Helping Friends Through Tough Times : What Moms Need

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Today for Mother’s Day, we are not going to give Moms more things to do, because your lives are already busy.  We’re going to talk about what Moms need and how you can help. We want to encourage you!

There are some things all of us can do to help Mom. The Bible tells us to honor our Mothers.

“Honor your father and mother.” Ephesians 6:2a NIV

This verse is in the Bible because God knows it’s vital for our spiritual health and emotional health to honor our parents. Even if your Mom is no longer alive, you can still honor her. Even if you didn’t know your mom or you had a terrible mom, you can still honor the fact that she labored to bring you into this world. We can honor all moms by seeing the importance of what they’re doing and helping them out in what they’re doing.

1.  Mom’s need patience. 

Teaching patience is the whole spectrum of being a mom. Here are four things about patience in the following four verses.

When you think about needing patience remember God understands. You are not alone, Moms. This verse is about how God was treated by the people in the Old Testament, see if you think God might be able to relate.

“Yet though He did all of this for them, they continued to test His patience.”   Psalm 78:56a  NLT

If you feel like your patience is being tested, God understands. None of us are perfect and we irritate each other.


Patience is an expression of love. Impatience doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids, the exact opposite is true. You have a choice to love your kids even when you’re feeling impatient. 

When you’re patient, although you feel impatient, that’s an incredible expression of love.

“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 NLT

Love is choosing to be patient even when you’re irritated. Love is making allowance for someone else’s faults. Patience is an expression of love.


Patience is used by God. 

“For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, don’t try to squirm out of your problems. But when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.” James 1:3-4 TLB

Patience grows us. Moms are some of the most spiritually mature people on the planet, because they’ve had to be so patient with their children. That patience, the Bible says, enables us to be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.


God tells us to help each other. When you see someone struggling with patience and stress the Bible tells us to help each other. What can you do for your mom, for your wife, when her patience is being overly stressed?

“Do for others what you would like them to do for you.” Matthew 7:12 NLT 

This verse is a picture of the true nature of love. True love is not reciprocal. We don’t do something because someone did the same for you. We love regardless of what someone else did for you.

 When you see Mom stressed, instead of piling it on or running away, do something to help relieve that stress. That’s what you’d want done for you.

2.  Moms need appreciation

In the Bible you see people being appreciated, because we have a need for this.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 NIV

“Whenever we pray for you, we always begin by giving thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:3 LB

You can appreciate your mom. Even if your Mom has passed away, you can still think back and remember her best qualities. What if you never knew your mom or you had a very difficult relationship with your mom? Appreciate the fact that she labored to bring you into this world. Appreciate the fact that you weren’t aborted. Appreciate the fact that you are alive. Even the smallest amount of honor that you can give is healthy for your soul.

If you Mom is still a part of your life, tell her thank you. Even a better, say, “I thank God for you.”

3.  Moms need a life.

When every event and sport is pulling at you as a family, parents, you’ve got to learn where to draw the line. Moms need a life.

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones.”  Psalm 127:2 NLT

That’s the job description of most moms. Knowing that, we need to do everything we can to give our Moms the opportunity to live the life that Jesus says He wants to give. 

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NAS

If we become so rushed and hurried that our lives become filled, then we don’t have time to connect with Jesus and enjoy the abundant life. That becomes what we model for our kids.

Here’s the invitation to us: Everyone of us who knows a mom, do everything you can to help mom be in a place where she can model the abundant life for their kids. That will have an impact.

4.  Moms need wisdom

With all the negative influence in our culture, Moms need wisdom. They need wisdom to know when to hold on and when to let go. They need wisdom to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” They need wisdom when it comes to discipline, to know when and how.

God says He will give wisdom. 

“But if any of you need wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous and He enjoys giving wisdom to all people. He will give you wisdom.” James 1:5 NCV 

Pray for wisdom. One of the greatest things you can do for moms is pray for them.

“God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.” Colossians 2:3 GW 

We need wisdom because it’s not easy raising kids. Hang on to God’s wisdom. 

