Rethinking Your Life | Week 7: Five Lies of Relationships

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

We want to learn to think like Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Five Lies

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

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

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

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

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

The enemy came in the form of a serpent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lie: God’s Word isn’t totally true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lie: That choice won’t hurt anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passions need parameters

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

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

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

Step 3: The devil accuses God of evil intent


Lie: Righteousness is boring. Sin is fun.

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

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

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

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

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

Step 4: The devil advertises sin as beneficial


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lie: It’s too late. Run and hide.

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

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

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

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

There are three possible responses to this message today.

1. Defensiveness

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

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

I will… I will… I will…

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

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

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

2. Remorse

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

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

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

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

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

3. Repentance

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

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


Check Back

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

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

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

Big Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion & Application

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

Prayer Focus

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

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

Next Steps

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

RockBrook.org/Connect/Celebrate-Recovery

The King | Week 3: The Relational King

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Solomon’s father, David, introduced Solomon to the nation of Israel as an inexperienced king. But David thought Solomon had potential and wanted both Israel and God to give him a chance.  As a young king, Solomon asked God to give him wisdom to lead the nation. God granted the request and blessed Solomon with remarkable wisdom and every other blessing as well.

Over the years, Solomon built the Temple of the God Almighty and he ruled and reigned effectively for many years. He built an extraordinary kingdom and lived an extraordinary life.

But, unfortunately, Solomon’s story is one of those classic rise and fall stories. In his old age Solomon did extremely foolish things that destroyed his legacy. And most of those foolish things happened within his relationships.

Solomon embraced his relationship with God in his youth and enjoyed the benefits of God’s wisdom but in his later years Solomon turned his heart away from God and foolishly began to worship other false gods.

In his early years, Solomon accomplished the main task that God had given him to do which was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. And Solomon accomplished all of that through his relationships because…

The relationships you MAINTAIN will determine the legacy you RETAIN.

The people you surround yourself with are shaping your life. The quality of your life will be determined by your five closest friends.

In Solomon’s life there was one relationship that really accelerated his life as a young, untested king and helped him become the man that God wanted him to be. But there were also relationships that Solomon had in his later years that ended up destroying his kingdom and ruining his legacy.


The Right Relationships

The right relationship that Solomon had was started by his father David. We’ll pick the story up in 2 Samuel chapter 5.

“Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. And David realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” 2 Samuel 5:11-12 NLT

When David was a young king taking over the kingdom from King Saul, he was a little insecure about his leadership. He was unsure whether or not people looked at him as the king. So God used Hiram, the King of Tyre, to confirm to David and the people of Israel that David really was the king.

Through David’s relationship with Hiram and the successful completion of this palace building project David came to know that God really did want him to be king and that the kingdom was more secure and stable than David had actually realized.

The first thing that your friends should do is:

  • Affirm your CALLING.

 The people that you surround yourself with should see the greatness that God has placed in your life. Reality is that the people around us are either pushing us toward our destiny or they are keeping us from it. There’s not much middle ground.

As you evaluate your relationships ask yourself, are these people driving me to be better…? Are they affirming the call that God has on my life…?

Too many of us have surrounded ourselves with critics who tell us all the things we can’t do and all the reasons why we can’t do them. God wants us to surround ourselves with people who are constantly pulling greatness out of us.

One of Satan’s favorite tools is self doubt. He gets you to doubt whether or not God has really called you. So you need people in your life who affirm your call because lives will be changed on the other side of your obedience.

God doesn’t want us to go through life alone. He wants his church to work together, encouraging one another and building each other up.

The second things friends do for us is they:

  • Assist your VISION.

Once you get God’s call on your life, then you get a vision for how that’s going to unfold. Solomon had a vision of building the Temple and Hiram is going to play a role in that vision.

“Solomon decided to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord, and also a royal palace for himself. Solomon also sent this message to King Hiram at Tyre: ‘Send me cedar logs as you did for my father, David, when he was building his palace. I am about to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God. So send me a master craftsman. Also send me cedar, cypress, and red sandalwood logs from Lebanon, for I know that your men are without equal at cutting timber in Lebanon. I will send my men to help them. In payment for your woodcutters, I will send 100,000 bushels of crushed wheat, 100,000 bushels of barley, 110,000 gallons of wine, and 110,000 gallons of olive oil.’ King Hiram sent this letter of reply to Solomon: ‘It is because the Lord loves his people that he has made you their king! I am sending you a master craftsman named Huramabi, who is extremely talented. He is skillful at making things from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and he also works with stone and wood. He can work with purple, blue, and scarlet cloth and fine linen. He is also an engraver and can follow any design given to him. He will work with your craftsmen and those appointed by my lord David, your father. We will cut whatever timber you need from the Lebanon mountains and will float the logs in rafts down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Joppa. From there you can transport the logs up to Jerusalem.’”  2 Chronicles 2:1-16 NLT

It is fascinating that we call it Solomon’s Temple. We say that Solomon built the Temple. But really, David got the vision for it, drew up all the blueprints and raised all the money. Hiram supplied all the timber and craftsmen. But,  Solomon got all the credit. It’s called Solomon’s Temple.

When God gives you a dream, something He wants you to accomplish with your life, it’s always bigger than what you can do on your own. So you have to look for those strategic that make you bigger and better than you are yourself.

The third things friends do is:

  • Address your SHORTCOMINGS.

“It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time, he gave twenty towns in the land of Galilee to King Hiram of Tyre. But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the towns Solomon had given him, he was not at all pleased with them. ‘What kind of towns are these, my brother?’ he asked. So Hiram called that area Cabul (which means ‘worthless’), as it is still known today.” 1 Kings 9:10-13 NLT

Hiram calls Solomon out for being a bad gift giver. Sometimes we don’t see the things that we are bad at. So you need people in your life who will point out areas where you need improvement.

We usually react to this defensively, but after the pain fades a little bit we can be thankful for people who will call us out and speak truth.

Solomon said, The wounds of a friend can be trusted. It’s only an enemy that multiplies kisses.

Next thing your friends do is:

  • Alter your POTENTIAL.

Your relationships are shaping how much you will be able to accomplish with your life. Some of us live well below the lid of what God had for us because we don’t have friends pushing us to excel. Others of us live far beyond our own capacity because of what our friends help us to accomplish.

That’s what happened with Solomon because of his relationship with Hiram.

“King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, a port near Elath in the land of Edom, along the shore of the Red Sea. Hiram sent experienced crews of sailors to sail the ships with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back to Solomon some sixteen tons of gold.” 1 Kings 9:26-28 NLT

The people of Israel were shepherds by nature. That’s the trade, the lifestyle, that has been passed down to them from all the way back to Abraham. But then when God gave them the Promised Land they became farmers and city dwellers.

They had never sailed before. They were not an ocean going people. There was a lid on what they could accomplish. But in this relationship between Solomon and Hiram, Hiram was by nature a trader. He sailed ships and exchanged goods with foreign countries all over the Mediterranean Sea. He knew how to work trade deals with other countries.

Once again, Hiram had the knowledge. And as a result of his relationship with Hiram we see Solomon diversifying his portfolio. He’s becoming an entrepreneur in a new market. But you don’t successfully do that without someone leading the way.

You have to know how to sail the ship, to chart your course, to know what goods you possess that would be good for trading over seas. That’s what Hiram did for Solomon. The Bible tells us that these ships returned with sixteen tons of gold.  In today’s money that is over 456 million dollars, and they did it every three years.

That’s a very good rate of return on investment. In fact, that’s why in our theme verse it says,

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.” 1 Kings 10:23 NIV

Solomon is at the pinnacle of success and things are going great for him and Israel. But lurking in the background of Israel’s history is this foreboding prophecy in Deuteronomy 31:20. God says…

“When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their forefathers, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other     gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant.” Deuteronomy 31:20 NIV

In other words, God saw this coming. What would make Solomon and the nation of Israel turn their back on God at the height of their success?

The answer is… their relationships.


The Wrong Relationships

“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.” 1 Kings 11:1 NLT

The word there for loved means to affectionately desire. It speaks in a sexual sense. The first thing the wrong relationships do when they creep into your life is…

  • Prey on your PASSION.

All of us have unhealthy desires that we must overcome, contain and bring in line with what God says we are to do in His Word. You don’t want to surround yourself with people who pull you in the direction of those unhealthy desires.

Some of us have people in our lives who are not helping us win the battle. Instead, you have people in your life who are telling you its no big deal and everyone does it.

