churches do, but honestly it’s more of a dedication service. We dedicate babies and young children, but we baptize believers.

There are 27 accounts of baptism in the New Testament all of them were after the decision to believe.

Baptism is a vibrant part of the church. Baptism doesn’t save you, but it’s where your faith goes public. Just in the last 10 weeks of our Fall Spiritual Growth Campaign, 44 people indicated on their communication card that they either began trusting or renewed their trust in Jesus Christ.

Those people can now take their next step and be baptized. They can follow God right away. We make baptisms available every month. If you would like to be baptized at Rock Brook, sign-up HERE.

When you get baptized, what does that express?

1. You are a follower of Jesus Christ

When we get baptized we’re saying Jesus doesn’t live only on the pages of history but Jesus lives today! Even more than that, He lives in the lives of people who put their faith in Him.

We’re not talking about history, we’re talking about a living real person. We’re not talking about subscribing to a set of principles, entering into a list of rules we’re talking about entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Look at this passage after Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead,

“When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.” John 12:9-11 NLT

You’d think everyone would have believed in Jesus. That everyone who came to see Jesus would have believed in him. But there are still some on the edges who weren’t 100% sure.

Many people did put their faith in Jesus. They came hearing about him, but they left having put their faith in him. Their life changed from knowing about someone to believing Jesus could save them.

2. You are beginning a new life in Christ

No one getting baptized, is doing it because they were a bad person and want to try to be a better person. That’s not the picture of baptism.

Why did God give us a picture of water baptism?

It’s important that we actually immerse people, dunk people under the water, because Jesus got baptized under the water. He didn’t get in the river and stand around and splash around. He got in the river and was immersed in the water.

That’s actually what the word baptism means. It means to dip under the water.

Why was Jesus baptized? It was a picture of what was coming. Jesus was dedicated by his parents at a young age. That was their decision. He wasn’t dishonoring their decision. Now He’s saying this is a choice I am making and it’s pointing to the ultimate choice I will be making.

For us it’s a picture of what happens when we trust in Christ to be our Savior. So we put someone under the water and quickly bring them back up. When Christ died we died. When Christ was raised, we can be raised too. When He went down in the depths for my sin, I went down, but when He was raised it’s as though I was raised up too.

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

Though we had a sentence of death on our lives because of sin, we now have life and life to the full because of the work of Jesus.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

When you get in the water, you are saying that when you got in Christ you became a new creation. It doesn’t mean we won’t stumble. It means our desires have changed and our defense for life changed because now Jesus is in us.

No one getting baptized says they used to be a mess but now are perfect. No, the message is we could never be perfect, but Jesus is perfect and we got into Jesus by putting my faith in Him. Our lives are joined up with the perfect one and He is going to work in us to make us like him. Our lives are now changing!

What is changing? What is the life change that we’re saying happens when we get baptized?

3. You are part of a new family

It used to be all about me, but I’m coming forward in my baptism to say it’s all about us now. I used to be an individual rolling through life and now I am walking with him and his body, the church.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27 NIV

It’s not just me that this happened to, it happened to a “we” and now I’m part of that “we.” I’m a sister or a brother in that “we” and there’s no changing that.

Baptism is the door to the church. It’s the doorway to being a part of the family of God. People say faith is a private thing and a private decision, not according to Jesus…

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 NIV


Frequently Asked Questions About Baptism

  • I have already been baptized. Should I be baptized again?

Your baptism should have signified you becoming a follower of Jesus, beginning a new life, and uniting with a new family. If your baptism did not reflect this change of life, then you should be baptized again.

  • May my child be baptized?

We encourage parents to partner with Rock Brook for Kids and take their child through our Kids Baptism Class. This class is offered for third through sixth grade. You can find out more information at http://www.rbfk.net/kids-baptism-class

  • May my infant be baptized?

Throughout the New Testament, the Bible teaches that baptism is a public expression of worship symbolizing the new life we have when we follow Jesus. In the Bible we see that Jesus’ parents dedicated him to the Lord (Luke 2:22–40), and he was later baptized as an adult (Matthew 3:16–17).

We understand that some churches practice “baptism of confirmation” for children. This ceremony is intended to be a commitment between the parents and God on the behalf of the child. The parents promise to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make his or her own personal confession of Christ. This custom is different from the biblical examples of new believers being baptized to publicly profess their faith in Jesus. At Rock Brook we provide opportunities for child dedication. Let us know on the communication card if you would like to dedicate your child.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion about love, or your discussions from the spiritual growth campaign. Any loose ends you need to tie up? What was your favorite week of the campaign?

 

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

Hear the Word

Pausing to celebrate and look back at how far we’ve come is biblical. God commands it. He doesn’t want us to just fly through life without recognizing what He has done for us.

This weekend we paused to reflect on where we’ve been and look at what our next step of spiritual growth may be. We were reminded of what happens, specifically when we take the step of baptism. It shows we are a follower of Jesus, we are beginning a new life in Christ, and you are part of a new family.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What did you hear?
  2. Describe your baptism. When was it? What did your life look like then?
  3. What did you need to be reminded of most in this message? What do you need to pause and celebrate in your life?
  4. Baptism is the first step in following Jesus. If you have been baptized, what do you think your next step in following him is?

Tell Someone Else

Faith in Christ is not a private thing. Baptism is a public expression of our faith in Christ. Have you been baptized? If not, you can sign up HERE. If you have been baptized, who can you share your faith with now?

Christmas is a great time to share your faith with your friends. Who could you bring with you to a service in December? Who could you invite to one of our Christmas services December 21-22 or Christmas Eve at 1:30, 3:00 or 4:30?

 

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #10: Love

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What is your number one goal in life? Would you say, your number one goal in life is to be happy? Or to be loved? Or succeed in your career?  However you answer that question is your dominate life value.

