Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #10: Love

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What is your number one goal in life? Would you say, your number one goal in life is to be happy? Or to be loved? Or succeed in your career?  However you answer that question is your dominate life value.

Every time you make a decision, every time you have a choice,  you decide what you’re going to do based on your dominant life value, the dominant principle of  your life.

For instance, if your dominant life value is to have fun, then you’re going to tend to choose the thing that’s the most fun to do. If your most important value is comfort, then you are going to tend to choose the easiest, most convenient thing to do. 

God has a lot to say about this and says that LOVE should be your goal.

“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB)

Why? Because God created everything in the universe out of love.

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

What does everything include? This includes writing an email, posting on social media, writing a Yelp review, ordering fast food when you can’t understand the speaker, and even finding a parking spot. Everything includes responding to people who attack you for your faith. 

Do everything with love. One day Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment and He answered: 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”Mathew 22:37-39 (NIV)

That’s pretty clear. That’s why you are alive. Make love your highest aim. It doesn’t matter how much you acquire, how much you achieve, how many accomplishments you make or how many rewards you earn, or how famous you become.  

Love encompasses everything we have discussed during this campaign. If you love God, you’ve taken the responsibility to love him. You’ll trust him. Out of love you’ll have self-control.

If you have love you’ll live a balanced life. It’s out of love you will show respect, offer forgiveness, stay pure, treat people fairly and honestly. This is why Rock Brook Church is built on the Great Commandment and Great Commission, because we please God through those things.

The Fundamentals of Love

  1. We love because God loves us

If you go to a typical seminar on relationships you will hear that you need to “try to be more loving,” or “try to be more patient,” or “try to be more kind.” But trying on your own doesn’t work. It’s not a matter of trying; it’s a matter if trusting

The key to love is not you trying harder to be more loving. The key to love is letting Jesus Christ love through you.

It is experiencing the love of God in your life and letting Jesus Christ love through you. So it starts with receiving his love. You can’t love like he did by just trying.

“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

If God wasn’t loving there would be no love in the universe. All love comes from God. God is love.

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

God is always first in everything. He takes the initiative. The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. He showed that love by creating you. God created you to love you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you.  He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s a gift of God’s love.

If you’re struggling to love it’s not that you don’t love God enough. Your problem is you don’t realize how much He loves you. If you realized how much God loves you extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love – you would have to love him back.  

You could not, not love God if you understood how much he loves you. If we’re going to talk about learning to love God and others you’ve got to first understand and feel how much God loves you. The day you finally, fully understand how God loves you completely,  unconditionally, you can’t make God stop loving you.  You can try but you will fail.  

When you feel that unconditional love you’re going to start cutting people a lot of slack.   You’re not going to be as angry as you’ve been.  You’re going to be more patient.  You’re going to be more forgiving. More merciful.

The reason why you see people who are judgmental, sarcastic, mean spirited, angry, self righteous, always putting other people down is because they’re putting themselves down.  They don’t feel good about themselves.  They don’t feel loved.  They don’t feel forgiven.  They don’t feel grace. They feel guilty.  They feel bad about themselves.  And if they feel bad about themselves they certainly don’t want you feeling good about yourself.  

You’re going to have to do some healing in your heart because you have been hurt in life.  You’ve been hurt by parents or peers in school or by professionals or by partners.  Maybe some of you have been abused or misused or rejected or abandoned or betrayed.  

You have to let God do some gentle surgery on your heart because you can’t love others until you feel loved. 

“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16 (NIV)

Do you know the love of God? Do you rely on the love of God for you?

  1. Love is a choice and a commitment.

There is a myth that love is uncontrollable. That you really can’t control it. That love just kind of happens to you. You can’t force somebody to fall in love with you.  And you can’t force them to stay in love with you.  Why?  Because love is a choice.  

“You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying, and committing yourself firmly to him.”Deuteronomy 30:20 (NLT)

You must choose to love God. God isn’t going to force you to love him. Because love can’t be forced. Love is a choice.

You can choose to love anybody and you can choose not to love anybody.  So when you say, “I don’t love him or her anymore,”  don’t blame it on the circumstances.  You are choosing not to love. It’s in the moments when the loving feeling is gone that you find out what you’re made of.

  1. Love is an action, not just emotion

Love can produce emotion, but love is not an emotion.  

In the Bible, over and over, we are commanded by God to love each other. If love were just an emotion then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6 (NIV) 

Acting in love when you don’t feel it is the highest form of love. When you get up in the middle of the night with a child, or when you take care of an aging parent, or you’ve held a sick pan for a loved one who was nauseated, you didn’t feel like doing that. You did it out of love. That is the ultimate form of love.

When you are patient with somebody who’s irritable. When you do the loving thing and you come home at night and you’re as tired as everybody else is but you do the loving thing not because you feel like doing it but you do it out of love.  

You can learn about the concept of love in a sermon, in a book, in a small group, or in a video, but you actually learn to love by practicing it. By doing it.  

  1. The best expression of love is time

We’re all different, but we all have the exact same amount of time: 24 Hours a day; 168 hours a week. What are you going to do with that time?

“We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” 1 John 3:18 (GWT)

Our families need more time together. Time working hard together. Playing together. Enjoying each other. Showing love.

Love means giving up. Giving up your agenda for someone else’s agenda. Giving up your time for someone else’s time. Giving up your preferences for someone else’s preferences.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)

Jesus is the model of perfection in relationships.  He was the Son of God. He was perfect.  He was the only one who knew how to handle relationships perfectly.

  1. Love is a skill

Did you know that love could be learned? You can get good at it and you can get better at it. We want our church to be most known for being a loving church.

Not just the church with small groups or great music or great coffee or a great children’s ministry. We want people to say, “That’s the church where they love. They love God. They love God’s word. They don’t care who you are or what you look like or where you’ve been or what you’ve done or where you’re from, they love you there. And not only do they love you there, they teach you how to love.”

“Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all.”1 Timothy 4:15 (GNT)

This is where love can get difficult. Because love doesn’t mean I just let people do whatever they want. God wants us to help each other grow. Love can mean discipline. Love can mean hard conversations. 

Just because someone doesn’t let you get their way,  doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  It may mean they’re the only one who really loves you. They are doing what’s best for you. They don’t want to see that area of your life destroyed.So they’ll tell you the truth in love.

  1. Love is a habit

You can’t claim to be a loving person unless you are attempting to love everyone. You may think you are a loving person, but love happens when you love the unlovely.

