Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #3: Self-Control

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Today we’re going to look at the value of self-control, specifically what God says about controlling your anger. Self-control is not just for those who blow up in anger, it’s also for those who clam up in anger. Most people are either a skunk or a turtle when it comes to anger. When a skunk gets angry he lets it rip, and everybody knows when the skunk’s upset. On the other hand, the turtle pulls into its shell. They don’t blow up, rather they clam up. Both of these are inappropriate forms of anger.

In our society today anger is on the rise, profanity is on the rise and violence is on the rise. Half of all murders actually occur between family members. There are 342 children arrested for violent crimes every day. 14 children are murdered every day. People get angry about little things. It comes from the fact that we live in a fast paced society. We live in a hectic, urban world where people get stressed out. We’re always on the go and burning the candle at both ends.

Anger is not evil in itself. God gets angry. Jesus got angry. When God made you He wired you up in such a way that you could get angry. It’s how you express your anger that is the key. And, if you don’t learn how to express it wisely, it will destroy you.

“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT

Anger used in the correct way can actually become an asset. There are some things in life that the only proper response is to get angry. There are times when you see somebody taken advantage of, when you see injustice, or your children were hurt by someone. If we don’t get angry in such situations it means we don’t care, we’re apathetic and don’t really love anybody. God does not say to get rid of all anger. God says to learn to manage your anger.


7 Steps to Controlling Your Anger

1. RESOLVE TO CONTROL IT

Quit saying you can’t control your anger and start realizing you can. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So let’s stop making excuses and start accepting responsibility for our anger.

A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control” Proverbs 29:11 LB 

Notice the word “keeps”. This is an act of the will, it is something you choose to do. We have more control over our anger than we want to admit. Have you ever been in a fight with a someone and it gets loud, your yelling and then the telephone rings? And you say, “Hello. May I help you?” How did that happen? You chose to control your anger.

We have more control over our anger than we think we do.

Resolve simply means to decide in advance. You start controlling your anger before you hit the boiling point. Start by developing some strategies and procedures in advance of the crisis. That’s what it means to resolve to control it. You decide in advance you’re going to control your anger with God’s help.

2. REALIZE THE COST

An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick tempter sins a lot.Proverbs 29:22 NCV

Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 15:18 GN

“A hot temper shows great foolishness.” Proverbs 14:29 NLT

“People with hot tempers do foolish things.” Proverbs 14:17 GN

The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.”  Proverbs 11:29 LB

There are all kinds of costs involved with uncontrolled anger, you always lose when you lose your temper. You may lose your reputation, your job, the love of your husband or wife, or your children. There’s a price tag to uncontrolled anger and it’s not worth it.  As parents, we may be tempted to use anger to motivate our kids. Anger can get a kid to do what you what in the short term, but in the long term you’re going to lose them. The end result of anger is alienation. You alienate the very people that you love the most. Alienation leads to apathy. If you’re always angry people think you’re unpleasable so they don’t care what you think anymore.

Alienation and apathy are the high cost of anger.

3. RESTRAIN MY MOUTH

If you keep your mouth shut you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 NLT

Anger control is mouth control. You cannot put your foot in your mouth when it’s closed. Sometimes, The more we talk the more we say the wrong thing. In the book of James we are given a formula for controlling anger.

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

 If you do the first two, open your ears and close your mouth, then you have a shot at controlling your anger. One of the myths about anger is that everybody has a reservoir (like a bucket) of anger and when that bucket gets filled up you need to pour it out. Then, once you pour it out you’ll feel better and you’ll be peaceful again. The problem with this way of thinking is you don’t have a bucket of anger in your heart, you have an anger factory. Study after study shows that releasing anger only creates more anger. Being aggressive, loud and angry only creates more anger back at you which leads a cycle of more anger.

4. REFLECT BEFORE REACTING

“A rebel shouts in anger; a wise man holds his temper in and cools it.” Proverbs 29:11

Delay is a tremendous remedy for anger. This doesn’t mean delaying indefinitely. If you’ve got an issue with someone you need to deal with it. Anger delayed indefinitely becomes bitterness and that’s worse than anger. Bitterness is always a sin, anger isn’t. If you respond impulsively, you’re going to respond in anger. But if you hold on to your anger too long it turns to bitterness. The key is to not respond to soon or hold it in too long, rather use wisdom to determine when the right time to respond is.

