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

blog.001

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

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

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

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


Why Must I Keep Praying Persistently?

  1. IT KEEPS MY ATTENTION FOCUSED ON GOD.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. HAVING TO WAIT TEACHES ME ABOUT MYSELF.

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

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

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

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

Having to wait on God tests four things:

  • It tests my DESIRES

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

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

  • It tests my PRIORITIES

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

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

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

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

  • It tests my MATURITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before every blessing there is a testing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • It tests my FAITH

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

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

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

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

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


Four Ways God Answers Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

  1. It keeps my attention FOCUSED ON GOD.

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

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

  1. Having to wait teaches me ABOUT MYSELF.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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

For Mobile Wallpaper

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

blog.001

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

  • Know God

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

  • Find Freedom

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

  • Discover Purpose

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

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

  • Make a Difference

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

You are somewhere in this process.

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

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

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


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

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

The light is green. It’s time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Move on from old hurts

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

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

2. Move on from old habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Move on from old hang-ups

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

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

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

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


Time To Make A Change

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

1. It’s time to get closer to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time.


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

Tell Someone Else

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

 

For Mobile Wallpaper

 

Your Timing Is Everything

blog.002

Today’s post is about the importance of God’s timing in your life. The timing of every detail of your life.

“There is a right time and there is a right way to do everything, but we know so little.” Ecclesiastes 8:6

This verse means that we can do the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way. It takes skill to know how to follow God’s timing. There is a rhythm to life.

Wise people learn how to cooperate with that rhythm. They know when to speed up and when to slow down. The more you grow as a follower of Christ the better you get at following God’s timing.

Spiritually, it’s called walking in the Spirit. We’re facing a brand new year next week and one skill to learn in this new year is how to cooperate with God’s timing.

The Bible has a lot to say about running. It talks about running the race of life. If you look at Jesus’ life and ministry, you will find that He had an incredible sense of urgency.

The Gospels use the word ‘immediately’ fifteen times to describe something Jesus did. He had a sense of urgency in His life. The Apostle Paul also had a sense of urgency.

Run hard and fast in the faith.”  1 Timothy 6:12

Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:26

“…I run to win.” Philippians 3:12

There are times when God wants you to move very, very fast. The Bible also has a lot to say about going slow, about waiting, about taking your time and being patient.

In this new year, when does God want you to move fast and when does He want you to move slowly?


When Should I Move Fast This Year?

1.  When God tells me to do something

The Bible is filled with instructions for life. They are called commands, precepts, or directives. Whatever you call them, God expects us to obey them. Parents, what if you told your child to do something and your child said, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

That doesn’t work because delayed obedience is disobedience. The same is true with God. When God says, “I’m telling you to do this,” and you say, “I’ll think about it.”  Or even, “I’ll pray about it.” You’re being disobedient.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come follow me.’ So Simon and Andrew, immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:17-18

These men are walking away from their careers. They are leaving their jobs to follow Christ. The Bible says they did it immediately.

“Without delay, I hurry to obey your command.” Psalms 119:60

What has God told you to do that you still haven’t done? Has He’s told you to be baptized? Don’t put it off, do it now. Has He’s told you to spend time with Him every day? Do it now. Has He’s told you to start tithing off your income? Do it now.

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

2.  When I need to ask or offer forgiveness

One of the biggest reasons you need to forgive quickly is for your own health. Your body is not designed to carry guilt, resentment, or shame. You’ve got to let it go.

When you hold on to guilt about what you have done to someone or you hold on to resentment about what someone else has done to you, it’s like drinking a bitter poison that will eat you alive.

If you’re giving an offering at worship and suddenly you remember that someone has something against you, leave your offering and go immediately to that person and be reconciled.  Then you can come back to worship and offer your gift.Matthew 5:23-24

If you remember somebody you haven’t forgiven take care of it, immediately. Never use worship as an excuse to procrastinate or to delay. Obedience is the highest form of  worship. What sin do you need to confess and ask God to forgive you for? Who do you need to forgive for wounding you?

God says not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, now!

3. When I feel tempted

This is a time to move out of a situation quickly. When you are tempted to do something that is not God honoring, here’s what you do.