5.  Moms need validation.

Proverbs 31 is the most famous chapter in the Bible about being a mom and being a wife. Take a look at how that chapter ends:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise in the city gate.”  Proverbs 31:28-31 NIV

Notice the last two words, “city gate.” The city gate was the place of importance when this verse was written. In ancient times, the city gate was not just the doorway into the city, it was where everything important happened. Legal cases were tried there, government decisions were made there and business deals happened there. 

When this verse says, “Let her works praise her in the city gate,” it’s saying at the place of most importance.  For us it would be city hall, the floor of congress. This is reminding us to not let the importance of moms and what they do be some sort of side issue, she is what is really important.

Moms are building people. The Bible tells us that only people are going to last forever. Buildings don’t last forever. Companies don’t last forever. Your bank account certainly won’t last forever. But people last forever. 

When Satan puts a little thought in the back of your mind that makes you think what you are doing isn’t noticed or meaninful, that is a lie.

6.  Moms need communication.

Moms need talk and they need listening. The Bible tells us how to talk to anyone, including our Moms.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. But only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29 NIV

7.  Moms need rest.

Moms seem to have twin emotions, exhaustion and guilt. Exhaustion because they were doing too much and guilt because they felt like they aren’t doing enough.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NLT

There is a soul rest that you have to have in order to be a parent. If you’re not familiar with the story of Susanna Wesley from Christian history it’s a good story to be aware of.


Two of Susanna Wesley’s sons were Charles Wesley and John Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement. They changed Europe and then they changed America. They were greatly used of God. They grew up with ten kids in the household. Their mom knew she needed time to be alone with Jesus Christ. She found that time sometimes by finding a room where she could be alone, but with ten kids that was impossible a lot of the time.

So instead, she would take her apron and put it up over her head and the kids would know that meant Mom was now spending time with Jesus. All the kids knew that if you interrupted Mom when she was spending time with Jesus, you would go see Jesus.


8.  Moms need faith

Moms worry that they are worrying needlessly. Moms worry that their daily decisions will affect their kids for the rest of their lives. Moms need faith and Jesus offers faith.

Don’t be troubled. You trust in God, now trust in Me.” John 14:1 NLT

When you recognize that you need faith, don’t try to conjure it up through your own emotional energy. Lean on Me.  That’s what faith is.  It is a leaning on Me. When it feels like there is no where else to turn Jesus tells us to turn to Him. 

“Trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 NLT

Moms need faith for the big things.  The most difficult things in life. Moms also need faith for the everyday things. Faith when they are tempted to worry.

Every time you’re tempted to worry, recognize that it’s also an invitation to have faith.

The difference between worry and faith is where it takes you. With worry, when you worry it feels like you’re doing something, but in the end nothing gets done. When you put faith in God, many times at the beginning it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, but everything will change because you’re putting faith in a God who can do everything.


Moms need faith, patience, appreciation, a life, wisdom, validation, communication, rest and faith. That’s a lot!

If we sum all this up in one word it would be repent.

Your mother needs you to repent! 

For a lot of us the word “repent” has become an angry word. Some people use it that way. Repent is one of the most beautiful, positive words in the Bible.

It just means to turn around, head in a different direction. It means God gives you a second chance and that God is giving you the opportunity for a new life. Things can be different.

So repent and change your heart and mind. It may be something as small as saying thank you for a meal when you haven’t done it for a long time. It might be something as radical as giving your life in faith to Jesus Christ, because of a mom who never stopped praying for you.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What actions do you remember from your discussion about being a helpful  friend?

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

Hear the Word

Whether or not you are a mother, chances are pretty good that you had one. You may have had a good relationship with her or a bad one, or you may have never known her—but God still wants you to honor your mother. In Ephesians 6:2–3, Paul quotes Exodus 12:20 and says, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Clearly, obeying this directive is in our own best interest.

Application

1.  Moms Need Patience

What does Psalm 78:56a say the Israelites persisted in doing to God?

  • What is it about children that they test the patience of their parents? Is this part of their role?

2. Moms Need Appreciation

3. Moms Need a Life

Psalm 127:2 gives us what reassurance when we are tempted to work around the clock?

  • What does the next verse (verse 3) say about children?
  • What is a practical thing you can do to help a mother have some time for herself?

