Uncommon Families

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Uncommon Families

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but “Leave it to Beaver” has left, Mayberry is a distant memory, and the Waltons have said, “goodnight!”,  The Brady Bunch has left the building. The little house we live in no longer resembles the one on the prairie! We have moved from “Father Knows Best” to we aren’t sure daddy knows anything! and The Partridge Family ain’t singing no more.The day we live is different. The climate has changed. This modern age has impacted and shaped our families. And as we are seeing now the goal of this modern age is not really to shape but to redefine family. Unfortunately, we will never be able to go back to yesterday. Therefore, we must learn to deal with today and tomorrow. However, even though we are in the modern age I believe there are still some old truths that modern family’s need today.

What has gone wrong with America’s Family?

· Did you know that in the US, every 8 seconds of every school day a child drops out of school?

· Every 26 seconds a child runs away from home.

· Every 47 seconds a child is either abused or neglected.

· Every 7 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.

· Every 36 minutes a child is either hurt or killed by a gun.

(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms. In the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities, human dignity and human frailty.” Ronald Reagan

Condition of Today’s Family

• Distracted.

 (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.”

STAT: Average father spends 7 minutes a day with his kids. That’s 49 minutes for the week

• Divided.

 (Mark 3:25 ESV)  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand“ (NLT) A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

• Disrespectful.

(Titus 3:3 ESV) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

• Dysfunctional.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Dysfunction is Dangerous – dys means dangerous, impaired in function. A dysfunctional family is one functioning dangerously

Family is not an important thing , it’s everything!

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

  1. Nehemiah faced the awesome task in the restoration of Jerusalem. But he was surrounded with: 1. Unbelief  2. Opposition
    1. He lacked resources and he was operating in hostile territory with a meager number of supporters.
    2. He had to have a plan that had enough power and energy to overcome obstacles.
    3. Nehemiah put the people on two Unshakable Foundations:
      1. The Sovereign power of God
      2. The nearly unlimited protective power that comes from men and women when they fight for their families
      3. Nehemiah’s Strategy was that he was to station the rebuilders in front of their own house (Nehemiah 3:4)

How to be an Uncommon Family

If you don’t have kids these are amazing principles for your life – If you do have kids these are principles that will help grow your child

  1. Love and Serve God

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults

If mom and dad went to church:     72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

(Joshua 24:15 NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only. A choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

•The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us IN OUR HOMES and FAMILIES.

•Is Christ is the head of this house, The unseen guest at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation.

The Most Important thing in Life

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV  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.

Do you love God with all of your heart or some of your heart?

2.  Make God’s Word the standard.

•With so many “experts” running around with all of their ideas and inventions, It can sometimes be confusing to know who to listen to. The Bible specifically outlines God’s original design for the family. As long as we live according to His will, we can avoid the world’s less than perfect lifestyle and live in His perfect peace.

(1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness

•Arguments and division need to be squelched with a higher authority than opinions or out of control emotions. To be a functional family in the plan of God, we must live according to Biblical principles. What is right for this situation according to the scriptures? How can this problem be solved with a Biblical mindset?

(Psalm 119:24 NIV) Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Obeying God’s Word brings blessings to the family – Obedience is our Success

Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV – Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 12:28 NIV – Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Remember: Our instruction to our kids is never better than God’s

Proverbs 1:7 NIV – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Lead Your Family

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV – These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.” Edward, Duke of Windsor

Girl from (COYFC) comment – “I looked at my parents and family of an example of what not to be and do”.

Proverbs 22:6 ESVTrain up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Train: to initiate, dedicate, or train.

  1. Train them to manage God’s money. (Prov. 3:9-10) 2) Train them to carefully select friends. (Prov. 13:20) 3) Train them to watch their words. (Prov. 4:24) 4) Train them to be responsible. (Prov. 6:6-8) 5) Train them to guard their minds. (Prov. 23:7) 6) Train them to be generous. (Prov. 11: 25) 7) Train them to fear God. (Prov. 1:7)

Are you leading your children or are your children leading you?