“If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?”Luke 6:32

Being a loving person is when you love the unlovely. Love has to become a lifestyle.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.”Hebrews 13:1 (NLT)

“Keep on” means make a habit of it.  Do it all the time. In some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples right before he went to the cross, he’s giving them the last minute instructions before he dies and resurrects and goes back to heaven.  

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)

The mark of a true believer is love. The symbol of a follower of Jesus is not a cross,  it’s not a fish, it’s not a dove, it’s not a crown.  The symbol of a genuine follower of Jesus is love. 

Do people know you’re a follower of Jesus because you’re the most loving person they know?


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about honesty. How has that message and discussion impacted the way you have communicated this week?

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

Hear the Word

Life is all about learning how to love. It’s the most important value we can build into our lives. Why? God created everything in the universe because of his love. He made you because he wants to love you and he wants us to learn to love like he loves. 

“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB) 

The fundamentals of love: We love because God loves us. Love is a choice and commitment. Love is an action, not just an emotion. The best expression of love is time. Love is a skill. Love is a habit.

Application

  1. We love Because God loves us. What would make someone doubt God’s love? 
  2. Love is an action not an emotion. Think of a time you chose to love someone when you didn’t “feel” like it, but you knew it was the right thing to do. What did you learn?
  1. The best expression of love is time. Which of your relationships need more of your time? How would time spent together improve those relationships?
  1. Love is a skill. What aspects of love (e.g., patience, kindness, humility, hope, grace) do you have the hardest time extending to others?

Tell Someone Else

Is there someone God is bringing to your mind that you could text or call and tell them you love them right now? Who could you invite to come with you for Celebration Weekend? 

Have you taken the step of baptism in following Jesus Christ? We’ll be doing baptisms this weekend at Rock Brook. For more information visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism

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Go & Tell: Praying Like It Matters

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

Just like someone told you the best news ever, someone prayed for you. Someone prayed that you would come to believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Someone prayed that you would come to trust that 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.

Today’s post is about prayer. As a church we have committed to have intentional gospel conversations with people for the next 90 days. To do that, prayer will need to be a big part of those conversations. One of the purposes of the Go & Tell wall, we talked about in last week’s post, is a reminder to pray.

When you pray for the lost, you can follow this outline. Pray specific things for each lost person you know.

*Twitter G&T praying for the lost.001


If you are really honest, your prayer life could probably use a boost. Paul urged Timothy to pray for the lost. Here’s how he said it:

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)

God has built prayer into evangelism. Prayer is a big deal to God. So why do so many people struggle to have a great prayer life? Here are four possible reasons why people don’t pray more:

  1. They are not sure how to pray.
  2. They get bored or distracted while trying to pray.
  3. They think their requests are too small for God.
  4. They are not sure prayer matters.

What exactly is prayer? Let’s establish a working definition for today’s post.

Prayer is communicating with God.

Prayer is so simple. Can you even believe that we have full access to God? Scripture says we can come boldly before His throne of grace that we might find help in time of need. Prayer is just communicating with God. Our prayer life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Break out of your prayer box so you can pray more creatively. More authentically.

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing…”  Psalm 5:1

David, in this verse, is asking God to consider his sighing. He says, “God, I want to talk to You. God, we’re so intimate I can sigh towards You and You can acknowledge what I am saying.

“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”  Psalm 5:2-3

We all connect to God in different ways. Give yourself permission to recognize prayer is not just kneeling down by the bed with hands clasped. You might like to sing, so sing your prayers to God. Maybe you like to write, so write out your prayers to God. Type an email to God or learn to pray during routine tasks of the day. When you’re hurting, you may just go before God and just unleash your emotion toward God and cry with Him. Have the courage to break out of your pre-conceived ideas of what prayer has to be.  Prayer is communicating with God, here are four very simple ways to communicate and to talk with God.

1. Talk to God with gut-level honesty.

So many people talk to God in a way that they don’t talk to anybody else at all. Sometimes people almost put a show on for God in prayer. God wants us to talk Him with authenticity. It doesn’t have to be a show. In fact, there are times in scripture when people are so honest, it’s almost scary. There are so many examples of people giving God their honest feelings and you can be certain, God is secure enough to handle it. 

Moses, in the Old Testament, was rather upset with God. He was almost sarcastic in his prayer.

“Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”  Exodus 5:22-23

You can pray honestly before God and continue to be reverent. You will always want to be submissive to Him.

If you look at Jesus, there are only two things that He criticized about people’s prayers. The only time He is critical is when people’s prayers were too lengthy for show purposes and when they were inauthentic.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”  Matthew 6:5,7

Your prayer doesn’t have to be unnecessarily long, and it doesn’t have to be perfect and fancy before God.

A guy was recently buying paint at a paint store and he was asking how primer should be applied, roll or brush all these questions and the guy working at the store said, it doesn’t have to be pretty, in just has to be on there.

Prayer is the primer of the Christian life. It creates adhesion and cohesion and it doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s just gotta be on there.

2. Talk to God about everything that matters to you.

What matters to you?  Take it to God in prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

In everything, we talk to God. 

Whatever is important to you, talk to God about it. If it’s important to you, it’s important to Him.

Here are some of the different prayers people prayed throughout scripture. Every prayer is unique in what mattered to different people.

  • Zacharias prayed for a son
  • Solomon asked God for wisdom
  • Moses and Samson both asked God for water in a time when there wasn’t water
  • Daniel had a weird dream and he didn’t know what it meant, so he asked God to help him know what it meant
  • Gideon asked God to give him a sign
  • Abraham had a servant, who prayed that God would give him favor to find a wife for Isaac
  • David prayed for forgiveness after sinning with Bathsheba
  • Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain and then he prayed three and a half years later for it to rain again
  • Paul prayed about something that bothered him, this thorn, something in his side, and he pleaded with God to take it away
  • The disciples prayed for boldness
  • Jesus prayed that His disciples would be unified

When you look through scripture, what you are going to see is all these different things that matter to God’s kids. They took their requests before God and it mattered to God, because it mattered to his children.

Don’t go to anyone else until you’ve gone to God. Pray about everything. What matters to you? Pray about it. Do you have headaches that plague you? Talk to God about it. Do your feet hurt at work, talk to God about it. Are you about to start homework and you’re unsure how to do it, talk to God about it. Do you need a friend? Talk to God about it. Is your child struggling in school? Talk to God about it. Is your boss driving you crazy at work? Talk to God about it. Do you have tension in your family, are you worried? Talk to God about it. Whatever matters to you, matters to God, so pray like it matters.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Cast it. In order to cast something on God you may have to say it out loud. You probably haven’t given it to God unless you articulate it and say it out loud.

