The Secret to a Satisfied Life

The Secret to a Satisfied Life

Summary: Our ability to be content is under attack. Can we really be satisfied with life, career, relationships? With God and His plan? Discover the truth of contentment and satisfaction.

· Our ability to be content is under attack. Advertising agencies spend billions of dollars to encourage our discontentment and create a desire in us to buy their products. In order to buy something new, you must first be dissatisfied with what you have.

· A heart that is not satisfied causes us to make constant, unnecessary changes in our life that never produce the benefits we desire. (Constant cycle of disappointment)

· Ambition, dreams, and vision are from God.

· God is not the source of striving, unhealthy stress, worry, fear and doubt.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 Living Bible – Though a man lives a thousand years twice over, but does not find contentment—what’s the use?

People need 3 Things to make them Happy & Content: 1. Something To Do, 2. Someone to Love, 3. Something to Look forward to

Happy is defined – delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky, Blessed

The 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence  – “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Ecclesiastes 3:12 NIV – I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

In Readers Digest (Feb 2007) – “Happy People thrive. They’re more creative & productive, earn more money, attract more friends, enjoy better marriages, stay healthier & even outlive their grumpier peers.”

Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT – So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

Remember the song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Years later you still hear that as a common complaint. All the time you meet people who are unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied.

What is the secret to a happy satisfied life? If you could bottle contentment you could make a million dollars overnight.

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

•When he’s writing this, Paul is old, lonely and he’s in a cold Roman prison.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 NLT -He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?

Ecclesiastes 2:1 NIV– I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.

Solomon had it all! 700 Wives & 300 concubines, Money, Sex, Power, Fame, Wisdom. his conclusion was that it was meaningless.

What is contentment? It is not apathy, laziness, complacency.

Contentment is independent from circumstances. You do not base your happiness on the situation around you. Happiness comes from within. How do you get that kind of contentment and satisfaction in life?

Paul says contentment is learned. It’s not something that’s instant, in a one time experience. Life is a school of contentment and the problem is most people never learn and they die unfulfilled and unsatisfied and unhappy. How do you learn contentment?

HOW TO EXPERIENCE REAL CONTENTMENT

Paul gives us four lessons to learn that will give us a satisfying, HAPPY abundant life.

1. LEARN TO AVOID COMPARISONS

Comparing yourself to others always leads to discontent.

2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV – We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Galatians 6:4 NLT – Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

When you strive to be the person God made you to be, you’ll find real meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction. You can’t focus on your purpose while looking at other people.

Philippians 4:11b – “… for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

(The sin of comparison) A covetous heart is never satisfied. When we covet someone else’s job, spouse, income, house or car, we are saying, “You have not been fair with me, God! I deserve more. You owe me something.”

2 Cor. 4:18 NLT “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

•Paul says, I don’t look around, I look up. I don’t spend my time comparing myself to other people. I keep my eyes on what is to happen.

Three misconceptions about happiness:

1) I must have what others have to be happy. That’s the myth behind all fads and fashions. It’s just not true.

2) I must be liked by everyone in order to be happy. You don’t, you know. Many people spend so much time trying to win the approval of others. You cannot go through life without some disapproval — if you do anything, somebody is not going to like it. Even Jesus couldn’t please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what Jesus couldn’t do. You don’t need everybody’s approval to be happy.

3) Having more will make me more happy. Howard Hughes was asked, “How much money does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little more.”

I Timothy 6:6-8 NIV –  “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

All possessions are temporary. They’re just loaned to us. We use them while we’re here on earth, have a good time with them, enjoy them, use them for God’s glory, but they’re not going to last. Don’t get an obsession with possessions.

2. LEARN TO ADJUST TO CHANGE

Life is full of ups and downs — emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. There’s nothing certain in life except change. Change is certain.

How well do you handle change? How well do you handle when things are shaken up a little? Do you get frightened? Moody? Angry? Uptight? Paul says that one of the secrets of learning to be content in life is the ability to adjust to all kinds of circumstances and change. Paul says you need to learn to adjust to it. Your happiness in life will be largely dependent upon your ability to adapt, adjust, be flexible. Change is going to happen whether you like it or not.

Philippians 4:12 NLT – I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.

Paul says he’s seen good times and bad times. What did experience teach Paul? Berkley translation: “I have learned to be independent of circumstances.” That is the secret of a satisfying life. You don’t get your joys or happiness out of things, people, possessions, pleasures, profits, popularity, prestige… Paul says he’s learned to be independent of circumstances.

Paul continually said, I can handle this, no problem, I can cope. I avoid comparisons and I adjust to change. I am flexible. We must be flexible because circumstances usually aren’t. No matter what I go through I am not a victim. I choose not to be a victim. No matter what people do to me they are not going to control my life. No matter what hurt, experience or difficulty I go through and I have every reason to have bad memories, I will not let it victimize me.

-I am independent of circumstances. That is real freedom — when you can say I am not controlled by my circumstances, I am not manipulated by the external things in my life.

-People say “I’m OK, under the circumstances.” Circumstances were never meant to be something you get under. Get on top of them. You don’t have to live “under the circumstances” — that’s a choice.

There are three kinds of circumstances in life:

  1. Those I can control and I do. Switch TV channels, if you’re hungry you feed yourself.

2) Those I can control and I don’t. This is not excuse for laziness. Contentment is not laziness or complacency. If you can change a situation you don’t need contentment — you need to get up and do something about it. (Weight, health, etc)

3) Those I cannot control and there are many in life. This is where you need contentment, in uncontrollable circumstances. Things that are beyond your power. You have done the best you could but they are still out of your hands. That’s where you need to learn to relax, trust God, adjust and avoid comparing yourself.

Romans 12:18 NIV– If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Circumstances demand flexibility in life.

3.  LEARN TO DRAW ON CHRIST’S POWER

Instead of just depending on my own effort to make it through circumstances and my own energy, I must learn to draw on Christ’s power.

Philippians 4:13 NLT – For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

Do you know how you know when you’re depending on your own power? You get tired. Fatigue comes from living life on your own resources rather than on the resources of God.

What do you need to control? Do you need to get control of your time? your mouth? your temper? your weight? a bad habit?

Amplified version: “…I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”

The Greek word for “strength” is the word from which we get the word “dynamite” or “dynamo”. A dynamo is something that gives continual energy. Paul is saying, Jesus Christ is the dynamo of my life. He gives me continuous energy. I don’t run out.

2 Cor. 12:9 NIV – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

”Sufficient” is the same word as “contentment” in Philippians. Sufficiency is contentment. Contentment is independent of circumstances. God allows you to go through problems in your life so you can learn contentment and sufficiency and He can show His power

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

4. LEARN TO TRUST GOD TO MEET MY NEEDS

Philippians 4:19 NLT And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

When I buy an insurance policy I read through it to find out what is covered. When I know what’s covered, I don’t worry — it’s covered. The Bible is God’s insurance policy. There are over 6000 promises in the Bible which you can claim. Many of you cannot claim them because you don’t even know they’re there. As you read the policy manual find out what God has guaranteed to do in your life. Once you know those guarantees you don’t have to worry.

Matthew 6:31-33 GNT “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

When you try to find satisfaction in life through people, fads, popularity, prestige… they don’t last. Discontent just means that Jesus Christ is not the center of my life. When I’m not contented it means I’m looking for something else.

· What are you chasing? Unless you are chasing God, you will never be satisfied.

· Maybe Mick Jagger was right – “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

God wants you to have a happy, fulfilling, satisfying life. He said it. “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly.”

REMEMBER: Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with God, love, grace, and gratitude!

How to Survive the End of the World Pt.4

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How To Survive the End of the World Part 4

Thursday is Thanksgiving. One day in which we like those early Pilgrims set aside time in our busy schedules to give thanks to God. It’s a celebration born in hardship, a reconciliation between cultures, a proclamation by Presidents, The tradition of our nation.

The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.”  Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. “Like heck they’re getting divorced,” she shouted, “I’ll take care of this.” She called Phoenix immediately, and said to her father. “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. “Okay, honey. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying for their own flights.”