While in the stage of delay, you can ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why am I angry?
  • What do I really want?
  • How do I get it?

Anger is always the symptom of the real problem. It is a warning light or an alarm bell letting you know something is wrong. Anger is a secondary emotion caused by something else. There are three basic reasons for anger: hurt, frustration or fear.

When we are hurt or wounded, physically or emotionally, we get angry. When you stub your toe, that reaction is anger and the emotion comes out. Hurt turns into anger. This is very important to know if you’re married. A lot of times when your spouse is angry it’s because they’re hurt. If someone comes up to you and says, “I’m really angry with you!” Your reaction is to put up a wall and become defensive. But if they say, “It hurt me when you said that and here’s how it hurt me.” You’re more likely to be sympathetic toward that.

Frustration also causes anger. When we have to wait, when something is out of our control, when something seems unreasonable or impossible, or when things don’t go as planned we get angry. If you understand the source of the frustration and can communicate it, it makes it easier to eliminate the anger.

We also can get angry when we are afraid. The more insecure a person is, the harder time they have with their temper. People who are self-secure in Christ and have confidence in where they stand with God are not as likely to be angry at things. But when we’re insecure and feel threatened we become angry.  It is an emotion that God gave you that’s appropriate at certain times, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.

5. RELEASE MY ANGER APPROPRIATELY

If you become angry, don’t let your anger lead you into sin.” Ephesians 4:26 GN

There is a way to be angry and not sin. Let’s look at three ways not to deal with anger:

  • Don’t suppress your anger – Don’t store it up inside. When you swallow your anger, your stomach keeps score (or your back, or your headaches, or your joints). If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on your body.

 

  • Don’t repress your anger – Don’t deny it. Denial and repressing your anger leads to depression. Sometimes those who are depressed are actually dealing with repressed anger, but because they are a Christian they think they cannot express anger. This leads to them freezing it instead, and frozen anger causes depression. When you deny you’re angry and claim you’re fine that’s being dishonest. There are honest examples of anger are all through the Psalms. David just tells it like it is.”God, life stinks! Life is unfair. My enemies are all against me. And God so are You!” God is not shocked by this. He can handle your anger. And after he gets it all out, David says, “God, I know You’re going to help me with this. Where else can I turn but to You? Nobody else has the answers.”

 

  • Don’t express it in inappropriate ways – Don’t express your anger as pouting, sarcasm or manipulation. If you pout everyone has to baby you and walk on eggshells because you are upset. Sarcasm may feel good and witty at the time, but it will come back to haunt you. You hurt people with your words and destroy relationships. Manipulating the situation isn’t a healthy option either. Trying to get even to express anger leads to dumb decisions and regret.

“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT

Anger is contagious. When people get angry and shout in your face, it’s easy to catch it. When somebody else gets loud, you get louder. This verse explains that how you express your anger is a learned behavior. Whether this was from kids on the playground, your parents, your brothers and sisters, or whoever else – the inappropriate ways of anger that you’ve used all these years, you learned every one of them. The good news is, it can all be unlearned. You don’t have to go through the rest of your life expressing anger in unhealthy ways.

You can learn to express anger appropriately and God says He will give you the power to do it.

6. RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL

Booker T. Washington once said, “I will never let another man control my life by making me hate him.” When you say, “You make me mad” then you’re admitting “they control me.” You have given them that power to control your emotions. The Bible says the way you show that you’re in control of a situation is by returning good for evil. It’s easy to retaliate but when you try to get even you’re just on the same level as them. But when you respond with good it puts you in a higher position.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone… Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God… Overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21 NLT

You’re going to be hurt and disappointed at times in life. People are going to do bad things to you. You can either spend your time and energy retaliating or you can let God settle the score. God is going to settle the score for the injustices in life, not just here but in eternity. When someone has hurt you who can do a better job of settling the score, you or God?

