Rethinking Your Life | Week 11: Rethinking Faith and Science

blog.001

For some, faith and science doesn’t fire you up and it’s a non-issue. But for some, you’d say you cannot be a Christian because of science. You see faith and science as two opposing position where you have to pick a side.

Let’s start off with a just an establishing statement. Everyone has a belief system.

Atheism is a faith system, a belief system. Agnosticism is a belief system. Christianity is a belief system. So are other religions. So is the thing you made up on your own.

Even if you have a scientific worldview there are belief components to it. It’s just the nature of the gap between what we know and what we believe.

You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that life continues after death. Many people who aren’t even religious believe that because of science; the patterns and cycles of nature, ethics, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy give us evidence of life after death.

Einstein, who wasn’t a Christian, he believed consciousness continued after death based on the physics as he understood them. That’s a belief system. Everyone has a belief system.


Widely-Held Misconceptions

When it comes to faith and science, there are some widely-held perceptions, misconceptions about Christianity and science that we can debunk before we get to the main points today.

Many people believe this myth that

  • Christianity is anti-intellectual.

Christians are people. People are all different. Are there some who are anti-intellectual? Some who reject science and logic and study? Sure. They certainly portray that in the media. It seems like every Christian in a sit-com is a fool, completely unaware of their surroundings, very annoying, trying to make people do stuff they don’t want to do.

The media often portrays or highlights Christians who have some completely ulterior motive. But when you get past the surface and those stereotypes, you see there is a very strong, deep resonate well of intellectual thought that is thoroughly Christian.

Here’s some things a lot of people don’t know.

The university is a twelfth-century Christian invention.

Higher learning and faith have been historically linked, not uncoupled. In fact, where Christianity and the church is strong, you find very helpful science. Eyeglasses, clean water, hospitals, vaccines and so many things. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown all began as Christian institutions.

Some of the smartest people in human history have ended up being people of deep faith. There are very smart people who have rejected faith. There are intellectual Christians, and anti-intellectual Christians because there are intellectual people and anti-intellectual people.

But there is a rich tradition of philosophy and scientific discovery in Christianity. Christians engage their mind.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'”  Matthew 22:37 NIV

Maybe you feel like you can’t engage your mind to follow Jesus, that’s a misconception.

Second widely-held misconception:

  • Science is objective. Faith is subjective

Let’s just look at evolution as a case in a point. Evolution is a theory that attempts to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data. A lot of what evolution observes, you can’t repeat.

A lot of science is based on repeatable experiments. So there are science experiments that repeat, but you can’t repeat the big bang. You can’t repeat an era. You can’t go back in time or recreate it in a lab. The universe is expanding, but we can’t repeat it. So it’s trying to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data.

The reality is:

The data is objective. The explanation is subjective.

That’s why scientists disagree. Some say it happened this way, others say it happened this way. So this idea that all science is objective, any scientist worth his or her weight will tell you, we’re workin off interpretation.

Both science and faith have subjective elements.

They aren’t so different from one another here. Both have data and evidence, both have things they discern from that. Both have objective elements. Both have subjective elements.

Third misconception is this:

  • If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God.

Some of you got into a class or college or the internet or read a book or got around a group of friends and and thought, you couldn’t believe in God in that environment.

Science v. Faith – When you see cases, Jones versus Smith, that’s just the way we say it in english. Actually, the latin v does not mean versus. It means and. Jones and Smith not Jones versus Smith.

It’s not science versus faith, it’s science and faith.

Science leads researchers toward faith as much as it leads them away from faith.

You’ll hear atheists say, no one in the scientific community believes in God. That’s not true. If you want to know why that’s not true, look at data science has done for themselves. Look at what a scientific poll discovered about their own community.

American Association for the Advancement of Science showed 51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.

In the hard sciences like astronomy and biology, it’s higher. In the social sciences, it’s lower. Psychology and so on are getting less religious. In the hard sciences, there’s a much higher belief. The rate is higher for people who are looking at the universe, looking at the evidence.

51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.

31% believe in a personal God, not just a higher power however you define that.

7% don’t know.

Fact-based science is not perpetually at war with faith-based religion. Maybe science is revealing what God did and does.

Allen Rex Sandage, Astronomer, Successor to Edwin Hubble:

“It is my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated that can be explained by science.”

He didn’t start out in life with a Christian conviction. The deeper he got into astronomy, the deeper he got into the way the universe is created, the more questions got raised. In his fifties he became a Christian. He would say science raised so many questions that led him to faith in Jesus.

Science shouldn’t kill your theological curiosity, it should spark it.

The more you know, the more questions you have. What you discover, is that God has answers.


Four Questions

1. What caused everything that exists?

When you think about the origins of the universe, everyone agrees that everything that begins to exist has to have a cause.

Your kids didn’t just spontaneously appear. You know what happened. If you have a business, where did it come from? You started it. Where did your car come from? A factory. Originally the mind of engineers.

Theists said it was God. Others said it was the universe or the big bang. How do you explain an infinitely complex universe that began out of nothing? The Bible answers this.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV

This takes this all the way back to the question, where did the first cell come from? Where did the first thing of matter come from? Where did existence come from? How did any of it begin?

This is the question of origin. This is what the Bible addresses. Christianity has an answer for origin. It has an answer for how the first cell began. And how existence began. As we discover more, we discover it must be a Creator.

In the first century, the Apostle Paul, a Jesus Follower, put it this way…

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

2. What caused order?

This is the evidence from design. There’s a world within a world within a world and it’s coded and all works together. The laws explain what we see, but not how they got there. Who or what created the laws of physics? Let’s ascribe to God the worth and worship He is due for his creation.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Creation’s voice goes out and the evidence points to a designer. A creator.

3. What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning?

The dignity of humanity. We refer to it as human rights. Inherent worth. This idea that every person, just by virtue of being a person, has inherent worth and value can’t be trampled upon and shouldn’t be violated.

This just doesn’t make sense without God. How did we all come to believe, that every person believes humans have worth just by virtue of being human. We think this idea has always been around. Ideas aren’t like that. Ideas have to come from somewhere.

What’s great about this is there’s zero debate. Regardless of what you believe, anyone who has any knowledge of history the idea of human worth and dignity, the idea of worth and dignity came from the Bible.

They’ve tried to find it in another source and it just isn’t there. The basis for human worth is that God made you!

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV

This is why there is some science Christianity rejects. We reject when any science becomes the authority over human life. God is the only one who rightfully exercises sovereign control over human life. To attempt to control who lives, who doesn’t, when someone dies, or do things to place ourselves in God’s position. Clearly, man is not to do this.

If we view man as simply another creature and not as the unique creation he is, it is not difficult to see human beings as mere mechanisms needing maintenance and repair.

But we are not just a collection of molecules and chemicals. The Bible teaches that God created each of us and has a specific plan for each of us. Deep down, we all know it.

“Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” Romans 2:14-16 NLT

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

These are rational explanations as to why we have morals. The idea that these morals just evolved can’t be. As you study it, you find that God created them. And you have inherent worth because you were created in the image of God.

That’s why the Christian faith, at its core, is not only about believing something, it’s about knowing someone.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20 NLT

4. How will I respond to Jesus Christ?

If Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, if he’s done all these things and he’s extending his hand to me, how will we respond? In the gospel of John,

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!'”

“But he replied, ‘I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.’”

He’s got enough evidence to make him a believer, but he’s not.

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!’”

“’My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed.”

One of the great statements and confesses in scripture. He didn’t touch. At this moment he believes, he didn’t have to put his hands in there.

The problem is not the evidence. It’s the human heart.

Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.'”

There is a special blessing on those today  who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” John 20:24-31 NLT

This is written that you might believe that He’s the one who died because of your sins. When you believe, then you’re alive, you’re born again, and have life. Life after death is sweet and wonderful as you are with Jesus.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Rethinking School and Work.” How was your school and work week? Any areas you recognized where God is working.

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

Big Idea

Many believe that science and Christianity are incompatible. Widely-held misconceptions are that Christianity is anti-intellectual; Science is objective, faith is subjective; If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God. However, fact-based science isn’t perpetually at war with faith based religion.

Read John 20:24-31

Discussion & Application

  1. As a kid, were you quick to question things or did you generally believe whatever was presented to you? How has this tendency changed for you as an adult?
  2. What was the attitude toward God in your house growing up?                                         Did you parents lead you toward faith or away from it?
  3. Of the four questions on the outline, which jumps out to you most? (What caused everything that exists? What caused order? What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning? How will I respond to Jesus Christ?)
  4. Even if we fully and completely understood the scientific how of science, we would always wonder who and why. In what ways are who and why more significant questions than how?
  5. If morality, cosmology and the design of the universe do not point toward a creator, what do you think they point toward?

