Dealing With Dissatisfaction

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Serenity Prayer

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

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

Amen.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Matthew 6

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

 

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Building Character at School & Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How God Uses Work & School to Build Our Character

1. God uses pressure to teach me responsibility.

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some ways to develop responsibility:

  • By keeping your promises

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

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

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

  • By meeting deadlines

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

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

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

  • By working without supervision

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

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

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

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

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

  • By controlling costs

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

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

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

2. God uses problems to teach me character.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Turn the problem over to God through prayer.

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

  • Join a Small Group.

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

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

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

Life is a laboratory in learning how to love.

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

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

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

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

Why do you do what you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • God is going to evaluate our work one day.

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

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

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


Check Back

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

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Romans 12

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

 

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The Purpose of Singing

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

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

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

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

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

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


Why We Express Our Love to God

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

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

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

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

2. We worship because everything comes from God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Because God strengthens us through worship.

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

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

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


The Kind of Worship God Loves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


One Primary Way to Worship God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT)

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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The Purpose of Preaching

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Each weekend, in the United States alone, millions of people gather in churches and listen to about 1 billion words in sermons. If you become a Christian and faithfully go to church, sermons become a big part of your life. In today’s post, we’re talking about why.

Since this is a big part of your life, what if we took one post to talk about the purpose of sermons and the purpose of preaching?

One of Rock Brook’s values is to Remember Why. It’s worthwhile to, every once in awhile, zoom out and remind ourselves why we make this part of our weekly life. Why is it that for 2,000 years churches have gathered together weekly and a pastor has gotten up for about 30 minutes to preach? Why did Billy Graham preach sermons? Why did Charles Spurgeon and John Calvin and Martin Luther preach sermons? Why did the Apostle Paul, Peter, John and John the Baptist preach sermons? Why did Jesus preach sermons?

That’s the big question today.

Before we answer that question, before we can understand the purpose of preaching, we have to understand the purpose for mankind. What you believe always determines what you do. What you believe about sermons will determine your faithfulness to God.

God has a purpose for everything. God never created anything he didn’t have a purpose for. He has a purpose for your life, your family, the world. One of the problems people have forgotten is the purpose or the why. Preaching has to be in harmony with God’s overall purpose for our lives.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29 NIV

God’s purpose for mankind: To make us like Jesus

There isn’t anything or anyone better to aspire to be than Jesus. He was full of grace and truth. Jesus had a close relationship with God and cared for the outcasts and the lonely. He loved kids and got righteously angry about important things. He could put up a fight, take a joke and be humble. He was all the things we love. Don’t you want those things in your life?

Jesus is the full expression of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Most importantly, Jesus honored God with his life.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness…” Genesis 1:26 NIV

From the very start it’s been God’s plan to make mankind in his image. But man blew it and we fell and we sinned; so God had to bring in the salvation plan. From the very start he wanted mankind to be like Him, not to be Him, but to be like Him.

God created human beings that we might know him and be like him.

“…And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18b NLT

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49 NIV

The verse is refering to the earthly man, Adam and the heavenly man being, Jesus. What does it mean to be Christlike?

To be Christlike means to…

  • Think like Jesus
  • Feel like Jesus
  • Act like Jesus

When we think like Jesus, we have the mind of Christ. When we feel like Jesus, we have the compassion, humility and integrity of Christ. Then we can act like Jesus in everything that we do.


How Does God Form Us Into Christ-likeness?

1. Through circumstances

The situations the problems the difficulties, the things that happen around our lives can be used to make us more Christlike. We talk about how the tests and trials in our life, if we’ll persevere, have a purpose.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son…” Romans 8:28-29 NIV

There are many other verses that talk about how God uses circumstances, but the Bible says all things work together. They’re not all good, but they are worked together for good as we are conformed to His likeness. God uses this method more than any other.

You can pray, study the Bible and all the other Christian disciplines for however many hours a week or days you can, but how many hours a day do you have circumstances?

There’s a constant molding of your life through circumstances. This is why we preach on the circumstances of life. How we can surrender to God and use the circumstances in our marriage, in our parenting, in our money, in our relationships, in dealing with difficult people, in our temptations, in our grief, in our schooling, in our jobs.

Jesus said I have come that you may have life. We preach life.

2. Through applying God’s Word to my life

“Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 NIV


Jesus: “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17 NIV

What is sanctification? It’s a big word for becoming like Jesus. God wants to make me like Jesus, how? Through circumstances and the word. One day when we see Christ directly we will be transformed completely into his likeness.

One day: “We know that when Christ comes again, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is.”  1 John 3:2b NCV

When we see Christ in his full glory we will be instantly changed and the process will be completed. But right now, we don’t see him face-to-face, so how does it happen now?