“The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 1 Kings 11:2 NLT

It matters who you love. It matters to God and it matters to you. There are consequences to these life choices. Here’s the pattern of sin when it comes into our lives: I want it. I deserve it. I can handle it. 

Solomon wanted these unbelieving foreign women even though God told him to stay away from them. He felt he deserved it based on the good things he had done for God and others. And he thought he could handle it because he was strong enough.

Unfortunately, Solomon couldn’t handle it.

“He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 1 Kings 11:3-4 NLT

You are never too old to be immune from Satan’s attacks. Satan wants to destroy your faith and he doesn’t care how long it takes.

  • Wrong relationships… Pull you from your PURPOSE.

Solomon’s purpose was to build the Temple, the first permanent place on the planet where the Creator of Heaven and Earth could be worshiped. Now in Solomon’s heart and mind he probably thought he was fine because he continued to make sacrifices in the Temple. He just also offered sacrifices in these other temples to other gods.

“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14 NIV

God doesn’t want us worshipping other gods. He doesn’t want to share our affection with other gods. He doesn’t want half-hearted worship. He wants us to worship Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.

What other things, maybe even good things, are vying for our passion, our love, our worship?

 “Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites.” 1 Kings 11:5 NLT

  • Bad relationships… Pollute your PERSPECTIVE.

The worship of Ashtoreth and Molech was very, very detestable. First, because it involved temple prostitution. They were fertility gods so there was perverse sexual activity in their worship. Which we already see was a problem in Solomon’s life because he had a thousand wives and concubines. He’s got an issue that he’s not dealing with properly.

Also, if you worshipped Molech you would take your first born child and sacrifice it on that altar in the belief that Molech would then bless your family with prosperity and more children.

God had very specifically told the nation of Israel not to allow that kind of worship to be practiced in their nation. And not only did Solomon allow it to be practiced but because of his relationship with these pagan women he is participating in it and building the temples where it is taking place.

His perspective has shifted. In the modern day church how many of us have allowed relationships to come into our lives that are shifting our perspective away from God’s word?

We’re waking up today in a modern day culture where sin is no longer considered sin and the Church is condoning things that the Bible clearly calls sin. That kind of cultural drift is costly. It cost Solomon dearly and it will cost our culture, our churches, and our lives dearly as well.

“The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” 1 Kings 11:9 NLT

“So now the Lord said to him, ‘Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.’” 1 Kings 11:11 NLT

Solomon’s bad relationships cost him his legacy. Your relationships are going to accelerate your life and help you fulfill your call, vision, purpose and potential. Or your relationships are going to prey on your passions, pull you from your purpose, and pollute your perspective.

It is a very significant choice we have to make and it is not an easy one because the wisest man who ever lived messed it up. Who are you going to allow to have a voice in your life?


Check Back

Quickly check back on your discussion from last week: “The Wise King.” God gives us wisdom (continuously) and generously (enough for everyone) to all (each one individually) without finding fault (He’s happy to give every time you ask).

How has God given you wisdom this past week?

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

Big Idea

The relationships you maintain will determine the legacy you retain. Solomon had both right and wrong relationships. Both kinds of relationships had significant impact on his life and legacy. The same thing is true for you.

Hear the Word

Right Relationships – Read 1 Kings 9:10-13;26-28 – Affirm your calling, assist your vision, address your shortcomings, alter your potential

Wrong Relationships Read 1 Kings 11:1-11 – Prey on your passion, pull you from your purpose, pollute your perspective

Application

Solomon’s rise came as a result of pursuing his relationship with God and pursuing right relationships with positive influences like Hiram. His fall came when he began to turn his heart away from God and toward his pagan wives and their gods.

What positive influences have made inroads in your life due to healthy relationships?

What negative influences may be making inroads in your life due to unhealthy relationships?

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It’s Time | Week 4: It’s Time To Get Together

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Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  Matthew 3:2 NKJV

Many of you, when you hear that word repent, have negative images and emotions tied to it. When you understand what it means. Repent is a positive word a life-changing word. Repent is God’s way of telling us He has a better way.

The rest of the verse says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  There is some urgency here. This verse is very fitting for this series, It’s Time. God says, “I have a better way for you and and it is time.”

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” Jeremiah 29:11-13


It’s A Group Project

This is an Old Testament verse where God makes this incredible promise to the Israelites. Plans to prosper, plans for a hope and a future and a relationship with Him.

These words were spoken while they were in captivity. God wanted to encourage them because they were going to remain in captivity for 70 more years. But what we learn from this verse and other scriptures is God has a plan to give a hope and a future to all those that seek Him, and call on Him.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

God reminds us that He has a hope and a future for you, but you only have so much time. So here we are today, at the beginning of 2020. We are at the starting line, we have a new hope and future in front of us.

For us to be successful, it is going to have to include something that’s is all around you, it’s relationships. One another.

When God created Adam he said, Adam “it is not good for you to be alone”. We are not going to get where God wants to take us without each other. We often think alone is the best plan.

  • Together is God’s plan

Christianity is a group project. Together can be messy and together makes you vulnerable. That is why it says in our verse “let’s not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.”

  • Together isn’t always easy

Together isn’t easy, but it is so important. Don’t give up on each other, it is God’s way. Some of you are all in and want to deepen your relationships with others. But for others, they would say many of their biggest wounds are from other people. Some of you are around people and still alone. You wall your life off and won’t let anyone past a certain point.

The enemy has a plan. His plan for you is alone. The enemy’s plan for your life is not to get together. It’s is to isolate you. He will use that pain and that hurt from others, and keep recycling it over and over so you stay isolated. He will use fear to convince you it is not worth having relationships.

If you are new to the Christian faith you need to get together with some mature Christians. If you are sick physically, emotionally, mentally or have a sin you are struggling with, you need to get together with some other Christians.

As we get older we start to think that small group is for the youngsters. Not me. One of the most alone groups in America are the elderly. Right now we have something very unique going on in our culture. More people are connected than ever before because of social media and at the same time feel more alone than ever before.

  • Together takes a choice

A choice is a starting point, but no one can make this choice for you. As a church we do everything we can to facilitate Getting Together. 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, Growth Track, Dream Team, Serve Days, Men’s and Women’s Events, and Small Groups.

Our desire for our church is that everyone who calls themselves a member, belongs to a small group. We are built around this idea that we need to do life together. We believe that it is God’s way for us.


When We Get Together

The win for our small groups is not the number of people in the group, it’s what we do to and for each other. Our number one value in small groups is building relationships. A relationship with Jesus and a relationship with each other.

Let’s see how our value of relationships plays out through the life of David in the Old Testament.

One of the things that makes his story so significant is that he started from the bottom, he was number 8 in a family of 8 kids. Being number eight his parents didn’t expect much from him. David spent his early years isolated, he was a shepherd. He spent most of his time out in a field, by himself, surround by sheep. You would never expect him to later be known as a warrior, a poet writing many of the psalms, and a King.

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22  

God himself says David is a very special man. How did David go from a nobody to God declaring him a man after his heart and then trusting David to do everything He asked him to do? People.

There were people in David’s life that helped him go from shepherd to a man after God’s own heart. When we study David’s relationships we discover what kind of relationships we should be looking for and how to be there for others we are in relationship with.       

 “…then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’” 1 Samuel 16:12

Samuel is a very famous prophet and David is a young man. God speaks to Samuel and tells him to go to David. So Samuel anoints David and by anointing David, Samuel is calling out the very best in David.

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…” 1 Samuel 16:13

No one had ever called out the best in David until now. He was number 8 in the lineup of brothers; parents didn’t really pay much attention to David. So, in the presence of David’s brothers Samuel calls out the best in David. God wants to send you people to call out the best in you and he wants you to call out the best in others. God wants to equip you with His Spirit every day.

1. We call out the best in each other.

For a lot of us we have plenty of people in our lives telling us what were not doing right. We need to be looking for opportunities in our Small Group to speak over someone and bring out the best in them.

Some people a have lived their whole life being ignored or have people telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. We need to surround ourselves with others who are going to build us up not tear us down. Let’s breathe life into one another and call out the best in each other.

For some of us. We need to remove some people from our lives and replace them with godly people that want to bring out the best in us. Maybe you are dating someone that is a negative influence in your life, it’s time to say goodbye. Maybe your person to disconnect from is at work. You can’t fire them but you can stop gathering with them at lunch or on breaks.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Proverbs 27:17 NLT

We need to surround ourselves with people who will call out the best in us.