4. Pray for and with your Family

Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen!

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

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide – Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare; All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” Joseph Scriven

Remember this  – You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.

 

Ill.—little boys staying overnight in backyard in a tent. Dad listened to them talk… “my daddy knows the mayor!”/ “governor!”/then he heard the voice of his own little boy say, “that’s nothin’, my daddy knows God!” (top that!) They said, he does not! “does too!” How do you know? “I heard him talkin’ to him just this morning!” 

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,”Turn to Me first when you’ve got a problem.” Many people, when they’re in a tight situation, prayer is the last resort, not the first option. They do everything they can physically to try to correct the problem then they say, “I guess now all we can do is pray.” Like it must really be hopeless! Prayer should not be your last resort, it should be your first option.

Make God your first resort in difficulty. He says He is an ever present help a refuge in time of need. God is waiting. He commands us to turn to Him first.

Psalm. 50:15 “Call upon Me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

Some people get embarrassed and think, I don’t talk to God much when times are good and I don’t want to bother him with my problems. God says, “Bother Me. It’s no bother. I can handle your and every other person’s problems at the same time. Bring it to me. Don’t carry it all yourself.”

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers

When we pray we give God legal invitation to bring His will to pass. His will is always accomplished through obedience in prayer.

Luke 18:1 NIV – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up

I Thessalonians 5:7 NLT – Never stop praying

Prayer is always the will of God – Don’t Give Up, Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer happens in God’s time

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

A Prayer for Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us.

Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do. Father, let no sickness, disease, harm, division, distruction, or injury come upon us, protect us, have your angels encamped around us and protect us. Stop the assignment of the enemy. We will prosper, be in health, and our souls with prosper. Bless us Lord, In your name I pray, Amen

ENDING

If we’ve failed or messed up in these areas (and most likely we all have) – we can make a fresh start today! 

Acts 3:19-20 NIV – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

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

Parenting: Walking Through Difficult Days as a Family

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Parenting: Walking Through Difficult Days as a Family

Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV – I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 

There are no hopeless situations. There are only people who have grown hopeless about them.

Every family goes through difficult times. Every family faces a crisis (addiction, death, mental illness, rebellion, sickness, loss, depression, set backs, challenges,). It’s not “if” but “when.” How do you make it through the worst of times? How do you not only survive, but thrive in the midst of it? How do you make sure that difficulties do not destroy?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV – We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

I. THE FACTS about Family Life (But remember – Life is hard but God is Good)

1. Difficult Times in Families are a fact of life. 

(John 16:33) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

•Tribulation – Pressure, Oppression, stress, anguish, adversity, affliction, crushing, squeezing, distress

•We will not avoid trouble in this life – 2 Tim. 3:1 – Perilous (harsh, savage, difficult, dangerous, painful, hard to deal with)

2. Difficult Times happen to all Families.

(Matthew 5:45) “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,  and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” 

•”Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you choose to deal with it” Lou Holtz

I Thessalonians 2:18 NIV For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.

Hindered – Break up of a road to make it impassable for travelers. The result is that the trip is hindered, delayed, postponed, & inconvenient.

Key – Paul NEVER backed down! Never Stopped! He kept moving forward! Refuse to be dominated by blockades, hindrances, tough times, and attacks!

Your struggle is proof that you have not been defeated!

3. Difficult Times won’t last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:17  NIV – “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

•You are going to outlast it!  Get up and Go on! 

Psalm 30:5 NIV –“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

4.  Difficult Times can be good for the Family. 

(1 Peter 1:7) “These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 

•Faith is tested by hardships,  disappointments, and difficulties

•“God who foresaw your tribulation, has specifically armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain.” CS Lewis

2 Corinthians 6:4 NIV  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;

•Some people go into the furnace of trouble and it burns them; others go in, and the experience builds them

Romans 8:28 NIV “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his  purpose.” 

•Every Storm is a school, Every Trial is a teacher, Every experience is an education, Every difficulty is for your development.