Every time you make a decision, every time you have a choice,  you decide what you’re going to do based on your dominant life value, the dominant principle of  your life.

For instance, if your dominant life value is to have fun, then you’re going to tend to choose the thing that’s the most fun to do. If your most important value is comfort, then you are going to tend to choose the easiest, most convenient thing to do. 

God has a lot to say about this and says that LOVE should be your goal.

“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB)

Why? Because God created everything in the universe out of love.

“Do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

What does everything include? This includes writing an email, posting on social media, writing a Yelp review, ordering fast food when you can’t understand the speaker, and even finding a parking spot. Everything includes responding to people who attack you for your faith. 

Do everything with love. One day Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment and He answered: 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”Mathew 22:37-39 (NIV)

That’s pretty clear. That’s why you are alive. Make love your highest aim. It doesn’t matter how much you acquire, how much you achieve, how many accomplishments you make or how many rewards you earn, or how famous you become.  

Love encompasses everything we have discussed during this campaign. If you love God, you’ve taken the responsibility to love him. You’ll trust him. Out of love you’ll have self-control.

If you have love you’ll live a balanced life. It’s out of love you will show respect, offer forgiveness, stay pure, treat people fairly and honestly. This is why Rock Brook Church is built on the Great Commandment and Great Commission, because we please God through those things.

The Fundamentals of Love

  1. We love because God loves us

If you go to a typical seminar on relationships you will hear that you need to “try to be more loving,” or “try to be more patient,” or “try to be more kind.” But trying on your own doesn’t work. It’s not a matter of trying; it’s a matter if trusting

The key to love is not you trying harder to be more loving. The key to love is letting Jesus Christ love through you.

It is experiencing the love of God in your life and letting Jesus Christ love through you. So it starts with receiving his love. You can’t love like he did by just trying.

“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

If God wasn’t loving there would be no love in the universe. All love comes from God. God is love.

“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

God is always first in everything. He takes the initiative. The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. He showed that love by creating you. God created you to love you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you.  He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s a gift of God’s love.

If you’re struggling to love it’s not that you don’t love God enough. Your problem is you don’t realize how much He loves you. If you realized how much God loves you extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love – you would have to love him back.  

You could not, not love God if you understood how much he loves you. If we’re going to talk about learning to love God and others you’ve got to first understand and feel how much God loves you. The day you finally, fully understand how God loves you completely,  unconditionally, you can’t make God stop loving you.  You can try but you will fail.  

When you feel that unconditional love you’re going to start cutting people a lot of slack.   You’re not going to be as angry as you’ve been.  You’re going to be more patient.  You’re going to be more forgiving. More merciful.

The reason why you see people who are judgmental, sarcastic, mean spirited, angry, self righteous, always putting other people down is because they’re putting themselves down.  They don’t feel good about themselves.  They don’t feel loved.  They don’t feel forgiven.  They don’t feel grace. They feel guilty.  They feel bad about themselves.  And if they feel bad about themselves they certainly don’t want you feeling good about yourself.  

You’re going to have to do some healing in your heart because you have been hurt in life.  You’ve been hurt by parents or peers in school or by professionals or by partners.  Maybe some of you have been abused or misused or rejected or abandoned or betrayed.  

You have to let God do some gentle surgery on your heart because you can’t love others until you feel loved. 

“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16 (NIV)

Do you know the love of God? Do you rely on the love of God for you?

  1. Love is a choice and a commitment.

There is a myth that love is uncontrollable. That you really can’t control it. That love just kind of happens to you. You can’t force somebody to fall in love with you.  And you can’t force them to stay in love with you.  Why?  Because love is a choice.  

“You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying, and committing yourself firmly to him.”Deuteronomy 30:20 (NLT)

You must choose to love God. God isn’t going to force you to love him. Because love can’t be forced. Love is a choice.

You can choose to love anybody and you can choose not to love anybody.  So when you say, “I don’t love him or her anymore,”  don’t blame it on the circumstances.  You are choosing not to love. It’s in the moments when the loving feeling is gone that you find out what you’re made of.

  1. Love is an action, not just emotion

Love can produce emotion, but love is not an emotion.  

In the Bible, over and over, we are commanded by God to love each other. If love were just an emotion then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6 (NIV) 

Acting in love when you don’t feel it is the highest form of love. When you get up in the middle of the night with a child, or when you take care of an aging parent, or you’ve held a sick pan for a loved one who was nauseated, you didn’t feel like doing that. You did it out of love. That is the ultimate form of love.

When you are patient with somebody who’s irritable. When you do the loving thing and you come home at night and you’re as tired as everybody else is but you do the loving thing not because you feel like doing it but you do it out of love.  

You can learn about the concept of love in a sermon, in a book, in a small group, or in a video, but you actually learn to love by practicing it. By doing it.  

  1. The best expression of love is time

We’re all different, but we all have the exact same amount of time: 24 Hours a day; 168 hours a week. What are you going to do with that time?

“We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” 1 John 3:18 (GWT)

Our families need more time together. Time working hard together. Playing together. Enjoying each other. Showing love.

Love means giving up. Giving up your agenda for someone else’s agenda. Giving up your time for someone else’s time. Giving up your preferences for someone else’s preferences.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)

Jesus is the model of perfection in relationships.  He was the Son of God. He was perfect.  He was the only one who knew how to handle relationships perfectly.

  1. Love is a skill

Did you know that love could be learned? You can get good at it and you can get better at it. We want our church to be most known for being a loving church.

Not just the church with small groups or great music or great coffee or a great children’s ministry. We want people to say, “That’s the church where they love. They love God. They love God’s word. They don’t care who you are or what you look like or where you’ve been or what you’ve done or where you’re from, they love you there. And not only do they love you there, they teach you how to love.”

“Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all.”1 Timothy 4:15 (GNT)

This is where love can get difficult. Because love doesn’t mean I just let people do whatever they want. God wants us to help each other grow. Love can mean discipline. Love can mean hard conversations. 