2. We call out to God for each other.

David is anointed, but he hasn’t become king yet. Saul is the current reigning king and David does his best to serve and respect Saul. But the Spirit of God is on David and this threatened Saul. Look what God does He brings someone else in David’s life.

“While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Johnathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1 Samuel 23:15

So Saul is trying to take his life and God sends Saul’s son, Jonathan, to help David. Here is the second person God puts in David’s life. David had a Samuel in his life and now he has Johnathan.

Don’t miss this. David created an environment where he allowed people in his life. But God also said these to these guys, to go to David. Who is missing out because you won’t get together with others? Who is not being blessed because you’re not there? You matter!

Jesus tell us to GO and make disciples. People in this church need you! David is facing a difficult time in his life. King Saul is trying to kill him and God’s plan is that we don’t go through hard stuff alone.

One of the things about small groups, if you are having a good day they are going to celebrate with you. If you are having a bad day, they are going to pray for you. We are going to stand with each other.

More often what matters is not the words we say, it is just having a presence and listening. That is something very powerful we can do.

Sometimes we wonder where God is in our darkest times in life, not realizing He’s present through the people He has surrounded us with. God is using the people around us to help us find strength in Him.

We don’t want anyone to go through life alone. That is why Small Groups are important to us.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Proverbs 17:17

3. We call out the truth to each other.

Let’s jump ahead in the story with David. King Saul is no longer in the picture and David is king. He has power, which we all know can be a dangerous thing. David makes a terrible decision and the Israelites are at war.

Typically, the king goes out on the battlefield with his troops. David was known as being a great warrior. He gets a little comfortable with the king thing and decides to stay home instead of going to battle. He is on his rooftop and sees this beautiful woman taking a bath. He calls for her, sleeps with her and she gets pregnant.

Her husband is one of his best commanders in David’s army, so David orders him to the front line of the battlefield so that he gets killed in battle. David keeps making things worse.

That is how it is often when we are in the middle of doing something wrong. We don’t see that were making things worse. We keep making one bad decision after another and were blind to it. We need people to call out the truth to us.

“The Lord sent Nathan to David…” 2 Samuel 12:1 

Nathan is another person in David’s life. Nathan is a prophet who comes to David. David is blind to his sin and things keep getting worse. Nathan confronts David and tells David this story about a situation that is very similar to what David had done.

David, gets very angry about the man in the story and began arranging punishment for his actions…

“Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’” 2 Samuel 12:7

And in that moment, David breaks down and confesses and God forgave David. His brokenness came because a friend was willing to speak truth in his life. If a man after God’s own heart can blow it, so can we. 

If we are not careful, we will be blind to that mistake. We need people in our life that will call out the truth. Small groups are a place to find godly people who will speak truth into your life.

We need people to tell us there is a better way. That is what is so good about God’s way, there is always a way out.

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT

WHEN WE GET TOGETHER:

  • We call out the best in each other.
  • We cry out to god for each other.
  • We call out the truth to each other.

That is what we want when our small groups get together.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ~Corrie Ten Boom


Check Back

What have you put into place this week to strengthen your spirit? In what ways have you seen the 3 areas that weaken your spirit appear in your week?

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

Hear the Word

God wants us to do life together. He wants to bring us out of captivity and give us hope and a future. He never intended for life to be an individual project, but a group project. Life together will not always be easy but when we make the choice to step into God’s plan, we defeat the enemy’s plan to isolate us.

Living out life together has distinct benefits as we call out the best in each other, call out to God for each other, and speak truth to each other. Even when life is messy, or when we need lifting up, or even when we need the voice of truth, together is so much better than alone. We all need people who will sharpen us, help us find strength at our lowest point, and be honest with us.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV

Application

  • What benefits have you realized from being in Small Groups?
  • What do you believe are the biggest obstacles people face to participating in a Small Group?
  • What can you do to help people overcome those obstacles?
  • Ever thought of starting your own small group?
  • Is there a passion, hobby or activity you could turn into a small group?
  • What other people do you group with besides your small group?

Prayer Focus: Thank God for His plan for each person. Thank Him for a life plan that is predicated on the reality of faith and hope. Thank God for the people He provides so that we live life with others. Ask God to surround you with other brothers and sisters in Christ and to show you relationships that are designed for His purposes.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you invite to your Small Group this semester? Ask again. Share with them how being connected to others has made an impact on your life.

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Preparing to Build | Week 1: My Life Support System

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No astronaut would ever go into space without a life support system. No deep sea diver would ever go to the ocean depths or soldier ever sent into battle without some kind of support system. In the military it’s a basic unit called a platoon. They support each other, care for each other, watch out for each other and fight for each other. 

God never intended for you to go through life on your own. It was never His design for you to face problems, difficulties, tragedies or pressures by yourself. In fact, the very first thing that God said when he made man is, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” You need people in your life.  You need relationships because we’re better together. God wired us for community and the basic unit of community is the small group.

In your body, the life support system that keeps you alive is the millions of little cells connecting together. You’re not one big giant cell, you’re millions of little cells. The actual life of your body isn’t in the body, it’s in those small cells.

The same is true spiritually. The church which is called the body of Christ, the life of every church is in the cells. In the small groups. What we are right now is a crowd made up of small groups. 

We are gearing up for a season we call a Spiritual Growth Campaign. We call it a campaign because it’s a season where we align many parts of our church. Weekend services, Rock Brook for Kids weekend services along with adult and teen small groups will focus around one theme. We’ll be aligned. And it’s powerful. 

Here’s how it will look: come for weekend worship, hear a message and be introduced to the topic and verses for that week, then meet in small group studies for some more insights and an opportunity to discuss. We will have a personal study guide to take you through the campaign. This concentrated time of alignment will bear lasting, fruit in you and your family.

The question of this spiritual growth campaign is: What are you building your life on?

In a world where what’s true and right seems to shift every day, it’s no wonder we can lead confused, unsatisfied lives. Thankfully, God has a plan. He designed values for us to live by. What are your values? Your values are what you’ve decided to be your core beliefs and they shape everything you do. 

God’s values won’t crumble or fade with age. They are unchanging. They are eternal. If you build on them, they will last. That’s why this campaign is called: Building Your Life on Values That Last.

So the next 3 weeks of posts will be about preparing us to build our lives on values that last. Let’s start in Acts 2 where we model our Small Groups after. Since many of us will be in a small group let’s answer a couple questions.

  1. What does a small group actually do according to the Bible?
  2. How do I get the most out of it?

In Acts 2 is the very first church described in the Bible. It was started in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They would meet at the temple and then have connections throughout the week in their homes and communities. Primarily, two meetings: large group worship and small group fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 NIV


What Do We Do In A Small Group?

1. We study God’s word together.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” NIV

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” KJV

“They committed themselves to learning the teachings of the apostles…” MSG

The whole Spiritual Growth Campaign is built around the Apostles teaching. The truth of the Bible, God’s word, God’s truth. Studying the Bible with a small group is more important to your spiritual health than personal Bible study. 

As you drive today and you witness a car accident, who’s going to see more details – one witness or six witnesses? Six pair of eyes are going to see more relevant details than one pair of eyes. The same is true of Bible study. When you study the Bible or reflect on a sermon with other people in a small group you get far more out of it than when you just read it by yourself.

When yo uhave other eyes, they things you don’t see. We all have cultural lenses that when we look at the Bible, we see it from our perspective.

You should read the Bible and study it on your own AND you should study it in a small group.

2. We practice learning how to love

A lot of religions teach that the way you become holy, is by getting away from people. In a lot of religions they claim the holiest person, is the person who goes and lives up on the mountain in the cave so he’s untouched by evil, wicked, mean, bad, nasty humanity.

Jesus came in and blew up that myth. He was in the marketplace, in homes and in a small group. He knew you can’t learn love by yourself.

You learn relational skills in a small group, with people who are different from you. In every small group there are people who need extra grace. You learn how to love them. The theological word, the purpose word for practicing love is called fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to… fellowship” NIV

“They were like family to each other…” CEV

“They committed themselves to… life together…” MSG

3. We eat together.

This is the fellowship of food. The cup of coffee with your small group is going to be your favorite cup of coffee of the week.

“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (NIV)

“They shared in fellowship meals…” (TEV)

 

Most of the time when Jesus is teaching the most important things, he’s at a meal or he’s walking. When you’re eating and walking you’re relaxed. When you’re relaxed your tension goes down, you’re barriers and resistance go down and your receptivity to truth is much wider.