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

When we see Christ face-to-face we’ll be like Him. Right now we don’t see Him face-to-face. Right now we see his reflection like a mirror. That mirror is the word of God. When we look at Jesus in the mirror, read about His life, study His word, see what He has inspired, we see His reflection in the word.

The more we bridge our life circumstances to the word of God, the more we are changed to become like Christ.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:23-25 NIV

They look intently, do not forget, and they do it. That’s the process of change.

When we look at the word, remember the word, and do God’s Word, we are inevitably changed!

According to this passage, we are also inevitably blessed! That’s the power of the cross and the power of God’s word.

The problem is, too many people want a style of preaching to get them to look at the word but not remember it or do it. Many Christians want to be hearers of the word. They want to be informed but not transformed.

The purpose of preaching must be in harmony with God’s purpose for mankind and how he’s using circumstances and His word.


God’s Purpose for Preaching

The objective of a sermon is to develop…

  • Christlike convictions — Thinking like Jesus
  • Christlike character — Feeling like Jesus
  • Christlike conduct — Acting like Jesus

If a sermon doesn’t teach people how to live, it doesn’t accomplish the purpose of a sermon. This is accomplished through application. Jesus sermon on the mount was 90% application.

The only way your life is going to change to become like Christ is through application. Interpretation and explanation of knowledge doesn’t go far enough. To preach biblical sermons like Paul and Peter and Jesus, they must be life-oriented, not just simply increase Bible knowledge. We already know more than we’re doing. We need to act on what we already know. We have far more believers than we have doers.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

There is both a personal and corporate purpose in preaching and teaching.

One of the purposes is to change individual lives but another is to build up the church together. This is why you can hear a message on the radio or podcast, and that’s a powerful tool, but ultimately it doesn’t totally fulfill the purpose of sitting under preaching or hearing a sermon from your pastor. The person you are listening to is not shepherding the flock you’re a part of.

As you read scripture and hear sermons, you’re going to discover that there are whole verses, chapters and books of the Bible you cannot fulfill if you’re not plugged into a local body of believers. As you become like Christ you see he was in a community of believers.

“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.”  1 Timothy 1:5-6 NLT

We preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature person in Christ.” Colossians 1:28 NCV

The goal of preaching is the same goal that God has for us, to make us like Christ.

To do that, we have to be willing to have our beliefs molded in the church. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why did I do that?” Maybe you’ve done something that was a little out of character for you and wonder why you did that.

Those things happen because you believed something at that particular moment. You believed it was the most beneficial thing for you at that particular moment. We always act on your belief. When you do something, it’s because you’re believing something at that time.

All behavior is based on a belief.

Behind every sin is a lie you are believing. When you look at your life, you see your behavior, but you don’t see every lie you’re believing. The problem with that is that change always starts in the mind.

This is taught all through the New Testament to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The way you think determines the way you feel. The way you feel determines the way you act.

Think  –  Feel  –  Act

If you want to change the way you act, you must determine the way you think. You can’t start out here with your action, you have have to start with changing the way you think. Thoughts determine feelings and feelings determine actions.

This is repentance, changing your mind. Choices lead, and feelings follow. You can’t do that by yourself. It takes preaching, the Word of God and other people in your life.

It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to happen week-by-week, gradually, through the word, through preaching, through relationships.

The battle for sin starts in the mind. To change, you must see the misconception or lie you are believing. That’s why Jesus said the truth will set you free. Trying to change a behavior without changing a belief is a waste of time. If you try to change without renewing your mind, it won’t work. We all have patterns of beliefs and habits that have been imprinted on our mind. 

Those habits and beliefs are like an autopilot. Let’s say you have a speedboat and it has an autopilot feature. You decide to set the autopilot to go north. So without putting your hands on the wheel, it’s going north. If you wanted to turn the boat around, there are two ways you can turn it around.

One option is to manually grab the steering wheel and by sheer manpower. You can turn it around force it to go south, meanwhile the boat is thinking go north, go north, go north. The whole time you’re under tension because you are going against the natural inclination of the boat. When you’re under that tension, you get tired and let go of the steering wheel and it goes back to going north. 

This is true in life. We learn something over and over and over from the world to where we are programmed to go one way. Then you decide you want to become like Christ, and go out and work it out yourself. It starts with a belief to internalize, first.

If you want to be changed radically and permanently, you must do it the New Testament way, and change your belief and let that change the way we feel and act.

The Bible term for this is repentance. You can ask yourself, “Have I changed my belief and mind about this?” Maybe it’s not made it to the action yet, but repentance makes all the difference. The opposite of repentance is pride. Repentance is changing the way you think about something by accepting what God thinks about something.

