Uncommon Conflict

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Uncommon Conflict

Give you some ground rules for this Message

1. Listen for yourself – No elbows – Listen for yourself – This is for YOU

2. Your going to hear God’s standard and feel like this is too tough

Look how far I am from God’s standard – Don’t be discouraged

Let me be clear, Jesus came to make ALL things new

You get a DO OVER everybody – Don’t get discouraged

Average marriage in America lasting only 3 years

I believe God will help heal marriages that are broken, strengthen marriages that are struggling, and launch marriages that are just beginning

How we handle conflict has the potential to destroy our marriage or set it up for success

Opening:

  1. Lyndon B Johnson said, “I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she is having her way, And second, Let her have it.”
  2. A man who gives in when he’s wrong is wise. A man who gives in when he’s right is married.
  3. Red Skeleton said, I married miss right, I just didn’t know her first name was Always.
  4. After winning an argument with his wife, the wisest thing a man can do is apologize
  5. Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. he didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about how well his mother cooked.

Romans 12:2 NLT Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

A good marriage is built by two people’s capacity to adjust to bad things – Everyone Has Conflict. While we are on our way to heaven many times our marriage feels like hell.

Everyone knows marriage is no picnic. Even if it is, it sometimes rains. Sometimes good marriages bump into bad things

Having conflict in your marriage does not mean that you don’t love each other, but how you deal with the conflict shows whether or not you love each other. (I want to say this again, so important you get this)

If you’re sitting here today and you’re concerned about your marriage…

And you’ve been fighting, take a deep breath and know that conflict is completely normal

Four Causes of Conflict 

1. Poor communication.

Remember, Every time you open your mouth, your mind walks out and parades up and down the words.

Psalm 141:3 NIV Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Attack the problem (conflict) not each other – Because all of us are wired to “win”  So in the middle of dealing with conflict we always try to find the knockout punch

Proverbs 6:2 NIV – you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that

it has taken place. ~George Bernard Shaw

Matthew 12:36-37 MSG “Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” 

Conflicts arise when there is disconnection between what we say to each other and how we say it.

Example: Woman is looking into the mirror and says to her husband, “Honey I feel bad about myself. I look fat and ugly. I really need you to give me a compliment. The husband replied, “You have perfect eyesight!”

James 3:5-6 NIV “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…it sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

2. Unfulfilled expectations/needs. 

The ups and downs of life can actually strengthen your marriage if you adjust your expectations accordingly.

James 4:1-2 NIV What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Example: Each others expectations of each other

3. Despising differences. 

Mark 3:25 NIV If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 

Ephesians 2:14 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.

Differences concerning…Sex….Money…Music….Movies, etc….

4. Sin nature.

Romans 3:23 NLT For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT) There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.

Romans 8:5-6 NIV Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Four Ways to Deal with Conflict 

1. My way.

2. Your way.

3. Half way.

4. God’s way – He is the answer to conflict

Resolve the Conflict 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 NIV There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

Ephesians 2:12-14 NIV12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Conflict cannot continue without my participation. 

  1. Ask God For Help

James 4:2 NIV – 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

If you are not clear, Faith cannot bring you what you want, need, or desire. a mixed frequency with your asking may produce no results. Get SPECIFIC with God and ASK Him.

I John 5:14-15 NIV  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

2. Act Do Not React. 

“A person who overreacts in a situation with another person values the situation more than the relationship.”

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

Refrain from having reruns of old arguments

How many times have you gotten into a small fight or conflict

But it blew up into something huge because past mistakes got brought up?

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

3. Speak Words of Life

Communication in our relationships is not a luxury its a necessity.

If you want to change your marriage, change the words you speak.

Proverbs 15:4 NIV – The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

(Honeymooners example)

Ephesians 4:29 NIV – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 12:18 NIV – The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

4. Be Quick To Forgive

Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. It is an act of our will. It cannot be earned, it can only be given.

When you forgive you open up an invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace and Joy in your relationship

Colossians 3:13 NIV Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”  ~Anne Lamont

Unforgiveness is the breeding ground for destruction in a marriage

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

Make love and Forgiveness your default mode. It should always be an automatic setting in your heart when you are mistreated.

A life time is a long time to live with bitterness and resentment towards your spouse or someone

If I have to say to you that I forgive you, it’s harder for me to hold on to it
A maturity in Marriage is  – 1. Giving and 2. Forgiving

1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG  (Love) doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.