3. Talk to God continually.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You may not be good at sitting in prayer for an hour, but you can have a continual awareness of the presence of God. Train your mind to pray first. We give out bracelets that say “Pray First” to remind us that we are always about to do something…we can pray before everything. Before you walk into a meeting, before you click send, before you walk into the office or walk into the house…Pray First.

It’s an ongoing, consistent conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be just in the morning or just over the meal, but it’s an awareness of the presence of God. It’s an ongoing conversation. When it comes to prayer, we’re going to PUSH through.

Pray    Until    Something    Happens

Like the widow in Luke 18, who comes back before the unrighteous judge, who finally gives in because she’s so persistent. And Jesus said, “Don’t you think God will be like that?” When you pray, God might choose to change your circumstance or He might change you.

4. Talk to God and listen for His response.

Imagine how flat an one-sided only relationship would be. If the only things you ever said to someone else was what you needed them to do for you. Why would God be any different?

God not only wants to hear us, but He wants us to hear Him.

How is He going to speak? In all sorts of different ways. In a loud booming voice? He may speak that way, but He often doesn’t. When God spoke to Elijah one time, scripture says very clearly that there was a wind that tore through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God was not in the winds. Then there was a huge earthquake, and most people would say God was in it, but God was not in the earthquake. Then there was a blazing fire, but God was not in the fire. God did reveal Himself, though.

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”  1 Kings 19:12-13

God can speak to you through His word, in worship or in prayer. You will probably find God working in you and speaking back to you through His word and godly people around you. That’s why we have small groups at Rock Brook. Your small group can pray for the people in your life who need the Lord. They can speak into your life. The word and God’s people, they have to align, but through those two things you can hear God’s voice.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you used any of the strategies? Have you had any gospel conversations? How did those go?

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

Hear the Word

Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Psalm 5:1-3, Exodus 5:22-23, Matthew 6:5-7

Application

  • Of the reasons people don’t pray more, which one do you relate to most?
  • Describe a time how God answered an important prayer in your life. How did the way God answered your prayer affect your relationship with Him?
  • How honest are you with God when you pray? What are some reasons that keep us from being totally honest with God?
  • Describe how you communicate with God. What ways are most effective and meaningful to you?
  • What types of things do you typically pray about?
  • What keeps most people from praying on a regular basis? What are some specific ways we can overcome those challenges?
  • What is the biggest issue or need in your life currently? Spend some time praying for those needs as a group.

Tell Someone Else

To share our faith with others, we must rely on God’s word. Read through the Bible verses in the outline. What Bible verse can you look to for strength as pray for the lost?

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Go & Tell: Dynamic Gospel Conversations

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

How do I share the best news ever? We’ve posted about the best news ever, why we share it, some wisdom in how to share it, but what do we say in a conversation?

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

We put too much pressure on ourselves when we go to share our faith. We forget what our responsibility is and that God is in control.

“A successful witness is sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and then leaving the results to God.”  Bill Bright

Our responsibility is to go and tell. 

Their responsibility is to respond.

God’s responsibility is to save.

We don’t do high-pressured salvation moments in our weekend services. We make the gospel clear. We say there’s one truth, one way to be saved, one way to God the Father, that’s Jesus Christ. We don’t try and manipulate or talk people into believing it. We do that because if we can talk you into believing in Jesus, someone else can talk you out of it. God is the only one who can open blinded eyes. God is the only one who can free a soul from the bondage of sin and transform someone’s life.


 

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Take a look at the timeline above. In the center is a cross that represents salvation, when someone believes in Jesus for eternal life. That’s not where we start, however, we start on the left side, far from God. There’s also space to the right, because salvation isn’t the end of the line, it’s the beginning of the line. The goal after salvation is to become like Christ and fulfill his purposes for your life and the church.

These three things don’t happen overnight. We don’t grow automatically, we grow in steps. So there are positive and negative numbers to illustrate that people are in different places. We all want the salvation conversation. The one where we pray with someone and they walk across the line. We should want that. It should be a goal. But maybe you’ve been gauging your success on the wrong thing or maybe you’ve even given up, because you’ve forgotten there’s a lot more to it.

People will need to be challenged and encouraged several times before they cross that salvation line. Our responsibility is to just have the conversation. You don’t have to move someone all ten steps. You don’t have to move someone all five steps from far from God to salvation. But maybe because of you, someone will move one step closer to the cross.

A gospel conversation is anytime you encourage someone to take ONE STEP from where they are, to where God wants them to be.

How do we have the conversation? What do we say? Here are three primary ways you can have a gospel conversation and share your faith. These can work in your everyday relationships.


Three Ways to Share Your Faith

1. Share the hope we have.

People are dying for hope. Share your hope.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

Share your story with someone. Here are three elements in telling your story.

  • Tell how you realized you needed Christ

You needed someone who was strong enough to save. No matter what the situation or how old you were, you have a story to tell.

  • Tell how you committed your life to Christ

Before you point out what people should do, show them what you did. Tell them how you’ve committed to building your life on God. Share your life with them in such a way that they want what you have.

  • Tell the difference it has made in your life

This is the hope part. Share the difference and the hope you have. One of the best ways you can do this is to do it such a way to where they are hungry for what you have.

2. Share my church.

We have designed parts of our church for people who are far from God. We work very hard to provide ways for your kids, students and for you that move you to your next step. We create weekend services that believers would enjoy and unbelievers would want to come and see. A place where lost people could come, we want to make people feel welcome, serve them and add value to their life by answering their questions on how to live.

“Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to come in, so that My house will be full.”  Luke 14:23 (LB)

God says, He wants churches full because the need is so big. How can you share your church?

  • Pray for them

Pray for the lost people in your life. In our small groups, we write down the names of the lost people in our lives and then, as a group, call out those names before God. The Lord is going to have to stir their heart before they will make a step toward God.

  • Show them I care

Before you invite them, show them you care. People don’t care what you know, they want to know that you care. So don’t even share your faith with someone until you’ve  added value to their life. People want to know if you really care about them. When you gain people’s trust, you gain their hearts.

  • Invite them to join me at a service.

When you invite someone, don’t just say, “Hey we’ve got five services, good luck!” Ask them, “Which service do you want to go to? I’ll go to the one you like.” Sit with them. You can pick up an invite card at the info table in the lobby and give to someone.

3. Share Christ.

We’ve made sharing the gospel too hard. If you know John 3:16, then you can share the gospel with someone.

