Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #1: Responsibility

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What would you say is your greatest ability?

At Rock Brook, we care about your abilities, because we believe when God created you, he created you uniquely. He gave you talents and abilities and specific opportunities.

Perhaps, your greatest ability is responsibilityResponsibility is the ability to respond to life. It’s one of the greatest gifts that God has given you. When God created you, he gave you the ability to choose your response to life. You can respond in many different ways to stress, problems, crises, opportunities, and relationships.

It’s all your choice. 

You do not get to choose a lot of things about your life, but you do have the freedom to chose how you react to life. Because you have that choice, you are response-ableIf you want to live a successful, significant, and God honoring life, you have to start with personal responsibility. 

Responsibility is the foundation of the foundation.

You can’t build any values into your life  if you don’t personally accept responsibility for your choices, your character, and your values. The problem is, naturally, nobody wants to accept responsibility. We would rather accuse and excuse. We want to accuse other people (it’s all their fault) and we want to excuse ourselves (it’s not my fault). 


Three Foes of Personal Responsibility

There are three mentalities that are the antithesis of personal responsibility:

  1. The rights mentality:  “I have my rights and that’s all I’m interested in.” or “I demand my rights.”
  2. The victim mentality: “None of my problems are my fault. In fact, they’re all your fault.”
  3. The entitlement mentality: I deserve it.”

In stark contrast to all of that, notice what the Bible says,

“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.”  Ephesians 5:15 PH

The point of this verse is this.

If you live your life in a responsible way it means you probably know the meaning of life.

On the other hand, if you are living an irresponsible life, you don’t know the meaning of life, your purpose, or why God put you on this planet.


Why Live Responsibly?

1. Because God is watching you.

God sees everything and is going to judge us one day on how we lived our lives. Life is a test of responsibility. 

“Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before him, and to him we must explain the way we have lived.” Hebrews 4:13 NCV

God is interested in is your character because character is the only thing you’re going to take with you when you die. Do you have the character, the humility, and the wisdom to know Him personally through His son Jesus Christ, and to become more like him?

“Each of us will give a personal account to God.” Romans 14:12 NLT

We rationalize our irresponsibility thinking, “Nobody will ever know.” But God knows.  And He’s the only one that really matters. 

2. Because others are affected by your life.

None of us live to ourselves alone, we are all interdependent.

“People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

Every decision you make affects somebody else, even the secret ones. It changes you and you then influence other people by the changes in your life.  You may not see the visible results but every choice you make influences somebody else and every time you’re irresponsible it hurts somebody else.  There is no such thing as a non-affecting decision. 

“Love cares more for others than for self.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG

3. When you are responsible, God rewards it.

The Bible says that in eternity we will be rewarded according to our responsibility and our relationship to Christ here on earth.  God has made an investment in your talents, abilities, and opportunities when He created you. He expects a return on His investment. 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Luke 16:10-11 (NLT)

If you use your influence well, you become more influential. If you use your possessions well, God will provide more of them. Why should God give you more money when you’re not responsible with the finances you’ve got right now? He doesn’t have any obligation to help you when you’re living irresponsibly in that area or any other area. But on the other hand, if you will be responsible God will bless your socks off in a way you can’t imagine. 

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.” Luke 19:26 NLT

How Can You Become a More Responsible Person?

  1. By controlling your reactions

You can’t control things and tragedies that happen to you. But you can control your response and reaction. God says maturity and responsibility are evident in your life when you can handle the pressures, the stresses, the problems, and the pains of life without loosing it, without becoming stressed out, or becoming angry and blowing up.

The key to responsibility is learning to control your emotional reactions. 

“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” Proverbs 29:11 GWT

The way we usually express our emotions is through our words. God says when people hurt you, turn around and do good to them.

“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21 NLT

One of the ways you show responsibility is by not trying to get even with people who hurt you. When you try to get even with someone, you’ve just lowered yourself to that persons’s standard. You are even with them. And a person who tries to get even is no better than the person who did the wrong. But when you forgive that person, you move on and say, “God, I’m going to let You take care of it. I know You’re going to settle the score and I trust You to do that.”

2. By guarding your mind

Our minds control everything.  The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our minds influence our thoughts, affect our feelings, and our feelings affect our actions, but it all starts in the mind.

You are not responsible for every little stray thought that passes through your mind. Aren’t you glad of that? Those can come from all different things like conversations you overhear by accident or things that you see by accident. When Satan gives you a thought, that’s called temptationWhen God gives you a thought, that’s called inspirationBoth God and the devil, good and evil, are trying to influence you all the time.

Martin Luther, the theologian, said it like this,

You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

What you are responsible for are the thoughts you choose to hold on to and go over and over in your mind.  God is going to hold you accountable for what you think about and allow into your mind.  Whatever you put into your mind is inevitably going to come out in your behavior and your beliefs.

When you allow worldly influence in your mind, it weakens you, it weakens your values, and it lowers you because you’ve become accustomed to it. Then it doesn’t bother you anymore. When things don’t bother you anymore, that is a warning light that you’ve already passed the threshold. 

There are three things you can fill your mind with: 

  1. The truth — things that always build you up.
  2. Poison —  gossip, trash, pornography, immoral shows, criticism, etc. 
  3. Stuffing — neutral; stuff that’s neither good, but can still take up space.

You might say, “I never have any desire to read the Bible.” That makes complete sense, because you fill your mind up with other stuff until there’s no room left. When you fill your mind with other things, you don’t hunger for God’s word. If you eat a whole meal of stuffing, when the steak or the desert comes, you don’t want any of it. You’re not hungry for it.

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, [the truth] while the fool feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14 NLT

Your character comes from what you think about. Have you been vigilant with certain things you won’t watch or listen to? Or is your mind just an open freeway that anybody who wants to drop garbage in it, can? You’ll say it doesn’t affect you, but you’re kidding yourself and you’re being irresponsible.

3. By admitting your mistakes.

Typically we try to accuse and excuse. Whenever we blow it we say, “It’s not my fault; it’s all your fault. I’m a victim of circumstances.” 

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” Proverbs 28:13

God gives you another chance. He always gives you more chances if you confess and forsake your sins.  

“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT

We’ve all blown it. We’ve all been irresponsible. The Bible calls it sin, but God doesn’t want you going around with a heavy guilt trip about all the irresponsibility in your life. He wants you to go around with a sense of promise and hope and He will help you overcome it. He can even bring good out of the stupid decisions that you’ve made in your life if you’ll give them to Him. This is one of the great truths of God’s word.

Sometimes we feel so guilty and ashamed of stupid decisions we’ve made or irresponsible actions we’ve taken that the guilt and the shame actually perpetuates the problem and we keep doing what’s causing the problem. “I blew it so I’m bad. Since I’m bad, I’m going to blow it again.” It’s a cycle that you can’t seem to get out of.

The guilt and the shame actually keeps you locked in a lifestyle of irresponsibility. You make one dumb decision after another.  What you need is a power beyond yourself.  What you need is a savior who can forgive your sins, clear your conscience and break out of that cycle. Here’s the good news:

“All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us`not guilty‘ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.”Romans 3:23-24


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on choosing your standard? How have you seen the temptations of individualism, secularism, materialism and relativism in your life?

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

Hear the Word

You don’t get to choose a lot of the circumstances and events that happen to you. But you do have the ability to choose how you react to life. Because you have the freedom to respond and you are able to respond you are response-able. You are responsible. Accepting responsibility is the foundation to building your life on values that last.

Three mindsets that keep us from accepting responsibility. A rights mindset, a victim mindset, and an entitlement mindset. In contrast to all of that, God says,

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.  Ephesians 5:15 PH

Application

  1. In what ways have you experienced rewards in your life for being responsible?
  2. What disadvantages or consequences have you experienced as a result of someone being irresponsible?
  3. When someone has wronged you, have you ever felt like you wanted to get back at that person? How might you change that response?
  4. How do you typically respond or react when you get frustrated, upset, mad, or angry?
  5. What practical steps can you take to guard your mind and fill it with truth?
  6. What have been some of the biggest mistakes in your life? Have you admitted your mistakes? Have you confessed your sins to God?

All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us `not guilty’ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. Romans 3:23-24 TLB

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this message with? You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.

