Week 7: Fighting For Your Barista

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In each of our last few posts, we have filled in the blank with a different person in our life; friends, family, parents, kids, spouse. Now in the final post of this series, we chose barista to say, this message will apply to whomever you need it to apply to.

Whether you need help with a student, teacher, coworker, brother-in-law, spouse, ex-husband, ex-wife- the causes of conflict are the same.


Four Causes of Conflict

1. Poor communication

Most conflict flows from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Conflicts start with something seemingly small or insignificant, but it grows by how we react. Whether we just checkout and shutdown or get forceful and angry, the conflict grows.

2. Unfulfilled expectations

All anger begins right here. You have never gotten angry except when you had an expectation of something and it didn’t happen. You had an expectation that you’d be treated a certain way, that your kid would do something the first time you asked, you expected to have a highway free of cars or have peace & quiet at home and it didn’t go that way. We hold people to a standard and a pressure that only God can fulfill in our life.

3. Despising differences

We think we want everyone else to be just like us, but the more different you are, the better a team you are. Your family doesn’t need to be a group of people that think just like you. Your workplace doesn’t need everyone to be the same. We can be different, but still united. When we start despising those differences, rather than uniting them, it causes conflict.

4. Sin nature

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 NIV

People are fallen. We are all sinners. So often our spirit is alive and longs to be with God and to honor God, but our flesh is still prisoner to sin. This is why we try to feed the spirit and starve the flesh. Since we are still in this fallen world, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard and it causes conflict.

What can you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them. They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit and they’re led by the flesh. Maybe you’re dealing with someone who did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you.

Those are the types of relationship we are going to focus on in today’s post. What to do when a spouse isn’t faithful and they’re not committed to fighting for the marriage anymore. The coworker or friend or family member who is not repenting and not wanting to fight for the relationship.

The Bible talks about this in 1st and 2nd Timothy. The writer, Paul, is telling his friend Timothy about the kind of people who have turned from the truth.

These two guys begin to work out the very same thing many of us are working out and struggling with. People who ignore wisdom, understanding, distort the truth or have turned from the truth.

Paul offers specific examples of people Timothy knew. These examples are a warning to us that there will be those who cannot accept sound teaching and those who disappear at the first sign of trouble.


When Others Have Turned From The Truth

1. Remember those who are faithful.

Yes, there are those who are disloyal, but are there any who have remained faithful?Look where Paul is talking about those who have deserted him and abandoned him.

“As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me–even Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.” 2 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

Immediately after saying that everyone had deserted him, Paul offers a quick insight into the faithfulness of Onesiphorous. He had been supportive in the past and most recently, when he arrived in Rome he diligently searched until he found Paul and ministered to him. Paul commends this brother to Timothy.

This is a principle in life we have to learn and remember: When we want to focus on who’s not there, we need to remember those who are faithful.

There are going to be people who don’t show up this week. There are also going to be those in your life who abandon you and desert you. They weren’t faithful to a vow they took, a promise they kept or a covenant they signed. People who have turned from the truth of God and His word.

Even though there are people turning from the truth in this passage from 2 Timothy, Paul remembered, celebrated and commended the faithful.

Do you thank God for the faithful few or moan over the disloyal many?

It is more important to thank God for those who have remained faithful to the gospel and faithful to friendship, even when times have been hard.

2. Refuse to play the game.

Difficult people who have turned from the truth, love to argue and debate. If you fall for this trap you’re going to believe that you can logically explain to them why they are wrong. But people who have turned from truth didn’t come to their position through reason. They got into that behavior from serving their sin nature, not logic.

You can’t reason people out of a behavior they did not reason themselves into. When you try to show them how they’re wrong they will just get mad at you. Facts won’t change them because it wasn’t facts that caused them to make that decision anyway. They made their decision based on emotion and sin.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 NIV

If you’re in conflict with a friend or family member who, they haven’t turned their back on the truth and it’s just a disagreement, you need to work that out and reconcile.

If you find yourself in foolish and stupid arguments with those who oppose the truth, save your breath, don’t waste your time. People who have turned from truth use conflict to get your attention. 

Everybody has a deep need for approval and when approval isn’t possible, they will settle for attention, good or bad. 

“Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.”  Proverbs 26:4 NLT

What’s interesting is the very next verse says the very opposite thing.

“Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.”  Proverbs 26:5 NLT

The advice is different here because your response depends on the situation. Maturity is when you can discern whether or not to answer the fool.

3. Release them to God.

Some people you cannot fix. You have to give them to God. You can still love and care about them, though. Let’s look at some words from Jesus on how to release those who have turned from the truth to God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NIV

Christ is showing us here is it’s impossible to be perfect. That’s why He took His perfect life to the cross for us. But He shows us that the godly response is to pray for them.

When we pray, we see people differently.

Sometimes we wanna vent, call somebody tell them what they did and turn others against them. When we pray for them we see them differently and respond righteously.

If you’ve ever wondered why many people refused to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, you have to look no further than than verse 44 when Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

In our day we have watered down the term “enemy” so much that this command has lost much of its shock value. Today, “enemy” is used primarily in reference to people who are rude to us or treat us unkindly. But in Jesus day, the Jews in Israel had real enemies. For the entirety of their existence as a people they had been fending off enemies — from their slavery in Egypt to the occupation of the Roman Empire.

Telling them to love and pray for enemies is like telling the Christians in Iraq to love and pray for ISIS. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus was saying. When Jesus gave the command to love and pray for our enemies he knew it would one day require praying for Islamic extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda who murder his Bride.

How do we pray for people who want to murder members of our family? This is where the rubber meets the road. Here are three specific ways we can pray for those who are engaged in persecution against Christians, to those who have turned from the truth and are ruining your life.


Three Ways to Pray For Our Enemies

1. Pray for their conversion

That they’ll come back to God. There are two primary reasons we don’t pray for the conversion of our enemies. Whether they be terrorists or those in our life that have abandoned us.

The first reason is that we believe it is absurd to think they’ll become Christians. It seems like a useless plea. Because we forget that God can do for them what he did for us: provide the gift of grace that they might be saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8 NIV

The same grace that saved us can save them. If we truly love our enemy, how could we not at least petition God on their behalf?

The second reason we don’t pray for certain people’s conversion is that we fear they might actually convert. They might actually repent. Like Jonah in Nineveh, we want our enemies to receive what they’re due. Not mercy and forgiveness.