Prayer Focus

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

Next Steps

Even as you explore the ‘how’ of science, remember to go beyond that and ask who and why? As you embrace those questions, read biblical accounts like the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John to gain a better sense of who God is and why he created us.

Rethinking Your Life | Week 10: Rethinking School and Work

blog.001

It’s a big week as the school districts around here fire back up this week. That means many people are back to work, back to school and summer break is coming to a close. Whether you have anything to do with the school calendar or not, this is a transition moment in our year.

Today we’re going to talk about how we can approach our school and work places and even our homes in a God honoring way.

No matter where you are or what your relationship with school or work or home life is like right now, you may be feeling tremendously optimistic or you may be feeling a bit of anxiety toward your job or school year. Maybe you feel like you can’t keep up with the changes and the timeline and you just want some peace. Let’s start with a little encouragement from God’s Word.

“The Lord rules over the floodwaters. The Lord reigns as king forever. The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.”  Psalm 29:10-11

Before we jump into this post today, let’s take a timeout and pray over this transition. As a church body, let’s pause and turn to the Lord. Before we push play on everything that lies ahead, let’s take a deep breath. Breathe in His goodness. Breathe out his praise.

Heavenly Father, at the outset of this new year in a way, we turn to you, our Lord. You are good. No one like you. You haven’t failed us yet. We’re still here. Still standing and you will lead us through. We’re thankful for what new seasons represent. A fresh start.

Grant our teachers an abundance of Your wisdom. Prepare their hearts to welcome and love our loved ones, and may we make sure to show them love and respect in return. Give them grace as they help students who aren’t thriving, courage to say what needs to be said, tools and knowledge on how and when to speak love and strength when they feel weak.

When they feel unseen, remind them that no moment goes unnoticed. They are shaping the future in one million small – yet incredibly important – ways every day. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of learning they share with our children. Bless them, Lord, and may they see even just a glimpse of how their faithfulness will forever impact generations to come. Amen.


Let’s talk about how to use our school, workplace and home life. Here’s a passage of scripture that will lead us to an amazing point. The book of Acts the full title is the Acts of the Apostles. It’s written by Luke who also wrote the gospel of Luke. Here he is giving the accounts of the beginning and growth of the early church in the first century right after Jesus ascended to heaven.

“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.”  Acts 16:16 NIV

This woman had a demon spirit, and because of that she could actually see the future. She was doing it demonically inspired. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. So someone would send her out to do this and she’d bring the money back to them.

She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Acts 16:17 NIV

She knew this because of the demon. She wasn’t shouting this to praise them but to expose them and to insert herself or the spirit into this work. The devil always overplays his hand.

She kept this up for many days.”  Acts 16:18 NIV

Paul and them are trying to minister to people, she’d following them around yelling and won’t go away.

“Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, ‘These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’ The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'”  Acts 16:18-30 NIV

The jailer is recognizing that he was actually the bound one. You’d think Paul and Silas were the bound ones and the jailer was free, but that’s actually not the way it was. You have a jailer asking the jailed, what must I do to be saved? I want your God.

“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” Acts 16:31 NIV

That’s not saying when you believe that it automatically extends to your family. The word ‘household’ in the greek is oikos. It’s not your family or your house, it’s the people under your roof of influence.


My Sphere of Influence

First, let’s see who these people are, your oikos, your sphere of influence.

  • My people

You have people. These are the ones who are close to you: family, coworkers, classmates, deskmates…

God puts us with some people on purpose. If you understand that, you can influence them. Just as the world is a sphere, you have a sphere.

Most sociologists say that the average person has 12 people in this sphere. Here’s how they come up with this theory. Add up all the time you spend with people in a week. All the people you spend an hour or more within seven days, most people have 12 people that they’re spending an hour or more of time with in a week.

This is important becuase it reminds us that we have influence. We have people we can move. It’s not on accident.

“Go home to your family and friends. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.”  Mark 5:19 NCV

  • My place

The Bible says God determined the times and places we would live. You are where you are for a reason. You’re in 2020 for a reason, on purpose.

God has you in the school you’re in or the job you’re in. Even if you don’t enjoy it, take advantage of it for this season. Go for it. See what God will do.

Here’s a verse to pray over yourself to see your life more positively and purposefully.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands.”  Psalm 90:17 NIV

You’re not there just making a living. If you see your job, your work, your home life, your school only as a necessary evil, you won’t fulfill its purpose.

If you see the only purpose for your job or school as necessity, you’ll see those places as prison walls. If you see it as a platform, you learn the other purposes. There is the purpose of identity, character, credibility, generosity and eternity.

  • My passion

You have passions particular to you. In fact in Growth Track we help you discover your S.H.A.P.E. The ‘P’ in shape is Passions.

There are things you’re more passionate about. Not everyone is drawn to the same thing or same people. The reason you’re moved toward that thing is God orchestrated that. Get in places where God has stirred your heart for.

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

That word delight is the same as a bride putting on a wedding gown or a groom putting on a tux. When you put yourself before the Lord, He gives you the want.

It’s not that He gives you what you want, He gives you the want. God’s trying to direct your life.


Making a Difference

Here are three ways you can make a difference in your sphere of influence. These are things you can start this week.

1. Our manner

Yes, mind your manners, it’s all about your attitude.

The Bible talks about our manners and how we live our life. This will be tested in this next season. There will be more changes, you can count on that. You’ve go to decide now how you’re going to respond.

Are you going to be surprised? Will you be disgruntled?

Are you going to be a burden? Are you going to second guess your leaders and bosses and teachers?

Things are fast and fluid. The decisions they’re making they probably don’t like it any more than you do. It’s easy to second guess someone when the responsibility is not on you.

Whatever you’re facing right now, coronavirus and everything else, we’re going to get to the other side of this, you’ve got to decide now if you want to make it through better or bitter. Do you want to make it through with burned bridges or more bridges?

Mind your manners.

If your only motivation to mind your manners is yourself, it won’t change. If your motivation for change is the shine a light, to be salt and light, you are more likely to grow.

If you feel stuck in your growth and need a breakthrough, if you really want to grow, launch a small group. When you’re leading others, it causes a boost. When other people are a stake, it’ll change you.

How are your manners?

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV

Make it your ambition, make it your goal. The way you influence your world is not through yelling at people the gospel, it’s through faithful presence in people’s life bearing witness to one another.

What if when you did something for a neighbor and when they thank you, you just tell them, simply, the love of Christ compelled me to do this.

When you go the extra mile and someone appreciates it, the love of Christ compelled me to do it.

I didn’t even really feel like it, but I follow Jesus Christ and I feel like that’s what he would of done.

2. Our moment

God is navigating and today He’s going to cause two people’s paths to intersect and it’s a divine appointment. Many people in the world are going to go from darkness to light, death to life today because God orchestrated it. Recognize those moments.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.”  Psalm 37:23 NLT

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 NIV

You fill your calendar, God knows what’s going on. Why not see the people you interact with as a divine appointment? Let the appointments begin.

3. Our message

Let your life be known what you are for. So many are known for what they are against, be known for what you are for.

Do more people know your pet peeves and frustrations that what you are for?

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Peter 3:15 NIV

What is the hope that we have? It’s John 3:16. Don’t let your theology become so complicated that you can’t boldly proclaim or be deeply comforted by John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17 NIV

You don’t have to pay for your own sins, they’ve been paid for. Our God saves people from hell. Our God so loved the world that he gave His Son.

Hell isn’t a place people go that God is mad at, it’s a place people go to pay for their sins. You don’t have to pay for your own sins.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Fighting Temptation.” Have you noticed the patterns of temptation in your life? Are you submitting to God and resisting the devil?

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

Big Idea

We all desire to make a difference in our own world. The secret to changing the world we live in is using our influence to make a difference for the Kingdom. In this message we are learning that we are all part of a sphere of influence that, if we leverage properly, can literally change our world. Equipped with this understanding of God-given influence, we will all begin to make a difference…

Discussion & Application

  1. What is your dream job? If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you do?
  2. Read Psalm 37:4. Discuss the idea that God plants desires in us when we delight in Him.
  3. One way we can make a difference in our world is our manner – how we carry ourselves in front of others. How does your manner affect those around you?
  4. Read Proverbs 16:9. What would happen if the whole church began to ask God for those moments that can make a difference in others lives?
  5. Our message is the most powerful message in the world. It’s the message of life-change. Can you share your story in three minutes or less?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.
Pray for anyone in your group who is experiencing a transition this week. Pray for your people, places and passions.

Next Steps

Make a list of those you consider to be in your sphere of influence. Ask God to create moments for you to impact their lives this week. Consider leading a small group to share your passion with those in your sphere.

Rethinking Your Life | Week 9: Fighting Temptation

blog.001

Today, we’re going to look at how to fight temptation. We are going to discover that our God is faithful and no matter where you’re trapped, God always gives us a way out. Everybody at one level or another has something in their life that is consistently there that should not be there.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV

Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. 

