Looking Up : Easter at Rock Brook

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On Easter Sunday morning, the first person who saw Jesus alive, was a woman named Mary Magdalene. Since Saturday was the Sabbath, Jewish law didn’t allow them to prepare the body for burial. They had to just stick Jesus’ body in the grave. They would often have many people buried in them. But Jesus’ grave had never been used, it was borrowed from a very wealthy man.

So early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the grave to anoint the body with spices as they did in the Middle East in those days.

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 

They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?

They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’)…

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.”  John 20:11-18 NIV

Jesus asked Mary two very important questions:

  • Why are you crying?
  • Who are you looking for?

Mary was crying because she was grieving a loss of her friend. When you’re grieving you often don’t think clearly and see clearly. It clouds our vision. It limits our perspective. God was standing right by her and she didn’t even see Him.

When you’re going through the dark, Jesus is standing right next to you.

Mary thought it was hopeless. But Jesus changes everything with one single word. He calls out her name – Mary. In one word He said, “It’s me. I know who you are. I know you by name. I know where you’re hurting. I care about that pain and I can do something about it.”

And Jesus Christ does the same thing to you today. No matter where you’re hurting, Jesus knows who you are, He knows your name. He knows where you are hurting and He can do something about it.

This Easter, ask yourself the two questions Jesus asked Mary:

  • What are you grieving? What causes you disappointment?
  • What are you looking for?

What do you think is going to meet all your needs? If the answer is anything besides God, you’re going to be disappointed once again. You’re looking to the wrong place.

Things only start looking up when we start looking up.

You don’t have to try and muster up hope today. All you have to do is shift your eyes and see God who is seated on his throne today.

God isn’t standing, He’s not pacing or worried and there is not one ounce of anxiety in God today. When we look to Him, we find relief. This is true hope.

Most people don’t understand hope. Hope is not some wishful thinking about the future. Hope knows it’s bad, but believes God can bring us through whatever situation we are in. Hope believes God is in control. Hope is a person. His name is Jesus.

When you need real hope, you can look at couple of places.

1. When you look to the cross it reminds you that God is for you and can be forgiven of all your sin.

Have you experienced God’s forgiveness for your sins, regrets and failures?

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:13-14 NLT

Sin is not simply being bad person. Sin is rebelling against God, it’s putting other things before God. Why did Jesus have to die to forgive us of our sins and make us right with God? Look at what the pay-off for our sin is…

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 NIV

Sin doesn’t make you bad. It makes you dead.

When Jesus died on that cross, He paid the penalty for sin. Now you don’t have to pay the penalty. Hell isn’t a place God sends people that he’s mad at, it’s a place people go to pay the wage for themselves. But you don’t have to. Thank God for the cross.

“Your sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  Hebrews 10:17 NIV

A God who knows everything, has somehow limited Himself to choose to forget our sin. That’s the power of the cross. It applies to all of my past, current and future sin. Have you received this forgiveness or are you still carrying around the penalty for your sin?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8–9 NIV


The night before Jesus went to the cross, He was in agony. He was sweating blood. Not because of all the physical torture He was about to go through, although that was great, it was because He was about to take on all of the guilt of the world.

If there were any other way for you to be saved from hell and get into heaven, besides Jesus dying on the cross, God would not have wasted the effort. This is the only way you’re going to make it. You can’t earn it, Christ has to earn it for you and give it to you.

God is for you and He’s not holding anything against you. What if you really believed the power of forgiveness flows from the cross, not from you trying to be better?

The other thing we look to today is the empty tomb, because it doesn’t end at the cross.

2. When you look to the empty tomb, it reminds you of God’s promise for your future.

A tomb is where you store dead things. There seems to be such a finality to it. But in reality, the tomb was just a temporary inconvenience on the path to where Jesus was going.

A closed tomb couldn’t hold what God had in store for His future.

They put a stone over it and put a Roman guard around it. But nothing could stop the plans God had for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has the same plans for you and nothing can thwart those plans.

Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, we’re not staying there either. Even with your sins forgiven and God being for us, life will throw you a curve ball every once-in-a-while. Because this is earth, not heaven.

But where you are is not where you are going. Where you’ve been is not where you’re going to be. It doesn’t even compare.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

This verse is talking about heaven, the place where there is no more crying or pain. No more sickness, hurts, hang ups and no bad habits.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NIV


Why did Jesus have to come back to life, wasn’t the cross enough? The cross wouldn’t mean anything without a resurrection. Jesus would have been just another amazing person who died. But Christ’s resurrection didn’t just do something amazing for Him, it did something amazing for us.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20

Because Jesus rose from the dead, death isn’t even death any more. It’s just like falling asleep, because Jesus conquered it. Just like Jesus rose, everyone will rise. That’s the power of the King of kings.

Every king in this world gets a grave.

King Tut has a grave, he died in 1323 BC.

Zerxes has a tomb. He claimed to be the most powerful man alive until he died in 465 BC. In Zerxes tomb, are buried four mighty kings who we find in the story of scripture. Darius I, Artezerxes I, Darius II and Zerxes I are all buried there.

Every king gets a grave.

At Westminster Abbey in London you can see the tombs of multiple kings and queens. Every king and every queen gets a grave.

In Paris you can see the tomb of Napolean.

When Jesus was born, King Herod, who was the ruler over Palestine was trying to kill off the baby Jesus who they said was the king of the world. King Herod has the power to exterminate a whole nation of children under a certain age. Not long after he made that proclamation, he prepared for his death and built The Herodian. He died in 4 BC and not long ago his sarcophagus was found and you can see it in the Israel museum.

When Jesus was born, a decree went out from Ceasar Augustus that the whole world should be taxed. He was the most powerful man in the world. He reigned as the emperor from 27 BC until AD 14 and then he died. He’s buried today in the mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Italy, and you can go see where the emperor lay. You can find Tiberius, who was the emperor of Rome from 14 AD to 37 AD, in that same mausoleum.

But the one they tried to kill early and the one they ultimately thought they crushed on that Friday, rose up out of a borrowed tomb on Easter Sunday and you can’t travel to any spot on earth to see the place where Jesus’ body lay.

Because kings, queens, emperors and rulers all have tombs, but there is no grave that can hold the King of kings, King Jesus.

He is not there, look up!

To every one of us today that steps into that place where Jesus was raised. For everyone of us that joins with His story. We will rise too.


Did you know the word “cemetery”, where we’re all going, is the exact same word, in its etymology, as the word “dormitory”.

  • Dormitory: A place you rent for a short time for rest.
  • Cemetary: A plot you rent for a short time for rest.

Your body only rests because your spirit, if you know Jesus, is already joined together with Him. When Jesus comes back, He is going to raise your body, roconnect it with your spirit and in a perfect state, you will be with God in heaven forever.

It’s why they put Jesus in a borrowed tomb. You don’t need to buy one if you’re Jesus. You don’t have to take a pilgrimage somewhere to see your King and Savior, because He is not there. He’s alive.

Like He was with Mary, He’s closer than you think. What He is offering is the same power that raised Him from the dead, can raise you from the dead and raise you up out of hell, too.

You can know from this moment on, that because He lives, you live. They may put your body in a dorm room for awhile, but you are going to rise victorious and the grave cannot be your final resting place because the King of kings is alive in you.


So how should we respond to the resurrection?

1. Believe that Jesus is who He said He was.

It’s so easy to sin and be separated from God. We were born into it. But thank God He made it simple to be saved. You believe. It’s faith. It’s trust.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 NIV

2. Receive the hope He gives.

Don’t reject God any longer. Receive the hope he offers. Receive the love he has for you.

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”  Acts 2:38 NIV

Christ is in you by way of the Holy Spirit. You can be baptized as a symbol that says you are in. When you get immersed in the water, you say, “I’m in on the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. When Christ went down, I went down. But now that Christ lives, I can live a new life as well.”