Just because someone doesn’t let you get their way,  doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  It may mean they’re the only one who really loves you. They are doing what’s best for you. They don’t want to see that area of your life destroyed.So they’ll tell you the truth in love.

  1. Love is a habit

You can’t claim to be a loving person unless you are attempting to love everyone. You may think you are a loving person, but love happens when you love the unlovely.

“If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?”Luke 6:32

Being a loving person is when you love the unlovely. Love has to become a lifestyle.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.”Hebrews 13:1 (NLT)

“Keep on” means make a habit of it.  Do it all the time. In some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples right before he went to the cross, he’s giving them the last minute instructions before he dies and resurrects and goes back to heaven.  

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)

The mark of a true believer is love. The symbol of a follower of Jesus is not a cross,  it’s not a fish, it’s not a dove, it’s not a crown.  The symbol of a genuine follower of Jesus is love. 

Do people know you’re a follower of Jesus because you’re the most loving person they know?


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about honesty. How has that message and discussion impacted the way you have communicated this week?

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

Hear the Word

Life is all about learning how to love. It’s the most important value we can build into our lives. Why? God created everything in the universe because of his love. He made you because he wants to love you and he wants us to learn to love like he loves. 

“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB) 

The fundamentals of love: We love because God loves us. Love is a choice and commitment. Love is an action, not just an emotion. The best expression of love is time. Love is a skill. Love is a habit.

Application

  1. We love Because God loves us. What would make someone doubt God’s love? 
  2. Love is an action not an emotion. Think of a time you chose to love someone when you didn’t “feel” like it, but you knew it was the right thing to do. What did you learn?
  1. The best expression of love is time. Which of your relationships need more of your time? How would time spent together improve those relationships?
  1. Love is a skill. What aspects of love (e.g., patience, kindness, humility, hope, grace) do you have the hardest time extending to others?

Tell Someone Else

Is there someone God is bringing to your mind that you could text or call and tell them you love them right now? Who could you invite to come with you for Celebration Weekend? 

Have you taken the step of baptism in following Jesus Christ? We’ll be doing baptisms this weekend at Rock Brook. For more information visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #9: Honesty

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Today the value we’re talking about is honesty. The irony of honesty is that all of us make a big deal about it and we want it but really, in practicality, we give it very little value. 

It is amazing how many opportunities there are in our day to be dishonest. Every conversation, every phone call, every interaction we have dozens and dozens of opportunities to be dishonest.

“Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want long life and happiness?  Then keep from speaking evil and from telling lies.” Psalm 34:12-13 GNT

When you tell a lie, you’ve got to commit to the lie. Then every time the phone rings, every time someone wants to talk you wonder, is this it? Is this when I get caught?

Dr. Leonard Keeler, inventor of the lie detector machine, determined after testing 25,000 individuals that human beings are basically deceptive. At the core of humanity there is dishonesty.

To those of us who have read the Bible, this is no surprise. We know that in the book of Genesis we’re told that dishonesty has plunged this world into the mess that it’s in. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful. We have wickedness that lives within us because of the fall of man, we have a resistance to truth. 

Lying is not only in our culture and nature, dishonesty is part of our spiritual structure. It’s much bigger than ourselves. There’s a struggle going on in the cosmos. Call it what you will, it’s light versus darkness, good versus evil, Satan versus God.

We are the object of this spiritual battle. It’s an eternal combat that is bigger than most of us are capable of understanding. Basically it comes down to this: truth versus falsehood. The Bible tells us that God is the father of truth. The Bible also tells us that Satan is the father of falsehood.

“He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 NLT

The Bible doesn’t sugar coat it, God is on one side and Satan is on the other and we have a choice, do we follow the culture or do we follow the creator? When it comes to the Creator, God says He hates dishonesty. That is not  a word used very often in the Bible.

The word “hate” means it’s disgusting, detestable, utterly and thoroughly repulsive. Dishonesty is repulsive to God because He is the Truth and dishonesty is a perversion of His character.


Steps Towards an Honest Life

1. TELL THE TRUTH CONSISTENTLY

Being honest 80% of the time is not integrity. The little boy who cried wolf is a classic story. Eventually you don’t know whether the guy’s telling the truth or not so you don’t believe him at all. 

So you must tell the truth consistently, honesty is a lifestyle. Nobody has a good enough memory to be a good liar. If you lie you have to remember what you said to each person. If you tell the truth at all times you don’t have to remember anything because you’ve always told the truth.

“People who can’t be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty.” Proverbs 11:3 GNT

Every relationship is built on one word — trust. Truth telling produces trust building. Deception destroys trust. If you are a dishonest person pretty soon you have no relationships because nobody can trust you.

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Proverbs 12:19 NIV

2. TELL THE TRUTH COMPLETELY

God says lying is an intention to mislead and when you’re just telling a half a truth you’re telling a whole lie. You can lie by falsifying or you can lie by concealing. When we deliberately hold back half the truth, we’re being deceptive.

You can lie without even saying a word. God says, in the end people appreciate honesty. God says tell the truth completely.

“In the end people appreciate frankness more than flattery.” Proverbs 28:23 TLB

It may be unpleasant at first. You have an employee that’s not fulfilling their job and you have to correct them. They may not appreciate it then, but if it helps them build their character it will help in the long run.

“Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble.” Proverbs 10:10 GNT

What kind of trouble can come from concealing the truth? You cause resentment, mistrust, and superficiality. You get into trouble by not saying what you mean and not meaning what you say. 

Marriages often get in trouble because during the engagement period, they lie to each other. Not overtly, but lie by not facing the issues. There may be major differences in the relationship that they just ignoring.

Once you understand the motivation behind your lying, then you can deal with the real issue.

Lying is not your real problem. It’s the symptom of a deeper problem.