It also mentions the breaking of bread a couple of times in this passage. One is talking about fellowship meals. Just eating together. In another place it’s talking about celebrating communion. It’s an act of communing with God, remembering His sacrifice and repenting from our sin. We primarily do communion in small groups.

4. We pray for each other.

There’s additional power when we pray together. God likes agreement and unity in His family, and he blesses it, so we pray for each other.

You pray with the group and you pray for your group. You’ll find, prayer is the one of the most powerful parts of small group. It’s the greatest thing in the world to know that people are praying for you.

5. We help each other.

When we help each other out we’re not just doing something for ourselves or our family. It’s doing something for somebody else because they have a need. That’s small group.

The larger your group becomes, the harder it is to do these five things well. In a small Small Group, you can strengthen each other.

If you aren’t in a small group because of all the unknowns, let’s look at what a small group meeting looks like. Most groups meet for an hour and a half to two hours. In this upcoming Spiritual Growth Campaign, you’ll visit with one another and then you’ll watch a video where the weekend sermon gets a quick recap. There will be some more teaching that you won’t get from a blog post or podcast. You can watch that video on a TV, computer or tablet. There will be places to pause the video to discuss some of the questions in your personal study guide. You’ll share how you can pray for and support each other that week, you’ll pray and go home.


How Can I Get The Most From My Group?

Take a look at these six very simple things to do for this fall spiritual growth campaign. If you do these things you will enjoy your small group and your life will be stronger.

1. Make my group a priority.

Do your best to show up every week. If you only show up every other week then you’re going to miss half of Building Your Life On Values That Last and you’ll only have half a foundation.

“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

2. Share my thoughts with humility.

When you enter into the discussion time in your small group you don’t go to show off. You’re not trying to impress people. You leave your ego at the door and come in with the sense of wanting to learn. Come to group to express what you are facing and what you are learning.

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:16 NLT

Nothing ruins a small group faster than one person in the group acting like they know it all. Humility means being teachable. The Bible says “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Because humble people are teachable. Everyone in your small group can teach you something. Because they have different life experiences than you.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

In a world where it’s very easy to be preoccupied with your life, your goals, responsibilities, job and to-do list, let a small group teach you to think of others. The Bible says don’t just be interested in your own life but be interested in the lives of others too. It teaches you to be a better person. You can’t be interested in the lives of everybody, but you could be interested in a few.

3. Respect others ideas with courtesy.

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Romans 14:1

Don’t start quarreling about things that don’t matter yet. Instead, respect where someone is in their journey of Knowing God and be courteous to their fears.

Fears are an interesting thing. They are usually irrational, unreasonable and totally illogical. But the Bible says if you’re going to be Christlike, you’ve got to learn to be considerate of the fears of other people.

4. Share my faults with honesty.

This will take your group go to the next level. Not just faults, but your stresses, problems, pressures, trials, troubles, difficulties. The bad things that are happening. The more you’re able to share the real you, the more you’re going to get out of your group.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-8

We know everything’s not great in your life, you know it’s not great. So why would you even try to pretend. We just need to admit it. The people who are most open with someone, always have the best success rate.

Sharing your strengths never helps anybody else. You actually help people more by sharing your weaknesses. It bonds you together.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 

Many people confess their sins to God and they receive forgiveness. But if you want to stop being haunted by that memory or haunted by that hurt, you need to tell one other person. You are only as sick as your secrets.

You don’t have to tell everybody in the group, just find somebody you know you can trust who’s going to love you unconditionally. Our small groups are confidential. There are small group guidelines that say what’s said in the group stays in the group. If it’s not your news to share, don’t share it. If it’s not your sin to confess, don’t talk about it with others.

5. Share others’ problems with sympathy.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

When you go to small group and share a joy, it’s doubled. If you share a sorrow, it’s halved. In either case, sharing is good for you. 

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Do you have anybody like that in your life? More importantly, are you like that to anybody else? Does anyone know that you’re mature enough that you’re unselfish enough and you’re loving enough to show up in their life in their problems when they need you. 

That’s where the body of Christ works in the small group.

6. Encourage each other to grow.

Do you have anybody in your life who can spur you on to be a better man or woman of God?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:24

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 NCV

So to get the most out of your walk with God, we want everybody in our church in a small group for this fall. In order to get everyone in a group we need more small group leaders. We will train you to be a small group leader. We have groups meet in homes, basements, kitchens and restaurants.

You don’t have to be a teacher to lead a small group. You just have to open up your home, get a study guide and stream the video. You can do this. You can start a small group for Building Your Life On Values That Last.

Why be small group leader?  Because the small group leader always grows the most. That’s our hope for you, too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How has the serenity prayer brought more peace into your life?

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

Hear the Word

Read: Acts 2

What does a small group do?

  1. We study God’s word together
  2. We practice learning how to love
  3. We eat together
  4. We pray for each other
  5. We help each other

How can I get the most from my group?

  1. Make my group a priority.
  2. Share my thoughts with humility
  3. Respect others ideas with courtesy
  4. Share my faults with honesty
  5. Share others problems with sympathy
  6. Encourage each other to grow

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”  Romans 1:12 NCV

Application

  1. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” Take the time to share with your group members what you appreciate about the insights and value they have brought to the group as you have studied together.
  2. “They committed themselves to… life together…” If love is not a feeling but a commitment, what changes can you make today in your schedule, relationships or attitudes to more fully practice God’s love?
  3. How does believing God really loves you change the way you view yourself? Think of the thing about yourself you’ve always wanted to change. How might God use that very trait to bring glory to him?
  4. “If we live in the light as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… (But) if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 12:7-8 (NCV) Authenticity. Why do you think it is important to “just be real” in your small group?
  5. What is the difference between admitting your faults to God and admitting them to each other? How do you think admitting your faults within your small group can help to heal them?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help someone you know?

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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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Week 6: Fighting For Your Spouse (part 2)

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Last week’s post was about the meaning of marriage. Why marriage exists and why it’s worth fighting for. We looked specifically at this statement from Jesus,

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9

No longer two, but one. They are united. United means joined to his wife, holding fast to his wife, bonding and clinging to his wife. It’s an intense relationship.

We can no longer say “This is my family and that’s your family. This is my life and that’s your life. Here are my problems and there are your problems. This is my job and that’s your job, here’s what I make and there’s what you make. Here’s my money, that’s your money. This is my account and that’s your bank account. This is my debt and that’s your debt.”

No, we’re one. This is our job, our money, our account, our family, our life and our problems.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

How good and pleasant it is when a married couple live together in unity! A good marriage is possible, but conflict can make a marriage miserable. All couples fight, but there’s a difference between fighting for personal victory and fighting for unity.

Healthy couples fight for resolution for unity, unhealthy couples fight for personal victory.

There’s a fascinating study conducted by Dr. John Gottman. He studied couples who fight for 16 years, and he studied how they fight. He can watch a couple disagree for only five minutes and determine within 91% accuracy whether this couple will make it or if they will divorce. He says it’s all about how you fight, it’s not if you fight, but it’s how you fight. As couples, we are going to seek God and we are going to learn to fight well.


Three Wrong Turns in Marriage

Have you ever gotten lost on your way to a destination? You wanted to go to a certain place but wound up in a different place. Often times you end up in a different place and it’s an unpleasant place. Every time we get lost, whether it’s unpleasant or not, it’s not the place we intended to go.

That can happen in our marriages, too. Many of us got married thinking it would end up in some place pleasant, but maybe that’s not where you are. Maybe you’ve ended up in a place you did not intend to go. How does this happen?

It happens in marriage the same way it happens when we’re driving somewhere. Somewhere along the line our marriage took a wrong turn. Let’s identify some common wrong turns we take in marriage.

1. We are fighting the wrong enemy.

Somehow we believed the lie that the person we are married to is the enemy. Our culture paints men and women, husbands and wives as adversaries. Your husband or your wife is not your adversary. That’s a lie the world, flesh and the devil want you to believe. Because if you view your spouse as the enemy, you won’t remember who the real enemy is.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV

We look at the person we’re married to and think they’re the enemy. They’re not the enemy, they’re the ally. We are to be our spouses greatest ally.

