Rethinking Your Life | Week 4: Serving in Times of Uncertainty

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This is a series where we are learning to think like Jesus. Today, we’re going to look at another game-changing statement from Jesus.

Before we get to that statement, we’re going to work up to it first. This account is in both the gospel of Mark and Matthew.

“The mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee,”  Matthew 20:20 NLT

James and John were two of the twelve disciples, they were followers of Jesus. So the mother of these guys,

“…came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. ‘What is your request?’ he asked.

She replied, ‘In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.’”  Matthew 20:21-23 NLT

Moms in here, do you blame her? She wanted the best for her kids. They already weren’t going to be doctors and lawyers, they were following Jesus around. The best she could tell her friends was they seem to be homeless fishermen.

But Jesus had done so many amazing miracles it was obvious he was going to do something great. Maybe she could say her sons have a seat in the luxury box.

Jesus said, you don’t know know what you’re asking here.

“When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked they were indignant.”  Matthew 20:24 NLT

Can you picture this? They were mad. You’ve got to believe those ten other guys were upset!

They were mad because they were afraid that James and John were going to get something that they weren’t going to get. You’re probably pleased to know that the people who hung out with Jesus, those who were closest to Him, struggled with selfishness.

These guys were His followers, His disciples. They camped together, ate together and sat under the teaching of Jesus. They breathed in the same air as God in the flesh.

So what does Jesus do? He calls a time out.

He lays out the kingdom rules of what it means to follow Him that really set up a new paradigm that we have before us today, a new paradigm of living.

“Jesus calls them together and He said, ‘You know that in this world kings are tyrants and officials lord it over the people beneath them.  But among you it should be quite different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.'” Matthew 20:25-26 NLT

Jesus does not reject greatness, nor one’s pursuit towards greatness. But He does redefine it. He has us rethink it.

Jesus says if you want to be great, you serve. If you want to be in the front, you go to the back. Then He gives His own life as an example.

Jesus: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NIV

This is a verse every Christian needs to have at their fingertips to remind them of why Jesus came, to tell others why he came and to remind ourselves of why we’re here.


Why Serve Others?

Jesus said, If you want to be great, you learn to be the servant of all. Why should I serve others? Let’s look at four motivations, why we serve others.

God is much more interested in why you do what you do than He is interested in what you do.

  • It proves that I belong to Christ

The Bible says that even before you were born, God planned a life of service for you. The reason why so many people feel so empty is because they’ve missed the point of life. The Bible says that long ago God planned that we should serve others.

As I serve others, my own needs are met and as I give my life away, I find it. God says that the way that you know that you’re a part of the body of Christ is that you serve others. It’s the proof. It doesn’t save you. Christ’s work saves you. The cross, the resurrection. But how do you know you really believe it?

“And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.”  Romans 7:4b NLT

In the parable of the soils the good soil is the one who hears and then produces a harvest. God says that the way that you know that you’re a part of the body of Christ is that you serve others. It’s the proof.

A non-serving Christian is a contradiction. There’s no such thing. 

  • Serving others is the way to serve God

We all like to serve God, but we don’t like to serve others. Jesus said, the way you become the servant of God is to be the servant of others.  

No matter what you’re doing, who are you doing it for? You’re doing it for the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

Sometimes you do something for someone and they aren’t very grateful or don’t seem very grateful. It doesn’t seem to be making a big difference. Ultimately, you’re not doing it for them anyway.

  • Because I owe God everything

Gratitude, thankfulness – it changes everything. The reason why we serve the Lord is because of what God’s done for us – because of His mercy.

When we begin to think of what Jesus Christ has done for us, the sacrifice that He’s made for us, there is no sacrifice we can make for Him that will ever compare to what He’s done for us.

“I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”  Romans 12:1 NLT

  • Because service is the best use of my life

It is the best use of my life to serve God by serving other people in Jesus name. The fact is, what counts is giving your life away. The Bible says, whatever you do, since you do it as to the Lord, it all counts.

When you go home and put your kids to bed and do the dishes and take out the trash those are just as important as your job or when you serve at church. It’s not so much what you do, it’s your heart and how you do it. What’s your attitude? So there’s no insignificant service in God’s eyes.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

Nothing you do is without value if you do it for the Lord. The Bible says that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever without value. When you minister, you’re making an impact for eternity. We have an awesome opportunity for you to serve coming up next week.

Next Saturday, July 18th, we’re having our big serve day where you can make a difference. The goal is that the whole church wherever you are in your journey would participate in this. There’s a way you can make a difference. There are several different projects happening indoors, outdoors, earlier in the day, later in the day. Projects that you work with people or ways you could serve without contact with others.

Find out more at RockBrook.org/Serve


Traits I’ve Learned From Rock Brook

You want to know about Rock Brook’s greatest strengths, it would be serving. The willingness to get our hands dirty and do things outside of comfort zone. Far above the national average of the percentage of our church that is actively regularly serving.

Let’s look at five Biblical Traits of a true servant, all things can be learned from the people of Rock Brook Church.

“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”  Psalm 100:2 ESV

Not sadness, gladness. Don’t you love serving with people who want to be there. It’s the same as working with people who love to be there.

1. A true servant sees service as an opportunity not an obligation

Nothing is a poorer testimony than somebody who’s serving the Lord because they have to! That’s no testimony. If you can’t serve the Lord with gladness, you need to check your attitude.  You need to go back over all those things Christ has done for you and realize the motivations that will create gladness in your life.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”  1 Timothy 1:12-13 NIV

God uses imperfect people. He uses ordinary people.

All of us have things we wish we could change. All of us have regrets and mistakes and memories we wish had never happened. We all have these things in our lives.

But God’s grace is that He takes ordinary people, with ordinary backgrounds and uses them in extraordinary ways.

None of us deserve to be saved, much less be able to serve Him. So a servant sees his service as an opportunity, not as an obligation.

2. A true servant doesn’t criticize other’s service

A person with a real servant-heart does not judge other people’s service.

“Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.”  Romans 14:4 GWT

Ask yourself, “Do I secretly compare my service with other people for the purpose of criticizing them?” 

If I’m a servant of God, I don’t have any right to criticize others God will hold them accountable. I don’t have to worry about them, I just have to worry about me.

One thing to note about comparison, not all comparison is bad. If you don’t compare, you’ll never grow.

Where comparison get’s really dark is when we begin to criticize. When we criticize others or ourselves. Everything looks better from a distance. Comparing your life, your family, your city, your church, your job, to another from a distance, is very unhealthy. When we compare parts of our life to a feed on our phone. It leads to very unhealthy places. So we don’t compare negatively, we don’t criticize.

3. A true servant is more concerned with ministry to others than with making money

You can’t serve God and money at the same time. Money is neutral. It’s not evil in itself. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. For believers, money is to be spiritual.

Our Lord said that would lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. We should be wise in the way we use our money. Then when we come to the end of life, we will be welcomed into heaven.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.'”  Luke 16:10-15 NIV

4. A true servant is a peacemaker not a troublemaker

Troublemakers have a long line of burned bridges behind me. They fight with people and constantly argue. it’s an indication that at that point, they aren’t being a true servant.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”  2 Timothy 2:23-24 NIV

One of the reasons why Rock Brook has so very few dissensions and discord is because we have so many servants.

5. A true servant gives the credit to God

A real servant recognizes where his ability comes from and he or she gifts the glory to God.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV

Servants who love the Lord and serve the Lord with gladness.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Learning to think like Jesus” and the characteristics of thinking like Jesus.

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

Big Idea

As we learn to think like Christ we see that “even even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NIV)

We serve others because it proves we belong to Christ, it’s the way to serve God, we owe God everything and it’s the best use of our life.

The traits of a true servant are 1) A true servant sees service as an opportunity not an obligation. 2) A true servant doesn’t criticize other’s service. 3) A true servant is more concerned with ministry to others than with making money. 4) A true servant is a peacemaker not a troublemaker. 5) A true servant gives the credit to God.

Discussion & Application

  1. What’s a way in which someone has served you? What made it memorable?
  2. What’s been your motivation to serve others? One of the four listed or maybe another reason?
  3. Read 1 Timothy 1:223-24 — When are you more likely to see serving as an opportunity? When are you more likely to see it as an obligation?
  4. Read Romans 14:4 — Has comparison and criticism ever robbed you of the joy of serving?
  5. We’re serving the community this Saturday. What’s one way you could serve your family this week?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

God, give us the courage that we might understand what it means to serve, to serve one another and ultimately to serve You.  Thank You that You came to earth as an example.  May we be more like You.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Next Steps

SERVE Day is on July 18th. Make sure you have all the details nailed down and are signed up!

Preview projects, sign-up and see donation list:

  • RockBrook.org/Serve
  • SERVE Day on App
  • ServeDay@RockBrook.org

Rethinking Your Life | Week 3: Learning to Think Like Jesus

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In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah asked the question…

“Who understands the mind of the Lord?” Isaiah 40:13

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul answers that question… 

“We can understand these things because now we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT


What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?

It means that you can learn to think like Jesus. You can have the same thoughts, attitudes, and reactions as Jesus has. In fact, this is God’s goal for your life and my life.

“In your lives, you must think and act like Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 NCV

What does it look like when you have the mind of Christ? Let’s look at 10 characteristics of a person who thinks like Jesus.

1.  I KNOW EXACTLY WHO I AM.

I am not confused about my identity because Jesus had no doubt about His identity. He knew exactly who He was.

In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”

In John 8:12, He says, “I am the light of the world.

In John 10:11, He says, “I am the good shepherd.”

John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.

John 14:6, “I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life.

John 15:1, “I am the true vine.

Mark 10:61-62, “I am the Son of God.

Those are just a few of the times where Christ defines who He is. And, God wants you to know your true identity too.

Why is this important? Because if you don’t know who God made you to be then other people will decide for you and force you into their mold. You will be manipulated by the expectations of others. Then you’ll end up living a phony life because you don’t really know who you are. That leads to a stressful life. Stress happens when you try to be someone you are not.

2. I KNOW GOD’S PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE.

I know where I came from, and I know where I’m going.” John 8:14

Jesus settled His purpose very early in life. At age 12 He was teaching the elders in the Temple. Mary and Joseph come to the Temple and ask Him what He’s doing. He asks, Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?”

Young children can understand this at a lot earlier age than we think. Parents, are you preparing your kids for God’s purpose for their lives even at an early age?

As Jesus matured and His ministry expanded He became more and more specific about the purposes for His life. In John 10:10, Jesus says…

“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”

That’s knowing not only who He was, but knowing His purpose. Right up to Christ’s death on the cross His purpose was very clear. The night before He was executed Jesus said,

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour.” John 12:27

Jesus knew who He was and He knew His purpose. He wants you to know who you are and He wants you to know your purpose.

3. I’M ALWAYS AWARE THAT GOD IS WITH ME.

I’m not alone because the Father is always with me.” John 16:32

Jesus lived His life in the presence of God. He stayed connected to God no matter how busy He was. The greatest antidote to loneliness is thinking like Jesus. How can you stay aware of God’s constant care? 

Jesus often slipped away to be alone so He could pray.” Luke 5:16

This is not an occasional occurrence, this is a habit. That’s why He was always aware of God’s presence. How often do you slip away to pray during your day? If Jesus needed to pray during His day, how much do we need it?

You miss the gifts of God when you fail to get with God.

On the other hand, you get more done here, there, and everywhere if you pause for prayer. We need times to reflect, renew, and recharge.

4. I LET GOD HELP ME CHOOSE MY WORDS.

Jesus didn’t speak without thinking. He wasn’t just running off at the mouth. He asked God to help Him say the right words.

I have not spoken on My own. Instead, the Father who sent Me tells Me what I should say and how I should say it.” John 12:49

Jesus says that God tells Him what to say and how to say it. Would you have happier relationships if you let God tell you what to say and how to say it? Would you have less conflict in your life if you let God tell you what to say and how to say it?

If your mouth frequently gets you into trouble, the antidote is to learn to think like Jesus.