“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” – Jesus 

Jesus is saying the real problem is not our mouths but our hearts. What’s coming out of our mouths, these lies, are really an indication of what’s inside of us. If we are going to become people of integrity, we have to deal with what motivates us to lie. 

Why Do We Lie?

TYPE OF LIE MOTIVE
The Cruel Lie Resentment
The Cowardly Lie Fear
The Conceited Lie Insecurity
The Calculated Lie Greed
The Convenient Lie Laziness
  • The cruel lie – This is the kind of lie that is intentionally destructive and malicious. You tell it to get revenge. They’ve hurt you so you’re going to get even. You misrepresent them, this is called slander. Slander means when you make up something about somebody that’s not true with the intentional purpose of damaging their reputation. The Sadducees did this to Jesus. They brought false charges so they could hang Him on the cross. The cruel lie is an intentional mischievous lie.  The motive behind that kind of lie – resentment.
  •  The cowardly lie – This is the kind of lie you tell to escape consequences. You’re trying to protect yourself, prevent pain and avoid punishment. Adam told this kind of lie in the Garden of Eden, when he sinned and blamed his wife. The motive behind that kind of lie – fear.
  • The conceited lie – This is when you lie to impress. You’re trying to create an image or cover for a mistake. What may come off as pride and ego is actually a frightened, insecure person. The motive behind that kind of lie – insecurity.
  • The calculated lie – This is the kind of lie used to manipulate other people. It is a calculated lie to get what we want or think we need. The motive behind that kind of lie – greed.
  • The convenient lie – The convenient lie we tell because it takes effort to tell the truth. To not have to explain yourself or talk more, you shrug off the truth. Sometimes you don’t want to get involved with something or you’re too busy to check the facts so you tell something you haven’t really checked up on. This is often called diplomacy. This is the kind of lie you tell when you don’t want to offend anybody. The motive behind that kind of lie – laziness.

3. TELL THE TRUTH LOVINGLY

Don’t use the truth as a club. Don’t beat people over the head with the truth. People change easier and faster when you speak the truth in a spirit of love. People always perceive truth without love as an attack.

Truth without grace is mean.

It doesn’t matter if it is the truth. People don’t receive it if it is yelled and beaten over them. They resist it, become defensive against it, don’t want to hear it, because they perceive it as an attack.

“We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:15 NLT

How do we know if we’re speaking the truth in love? Ask yourself the question, Who am I trying to benefit from this? Think through the motivation. Is it to change them so things are easier on you? Or is it because you care about them and want them to be the best they can be.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT

4. TELL THE TRUTH TACTFULLY

Being honest does not mean being brutal. Whenever you have a need to share a tough truth the solution is never deception. The truth sets you free. But, when you speak the truth you must speak it completely, consistently, lovingly, and tactfully. 

“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.” Proverbs 12:18 GNT

You have an option with your words: you can either hurt people or you can heal them. Develop people or you can destroy them. Build them up or you can tear them down. Delight or you can devastate. He’s saying your words have tremendous power.

If you think about it, emotional wounds last longer than physical wounds. When you speak the truth in love and with tact you can learn how to make a point without making an enemy.

  • Plan your presentation

“The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.” Proverbs 16:21 GNT

Planning your presentation doesn’t mean you come up with come backs to all the potential ways they might respond. Instead, write down the issue and a few points to that issue. That way when things get off track, you can keep the problem on the issue rather than the person or some other thing.

  • Choose the right time

“Intelligent people think before they speak.” Proverbs 16:23 GNT

Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in gear. Timing is everything. Don’t try to start a tough conversation with your spouse late at night when you’re both tired, overwhelmed and frustrated. Plan a time to allow for constructive conversation. 


If you’ll do these four things, the Bible says you will begin to be an honest person.Speak the truth completely, consistently, lovingly and tactfully. The beginning of honesty is the confession of dishonesty. If you want to be a person of integrity, first admit to God that you don’t always tell the truth and ask Christ to forgive you.

He will give you the power to change and put a new heart in you. He will begin to replace the deception with truth as you begin to let Christ more and more control your heart. You do that by making a choice and saying, God help me to be more interested in character than in reputation. 

If you’re more interested in reputation you’ll lie to build your reputation. Reputation is what other people think you are. Character is what you really are. Character is what lasts for eternity. 


God Blesses Honesty

  • By guarding me – “He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.” Proverbs 2:7 NLT

That word means to be a bodyguard whose soul purpose is to protect you. If we’re honest, He’ll shield us. It’s not going to be easy but He will be our shield. 

  • By directing me – “The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.” Proverbs 11:5 NLT

When we’re honest we see God’s way.  The direction becomes very clear.  That’s a reward.

  • By sustaining me – “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 12:19 NLT

Honesty will outlast dishonesty. There was a story some years ago about a newlywed couple from Chicago. They had opened their presents before they went on their honeymoon, gathered all their cash, put it in a suitcase, loaded up the car, then left the cash on the top of the car and drove away — $12,000. It fell to the street and was found by an honest man. This man was unemployed.  But he returned the money. 

The city of Chicago went hysterical about this guy. When the story broke, this guy got job offers from Sony, Hilton, Hyundai, Motorola and more. He was rewarded for his honesty. 

In a kind of physical way this is an example of what God does in a spiritual way. God is in the business of rewarding honesty. Some people will receive a reward for their honesty in this life, and sometimes we have to wait for the next life for our reward. But, that reward will be more than we can imagine. Honesty will last for eternity. 


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about fairness and injustice. How has that message and discussion impacted the way you see the world and process injustice in the world?

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

Hear the Word

We would all probably agree that honesty is the best policy and a value worth building our lives on. But in practice, it’s often a different story. It’s easy to find an excuse not to tell the whole truth. Other times, it can be tempting to intentionally deceive people. But honesty is essential for the success of any relationship.