2. We are driven by wrong motives.

We’re driven by the wrong things in marriage. This is why last week’s post is so important. We’ve got to remember why marriage matters and why God created it.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3 NIV

The word “spend” actually means waste. You waste what you get on your pleasure. How many times do the words you and your appear in that passage? We make a wrong turn when we operate out of selfish motives. Self-interest, self-promotion, self-preservation, self-defense. The key is to focus on God. When two people are focusing on God it brings tremendous unity.

3. We are using the wrong tactics.

We’re demanding our right to be right. The greatest relationships take place between two servants. Two people that aren’t demanding their right to be right, but two people who are trying to outdo one another by yielding their rights to the other.

“An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.” Proverbs 18:19

The difference between healthy couples and unhealthy couples is that healthy couples fight for resolution, unhealthy couples fight to win. We’ve got to make a decision to change course. To quit making wrong turns and get back on track.


When you drive with GPS, it doesn’t matter how many wrong turns you make, it can always recalulate a new path.

That is a picture of how the Holy Spirit guides our lives. Everytime we make a wrong turn, He finds a way out, He recalculates. It may not have been the path He had for us, but He can always find a new path to get us back to where He intended us to go.

No matter how lost you are in your marriage, no matter how many wrong turns you’ve taken, the Holy Spirit can make a way for you. So what are the right turns I can take to get the communication in my marriage back on track? The answer is in God’s word.


How to Fight

“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

The heaven on earth experience God wants you to have in your marriage, man’s anger does not produce that. You’ve got to do it God’s way to get that.

This one verse, inspired by God through His Holy Spirit, can bring healing and teach us how to fight.

1. Stop to listen carefully.

Most of us react rather than respond. When we get into a disagreement, we spout out our reaction and it’s often wrong. We should stop and listen carefully. But so often we are quick to speak instead. We are quick to argue back to make a point, we’re quick to throw a low-blow in, we’re quick to speak and we need to, instead, be quick to listen.

When we start to fight, stop and focus to hear what the other person is saying. Here’s what Scripture says if we don’t do it:

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2

The key is understanding, rather than immediately reacting when we hear something we disagree with. Take time to make sure you hear what’s being said. People don’t hear what you say, they hear what they think you said. Most arguments flow out of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Most arguments are about things people didn’t really say or really didn’t mean. People end up talking past each other.

One of the best ways to solve that problem is repeat back to your spouse what you heard them say. Not in a condescending way or defensive way. You say, “This is what I think you’re saying.” It gives you the opportunity to force yourself to listen. It gives the opportunity to your spouse to be affirmed that you hear what they’re saying. It gives the opportunity for misunderstanding to removed. It gives the opportunity for you to be an ally and begin to understand why your spouse feels a certain way.

2. Guard your words faithfully.

Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Our words can wound so deeply. The more you love someone and the more they love you, the more weight your words carry. You have to guard your words faithfully.

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23

A couple of great questions to ask yourself are, “Should it be said? Should it be said now?” In the middle of a conflict, that’s not the time to bring up other issues or try to fix everything that’s wrong in a marriage.

Let’s look at some things you need to leave out of conflict, some things to guard your marriage. Because even if you follow these follow these rules, you’re still going to get in a fight and you need to establish some rules for the fight.

  • Never call names.
  • Never say never or always.
  • Never raise your voice.
  • Never get physical.
  • Never get historical.
  • Never threaten divorce.
  • Never quote the Bible or your pastor to prove your point.

If you took those things out of your arguments, just you, because you can’t control your spouse. Your arguments would be a whole lot more productive.

3. Handle your anger righteously.

This is so important because you will get angry and we want to handle it being led by the Spirit of God.

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

You can get angry, being angry is not a sin, it’s what you do with your anger. In fact, there are things we are supposed to be righteously angry about.

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Meaning, don’t let too much time pass. Address it, forgive it, let it go. Don’t let it fester because when you do, you wake up every day angry.

Maybe your marriage has taken those turns, but you’ve got to make a decision, that you will say:

In time of conflict, I will fight for unity, not for personal victory.

If you seek God and follow His Spirit leading you in these three things, we believe that the presence of God can bring healing in any relationship.

What marriages need, is to be united in thought, mind and purpose. Marriages need something bigger than their problems and disagreements to live for. What can happen in marriage is that we spend so much time trying to work on our problems, rather than have something bigger than our problems.


 

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We’ve been talking about this Rock Brook Conference for several weeks now, and it’s coming up soon. It’s a church conference about the DNA and the heartbeat of our church. It’s also about how God meets your deepest needs. We all need:

  • Power to Live On
  • People to live with
  • Principles to live by
  • Profession to live out
  • Purpose to live for

So often, we become so distracted in life. We begin to only react to all the urgent things in life we stop living for the important things. Join us March 29-30, to refocus your life and hear the heartbeat of this church. Your life and your marriage can be blessed by it and bring about the righteous life God desires. To Register visit: RockBrook.org/Events


One final tool for your marriage a simple prayer you can pray every day this week. Maybe you want to pray it three times a day this week. But simply ask God for the benefits of this verse in his word.

Pray: “God help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry. I want the blessing of the righteous life You desire.”


Check Back

This message is part 2 of two messages on marriage. Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on the meaning of marriage? Why does marriage matter? God created it: (1) For the connection of men & women, (2) For the multiplication of the human race, (3) For the protection of children, (4) For the perfection of our character, (5) For the construction of society, and (6) For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

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

Hear the Word

We all fight – but, if we seek God and allow Him to teach us how to fight well, we will not only save our marriages from destruction but we will also experience God’s blessing. So, the question isn’t if we fight, but how we fight. Healthy relationships fight for resolution; unhealthy relationships fight to win. Here are three rules we can use to fight fair: Stop and listen; guard our words; and manage our anger righteously. If we decide during non-conflict times to use these rules in times of conflict, our relationships can thrive as God desires. In times of conflict, we will fight for unity, not for personal victory!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  James 1:19-20

Application

1. Which of the three wrong turns in marriage stood out to you the most?

  • Stop and listen carefully.  “…quick to listen”

“Fools have no interest in understanding: they only want to air their own opinions.”  Proverbs 18:2

Discuss how being a good listener would affect the way you interact with your spouse. What steps can you take to become a better listener?

  • Guard my words faithfully.  “…slow to speak”

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”  Proverbs 21:23

Making firm decisions during times of peace can help us manage conflict. What have you taken off the table that allows you to fight well and what do you still need to take off the table?

  • Handle my anger righteously.  “…slow to become angry”

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

Discuss practical steps you have in place or need to put in place to resolve conflict in your relationships.

Tell Someone Else

Pray for God’s blessing and peace on each group member and their relationships. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and unity to be present.

 

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Week 5: Fighting For Your Spouse

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Today’s post is on marriage and why it’s worth fighting for. If we don’t know the why, we have no reason to do the what. Next week’s post will be full of practical tools on how to fight for your spouse and how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

Whether you have never been married or you’re divorced or you’re separated or you’re widowed or you are currently married, regardless of what state you’re in, the next verse applies to all of us. 

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Hebrews 13:4

Sadly today, marriage is dismissed as irrelevant by many people, as archaic. It’s demeaned by many people. Marriage is delayed. People are delaying marriage more and more, many times for the wrong reasons. There are good reasons for delaying marriage but there are also selfish reasons for delaying marriage. Marriage is being redefined, ridiculed and disrespected. 

We don’t live in a culture where marriage is honored by everyone any more. Even Christians fall for this trap. Part of the problem is nobody knows the basics of marriage any more. So marriage is treated like just one more little lifestyle choice.

Marriage is not just a lifestyle choice. God gave us marriage for a reason.

Most people don’t know why marriage matters. In fact, most people either have an incredibly unrealistic view of marriage, and there’s no way anybody could measure up. They think marriage will solve all their problems. A lot of people think marriage creates problems.

Marriage doesn’t solve your problems. Marriage does not create your problems. Marriage reveals problems.

Marriage reveals perfectionism, insecurities, fears, bittnerness, control, manipulation and lust. If you were able to hide those things before you got married, you won’t be able to for long once you get married.

There are a lot of things marriage can’t do, but it does have a God-designed function. We are only fulfilled in marriage when we look to the designer and the builder of marriage.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 NIV

Unless we let God be part of our marriage, we build in vain. So, let’s look at why God designed marriage.


Why Marriage Matters

1. God created marriage for the connection of men and women.

In God’s plan men and women need each other. Nobody holds the full image of God. Women get part of it, men get part of it and we need each other. God thought up gender. God thought up sex. The Bible goes back to the very beginning, in the creation of the first couple and the first marriage.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18 NIV

The first thing to realize is that marriage, gender, sex, men, women, all these differences, are God-given things.