The applied Word of God teaches us that. When we think like Christ, feel like Christ and act like Christ, we decide to change our belief, and through the power of the cross and the empty grave, we can change.

We have to to have all three, but we start with belief. It’s not as difficult to follow and obey when our mind is renewed. It starts with belief.


Check Back

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

“Look Up?” What happens when we look up… We see God seated on an unassailable throne. We see God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness. We replace self-dependency with God-ability. God gives a promise for deliverance. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

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

Hear the Word

Read: James 1

Each weekend, in the United States alone, millions of people gather in churches and listen to about 1 billion words in sermons. If you become a Christian and faithfully go to church, sermons become a big part of your life. This message talks about why.

Before we can talk about the purpose of preaching, we have to look at the purpose for mankind. God created man to become like Christ (Genesis 1:26, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:49). To be Christlike means to… think like Jesus, feel like Jesus and act like Jesus. God forms us into this likeness two primary ways. One, through our circumstances. Two, through applying God’s word to my life. When we look at the word, remember the word, and do God’s word we are inevitably changed!

God’s purpose for preaching must be in harmony with God’s purpose for mankind. So, the objective of a sermon is to develop Christlike convictions, Christlike character and Christlike conduct. Preaching bridges our circumstances with scripture so that we may be build up as individuals, and so the body of Christ may be built up, collectively. Through preaching our beliefs are molded which impact our feelings and then change the way we live.

Application

  1. What’s your history with sermons? Are you new to hearing sermons or have you heard many over the course of your life?
  2. God’s ultimate purpose for mankind is to make us like Christ. God uses two things to accomplish that purpose. Circumstances and the applied word of God in our life. Read Romans 8:28-29, James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7 and then discuss how our life circumstances can help us become more Christ-like.
  3. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) How can the applied word of God change us? How can looking intently at the word of God and then turning away from it rob us of our purpose?
  4. All behavior is based on a belief. How have you seen this lived out in your life? What were you believing when you made decisions that were out of character for you?
  5. How do you think this sermon will change the way you listen to sermons?

Tell Someone Else

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

 

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Look Up

blog.001Today we’re going to look at one of the great chapters of our faith found in 2 Chronicles. The authors are chronicling in First and Second Chronicles the acts of God on behalf of His people, primarily through the kings. These books show us God is always working. Even when things looked bad or there was a bad king, God was up to something. This chapter is going to show us what can happen when we lift our gaze to God in the midst of a storm in our life. In this story Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah. 

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar’ (that is, En Gedi).”  2 Chronicles 20:1-2

Jehoshaphat got news that a vast army was coming quickly, moving at a pace that he didn’t feel like he could control. Sometimes things larger than our ability to manage come at us with a rate and pace faster than our ability to stall or stop.

When Jehoshaphat first heard this news he was alarmed. We’re not promoting a faith where there are armies coming, and they are vast,  but we just shut that out and don’t take it seriously. It’s okay to be alarmed. Jehoshaphat is going to prove to be an amazing leader and he began by being alarmed.

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord…”  2 Chronicles 20:3

His alarm was then accompanied by resolve to seek the Lord. Now that may seem so obvious but that is often the last resort for the people of God. Typically, we inquire of everything and everyone else. We inquire of the internet, we google it. We text a friend and ask them to meet up with us. We ask people for opinions. We do everything else but look up.

Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he resolved to inquire of God. He asked God what was happening. When he did that, it was the key to his breakthrough. Breakthrough begins with us saying to God, “What is happening and what would you like to do?

“…and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:3

This fast was not a fly-by-night fad. It wasn’t a juicing, cleansing, liver detoxing, or losing weight. Rather he proclaimed that they had a big problem so we were going to cut out all other distractions for awhile so that they could put God first and hear from God. They had armies coming and desperately needed to hear from God.

“The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:”  2 Chronicles 20:4-6

The people came together at a high place.  For these people the mountains were real. The ark of Noah found its resting place on the top of a mountain, Mount Ararat. When Abraham was in the struggle of knowing there is a promise that a nation would come through his son but God asked him to take a radical step of willingness to let go of that son, and a ram appeared caught in the thicket, it was up on Mount Mariah. When Moses met with God and the earth quaked and a cloud descended and the glory of God couldn’t even be seen face-to-face, that all happened on Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai. When the prophets of Baal came against the people of God and Elijah declared that his God is greater and fire came down from heaven it happened on Mount Carmel.

Jesus eventually would give his life on what some would say is Mount Moriah. The lower regions of that same temple mount is where these events are happening in our text. God is inviting us to turn our eyes up and meet Him at a higher elevation. Our help comes not from these people, it might come through these people, but our help comes from the Lord. So they stopped and looked up. The things that happened for them as they stopped, fasted and looked up can happen for us. There are five things to look at. 