4. Moms Need Wisdom

5. Moms Need Validation

How do the children mentioned in Proverbs 31:28–31 validate their mother?

  • Parents are responsible for building people. How can we validate the importance of that role?

6. Moms Need Communication

7. Moms Need Rest

Where does Jesus say we can find rest? See Matthew 11:28.

  • In our society, which encourages over-involvement in activities, how can we cope with the twin emotions that many parents feel—exhaustion because they are doing so much and guilt that they aren’t doing enough

8. Moms Need Faith

The sum total of these eight findings leads us to one conclusion: what your mom needs most is the same thing your heavenly Father desires most—and that is for you to repent. That’s not a harsh or angry word, but a loving word. To repent means we need to think differently about God, about life, and about people. To repent is to make a u-turn, change your mind, turn around and walk the other way.

Where do you need to turn your life around? Of whom do you need to think differently? People who have witnessed great transformation will tell you that behavior comes before attitude. So determine to do something this week that honors your mother or another who has played a parental role in your life. Let the group know what you have in mind and plan to share the outcome at your next session. Ask God to reveal to you, in time, how this action has changed your life.

 

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Helping Friends Through Tough Times : How To Help Your Friends (part 2)

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In last week’s post gave us 3 ways to how to help your friends through tough times. Let’s walk into our frienships inspired and equipped to help. 

Our first 3 responses to our friend’s hurt are:

1. Show up

In the midst of all the texts and calls and emails, close friends show up. Crises often deepen and define relationships.

2. Share their pain

You don’t have to adopt their pain, but you can carry some of the burden and show compassion. You may not understand exactly what they’re feeling and going through, but you can carry some of the weight of the pain and the crisis with them.

3. Support them with prayer

Prayer makes a difference. That’s how you strengthen people spiritually. 

These three things plus the four we look at today can be applied to any crisis. The loss of a loved one, a bankruptcy, an illness… but these can be specifically applied to helping someone through a divorce or loss of a relationship. Many of us know or will know someone who goes through that.

As much as the loss of a relationship hurts, God’s healing and grace can reach the darkest places.

God calls us to be agents of His grace.

Here’s the the fourth thing you do as a friend, when you’re helping a friend through a crisis,

4. Start with forgiveness

Forgiveness is the most important issue that your friend is going to have to deal with in a crisis. When we don’t deal with forgiveness, it eats us alive. There are three common emotions that happen in the loss of a relationship: anger, guilt and bitterness.

These emotions are worse than the crisis, because you can carry those the rest of your life and they will make you a different person. The antidote to anger, guilt and bitterness are the same. The antidote is forgiveness.

Ask for forgiveness, accept forgiveness and offer forgiveness. 

Maybe you feel like they don’t deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about justice, it’s about getting on with your life. It’s about becoming like Christ. It’s about not being controlled by them anymore.

If you stay angry at them and bitter toward them, you’re going to be controlled by them the rest of your life. You can help a friend learn forgiveness with these three steps.


  • Help your friend stop fixing the blame.

Blaming has never solved a problem, made you feel better or lessened anyone’s pain. We’ve got to let it go. We’ve got to stop saying, “It’s all their fault or it’s all my fault.”

“You may tear out your hair in anger, but will that destroy the earth? Will it make the rocks tremble?” Job 18:4 NLT

This verse is saying that we’re only hurting ourselves with our anger. It doesn’t actually change anything.

We live in a broken world.  Nothing works right on this planet. That’s why we’re praying for heaven. You stop trying to fix the blame.

  • Help your friend confess their sins.

They will never be healed until they own up to their part. They’ve got to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. That’s the second step to healing.

“My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.” Psalm 38:4,18 NLT

Ask forgiveness from God and ask forgiveness from someone else to get rid of the guilt.

  • Help your friend offer forgiveness to those who have hurt them.

Not because they deserve it, that’s not the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is how you grow to become like Christ.

“Get rid of all bitterness… forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

In a divorce you will probably need to forgive other people besides your ex-spouse.  You will have to forgive some cruel in-laws, some judgmental friends, you may have to forgive someone who stole your spouse.

