Week 2: Fighting For Your Family

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The word “Fighting” was chosen intentionally, because families are not amazing by accident. There are all kinds of forces working against your family in our society. The family is under attack.

We see throughout history where families are strong, society is strong. Where families are weak, society is weak. Today, there are forces working against your family; economic forces, spiritual forces, moral forces and cultural forces that want to destroy the idea of family.

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. People related to one another by marriage, by blood, by adoption are the foundation of human society.

Where you have strong families, you have a strong society.

This is another reason why all human life is sacred. We are created by God, in His image. Children, from the moment of conception the Bible says are a gift from God. The same worth and dignity is attached to every human being; pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged and every other condition. We are commanded by God and His Word to defend, protect and value all human life. The entire family.


Essentials For An Amazing Family

When the families of Jerusalem were under attack thousands of years ago, the leader Nehemiah said this to the people, 

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’” Nehemiah 4:14 NIV

They were under physical attack as members of Jerusalem, but we need this kind of intensity against all the forces coming against our families. Nehemiah’s saying your family is worth fighting for. Don’t just give up thinking it can’t change or it’s too late.

Whether you’re starting out or at the end, it’s not too late to fight to make your family better.

1. Authentic Faith

There are a lot of people that haven’t figured out that there’s more to God than Sundays. There are many people who don’t know that strength, anointing and their abilities come from God.

If you’re just playing church or toying with God and He’s in your life, but it’s not an all consuming thing, you’re missing an incredible relationship where the Holy Spirit guides you in the middle of your situations. A strength that isn’t only in the middle of a worship service, but there for every situation you face.

There is more to God than religion. We want to lead you beyond attending a church on a Saturday or Sunday to an authentic relationship where you are known and loved. It’s dynamic, meaning that God’s wisdom applies to every situation. Before you make that phone call, before you discipline, the Holy Spirit is working with you and you’re reaping the benefit of knowing Him.

Get close to Jesus. The best marriage advice, the best parenting advice or dating advice is get close to God. If you and your spouse both focus on getting closer to God, you’ll grow closer to one another.

“Reverence for the Lord gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.” Proverbs 14:26 LB

Look who benefits from the reverence for the Lord, the children benefit from you putting God first.

2. Intentional Schedules

Great families will tell you they are very intentional about what to do and don’t do. They make time for just being together, for making meals together and playing games together. If you want to know why the families and relationships especially between parents and kids are struggling in our society, let Cornell University tell you.

The average father in the United States spends 7 minutes a day with his kids, that’s 49 minutes a week.

The average father spends 37.7 seconds a day with his preschoolers.

Intentionally spend time together. You’re going to have busy weeks or seasons, because you work hard and provide, but schedule some time together on either side of those times.

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” Psalm 39:6 NLT

Nobody looks back and wishes they’d have gone to more parties or played more sports. They look back and wish they’d have spent more time with the people they love.

“It is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time…” Ecclesiastes 4:6 GN

3. Discovering Purpose

You can’t discover purpose without God, because He’s the Creator who knows your purpose. You can’t have purpose without authentic faith. When you have purpose, you know how to spend your time.

We need to focus on our family and the unique thing that distinguishes them. Quit trying to be good at everything and focus on the few things God has made you to do with your life.

Parents, there’s an anointing on your life to speak into the life of your kids and help them develop in their spiritual gifts, their passions, abilities and personality.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24 NIV

How do you help someone develop in their calling? There are three types of calling we all have.

  • Primary Calling: Know God
  • Secondary Calling: Grow in knowing God in the time and place God has placed you
  • Heart Calling: Your uniqueness

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Be careful with your words. Don’t let your mouth outrun you. Look at what Jesus did with the kids around him.

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16 NIV

He spoke statements over their lives so they’d be encouraged to fulfill their purpose. He’d show them the anointing on their life and how God made them special.

4. Right Relationships

We are the sum total of our relationships and friendships. Good or bad. You are the product of your friendships.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. Look at who your kids hang around with, you’ll see who they become. Look at your married friends, that’s what your marriage will look like. Your friends are a mirror.

This is why we love small groups. The best decisions you’ll ever make in your life are your relationship decisions. The most important question to ask yourself is, “Who should I do life with and who should I reach out to?”