Now, all these steps we’ve talked about are helpful but unless you get a power beyond yourself you can’t do them. In and of yourself you don’t have enough will power to tame the tongue. The tongue is uncontrollable from a human standpoint. That’s why the seventh key this is the one that ties it all together.

7. REQUEST GOD’S HELP

“Lord, help me control my tongue. Help me to be careful about what I say.” Psalm 141:3 NCV

“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Matthew 12:34 NLT

God helps us manage our mouth and control our anger by going right to the source – our heart. When the world puts pressure on you, it’s what inside you that gets squeezed out. If you’re filled with irritation, then irritation is what comes out. You can’t clean up the well by simply painting the pump. If the water’s contaminated you’ve got to get to the source. And the source is not my mouth, it’s my mind and heart.

My words demonstrate my heart’s condition:

A harsh tongue demonstrates an angry heart.

A boastful mouth demonstrates an insecure heart.

A talkative mouth demonstrates an unsettled heart.

A judgmental mouth demonstrates guilty heart.

A critical spirit demonstrates a bitter heart.

On the other hand, encouraging words demonstrate a happy heart. Gentle words demonstrate a loving heart. Kind words and comforting words demonstrate a heart at peace. When God changes us, He doesn’t just paint the pump. He gives us a new, clean heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10 NLT

All the self-help books in the world can’t do that. All the therapy in the world can’t give you a new heart. Only God can do that. When Jesus deals with your anger, He deals with the root. He recognizes we are angry because we are hurt and He offers to bind up our wounds and heal us. He sees when we are angry due to frustration and He guides us through peaceful valleys. And when we are afraid He pulls us near to help calm our fears. When we trust in Christ, we don’t have to be angry anymore


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on trust? Have you had any opportunities to move against what’s holding you back from trusting God?

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

Hear the Word

Many people think they want to build their lives on values that last, but they have a hard time talking about and working on their self-control. But anything that’s uncontrolled eventually will destroy you. It could be eating, drinking, TV, Chocolate, overspending—even good things that God created can destroy you if you let them go uncontrolled.

For instance, God has a lot to say about one area of self-control that we all face in one way or another: controlling anger. Anger is not evil in itself. It is not a sin. Even God gets angry. The issue is how you express your anger. So learning how to control anger is an area in which we all can learn and grow.

“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

Application

  1. Before we go any further, we have to remember that dealing with anger is not just for those who lash out. Anger can be dealt with in many unhealthy ways. We’ll say it this way… Self-control is not just for those who blow up; it’s also for those who clam up. What is your tendency?
  2. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick temper sins a lot.” Proverbs 15:18 says, “Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 14:29 says, “A hot temper shows great foolishness.” There’s always a cost to anger. What has moments of anger cost you?
  3. If you are to let anger grow out of control, what people would be affected by it? Let’s ask it this way… Have you ever been impacted by someone else’s anger? What about your parents? How has their anger impacted you and how was that anger flowing from hurt, frustration or fear?
  4. Read through Psalm chapters 13, 43, 51 and 140. Then, choose one of these chapters as a guide to write your own prayer about self-control before you meet again next week.

Tell Someone Else

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

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #2: Trust

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Who are you going to trust?

According to Forbes & Gallup, what is the most trusted profession? The answer…nurses, doctors, pharmacists then teachers. Then, Readers Digest set out to name the 100 most trusted people in America based on integrity, character, exceptional talent, drive to personal excellence, internal moral compass, message, honesty and leadership.

Who did America say was the most trustworthy person in America? Tom Hanks

Even the most trustworthy man in American is going to let you down. You can’t always trust people. People are people and they will let you down.

Who are you going to trust?

When God created you, He wired you in such a way that you have the capacity and the desire to trust in something greater than yourself because He wanted you to have a relationship with Him. 

If you never learn to trust God, you will create something to trust in. You will find something to give you security. It may be money in the bank, a beautiful spouse, a career or a goal. But you will create something to worship and value. You will idolize something.

Anything I trust or value more than God is an idol.

“For your own good…do not sin by making for yourselves an idol in any form.” Deuteronomy 4:15-16 GNT

Why does God want us to trust him? For our own good. He wants us to have a correct understanding of what He’s like in our minds.