Martin Luther King once said “Bitterness is blindness.” Bitterness blinds you to the truth. When you are bitter you don’t see things as they really are. You have a skewed vision of reality.

One of the truths you don’t see when you’re bitter is that God can take every bad thing in your life and use it for good if you’ll give it to Him. You don’t see the truth, but God can take even the stupid mistakes you’ve made, even your willful disobedience and He can turn it around and use it for good in your life, if you’ll give it Him.

The pain is not going to stop until you accept the forgiveness of God and you offer the forgiveness to somebody else.


5.  Suggest accepting reality

Help your friend accept reality, how things really are, not the way they wish them to be or like them to be. Friends often have to tell the truth and sometimes the truth hurts.

Help them accept the fact that the past is passed and it isn’t going to change. No matter what you do, no matter how much you dislike the past or want to rewrite it, the past has passed.

Acceptance is the only way to peace. God’s purpose has never been changed by the pain in your life. No matter what happens in your life it never changes God’s purpose. God does not have a Plan B for your life, God has a Plan A for your life.

Even before you were born he already knew what was going to happen in your life.  The stupid decisions you would make and other people would make that would harm you and He still chose to love you and he still chose to create you. He still sent his Son to die for you and He still wants you in heaven with Him.

The fact is, life has to go on and acceptance is the only way to peace of mind and emotional healing.

In 2 Samuel 12, is a story about a man named David. David was the king of Israel and wrote most of the book of Psalms. During one of the darker periods of David’s life, he had an affair. He committed adultery with one of his general’s wives while his general was out on the battlefield serving him. That woman’s name was Bathsheba and she found out she was pregnant. To hide it from his general, David had the general put on the front line so he would be shot with an arrow first in war.

So David was not just an adulterer, he was a murderer. Bathsheba bore that child and after the child was born, became very ill. David grieved over this child. He fasted and prayed for days that the baby would live.

“David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. ‘He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,”’they said. ‘What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?’

When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. ‘Is the child dead?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘he is dead.’

Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

His advisers were amazed. ‘We don’t understand you,’ they told him. ‘While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.’

David replied, ‘I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live. But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.’” 2 Samuel 12:16-23

What did David do with his grief? He didn’t second guess himself or resign from life. When the baby died, he accepted reality. Here we see three things we need when accepting a crisis.


  • Accept what can’t be changed

The baby wasn’t coming back so David said there’s no use me mourning any more. Now, in this unique scenario where David did the mourning and grieving before. Mourning is a healthy thing.

  • Play it down and you pray it up.

Don’t exaggerate the crisis, dedicate it, surrender it. After the baby died, David goes to church. He gets up, he gets washed and goes to the tabernacle to worship. When you have pain, you need to be where you’re going to get spiritual nourishment, encouragement and the promises of God.

  • Focus on what’s left, not what’s lost

God isn’t finished with you. He still has plans for your life and He’s not through with you.


6.  Strengthen their faith

A divorce or any other major crisis shakes your faith, but it is your faith and trust in Christ that’s going to get you through it.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD…” Psalm 27:13 NASB

Even in those situations, where life stinks and it seems all dark and black, you still believe the sun is shining even when it’s dark. You believe that God is a good God, even when everything is going wrong in life.

How do you get that kind of faith? The kind that sees pain and hurt and yet can still say that God is good. The Bible tells us there is a place to strengthen your faith, it comes from holding on to the promises of God. God’s promises are found in His word.

The single most important habit in developing stability against stress, is to memorize verses of the Bible. Because when you need the word most, you don’t have a Bible or don’t know where to go in the Bible. In the crises of life it’s not likely you’re going to be carrying a Bible, so you need to hide it in your heart.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 NKJV

It is the word of God, the word of Christ, that builds your faith. Saturate your mind with the word of God.

“I have hidden your word in my heart…” Psalm 119:11 NIV

What is banked in the vault of your heart? The promises of God?

We remember whatever is important to us. We also remember what we hear often. This is why we remember stats, recipes, songs and phone numbers. If the word of God matters, we’ll find ways to memorize it.

“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.” Psalm 119:25 LB

Let’s revive one another with the word. That’s how you help a friend and strengthen people with the word.