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Preparing to Build | Week 3: Choosing Your Standard

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These last few posts have been preparing us for the next series of posts called Building Your Life On Values That Last that start next Sunday.

What are your values? They are the core beliefs that shape everything you do in life. Many people don’t believe what you believe really matters, but that’s not true. It does matter what you believe. Your beliefs determine your behavior and your behavior determines what you become. 

If you look at the foundation of a person, it’s based on the things they have chosen to value. Your convictions in life determine your conduct and your conduct determines your character. So whatever you want to be in life, you better quickly figure out what your values are because they determine your stress level, your success, your salvation and many other things. 


You know what basically everyone in our society agrees with today? It’s not much but there is one thing. Whether you’re a conservative or liberal, a republican or a democrat,   religious or irreligious, a Christian or a non-Christian…the vast majority of people say that our society today is in a stage of moral decline. There is a decaying of values in our society and this crisis can be seen in many areas.

What is the cause of this moral decline? Two words: TRUTH DECAY

Historically, for our society, there was much more universal agreement about what was true, what was right and what was wrong. That didn’t mean everybody did right, people still did wrong all the time. But there was no disagreement about what was right or wrong or true. Now, our society believes there is no such thing as right and wrong and there is no absolute truth. There are no standards by which you can evaluate your life and behavior.

How did we get to the point when someone says what is true, right or wrong recieves all sorts of controversy? We fell for four very destructive philosphies that have replaced truth in our society.


Four Destructive Philosophies

1.  Individualism 

Individualism says, “I live for myself and only I can judge what’s true, what’s right, what’s wrong. You don’t have any place telling me what’s right or wrong or true.”

Individualism has gone on in nations for centuries and millenniums.  Thousands of years ago the nation of Israel fell prey to this. If you want to read the dark ages of the nation of Israel, read the book of Judges. It was the time of total chaos.

“In those days Israel had no [authority]; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25 NLT

Does that sound vaguely familiar? If there is no standard, no rule, no law, no absolutes, then people can do whatever they want. That’s an easy philosophy to hold onto because it means you never have to feel guilty. You don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s standards.

2. Secularism 

Secularism can be summarized in three words: God is unnecessary. Secularism does not mean that I don’t believe there’s a god. Secularism may believe there’s a god, but they have decided they just don’t need Him in their life. 

For the last few decades we have been systematically removing God from every area of public life — schools, government, media, news, all the different areas of public opinion in life and we basically relegated God to church buildings on Sunday mornings.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks.” Romans 1:21 NLT

At one time, in our nation, we got them from the moral authority of the ten commandments. We hung them everywhere. More people went to church than did not go to church and we got our values from that.

Where are most people getting their values today? The number one purveyor of values today is not God, the Bible, the church, even parents. It’s TV, streaming, podcasts and social media. The places where you take the most bizarre people on the planet, give them a platform and say, “This is normal.”

3. Materialism

Materialism is when you build your life on valuables that won’t last. When you worship things instead of the God who created everything.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped created things rather than the Creator.” Romans 1:25 NIV

The moment we put our valuables in front of our values, it’s destructive. When we give to our valuables before we give to God. When we give to our truck, our hunting collection, our house, our hobbies our possessions before we give to God we’re falling for a destructive philosophy called materialism.

4. Relativism 

The idea behind relativism says, “What’s true for me may not be true for you and what’s true for me may not be true for you. Therefore, what’s right for me, may not be right for you and what’s right for you, may not be right for me.”

At this point, nobody can say what’s right or wrong, because all truth is relativeThere are very few people who will level with you today. When people go through a major life decision like, “Should I move in with this person?” or “Should I take these drugs?” and people all around you are telling you to do whatever is best for you, they don’t love you.

People who tell you the truth are those who love you. 

There’s another phrase that relativism uses: No absolutes. Don’t let anybody con you with statements that say there are no absolute truths.

The whole world and universe proves that there are things you can depend on because they are absolutely true. There is evidence of absolute truth all around us. There is an absolute truth called gravity. 

God has established the entire universe on some universal laws that are always true and can always be depended on. People who claim there are no absolutes in life get very interested in absolutes when theirs are being violated. 

God describes what happens when we fall for these four destructive philosophies.

“They are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame.” Ephesians 4:17‑19 NLT


What’s the cost of living by these destructive philosophies? What’s the cost of not having any standards, values, not even agreeing with what is true right and wrong?

The Cost: COLLAPSE

All of a sudden with no God there is no truth and Jesus said it would happen.

Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV

As a result we have a collapsing culture and collapsing families.

“Where there is ignorance of God, crime runs wild.”  Proverbs 29:18 TLB

Why is there so much crime, violence, gang warfare and people afraid to go out of their homes? Because of an ignorance of God. If there is no God, then there is no standard of truth and if there is no standard, anything goes!

God’s Word, the Bible, tells the truth. There’s are things in this book that are not easy to read and are not easy to do. But it is the truth, because it came from God.

Our culture is collapsing. Have you ever heard someone say, “I have to be unethical at work. I have to survive and everybody else is unethical so I have to do it too.” 

Every society, culture and family has collapsed when the people decided they have to do whatever it takes. When survival becomes more important than the truth.

Today, what we’re witnessing is the flip flopping of values. What used to be called right is now being called wrong. What used to be called wrong is now being called right. What used to be called perverted is now being called sophisticated. In our society, we kill unborn babies and the elderly every day, people made in the image of God, yet many are more interested in saving turtles and bees. God is not mocked. He says, whatever you sow you’re going to reap.

“A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.” Proverbs 29:18 GNT

Our nation was founded on the two presuppositions from God. One is, our rights are endowed by our creator, and that we are to follow basic moral laws that He has laid out.  That’s the cornerstone of our society.

We aren’t going into this next series trying to find ways to change society. Instead, we are going to figure out how to live a life of value in a world that can’t even decide what is right and wrong.

How do we raise our children and become families with basic, lasting values?

“When the foundations [of life] are undermined, what can a righteous person do?” Psalm 11:3 GWT


Anyone ready for some good news? There is a cure to a society experiencing moral decline.

The cure: REBUILD THE FOUNDATION

You can rebuild the foundation of your life, your business and your family. You can build your life on values that last and that means turning to God, because God is truth. God is honest. God is faithful. God is just. God is love. 

When we are different from the character of the Creator who made us, it’s wrong. When we’re like the character of the Creator who made us, it’s right. That’s how you decide what truth is.

God shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” Proverbs 2:9 TLB

You can’t teach values without God and His 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.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT 

If God says it, it’s true. How do I know when something is truth and when it’s just an opinion? 

Two characteristics:

1. Truth is universal. 

If it is true, it applies to everyone, everywhere around the world in every culture. If it does not apply to everyone everywhere, it’s not truth, it’s an opinion, because truth is universal. It applies to the rich and the poor and every nationality and heritage.

2. Truth is unchanging.

It’s always the same. It doesn’t change. It is unchanging. For instance, if adultery was wrong 4,000 years ago, it was also wrong 2,000 years ago, it is wrong today and it will be wrong 2,000 years from today, no matter what anybody else says.

Truth is unchanging and it is universal. The information and science we have may change but truth doesn’t. Science is changing all the time. Your kids science book, is different than the one you used, it’s all new now.

For instance, years ago, science used to tell us the smallest particle of life is the atom. The fact is since then we’ve discovered several layers beneath that. Now we know there are even smaller things. Why is that as science changes but you don’t have to change or update the Bible? Because it’s eternal. It’s true. 

“Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.” Psalm 119:105 TLB

What’s the benefit of building my life on absolute, universal unchanging truth? If I build it on unchanging truth, I won’t stumble so much and I won’t make so many mistakes.

“Those who listen to God’s instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20 NLT

The bottom line is we all have a choice. What will your standard be? What’s going to be the standard by which you make decisions in life?

This is a choice only you can make. Your parents can hold you to God’s standard and discipline you for a while, and if they really love you that’s what they will do, but they can’t make the belief choice for you.

Your options include:

  • An Internal Standard: ME

You can make your values based on you, what you feel and see.