Don’t Stop Loving

In the Movie Stepmom – There is a husband and his wife who get a divorce. He is out with his children for his weekend. He is trying to explain the divorce to his kids because they keep asking why he doesn’t live with them, etc…They ask him “Don’t you love mommy anymore? He said, No I guess I don’t love your Mommy anymore. They said, “Didn’t you used to love her? He said, Yes, but I guess I fell out of love.” Then the little boy looks up at his dad and says, “Dad, can a parent fall out of love with their children?”

1 John 4:8-11 MSG The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 

Never stop holding hands, Never stop Dancing, Never stop saying I love you!

Matthew 22:34-40 NIV Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

God Can Heal YOU and your Relationship

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card

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.

Shift Pt.7 – Relationships

Shift-Series

Shift Pt.7 – 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.

The Purpose for People in your Life

Mark 12:30-31 NIV – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Life is filled with givers and takers. A person in your life who does not increase you will inevitable decrease you.

You must discern the people in your life. You must decide how much time you’re going to invest in others. We meet and become acquainted with many people in the course of our lives, however there are 3 levels in which we must recognize.

The 3 Levels are:

  1. Relationship
  2. Friendship
  3. Companionship

Your past, present, and future is always connected to people.

Relationships are founded on the discovery that you need people to be a success in life. The help us define who we are and what we can become. We can trace all our successes to pivotal relationships.

•Relationships are painful. Relationships are wonderful. We all live in the drama that plays out between these 2 truths.

•NO Relationship is without Challenges. Here are 2 challenges you face in every relationship: 1. False Expectation 2. Unfulfilled Promises

First, You can’t expect others to read your mind. False expectations occur when we refuse to talk things out.  Do not harbor or hide your hurts and disappointments in a relationship. A seed of bad timing or misspoken word can take root – hurting you and hurting others.

Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many

Secondly, never promise what you cannot produce. Unfulfilled promises come from unrealistic schedules and pressures that WE self-impose. Simply learning to say NO now, can save you from “I’m Sorry” later.

James 5:12 NLT But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned

When you understand the purpose for people in your life you will discover that: 

  1. You will be appreciated
  2. You will be celebrated or
  3. You will be tolerated
  4. You will be terminated

•I’ve been all 4 at certain times in my life

2 Things must Increase for Relationships to move to the next level:

  1. Increase of Quality of Time
  2. Increase of Quality of Shared Information

Example: Jesus, who is the world’s foremost expert on relationships

John 15:13-15 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

•Laying down my life (Time)

•Everything I’ve made known to you (Information)

Relationships teach us that we were not created to succeed alone. Friendships teach us that true success is a shared destiny.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

You must discern the people God has placed in your life to complete you.

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.

Its not what you can get from a relationship but what can you give. Value people.

Nabi Saleh Owner of Gloria Jeans Coffee – “We aren’t in the coffee business, serving people. We’re in the people business, serving coffee.”

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 have a SHIFT in 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.

“I am more than I am, but less that we are. I sought my God but my God I could not see. I sought my soul, but my soul eluded me. I sought my friend, and I found all three,”

Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

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.

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.”

“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

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“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 

Pastors, we must be keepers of the culture. If we are weak on our culture, others will come in and define it for us. Therefore we have the God given responsibility to set the culture.

Culture – Predominating attitudes and behaviors that characterizes the function of the organization.

GOAL – Life Giving Culture

John 10:10 NIV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.

Some of Our Culture Attitudes at GraceTown….

  1. Leadership
  2. Serving – Everyone should be serving somewhere, if not they are not on the map
  3. Excellence
  4. Passion
  5. Fun
  6. Authenticity

Churches have barriers to growth – 100, 200, 500, 800, 1000. Although each barrier is unique, there are 3 key factors that apply to every barrier we will face as a church.

1. Inspiring and consistently excellent worship services

•Our services are WELL PLANNED, but feel FLEXIBLE and UNRUSHED. They are upbeat but relaxed.

•We only have 52 Sunday’s a year and every single one needs to count!

2. Clear pathways to Connection and involvement

3. Effective and life giving Structure and administration

Don’t be afraid to lead – rid yourself of the thinking that you are inadequate or unqualified.

Leadership is Influence – John Maxwell

Our day today is an emotionally charged, overweight burden down society that needs LIFE, from life giving leadership!

What Life Giving Leadership Is:

A. Leadership is not a project, leadership is a spirit. People don’t need a position to be a leader.

B. Leadership must give encouragement and confidence

C. Joshua’s Leadership Training –

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed.”

•God was focusing on Joshua’s spirit before the task.