II.  2 Strategic Keys That Guarantee Family Victory

You are engaged in a Spiritual War! Spiritual warfare is that conflict being waged in the invisible, spiritual realm that is being manifest in the visible, physical realm.

I John 4:4 NIV – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Your trouble is Satan’s desperation to stop you! But Who is in you is greater than What’s against you! 

Stay battle ready! When things go badly, it’s not the end of the world. When things go well, it’s not the end of the battle.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.

•When we engage in the spiritual battle, we don’t fight with the weapons of this world. We don’t fight with nuclear bombs, or machine guns, or army tanks, or a 22, or numbchucks, or a slingshot. Okay? Instead, we engage in this battle with prayer and by faith and using God’s word.

Ephesians 6:10-12 -Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

1. Prayer

Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen!

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

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide – Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare; All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” Joseph Scriven

Remember this  – You never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. 

Ill.—little boys staying overnight in backyard in a tent. Dad listened to them talk… “my daddy knows the mayor!”/ “governor!”/then he heard the voice of his own little boy say, “that’s nothin’, my daddy knows God!” (top that!) They said, he does not! “does too!” How do you know? “I heard him talkin’ to him just this morning!” 

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,”Turn to Me first when you’ve got a problem.” Many people, when they’re in a tight situation, prayer is the last resort, not the first option. They do everything they can physically to try to correct the problem then they say, “I guess now all we can do is pray.” Like it must really be hopeless! Prayer should not be your last resort, it should be your first option.

Make God your first resort in difficulty. He says He is an ever present help a refuge in time of need. God is waiting. He commands us to turn to Him first.

Psalm. 50:15 “Call upon Me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

Some people get embarrassed and think, I don’t talk to God much when times are good and I don’t want to bother him with my problems. God says, “Bother Me. It’s no bother. I can handle your and every other person’s problems at the same time. Bring it to me. Don’t carry it all yourself.”

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers

When we pray we give God legal invitation to bring His will to pass. His will is always accomplished through obedience in prayer.

Luke 18:1 NIV – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up

I Thessalonians 5:7 NLT – Never stop praying

Prayer is always the will of God – Don’t Give Up, Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer happens in God’s time

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

2. Faith

This is your position above your difficulties

Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Genesis 1:1-3, John 1:3)

Verse 1 Amplified – Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is a spiritual force based on the eternal laws of God that can change things in the natural.

I John 5:4 ESV – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Overcomes (Nikos) – To conquer, Champion of the games

Faith is… To have trust or assurance, confidence, conviction, belief, reliance in what God says. Trust that produces action. Faith is a living force, drawn from the living word, to produce living results.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” CS Lewis

“Faith is the bird that sings while it is yet dark.”- Max Lucado

Authentic faith does not deny the obstacles of life, but rather declares God is greater than the obstacles

Mark 9:23 NIV ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

There is NO Situation in your family too difficult for God to handle or turn around! 

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”- George Muller

I Timothy 1:18-20 ESV – This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

•860 AD – Nero was blaming christians for burning down Rome, Disciples were being killed, false teaching was being taught.

•Holding Faith – Kutecheo – To hold on with a firm grip; desperate hold

•Paul Was telling Timothy  – HOLD ON! DON’T LET GO & Shipwreck your faith!

Hebrews 10:23 ESV – Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Jacob)

Holding faith connects you to the Power of God!

Revelation 2:25 ESV – Only hold fast what you have until I come.

Hebrews 10:36-39 NIV – You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”[a] 38 And, “But my righteous[b] one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”[c] 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Ending: 

Mark 11:22-24 ESV22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.

In summary, Through Prayer & Faith, the following 4 things are promised to you:

  1. Nothing shall be impossible to you
  2. Ask what you will, and it will be done
  3. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, and He will do it!
  4. Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, You will have them!

Never put a question mark or a period where God has put a comma! He is still working! 