  • An External Standard: The World

You can go with the times and go with the crowd. If you choose whatever the world says is right and wrong, realize that in a few years it will change because fads change. 

  • An Eternal Standard: God’s Word

You can go with God’s way, His truth, His Word, because it is absolute, universal, and unchanging.

Starting next week we will just look at the solution, because you matter to God and your family matters to God. He wants you to build your life on something that will not collapse. He wants you to get to the end of your life and be able to say that you have no regrets becuase wht you built your life on will last.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How is the message on How God Anchors Us helping you prepare for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Any more thought or conclusion on coaching, the truth, new thinking, cleaning house, honest community and faith?

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

 

Hear the Word

Everything you do is influenced by your values. Every time you make a decision you’re relying on a set of standards to decide what to do. Just like the way you set a sail determines the direction of a sailboat, your values chart the course of your life. You have to decide in advance the direction you want your life to go. You have to decide in advance what your values will be.

Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV

Application

  1. What values would you say are most significant in your community? What values would you say are most significant in your church? What values can you identify in the TV shows, movies and music you consume?
  2. Have you ever compromised your values because it was easier or more convenient, what was the outcome? How would you handle the situation differently today?
  3. Among the four destructive philosophies, which one do you find yourself leaning on the most? Individualism, secularism, materialism, relativism?
  4. What are the things you think will last in your life?

Tell Someone Else

Who could you invite to join you at church for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Who could you invite to a small group with you?

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Preparing to Build | Week 2: How God Anchors Us

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Jesus said that the wise man built his house upon the rock, but the foolish man built his house upon the sand. When the storms of life came the wise man’s house, it stood firm. But the foolish man’s house went splat. All around us we see people who’s lives are going splat including in situations of financial trouble, marriage trouble, kid trouble, and moral trouble. Today we will look at Ephesians chapter 4 to find six ways God anchors us to help build our lives upon a solid foundation.

1.God anchors us by giving us COACHES.

All around us in life we see the value of a coach; someone encouraging us to persevere, stay the course, and finish well. Superstar athletes who get paid millions of dollars have coaches. Famous singers all have vocal coaches. The top CEOs have life coaches. All the great leaders in the Bible had coaches.

Joshua was coached by Moses.

Elisha was coached by Elijah.

David was coached by Samuel.

Solomon was coached by David.

The twelve disciples were coached by Jesus.

Paul coached Timothy and Timothy coached others.

It’s a biblical pattern laid down in 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul tells Timothy he wants him to take the things that he has learned from Paul and pass them on to other faithful men who will be able to pass them on to others. We pass it on from generation to generation. You are a link in an unbroken chain of coaching that has been passed down from generation to generation for 2000 years.

We don’t want to be the one who breaks the chain. Everybody needs a Paul and everybody needs a Timothy. We all need somebody we’re learning from and somebody we’re passing it on to. In Ephesians 4:11-13, we see that God has given five coaches to the church.

“Christ gifted some of us to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, so that His people would learn to serve and His Body would grow strong. This will continue until we’re united by our faith and understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like Him.” Ephesians 4:11-13 CEV

God gives the Church five coaches: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. He gives these coaches so that the people will learn to serve, grow strong, be mature, and become like Christ.

2.God anchors us by teaching us THE TRUTH.

If you want your finances to be secure you’ve got to know what God says about finances and apply that truth to your life. The same is true for your marriage or your job. In any area, you’ve got to know and apply the truth.

“Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or made a lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more like Christ, who is the head of His Body, the Church.” Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT

One of the marks of spiritual immaturity is people can sway you from the truth. A spiritually immature believer is always changing their mind about what they believe because of something someone else has said. Somebody makes a lie sound like the truth and they fall for it because they don’t really know the truth. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.

God says you’ve got to know the truth to weather the storm because every self-defeating behavior in your life is based on a lie. If you want stability in your life you’ve got to identify the lies and replace them with the truth. Every time we believe a lie about something the world says instead of what the Word of God says, we lose our footing and our lives start to collapse.

Jesus said, “The truth will you free.” He also said, “I am the truth.” Jesus didn’t say I teach the truth, I point to the truth, or I’m one of the ways to the truth. He said “I AM” the truth.  Truth is not simply a principle. Rather, Truth is a person.

“Since you have heard all about Him, you have learned the truth that is in Jesus.” Ephesians 4:21 NIV

3.God anchors us through NEW THINKING.

Both the stability and the instability you have in your life start in your mind. You’ve got to build your life on a biblical worldview. You’ve got to see your life through the lens of Scripture. If you want your life to be stable and built on a strong foundation, the battle is won and lost in the mind.

“But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV

The news media, talk radio, television, Facebook, video games, music, etc., are all worldly things that invade our minds and impact the way we think. Whatever you watch, listen to, and read the most is what you’re going to become like. If your primary sources are secular, then you’re being conformed to the world not transformed to become like Christ. If you want to stand firm you’ve got to let God teach you the right way to think.

“So don’t keep living as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused in their thinking. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they’re far away from the life God gives because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they’ve indulged themselves in all kinds of immorality, evil thinking, and the constant desire for more.” Ephesians 4:17-19 NIV

They have built their lives on shifting sand and one day their lives are going to collapse! And if you don’t want your life to collapse right along with them, look at what Ephesians 4:23 says.

Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.” Ephesians 4:23 NLT    

If we’re going to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, it’s got to come from the Spirit. It’s not something we just attach on the outside, Spiritual fruit is an inside job, it happens in the mind first.

“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” Ephesians 4:23 CEV

4.God anchors us by CLEANING HOUSE.

“So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires.” Ephesians 4:22 TEV

To get healthy in your life you need to get rid of some things, this is a concept found all throughout the Bible. If you want a healthy body you have to get rid of the junk food in your house. If you want a healthy mind you have to avoid a few magazines. Cleaning house may mean you need to block some channels on your television. You may need to set a parental guide for yourself or put a filter on your Internet. That’s cleaning house mentally.

You may have to clean house in your schedule. Many of us are trying to do too much and could actually accomplish more if we just did less.  Make a list of everything on your schedule and prioritize A, B and C. Then, focus on the A’s and forget the B’s and C’s, do what matters most!

You may have to do some house cleaning in your heart. Maybe there are things you need to confess to God or confess to someone else. Don’t carry unconfessed sin in your heart. Don’t carry emotional baggage around with you, get rid of it. Confess it.

“We must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially any sin that distracts us, so we can run the race that lies ahead of us!” Hebrews 12:1 

God has an exciting race for you to run but you’ve got to get rid of the stuff that slows you down, distracts you and holds you back. Have you noticed it’s easier to pick up bad habits than it is to get rid of them?

Why is it so hard to give up bad habits? There are four main reasons.

  • Because I’ve had them a long time.

You didn’t collect your hurts, habits and hang ups overnight. Many of your bad habits you’ve had since you were a kid. But what works when you’re a kid doesn’t work when you’re an adult.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV

A lot of our bad habits may be self-defeating but they’re familiar. You know them and you are used to them.

  • Because I identify with them.

We often confuse our identity with our defects. When you tie your identity to your bad habits you set up a self-fulfilling prophecy about how you will act. If you’re going to break that bad habit you need a new identity. You need to know who you are in Christ. You need to get rid of the old self and it’s sinful habits and put on the new self that is yours in Christ.

  • Because they have a payoff.

Whatever gets rewarded gets repeated. So for any negative behavior in your life there’s some kind of pay off. Maybe it’s masking your pain or giving you an excuse to fail. Maybe you’re getting attention or temporary relief or pleasure. But anything negative in your life has a payoff, otherwise you wouldn’t keep doing it. So you’ve got to change the payoff to break the habit.

  • Because Satan fights it.

Satan does not want you to be set free. He wants you bound up in your sin. He doesn’t want you to become more like Christ. He wants your life to collapse. So the moment you get serious about making your life secure in Christ, Satan’s going to start feeding you negative thoughts like,  “Who do you think you are? “You’ll never break this habit, it’s just the way you are.” “You’re never going to be like Christ.” “You may as well give up.”

The Bible calls Satan “the accuser of believers.” But if your life is going to be secure and stable you’ve got to clean house and it’s not going to be easy but the Bible says that in Christ we are more than conquerors in Christ we are a new creation.