“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.”  John 3:16 (NIV)

That’s the answer to have eternal life. Every person is on a spiritual journey trying to connect with God. Tell them, God loves you, and the reason your life is so messed up right now is because…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 (NIV)

Now just because you become a Christian doesn’t mean you stop having problems. It doesn’t make life easier. It does mean fulfillment. It does mean strength. It’ll bring a fulfillment that you cannot explain. If they say no, they don’t want that kind of relationship with God, say, “Well if you ever think you do, if you ever change your mind…God’s love does not change and the invitation is always there.”


Three Simple Ways to Explain the Gospel

Here are 3 common misunderstandings that people have and ways we can clarify the gospel for them.

1. DO vs DONE

So many people make their spiritual life all about DODo this. Join that. Get on this path.  It’s only about what He has DONE. He lived a perfect life we could never live, He died in our place on the cross because of our sin, He rose from the dead and gave us eternal life. It’s no longer about what I do to be acceptable to God. it’s about what Jesus did to make me acceptable to God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

2. Good/Bad  –  Dead/Alive

Some people think being a good person is enough or they are too bad to be accepted by God. Sin isn’t about being a good or bad person. It’s about being dead and Jesus making us alive.

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

3. System – Savior

Some people will tell you a list of things they have completed from church attendance, Christian school to Bible classes…that all sounds like a system. Jesus isn’t a system, He’s a Savior.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)


Three Things to Remember

1. Rely on the Holy Spirit.

You might have a conversation with someone on a lunch break. The Holy Spirit was talking to them before that lunch, empowering you during the conversation, and will continue to talk to them long after you walk away. You played a role in the story God is crafting in their life. You don’t know what’s happening under the surface.

2. Reverse the question.

Almost every time you share your faith the other person will ask you a strange question. They go down a completely different path and ask a question about religion or things they’ve heard from the news.

The best thing you can do in that moment is to reverse the question and ask them how they explain whatever they just asked you about. You can even ask them, “Is getting that question answered really the thing that is keeping you from deciding who Jesus is?” Once you reverse the question, the conversation settles down into the realization that you weren’t trying to make them do something, you were just telling them some good news. All they need to know is that you met Jesus and something changed in your life, and now you have hope.

3. Remember your brokenness.

Brokenness is the biggest open door in sharing the good news. When life is great we give thanks to God, but it’s in the low points that we have a great opportunity to give an answer for the hope we have. When you share your story how out of grief or brokenness, God has given you hope, you will will rarely lack a listener. This is the message of hope that people are dying to know.


Today, we handed everyone a ping pong ball as they walked into church. Each ping pong ball represents someone we’re going to have a gospel conversation with. We want a fun way to track how many gospel conversations our church will have in the next 90 days.

As you have a gospel conversation, share your story, invite someone to church, explain the gospel or tell someone you’re a Jesus follower, write the name of the person you talk to on the ball and drop it in the wall display in our lobby.

Set a goal for yourself. How many gospel conversations can you have in the next 90 days? We believe everyone can have at least one conversation. Even if you’ve never shared your faith before, one conversation is a great goal. Watching other’s drop a ping pong ball in the wall will spur all of us on. We’ll rely on the Holy Spirit together.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you begun being intentional with any of the seven ways from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

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

Hear the Word

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

Application

  • Talk about times you’ve shared your faith with others. How did those go?
  • Of the three ways to share your faith, which one do you gravitate toward? Sharing your story? Inviting to church? Sharing Christ and explaining the gospel?
  • Talk about the sequence of events leading up to the moment you believed in Jesus as your Savior. Who introduced you to God? What kind of false perceptions did you have of God that changed when you encountered His presence?
  • Have each person in the group give their two-minute testimony to the group. As everyone shares their testimony, be sure to point out God’s role in each story.
  • What do you remember from the message? What stood out to you?
  • What do you find difficult when you are having a conversation about Christ with someone far from God? Based on what you’ve learned, how can you overcome those difficulties?

Tell Someone Else

This is week four of this series. You now know what, why and how. Now, WHO do you need to tell? How would you tailor the sharing of your story where the people involved might have different levels of belief? Write a name down and ask the group to pray for you and that person. To share our faith with others, we must rely on God’s word. Read through the Bible verses in the outline. What Bible verse can you look to for strength as you share your faith with others?

 

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Go & Tell: Intentional Evangelism

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

Today’s post is from 1 Corinthians on how to be intentional in sharing your faith, written by the greatest evangelist, Paul. Much of what we know about God today comes from his willingness to share his faith. This passage is his blueprint for evangelism.

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”  1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)

Paul tells us that we must be intentional in sharing our faith. Everything worthwhile is uphill. It takes intentionality in the following areas to share your faith well. Here are 7 intentional steps we can take from this passage of scripture.


Intentional Evangelism

1. Intentionally add value to lost people.

“…I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all…”  1 Corinthians 9:19 (MSG)

He says, I’m not a servant, but I’m going to voluntarily become a servant and that’s how I’m going to add value to people. You’ve got to earn people’s respect. You do that by adding value to their life. Don’t share your faith until you’ve added value to someone’s life, until you’ve served them in some way. Add value to someone who doesn’t know you or can’t give you anything in return. No strings attached. You have to earn their respect before they’ll give you a relationship.

“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”  1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NLT)

2. Intentionally include everyone.

“…in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever.”  1 Corinthians 9:20 (MSG)

For God so loved…the world. That’s everyone! He gave his one and only son that… whoever. God loves you, God loves people you don’t know and God loves people you don’t like.

If you go through the gospels the one thing you’ll see is that Jesus values people. You are most like Jesus when you love and value everyone.

Let there be a greater desire to connect with lost people than you do to correct them.

God doesn’t change us to accept us. He accepts to change us. Think of the lost people around you. The biggest deal to God is not that they missed church last week or that they’re living with a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s not that they get drunk or that they’re in a same sex relationship. It’s not that they’re stealing or gossiping or have uncontrolled lust or anger raging in their life. God is concerned about those things in anyone’s life, but his primary concern is that they’re infected with a venomous snake bite and they’re not gonna make it. His primary concern is that they’re lost, they’re dead.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Colossians 3:13 (NLT)

Make allowance for faults and forgive, just as Christ forgave you. If you have a school friend, coworker, neighbor, whoever, and you struggle to like them or have anything in common with them:

Find the 1% you agree on and give it 100% of the effort.

We disagree on a lot but we can find one thing. Keep looking for it and when you find it connect on that one thing. You don’t have to be like them to reach them, but you have to like them. We’ve got to intentionally include everyone, not just those who are easy to be around or those that we think are worth our time.