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

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Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

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

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

Traits Parents Want Children to Possess

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

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

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

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

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

  1. KIDS NEED COMPASSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. KIDS NEED COUNSEL

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

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

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

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

Four things God says:

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

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

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

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

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

3. KIDS NEED CORRECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. KIDS NEED CONFIDENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. KIDS NEED CELEBRATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. KIDS NEED CONSISTENCY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

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

Parenting: Dealing with the D Word

Parenting-Full Screen

Parenting – Dealing with the D Word

“Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.” – John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

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

Discipline is training that corrects, mold, or strengthens a person’s mental faculties and character

Proverbs 1:7 NIV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools[a] despise wisdom and instruction.

Our instructions to our children is not better than God’s. If we think that then we are a fool.

Don’t despise what God has to say to in His word concerning your family.

•It is natural for children to do wrong. We are to deal wisely with them. Not to leave them to the guidance of their own will. As children, we need to think for them, judge for them, and act for them. They do not know what is good for their mind & soul, anymore what is good for their body. We are teaching and training them.

Four Problem Parenting Styles Today

  1. Dependent Parents: Goal is to control their child’s behavior and feelings.
  2. Domineering Parents: To Control their child’s behavior
  3. Doting Parents: To Control their child’s Feelings
  4. Detached Parents: To Avoid Responsibility for their failure

Our Goal: Discipling Parents: To Develop Christlike Character in their Child. So they can become wise, secure, confident, compassionate, & Caring.

Discipline is correction driven by love. 

(Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV) “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves…”

(Proverbs 19:18 NIV) “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Discipline isn’t something you do to your child, but for your child.

Parents, we need to understand that there is a major battle going on for who is going to be in charge in our households, and this is a battle that we must win, and we must win it decisively.  If you find yourself consistently nagging and yelling and bribing and threatening, you are losing the battle and the tide must turn, and it must turn now.  But you say, “I don’t want to be mean to my kids.  I don’t want to discipline my kids.”  This is what someone told me years ago.

DISCIPLINE ISN’T SOMETHING YOU DO TO YOUR CHILD, BUT FOR YOUR CHILD. 

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

“A child who has not been disciplined with love by his little world will be disciplined without love by the great big world.”  Zig Ziglar

Correct Discipline will…Cause Children to respect their parents, to do right, and live at peace

•Children need your TIME – 100 years ago, parents spent 54% of waking hours with their children, Today it is less than 15%

•It’s easy to come in after a high pressured day, preoccupied with life and all its ups and downs. Childhood is too short to waste and an open heart and mind is to precious to ignore. Make time!

•There is no magical number of minutes but you can maximize opportunities to interact, engage in conversations, & stay connected to their world. You have ONE shot & a limited time period to raise champion children.

Tell them you love them EVERYDAY! Hug them! Kiss them! Don’t be afraid to share your heart. There is nothing wrong with that. Contrary to how you were raised. If not, they will feel rejected!

Don’t spend all the time criticizing them and pointing out their weaknesses. Your words have power and your children will become what your words say about them.

Be a stimulator instead of a reactor.

Undisciplined Parents

1. Lifeguard Parents: Often rescue a child from consequences.

Little Johnny’s in trouble.  Super mom sweeps in to save the day.  “Oh, little Johnny, it’s going to be okay.  I’ll save you again!”  Okay?  How do you know if you are a lifeguard parent?  Well, you are a lifeguard parent if you delivered little Johnny his lunch three or more times in the last semester because he forgot his lunch.  If little Johnny’s a sophomore in college, you’re the worst kind of lifeguard parent there is.  Okay?  It’s not allowing our children to face the consequences of their own sins.  Now, why is it so important to let them face their consequences?

(Galatians 6:7 NIV) “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

In other words, in God’s divine economy, He set up the world with a system of consequences.  You live according to His Word and there will be blessings.  You live outside of the parameters of His Word, and there will be consequences.  We must give our children the gift of facing the consequences of bad decisions.

Kids must have some responsibility – ex: our kids

2. Etch-A-Sketch Parents: Often inconsistent.

You know what an Etch-A-Sketch is?  Yeah, they use it for computers in Arkansas.  It’s kind of like a  [laughter]  just joking, okay?