“So he complained to the LORD about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.'” Jonah 4:2

But it is precisely because He is a gracious and compassionate God that we ought to pray for the conversion of our enemies. How could we do anything less then ask God to show them the same grace shown to us?

2. Pray the evil they do may be restrained

It is to their benefit and our benefit that they be prevented from committing more evil. For those who have hardened their heart against God, it would be better if their life was shortened than for them to continue to persecute God’s children.

The protection of innocent people requires human governments to take action. The death of those who are harming innocent people and helpless children, while it may be the only effective way to restrain their actions, we should not rejoice in their suffering or death.

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice…”  Proverbs 24:17

3. Pray they will receive divine justice

In the order of our prayers, this in number three. This isn’t the first thing you pray. God of justice. Thank God that we can seek the divine justice of our holy God.

Sometimes people look certain events in the Bible and point out the wars or the things God did to people, but they conveniently exclude all the events preceding it. The places in the accounts when those people were evil and performing evil in the worst way and would not stop even after multiple warnings.

God’s response was out of love and compassion to restrain the evil on innocent people. In asking that divine justice be done, we’ve got to guard our motives and leave vengeance to God.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21 NIV

How do you plan to overcome the evil in your relationships? How do you plan to respond to those who have turned from the truth in your life. For those who will neither turn to God nor turn away from doing evil. Let’s be thankful enough for the grace of God that we want even our enemies to receive it too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How were you at being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Romans 7

There are four common causes of conflict: Poor communication, unfulfilled expectations, despising differences and our sin nature. (Romans 7:21-25)

What do you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them? They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit, they’re led by the flesh. Or, they did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you. They’re a prisoner to the law of sin at work in them. They haven’t been rescued from their body that is subject to death.

When others have turned from the truth we can choose to…

  1. Remember those who are faithful.
  2. Refuse to play their game.
  3. Release them to God.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Which of the four causes of conflict are the most common in your life or those around you right now?
  3. Who are the people in your life that have been faithful?
  4. How do difficult people tend to trap you in “foolish and stupid arguments?”
  5. Why do you think it’s so difficult to pray for those who persecute?
  6. Which of three ways to pray for your enemies would be easiest?
  7. Spend some time in prayer, praying for your enemies.

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life would be encouraged as a result of this message?

 

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Frequency Week 4 . Sleep

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There’s a secret ingredient when it comes to tuning into our Guide. Something you do every day, but if you miss the power of it, it’s going to be harder to hear your Guide.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Today we are talking about sleep, more specifically, why we should view sleep as a spiritual discipline. When you hear, “spiritual discipline” most of us think of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, going to church and so on. Often what happens, is people don’t do those things because they think they don’t have enough time.

The reason we don’t pray or read the Bible, is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that when we do have the time, we don’t have enough energy.

Reading the Bible, praying and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life is hard. If you’re not well rested, if you’re tired, you can’t even do it. You can’t have a serious conversation or read challenging material while you’re tired.

You simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of ways you can live on a sleep deficit. You can live a successful career life on a sleep deficit or a life of accomplishment on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of activities you can do on a sleep deficit. You can watch TV, check email and check things off your to-do list when you’re tired. Connecting with God is one thing you can’t do when you are tired.

God wants us to follow Him. God wants to meet with us, and we can’t stay awake.

There’s a chance to make real spiritual progress, but we’re too tired, so we do a lower activity, a less important activity.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

The Psalmist uses the word “vain” three times. Why is this lifestyle of getting up early and staying up late and getting as little sleep as you can, vain according to the psalmist?

There are things in our lives, in this broken world that fight against sleep, like kids, school, jobs, health problems or physical pain.

The psalmist here, is talking about a mindset that says, “I’m going to disregard sleep, I’m not going to value it, I’m not going to recognize it as a gift from God and I’m going to try and get by on as little as possible.”


Why is Trying to Sleep as Little as Possible, Vain?

1. All the big stuff is out of your control.

God is in control of all the big stuff. That’s what He means when He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s in vain.” 

You can work as hard as you want, but at the end of the day if God doesn’t want the house to stand, it’s not going to stand.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

The mindset of the person who tries to get as little sleep as possible is, “It all depends on me.”

We start to believe that it’s all up to us. That if we don’t keep working harder and harder every day and every week, we are going to fall behind and are not going to have enough. All of the big stuff is out of your control anyway.

If God wants it there, it’ll be there. If God doesn’t want it, it won’t be there. That’s the first reason why it is vain and pointless, to sleep as little as possible.

2. Even if you are successful, you’ll be eating the bread of anxious toil.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil…” Psalm 127:2 ESV

The bread of anxious toil doesn’t taste very good. This is the human problem. We accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We live in the neighborhood we wanted to live in, we build the house we want to live in, the perfect job that fulfills all our passions and somehow it doesn’t feel the way we thought it would feel.

It doesn’t matter if you get everything you want if you’re so anxious and tired all the time that you can’t enjoy it.

If you have this attitude of, “It all depends on me,” who cares if you reach all your goals, because you will just be eating the bread of anxious toil.

3. It’s massively counterproductive.

Productivity is not the number of things you get done. Productivity is doing the right things.

When you are tired, you won’t know what to say no to. You won’t have the right perspective. When you’re tired you have no self-disciplines and your emotions are out of control. It takes rest to decide what the right things are and you can’t do those things when you’re tired.

So many people experience relapse because they were so tired of the fight. It’s hard to fight against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, food, affairs and all those things, when you’re tired. Instead of moving forward, we relapse and do things that reverse our progress.

We’re talking about vanity, and the sense of it being pointless. The other meaning of the word vain is concerned with appearances, pride. That applies here too. We brag about the little sleep we get like we’re stronger than others and the Bible says that’s just vanity.

You can brag about it all you want and tell yourself you’re getting more done, but it’s vanity.


How to Sleep More and Better

More and more people’s sleep is being aided by some type of pill or some other form of sleep inducement. There are all sorts of articles online and in magazines with practical tips on how to sleep more and better. Things like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, room temperature, make sure to work hard during the day so you’re actually tired at night.

All of that can help, but today, let’s focus on the spiritual side of getting more sleep, getting better sleep.

  • Release control.

Why did God invent sleep in the first place?

Sleep reinforces the difference between us and God.