We see one of the purposes of marriages is an antidote to loneliness. Many companions are important in life. You need companions in all different areas, but there is nothing like the companionship of a marriage.

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.’”  Mark 10:6 NIV

God made males. God made females. God chose who he wanted you to be.

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9 NIV

This passage says three things.

  1. Marriage is God’s plan. It’s not a human plan. It’s not a human idea. It’s not a tradition we can just throw out. God invented marriage when he invented you, when he invented me, when he invented humanity.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
  3. Marriage is to be permanent. What God joins together, no one else should separate. It’s meant to be for life.

 

2. God created marriage for the multiplication of the human race.

It’s how we all got here. You are sitting where you’re sitting because a couple got together and made you. This was God’s idea.

The Bible says that God is love, it’s His character. The only reason there’s love in the universe is because God is love. If God was not a loving God you would not have any love in your life. The only reason you are able to love is because you, as a man or a woman, were created in God’s image.

God said, “I want to love and I want to express my love.” That’s why you exist. If God didn’t want to love you, you wouldn’t exist. So God created the universe, so He could create the human race, so He could express His love knowing that some of us would choose to love him back and then we would live with him forever in heaven.

Think about this: God chose everybody who is going to be in heaven to come into existence through marriage and sex. That’s the way He chose. No one would be in heaven if God hadn’t created marriage. Because everybody has come into existence through the tool that he designed.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 NIV

There are 7.5 billion of us on the planet right now because your parents and their parents and their parents were fruitful and multiplied and filled the world. The point is, that God says one of the purposes of marriage is for the multiplication of the human race, which will multiply the population of heaven. It’s not the only purpose but it’s a big one.

 

3. God created marriage for the protection of children.

“God, not you, made marriage! His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.  And what does he want from marriage? Godly children from your union. So guard the spirit of marriage within you.”  Malachi 2:15 MSG

This is not an indictment for childless couples. There are couples who want kids and for whatever reason cannot have them or have been unable to have them. If you’re married and you can’t have kids, God is not disappointed in you.

What this verse is saying is, we’re all alive because some couple got together. For thousands of years God has used men & women to populate heaven. If men and women weren’t getting together, marrying and having sex then there would be nobody in heaven. God wants it done in the context of marriage for the protection of children. 

We all know that kids grow better, healthier, stronger when they grow up in a stable family. When they grow up in a marriage with a mom and a dad. Why did God create marriage for the protection of children? Because when you were born you were born completely helplessly. You could not do anything.

Children need somebody to protect, guide, train, and care for them. Study after study shows that kids develop best with a mom and a dad. We’re on a broken planet. Not everything works right. But that doesn’t mean that we say the ideal isn’t real. Children thrive in families. Not in institutions. That’s what every child needs growing up – a place of refuge and security. 

 

4. God created marriage for the perfection of our character.

In relationships we learn to be unselfish, we learn to be loving and no relationship has greater impact on your life than marriage. Another fact about when you were bor, not only were you helpless you were completely self centered, no one on the planet earth is more self-centered than a new baby.

A baby does not even have the capacity to think about anyone else. All he or she can think about is itself.  Maturity and the purpose of life is to grow up and realize it’s not all about you. 

In fact real happiness comes in giving your life away and being unselfish and being serving and being loving. The goal of your life is to grow from totally self-centered self as a baby to being an unselfish adult. Life is a laboratory of learning how to love.

Why is love the most important thing in life? Because God is love and God wants you to become like Him and learn how to love.

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  Proverbs 18:1 NIV

Sometimes we’ll be friendly to everyone else, except our spouse. Have you ever said things to your spouse that you wouldn’t say to anyone else?

If the goal is to pursue unselfishness, your marriage can grow your character. If you are married, the number one tool that God uses in your life to build Christ-like character is your spouse. Every day you get hundreds of opportunities to not think about you, to care about them.

Even if your spouse isn’t a Christian, it doesn’t matter. Many times in the Bible, Jesus was selfless for the sake of an unbeliever.

The more loving, giving, serving, sharing, mature, unselfish you become, the happier you’ll become.

You’ll never be happy if you make happiness the goal of your life. Happiness was never meant to be the goal. When you start caring about other people rather than your happiness you’re going to get happy.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:9-10 NLT

 

5. God created marriage for the construction of society.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of every community, church, state, nation, society and culture. If you know anything about history, you know that where marriages are strong, cultures and nations are strong. Wherever marriages and families are weak, cultures and nations are in decline. We know that when marriages are devalued, the more a nation is in decline.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV

 

6. God created marriage for the reflection of our union with Christ.

Marriage is a metaphor, a symbol. It’s a walking, living, object lesson of how much God loves us and how we are to be in relationship with Him. Marriage is a model of a profound spiritual truth.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV

How did Christ love the church? He died for the church. And God says that’s the way husbands are to love their wife. That’s the kind of love you’re to have. Sacrificial love. 

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:28-32 NIV

When you read this it looks like Paul stopped talking about marriage and went a different direction by talking about Jesus and the Church. He’s just laying down a metaphor of our spiritual union with Christ and his love for His family, His body, His bride, the Church.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV

This is the most profound meaning of marriage. There are some benefits of marriage that are obvious and quantifiable, like what it does for kids, women and men. This is the most profound meaning of marriage is not as easy to grasp.

Marriage is more. It’s more than an event or ceremony. It’s more than exchanging vows.

Marriage is a covenant. It’s a covenant where two become one. It is a temporary symbol of a greater eternal reality. It’s a picture of the covenant relationship God has instituted between Jesus and his people.

Marriage is the most sacred of all things, because it’s a reflection of God’s commitment to us. 

No other relationship on planet earth, including parent child relationship, can adequately illustrate our union with Christ the way a marriage between a man and a woman does. This is the strongest reason why we must fight for marriage.

So, before we get into more practical parts of fighting for your spouse next week, let’s not labor in vain. Let the Lord build the house. Let the Lord build the marriage.

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


Twice in the Bible Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven. Why will there be no marriage in heaven? Because you won’t need any of the six reasons marriage exists. In a perfect place, you’re not going to need the multiplication of the human race, the protection of children, the perfection of your character, the construction of society or the reflection of Christ’s union. 

You won’t need a metaphor, because you’re going to experience the real thing in heaven. Here on earth, marriage matters and the Bible says we are to honor it and reap the benefits.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Kids? Kids need fun, growth, protection and serving opportunities from their families.

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

Hear the Word

“We all are given different gifts. God gives the gift of marriage to some and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” 1 Corinthians 7:7 NLT

Why does marriage matter?

God created it:

  1. For the connection of men & women
  2. For the multiplication of the human race
  3. For the protection of children
  4. For the perfection of our character
  5. For the construction of society
  6. For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”  Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

Application

  1. According to John 13:35, why might Satan attack believers’ relationships? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV
  2. Why was creating a companion for man important to God? “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who is right for him” Genesis 2:18
  3. In Mark 10:6-9, what points is Jesus making about marriage and the connection of men and women? “Jesus said, ;But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Mark 10:6-9
  4. In modern society, putting ourselves first is often seen as socially acceptable. In what ways does this socially acceptable norm damage our relationships? What behaviors can we demonstrate in our significant relationships to combat this myth and make us more like Christ? An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.” Proverbs 18:1
  5.  Romans 12:9-10 provides us with four specific strategies for developing and maintaining awesome relationships. Pick one of these strategies and share how you could apply it to the most important relationship in your life. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
  6. Read Ephesians 5:25-33 in several versions (i.e. NIV, NLT, MSG). Marriage is a metaphor for our relationship to Christ. Romans 12:9-10 above gives us a view of what we’re called to think, desire and do in marriage and in our relationship with Christ. Talk about how you want to live these scriptures in your relationships and with Christ.

Tell Someone Else

As a group, use Ephesians 5:25-33 and Romans 12:9-10 to create a prayer to strengthen relationships.

 

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Week 4: Fighting For Your Kids

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Parenting may be the most demanding and the most challenging job a human being could have. Parenting is tough work. It’s not for wimpy people, it takes courage, grit, tenacity, persistence, deep love, unselfishness and a lot of other things.


What Kids Need From Their Families

What do kids need from their families? Let’s take a look at four symbols for a family that brings out the best in their kids.