Dishonesty has many different faces in our life but it has one common result. Dishonesty strangles life out of us. One of the main reasons it runs so fast through our culture is because dishonesty is present in our nature. It’s deeper than just our culture; it’s in our nature. There’s something about you and I that is so warped and flawed that we are drawn to untruth. There is a wickedness about our nature because of the fall and because of sin, but there is also a wonder about our nature. We’re created in the image of God and something deep down within us really wants truth.

“Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want long life and happiness? Then keep from speaking evil and from telling lies.” Psalm 34:12-13 GNT

Application

  1. Why do you think people tell “white lies” and then expect there to be no consequences?
  2. When we understand the motivation behind any lie, then we can deal with the real issue. Lying is just a symptom of something else. Here are five types of lies and the motivation for each one:
  • The cruel lie is motivated by resentment.
  • The cowardly lie is motivated by fear.
  • The conceited lie is motivated by insecurity.
  • The calculated lie is motivated by greed.
  • The convenient lie is motivated by laziness.

What motivation might be most tempting for you? Why?

  1. What kind of reaction would someone have if you spoke the truth without love?    What might the response be from someone if you spoke the truth with love?
  2. Proverbs 12:18 says, Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal. Can you think of a time when someone spoke healing words to you? How did that person’s wisdom impact you?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to be honest with? Plan your presentation and choose the right time. How will you ask God to help you?

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #8: Fairness

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The Bible is very specific: this is not heaven, it is not a perfect world. There are things that are unfair. There is injustice. This is not the way God designed it or wanted it. It was created perfect. But, because of sin, the world is now an imperfect, broken place until Christ returns and redeems it.

If you ever want to do any in depth study on this subject, you need to go study the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon had achieved wisdom and riches and many of the things we spend our life trying to achieve. He takes a step back and looks at everything in life. And he’s left wanting, He even calls it meaningless. Throughout that journey he gives five little snapshots of life that show typical, common occurrences of unfairness in the world. 


Life Is Unfair

First, he’s noticed that criminals go unpunished.

“Throughout the earth, justice is giving way to crime and even the courts are corrupt.”  Ecclesiastes 3:16 TLB

“When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” Ecclesiastes 8:11 NLT

This could not be any more relevant than it is today. Given enough money, you can beat any inditement today,  all you have to do is hire the right attorney and they’ll find some technicality to get you off the charge. Solomon sees that criminals go unpunished while victims and their families suffer.

He also notices the oppressed are unhelped in the world.

“Then I looked again at all the injustice that goes on in this world. The oppressed were crying, and no one would help them. No one would help them, because their oppressors had power on their side.” Ecclesiastes 4:1 GNT

History is a record of the fact that it is human nature for human beings to try to dominate each other. You can see it throughout the history of the world. The powerful try to dominate the weak.

Even today, the wars we see in our society are basically wars of oppression. Many of these oppressed martyrs in the world are Christians. In certain places you can be killed for claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Solomon observes that nobody seems to be helping these people.

Then he says, exhibit number three: politicians are unethicalIllegal fund raising, cover ups, scandals, lying about your opponent… it’s nothing new.

If you see… miscarriage of justice anywhere throughout the land, don’t be surprised! For every official is under orders from higher up, and the higher officials look up to their superiors. And so the matter is lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Ecclesiastes 5:8 TLB

“There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth.” Ecclesiastes 10:5-6 NLT

To be clear, there are some godly, political leaders. However, often times we look at the elections we have at the local, state and federal level and think, surely there’s got to be more choices than this…

We’re giving great authority to foolish people. The Bible says when ungodly people hold positions of authority they are going to abuse it and Solomon says that’s unfair.

Exhibit number four, good people go unrewarded while evil people often prosper.

“There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 8:14 NIV

Does it ever bother you that dishonest people get promoted while honest people are overlooked?  Have you ever been to a funeral of a good person, a young person and think, “Why did they die?” 

“Some of the good die young and some of the wicked live on and on.” Ecclesiastes 7:15

Another thing he notices is that capable people are often unsuccessfulJust because you’ve got talent doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed. The good guys don’t always win in this world. 

“The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 NLT

We all know bright, educated, hard working people who barely get by financially. Yet we know about these bums who inherit millions and then aren’t even grateful for it. In our society, the biggest salaries don’t go to the smartest people. In our culture we pay unnecessary professions more than we pay teachers who train our kids.

Solomon says, the bottom line is life isn’t fair. Capable men and women don’t always rise to high positions. People sometimes don’t get promoted because of the color of their skin or their gender or their belief in Jesus Christ and that’s unfair and it’s wrong.

We all ask, why God doesn’t do something about the injustice in this world? The Bible says that there is injustice in the world, for a time, for some reasons.


Why Doesn’t God Do Something About Injustice?

1. Because God gives us the freedom to choose

In the very first chapters of the Bible we have the story of creation. God creates man in His own image. That means you, as a human being, are different from the animals. God gave you a spirit which gives you the ability to have a relationship with God.

Another way you’re made in God’s image is you have the freedom to make moral choices. You can choose between right and wrong. Animals cannot do that. Animals can choose only by instinct, between survival and death. They cannot choose morally between what’s right and what’s wrong.

“’I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!’” Deuteronomy 11:26 NLT

That’s the good news. The bad news is there are consequences to our choices, and we often make selfish choices. When we do that, innocent people get hurt and that’s unfair. 

There is an assumption with God. We think that in order for God to be good, he must never allow evil. But there’s fallout from that way of thinking:

  1. God would create nothing.
  2. God would create beings with no possibility for moral free will.

In order for God to create beings capable of love, He must also create a world where evil and suffering can exist. He could create a universe with no pain. But you know what else it would be without – mercy, love, compassion, true peace, significance, forgiveness, happiness.