The core of all sin is believing that we are God. When we release control, we are recognizing we are not God.

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121:3b-4 NIV

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God doesn’t need to sleep and we do.

Sleep is a constant reminder that I am not God and I am not in control.

We’re not in control of other people or what happens in the world. Every 24 hours no matter who you are, we have to become like a little baby. Blind, weak, helpless, vulnerable. It’s humiliating if you fight it. It’s humbling if you embrace it. If you embrace sleep, instead of fighting it, it becomes an act of surrender.

Sleep is an act of worship.

We fight for control of our lives all day long. We fight to control the people around us and their decisions and sleep is this act of surrender and this act of worship. Many people would love to sleep more and better, but they can’t because their mind continues to race, because they haven’t trusted God with their lives.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Peace comes from trust in God.

In the Bible, there’s this time when Jesus is sleeping during a giant storm. How? Because He trusts His Father. How can we release control and trust in God?

When you google, “practical ways to fall asleep” you are going to hear in multiple places, meditate. These sources couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

How to release control: Consciously Meditate

Most of the time what the magazines and self helpers are talking about is the Buddhist or eastern religious practice, where you sit and focus on your breath. You won’t be able to focus on your breath for 20 minutes, but every time something pops into your mind other than your breath, you release it and focus on your breath again, and it works.

It’s not only an ancient Buddhist practice, it’s an ancient Christian practice as well. But the word mediation has been absolutely highjacked. The enemy can’t create anything so he distorts what God has created.

The Christian practice of meditation is a lot better, because focus on something more than your breathing. You focus on God. There are different versions of this. You can focus on a name of God, like the name Father or Provider, you pray a short prayer over and over again. One of the oldest ones is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

But again, you’re not going to be able to. You can’t even do it for 10 seconds. Other thoughts will rush in. We think that’s a bad thing, that those thoughts are the enemy. This is the breakdown in our perspective of Christian prayer and meditation. We don’t think we can rest, because we get so distracted.

Distractions aren’t the enemy, they’re the point.

When you pray, what distracts you? What other thoughts are coming in? Take those distractions and now you know what to pray about. Don’t just pray about the things you are conscious of, pray about the things that are decieving you.

Paul, a New Testament writer, told us to put on truth first, because we get deceived. So we sit there and think and distractions come pouring in…those are the things we release to God.

Don’t start worrying about it or figuring out what to do with this problem, just say, “God this is yours to deal with, I release control to you and I can’t do anything about it.”

If you do that, your sleep quality will begin to change.

  • Remember the resurrection.

One of the things about sleep is this connection it has to death. There’s an African proverb that says, “Sleep is the friend of death.”

Schopenhauer said, “Every day is a mini life. Every time you wake up it’s a mini birth, and every time you go to sleep it’s like death.”

There’s this sense in which sleep is great practice for death, because the same God you have to trust to watch over you as you sleep, is the same God you’ll have to trust in the end when you die.

The connection between sleep and death, is that there is one thing that will keep you awake at night. It’s wondering if your soul is in danger.

Remember this childhood prayer? Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

It’s a very dark prayer, but parents felt like this is where it’s at. This is the essence of peace. The essence of being able to sleep soundly is trusting God with your soul.

How do you get to the point where you trust God with your soul and not fear death?

The way the Christian is able to not fear death is by realizing that death is nothing more than sleep.

Jesus is the one who introduces this terminology. He told His disciples,

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”  John 11:11-15 NIV

After the resurrection, the early Christians figure out that his resurrection is not a one off event, but it’s actually what happens to everyone who believes, they start using the same terminology about all Christians who have died.

In the New Testament, Paul talks about different people falling asleep. We pass over that like he’s being polite, but it’s not a euphemism. It’s a very particular and profound statement of faith. We know this, because of the places it’s not used.

After Christ, the term of fallen asleep is never used for an unbeliever, someone who rejected God. For them, it’s just died. It’s over. The phrase fallen asleep is never used with respect to Christ himself. It never says Christ fell asleep, even though he was eventually raised. Why? Because Christ died the death of an unbeliever.

The thing that makes death so awful is the separation from God and in some sense, that’s the definition of death. That’s what Jesus went through. He didn’t just fall asleep. He was separated from God. He died, condemned and with sin on his shoulders. Not his own sin, but our sin.

Because He died in condemnation in our place, we don’t have to experience it. There is no final death of being separated from God. What other’s call death, is falling asleep and waking up, resurrected for a believer.

Remembering that Jesus has already died the final death of condemnation in my place enables me to sleep soundly.

If you can remember the final death of condemnation has already been undergone by someone else in your place, then it will enable you to sleep soundly.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on recognizing God’s voice and testing an impression through the Bible, Christlikeness, Godly counsel and peace?

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

Hear the Word

This week, we concluded the Frequency series with the thought, “I simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Read: Isaiah 40, Psalm 127 and John 11:1-44

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you to hear?
  2. Have you ever reached a goal and been too busy, anxious or tired to enjoy it?
  3. Have you ever made a bad or wrong decision because you were too tired or overwhelmed?
  4. How can sleep be an act of worship?
  5. How did this message change the way you think about the word meditation?
  6. When life slows down, what do you tend to worry about? Family? Money? Work?
  7. Christ died the death of an unbeliever. How can that help us to sleep soundly?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help or encourage someone else?

 

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Frequency Week 3 . Recognizing God’s Voice

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Here it says other people are speaking to us, strangers. The world, the flesh, the devil has a voice and is speaking.

Take a look back at our posts on Preparing to Hear God’s Voice and The Whispers of God to find out how you can listen best and how God speaks most.

Today let’s answer the question, “How do we know if what we’re hearing is God, the devil or somethingwe just made it up ourselves?”

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” 1 John 4:1

There are going to be certain feelings or impressions that lead you one way, but first run them through a few tests, some filters.

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


Testing an Impression

1. Does it line up with the Bible?

God’s voice will never contradict God’s word. God’s Will, will never contradict God’s word. He will never tell you to violate, ignore or disobey the Bible.

He’s not going to say one thing in the Bible and then say to you something else. For instance, in the book of Romans it says as a matter of conscience, we are to pay our taxes. So as we move into tax season, if you feel led to not pay your taxes or cheat your taxes a little bit, that did not come from God.

Here’s another example:

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied…”  Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus then goes on to quote the book of Genesis. He quotes the Bible. He asked the Pharisees why they were asking His opinon when it had already been written.