5.God anchors us through HONEST COMMUNITY.

There are some storms you can’t handle on your own, some life storms are so big you have to gang tackle them. That’s why we encourage everybody to get in a small group.

“No more pretense! Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s Body we’re all connected to each other. So if you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” Ephesians 4:25 MSG

Everybody needs a community where they are accepted unconditionally. We waste a tremendous amount of energy pretending we’re better than we are.

“Never use harmful words but speak only what’s helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Be kind and loving to each other, forgiving each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”  Ephesians 4:32 NIV

In a small group you don’t only speak about the things that build you up. You speak about things that build others up according to their needs. It’s not just about you and your needs, it’s about the Body of Christ being built up.

6.God anchors us through FAITH.

You must believe that you can stand firm with God’s help. The person who says “I can” and the person who says “I can’t” are both right. God says you’ve got to believe and not give up.

“Now, by His mighty power at work within us, God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20 LB

By His mighty power at work within us God is able. Notice that this has nothing to do with your will power. It’s not you mustering up the will to stand firm. This is God working in your life. Think of the biggest thing you could ever think that God could do in your life and God can top that. That’s faith!


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What steps are you going to take to get the most out of your small group this Fall?

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

Hear the Word

Read Ephesians 4:11-32 together.

The six ways God anchors us are: 1) Coaches; 2) The truth; 3) New thinking; 4) Cleaning house; 5) Honest community; 6) Faith.

Application

Identify which components of change you need God’s help with the most.

1. God anchors us by giving us COACHING.

Christ gifted some of us to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, so that his people WOULD LEARN to serve and his Body WOULD GROW STRONG. This will continue until we’re united by our faith and understanding of the Son of God. THEN WE WILL BE MATURE, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. Ephesians 4:11-13 CEV

2. God anchors us by teaching us THE TRUTH.

Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or made a lie sound like the TRUTH. Instead, we will HOLD TO THE TRUTH in love, becoming more and more like Christ, who is the head of his Body, the church. Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT

Since you have heard all about Him, you have LEARNED THE TRUTH THAT IS IN JESUS. Ephesians 4:21 NIV

3. God anchors us through NEW THINKING.

Don’t keep living as the ungodly do, for THEY ARE HOPELESSLY CONFUSED IN THEIR THINKING. Their CLOSED MINDS ARE FULL OF DARKNESS; they’re far away from the LIFE God gives because they have SHUT THEIR MINDS and HARDENED THEIR HEARTS against him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they’ve indulged themselves in all kinds of immorality, evil thinking, and the constant desire for more. Ephesians 4:17-19 NIV

Instead, there must be A SPIRITUAL RENEWAL OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES. Ephesians 4:23 NLT

Let the Spirit CHANGE YOUR WAY OF THINKING. Ephesians 4:23 CEV

4. God anchors us by CLEANING HOUSE.

So GET RID OF YOUR OLD SELF, which made you live as you used to — the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Ephesians 4:22 TEV

We must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially any sin that distracts us, so we can run the race that lies ahead of us! Hebrews 12:1 GW

Why Getting Rid of Bad HABITS is So Hard:

  • Because I’VE HAD THEM A LONG TIME
  • Because I IDENTIFY WITH THEM
  • Because THEY HAVE A PAYOFF
  • Because SATAN FIGHTS IT

5. God anchors us through HONEST COMMUNITY.

No more pretense! TELL YOUR NEIGHBOR THE TRUTH. In Christ’s Body we’re ALL CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER. So if you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:25 MSG

Be KIND AND LOVING to each other, FORGIVING EACH OTHER just as God forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Never use harmful words but speak only what’s helpful for building OTHERS UP ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS, that it may BENEFIT THOSE WHO LISTEN. Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Small Group Ground Rules:

  • What is said in the group stays in the group!
  • No quick answers, snap judgments, or simple fixes.
  • No politics, no controversial topics.
  • No selling products or services to other members.

6. God anchors us through FAITH.

Now, by His mighty power at work WITHIN US, God is ABLE to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of ̶ infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. Ephesians 3:20 LB

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Preparing to Build | Week 1: My Life Support System

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No astronaut would ever go into space without a life support system. No deep sea diver would ever go to the ocean depths or soldier ever sent into battle without some kind of support system. In the military it’s a basic unit called a platoon. They support each other, care for each other, watch out for each other and fight for each other. 

God never intended for you to go through life on your own. It was never His design for you to face problems, difficulties, tragedies or pressures by yourself. In fact, the very first thing that God said when he made man is, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” You need people in your life.  You need relationships because we’re better together. God wired us for community and the basic unit of community is the small group.

In your body, the life support system that keeps you alive is the millions of little cells connecting together. You’re not one big giant cell, you’re millions of little cells. The actual life of your body isn’t in the body, it’s in those small cells.

The same is true spiritually. The church which is called the body of Christ, the life of every church is in the cells. In the small groups. What we are right now is a crowd made up of small groups. 

We are gearing up for a season we call a Spiritual Growth Campaign. We call it a campaign because it’s a season where we align many parts of our church. Weekend services, Rock Brook for Kids weekend services along with adult and teen small groups will focus around one theme. We’ll be aligned. And it’s powerful. 

Here’s how it will look: come for weekend worship, hear a message and be introduced to the topic and verses for that week, then meet in small group studies for some more insights and an opportunity to discuss. We will have a personal study guide to take you through the campaign. This concentrated time of alignment will bear lasting, fruit in you and your family.

The question of this spiritual growth campaign is: What are you building your life on?

In a world where what’s true and right seems to shift every day, it’s no wonder we can lead confused, unsatisfied lives. Thankfully, God has a plan. He designed values for us to live by. What are your values? Your values are what you’ve decided to be your core beliefs and they shape everything you do. 

God’s values won’t crumble or fade with age. They are unchanging. They are eternal. If you build on them, they will last. That’s why this campaign is called: Building Your Life on Values That Last.

So the next 3 weeks of posts will be about preparing us to build our lives on values that last. Let’s start in Acts 2 where we model our Small Groups after. Since many of us will be in a small group let’s answer a couple questions.

  1. What does a small group actually do according to the Bible?
  2. How do I get the most out of it?

In Acts 2 is the very first church described in the Bible. It was started in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They would meet at the temple and then have connections throughout the week in their homes and communities. Primarily, two meetings: large group worship and small group fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 NIV


What Do We Do In A Small Group?

1. We study God’s word together.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” NIV

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” KJV

“They committed themselves to learning the teachings of the apostles…” MSG

The whole Spiritual Growth Campaign is built around the Apostles teaching. The truth of the Bible, God’s word, God’s truth. Studying the Bible with a small group is more important to your spiritual health than personal Bible study. 

As you drive today and you witness a car accident, who’s going to see more details – one witness or six witnesses? Six pair of eyes are going to see more relevant details than one pair of eyes. The same is true of Bible study. When you study the Bible or reflect on a sermon with other people in a small group you get far more out of it than when you just read it by yourself.

When yo uhave other eyes, they things you don’t see. We all have cultural lenses that when we look at the Bible, we see it from our perspective.

You should read the Bible and study it on your own AND you should study it in a small group.

2. We practice learning how to love

A lot of religions teach that the way you become holy, is by getting away from people. In a lot of religions they claim the holiest person, is the person who goes and lives up on the mountain in the cave so he’s untouched by evil, wicked, mean, bad, nasty humanity.

Jesus came in and blew up that myth. He was in the marketplace, in homes and in a small group. He knew you can’t learn love by yourself.

You learn relational skills in a small group, with people who are different from you. In every small group there are people who need extra grace. You learn how to love them. The theological word, the purpose word for practicing love is called fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to… fellowship” NIV

“They were like family to each other…” CEV

“They committed themselves to… life together…” MSG

3. We eat together.

This is the fellowship of food. The cup of coffee with your small group is going to be your favorite cup of coffee of the week.

“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (NIV)

“They shared in fellowship meals…” (TEV)

 

Most of the time when Jesus is teaching the most important things, he’s at a meal or he’s walking. When you’re eating and walking you’re relaxed. When you’re relaxed your tension goes down, you’re barriers and resistance go down and your receptivity to truth is much wider.