5.  I DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE.

Are you a people pleaser? Are you always worried about what other people will think? If so, you can’t be what God wants you to be. But if you put on the mind of Christ you won’t worry about pleasing everybody, you will only focus on pleasing God.

Jesus was never manipulated by the response of a crowd. Jesus didn’t seek the approval or the disapproval of anybody else. He lived for an audience of One.

“I only try to please the One who sent Me.” John 5:30

Wouldn’t that simplify your life? If God likes what I’m doing… I’m doing the right thing. Obviously, Jesus did a good job because in Matthew 3:17 God says, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

The truth is you can’t please everybody. Even God can’t please everybody. Right now somebody’s praying for it to be sunny, somebody else is praying for it to rain, and somebody’s praying for it to snow!

Whose approval are you depending on? What if your answer to that question was God and God alone?

That doesn’t mean you make everyone else mad at you. Don’t get confused about that. To make God happy doesn’t mean you have to make everyone else mad. You just make God happy first.

6. I DEPEND ON GOD’S POWER INSTEAD OF MY OWN.

All the verses we’re reading today are direct quotes of Jesus Christ, powerful words coming from our Savior Himself.

“I assure you that the Son can do nothing by Himself. He can only do what He sees His father doing…” John 5:19

Now if Jesus Christ is that dependent on God the Father’s power, what about you and I?How do you know if you’re trying to do life on your own human power alone? It’s real simple – you’re tired all the time.

You’re tired all the time because you’re living on your own power instead of living on God’s power. Human energy runs out.

7. I FORGIVE MY ENEMIES AND THOSE WHO HURT ME.

Jesus is hanging on the cross in agony and pain, His blood is draining out of Him, the people who nailed Him to the cross are mocking Him and Jesus says,

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Luke 23:34

That’s the mind of Christ… to be willing to forgive the people who have hurt you.

When you hold onto hurt you are only hurting yourself. You need to forgive the person not because they deserve it, you forgive that person because being unforgiving is like drinking poison and hoping it kills them.

But Jesus doesn’t stop with just forgiveness. He goes even further in Matthew 5:44,

“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those which despitefully use you and persecute you.”

Look at the verbs in that verse:

Love – I have to love my enemies.

Bless – I am to bless those who curse me.

I’ve got to do good to those who hate me and pray for those who despitefully use me or persecute me.

Love. Bless. Do Good. Pray.

8. I’M WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR OTHERS.

“I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

I sacrifice myself for the benefit of other people. A lot of people sacrifice for themselves, but if you’re going to be like Christ you must be willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

“I came here not to be served, but to serve others and to give My life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

To serve and to give. Those two words summarize the heart of Christianity. Following Jesus is about serving others and giving our lives away. Jesus said, “It is only in giving your life away that you’ll ever really know what it means to fully live.”

You probably know the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God so loved the world that He gave. That’s John 3:16. Do you know 1 John 3:16? 1 John is a little book toward the end of the New Testament written by the same guy who wrote the Gospel of John. 1 John 3:16 talks about our responsibility.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”

That’s a whole new understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Just as God so loved the world that He gave, we ought to lay down our lives for each other.

9. I WANT TO DO GOD’S WILL, NOT MINE.

“I came to do what God wants Me to do, not to do what I want to do.” John 6:38

Do you realize what a radical counter culture statement that is? Almost no one today says, “I’m alive to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do.” Instead, we all say, “I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, where I want to do it, and whomever I want to do it with.”

In John 14:31, Jesus says, I want the world to know that I love the Father.”

Obedience is an evidence of love.  Now, it’s easy to do what God tells you to do when it’s fun or pleasurable, but what about when God asks you to do something painful?

The Bible is very clear that God did not spare His own Son from pain. He let Jesus go to the cross. If God didn’t spare His own Son from pain, why would I assume that God would spare me from pain?

Pain is part of the plan. To think like Jesus means that I want to do God’s will even when it’s painful or difficult or seems impossible. The supreme example of doing what God asks me to do even when it’s painful is Jesus on the night before He goes to the cross. He is in the Garden of Gethsemane praying in agony and thinking about the emotional, physical, spiritual pain that He is going to face the next day.

In Gethsemane, Jesus prays the Gethsemane Prayer, “Father, everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

In your life, you will often have a Gethsemane experience. There will be times when you’re in pain and you’re praying for some relief. But we need to remember that God’s will was for Jesus to go to the cross. God’s will was not to relieve His pain, but to let Jesus go through that pain for the good of other people and for the glory of God.

Sometimes you suffer for the benefit of others. That’s called redemptive suffering. Anytime you’re in major pain it is appropriate to pray the Gethsemane Prayer. The first part is the prayer of faith. Jesus says, “Father, I know you have the power to change this situation.”

You can pray that too, whatever situation you’re going through: a financial, relational or health problem. You start out with a statement of faith.

Then Jesus asked for help and deliverance from the situation. It’s appropriate for you to do the same, asking in faith. But the third part of the Gethsemane Prayer is surrender. In His hour of greatest need Jesus prayed, “Not my will but Your will.” That takes an enormous amount of spiritual maturity. That’s the mind of Christ.

“Jesus humbled Himself (His choice) and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused His death on a cross. So, God exalted Him and raised Him to the highest place, and made His name greater than every other name.” Philippians 2:8-9

The name of Jesus is the greatest name all around the world and it will be the greatest name forever and ever in heaven. Why? Because He humbled Himself and God raised Him up.

10.  I THINK WITH AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.

When you get the mind of Christ you begin to think the way Jesus does about your past, your present, your future, about life and death, about sin and salvation, about your friends, about rewards in Heaven – when you get the mind of Christ you think with an eternal perspective.

You realize that there’s more to life than just the here and now. This is how Jesus was able to handle pain. This is how you will be able to handle pain.

What is unbearable is pain without purpose, pain that is senseless. But human beings can stand an enormous amount of pain if they can see a purpose in the pain and see a reward past the pain.

That’s exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He looked past the pain of the cross to the reward in heaven. He had an eternal perspective. He wasn’t just looking at the here and now. If you just look at the here and now you’ll get discouraged and give up.

“Jesus was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterwards. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.” Hebrews 12:2

So whatever pain you are experiencing you need to view it through an eternal perspective.


How Can I Learn To Think Like Jesus?

  • Study His life and words in the Bible.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished the race we’re in. Study how He did it.” Hebrews 12:2 MSG

Study how Jesus ran the race of life. The more you study the Bible, the more you’ll get the mind of Christ and think like Jesus.

  • Ask God to show me the meaning and application.

“God, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your word.” Psalm 119:18

If you will study God’s word and begin to apply it to your life, you’ll begin to develop these 10 character qualities in your life. It’s time to rethink your life.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Choosing To Manage My Mind” and the three daily choices for a healthy mind… one, I must feed my mind truth, I must free my mind from destructive thoughts, I must focus my mind on the right things.

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

Big Idea

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul assures us that we can learn to think like Jesus because he says that “we have the mind of Christ.”  Here we’ll consider exactly what it looks like to have the mind of Christ, and what actions we need to take every day.

1) I know exactly who I am.

2) I know God’s purpose for my life.

3) I’m always aware that God is with me.

4) I let god help me choose my words.

5) I don’t worry about pleasing everyone.

6) I depend on God’s power instead of my own.

7) I forgive my enemies & those who hurt me.

8) I am willing to sacrifice for others.

9) I want to do God’s will not mine.

10) I think with an eternal perspective.

Discussion & Application

  1. Which of the ten characteristics stand out to you the most?
  2. “The Father who sent me tells me what I should say and how I should say it.” (John 12:49)  — We must let God help us choose our words, but how can we let God help us do this? What are examples of situations where God’s help choosing our words could be important?
  3. “(Jesus said) I only try to please the One who sent me.” (John 5:30)  — What problems in my life can be caused by trying to please everyone? What is wrong with that kind of life goal?
  4. “No one can serve two masters…” Luke 16:13 — Whose approval are you depending on for your happiness?
  5. “I came . . . to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do.” (John 6:38)  — We must do God’s will instead of our own will, but what is an example of doing what God wants instead of what I want?
  6. “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me.
    Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (
    Mark 14:36) — In the “Gethsemane Prayer” (Mark 14:36 above), identify these three key parts: (1) Faith; (2) Ask for God’s help; (3) Surrender.

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help us know who we are, what is your purpose for our lives and that you are always with us.  Jesus, give us strength to follow your example of doing God’s will and humbling ourselves to be fully obedient.  Bless us with your direction in choosing our words, forgiving our enemies and sacrificing for others.  Holy Spirit, put in our hearts the eternal perspective and the understanding to have the mind of Christ in our daily lives.  We ask all these blessings in your name, Jesus.  Amen.   

Next Steps

Make sure you’re on the same page about SERVE Day. July 18th. You can get ideas and/or register your project https://rockbrook.org/serve

 

Rethinking Your Life | Week 2: Choosing to Manage My Mind

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Romans 12:2 is one of the theme verses for this series: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” God is far more interested in changing our minds than He is in changing our circumstances. We always want God to change our circumstances. God wants to change your mind.

Have you ever noticed your mind doesn’t always obey you? That is the world of a teenager. There have been many discoveries in the last decade about brain development in young people. Thanks to the invention of the MRI, the ability to take noninvasive, real time scans of these young people’s brains, they discovered their brains are not done developing.

Before we had the MRI, everyone thought the brain was developed by age 6 or 7. It wasn’t until this new science that allowed us to see that the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid to late 20’s. There are parts of a young person’s brain that are significantly underdeveloped that make it difficult to do certain things and better at other things. There are two areas of the teenage brain that are underdeveloped. One area that is underdeveloped is the prefrontal cortex found right behind your forehead. This is where your brain’s office is and it’s responsible for critical thinking. This is where you have impulse control, wisdom, prioritization – you can do things in order, figure stuff out and follow directions, decision making, empathy – you can put yourself in someone else’s positions and feelings. These are just a few pretty important things. Right? Those things are difficult for teenagers.

Pause and think about this question, do you see young people as a problem to be solved or as a wonder to behold? You hear that the prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped. It’s easy to draw the conclusion.“Look! They’re broken. They’re dysfunctional. They’re incapable. We should isolate them and treat them like they are children.” Which of course is counterproductive to their growth in every way, especially to their spiritual faith. But if you embrace a “Wonder to behold” biblical perspective, that’s God’s view of young people. A Wonder to behold view is rooted in the understanding of Creation. God creating the universe and man. You begin see the underdeveloped area of the prefrontal cortex as an opportunity that was lovingly created by our wonderful God.

You start to notice things like a young person is not really good at risk analysis, but really good at taking risks which is critical to their development and their understanding of themselves and their world. A young person is naturally wired for passion. A passionate young person is a gift to our ministry, church and their families.

The other area that is underdeveloped is called the Temporal Lobe. The Temporal Lobes are responsible for emotional understanding and interpretation. They are underdeveloped in teenage girls and way more underdeveloped in teenage boys. Teenage boys have a real hard time understanding the emotion that someone else is expressing.

Two more things to point out about the teenage brain. The first one is neuron growth and pruning takes place before and after puberty. In the couple of years that lead up to puberty, the brain goes through a growth frenzy. Somewhere between 11 and 16 years old, millions of neurons are cut. Neurons are the information superhighway of the brain. It’s how information moves around our brain. The ones that are eliminated are the ones that are not used during the young and middle teen years.

This brings up a huge question for our student ministry. There are many forces that shape a young person’s brain for their life. We want to be one of those forces that God uses in the faith development of young people. How are we using that opportunity to shape and hard wire these brains for a lifetime of exciting faith?

We need to learn how to manage our minds because our thoughts control our life. You have good thoughts, you’re going to have good life. If you have sinful thoughts, you’re going to have sinful life.

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”  Proverbs 4:23 

We control what we eat. We control what we believe. We control what we drink, but we don’t always control what we allow in our minds. The Bible tells us that every action in your life starts with a thought. Your mind controls and shapes your life.

