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

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

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

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

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


What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?

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

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

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

1.  I KNOW EXACTLY WHO I AM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 15:1, “I am the true vine.

Mark 10:61-62, “I am the Son of God.

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

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

2. I KNOW GOD’S PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. I LET GOD HELP ME CHOOSE MY WORDS.

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

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

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

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

5.  I DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at the verbs in that verse:

Love – I have to love my enemies.

Bless – I am to bless those who curse me.

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

Love. Bless. Do Good. Pray.

8. I’M WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR OTHERS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. I WANT TO DO GOD’S WILL, NOT MINE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.  I THINK WITH AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.

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

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

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

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

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

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


How Can I Learn To Think Like Jesus?

  • Study His life and words in the Bible.

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

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

  • Ask God to show me the meaning and application.

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Big Idea

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

1) I know exactly who I am.

2) I know God’s purpose for my life.

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

4) I let god help me choose my words.

5) I don’t worry about pleasing everyone.

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

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

8) I am willing to sacrifice for others.

9) I want to do God’s will not mine.

10) I think with an eternal perspective.

Discussion & Application

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

Prayer Focus

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

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

Next Steps

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

 

Getting To Know God | Week 5: Letting God Be God

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Our God knows everything (omniscience), He’s everywhere (omnipresence), He’s almighty (omnipotence) and He’s unchanging (immutability). This week we’re looking at another character quality, God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is a natural consequence of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, and immutability.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV

Sovereignty simply means that God is in control. He’s in control of everything because He created everything. Anything man makes comes from resources God created. When He wants to overrule it and do a miracle, He overrules it. The Bible says everything is moving toward a focus, that there is a plan, a purpose, a climax that history is moving toward.  God is in control of our lives. You might not always live like it, but deep down you know…

Scripture says that God’s sovereignty decided when and where you were going to be born. It’s God who marked out your appointed time in history. The Bible says God has decided already which natural abilities and gifts you were going to have; you didn’t deserve or earn. The fact that God is sovereign essentially means that He has the power, wisdom, and authority to do anything He chooses. Whether or not He actually uses that control in any given circumstance is a completely different question.

We tend to assume that, if God is not directly, overtly, purposefully driving some event, then He is somehow not sovereign. That’s a cartoon version of sovereignty depicting a God who must do anything that He can do, or else He is not truly sovereign. But God does not operate that way all of the time. Do you always exert the full measure of that control? No. Sometimes you let a child run with a decision you wanted them to make differently. Sometimes you let an employee run with an idea you don’t love. Same with God. He is in control of His control.

God is not the only one with power and authority in our world right now. Satan has some power and authority in the current world system in which we exist. Satan rebelled, was cast down to earth, and he’s powerful. The Bible calls him the god of this age, or the prince of this world. Meaning, he has some dominion, by tempting people and commanding demons, but he is not equal to God, and he’s under the sovereign control of God. But God has made it clear that there is only one way to escape the power of Satan’s dominion, and that is through God’s son, Jesus Christ.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 NIV

Obviously, the enemy knew this plan for Jesus to come and live the perfect life we could never live and to die our death in our place, to pay for sin and to rise from the dead defeating death and the grave. Satan used all the power he had to try and stop him. He tempted Jesus so that Jesus couldn’t be a sinless offering, it didn’t work. There’s only one King. That’s King Jesus. Not prince Jesus, King Jesus. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The name above every name. This is why Jesus speaking of the cross He was about to bear, declared victory:

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” John 12:31 NIV

Jesus had the last word when He spoke on the cross, it is finished. Jesus has the last word in your life. And now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So, when the enemy comes to lie to you about who you are, you can remind him that there is one who is completely sovereign and our hearts are set on Him and our mind will stay on Him and through the power of His name our hope will not be shaken.


Pause and have a SELAH moment focusing on the sovereignty of God.


If God is in control of everything, do we even have a choice?  Is there really any freedom?Yes there is freedom. But it is limited.  There are boundaries, parameters of which you cannot go beyond. Because you are a human being you have freedom of choice, but there are limitations. Let’s say you are going to take an ocean liner to cross the ocean. While you’re on this trip, you could have many choices you’re free to make; you could get on the first deck, the second deck, or the third deck. You could watch movies, sleep, eat food, play shuffleboard, or swim. You could do many different things — lots of freedom on the boat but there is nothing you could do that would alter the ultimate destination of that ocean liner. 