3. Become the person you were created to be.

God created a spiritual family. It’s called the church.

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV

We’re here to help you become the person God created you to be. We’re here to help you live as a child of God.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion? Were you able to make a way for anyone else to experience Easter?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Luke 24

Most people don’t understand hope. Hope is not some wishful thinking about the future. Hope is not optimism. Optimism is psychological; hope is theological. Optimism is personal trust in yourself; hope is personal trust in God. Optimism is what you think you can do. Hope is what you think God can do. Optimism is often a denial of reality. It’s positive thinking, not permanent trust. Sometimes optimism just denies the facts. Hope never does that. Hope is always real. Hope says, “It’s bad; it’s really, really bad. In fact I don’t think it’s been any worse than it is right now. But I believe God can bring us through this. I believe God is in control.”

Where do you get real hope? You get it from God. You get it from the cross and the empty tomb.

Application

Did anything come to mind when asked, “What are you grieving?”

1. When I look to the cross it reminds me that God is for me and I can be forgiven of all my sin.

  • Have you asked for God’s forgiveness for your sins and regrets?
  • Are you allowing yourself to receive God’s forgiveness, or are you still carrying the burden?
  • Do you believe God is for you, or do you feel that He is often against you?
  • Christ commands his blessings be given to those who believe in him. If you decided to see God’s favor in your life, how would that change the way you live every day?

2. When I look to the empty tomb it reminds me of God’s promise for my future.

  • Christ guaranteed you a hope and a future. Would you say you are living with that in mind?
  • Are your eyes focused on Heaven or the tomb.

Tell Someone Else

Look over the three responses to the resurrection. How have you responded to the resurrection? What is your next step? Where is God leading you? How can your small group support you? When you take your next steps, it encourages others to do the same.

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Sacred Moments: The Waymaker

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There’s something about the week leading up to Easter. Most Bibles refer to the events of this week as the triumphant entry and it begins with Palm Sunday. When you put the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John together there are 89 total chapters. Almost a third of the gospel chapters, 29 chapters, are dedicated to talking about the one week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday because it’s the most important week in history.

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The reading plan above can be used this week to walk through the events leading up to the resurrection of Jesus. There are Old Testament verses prophesying what would happen and the account of Jesus fulfilling that prophecy. Every movement and every moment speaks to us All four gospels explain what happened on Palm Sunday and we’re going to read from Luke’s account of it. 

“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Luke 19:28-31 NIV

Jesus is heading into Jerusalem. He’s going a certain way, through certain cities so that he’ll go down a little hill then come up into Jerusalem. Right before He’s going to take the turn into the city, He asks two disciples to go ahead of Him and bring back a donkey. He gives the disciples a password incase someone questions them as to why they are borrowing this donkey. 

“Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Luke 19:32-34 NIV

We’d do the same thing if someone rolled up in our yard and started riding our bike or took our motorcycle. This was the man’s donkey, the man’s resource. He wanted to know why someone would just come up and take what was his. But when they give him the password, he releases it. Jesus’ name was like a password through all the red tape and road blocks. The man realizes that it may be his resource but ultimately if Jesus needs it, it is His anyway. The donkey is the man’s resource but Jesus is his Source. He didn’t need any more explanation. 

“They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” Luke 19:35-38 NIV

Jerusalem is buzzing because of a festival called Passover. Multitudes of people are there including the disciples and all the followers of Jesus. Jesus is entering the city and people are so excited they lift up their voice and praise God. They holler with a seismic voice. You can hear it everywhere, a rampage of praise as this parade with Jesus moves toward Jerusalem.

Some of the other gospel writers say the people cut down palm branches and began to wave them as though Jesus was a triumphant king entering the city to conquer. It’s why we call it Palm Sunday. They begin to lay the branches down while some of them are yelling, “Hosanna!” It’s an incredible scene and Jesus has planned it all. Scholars tell us that there could be a million people outside the city watching, hearing and singing about this triumphant entry. There are probably another million inside the city prepping for Passover. But there is also a side view of something else that’s going on.

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” Luke 19:39 NIV

They can’t take this praise. They can’t take this crowd and everyone excited about Jesus. They begin to call to Jesus as He’s riding into Jerusalem, telling Him to quiet His disciples. 

“’I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” Luke 19:40 NIV

Let that thought sink in. We don’t want a rock to get our praise. A rock doesn’t have to cry out for us. We can lift up how He has saved us and redeemed us. We have our own voices that will say glory in the highest. 

There are a lot of different people lining the parade route. The religious leaders are nervous and full of hate. They cannot stand this Messiah that came for the common person. Jesus has included all the people they have excluded. He’s given love, forgiveness, healing and power to just the simple person. It’s caused them to lose a little bit of power because His words have carried more authority than their words. 

The Romans are also nervous. They don’t know what this mob is going to do. They’re concerned this will create a problem and the news will get back to Rome that they’re not controlling or governing the people like they’re supposed to. The people who have been oppressed think they finally have a king that can liberate them from the Romans. They want a king that would be the man of war. Then you have the disciples. They don’t know what’s going on. This whole week is confusing for them. They were headed into a parade but then were sidetracked to pickup a donkey.

Then there’s Jesus. He’s riding on a donkey and the people are excited. The religious leaders are nervous. The Romans are fearful. And the people have their own agenda. But Jesus didn’t come to go to war with Rome. Jesus had come to do war against sin, death, hell and the grave. There’s a greater purpose to which Jesus has come. It’s not a temporary agenda centered around earthly kingdoms, it’s way beyond that. Jesus is being moved by Heaven’s agenda. Jesus has another plan. He has another purpose, just like He does with our life. 

All the eyes are on the wrong thing. Jesus knows why He has come. He knows that He was born to die a specific way. One day they say, “Hosanna” then another day “crucify him!” When they get to that final scene at Calvary they ask why Jesus won’t save Himself. But Jesus had another purpose and if He saved himself, He couldn’t save humanity.

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8 KJV

This verse helps us understand the purpose of Jesus and what He did for us. He’s not trying to rid the people of the earth’s problems and inconveniences. Jesus knows what our real problems are and He came to give real freedom and true hope through His death, burial and resurrection. He knows where He’s headed and why He’s headed there. Jesus is carrying this burden. Once He turns to Jerusalem there is no turning back. Thank God there isn’t. He knows He’s the lamb headed for the slaughter, not for His sin but for ours, but the people were missing this. 

As we read this story it seems the only other object that’s clued in and fulfilling its purpose is the colt. The little donkey. Jesus is carrying a burden but He decides to borrow the beast of burden. It was a good day for a donkey. Out of all the time that could be spent on writing about the Passion Week the Bible takes some time describing this donkey that Jesus will use to bring Him down the way to the cross. There are five life lessons from this sacred moment if we break down the movements of the donkey.


Five Life Lessons From The Donkey

1. He was planted

He wasn’t just here or there. He’s right where he’s supposed to be. The devil wants to preoccupy us and get us roaming from here to there so we’re never where we’re supposed to be. So much of worship is surrendering that we’re where we’re supposed to be, that the Lord has planted us. A tree that’s not planted cannot bear fruit. The Bible says that God has marked out our appointed times in history and the boundaries of our lands. God did this so that we would reach out for Him and find Him, because He is not far from any one of us. For the eyes of the Lord search throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 

2. He got untied

He had to be untied before he could be used. He had to be loosened to live out his mission. 

This world wants to bind you up. Sin wants to enslave you. The world wants to hold you captive to your past and pain. Jesus came to set us free from that and who the Son sets free, is free indeed!

This is where we proclaim in that addiction, negative thought, bad habit, or relationship that we are coming untied and going to live in freedom. God has a mission for our life and we can’t untie anybody if we’re tied up. It happens in fellowship and relationships. We live in a world where it’s easy to get tied up. We need others to help us get untied.