What does Thanksgiving have to do with surviving the end of the world?

1. Ungratefulness would be rampant in the endtimes

II Timothy 3:1-5 NIV – But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Ungrateful (unthankful) – unappreciative; not displaying gratitude; not giving due return or recompense for benefits conferred

2. Being ungrateful is the root cause of many sins in the endtimes

Romans 1:21 NIV  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Futile – to make empty, vain, foolish, useless, confused. The world describes the perverted logic and idolatrous presumption of those who not honor God or show him any gratitude for his blessings.

As Christ followers we should be overflowing with Thankfulness

Colossians 2:6-7 NIV – So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

I. Conquer Complaining 

Living in the land of the free has not made us free; we are nation of addicts and complainers.

Complaining is a kill-joy. It makes you unhappy, everybody else around you unhappy. The problem is that it is a hard habit to break. We are naturally negative. We tend to look at the bad things in life. We are conditioned by society. Bad news makes the headlines. We are bombarded continuously with what’s wrong with everything. By our own nature and by our conditioning we tend to develop the habit of complaining.

PHILIPPIANS 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

•Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow better

ILL.– Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable.

Psalm 77:3 says, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.”

No Matter How Good Or Bad Your Life Is, Wake Up Each Morning And Be Thankful That You Still Have One

“A complaining tongue reveals an ungrateful heart.”- William Arthur Ward

Complaining is the archenemy of thanksgiving. The two cannot co-exist in the same heart. And so I challenge you to try to quit complaining for a whole month. Just try it.

II. The Cure

  1. Thankfulness

“It’s not happy people who are Thankful, It is thankful people who are happy”

I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness”

Ephesians 5:20 NIV  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Happiness comes when we stop wailing about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have”

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” – Albert Schweitzer

Reasons to Be Thankful

  1. God, His Eternal Goodness

Psalm 100:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer

Psalm 118:1 NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Probably one of the most important reasons for us to be thankful as Christians is simply because of who God is. He is a good God, worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. David recognized this and setup some Levites to minister. Their task was simply to stand before the the Lord to thank and praise him.

1 Chron 16:34 NIV – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

When you look at the whole of the Bible, you’ll discover that it’s not people-centric. It’s God-centric. Everything points back to who God is. And our reasons for being thankful begin, and could end, with God.

2. All Circumstances in Life

I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”,  but “in”.

Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!

Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV – “Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

•Paul’s main subject here is PRAISE, THANKSGIVING. He is talking about a continual attitude for Christians – an attitude of the heart.

Billy Graham comments: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”

Some of the most pathetic people in the world are those who, in the midst of adversity, indulge themselves by wallowing in self-pity and bitterness, all the while taking a sort of delight in blaming God for their problems

CS Lewis said, “hardships prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”

2. Contentment

“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled” – Charles Spurgeon

Philippians 4:11-12 NIV – I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Contentment is realizing how much you already have, how much God has already given you, how rich you already are. The problem with many of us is we approach Thanksgiving focused on the circumstances of life.

Get a little perspective – no matter how bad off you may think you are, rest assured there is always someone else in the world that has it worse.

When we begin to realize the blessings that God has loaded us with – food to eat, clothes to wear, roofs over our heads – we will see the futility of our faulty mindsets.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV- Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings…not your past misfortunes”

Ending

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~ C. S. Lewis

So, where are you this morning on the gratitude scale? Do you have a deep sense of gratitude to God for all he’s done and will do in and through you, or do you tend to find the reasons to be skeptical or negative in life?

Psalm 106:1-2 ESV Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?

•In 1982, the actor Kirk Douglas flew to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was there to do a documentary about the three million Afghan refugees who had fled to that country. He went out one day to meet with some refugees, up near the Kyber Pass. Gunfire could be heard in the background, just across the Afghan border. Douglas sat on the ground with the elders of a displaced Afghan tribe. They were eating with their fingers out of a common bowl. Through an interpreter Douglas told them, “In my country, today is Thanksgiving Day, one day every year that we set aside to give thanks for all that we have in life.” The leader of the elders, a man with a long white beard, nodded his head. Through the interpreter he said, “In my country, we give thanks every day.” Will we join them?

 

The Power of Inclusiveness

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The Power of Inclusiveness

When we draw a circle in the sand, we become the welcoming Church God called us to be. We must move from cliques to a community

Sacred text asserts that human beings were created to live in community, not as fragmented tribes, nations and separated peoples. Jesus opened the door for us to be inclusive of everyone. On some level, all are to be welcomed into our lives—saint or sinner. But what does this inclusiveness look like, what are its boundaries, and what does it result in?

Inclusiveincluding or encompassing the stated limit or extremes in consideration or account; enclosing; embracing:

Jesus was an includer of all kinds of people

John  8:2-11 NIV  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Two issues in this story

1. Sin – Right and Wrong (The Law)

Where was the man?

Bias – Demeaning towards women

Jesus said – DO NOT JUDGE

A bias is a factor in human judgement  – some judge women and give a pass to the man. Judge other kids and not our own.

Luke 6:41-42 NLT – And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[a] when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend,[b] let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

•God did not call us to be the judge, jury, or prosecuting or defense attorney, we are called to be a Witness! That simple. Let your light shine!

2. How we treat other people that we think are different than us

•Her Issues and sin are no different than any of ours

Romans 3:23 NCV – “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” 

No adultery? Jesus said, if you lust after someone, you’ve done it in your heart. ??????

•Jesus pursues the imperfect

Luke 5:31-32 NLT – Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Luke 15 – lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son

This is what Jesus made the story about  – he did other stories

Zacchaeus, Samaritan woman, lawmakers, law breakers, rich and poor

•Jesus was drawing a circle while others were drawing lines – Circle drawing is so much better than line drawing. Jesus put them all in the circle and then got in there with them.

Church at large loves to react to things around us in the world. We are adversarial

NewsReport – The world will never think like the church – the church will always see things different. We are Christ followers.

Talking about what we are for, makes us more effective in reaching people more than what we are against! 

How to be Radically Inclusive

1. We validate people by including people

Ephesians 2:19-21 MSG  – That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

Paul was saying, You belong here

•You can approve of people even if you don’t approve what they do

Separate the behavior from the individual 

•When it comes to God’s family who included you? who are you including?

•••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!

Let’s show the world that The Family of God is not a bunch of arrogant self righteous people! They are loving, kind, and gracious

2. We should include people immediately

Jesus included her immediately. no hoops, no proving time

•She Allowed Jesus to Accept Her

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG –  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

John 10:10 NIV – “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

•She Allowed Jesus to Change Her

II Corinthians 5:17 NIV – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

The Love of God

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The Love of God 

I John 3:1 NIV – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

3 Facts that Drive me to Communicate the Love of God

1. Everyone is Looking for Love

“Bart, with $10,000 dollars, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love.” Homer J Simpson

The quest is around us everyday in the music we hear and the movies we watch, and the books we read. The desire is woven into the fiber of our being. From the moment we came out of the womb, we have been looking for someone to feed us, hug us, care for us, affirm us, forgive us when we mess up, support us, and tell us that we matter.

No matter who we are, there is a universal need among human beings to be loved.

2. Just as there is a universal quest for love, there is a universal answer to that quest

If everyone has the same problem, there must be a universal solution. The answer is God.

3. There’s a tragic disconnection between the universal need and the universal answer.

There are 6 billion people in the world who are desperate for love and there is a God with limitless resources who wants to love them.

Defining the Love of God

God’s love is his holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love.

We can’t provoke, trick, convince, earn, or win God’s love. God doesn’t love us for who we are or what we do, but  because of who He is.

Agape – Unconditional, giving, sacrificial, and boundless love:

Matthew 5:44 NIV – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:13 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

God Loves us Unconditionally

Romans 5:8 ESV – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Love of God is a rhapsody in red, a swirling narrative of blood and forgiveness

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who he is.