3. Intentionally know who I am in Christ.

“…I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ…”  1 Corinthians 9:21 (MSG)

Paul is saying he’s solid, he knows who he is. He’s not compromising, he’s not giving that away, he’s not a silent Christian and hanging around lost people isn’t going to tank his faith. You truly find out who you are when you hang out with lost people. It’s easy to love Jesus at church.

Never forget who you are. You’re their friend AND you’re a Christ follower. You’re saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus. You have the hope of heaven in your heart. Be so confident in who you are so you can go to where they are. Some of you work or live in dark places. It’s amazing how you share your faith and stay so solid. Some of you can’t even be around a lost person without going back into bad habits and just living as lost as they are. It’s because you’ve just stopped at knowing God.

Everything about Rock Brook Church is built on taking people on a journey so they can be solid enough in Christ to then help others. We want to help people to find freedom from the past and the junk in their heart. You can know God and believe in him but still have habits and junk in your life. That’s what small groups and Celebrate Recovery are about; getting people connected to a group of godly friends so they can be real and find freedom from the hurts and the habits and the hangups. Then you have a purpose to live for. When you live with a purpose, you can make a difference. Then you’re solid enough to go back out into the community, back out and say, I know who I am in Christ.

“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…”  Matthew 5:13, 14

Salt makes things better light makes things brighter. When you become salt and light you become a dealer in hope. Every person has a homing device in them looking for hope that wants them to know God. When you meet a lost person, that person was looking for you – they need your hope!

4. Intentionally enter their world.

“…but I entered their world…”  1 Corinthians 9:22 (MSG)

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”  Matthew 9:35-36 (KJV)

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When you enter their world you will be filled with compassion. The closer you are with them, the more you love them. Jesus came to us. He said, “I’ll enter their world. I’ll put on the robe of humanity. I’ll live where they live. I’ll feel what they feel and experience what they experience.” Don’t lose your passion and compassion for lost people. Someone entered your world. Someone told you. Someone accepted you. Someone loved you.

5. Intentionally experience things from their point of view.

“…and tried to experience things from their point of view…”  

If you can get them to love you you have a chance to get them to love God. If they don’t love you, it’s going to be harder for them to love God. How can you share your faith without first being a friend? How can you be a friend with someone and never share the most important and powerful thing in your life?

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV)

6. Intentionally be creative to move people toward God.

“…I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life…” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (MSG)

Be creative. Do anything to help people know God. Everyone wants to know God. Be creative to move them toward God. 

Plant seeds of curiosity.

Don’t make lost people mad, make them hungry. You’re the salt and the light. You’re the one that makes the earth palatable, you’re the one that lights up the darkness, you’re the one with the hope. When people are talking about the problems of the world and the darkness, and how scary it is, and how dysfunctional it is, don’t join in, say, “I wish you had my peace right now.” or “I wish you had my perspective right now.”

There is a business guy who goes around teaching and he starts his talk by saying, “There are four essential ways to value people, I’m going to give you three of them.” He just gives them three, and inevitably people stop him at the elevator or standing in line afterward to hear the fourth thing…which is about God. Make people curious. Make people hungry. Get creative.

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

7. Intentionally experience God at work.

“…I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” 1 Corinthians 9:23 (MSG)

The moment you get your heart on what God’s heart is on. The moment you have a heart that is broken for lost people. There is an anointing for you, a covering for you and a power that will radically change your life.

In a conversation with a lost person, there are three people. There’s you, there’s them, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is doing something in you that you cannot see and the Holy Spirit is doing something in them that you cannot see. He is doing something in their life that we cannot do, He is drawing them to Jesus.

“The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few.”  Luke 10:2 (AMP)

The harvest is abundant. There are thousands in our community who would take their next step toward Jesus today, if someone just told them. Don’t just talk about it get in on it.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his great name; make known among the nations what He has done.”  Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

Share the good news, not only the gospel of God but your own life. You were in darkness and hopeless when you cried out to God and He saved you. You were headed for hell. God doesn’t send people to hell, he saves people from hell. God is so amazing that he sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross. God does everything he can to save people from hell and gives everything he can to save people. You have to step over Jesus to go to hell, That’s our God. That’s what he has done. That’s the God I serve. That’s why we Go & Tell.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Anything from Pastor Kelly’s message on why we share our faith staying with you? Anything new reflections about the fishing illustration?

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

Hear the Word

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)

Intentional Evangelism:

  1. Intentionally add value to lost people.
  2. Intentionally include everyone.
  3. Intentionally know who I am in Christ.
  4. Intentionally enter their world.
  5. Intentionally experience things from their point of view.
  6. Intentionally be creative to move people toward God.
  7. Intentionally experience God at work.

Application

  • Did you take any extra notes or have something you’ve been thinking about since you heard the message?
  • Of the seven steps to intentional evangelism, which one do you need to work on the most?
  • Share some ideas on how to creatively share the gospel.

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life do you need to be more loving towards? Who are you excluding? Ask the group to pray for you and help you as you forgive them and reach them.

 

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Go & Tell: Followers Fish

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

When Jesus began His ministry here on earth, He started by gathering together 12 followers called disciples. These disciples became the foundation stones of the church and the sustainers of Christ’s ministry on earth. Jesus made it very clear from the very start that what He was calling these men. The call that Jesus had for the disciples in that day, is the same call that He has for you and me today.

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Matthew 4:18-19 NKJV

We are to be a Christ follower. That’s what a disciple does, he follows.

“From now on you will fish for people.”  Luke 5:10 NIV

There is an emotion attached to sharing your faith and it is primarily a negative one. The emotion that we feel about our own salvation is so different than the emotion we feel about sharing the Gospel. The emotion about our own salvation is positive. The emotion about sharing the gospel is negative.

Last week’s post was explaining what the gospel is. In John 3:16, we clarified what the gospel is. The way to heaven is NOT trying to be good. The way to heaven is trusting Christ to save you. Saving faith is trusting in Christ alone to save you.

This week’s post is about why it’s important to share the Gospel. As a follower of Christ,  you need to develop an unshakeable conviction about the importance of sharing the gospel. Then, in the next two week’s posts we will teach you how to fish for people.

The unknowns scares us and that creates some negative emotions. But understand this: 

Jesus followers fish, that’s what they do.

Jesus followers fish for people. That’s what Jesus calls, saves and empowers us to do. So why don’t we do it?

 


Three Reasons we Don’t Fish for People

1. We don’t know we’re supposed to fish.

We make the mistake of thinking that someone else is supposed to fish for us.

2. We don’t know how to fish.

One of the goals of this series is to help you learn how to share the gospel.

3. We’re afraid to fish.

One of the reasons why you might be afraid to share the gospel is you don’t want to be one of “them”. In your mind, you’re thinking of the stereotypical image of an evangelist. Maybe a person on a street corner yelling through a bullhorn, “Repent or you’re going to hell!”