3. He received the coats

They put their cloaks on him. You can’t discover your purpose and can’t grow to become like Christ if you keep shedding His coat. When we run from the cloak of Christ, we lose our way. So much of discipleship is receiving the work and the identity of Christ, to bring us into a new way. You have been put on this planet to live out the life God intended for you, not the life that your past tries to tell you. Not the life that others try to tell you. Not the life your negative thoughts tell you. God has a plan for you. A bigger purpose at work. This donkey found a purpose. This donkey received this identity.

4. He carried the weight

Luke tells us the donkey had never been ridden. He has not being ridden by everyone nor has he given himself to everything. It’s so fitting that an unridden donkey was reserved for this moment. Sometimes it’s so hard to reserve ourselves for the good works God has for us. We get committed and tied up doing other things that aren’t as meaningful. We start carrying burdens that aren’t worth carrying. Meanwhile, there are serving opportunities that impact eternity and ministry opportunities that serve God through serving others. 

5. He made a way for The Waymaker

Jesus needed to get from one place to another so He enlisted this donkey to carry Him to the people and through the people. He was headed to the cross, making a way for us because we could not make our own way. We can’t forgive ourselves or untie ourselves. He made a way for us and He used the donkey to help make a way. The donkey is leading a parade with the Savior of the world. It wasn’t about Him, but who He was carrying. He got to share in some amazing things.

God has made a way for us that we could never make ourselves. He wants to use us to help make a way. He’s the Waymaker. He can do for you what you can never do for yourself. If He could use a donkey, He could use us. If a donkey could fulfill those five purposes, certainly God can fulfill worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism in me. Certainly I can know God, find freedom, discover purpose, make a difference and share it with others.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion? How is your basin choice going?

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read Luke 19.

In this sacred moment we follow Jesus as He comes to Mount of Olives and then sends two of His disciples to bring Him a donkey that He can ride into the city. There are many participants in this story—religious leaders, Romans, the people, Jesus’ disciples. But our focus is on the donkey, and throughout this animal we learn much about how God wants to use us for His glory.

The donkey was planted, got untied, received the coats, carried the weight of Jesus and made a way for The Waymaker. If Jesus can use a donkey, He can use us.

People thought that Jesus had come to redeem them and free them from the Romans, but He came to free them and us from more than temporary problems. Jesus came to set us free from the chains of sin and death, to loosen the bonds of confusion, loneliness, and pain so that we can walk in the purpose He has for us: to make a way for The Waymaker throughout the world.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Discuss the lessons we can learn from the donkey in the message: he was planted where God wanted him to be, he got untied and found freedom with the fellowship of others, he received the coats and the new identity and purpose God had for him, he carried the weight of Jesus serving him in a real way, and he made a way for The Waymaker to get to people.
  3. Are there any areas in your life that you haven’t found freedom? If so, what are practical steps you can take a s a response?
  4. Are there any ways you’re shaking off the things God has for you?

Tell Someone Else

How can you share the love of Christ this Passion Week? Don’t forget to invite someone to church this weekend!

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Sacred Moments: The Basin Choice

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When you look at the final week of the life of Jesus before the cross, called the passion week, there are so many moments and so many things that take place. Conversations, miracles, teachings, illustrations so much symbolisms and things our Lord does that speak to our life.

How would you live if you knew your time to live was short? In your final days, your real priorities surface. The things that matter surface. Think about Jesus, who in these days knew that he would be obedient to the cross and his priorities are really surfacing. He wants to spend some time with those who are closest to him.

“Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’”  Matthew 20:17-19 NIV

Jesus tells them ahead of time what will happen. He wants them to understand what we call the passion week. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. But it doesn’t end there!


Jesus’ Basin Choice

The final week of Jesus is full of choices and decisions. There are so many different choices that are made that week. Jesus is making so many decisions about what He’ll say, who He’ll be with and how to obey the Father to the furthest extent. The religious leaders and the crowds are making choices. It’s Passover, so all the people of Jerusalem are making choices.

The disciples are having a hard time getting along. They’ve been on the road for three and a half years and now they begin to position and one-up one another. They’re jealous of one another.

Meanwhile Jesus knows he’s going to take the gospel and hand it to them. They’re going to be the church. Jesus is going to use these hearts and lives to lay a foundation called the church and the gates of hell cannot prevail it. But if they don’t get this, if he doesn’t stop arguing, the gates of hell could prevail it.

The night before Jesus is arrested, they gather in a room together.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.‘ 

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'”  John 13:1-8, 12-17 NIV 

Jesus is saying, you’ve got to learn how to serve one another. He isn’t beginning a movement about a foot washing service, He is trying to deposit into the hearts of the disciples, a foot washing spirit. If you don’t get a foot washing spirit, you don’t have the heart of a servant. He’s giving them a basin to choose.


On the last night Jesus shares with His disciples a less of servanthood. That it’s not important to just know about it, you’ve got to put action behind your words. It’s incredible that this is the last visual they will have of Jesus.

They will finish up around the Lord’s Supper and go out and pray and sing a hymn. The feet he washed, those clean feet, will run off in denial and betrayal. He already knew they would betray Him. Yet, He still chose the basin to serve them and it’s a choice we are all faced with.

Let’s break this passage down into the movements He made that night.

1. He got up from supper

In the middle of the meal, He allowed himself to be interrupted. Think about the interruptions in your life that caused you to stop, but later you realized they were strategic and spiritual.

2. He laid aside his garment

He took on the uniform of a servant. The disciples knew what was happening. When you wear sandals you pick up all the dirt from your travels. Typically there was a servant with a basin and a towel to wash your feet before you went to the table. But that night, there was no servant.

Everyone would have walked through and saw the basin and thought someone else will do it. They all sat there with dirty feet. When the basin is beneath you, will never be able to receive the blessing from God. The blessings follow the basin.

3. He took the towel

We were created to get into the brokenness of humanity. We were made for the mess. We were made to serve somebody.

God isn’t passing out titles, He’s passing out towels.

Jesus was saying to the disciples, plain and simple, it’s not in the title you seek, but the towel I’m handing out. We were brought into the salvation of Jesus to get involved in the spills of humanity.

4. He stooped down

He loved them to the point that He went low, so that he could lift them up. He loved them in spite of past mistakes, present flaws or future failures.

Even in all that mess, you’re worth Jesus stepping out of heaven and stooping down.

5. He leaned into them

He could have ignored the problem, but He got involved. Life really begins at serving. Do you want the basin of serving? This basin is about loving and caring and getting involved. It’s about being willing to be interrupted so that there is an invitation to life and freedom.


Pilate’s Basin Choice

Scripture tells us that in the passion week this is not the only basin. The other basin appears about 24 hours later. Since Jesus was popular, they had to arrest him at night and took him through six sham trials. None of those trials were legal, because it was illegal to have a night trial. They wanted to prosecute, persecute and execute Jesus.

After six trials, they found Jesus guilty of nothing. So they had to pay some phony witnesses to come in and put up charges against Jesus. Those paid witnesses contradicted each other, there was still no case.

Pontius Pilate who’s overseeing this trial calls for a basin, but this basin is in complete contrast to the one Jesus used.

“Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, ‘Which of these two do you want me to release to you?’

The crowd shouted back, ‘Barabbas!’ Pilate responded, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 

‘Why?’ Pilate demanded. ‘What crime has he committed?’ But the mob roared even louder, ‘Crucify him!’

Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!'”  Matthew 27:20-24 NLT

Pilate asks a question all of humanity is confronted with. What do you do with Jesus? You’re either going to accept him or reject him. There’s no neutral choice. You have to make a decision about Jesus while you still have breath.

Pilate called for a basin to wash his hands of the decision that needed to be made. Just like Jesus made choices, Pilate made two choices. They are the same two choices we’re faced with.


1. He washed his hands of responsibility.

He thought he could wash his hands of responsibility, but he was responsible. All of us are. This encounter with Pilate shows us the world on one side, Christ is on the other, and the devil is the fence.