Don’t argue with temptation. Never argue with temptation because you’re going to lose. Satan has been arguing for thousands of years longer than you and if you try to argue with the devil you’re going to lose.

The key to overcoming temptation is not to resist, but to run. Don’t argue, just get out of the building. Don’t fight it, flee from it.

RUN away from all evil things…” 1 Timothy 6:11

RUN away from the worship of idols…” 1 Corinthians 10:14

RUN away from sexual sin…” 1 Corinthians 6:18

4.  When I’ve made a promise to God

When you make a promise to God don’t delay. A delayed promise is an unfulfilled promise.

“When you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He isn’t happy with foolish people. Do what you promised to do!” Ecclesiastes 5:4

What promise do you need to keep right now? Have you made a promise to share your faith with somebody or read through the Bible and never done it? Have you promised to start serving one of these days?

God blesses the person who keeps their promises to Him.

5.  When I have an opportunity to do good

When you have the opportunity to do something good for somebody else, don’t delay. Every day God gives you opportunities to practice kindness. This year God is going to give you 366 opportunities to help people in your life who have an obvious need.

God gives you these little tests and asks “Are you going to do something about it when you have the opportunity?”

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, while it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27

If you see somebody who needs help, do it right then. We put things off because we think the timing will be better later.

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes 11:4

If you wait for perfect conditions to start reading the Bible, perfect conditions to start tithing, perfect conditions to get involved in a ministry, you’re never going to get anything done. There are never perfect conditions on earth.

Now the reason why the Bible says hurry on these kinds of things is because you don’t have any guarantee of tomorrow. 

Jesus says, All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the Father who sent me because there’s little time left before the night falls and all work will come to an end.John 9:4

You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow much less next year. So what did you intend to get done last year that you’re still saying, “I’m going to get around to it when the time is right.”

What do you need to get done now? What kind act have you been intending to do for your neighbor, but you still haven’t done it? What act of hospitality are you waiting on?

6. When God offers me salvation

Maybe you have been putting off stepping across that line of faith. You might intend to decide for Christ one of these days, but one of these days turns into none of these days.

Not to decide is to decide. When you say, “Not yet,” you’re saying “No” to Christ.

“God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

So these are six things that God says to do quickly. When these things come up in your life in the new year, don’t wait, do them quickly.

 


When Should I Move Slowly This Year?

Not everything in life requires a fast response. There’s a rhythm to life. There are waves and seasons and cycles to life.

“It’s smart to be patient.” Proverbs 14:29

Sometimes you go fast and sometimes you go slow.

1. When I don’t have all the facts

Our culture thinks impulsiveness is cool. We worship spontaneity. We think that if you don’t think about it then it’s authentic, if you plan ahead then it’s inauthentic.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Just go with your gut.”  That’s a terrible way to make a decision your gut is often wrong.

“The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it.” Jeremiah 17:9

You lie to yourself all the time. You tell yourself things are better than they really are. You tell yourself things are worse than they really are. 

What you really need this new year is not to trust your gut. What you need is an objective source of truth beyond yourself. Something that you can rely on more than your feelings because your feelings often lead you in the wrong direction.

“Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” Proverbs 19:2

You get all excited to do something but don’t have the facts yet, that’s not good. How many people do you know that just want to make a decision, it doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. 

“To decide before knowing the facts is shameful and stupid.” Proverbs 18:13

On your major decisions you want to get the facts not just rely on your gut. That’s why you need to slow down.

2.  When I’m hurt or angry

When you are hurt, angry or depressed never make a major decision. Have you ever have made a bad decision when you were upset? We react, we retaliate, we respond before we really it think through and we often make the wrong decision.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

There’s a rhythm in that verse? Quick, slow, slow. Quick, slow, slow. If you do the first two the third one’s automatic.

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding. But he who is quick tempered makes foolish mistakes.”  Proverbs 14:29

“The godly think before speaking.” Proverbs 15:28

Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion. Especially when you are on social media. You don’t have to comment on everything you see there. Social media is full of angry, mad, argumentative people.