We need to learn to manage our minds because our minds are the battleground for sin. It’s where every temptation happens. It’s where every sin actually starts. The sin of pride, lust, hatred, fear, resentment, jealousy, envy, worry all start in the mind. The battlefield for sin is fought not around you, it’s fought in your mind. In Romans 7:22-23, Paul talks about this battle that’s constantly going on in our minds. “I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there’s something else deep within me that is at war with my mind and it wins the fight and it makes me a slave to the sin within me.” 

Paul says, “In my mind I want to be God’s servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.”  Satan knows that whatever gets your attention gets you, and so he starts with the mind, not with your behavior, not even with your emotions. He starts with your thoughts.

We need to learn to manage our minds because it’s the key to peace and happiness. An unmanaged mind leads to tension, a managed mind leads to tranquility. An unmanaged mind leads to pressure, a managed mind leads to peace. An unmanaged mind leads to conflict and chaos in your life, but a managed mind leads to confidence. “If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, then there’s life and peace.”  Romans 8:6 

How can we use this time during these amazing years in helping young people wrestle with deeper questions? How can we help them to be honest about their doubts and seek better truth to replace those doubts. How can we develop a spirit of serving others and notice other people’s needs? These are questions we want to work on when it comes to brain development.

Hold your hand in front of you. Tuck your thumb under your fingers and close your hand. You’ve made a little brain model. The front part is the Prefrontal Cortex where logical and rational thought takes place. The thumb knuckle is a little almond shaped and sized gland called the Amygdala which is the fear center of the brain. The amygdala often overrides the prefrontal cortex. The underside of your curved fingers is like a blanket called the Anterior Cingulate. The Anterior Cingulate acts as a buffer between the Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex.

Think of it like a teeter-totter, on one side we have rational thought – Prefrontal Cortex – and on the other side we have the Amygdala – the fear center. In the middle you have the Anterior Cingulate. Whichever part of those three is dominant for you will have a huge part of your faith. If you have a highly developed Amygdala you will have a fear based faith. If you have a highly developed Prefrontal Cortex you will have a really rational faith. If you have a highly developed Anterior Cingulate it allows you to understand and experience God as compassionate, personal, and other than yourself.

How do we develop that part of your brain? Neurology has just recently caught up to what the Bible has been telling us – through prayer, meditation, and spiritual singing. Those are the dominant ways we develop that part of our brain.

We must feed our minds with truth. Matthew 4:4 says, “People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every Word of God.” We‘ve got to feed our minds on the truth, which means we’ve got to feed our minds on this book. How often? All the time. “I rise early… to cry out for help and to put my hope in your words.”  Psalm 119:147  There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. If you need hope and if you’re feeling hopeless, it means you’re not spending enough time in this book because if you get these promises into your life, you’re going to be a hopeful person.

“Lord, how I love your Word. I think about it all day long.” Psalm 119:97

Psalm 16:7 says this: “Even in the darkest of night, your teachings fill my mind.”  There was a time when David had so many enemies, he was actually a fugitive. He was hiding in caves, and no matter what happened in his life, he balanced his mind with the truth of God. Psalm 119:95 is one of the Psalms that he wrote during this time, and he says this: “Even when wicked people hide to ambush and kill me, I quietly keep my mind on your decrees.” 

If you’re going to strengthen that Anterior Cingulate we must free our minds from destructive thoughts. Your mind has to be liberated. You have to fill your mind with the truth on a daily basis. Satan’s going to fight you on it, he’s going to battle you and you’re going to have to fight to free your mind. Why? Because of these three enemies. The first enemy of our mind is our old nature. In other words, you have an old way your brain wants to work. “I see in my body a principal at war with the law of the mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells inside of me.”  Romans 7:23  In other words, I’m a hostage to my thoughts. Do you often find yourself doing things you don’t want to do? Your old nature is not your friend. It is the source of all your bad habits.

Your mind lies to you all the time. Just because you think something is true doesn’t make it true. Just because you feel something is true doesn’t make it true. Your mind and your emotions often lie to you. Part of growing up is learning to know the difference between what you think and what is true? “Those who are dominated by their old sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit, think about things that please the Spirit.”  Romans 8:5

The second enemy of our minds is Satan. If you have Christ in your life, then you have power greater than Satan and he cannot force you to do anything. The only way he can influence and control your life is by suggestion. When he puts the suggestions in your mind, we call that temptation. When you don’t learn how to balance your mind, you don’t know how to manage your mind. 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul talks about a guy who had sinned in the church. He says, “I’ve forgiven that man… [I didn’t hold onto a grudge. Why?] so that Satan won’t outsmart us. For we’re very familiar with his evil schemes!” Did you know that anytime you refuse to forgive anybody, you’ve fallen for Satan’s trap? God is not the one who wants you to hold onto hurt, Satan is. He wants you to hold a grudge and be unforgiving.

The third enemy of our minds is the world’s values. “All that is in the world …[and then it lists what’s in the world] the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not the Father, but is of this world.”  1 John 2:16  The world is crazy. It was all give in to the lust of flesh, the lust of the eyes, give in to the pride of life, passion, possession and position, give in to sex, salary, status, give in to living for yourself. Now the world demands perfection. You had better not given in to passion ever in your past and we’re going to comb through every social media post to find where you messed up.

“Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of this world. [The weapons of the world today are primarily political. We don’t use those weapons. The Bible says our weapons] have divine power, and what do they have divine power to do? To demolish strongholds.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5  We’re in a wrestling match with our thoughts and we got to pin them down. It’s a mental battle. Now, it says that in your mind you have what are called strongholds. A stronghold is a lie that we believe. Satan is the father of their lies. Anytime we believe a lie about God, that’s a stronghold. Anytime we believe a lie about ourselves, that’s a stronghold. A stronghold can be a personal attitude. People can have a stronghold in their brain of worry, depression, resentment, envy or pride.

If we are going to balance our Anterior Cingulate, we must focus our minds on the right things. There are three simple steps to balance your mind. First, think about Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:8 says, “Keep your mind on Jesus Christ…”  Hebrews 12:3 says, “Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.”  What gives you the power to keep on going when you feel like giving up? Think about Jesus.

Number two, think about others. “Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.”  Philippians 2:4  Stop and intentionally think about others. Use that Temporal part of your brain. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us think about each other and let us help each other to show love and do good deeds.” Anybody who starts thinking about other people is going to shine in this world because most of the world isn’t thinking about other people, they’re just thinking about themselves.

Number three, think about eternity. “Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.”  Colossians 3:2  Heavenly minded people always have done the most good in this world for thousands of years. So think about heaven. Think about eternity. “No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9  Those spiritual songs coming out of your mouth make a difference. Make it a priority to develop a practice of daily prayer, meditation, and spiritual songs so you can experience God as personal and compassionate.

Remember that important question we asked earlier, do you see young people as a problem to be solved or as a wonder to behold? Can you see from the stuff we talked about that God sees young people as a lovingly, perfect wonder to behold. Yes – annoying at times but “A Wonder to Behold”.

 


 

Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Think Again” and the six reasons we need to think about what we think about.

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

Big Idea

It’s important that I manage my mind: (1) because my thoughts control my life! (2) because my mind is the battleground for sin, and (3) because managing my mind is the key to peace and happiness.
Three daily choices for a healthy mind include:

1. I must feed my mind with truth,
2. I must free my mind from destructive thoughts
3. I must focus my mind on the right things.

Read Romans 7:7-25

Discussion & Application

• Start with a little fun. Describe a time you were relieved to finally learn the right way to do something after persisting for a time doing the wrong thing (for example, pressing the wrong button on a remote or the wrong key on a computer)
• What stood out to you about this message?

“Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. (Our weapons) have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish any argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

• A stronghold is a lie that we believe such as a hedonistic or materialistic worldview – or an attitude of worry, envy, or pride. What does 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 above say is the result when we confess to God that our thoughts have gone off in directions we don’t intend?
• Share how God has freed you from strongholds in the past.
• What strongholds do you need freedom from today?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Pray for one another in your group and ask the Holy Spirit to help you feed, free and focus your mind.

Next Steps

Begin nailing down your SERVE Day project. July 18th. You can get ideas and/or register your project https://rockbrook.org/serve

 

Rethinking Your Life | Week 1: Think Again

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The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 20:5 NIV

Imagine digging a well – the one who is willing to dig, draws out the good purposes. There is so much stuff on the surface. You can find anyone to tell you what you want to hear. There’s so much that’s just one click away, one channel away, one thought away. There are plenty of people who have no idea what they are talking about but will be more than happy to give you a “piece of their mind.”

But God’s purposes and good thinking and wise counsel are not on the surface. They are like water in a deep well. It takes some intentionality and digging to find it. We are starting a new series called rethinking your life, during which we will let God renew our minds and learn to think like Jesus. Our thinking is so valuable to who we are and who we want to become.

The greatest gift God gave you as a human being is the ability to know God through that brain, through your mind because you’re made in his image. In fact, you may not know this, but you are always on God’s mind.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV)


Why I Need To Think About What I Think About

You’re not always thinking about God, but God is always thinking about you and He has given you the thought capacity to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. What a wonderful word, that tomorrow when you wake up, you are still with the Lord.

This week we are going to start with some baseline truths to build on. These are reasons why we need to think about what we think about. We need to bring our thoughts under control. We need to get them in the right direction.

1. Any change I want to make in my life must start in my mind

Your life is determined by what you think and you choose what you think about. One of the reasons we’re doing this series is because we need to exercise that choice more often. Many problems in life come because you’re allowing other people to put thoughts in your mind instead of choosing them yourself. You let other people, media, radio, television, books, magazines, Netflix documentaries, enemies, and Satan suggest thoughts.

When you don’t choose your thoughts, you’re going to end up with a lot of wrong, hurtful, self-defeating thoughts.

We need to be intentional about what gets our attention.

Nobody’s forcing you to think thoughts that cause you to be afraid or insecure. You can take control of your thoughts. Why are you letting untrustworthy or ungodly people determine what you think? Change the channel, do something different. Think again.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2 NIV

In life you’re going to either be conformed or you’re going to be transformed. You’re going to be conformed, meaning you’re like everybody else because you listened to everyone else – cookie cutter thinking. Or are you going to be transformed? You’re going to be different because God renewed your mind, by letting God change you by rethinking your life. Since your thoughts control your life, any change that you want to make for good or bad, starts in your mind. Change starts in your brain, not in your behavior. Change starts inside you, not outside you. The way you think determines so much about you.

Did you know your thinking determines the way you feel? A lot of times we try to change our feelings, but that doesn’t work. Have you noticed your feelings are quite resistant to your will? You don’t want to feel a certain way and you try to force yourself to not feel that way, but you still do. For example, you can’t command a kid who’s crying to stop crying, but you can get him to think about something else. Feelings many, many times are uncontrollable, but you can control your thoughts and your thoughts determine your feelings.

When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. Jonah 2:7 TLB

God’s spirit can bring it to mind when you’ve lost all hope. We’ve got to get back upstream to make changes downstream. Changing your actions or feelings doesn’t work. You can still be hurt, mad, upset, or envious. You’ve got to rethink.

2. Every behavior is based on a belief

All behavior is based on a belief. Anytime you see anybody doing anything good or bad, right or wrong, it’s because they have a belief beneath that. If you’re acting scared, it is because you’re believing scary thoughts at that moment. If you’re acting resentful, it’s because you’re believing that you’ve been devalued and so you’re going to defend yourself. If you’re acting prideful, it may be because you’re secretly believing you’re not good enough, so you’re trying to compensate by being boastful, by being proud.

For example, let’s say you’re disagreeing with your spouse about something and you’re actually having an okay disagreement. You’re being logical and you’re being an adult and you’re kind of listening to both sides. Then all of a sudden something in the disagreement triggers and emotions are engaged, walls are being build up, and the emotional intensity went to ten in like two seconds. You’re upset or you’re nervous or you’re fearful or you’re sweating or your voice goes up or tears come down your cheeks. What in the world’s going on here?

If you’ve ever been in a situation like that, you need to ask this question, what am I believing right now?