In this post, we’re going to answer three questions about trust.

  • What happens when you trust something other than God?
  • Why don’t you trust God?
  • Why should you trust God completely?

What Happens When You Trust Something Other Than God?

There are two negative effects of trusting something other than God.

1.  You are disappointed

Any time you expect other people to meet a need in your life that only God can meet, you are going to be disappointed. Any time you take anything and base your fulfillment on that thing, you’ve idolized it. You’ve given it a place in your life it can’t hold up to.

“…those who make idols are disillusioned…” Jeremiah 10:14 GNT

“Of what value is an idol… For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation…” Habakkuk 2:18 NIV

We look at a person in the jungle who carves out a little god and then bows down and worships it and we say, “That’s dumb! You made it!” But we do that all the time with our careers. We get a job that’s fulfilling and then say, this job is my purpose for living. This job is why God created me. We act as if that is what gives us meaning in life and significance.

The poor, deluded fool…trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?” Isaiah 44:20 NLT

When we trust in anything besides God to take care of us, ultimately we’re going to be disappointed.

2. You are controlled

What you put your trust in and what you value is going to lead and influence you. You are controlled.

You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 1 Corinthians 12:2 NIV

If you made a list of the top ten most important things to you, and put them in order, whatever is in first place is your god. If it is not The God, you have just built an idol.  Whatever is in first place in your life, whatever you value most, eventually controls you.

This is how addictions start. Something becomes so important and pretty soon you think you’re controlling it, but it’s actually controlling you. 

Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them. Psalm 115:8 GW

Whatever you value the most in life, you’re going to become like. If you value money most important in life, you will be a materialist. If you value pleasure most important in life, you’ll become a hedonist. If you value what works most important in life, you become a pragmatist. If you value Jesus Christ most important in life, you become a Christian. You become like Christ.

Whatever you put in top value in your life is going to shape you. If it’s not the one true God it’s going to warp and distort you.

Why do we start trusting in all these other things to give our life meaning and significance? The reason we create idols is we want a god we can control. We want to shrink God down so we can manage Him. We want to reduce Him to our size so we can put Him in a little box. We want to assign Him to a location,

Some want to assign God to a big box called a “church building.” But God is everywhere whether you want him there or not. Answer this question for yourself –

Do I exist for God or does God exist for me?

Who made who? God made you. So you exist for God. If you think God exists for you, you don’t have a God  – you have a box. You have imagined Him. You have created an idol who serves you.

At creation, God decided to make man in His own image. Today, we do the opposite. We think we can make God into our image We think our god will act and think just like us. That’s called making an idol and God tells us no to do that. 

Don’t misrepresent God. He wants everybody to know the truth about Him. He takes it very, very seriously. For our own good.


Why Don’t I Trust God More?

Why do we end up trusting all these other things instead of trusting God? 

Because we don’t really know God

If you don’t know God and you don’t know what He’s really like, or you’ve got some of these phony ideas about Him, you’re not going to trust Him.

When God says things like, “I thought up sex and it’s to be reserved only for marriage.” If you don’t really know God, you’re going respond by saying, “Who are You to tell me what I’m to do with my sexuality?  Who set You up as judge?” You’re not going to trust Him. 

If you don’t know God, you tend to question all the things He says to do.

On the other hand, if you really know God and you really know how much He matters to you and how much you matter to Him. If you know what He’s got in store for your life that He has your best interest at heart, then you don’t have trouble at all following what He says. 

You will always do the right thing when you follow God. 

“Those who know the Lord trust him…”  Psalm 9:10 NCV

There are so many images of God we make up. People say, “I like to think of God…” and they fill in the blank. That’s just their guess. We’re supposed to stake our eternity on someone else’s guess? Just because “you like to think of God…” doesn’t mean that’s the way He is. 

What matters is not what you think God is like. What matters is what’s true. What matters is what God says He is like and He’s very clear about it.


Why Should I Trust God Completely?

The alternative to trusting God is worry, conflict, and feeling like you’ve got to control it all.  It’s a very stressful, miserable way to live. God has a better idea. Trust Him!