•man bases love on performance….If you….I will

•God loves us for what He finds in Himself – LOVE.

•No matter what you do – God cannot stop loving you.

“God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, and loves us all without condition or exception.”

•When you know that God loves you unconditionally, you can love people unconditionally.

Christianity is a love affair. NOT a code of ethics, rules, or Philosophy of Life. The Cross of Christ was not to produce a nice moral people – but LOVERS OF GOD!

I John 4:7-8, 21 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Dimensions of God’s Love 

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

There is no instrument that can measure how much God, out of His infinite being, cares for you and wants your best!

CS Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s Love for us does not.”

Psalm 36:5 NIV– Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 

How God Thinks about YOU

1. God’s Thoughts, intentions, desires, and plans are always for your good and never for your harm. 

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – 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.

When God thinks about you, he thinks about goodness and blessings. No matter how the immediate surroundings may look, God sees the big picture and has plans for your benefit.

James 1:17 NIV – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine

2. God is kind, open, approachable, frank, and eager to be your friend 

John 13:12-15 NIV – When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer

He is the most loyal and attentive friend you could possibly have

Romans 5:10-11 NLT – For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Joseph Scriven penned the words of that great hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

3. God emotionally identifies with your pain, joy, hopes, and dreams, and has chosen to allow your happiness to affect his own. 

John 11:33-36 NIV –  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Although he is an infinite God of the universe, our pain causes him pain, our joy gives him a life, our hopes bring excitement to his heart, and when there is tragedy he weeps with us.

This self existing God needs no one, yet he has chosen to be so emotionally identified with our ups and downs, and our dreams and hopes.

Hebrews 4:15 NIV – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

4. He takes pleasure in you just for who you are completely apart from your performance and / or accomplishments

God is telling these rebellious people how he stands over them singing and rejoicing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV – The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.”- C.S. Lewis

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV)  8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 

Psalm 103:4-5 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

How Do We Respond to God’s Love

1. We Must Receive

John 3:16-17 NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

 “Love deems this world worth rescuing.” – Philip Yancey

I John 2:2 NIV – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Titus 2:11 NIV – For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

2. We Must Believe

I John 4:13-16 NIV – This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

3. Saturate Your Mind with the Truth of God’s Love for us

Romans 8:38-39 NIV – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God wants us to know that nothing – not even our own junk – can separate us from his love

4. Then Give it All Away

Jesus Last instructions to his disciples

John 13:34-35 NIV – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another law, but a law which transcends all law.”- Reinhold Niebuhr

The more of God’s love we give away, the more he supplies. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I John 3:16-18 NIV – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“The litmus test of our love for God is our love of our neighbor”  – Brennan Manning

I Corinthians 13:13 NIV –  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Why is love greater than faith and hope? Faith involves the present. Hope involves the future. But love transcends time. Love existed before anything existed.

Love will never need a casket because it has no funeral! Salvation is a sticky story, a messy manuscript, but it’s also a lovely one. Love is the bond that glued God to humanity.  Nothing can pry apart what God has welded together!

In 1923 Fredrick Lehman penned the words to his classic Hymn “The Love of God”

The love of God is greater far , Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure— The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.

Baggage: Live Free Travel Light Part 2

baggage

Baggage: Live Free Travel Light Part 2

A visiting minister was very long-winded. Worse, every time he would make a good point during his sermon and a member of the congregation responded with “Amen” or “That’s right, preacher” he would get wound up even more and launch into  another lengthy discourse. Finally, the host pastor started responding to every few sentences with “Amen, Pharaoh!” The guest minister wasn’t sure what that meant, but after several more “Amen, Pharaohs” he finally concluded his very lengthy sermon. After the service concluded and the congregation had left, the visiting minister turned to his host and asked, “What exactly did you mean when you said “Amen, Pharaoh?” His host replied, “I was telling you to let my people go!”

Baggage we choose to keep is an unnecessary burden that will weigh you down all your life. That isn’t the life Jesus wants for you.

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Where did I get all this baggage? How did it get into my life? Baggage can be put in our life through: Difficult Life Experiences, Other People, Unresolved Issues, The enemy of our souls

In Luke 4, the very first passage Jesus ever spoke — it was His first public sermon, — Jesus spelled out what was going to be the theme of His ministry.

Luke 4:18-19 (NIV) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

FREE -not subject to the control or domination of another

Psalm 31:4-5 NIV – Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

3 Kinds of Freedom – Jesus promises real and lasting freedom!  FROM WHAT?

1. The Baggage of Guilt

Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 

Good News version – “For by the death of Christ we are set free. That is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God which He gave to us in such large measure.”

The reruns of Columbo are back on, the episode had Johnny Cash as a bad guy. They had him cast as a country-western singer (real innovative idea!). He murdered somebody. At the end, Columbo always figures out what happened and Cash got caught. The closing words of the scene, Johnny Cash says, “I’m glad I finally got caught. The guilt was killing me.”

Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, and destroy you. It’s the thief of life.

You cannot live indefinitely with guilt. But the fact is all of us make mistakes and all of us are guilty. How do you live with it?

Guilt robs you of happiness. It causes depression. It can make you sick. Doctors say that 80% of the people in hospitals today could go home if they could get rid of guilt and bitterness.

Psalm 103:12 NIV – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The Bible says when we come to Christ, He takes us and forgives us instantly, He forgives us completely, He forgives us without question.  The Bible says, “I’ve taken your sins and put them all behind My back.”  

Out of sight. “I’ve separated them as far as east from west.”

Out of reach.  “I’ve put them where I remember them no more.”

Out of memory.  Once you learn that God can forgive and forget, what God forgets then you can forget

If you come to God and say, “God, I’ve really made a mess of my life.  I’ve made mistakes and this is what I’ve done wrong and please forgive me.” You’re forgiven, and God says, “I not only forgive but I wipe the slate clean.”  It’s like starting over. It’s like being born again.  Then if you were to die and go to heaven and say, “God, about that sin…” He’d say, “What sin?” “About that mistake I made in that relationship…”  He’d say, “What mistake?”  “God, about that pain that I went through…” “What pain?”  That is the freedom of forgiveness.

God says, “I want to set you free from the burden of guilt”  “In Christ we are set free.  That is our sins are forgiven.”  I believe that even if there were no such thing as heaven, it would be worth becoming a Christian just to have a clear conscience. The joy that comes from knowing that I’m forgiven.  The slate is clean.  But that’s not all.

2. The Pain of Resentment

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

A)  In your lifetime, you’ll be hurt many times sometimes accidentally/sometimes intentionally

What we like to do when we are hurt is get even. We want revenge. We want to retaliate. We get resentful, but resentment always hurts you more than the person you’re resentful against. Always. It’s like a boomerang.

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”- Malachy McCourt

B)  How you respond determines the degree of effect it has on you.

*  If you forgive – you can move on, find new happiness

*  If you harbor resentment – it can ruin you

Some of you are holding on to a hurt. You let somebody hurt you 5, 10, 15 years ago. Maybe in a divorce, maybe your parents, maybe somebody at school, somebody hurt you badly. You’re still holding onto that hurt. That is dumb! Let go of it.

The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness and resentment”. Let Jesus Christ set you free from the burden of guilt and let Him set you free from the pain of resentment.

Romans 12:14-21 NIV – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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,”[b] says the Lord. 20 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.”[c] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Who are you bitter against today? You say, “But I just can’t forgive that person! They hurt me too bad!” That’s why you need Jesus Christ. You need that supernatural power to let go of it for your own benefit.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.

Jesus says, “I want to set you free from the poison of bitterness.”

3. The Expectations of Others

I Thessalonians 2:4 NLT – For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (Phillips translation) “We don’t aim to please men but to please God who knows us through and through.”

Freedom is being you without anyone’s permission

Jesus says “I want you to be free to be yourself.” We spend so much of our time trying to dress like other people, act like other people, talk like other people.

“You are not what others think you are. You are what God knows you are.” 