It also mentions the breaking of bread a couple of times in this passage. One is talking about fellowship meals. Just eating together. In another place it’s talking about celebrating communion. It’s an act of communing with God, remembering His sacrifice and repenting from our sin. We primarily do communion in small groups.

4. We pray for each other.

There’s additional power when we pray together. God likes agreement and unity in His family, and he blesses it, so we pray for each other.

You pray with the group and you pray for your group. You’ll find, prayer is the one of the most powerful parts of small group. It’s the greatest thing in the world to know that people are praying for you.

5. We help each other.

When we help each other out we’re not just doing something for ourselves or our family. It’s doing something for somebody else because they have a need. That’s small group.

The larger your group becomes, the harder it is to do these five things well. In a small Small Group, you can strengthen each other.

If you aren’t in a small group because of all the unknowns, let’s look at what a small group meeting looks like. Most groups meet for an hour and a half to two hours. In this upcoming Spiritual Growth Campaign, you’ll visit with one another and then you’ll watch a video where the weekend sermon gets a quick recap. There will be some more teaching that you won’t get from a blog post or podcast. You can watch that video on a TV, computer or tablet. There will be places to pause the video to discuss some of the questions in your personal study guide. You’ll share how you can pray for and support each other that week, you’ll pray and go home.


How Can I Get The Most From My Group?

Take a look at these six very simple things to do for this fall spiritual growth campaign. If you do these things you will enjoy your small group and your life will be stronger.

1. Make my group a priority.

Do your best to show up every week. If you only show up every other week then you’re going to miss half of Building Your Life On Values That Last and you’ll only have half a foundation.

“Let us 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 NIV

2. Share my thoughts with humility.

When you enter into the discussion time in your small group you don’t go to show off. You’re not trying to impress people. You leave your ego at the door and come in with the sense of wanting to learn. Come to group to express what you are facing and what you are learning.

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:16 NLT

Nothing ruins a small group faster than one person in the group acting like they know it all. Humility means being teachable. The Bible says “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Because humble people are teachable. Everyone in your small group can teach you something. Because they have different life experiences than you.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

In a world where it’s very easy to be preoccupied with your life, your goals, responsibilities, job and to-do list, let a small group teach you to think of others. The Bible says don’t just be interested in your own life but be interested in the lives of others too. It teaches you to be a better person. You can’t be interested in the lives of everybody, but you could be interested in a few.

3. Respect others ideas with courtesy.

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Romans 14:1

Don’t start quarreling about things that don’t matter yet. Instead, respect where someone is in their journey of Knowing God and be courteous to their fears.

Fears are an interesting thing. They are usually irrational, unreasonable and totally illogical. But the Bible says if you’re going to be Christlike, you’ve got to learn to be considerate of the fears of other people.

4. Share my faults with honesty.

This will take your group go to the next level. Not just faults, but your stresses, problems, pressures, trials, troubles, difficulties. The bad things that are happening. The more you’re able to share the real you, the more you’re going to get out of your group.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-8

We know everything’s not great in your life, you know it’s not great. So why would you even try to pretend. We just need to admit it. The people who are most open with someone, always have the best success rate.

Sharing your strengths never helps anybody else. You actually help people more by sharing your weaknesses. It bonds you together.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 

Many people confess their sins to God and they receive forgiveness. But if you want to stop being haunted by that memory or haunted by that hurt, you need to tell one other person. You are only as sick as your secrets.

You don’t have to tell everybody in the group, just find somebody you know you can trust who’s going to love you unconditionally. Our small groups are confidential. There are small group guidelines that say what’s said in the group stays in the group. If it’s not your news to share, don’t share it. If it’s not your sin to confess, don’t talk about it with others.

5. Share others’ problems with sympathy.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

When you go to small group and share a joy, it’s doubled. If you share a sorrow, it’s halved. In either case, sharing is good for you. 

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Do you have anybody like that in your life? More importantly, are you like that to anybody else? Does anyone know that you’re mature enough that you’re unselfish enough and you’re loving enough to show up in their life in their problems when they need you. 

That’s where the body of Christ works in the small group.

6. Encourage each other to grow.

Do you have anybody in your life who can spur you on to be a better man or woman of God?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:24

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 NCV

So to get the most out of your walk with God, we want everybody in our church in a small group for this fall. In order to get everyone in a group we need more small group leaders. We will train you to be a small group leader. We have groups meet in homes, basements, kitchens and restaurants.

You don’t have to be a teacher to lead a small group. You just have to open up your home, get a study guide and stream the video. You can do this. You can start a small group for Building Your Life On Values That Last.

Why be small group leader?  Because the small group leader always grows the most. That’s our hope for you, too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How has the serenity prayer brought more peace into your life?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Acts 2

What does a small group do?

  1. We study God’s word together
  2. We practice learning how to love
  3. We eat together
  4. We pray for each other
  5. We help each other

How can I get the most from my group?

  1. Make my group a priority.
  2. Share my thoughts with humility
  3. Respect others ideas with courtesy
  4. Share my faults with honesty
  5. Share others problems with sympathy
  6. Encourage each other to grow

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”  Romans 1:12 NCV

Application

  1. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” Take the time to share with your group members what you appreciate about the insights and value they have brought to the group as you have studied together.
  2. “They committed themselves to… life together…” If love is not a feeling but a commitment, what changes can you make today in your schedule, relationships or attitudes to more fully practice God’s love?
  3. How does believing God really loves you change the way you view yourself? Think of the thing about yourself you’ve always wanted to change. How might God use that very trait to bring glory to him?
  4. “If we live in the light as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… (But) if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 12:7-8 (NCV) Authenticity. Why do you think it is important to “just be real” in your small group?
  5. What is the difference between admitting your faults to God and admitting them to each other? How do you think admitting your faults within your small group can help to heal them?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help someone you know?

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Dealing With Dissatisfaction

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Have you ever noticed that it’s hard to be satisfied? As human beings, we are chronically dissatisfied. We’re constantly looking for the next thing to make us happy. You can think about this in different ways; maybe you’re looking for a certain level of accomplishment or social status so that you can feel significant or a certain level of comfort so that you’re satisfied.

We find ourselves looking toward the future for fulfillment. Intellectually, we know this will never work. That even if you accomplish all your goals and solve all your problems, it won’t actually bring you what you are looking for.

And if you were asked, “Do you believe these things will make you happy?” You would admit you don’t believe that. At the same time, we still act like they will.

Part of the reason for this conflict between knowing the truth and acting toward something else, is that we are hardwired to look toward the future. We are goal-oriented beings. Fundamentally, what we are looking for in those goals is an intimate, deep connection with God. To be satisfied in Him.

The problem is that we won’t have that need fully satisfied until heaven comes to earth. In the meantime, don’t you think we have the potential to be more satisfied then we currently are?


Today’s post is a sample of our Celebrate Recovery program.

Rock Brook Celebrate Recovery exists to lead you to Jesus so you can find freedom and live fully alive in Him.

One thing that can best encapsulate this mission into one post is the Serenity Prayer. This prayer was adopted by Alchoholics Annonymous and encapsulates the 12 Step program. It was written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and is used by practically every 12 Step group.


Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.


Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want serenity? We all want to be in a place where things are just ok. Where we have enough, are enough and don’t need to keep on striving to be fulfilled. That our fulfillment comes with what we have right now.

The biblical word for this is Shalom. Where things are right inside us, between us and others and between us and God. Shalom is going to be a reality in heaven. We have the potential for more of that now. We have the potential to enjoy one moment at a time and live reasonably happy in this life. This is the vision that we try to cast for people in Celebrate Recovery. This is the kind of life we want people to live. So we pray the Serenity Prayer at the end of each recovery service.

Today, let’s take a look at Matthew chapter 6 and parallel some teachings of Jesus with the Serenity Prayer.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”  Matthew 6:25 NASB

This sounds extreme to not worry about food or clothing. What Jesus is saying here is not in a condemning tone or trying to tell us those things aren’t important, He knows we need those things.

What He’s saying is, don’t let the pursuit of these things consume you. Don’t let the hunt for the next thing rob you of life. Don’t let the pursuit being satisfied in accomplishing a goal keep you from satisfaction now.