Now I’m sure that these types occasionally win people to the Lord. It takes all kinds. Maybe it took that kind of approach to break through your shell and win you to Jesus. But that’s not what wins most people.

Now, think of the person who actually did lead you to Christ. How would you describe them? You would probably use adjectives like kind, caring, generous or prayerful. They fished for you, not by throwing a stick of dynamite in the water to drive you to the surface to get caught, by putting together a lure that was attractive and even helpful to you as a person.


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Are you a whoever? Have you believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life?

You may know Jesus was the Son of God. That He came at Christmas, healed some people, preached some sermons, walked on water and did miracles. You may even know He died on the cross and He rose from the dead at Easter. But do you really believe that Jesus did those things for you? How will you respond to what Christ did for you?


Four Reasons to Fish For People

You have a sphere of influence. There are people in your life everyday and they are the fish that God wants you to catch.

1. Fishing is fun.

What a thrill knowing that you played a role in changing someone’s eternal destiny. To know that someone is going to heaven because of you is an exciting thing.

“I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:10 NIV

You make the angels dance and the devil cry when you fish for people. How fun to see someone struggling with the meaning of their life and to tell them you have an answer to their problems? There is no problem that isn’t made better by bringing Jesus into the picture and you could be the one who does that. We have what people are looking for! We have the hope of a better life.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV

2. Fishing is necessary.

This is serious business. This is the difference between heaven and hell for the people in your life. For you as a believer this is not an optional thing where you can take it or leave it. It’s one of the five purposes of your life. It’s why you were made. It’s why you’re here.

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be savedBut how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about himAnd how can they hear about him unless someone tells themAnd how will anyone go and tell them without being sentThat is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’”  Romans 10:13-15 NLT

Sometimes we think,  “Why doesn’t Jesus hurry up and come back?” But we’re not waiting on Him, He’s waiting on us.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 NIV

You’re waiting on Jesus to come back and Jesus is waiting on you to share the Gospel. Then the people in your fishing pond can come to Christ so Jesus can come back. The challenge of the Great Commission is not to figure out when Jesus is coming back. The challenge of the Great Commission is to get people ready for when Jesus comes back.

3. Jesus asked us to go fishing.

If you’re going to call Him “Lord” then you need to do what He asks you to do. All 4 Gospels and the book of Acts end with that “ask” from Jesus. The first five books of the New Testament end with that “ask”.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  Matthew 28:19 NIV

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'”  Mark 16:15 NIV

“With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations…”  Luke 24:47 NLT

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  John 20:21 NIV

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 NIV

We’re to tell people everywhere. Sometimes we get hung up on, “Where is God going to send me?” God has already sent you. He sent you where you are right now!

4. We were all fish once.

So you’ve pictured the person who led you to the Lord. Now think back and picture you. Where were you, who were you when Christ found you? Where would you be, who would you be today if they hadn’t it? We fish because we were all fish once.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…”  2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV

Christ didn’t just die for you. Don’t selfishly hold onto the Gospel. We MUST share it with others.

Are you a whoever?

Maybe you’ve gone to church for years, you know Jesus is the Son of God. Maybe you know all of that but the question is: Do you believe that He did all of that for you?

“…whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.”  John 3:16 

You have to make a choice, a personal choice to believe in Christ.

Have you done that? If not, then do it today. If you have more questions or would like to let us know you have made this decision, email us at church@RockBrook.org.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Of the four statements from John 3:16, is there one that you took to heart anew this past week? If you’ve trusted God with salvation, you can trust him with anything. What did you trust him with this past week?  What is a doubt that you’re struggling with right now?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Luke 15:10, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, 2 Corinthians 5:14

Application

Being fishers of men is God’s agenda for our lives as followers of Jesus. This is God’s plan to reach all His people. We have the honor of playing a critical role in God’s plan for people to know Him and spend eternity in Heaven. There was a time when we were the fish, and someone took the time and effort to share the love of Jesus with us. Sharing our faith is not only a call from God that we have to do, but also a daring adventure we get to be a part of. If you’ve never played a role in helping someone come to know Jesus, then you’re missing one of the greatest thrills in this life. According to Luke 15:10, even the angels rejoice when one sinner turns to Christ. When we follow Jesus, He makes us fishers of men.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.  Matthew 4:18-19 NIV

  • How did you come to know Jesus? Who is the person most responsible for you coming to Christ?
  • As followers of Jesus we are called to be “fishers of men”. Whose salvation are you persistently fighting for?
  • Inviting others to church and sharing the love of Jesus can seem hard and scary.  What is something in the past or present that is holding you back from sharing your faith?  Identify ways to replace those lies with truth.

Tell Someone Else

In this series we’ll do some coaching and equipping so you can confidently share your faith. However, if you know John 3:16, you know enough to tell someone what you believe. With whom can you share John 3:16?

 

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Go & Tell: The Best News Ever

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

Someone told you. A friend, a parent, a relative, a preacher, a teacher, a children’s church volunteer, a roommate, a small group leader. It could have been several different people tell you before you got it, but someone told you.

“For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'”  Romans 10:13-15 (NLT)

“Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”  Luke 8:1

The word gospel means good news. Jesus preached the gospel because the gospel is good news about the kingdom of God. It’s the best news ever. It doesn’t matter what you have done. How much you’ve done wrong or how much wrong has been done to you.

Because of the Gospel, you can have peace with God, peace with yourself and peace with others.

The cross is the central part of our story. It’s the epicenter of God’s power. When an earthquake happens they say it’s 47 miles off the coast two miles deep, the epicenter of our freedom is on a hill called calvary, and it silences the enemy. The cross is a place of power and the enemy will fight you down to the last eighth of an inch to keep you from touching it, and it touching you.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  Galatians 6:14

There’s nothing for us to boast and brag about except the cross. Because the things that had authority in our life have been crucified and no longer have authority because the authority of the kingdom of God has the final word. The cross is the doorway to everything in our life. Not just a doorway you walk through once, but like your bedroom doorway, a door you walk through everyday. We walk through the doorway of the cross to what God has for us everyday.

In Numbers 21, the people of God are in the wilderness after slavery in Egypt. They’re getting very impatient.

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!'”  Numbers 21:4-5

God has freed them from slavery, set them on a journey, the long way, so he can show his greatness. He’s even giving them food. In the midst of the journey, their thanks and worship to God is, complaining! God was so frustrated with their sinfulness that:

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.”  Numbers 21:6

Aren’t you glad we don’t live under the Old Testament old covenant anymore? We’d have snakes everywhere. That could be our life, because we still say the same things to God. “God why are you doing this to me today?”