What Happens When We Look Up

1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.

Unassailable means unable to be attacked or defeated. God is seated in that place today. He is not pacing. He is not even standing. He is confidently sitting on a throne that cannot be threatened from any angle.  There is not one ounce of anxiety in God today. That’s what we can see when we look up.

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”  2 Chronicles 20:6

He is seated on an unassailable throne of power and might. We know this, but when the storm comes and the pressure come we have to lift our eyes up and see there is a throne up there and so is our God.

2. We see that God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness

Immediately what Jehoshaphat remembers is that God has come through for them and defeated their enemies before.

“Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?”  2 Chronicles 20:7

We’ve all been knocked down but none of us have been utterly destroyed because we’re all here today, God came through. You might think He has not come through for you, because of the circumstances you are in right now, but the good news is it’s not the end of the day yet! God is not done with you yet. It’s three days in a tomb but there was a resurrection. Right now may look like your tomb but it’s not over. A chapter may have closed, but the next chapters of your life have not. 

God’s work in your life is not finished. 

God’s opportunity to continue to do what only God can do is still alive today. That’s the power of the resurrection. That’s why when all of the sudden we’re fixated on the wind and the waves and the when, the where and the why, God is saying you can’t, but I can. Just lift your eyes to a God who has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.

3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.

God-ability is so much better than self-dependency. Because self-dependency runs out and runs dry quickly. There are so many situations in life in which we have no control.

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  2 Chronicles 20:12

That’s a great confession. Instead of lying here all night until we figure it out, we can talk to God instead. We can confess we are facing something we can’t handle. Sometimes we just need to say the simple thing: I don’t know what to do.

Remember, Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he did resolve something. He resolved to shut out all the other noise so he could hear from God. We might not be able to take on three armies, but God can. We may not be able to control our situation, but we can control our response and our resolve.

“All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”  2 Chronicles 20:13

They have all gathered together, standing with lifted eyes. There are three armies coming quickly, but in faith they set their gaze on God. Then the Spirit of the Lord fell on a messenger.

He said: ‘Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.'”  2 Chronicles 20:15

Whatever it is you’re facing you need to keep reminding yourself that you’re not fighting this battle, but God is fighting this battle. We will do whatever it is God leads us to do, but God is fighting this battle.

4. God gives a promise for deliverance.

He wants to give you a promise for deliverance as well. Again, the battle is not yours, it’s God’s. He gives them a plan.

“‘Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, [He knows this because He is the maker of heaven and earth.] and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

The battle is the Lord’s but He directs our steps and guides us to victory. These are the marching orders. If you have a protocol facing you, go and follow the ways that seem wise. But as you go remember the treatments aren’t the ultimate warrior. God is our warrior and our defender. God is fighting for us. He may be using the regiment or this treatment, but it is God who is doing it on our behalf. He never said turn your back and pretend the problems aren’t there. Go face them, because you know the Lord, your God is with you.

5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Pre-thanks is when you start thanking God for things He has told you He will do that He hasn’t actually done yet. God has promised that He has delivered me. I’m going to praise him and thank him as though He’s done it, because God’s promise is as good as the fact that He’s done it. If you thank God after you’ve got it, that’s gratitude. When you thank him in advance, that’s called faith.

“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”  2 Chronicles 20:18-19

God has spoken, the people have stood and now they have bowed down and started praising God. Fear is loud and all consuming. Worry is loud. Loud praise displaces loud fear. Fear and worship cannot coexist in the same space. One displaces the other. 

Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space.

“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.’ After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”  2 Chronicles 20:20-21

These people began to displace their fearful thoughts with faithful thoughts. They began to displace their worried thoughts with worshipful thoughts. The army begins singing give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” 2 Chronicles 20:22-30

That’s what worship does and that is God’s promise for us today. Our worship can displace our worry. His faithfulness displaces our fear. We need the peace that comes from Christ. We can fix our gaze upward to where our help comes from and receive that peace today.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the “One Person at a Time” message?

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

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Chronicles 20

In 2 Chronicles 20, we see Jehoshaphat leading the people to look up to God. After getting word that three armies were coming against them, Jehoshaphat resolved to look up to God for help. Their response to the coming crisis made all the difference. When we look up…

  1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.
  2. We see God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.
  3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.
  4. God gives a promise for deliverance.
  5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Application

  1. Have you ever been in a circumstance that alarmed you? Maybe it was multiple things coming against you. How did you respond? What did Jehoshaphat resolve to do when he was alarmed?
  2. Where do your eyes naturally go when a crisis is coming your way? What would it mean to look up to God as a first resort?
  3. Have you ever pre-thanked God for anything before?
  4. What promises of God are you clinging to right now?
  5. Is there a specific crisis or fear in your life to which this message applied?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage as a result of this message?