Because something just triggered an unspoken belief. You may believe they’re going to leave you. You may believe you haven’t been heard. Losing control. You may believe that your idea isn’t being given validation and that you’re not being treated with respect. You’re believing something that all of the sudden triggered an emotional response. Do you even know what that is? 

A lot of times in conflict, you don’t even know why you’re upset. But you grow by examining what’s going on in your mind. The truth is when you actually do that, you discover the real reason why you did not tell your spouse something, or did not communicate with your boss.

Or that you may be making assumptions about what they meant by what they said. But what you believed affected your behavior. That’s why the Bible says this:

The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. Proverbs 14:15 NIV)

You have to think about what you’re thinking about because that’s what’s affecting your emotions and your actions. 

3. Anytime I sin, at that moment I’m believing a lie

Satan is the tempter and the father of lies. The only way your nature is going to let you sin is to not believe the truth. When you are sinning or being tempted to sin, you are being told a lie and you need to stop and ask, what’s the lie going on here? When Satan tempts you, he always uses the exact same process. One of the steps is deception, when he gets you to doubt what God has said is the truth and to start believing that what you feel is the truth.

If you want to stop a habitual sin in your life, you’ve got to get to the root of it, to the lie that you’re believing that you’ll be happier if you do what God says don’t do. If you understand this, it’s going to stop giving sin  and bad habits such control in your life. 

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Have you ever seen someone continue to keep on doing a self-defeating behavior even though it’s killing them? Why? Because at that moment they’re believing a lie.

Some people think they are doing what’s right. But what they are doing will really kill them. Proverbs 14:12 ICB

One of the common lies that we often believe is this, that you are tempted because something out there has tempted you. We tend to think that temptation is something external, that if something wasn’t there you wouldn’t be tempted.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NIV

Just like a magnet need something to pull to, you wouldn’t sin if there wasn’t pull in your heart. Don’t blame the fact that there’s metal right there.You address the magnet in your mind.

4. An unseen war is going on in and for my mind

Sometimes we forget that the devil is a devil. He’s trying to devour you. He’s trying to devour your relationships, your marriage, your influence, and your witness. Don’t invite him in.

God has given you everything you need to overcome the enemy in this war. You can use the weapons of The Holy Spirit and the word of God to win this war in your mind.

Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 NLT

This is why you need Jesus in your life because without the Holy Spirit inside you, without God’s spirit of love inside you, you’re powerless. There’s no way you can control the rogue mind that you have. Your sinful nature controls your mind, it’s going to lead to all the wrong places.

Jesus: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV)

There is no freedom without truth, but there is no truth without God’s word. God is the source of all truth and so you can’t separate freedom from truth. If you do, you lose the war in and for your mind.

5. My goal is to learn to think like Jesus

Jesus is the model for healthy thinking, for happy thinking, for holy thinking, for wholistic thinking. The good news is that Christ understands all the mental problems that you have. He understands all of the fears, all of the deceptions, all of the difficulties, all of the barriers, all the blind spots that we have, because He’s been there. He came to earth and lived here.

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. 1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG

It’s not like he’s saying think like Jesus who never had a problem, never was stressed, never was discouraged, never had conflict, never had people against Him, and never had enemies. No, he said since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.

6. Rethinking my life to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance

The word repent means to change your mind. Repent doesn’t mean to stop doing bad stuff, which is the fruit of repentance. It’s the most positive change in the world turning from darkness to light, turning from hopeless to hopeful. To change your mind about death. To change your mind about the purpose of life. To change your mind about love 

Repentance is a lifestyle where I more and more begin to think like God thinks and less and less think like the world thinks. Repentance is when all of a sudden I used to think God didn’t love me, but I realized he does.

So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day]. Acts 3:19 AMP


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Faith That Makes a Comeback.” Did you take any action steps to resharpen your spiritual edge?

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

Big Idea

To kickoff “Rethinking Your Life” we looked at six reasons we need to think about what we think about.

1) Any change I want to make in my life must start in my mind.

2) Every behavior is based on a belief.

3) Anytime I sin, at that moment I’m believing a lie.

4) An unseen war is going on in and for my mind. 

5) My goal is to learn to think like Jesus.

6) Rethinking my life to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance.

Read Romans 12:1-2 and Acts 3:15-20

Discussion & Application

  • Start with a little fun. Describe a time when you built up something in your mind to be difficult – that turned out to be easy!
  • Which of the six truths stood out to you the most?
  • What does Romans 12:2 say about how we come to know the will of God? What are the effects of God’s word on your mind?
  • According to James 1:13-15 and Proverbs 14:12 what is all too often the typical progression of events leading to death when we’re believing a lie? 
  • How can we escape that progression?
  • Rethinking our lives to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance, which comes from the Greek word Metanoia meaning “to change your mind.” What are some of the results and benefits of repenting? (If you can’t think of any, look through the verses on your outline to see all the benefits.)

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Pray for one another in your group and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and guide you in ways that need to change your mind.

Father, we want to rethink our lives in order to be closer to you. Help us to win the battle for our minds – to come to know the truth, to repent, and to allow the truth to set us free. We ask that you renew, refresh, and revive our relationship with you. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Next Steps

Be thinking about what your SERVE Day project could be.

Serve Day July 18th – learn more at RockBrook.org/Serve

 

When Faith Is Hard | Week 4: Faith That Makes a Comeback

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We’re looking at the life and faith of Elisha today to learn how to find something when you’ve lost it. How often are you looking for you things you have misplaced? Or better yet, how much time have you spent searching for things that are already in your possession? Maybe you’ve lost your glasses while wearing them or frantically looked for your phone while you were talking on it…

However today we are going to talk about losing something else. There’s a good chance that for many of you who are followers of Jesus Christ at some point in that faith journey you may feel like you’ve lost some of the passion for God or the things of God that you had at one time.

Maybe you used to have a deep settled spiritual contentment and joy that somehow along the way you’ve lost, but you’re not quite sure how you’ve lost it. Maybe at one time you had great faith and you prayed and prayed and believed God for things, but now you’re not praying for much of anything. Maybe you’re not even sure what you believe about God right now.

As we look at the prophet Elisha,  we read about one of the oddest miracles in all the Bible. If you look through and survey the different miracles that Elisha performed, there were some really big and important miracles.

He healed a poisoned body of water which saved a community.

He raised a boy from the dead.

He provided for a widow who would have lost her two sons after losing her husband.

He healed a commander from leprosy.

He blinded an entire army to move forward the things of God in a battle.

He did all these significant things.

And in this miracle there was a young prophet who borrowed an axe and was chopping on a treewhen the axehead flew off of the stick into the water. Elisha, the man of God, takes a stick, and throws it in the water. Then the axehead floats to the top so the prophet can grab it…. and we go, “Wow! What does this mean?”

To get some context before we dive into the passage, one thing you need to know is that iron was very valuable at this time and it was hard to come by. This younger prophet who lost the axehead, was likely very poor. He was kind of like a college student eating Ramen noodles. He had borrowed this axehead and he couldn’t pay it back.

Another thing to remember… Elisha was mentored by Elijah, but they were different from one another.

Elijah was spectacular, fire and rain. He dealt with princes. He did not die. 

Elisha was more silent. Dealt with common people. He did die.

They represent both aspects of the rapture. The living will be caught up with the Lord, the dead will rise again. And now, we see Elisha mentoring the next generation of young prophets who wanted to learn from him. This reveals the popularity of Elisha. He was a great teacher. That’s where we pick up the story.

“The company of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.’ And he said, ‘Go.’

Then one of them said, ‘Won’t you please come with your servants?’ ‘I will,’ Elisha replied. And he went with them.

They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. ‘Oh no, my lord!’ he cried out. ‘It was borrowed!’ 2 Kings 6:1-5 NIV

Let’s pause there. Have you ever experienced borrowing something and it getting broken or lost? That is a sinking feeling. Watch what happens.

“The man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:6-7 NIV

Here we see God working in the small details of someone’s life. The Bible encourages us to pray about everything. Sometimes we don’t do that because we think there are things too small for God. We may just pray about big stuff. But then, God reminds us… It’s all small to Him.

There is one major point we need to embrace that we will keep coming back to:

God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.

Those of you who lost something in your faith, be reminded that we serve a God who is totally into restoration. God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.


How Have You Lost Your Spiritual Edge?

Now, as we talk about losing the axehead, losing the edge, what we’ll do is see how this could symbolically apply to our life. The big question to ask is this: How have you lost your spiritual edge?

And some of you may say, “Well, really, I haven’t.” And if that’s you, we celebrate that with you, and encourage you to continue doing what you’re doing.

But there are times in the Christian life that are more faith filled than others. You might recognize there was a time when you had committed Christians around you that helped build you up and pray for you, and encourage you in the things that matter most. But when you look around now, that’s not the case and you’ve lost your edge because of that.

Maybe there was a time when you served in the church and you had the thrill of making a difference with your gifts. And sometimes it was hard, but all the time it was fulfilling. Then you got busier and you stopped.

There was a time when you had a passion for prayer. But now, you may pray over a meal and when someone is watching but you haven’t prayed in a significant way in a very long time.

You really loved to share your faith with other people, But something happened along the way, and now you can’t remember the last time you had a spiritual conversation with someone that is not a follower of Jesus.

Or at another time in your life, your trust in Christ freed you from a lot of worry. But now you find worry creeping back into your life. You’re no longer trusting God to work things together.

Some of you have noticed that your standards have eroded. Years ago, you had strong Christian values. Then through some influences changing in your life, you wake up today and wonder, “How did I get way over here?”

How have you lost your spiritual edge?

These are hard days. These days are going to be hard on your faith.

This is not to make you feel bad or say you are less for going through a drought in your faith. You didn’t mean to lose your edge. And you’d like to have it back. 

What do you do when you’re swinging away and the edge flies off? Can faith make a comeback? We can find the answers by looking at Elisha and the young prophet and apply, symbolically, two lessons about how we get our edge back.


How Do You Get Your Edge Back?

1. We need to be honest about where we lost it.

Verse 6, Elisha asks, “where did it fall?” Why did he ask him that? Because he didn’t know where it was. Couldn’t Elisha see where the axehead was? No. The Jordan is very muddy.

Did Elisha get lucky? No. He made and axehead float like a cork on water. But first, he asked, where did it fall? In other words, the axehead isn’t gone; it’s just where you left it.

Where did it fall?  Where did you lose it? Where did you start to lose your spiritual edge?

You can look back and see when you stopped or started doing something. Perhaps, you have a secret that you thought wouldn’t hurt anyone, but you didn’t realize it wasn’t really a secret because God knew. And it’s hurting you because it’s hurting your relationship with God.

Maybe someone offended you or hurt you by something they said or did. It deeply disappointed you. And you’ve allowed part of your heart to grow hard. Maybe even blaming God for what someone else did.

Those are a couple of places to check, but be honest about where you lost it.

2. With God’s help, take back what you lost.

God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose. But, finding it and taking it back are two different steps.

“…When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:6-7 NIV

Only God can make the axehead float, but he wants you to lift it out.

This theme is found many, many times in scripture. In the book of Philippians Paul talks about working out your salvation. Some take that to mean that you work for your salvation. No no no, he’s saying God is working salvation in you, so work to show the fruit of it. God works it in, we work it out.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 NIV

He wants you to take what He saved you for. And He’s bringing life with Him back into reach. The moment you start to think, “Maybe I can have a passionate faith again,” There will be a voice in the back of your head that says,“No, it’s been too long and you’ve gone too far.” 

But don’t believe this! It’s not too late to have what you used to have and have even more of it with the power of our good God. You haven’t gone too far and you haven’t done too much because our God specializes in resurrections.

Do what you can do and trust God to do what you cannot do.

Can you make an axehead float? You can’t do that. But can you lift it out when he brings it within reach? Yes, you can.

Can you create, in your own spirit, spiritual passion and faith? You cannot do that. Only God can revive a spirit. But we do know that faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God, so you can put yourself in a place where you hear God’s word so God can build your faith. You can choose to pray even when you don’t feel like it.

My commitment has to be stronger than my feelings.