Jesus lists these things because that was primarily what the people were worried about. What are you worried about today? Do you worry about how do you fit in the world? Your social status or aquiring the right things to feel comfortable? Are you worried that you aren’t contributing meaningfully to something?

These things aren’t unimportant, but isn’t life more than that? Because once you reach those goals, there’s going to be something else to figure out.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”  Matthew 6:26 NASB

He’s showing us that the birds aren’t even constantly striving for the next thing. He’s saying that if God takes care of them, won’t take care of you?

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”  Matthew 6:27 NASB

Does worrying make you live longer? No. What worry does is keep you from living, while you are alive. We get stuck in the future, trying to solve a problem or achieve a future goal that we just want to get out of the way. Being able to think into the future is called planning, but being stuck in the future is called worry.

Jesus isn’t telling us not to plan for the future, He is saying don’t worry about it.

By always living in future, we start to believe that once we get everything figured out then we will begin to enjoy life. All that does is continually push satisfaction and serenity into the future. 

So he says: “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”  Matthew 6:28-32 NASB

That’s the first part of the Serenity Prayer. God help me to distinguish between the things I can and can’t control and not get caught up in the things I can’t control. Help me live one day at a time and accept obstacles to my goals as a pathway to peace.

Some take Matthew 6 to mean you should just live for the moment. But that’s not what Jesus is saying. To live for the moment is a pathway to addiction, when you try to get as much pleasure as you can as quickly as you can. But what happens is, you get accustomed to the object and you will need more of that thing to get the same level of satisfaction and your life will spin more and more out of control.

Jesus isn’t saying don’t plan for the future. He is telling you to not worry about the future. If you don’t plan for the future, who else will provide for your needs and for your family? Jesus says don’t worry about these things not because they aren’t important. He says don’t worry about these things because God knows you need all of these things. 

To live a life full of serenity, you have to take up responsibility and add value to society. So how do you deal with obstacles that get in the way of your goals? The answer is not living for the moment.

Live in the moment, don’t live for the moment.

While you live in the moment, you have to live for something greater. Something eternal. The second part of the Serenity Prayer is about setting the right goals. When it says, “trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will…”

My ultimate goal in life is to surrender to His will.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33 NASB

If you set the ultimate goal of your life as seeking the kingdom of God, then God is going to organize all of the other goals in your life. Hardwired into us is the desire to move into the future, not to be consumed by it in worry, but to move toward it. We all have an idea of what life should be like. We make decisions and build our lifestyle based around what our picture of how life should be.

Living this idea of a good life means we have to set miniature goals to reach the bigger goal of living a good life. But the problem is when we take one of our miniature goals and make it the ultimate goal. You can only have one ultimate goal. This affects addiction when you have an overly-conditional sense of serenity. When things don’t go your way, it creates an emotional pain that you don’t want to feel anymore. So we set up unhealthy ways to deal with that pain. It could be drugs, alcohol, Netflix, relationships…we all have some kind of life we want to live and we make decisions to move toward that life.

When your life is based on something temporary like your job or the way your kids behave, it can easily be disrupted. The natural response when the most important thing gets disrupted is to reach for something that will help us cope. One great thing to learn is how do we keep our serenity when obstacles come up and get in the way of our goals. It’s also a good idea to learn how to set the right goals, an eternal goal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

If your ultimate goal is seeking the kingdom of God, making Jesus known to the people around you, then you’re not easily influenced by disruptions. This isn’t easy. No one has it all figured out. It’s a habit that you develop to learn to live one day at a time, it’s a habit to enjoy one moment at a time, it’s a habit to know the difference between miniature goals and the ultimate goal.

The Serenity Prayer helps. Memorize whatever part you need to develop those habits. If you need more help than that, join us every Wednesday night for Celebrate Recovery or join a Step Study to live with more freedom and live more fully alive.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How did it go dealing with the pressure, problems and people at work and school?

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Matthew 6

The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What do you count on for serenity? What do you look to for peace when life is not satisfying.
  3. What do you run to when obstacles get in your way?
  4. What is your ultimate vision of what life should be?
  5. Close your discussion praying the serenity prayer and working to memorizing the first sentence.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this message with? Who in your life could you invite to go to Celebrate Recovery with you?

 

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Building Character at School & Work

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What if you could turn any job into a great job? Or any school year into a great school year? Today’s post is about how school and work can be tools to help us grow to become like Christ.

Often when we think about work and school we think about the earthly benefits. How school and work help us learn, help us make money, help us grow our career. But school and work are an integral part of your spiritual development. God wants you to grow up spiritually and our model for that is the character of Jesus Christ.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”  Romans 8:28-29

We’re growing to become like Christ. That’s why we’re called, “Christians.” That’s why Jesus invited us to follow him. We’re taking on His character. We can look at how God uses pressure, problems and people at school and work to help us become like Christ.

When we go to Jesus, he knows how to help us. Jesus can relate to what you’re going through and we often forget this. Jesus knows what it’s like to be tired. There were times when he’d been with too many people, talked to too many people, did so much, traveled so far and was tired. Jesus dealt with frustration and had his motives questioned.

Have you ever worked your tail off for something and given and sacrificed and at the end of it not only get zero gratitude but get your motive over the whole thing called into question? Jesus has been there.

We can look at these things and say, “Well, you’re Jesus.” Yes, but he was in time and space just like us and He took on flesh and bone just like us. He knows how we’re feeling. He was abandoned, betrayed, abused, and He was applauded.

He knew what it was like to have everyone turn their back on Him, but he also knew what it was like to be cheered for and be loved and be popular. He knows what it’s like to ride into town and have people chanting his name. He knows what it’s like to have the press pressing in on Him. 

God wants to show you how to redeem the pressures, the problems and the people problems in your life.


How God Uses Work & School to Build Our Character

1. God uses pressure to teach me responsibility.

Every job has its own pressures. Every grade and class has its own pressures. Another word for pressure is stress. We too often run from stress, but not all stress is bad. Stress can be beneficial if we use it to grow.

Have you ever had to complete a task that you didn’t feel like doing or take a test you didn’t feel smart enough to take? You were being responsible even though you didn’t feel it. That pressure, that stress was building your character.

“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as people who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do.” Ephesians. 5:15 PH

The more you understand this meaning of life — to become like Christ — the more responsible it makes you. Every school and every job teach us responsibility. That’s a big deal because responsibility is in decline. We never hear people talking about their responsibility. We hear them talk about their rights.

The courts are clogged with people who say it’s not their fault. Personal responsibility is one of the biggest keys to a healthy life. Responsibility stretches us and is the key to career success and schooling success. Every time we’re given responsibility it’s an opportunity for spiritual, emotional and personal growth. Christ was responsible.

Here are some ways to develop responsibility:

  • By keeping your promises

We should be careful with our promises. If we make a promise at school or work, we need to keep that promise.

“(God blesses those who…) keep their promises even when it hurts.” Psalm 15:4

Are you a person who when you say something will get done, people will know it gets done?

  • By meeting deadlines

The Bible says when we waste our employers time, we’re actually destroying part of their work.

“One who is slack in his work is a brother to the one who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9

Another word for destroys there is sabotage. When we waste time, we’re sabotaging the business. When we waste time we’re sabotaging the company and even ourselves.

  • By working without supervision

Let’s not work hard only when the boss is in or the teacher is watching.

“Don’t work hard only when your master is watching and then shirk when he isn’t looking; work hard and with gladness all the time, as though working for Christ, doing the will of God with all your hearts.” Ephesians 6:6-7 TLB

He actually switches it here to say we’re really working hard for our real boss, Christ. Whether our supervisor is watching or not makes no difference. Christians should be known for not needing a supervisor, because they work on their own initiative. They realize they are representing Christ and God is the ultimate leader in their life.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”   Luke 16:10 NIV

He’s talking here specifically about being honest and having integrity. Who do we work for? It makes a big difference in how responsible we are. If we are just working for the government we might be irresponsible. If we are just working for a boss we don’t respect, we won’t be as responsible and honest as we would if we remembered we’re working for God.