Instead of answering these questions about right and wrong, just point to God and His word. What makes Him God is that He gets to say what’s right or wrong. If we are following Him, we will know the answer.

The context of this passage is divorce, but it could be a number of topics. God does not hate divorced people, He hates divorce. If you are honest, you do too. God hates anything that hurts us. He loves you and he can redeem anything you’ve been through. If you’ve gone through the tragedy of this, God’s word also says that He can redeem and heal anything.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Luke 21:33

So, there will even be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word will not need to be new. His word is true forever.

2. Will it make me more like Christ?

In other words, will the thing you are feeling, if you follow through with it, will it make you more like Jesus or less like Jesus? This is God’s ultimate purpose for you. This really is our ultimate goal after salvation. Don’t make it your goal before salvation. You have to meet Jesus, love him and surrender your life to Him before you’ll have what it takes to become like Him. You don’t have to get your act together to become a Christian. Salvation is free. You don’t have to earn it.

Once you’re saved we work out that salvation. Regeneration is going to take place. This means that the more you know Christ, the more you become like Him.

Let Him work on your attitude, decision making and all your choices. We are not where we need to be, but thank God, we’re not where we used to be.

At Rock Brook we help you grow in your faith in two primary ways: Growth Track & Small Groups. Visit the connect tab on our website to find out more about these to pathways to growth.

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

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

If you still say,”I don’t even know what Jesus would do.” Let’s look at a list found in scripture.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:16-18

This is a great grid to think through. First notice he says there are two ways to know it’s not from God and many ways to know if it is from God.

He says if it’s not from God, it’s full of envy or selfish-ambition.

God does not give selfish ideas. We come up with them ourselves. If you have a great idea that’s going to make you filthy rich, everyone’s going to be envious of you and you are going to be the top dog, God says that idea is not from Him. God didn’t put you on earth to bless your selfish ambition and live for yourself.

If you get an idea and it’s from God, it’s going to be one of these things…

Pure: An impure thought is not from God.

Peace-loving: Ideas from God promote harmony, not division. God is not going to give you an idea to create conflict in your family, marriage, small group, workplace or at church. To divide people into this side and that side, means gossip is present and gossip is not from God. When we criticize, condemn and gossip about others, we’re just doing the devil’s work for him.

ConsiderateWill your idea help you but hurt someone else? Then it’s not from God.

Submissive: Teachable, the willingness to have the idea checked by someone else, is submitting that idea to them.

Full of Mercy: Will my idea make me more gracious, more fogiving? You’ve been forgiven, so be gracious to everyone else. God has cut you some slack, do that for others. When you think you hear from God, but you’re critical and always judging others, it’s proof you haven’t heard from God. It takes no wisdom or maturity to criticize others.

Impartial and Sincere: Don’t use what God tells you to manipulate others. If God gives you a dream, you’ll never have to manipulate to see it happen. You may have to work hard, but you’ll never have to manipulate or control. God is in control. When God gives you a dream or a word, surrender it back to Him.

What a great list to help us know if we are growing more like Christ. Here’s another filter we can use.

3. Does godly counsel agree?

You’ll be in a situation where people say different things, look for agreement. When you’re working on something or planning something, there’s power in agreement. Don’ trust every spirit, instead test it to make sure it’s of God.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

The wisest people aren’t the ones who know everything. The wisest people are the ones that know they don’t know everything. Wise people ask questions before they answer questions. Wise people know there’s always more to the story.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:20-21

“Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6

This isn’t suggesting going person to person that when they don’t give you the report you want, so I’ll go to someone else. If you don’t have any agreement, just stop.

4. Do I have peace?

What’s so unique about Christianity is that we don’t just worship an external God, we have God in us. You have this spirit, the Holy Spirit inside of you, and that’s a powerful thing.

You’ve felt it before. You’ve felt the clash of God’s spirit to your flesh wanting to go two different ways. Like the devil on the shoulder and the angel on the other. That’s a cartoon version of a reality.

How does God talk? Peace.

Jesus says it’s a peace the world can’t even give. There’s not a bottle or pill that can give it. God has a peace that the world cannot give. Follow that.

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV

He doesn’t author confusion, He’s the God of peace. Some of the biggest decisions in your life will have fears, will make you take risks, but there can be a peace with God about it.

Peace is an inner state, regardless of what’s happening on the outside. Now there’s a difference between peace, and justifying. Being able to justify something verses having peace with God about it.

Justifying something is when you find a reason that you tell yourself is a good enough reason to go ahead with something. If peace is an inner state, justifying is a legal argument. We can come up with an argument and justify why we need to buy this or why we need to do this at work, but when all that settles down, do you have peace about it?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Live in such a way that regardless of what you face, you sense this garrison, this army surrounding your heart and mind with peace. Whatever the circumstances, God is able to guard your heart and mind with peace in Christ Jesus.


Frequency

How do you get this peace daily in your life? This series of posts is called Frequencywe’re trying to tune into a frequency, the voice of God. But that word has a double meaning. Frequency also means, often. In other words, we need to tune in to God’s Frequency, frequently. Here’s some ways that God’s Frequency can have some frequency.

  • Tune in to God every day.

So the goal of daily Bible reading and prayer isn’t just to check a box. No, those are tools to tune into God. The ultimate goal of reading the Bible, isn’t to read the Bible, it’s to lead you to the person of the Bible. To know God’s nature and presence.

The goal of getting in the word is to meet the Word, Jesus Christ. Don’t make the moment the goal, but how well you tuned into God. Make time for God every day, slow down to hear his voice.

“When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:4 MSG

People who hear God’s voice are those who spend time with that voice to where they’re familiar with it.

  • Tune out things that oppose God.

You have to actively shut down the voices that oppose God. We should all grapple with how much of the secular, the parts of the world, opposes God.

What in the world doesn’t bother you anymore, but it should?

If certain sins don’t bother you, that’s the problem. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in it, it no longer bothers us.

“They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:5 MSG

  • Take steps toward what God has spoken.

Why would God keep talking to you if you didn’t do what he told you before? Take the step.

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

Not only do they hear the voice, they do something about it.

They follow.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the Whispers of God. God whispers encouragement, warnings, direction and dreams. Have you experienced that this week?