God is putting a group of people together who choose to love Him, not are forced to love Him. You can’t say you love somebody unless you have the choice to not love him or her. You can’t say you are honest until you’ve had the opportunity to be dishonest.

There is injustice when we choose to not do the godly thing. It’s not on God. If we get drunk and get in my car and take the life of another driver, is that God’s fault? No. It’s our fault. God didn’t plan that. It’s the result of an evil choice that we made. 

2. Because God will settle accounts one day

God will do something about injustice. People may not get their justice here on earth, but they will one day. The Bible tells us in the book of Isaiah that God is a God of justice. If we didn’t believe that we would be in absolute despair.

The truth is today, evil people get away with evil things all the time. It would be a travesty if evil dictators who have killed millions just get away with it with no punishment. That is unthinkable. God tells us He is going to be a God of justice. 

“In due season God will judge everything man does, both good and bad.” Ecclesiastes 3:17 TLB

“In due season…” Today is not the end of the story. The final chapter has not been written. The scales of justice have not been weighed. One day there is going to be a judgment day where one day we personally stand before God and give an account of our lives including the good, the bad, and whether we trusted His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior or not. Are we covered by the judgement poured out on Christ, or do we take that on ourselves?

3. Because injustice shows why we need a savior

Injustice shows what we’re really like on the inside. There is a very popular idea going around today that makes us think human beings are basically good its just environment that makes us do bad things.

Anybody who’s had children knows that we are born with a selfish nature. But we want to all think we’re basically good. We’ll admit we have some weaknesses, faults, areas we need to work on, rough edges, and personality quirks. But, we don’t want to call it what it is — sin. 

“God is letting the world go on its sinful way so that he can test mankind, and so that men themselves will see that they are no better than beasts.” Ecclesiastes 3:18 TLB

Human beings without God tend to start acting like animals. We hear the shocking stories of gang rape, abuse, senseless acts of violence in society against innocent people who have no reason to be hurt. There is no way to explain the horrific acts of violence and terror that have happened in our world if we believe human beings are inherently good.

One day when we stand before God and He’s looking at your life, you’re not going to want justice. You’re going to want mercy. Thank God He gives us an opportunity to be saved. None of us have a chance of getting into heaven on our own. Heaven is perfect and alive. We are imperfect and dead. Without the work of the cross, we don’t get into that perfect place.

4. Because how we handle injustice can build character

Not everything bad in life is ultimately bad for you. 

Pain is not without purpose.

It can build character. The Bible tells us many times, suffering produces character. However, suffering does not automatically produce character. It only produces character when you choose to respond to it in the right way. 

A lot of people who’ve suffered a tremendous amount have no Christlike character at all.  Rather, they’re bitter and cynical. Maybe you’ve gone through some things and wondered why God let it happen to you. You feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand and it just isn’t fair. Everybody has their own story of unfairness, how does God say we can grow our character through those things?


Responding to Unfairness & Injustice

1. Accept it gracefully

Accept injustice with God’s grace in mind. Don’t be surprised when people treat you unfairly. Jesus told us it would happen. 

“‘My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.'” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NCV

You can’t choose whether or not you’ll be hurt in this life. But you can choose your response.

We try to accept it gracefully, rather than becoming bitter. You can’t become like Christ if you don’t have anything in common with him. Use it as an opportunity to have more in common with Christ.

2. Respond lovingly

Respond to the offender lovingly. When somebody hurts you, they expect you to retaliate and fight back. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 5:44 NCV,

“Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Why do you do that? Because it keeps them from controlling you. Great American scientist Booker T. Washington has an amazing quote. As a black man years ago, he went through many injustices and unfairnesses of life. 

“I will never allow another man to control my life by allowing him to make me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington

We don’t have to hate.  That’s a choice. We can’t control the unfairness that happens to us, but we can choose to be a better person, not a bitter person. We don’t let others control our emotions, so we choose to respond in a loving way. 

When you respond to an offender lovingly, that does not mean you continue to allow injustice.  On the contrary, we are to lovingly seek justice. We are to work for justice in the world without retaliating, without getting revenge, without seeking to get even and without seeking to hurt the people that have hurt us.

We will return love to the very people who have done evil to us. That’s what it means to be like Jesus Christ. As Christians we have to fight for justice. We are to be more concerned about justice for others than for ourselves.

“Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right!  Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors.” Jeremiah 22:3 NLT

3. Wait for God’s help expectantly

When you are going through an unjust period, God is on your side. All through scripture, God has a special heart for people who are treated unfairly. He is a God of justice.

“A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and stands the pain, God is pleased.” 1 Peter 2:19 NCV

God hears your cry and He sees your pain and He knows you didn’t get what you thought you deserved. But He has a plan. You can develop a beautiful picture with the light of God’s love in your life.

So what does God want me to do while I’m waiting for him?

“If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 NLT

You’re never going to get an explanation for a lot of things that have happened in your life that you feel are unfair — at least not in this life. When we get to Heaven and everything is made right, we will understand better. 

But even then, God does not owe us an explanation. The good news is, we don’t need an explanation to get on with life. All we need to know is God loves us. God is faithful. He will reward you if you have a right response to the unfairness of life and you continue to be fair no matter what anybody else does.

“These little troubles… are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 PH


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about moral purity. How is your path back to purity going? Have you made any adjustments to your life to have a pure mind and life?

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

Hear the Word

When everybody else is living for themselves, why should we live any differently? Practicing fairness is foundational to building values into our lives that last. But as we try to be fair, we notice all the injustice in the world. Criminals go unpunished. The oppressed are unhelped. Politicians are unethical. Good people go unrewarded. Capable people are unsuccessful.

We all ask this question at some point in our lives… Why doesn’t God do something about the unfairness and injustice in the world? Is He helpless? Does He not care? Is He unconcerned? No. The Bible says that God allows injustice in the world, for now, for a reason. One, Because God gives us the freedom to choose. Two, because God will settle accounts one day. Three, because injustice shows why we need a savior. Four, because how we handle injustice can build character.