Temptation promises things by saying, you’re going to like this; you’re going to feel good;  its going to make your life more meaningful; you need this; this is important; you can’t live without this.

Temptation gives a moment of satisfaction, a thrill, a buzz, a high, but is followed by shame, regret, consequences and pain. 


Four Truths of Temptation

  1. It is not a sin to be tempted

Our spiritual enemy will use false guilt to make us feel guilty when we shouldn’t feel guilty. There are many times you are tempted, but you didn’t sin. To be tempted is not the same as to sin. What our spiritual enemy wants us to do is to feel guilty; because then when we feel guilty what do we often do? We medicate our guilt with sin. 

Don’t let false guilt bring something on you that should not be there. Never associate the amount of temptation with your spirituality. Just because you are tempted does not mean you are that far from God. Jesus was tempted. 

For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 NIV

If you’re getting tempted a lot you could take it as a compliment, because if you’re not butting heads with the devil once and awhile you must be walking in the same direction.

  1. You are never above temptation

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

So often there are people that think, “I would never get in. I would never do that,” and they’re the very people that fall the hardest and the fastest. We’re going to guard against self-confidence, because our heart, scripture says, is deceitful above all things. 

We never know when we’re going to be vulnerable. We have no idea what we are capable of. Any single one of us is capable of anything given the right environment.  

  1. God will never tempt you.

God will test you, but He will not tempt you. There is a clear difference in scripture between trial and temptation. We are tested to move forward, to be promoted.

Trials are used by God to move you closer to God. Temptations are used by the enemy to move you away from God.

God tests you to move you forward. Satan tempts you to move you backward and there’s a big difference. 

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NLT

Every time you’re tempted to do whatever is disobedient to God that is an invitation for you to depend on Christ, because in your own fleshly nature you do not always have the ability to say no to temptation.

  1. There is always a way out

No matter what you’re facing, no matter what sin has you hostage, no matter what small annoying thing has you in its grips, there is always, always a way out.

…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

If you fall, God will pick you up again and give you a way out again. The good news is that also when we’re weak, Christ’s strength is made perfect in us. Christ in you is more powerful than any wrong desire in you. 

Every time you’re tempted, God is inviting you to trust in Jesus who will set you free because the good news is this: Our God is faithful. 

How do we fight our way out? We need to understand the process of temptation. 


The Process of Temptation

These steps that happen every single time before someone does the wrong thing. These steps can take days, weeks, months, or even years, or literally, you can go through all five of these steps in a matter of moments. 

  • Thought

It begins in the mind. While a trial can be from God or used by God, temptations are never from God. They’re the enemies attempt to lure you away.  Temptation is the lure in a fishing pond. 

The devil will make sure that you have opportunity to do something you really know you shouldn’t do, but he’ll make it look so good and try to pull you away. Let’s be clear. The devil does not make you do it. No, he just gives you the opportunity to do it. 

  • Fantasy

This is where you think, what would it be like if you bit into it? If you drank it, ate it, slept with ‘em, bought it, watched it, whatever.  You start imagining how it is, when you get lustful or you start envisioning something. 

A great way out here is to change the fantasy. Instead, fantasize about finishing well. Fantasize about a long marriage with the respect of your children, or the respect of your coworkers. If you’re fantasizing about great things, God honoring things, the fantasy of sin becomes much less appealing.

  • Justification

Isn’t it interesting how we can rationalize our sin but we look at someone else’s sin and say,  “Well I’d never do that.”  Change the narrative to hate your own sins more than you hate the sins of others who sin differently than you do. 

During justification, you haven’t sinned yet. James says, you were dragged away and enticed.  Most of the scriptures in the Bible that talk to you about how to deal with sinus the word, “FLEE.”  Some of you have taken a few steps toward sin and you’re really close.  Break it off today. Stop it today. Get out of it today. Run. Flee. He’s trying to destroy your life. 

  • Sinful Action

This is where it actually is sin. Where you take the bite. 

A righteous man falls seven times, but he rises again. Proverbs 24:16

But there is hope: God will always give you a second chance. 

If you are in sin, your God doesn’t go, “Sigh. Get out of here until you get it all together.” That’s not his approach. Hebrews 4 says he sympathizes with your weakness. He’s a high priest who looked at you and said, “Yeah, that was hard. I remember that.” 

And he tells God the Father, “That really is hard. We’ve gotta help him. We gotta help her. I remember I was tempted with that, and that one is tough.” That’s how your God sees you today. He loves you with an undying love. 

The rest of Hebrews 4 says, “Let us approach the throne of grace and find mercy in our time of need.” Don’t get all discouraged, just turn it around. You already know you’re a sinner, but you can be saved today from your sin. 

However, If you don’t turn to God and receive his mercy, there’s another stage.

  • Death

Sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. Many times there is physical death from the choices we make. But at the very least, there’s relational death, emotional death, spiritual death, financial death, and the Bible says, don’t go there. 

Because the Devil is making it look good but it will lead to death. Sin never makes life better.It leads to death and destruction every single time. So, we magnify the consequences of sin. Write down all the things that would die if you went through with that sin.

Where does it start? It always starts with a thought. We need to recognize that what happens in those first critical moments of temptation, they are far more important than you could ever imagine. 

We are going to decide ahead of time, knowing that we will be tempted. We are going to decide ahead of time, how to resist temptation so that we do not fall into something that hurts the heart of God and is destructive to us and to others. 

Fighting Your Way Out

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV

  1. Submit to God.

The first thing we are going to do is submit to God, before you resist the devil, and that’s exactly what James said. Why? Because you don’t have the strength on your own. Your fleshly sinful nature is too weak. You are not designed to live the victorious life alone. You need the help of Christ, that’s why every temptation is an invitation to depend on Christ, so we submit to God.

How do you submit to God? For some this would mean acknowledging that what you are doing is wrong and sinful, if it’s the opposite of God’s word. Submission to God, very honestly, is a daily decision that you must make, and you must make it daily. Why? Because the lures are daily too.

When you submit to God daily, it is easier to resist temptation. When you are not submitted to God, you are vulnerable.

Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. You can rely on that which promises satisfaction or you can rely on the only one that gives true satisfaction and joy and you make that choice. 

  1. Resist the Devil. 

The devil doesn’t make you sin, with Christ you can resist.

In a very real sense, this is what you do when you are attacked by the evil one. You are already submitted to God so your confidence is not in yourself, your confidence is in Christ inside of you. Whenever you see the enemy come up, with every bit of faith inside of you, say, “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”

You recognize that Christ in you is stronger than the wrong desires in you.  Whenever temptation comes our way, we should say, “I was expecting you. I’ve already submitted to God. God is with me today. I know that his strength is with me.” and then you fight back. 

One of the best ways to resist temptation is to eliminate it whenever you can. For example, this is what Solomon was saying to his son:

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:14-15 NIV

This might be a game changer for you. Why would you resist temptation in the future if you have the power to eliminate it today? You decide ahead of time to distance yourself from temptation.

Another great way to resist and flee is to start quoting scripture, which actually is a really effective tool. The moment it becomes a thought, you are already prepared. Your mind is already submitted to Christ today. I’ve already agreed not to look at something, say something wrong, act in some wrong way. 

Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 NIV

Jesus is not sitting at the right hand of God the Father going, “He tripped up again.” Jesus is sitting there saying, “I’m here to help him get out.” 

Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me. Instead of feeling shame, condemnation or guilt, we should feel hope. Why? 

…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

When you are tempted, our God will always provide a way out. Submit to God. Resist the Devil.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “The Problem of Sin.”

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

Big Idea

God does not want you to live in the cycle of sin, shame and self-hatred. In order to break that cycle, we need to change the way we think about temptation. Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God.

There is a way out! — Read 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Discussion & Application

  1. Do you remember a time when a friend tried to convince you to disobey your parents. What thoughts did you have? How did you overcome the desire to make the wrong choice? Or if you disobeyed, how did you feel afterward?
  2. Of the four truths about temptation, which one was a good reminder?
  3. How do you see the process of temptation working out in your life?
  4. “And God is faithful” What is the significance of God’s faithfulness in resisting temptation? What encouragement lies in this Biblical passage?
  5. Are there any doors to temptation you are keeping cracked open that you need to slam shut? 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV

Prayer Focus

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

Father, we know you have told us there is no temptation that is too great to resist. You always provide a way to escape. Help me understand the situations that make me most vulnerable to yielding to temptation.  When I see these conditions, teach me how to redirect my thoughts and go to your Word to claim the promises that you have given me. Help me remember you are on my side. Amen.

Next Steps

In order to resist temptation, focus your mind on something else. This week, consider your personal pattern of temptation. (anger, lust, gluttony, etc.) Then pick a few Bible verses addressing that issue. Write them down on index cards and memorize them. When the devil tempts you, refocus your mind on one of those verses.