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It doesn’t require a whole lot of intelligence or strategy to play this game. It’s purely a game of chance. So why does the game Candy Land represent amazing families?

1. Kids need a family that is fun.

This is the missing ingredient in so many families today. Some families, over time, become more and more serious. Who wants to come home from school to that? Who wants to come home from work to that?

The fact is, your family is not a boot camp and parents are not drill sergeants. Your family is not a business and parents are not CEOs. A family is not a laboratory and parents are not research scientists experimenting on differen parenting tactics.

There is no perfect child, no perfect parent and no perfect family. There is no science to being a family, it’s an art. Fun and laughter is a skill that has to be learned. 

Now, most people know that the Bible encourages us to work. The Bible also encourages us to have fun. The Apostle Paul says this to Timothy…

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

“Children are a gift from God.” Psalm 127:3

A gift is given and it’s meant to be enjoyed. God meant for you to play and have some fun. Solomon tells us to enjoy every day, because you don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t know if you’ve got next week, next month.

Your kids know if you’re enjoying them or not. People don’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. That’s important advice for any relationship, especially a parent. Your kids aren’t going to remember much of what you said especially from the early years of their lives, but they will remember how you made them feel.

The greatest gift you can give your kids is your time, because when you give them your time, you’re giving your life. So Candy Land is the symbol of what amazing families give their kids. because amazing families are fun and playful.

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We use this to water flowers, plants, vegetables. In many ways a family is like a garden. You have to grow it and develop it. A garden doesn’t grow on its own. You have to weed it. You have to water it. You have to care for it. This is the second characteristic that kids need from their families.

2. Kids need growth.

If your family’s not growing, your family is boring. You’re just stuck in a rut. Look at how Jesus grew. This is when Jesus was twelve years old.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man.” Luke 2:52 NIV

Notice four kinds of growth there. 

  • Grow in wisdom- intellectual growth/mental growth
  • Grow in stature – physical health
  • Grow in favor with God – spiritual growth
  • Grow in favor with man- relational growth

Take a look at some things you must learn in your family. If you don’t learn them there, life’s going to be tough for you.

-What to do with emotions 

How do I deal with how I feel? In an amazing family you learn how to recognize your feelings, and how to express your feelings correctly rather than incorrectly. A family should be a safe place to learn how to deal with anger, disappointment, joy, winning and losing. We learn how to recognize good emotions from harmful ones.

-How to handle conflict

When it’s appropriate, kids need to see problems being worked out and how we deal when we have differences, get hurt or get mad.

-How to handle loss 

Nobody wins all the time. In fact, for a kid to have an unbroken string of wins early in life with no losses is actually detrimental to them. Because when they get out in the real world and they face loss, it’s devastating. Failure isn’t final and the best place to learn that, is in the home.

-What matters most

You have to help your kids know what is important and what is not. The world teaches that all that matters is how you look, that image is everything. The world teaches that the more money you have, the more fulfilled you’ll be. The world teaches that everything is about sex. The world teaches that the more you can get people to praise you, the more valuable you are. That’s not true. We have to learn what matters most.

-How to develop good habits

Habits determine our character. Now, how do you help your family grow in this? Here are two ways that help people grow and two ways that don’t. This applies in every area of life.

  • People grow through example

Most things are going to be caught, not taught. You don’t have to turn everything into a teachable moment. Jesus always led by example. He washed the disciples feet and then said go and do likewise.

  • People grow through conversations

Most conversations we have with kids have to do with schedules, eating or homework. With so few conversations about the stuff that really matters in life.

  • People NEVER grow through criticizing

We think that being critical of someone will actually help them grow. It has never, ever, ever worked. Nagging, condemning and complaining don’t work. Because when you criticize, you’re focusing on what you don’t want rather than what you do want. Eventually, people realize you are impossible to please. Through all your incessant criticizing they will never measure up.

You have to promote the alternative. That’s called repentance. Changing your mind, changing your belief and changing your focus. Repentance doesn’t mean stop doing that. It means start doing this, walk this way instead.

  • People NEVER grow through comparing

Not all comparison is bad. You need people in your life that help you see areas you can grow in. Unhealthy comparison is comparing someone in your life to anybody else. You should never compare your wife to anybody else. You should never compare your husband to anybody else. You certainly should never compare your kids.

 

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A raincoat is for protection. Jesus said it rains on both those who do right and those who do wrong. Good things and bad things come into everybody’s life whether you’re doing it right or doing it wrong.

Every member of your family is going to go through storms: emotional storms, financial storms, moral storms, physical storms and relational storms. When you go through a storm you’re going to need some protection. Families are meant to be a raincoat in the storms of life.

3. Kids need protection in storms

Not protection from storms, because you’re not going to be able to protect them from all the storms. No matter who in the family is going through a storm, everyone is there to help each other, we protect each other. Families stick together. Families are a raincoat.

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

Here are three storms we face that families can help with:

ChangeChange is a storm in life and can be upsetting, particularly to kids. You need family for every major event or even minor changes.

Harmful ideasMany children are provided for but they are not protected.  They are going to movies and watching shows they have no business watching, reading books and listening to music they have no business being engaged in and following celebrities youtube channels they have no business following. Part of parenting is making choices for your kids that they can’t make themselves.

Rejection: This is a storm all of us face at some point in life and it’s the most painful storm of all. When we feel betrayed or rejected. When your children are rejected or when your husband or your wife feels rejection at work, the family needs to rally around and be there as a raincoat in that storm. Kids aren’t going to make every team and get every job. So instead of chewing out the coach or the teacher, be there for your kid.

Kids instinctively know they can’t take care of themselves. They know they need a family to take care of them. This is why the most vulnerable people in the world are orphans. Kids need to be cared for. Particularly in the storms of life. Rock Brook is a church full of teachers and nurses and coaches and RBfK teachers and parents who’ve adopted and people who love the kids in their life, their grandkids and nieces and nephews and friends. We are a church that supports life and is pro-life for everyone, from conception to natural death. That’s called family. Families are for life.

 

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Amazing families don’t just care about themselves, they care about others and they actually care about the whole world because God loves the world. Average families are self-centered. They only care about themselves and their own kids. This is the secret that moves you from average to amazing.  You begin to care about more than just your own family.

4. Kids need serving opportunities

The way you serve God is by serving others. Kids need families that understand it’s not about them. Amazing families teach their kids they were made by God for a mission and they were shaped to serve God. Parents are to instill in their kids the value to care about other people.

“Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24

Amazing familes teach each other to show love and we teach each other to do good deeds. Good deeds are called ministry, they are called service. A good example of this is a Cornelius’ family in the book of Acts.

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; they gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”  Acts 10:2

What a great legacy! What if 2,000 years from today, people say your family was devout and God fearing, that you gave generously to those in need and you prayed to God regularly. Average families don’t do those things. Amazing families do.

Are you modeling these things to your kids? Are you teaching your kids to be selfish or think of others? If they see you being generous, they’re going to be generous. If they see you having gospel conversations, they will learn how to talk to their friends about Jesus too.

Amazing families are not perfect families, but they are intentional. They become amazing by choice.

You’re not an amazing family by accident. You become an amazing family by making choices, decisions, commitments and even making sacrifices. If this isn’t your story then today you can say, 

No matter what stage my family is in, I’m going to make the rest of it, the best of it. We’re going to start a new legacy.

“Choose today whom you will serve… As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord!”  Joshua 24:15

It doesn’t matter what other families do, me and my family, we’re going to serve the Lord. Until you make that decision dad, husband, mom, as for me and my family we’re going to serve the Lord, family isn’t even going to make sense.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Parents and taking care of your parents in their old age?

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

Hear the Word

Kid’s need certain things that are best given to them from their family…

1. Fun (1 Timothy 6:17, Psalm 1:27)

2. Growth (Luke 2:52)

What do we learn from our families?

  • What to do with our feelings.
  • How to handle conflict.
  • How to handle loss.
  • What matters most.
  • How to develop good habits.

How?