“You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:4 NIV

How do we get the love back? He says to do three things.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” Revelations 2:5 NIV

You consider, or remember where it was you were. You repent. Meaning, you change directions. If you’re moving away from God, repent and move closer. How? By doing what you did at first.

That’s good marriage advice too. How do you get close and get the spark back like you had before? You remember what it was like, you stop doing the things that take you away from that and start doing what you did before.


What we have gone through in the last few months has a lot of people on edge. Maybe you’ve lost your spiritual edge and found a new edge. You’re on edge. Maybe not you, but you feel it, you see it.

There’s so much offense, and miscommunication, and divisiveness right now. That’s the enemy’s goal, to divide us. When we allow it to happen, it’s a victory for the wrong side. But there’s a verse in Proverbs 6 that says when the enemy steals something, he’s got to pay it back seven times.

Some of you feel like you have been robbed by your enemy. But if you’ll reach out to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of for you…

You see, this whole encounter with Elisha, is symbolic. Dormant on the bottom of the muddy Jordan is our life. At the fall we became totally depraved. We went down to the waters of death and defeat. Lost to God. No longer enjoying life. Far from God.

We try to find something to do to make life useful and purposeful. We try to find something to do and occupy our time. We try to drown out the futility of life, nothing satisfies.

God cut down a stick and cast it into the waters of death. That stick is the cross of Christ. And Christ bore our sins on that tree. And came out of the waters of death We can rise from the waters of death and judgement through Christ, placed back on the handle of God’s purpose and plan.

The greatest miracle is to be lifted out of the mire of sin and given meaning in life through Christ Raised. Resurrected. Redeemed by the owner. Taken back. Redeemed. If you thought you were hot before, you’re coming back seven times hotter.

And what the enemy meant for evil, our God will use for good. God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 30:3-5 MSG


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Seeing People as God Does” “We begin to root out racial prejudice with the eyes, the ears and the heart. Seeing people as God does, listening to everyone with respect, and loving everybody the way Jesus does.” Without taking up too much group time, is there anything from that conversation that needs some closure or more observations?

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

Big Idea

God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose. Be honest about where you lost it.

With God’s help, take back what you lost.

Read 2 Kings 6:1-7

Discussion & Application

  • What stood out to you in this message?
  • What things in your life most often cause you to lose your spiritual edge?
  • How have you lost your spiritual edge?
  • What are some things that keep your faith sharp?
  • If you’ve lost your spiritual edge, what are some steps you will you take to get it back?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Pray specifically for one another’s faith.

Next Steps

What one thing will you do this week that will help you get your spiritual edge back or prevent you from losing it? Write that thing down and make a commitment that will outweigh your feelings.

Grow your faith with commitment to God by reading the following Bible passages this week.

Day 1: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Day 2: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 

Day 3: Philippians 4:10-20

Day 4: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Day 5: Matthew 6:25-34

Day 6: Proverbs 3:1-12

Day 7: Matthew 15:29-39

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Seeing People As God Does

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When you’re under stress, your natural biases tend to rise. When we are under tension, we are more prejudiced toward other people. And we’ve all been under tension lately. Now, the Bible calls this self-centered and even sinful bias, the sin of partiality.

“Fear the Lord and judge with integrity, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:7 NLT

God is a just God. The word righteousness and justice are the same. God hates injustice. He hates perverted forms of revenge and justice. God does not tolerate partiality. Partiality is just an old English word for what today we would call prejudice or discrimination or bigotry. There are different kinds of prejudice. We can be prejudice based on someone’s appearance, age, achievement, and wealth. The area of partiality, we’re addressing today is racism.

Any time we talk about race, there are no easy answers and it’s easy to get it wrong. There are all kinds of attitudes as we approach the sin of racism. There is the attitude of being actively involved in bigotry. There is the attitude of being uncomfortable and actively avoiding this topic. There is the attitude of being insensitive to what hurts others. There’s the attitude of apathy. Those who would say, “I’m not a racist, I’m not an avoider, I try not to be insensitive, but I just don’t care.”

But if we’re a follower of Christ, we’re commanded to care. God wants us to care. Today many are saying it’s not enough just to not be a racist, we must be an anti-racist. Christ followers already have a word for this. What God wants all of us to be is a reconciler. A reconciler is somebody who is building bridges. God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation in a society that we see being more pulled apart, more polarized, more demonized, more distracted, and more divided.

If anybody needs to have a peacemaker it ought to be God’s people. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers. They will be called the children of God.”  God wants us to be reconcilers. Why is this such a big deal to God? Why does God hate racial prejudice so much? Let’s look at four reasons.

Racial prejudice questions God’s creation. It was God’s design that we would be different. A prejudice person is essentially saying, “God, you made a mistake in creating that person. You should have made them like me.” It is a blatant expression of pride, arrogance and narcissism.

“From one man (Adam) He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries.” Acts 17:26 NLT

We all came from the same source, anyway, Adam and Eve. We did not choose when we were born, the color of our skin, who our parents are, our background, the culture, the nationality. It doesn’t say anything about our character. What a foolish thing to look down at someone else about.

Racial prejudice is a sign of ignorance. When we celebrate division or look down on others because of their race, we reveal our darkness, our foolishness and that we don’t understand God’s plan and purpose.

“But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” 1 John 2:11 NIV

Anytime we show favoritism or any shame, we are walking around in blindness and in darkness. On the other hand, the opposite is also true. The wiser we become in life the more wisdom we have, the more unprejudiced we’re going to be.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 NIV

Knowledge shows up on tests, but wisdom shows up in relationships. All of those are relational words, not intellectual words. Wisdom shows up in relationships.

Racial prejudice disobeys the Great Commandment. What is the Great Commandment? Jesus summarized all of God’s law in one sentence and Paul repeated it in Galatians 5:14-15.

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:14-15 NIV

He is saying if instead of showing love we attack and tear each other apart we’re only destroying ourselves. The division, the angry words, the sarcasm is just tearing us apart. The Pharisees came to Jesus and they asked, “Okay, you say, love your neighbor as yourself, the most important command next to loving God with all your heart.” They asked, “Does that just mean literally my neighbor or does it mean everybody who exists?”

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan as an answer to who is our neighbor and the good Samaritan if we remember is about racial reconciliation. The hero in that story, the good Samaritan, is a hated minority. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews. The church, which is the family of God, is to be the answer to racism and every other kind of prejudice.

Racial prejudice is a series sin. God hates racism. It’s a sin that angers Him.

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:8-9 NIV

Racial prejudice is one of the world’s most prevalent sins. No matter where we go in the world, groups of people hate other groups of people for sinful reasons. The racial reconciliation and getting this out of our hearts is not some minor issue to God. It’s at the heart of the gospel. The gospel means good news, so here’s the Good News. We Christians know that’s possible. We know that people can change by the power of God. When Christ’s love comes into our lives it changes us.

About 250 years ago, John Newton was a vile and vulgar man. He was a slave trader. He was English and he would go to Africa, steal Africans and then transport them to America and sell them as slaves. But God got a hold of this man and Jesus Christ entered his heart. His heart was so softened, he became a pastor. John Newton wrote the words of the hymn Amazing Grace.

That song, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  was written by a slave trader. “I once was lost but now I’m found. I was blind but now I see.”  This is a man who had a total transformation. This song that is sung all over America, was sung three days ago at the funeral of George Floyd. That’s the power of the Gospel.


How can the power of the gospel go to work in our life? How do we root out this racial prejudice in our lives?

We must learn to see people as God does. We must learn to look at people like God does. This doesn’t happen naturally, it has to be learned. We’re going to need to ask God for help. How do we learn to see everybody who comes into our lives the way God does?

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

We’ve got to look at the heart. Not only are books judged by their covers, and houses are judged by their curb appeal but people are judged for ignorant, sinful reasons.

Jesus: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 7:24 NIV

How do we judge correctly? By seeing people the way God sees them. The Bible is full of examples of cultural prejudice and racial prejudice. The whole book of Jonah and everything that happens to Jonah is because Jonah hated the people God was sending him to preach to. Jonah knew if he went that God would forgive them and Jonah did not want to forgive or see God forgive the race that Jonah hated.

Even Peter, one of the greatest disciples had to overcome his prejudice against non-Jews. He had been raised as a strict Jew and a strict Jew couldn’t even touch a non-Jew, which were called Gentiles. In order to spread the gospel, God had to give Peter a dream to break through his prejudice against people that weren’t like him. God gave him a dream to prepare him, to reach non-Jews around the world. Peter goes to the house of Cornelius, who was a non-Jew, he was a Roman. Peter goes to his house, which is really illegal for a Jew to do in those days.

He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” 34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:28, 34-35 NIV   

We need to start asking God to help us see people differently.

We need to listen to everyone with respect. We must listen to everyone regardless of their views with respect. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything, but we listen to them with respect. Prejudice is a failure to listen. The less we listen to people, the more prejudiced we’ll be. The word “prejudice” actually comes from the word to “prejudge.” When we prejudge somebody without listening to them we are prejudiced.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

Do we want God’s righteous purposes in our nation? Yes. Do we achieve it through anger? No. Does that mean we should never be angry? No. Of course not. There are a lot of things we should be angry about. There’s a difference between godly anger, anger for somebody else which is selfless, and human anger which is centered on self. When we get angry, anger blocks listening.

As a reconciler in the world, a representative of God, we need to learn a couple of skills on how to diffuse somebody when they’re angry. We need to listen to their hurt not their words. When people are angry they say all kinds of mean words they don’t believe, they will later regret and wished they hadn’t said. We’re more sympathetic to people who are hurt than we are to people who are angry. When you reinterpret their anger as hurt it makes us more willing to listen. If we do this we will become wise.

We also need to learn to use the phrase, “we agree.” Phrases like, “we agree” and “tell us more” will make us a peacemakers. We’re not suggesting we just agree with whoever is talking and whatever is being said, just encouraging us to find common ground. We’ll never find solutions if we can’t even mutually express there is a problem. We don’t have to agree with everything to find something to agree on and build from there.

If someone says, “Black Lives Matter,” can we not say, “we agree?” Can we not agree on the fact that black lives matter? We’re not talking about an organization, we’re not talking about every solution that’s being proposed. But that statement and that fact.

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

As peacemakers, we can find agreement in the pain. There is something powerful when we start with, we love you. We agree with you. We want to stand with you. When we speak, when we post, when we respond, we represent the body of Christ. We represent the truth of God, we don’t want to say anything that harms the body of Christ.

We must love everybody the way Jesus does. There’s nobody we’re allowed to not love. Even if we could not find any agreement. We’re still to show them love.

Jesus: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12 NIV   

How does Jesus love us? Unconditionally, freely completely and continually. How are we to love other people and other races? Unconditionally, freely, completely, and continually. This is hard, but we need to spend our lives trying learn, and asking God to empower us. Love is very practical. How in the world are we ever going to build a society like that with all of the differences, all of the violence, all of the hatred and all of the prejudice on many different sides? God’s plan to change society, to bring people together is the church.

God’s plan to bring people together is the church.

The church is to model harmony and unity and fellowship and reconciliation. Paul explained the church this way.

“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:13,27 NLT

We are all needed in the family of God. We’re all needed in a church home. We need each other because none of us are complete in ourselves. We all have weaknesses. None of us can have all of the gifts. We can’t model reconciliation by ourselves. It’s easy to love people who are like us. But if God’s going to teach us real love, He’s going to put us around people who are different.

We need the church because we find our identity in relationships. Our world is fracturing more and more into many different divisions. There is a crisis of identity in the world. It is probably the most common crisis in modern culture. People are saying, “I don’t know who I am. What gender am I? What culture am I? What race am I?”

We see this struggle everywhere in race and sexuality in our place in the world. Why? Because when relationships are broken, people don’t know who they are. God wants to tell us that we’re His.

A sincere recognition of Christ’s sacrifice realigns our values in such a way that makes prejudiced views impossible.