Rethinking Your Life | Week 8: The Problem of Sin

blog.001

What would you say if you were asked what the biggest problem in your life is right now?

You might have a list of problems that you’re facing… BUT… that is not your biggest problem. Your biggest problem is you. You cause yourself more problems than anybody else does.

We cause those problems by the way we think. Because wrong thinking causes wrong feelings, wrong feelings leads to wrong actions, and wrong actions create all kinds of problems. Most of the problems in your life are caused by the way you think.

Not everything you think is the truth. Just because you think or feel something doesn’t mean it’s true. We lie to ourselves all the time. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?”

We lie to ourselves far more than we lie to anybody else. Sometimes we tell ourselves things are better than they really are. Sometimes we tell ourselves things are worse than they really are.

Not everything you think and feel is the truth. When you act on thoughts and feelings that aren’t correct, you’re going to have behavior that’s not correct. That will cause problems in your life.

This is called your sin nature and we all have one. It’s not your fault that you sin, you didn’t create your sin problem, you inherited it from Adam and Eve.

Since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, every human being has been born with a tendency toward sin. For instance, when you know the right thing to do, do you do it? Not always! When you know something is the wrong thing to do, do you still do it… or eat it? Yes, you do.

That is your old sin nature. And that is your biggest problem!


What Is Sin?

Even though sin is the biggest problem in your life. God has provided the solution to your biggest problem. God has provided the solution to your tendency toward sin.

Let’s start with a definition of sin. We usually think of sin as a behavior. We think of bad actions like murder, adultery, rape, and stealing. When we think of sin we think of mean, bad, nasty behavior.

But the Bible tells us that God is far more interested in your thoughts, feelings and words than even in your behavior. In fact, in the Bible has a lot more to say about sins of the tongue than sins of any other part of your body.

1. Sin is the opposite of God and good.

God is always good, He is never bad. So sin is the opposite of what God is.

“Everything God does is good and fair; all His commands can be trusted.” Psalm 111:7

“The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation.” Psalm 145:9

God is good to everyone. Are we good to everyone? No. God shows compassion to all people. We try, but we fall short of that standard.

When God created the world in Genesis 1, He looked at what He had created and said, “This is good.” What we do is we take what God created as good and we use it in bad ways.

We take the good that God made and we misuse it, abuse it and then we lose it.

Money in itself is neither good nor bad but it can be used for good or used for bad. Sex isn’t bad or dirty, sex is holy. It was God’s idea. Drugs can be used to heal people or to relieve pain. But if we misuse it and abuse it then instead of being beneficial it’s destructive.

We get hurt when we subvert and pervert the good that God does. Sin is always a perversion of God’s good gifts.

It is impossible for God to do anything evil. He cannot sin or do wrong. Job 34:10

God wants us to be like Him, so anytime I’m sinning I’m being the opposite of God and that’s a bad thing.

2. Sin is the opposite of love.

One day a man asked Jesus, “What’s the most important commandment in the Bible?” Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Life is all about love. If those are the two most important commands, then sin is the opposite of those two commands. Not loving God and not loving your neighbor is sin.

As sin and evil increase in the world, people’s love will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

Are we seeing that today? People are more rude and critical than ever. Civilization is becoming uncivil. Why? Because as sin increases… love decreases.

They’re the opposite of each other.

3. Sin is always selfishness.

“Wherever there is selfishness you find disorder and every kind of evil sin.” James 3:16

Sin is self-centeredness. The middle letter of sin in English is I… S-I-N. It’s a visual representation that the “I” centered life is the sinful life. We all have an “I” problem. I want it my way… I will do my own thing… I think this… I feel that…

4. Sin is always unbelief.

Specifically, it is an unbelief in who God is.

The Holy Spirit will show that the world’s sin is unbelief in Me.” John 16:9

Sin is when we don’t believe God is who He says He is and we don’t believe that God will do what He says He’ll do. When we become fearful or anxious, we’re showing our unbelief in God’s promises.

There are over 7,000 promises in this book and if you claim them you won’t be fearful or anxious. 365 times the Bible says, “Do not be afraid.” That’s one for every day of the year.

When I get impatient that means I am doubting God’s perfect timing. God has a plan for your life and He is not in a hurry. His timing is perfect.

When I get resentful or bitter it means I am doubting God’s wisdom. God is a wise, good, loving God and He has a wise, good and loving plan for your life. But you look around at others and compare their lives to your own. It can make you resentful and bitter.

When I doubt that God can bring good out of bad, I get resentful.

What about carrying guilt? How long should a follower of Jesus Christ feel guilty? About one second. That’s how long it takes to confess a sin once you’ve done it,”Sorry, God, that was wrong. Please forgive me.” Boom, it’s gone, it’s forgiven.

But people carry guilt around for years! God doesn’t want you carrying guilt around like that. Confess the sin and get rid of the guilt. What does it mean when you carry guilt around like that? It means you can’t forgive yourself because you doubt God’s forgiveness, and that’s a sin.

What about when I feel inadequate? When you have feelings of inadequacy you’re saying you doubt God’s power to help you. Sin is really all about unbelief.


What’s The Problem With Sin?

Is sin really that big a deal? Let’s look at six problems with sin and then we’ll look at the solution.

1. The first problem is that I was born with a selfish desire to sin.

The classic Bible passage on this in Romans 7. The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived says,

“I feel that I’m a slave to my sinful desires. Sin masters me. … I can’t help myself because of my sinful nature inside me. … It’s a law at work in me that is at war with my mind.”

There is a battle raging in your mind between your old nature and your new nature. Between your desire to do the right thing and the natural human inclination to do the wrong thing.

This problem is not a new thing… it has plagued humankind since Adam and Eve. We were born with the tendency to make wrong choices and every one of you could give an example of that.

2. The second problem with sin, It breaks my fellowship with God.

Sin is a relational issue. Have you ever walked into a room when a couple has had a fight? You’re not even in on the fight but you can tell there is some tension in the room. Why? Because when you sin against your spouse it breaks your connection.

The same is true with God. Sin breaks our connection with God. That’s why when you pray your prayers bounce off the ceiling. That’s why you don’t feel God in your life.

“Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why He doesn’t answer your prayers, or let you see His face.” Isaiah 59:2

Your sin matters. It affects your relationship with God, others and yourself.

3. Third problem, every time I sin something dies inside me.

The Bible tells us that sin is a silent killer. The wages of sin is death. There was no death on this planet until sin entered the world. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, they would have lived forever. Sin and death go together.

“Our evil desires make us sin and when sin is finished with us,… it leaves us dead. James 1:15

We’re not just talking about physical death here, a lot of stuff dies when you sin. Your passion for God dies. Your dreams of being closer to the Lord die. Your relationships die when you sin. Sin kills your potential. Sin kills your joy.

4. My sin may be a secret but it’s never private.

Our sin always affects other people even if nobody else knows about it. The reason why it’s never private is because it’s going to come out eventually. Either here on Earth or at the Judgment Day, every sin will be known.

You may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23

The Bible says that if you cover up your sin you cannot be successful. But if you confess it and forsake it you get another chance.

“None of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.” Romans 14:7

Some people think as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, it shouldn’t matter. But you are hurting other people when you sin.

5. That leads to the fifth one, sin does long term damage.

We think if we don’t see the damage right away maybe there won’t be any. Sometimes sin destroys your life suddenly like an earthquake. Sometimes it destroys your life over time like erosion or dry rot.

Sinning is like sowing seeds. When you plant a seed it takes time for the seed to germinate and grow to maturity. It takes time to produce a harvest. But whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest.

Don’t deceive yourself, you can’t make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you will harvest. If you plant in the soil of your sinful nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8

You don’t plant apple seeds and reap tomatoes. You don’t plant bitterness and reap love.

6. Disobeying God is neither fun nor funny.

Disobeying God is neither fun nor funny. We often fall for one of Satan’s biggest traps. Satan wants us to laugh at sin because if we laugh at it lowers our resistance to it. When Satan wants to take society to a new low he does it through comedy. He’ll put it on a sitcom, or in a standup routine, or on Saturday Night Live.

Because when you laugh at it sin it doesn’t seem so bad. But sin is not a laughing matter. Sin killed the Son of God on a cross. And that’s not funny.

“A fool’s fun is in being bad.” Proverbs 10:2

The ESV says, “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool.”

The fool thinks sin is a joke but it’s not. How much of our entertainment today is watching people commit sin?

“Because of your stubbornness in refusing to repent and turn from your sin,   you’re storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For there’s going to come a day of judgment when God will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who seek God, but for those who are self-seeking, and reject the truth and practice sin, they will face God’s anger.” Romans 2:5-8

That’s pretty sobering. Nobody likes to read that verse, but it’s there. Now, here’s the good news… God has solved your sin problem! You can’t solve it but God has solved it for you.