The enemy is trying to get us to think we can wash our hands of responsibility. Meanwhile Jesus stands before all of us. In Revelation it says He knocks on the door of our heart and we’re all responsible for what we do with the man, Jesus.

2. He refused to make a choice.

He thought he was done, but when you refuse to make a choice, you’re actually making a choice.

Jesus called for a basin to serve. A basin of humility. Pilate called for a basin of rejection. He rejected Jesus. All of us have a choice. What is your response to this basin choice?


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion? How is your fear of failure and redefinition of failure going?

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read John 13 and Matthew 27.

In John 13, Jesus interrupted the last supper by laying aside His garment and washing the feet of His bickering disciples with a towel and a basin of water. In this, Jesus shows us how we are to live and serve those around us with a Christ-like heart.

Jesus allowed for an interruption, saying yes to a divine appointment. He laid aside His garment, and took a towel to wash His disciple’s feet. Towels are born to be used, to get in the mess-when we embrace a towel-mentality, we embrace serving. Jesus also stooped down, showing that we don’t ascend to greatness, we descend to it through serving others in humility.

Pontius Pilate also makes a decision around a basin of water, choosing to wash his hands of making a decision about Jesus’ fate. By refusing to involve himself and make a decision, Pilate rejects Jesus and the opportunity to make a positive impact. We have a responsibility to use what God has done for us and in us to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us. Jesus chose the Basin of serving, while Pilate chose the Basin of rejection. Which example will we follow?

Application

  1. What stood out to you in the message or in your reading of John 13?
  2. What are some ways that people have gone the extra mile to serve you?
  3. How would Jesus’ choice to wash his followers feet translate today? In other words, what act of service would be shocking to see a prominent leader do for those he or she leads?
  4. What small things could you start doing regularly to express humility and service in your family and home?
  5. How can you get more involved in serving others to make an eternal impact in their lives?
  6. How would Pilate’s choice to wash his hands of responsibility and refusing to make a choice translate today? How do we do that today?
  7. Pray that the Lord will open our eyes to divine interruptions and appointments. Ask Him to give the boldness to choose humble service of others over rejections. Pray for the courage to serve instead of allowing the fear of what others may think of us influence our decisions. Ask Him for opportunities to grow in community with like-minded Christians.

Tell Someone Else

How can you help others be more aware of their divine decision points where they have the choice to get involved and serve those around them with Christ-like humility.

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The Person God Uses

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Do you want to be used by God? In today’s post we will look at the characteriststics of the type of person God uses and how you can prepare your life to be available to God.


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO HAS A DREAM

Faith always starts with an idea, a dream, a goal, a vision. You’ll hear something from God and say, “God, this is what I am going to do.” Nothing happens until someone starts dreaming. Every accomplishment from the wheel to the light bulb to the selfie stick, started out as an idea. It started out as a dream.

Set some big dreams and goals for your life, have a great vision of what God wants to do in your life and commit the rest of your life to following and fulfilling that dream.

Many people lose their ability to dream. They have lost their ability to set God sized goals. There are a lot of things in life that you can delegate to other people. But you cannot delegate your faith in God.

If you’re going to be used by God, you’ve got to be a person of faith. You’ve got to have a dream and set some God sized goals.

Goals are statements of faith.

“If your goals are good, you will be respected.”  Proverbs 11:27 GN

Go ahead an dream great dreams for God. Let God challenge you and stretch you. Get a God-sized vision for your life.

Ask yourself: What would I attempt for God if I knew I couldn’t fail?

“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


There are two common mistakes we make in goal setting.

  • We set our goals too low
  • We try to reach our goals too quickly.

We overestimate what we can do in one year and we underestimate what we can do in ten years. When you are seeking God’s vision for your ministry and your life, you need to understand that God often gives us vision in three parts.

1. God shows you what He is going to do.

Once we figure out the what, we run out and try to accomplish it the way we think it should be doneUsually, we fall on our face and fail and we come crawling back to God and we say, “What happened, God? Did I miss the vision? Did I not hear what you wanted me to do?” God says, “No, you heard what I was going to do in your church, in your life, but you didn’t wait for the second part of the vision.”

2. God shows you how He’s going to do it.

God always fulfills the vision in a way that is different than the way we thought it was going to be. We think God is going to do it the way we want Him to do it, but God always has a better way to fulfill the vision.

3. God shows you when He’s going to accomplish the vision in your life.

God’s timing is always perfect. He’s never late or early. He’s always right on time. So wait for God’s timing to fulfill the vision He gives to you. Don’t become impatient, wait on the Lord. Many times the vision won’t come clearly all at once, it develops slowly over time.

Spend time with God, listen to God and wait on God to get God’s vision for your life and ministry. Instead of praying, “Lord, bless what I’m doing.” Pray, “Lord, help me to do what You are blessing.”


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO IS WILLING TO RISK FAILURE

“They risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Acts 15:26 NIV

Many believers around the world today have been required to risk their lives for the GospelThey are people of courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear.

God not only expects faithfulness, He also expects fruitfulness from our lives. In Matthew 25, Jesus told a story of the master who was going on a journey. Before he left, he gave one servant five talents, which is around $5000. He gave another servant two talents, $2000. The third servant he gave one talent, $1000.

The five talent person took a risk and doubled his investment. The two talent person also took a risk and doubled his investment. But the one talent person was afraid. He did not want to risk failure so he hid his talent in a hole in the ground.

The master came back and asked the servants what they did with the talents he entrusted to them. The two servants who took a risk told him that they doubled their talents. The master said to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your master’s happiness.” It makes God happy when you’re fruitful.

But to the one who didn’t take any risks and hid his money in the ground, the master said, “You wicked, lazy servant.” The man was actually punished because he didn’t take any risk. His talent was taken away and given to the five talent servant.

If you’re not taking any risks in life then you don’t need any faith. If you don’t need any faith, then you are being unfaithful. God wants us to be both faithful and fruitful by taking risks and trusting God. Satan’s favorite tool is the fear of failure. The devil makes you think you can’t do it. 

“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.”  Proverbs 29:25 NLT

Don’t let your life be driven by what others think.

If you’re serving Jesus, live your life for an audience of One so that one day you can hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Two ways to eliminate the fear of failure:

1. Redefine failure

Failure is not failing to reach a goal. Failure is not setting a goal. Failure is not failing to see your dream come true, it’s not having any dream at all. Failure is not trying, it’s giving up before you try.

Everybody falls down. We all make mistakes. We all fail. We all do things that embarrass us, but failure is refusing to get up and start again.

You are never a failure until you quit.

You are never a failure until you give up. It is always too soon to give up. So if you’re discouraged and you want to give up, hang in there and don’t give up, because God is with you.

2. Don’t compare

Stop comparing yourself to other people. It is foolish to compare yourself to anybody else. Never compare your church to any other church. Never compare your life to another person.

When you compare yourself to other people, two things happen. Either you find somebody that you’re doing better than and you get full of pride. Or you find someone who is doing better than you are and you get discouraged. Pride and discouragement are both destructive to your life.

“Each man should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to someone else.” Galatians 6:4 NIV

When you set your life goals, set them on the basis of who you think God is not on the basis of who you think you are. Our goals should be based on what we believe God can do, not what we think we can do. You haven’t really believed God until you’ve tried to do something that cannot be done in the power of the flesh.

You haven’t really believed God until you live in such a way that you are bound to fail without Him.


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO EXPECTS TO BE USED

Now, you have to be both realistic and optimistic. You have to be realistic about your situation, where you live and what your abilities and gifts are. You also have to be optimistic about what God can do. God can do things that no one thinks is possible. The difference between success and failure in life is always attitude.

“According to your faith it will be done unto you.” Matthew 9:29  NIV

God is saying that you get to choose according to your faith it will be done unto you. You get to choose how much God blesses your life. You get to choose what He does in your ministry and it’s all according to your faith.