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One Person at a Time

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In Matthew 15 is one of the most incredible moments with our Savior and His people. It’s a mixture of our Savior, people and His disciples.

“Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down.”  Matthew 15:29 NIV

Jesus is outside, He’s public, He’s available. Look at how people are drawn to Him. They just want to just be around Him, because of who He is and what He can do.

“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet and he healed them.”  Matthew 15:30 NIV

These people did not come by themselves, they brought someone with them. The word “laid” means they cast them down. No one is an outcast, even though these are Gentiles.

A Gentile refers to a person who is not a Jew. From the Jewish perspective in that time, Gentiles were often seen as pagans who did not know the true God. During Jesus’ time, many Jews took such pride in their cultural and religious heritage that they looked down on Gentiles.

Jesus did the miracle we are about to read about in a Jewish area with 5,000 men, not counting the women and children present. But in this account, Jesus is now doing for the outsiders.

Jesus is so at ease with it. He doesn’t mind being crowded in and all of these people at His feet. What does Jesus do? He healed them.

“The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.”  Matthew 15:31 NIV

All of these hurting people came. Someone was there who could not speak and in the Lordship of Jesus, they started speaking. From the authority of Jesus, they were healed.

We find out later there are thousands and thousands there. People who were carried there or carted there were now walking and running. It could have been dozens of people who did not have use of their legs, who can now use them.

The blind are seeing. Blindness can be a symptom of other things, so maybe even another disease is being healed. Now, suddenly they are seeing.

Look how they responded. They were amazed and praised God. What an incredible scene on a mountainside. It could have ended there. Jesus healed people and they praised God. But it goes on.

“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’”  Matthew 15:32

People were healed, restored,  put back together again and free from challenges. Jesus had compassion on them because all of this healing had gone on for three days. As Jesus healed people and they worshipped God, then He gives the reason for His compassion.

It’s the nature of Jesus, He notices everything.

Not only do big things matter to Him, the small things matter.

Jesus notices that they are going to go away after three days and they are going to walk home, but could collapse. It’s so important that our Lord noticed that. He’s just leaning in and meeting needs.

Jesus says, “We’re not done yet.” Rock Brook, we’re not done yet. Thank God for SERVE Day and moments, but we’re not done yet. There are still hurting and lost people.

People in your life woke up this morning and looked at their life or maybe they looked at the news and they are afraid or even wondering why they are even on this planet? They see truth leaking from our culture and it’s leaving people struggling with pain and addiction and questioning their value. We are not done yet.

Jesus just couldn’t stand to leave people hungry. When you leave the presence of Jesus you feel fed. Have you ever noticed how Jesus was always filling things up?

He fills up the disciples boats with fish. He fills the barrels. His followers left the empty tomb filled with joy. The Apostle Paul calls it an overflowing grace. 

God has called us to go out into an empty world and fill it up with hope.

“His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’”  Matthew 15:33 NIV

Notice how the disciples feel they have to remind Jesus that they are in a remote place. They can’t just drive over to Sam’s Club real quick, there’s no SERVE team is showing up with coolers.

“‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied, ‘and a few small fish.’”  Matthew 15:34 NIV

Do you see how they made what they had even smaller by calling them small fish? Sometimes we make what we have so small. We thing we could never make a difference. We don’t have anything to contribute. I only have this little bit of time or money.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.”  Matthew 15:35-38 NIV

Jesus invites the disciples to cooperate in this by asking them to help distribute the food. He could of just made everyone full all at once, but that’s not how He decided to fill everyone. Instead Jesus took what the disciples had, took it out of their hands and took it in His hands. When He put it back in thier hands, they put it in the people’s hands.

That’s like our offerings. We take what’s in our hands, we give it to God and he blesses it. He hands it back and we are to relay it to the world. That’s how it works.

He’s the chef, we get to be the waiters. He’s in the kitchen getting it all ready. But we get to deliver. That’s what he let the disciples do. He lets them up close. He loves the individual, one person at a time.

That’s how he healed people too. He could have healed everyone in one word, but He interacted with each person. He could have made everyone feel full. Instead, He had the disciples pass this out, one person at a time.

He wanted the disciples to see that He values people. Jesus wants to put us on the front row of making a difference. Have you ever noticed how the front row is always so much more into it? You pay big money to be in the front row of a concert or a sporting event. 

To get a premium view, you must pay a premium price.