Regardless of what other people think, if I’m doing what God wants me to do then that’s what counts. That’s what is important! Even God can’t please everybody. When you come to the point that Jesus sets you free when you say, “God likes me and I like me. If you don’t like me, what’s your problem?” He wants to set you free from the pressures of conformity.

A)  You can’t be happy if you are always…

*  trying to please/impress everyone at the same time

*  Pressured by other’s standards/lifestyles

Galatians 1:10 ESV – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

ILLUS:  What will everyone think? – good way to get ulcers! Trying to pretend you are someone you are not!

The pressure with us is materialism. I’ve said many times, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t even like. We’re trying to conform. Who cares what other people think? We get so caught up in making a living we forget to make a life. The Bible says God wants to set us free. Free to be ourselves.

The Plan

John 8:32 NIV – Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1. God still loves You.

John 3:16-17 Message –  “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came

to help.”

Religion has lied to so many of you – even though you know the Bible Still feel like you have to prove something to God Carrying around shame – low self worth. God loves you – as soon as you start believing that You’ll be free

I John 4:7-10 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

“God’s love for us is uncoerced and so freely given that it does not demand a response. But so freely is it given that it creates freedom in the recipient, so that our response is not one of obligation or duty, nor the returning of a favor, but uncoerced love.” Mark Galli

2. God can free You.

Romans 8:1-2 Message “(You) no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

Romans 8:11 Message – It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

3. God will restore You.

Psalm 71:20 NIV – “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

WHAT IS ENSLAVING YOU THIS MORNING?

GUILT – some secret sin, failure, past regret, mistake?, BITTERNESS/RESENTMENT/HATE?/ANGER?, a broken heart, a ruined relationship, an addiction, uncontrolled anger, a critical spirit, unforgiveness, rejection, feeling unloved, unbearable emptiness, etc….

God can take the broken pieces, the mistakes, the injustices, and make something good come out of it.

Psalm 23 (NKJV)The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord Forever.

What do you say we take God up on this offer? You just might find ourselves traveling a little lighter.

Prayer

“Lord Jesus I need You. Forgive me for my sins and for living my life my way.  Today I invite You – to be the Lord of my life.  Take control of my life – make me the kind of person – You want me to be.  Give me the power to change.  I believe you are setting people free right now!” From worry, jealousy, fear, anger, depression… It’s like a mountain of pressure sliding off their necks…Thank you for freedom – salvation!In Your Name I pray.  Amen.”

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

Parenting-Full Screen

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

Psalm 127:1-5 NIV – Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves. 3  Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court

85% of parents are unsure about how to raise their children

Traits Parents Want Children to Possess

  1. 63%  – Sense of Responsibility
  2. 49% – Good Manners
  3. 45% – Meaningful Faith
  4. 29% – Independent

You’re not going to have your kids forever at home. Isn’t it amazing how quickly our kids grow up?

As parents, every one of us really wants to be good parents. We want to have strong families. But the fact is, the pace that we live and the constant pressures of our careers to always produce more often put our families at risk. Is it possible to achieve success and build a healthy family at

the same time? Is it possible to raise faithful kids in our world today?

This morning we’re going to look at six things that kids need most. I don’t care if you’re a parent or not. There are children in your life. They may be nieces or nephews or neighbor kids. I didn’t get these things from some current fad book but out of the greatest text book ever written on parenting, God’s Word — the Bible. These six things are the six things God does to you as a heavenly father. He wants you to do those six things to the people that you see in your life — not just children but the other people around you.

  1. KIDS NEED COMPASSION

More than anything else, kids need unbelievable love, unconditional love. There needs to be a place where you’re accepted — warts and all.

What is compassion? Compassion is a combination of love and understanding. Compassion is where I know everything about you and I still like you.

I John 4:7 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Love is not natural. You have to learn to love. You learn it by practicing. What better place to practice than the people you’re forced to live with all your life. If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because you don’t have to live in close contact with anybody else as much as you do your family. It’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time you don’t always get along. When you practice love in the family you’re learning to really love.

Three ways to express love. A lot of times we love our kids but we don’t express it the way they can get it. Children understand love three ways: affection, attention, affirmation.

  1. Affection. They need lots of hugs and touches and kisses. They need to feel it.

2.    Affirmation. They need to hear it. A lot of dads have a problem with this. You need to tell them — everyday, more than once a day. Affirm them and build them up with love.

3.    Attention. One of the greatest gifts you can give somebody is listen to them. When you look at a person eye, at that child on his level, you’re saying “You matter to me. You’re valuable to me. I want to hear what you have to say. You’re important to me.” You’re showing compassion, the same kind of compassion God shows you, you’re to show others.

2. KIDS NEED COUNSEL

They need direction, advice, wisdom. Study after study has shown that the number one indicator of successful children — kids who grow up to be successful adults — is a stable value system. That’s counsel. Kids who grow up knowing “This is right… This is wrong” make it in this world –

– kids who don’t flame out. It’s taught in the Bible but it’s confirmed in study after study. A stable value system — we all need a foundation. Kids need to know boundaries — this is right, this is wrong. This is what you do, this is what you don’t do.

A while back on 20-20 they did a study on the explosion of juvenile crime in America. Their conclusion was this: The rapid rising rate of sociopathic juvenile behavior is due primarily to declining moral values. The moral vacuum these children grow up in has resulted in a loss of concern for others. They’re motivated by a desire to please themselves through instant gratification, regardless of who gets hurt.

Deut. 6:6-7 ESV –  6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Four things God says:

1. “You must teach these commandments.” Circle “you” That’s not the government, the school system, social clubs. He’s talking about parents. It’s the parents’ duties to teach moral values. Today in America, we’re acting like we expect the government to teach them or the schools. We shouldn’t be surprised that the schools don’t teach them. It’s not the school’s job. It’s the parent’s job.

2. “You must …” Circle “must”. It’s not optional. If I’m not doing this, I’m not being a very good parent. I’m slacking off in my job if I’m not teaching moral values, if I’m depending on the school or the youth group or the church (however good it may be) to do my job.

3. “You must teach…” and notice where it says to teach: When you’re at home, out for a walk, bedtime, first thing in the morning — all the time. If you’re a parent you’re always teaching. You’re always teaching something. If you’re setting there watching TV you’re teaching something — you’re modeling because little eyes are watching you 24 hours a day.

4. And then it says what you teach: “You must teach these commandments” Circle “commandments”. God did not give us Ten Suggestions. He gave us Ten Commandments. It’s not a matter of “Think about these if you want to…” It’s “Do it!”

You cannot parent in your spare time. You cannot raise quality children in your spare time. If you have children, God has called you to be a parent. If you blow it in that area you have blown your major responsibility

3. KIDS NEED CORRECTION

They need correction because they make mistakes. There are no perfect children. They need discipline, accountability, training. If you love somebody you’re going to care about them enough to correct them.

Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV – My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[a]

Proverbs 13:24 NIV – Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 19:18 NIV – Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

The Bible says that you are to correct three ways: quickly, calmly, sparingly. You need to understand the difference between punishment and discipline. We are to treat our children the way God treats us. If you are a child of God, if you’ve trusted God, you’re a believer and you’ve asked Christ into your life, then when you sin, God does not punish you because all the punishment was paid for on the cross. God doesn’t have to punish you because Jesus took that punishment. God does not punish Christians for their sins.

He does discipline them. There’s a big difference. The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty. The purpose of discipline is to promote growth. The focus of punishment is toward the past — what you’ve done wrong. The focus of discipline is toward the future — what you can be. The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love. “I’m going to correct you. I’m going to help you go in the right way.” God doesn’t want you to punish your kids. He wants you to discipline them.

4. KIDS NEED CONFIDENCE

The fact is, life is tougher today on kids than it’s ever been before. You wouldn’t want to be a kid growing up today because of the pressures, the stress, the pace, the value systems, the expectations on kids — they are enormously greater than they were just a generation ago. For that

generation it was greater than the generation before. Our world is tough on kids’ self esteem.