1. Because God always tells the truth.

God is truth incarnate. Truth is defined by God. He is the essence of truth. The nature of God are those things that are right. The things that are not right are those things that are anti-God, anti-His nature. They are opposite.

It is impossible for God to lie. Hebrews 6:18 NIV

Is there anything God can’t do? He cannot lie. Why? Because God cannot deny His own nature. God cannot contradict Himself because He is the essence of truth. There is no way God could be untruthful. Is there anything God can’t do? Yes. He cannot lie, because He is absolute truth. 

“God will continue to be true even when every person is false.”  Romans 3:4 NCV

2. Because God loves you

He says it over and over in the Bible in many places. He demonstrates love in your life every day. You were created as an act of God’s love. The greatest expression of that is Jesus Christ Himself. If you ever want to know what God is really like get a good, long look at Jesus Christ.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. Colossians 2:8-9 NLT

The picture God gave us is Jesus. Sometimes people wonder how we can say that Jesus is the only way. Because Jesus said that. He said,

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.No one comes unto the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

If you have a problem with that, you don’t have a problem with te church. You have a problem with Jesus. If you check out Jesus’ story in the New Testament He’s either a liar or He’s telling the truth and you’re betting your eternity on it.

What keeps us from trusting God is fear. We’re afraid to trust God completely. The three greatest fears people have if htey really gave their life to God are:

  1. I’ll lose my freedom
  2. I’ll lose my fun
  3. I’ll become a fanatic

The more you know about God, the more you trust Him. The less you know, the more you’re afraid of Him.

We know the love that God has for us… Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:16,18 NCV

3. Because God is in control

He created the whole universe. He could snap it out of existence if He wanted to. God is working His purpose and plan in history and He is moving history to a historical climax, a destiny. One day Jesus Christ is going to come back to earth. Nothing is going to stop that. He will work in your life for a purpose if you will allow Him to.

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. Romans 8:28 NLT

It doesn’t say everything is good or that God causes everything. God does not cause evil.  God doesn’t cause war or cancer. He does not cause rape or abortion. God has given us the freedom to choose and sometimes we make evil choices and innocent people get hurt. 

The Bible says God causes everything to work together for good. This is not a promise for everybody. All things don’t work together for good for everybody, because next the Bible says “for those who love God”,

He causes all things to work together for good for those who trust Him. The more you trust God, the less you will worry when you see the headlines and the news, because God’s in control.

You’re free to make choices in your life, but you are not free of the consequences of your choices. Once you make a choice you’re no longer free. God causes the consequences to happen. There’s certain laws in this universe. 

If you get drunk, you will have a hangover whether I want it or not. Every time, God says, “Here’s a line. Don’t step over it.” You are free to step over it but, not free from the consequences of stepping across that line. God is in control, and that’s good news if we trust Him.

4. Because God will help me

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success. Proverbs 3:5-6 NCV

How do you know if you’re really trusting God? You’ll know by observing how quickly you obey when He tells you to do something. Is it immediate or delayed?

When you do the hard things that take courage, regardless of the consequences, you will see that you really trust God.

Maybe you’ve been burned in the past with some phony image of God or a religious system that taught you a warped view of God and you don’t really want to love and trust Him. You’re afraid of Him.

He’s worthy of your trust.

This post isn’t just for those of you who are seekers, but for those of you who have been Christians 20, 30, 40 years. You’ve never really given everything in your life to God. You’ve held back your finances, your career and your time. Today you can make a choice to trust that God is for your good and give it all to Him.

But my trust is in you, O Lord; You are my God”  Psalm 31:14 GNT


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on responsibility? Have you had any opportunities to control your reactions, guard your mind or accept mistakes?

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

Hear the Word

The values you build your life directly depend on who you put your trust in. And trust is only as strong as the truth it’s based on. Where is your trust? Have you ever noticed there’s only one letter difference between truth and trust? You trust people who tell you the truth. You don’t trust people if you don’t think they’re telling you the truth.

When God created you, he wired you with the capacity and desire to trust in something greater than yourself because he wanted you to have a relationship with him. But because we have the capacity, if we don’t learn to trust God, we end up creating something to trust in. However, any time we trust anyone or anything more than God, the Bible says we’re creating an idol.