“Losing your temper causes trouble but staying calm settles arguments.” Proverbs 15:18

3.  When making a major decision

You get in a hurry on a major decision and you’re headed into a brick wall. You get in a hurry to get married, change jobs or make a large purchase you’re headed into a brick wall.

These are decisions that should not be made in a hurry. These are thoughtful decisions that should take some time.

“Wicked people bluff their way through life but God’s people think before they take a step.”  Proverbs 21:29

Ponder the path of your feet then all your ways will be sure.” Proverbs 4:26

Ponder means carefully consider the direction of your life. You can’t ponder fast, you must go slow.

“Sensible people see trouble coming and avoid it but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.” Proverbs 22:3

You know the number one place for an impulsive, bad decision? In your spending, impulse buying. Buying on credit rather than saving for it and paying cash.

“Plan carefully what you do and you’ll have plenty. If you act too quickly, you will never have enough.” Proverbs 21:5

What does it mean to plan carefully in your spending? Planned spending is called a budget. The solution to impulsive buying is to nip it in the budget.

Here’s the question you need to ask: What do I need to do at the beginning of the year to get me where I want to be at the end of the year? Answering that question takes planning, it takes slow thinking.

4. When waiting for a seed I’ve planted to grow

The Bible talks a lot about sowing and reaping. You plant your seed and then you reap a harvest. This happens in every area of your life.

Plant kindness you reap kindness, plant joy you reap joy, plant gossip you reap gossip. Whatever you plant you will reap.

But there is always a delay between planting and harvest. You don’t put a seed in the ground and next day have an apple tree. There’s a delay between planting and harvest.

“There is a time for everything. And there is a season for every activity under heaven… There is a time to plant, and there’s a time to harvest… a time to scatter and a time to gather…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

Everything in life starts as a seed, an idea or a dream. Unless the seed is planted, nothing happens. Once you plant it, you don’t get to harvest it immediately.

You will always reap in a different season than you sow.

Some of you are being generous in an area and you don’t see generosity coming back to you yet. You will reap in a different season than you sow.

“Keep on sowing your seed for you never know which ones will grow, perhaps they all will.” Ecclesiastes 11:6

This year you can plant seeds of love, seeds of generosity, seeds of patience, seeds of kindness and financial seeds through giving to God.

And in the law of planting and harvesting, you always get back more than you planted.

If you are discouraged by the delay,

God says: “At the time I have decided, My words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting, it will happen!” Habakkuk 2:3

There are times you need to go fast and there are times you need to go slow and trust God’s timing.

Let’s begin this new year with a prayer that Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 8:58.

“May God keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path that He has cleared, watching the sign post and walking at the pace and rhythms He laid down for our ancestors.”

There’s a pace and a rhythm in life. Sometimes you go fast and sometimes you go slow.


If you’ve never opened your life up to Jesus Christ, you need to start the new year with a new life. You need to do this now. Don’t go one more day without Christ on your side.

If you’ve never invited Jesus Christ into your life you can pray this:

Jesus Christ, come into my heart and life right now. I don’t want to wait another day to follow you. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and give me that new, eternal, abundant life that you offer to those who trust in you. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What are some ways that you were able to let go of fear and latch onto hope last week? Have you identified some voices you need to stop listening to in 2020? What are you going to replace them with?

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

Hear the Word

“There is a right way and there is a right time to do everything, but we know so little!”  Ecclesiastes 8:6

  • What do you think the author means by the importance of the right timing and the right way of doing things in your life? 

“Without delay, I hurry to obey your command.” Psalm 119:60 TEV

  • Delayed obedience is disobedience and to hurry is good when it is related to obeying God. What has God told you to do that you haven’t promptly done? What is holding you back from obeying?

“Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.”  Proverbs 19:2 NLT

  • We should not move fast in all that we do in life; there are times when going slow is ideal. Discuss when it is prudent to slow down. What is an area where you need to slow down?

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  James 1:19 NIV 

  • There can be times when it is difficult to put these principles into practice. What are some situations in  life when it is hard for you to follow these steps and how can you make it easier to obey this command?

Application

God says “At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting – it will happen!” Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV) 

  • What hope do you find in this passage?

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

  • Discuss what God tells us in his word about his timing. Share your experience with God’s timing in your life.  How do you trust even when it seems to take a long time?