  • By controlling costs

“If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth who will trust you with the true riches of Heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be entrusted with money of your own?” Luke 16:11-12 LB

One of the greatest tests of our character is how we handle money. Even more specifically, how we handle other people’s money. Will we accept ownership and treat other people’s money like it’s ours?

Let’s keep our promises, meet deadlines, work even when no one is watching, and handle money well.

2. God uses problems to teach me character.

There are no problem-free jobs or problem-free people. There are no problem-free years, classes or teachers. We all have problems at our workplaces and schools and God can use those to build our character.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4

God is very interested in our character. When you sign-up to become like Christ, it’s a life of significance and fulfillment. It’s not a life of comfort and pampering. It will mean a cross to bear.

For every problem at work and school, the question isn’t, “God, why is this happening to me.” The better question to ask is, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?”

Ask what, not whyGod may have something for you to work through. He may be directing you to a value or action. He may be preparing you for something. God has allowed this problem into your life, so what does he want you to work on?

While we’re working on our job, God is working on us. While you’re working on school, God is working on you. God can even use the temptations we face at school and work for good.

It’s not a sin to be tempted. It’s a sin to give in to temptation but not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was tempted but he never gave in. God can even use those temptations to build character. Temptation offers a choice. We can choose to do good or bad. When we choose to do bad, temptations harms us. But when we choose to do good, temptations grow us.

We couldn’t say we’re an honest person unless we’ve been tempted to be dishonest. We can’t say we’re a responsible person unless we’ve had the temptation to be irresponsible. Every temptation that comes in our lives is an opportunity for growth. It’s an opportunity to grow and develop strength of character.

“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

God says He will never allow more temptation on us than strength He’s put in us.

Sometimes problems at school and work are overwhelming, and we feel like we’re going under. We may feel like we’re going to get swallowed up. What do we do when we get overwhelmed? We do what The Apostle Paul did when he was overwhelmed.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Notice how many times this passage use the word ‘we.’ They did not face these challenges alone.

There are two clear things we can do when we face problems:

  • Turn the problem over to God through prayer.

Being overwhelmed is a good thing that can grow our character if takes us to God in prayer.

  • Join a Small Group.

We need a small group of people who will pray for us and encourage us when we’re having a tough time at work and school. The Apostle Paul was strong in his faith, but even he couldn’t make it alone. So let’s trust God in our problems, turn the problem over to God through prayer and turn to one another for support.

3. God uses people to teach me how to really love.

One of the most important skills you get to learn at work and at school is how to get along with other people. This is so important to your faith and spiritual growth, because life is all about learning how to love.

Life is a laboratory in learning how to love.

God is love and He wants his children to be like Him. God says the most important thing to learn in life is not a skill for a job, but how to love other people like He loves them.

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

No matter what kind of work. Whether you’re an accountant, an astronaut, a driver, a ditch digger, a student, a teacher, a coach or a secret agent. We are to do all our work in love.

Why do you do what you do? You might say, “Well I just put food on the table.” There’s a better reason than that. Why do you go to school? You might say, “Well no one ever gave me an option.” There is a reason. You could use the most mundane job to grow in character.

Why do you do what you do?

The highest motivation for any kind of work is love. When you do anything in love that pleases God. You can pick up garbage to the glory of God. You can clean a hotel room for the glory of God. You can be a project manager for the glory of God.

“Let love be your highest goal!” 1 Corinthians 14:1

Sometimes we do the right thing for the wrong motivation. God is more interested in why you do what you do than he is in actually what you do. Whatever we do, we do all our work in love. When you stay at the same work for year after year, you learn how to do it out of love. Love for God and love for people. Love is the ultimate motivation and is what keeps you going when you feel like giving up.

At work, we have to deal with all kinds people. Some people are hard to love. If we’re going to grow up spiritually it means we’re going to have to learn to love those people.

If we’re not becoming more and more loving, we’re not growing spiritually.

Love is the fruit of spiritual growth. It’s that simple. By nature we’re self-centered, unless someone teaches us to be loving, we grow up selfish. God teaches us lessons in loving, and one of the ways he does this is at work and school.

He teaches us by putting people around us who are the exact opposite of us. They irritate us. They are heavenly sandpaper.

It’s easy to love people who are lovely. God loves the unlovely, and he teaches us to do the same. We have to learn to love people who see life the exact opposite as us.

How are we to love the people at our jobs or at school who are difficult and hard to love? The people who are rude or make unrealistic demands. Those who are dishonest and can’t be trusted. The people who complain, are constantly negative or get offended easily. How do we love these people?

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:16-18 NIV

God’s expectation to show love to others is realistic enough to know that there are people you can’t be at peace with. But if it is possible…as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone.

Some people you can’t be at peace with, but we are to do our best. Love is difficult. It may mean a difficult conversation, the hard work of reconciliation, holding someone accountable or boundaries and consequences. It also may mean showing grace when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else or when it might offend someone else.

Why should we make such an effort to become like Jesus at our school and our jobs?

  • God is going to evaluate our work one day.

“On the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” 1 Corinthians 3:13

God is reminding us that he is watching. Sometimes we think no one cares or is noticing, but God is watching, He cares and is grateful.

  • God is going to give eternal rewards for whatever is done in love.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the message, on the purpose of singing?

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Romans 12

Most people spend 40% of their lives at work and school. So God is very interested in ways he can use our work to build our character to make us more like Christ. Statistics show that 1/3 of people hate their jobs. What if you could turn any job into a great job? We can use any job or year in school to meet God’s goal for our spiritual maturity.

In this discussion, we’ll focus on the ways God uses pressure at school and work to teach us responsibility, problems to teach us character, and difficult people to teach us how to really love.

Application

  1. What would be your dream job?
  2. God uses pressure at work to teach us responsibility. Share an example of stress in a previous job or school situation that helped you learn responsibility.
  3. The ways to develop responsibility include keeping your word, meeting deadlines, working without supervision and controlling costs. Which one of these do you think is most beneficial to your work ethic today? Why?
  4. How could believing you are working for Christ improve your attitude or success at work? 
 1 Corinthians 10:13
  5. A person’s character can show who they really are. How can problems at work help us develop Christ-like character?
  6. From God’s perspective, learning to really love people in our workplace is more important than learning job skills. Give an example of an interaction with a difficult person from your past work experience that helped you learn to demonstrate God’s love.
  7. Why doesn’t the type of work you do matter to God as much as why you do it?

Tell Someone Else

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

 

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The Purpose of Singing

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Christianity is a singing faith. Christians all around the world come together to sing. One of the most helpful things to remember is the why. We don’t want to just go through the motions, but rather know why we do what we do. 

How does worship, particularly worshiping with other people, change and transform us? One of the many realities of life is that human beings desire to worship. We’re hardwired for worship. If you choose to believe there is no God, one of the things you’re going to have to reconcile is why we’re hardwired to find something of value and worship it. What is worship? Let’s just begin with a definition.

Worship is expressing our love and gratitude to God for who He is, what He’s done, what He’s said, and what He’s promised to do!

Anytime you express your love to God, you’re worshiping.

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” Mark 12:29-30

The most important command from God is to love Him with our emotions, our bodies, and every area of our lives mentally. There are four big reasons we express our love to God. 


Why We Express Our Love to God

1. Because we were made to be loved by God.

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

If we don’t feel like worshiping it just means we don’t realize how much God loves us. If we understood how much God loves us, we couldn’t help but love him back. Our worship is the response to God’s love. The only reason there’s any love in the universe is because God is a God of love. God is love, so he made us as objects of love. God wanted you, so He created the universe so you could exist.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT

2. We worship because everything comes from God.

The air we breathe, our heartbeats, the water we drink, food we eat, the sunshine; everything comes from God. Not only did God create you, He created everything in the world to sustain you. In 1 Chronicles, King David says something very beautiful about this. They have just collected the largest offering ever in history. Actually, in today’s terms, about $300 million in a single offering. It was for the building of the temple in Jerusalem.

David: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV

Everything comes from God. He is the source, everything else is just a resource. Your job is not the source. It’s just a resource. That’s what we remind ourselves when we give, it’s an expression of worship. 