Educators discovered through national testing and state testing that related to self esteem, 85% of all third graders have strong self esteem. In other words they felt pretty good about themselves. By junior high that figure had dropped to 65%. Only 65% of all junior highers feel good about themselves – have good self esteem. But when they tested in high school, by high school graduation the seniors only 5% registered high self esteem. The older our kids get, the worse they feel about themselves. We are living in a society that is constantly tearing everything down.

From Cornell University: “America’s families and their children are in trouble so deep and so pervasive as to threaten the future of our nation. The source of the trouble is nothing less than a national neglect of children and those primarily engaged in their care, the American parent. Our national rhetoric withstanding (all this talk about family values) the actual patterns of life in America today are such that children and families come last on our schedule.”

Colossians 3:21 ESV – Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Are you an un-pleasable parent? It’s so easy to look at the negative in your kid’s life. Is the cup half full or half empty? What do you see? If they get C’s, you want B’s. If they get B’s, you want A’s. If they get A’s, you want straight A’s. Finally, the Bible says, kids just give up. Unpleasable parents produce insecure kids.

I Corinthians 13:7 LB – If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

If you want to raise confident kids, you’ve got to build them up more than you tear them down. You’ve got to give more strokes than you give pokes. You’ve got to give more cheers than you give jeers.

Every child needs somebody in their corner, somebody who’s their cheerleader and believes in them and who says, “I know you can do it. I believe in you. I think you’re terrific. You’re the best. Go for it! I’m behind you. I know you can make it.” Kids need confidence.

5. KIDS NEED CELEBRATION

That is just a fancy word for fun. Families ought to have fun! The home should be a place to play. This is a major fault in many, many homes where the parents are basically good parents, they’re watching out for their kids, but you don’t have enough fun at home. You’re too busy. You come home with your “to do” list after work is over and all that stuff has got to be done and you just don’t have time for fun.

Do you endure your kids or do you enjoy them? Kids need celebration.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 NCV– People ought to enjoy every day of their lives, no matter how long they live. But they should also remember this: You will be dead a long time. Everything that happens then is useless

Jewish Proverb – “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul”

“When people are laughing and having fun, they’re generally not killing each other” Alan Alda

We want Church to Be Fun! Example: Bloopers in Church bulletins

•”Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”

•”Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.”

•”Thursday, there will be a meeting of the Little Mother’s Club. All wishing to become Little  Mothers, please see the minister in his study.”

•”This being Easter, we’ve asked Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.”

•”A bean supper will be held Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.”

•”At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be: What is hell? Come early and listen to the choir practice.”

•”Tuesday at four p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk, please come early.”

•”Wednesday, the ladies literary society will meet and Mrs. Johnson will sing, Put Me in My Little Bed accompanied by the Reverend.”

•”On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expenses of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet please get a piece of paper.”

•”The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the ladies will quietly start and the rest of the congregation will join in.

If you’re not having fun with your kids at home, you’re not celebrating, don’t be surprised that they don’t want to spend time at home. If you don’t have fun with your kids and really enjoy them, don’t be surprised when they grow up and move out that they don’t want to come back very often. They won’t remember it as “That’s a place to go and have fun!” You need to not just endure your kids, you need to enjoy them.

6. KIDS NEED CONSISTENCY

They need consistency from their parents, that we’re not fickle, that we’re not always changing our mind, that we don’t live in a home where a mother or father is a Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and keeps changing back and forth.

But our model of consistency of course is our heavenly Father.

Psalms 145:13 – 17 NIV- Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

As parents, we have to be faithful to our promises and fair in our decisions. If you’re not consistent — if you’re inconsistent — inconsistent parents not only produce insecure children, they produces bitter children. There is no greater source of bitterness in people’s lives than broken promises.

It’s not my goal to work up a bunch of guilt so that you realize how much you need to improve in these areas. The truth is this: There are no perfect parents. They don’t live on this planet. There are no perfect families. There are no perfect people. You were raised by imperfect parents. Your parents were raised by imperfect parents. So were theirs… There’s never been a perfect person on this earth except for the Lord Jesus Christ. God loves to use imperfect people to get His job done

Our goal should be to have a healthy family — not perfect, healthy. My kids are not perfect; they never will be. I never expect them to be. But they are healthy.

How do you build a healthy family? It takes wisdom.

Proverbs 24:3 NCV – It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong.

The good news is this: There is a place you can get wisdom for parenting that is absolute tried and true and it’s worked for generations. It’s called God’s word. If you will build your life around the principles in this word and establish a relationship with its author Jesus Christ, He will give you the strength and the wisdom to pull it off, to do the best you can — not to be perfect but to do it the best you can.

Prayer:

Would you say this prayer? “Jesus Christ, I want to be all that You want me to be. I want You to help me to influence the next generation by building these things into the lives of the children around me whether I’m a parent or not. Help me to treat other people with compassion, to build up their confidence, celebrate our differences, be consistent with others, to be what You would want me to be. Help me to treat my children and others the way You would. In Your name I pray, Amen.”

RESET Your View of God

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RESET YOUR VIEW OF GOD

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.

“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?”   “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”   “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that  God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.

I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God.

Problem in America today is that Christianity is 3000 miles wide and 1 inch deep. We need to leave the kiddy pool of christianity and launch out into the deep!

We really have a warped society that believes God is dead and Elvis is alive. But in spite of our ignorance here is the heart of God:

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV)  8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.

AW Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

If you know Him as He is – – loving, kind, gentle, giving, generous, and liberal – – then you would not hesitate to ask from Him all that you need!

Matthew 7:11 NIV11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer

Myths About God

Myth – a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

Greek Mythology – The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, Mt Olympus, Zeus, Hades, Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Prometheus, Atlas, The Clash of the Titans

(1 Timothy 1:3-4 NLT) “…stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”

I. What You Must Know about God

1. God is Powerful

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed 

you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things,who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

Augustine said, “The very order, disposition, beauty, change, and motion of the world and of all visible things silently proclaim that it could only have been made by God.” 

•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life

2. God is Good

Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

3. God is Gracious and Merciful

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

•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do! 

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

“God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”

(Psalm 145:8 NIV) – “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

•Because of Grace, God chose to clean up what we messed up

(Micah 7:18) “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

(Psalm 103:9-10) “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you!

II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM

1. To know that God loves me.

(Lamentations 3:21-23) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORDʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2. To know that God has a plan for me.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  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.

(2 Corinthians 4:16-17) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

3. To know that God will bring me through.

(2 Timothy 4:18) “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

(Philippians 1:6 NAS) “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

III. My Prayer for you

(Ephesians 1:17) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

1. You’ll need to take a leap of faith.

(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

(James 4:8) “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

2. You’ll need to give God your all.

(Jeremiah 29:13) “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these”

RESET Our Relationships

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RESET Our Relationships

Philippians 2:1-8 ESV – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Here is a fact: God has made us to have relationships.

We can have a relationship with Him and we can have a relationship with other people. Since the fall of Adam and Eve – maintaining relationships have been a major struggle between man and man – and man and God.

God sends people into our lives. How we treat them determines whether they stay

God gives us things to use and people to love, NOT things to love and people to use.

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

Matthew 18:3 NIV  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

You will never change your life until you change the way you think.

Romans 12:2 ESV  Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

Mark 9:35 ESV  And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

You can tell how successful a person is by the way they celebrate the success of others

We have not come together to compete with one another, but to complete one another

Philippians 2:3 MSG “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”

If you have a choice between making yourself or people around you look good, choose people around you!

3. Am I willing to let go of the past? 

I Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Much criticism has to do with the unfortunate nature of people and their selfishness, arrogance, and jealousy

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

John 13:34-35 ESV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus was saying that The Church is not about religion, it’s about relationships.

Romans 12:10-11 ESV-  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord.

How to RESET Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

When right people enter your life, right things happen. Right people are those who will build you and not tear you down. They are excited about your potential and dreams.

Galatians 5:13-15 NIV – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other

Dr Carl Menger said, Our environment shapes us more than our DNA or heredity

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

Romans 12:17-18 NIV – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I dare you to make that call! Go make that visit!