“When you have made a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He isn’t happy with foolish people. Do what you promised to do!”  Ecclesiastes 5:4 TEV 

  • What promise have you made to God that you need to fulfill right now?  How can you help one another take your next steps of obedience?

“May God keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, and walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.” 1 Kings 8:58 MSG 

  • Pray 1 Kings 8:58 together in your group and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and keep you aware of the signposts and path the Lord has cleared for you.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share what you have learned in this lesson to help them either speed up or slow down?

For Mobile Wallpaper

Christmas! A Good Time To Get Your Hopes Up

Blog.001

 


 

Today we know the news of the birth of Jesus Christ as good news because we know what went on to happen. But it wasn’t good news to the people who heard it for the first time. In fact, it terrified everyone.

At the first Christmas, everybody was afraid. Every one of the main characters had to deal with a different kind of fear. What’s interesting is we still deal with these same fears today. But the message of Christmas is this: Do not be afraid.


Five Fears in the First Christmas

  1. Mary faced the fear of inadequacy.

Mary was a teenage peasant girl planning to get married. But an angel interrupted her plan by telling her that she was pregnant with the Son of God.  She’s engaged to a guy named Joseph. She is told that the child is going to be the promised Son of God? The government is taking a census, her fiancé has to go to his birth town. So while pregnant, she has to go on a long journey with him. There’s over a dozen reasons to feel worried and inadequate.

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Do not be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Luke 1:29-34 NLT

2. Joseph faced the fear of disapproval.

Imagine: Your fiancé tells you she’s pregnant and you know you’ve never had sex with her. Then she claims that God made her pregnant and the baby is the Son of God. Imagine the ridicule, the shame, the gossip, and the criticism heaped on Joseph.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18-20 NLT

3.  The shepherds faced the fear of sudden change.

Put yourself in the shoes of the shepherds. They’re out lying on the grass and tending their flock of sheep. Suddenly, they have life changing news and the sky lights up with stuff they’ve never seen before

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Do not be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Luke 2:8-10

When God shows up, it can be unsettling. But God doesn’t want to scare you. He says do not be afraid.

4. King Herod faced the fear of losing control. 

Herod was the king of the Jews. He’s was actually king of Judea and he was hated by the Jews because he wasn’t a full Jew. He ruled with a heavy hand because he was paranoid of losing his throne. He was so paranoid that he had his brother in law killed for fear of him taking over his throne. He had his mother killed, had his wife assassinated, and had his two sons assassinated.

So, when he hears that Jesus “the king of the Jews” is being born he freaks out, yet again. He orders the death of every baby in Israel under two years of age to try to prevent Jesus from growing up. And Mary and Joseph are warned in a dream. They take Jesus to Egypt.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,  “Where is the newborn  king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King  Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. Matthew :1-3

5. Zechariah faced the fear of being disappointed.

Zechariah’s wife was named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the cousin of Mary. Elizabeth and Zechariah were older and had prayed their entire life for a child. They finally give up hope because they were past child bearing years. They were afraid to hope because they’d been disappointed so many times.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for years and years to have a baby, but it hadn’t happened. When Zechariah found out Elizabeth was pregnant, his first instinct was disbelief. He was afraid to get his hopes up.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer.Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. Luke 1:11-13

Zechariah had been disappointed so many times he just didn’t believe it. He would go on to say, “How can I be sure?” He wanted God to prove it to him because he didn’t want to hope again. Some of you can relate to the fear of disappointment that holds people back. By the way, Zechariah’s long awaited son, you may have heard of him. He grew up to be called John the Baptist. And John the Baptist was the forerunner, kind of the announcer of the Messiah who said, he’s coming; get ready.

Which of these five fears are holding you back?

If any of these five fears ring true in your life you really need the message of Christmas. Because if we’ll do what God told Mary and Joseph and everybody else to do, we’ll conquer our fears.

How to Defeat Your Fears

1. Surrender your life completely to God every day!

Start the day saying, “God I’m full of fear. I’m giving you the good, the bad and the ugly of my life right now.” Mary overcame her fear of inadequacy with this statement:

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38 NLT

Have you ever said that to God?  Have you ever opened your mouth and said to God, “God, you’re my Creator and whatever you want to do with my life, I want to cooperate with.” Have you ever done that? If you have not, you are living in constant tension.