Jesus dying on the cross is the answer to everything. God doesn’t want you to be a slave to your sin nature. God wants you to find freedom in Christ.


How Do I Break Free From My Sin?

There are three things you need to do.

1. Understand what Jesus did for me.

On the cross, Jesus not only paid for the penalty of your sins, He also broke the power of sin in your life. By paying the penalty for your sin Christ broke sin’s power over you. On the cross Jesus Christ broke Satan’s power in your life so that you now have the power to say “No” to sin, that’s a power you didn’t have before.

If you trust in Christ you have the power to say “No” to sin that you did not have before. It’s more than willpower, it’s Holy Spirit power in your life.

“Jesus personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” 1 Peter 2:24

“Although Jesus died on the cross in weakness, He now lives by the mighty    power of God. We, too, are weak, but we live in Him and have God’s power.” 2 Corinthians 13:4

2. Let God give me a new nature.

“Those who have been born again into God’s family will not continue in habitual sin, because God’s life is in them now.” 1 John 3:9 NLT

“If you have the Spirit of God living in you, you are controlled by your new nature!” Romans 8:9 LB

If you have the Spirit of God living in you you’re controlled by your new nature. You don’t just have your own sin nature that wants to do the wrong thing, you have a new spiritual nature that wants to do good things. You want to walk in the Spirit so that you

It’s off with the old nature and on with the new nature. And that battle is won or lost in your mind.

3. That’s why I must change the way I think about sin.

“Jesus died to defeat sin once for all. Now He lives in and for God. In the same way, you should think of yourselves as dead to sin but alive to the power of God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:10-11 NIV

“Do not let sin control the way you live anymore or do what your sinful nature wants to do. Don’t let any part of your body become a tool of evil used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. Offer your body as a tool for doing good for the glory of God.” Romans 6:12-13 NLT

Sin is the opposite of God and good. Sin is the opposite of love. Sin is always selfishness. Sin is always based in unbelief toward God. Sin is my biggest problem. But God solved that problem for me through Jesus Christ. And when we understand what Christ truly did for me, we choose to live life with the new nature God has given me.

When we change the way we think about sin we can be free from the penalty and the power of sin.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Five Lies of Relationships.” Any more thoughts or observations?

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

Big Idea

What is sin? 1) Sin is the opposite of God & good. 2) Sin is the opposite of love. 3) Sin is always selfishness. 4) Sin is always unbelief in who God is.

What’s the problem with sin? 1) I was born with a selfish desire to sin. 2) Sin breaks my fellowship with God. 3) Every time I sin, something dies inside me. 4) My sin may be a secret but it’s never private. 5) Sin does long term damage. 6) Disobeying God is neither fun nor funny.

How do I break free? 1) Understand what Jesus did for me. 2) Let God give me a new nature. 3) Change the way I think about sin.

Discussion & Application

1. Jesus said, “As sin and evil increase in the world, people’s love will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12 (NCV) Take a few minutes and think about how you would define sin. Write down your personal definition. Share with your group.

2. Which of the problems with sin did you resonate with the most?

3. “Everything God does is good and fair; all his commands can be trusted.” Psalm 111:7 (NCV) Everything God creates is good. We are the ones who have twisted His good creations, using them for bad. Think of a recent selfish, unloving, or unbelieving act. Looking back, how might you have chosen differently?

4. Sin stands in the way of communicating with those who love you. What are some of the roadblocks that exist in your relationship with God?

5. Jesus personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross, so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) One or two of you brave souls share a time in your life when you sought to break free from sin in an area in your life. Briefly tell how you found freedom in Christ.

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. In your closing prayer, ask Jesus to help you live Godward, God-centered lives, to change the way you think about sin, and to live as Christ before others.

Next Steps

Reflect and take seriously the three ways to break free. Next, join us next week as we look at how fight against persistent temptations.

 

Rethinking Your Life | Week 7: Five Lies of Relationships

blog.001

What we think, matters. What we think determines what we feel and what we do. We shape our thoughts and then our thoughts shape us.

We want to learn to think like Jesus.

Rejecting lies, believing the truth, walking in truth and thinking things that are true. There’s nothing more powerful than the truth. You’re greatest friend in life is the truth. God is truth.

“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”  – C.S. Lewis

There may not be a place this applies more than in relationships. When we step outside of what God’s Word, God’s truth has for relationships, we’re left very unhappy.

“They knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God…”  Romans 1:21 NLT

Worship just wasn’t that they wouldn’t come to church and sing songs, it’s talking about His worth. His worthship. When you place his worth above your own, you see him as God.

Instead of saying, “I don’t know if I agree, I don’t know if I believe that…” The question of God’s worth is, “Do you think God has the right to say what’s right and wrong?” If you don’t think he has the right to say what’s right and wrong, you’re the god. This generation in Romans 1 wouldn’t put God above them, they wouldn’t worship him.

“…or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools… As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie.”  Romans 1:21-25 NLT

The truth be known, we’re just going to dispel some lies and show you some truth. All we can do is combat what the devil tries to do in our lives. The devil has no power over you, He simply suggests something to you that is not true. He can’t make you do anything, but he can suggest it, he can tempt you.

When God suggests a thought, that’s called inspiration. When the enemy suggests a thought, that’s called temptation.

And if we believe his lies, they end up in our minds, our hearts and our relationships. Today, we’re going to talk about relationships and how this happens in relationships. The thesis statement for today’s post is this:

In order for relationships to work, let the One who designed them define them.


Five Lies

The Creator gets to say what the creation does. He knows best, He created you. God created marriage, family and sex. He knows how it works best. Today we’re going to walk through the issue of sexuality in our moral standard. This is a tough one that might put you on edge. The world is not afraid to talk about it, however.

Sometimes we the message from God is, “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t do that. Thou shalt not. Sex is dirty, ugly and bad.”

Everything about it is thou shalt not. When the truth about it is, there are scores of verses that say, “thou shalt… do…” And it’s wonderful.

In fact, let’s go to the first place where everything was perfectly the way we wanted it. God created man and woman and put them in the garden of Eden. The word Eden means pleasure and delight. It was a delightful place, a place with no shame and a place where everything that the human body and relationship could enjoy was being enjoyed. All until the lies of the devil entered.

We’ll look at Genesis 3, you can see these lies throughout scripture, the progression here is so clear. Let’s look at five lies today.

The enemy came in the form of a serpent.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with  her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”  Genesis 3:1-7 NIV

They wanted to hide. Shame and hiding is where a lot of people are. By-the-way, the next few verses are beautiful as they run out of the presence of God, and God goes chasing after them. God calls out, “Where are you?”

Today what’s going to happen in this message is there will be parts of the message where you feel shame and hiding, but you’ll hear God’s voice calling out, “Where are you? I’m still here.”

God still loves you and is pursuing you today. So don’t checkout early. God’s not running from you, he’s running toward you.

In Geneses 3 there were five lies to expose. They actually happen in steps. The first feeds the second, the second feeds the third, the third to the fourth, to the fifth. Where it ends is incredibly dangerous. It’s where some of us are today.

Step 1: The devil gets us to question God’s Word


Lie: God’s Word isn’t totally true.

The first bait we take whenever we fall into a struggle with our sin is God’s word is not God’s word. Usually we feel this most when God’s word has something in there we don’t agree with or a family member doesn’t agree with.

Because, there are things in God’s word that challenge and confront all of us. It constantly calls us to places we are not. There’s a dilemma every time that happens.

Do I move God’s word to fit how I want to be? Or do I move me to fit what God’s word says?

If you’re in this place where can’t buy into that or agree with thatIt’s supposed to be that way. God’s word confronts us. It moves us to a higher level of godliness. If you let God call you up and transform you, if you’ll move yourself up to that place, to the standard of God, your life will be better in the long run.

There’s a place in the New Testament where Paul, who was an apostle, was planting churches. He’s being inspired by the Holy Spirit to write letters to these churches, they make up much of the New Testament. He was writing to a church in Thessalonica and Paul was celebrating Christians for believing God’s word.

Let’s be a church that says, regardless of what happens in culture and society, we’re going to follow God.

“We also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but actually as it is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”  1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV

God’s word works. But it only works when you accept it and believe it. You’re never going to know that until you accept it. If it confronts you, it’s supposed to.

“If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.” -Timothy Keller

Follow God wholeheartedly. Believe wholeheartedly, even though there are times when God’s word confronts us. That doesn’t cut against it being the word of God. That’s even more proof that this is not man made. This is not of me. I did not make it. It is making me.

If we buy into this first lie that God’s word isn’t totally true, then here’s the next thing that happens:

Step 2: The devil scoffs at the negative consequences of sin


Lie: That choice won’t hurt anything.