7.  Speak words of hope

Be a hope pusher, a hope dispenser, a purveyor of hope. Friends speak words of hope. Friends point out that you’re going to make it. 

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 NLT

Christ Jesus is returning, but He’s not back yet. That means God is not finished with you. Keep growing.

During a crisis, don’t focus on God solving the situation, focus on becoming a man or woman of God. Develop new habits and you break old habits.

Jesus Christ can heal your heart and restore your joy, but you’ve got to surrender it all to Him.

“Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.” Job 11:13-16 NIV

Who do you need to be a friend to this week? Who do you need to show up in their life, share their pain and pray with?

Who will you be a friend to this week? 


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion about the first three points of this message. Show up. Share their pain. Support them with prayer. Take a moment to review any assignments/challenges made during the personal application section of your previous meeting.  Seeing God at work in the lives of those who commit to him is essential for growth.

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

Hear the Word

Read Philippians 1

Application

4. Start with forgiveness

  • How can you help a friend understand how their anger is affecting him or her?
  • According to Psalm 38:4, what is David burdened by? How does David respond in Psalm 38:18?
  • What are some practical questions that could be asked to help a friend confess?
  • Have you known someone who could not forgive?  How did that bitterness affect your friend?

5. Suggest accepting reality

  • 2 Samuel 12:16-23 tells us about how David acted during the illness of his child.  How did he respond to the child’s death?
  • Help your friend accept what cannot be changed. What are some examples of unchangeable past events or acts that a friend may have to accept?
  • Help your friend play it down and pray it up. David turned to the Lord after the death of his child.  What are ways we can help others connect with God when they are hurting over their relationships?
  • Help your friend focus on what is left, not what is lost. Who could be affected if your friend continues to focus on what is lost?

6. Strengthen their faith

  • Psalm 27 shows us that David was experiencing a trying time in his life.  How does David respond in Psalm 27:13?
  • According to Romans 10:17, what results from reading or hearing the Word of Christ?
  • What are ways we can prepare to use the Word of God to help friends when they need it?
  • What Biblical resources can we direct those in need to?

7. Speak words of hope

  • According to Philippians 1:6, what will God do for you until it is finished?
  • An event like a divorce can make a friend feel like his or her spiritual progress has stopped.  What ways can you help show that God has not given up on him or her?
  • Job 11:13-16 tells of a way to defeat fear and misery.  What is it?

Tell Someone Else

We need to put love in action and encourage friends who are experiencing a separation or divorce from their spouse. It’s our job as true friends to care, be aware and be there for them. Remind them that God is not through with their lives. Encourage them to completely surrender their lives to God – all the emotions, the bitterness – to ask for His forgiveness and that he fill them with hope for the future. Pray for hidden hurts, for healing, and for God to help those experiencing difficult times through their pain.

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Helping Friends Through Tough Times : How To Help Your Friends (part 1)

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Sometimes when the people around us are struggling, we feel powerless to help. We aren’t sure how we can help our friends through tough times. How many people around us would say they know in a crisis that we would be there for them — whatever it took? We want to know how we can help people know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference in someone’s life during those tough seasons. The Bible tells us that wise friends are a gift from God. It also tells us about the characteristic of a friend.

“Two are better than one… If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

“Friends love through all kinds of weather.” Proverbs 17:17 MSG

In 1967 there were a couple of very well known psychiatrists who did a study correlating the connection between stress and illness. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe did a study of 5,000 medical patients. They developed a scale of 43 common stressful events and assigned them numbers from one (no stress) to a hundred (the most stressful thing you can do in life). They discovered that anybody with over three hundred points of stress was at risk of developing a major illness during that year. 

Based on the study they concluded the most stressful event in life was the death of a spouse. The second most stressful event is a divorce from a spouse. The third most stressful event in life is a separation from a spouse. It’s powerful that either by death or by divorce the end of a marriage is about the most painful thing you can go through in life. We want to learn to be good friends to those who may be dealing with the loss of a relationship. There are some principles that we can use to help our friends who may be going through a devastating time, specifically the loss of a relationship, but these principles are also transferrable to many different struggles our friends may face. 