“The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.”  Numbers 21:7-9

We don’t understand why God does exactly what he does. But what he did here was put something in motion that involved their participation. He was foreshadowing Jesus. So he had the people make this bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then if you get bitten you had to come look a the pole and you would live. Some could have said, “That seems dumb. Why do we have to come to the thing and look at the pole? I don’t want to look at the pole. I don’t want to go way over there. I’m going to try to find another way to be saved and live.”

You can do that, but there is a pole. There is hope and life for anyone who looks on this pole, because God works and then we have to participate.

Then Jesus years later comes on the scene in John 3. The place where the most famous passage of scripture resides. And here’s what Jesus has to say about himself:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of  Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”  John 3:14-15

That’s the setup for the most famous verse in the Bible. John 3:16. This is the big time version of the bronze snake. 

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There is good news! The Son has been lifted up and we can look on him and be saved. How can you look upon the cross?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll teach you how to share the good news, but we have to do a couple of things first and that is gather around what the good news is and what we must do to be saved. The four statements from John 3:16, teach us what God has done and how we can look upon it.

1. I must recognize God’s love.        “For God so loved the world…”

We say I love you all the time, But we don’t go around saying, “I so love you.” But the Bible says God so loved the world. That means His love is extravagant. It’s beyond comprehension. God loves you on your good days and on your bad days. He loves you when you feel it.  He loves you when you don’t feel it.  Why?

God’s love isn’t based on who you are. It’s based on who He is.

You might say, God could never love me. It’s not about you. God’s love isn’t based on what you do, It’s based on what Jesus has already done for you.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is (real) love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”1 John 4:8-10

Before we even love God, he loved us. This has to become the foundation of your life. You’ve got so much stress in your life and no stability, because you’ve got a shaky foundation. It’s because you are building your life on something that can change. 

There’s only one thing in life that won’t ever change. That’s God’s love for you. It’s never going to change. So if you want stability in your life you build it on the rock foundation of God’s love for you. 

2. I must receive God’s gift.       “…that he gave his one and only Son.”

It doesn’t say God sent just a good man or an angel. It doesn’t say he sent a prophet, it says He sent His Son. He cared enough to send the very best.

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

No one measures up to perfection. We’ve all made mistakes. When you break God’s laws, you pay God’s penalties. That means I deserve to be punished for the things I’ve done wrong in my life. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news. Every sin has already been paid for. That’s what Jesus Christ did on the cross. He took all our sin.

“For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (TLB)

“(Since salvation) is by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  Romans 11:6

3. I must respond to God’s offer.       “…that whoever believes in him…”

God has made an offer to you. It’s an incredible proposal. He says this, “That whosoever believes in Him should not perish.” 

“Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.”  Romans 3:22 (TLB)

There’s only one way we’re getting into heaven. By trusting Jesus Christ. The word there in Greek is “to trust in, to cling to, to rely on, to adhere to.” Begin to trust God in every area of your life. Trust Him with your finances, relationships, future, dreams and ambitions. Trust God with your problems. That’s what it means to really believe. It means more than just knowing about Him. Believing means we want to know God.

When we believe and trust,

“We are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”Romans 3:24

The Bible says that Christ’s death justified you. Justified means “just as if I’d never sinned.” It’s even more than forgiveness. It’s forgotten, it’s wiped out.  It’s like it didn’t even happen.

Then it says “Through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Redemption is an old slave trading term. The word “redemption” means to buy somebody’s freedom. If you were a slave, standing on a block to be auctioned off and someone raises their hand and says “I will pay a hundred thousand dollars for you.” They say, “Sold!”

You come off the auction block and the buyer says, “Ok, you’re free to go.” You were just paid for, but now you are given freedom. That person is your redeemer. They paid to set you free.

4. I must rely on God’s promise.     “…shall not perish but have eternal life…”

The promise is eternal life. You were made to last forever. One day your heart’s going to stop. That’ll be the end of your body, but it’s not going to be the end of you. But here’s the bottom line: if you want to spend eternity with God in heaven, you’ve got to build a relationship with Him now on earth. You don’t ignore him your entire life and then at the end go, “By the way, I’d like to come and spend eternity with You.” You develop a relationship with Him now. Maybe you’re afraid that if you put your trust in Him, you’ll mess it up and not make it in. It’s God who makes sure you make it.

“We are now members of God’s own family… Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you… And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him.”  1 Peter 1:3-5 (TLB)

It’s not dependent upon you. It’s by the same power that rose Christ from the dead. Jesus said just come with your doubts and questions. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to have great faith. Just have a little faith.  It’s not the size of your faith that matters. It’s the size of your God. You put a little faith in a big God and you get saved.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Anything from the interview with Ted McMillin that has stayed with you?

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

Hear the Word

Read:

  • Romans 10:13-15
  • Numbers 21:4-9
  • John 3:14-16

Application

  • Did you take any extra notes or have something you’ve been thinking about since you heard the message? What stood out to you?
  • Of the four statements from John 3:16, is there one you struggle to accept?
  • If you’ve trusted God with salvation, you can trust him with anything. What’s next for you trust him with?
  • What is a doubt that you’re struggling with right now?
  • In the message we memorized John 3:16. What’s another verse from the outline you’d like to memorize?

Tell Someone Else

In this series we’ll do some coaching and equipping so you can confidently share your faith. However, if you know John 3:16, you know enough to tell someone what you believe. With whom can you share John 3:16?

 

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Week 1: The First Purpose of Your Life

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We love our community and want to show the love of Christ tangibly in our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes. This summer, through weekend sermons, small group curriculum and daily devotionals, we will discover how serving can make a difference in our community, makes an impact for God and grows our faith. Join us as we discover significance through serving.


Today, let’s take a look at our first responsibility as a Christian, the first thing God expects of you. Let’s start by reviewing God’s nature and God’s purpose for the whole world.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is (real) love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:8-10 (NIV)

Love is not only something God does, it is something He is. The only reason you are able to give or receive love, is because our Creator is a God of love and He created us in His image. He loves you on your bad days as much as your good days. He loves you when you feel it, when you don’t feel it.

He will never love you any more than he does this very second. He will also never love you any less than he does this second. 


Our Motivation For Serving

Let’s take a look at four fundamental statements for your life and ministry from the Bible. Before you step out to serve anyone, before you step out to love anyone, this is your motivation.

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The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God. God made you to love you. We think our first purpose is to serve, give, witness, read, or do stuff for God, but your first duty is to be loved by God.