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

This is why no one has to convince you of this. Life will do it for you. All of us have a tendency to go our own way. We’re all like sheep who go our own way. We’re prone to wander. It’s because we believed a lie.

The one who defined sexuality — God created it. God knows all about it. The one who created it, created it for good, and he also created the parameters.

It’s like building a fire. You can’t build one anywhere, it’s gotta be in a fire pit or a fireplace. It’s got to be in the right environment. Nothing damages your emotions more than sexual sin. God made you to be a sexual being. He made you a woman or he made you a man. God says that’s good. He made men to be men and women to be women. In the right environment, the sexual relationship between the two, it’s awesome.

Fire is an essential. But if you let it out of the fire place, it’s your worst day. It’ll destroy everything you own.

We’ve seen the destruction of wildfires in California and Australia and different areas. That’s not the only fire going on. There is a wild fire going through our culture, our families, our government, our churches. Because we have forgotten…

Passions need parameters

God wants to spare you this pain. Passions can be enjoyed to the fullest, if you’ll follow the one who designed it, define it.

One man, one woman in a covenant relationship called marriage. One man, one woman in marriage. That’s the fireplace. That’s the parameter. There are a lot of things outside that parameter the enemy says are fine. There are a lot of things outside that parameter our world says are fine.

God says, you’re going to get burned. Then it feeds into this next step. If you buy the lie that it won’t hurt anything, it goes to this next step where the enemy says, the reason God doesn’t want you to do it is because God’s actually bad.

Step 3: The devil accuses God of evil intent


Lie: Righteousness is boring. Sin is fun.

Now, sin is fun for a season. The Bible says there are immediate gratifications, that’s why we do it. But it’s a lie and it turns to dark places. It’s called the fleeting pleasures of sin.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11 NKJV

When you follow God’s prescription you can experience marital intimacy that mankind cannot create. No drug can create. God has the best way.

The most loving thing God does is call us out of our sin.

He’s protecting, guiding and loving. If we buy into the lie that God isn’t doing what’s best through his word, we’ll begin to fall for step four.

Step 4: The devil advertises sin as beneficial


Lie: Your life will be better with you leading it.

We begin to buy into the idea that feelings can be trusted. You can’t trust feelings. We don’t follow feelings, we follow faith. We follow convictions. Feelings lie. Choices lead, feelings will follow. Start with having a life that’s surrendered to the Lord. A life that says, I don’t even belong to me. I belong to God. I’m going to follow his way even when I don’t feel it.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

When you make choices to not watch certain things, not listen to certain things, not go certain places, not do certain things, you’ll think you’re making a sacrifice. But as time goes on, you’ll see, it wasn’t a sacrifice.

Giving up something now for something better later isn’t a sacrifice. It’s an investment.

We do this in school. We do the hard work, but later we see it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was beneficial. We do this with money. Take part of your paycheck out to put it in savings or mutual funds, later you see it wasn’t a sacrifice, it was an investment.

We do that in other areas, why not relationships? Giving up something now for something later, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s an investment in your life.

Here’s the fifth step, when they actually believed that sin was beneficial the devil than flips the script

Step 5: The devil uses sin to create shame that destroys our future relationships


Lie: It’s too late. Run and hide.

This is where he wants you. Some of you feel this shame right now. You think God is disgusted with you. That He’s over here in His holy house waiting for you to get your act together. That’s not what He did. He actually went out looking for you.

Lighting up shadows. It’s not too late and you don’t need to run and hide. Look to him for help.

“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”  Psalm 34:5 NLT

This is how our God responds to you. When you mess up, God receives you still. You’re never going to get help until you’re honest.

There are three possible responses to this message today.

1. Defensiveness

Some will say, I was made this way, I can be who I want to be. God gives you the choice to respond that way. That’s thinking like the Devil.

When the devil fell, you can read it in Isaiah 14, this worshiping angel fell from heaven because he made three I will statements.

I will… I will… I will…

When you get into the “I Wills”, you’re going to fall.

Instead, think like Jesus. He didn’t say, “I Will.” He said, “Your Will.” The night before Jesus went to the cross, He didn’t want to go. He didn’t not want nails in his hands.

“…not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42 NIV

2. Remorse

Meaning, you agree, but you’re reading this ten years too late. You’re too far in and already made the mistakes.

You’re not too far. That remorse and condemnation is of the enemy.

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”  Romans 8:1-2 NIV

When you come under God’s word, all these verses get to be true of you too. The verses you don’t like call you out because they’re true, but all these wonderful things get to be true of you too.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

3. Repentance

You choose to see this the way God does, believe the same as God, and now turn around and let him lead you out of that life of sin.

Repentance is a moment of pain. Being unrepentant is a lifetime of pain.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Defeating Discouragement.” How has 1 Corinthians chapter four and those points encouraged you over the last week?

Reminder of the points 1) Never forget God’s mercy. 2) Reject dishonesty. 3) Remember it’s not about me. 4) Use my pain to encourage others. 5) Take time for renewal. 6) Stay focused on what will last forever.

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

Big Idea

In order for them to work, we need to let the One who designed them define them.

In Genesis 3:1-7, we see five consecutive lies that the enemy uses to ultimately trap us in shame from our past. He begins with questioning God’s Word, manipulating us to believe that the Word isn’t totally true. But the truth is that while God’s Word may confront us, it’s meant to bring us closer to God’s best for our lives.

Next, Satan scoffs at the consequences associated with our sin, leading us to believe that sinful choices won’t hurt anything. But while passions are great, they need parameters.

Then Satan accuses God of evil intent, making righteousness seem boring and sin fun. In reality, the most loving thing God does is call us out of our sin.

Fourth, the devil advertises sin as beneficial and tries to convince us that life will be better if we are in control. This keeps us from believing the truth that giving up something now for something better later isn’t a sacrifice, but an investment.

Last, the devil uses sin to create shame in an effort to destroy our future relationships. But the truth is that if we turn to God for forgiveness, we can live the rest of our lives free from the pain of our past.

Discussion & Application

  1. When considering the five lies the enemy uses to distort God’s plan for our relationships, which do you feel you wrestle with the most?
  2. The lies the enemy uses are meant to produce shame in our lives instead of freedom. Where have you seen evidence of this in your past or present relationships?
  3. Do you find that it’s sometimes easier to defend living life making your own choices, than surrendering to God’s will?

Prayer Focus

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

Father, thank You for Your grace that meets us where we are. You have shown us in Your Word that Your plan is the source of joy and fulfillment in our relationships. Allow us to see where we have believed the enemy’s lies, and help us to walk in repentance.

Next Steps

Take time to consider the lies the enemy uses to distract us from God’s truth and how they may be impacting your life. Don’t forget to consider Celebrate Recovery.

RockBrook.org/Connect/Celebrate-Recovery

Rethinking Your Life | Week 6: Defeating Discouragement

blog.001

Today, we’re going to talk about one of the biggest enemies of your mind, of your faith, of your life, of your relationships. One of the biggest enemies of the way you think: discouragement.

Maybe you feel misunderstood, misrepresented,  or maybe something has happened that is a huge disappointment. Maybe you’re just beat down from things that have accrued over time. We pray this message is the beginning of encouragement to you today.

Discouragement often happens when a project, plan or relationship is not going the way we want it to go.

It’s easy to start something, and once you see the light at the end of the tunnel, even finishing can be fun. But the grind in the middle is much more difficult. It’s in the grind when we lose sight of the vision, lose sight of what finishing well will feel like. It’s in the grind, in the middle when the enemy tempts us to give up.

If you’re discouraged, you’re in good company. Moses was discouraged on multiple occasions. The Israelites got so discouraged at times. David was discouraged. Elijah was so discouraged once he wanted to die.

The Apostle Paul, of course, had many, many reasons to be discouraged. Paul had a very tough life. 

24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28

However, Paul later shares what keeps him going in 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, and that is our focus today. What he shares works and kept him from giving up in the midst of all that. We need to would learn to think like Paul thinks about discouragement.


How do we stay encouraged?

  1. Never forget God’s mercy. 

If we are going to defeat discouragement, we have to keep God’s love and mercy constantly in focus. Everything in life flows out of the mercy, grace, love, and kindness of God. That is why we do not become discouraged, and we never give up. 

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 Corinthians 4:1

Paul starts by saying he doesn’t get discouraged because he remembers the mercy of God, the grace of God, and the kindness of God and that drives the discouragement away.

Everything you have in life is a gift of God’s mercy. Your life in itself is a gift of the mercy of God. Mercy is that God gives you what you need, not what you deserve. Mercy is when God knows every mistake you’ll make in your life, and yet He still created your life.

Mercy is that there was a debt hanging over your head, and Jesus Christ paid it. There was a punishment hanging over your head, and Jesus Christ suffered it. There was an impossible task laid out for you, Jesus Christ did it.