How can we respond to unfairness and injustice? One, accept it gracefully. Two, respond lovingly. Three, wait for God’s help expectantly.

A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and stands the pain, God is pleased. 1 Peter 2:19 NCV

If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19 NLT

Application

  1. In what ways has God grown your character through an injustice you experienced?
  2. How can God use the pain from your past to help other people?
  3. When have you seen someone respond lovingly in the face of injustice?                                              What impression did it make on you?
  4. What injustices do you wish you had an explanation for?                                                                      How do you feel an explanation would help you?

Tell Someone Else

Prayerfully consider who you could share this message with. You could have a conversation with them around the topic using some questions from these Talk It Over Notes, or you could send them a link to message through rockbrook.org/sermons, the podcast or Rock Brook App.

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #7: Moral Purity

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Today we’re studying a value that as Americans we care a lot about in some areas of our life and in others we could not care less: the value of purity. For instance, we want pure air to breathe, pure water to drink and we want pure food to eat. But, we’re not as concerned about having pure minds. 

We will allow almost anything in our minds and we get desensitized to it. It used to be that you had to go to an “Adult Book Store” to get pornography. Today it’s all piped into our home and life every day. The temptations haven’t changed. Human nature hasn’t changed. But, how we view it and how we access it has changed.

“God wants you to be holy and pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin… For God has not called us to be dirty-minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7 TLB

As we read that verse, we may ask, is that possible in today’s world? Here’s a reason we believe that it is. A fish in the ocean has lived its entire life in salt water.  It grows up in a culture where every moment of its life it’s surrounded by brine, water that’s so salty you can’t drink it yourself or you’ll get sick.  Yet, when you catch that fish and bring it home and prepare it for a meal you have to put salt on it. 

The same God that can take a fish and keep it in an environment of salt its entire life and yet not be affected by it, can keep you in a polluted world and keep your mind pure.

We normally fall into one of two extremes when dealing with purity: imitation or isolation. The answer is not imitation which says encourages us to be like the world and adapt to every perversion that’s out there.

On the other hand, isolation pushes us to completely stay away from the world. Let’s build a bunker or become nuns and monks to isolate ourselves.

The answer is not isolation or imitation. It is insulation. Just like God can insulate that fish and keep it in a briny environment and yet not let it get salty, God can keep you in a polluted world and keep your life, your mind, your heart pure.


How to Stay Pure in a Polluted World

1. Make a commitment to God’s standard

God says several things in His word that aren’t very popular. God says a number of things, particularly about sex, in His word that you may make you wonder why. The answer –  because He knows a lot more about sex than you do and He understands the implications far better. 

When it comes to sex, God invented it. And yet God has also put some parameters around it. His standard has never changed and is very clear regardless of opinion polls. Sex is far more than physical. It is a spiritual act and it has spiritual consequences. Not only that, sex has emotional consequences, social consequences, even has legal consequences.

The problem with sex education is not that they teach too much, it’s that they don’t teach enough. When we reduce sex to simply a biological function, we forget sex is so much more.

The Bible also says that sex is exclusively reserved for a man and a woman who are committed to each other in a marriage. Anything outside of that — sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, anything else — will have profound consequences in your emotions, in your spiritual life, and physical life.

God puts these parameters in place not to restrict your freedom, but for your protection.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 NIV

Sex is not bad or dirty. It is holy and spiritual. That’s why it is to be used according to God’s standard. Making a commitment to God’s standard takes courage. It takes character to have conviction and do what God says is right. Once you’ve done that, regardless of mistakes you’ve made in the past, then you’re ready to move to step two.

2. Manage my mind

Anytime you see somebody really messing up their life, it didn’t start with the actions, it started with thoughts. They were thinking dumb thoughts before they started making dumb decisions. The way you think determines how you feel. You feel a certain way because you’re thinking a certain way and feelings are what motivate you to action.

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NCV

If you want to change your action, break a bad habit, or change your life you don’t work on the habit, you work on what caused it —the thoughts that caused the feelings that caused the action. God says your thoughts control your life. 

This is how you fall into temptation. This is how affairs happen. Long before the actual physical act takes place, little decisions have been made that lowered the barrier. It happens like this:

  • First, it starts with accepting sinful thoughts in my mind. “What would it be like to go to bed with that person? I wonder if it’s so wrong?  Did God really say…” You start having doubts and you start fantasizing in your mind. You think it is harmless, but thoughts inevitably produce feelings. That’s why while you’re thinking it, it produces feelings of excitement.
  • Second, there is emotional non physical involvement. That’s where you start flirting. You start making gestures and comments — that say, “I’m available.”
  • Third, comes the physical involvement.
  • Fourth, comes rationalizing my actions. “Everybody’s doing it.  It’s no big deal.  We’re both adults.” 

The Bible shows us how to break these steps.

“Turn your back on the turbulent desires of youth and give your positive attention to goodness, faith, love and peace…” 2 Timothy 2:22 PH

The way you stop is by turning your back on what you’re thinking about. You have a choice. You don’t have to give in to temptation. It’s not a sin to be tempted.  But it’s a sin to give in to temptation. 

How do you break any temptation? Turn your back on it and replace it with something else. If my mind isn’t on it, I can’t be tempted by it. Change the situation.

One of the practical ways you can do if you want a pure mind in a polluted world is …

3. Monitor my media intake

What you feed your mind is just as important as what you feed your body. Could you live healthy on a diet of Dr. Pepper and Twinkies? No, you couldn’t. Yet the moral equivalent of a Twinkie is most things on Netflix and Prime. On television and streaming you’re taught, through exposure, that the only good sex is outside of God’s plan for sex.