God’s going one way and you’re going a different way and this tension creates fear in your life. We hit dead ends all the time with our plan, but God’s plan does not have a dead end. Your confidence becomes in Him and not in yourself.

2. Stop listening to the voices of fear.

Fear is contagious. You’re going to have to change what ideas you allow in your mind if you want to move out of fear. What you watch and what you listen to.

Would you agree that we’re in a pretty negative culture? It’s easier to just be against stuff and negative and fearful. And sometimes those voices are inside you too. And you have to stop focusing on yourself. We need an objective outside source because we often get it wrong.

Many of us would agree with the prophet Jeremiah, who hears God’s call on his life and out of fear says,

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” Jeremiah 1:6

We’re focused on our inadequacies and the approval of others. But, God doesn’t respond with, “No, Jeremiah! You’re not young, and you do know how to speak! You’re capable and talented and you can do this!”Instead, he tells him not to focus on himself.

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Jeremiah 1:7-8

God doesn’t respond to our fears of inadequacy with reassurances of our strength but with a reminder of His strength.

Stop thinking about yourself, stop listening to voices of fear, and start listening to God.

3. Fill your mind with music that praises God.

Because when you’re scared to death, all your attention is focusing on you. To get rid of fear you’ve got to get the focus off you and get it on God. When you turn your focus on God, that’s called praise. That’s called worship. One of the best ways to get this kind of focus on God is through music.

Do you know what Mary did when she was so frightened about the job that God had given her? She sang about it.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-47,49 ESV

Worship holds so much power and helps you get the focus on God. It is no accident that Christmas is the most musical of all holidays. Why? Because at the first Christmas everybody sang. Mary sang. Elizabeth sang. The angels sang. The shepherds sang. Even Zechariah wrote a song. You should learn from them and make faith filled music a part of your life.

4. Base your hope on the promises of God.

In the Bible there are promises from God to you about your finances, sex life, relationships, and career. About your past, present, and future. Promises about forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

But if you don’t know them you can’t put your trust in them. If you don’t trust them and surrender to them, you can’t claim them. They’re like gifts that you’ve never unwrapped.
They’re like somebody writing you a check and you never cash it.

It’s time to base your life on the promises of God. This is what gave Mary confidence. Elizabeth noticed this. And in Luke Chapter 1 Elizabeth said to Mary: “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.’” You believed God will keep his promises.

That’s what gave this young peasant girl enormous confidence in an incredibly fearful situation. She believed God would keep His Word. When you start doing that you will be blessed too.

The Greatest Promise

We must remember the most important promise. It’s the promise that when you die you can go to heaven if you trust in the Son that he sent at Christmas. That’s called the promise of eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

That’s the greatest promise. Jesus Christ came to earth at Christmas to die for your sins so you don’t have to pay for your sins. But Jesus didn’t just come to earth to forgive your sins. He didn’t just come to earth to get you into heaven if you trust in him. He also came to eliminate your fears here and now.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” Hebrews 2:14-15

Have you believed so that you might have eternal life?


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “A Good Time for Good Times.” How has that message and conversation helped to keep your Christmas perspective and joy from being robbed this Christmas?

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

Hear the Word

Today, we know that the Christmas story is Good News—God became flesh in order to save us from our sins. But for those who experienced the Christmas story firsthand, the news scared them to death. When you read through the Christmas account, you’ll find that the characters faced five familiar fears

  • Mary faced the fear of inadequacy. (Luke 1:29-34)
  • Mary faced the fear of disapproval. (Matthew 1:18-20)
  • The shepherds faced the fear of sudden change. (Luke 2:8-10)
  • King Herod faced the fear of losing control. (Matthew 2:1-3)
  • Zechariah faced the fear of being disappointed. (Luke 1:11-13)

If you’re facing any of these fears, it doesn’t mean there’s something defective about you, and you can defeat them! How?