D. For God to get us to where he would like us to be, He needs us to realize our leadership is more about a spirit than a task. Be strong, inspired, and full of courage, life and purpose. Life Giving Leadership

•Leadership is more than information, communication, and projects. Leadership is spirit

•Remember this – “Your Leadership can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.” – Kevin Gerald

F. It should cause people to lighten up

  • When the life of God is flowing, there should be lots of smiling and laughing. (Seattle fish market – a fun place to work)

G. Life Giving leadership is positive and inspiring –

Proverbs 16:15 (message) says, “Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re life spring rain and sunshine.”

H. We will not resort to a negative, forceful, or whiney approach to motivate. This leads to immaturity.

I. To be an effective leader – STAY POSITIVE.

J. Leaders are like an elevator – you are either taking people up or taking them down. Make a decision to take people up!’

Life Giving Leaders are…

1. Life Giving leaders are always growing and reaching to improve their leadership. Take responsibility for your own failures as well as successes. If you keep learning, you will improve, and your leadership will get better.

2. Life Giving leaders are pushing the boundary lines to move beyond what is normal or usual. Leaders are pioneers. They venture into unexplored territory and guide to new and often unfamiliar destinations.

3. Life Giving leaders are risk-takers. They reject the maintenance mentality and take risks from strength, preparing thoroughly, understanding what is at stake, and marching forward with confidence. It is never too late to be what you might have become!

4. Life Giving leaders are resource finders and releasers. They have built a leadership pipeline that finds potential leaders, trains them, and releases them to greater levels of ministry.

5. Life Giving leaders are future-focused and dedicated to do whatever it takes to get there. Their faith capacity has increased to believe that God will provide all that is necessary as the need arises. Their people capacity is increased so that getting along with and caring for people is at the leader’s heart.

Our Commitment each Sunday

Remember Team – It’s a Privilege and opportunity to serve. It’s never asking too much of people to serve.

1. Each person I encounter today is loved by God & needs to feel special.

2. I need to make a personal impact through a smile, a word of kindness or an act of love.

3. I will remember what it feels like to be new.

4. My responsibility is not simply to carry out a task but to engage each person individually.

5. I am vitally important to impacting lives today.

6. I will be in a great mood on Sundays & will not let anyone or anything Hijack my great mood

7. I will be ready to meet any need that arises

8. I will have a sense of responsibility for everything that happens on Sunday

9. I will focus on People and processes

10. During service I will be alert, take notes & be an example in Worship

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.

The Holiday Hangover

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The Holiday Hangover

This holiday season has its share of people interacting with other people and hopefully those interactions created some positive, fun, enjoyable moments for you. Some of you might be wearing something today that someone gave you for Christmas…shirt, shoes,….It’s always good when you’re fortunate enough to receive some gifts you like….will wear. On the other hand some of you had some interactions that were not as positive…fun… and just maybe your wearing something that got “on you” in the process of interacting and engaging with others…

• The conversations

  • The comments
  • The social interaction

My goal this wk end is to help you enter the New Year free of any residue that would hinder you from having your best year.

Q=Anybody want to have a great year in 2015???

In Matt 10 Jesus was sending his disciples out on a mission to take good news to households, communities, cities…There was a lot of excitement….might have been a bit giddy. But Jesus knew that within the context of all interaction….is the possibility for a negative experience….and he wants to make sure that when this happens it doesn’t hinder them from continuing forward into all that he has for them. So….he prepares them and then he says something I find really interesting….and with great significance to us in our own lives today….

Matt 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

1) IN THE CONTEXT OF ALL HUMAN INTERACTION IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE

It’s easy to put unrealistic expectations on other people.

EX: Some people have the attitude of “I’ll be a friend to you as long as you don’t hurt me or as long as you don’t make a mistake….I’ll be a friend as long as you treat me just right.

But that’s unfair and places too much pressure on the other person.

EX: this is the approach some people take towards church….and other people at church.

The reality is that anywhere people mingle long enough…there’s a 100% chance that someone is going to say something they shouldn’t say….or did not mean the way it sounded….humans do that…we say and do stupid things! Scripture teaches that love makes allowances for peoples weaknesses….love remains committed to people when they make mistakes…In other words you have to overlook some things…not expect people to be perfect. (your wife, husband, kids)

Show mercy and grace to the people you’re in relationship with!!

Prov. 12:16-Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

Prov. 19:11- A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

C’mon….men/women/students you can’t let what someone else says or does create impulsive reactions that take you away from what God has for you!! Don’t let anything that people do or say cause you to change your

course….or take you away from God’s house…where he has planted you.