If you have a great faith in a great God, God will be able to do great things. If you have a weak faith and don’t really trust God, then God will only be able to do small things in your life. As you serve the Lord, you will face situations that seem impossible from a human standpoint. It could never possibly work out the way that you want it to work out.

Never let an impossible situation intimidate you, let it motivate you. Let it motivate you to pray more, trust more, believe more, work more, serve more, share more and give more than you ever have before. You might be hearing Satan say that you can’t do it. But Satan is a liar. So when Satan says you can’t do it, tell him he’s a liar because the Bible says, “…with God all things are possible.”

With God, today’s impossible problem is tomorrow’s miracle.


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO NEVER GIVES UP

“No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.”  Luke 9:62 NIV

We cannot always be looking back. We must keep moving forward; when we’re tired, pressured or criticized. Great people are just ordinary people who have an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people are people who keep on keeping on.

“Let us not grow weary in doing well. For we will reap a harvest at the proper time if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

You will reap the harvest if you don’t give up. You do not determine a person’s greatness by his talent, wealth or education. You determine a person’s greatness by what it takes to discourage him. So, what does it take to discourage you?


During World War II, the Prime Minister of England was Winston Churchill. The nation of England was being bombed by the Nazi’s and Churchill was invited to speak at a very famous men’s school. They told the students at this school to have their paper and pencils ready because the Prime Minister is coming to give a major address.

Winston Churchill walked into the chapel and stepped up to the podium and said to these young men who were preparing to go to war, “Gentlemen, never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never, never give up.” And he walked out of the room.

One of the most important lessons we have to learn in serving Jesus Christ is you are never a failure until you quit. It is always too soon to quit.

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again!”  Proverbs 24:16 NIV

The Issue of Confidence:

As God gives you a great vision for your life, as He shows you the What and the How and the When, remember everything God does in us, for us, and through us, He does by grace through faith. You will never deserve it.

You may wonder why would God choose to use you. He chose to use you because of His grace.

Grace is the fact that God knows every mistake you are going to make in your life and He still uses you.

So don’t let the devil intimidate you. If you have had a very sinful past and just thinking about your past brings up all the shame that you feel because of the guilt of your past.

God uses ordinary people. If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done because there are no perfect people.

Believe today that God is using you by grace through faith. Your faith is a huge part of this equation.

What are you expecting God to do in your life? The answer to that question is: He’s doing exactly what you expect Him to do, no more and no less. God uses us by grace through faith. When we put faith in His grace, He is able to use us. We limit God so much by our unbelief.

In scripture, every time God moved out of heaven and did a miracle on earth, it was because somebody believed. There are some factors in your life that you do not have any control over. These are the sovereignty factors. You did not choose when and where you would be bornYou did not choose the natural talents that you were given. You did not choose the country that you were born in. These things were beyond your control.

The one thing that you do have control over is how much you choose to believe God.

Some people think that God is very arbitrary in choosing who He was going to bless. That God would look down from heaven and pick and choose who He would use. Scripture tell us something different.

“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking for people, to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV

That verse says God is looking for people to use. God is looking for people to use. If you get usable, if you will put your faith in His grace, God will use you in a great way for His glory.

“David served God’s purpose in his generation, and then he died.” Acts 13:36

Don’t you want that said of you, that you served God’s purpose in your generation? If you want that then, 

  • Dream great dreams for God
  • Be willing to risk failure
  • Expect God to use you
  • Never give up

Make this Declaration:

Because God has called me to serve my generation, I will value worship over weath, we over me, character over comfort, service over status and God’s purposes over possession, positions, popularity and pleasure.

To my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I say: “However, whenever, wherever and whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes!

Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I’m ready anytime, anywhere. I want to be used by You in such a way that on that final day, I’ll hear You say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Come on in and let the eternal party begin!'”

 

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

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Week 7: Fighting For Your Barista

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In each of our last few posts, we have filled in the blank with a different person in our life; friends, family, parents, kids, spouse. Now in the final post of this series, we chose barista to say, this message will apply to whomever you need it to apply to.

Whether you need help with a student, teacher, coworker, brother-in-law, spouse, ex-husband, ex-wife- the causes of conflict are the same.


Four Causes of Conflict

1. Poor communication

Most conflict flows from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Conflicts start with something seemingly small or insignificant, but it grows by how we react. Whether we just checkout and shutdown or get forceful and angry, the conflict grows.

2. Unfulfilled expectations

All anger begins right here. You have never gotten angry except when you had an expectation of something and it didn’t happen. You had an expectation that you’d be treated a certain way, that your kid would do something the first time you asked, you expected to have a highway free of cars or have peace & quiet at home and it didn’t go that way. We hold people to a standard and a pressure that only God can fulfill in our life.

3. Despising differences

We think we want everyone else to be just like us, but the more different you are, the better a team you are. Your family doesn’t need to be a group of people that think just like you. Your workplace doesn’t need everyone to be the same. We can be different, but still united. When we start despising those differences, rather than uniting them, it causes conflict.

4. Sin nature

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 NIV

People are fallen. We are all sinners. So often our spirit is alive and longs to be with God and to honor God, but our flesh is still prisoner to sin. This is why we try to feed the spirit and starve the flesh. Since we are still in this fallen world, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard and it causes conflict.

What can you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them. They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit and they’re led by the flesh. Maybe you’re dealing with someone who did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you.

Those are the types of relationship we are going to focus on in today’s post. What to do when a spouse isn’t faithful and they’re not committed to fighting for the marriage anymore. The coworker or friend or family member who is not repenting and not wanting to fight for the relationship.

The Bible talks about this in 1st and 2nd Timothy. The writer, Paul, is telling his friend Timothy about the kind of people who have turned from the truth.

These two guys begin to work out the very same thing many of us are working out and struggling with. People who ignore wisdom, understanding, distort the truth or have turned from the truth.

Paul offers specific examples of people Timothy knew. These examples are a warning to us that there will be those who cannot accept sound teaching and those who disappear at the first sign of trouble.


When Others Have Turned From The Truth

1. Remember those who are faithful.

Yes, there are those who are disloyal, but are there any who have remained faithful?Look where Paul is talking about those who have deserted him and abandoned him.

“As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me–even Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.” 2 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

Immediately after saying that everyone had deserted him, Paul offers a quick insight into the faithfulness of Onesiphorous. He had been supportive in the past and most recently, when he arrived in Rome he diligently searched until he found Paul and ministered to him. Paul commends this brother to Timothy.

This is a principle in life we have to learn and remember: When we want to focus on who’s not there, we need to remember those who are faithful.

There are going to be people who don’t show up this week. There are also going to be those in your life who abandon you and desert you. They weren’t faithful to a vow they took, a promise they kept or a covenant they signed. People who have turned from the truth of God and His word.

Even though there are people turning from the truth in this passage from 2 Timothy, Paul remembered, celebrated and commended the faithful.

Do you thank God for the faithful few or moan over the disloyal many?

It is more important to thank God for those who have remained faithful to the gospel and faithful to friendship, even when times have been hard.

2. Refuse to play the game.

Difficult people who have turned from the truth, love to argue and debate. If you fall for this trap you’re going to believe that you can logically explain to them why they are wrong. But people who have turned from truth didn’t come to their position through reason. They got into that behavior from serving their sin nature, not logic.

You can’t reason people out of a behavior they did not reason themselves into. When you try to show them how they’re wrong they will just get mad at you. Facts won’t change them because it wasn’t facts that caused them to make that decision anyway. They made their decision based on emotion and sin.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 NIV

If you’re in conflict with a friend or family member who, they haven’t turned their back on the truth and it’s just a disagreement, you need to work that out and reconcile.

If you find yourself in foolish and stupid arguments with those who oppose the truth, save your breath, don’t waste your time. People who have turned from truth use conflict to get your attention. 