The poor, deluded fool…trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”  Isaiah 44:20 NLT

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What do you remember?
  2. When we trust or value anything more than God we end up disappointed or controlled. How have you experienced these two negative things in your life?
  3. In what situations or relationships do you have the hardest time trusting God?
  4. Can you identify what is holding you back from trusting God? Could you relate to the three fears listed in the message?
  5. God always tells the truth, loves you, is in control and will absolutely help you. Are you ready to trust him fully? What’s holding you back?

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success. Proverbs 3:5-6 NCV

Tell Someone Else

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

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

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What would you say is your greatest ability?

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

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

It’s all your choice. 

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

Responsibility is the foundation of the foundation.

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


Three Foes of Personal Responsibility

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

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

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

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

The point of this verse is this.

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

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


Why Live Responsibly?

1. Because God is watching you.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Because others are affected by your life.

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

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

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

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

3. When you are responsible, God rewards it.

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

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

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

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

How Can You Become a More Responsible Person?

  1. By controlling your reactions

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. By guarding your mind

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

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

Martin Luther, the theologian, said it like this,

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

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

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

There are three things you can fill your mind with: 

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

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

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

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

3. By admitting your mistakes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

Application

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

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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Preparing to Build | Week 3: Choosing Your Standard

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Four Destructive Philosophies

1.  Individualism 

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

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

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

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

2. Secularism 

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

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

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

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

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

3. Materialism

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

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

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

4. Relativism 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Cost: COLLAPSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The cure: REBUILD THE FOUNDATION

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

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

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

You can’t teach values without God and His Word.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT 

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

Two characteristics:

1. Truth is universal. 

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

2. Truth is unchanging.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your options include:

  • An Internal Standard: ME

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

  • An External Standard: The World

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

  • An Eternal Standard: God’s Word

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

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


Check Back

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

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

 

Hear the Word

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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Preparing to Build | Week 2: How God Anchors Us

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

1.God anchors us by giving us COACHES.

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

Joshua was coached by Moses.

Elisha was coached by Elijah.

David was coached by Samuel.

Solomon was coached by David.

The twelve disciples were coached by Jesus.

Paul coached Timothy and Timothy coached others.

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

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

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

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

2.God anchors us by teaching us THE TRUTH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.God anchors us through NEW THINKING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.God anchors us by CLEANING HOUSE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Because I’ve had them a long time.

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

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

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

  • Because I identify with them.

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

  • Because they have a payoff.

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

  • Because Satan fights it.

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

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

5.God anchors us through HONEST COMMUNITY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.God anchors us through FAITH.

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

Read Ephesians 4:11-32 together.

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

Application

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

1. God anchors us by giving us COACHING.

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

2. God anchors us by teaching us THE TRUTH.

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

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

3. God anchors us through NEW THINKING.

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

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

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

4. God anchors us by CLEANING HOUSE.

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

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

Why Getting Rid of Bad HABITS is So Hard:

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

5. God anchors us through HONEST COMMUNITY.

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

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

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

Small Group Ground Rules:

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

6. God anchors us through FAITH.

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

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Preparing to Build | Week 1: My Life Support System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What Do We Do In A Small Group?

1. We study God’s word together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. We practice learning how to love

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

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

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

“They devoted themselves to… fellowship” NIV

“They were like family to each other…” CEV

“They committed themselves to… life together…” MSG

3. We eat together.

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

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

“They shared in fellowship meals…” (TEV)

 

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

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

4. We pray for each other.

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

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

5. We help each other.

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

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

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


How Can I Get The Most From My Group?

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

1. Make my group a priority.

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

“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

2. Share my thoughts with humility.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Respect others ideas with courtesy.

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

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

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

4. Share my faults with honesty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Share others’ problems with sympathy.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Encourage each other to grow.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

Read: Acts 2

What does a small group do?

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

How can I get the most from my group?

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help someone you know?

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Dealing With Dissatisfaction

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Serenity Prayer

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

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

Amen.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

 

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

Hear the Word

Read: Matthew 6

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

 

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