The Bible says God gives you freedom to choose the way you want to live, the way you want to act, but once you make those choices you are no longer free. You are not free to choose the consequences. God set up a cause and effect universe. You reap what you sow. God says if you do certain things then certain things are going to be the result.

Because God is in control, our plans have a limit.  You’ve heard the phrase, “The sky’s the limit” but the fact is the sky isn’t the limit. God is.  He decides what are the limitations in your life. 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 NIV

We need to be flexible in our plans. Let’s give you a wrong attitude and a right attitude when it comes to living with this. Wrong Attitude: Presumption When we say, “We don’t need God and we can figure it all out. We’re not going to pray about anything.”  We just assume that everything is going to go the way it’s intended to go, that’s presumption. The Bible says that since life is uncertain, we should not presume on it. 

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15 NIV

A mature person is bendable to God’s plan. Mature people of faith hold their plan with an open hand. Right Attitude: Cooperation People used to write at the end of letters the initials, “DV” which stands for Deo Volente. It means, “God Willing.”  “We’re going to come see you Lord willing. We realize that ultimately our plans may be changed.” That’s a good attitude.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Make plans but let God lead you. Since God is in control our plans have a limit. 

Because God is in control, our problems have a purpose. Life is not a series of random events that have no meaning. There are many things that happen in life that are not God’s will. Sin is not God’s will.  He doesn’t cause sin. He doesn’t even cause all your problems.  He doesn’t have to. You bring enough problems on yourself.  And other people bring enough problems on to you.  He doesn’t have to cause problems in your life for you to grow from them.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9 NLT

God is so good, so powerful, and wise that He’s transforming what was meant for evil into something positive to conform your character to Christ. God allows —He permits—problems. God could have kept Paul out of prison at Philippi, but He let him go to prison.  He allowed it.  As a result, the jailer became a Christian.  God could have kept Jesus from going to the cross, not have to have the crucifixion. But He allowed the crucifixion so He could do a resurrection. Don’t blame God for all the evil in the world.  God is redeeming us.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 NIV

Job says, everything I have comes from God anyway.  He gave it to me; He can allow it to be taken away.  It is His right.  If you lost everything the way Job did, how would you respond? 

Joseph is an example of how you handle it when people hurt you intentionally.  Joseph was his father’s favorite son. All of his brothers got very jealous and they sold him into slavery. He was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave in a man’s house. The man’s wife tries to seduce him. He won’t give in so he’s accused of rape.  He’s put in prison and he spends years in prison, dwindling away.  Joseph had to be saying, “Where is God in all of this?  What did I do to deserve this?”  If we were Joseph we’d be saying, “Why, God?” But he was exactly where God wanted him to be. 

God was in control and God was working through circumstances and situations. He didn’t cause it but He allowed the brothers to sell him in to slavery.  Later on, Joseph rose to a position of prominence in Egypt and there was a great famine.  Because of his wisdom both Egypt and Israel were saved. Later he came face to face with the very brothers that tried to hurt him.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 NIV

We need to look past the pain and try to find God’s purpose behind the pain. Some things in life we’re never going to know. But God has a plan and God is a good God. He’s in control. In 2 Corinthians, God says the temporary problems you are going through right now are minor compared to the reward you’re going to be given on the other side for how you handled them.  Paul says, “We don’t look at the temporary problems we’re going through.  We keep our eyes on the eternal things.  The things that really count.  The things that matter.” Look past the pain.  Your problems have a purpose.  And your plans have a limit. 

Because God is in control, our prayers have an impact. It’s not a waste of time to pray. The Bible says because God is in control our prayers have an impact.  Prayer works. Because God controls everything, He has the ability to answer your prayers.  If God were not sovereign then prayer would be a waste of time.  God is in charge of everything so He can change things. 

“(God)… is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20 LB

The point is, prayer can do whatever God can do.  Over twenty times in the New Testament, the Bible says, “Ask.”  God says “Ask and I’ll show you great and mighty things that you don’t know.” Prayer does have an impact.