Therefore, you have to monitor your media intake or your cornea is going to develop your character. The problem with television and media is it lowers your resistance to understanding what’s right and wrong. On television, sin is glamorized. Television doesn’t show the results of the sin.

“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” Psalm 119:37 GNT

A way we often do this as adults is through the news. The news is often just a more sophisticated version of all the other junk. It’s worthless. Before you click on that headline or watch that news story, ask yourself if that is really what God has called you to think about that day.

“I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” Psalm 101:3 NLT

4. Minimize the opportunity for temptation

That means don’t place yourself in a situation where you know you’re going to be tempted. If you don’t want to get burned, stay away from the fire. Here are three verses that can help you with minimizing temptation in your life.

“So be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that’—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 TLB

People tend to think the longer they have been a believer, the less they will be tempted. That is not true. The time you’re a believer has nothing to do with it. It really has more to do with how hard you’ve worked to develop conquering temptation.

Even Jesus was tempted. If you’re thinking, “I would never be tempted!  I would never give in to that temptation! I’m too old for that. I’m over that.” The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful.” Given the right circumstances each of us are capable of any sin. If you don’t think so, you’re already in trouble, because it’s going to get you in a way you don’t see coming.

“Bad companions ruin good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 GNT

Choose your friends carefully. It’s a well known fact that most affairs occur between couples who already know each other. That means you’d better make sure that your closest friends are as committed to their marriage as you are committed to yours or you may be setting yourself up for some unnecessary temptation. 

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…” Ephesians 5:3 NIV

You need some guidelines and guardrails in your life. Guardrails such as making a commitment that you won’t talk about your marriage problems, won’t be alone, won’t go out to eat, won’t travel alone, or won’t have late night phone calls with people of the opposite sex. Situations like these is where all that stuff begins.

5. Maintain my marriage

A growing relationship with your spouse will reduce the pull and attraction of adultery. Many people get tempted after they’re married because we stop dating in our marriage. We stop doing those things that keep the spark and romance going.

What happens is men tend to get married and think, “Mission Accomplished.” Now he, as a natural goal oriented guy, starts thinking, “What’s next?” He focuses on providing and turns to work and projects. The woman wonders what happened to all the dates and hours spent talking. She’s thinking, “Bait and Switch.”

“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.” Ecclesiastes 9:9 NIV

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs… Do not deprive each other of sexual relations… so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3,5 NLT

For many of you, if you took the time you spent complaining about your marriage or fantasizing about something else and used that time to work on your marriage, it would be a whole lot better. You already have the time and the means.

6. Magnify the consequences of sin

The enemy tries to minimize the consequences of sin. Then after you sin, he condemns you.

“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.” Proverbs 6:32 NLT

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 NLT

Nothing damages your emotions more than sexual sin. God made you to be a sexual being. And since your sexuality invades every single part of your life, it’s not just a physical act. 

Many people wish they could roll back the clock and undo mistakes they have made due to temptations they have fallen into. God wants to spare you this pain. That’s why God’s standard has never changed. 

Premarital sex. Living together without getting married. Adultery. Homosexuality. Pornography. All of these are unacceptable to God. They always have been and always will be.

If you have been guilty of one or all of these things, God says He wants to give you a chance to come clean and start over. He is the only one with the power to do it. He offers healing, forgiveness and restoration.


The Path Back to Purity

1. Repent

Repent means we change our minds and admit God was right and we were wrong, we have sinned. David did this in Psalm 51. He prays a prayer after he committed adultery.  The important thing is you do it nowIf you’re in the middle of an affair right now, this is it. It’s over. It’s dead. It’s done today. Quit cold turkey, right now! 

2. Receive forgiveness

God says He wants to release us from the shame, regrets and hidden hurts. God wants to forgive you and wipe the slate clean. The good news is once He’s forgiven you, you can forgive yourself which you’re having a hard time doing.

3. Refocus and replace

You make a commitment to live morally pure by God’s standard from this day forward for the rest of your life. That means having sex only with the person you’re married to. 

4. Request help daily

Commit your life to Christ and ask Him to help you manage what He has given you. Galatians 5:16 tells us to walk by the Spirit and we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about forgiveness. Were there any action steps you needed to take? Anyone you needed to forgive? If you can’t forgive in person, did you use one of the other techniques?

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

Hear the Word

We want pure air to breathe and pure water to drink, but some of us may be less aware of our mental or moral purity. Is it even possible to maintain purity in a world where we’re continually bombarded by media trying to rob us of our purity? The answer is yes!

How do you stay pure in a polluted world? Make a commitment to God’s standard; Manage your mind; Monitor your media intake; Minimize the opportunity for temptation; Maintain your marriage; Magnify the consequences of sin.

Application

  1. Of the six steps to stay pure in a polluted world, which one do you need to focus on right now?
  2. What is one temptation you have struggled with? What thoughts, emotions, or maybe even family history led you into the struggle?
  3. What are some voices you need to turn off in your life to live a pure life? This may be another person, or something from the sex-saturated media.
  4. A growing, thriving relationship with your spouse will reduce the pull and attraction of sexual immorality. What are some things you and your spouse did when you were dating that you both enjoyed? How can you start doing some fun things together again? (If you’re single, maintaining your marriage starts now. Commit to saving your sexual purity for marriage. Trust that God knows best and he has your best interest at heart. You can start honoring your spouse before you’ve even met them.)
  5. Regardless of what’s happened in your past, God offers you a new start today. Follow these steps…The path back to purity: Repent, receive forgiveness, refocus and request help daily.
  6. Using the “Personalize It” method of Bible meditation, put your name in place of the pronouns or nouns used in scripture. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

Tell Someone Else

Prayerfully consider who you could share this message with. You could have a conversation with them around the topic using some questions from these Talk It Over Notes, or you could send them a link to message through rockbrook.org/sermons, the podcast or Rock Brook App.

For Mobile Wallpaper