An Etch-A-Sketch is a little dillymagetchee.  It is about the size of my Bible.  It’s got little knobs on it, and what happens if you turn the little knob?  What do you make?  The lines, right?  And then, what happens if you shake it up?  Where did it go?  They disappear.  A lot of us, we’ve got some lines in our households, and then, the next day, the lines move.  And our kids are saying, “Where are the lines?  Where are the boundaries?”  We are inconsistent oftentimes as parents.

(Proverbs 29:15, 17 NIV) “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother…Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

Notice, scripture doesn’t say discipline them today and then not tomorrow.  Have one line here today and then shake it up and let the line move tomorrow.  A lot of our kids want to know, where are the lines?  Why are they always moving?

we can be Nazi parents one day, all in line, and the next day we are like cruise ship director, “the love boat,”

•Being inconsistent is provoking your child. Yes means yes and no means no. Don’t waffle. No game of begging and pleading until you change your answer. If you play this one, they win every time.

Be consistent, don’t promise what you can’t deliver – If you’re constantly changing the rules and making promises you can’t fulfill, STOP. (example – if you don’t stop Im going to give you a time out. they don’t stop and then you don’t what you said – by product – you are a liar)

3. Split Decision Parents: Often divided.

(Amos 3:3 NIV) “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”

Parental Expectations

1. We expect first time and cheerful obedience.

(Colossians 3:20 NIV) “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.” Edward, Duke of Windsor

(Philippians 2:14 NIV) “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”

•Discipline more for attitude than actions.

2. We agree to never discipline in anger.

(Ephesians 4:26 NIV) “In your anger do not sin.”

Most parents discipline according to their moods. (good mood- let it go, bad mood – scream & overreact) = rebellion and frustration in them.

Harsh yelling, belittlement, nagging, name calling, or degradation of your child – wounds their spirit, causes low self esteem and behavior problems. Critique the behavior not the child.

What about Spanking? Only when a child defies your authority.

Proverbs 23:13-14 NIV – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

Purpose: is for the child to associate wrong doing with pain.

•Never spank in anger or revenge, but rather in sorrow. “This hurts me more than it hurts you”

•Discipline in Private, not in the presence of others

•Explain the reason Why

•Verbally and physically comfort your child immediately after

•Spanking should be used only when productive. (Some children don’t require spanking to be repentant: others don’t respond to spanking)

Proverbs 22:15 NLT – A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.

3. We will discipline promptly with instruction and reconciliation.

(Ephesians 6:4 NIV) “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Exasperateinfuriate, incense, anger, annoy, irritate, enrage, antagonize, provoke

Proverbs 22:6 NIVTrain a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Take Every Opportunity to teach your Children Spiritual Truths

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NIV – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

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Two of my favorite Christmas songs are – “I’ll Be home for Christmas” (Rusty Yanok version) and “There’s No place Like Home for the Holidays” (Perry Como version)

I left home in 1987. I’ve been home every Christmas except 23 years ago in 1990. (Explain)

I want to ask you a question – Are You Home for Christmas? Are you home in the true essence of the word?

•People seem to have this homing device:
Gets tripped every year at about this time
It causes us to do anything to get home
We will fly, drive, even walk – or jet ski if we have to
Just to get home for Christmas

Sadly enough – a lot of people will not be home for Christmas (Think about the soldiers on the battlefields)

•If you think about it – The first christmas – a lot of people are not home
•Mary & Joseph were not home – they were from Nazareth – in Bethlehem bc of a census
•The Shepherds were not home – they were pulling an all nighter

Text – (Luke 2:4-16 ESV) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

•The Wise men were not at home either – They had taken this incredible road trip from the far east – They were following the star – looking for the Christ child
•(Matthew 2:1 NIV) “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.”

•In a real way – Jesus himself, was not at home – He left the glory and splendor of heaven to be born in a manger – an ordinary piece of farm furniture – left hom to die a sacrificial death for all people.
• (John 6:51 NIV) (Jesus said) “I am the living bread that came down from heaven…which I will give for the life of the world.