At the moment when you get discouraged, you stop feeling the mercy of God. You can’t feel how much God loves you and be discouraged at the same time, so it’s either one or the other. 

Some Christians don’t feel God’s mercy because they only think God speaks to them in a critical voice. But lets be clear: if the voice is always negative, it’s not God. God didn’t die on the cross, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and send his holy spirit to live in you  so He could nit-pick, nag and criticize you.

Remember that you were created to be loved by God. God made you to love you. The number one purpose of your life is not for you to do good. The number one purpose of your life is not for even to love God back. The number one purpose of your life is to be loved by God and let Him love you.

  1. Reject dishonesty

Nothing is more discouraging than dishonesty. When you try to be something you’re not. When you distort the truth. When you act and pose, that gets tiring and you’re afraid that other people might find out who you are, and you’re afraid that God might not love you.

Nothing’s more discouraging than trying to be something that you’re not. God does not bless fakes or phonies, God does not bless posers, God does not bless who you pretend to be. If you want God’s blessing on your life, just submit and surrender to the truth. The truth of scripture, the truth of who he made you to be.

We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Paul says that we don’t preach for the approval of other people. Paul says I’m just trying to be myself. I’m not trying to please everybody else. I’ve got nothing to hide, what you see is what you get. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to please everybody – why? Because even God can’t do that.

You know just about time you get crowd A pleased, crowd B gets ticked off at you. Then when you get crowd B pleased, crowd A is upset with you.

If you’re always trying to be something you’re not, you’re always going to be under stress, you’re always going to fear being exposed, and you’re going to be prone to discouragement. The truth of God sets people free.

  1. Remember it’s not about me

The more self-focused you are in life, the more prone to discouragement you are going to be. Every time you forget that life is bigger than you, you’re going to get either prideful, fearful, or bitter because God didn’t make the world to revolve around you. When you think everything’s all about you, then you take everything personally, and you get your feelings hurt so fast.

That’s discouraging. Here’s how Paul applies this to his preaching ministry.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

God didn’t put you on earth to be about you. He puts you on earth to be about Him, He’s your Creator. Your life message is about God. He says it’s not about you.This is difficult to remember because everything in the world leads us to think that if we put ourselves first, we’ll be happy.

We’re merely servants for Jesus’ sake. What he’s talking about here is motivation. Now, motivation and discouragement go together. You can do the right thing for the wrong reason. The Why always determines the how long in your life. 

If you go out on a project, or you get a goal, you get an ambition, and if you forget why you’ll get discouraged and quit. A lot of people start off in life knowing why they want to do what they want to do. 

When you forget why you married the person, or why you went into that career, or why you gave your life to Christ, you’re going to stop doing the how long. 

Discouragement always happens when we forget the why. So, why do you do what you do? 

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  2 Corinthians 4:5-6

He says, we’re weak jars of clay. God invaded earth, as a baby of peasants in a barn. The Kingdom entered through weakness, not through strength. God has always done that. He’s always used weak people who trust him so his strength can go through them.

This is what humility is all about. Humility is not denying your strengths, it’s being honest about your weaknesses and giving God the glory.

  1. Use my pain to encourage others

Remember, Paul went through shipwrecks, and prisons, and beatings.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Why is Paul this resilient and so resistant to discouragement? What allows him to just get back up again every time he’s knocked down? If you asked him, his response would be verse 15, 

All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 2 Corinthians 4:15

He’s saying, I keep on going and  don’t get discouraged because I know it’s helping others.

Studies show that human beings can handle an enormous amount of pain if they see a purpose in it. When you have pain and you don’t see any purpose, it’s unbearable, but when you can see a good purpose, then it becomes bearable. 

Sometimes you will suffer for the benefit of other people and at that moment you are more Christ like than any other moment, because that’s what Jesus did. He suffered on the cross, not for His benefit, He hadn’t done anything wrong. 

He suffered on the cross for our benefit, redemptive suffering. What is it in your life that’s so painful that you need to be using to help other people?  Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt, if you are honest to God, honest to yourself, and honest enough to talk about it with other people. Everything’s broken on Earth, so there is suffering and pain and evil here. While we should fight it, don’t waste it, use it for good.

  1. Take time for renewal

Over the long haul, you’re going to figure out ways to recharge, to refresh, and to renew yourself. If you don’t learn how to refresh yourself, you’re going to get discouraged, and you’re going to give up. No matter what the project, or the goal, or the dream is.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, (wasting away) our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

You’re going to have to learn how to be renewed every day. That’s called daily renewal. You’ve got to renew your mind, you’ve got to renew your body, and you’ve got to renew your heart. Renew constantly. 

Physically, our bodies are decaying. You can’t stop the aging process, but you can stay fresh inside. Are you letting God renew you every day? You need to spiritually renew yourself daily with time with God every day. It’s like hooking up the jumper cables to get your spirit recharged. 

  1. Stay focused on what will last forever

Paul’s final secret for defeating discouragement is not look at the here and now. He says you need to maintain an eternal perspective. When you look into heaven, and you look into the future, you can see the coming rewards, and all the things that God has planned for you.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things  we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

This is a matter of perspective: temporary problems, eternal rewards. You know, there are three kinds of motivation in life – internal, external, and eternal. This life is not all there is, we’re made to last forever, and we’re going to spend more time on that side of death than on this side.

Think about eternal motivation. How did Jesus handle all the pain and suffering on the cross? He was looking beyond it, to the joy that was set before him. He’s looking to the reward. He had his eyes set on eternity. 

Only when you see the invisible, can you do the impossible? Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, or as Paul says, “We look forward to what we have not yet seen.”


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Rethinking My View of Myself” 

Did you make any faith confessions this week?

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

Big Idea

The enemy wants to discourage you. That’s why defeating discouragement is another part of rethinking your life. Even the most godly get discouraged from time to time. The Apostle Paul had secrets to defeating discouragement. We see some of them in 1 Corinthians chapter 4.

1) Never forget God’s mercy. 2) Reject dishonesty. 3) Remember it’s not about me. 4) Use my pain to encourage others. 5) Take time for renewal. 6) Stay focused on what will last forever.

Discussion & Application

  1. Describe a time when someone encouraged you.
  2. What has been discouraging to you lately? In other words, what came to your mind during this sermon?
  3. Paul describes how his discouragements were used to encourage others. How can you encourage others toward Christ with the things you have suffered in your life?
  4. Which of the six ways to defeat discouragement do you think you need to do most right now?

Prayer Focus

Heavenly Father, help me to apply these secrets of defeating discouragement as a part of rethinking my life. I want to never forget your mercy, reject dishonesty, remember it’s not about me, use my pain to encourage others, take time for renewal and stay focused on what will last forever. Send your Spirit to help me to “not get tired of doing what is right,” for you promise that I will reap a “harvest of blessing” if I “don’t get discouraged and give up.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Next Steps

Have you considered joining us for Growth Track? Rock Brook’s Growth Track is a 4 step series designed to help you take the next step in your spiritual journey. Step one is August 2nd where we’ll share our story, vision and purpose of the church. rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

Rethinking Your Life | Week 5: Rethinking My View of Myself

blog.001

Do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again… falling for the same old tricks… the same old lies… doing the same thing over and over? Life change doesn’t begin with behavior. If you start with your behavior, you’re going to fail. To change your life you have to change how you think.

The key is learning to think with the mind of Christ. Because when you think with the mind of Christ then you will be able to live and act like Christ.

What you put into your mind is what you’re going to get out of it. Garbage In… Garbage Out. Jesus In… Jesus Out.

There’s a higher standard that God wants us to live by. It’s time for us to wake up and become the people God calls us to be. 

“And do this, understanding the present time…” Romans 13:11 NIV

The phrase “the present time” refers to what’s called a kairos moment. A kairos moment a moment in your life that must be seized in order to accomplish its purpose. It’s not just the passing of day after day after day. 

“And do this understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality, and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy, but rather but rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t even think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:11-14 NIV

If you’re going to rethink your view of yourself you have got to put on the mind of Christ and you have got to get rid of the garbage that’s in your mind.

“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:23 NIV

This truth is found over and over again in Paul’s teachings.

“Do not conform any longer 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

It’s important to understand the difference between conforming and transforming.

  • To conform means to fit into a mold; to make or become the same; to behave in a conventional way by accepting without question the customs, traditions, and prevailing opinions of others.

Paul is telling us don’t let the world press you into its mold. Don’t just follow the crowd or the culture. And yet, how often do we do try to fit into the world like Play-Doh into a mold?

But as followers of Christ we belong to a different kingdom. We have pledged our allegiance to a different King. We live under a different set of values than the world does.

Just because something has become socially acceptable doesn’t make it right. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it acceptable to God. God wants us to live under a different set of values.

God says, “Don’t conform to the ways of the world.” Instead, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

  • To transform means to change the nature, character, or personality of something.