For the person who believes in the gospel, any individual they encounter falls into one of two categories: either brothers or sisters in Christ or those who are separated from God and to whom they are called to minister. Only the injustice of what was done to Jesus on the cross is powerful enough to stop injustice in our world.


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Faith That Provides” “Offer God what you have and trust him to give you what you need.”  Any more observations from your discussion last week?

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

Big Idea

God hates racial prejudice because it: (1) questions God’s creation, (2) is a sign of ignorance, (3) it disobeys the Great Commandment, and (4) is a serious sin.

If we are to root out racial prejudice in our lives, three steps that we can take are to: (1) see people as God does, (2) listen to everyone with respect, and (3) love everybody the way Jesus does. God’s plan to bring people together is by understanding that we’re one church and that our primary identity is that we all belong to God’s family.

Read the story of The Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37

Discussion & Application

  • Romans 14:10 (ICB) “So why do you judge your brother? And why do you think that you are better than he is? We will all stand before God one day, and he will judge us all.” Take a moment to ponder the questions asked in that verse. Why do some people think they are better than others because of their race?
  • Growing up, what was your family’s view of racial prejudice? Was it ever discussed?
  • Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Think about disagreements you’ve had with your spouse or with a friend, or even the disagreements about race today… How might interpreting someone’s anger as hurt, and finding common ground of agreement help us be more constructive?

“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:13,27 (NLT)

  • Think of a time that you struggled to find your own identity in the wrong area (race, nationality, language, economic status, etc.) Discuss in your group how this struggle would have been avoided if you had started from your identity in Christ. What specific steps can you take to see your primary identity as a Christ follower?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Finish your group by praying for unity. Thank God for making the people in your group the way he did. Pray some of the scriptures from your outline.

Next Steps

1 Corinthians 12:13 mentioned baptism. Have you been baptized? Prayfully consider it and take that next step.

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When Faith Is Hard | Week 3: Faith That Provides

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Let’s dive right into our text. We are going to start with two verses just to set the context and then we’ll go further into the accounts. Here’s how it begins:

“The wife of a man from the company of prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘your servant, my husband, is dead. And you know that he revered the Lord but now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.'”

“Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a small jar of olive oil.’ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all except a small jar of olive oil.'” 2 Kings 4:1-2

Now, let’s talk about these two verses as there’s actually quite a bit in them. The first thing you’ll notice is we don’t know this poor widow’s name. According to Jewish tradition, many believe that she was the wife of the prophet Obadiah. If this was the case, it would be no wonder she was in financial need because Obadiah was known for protecting and providing for 50 other prophets.

So if indeed she was Obadiah’s wife, he would have taken all the resources he had to meet the needs of other prophets. It would not be uncommon for a prophet’s family to be financially struggling because they would spend the majority of their lives on the run, trying to survive. It was very difficult to make ends meet.

If you can picture this, we now have a widow whom we are going to guess may be somewhere in her 30s and has just lost her husband. She has no chance at meaningful employment because in this culture women were unemployable unless they would take the job that no woman would wants to take. Now, the creditor is coming after her two sons because of a law stating sons can be taken as slaves if debts weren’t paid.

It doesn’t get any worse than this. Humanly speaking, she has no hope whatsoever. Sometimes we face smaller obstacles and get worked up about what we could consider “entry level problems.” We have to wait in a line, or wait for a product or news. We lose things or don’t get our way. There are all kinds of entry level problems. But, the reality is many of us today aren’t just dealing with those, we have some graduate level problems going on right at this moment.

Maybe a marriage is barely hanging on and you don’t know if you’re going to make it. Someone that you love just betrayed you and what you thought you had, you don’t know even know what it is anymore. You’ve got a child that may be going the wrong way and you’re in agony because you’re watching someone you love make decisions that are going to hurt them. Some of you, you may be in a financial situation where you don’t know how you’re going to get out of it. Others of you, it may be a health issue. You went to the doctor or someone you love did, and if there’s not a miracle from God, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

You’ve got a graduate level problem. If you’re in significant need today, this message is for you. God will use this build our faith.

When you don’t have what you really want, you will discover that God is what you really need.

Let’s unpack this story and let this point come to life for us. This woman expresses her need to the prophet, and what does the prophet do? He makes himself available to help…

“Elisha replied to her ‘How can I help you?'”

If you want to make a difference in this world and be filled with joy, make yourself available for God to help. Then he says to her something that is very profound.

“Tell me what do you have in your house?”

In other words, he doesn’t say, “I’m here with all the answers,” but he respects her dignity and says, “Let’s start with what you have and let God meet your needs through what you have.”

She replies, “Your servant has nothing there at all.”

Isn’t it interesting that when you’re hurting and lacking, all you can see is what you don’t have and you miss all the blessings you do have? When we get down and we’re depressed and hurting, we’re just consumed with what we don’t have.

“I don’t have enough money so I can never be happy.”

“I don’t have a spouse so I can’t really have a meaningful life just now.”

“My house isn’t nice enough so we can’t host a small group.” (Because everybody knows the Spirit of God cannot move unless it moves on top of granite kitchen countertops… right?)

We start to think that if we don’t have what we want life doesn’t matter. This is the classic, “I have nothing to wear” as you stare at a closet full of clothes. It’s funny how when you’re in need, all you focus on is what you don’t have. And this is exactly where this poor woman was. She lost everything and all she could see was her lack.


What do you do when you don’t have much?

Stop waiting for what you want and start working with what you have.

You have something to work with. It may not be what you want, but you have something.

Verse 2 again – He says, “What do you have in your house?” She says,

“Your servant has nothing there at all except a small jar of olive oil.”

She only has “this one little thing.” What good is a jar of oil? Olive oil was actually incredibly valuable because it was very rare and had tons of important uses. Oil was used in cooking, burning for lamps, moisturizer… which was a good thing because you couldn’t just go to Bath and Body Works and get some stuff to squirt on your face.

It was also used to help keep leather pliable, keep iron from rusting, given as an offering to God, and anointing people in religious services. It was very valuable but she didn’t have a lot; she only had a little.

We can be so thankful that we serve a God who specializes in doing a lot with a little.

Jesus fed thousands with a little. God conquered a giant with a little shepherd boy. Jesus preached that with a little bit of faith, God can do much. Notice God did not say, “What do you want?” or “What do you need?” but “What do you have?” Let’s stop waiting for what we want and start working with what he’s already given us.

Some of us may look at what we have and want something else so we could do something more significant. But, we need to stop waiting for what we think we want and start making the most of the places He’s already put you.

The second thought that we learn from this awesome story is this:

We’re going to offer God what we have and trust him to give us what we need.

“Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’ She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.”

“When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’ 2 Kings 4:3-7

This seems like ridiculous request, to ask her to empty out everything she has and to trust God to provide what she really needed. But that is how our God works. When we show him our faith, we get to see his faithfulness.

Offer what you have, God will do something special.

God blesses the person who does not wait to make an offering. An offering of time. An offering of a gifting. An offering of money. Notice he didn’t say what size, he didn’t say what color, he didn’t say what shape. The only requirement is that the jars must be what? Empty. It could have been any kind of jar. He just needs it to be empty.

“But we have this treasure which is Christ in jars of clay.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

What is it that referring to? That refers to our bodies. We’re clay pots. We are dirt houses. That’s what we are. God is looking for a few empty jars. God blesses those who let go of the most.

When we empty ourselves of self, pride, greed, and our own agendas and come to God totally empty, He fills us with oil. Oil has always been a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And suddenly you realize when you don’t have outwardly what you wanted, it is God that you truly needed.

He is enough; He is sufficient in every single way. When you are weak, He is your strength. When you’re hurting, He is your comforter. When you’re lost, He is your guide. When you’re hungry, He is the Bread of Life which nourishes you. When you are thirsty, He is Living Water. When your life is unstable, He is the Rock that does not move.


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Faith That Works.” Any more observations from your discussion last week?

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

Big Idea

God is looking to fill some empty vessels. Offer to God what you have and trust him to give you what you need.

Read 2 Kings 4:1-7

Discussion & Application

  • Where in life do you feel most overwhelmed right now?
  • Why do you think our focus is often on what we don’t have instead of what we do have?
  • Share a time when God did a lot with just a little in your life. What did you learn from your experience?
  • What do you have that God can use? How will you allow Him to use it?
  • “When you don’t have what you really want, God is what you really need.” How have you experienced the truth of this statement?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Next Steps

Grow your faith with commitment to God by reading the following Bible passages this week.

Day 1: 2 Kings 4:1-7

Day 2: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Day 3: Philippians 4:10-20

Day 4: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Day 5: Matthew 6:25-34

Day 6: Proverbs 3:1-12

Day 7: Matthew 15:29-39

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When Faith Is Hard | Week 2: Faith That Works

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How many of you have ever played the “if only” game. “If only” we had “a better job” life would be better. “If only” we had more money. We all tend to think “If only” we had whatever it is, our life would be so much better. You need to read this through the lens of your “If only”, through the lens of your greatest need. Let’s set the background for our study. The King of Israel, the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat, and the King of Edom joined forces to destroy the King of Moab. Three against one, so they thought, “We’ll get an easy victory here.” But often in life, things don’t go as planned.

Anyone know what we’re talking about? Think you’ve got it all figured out and, “whoops,” your plans go awry. We had everything all lined out and BOOM…COVID-19. That’s what happens with these three kings. Instead of winning easily they find their troops stranded in the desert completely out of water. They have a very significant need. This story teaches us this principle…

Your greatest need becomes a blessing when it drives you to depend on God. 

Your greatest need, your “If only” becomes a blessing when it drives you to depend on God. Our story begins in 2 Kings, chapter 3, verses 9-12.

“So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom; After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for their animals with them. “What,” exclaimed the king of Israel, has the Lord called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands of Moab?”

We thought we’d win easily but now God has screwed it up. We don’t see them asking God if they should do this in the first place. Now that it turns out to be a bad plan, they blame God and expect Him to bail them out.

“But Jehoshaphat, asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha, son of Shaphat, is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.”

He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah. There it is right there in the Bible, “Wash your hands!” Elijah was a great prophet who did great and miraculous things. Elisha is his apprentice, so Jehoshaphat thinks maybe Elisha can help us. When the nation of Israel was in a great drought, Elijah called on God for help and God sent rain from a cloud that started out the size of a man’s hand and grew into a big storm that watered the whole land. So these three kings think, “If Elijah could make it rain then maybe Elisha can make it rain.”

“Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with Elisha.” So the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.”

The three kings go to battle against the Moabites and think they’re going to win easily. Instead, they find themselves out of water and in dire need. The problem is they did not seek God’s guidance regarding this war, and now that they’re in trouble they want God’s help. “Oh no, we’re in trouble. Is there anybody who’s really in good with God? Maybe Elisha the prophet can help us out.”

Elisha had done some miracles of his own. He had parted the waters of the Jordan River. He spoke to a polluted spring of poisonous water and healed the water so you could drink from it. When a gang of hooligans were threatening him and making fun of his bald head, Elijah summoned two bears out of the woods to eat his attackers. This is not made up, you should read your bible. And you should never make fun of a guy with a bald head…just saying.

So the kings ask Elisha, “Can you help us out?” How does Elisha respond? He responds with a bit of an attitude. Elisha says, “Okay kings, you ignored God and went out on your own and now you’re in trouble and you want God’s help.” Elisha learned this from his mentor, Elijah, who was the king of attitude. One time Elijah went up against 450 false prophets of the false god, Baal. Elijah said, “Let’s have a little contest to see who the real God is. We’ll build a couple of altars. We’ll get two bulls. You sacrifice a bull to Baal, I’ll sacrifice a bull to God. You call on your god to send down fire from heaven to consume your sacrifice. I’ll call on my God to send down fire from heaven to consume my sacrifice. We’ll see whose God answers.”

The false prophets started praying to Baal to “Send fire. Send fire.” But nothing happens. They work themselves up into a frenzy crying out to Baal. They start cutting themselves drawing blood to get Baal to act. Nothing happens. Elijah starts laughing and mocking these false prophets. “Maybe you should shout louder. Maybe your god’s deaf. Maybe your god’s on vacation. Maybe your god’s in the bathroom and can’t hear you.” Again, this is not made up, you need to read your bible it’s in there.