So often, we pay a cheap seat price for a premium view. Maybe in marriage or with your kids. Maybe in your workplace or in the things around you. Ask God to help you be willing to pay a premium price because you want a front row seat for what He is doing.

If you have experienced the front row, then you have been ruined on going back to the cheap seats.

When you say yes to a front row seat with Jesus. You’ll never want to go back to compromise or convenience.

God will ruin you with his grace. When He uses you to touch a person’s life, when He uses you to serve. You can’t go back to sitting idle. You want the front row seat.

Get yourself to the front row of what God’s doing. When you’re willing and you say yes to a front row seat, you’ll never want to go back.

There’s something you possess that can bless someone else.

There is something about you that can lift someone else. It could be your time, your talent or your treasure. Something you posses can bless someone else when you put something you have in circulation. God wants to move us to the front row to bless someone else.

Does SERVE Day make a difference in someone’s life? Does serving in a church make a difference? Consider where you would be with out people pouring in to you. Giving what they have and investing it into your life. Think back to your small group leaders,  children’s church teachers or the people who brought me to Jesus. Where would you be without those people?

Our church is built around five purposes that we get to fulfill in our life. This is what we get to be a part of.


It Is the Dream…

It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement.

Worship

It is the dream of a group of people who gather together with eagerness, passion and enthusiasm to worship, treasure and lift up the name of Jesus Christ.

Fellowship

It is the dream of welcoming people into the fellowship of our church family. A church family so full of the spirit of Christ that you can tangibly feel the sense of grace and second chance when you are around them. A church family that is loving, learning, laughing, and living in harmony together.

Discipleship

It is the dream of a freedom so rooted in Christ that it produces the fruit of spiritual maturity. A desire to lead one another to the truth of God’s word. A love for the word of God and radical generosity as we give of ourselves in response to the word.

Ministry

It is the dream of equipping every believer for a significant ministry by helping them discover the gifts and talents God gave them. Anyone can make a difference, no matter how unqualified they feel, or how broken their past.

Evangelism

It is the dream of a church so passionate for the lost, like a parent who’s lost a child, nothing will stop them nor stand against them as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, their nation and their world.

It is the dream of Rock Brook Church to be unified around these purposes of God.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the message about how God tests your faith?

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Matthew 15

In Matthew 15 we see Jesus using the disciples to meet the physical need in the crowd. “Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.”

Jesus could have met their hunger any number of ways, but he decides to use the disciples to serve the people in the crowd, one person at a time.

Application

  1. Have you ever had a front row or VIP experience somewhere?
  2. How has that experience changed your perspective of that environment?
  3. Where and when do you feel like you’re cooperating with God the most? In other words, where and when do you feel you’re making the biggest difference for the kingdom of God?
  4. What inhibits you to serve? (Time? Energy? Feeling worthy?)
  5. Which part of the Rock Brook Dream excites you most?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to take a next step in their faith? Who can you encourage to start serving?

 

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How God Tests Your Faith

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Sometimes we wonder why things don’t always work out perfectly and go the way we want them to go. Even after you become a Christian, you still have problems. What’s fascinating is some of the trials we face are the very answers to our own prayers.  We ask for some of these things and don’t even know it. We may pray that we want everything God has for us, we want to be more Christlike, we don’t want our life to look like the world, we want our finances to be biblical and our jobs to be fulfilling. And this is God’s goal for our life too, so he lays out the pathway.

God’s number one goal for your life is to make you like his son, Jesus. He wants to grow you creating a strong faith and character. He knows the best way to get us to that point, whether we like it or not.  Just like a good parent doesn’t bail their kid out every time, God is a good parent and wants to grow us up. We’ll have all of heaven someday to be perfectly happy, today we are in the training ground. The primary way God grows you up is by testing you. When you work out in a gym you test your muscles by lifting weights. The more weight you can life the more it tests your muscle the more it grows your muscle.

God grows your character the same way, through a series of tests. Those tests build your faith, character, patience and all kinds of other things in your life. The problems are not pointless. Rather, they are there to test your faith and to grow you into the man or woman God wants you to be. 

“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your FAITH IS TESTED, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when it is fully developed you will be strong in character and ready for anything!” James 1:2-4 NLT

Tucked in that financial despair, that mean neighbor or coworker, that marital problem, or that issue with your kids, there is an opportunity for your faith to grow. Some of us are trying to run from the very situation that God gave us as a gift.


How God Tests Your Faith

There is a section of the Bible that deals with this specific thing. It’s in the book of Hebrews. The author is not listed, we’re not sure who wrote it, but it was written or preached to a group of people who were considering abandoning the faith because it was getting difficult and they weren’t strong in character enough to handle it.