Conforming is about changing external appearances. Transforming is about changing the internal nature of something. Conforming has to do with behavior – fitting into a mold. Transforming has to do with character – renewing your mind.

If you want to be like Christ then think like Christ.

So, how does that transformation actually happen? We need to talk about a couple of more words – repent and confess.

  • To repent means to change your mind, to change the way you think.

Repent does not mean to change the way you behave. Repent means change the way you think, what you believe.

When you repent you will change your behavior but the behavior change starts in the mind. We also need to understand confession.

  • To confess means to say the same thing.

In its Biblical sense, to confess is to agree with what God says about something. We often think confession is about confessing your sins. But there’s so much more to confession than just confessing your sins.

Now, confessing my sins is important because it’s part of forgiveness. The Bible says that when we confess, God forgives.

So confessing sins is important, but if we stop there then nothing is going to change inside us. How often have you confessed the same thing to God over and over? Have you noticed that we’re not very creative when it comes to sin?

We all have the same four or five things that trip us up over and over again. Confessing your sins brings forgiveness but it doesn’t change anything in you. But there is another kind of confession that does change how you live. It’s not just confessing your sins… it’s confessing your faith.

Confessing your sins is saying what God says about what you did.

Confessing your faith is saying what God says about what He did.

  • When I say what God says, I begin to think like God thinks.

When I say what God says about life then I begin to think like God thinks about life and that changes the way I live. You’re not just saying what God said about what you did, you’re saying what God says about who you are in Christ.

You are confessing – agreeing with God about who you are in Christ. That’s why we must be people of the Word so that we know what God says so we can think the way God thinks about us.

I know it because I have His Word on it. My sins are forgiven because I have His Word on it. God is not ashamed of me. “The Son has set me free.” “I can do all things through Christ.” My God will meet all my needs.” “There is a purpose for my life.” God will never forsake me, I have His Word on it.

If we spent more time confessing our faith, we would spend a lot less time confessing our sins.

That is the secret to being made new in the attitude of your mind. You confess your faith.


Be Made New

“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:32

Right before Paul wrote that sentence he wrote an exhaustive list of things we need to guard our hearts against. Things like anger, bitterness, slander, lying, stealing, hatred, lust. But he ends that list by saying, “Be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

“Be made new…” those three words come from a Greek word that means “to renovate.”

If there’s going to be any positive change in your life there has to be a renovation in your mind. If you have ever renovated anything in your home, you know that renovation is not a one-time instantaneous event. It’s a process, it’s a project.

It’s inconvenient. It causes a disturbance. Unexpected things come up. It’s painful and it’s costly. But the end result is good.

The renovation of your mind is no different. When you’re renovating your home, where do you start? You start with demolition! You rip out all the old stuff to be able to put in the new stuff. Out with the old before in with new. It’s the same thing with your mind.

  • Renovation begins with demolition.

Every day you process between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts. That’s about 3,000 thoughts every single hour. Over time, those thoughts form patterns and pathways in your mind. You have thoughts that you habitually think about yourself, about God, and about how you think God thinks about you.

Before you can experience any real change or renewal, some of these thought patterns and pathways need to be broken down. What are the lies that you need to get out of your head? Is it guilt for things you’ve done? Regret for things I continue to fail to do?

If you are loading up your mind with guilt and regret then you believe God sees you as a failure. You have things that really need to be changed. Maybe for decades you’ve been praying but nothing is changing. So you have concluded that God doesn’t care about that.

Of those 60-80,000 thoughts some of them are on repeat in your mind. Things like, “I don’t think I have a purpose. I feel kind of worthless. I am worthless. I don’t feel like anybody likes me, or loves me. I’m a failure. I’m a fraud. I’m not good enough.”

Do you have any of those not-good-enough statements that you say to yourself? You’re creating pathways in your brain that are based on lies.

Parents can struggle with that. Let’s face it, as parents we’re just winging it. We’re just making it up as we go along. If those are the types of thoughts that you have in your mind, God is saying something very specific to you right now… Enough. Enough of that.

Because every time you say, “I’m not enough,” there’s a word for that. It’s called shame.

Jesus is not the author of shame. Satan is the author of shame.

Jesus is the author of grace and freedom and hope and peace and joy.

That script that’s been playing over and over in your mind that you’re not enough, God has written a whole new story for you. And He desperately wants you to live it. It comes down to knowing the truth about yourself.

Jesus said, “When you know the truth, it will set you free,” but you have to know the truth to be set free by the truth.

“Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery…”Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; HE SNAPPED THEIR CHAINS.

Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He’s done for them. For HE BROKE DOWN THEIR PRISON GATES of bronze; HE CUT APART THEIR BARS OF IRON.” Psalm 107:10-16 NLT

The bars to their cells? They’ve been cut apart! The prison gates? They’ve been broken down! The chains? They’ve been snapped!

You can come on out of the cell that you’ve put yourself in because Jesus has set you free from the lies you believe about yourself!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV

No condemnation – two of the most beautiful words in the Bible.

This renovation that God wants to do in your mind is a safe space for you to step into. You don’t have to worry if He’ll accept you or love you. You don’t have to worry if He’s going to shame you.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

This truth of Christ offering us a new life is so significant that Jesus asked every single one of us to put this truth on display. We do that through baptism. Baptism is a picture of life change; it’s a picture of being made new. Baptism is something that Jesus commands us to do.

Baptism is a picture that the old has gone and the new has come. In baptism you are buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life!

When God renovates your mind the primary tool that He uses is the power of His Word.

“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts, and the attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV

“The Word of God is like a two-edged sword.” That sword has a deadly edge and a life-giving edge. The deadly edge of the Word of God puts to death the old ways of thinking. It puts to death the old lies that have controlled us. The life-giving edge performs open-heart surgery on you like a scalpel. It cuts out the infection and the residue of sin.

The Word of God can smash any stronghold, break any chain, uncover any sin and expose any lie.It changes how you see yourself, see God, and see the world.

We need to be made new in the attitude of our minds, and here’s how it’s done. Confess your faith. Say what God says about you. Let that change the way you think. And you let that change the way you live. You let the truth set you free.

We’re not talking about the power of positive thinking. We’re talking about the power of Biblical thinking.

This is not about good intentions. It’s not about you promising God… How’s that working out for you? God is not interested in your promises. We make our promises to God and fail, and fall, and break those promises, but God does not break His promises.

  • God is not asking me to make a promise that I cannot keep. He is asking me to receive a promise that only He can keep.

10 Faith Confessions

“I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again from the dead on the third day.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“I am a new creation in Christ. The old life is gone, a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“The Son has set me free. I am free indeed!” John 8:36

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“God is faithful. He will not let me tempted beyond what I can bear.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39

“He is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within me.”  Ephesians 3:20

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“God is for me! who can be against me?” Romans 8:31


This is the Word of God! This is what He says about you. So let it become what you say about you. Start every day by confessing these truths. Read them to God, read them to yourself, and read them to the devil.

Whenever you are afraid, have doubts or are tempted… read them again. Let these words renew your mind. The devil doesn’t want to see you free so he will rattle the broken chains and whisper those old lies to you. He’ll try to haunt and harass you with memories of your past. But when the devil tries to remind you of your past, just remind him of his future and let the Word of God fill your mouth.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Serving in Times of Uncertainty” and your SERVE Day project. How’d it go?

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

Big Idea

Are you ever confused about who you really are? The mixed messages we hear from the world around us leave us confused and often feeling powerless—but they are lies. It’s only when we learn to think like Jesus that we’ll know exactly who we are.

“When I say what God says, I begin to think like God thinks.”

Discussion & Application

1. The word “confess” is often full of negative images and connotations that confuse us. But “confess” means to say the same thing that God says. Discuss and share how seeing this in a simpler light changes its impact for you.

2. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (ESV) How can the truth in this verse help set you free from feelings of guilt?

3. Which of the faith confession promises makes the greatest impact on you? Why?

4. Turn in your Bibles to Romans 13:11-14. How does this passage challenge you to rethink your view of yourself?

5. Why do you think the writer, Paul, is so urgent in his warning?

Prayer Focus

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

In group prayer ask God to show you what chains need to be broken, what sins confessed, and what promises of God believed in order to begin rethinking your view of yourself. Determine to let God’s Word transform your mind. What changes will you make to your daily schedule in order to hear from God every day and rethink your view of yourself? Share your ideas with your group.

Next Steps

Take a picture or screenshot of the faith confession verses or somehow make a visual list of them to review on a regular basis.

Also, have you considered joining us for Growth Track? Rock Brook’s Growth Track is a 4 step series designed to help you take the next step in your spiritual journey. Step one is August 2nd where we’ll share our story, vision and purpose of the church. rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

 

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

blog.001

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

blog.001

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

blog.001

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