There is nothing beyond God’s control. Pray about it. God can control it. That is the power of prayer.  Some of you are thinking, “Since God is in control and He can do anything and He’s told me to pray, why don’t we get everything we ask for?”  Many reasons – God is not a genie. Do you realize what a mess our world would be in if God answered every single prayer of every person?  If God answered every prayer it would ruin us because we don’t know how to handle that kind of power. 

Often times there are competing prayers.  Christians pray in conflict. One Christian asks for one thing, another asks for the opposite thing. Because we don’t have total knowledge we often pray by mistake. The bottom line of why God doesn’t answer all requests is that God knows what’s best.  We need to be able to say, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Bible says in I John 5:14-15 that when we pray according to God’s will then the answers come.  The attitude must become, “Lord, Thy will be done.”  This is what we want, but Thy will be done. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Lord, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, Thy will be done.” 

There is no attribute that is more comforting to the Christian than the attribute of God called His sovereignty.  He is in control. Does it take trust? Does it take faith? Yes, but there is peace. Because God is sovereign, He has a right to call the shots in your life.  You wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for God.  If you’re not letting Him call the shots then you’re living in rebellion and that’s why life is frustrating.

The best decision we will ever make is to say, “God, You are sovereign. We want to cooperate with that. We recognize that You have a right to call the shots in our life and we want to cooperate with that.”  You will find so much fulfillment, meaning, purpose, satisfaction cooperating with the plan of God instead of fighting it.  We invite you to do that today. Let God Be God.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “Our Unchanging God” God’s love for us never changes. God’s Word never changes. God’s purpose for my life never changes. Any more thoughts or conclusions about that message?

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

Big Idea

God is sovereign. Sovereignty simply means that God is in control. He’s in control of everything because He created everything. God is in control of our lives. Scripture says that God’s sovereignty decided when you were going to be born, and how long you are going to live. God has also decided which natural abilities you were going to have, you didn’t deserve or earn. Do we have any freedom? Yes, but it is limited. Because God is in control, our plans have a limit, our problems have a purpose and our prayers have an impact.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV

Discussion & Application

  • What stood out to you in this message?
  • How is the fact that God is sovereign any comfort to you in the midst of what you’re facing?
  • Because God is in control, my plans have a limit. Read James 4:13-15. What might it look like to plan, yet cooperate with the purpose of God?
  • Because God is in control, my problems have a purpose. Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. What verse stood out to you the most? What does Peter encourage our response to trials being?
  • Because God is in control, my prayers have an impact. What are some reasons we do not pray? Has there ever been a time in your life when your prayer-life has been very vibrant? What made that time unique?

Prayer Focus

Ask the group for how you can pray for and support one another this week. Also, continue to pray for nations, state and community leaders. Pray for first responders and medical personnel.

Next Steps

Who can you encourage this Easter? How could you encourage them with the hope of Jesus Christ?

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It’s Time | Week 1: The Light is Green

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God has a very clear goal and purpose for our church. It’s rooted in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Here is our vision:

  • Know God

God is not your religion, He is actually someone you can believe and trust and know.

  • Find Freedom

You can know God and be saved but still have issues that keep you from being who God wants you to be. So we let God take us on a journey of settling some of our issues and we want to take you on that journey.

  • Discover Purpose

You are no accident. It doesn’t matter what your parents version of how you came about. God has always had you on his mind. God has a purpose for your life.

You’re never going to be satisfied or happy without God. Go pursue whatever you want without God, and it will always be empty. Those things will never give you the joy you know you could have had.

  • Make a Difference

We want to take you on this journey of Knowing God, Finding Freedom, Discovering Purpose and Making a Difference in Jesus name.

You are somewhere in this process.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in church your whole life, you have another step. That’s why it’s called following Jesus. Some of you even know what the steps are, but the problem is, getting moving.

We need something or someone to push us toward the life you know you’re supposed to be living. The life that you’ve wanted to try, and you just needed the catalyst to get moving. That’s why this series of posts is called, It’s time.

We’ve got a brand new year and it’s time.


Have you ever sat at a stoplight and waited for the cars in front of you to notice the light is green? They aren’t going because they’re looking at something else or doing something else. While everything in you wants to lay on the horn to wake them up, what you really need to do is give a friendly beep, beep to get their attention on the green light.

Well there are some times that in our spiritual journey we stop paying attention and someone needs to come along and give a friendly beep, beep to remind you to keep moving forward. That’s what today’s post is all about.