Everybody has a deep need for approval and when approval isn’t possible, they will settle for attention, good or bad. 

“Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.”  Proverbs 26:4 NLT

What’s interesting is the very next verse says the very opposite thing.

“Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.”  Proverbs 26:5 NLT

The advice is different here because your response depends on the situation. Maturity is when you can discern whether or not to answer the fool.

3. Release them to God.

Some people you cannot fix. You have to give them to God. You can still love and care about them, though. Let’s look at some words from Jesus on how to release those who have turned from the truth to God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NIV

Christ is showing us here is it’s impossible to be perfect. That’s why He took His perfect life to the cross for us. But He shows us that the godly response is to pray for them.

When we pray, we see people differently.

Sometimes we wanna vent, call somebody tell them what they did and turn others against them. When we pray for them we see them differently and respond righteously.

If you’ve ever wondered why many people refused to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, you have to look no further than than verse 44 when Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

In our day we have watered down the term “enemy” so much that this command has lost much of its shock value. Today, “enemy” is used primarily in reference to people who are rude to us or treat us unkindly. But in Jesus day, the Jews in Israel had real enemies. For the entirety of their existence as a people they had been fending off enemies — from their slavery in Egypt to the occupation of the Roman Empire.

Telling them to love and pray for enemies is like telling the Christians in Iraq to love and pray for ISIS. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus was saying. When Jesus gave the command to love and pray for our enemies he knew it would one day require praying for Islamic extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda who murder his Bride.

How do we pray for people who want to murder members of our family? This is where the rubber meets the road. Here are three specific ways we can pray for those who are engaged in persecution against Christians, to those who have turned from the truth and are ruining your life.


Three Ways to Pray For Our Enemies

1. Pray for their conversion

That they’ll come back to God. There are two primary reasons we don’t pray for the conversion of our enemies. Whether they be terrorists or those in our life that have abandoned us.

The first reason is that we believe it is absurd to think they’ll become Christians. It seems like a useless plea. Because we forget that God can do for them what he did for us: provide the gift of grace that they might be saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8 NIV

The same grace that saved us can save them. If we truly love our enemy, how could we not at least petition God on their behalf?

The second reason we don’t pray for certain people’s conversion is that we fear they might actually convert. They might actually repent. Like Jonah in Nineveh, we want our enemies to receive what they’re due. Not mercy and forgiveness.

“So he complained to the LORD about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.'” Jonah 4:2

But it is precisely because He is a gracious and compassionate God that we ought to pray for the conversion of our enemies. How could we do anything less then ask God to show them the same grace shown to us?

2. Pray the evil they do may be restrained

It is to their benefit and our benefit that they be prevented from committing more evil. For those who have hardened their heart against God, it would be better if their life was shortened than for them to continue to persecute God’s children.

The protection of innocent people requires human governments to take action. The death of those who are harming innocent people and helpless children, while it may be the only effective way to restrain their actions, we should not rejoice in their suffering or death.

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice…”  Proverbs 24:17

3. Pray they will receive divine justice

In the order of our prayers, this in number three. This isn’t the first thing you pray. God of justice. Thank God that we can seek the divine justice of our holy God.

Sometimes people look certain events in the Bible and point out the wars or the things God did to people, but they conveniently exclude all the events preceding it. The places in the accounts when those people were evil and performing evil in the worst way and would not stop even after multiple warnings.

God’s response was out of love and compassion to restrain the evil on innocent people. In asking that divine justice be done, we’ve got to guard our motives and leave vengeance to God.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21 NIV

How do you plan to overcome the evil in your relationships? How do you plan to respond to those who have turned from the truth in your life. For those who will neither turn to God nor turn away from doing evil. Let’s be thankful enough for the grace of God that we want even our enemies to receive it too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How were you at being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Romans 7

There are four common causes of conflict: Poor communication, unfulfilled expectations, despising differences and our sin nature. (Romans 7:21-25)

What do you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them? They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit, they’re led by the flesh. Or, they did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you. They’re a prisoner to the law of sin at work in them. They haven’t been rescued from their body that is subject to death.

When others have turned from the truth we can choose to…

  1. Remember those who are faithful.
  2. Refuse to play their game.
  3. Release them to God.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Which of the four causes of conflict are the most common in your life or those around you right now?
  3. Who are the people in your life that have been faithful?
  4. How do difficult people tend to trap you in “foolish and stupid arguments?”
  5. Why do you think it’s so difficult to pray for those who persecute?
  6. Which of three ways to pray for your enemies would be easiest?
  7. Spend some time in prayer, praying for your enemies.

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life would be encouraged as a result of this message?

 

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Week 6: Fighting For Your Spouse (part 2)

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Last week’s post was about the meaning of marriage. Why marriage exists and why it’s worth fighting for. We looked specifically at this statement from Jesus,

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9

No longer two, but one. They are united. United means joined to his wife, holding fast to his wife, bonding and clinging to his wife. It’s an intense relationship.

We can no longer say “This is my family and that’s your family. This is my life and that’s your life. Here are my problems and there are your problems. This is my job and that’s your job, here’s what I make and there’s what you make. Here’s my money, that’s your money. This is my account and that’s your bank account. This is my debt and that’s your debt.”

No, we’re one. This is our job, our money, our account, our family, our life and our problems.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

How good and pleasant it is when a married couple live together in unity! A good marriage is possible, but conflict can make a marriage miserable. All couples fight, but there’s a difference between fighting for personal victory and fighting for unity.

Healthy couples fight for resolution for unity, unhealthy couples fight for personal victory.

There’s a fascinating study conducted by Dr. John Gottman. He studied couples who fight for 16 years, and he studied how they fight. He can watch a couple disagree for only five minutes and determine within 91% accuracy whether this couple will make it or if they will divorce. He says it’s all about how you fight, it’s not if you fight, but it’s how you fight. As couples, we are going to seek God and we are going to learn to fight well.


Three Wrong Turns in Marriage

Have you ever gotten lost on your way to a destination? You wanted to go to a certain place but wound up in a different place. Often times you end up in a different place and it’s an unpleasant place. Every time we get lost, whether it’s unpleasant or not, it’s not the place we intended to go.

That can happen in our marriages, too. Many of us got married thinking it would end up in some place pleasant, but maybe that’s not where you are. Maybe you’ve ended up in a place you did not intend to go. How does this happen?

It happens in marriage the same way it happens when we’re driving somewhere. Somewhere along the line our marriage took a wrong turn. Let’s identify some common wrong turns we take in marriage.

1. We are fighting the wrong enemy.

Somehow we believed the lie that the person we are married to is the enemy. Our culture paints men and women, husbands and wives as adversaries. Your husband or your wife is not your adversary. That’s a lie the world, flesh and the devil want you to believe. Because if you view your spouse as the enemy, you won’t remember who the real enemy is.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV

We look at the person we’re married to and think they’re the enemy. They’re not the enemy, they’re the ally. We are to be our spouses greatest ally.

2. We are driven by wrong motives.

We’re driven by the wrong things in marriage. This is why last week’s post is so important. We’ve got to remember why marriage matters and why God created it.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3 NIV

The word “spend” actually means waste. You waste what you get on your pleasure. How many times do the words you and your appear in that passage? We make a wrong turn when we operate out of selfish motives. Self-interest, self-promotion, self-preservation, self-defense. The key is to focus on God. When two people are focusing on God it brings tremendous unity.

3. We are using the wrong tactics.

We’re demanding our right to be right. The greatest relationships take place between two servants. Two people that aren’t demanding their right to be right, but two people who are trying to outdo one another by yielding their rights to the other.

“An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.” Proverbs 18:19

The difference between healthy couples and unhealthy couples is that healthy couples fight for resolution, unhealthy couples fight to win. We’ve got to make a decision to change course. To quit making wrong turns and get back on track.


When you drive with GPS, it doesn’t matter how many wrong turns you make, it can always recalulate a new path.