2) NOT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU IS SUPPOSE TO GO FORWARD WITH YOU

Some stuff is supposed to stay behind….In Matt 10 I think Jesus was probably giving them a literal instruction…”Dust off” ”shake it off” It’s reasonable to believe that Jesus wanted them to literally stop outside the city where they experienced rejection and “dust off”…NOT just for the purpose of removing the sand and dirt…BUT FOR THE PURPOSE OF GETTING THE RESIDUE OF REJECTION and THE DUST OF DISAPPOINTMENT OFF OF THEM!

**This holiday season represents the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. As we celebrate the passing of one year and the beginning of a new year I want you to consider what might God be telling you to shake off the end of this year? Dust off!!

Shake it off!!

Think about it…..

Q=What kind of expectation of others do you need to release?

Q=What kind of offense has held you back that it’s time to let go of?

Q= Did something happen to you at church? Did someone do something that has been your go to story for why you are not full on serving God like he’s called you to serve him?

EX: Hopefully you have some great photo’s… Photo albums/photos on computer….

• So that Years from now some of you will look at happy

moments that happened this holiday season…and it will

bring a smile to your face

• But not every photo deserves to be saved….some were bad

shots…bad angles…taken at the wrong moments…should not be saved or hung on the wall…should not stay in your phone or on your computer=need to be deleted!

  • The same is true with some of your experiences. Some incidents, some comments, some conversations….don’t belong in your memory!!….

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

You are not going to Move Forward with that dust on you! With that look on your face, with that heaviness on your shoulders, with that offense in your heart! Dust off!

• Dust off!! Shake it off!!

3)”DUSTING OFF” WHAT’S BEHIND YOU IS PART OF GETTING READY FOR WHATS AHEAD OF YOU.

Jesus was saying “It may not go well in one City…But don’t let what happens in that city discourage you…..the last City is not the next City!”

  • There’s people in this room….who have been too focused on what hasn’t happened.….God is wanting you to know yesterday is not tomorrow! Your future is not determined by your past!
  • Nothing good is going to come out of more analysis or naval gazing.
  • What God has for you begins the minute you shake off the dust of disappointment….the dust of discouragement….the dust of despair…AND MAKE A DECISION TO MOVE ON!!

The Dust of 2014 isn’t compatible with your Destiny in 2015

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.

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.”

Let it Go

summer_main
LET IT GO: Forgiveness By Cierra Yanok Rider

If you guys have your Bibles or smartphone or the Gtown app open up to Matthew 6:10-13. This is a passage in the Bible that everyone should know very well, The Lord’s Prayer…whether you come from a Catholic background or this is your first Sunday, even sports teams in high school recite this prayer. Let’s say the Lord’s prayer together- you can follow along on the screen too-

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

Now let me go on and read vs 14-15 for you;

Matthew 6:14-15- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So basically what this is saying is reiterating what Jesus is telling us to pray to him, but how to apply it. We ask Him to forgive us and we forgive those who have hurt us—but Jesus thought it was so important to remind us one more time in v. 14 & 15 by saying…”listen, I want to forgive you, but if you don’t forgive others, I can’t forgive you”

Now lets look at a couple more scriptures on forgiveness real quick-

Mark 11:25- But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too

Colossians 3:13- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

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

Luke 6:37- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

These are only 4 references to forgiveness..When I was googling how many times the word forgiveness is in the bible it said around 70 times…

Seems to me that God is pretty clear on what he is instructing us to do in the realm of forgiveness. Does anyone have one of those friends who repeats stories a lot or tells you something to do over and over again? Yeah, I have a few..quite a few family members too. But you want to know something? I bet you remember their story. When I was growing up if my mom had to repeat directions to me more than once, I got a spanking, I am thankful God has a little more mercy than the Trish. J

Today I want to address two questions pertaining to forgiveness, the first one being;

1. WHY should I forgive?
2. HOW do I forgive?
Clearly God is telling us to forgive because he has forgiven us, but in all honesty, the number one reason why we should forgive isn’t because of the other person who has wronged us, but–

1. Unforgiveness hurts me

Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Unforgiveness causes trouble and bitterness in our hearts—one ounce of bitterness can haunt you for the rest of your life and make you a miserable person and misery loves company. So you and your miserable self will be surrounded by a whole lot of other miserable people.

If you don’t want to end up a miserable old person with 20 cats and bed sores by age 40 than you have to learn to function without holding a grudge. People are going to hurt you, it is inevitable or you might have already been hurt.