Elisha does what Elijah did, he cops an attitude in verse 13.

“Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Why do you want to involve me? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.” 

You hear his attitude?

“No,” the King of Israel answered, “because it was the Lord who called us three kings together to deliver us into the hands of Moab. Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord All Mighty lives, whom I serve, if I didn’t have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, I would not pay any attention to you.”

The King of Israel and Edom were not good and godly kings. But Jehoshaphat had been a pretty good and faithful king, a godly king. So Elisha says to the King of Judah and Edom… “If weren’t for Jehoshaphat…I wouldn’t even pay attention to you two. But because Jehoshaphat’s here… I’ll help you out. You need a prophet… I’m your prophet.”

Then in verse 15, Elisha makes a demand. He says, “But now bring me a harpist.”  If you want me to prophesy, I need some worship music. This was not an uncommon practice for prophets to do. God inhabits the praises of His people.

Worship helps your faith grow and connects you to God.

Now the three kings think this is great because, “Elisha’s going to tell God to send rain. The harp music is playing this is going to be good.” But does Elisha give them a word of encouragement? No, he gives them a ridiculous command in verse 15 and 16.

“Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’”

The kings go, “Wait, we thought God was going to make it rain. Our troops are about to die of thirst, and you want them to do manual labor under the hot desert sun? Elisha says, “Yeah, I want them to dig ditches, irrigation ditches to trap water.” Because your greatest need becomes your greatest blessing when it drives you to depend on God.

“For this is what the Lord says. “You will see neither wind nor rain yet this valley will be filled with water and you, your cattle, and your other animals will drink.”

God says, “I’m not going to make it rain here. I’m going to make it rain somewhere else and then bring the water here through irrigation ditches, so dig Me some ditches!” God’s ways aren’t your ways. God doesn’t always meet the need the way we think He will or should. “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.”  You have no idea how powerful, how strong, how mighty God is. At the snap of a finger God can do this. And by the way, that other thing you wanted that whole defeating Moab thing, “He will also deliver Moab into your hands”  but first, I want you to dig some ditches.


We’re talking about faith that works, faith that does something. Faith that believes that God is going to act, so we act and take a step toward God believing that God is going to take a step toward us. Let’s look at two principles of faith that works. The first principle is..

Only God can send the water, but sometimes he wants you to dig a ditch.

Just as the body is dead without breath so also is faith dead without good works.” James 2:26

Only God can send the water but He wants to see your faith. Did the God of the universe really need these guys to dig a ditch? No, but He’s saying “You show me your faith and I’ll show you my faithfulness.” God loves to see our faith. You see faith in our actions. In the Gospels, you see it again and again. When Peter was on the boat and saw Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee, he said “Jesus, tell me to come and I’ll come.” And Jesus said, “Come.” What did Peter do? He got out of boat! The other 11 disciples stayed in the boat… you didn’t see any faith. God wants us to participate in His miracles.

There’s a man with a withered hand. What does Jesus say to him? He says, “Stretch out your hand.” Jesus could have just healed his hand but He said, “I want to see your faith so stretch out your hand.”

There was a lame man who couldn’t walk for 38 years. Jesus tells the man, “Get up, pick up your mat and walk. I’m going to heal you but I’m not going to pick you up. I want to see that you have the faith, so get up.”

There was a guy who was blind from birth, Jesus picks up some dirt and spits in it to make mud. He smears the mud on the guys eyes and says, “Go wash your eyes in the pool of Siloam.” God says show Me your faith and I’ll show you my faithfulness.

Too many people want God to show them His faithfulness but they’re not willing to show God any faith. Show Me your faith and I’ll show you my faithfulness. You want to quit smoking? Throw your cigarettes in the garbage and say “I’m showing some faith. I’m getting rid of these things. I’M DIGGING A DITCH BY FAITH.” You want to heal a damaged relationship? Forgive someone before they even ask for forgiveness. Treat someone with love when they are being ugly to you. What are you doing? You’re digging a ditch.

You want your kids to serve Jesus and be strong Christians? Read the Bible and pray with your kids. You want some spiritual water in your kid’s life? Dig a ditch, be a godly parent. You want God to bless your finances? Then tithe, give God the first 10% of whatever you make. Tithing demonstrates our faith and our dependence on God. You’re digging a ditch. And then He demonstrates His faithfulness.

The second principal of faith that works…

Real faith believes big but is willing to start small.

Too many Christians are not thinking big enough. “We serve a God who can do exceedingly and abundantly more than all you can ask, think or imagine.”  It’s time to think big because we serve a big God. But when you think big you’ve got to be willing to start small. How do you dig a ditch? One shovel full of dirt at a time, you start small.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10

You start with what is in front of you. Only God can send the water, but He wants you to dig the ditches. You say, “God, we believe you can.” And then you start where you are with what you have. God loves it when we participate in His miracles because then He can see our faith.

The next morning about the time for the offering of the sacrifice, there it was – water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.” 2 Kings 3:20

You have a significant need in your life, and you think…”If only”. Your greatest need becomes your biggest blessing when it drives you to depend on God. Only God can send the water but He wants you to dig the ditch. Real faith believes big but is willing to start small.


Ask yourself these three questions.

Question 1.  What is your “If only…” – What is your greatest need that can become a great blessing if you depend on God? Identify the need and make a conscious decision to turn it over to God. Jesus asks the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Answer that question.

Question 2.  What “ditch” do you need to start digging? What action is God asking you to take to demonstrate your faith? Jesus told the lame man, “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat. Elisha told the Kings to start digging ditches.

Question 3.  What small step can you take today? Don’t be afraid to start small. Jesus replied, “Truly, I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…Nothing will be impossible for you.” What’s the groundbreaking step you need to take?

It’s time to dig a ditch!


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Faith That Moves” “You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately. Those God uses the most are the ones who hold on to the least.” Did you obey God in area this week? Any more observations from your discussion last week?

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

Big Idea

  • Your greatest need becomes a blessing when it drives you to depend on God.
  • Only God can send the water, but sometimes he wants you to dig a ditch.
  • Real faith believes big, but is willing to start small.

Discussion & Application

  • During this message, did a time of need come to your mind? How did that time drive you to depend on God?
  • Work through the three questions with your group and help one another with the answers.
  • Question 1: What is your “If only”? Jesus asked: “What do you want me to do for you?”  Mark 10:36 (NIV)
  • Question 2: What “ditch” do you need to start digging? Jesus said, “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”  John 5:8 (NIV)
  • Question 3: What small step can you take today? Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed… Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Next Steps

Grow your faith with commitment to God by reading the following Bible passages this week.

  • Day 1: 2 Kings 3:1-20
  • Day 2: 2 Kings 3:21-27
  • Day 3: James 2:14-26
  • Day 4: Zechariah 4:1-14
  • Day 5: Luke 11:1-11
  • Day 6: Colossians 3:18-25
  • Day 7: Hebrews 11:1-40

 

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When Faith Is Hard | Week 1: Faith That Moves

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Today, we are beginning a series on the life and faith of the Old Testament prophet named Elisha. If you have found that you’ve been hitting a plateau in your faith, allow this series and teaching of God’s word to build your faith.

The story starts with a prophet named Elijah. Elijah was one of the great prophets of the old testament, bold, daring, full of faith. He defeated the prophets of Baal, called down fire from heaven, turned on and off the water supply controlling a drought and raised a child from the dead. God asked Elijah to call Elisha to be his replacement,

Elisha actually performed more recorded miracles in scripture than anyone, with the exception of Jesus Christ. What’s interesting is that he wasn’t the son of a priest, or some sort of outward spiritual giant. He was an ordinary guy who was living at home with his parents, working on a farm when God called him.

He lived during the 9th century B.C. in a time when Israel was divided, there was great tension. Many people were worshiping the false god of Baal and God raised up this ordinary guy, and did something extraordinary through his life.

Our scripture focus is 1 Kings 19: 19-21:
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Imagine the monotony of what it would be like to plow behind a yolk of oxen every single day. You may feel a little bit like Elisha, doing the same thing day in, day out. Maybe you are going to the same job, working with the same people, and it feels very monotonous. Maybe you’re at home a lot right now, staring at the same laundry and dishes and you feel drained. It is so easy to lose your passion.

This is where Elisha was, but notice he was being faithful with the task at hand. God loves to reward those who are faithful, with the little, mundane things. When you are faithful with a little, He can trust you with much. So, even though it might not have been Elisha’s favorite thing to do, even though it could have been incredibly draining physically and emotionally, he was faithful. Then, in the middle of his faithful daily routine, God sent something new to take him from where he was into a moving place of faith and impact.

What did it mean when Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha? This cloak would have been like a coat made of animal skin or fur and was considered a covering. When Elijah put his covering on Elisha, he was symbolically saying, “that which covered me will now cover you. The mantle on me, will now be the mantle on you. As God has been working through me, now God is going to work through you.”

Now, apply this story to your life. There are two two principals of a faith that is moving and growing. You can be an ordinary man and respond to an extraordinary call.


Two Principles of Faith

  1. You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately.

When God calls you to do something, you don’t have to understand all the details to obey immediately. When Elijah put his cloak around Elisha, what did Elisha do?

Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” 1 Kings 19:20

Notice he didn’t pray about it. He didn’t have to do a list of pros and cons. He didn’t have to consult his counselor. All he did was say, “God, I don’t know the details, but since I believe you’re in on this, I will obey immediately.”

Now, you know one of our mottos at Rock Brook is ‘Pray First’, but sometimes, you don’t need to pray about it. Sometimes you don’t pray, you just obey. You don’t have to pray about it and question God, until He’s given his full answer.

We have a desire to understand fully before we’ll make a move. But God is often strategically vague in his directions about your future. You want details, and God would look at you often and say, “You can’t handle the details. If I showed you everything, you wouldn’t show up. I’m just showing you the next step.”

God often will guide even with just one word. Just one powerful word, and that needs to be enough to go on. In the Old Testament, whenever God was giving Moses direction, you could summarize the directions in one word. “Moses, go.”

Go.

“Abraham, go. Go to the land I will show you.”

In the New Testament, Jesus was walking on water. Peter said, “Jesus, if that’s you, tell me to come.” And Jesus gave him one word. What was the word? He said “come.”

You may hear one word from God. Your marriage may be struggling right now and you’re thinking about cashing it in, and you hear one word and that one word is “stay.” You don’t have to understand completely to obey immediately. You stay.

You or someone you love might have a health situation and it doesn’t look good, and God gives you one word and it’s “trust” and you hang on that word and you obey.

You may have a business or ministry idea and you’re trying to figure out all the ‘hows’ and ‘whens’ and you’re trying to understand it all while God is saying, “just start.” You don’t have to understand it all first.

Maybe you’ve been around the church or watching for a while and you’re kind of starting to grow with God but you’re still observing. And God may give you one word, “commit.”

You may be praying about the future of your family and you hear the word “adopt” or “foster.” You’re like, “wait, wait, what age and from where, domestic or international? Boy, girl? I don’t understand.” You don’t have to understand everything to take the next step.

You may be dating someone and God has not given you peace about the relationship. Your one word may be “break-up.” You don’t have to understand everything to do what God tells you to do.

2. Those God uses the most are the ones that hold on to the least.

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21

These were the animals that brought Elisha his livelihood. The bible says he slaughtered them and made a bonfire out of the plowing equipment. Then he set out to follow Elijah and he became his servant.That is a faith that moves and grows. It’s almost like he’s saying, “I’m burning plan B. There is no plan B. There’s only obey God.”

Often times in scripture, when people are so moved by God they make big moves of commitment to follow him. Whenever Jesus encountered Peter for the first time Peter was having a bad fishing day. Jesus told him to throw his nets down on the other side of the boat. Peter said, “Master we’ve been working hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I don’t understand, but I’ll do it.”

And he caught so many fish, the nets started breaking. Peter falls down, “Whoa, who are you? This is amazing; I am a sinful man. You’re the Lord,”

And Jesus looked at him and said, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people.” And scripture says something that is just as crazy as the “burn the plows and kill the cows.”