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

Hear the Word

Read: John 10 & Philippians 4

To know if we are hearing God, we have to be able to recognize His voice. God’s voice will never disagree with His Word, so when we are wondering if God really spoke to us, we can ask ourselves,

  1. Does it line up with the Bible?
  2. Will it make me more like Christ?
  3. Does godly counsel agree?
  4. Do I have peace?

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you?
  2. Does it line up with the Bible? Why won’t God contradict what he says in his Word? How exactly do we test what we perceive to be God’s voice against the Bible? Share a situation when God guided you. How did it line up with God’s Word? On the flip side, share a time when you were contradicting the Bible. What happened?
  3. Will it make me more like Christ? What is the difference between wisdom motivated by envy or ambition and wisdom that comes from God? (James3:16-18)
  4. Does Godly counsel agree? Who is a believer that you have gone to for advice? If you don’t have anyone, spend this week praying for God to show you someone you can find Godly counsel in.
  5. Do I have peace? What is God’s antidote to worry, anxiousness and confusion? Share a time when following God relieved these negative feelings.
  6. Tune in to God every day. Tune out thing that oppose God. What are you doing to take steps towards God this week?

Tell Someone Else

This week, pray using 2 Corinthians 10:5 –  “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” As you go throughout your week and in your prayer life, challenge yourself to take every thought and spoken word and make them obedient to God’s word as you encourage others.

 

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Frequency Week 2 . The Whispers of God

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV

Here, Jesus give us a metaphor that describes our relationship with God. He says that God is like a shepherd and we are like His sheep.

Jesus also reminds us that we have a speaking God. God doesn’t only speak to us generally, God also speaks to each of us individually. He speaks to each of us by name and He leads us out.

Part of our problem is we have so many other voices speaking into our lives. God is calling us to block out the other voices, reject the other voices, run away from the other voices and hear and follow the voice of God.


Why God Speaks

God wants to have an individual conversation with you, because He is a personal God. God wants to have an up close and personal relationship with you.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”  Matthew 1:23 NIV

Mary and Joseph name the baby Jesus, but they are going to nickname Him, Immanuel, which means “God with us.” There are things that God wants to say right into your heart if you’ll let Him. There are several reasons why God would want to do that.

  • God speaks to facilitate friendship.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  Exodus 33:11 NIV

A lot of people don’t see God that way, as a friend. God speaks to you to facilitate friendship. You can speak to Him in the same manner, as a friend. If you want to hear from God, you need to cultivate a friendship with Him. You create friendship with God by spending time with Him in conversation.

  • God speaks to us is to give guidance.

The Lord sees the dangers ahead. He sees the roads we shouldn’t take and He is trying to guide us. Here’s the tension with guidance; If God guides you away from something you’re doing, you’re probably not going to be happy about it. But God knows what lies ahead and He is trying to turn you from evil and steer you toward righteousness.

God knows what’s up ahead. He sees the beginning from the end. We have to learn to trust God in every situation even if it seems like He’s doing something we don’t like, something we don’t understand. God speaks to you to guide you through the things that you cannot see.

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”  Proverbs 3:6 MSG 

  • God speaks to provide perspective.

God has a perspective that you don’t currently have. Not everything that you see is what’s going on. Not everything that you see in the natural world is actually what’s going on. There is another dynamic, a spiritual, eternal dynamic around us.

God has both perspectives at the same time and He wants to unveil and reveal to you things that are happening in this spiritual realm, not just the physical realm.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for you, but God will reveal it to you by His Spirit. God would love to show you a new perspective on life and on the world.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

God wants you to walk by things you are not seeing on the surface. Walk by faith, not sight.

Don’t just trust what you see, but listen for what the Spirit of God is telling you.


There was a Wisconsin Badgers football game and they were losing the game, horribly. The fans in the stands were cheering like they were winning though. The Badgers would make a bad play and the fans in the stands would start cheering. It was confusing to the players and to the announcers who were calling the game.

Why would the crowd cheer for this horrible play? It turns out that the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team was also playing at the same time in a post-season game and the Brewers were winning, wonderfully. So the fans in the stands had their ear buds in and were listening to the game. So when the Brewers would score a run or make a great play, the fans would cheer wildly regardless of what the Badgers were doing on the field.

The people in the stands are watching a game they are losing, but they are listening to a game they are winning.

They are watching defeat but they are listening to victory. They were looking at one realm, and they were listening to another realm.

They were responding to what they were hearing, not what they were seeing.

God would love for you to respond to what you are hearing from Him not what you are seeing in the world.


How God Speaks

The Bible gives us a number of ways that God speaks to us. He speaks loudly through peals of thunder and rushing mighty waters. God speaks through His word. God speaks through prophets and pastors and leaders, through pain and circumstances.

God is able to and will speak to us in a lot of different ways. But today let’s look at one way in particular that God speaks to us. It’s the way that God uses the most and it’s the way that God speaks to us that we often don’t recognize.

We call this The Whispers of God. It’s a nudging, a prompting, an urging in your spirit.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah fights the prophets of Baal and he wins a great victory over them. Then in chapter 19, after that great victory, Elijah enters into a deep depression.

Often after a spiritual high point, you enter into a spiritual low point. Spiritual highs are followed by spiritual lows. Don’t be surprised by that.

Elijah actually runs off to hide in a cave by himself. He’s become convinced that he is all by himself that he is the only one trying to serve God. That he’s the only one trying to do the right thing. God came to speak to Elijah in order to pull him out of his depression. 

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  1 Kings 19:11-12 NIV

Some translations call it a still, small voice. We need to learn to recognize the whispers of God. Here are four areas where God whispers to you.

1. He whispers encouragment.

God is doing this all day long. When someone irritates you, when the enemy is trying to rob you of your joy, the Spirit of God is right there trying to encourage you.

God is not disappointed in you saying, “Why don’t you read your Bible more? Why don’t you get to church? Why don’t you stop all your bad habits?”

 “The Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our heart and tells us that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16 NLT

God sees you as part of His family.

 “Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life- nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.”  Isaiah 55:3 MSG

God knows every stupid mistake you’ll ever make and He still loves you. He may not like what you’re doing, but He loves you just the same.

Today God is saying:

You are my child.

I love you.

I am so proud of you.

2. He whispers warnings.

Have you ever been heading in one direction in life and then all of a sudden you have a “feeling” it’s not the right way to go? The Holy Spirit can offer warnings to keep you from going off track.