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

People who take you down and not up, they make withdrawals but never deposits. They abuse and misuse you. They gossip about you instead of guard you

I Corinthians 15:33 ESV Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals

People who are more critical than complimentary

Proverbs 13:20 ESV – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm

II Corinthians 6:14 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 6:14-17 Message)  “Don’t become partners with those who reject God.  God himself put it this way: ‘I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.  So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God.  “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.”

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

Ephesians 2:19 NIV – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

Proverbs 18:24 NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love God?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love the church?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to make wise choices?
  • Do my friends love and accept me for who I am?

How to do thisConnect (Life Groups) At GraceTown we believe that life change happens best in the context of relationship and community. Life Groups provide a place to care for one another, and partner for spiritual growth and kingdom impact. We promote a “free market” approach that capitalizes on existing relationships and affinities.

Acts 2:42-47 ESV – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

How to Quit Playing God

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How to Quit Playing God

Back in the 1960’s there was a famous book written by Eric Burn called Games People Play. A couple of years later another book came out, Games Christians Play. It was an interesting book that dealt with games Christians play in the name of the Lord. I want us to look at the deadliest game — the game of playing God.

Here is a delightful piece of truth: “There is a God. You are not Him”

James 4:11-12 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James says that the way we play God is by judging other people. Anytime I judge you, anytime you judge me, we’re playing God. It’s only God’s responsibility to judge other people.
I want us to look at Why we judge other people, Why shouldn’t we judge, When is it wrong to judge other people, and How do you break the habit of judging other people. You’ll be a lot happier if you learn how to deal with this issue.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin
We judge people for judging people because judging people is wrong
WHY DO WE LIKE TO JUDGE OTHERS?

1. We tend to judge other people is to excuse our own faults

Romans 2:3 NIV – So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

You think by pointing the finger at somebody else, God is going to forget what you’ve done, or when you point out how somebody else has fallen then you don’t look so bad. We use it as an excuse to blame others. We love to accuse others and excuse ourselves

“If the only way I can make myself look good is to criticize you, something is seriously wrong with me.”- Warren W. Wiersbe

2. We tend to judge other people and that’s because it appeals to our
How to Quit Playing God

Back in the 1960’s there was a famous book written by Eric Burn called Games People Play. A couple of years later another book came out, Games Christians Play. It was an interesting book that dealt with games Christians play in the name of the Lord. I want us to look at the deadliest game — the game of playing God.

Here is a delightful piece of truth: “There is a God. You are not Him”

James 4:11-12 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James says that the way we play God is by judging other people. Anytime I judge you, anytime you judge me, we’re playing God. It’s only God’s responsibility to judge other people.
I want us to look at Why we judge other people, Why shouldn’t we judge, When is it wrong to judge other people, and How do you break the habit of judging other people. You’ll be a lot happier if you learn how to deal with this issue.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin
We judge people for judging people because judging people is wrong

WHY DO WE LIKE TO JUDGE OTHERS?

1. We tend to judge other people is to excuse our own faults

Romans 2:3 NIV – So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

You think by pointing the finger at somebody else, God is going to forget what you’ve done, or when you point out how somebody else has fallen then you don’t look so bad. We use it as an excuse to blame others. We love to accuse others and excuse ourselves

“If the only way I can make myself look good is to criticize you, something is seriously wrong with me.”- Warren W. Wiersbe

2. We tend to judge other people and that’s because it appeals to our
pride.

Proverbs 26:22 NIV – The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Why is it? When somebody is gossiping, usually we are all ears! We just can’t wait to hear what’s being said. Why? There is a natural innate ability of gossip or slander to capture our curiosity.

II. Why Should I Not Judge Others?

James gives us three reasons why we shouldn’t judge other people.

It’s unchristian

James 4:11 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it…

Why “brothers”? In the first place we shouldn’t judge one another because we’re all part of the same family.

•••I heard about a guy who came to a pastor one time and said, “I don’t have but one talent.” The pastor asked, “What’s your talent?” The man said, “I have the gift of criticism.” The gift of criticism does not come from the Holy Spirit but from the devil. The pastor was wise and thought about the parable in the Bible and said, “The guy who had only one talent went out and buried it. Maybe that’s what you ought to do with yours.”

Notice it says, “Brothers, do not slander…” Circle “slander”. The word “slander” and the word “devil” are the same word. The word “devil” means slander. The Bible calls Satan the accuser of Christians. He’s the slanderer of Christians. What does this mean? The devil’s number one activity is going around and putting people down, to slander them and put them down, malign them. We are most like the devil when we slander. When we speak against somebody else (including all kinds of criticism, maligning, judging) we’re doing the devil’s work for him.

2. It’s unloving

James 2:8 NIV – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Is it illegal? Is there a law against judging in the United States? He’s talking about the Royal Law

When I judge you, I’m breaking the Royal Law — the law of love — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say, “It’s just words and people will forget them.” People don’t forget words. You always remember them. It’s unchristian and unloving.

If you judge people you don’t have time to love them. Mother Teresa

3. It’s unjustified

James 4:12 NIV – There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

The word “lawgiver” is used six times in the Old Testament and only once in the New Testament. The six times in the Old Testament it refers to God. The same thing here — it’s referring to God. Only God has the right to judge. It’s in God’s job description. It’s not in your job description to judge people. He has not commissioned you to talk to everybody about everybody else.

We always tend to react to our weaknesses in others. What we see is usually just a mirror of self.

III. WHEN IS IT WRONG TO JUDGE OTHERS?

There are some places in Scripture where it says it is wrong to judge. The Scripture does say in some places that we are to judge certain things. We’re to judge ourselves, and we’re to judge certain matters.

1. Romans 2:1-3 NIV – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

The time when it’s wrong to judge other people is when I’m practicing the same sin. I don’t have any right to speak up, if I lack the personal integrity, I’m guilty too.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? What did Jesus say to the Pharisees? “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all walked away.

2. Matthew 7:3-5 NIV – “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? 4 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? 5 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.

This is a good example of the fact that Jesus told jokes. Hebrew humor is humor by exaggeration. Jesus is making a point here with humor. He’s saying it’s wrong to judge when it blinds me to my own faults. If judging you causes me to not look at myself realistically, then it’s wrong. We are great speck analyzers, nitpicking specks when we have a logjam in our own eye.

The inevitable result of being a judgmental person is in v. 2 “In the same way you judge others, you’ll be judged.” If you are critical to other people, you’ll be criticized.

3. John 7:24 NIV –  “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

It’s wrong to judge others when you draw conclusions based on outward appearance. We tend to make our impression of people in about the first 15 seconds and most of that is in the way that they look. We judge people, we size them up. Their face, clothing, hairdo. If you judge just on the basis of appearance, that’s unwise.

I Samuel 16:7 NIV – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

4. John 7:51 NIV – “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

That’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “no”. It’s wrong to judge when you condemn somebody before you hear the facts. It is unwise to make a judgement about somebody before you know all the facts.

If you study scripture you’ll find that even if your conclusions are right about that person you’re still wrong — because you did it without getting the facts. There is always more than one side to a story. There are three sides to a story: your side, their side, God’s side. Usually we have partial truth.

HOW DO YOU BREAK THE HABIT OF JUDGING OTHERS

Remember that I’ll be judged by the same standards that I use to judge other people.

Matthew 7:1-2 NIV – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The way we judge others — the same measure we mete out is the same measure we get back. If you want something to help you break the habit of talking critically about other people, remember that. What you dish out will be dished back to you. What you sow you’re going to reap.

2. Remember that each of us is accountable to God.

Romans 14:12-13 NIV – So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

You’re not accountable to me in the ultimate sense of every area of your life. I don’t have to report to you. But one day we’re all going to stand before God and then God is going to know our motives. How’s God going to judge? He’s going to judge honestly, fairly, truthfully. It won’t be based on heresy, rumors, third hand passed down stuff, but based on the facts.