How To Help Your Friend

1. Show up

When your friend is going through a tough time they’re going to get emails, cards, texts, calls, and opinions. Real friends show up when they are in that crisis. It’s in a crises that your friendship is defined with the other person. Crises can make, define and bond friendships. The Bible says that even when people turn their back on God they still deserve to have friends.

“When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them.” Job 6:14 MSG

God says even when they turn their back on Him we should still befriend them. The first thing everybody needs in a crisis is other people. They don’t need hundreds or even dozens, they need a support group of mature Christian brothers and sisters who are there to love, care, comfort, encourage, support and meet needs.

Maybe you say, Wait a minute! Don’t you need to pray first?” Of course, if you can! But the truth is in a crisis you’re usually in so much stress and shock you don’t even know what to pray. Sometimes you can’t even think straight in a crisis. It’s at that point that you need other people around you praying and believing for you.

This is what happened in the story of Job. He was the wealthiest man in the world, but in one day he lost everything.  He lost all his wealth, his family, and his own health. Job’s friends did the right thing when this first happened to him. 

“When Job’s three friends… heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” Job 2:11 NIV

They formed a small group. They decided they were just going to show up and be with Job, their friend. And that’s how we can help our friends. If you’ve earned that right in their life, you show up. So often we say if you need anything let me know. But in a crisis they don’t have the vision to delegate. They don’t need to come up with stuff for you to do. If they don’t have anyone else showing up, you show up. Just help.

2. Share their pain

There is an interesting thing about pain and about joy. When you share a joy it gets multiplied. If you tell someone something good that has happened in your life and they celebrate with you, then it’s doubled. It’s the opposite with pain, when we share a pain it’s not doubled, it’s halved. All of a sudden I’m not sharing the pain all myself.  Another person is helping carry the load. 

When you share joy it’s doubled. When you share pain it’s halved. 

The ultimate form of love is compassion. Compassion says, “I’ll do anything I can to stop your hurt.” When you read the Bible you’ll find that Jesus was repeatedly moved with compassion. This included Him going to cross to die for us. It does not mean you have to take on a friends pain or dysfunction into your life. You don’t have to have the pain to be able to share their pain. In fact, God may have put you in their life because you’re strong where they are weak and they’re strong where you are weak. You don’t have to go through a tough time to share a tough time. Compassion is exactly what Job’s friends did right at first as well.

“When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.” Job 2:12 NIV

That was a Middle Eastern way of showing sorrow, mourning. They’re identifying with Job and sharing the pain but that doesn’t mean that they had to go destroy their home or put themselves in the same situation as Job.

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 NIV

Job’s friends showed up and they stayed quiet. They didn’t give any pious platitudes or offer advice to try and talk him out of his pain. Good friends are not really quick to give advice. They make sure the other person is actually heard. 

3. Support them with prayer

When friends are going through a divorce, a death, a bankruptcy or anything else you will want to pray with them and you’ll want to pray for them. It takes great faith to respond to situations with prayer. Sometimes we might ask why we pray if God already knows the future and is in control of everything. We pray for a variety of reasons.

First, scripture tells us prayer is a form of serving God and obeying Him. God commands us to pray. Reading through the gospels we can see Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray. Ephesians 6 tells us prayer is the means of strengthening others spiritually. It shares that prayer is not about getting God to do our will on Earth, rather prayer is how God’s will gets done on earth. Prayer is how we discern His will.

In one sense, prayer is like sharing the gospel with people. We do not know who will respond to the message of the gospel until we share it. In the same way, we will never see the results of prayer unless we pray. A lack of prayer demonstrates a lack of faith. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God. And prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in other people’s lives. Because it is our means of God’s power.

There are three verses that give us three ways to pray for a friend who’s hurting. The first thing you want to pray for a friend is, “Lord, help them recognize your presence.” When someone is going through a tough time, especially a situation like a relationship ending, they feel very alone. But God draws close when our heart is breaking.   