3. We express our love to God because we understand life through worship.

Every time you focus on God, you come into His presence. You drown out everything else to focus on God in worship. It raises your perspective and broadens your understanding. You come in and everything’s inverted. My problems are big and my God is small. Through worship, God is put in his rightful place. My God is big and my problems are small.

David: “I tried to understand it all, but it was too hard for me to see until I went to the Temple of God. Then I understood what was happening…” Psalm 73:16-17

This is true for whatever you’re dealing with. In this instance, David is dealing with the problem of evil and wondering why these people who were trying to harm others seem to be getting away with it. Then he realized who God is and that they ultimately weren’t getting away with anything. He received God’s wisdom. You receive God’s wisdom when you worship. We’re not going to get that kind of perspective from television or sports or the lake. 

4. Because God strengthens us through worship.

We get the energy and power through worship. When you love and express your gratitude to God, He strengthens your heart, soul and body.

“O Lord, you give me light; you dispel my darkness. You give me strength to attack my enemies and power to overcome their defenses. This God—how perfect are his deeds How dependable his words! He is like a shield for all who seek his protection.” Psalm 18:28-30 GNT

God gives you strength to defeat the things that would defeat you in life. There is a successful therapist who says that impression without expression leads to depression. Singing helps your emotional health. 


The Kind of Worship God Loves

These four reasons help us understand the why of worship. Next, we will look at what kind of worship God wants. The Bible says very clearly, there’s a right way and a wrong way to worship God. You certainly don’t want to worship God in the wrong way. 

Here is the kind of worship God loves: Wholehearted worship.

It’s the opposite of half-hearted or insincere worship. He loves passionate worship. God loves it when you tell Him that you love Him. When you’re grateful for what He’s done in your life, you tell Him and thank Him passionately. When you praise Him, you praise Him passionately with your whole heart. When you do worship with your whole heart, then God blesses you in ways that you wouldn’t normally be blessed.

“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result he was very successful.” 2 Chronicles 31:21 NLT

Hezekiah had one of the most successful and prosperous reigns as a leader of Israel. God gave Hezekiah such amazing success because he worshiped God wholeheartedly. Look at God’s response to those who were worshiping insincerely.

GOD: “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” Isaiah 29:13 NLT

In some church services it seems everything is memorized and said by rote and nobody actual feels it. They’re saying it because of their tradition. This is not pleasing to God because it involves just going through the motions and not thinking about why and what they are doing. In scripture, Jesus tells us what kind of worship God wants.

Jesus: “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” John 4:23 NIV

He’s not talking about the Holy Spirit in this passage. He’s talking about your spirit. He says when you worship God, it needs to be authentic and it needs to be accurate. Some people may say it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe it sincerely. The problem with that is it makes it all about you, but life isn’t all about you. Yes, we worship God sincerely, but there is absolute truth. God is truth. So we worship the true God. Worship needs to be passionate and it needs to be true, based on God’s word.


One Primary Way to Worship God

There are many ways to worship, but for the rest of this post we will focus on one primary way. This method is one we all know about, but we may be forgetting the power of it. We can worship God and show our love to God by singing to Him: by singing together with our whole hearts.

It’s really important for us to learn to celebrate with other people. This is why even where the gospel and worshiping together is illegal, the believers start a house church or a small group. They’re risking their life to do it because Jesus said that where two or three gather in His name He is in the midst of them.

God wants us to worship Him with the church body every seven days. The Bible says we sing together and that is an act of worship. As far as the Bible’s commandments, many scholars have said that singing is the most frequently commanded thing in the Bible. The reason you may not think that is true is because it’s commanded in several different ways. The Bible will say: Sing to God… Give thanks… Praise God… Rejoice…Make music… Make melody in your hearts… Shout aloud…Shout together… Sing a psalm… Sing a hymn… A spiritual song… Make music with a harp… Make music with a lyre…Make music with a trumpet… Clash Cymbals… Etc…

That’s not a checklist of different ways to praise God, it’s all the same thing. When you combine it all together it’s one of the most frequently commanded things in the Bible. Some of those words we might not see as being musical words, but they are. In the Bible, the music and singing is implied. Take the word rejoice, most people don’t think of that word as being inherently musical, but biblically it is. The word rejoice is used synonymous with singing or giving praise.

The most important word in the Bible that has an implied musical component that we totally miss is the word prayMost of the time, when you see the word pray in the Bible it’s talking about singing. Psalms is the prayer-book of the Bible but it is also the song-book of the Bible. All of the Psalms had tunes that went with them. Jewish prayer was sung, which is still true today. If you went to a synagogue, their service would be similar to ours, they would have songs and a sermon. They call the sermon a sermon but they call the songs prayer. When Jesus was up all night praying, He probably spent most of the night singing because we know Jesus prayed the Psalms. This was the prayer language of Jesus. The Psalms are set to music so Jesus knew the tune to all the Psalms. If he knew the tune, He wouldn’t just sit there and recite. When’s the last time you just sat and recited a song instead of singing it? 

There are four primary ways to pray. You can think your prayer, write your prayer, speak your prayer or you can sing it. You only think a prayer when you can’t speak it out loud or can’t write it down. Writing and speaking, that’s better because God is real at that point. Real enough that you would say it out loud or write it to him. From a biblical perspective, singing is by far the best.

Prayer is words and music combined. Not every single time the Bible talks about prayer is it referring to singing, because if you strip the music away, of course it is still prayer. But, we think default prayer is spoken, and then you can add music in as an extra flowery ornamentation.  In reality, if you only speak the prayer, you’re stripping something away. Singing is prayer and it’s an essential habit in the Christian life.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 NIV

One thing that can happen is we spend so much time saying worship is more than singing, that people will just start to disregard it. It’s true that worship is more than singing, but singing is really important to God. Every time God pulls back the veil to his throne room or to heaven, there’s singing.

On the other hand, some people think just catching the sermon online is all they need. But the music doesn’t just set the stage for the sermon or echo the sermon. Singing is a spiritual discipline. Just like reading the Bible, giving, or sharing your faith. God likes it when we sing to him. He says He takes pleasure in it. And as far as we can tell, music is God’s language. 

An evolutionary biologist has two things that are really hard to explain. First, they have to explain why music affects us the way it does, why it moves us so deeply. The second question is why music exists in the first place. Mathematically, with all those pitches and harmony, where you have two notes and then the two notes lock into each other but then they procreate and you’ve got hundreds of notes. The answer is that God wrote it into the fabric of the universe. 

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT

The wrong way to take that is to say that he’s talking about a bad thing verses a virtuous thing, like when you tell your kids, don’t watch TV but do your chores instead like they should be excited about that. No, the reason he’s comparing them is that they are the same type of thing. The high or the low you get from alcohol, whatever you’re seeking, the sense of your problems going away or the relaxation, alcohol will give it to you sometimes, but it’ll ruin your life. The better way is to get it from the Holy Spirit. Seek that feeling from God. Receive your joy and peace from Him. When you sing, you’re opening up a door that the Holy Spirit can walk through. 

We all face different things. Some of us need God to strengthen our bodies from sickness, illness, or soreness. Some need financial direction. Some need the strongholds of materialism to break. Some need revitalization in our marriage. We need something to turn around in our kids. We may all come with different needs, but we all worship the same God.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the message, on the purpose of preaching?

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read Colossians Chapter 3.

Christianity is a singing faith. Each week we gather to worship through singing.

Worship is expressing our love and gratitude to God for who He is, what He’s done, what He’s said, and what He’s promised to do. Why do we express this love to God?

  1. Because we were made to be loved by God.
  2. Because everything comes from God.
  3. Because we understand life through worship.
  4. Because God strengthens us through worship.

One of the primary ways to worship God is by singing together to God with others.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

— Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT)

Application

  1. What’s your history with church worship services? Did you go as a kid? How did your family growing up think about worship services?
  2. What stood out to you in this message?
  3. Have you ever experienced “the inversion” of your problems and God? “I come into worship and my problems are big and my God is small. Through worship, my God is put in his rightful place. Now I see my God is big and my problems are small.”
  4. How could you be worshiping God more wholeheartedly?
  5. How will this message change the way you see the singing time at Rock Brook?
  6. What do you need from God right now?

Tell Someone Else

What is this message leading you to do? Who can you encourage as a result of this message?

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