The light is green. It’s time.

Take a look at this encounter Jesus had with three different people who want to become disciples of the Lord Jesus.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” Luke 9:57-58 NIV

Poverty was part of the curse Jesus carried. So, He told them this is going to be harder than you thought. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, you’d already be doing it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

But if you want the life you were meant to have, we’ll help you but buckle up, because it’s not going to be a bump free road.

“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”  Luke 9:59-60 NIV

This verse has been greatly misunderstood. Jesus isn’t against funerals and he wasn’t forbidding the man to arrange his father’s funeral. Most scholars would say the man was saying he’d like to take care of his father until he dies and then would be free to follow Jesus. This is the person who wanted to but felt like they had viable excuses.

That sounds like a great excuse. Jesus said, you’re missing it. The lights green and there aren’t endless cycles. Jesus takes first place.

“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:61-62 NIV

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and this guy is missing the urgency. Beep, Beep. Let’s go. Seize the day.

This new year and new decade gives us a fresh start. You know the song, Auld Lang Syne, sung at New Year’s celebrations. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”

We all know this song but few know what it means. What the penman of this song, Robert Burns in Old Scottish, was saying was Auld Lang Syne which means Days Gone By. What the song is challenging all of us to do is to think about what should stay in 2019 and never come into our new year and what should we bring with us. So he asks the question, what old acquaintance, like the pains and mistakes and hurts, what should be forgotten and what should stay.

The Bible has so much to say about old and new. This year, let’s move on from three old things.

1. Move on from old hurts

You’re wounded and it hurts. Someone has said or done something hurtful to you. It happened, you move on. You can’t go back and change it, but you can let God clear the page. That’s what the cross and the empty grave are for.

We’re not going to be perfect, we’re going to disappoint people. People are going to disappoint us. But there is one, Jesus Christ, who is perfect and He made a way for sinners like us.

2. Move on from old habits

Move on from our addictions. We’re all an addict. We’ve gotten addicted to certain drugs and meds and drinks or certain foods, certain language, addicted to our phones, addicted to bad patterns bad relationship patterns. What do you do with a bad habit?

That’s the power of the 21 Days we’re about to enter into. At the beginning of each year we make it a priority to seek God first. We do this by claiming 21 days in January as days of prayer and fasting. You can join us January 5-25 and make a commitment to pray each day.

You can choose to fast from many different things during those 21 days as well. We choose prayer and fasting because we know those are two powerful ways to turn down the noise of the world around us and tune in to God’s voice directing us.

Starting Monday, January 6th will offer prayer services in our worship center each weekday from 6-7am and Saturday mornings from 9-10. It’s so refreshing to just have some moments where we seek God together.

For some digital resources for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, visit our website or find the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting section in the Rock Brook Church app.

This is a great opportunity to move on from old habits. Anything in your life that you’re not going let master you, you need to fast from.

What’s fasting? Is it to punish yourself to get God’s attention? No. That’s bad religious teaching and it’s not in the Bible. Fasting separates ourselves from the world to fuel our relationship with God.

3. Move on from old hang-ups

The things that still define you. The debts, patterns and events that have shaped how you view yourself. It’s time to move on from your hurts, habits and hang ups.

These words are pulled directly from Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery program with foundations firmly established in Biblical truth. It exists so you can find freedom from any hurt, habit or hang-up and live fully alive in Jesus. At Rock Brook we have Celebrate Recovery meetings on Wednesday nights at 7:00.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:1-10 NLT


Time To Make A Change

It’s time to make a change in four areas.

1. It’s time to get closer to God

You may already love God. Great, get closer. The light is green.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8 NLT  

We’ve all let our loyalties go to some other places, but not for the next 21 days. How do you get rid of that dividing line? You starve the world and you feed your relationship with God. You do that with prayer and fasting. 

Prayer gets you closer to God while fasting separates you from the world. It’s radical. You can’t do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting all year. It’s an intense radical season that you can’t sustain that long, but that season jolts us into where we need to be. It takes kind of jolt to make the change.

One of the problems of moving on from hurts, habits and hang ups, we think it’s going to be easy.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you need to do something you’ve never done.