That is a picture of how the Holy Spirit guides our lives. Everytime we make a wrong turn, He finds a way out, He recalculates. It may not have been the path He had for us, but He can always find a new path to get us back to where He intended us to go.

No matter how lost you are in your marriage, no matter how many wrong turns you’ve taken, the Holy Spirit can make a way for you. So what are the right turns I can take to get the communication in my marriage back on track? The answer is in God’s word.


How to Fight

“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

The heaven on earth experience God wants you to have in your marriage, man’s anger does not produce that. You’ve got to do it God’s way to get that.

This one verse, inspired by God through His Holy Spirit, can bring healing and teach us how to fight.

1. Stop to listen carefully.

Most of us react rather than respond. When we get into a disagreement, we spout out our reaction and it’s often wrong. We should stop and listen carefully. But so often we are quick to speak instead. We are quick to argue back to make a point, we’re quick to throw a low-blow in, we’re quick to speak and we need to, instead, be quick to listen.

When we start to fight, stop and focus to hear what the other person is saying. Here’s what Scripture says if we don’t do it:

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2

The key is understanding, rather than immediately reacting when we hear something we disagree with. Take time to make sure you hear what’s being said. People don’t hear what you say, they hear what they think you said. Most arguments flow out of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Most arguments are about things people didn’t really say or really didn’t mean. People end up talking past each other.

One of the best ways to solve that problem is repeat back to your spouse what you heard them say. Not in a condescending way or defensive way. You say, “This is what I think you’re saying.” It gives you the opportunity to force yourself to listen. It gives the opportunity to your spouse to be affirmed that you hear what they’re saying. It gives the opportunity for misunderstanding to removed. It gives the opportunity for you to be an ally and begin to understand why your spouse feels a certain way.

2. Guard your words faithfully.

Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Our words can wound so deeply. The more you love someone and the more they love you, the more weight your words carry. You have to guard your words faithfully.

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23

A couple of great questions to ask yourself are, “Should it be said? Should it be said now?” In the middle of a conflict, that’s not the time to bring up other issues or try to fix everything that’s wrong in a marriage.

Let’s look at some things you need to leave out of conflict, some things to guard your marriage. Because even if you follow these follow these rules, you’re still going to get in a fight and you need to establish some rules for the fight.

  • Never call names.
  • Never say never or always.
  • Never raise your voice.
  • Never get physical.
  • Never get historical.
  • Never threaten divorce.
  • Never quote the Bible or your pastor to prove your point.

If you took those things out of your arguments, just you, because you can’t control your spouse. Your arguments would be a whole lot more productive.

3. Handle your anger righteously.

This is so important because you will get angry and we want to handle it being led by the Spirit of God.

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

You can get angry, being angry is not a sin, it’s what you do with your anger. In fact, there are things we are supposed to be righteously angry about.

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Meaning, don’t let too much time pass. Address it, forgive it, let it go. Don’t let it fester because when you do, you wake up every day angry.

Maybe your marriage has taken those turns, but you’ve got to make a decision, that you will say:

In time of conflict, I will fight for unity, not for personal victory.

If you seek God and follow His Spirit leading you in these three things, we believe that the presence of God can bring healing in any relationship.

What marriages need, is to be united in thought, mind and purpose. Marriages need something bigger than their problems and disagreements to live for. What can happen in marriage is that we spend so much time trying to work on our problems, rather than have something bigger than our problems.


 

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We’ve been talking about this Rock Brook Conference for several weeks now, and it’s coming up soon. It’s a church conference about the DNA and the heartbeat of our church. It’s also about how God meets your deepest needs. We all need:

  • Power to Live On
  • People to live with
  • Principles to live by
  • Profession to live out
  • Purpose to live for

So often, we become so distracted in life. We begin to only react to all the urgent things in life we stop living for the important things. Join us March 29-30, to refocus your life and hear the heartbeat of this church. Your life and your marriage can be blessed by it and bring about the righteous life God desires. To Register visit: RockBrook.org/Events


One final tool for your marriage a simple prayer you can pray every day this week. Maybe you want to pray it three times a day this week. But simply ask God for the benefits of this verse in his word.

Pray: “God help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry. I want the blessing of the righteous life You desire.”


Check Back

This message is part 2 of two messages on marriage. Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on the meaning of marriage? Why does marriage matter? God created it: (1) For the connection of men & women, (2) For the multiplication of the human race, (3) For the protection of children, (4) For the perfection of our character, (5) For the construction of society, and (6) For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

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

Hear the Word

We all fight – but, if we seek God and allow Him to teach us how to fight well, we will not only save our marriages from destruction but we will also experience God’s blessing. So, the question isn’t if we fight, but how we fight. Healthy relationships fight for resolution; unhealthy relationships fight to win. Here are three rules we can use to fight fair: Stop and listen; guard our words; and manage our anger righteously. If we decide during non-conflict times to use these rules in times of conflict, our relationships can thrive as God desires. In times of conflict, we will fight for unity, not for personal victory!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  James 1:19-20

Application

1. Which of the three wrong turns in marriage stood out to you the most?

  • Stop and listen carefully.  “…quick to listen”

“Fools have no interest in understanding: they only want to air their own opinions.”  Proverbs 18:2

Discuss how being a good listener would affect the way you interact with your spouse. What steps can you take to become a better listener?

  • Guard my words faithfully.  “…slow to speak”

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”  Proverbs 21:23

Making firm decisions during times of peace can help us manage conflict. What have you taken off the table that allows you to fight well and what do you still need to take off the table?

  • Handle my anger righteously.  “…slow to become angry”

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

Discuss practical steps you have in place or need to put in place to resolve conflict in your relationships.

Tell Someone Else

Pray for God’s blessing and peace on each group member and their relationships. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and unity to be present.

 

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Week 5: Fighting For Your Spouse

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Today’s post is on marriage and why it’s worth fighting for. If we don’t know the why, we have no reason to do the what. Next week’s post will be full of practical tools on how to fight for your spouse and how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

Whether you have never been married or you’re divorced or you’re separated or you’re widowed or you are currently married, regardless of what state you’re in, the next verse applies to all of us. 

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Hebrews 13:4

Sadly today, marriage is dismissed as irrelevant by many people, as archaic. It’s demeaned by many people. Marriage is delayed. People are delaying marriage more and more, many times for the wrong reasons. There are good reasons for delaying marriage but there are also selfish reasons for delaying marriage. Marriage is being redefined, ridiculed and disrespected. 

We don’t live in a culture where marriage is honored by everyone any more. Even Christians fall for this trap. Part of the problem is nobody knows the basics of marriage any more. So marriage is treated like just one more little lifestyle choice.

Marriage is not just a lifestyle choice. God gave us marriage for a reason.

Most people don’t know why marriage matters. In fact, most people either have an incredibly unrealistic view of marriage, and there’s no way anybody could measure up. They think marriage will solve all their problems. A lot of people think marriage creates problems.

Marriage doesn’t solve your problems. Marriage does not create your problems. Marriage reveals problems.

Marriage reveals perfectionism, insecurities, fears, bittnerness, control, manipulation and lust. If you were able to hide those things before you got married, you won’t be able to for long once you get married.

There are a lot of things marriage can’t do, but it does have a God-designed function. We are only fulfilled in marriage when we look to the designer and the builder of marriage.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 NIV

Unless we let God be part of our marriage, we build in vain. So, let’s look at why God designed marriage.


Why Marriage Matters

1. God created marriage for the connection of men and women.

In God’s plan men and women need each other. Nobody holds the full image of God. Women get part of it, men get part of it and we need each other. God thought up gender. God thought up sex. The Bible goes back to the very beginning, in the creation of the first couple and the first marriage.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18 NIV

The first thing to realize is that marriage, gender, sex, men, women, all these differences, are God-given things.