“A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” Proverbs 27:19 GN

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV

5. Amazing Grace

God’s grace on families is so extravagant. Grace is so amazing, because it makes no sense. Who treats you better than God? He takes all the stuff we do and forgives us.

Relationships need this same grace. There is not a single relationship, there’s not a person on earth that you won’t have to have grace to stay in relationship with them.

Begin by recognizing that your family members are going to mess up. We’ve all blown it, but that’s when we need family the most.

Somebody right now is thinking about bailing on your marriage, on your kids, on your parents. You think they’re unbearable. You think the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake.

The world teaches us that all that matters is how you look, how much money you have or how successful you are. None of it is true.

Our kids are learning a lot of values from movies, from video games, from songs, from their friends, from culture – all these things that aren’t true.

We end up bailing on our relationships based on things that are not true.

It takes the grace of God to be in relationships with others.

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

You can offer grace when you go back to the cross. Because the grave is empty, the cross has power. It gives us the power to live in the grace of God.


A Time To Gather Stones

In the book of Ecclesiastes it tells us there is a time for everything. A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to mourn and a time to dance. They all make sense until you get to verse 5.

“There is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” Ecclesiastes 3:5 NIV

This is referring to an Old Testament observance that needs to take place in your heart today. It comes from Genesis 31, where Jacob had an issue with his father-in-law Laban. 

Jacob couldn’t take it any more and decided to run away with his wife and flocks and herds. Laban realizes what happens, gets furious and chases Jacob down across the desert. The night before they were to meet, an angel of the Lord speaks to Laban and says, don’t do what you have planned.

Anybody need this statement right now? Are you making plans to quit on some relationships with your parents or spouse? God may be saying to you what He told Laban, don’t do what you have planned, instead, go reconcile.

Jacob was bracing for the fight. Laban shows up. Laban says these words that now can become our words.

“’Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.’” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “’Gather some stones.’” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap.”  Genesis 31:44-46 NIV

There are two things you can do with a stone. You can take it and throw it at people or you can take it and pile it up as an altar unto the Lord. Every wrong thing done to you is a stone you can either throw or gather to build with.

You have the choice to scatter your offenses all over the place or you can stack them up before the Lord and make an altar. Try tapping into the grace at the cross and give grace.

What does it look like to gather the stones instead of scattering them?

1. Acknowledge your own mistakes.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV

Decide to not focus on the other person’s role and focus on what God has given you to control and you’ll bring your brokenness. Tell your kids you let them down in this situation. Acknowledge your mistakes and lead the way.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

2. Abandon your right to get even.

Christians don’t take revenge, Christians forgive. It’s radical, but the other way isn’t working too well is it?

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 NIV

God will take care of it. Let God take care of it. He will better than you anyway.

3. Apply God’s grace to my relationships.

Maybe you’ve applied it to your life, but not your relationships.

“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 love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8-11 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message or your conversation of fighting for your friends?

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

Hear the Word

There are certain “non-negotiables” that apply to all aspects of family relationships. Those essential principles must be in place in order to have a home that proves to be both honoring to God, and fulfilling to us.

  1. Authentic Faith
  2. Intentional Schedules
  3. Discovering Purpose
  4. Right Relationships
  5. Amazing Grace

Read: Genesis 31

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? Which of the five essentials do you need to work on most right now?
  2. We must be sure that our faith is “authentic” if we are to enjoy fulfilling family relationships. What are some indicators which reveal the authenticity or lack of authenticity of our faith? What does authentic faith look like in a family environment?
  3. What should have the highest priority when it comes to our schedules?
  4. Part of the role of a parent is to help assure that their children realize their life purpose? What is the most important thing we can do to make that a reality in our families?
  5. How can you more effectively give grace to those you deal with in life? Write down the various ways God has extended grace to you, and look for ways to give that same grace to others.
  6. If there is a broken relationship in your life, determine that you will be the one to take steps to resolve issues and rebuild the relationship.

Tell Someone Else

Your words are the key to great relationships, either building up or tearing down those with whom you come in contact. Have group members pray with one another to allow their words to be “seasoned” with love and grace, leaving in their wake, people who are edified and encouraged.

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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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