In chapter 11 the author or speaker just begins passionately listing out the people of their heritage and how they lived by faith. One of the men mentioned in this chapter is Noah. The Bible tells us that when God created the earth it was perfect, but the longer man went along we started having problems, conflicts and wars, injustice, racism, and sexual problems.

God was so grieved that He had even made the earth because it was going in the wrong direction so He decided it was time to start over. The world was so evil there was only one man and his family who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This man was Noah.

Now, imagine that you’re Noah or his wife or one of his kids and you know the world is a pretty evil place and God comes He is going to start over and wipe out everything. He says that He is going to flood the Earth and He wants Noah to build an ark. The world is going to start over with this one family and the animals God will bring to the ark. This is the first test and we will all go through tests like this.

1ST TEST: A NEW TASK

God asks us to do a new task or to dream a new dream that seems so big that it’s impossible. This is the WHAT test. God comes and asks you to do it and our response is often, “What?!” You’ve got the wrong guy!”

“It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before.” Hebrews 11:7 NLT

Up until this time it had never rained on earth, that’s why they’d never seen a rainbow. A mist came up from the ground that would water all of the vegetables and plants. Before the flood people lived a whole lot longer, but after the flood the age of life expectancy starts going down because something in the environment and atmosphere changed. It says it never happened before

  • Faith is facing the future without knowing “WHAT?”

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

2ND TEST: A MAJOR CHANGE

You have a major change in your life. This is the WHERE test. “Where are we going with this one Lord?” This example comes from another person in the Bible, Abraham.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT

Abraham lived in a city called Er which was in the Iraq area. God told Abraham He was going to make Him into a great nation, but not where he was currently located. This is an especially difficult move for Abraham. He’s 75 years old and that’s not really when you want to start the greatest adventure in life. He’s ready to retire, but God says He is ready to inspire.

Abraham had a lot to move because he was a very wealthy guy. He had a lot of livestock and people working for him. God was moving him to a new country in the Palestine area, but God didn’t tell him that. He just told Abraham to move and He would let him know when he got where He wanted him to be.

Some of you are in this test because you’re experiencing a major change. This might be a job change, a school change, moving to a new home or city, or family dynamics are changing.

  • Faith is following God’s leading without knowing “WHERE?”

Abraham does this. He packs up all his herds and employees and heads off following God’s leading. Eventually, he gets to Canaan but when he gets to the land he doesn’t settle down, he lives in tents.

3RD TEST: A DELAYED PROMISE

God has thousands of promises in the Bible for you. They are guarantees. However, God has not guaranteed to fulfill them instantly. They aren’t vending machine promises. They are promises that require faith. God doesn’t work for you, you work for God. He has made the promises but He has all of eternity to fulfill them. Some of the promises won’t be fulfilled in this lifetime, but in heaven.

The delayed promise is called the WHEN test. 

“Even after Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent and so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT

Promise is used twice here. God wants us to base our life on promises not explanations. If you ever understand that you’ll take a giant leap in your character. God is not going to explain everything, He doesn’t owe us an explanation. He wants us to trust His promises.

There’s a delay in transfer of ownership after Abraham gets to the land. He lives in tents for three generations. God calls him a stranger in his own country. You may be in this test right now.

  • Faith is waiting for God’s timing without knowing “WHEN?”

4TH TEST: AN UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM

As mentioned earlier, Abraham is 75 years when God told him He would start a great nation from his family. He moves to the land of Canaan that will become Israel. He’s waiting for his wife to be pregnant, but by age 99 he still doesn’t have a son. 

Now it is physically impossible for he and his wife to have a child. They laughed when God told them they would still have a baby. They ended up naming the baby Isaac because that name means laughter.

This is the HOW test. It seems like an unsolvable problem.

“It was by faith that Sarah together with Abraham was able to have a child, even though they were too old and Sarah was barren. Abraham believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man, Abraham, who was too old to have any children—a nation with so many people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.” Hebrews 11:11-12 NLT

  • Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing “HOW?”

5TH TEST: A SENSELESS LOSS

This was the ultimate test in Abraham’s life and it will be yours too. A senseless loss will be the ultimate test in your life. So much of what happens in life, it just doesn’t make sense. When we look for an explanation we’re not going to find one. We spend our entire lives thinking if we could just get an explanation we would feel better about the loss. But, explanations never offer comfort.

In pain and major loss, you need the presence of God, not the explanation of God. 

One day after Abraham had this miracle baby named Isaac, God told him to sacrifice his son. It seems so brutal and nonsensical. Why would God ask to sacrifice a son he gave in a miracle? Abraham knew his faith was being tested. God is not a mean God, and Abraham knew that. He decides he is going to obey knowing that God will do something about it. But this was the ultimate test, Isaac represented everything God promised Abraham. If his son were to die there will be no future nation.