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:11

Contextualize that to your life. Leave you job, your comfort, you neighborhood, and everything to follow Him. At some point God is going to speak to you and give you a plow burning faith. God is going to call you to leave where you are and go where He wants you to go. There are some times when you’re so convinced that you just burn the bridge back, because you’re not turning back because something has happened in you and you’re never going to be the same. You can’t go back because God is calling you forward.

Here are a few examples of people in our church that have been called by God:

  • A couple lived in another town and had very successful jobs and loved where they lived but God was leading them to move so they could serve their parents in their old age.
  • A strong Christian family loved to go to their lake house in the summer. One day their nine year old daughter asked, “Why don’t we love God in the summer?” At that moment they realized they didn’t serve anybody, make a difference, or worship in the summer. The summer became about their enjoyment. They sold the boat and the lake house.
  • A man was struggling with pornography and while he was able to overcome for awhile, his devices because a stumbling block. He eventually got rid of all of his devices except for a flip phone and an open desktop computer.
  • A man used to drop his kids off at Rock Brook for Kids but knew he was being called to serve there as well. He put it off for long enough, but eventually decided to sacrifice his time and scheduling conflicts and now he is a part of kids salvations, teaching them, and instilling in them the things of God. He is making a mighty, eternal impact.

Maybe today the Holy Spirit is reminding you to be faithful and consistent with the mundane things, or the little things in your life, so you can be ready for God to give you more. Maybe for you there is a sin holding you back, and the Holy Spirit is leading you to burn that plow. Maybe for you God has set something on your heart and called you to it, but you have yet to make a move.

You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately and those that God uses the most are those who hold on to the least.


Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “The Blessing of Honor.” Did you prioritize, praise or protect anyone to honor them this week?

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

Big Idea

Elijah’s call on Elisha teaches us two principles of faith. 1) You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately. 2) Those God uses the most are the ones who hold on to the least.

Discussion & Application

  • Pastor Ryland ended the message with some examples of those who made changes in their life to move forward in what God was calling them to do. What examples of commitment to God have you witnessed in your life?
  • How do you know when God is leading you?
  • Describe a time when you obeyed God even though you did not fully understand His direction. What resulted from your obedience?
  • What is God asking you to do that you need to obey immediately?
  • What else stood out to you about this message and encounter between Elijah and Elisha.

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Next Steps

What is one step of obedience you can take this week to respond to what God is asking you to do?

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The Blessing of Honor

blog.001This weekend’s all about honoring mothers. Our church has a culture of honor. It is certainly biblical. Have you ever noticed the first proverb and last proverb are about honor? Of the 31 chapters of the book of Proverbs, the first nine of them are making a case for wisdom. Making a case why it’s so important and showing different scenarios where it’s needed. Then in chapter ten the proverbs really begin.

“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.”  Proverbs 10:1

If you read the verses on relationships in the proverbs it says the fool does this one thing…the fool despises. The fool has relationships they despise. Despise means to be in contempt of, to scorn, to disdain, to consider worthless and unworthy of honor. If you want one relational principle that can change your life; it’s the principle of honor.

Proverbs 31 honors the wife of noble character. Honor her. We want to honor every mom and woman of character who invests in others.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31

In other words, brag on her in public. We really are a culture of honor in our church and in the mid-west we have a culture of honor, but it’s a quality that’s leaving our country and people’s lives. In the name of Jesus we need to keep this quality of honor. What does honor mean?

Honor means to have value, worth, and weight. You add weight to that thing. You put value on that thing. It would make sense then when dishonor means to take lightly. It’s the opposite of weight. You didn’t put the value on it that it deserved. We need to learn, out of God’s word, this principle of honor. This is difficult because you have people in your life who you feel like they don’t deserve honor because of how they’ve treated you. But that’s not where honor begins.

Honoring begins with God’s claim on them. Not with how you see them, but how God sees them. God can see every person in their complete depravity, and in their perfect dignity at the same time. He can see everything you’ve done and at the same time see who you are in Christ. He sees all the mistakes and all the potential. Thank God, He sees us that way. Friend, if you knew how much God really loves you, it would transform everything about your life. He has made us in His image and has a claim on our lives.  Honoring begins with seeing other people the way God sees them. Why does this matter? Because God created everyone, He loves everyone, Christ died for everyone.

“From one man (Adam) he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.” Acts 17:26 NLT

So God has made all the nations and determined who they are and where they live. One area we can lose sight of honor in our culture is in how we see diversity. Diversity matters to God. God loves diversity. Where there is despising of diversity, where there is racial prejudice, it’s wrong because it dishonors God. Racial prejudice questions God’s creation. It was His idea to create the differences. When we have racial prejudice, we are saying, “God, you made a mistake. You should have made everyone to look and be just like us.”  You can hear the arrogance in that viewpoint.

We all came from the same source, anyway Adam and Eve. You did not choose when you were born, the color of your skin, who your parents are, your background, the culture, the nationality. It’s difficult to understand why people get prideful about where they’re from, what nationality, the color of their skin, or really anything else about them. You didn’t have any choice in it. It doesn’t say anything about your character. You just happened to be born to a certain family at a certain time. What a foolish thing to be prideful about. What a foolish thing to look down at someone else about.

Any time we think less of God’s creation, we’re forgetting who made us.

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”  1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT 

You may secretly think you’re better than others. You’re not. It’s all a gift from God and we honor people because of who God made them to be. Here’s another principle about honor that you’ll learn in scripture…

Honoring benefits me too. Honor isn’t just for the person on the receiving end, but also for the people on the giving end. It has more of an affect on us than it does on them. The way you treat your mom, dad, boss, government leaders, spouse and family to the degree that you honor them determines how much you can receive from them.

It was said of Jesus in Mark 6 that when He went back to His hometown that He couldn’t do many miracles there because people saw Him as average and normal. Not as the Son of God all powerful. The way they saw Jesus determined how much they could receive from Him. How you honor God determines what you receive from Him. How you honor people determines what you can receive from them.

“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.” Ephesians 6:2-3

If you honor them it will go well with you. Wow. God takes this seriously. There’s no contingency of their parenting. You don’t have to say what they did was good. When you’re in a courtroom with a judge, you say, “Your honor” to them, regardless of how well you know them or who they are. You honor the seat they sit in. Here’s a third thing about honor….

Honor is decided not deserved. Meaning, we are not going to wait for you to deserve it.

Honor is given.

We’ll give it anyway. If you buy into this, coming your way is coming the honor test. If you buy into this, you’re going to have a chance to honor someone who you don’t feel deserves it. Try something…give it to them anyway. They don’t have to have received it. You can make the choice without them receiving it.

“Submit yourselves [because they deserved it? No.] for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. [How?] Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  1 Peter 2:13-17

During this time, the religious and government leaders were not good people. They didn’t have a good king at that point. They didn’t have to like the king, they didn’t even have to obey him. In fact, God says not to obey an authority when it goes against the gospel. But they could do that in a respectful way.

You’re going to have to do that in all your relationships by the way. You’re not going to agree with someone all the time about everything. We don’t agree with ourselves all of the time, let alone everyone else. While you’re going one way to follow God there’s going to be times your friends, your family, your sister, your brother, or your parents are going to go a different way. There’s a place where Jesus says that His presence will divide family.

You’ll have someone in your life choose a lifestyle that you and your faith don’t agree with. If it doesn’t agree with your God, don’t align with them. Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate. You don’t have to agree with someone to honor them. This is a biblical principle for you.


On Mother’s day, what a great day to renew this principle of honor.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”   Romans 12:10 

Honor everyone. Put the weight and worth above yourself. How do you do that? You honor someone anytime you…

1. Prioritize them

When you put God first, you honor Him. When you put others before yourself, you honor them. When you put your family above your own interests, you honor them. When you make time for someone, you honor them. When you’re in line at the grocery store and there’s only so much of the product you’re looking for, but you don’t cut in line, you let those before you go first. When you don’t fight and argue, but you let others ahead. That’s honor. Proverbs 3 tells us how to honor God.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” Proverbs 3:9

This is not a only a money principle, but this is a first principle. You are doing this right now. You said, before I do anything else this week, I’m going to put God first, put church first, and worship. The message translation puts it this way.

Honor GOD with everything you own; give him the first and the best.” Proverbs 3:9 MSG

Whenever you put God first in something, you honor him. Today, you put your mom before others, it honors her. That’s what these special days are about. Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, it’s a day we set aside that we all put that person before others. Yes, we are to honor them often in our lives, but it’s special when everyone takes a day to prioritize them. Another way to honor someone has to do with how we speak to them and about them.

2. Praise them

Honor has a language. You lift people up. Not only when they’re around you, but even when they walk away.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.”  James 3:9-10

God puts value on them and you devalue them, He takes it personally just like we would if someone talked about someone close to us.

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”

This should not be…Does that sound like your mom? This should not be. Honor has language. How you speak of others matters.

We need to honor people with our mouths.

We need to stop the gossip. As a husband and a son today, I want to challenge you to have the things you say about your wife and your mother be encouraging, even when they’re not there. Don’t fall for some trap to put them down at work, put them down in small group, don’t speak death over your relationships and then be surprised when they die. Speak life and know that it will make a difference.

“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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”  Ephesians 4:29-30

We can’t afford for the Holy Spirit to be grieved in our life. We need Him more that we’ve ever needed Him before. Honor has a priority and a language. Prioritize them. Praise them.

3. Protect them

Anything of real value, you protect it. This is an action step. You don’t just speak it, you do it. After the flood receded, the Bible says that Noah planted a vineyard, made some wine, got naked and drunk. One of his three sons walked in and saw him. He, then, went out to his brothers and said, you’ve got to see dad. He was mocking his dad. Noah was a good man who did a bad thing. The other two bothers got a blanket over their shoulders and walked in backwards so they couldn’t see him and covered him up.

They protected his weakness. They didn’t cover up his sin. We don’t need to cover up sin, but we do need to protect weakness. We know what you did and we’re not hiding it, but we’re not going to let you get hurt anymore. We’ll stand with you and see you through this. You’ll overcome and be better. The devil’s not going to finish what he started here, we’ll protect you. That’s how you protect somebody.

Let’s take it one step further. You should also protect the honor of the name of Jesus. In a culture that is laughing and picking on Christianity we will not be disrespectful, but we will stand up for the honor of the one we serve. We will take a stand for Jesus Christ.

“He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” John 7:18

The motivation for this message today is you.  It’s not even the person on the receiving end. Maybe this week you could say something to your parents or your boss, to express your honor. Even if you don’t like the way they’re doing things, that you’d honor them. Test it…see how much better it will make your life.

The more I value something the more I value from it. You get what you give. The more I value my job, the more I value from it. The more I value my church, the more I value from it. The more I value God, the more I value from God. You get what you put into it.


 

Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “TAKE YOUR STAND.”

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Big Idea

Honor is important to God because when we show honor to someone, we recognize God’s claim on them—they are made in His image and are eternally important to Him. By showing honor, we add value, worth or weight to someone. We show honor by prioritizing, praising and protecting others. Honoring someone not only agrees with God’s claim on them, but it also blesses us.

When we dishonor someone, we take God’s claim on them lightly. It’s important to remember that, while respect is earned, honor is given. It’s a choice to see someone from God’s perspective and treat them accordingly.

Discussion & Application

  • Prior to this message, what was your view of honor? How has this message helped you understand why we honor one another?
  • What are some examples of how we can prioritize people as an expression of honor?
  • Read aloud James 3:9-10: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10 What are ways that we can embrace the language of honor and praise one another?
  • How can we protect the people in our lives just as two of Noah’s sons did when they found him naked and drunk in his tent?

Prayer Focus

Pray that God would help us to put other people first and honor the people in our life. Ask God to help you see others from His perspective—how to show them honor based on who they are in Him and not what they deserve.

Next Steps

Speak words of life and take hold of Ephesians 4:29-30 which says, “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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”  Ephesians 4:29-30

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