“After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.”  Acts 16:6-7 NKJV

If you give the Holy Spirit room to speak into your life. He will guide and direct and protect you.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

He may be whispering:

Don’t do it.

End the secret.

Get help.

3. He whispers direction.

Some of you are looking for direction in your life about who to marry or where to work or what house to buy. God will speak to you, if you involve Him in the process. Here’s the secret to this one; let the emotion of the excitement of buying something new pass and then place it before the Lord and ask Him what you should do.

Let that first jolt of the emotions pass and then ask God to direct your decision and He will. Luke 2 tells the story of when Jesus was dedicated in the Temple as a baby and Simeon, this old man who had been waiting for the Messiah heard God speak.

Simeon was, “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”  Luke 2:27 NIV

The Holy Spirit told Simeon He had an assignment for him. God wanted him to pray for that Christ child. It was the greatest moment of Simeon’s long life.

Paul, in the book of Acts said, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”  Acts 20:22 NIV

Simeon was moved by the Spirit. Paul was compelled by the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us to direct us. He can speak pretty specifically to you too, if you let Him.

He may give you general directions like:

Slow down.

Do it now.

Take the next step.

4. He whispers dreams.

God will put inside of you something that you never thought you could do. 

“For God speaks again and again… He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night.”  Job 33:14-15 NLT

God speaks to people in different ways. We believe Jesus could come back at any time. It seems as though all the signs of the end times are being fulfilled now.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17 NIV

God says He’s going to put something inside of us so we can be a solution to all of the problems. Your role in the End Times is to be the salt and the light that points people to Christ.

What God might be saying to you today is:

Go all in.

Give God your best.

Make a Difference


So what do we need to do in order to hear the whispers of God? We need a posture and attitude that says, Speak to me LORD, I’m open to hear what You want to say.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:9 NIV

What if before every tweet, every email, every Facebook post, every conversation, every decision and every purchase, we said, “God speak to me and tell me what to do, I am eager to respond.”

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


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Preparing to Hear? What have you been hearing from God during 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting?

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

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Frequency series on how to cut through the noise and hear God’s voice.  Not only does God speak, but He is speaking to you!  Why and how does God speak?  God speaks because He is personal, close and relational.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:11

God speaks to facilitate friendship, guidance and perspective. That’s the “why” behind all of this.  God speaks because he is seeking a close, personal relationship with you. He is our guide, friend, and Lord. 

So how does God speak? He is not limited to one way of communicating. It may be that God speaks to you in a clap of thunder, a still small voice, or directly through His Word.  The key to an open line of communication with our Father is intentionally keeping our ears open and our hearts receptive to what He is speaking.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV 

Application

1. Tell your group about a time when you heard the whispers of God.

2. Has God ever used the pain of a difficult situation to speak into your life? How did you react? What did you learn?

3. If we need to have the right “posture” to hear God’s voice, in what ways are you posturing yourself through prayer to hear God speak?

4. Do you have any tips on prayer that you can share with your group?  What has helped you to hear from God?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to listen for God’s whispers in their life?

For more information on 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit http://rockbrook.org/events

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Frequency Week 1 . Preparing to Hear

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You could have the nicest radio on the market, but if you don’t tune it in you’re still not going to receive anything. That doesn’t mean no one is broadcasting, someone’s still broadcasting, but you can’t hear it until you tune it in.

The most asked question people ask about their relationship with God is, “How do I know I’m being led by God?” We serve a speaking God and He’s spoken throughout time.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.”  John 10:3

So a shepherd leads his sheep, even sometimes into another flock crossing the same road. The sheep might mix together and all the shepherds would need to do is make their particular sound to their flock the the sheep will follow their shepherd.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:4-5

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, [In everything.] everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 MSG

Many people think that if they could just hear an audible voice from God that it would be the most superior way to hear from God. It’s not necessarily the best way. You can hear an audible voice and still be confused.

You talk with your audible voice to people every day, and people sometimes walk away confused. The times in scripture we read about God or an angel using an audible voice to communicate to someone, you’d think they’d be so sure for the rest of their lives. That they’d never doubt again, but they still doubt. They still get confused.

When we say God is speaking, it can be something that’s even better than an audible voice. It can be so deep within you that it could only be of God. It’s louder than audible.

Jesus makes this bold statement in Luke chapter 8. Here, Jesus tells a parable where he says, “God doesn’t have a speaking problem. We have a hearing problem.”


Preparing to Hear

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!”  Luke 8:8

This verse is right in the middle of a story. Let’s look at the story the precedes this verse. Then we’ll hit this verse again and go beyond it.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. When he said this, he called out, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!’” Luke 8:5-8

In the verses following, Jesus retells the story but with an explanation this time.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11

The Word of God is the voice of God. These were God’s spoken words. He was speaking to his people. The problem isn’t that there’s not a speaking God, it’s what’s on the receiving end.

The farmer in this story is extravagantly scattering seed in all directions. God is extravagantly spreading His word, and you are in one of these four different scenarios.


“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”  Luke 8:12

In the first version He says, birds came and here He’s explaining that it’s the devil. Every time God tries to speak to you, the devil is trying to throw something in the mix so you don’t receive it. God is trying to speak, but you have junk in your heart.

1. The polluted heart.

The enemy tries non-stop to pollute all of our hearts. So it wouldn’t matter what God was saying, the pollution is taking over. That pollution, is coming in one of two forms.

The first one is the choices we make, the sins we commit and the junk we create. We all have sin that we haven’t given to God. Things you haven’t let Him forgive you and it creates pollution in your heart.

The second form of pollution is not from yourself, but other people. People wronged you. Every time we try to draw close to God, the devil will try to stir up any relationship he can, primarily in your family, your marriage, your kids or someone close to you, and that problem between you and that person is not about you and that person.

This was the devils attempt to get in the way of you hearing from God and he’s using that. Because it will mess you up. Every time life slows down or you sit down to pray, you think about it. If possible, you gotta clear the air with them.

If you say God never speaks to you, it may be because of all the junk. Some of us aren’t having conversation with God, because we’ve allowed sin in our life we’re not repenting from and some of us have let something come between us and someone else.

“Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your soul.”  James 1:21 NLT

God invites you to turn. That’s what the word “repent” means. You’re headed in this direction, repent and turn the other way.

We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.


“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13 NIV

It’s because something else competed with it that it couldn’t take root.