  • First, surrender your life completely to God every day. (Luke 1:38)
  • Second, stop listening to the voices of fear. (Jeremiah 1:6-8)
  • Third, fill your mind with music that praises God. (Luke1:46-49)
  • Fourth, base your hope on the promises of God. (Luke1:45)

Hope can’t be based on what you think. It’s based on what God promises. Memorize the promises of God and lean on them when you’re afraid. The greatest promise? John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Now, if you haven’t already, spend some time in the Word. Read Luke chapters one and two.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Is there a time in your life you’ve ever struggled with one of the five fears?
  3. What does it look like to surrender your life completely to God every day?
  4. “Fear is contagious.” How have you seen this to be true?
  5. What are some things you need to stop listening to in 2020? With what could you
    replace it?
  6. In this message, we focused on basing our hope on the promises of God. Specifically, the promise of salvation and eternal life for whoever believe. (John 3:16) What are some other promises from God we can claim? Prayer Focus: Thank God for his promises and ask God to help you listen and trust him more than any other voice, even yourself.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message of Christmas? How could you be a voice of hope and peace, rather than fear.

For Mobile Wallpaper

Christmas! A Good Time For Good Times

Blog.001

Today we are talking about having a good time. Many people think the more cynical and skeptical someone is, the smarter and wiser they are. Yet, the Bible depicts our God rejoicing over us with gladness, initiating festivals and celebrations.

The enemy is working overtime to suppress our joy. He doesn’t want us laughing when we’re supposed to be laughing. He doesn’t want us walking in joy when we’re supposed to be joyful. 

He gives us an imitation. He gives us something that wouldn’t really give fulfillment. We’re hanging our life on a hook that will never really help us or bring a sustaining joy. The enemy works every day through addiction, through pain, through grumpiness, through problems, through stress relational conflicts, he works to suppress our joy.

You hear his voice enter in, “Should you really be this happy right now?” This is why we celebrate Christmas every year. To remind ourselves of this joy and good news. That’s why it’s a great tradition to read through the Christmas story every year.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 NLT

When the birth of a king happened it was happening in a manger and a pasture. There’s an interesting point of history here. It was these fields outside of Bethlehem where the temple flocks were kept.

These were the flocks of sheep that would be sacrificed in the temple, as an offering for the sins of the people. Here are the shepherds hearing about the savior who will be a final perfect ultimate sacrifice for our sins. The angels are essentially telling them that they’re going to be put out of a job. Because no longer will we need a sacrifice for our sins.

Every sheep that was sacrificed that was pointing to this ultimate sacrifice, the death of Jesus. How beautiful that this was who the announcement was to. This is the birth announcement.

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.  Luke 2:13-20 NLT

There is so much joy and celebration. Something changed in the shepherds and it can change in us, too. When Jesus was older, he had a word for shepherds and people who understand that occupation.

Jesus: I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:9-10 NIV

The word thief means like a pick pocket. The thief who is coming to steal our life and joy, he’s not wearing thief on the front of his shirt. Sometimes we can’t tell that he’s there in those situations.

He sneaks up in our life, marriage, work, dream or hope and he begins to take things from us, but Jesus said I came to stop the thief of joy. I’ve come to stop him and give you full joy.

If that’s going to happen there’s got to be new decisions and choices. There is some divine order to JOY.


Divine Order of JOY

Joy doesn’t just come from anywhere. There’s a divine order to it. We want to be on the right pathway, the right order in how to find it, sustain it and express it to other people. There was even a divine order to Christ’s joy, so there can be a divine order to our life.

When Jesus went to the cross, scripture says it was the joy that was set before him, there was joy on the other side of the cross. One of the reasons He could endure the pain and the problems and hurt and rejection is that He knew there was a joy on the other side.

Not all the time are we going to feel joy. We have to make decisions to walk in obedience and step into that commitment. Joy is right on the other side of that commitment.

The manger wasn’t pretty. The cross was not a happy place it was a place of death and sacrifice. Jesus went through with it because of the joy set before Him.

Jesus knew that if He went through the cross and there was resurrection power on the other side of it, He would pay the price so that He could purchase us in our pain so that we could go to heaven with him and experience eternal life.

There was a prize. There was something on the other side that was salvation. There’s a divine order to joy and you can find that order in the word joy itself.