Some of you’ve never shown up to church all year long. What would it look like if you showed up to church 52 weekends this year? What would your life look like? You’d be closer to God. Your life and family would be healthier.

What if you participated in all 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting? Your life and family would be healthier.

2. It’s time to get honest with a godly friend

Share the whole real you with at least one other person. You’re not going to be able to get where you want to go alone. God designed this process to be achieved through fellowship with others. You’re not going to get there alone. That’s why we are a church of groups. That’s why groups matter to us so much, we try to cultivate environments where this can happen.

Everyone needs to be in a group or lead a group. Many of you need to lead a group for the accountability you get from leading. You’re going to pray harder knowing they’re coming over to your house. Your next level of growth is going to come through giving and leading.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 NLT

Some of our stuff is big and scary because it’s in the darkness. Bring it into the light and it shrivels. Set your mind to it, that’s what is going to make 2020 better. 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

3. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes and my SHAPE

Some of us have been living for ourselves, our purpose. You tried to find yourself instead of trying to find God. You tried self-discovery instead of God-discovery. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes.

And then our SHAPE. That stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. All of those things make up who you are. God has shaped you. Your life trajectory has shaped you and the goal is that God would use that to help someone else.

Your SHAPE is why some of you walk into a room and see things that needs to be done and some walk into a room and see people who need to be connected with. It gets bigger than that. Some of you are shaped to help people know their Bible better or make an environment more hospitable, some help kids or students or lead people in worship.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 NIV

It’s work, but it’s a good work. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired. That’s how God feels about His workmanship on you. He’s not embarrassed by you, He shaped you for a good work.

We’d love to help you take this spiritual journey. That’s why each Sunday we host an event that’s part of a four part series called Growth Track. This is Rock Brook’s way to help get in tune with God’s purposes and your design. Find out more about Growth Track on our website.

4. It’s time to get on doing something greater than myself

A great life doesn’t come from making money, sunny days, great politics or a great neighborhood. Real joy comes by knowing you’re on a God-driven adventure.

It’s when you do something with your life that actually matters.

If you’ll dedicate your life to something greater than yourself, God will fill your life with passion and adventure. 

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NLT

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking about a mistake you’ve made. You’re looking in the rearview mirror and don’t know the light is green. If you’re trapped by something in your 2019 or before remember this…

You can’t go back and change the beginningbut you can start where you are and change the ending.

You can’t go back and change how the marriage started or something you did in it, but you can get that marriage on a track that has a great ending. You can’t go back and change the things in the past. You serve a God who is the only one with the ability to do this.

It’s time.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “Your Timing Is Everything.” How did that message help you identify some areas where you need to speed up or slow down this year?

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

Hear the Word

Each person has a God-given design and a next step to take, but many of us have a problem getting started. In Luke 9:57-62, three people have the opportunity to follow Jesus but then make excuses for delaying the journey. Jesus plainly says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne” challenges us to leave the unproductive in the past, and Scripture gives us direction for what we should leave behind. 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting is a great time to fast anything that is trying to master our lives.

Let’s stop delaying. It’s time to make a change by allowing Jesus to change our minds and our lives.

Spend some time in the word. Read Luke 9:57-62 and Colossians chapter three.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What past history—hurts, habits, hang-ups—do you think about and are keeping you from seeing the new thing God wants to do in your life? Are they relational? Health? Financial?
  3. How can you use 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting to step into the newness God has for you this year?
  4. Which of the four It’s Times do you need the most right now?

Prayer Focus: Spend some time in prayer thanking God for hope, purpose, salvation and life. Ask him for direction for your life.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message of this series? You could give them an invite to this weekend’s message. You could share with them this message by telling them about it or sharing the podcast with them.

 

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Week 5: Shaped to Serve

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


Have you noticed that God likes variety? Just look around, every human being is unique. God makes every person an original. He could have made us all alike, but He didn’t.

“God shaped man from the soil of the ground and He blew the breath of life into his nostrils and man became a living being.”  Genesis 2:7 (NJB) 

God custom shaped you and there’s nobody else shaped exactly like you. 

“You made my whole being. You formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in Your book before I was one day old.”  Psalm 139:13-16 (NCV)

Before you were even born God made you, formed you, saw you and shaped you. God planned every day of your life. You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. God chose two people to be your parents, because God knew they had exactly the right DNA to create you. God was more interested in creating you than He was in their parenting skills.