2. The distracted heart.

The distractions can even be good things or neutral things, but it has all of your attention. For a lot of us, we’re not hearing from God because we’re hearing from someone else.

All hell is trying to keep us from God. It can be evil things or just all the other voices. In the Bible, Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s house. Both women have 2 different experiences while He was there, because one of them has ears to hear and the other doesn’t.

“And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving.”  Luke 10:39-40 AMP

Serving is a great thing and Jesus asks us to do it, but He wants both. 

To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.

There’s something in the world that has to shut down, that’s fasting. You’ll have to figure out what those are for you. Ask God to show you what’s distracting you and what you need to just eliminate for 21 days. After that, put it in its proper place.

Food is the greatest thing that connects us with our flesh rather than our spirit. That’s why the most biblical fasting is food fasting. You need to have seasons where you tell your flesh no. Where your flesh is screaming at you, and you can tell it no. There are different types of fasts and different things. Take a look at the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting page on our website for resources and fasting information.


“The seed that fell among weeds stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they don’t mature.”  Luke 8:14

3. The immature heart.

Another condition of our heart, you might relate to is the neglected heart. Maybe it’s time to mature. Maturing won’t come naturally to you, but you will be glad you did it.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

When’s the last time you said, I’m going to take this next season and for 21 Days or even the small group semester that starts next month and grow in my faith.

Notice the underlined words this time through, same verse, different emphasis.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

“We” and “Us” run through this entire passage multiple times. Maturity can’t happen without people. You don’t mature just you and God. We’ve got to get in an environment with people who know you. When you get there, the conversation between you and God will change.

When you put yourself in that situation, it grows you. Many of you, your next steps of growth are going to come through leading. It forces you to grow up a bit. Some people never receive because they don’t mature.

Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.

We’ve all got areas where excuses need to turn into changes. Places we need to grow, but you don’t mature alone. You do it with others.


“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  Luke 8:15

4. The prepared heart.

Here are three ways to be prepared:

  • Repent.

Just change your direction. If you’re going the wrong direction, just turn around. God will forgive you. You can run a hundred miles in the wrong direction, it’s just one step back.

  • Refocus.

It’s time to go to bed a little earlier. Renew my morning commitment to God. Get back to reading the Bible. If you haven’t read the Bible in awhile. Just start tomorrow.

  • Revive.

Revive your heart. That’s what prepares the heart. God I want to fall in love with you all over again.

“Let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 MSG

This life isn’t Disney World, there are no seat belts, there are no brakes. You may be going through the toughest season of your life. But there is a guide and He’s not far away. He’s right there with you. He’s speaking, do you know His voice?

God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.

God’s voice is very clear, but you got to get your ears ready. You can’t grow bananas in Alaska. Bananas grow in Jamaica. Put it in the right environment, you’ll see the fruit. You’ll see a great harvest.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on 2 Corinthians 5 and being Brand New? How was Christmas? How was New Years?

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

Hear the Word

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6

But how do we hear God? God has already given us the capacity to hear Him, and He is speaking to us, we just have to learn to listen.

How do we do that? We prepare our heart. God’s voice sounds clearest in a prepared environment.

To prepare our hearts we repent and turn away from sin, refocus our minds, and revive our hearts. The word repent can sound a little hard and intimidating. In reality, it just means, “to turn away.” If you’ve been headed in the wrong direction, just turn the other way. You can do it today, right now, and prepare yourself to hear from God.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Read: Luke 8:5-15

Application

  1. Of the four heart conditions, which one do you relate to the most right now? Polluted, distracted, immature, prepared?
  2. “We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.” What pollution in your life do you need to turn from so you can tune into God? Is there someone you need to reach out to and clear the air?
  3. “To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.” Discuss the things that distract you most and how to tune those out to focus on hearing God.
  4. “Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.” What changes do you need to make to grow in your faith?
  5. “God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.” Discuss with the group how you create an environment to hear God’s voice. Explain what this looks like practically.
  6. Share a time when you were going through a situation and you heard God speak to you about it. How did you react, and what did you learn from God’s word?

Tell Someone Else

21 Days of Prayer has officially started. Make plans to join us as we pray and seek to hear God’s voice! For more information about 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit RockBrook.org/Events

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message?

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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.

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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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Week 1: How Do I Handle Anxiety & Depression?

On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Anxiety & Depression.


There are hard things in life. And they can make us anxious. So anxious, we become depressed.

Different emotions produce different sensations. For instance, anger produces a burning sensation. Guilt produces a sick or nausea sensation. Anxiety is best described as tightness. Constriction.

 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 (NKJV) 

The word afflictions in the Hebrew is the same word the Assyrians used for torture. The kind of torture where they stand you up on a post, tie you to it and pile rock by rock on you until it crushes you dead. Maybe you’ve felt that way. Where you’re getting choked out, you’re suffocating, it’s getting tight and if they put one more rock on you, you’re done.

Let’s talk about those rocks for a second. We’ll call them the amplifying or aggravating factors. These are the amplifying factors that make anxiety and depression worse. Again, they are not the thing that’s causing it. They are the things that are making it worse.

  • Your upbringing – how you were raised. This is your operating system. The good news is, it can be re-written and debugged.
  • Your circumstances – relationships, conflict, marriage, deadlines, divorce, a new job, parenting, expectations of others…

  • Your environment – anything from noise to lighting

  • Your body – eat, sleep, exercise.
  • Your genetics – physical, biological, and neurological factors. Because of this, for some people, medicine and counseling are a necessary part of facing anxiety and depression. Your doctors will agree that those treatments alone will fall short. There’s a spiritual side to the battle.
  • Technology – we are not equipped to deal with this constant, incoming stream of information
  • Content – not only are we letting a stream of information in all the time, we are letting in content that is not life-giving or helpful.

If you only tackle the amplifying factors to anxiety, you will never make it go away. What’s causing this constriction? What’s the source?

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 5:5-11 (NIV)

The Bible says your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion looking for someone he can eat alive. He’s looking for a family he can divide. Looking for a future he can ruin before it even gets started. Looking for a church he can divide, a nation he can divide, he’s looking for an addiction he can plant. The devil is busy and active.

When you believe in Jesus for the first time it’s like being born again. It’s a new life. The birthmark of a believer is a bullseyePeter is teaching us that we are born again into a living hope but as you are born again into hope, you are born into a very real battle. This is why Christians say “I’m under attack.”