J — Jesus

It begins with Him. Jesus first. If Jesus is not first, then you’re out of the divine order, and we need divine joy. All of our joy can’t be based on the here and now. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. Jesus at the center.

Joy is in Jesus at the center of our life.

O — Others

It is more blessed to give than to receive. We must help the weak and notice others. Our whole life can not revolve around me, myself and I. You won’t find joy when it’s all about you.

There’s no other way to find joy on the pathway or me, myself and I. You’ll discover joy when you put yourself down on the list. When we live to get, God changes our life to live to give.

Y — Yourself

So you’re not first, guess what, you’re not even second. You’re third on the list. If you want real purpose and real joy, put yourself after God and others.

He’ll take care of us. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. He’ll take care of everything you need. This order is actually how your needs are met.

You can experience real joy this Christmas. In this verse in Isaiah speaks to everyone no matter what place in life you are in.

Israel going through a hard time here. Most news was bad news, one thing after another. Have you ever lived a day where you thought, “I don’t think anything could be worse.” This kept happening to Israel. Sometimes we feel that way in our life that things keep getting worse.

God spoke a truth and God saw some things they were not able to see. God saw that there could be joy even though there were pain and problems in their current situation and he could speak above and beyond that.


Where is Joy this Christmas?

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.  Isaiah 9:2-3 NIV

The only way a warrior gets a victory is to go through a battle.

God gives hope to the people of Israel. So often we think the battle is the problem, it’s how we’re dealing with the battle is the problem. If God is there for us tellin us He will increase our joy. That when we go through the battle we will bring something out of it. He tells us we won’t come out of hte battle empty-handed, we will have increased joy.

That’s encouraging because if we’re going through the valley, we certainly want to come out of it with a victory. If we’re going through pain, let it have some purpose. If we’re going through a battle let it bring joy to someone else’s life.

Increase our joy, Lord!

Could there be more joy than what we’re experiencing in our life, our marriage, our parenting?

Lord, let there be a victory, increased joy!

Let’s be people that pray that the longer we’re married, the more joyful we become. That the older the kids get, the more joy we experience.

Lord, help us be the people that the longer we’re in church the more joyful we are. The longer we lead a small group the more excited we become. Let us be people that the longer and more we give money to God, the more joy we experience.

Let there be an increase in joy, not less.

There’s always more joy in God than in anything else. Are you looking for more joy in all the wrong places? Where is more joy to be found?

1. Joy is beyond circumstances

More joy is not going to be found in good things happening in your life. We see it in Jesus, the manger, the cross, he still had joy set before him.

Joy is found in the Holy Spirit inside of us. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. It’s love, joy, peace… See how joy is tethered by love and peace?

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11 NLT

Joy is not going to be found in your circumstance this Christmas. It’s going to be found in the Holy Spirit beyond your circumstances.

2. Joy is with others

It’s why we constantly encourage you to get others in your life. Joy is not found on the pathway of living for ourselves.

Serving together, giving together, making a difference… we find life-changing joy in others. There’s fullness of joy. Joy is meant to be full.

In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells three stories. One is the most famous parable in the Bible, the prodigal son. A father gives his two sons their inheritance, one son stays with him, the prodigal son leaves, sins against him and blows the money and ends up eating with pigs.

Eventually he comes to his senses, and when he comes home the father runs out to meet him and throws a big celebration. That was a good time!

Another of the three stories is of a woman who loses a very valuable coin and she drops everything to look for it. As soon as she finds it, she calls all of her friends to throw a party.

The third a story about a shepherd who has 100 sheep, but one has left the fold, and is lost. Instead of being content with the 99, he leaves the 99 found sheep to find the one that is lost.

Have you ever noticed what sparks Jesus to tell the stories? There’s the salvation part which is very beautiful, and Jesus is making a big point about salvation and that He cares about the lost. But the reason he starts telling the story is because the Pharisees and teachers of religious law were complaining, being grumpy and rebuking Jesus for celebrating, having a good time and eating with sinners.

So, what Jesus does in these stories is rebuke them for their mindset. Each story ended with a celebration in what was found. Joy is the fruit of maturity. Not skepticism, not doubt, not cynicism, not grumpiness, but joy.