“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had promised him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Hebrews 11:17-18 NLT

This is one of the most gripping stories of how God would find a way. This will be the most gut wrenching test in our life when God asks us if we love the dream more than we love Him. If so, then we’ve made the dream an idol. There are many layers to this story, but at the last second God stops Abraham and provides a lamb for the sacrifice to replace Isaac.

In a few thousand years he would offer the lamb of God, his son for you. For those who trust and put their faith in Him, He provides a lamb, a way out. Abraham passed the test. If you can explain everything in your life, you’re not living by faith. Some things are not explainable.

“Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death!” Hebrews 11:19 NIV

  • Faith is trusting God’s purpose without knowing “WHY?”

6TH TEST: PROLONGED PAIN

This could be a chronic physical, emotional or spiritual pain. It is extended suffering that you just have to live with, maybe even for your entire life. It is the HOW LONG test.

Many of the prophets in the Bible asked this question. And there is another person who is used as an example in Hebrews 11 – Moses. Moses had incredible persistence and put up with enormous pain. His life is divided up into three phases: 40 years in Pharaoh’s court learning to be a somebody, 40 years in the desert learning to be a nobody and 40 years leading a million griping people across the desert.

He put up with criticism, conflict, misunderstanding and pain. He has every right to say, how long LordHe gave up everything we spend our whole lives trying to achieve: pleasure, possessions and position. He was the son of pharaoh’s daughter and the grandson of the most powerful man in the world, but he gave it all up.

“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26 NLT

Our culture tells us to base our decisions on our feelings, that the truth is found inside yourself. Your feelings lie to you all the time. They tell you things are better or worse than they actually are. We’re manipulated by our moods.

I don’t always like to read my Bible, but I know it helps. When I don’t feel like praying, I need it the most. I don’t always feel like encouraging people who are down or need faith. I don’t always feel like being faithful, but thank God faith is not only a feeling.

  • Faith is continuing to persist without knowing “HOW LONG?”

“By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; He persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27 NIV

When life doesn’t make sense we fix our eyes on Jesus. He ran the ultimate race with perseverance, a race that didn’t make sense at the time. It didn’t make sense that when he began his ministry to serve people for the glory of God that He’d be tempted by the devil for 40 days in the wilderness. It didn’t seem right that the Pharisees could get away with lying about Him, and the Sadducee’s could succeed in conspiring against Him. It didn’t seem right when Judas was allowed to betray Him and the disciples abandoned Him. It seemed absurd that God would have Jesus stand silent as Pilot handed Him over to the crowd. And it seemed absurd when the crowd called for Jesus to be crucified. It didn’t seem right that this man who lived a perfect life would take on the guilt and the shame of every murder, rape, lie, abortion, and sin. And it didn’t make sense that God would forsake him in Jesus’ moment of need. God’s ways seemed horrible as Jesus was in the grave for three days. But then, He got up out of that grave and received His reward for enduring His race to the end. And so will you.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the message about what unites us and what distinguishes us from the Catholic church?

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read Hebrews Chapter 11. Sometime this week, read through each of these stories. Noah (Genesis 6-9), Abraham (Genesis 12-22), Moses (Exodus 1-3).

Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your FAITH IS TESTED, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when it is fully developed you will be strong in character and ready for anything!  James 1:2-4 (NLT)

God uses tests in your life to grow your character and strengthen your faith. As long as you’re on Earth, you’ll be in constant growth and development to become more like Jesus. In this message we looked at six tests from Hebrews 11.

 1ST TEST: A NEW TASK (Faith is facing the future without knowing “WHAT?”)

2ND TEST: A MAJOR CHANGE (Faith is following God’s leading without knowing “WHERE?”)

3RD TEST: A DELAYED PROMISE (Faith is waiting for God’s timing without knowing “WHEN?”)

4TH TEST: AN UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM (Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing “HOW?”)

5TH TEST: A SENSELESS LOSS (Faith is trusting God’s purpose without knowing “WHY?”)

6TH TEST: PROLONGED PAIN (Faith is continuing to persist without knowing “HOW LONG?”)

Application

  1. How do you view your troubles, problems and trials? As a opportunity for joy? As an opportunity for your faith to grow?
  2. What stood out to you in this message?
  3. Which of these six tests have you seen most in your life?
  4. Which of the six tests are you enduring right now?
  5. What is a senseless loss you’ve had to endure in your life?
  6. How can looking ahead to a great reward help you to persevere?

Tell Someone Else

Who is going through a similar loss you’ve already suffered?  Call or text them with an invitation to grab coffee or a lunch.  If you are hurting, who could you reach out to in God’s family and ask for help?

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