God settles the score. One day we’ll all be judged by the Lord and we’ll give an account to Him

3. Remember how much God has been merciful to me.

James 2:13 NIV –  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There is a principle greater than criticism. It’s the principle of forgiveness. The principle of mercy.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Matthew 18 is the story of the unforgiving servant. He owed $50,000 to his master. His master forgave him. He went out and found the guy that owed him $5 and strangled the guy because he wouldn’t pay him. When the master heard about it he took the servant and said, “If that’s the way you want to play the game, OK. You’re unforgiving, it will be unforgiven of you.” The Bible says we’re to be merciful because God has given us so much mercy. The reason why I have to be patient with you is because God is patient with me. The reason you have to be patient with me is because God is patient with you. That’s the way it goes. None of us get what we deserve. If we did we wouldn’t be here. It’s all by God’s grace.

If God’s been gracious with us we need to be gracious with others. The most forgiving
person is the most forgiven person

Poem I read this week called “The Wrecking Crew”

I stood on the street of a busy town
Watching men tearing a building down
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
I asked the foreman of the crew
“Are those men as skilled
As those you’d hire if you’d wanted to build?
Ah, no, no indeed,
Just common laborers are all I need
I can tear down as much in a day or two
As would take skilled men a year to do
And then I thought as I went my way
Just which of these two roles am I trying to play?
Have I walked life’s road with care,
Measuring each deed with rule and square?
Or am I one of those who roam the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Prayer:
This is an area that every one of us have to deal with — a critical attitude, being judgmental. If you want to find some fault in somebody you can. Everybody is imperfect. It’s all in what you decide to look at. If you choose to make friends in life one of the things you have to do is overlook their faults. Love the good parts in them and overlook the bad parts. If you want to have a successful marriage you have to learn to stop criticizing and questioning your mate’s motives. Look at the good parts in their life. Why do we spend an entire session just on this? Because it’s one of the most common problems. James says it’s really playing God. Only God has the right to judge, evaluate and criticize someone. He’s got all the facts. He’s impartial. We’re not. It’s not our place. It will be a liberating experience when you realize that God has not called you to judge other people but He’s called you to be accountable to Him.

Would you pray a prayer like this in your heart, “Lord, help me to quit playing God. Help me this week to not be critical and judgmental, to watch my mouth and not gossip and pass on damaging information, but to build up others and to share only those things that encourage and lift up. Lord, thank You for your grace in my life. Thank You that You don’t give me what I deserve but You give me what I need. Help me to do that to others, to pass on to them what they need. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”.

Proverbs 26:22 NIV – The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Why is it? When somebody is gossiping, usually we are all ears! We just can’t wait to hear what’s being said. Why? There is a natural innate ability of gossip or slander to capture our curiosity.

II. Why Should I Not Judge Others?

James gives us three reasons why we shouldn’t judge other people.

It’s unchristian

James 4:11 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it…

Why “brothers”? In the first place we shouldn’t judge one another because we’re all part of the same family.

•••I heard about a guy who came to a pastor one time and said, “I don’t have but one talent.” The pastor asked, “What’s your talent?” The man said, “I have the gift of criticism.” The gift of criticism does not come from the Holy Spirit but from the devil. The pastor was wise and thought about the parable in the Bible and said, “The guy who had only one talent went out and buried it. Maybe that’s what you ought to do with yours.”

Notice it says, “Brothers, do not slander…” Circle “slander”. The word “slander” and the word “devil” are the same word. The word “devil” means slander. The Bible calls Satan the accuser of Christians. He’s the slanderer of Christians. What does this mean? The devil’s number one activity is going around and putting people down, to slander them and put them down, malign them. We are most like the devil when we slander. When we speak against somebody else (including all kinds of criticism, maligning, judging) we’re doing the devil’s work for him.

2. It’s unloving

James 2:8 NIV – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Is it illegal? Is there a law against judging in the United States? He’s talking about the Royal Law

When I judge you, I’m breaking the Royal Law — the law of love — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say, “It’s just words and people will forget them.” People don’t forget words. You always remember them. It’s unchristian and unloving.

If you judge people you don’t have time to love them. Mother Teresa

3. It’s unjustified

James 4:12 NIV – There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

The word “lawgiver” is used six times in the Old Testament and only once in the New Testament. The six times in the Old Testament it refers to God. The same thing here — it’s referring to God. Only God has the right to judge. It’s in God’s job description. It’s not in your job description to judge people. He has not commissioned you to talk to everybody about everybody else.

We always tend to react to our weaknesses in others. What we see is usually just a mirror of self.

III. WHEN IS IT WRONG TO JUDGE OTHERS?

There are some places in Scripture where it says it is wrong to judge. The Scripture does say in some places that we are to judge certain things. We’re to judge ourselves, and we’re to judge certain matters.

1. Romans 2:1-3 NIV – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

The time when it’s wrong to judge other people is when I’m practicing the same sin. I don’t have any right to speak up, if I lack the personal integrity, I’m guilty too.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? What did Jesus say to the Pharisees? “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all walked away.

2. Matthew 7:3-5 NIV – “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? 4 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? 5 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.

This is a good example of the fact that Jesus told jokes. Hebrew humor is humor by exaggeration. Jesus is making a point here with humor. He’s saying it’s wrong to judge when it blinds me to my own faults. If judging you causes me to not look at myself realistically, then it’s wrong. We are great speck analyzers, nitpicking specks when we have a logjam in our own eye.

The inevitable result of being a judgmental person is in v. 2 “In the same way you judge others, you’ll be judged.” If you are critical to other people, you’ll be criticized.

3. John 7:24 NIV –  “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

It’s wrong to judge others when you draw conclusions based on outward appearance. We tend to make our impression of people in about the first 15 seconds and most of that is in the way that they look. We judge people, we size them up. Their face, clothing, hairdo. If you judge just on the basis of appearance, that’s unwise.

I Samuel 16:7 NIV – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

4. John 7:51 NIV – “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

That’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “no”. It’s wrong to judge when you condemn somebody before you hear the facts. It is unwise to make a judgement about somebody before you know all the facts.

If you study scripture you’ll find that even if your conclusions are right about that person you’re still wrong — because you did it without getting the facts. There is always more than one side to a story. There are three sides to a story: your side, their side, God’s side. Usually we have partial truth.

HOW DO YOU BREAK THE HABIT OF JUDGING OTHERS

Remember that I’ll be judged by the same standards that I use to judge other people.

Matthew 7:1-2 NIV – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The way we judge others — the same measure we mete out is the same measure we get back. If you want something to help you break the habit of talking critically about other people, remember that. What you dish out will be dished back to you. What you sow you’re going to reap.

2. Remember that each of us is accountable to God.

Romans 14:12-13 NIV – So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

You’re not accountable to me in the ultimate sense of every area of your life. I don’t have to report to you. But one day we’re all going to stand before God and then God is going to know our motives. How’s God going to judge? He’s going to judge honestly, fairly, truthfully. It won’t be based on heresy, rumors, third hand passed down stuff, but based on the facts.

God settles the score. One day we’ll all be judged by the Lord and we’ll give an account to Him

3. Remember how much God has been merciful to me.

James 2:13 NIV –  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There is a principle greater than criticism. It’s the principle of forgiveness. The principle of mercy.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Matthew 18 is the story of the unforgiving servant. He owed $50,000 to his master. His master forgave him. He went out and found the guy that owed him $5 and strangled the guy because he wouldn’t pay him. When the master heard about it he took the servant and said, “If that’s the way you want to play the game, OK. You’re unforgiving, it will be unforgiven of you.” The Bible says we’re to be merciful because God has given us so much mercy. The reason why I have to be patient with you is because God is patient with me. The reason you have to be patient with me is because God is patient with you. That’s the way it goes. None of us get what we deserve. If we did we wouldn’t be here. It’s all by God’s grace.