  • Through example
  • Through conversations
  • NOT through criticism
  • NOT through comparing

3. Protection in storms (Proverbs 14:26)

Types of storms…

  • Change
  • Harmful ideas
  • Rejection

4. Serving opportunities (Hebrews 10:24, Acts 10:2, Joshua 24:15)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What was your family environment like when you were growing up?
  3. Family development occurs in an environment of lifelong learning in which everybody encourages growth in everybody else. What are some ways children can encourage their parents in physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental growth?
  4. Things that can be learned only in families include how to handle feelings, how to handle conflict, how to handle loss, and what values matter most. Briefly describe one of these points that you did or did not learn as a child in your family.
  5. Parents should set a good example for their children. What kinds of deeds are practical to demonstrate to children?
  6. In what practical ways do you think you can teach your children about Scripture?
  7. Compare the aftereffects of criticizing children with the aftereffects of enlightening them with love regarding their misbehavior or wrongdoing.
  8. What are ways family members can protect each other in storms of life such as life changes, failure, or rejection?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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Week 3: Fighting For Your Parents

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We all have parents but, not everyone’s situation is the same. Some of our parents live in another part of the country, while other’s parents live close by. For some of us, both of our parents are still living, while other people, one or both of our parents have already died. Some of us are caring for our aged parents right now, while others think our parents are going to look after us forever. Regardless of what the situation is we all want to finish well with our parents. 

One of the Ten Commandments tells us to, 

“Honor your father and mother.”  Exodus 20:12 NIV

The word “honor” means to treat them with importance. It doesn’t mean you always agree with them. It doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you. But you recognize their importance in your life.

“If anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

If you claim to be a believer in Christ, but don’t care for your family, it means your words and your life do not match. There is no greater model of caring for an aging parent than Jesus.

“When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 NIV

Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, dying, and in the middle of the greatest spiritual and physical struggle of all time He makes sure His mother is cared for in her old age. If you had any doubt about whether this is an important issue or not, that settles it. Caring for your parents is the right thing. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

How do we face this huge challenge in our lives? Wouldn’t you love it if someone would show you a few simple decisions that will really make a difference. They can’t make life perfect, but they can really make a difference.


To Honor My Parents I Will…

#1 – Make the decision to meet their needs

“Do for others what you would like them to do for you.”  Matthew 7:12 NLT

Figure out what you would like your kids to do for you as you get older and that’s what you do for your parents as they get older. Your parents don’t want you to assume control of their lives while they can still live on their own.

Meet needs, real needs, but don’t treat them like they’re old. There will come a day when your parents need you more. Suddenly, the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. When that day comes it can be a confusing time. The Bible calls that day an opportunity to give back, to repay our parents.

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

Start Now.

Prepare to meet their needs now. Honor your parents by visiting them, taking trips with them, writing them, inviting them over for the weekend, doing odd jobs for them, helping them work through issues. Start now – don’t delay.

#2 – Make the decision to accept change/reality.

Jesus was talking with one of His disciples about the changes that would happen as that disciple grew older. Jesus said, 

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV 

We don’t know what’s going to happen to us at the end of our lives. It’s different for every person, but Jesus tells us that as we get older, things change.

One of the changes that can happen is we lose control of our lives. Whenever your parents or anybody feel like they’re losing control the emotion that goes with that is fear. It’s a scary thing to lose control of your life. The only way to counter that fear is to recognize that God is in control even when you’re not. In order to accept this new reality there are a couple things we need to release.

  • Release your dreams

We have dreams about how things are going to end with our parents, but those dreams rarely match reality. Studies show that half of us will be in a nursing home. That may not be how we want it to turn out. So you release those dreams to God and Him for whatever happens. 

“Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NCV

  • Release your guilt

Trying to finish well with your parents can produce guilt. Even people who gave a super human effort in caring for their parents can still feel guilt. It wasn’t your fault that your parents got older. It wasn’t their fault. It was nobody’s fault.

Guilt says, “If I’d done something different, this wouldn’t have happened.” Aging and even death are just a part of life. So you have to recognize it wasn’t your fault.

When you wish it would have worked out differently, share your disappointment with God and release your guilt.

Some of you have genuine guilt about how you handled your parents’ last days. There are things you should have done differently. How do you handle that kind of guilt? You release it to God.

You recognize that He’s a forgiving God. He understands that you and I can make confused and selfish decisions and He forgives us for that. If you don’t deal with guilt correctly, you’ll carry it into other relationships and it will ruin not only your past but the present and the future.

#3 – Make the decision to share the burden.

Many of you are under great stress over this very issue. If someone had told you to take on the load you are carrying, you would known you couldn’t handle it. But it came on you little by little by little and you are now carrying a load that no one is meant to carry alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV 

You may read this verse and think, you’re the one who’s supposed to carry everybody else’s burdens. So God included another verse just three lines later.

“…for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:5 NIV

None of us should carry all of the burdens of life, but all of us are supposed to carry some of the burdens of life. If you aren’t carrying any burdens other than just your own – then share the load and carry somebody else’s burden.

If you’re trying to carry all the burden by yourself, then share the load and let other people help carry that burden.

Have an honest talk with your extended family and decide how to share the load with each other. Don’t get hung up on trying to share the load equally. Instead, try to share the load effectively.

#4 – Make the decision to balance your life.

If I pick up a really big weight and try to carry it, it requires balance. Some of you are carrying a big weight in life and you’re way out of balance. It’s all about other people for you right now. Jesus talked about balance in when He said,

“Love others as well as you would love yourself.” Mark 12:31 MSG

If the way you’re giving care is pleasing to God, you’ll be physically, emotionally and spiritually strong. God doesn’t expect you to ruin your health or do things in a way that makes you feel far from Him and others.

There’s no doubt that the balance in life does shift and change. There are times of crisis and emergency, but that doesn’t mean you have to become unbalanced. It means you need strive for balance all the more.

The only perfect person to walk this earth was Jesus Christ. Even He had to take time to get away and rest in order to come back and minister to people. In order to make it through the process of caring for your aging parents, you have to make the commitment to balance your life.

#5 – Expect to grow.

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3-4 MSG

Now if you are right in the middle of caring for an aging parent. The last thing you want is somebody telling you how you’re going to grow through this. So if you’re in the middle of caring for an aging parent right now, you can tune out this point. 

But for the people who already have been through this or who will go through this in the future, you will grow the most through the difficult seasons of life. 

Through the time spent with your aging parent, you may have conversations or reconciliation you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Your patience might grow waiting for doctor visits and dealing with bureaucrats, lawyers and pharmacists. You will develop new levels of patience in your life.

#6 – Make the decision to trust in God.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Trust in God and He will give you rest in any situation. Maybe in dealing with an aging parent, you have come up against something you can’t do anything about. Have you hit that wall?

Usually when you hit a wall, you just climb right over it. But there are some walls we can’t climb over. Old age is one of them. What do you do when you hit that kind of a wall? 

One option is to run away from it and find a wall that you can climb over on your own. That might make you think you feel better. The other option is to recognize the reality of the situation and look to God who is bigger than any wall you will face and trust in Him. That’s what those circumstances invite us to do, to trust in Him who is greater than anything that we are going to face.

Trust in Him. Don’t go through this alone. Establish a personal relationship with God where you find His strength and His power. That’s one of the decisions you need to make to trust in Him.

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned, the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”  Isaiah 43:2 TEV

Notice that verse says, When you pass through deep waters…When you go through fiery trials. It doesn’t if, it says when. None of us are protected from the tough times of life, but God promises that when you go through those tough times, He will be with you. He will strengthen you. He will not fail you. You can put your trust in Him.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on life change and baptism? When we are in Christ our lives have changed from knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus, death to life, being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus and me to we.

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

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Fight For series by talking about caring for your aging parents. Some of the key scripture passages are listed below.  Read each passage and then share with the group what you find challenging and/or encouraging about each verse. 

“Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12 NIV

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith ads is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.”  1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:2,5 NIV

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and ell developed, not deficient in any way.”  James 1:3-4 MSG

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Application

  1. Briefly assess your situation with your parents.  What are their needs?
  2. What changes or new realities do you need to accept regarding your parents?
  3. Are there burdens you need to share with others? Are there other’s burdens you need to help carry?
  4. Are there areas of your life that have gotten out of balance?  Too self-less?  Too selfish?
  5. What areas of growth can you identify in your life during this season with your parents?
  6. What are some ways you can deepen your trust in God?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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Week 2: Fighting For Your Family

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

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

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

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

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


Essentials For An Amazing Family

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

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

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

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

1. Authentic Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Intentional Schedules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Discovering Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Right Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Amazing Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Time To Gather Stones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Acknowledge your own mistakes.

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

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

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

2. Abandon your right to get even.

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

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

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

3. Apply God’s grace to my relationships.

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

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8-11 NIV


Check Back

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

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

Hear the Word

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

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

Read: Genesis 31

Application

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

Tell Someone Else

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

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