“Your hands formed and shaped me…”  Job 10:8a (GN)

God was intricately, intimately involved in creating you.

After God made you, He broke the mold. Nobody will ever be like you. When you get to heaven God won’t say, “Why weren’t you more like ___________?” God will say, “Did you become the person I made you to be?” You could search the entire world and never find anybody with your thumbprint, your footprint, your voiceprint or your eye print. You are unique.

Most people start off as originals and end up as carbon copies. If you’re here, it means that God has something you can contribute that no one else can. Only you can be you.


For over twenty years at Rock Brook we’ve been using an acrostic called SHAPE to talk about the five things that make you, youYour shape determines what kind of friends you should havewhy certain things frustrate you, your ideal work environment, the best ministry for you and where you will live and succeed. 

When you are working in the area of your shape it’s fulfilling and fruitful. God says we were made to make a difference for Him, a Kingdom difference.

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The Bible teaches that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, God gives you spiritual gifts. There are over twenty spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. Everyone who has trusted Christ is gifted by God with one of these gifts. The spiritual gift you are given, is one of the factors that determines your life purpose.

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There are things you have a heart for and are passionate about. What are you excited about? What is it that gets you up in the morning? Some people have a heart for kids, for teens, for adults or for the hurting. Your heart determines your ministry.

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The average person has over 600 abilities. You have abilities you haven’t even discovered yet. If you want know God’s purpose for your life, find the abilities God has given you and put them to use for His glory.

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We all navigate life differently. Some of us are very competitive and some are very cooperative. Some of us are extroverts while some are introverts. Some of us love variety and others love routine. Has he designed you to work on a team or work alone? Your personality will help determine your purpose.

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God can use the positive and the painful. What experience in your past do you want to hold back? God challenges you to let it come out for His glory. Your most powerful ministry may come out of your greatest hurt, because God never wastes a hurt.  


Why Should You Care About Your Shape?

  • Because your shape reveals God’s purpose for you. 

The way you find out what God wants you to do with your life is to discover how He shaped you.

“Before I shaped you in the womb I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day I had holy plans for you: A spokesman for the nation, that’s what I had in mind for you.”  Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG) 

God had something in mind for you before you were born, but God won’t force you to do His plan. God gives you the freedom. You can use your life on personal, self-centered things and totally miss God’s plan for your life.

  • Because your SHAPE equips you to serve Him.

“God formed me in my mother’s womb to be His servant and He commissioned me…”  Isaiah 49:5 (NLT)

There is a life mission that God has for you that nobody else on this planet can do.

  • Because life is a test.

You need to know your shape because this life is preparation for eternity. God is testing you to see what you will do with what you’ve been given on earth to determine what He will give you to do in heaven for eternity. One day you’re going to stand before God and He’s going to ask you two questions.

What did you do with My Son, Jesus Christ? 

God sent Him to earth to be your Savior by dying on the cross for you. Did you accept that or reject it? Did you accept the forgiveness, the salvation, the ticket to heaven that Christ offered you. If the answer is, “Yes, I accepted Jesus, your Son, as my Lord and Savior. I accepted Jesus and what He did for me.” That is the question that gets you into heaven.  

What did you do with what you were given? 

This question determines not whether you get into heaven, but what you do after you get there. Jesus told a number of stories in which He said that your rewards in heaven and your role in heaven and your responsibility in heaven will be based on what you do with what you’ve been given here? That is the question you need to be prepared to answer. 

“From where He sets God overlooks all of us on earth.  He has shaped each person in turn and now He watches everything we do.”  Psalm 33:14-15 (MSG)

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.  If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches?”  Luke 16:10-11 (NIV)

  • Because it shows God’s glory.

When you use your shape and do what God made you to do it not only feels good to you, it also makes God smile. When God sees someone using the spiritual gift that He gave them for His glory, He smiles.

Everything you have in your life is a gift from God. It can be either used or it can be abused. God says, “I’m testing you to see what you do with what I gave you. There are eternal consequences for everything you do. Rewards, roles, responsibilities.