If God’s been gracious with us we need to be gracious with others. The most forgiving person is the most forgiven person

Poem I read this week called “The Wrecking Crew”

I stood on the street of a busy town
Watching men tearing a building down
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
I asked the foreman of the crew
“Are those men as skilled
As those you’d hire if you’d wanted to build?
Ah, no, no indeed,
Just common laborers are all I need
I can tear down as much in a day or two
As would take skilled men a year to do
And then I thought as I went my way
Just which of these two roles am I trying to play?
Have I walked life’s road with care,
Measuring each deed with rule and square?
Or am I one of those who roam the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Prayer:
This is an area that every one of us have to deal with — a critical attitude, being judgmental. If you want to find some fault in somebody you can. Everybody is imperfect. It’s all in what you decide to look at. If you choose to make friends in life one of the things you have to do is overlook their faults. Love the good parts in them and overlook the bad parts. If you want to have a successful marriage you have to learn to stop criticizing and questioning your mate’s motives. Look at the good parts in their life. Why do we spend an entire session just on this? Because it’s one of the most common problems. James says it’s really playing God. Only God has the right to judge, evaluate and criticize someone. He’s got all the facts. He’s impartial. We’re not. It’s not our place. It will be a liberating experience when you realize that God has not called you to judge other people but He’s called you to be accountable to Him.

Would you pray a prayer like this in your heart, “Lord, help me to quit playing God. Help me this week to not be critical and judgmental, to watch my mouth and not gossip and pass on damaging information, but to build up others and to share only those things that encourage and lift up. Lord, thank You for your grace in my life. Thank You that You don’t give me what I deserve but You give me what I need. Help me to do that to others, to pass on to them what they need. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Free

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Free

A visiting minister was very long-winded. Worse, every time he would make a good point during his sermon and a member of the congregation responded with “Amen” or “That’s right, preacher” he would get wound up even more and launch into another lengthy discourse. Finally, the host pastor started responding to every few sentences with “Amen, Pharaoh!” The guest minister wasn’t sure what that meant, but after several more “Amen, Pharaohs” he finally concluded his very lengthy sermon. After the service concluded and the congregation had left, the visiting minister turned to his host and asked, “What exactly did you mean when you said “Amen, Pharaoh?” His host replied, “I was telling you to let my people go!”

In Luke 4, the very first passage Jesus ever spoke — it was His first public sermon, — Jesus spelled out what was going to be the theme of His ministry.

Luke 4:18-19 (LB) “The Spirit of the Lord has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.”

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

FREE -not subject to the control or domination of another

Psalm 31:4-5 NIV – Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

3 Kinds of Freedom – Jesus promises real and lasting freedom! FROM WHAT?

1. The Burden of Guilt

Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Good News version – “For by the death of Christ we are set free. That is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God which He gave to us in such large measure.”

The reruns of Columbo are back on, the episode had Johnny Cash as a bad guy. They had him cast as a country-western singer (real innovative idea!). He murdered somebody. At the end, Columbo always figures out what happened and Cash got caught. The closing words of the scene, Johnny Cash says, “I’m glad I finally got caught. The guilt was killing me.”

Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, and destroy you. It’s the thief of life.

You cannot live indefinitely with guilt. But the fact is all of us make mistakes and all of us are guilty. How do you live with it?

Guilt robs you of happiness. It causes depression. It can make you sick. Doctors
say that 80% of the people in hospitals today could go home if they could get rid of guilt and bitterness.

Psalm 103:12 NIV – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The Bible says when we come to Christ, He takes us and forgives us instantly, He forgives us completely, He forgives us without question. The Bible says, “I’ve taken your sins and put them all behind My back.”

Out of sight. “I’ve separated them as far as east from west.”
Out of reach. “I’ve put them where I remember them no more.”
Out of memory. Once you learn that God can forgive and forget, what God forgets then you can forget

If you come to God and say, “God, I’ve really made a mess of my life. I’ve made mistakes and this is what I’ve done wrong and please forgive me.” You’re forgiven, and God says, “I not only forgive but I wipe the slate clean.” It’s like starting over. It’s like being born again. Then if you were to die and go to heaven and say, “God, about that sin…” He’d say, “What sin?” “About that mistake I made in that relationship…” He’d say, “What mistake?” “God, about that pain that I went through…” “What pain?” That is the freedom of forgiveness.

God says, “I want to set you free from the burden of guilt” “In Christ we are set free. That is our sins are forgiven.” I believe that even if there were no such thing as heaven, it would be worth becoming a Christian just to have a clear conscience. The joy that comes from knowing that I’m forgiven. The slate is clean. But that’s not all.

2. The Pain of Resentment

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

A) In your lifetime, you’ll be hurt many times sometimes accidentally/sometimes intentionally

What we like to do when we are hurt is get even. We want revenge. We want to retaliate. We get resentful, but resentment always hurts you more than the person you’re resentful against. Always. It’s like a boomerang.

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”- Malachy McCourt

B) How you respond determines the degree of effect it has on you.
* If you forgive – you can move on, find new happiness
* If you harbor resentment – it can ruin you

Some of you are holding on to a hurt. You let somebody hurt you 5, 10, 15 years ago. Maybe in a divorce, maybe your parents, maybe somebody at school, somebody hurt you badly. You’re still holding onto that hurt. That is dumb! Let go of it. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness and resentment”. Let Jesus Christ set you free from the burden of guilt and let Him set you free from the pain of resentment.

Romans 12:14-21 NIV – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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,”[b] says the Lord. 20 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.”[c] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Who are you bitter against today? A parent? An old boyfriend? A husband? A wife? Child? You say, “But I just can’t forgive that person! They hurt me too bad!” That’s why you need Jesus Christ. You need that supernatural power to let go of it for your own benefit.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.

Jesus says, “I want to set you free from the poison of bitterness.”

3. The Expectations of Others

I Thessalonians 2:4 NLT – For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (Phillips translation) “We don’t aim to please men but to please God who knows us through and through.”

Freedom is being you without anyone’s permission

Jesus says “I want you to be free to be yourself.” We spend so much of our time trying to dress like other people, act like other people, talk like other people.

“You are not what others think you are. You are what God knows you are.”

Regardless of what other people think, if I’m doing what God wants me to do then that’s what counts. That’s what is important! Even God can’t please everybody. When you come to the point that Jesus sets you free when you say, “God likes me and I like me. If you don’t like me, what’s your problem?” He wants to set you free from the pressures of conformity.

A) You can’t be happy if you are always…
* trying to please/impress everyone at the same time
* Pressured by other’s standards/lifestyles

Galatians 1:10 ESV – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

ILLUS: What will everyone think? – good way to get ulcers! Trying to pretend you are someone you are not!

The pressure with us is materialism. I’ve said many times, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t even like. We’re trying to conform. Who cares what other people think? We get so caught up in making a living we forget to make a life. The Bible says God wants to set us free. Free to be ourselves.

The Plan

John 8:32 NIV – Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1. God still loves You.

John 3:16-17 Message – “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came
to help.”

I John 4:7-10 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

“God’s love for us is uncoerced and so freely given that it does not demand a response. But so freely is it given that it creates freedom in the recipient, so that our response is not one of obligation or duty, nor the returning of a favor, but uncoerced love.” Mark Galli

2. God can free You.

Romans 8:1-2 Message “(You) no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

Romans 8:11 Message – It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

3. God will restore You.

Psalm 71:20 NIV – “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

WHAT IS ENSLAVING YOU THIS MORNING?

1. GUILT – some secret sin, failure, past regret, mistake? Relax, admit it to Christ, ask forgiveness Let Christ cleanse your conscience / Then forgive yourself: YOU ARE FORGIVEN!
It’s never too late to start over

2. BITTERNESS/RESENTMENT/HATE?/ANGER? Let Christ flush the poison out of your life Ask Him to fill you with love and forgiveness for that person

3. ARE YOU PRESSURED BY THE EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS? – Trying to cope with the standards and lifestyles of others? Pretending to be someone you aren’t?

God can take the broken pieces, the mistakes, the injustices, and make something good come out of it.

Prayer
“Lord I believe you are setting people free right now!” From worry, jealousy, fear, anger, depression… It’s like a mountain of pressure sliding off their necks…Thank you for freedom – salvation!