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My first calling is to enjoy a relationship with God. Everyone who is a Christian is called. If you’re called to be saved you’re called to serve. The call to salvation, ministry and mission are all the same call. Life is not about the role you play, the responsibility you have or the rules you keep. Life is about the relationship you have with God.

“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people…”  Romans 1:7 (NIV)

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The relationship God made you for is to be His son or daughter. This is not God’s plan B. This was God’s plan from the beginning of time. Don’t doubt your worth. He did it all so He could love you and that would give Him glory. He did it all because he loves you that much. He doesn’t want slaves or workers, He wants children.

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

The Creator of the universe had a secret plan, a mystery. The plan was that God wanted to adopt you into His own family, He wanted you to be His daughter or son.

Before you serve God, you need to be a child of God. You’re not a worker bee, you’re a child of God. The further you get away from God, the further you get away from your identity. This is why so many people are in an identity crisis today.

The closer you get to God, the more you see your identity.

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The #1 thing you need to understand and remember is how much God loves you. It affects all of your relationships.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) 

God’s love for me is…

  • Wide Enough to be everywhere.

God’s love is wide enough to be everywhere you are. There will be times you feel alone, but you’ll never be alone.

  • Long Enough to last forever.

Human love wears out. God will never stop loving you. Don’t put your purpose and security in something that can be taken from you, otherwise, you’re not secure. If you want real security you have to put it in something that can’t be taken from you and there’s only one thing that cannot be taken from you, God’s love.

  • Deep Enough to handle anything.

If you’re going to go through struggles, suffering, loneliness, or problems, God can handle it. You may even feel like you’re in a pit. God’s love is deeper still. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper.

  • High Enough to cover my mistakes.

The Bible says God does not deal with us as we deserve. It also says that love covers a multitude of sins. Regardless of what you’ve done, God offers to forgive us so we can start over.

Love comes through Jesus Christ. He is the way to the Father’s love. There is only one way to God’s love, and it’s Jesus. You may come to Jesus through pain, loneliness, with a question, with a problem, in prison, but you’ve got to come through Jesus for God’s love.

If you felt completely and unconditionally loved by God every moment of your life, your life would change. Some of your fears or anxieties would fall away. Some of your competitiveness, envy, pride would be affected if you truly felt loved by God.

God’s love is so powerful because it invades your life and is so strong, it can break strongholds that have been there for years. It can soften hearts and wreck pride. It’s so powerful. So what happens when your life is motivated by God’s love?


When You Are Motivated By God’s Love…

1. You stop feeling pressured to perform.

The pressure to perform means I feel like I’ve got to prove myself. I’ve got to show God how good I am. Until you feel God’s love, you will constantly be evaluating everything you do, thinking you don’t measure up. This is the number one cause of burnout. Forgetting how unconditionally God loves you.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him…”  Colossians 2:6 (NIV)

This verse says that the way you got saved, is how you stay saved. The way you got into God’s family is the way you serve God. It doesn’t change after you get saved. You received Christ by grace through faith. You walk with him by grace through faith too.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”  Romans 5:1 (NLT)

At some point in you life someone is going to tell you that you’re saved by works, but there is nothing that you can to do to be saved. Even if you could do it, then why did Jesus take that punishment? This sets you free from the pressure to perform.

2. Internally, you feel accepted, rather than ashamed.

If you feel shame, it’s not from God. God’s desire is to set you free from shame and condemnation. You may be convicted by the Holy Spirit of a sin, because he loves you, but shame is not from God.

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

3. You become bold in bringing your needs to God.

If you’re not bold, you don’t understand the rights you have as a child of God. One of the things that astounded people about Abraham Lincoln is how he gave his son, Tad, access to the White House. He could be in a cabinet meeting or war strategy meeting and Tad would just walk in. His dad would pick him up and hug him. Because of their  relationship. That’s the relationship you were meant to have with God.

“This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”  Ephesians 3:11-12 (NLT)

You don’t have to pray wimpy prayers. You don’t have to knock. Just barge in. Tell God what you need.

4. You have unmistakable peace during conflict.

A sign you know the love of God is, when everyone else is losing their head, you know God loves you. When everyone else is panicking and freaking out, you’re calmly confident. At times of unmistakeable hurt and offense, you have the peace that passes understanding. My identity is not tied up in what is going on around me. I know God loves me deeply.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

5. You gain the courage to take bigger risks.

If you understand how much God loves you, your fear goes down and you have the ability to step out in faith.

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”  1 John 4:18 (NLT)

The less you understand God’s love, the more fear you will have. The more you understand God’s love, the less fear you will have.

6. You find yourself worshiping more and worrying less.

Worry is the warning sign that you’ve forgotten how much God loves you.

“It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  Philippians 4:7 (MSG)

Worship is the opposite of worry. Worry focuses on you and what you don’t have. Worship focuses on how much God loves you.

Worship is enjoying God’s love for you and expressing your love back to Him.

The problem isn’t that you don’t love God enough, your problem is you don’t understand how much God loves you. If you did, you can’t help but want to love Him, express His love, worship Him, serve Him or share Him.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.”  Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

If you do the right thing with the wrong motivation, you’re not going to last. If what you are doing is based on anything but the love of God, it’ll eat you up.

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)


Check Back

Do you have any more thoughts after reflecting on our birthday message, “Look Up. Look Back. Look Ahead.”?

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

Hear the Word

Start out by reading 1 John 4:8-10 (NIV)

Before we talk about loving others, serving Christ and serving others, we have to understand that the first purpose of our life is to be loved by God. Our first duty as Christians isn’t to do anything. This changes our motivation for serving. These should be our driving motivations for serving…

  • The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God!
  • My first calling is to enjoy a relationship with God.
  • The relationship God made me for is to be His son or daughter.
  • The #1 thing I need to understand and remember: How much God loves me.

When you are motivated by God’s love…

  1. You stop feeling pressured to perform.
  2. Internally, you feel accepted, rather than ashamed.
  3. You become bold in bringing your needs to God.
  4. You have unmistakable peace during conflict.
  5. You gain the courage to take bigger risks.
  6. You find yourself worshiping more and worrying less.

Worship is enjoying God’s love for me and expressing my love back to him.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Which of the six things, do you find yourself struggling with the most? How could God’s love help?
  3. Is there something you feel led to do, but fear is holding you back?
  4. How could this understanding of God’s love change your prayer life? Are you praying bold prayers? Are you telling God what you need?

Tell Someone Else

God loves the people around you just as much as he loves you. Who can you share this life-giving message with? Who can you encourage with God’s love?

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)

 

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