“Bring Me all the people who are Mine whom I made for my glory.”   Isaiah 43:21 (NJB)

When people fulfill their purpose they bring glory to God. You were made for God’s glory. That’s why you’re alive. Even people with little contribution to our society matter. God wants them alive, because He just wants to love them. They’re alive to teach us to love unconditionally. God says He loves them and He has numbered their days before they were born. God wants them here and has a purpose for them. Maybe the purpose is just for Him to love them and for us to be unselfish and love people who can’t help us back.

The Bible says God loves the weak, the infirm, the needy. We need them in our lives to learn to love like God loves. We must always protect the sanctity of life from the unborn to the elderly. Because you are valuable no matter who or what you are.

“The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord.’”  Exodus 4:11 (NIV)

What are you doing with what you’ve been given? God isn’t going to compare you with anybody else. He is going to compare you with your potential though. How did you use what you’ve been given?


How Should You Respond To Your Shape? 

  • Acceptance: Believe that God knows best.

Acceptance means that I believe that when God made me, He knew what He was doing. It all comes down to a matter of trust. When you reject yourself you are rejecting God because He’s your creator. 

My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why He shaped it the way He did.’”  Romans 9:20 (CEV)

Whenever we doubt God’s love and whenever we doubt God’s wisdom, we always get into trouble. The root behind all of your problems is you don’t believe God really loves you. You don’t believe He has your best interest at heart. You wish He had made you different. As a result there’s a spirit of bitterness in you that keeps you frustrated and keeps you from being all the man or woman God meant for you to be.

“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.”  Job 10:10 (NLT)

He wanted you alive so He let that conception happen. He wanted you and He loves you.

  • Salvation: Receive God’s love.

“Let Your love, God, shape my life with salvation exactly as You promised.”  Psalm 119:41 (MSG)

Even the most desperate and tragic situations show us God’s love for us. God can always bring good out of bad. You are loved by God and the cross proves it. Jesus Christ died for you. God made you. God saved you and God has a plan for you. He wants you to fulfill the purpose you were shaped for here on earth in this life and for eternity in heaven. That cannot happen apart from salvation.

  • Refocus: Develop what’s inside not outside.

In our society we are obsessed with outward appearance. People spend millions of dollars to work on the outside, but they don’t spend any time on the inside of them.

“The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance. But the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

God wants you to take the time and effort to discover your SHAPE. All of the stuff inside of you determines what God wants you to do with your life. Satan is doing everything he can to keep you from using your SHAPE, because if he can keep you from discovering and deploying your SHAPE, he can rob you of your rewards in heaven and he can rob God of His glory.


Check Back

Which question and reason for work did you focus on last week? In what ways did you make progress? What are some next steps you can take to continue your progress?

  1. How can you personally advance the mission of your workplace?
  2. How can your job grow your character?
  3. How can you let your light shine?
  4. What more can you give as a result of your job?
  5. Where is your reward?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Psalm 139:13-16 (NCV)

Can you identify the 5 elements of your SHAPE?

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Application

1. ACCEPTANCE: Believe That God Knows Best

“My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?’”  Romans 9:20 (CEV)

“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.”  Job 10:10 (NLT)

What do you need to accept about your SHAPE that you have been resisting?

2. SALVATION: Receive God’s Love

“Let Your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as You promise.”  Psalm 119:41 (MSG)

Have you received the forgiveness and salvation that Christ offers you in every area of your life?

3. REFOCUS: Develop What’s Inside Not Outside

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

“By the grace of God I am what I am.”  1 Corinthians. 15:10 (NIV)

What part of your SHAPE do you need to discover and develop more fully?

Tell Someone Else

Acknowledge your SHAPE this week. Think about who God has put in your life that needs to understand their value before God. How can you help them find their value by discovering their SHAPE?

 

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Week 1: The First Purpose of Your Life

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


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

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

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

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


Our Motivation For Serving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s love for me is…

  • Wide Enough to be everywhere.

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

  • Long Enough to last forever.

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

  • Deep Enough to handle anything.

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

  • High Enough to cover my mistakes.

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

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

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

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


When You Are Motivated By God’s Love…

1. You stop feeling pressured to perform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. You have unmistakable peace during conflict.

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

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

5. You gain the courage to take bigger risks.

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

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

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

6. You find yourself worshiping more and worrying less.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

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

When you are motivated by God’s love…

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

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

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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

 

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