We see one of the purposes of marriages is an antidote to loneliness. Many companions are important in life. You need companions in all different areas, but there is nothing like the companionship of a marriage.

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.’”  Mark 10:6 NIV

God made males. God made females. God chose who he wanted you to be.

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9 NIV

This passage says three things.

  1. Marriage is God’s plan. It’s not a human plan. It’s not a human idea. It’s not a tradition we can just throw out. God invented marriage when he invented you, when he invented me, when he invented humanity.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
  3. Marriage is to be permanent. What God joins together, no one else should separate. It’s meant to be for life.

 

2. God created marriage for the multiplication of the human race.

It’s how we all got here. You are sitting where you’re sitting because a couple got together and made you. This was God’s idea.

The Bible says that God is love, it’s His character. The only reason there’s love in the universe is because God is love. If God was not a loving God you would not have any love in your life. The only reason you are able to love is because you, as a man or a woman, were created in God’s image.

God said, “I want to love and I want to express my love.” That’s why you exist. If God didn’t want to love you, you wouldn’t exist. So God created the universe, so He could create the human race, so He could express His love knowing that some of us would choose to love him back and then we would live with him forever in heaven.

Think about this: God chose everybody who is going to be in heaven to come into existence through marriage and sex. That’s the way He chose. No one would be in heaven if God hadn’t created marriage. Because everybody has come into existence through the tool that he designed.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 NIV

There are 7.5 billion of us on the planet right now because your parents and their parents and their parents were fruitful and multiplied and filled the world. The point is, that God says one of the purposes of marriage is for the multiplication of the human race, which will multiply the population of heaven. It’s not the only purpose but it’s a big one.

 

3. God created marriage for the protection of children.

“God, not you, made marriage! His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.  And what does he want from marriage? Godly children from your union. So guard the spirit of marriage within you.”  Malachi 2:15 MSG

This is not an indictment for childless couples. There are couples who want kids and for whatever reason cannot have them or have been unable to have them. If you’re married and you can’t have kids, God is not disappointed in you.

What this verse is saying is, we’re all alive because some couple got together. For thousands of years God has used men & women to populate heaven. If men and women weren’t getting together, marrying and having sex then there would be nobody in heaven. God wants it done in the context of marriage for the protection of children. 

We all know that kids grow better, healthier, stronger when they grow up in a stable family. When they grow up in a marriage with a mom and a dad. Why did God create marriage for the protection of children? Because when you were born you were born completely helplessly. You could not do anything.

Children need somebody to protect, guide, train, and care for them. Study after study shows that kids develop best with a mom and a dad. We’re on a broken planet. Not everything works right. But that doesn’t mean that we say the ideal isn’t real. Children thrive in families. Not in institutions. That’s what every child needs growing up – a place of refuge and security. 

 

4. God created marriage for the perfection of our character.

In relationships we learn to be unselfish, we learn to be loving and no relationship has greater impact on your life than marriage. Another fact about when you were bor, not only were you helpless you were completely self centered, no one on the planet earth is more self-centered than a new baby.

A baby does not even have the capacity to think about anyone else. All he or she can think about is itself.  Maturity and the purpose of life is to grow up and realize it’s not all about you. 

In fact real happiness comes in giving your life away and being unselfish and being serving and being loving. The goal of your life is to grow from totally self-centered self as a baby to being an unselfish adult. Life is a laboratory of learning how to love.

Why is love the most important thing in life? Because God is love and God wants you to become like Him and learn how to love.

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  Proverbs 18:1 NIV

Sometimes we’ll be friendly to everyone else, except our spouse. Have you ever said things to your spouse that you wouldn’t say to anyone else?

If the goal is to pursue unselfishness, your marriage can grow your character. If you are married, the number one tool that God uses in your life to build Christ-like character is your spouse. Every day you get hundreds of opportunities to not think about you, to care about them.

Even if your spouse isn’t a Christian, it doesn’t matter. Many times in the Bible, Jesus was selfless for the sake of an unbeliever.

The more loving, giving, serving, sharing, mature, unselfish you become, the happier you’ll become.

You’ll never be happy if you make happiness the goal of your life. Happiness was never meant to be the goal. When you start caring about other people rather than your happiness you’re going to get happy.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:9-10 NLT

 

5. God created marriage for the construction of society.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of every community, church, state, nation, society and culture. If you know anything about history, you know that where marriages are strong, cultures and nations are strong. Wherever marriages and families are weak, cultures and nations are in decline. We know that when marriages are devalued, the more a nation is in decline.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV

 

6. God created marriage for the reflection of our union with Christ.

Marriage is a metaphor, a symbol. It’s a walking, living, object lesson of how much God loves us and how we are to be in relationship with Him. Marriage is a model of a profound spiritual truth.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV

How did Christ love the church? He died for the church. And God says that’s the way husbands are to love their wife. That’s the kind of love you’re to have. Sacrificial love. 

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:28-32 NIV

When you read this it looks like Paul stopped talking about marriage and went a different direction by talking about Jesus and the Church. He’s just laying down a metaphor of our spiritual union with Christ and his love for His family, His body, His bride, the Church.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV

This is the most profound meaning of marriage. There are some benefits of marriage that are obvious and quantifiable, like what it does for kids, women and men. This is the most profound meaning of marriage is not as easy to grasp.

Marriage is more. It’s more than an event or ceremony. It’s more than exchanging vows.

Marriage is a covenant. It’s a covenant where two become one. It is a temporary symbol of a greater eternal reality. It’s a picture of the covenant relationship God has instituted between Jesus and his people.

Marriage is the most sacred of all things, because it’s a reflection of God’s commitment to us. 

No other relationship on planet earth, including parent child relationship, can adequately illustrate our union with Christ the way a marriage between a man and a woman does. This is the strongest reason why we must fight for marriage.

So, before we get into more practical parts of fighting for your spouse next week, let’s not labor in vain. Let the Lord build the house. Let the Lord build the marriage.

In order for relationships to work, let the one who designed them define them.


Twice in the Bible Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven. Why will there be no marriage in heaven? Because you won’t need any of the six reasons marriage exists. In a perfect place, you’re not going to need the multiplication of the human race, the protection of children, the perfection of your character, the construction of society or the reflection of Christ’s union. 

You won’t need a metaphor, because you’re going to experience the real thing in heaven. Here on earth, marriage matters and the Bible says we are to honor it and reap the benefits.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Kids? Kids need fun, growth, protection and serving opportunities from their families.

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

Hear the Word

“We all are given different gifts. God gives the gift of marriage to some and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” 1 Corinthians 7:7 NLT

Why does marriage matter?

God created it:

  1. For the connection of men & women
  2. For the multiplication of the human race
  3. For the protection of children
  4. For the perfection of our character
  5. For the construction of society
  6. For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”  Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

Application

  1. According to John 13:35, why might Satan attack believers’ relationships? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV
  2. Why was creating a companion for man important to God? “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who is right for him” Genesis 2:18
  3. In Mark 10:6-9, what points is Jesus making about marriage and the connection of men and women? “Jesus said, ;But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Mark 10:6-9
  4. In modern society, putting ourselves first is often seen as socially acceptable. In what ways does this socially acceptable norm damage our relationships? What behaviors can we demonstrate in our significant relationships to combat this myth and make us more like Christ? An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.” Proverbs 18:1
  5.  Romans 12:9-10 provides us with four specific strategies for developing and maintaining awesome relationships. Pick one of these strategies and share how you could apply it to the most important relationship in your life. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
  6. Read Ephesians 5:25-33 in several versions (i.e. NIV, NLT, MSG). Marriage is a metaphor for our relationship to Christ. Romans 12:9-10 above gives us a view of what we’re called to think, desire and do in marriage and in our relationship with Christ. Talk about how you want to live these scriptures in your relationships and with Christ.

Tell Someone Else

As a group, use Ephesians 5:25-33 and Romans 12:9-10 to create a prayer to strengthen relationships.

 

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