“When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:6 NLT

3. Joy is in repentance

Repentance is when we turn our mind and our actions back toward God. When the prodigal son came to his senses in that pig sty, he got up and went home. That’s repentance.

But not everybody likes the joy. The brother who stayed with his dad became very cynical, and actually didn’t like that they were throwing a big party for the son who came home. But his dad said, God says,

“‘We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” Luke 15:32 NLT

When we live for just ourselves, we fall short. There’s got to be more joy than that. There’s got to be more joy than just me! All of the sudden if we’re not careful, we just start living for the next thing or the fun things in the world. We only get excited about the fun stuff happening.

A new pair of shoes we can’t wait to have and then six months later you’re cutting grass in them. If we could just have that person, that thing… and we begin to build our joy on more stuff. More things.

There’s go to be more joy than that because it’s so fleeting. How many of us are basing their joy on that? Could there be more?

Jesus didn’t die on the cross and rise from the dead for us to have one moment. He didn’t come for us to base our life on the experiences of this world. Jesus died and rose so we could have joy that could be sustained through the storms and the troubles and the valleys. There is a sustaining joy in Jesus! There’s more joy in Jesus! It’s in Him we live, move and have our being.

Jesus said, every time someone chooses Jesus as their Lord, all of heaven throws a party.

Jesus: “Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” Luke 15:10 MSG

When someone says, “I no longer depend on me, myself and I. I no longer depend on the things of this world. I may have a past or a hurt but I find my identity in Christ and the joy I find in Jesus.” We celebrate!

The thing we celebrate the most here at Rock Brook is when we get into these moments and someone says, I believe in Jesus and they get baptized. It’s fun.


Maybe you’re going from one fake celebration to another, trying to be cheered up by things that actually bring consequences, not joy. 

Maybe you’re walking with a spirit of heaviness, and feel far from God. Do you feel broken on the inside? This can be your prayer:

Heavenly Father, free me and restore joy into my life through Jesus. You are the best part of my life. There is nothing like you anywhere. No author could fully express it, no inventor could ever imagine, no sculptor could ever create, no poet could ever capture your wonder, your strength and your beauty. We fall short. Just one glimpse of you could change everything. Help me see glimpses of you all around me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, a good time for giving. Have you noticed God opening any doors of generosity in your life? Have you taken any risks of generosity?

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

Hear the Word

Many people think the more cynical and skeptical someone is, the smarter and wiser they are. Yet, the Bible depicts our God rejoicing over us with gladness, initiating celebrations and sending angels to bring us good news of great joy.

Therefore, abundant joy is a by-product of putting God first. While the world binge-hunts for the ever-elusive joy, we can have it every minute of every day because we have Jesus. It’s not circumstantial joy either. It’s a lasting joy which pushes through and prevails, regardless of what’s happening around us. We are free. We are liberated into biblical joy and a clear conscience, which frees us from past hurts, guilt, and shame.

Read: Luke 2 & 15

Jesus: I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:9-10 NIV

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Describe a time you remember laughing really hard.
  3. In what areas of your life might you be losing your joy and your laughter?
  4. What does it mean to have abundant joy? How do you define joy?
  5. “Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” Luke 15:10 (MSG) What is something you need to turn over to God this Christmas?

Prayer Focus: Thank God for his good news that causes great joy. Ask God to give you a fresh sense of love, joy and peace this Christmas.

Tell Someone Else

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

RockBrook.org/Christmas

For Mobile Wallpaper

Christmas! A Good Time For Giving

Blog.001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Why Give To My Church?

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

When I lose my why, I’ll lose my way.

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

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

1. Jesus gave to us first

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

This is the message of Christmas:

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

Ephesians five further explains what He has given:

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

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

2. It’s the direct way to give to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. My heart follows my money

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

Giving works. Giving gets results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell Someone Else

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

For Mobile Wallpaper

Christmas! A Good Time For Gratitude

Blog.001

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God for the grace He has shown you.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Be grateful for the plans He has for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanations do not comfort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Pray this prayer right now:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

For Mobile Wallpaper