I am not trying to downplay anyone’s past hurts or any unforgiveness some of you may be carrying with you today. Some of you have past hurts that include abuse, betrayal, abandonment and much more issues that make you say… “You don’t understand what I have been through” and you are right…I don’t, but I have past hurts of my own. I have had people lie to me, cheat on me, turn their backs on me, hurt my family by forcing us out of a church, call us horrible names and make up nasty rumors about our family to get their way and sadly a lot of these hurts have actually come from growing up in church. I could easily be bitter or never want to step foot into a church again or have chosen to never pursue a relationship with someone again bc of my fear of being hurt again, but I choose to move forward and not let bitterness take root in my heart. If that was the case I would have never met Josh or we would have never started Gracetown here today.

One of the foundations of Christianity is love and if we love one another we keep no record of wrong…while bitterness keeps intense details.

A famous quote by Anne Lamont says “Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and hope the other person dies”

I thought that was a pretty tweetable quote.

Now onto the second reason of WHY we should forgive;

2. Because I will need forgiveness again

We see this clearly in what we already read in Matthew 6:14-15 when it says- But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There is a parable in the Matthew 18 which is just a fancy word for “story that Jesus puts in lamens terms so we understand the lesson”

There was a servant who owed his master 10,000 tallons. Ps-I looked up what tallons were because in my head I imagine bird tallons & I know that’s not right- so if you are like me, now you know that tallons equals 150 years of labor or $2billion in today’s terms. SO back to the servant… There was NO way he could pay the mast back but he BEGGED the master to forgive his debt. The master decided to show mercy and forgive his debt. Shortly after his debt was forgiven, the servant went back to his town and found someone who owed him a day’s wages and demanded his money. The servant who owed him money begged for mercy, but he denied him. Once the master heard word of this servant’s actions of unforgiveness he called upon him in anger & turned him in to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back what he owed.”

At the end of the parable it says-

Matthew 18:35 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
You are given an option—it says this is what happens UNLESS you forgive.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather forgive someone than be put to jail and beaten.
The message of grace is so widely spread throughout Christianity now which is awesome and so refreshing, but it is amazing how we are SO quick to embrace God’s grace and mercy on our lives but SO SLOW to give the same to others.
Now that we have the WHY let’s look at the HOW
2. HOW do I forgive?
The number one thing to do is pretty simple and self explanatory, but not exactly easy…

1. PRAY for those who hurt you
Not for their Mercedes to get banged up or for them to get herpes or other harm, but for like spiritual stuff…something as simple as “Bless them”

If Jesus Christ who was dying on a cross can look up to God and say “Father, forgive them” towards the people who were crucifying him, then we should be able to sacrificially try to pray for those who have hurt us.

You aren’t going to feel like praying for someone who has hurt you, so don’t wait to “FEEL” like it..you just have to begin.

Sometimes right action triggers right feelings…Start praying and the right attitude will follow.

You may not ever see the result of your prayers for others. The person who has hurt you may not even live near you anymore or even be alive, but it’s not just about them…remember it is about YOU.

I have noticed that my prayers for others may not always change them but it has changed me.

2. Forgive as you have been FORGIVEN…the same way that Christ forgave us;

​He forgives us;

​CONSTANTLY & COMPLETELY

In Matthew 18:21 Peter asked Jesus, How many times do I forgive those who sin against me?
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times seven[g]

I am like Peter- I’d want to know how many times I have to forgive someone so that I can move on, but Jesus basically says infiniity times…so that is where the “constantly” comes in to play.

The “completely” can look a little different though;

-Sometimes you can forgive completely from a distance.

-Forgiveness doesn’t mean to stay in a hurtful situation.

Growing up I thought if I forgave someone for hurting me we had to go back to being best friends again to “show” that I forgave them, but that isn’t the case…If you are in a situation that you are constantly being hurt mentally, emotionally, sexually or physically, you need to remove yourself from that situation. Staying in an unhealthy relationship whether it is a friendship, work situation or romantic relationship, the first step is to take yourself away from the situation and let someone else know then you can work on the forgiveness part.

Forgiveness isn’t for the weak- you have to be strong enough to move on. People who can forgive see the bigger picture!

And really… unforgiveness is exhausting…you have to constantly remind yourself to be upset. It is miserable.

Today I want to encourage you to LET IT GO- Be selfish, forgive others so you can MOVE on with your life and pursue the future that God has planned for you.

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!