Some people think God’s promise is that nothing will go wrong in their lives. That’s not his promise. In fact, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Just because you love God, doesn’t mean you won’t be afflicted. But the Lord gives you the ability to stand strong and have peace, even in the face of a lion.

Look at this passage from the Apostle Paul, found in Philippians chapter 4, where he talks about how to guard against anxiety and how to have peace in the face of this lion.

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

God says, I guarantee you can experience God’s peace. This is a promise. But with this promise there’s a condition. Verse 7 starts with the word thenIf you do these things, then you will experience God’s peace. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. His peace will keep your thoughts quiet, keep your hearts at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

So let’s look at 5 things leading up to the word then that opens up this promise of peace.

First, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, refuse to worry about anything.

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Don’t worry about anything…”  Philippians 4:6     

Paul says don’t worry about anything, because that’s where it begins. If you let things worry you again and again they become anxiety and depression. Yes, bad things may happen, but God is in control and he’s working all things together for good for those who love him. You may be sad or grieved, but do not be anxious, it’s all coming together for your good.

Second, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, talk to God about everything.

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“…instead, pray about everything…”   Philippians 4:6

Stop talking to yourself and everyone else about all of the stuff that’s stressing you out and start talking to God. If it’s not worth praying about, it’s not worth worrying about.

Next, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, thank God in all things.

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“…Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4:6

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

It doesn’t say thank God for all things because there are a lot of things you shouldn’t be thankful for. There’s pain in the world. But it says in all things give thanks. Which means, even in the bad times, I can find something to love. You don’t have to love everything about your life to love your life and be thankful for it. You don’t have to love everything about someone to love them. You don’t have to love everything about your job to love your job.

Study after study has shown that the healthiest emotion known to human beings is gratitude. The more you build gratitude in your life, the happier and healthier you will be. We know that gratitude is one of the remedies for depression because it gets my eyes off myself and gets them on other people.

The fact is, you can always find something to be grateful for. There’s no time in your life when everything is good and there’s nothing bad in your life. There’s no time when everything is bad and there’s nothing good in your life. The challenge for you this week is to open your mouth and say out loud “Thank you for my life.” Say it every day.

The fourth way to have peace guarding your heart and mind is to think about good things.

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This is extremely important because the anxiety and stress you war with, that battle, is going on in your mind. The war with stress is won or lost in your mind. What you fill your mind with will determine your success to resist and stand strong.

The Bible says,

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8 


During World War II, Corrie ten Boom and her family lived in Amsterdam. They were a Christian family that took in Jewish friends and hid them in what they called “the hiding place” in their house to prevent their friends from being captured by the Nazis and shipped off to death camps. One day, the Nazis found out and not only took the Jewish friends but took Corrie and her family and they were taken to death camps in Poland. Corrie lost her entire family. She was the only one who survived. She says in her book, The Hiding Place,

“If you look at the world you’ll be distressed; if you look within you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest.” 

It all depends on what you have your eyes on. Don’t look within. Look to God, look at Christ.


Read 1 Peter 5:6-7 again,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

Too many of us, have been trying to cast our anxiety but we keep our pride. Pride and anxiety come in the same package. If you insist on doing it your way, then expect to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, because it is.

What is in the middle of the word ANXIETY? The same thing that is in the center of  the word PRIDE. I is the center of both of those words. Spiritually speaking, at the center of your anxiety is your pride. The reason that you’re so anxious is because you’ve got you at the center. You can’t sustain it because it’s not your throne. Listen to your language. “I don’t know if I have what it takes. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can make it.” Maybe the reason you’ve been carrying anxiety that you can’t get rid of is because you’re bearing weight that you weren’t meant to bear. If you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, you’ll think less about yourself. It’s not a command to cast your anxiety on him. It’s a result. The command is to humble yourself under God and when you do, the anxiety goes with the pride.

Get yourself out of the center, get God on the throne and lift your hands to him and say “I need you Lord.” Bow down to him. Tell him you can’t step without Him, can’t parent without Him, work without Him, live without Him. There’s no peace without Him. There’s no joy without Him.

Is the reason you’re so anxious because of your pride? Maybe the anxiety is the fruit and the pride is the root. If you pull it up by the root, the fruit can’t grow.

Lastly, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, be content with anything.

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Contentment is not apathy. Contentment is not complacency. Here’s what contentment is: it’s enjoying what you have right now rather than waiting for something else to happen in order to be happy.  It’s not letting what you want rob you of what you have. It’s enjoying what you’ve got right now. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to progress. It doesn’t mean you don’t have goals. It means you’re not waiting for something to happen in your life in order to be happy.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”  Philippians 4:11-13

“Peace of mind makes the body healthy, but envy is like a cancer.”  Proverbs 14:30 (TEV)


How?

These five strategies are easy to explain but they’re hard to do. It’s not easy to worry about nothing.  It’s not easy to pray about everything. It’s not easy to thank God in everything. It’s not easy to think about good things. And it’s not easy to be content with anything. So where in the world am I going to get energy to do these things that reduce the anxiety? God tells us, You come to me. And I will give you the power and the ability to do what will help, to do what’s best for you.

“Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness.”  Job 22:21 (NCV)

The real reason you’re not at peace is because you’re at war with God. God sent Jesus to make peace with God for us. When you make peace with God then you get the peace of God and then you can have peace with others. There will not be peace in the world until the Prince of Peace is reigning in our hearts. So in order for you to have the peace of God, you have to first have peace with God.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

You don’t feel like praying? You don’t feel like giving thanks? You don’t feel like thinking about good things? You don’t feel like being content? You have to move.

Choices lead, feeling follow. When you move against your anxiety, the strength and peace of God comes.


Application

What stood out to you in this message?

What are you worried about?

What do you normally talk to God about?

What are some things you can be thankful for? Take an area of life (i.e. job) or a person in your life you are frustrated with, and start listing things you love about that thing or person.

What are some things (i.e. television shows, gossip, information) you could filter out of your life that would help you dwell on good things?

What things in your life are you not doing God’s way? How can you humble that pride?

Are you content with the things in your life?


Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Something that extremely aggravates anxiety and depression is unresolved or unconfessed sin. Is there anything you could share with the group or something in the group that would relieve the pressure?

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

Who can you share this life-giving message with?