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”    Psalm 34:18 NIV 

The second thing you want to pray is,“Lord, help them receive your grace.” Grace is the power to see it through. Grace sustains and is the energy to help you keep going when you feel like giving up. It is the power to change. And God’s grace in your life is what you  need when you’ve got nothing to give. We can come to God for help, and we receive that kind of grace to stand up under sorrow and stress.

“Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV

The third thing you pray is, “Lord, help them to release their pain.” You encourage them to cry out to God. Crying out to God means coming before Him passionately and telling him exactly how you feel. There’s a prayer that we have probably prayed at least a million times our lives. “Help! God, help me! I don’t know what to do! I don’t know where to go! You’ve got to help me in this!” That’s called crying out to God and He loves it when you cry out to him. 

“I cry out to the Lord; I plead for his mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn…” Psalm 142:1-6 NLT

It is okay to complain to God, He wants to hear your complaints. In fact, he’d rather have you complain to him than other people. The reason you have emotions is because God gave them to you. God has emotions and you were made in God’s image. This is important because when you’re going through a crisis or you’ve got a friend going through a crisis, you are a bundle of emotions. You’re going to feel hurt, rejection, despair, frustration, regret, and failure. In those moments God wants you to bring those emotions and express those to Him. 


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion about looking to the cross to remember God is for you and forgiven you? Or the empty tomb that reminds you of God’s promise for your future?

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read Job chapters 1 & 2 and Psalm 142.

As the title indicates, this series will lead us through how to support and help a friend through a difficult time. This week we’ll look at our first three responses when a friend is in a crisis. Next week we’ll look at four more.

Application

1. SHOW UP.

  • Friends walk in when everyone else walks out. How can just being there for someone make an impact?
  • How can a friend comfort another friend when trouble occurs?
  • Why is it important to have dependable friends before a crisis happens?

2. SHARE THEIR PAIN.

  • How can the sympathy of a friend ease some of the pain we feel when we are in trouble?
  • Why might it be important to be aware of some boundaries when sharing pain? What are some wrong ways to share pain?
  • Just sitting down with a friend can make a huge difference. What are some of the excuses we might use that prevent us from sitting with a friend in crisis?

3. SUPPORT THEM WITH PRAYER.

  • What does Psalm 34:18 say about the Lord?
  • Why do people sometimes turn from God when they get divorced instead of running to him?
  • How can it make a difference when a brokenhearted person hears their friend praying for them?
  • Why do people hesitate to “honestly tell it the way they feel,” like King David does, when it comes to praying?

Tell Someone Else

What friend in your life is going through a tough time? How can you use these first three steps?

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Looking Up : Easter at Rock Brook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus asked Mary two very important questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things only start looking up when we start looking up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Every king in this world gets a grave.

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

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

Every king gets a grave.

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

In Paris you can see the tomb of Napolean.

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

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

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

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

He is not there, look up!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


So how should we respond to the resurrection?

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

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

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

2. Receive the hope He gives.

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

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

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

3. Become the person you were created to be.

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

Read: Luke 24

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

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

Application

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

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

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

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

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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Sacred Moments: The Waymaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Five Life Lessons From The Donkey

1. He was planted

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

2. He got untied

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

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

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

3. He received the coats

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

4. He carried the weight

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

5. He made a way for The Waymaker

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. Read Luke 19.

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

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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Sacred Moments: The Basin Choice

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

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

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

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


Jesus’ Basin Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

1. He got up from supper

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

2. He laid aside his garment

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

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

3. He took the towel

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

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

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

4. He stooped down

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

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

5. He leaned into them

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


Pilate’s Basin Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1. He washed his hands of responsibility.

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

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

2. He refused to make a choice.

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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The Person God Uses

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


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO HAS A DREAM

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

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

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

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

Goals are statements of faith.

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

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

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

“God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes!”  Ephesians 3:20 LB


There are two common mistakes we make in goal setting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO IS WILLING TO RISK FAILURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Two ways to eliminate the fear of failure:

1. Redefine failure

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

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

You are never a failure until you quit.

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

2. Don’t compare

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

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

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

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

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


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO EXPECTS TO BE USED

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

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

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

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

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

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


GOD USES THE PERSON WHO NEVER GIVES UP

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Issue of Confidence:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make this Declaration:

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

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

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

 

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

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