Fredrick Buechner said, “The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us Himself.”

First Scene in Hamlet – “Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes wherein our Saviors birth is celebrated…So hallowed and gracious is the time…”

•Galatians 4:4-5 ESV – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

•Isaiah 7:14 ESV – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel

song – “…pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel…”

•John 1:14 ESV – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Dwelt – set up a tent. Does not imply temporal. But familiar, close, interaction

What does “Home” mean?

A lot of homeless people out there. Very sad. Why? Everybody needs a home. It’s a special place.

What makes “home” so special?
When I say the word “Home”, what do you think about?
I’ve been pondering that over the last several days.

What Does “Home” Mean?
It’s about a place.

•93 Sycamore St. Adena, Ohio (Christmas memories, food, smells)
•Now I think about Columbus – this is home for us now

It’s about people.
•When I think about home I think about my Family
•Some say “I have a hard time thinking about my family” bc you grew up in a dysfunctional home
•I thank God for our Church family – it’s also home. GraceTown is our home. It’s all about the people.

It’s about protection.
•When you say the word “home” – I think of safety- sanctuary. In baseball when you slide into home – ump says “Safe”.
•Place where you can let your hair down. A place to be yourself

When Your Home for Christmas
(John 14:2-3 NIV) “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Some here today have a void in your life. You need a Home. But you wonder what will happen if you let Christ in your life

Helen Keller, who was born blind and deaf said, “The only blind person at Christmas time is he who has not Christ in his heart”

Your location will change.

(John 14:23) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

•You’ll have a home in heaven – a new address. Paul said his citizenship had changed – no longer an earthling.

(Philippians 3:20) “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

•When Heaven is your home -Earth cannot disappoint you as much

(Hebrews 11:13) (People of faith are) “…aliens and strangers on earth. They were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

2. Your relationship will change.

When you make heaven your home – you get a new family. God never wanted to be your religion – He wants to be your Father.

(Romans 8:15) “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

•Literally, that means we can cry out, “Daddy”

(John 15:15) “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.”

(Matthew 7:22-23) “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.’”

•This is very important to God – All of heaven will be determined at this point.

3. Your security will change.

He understands your loneliness – how empty and insecure – He wants to bring safety – security – a home.

(Hebrews 13:5) “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

EX: Years ago Earnest Hemingway wrote a story about a young man named Paco who ran away from home and went to Madrid Spain. He was estranged from his father and his father was heart broken and did everything he could to find his son. Finally in desperation eh went to the newspaper in Madrid and he took out an add in the personal columns that said this, “Paco, all is forgiven. I want you to come home. Meet me tomorrow at 12 noon in front of the hotel Montana.” The next day the Father showed up and he was shocked to find that 800 young men had responded to that ad – Paco’s that were estranged from their fathers.

Your Heavenly Father wants you to come home! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or who’ve you’ve done it with or how you’ve done it – God says I want you to come home to my love and forgiveness. That’s what Christmas is all about!

Matthew 1:21 – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

You may ask – “What do I do now?”

(Revelation 3:20) “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Think about this – God gave the greatest gift of all – His Son.

He is standing there knocking. He is knocking through the problems in your life
He has been knocking on the door during this service. You control the door!
He wants to meet you right where you are! – He loves you! You matter to God!

Pray a “I’ll be home for Christmas” prayer – Pray, “Jesus come into my life and make yourself at home”

The Blessed Life Pt.4

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The Blessed Life – Part 4
1 Chron. 4: 9-10 NIV – Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother
had named him Jabez, [a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out
to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let
your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
And God granted his request.

What a great proclamation!…

We’re finishing a series called The blessed life, and we’ve been seeking to answer
the question: What is a blessed life? What does a life of blessing look like? Is there
anything that God has done to bless me? What can I do to receive the blessings of
God? Does God expect me to be a blessing to others?

Regardless of your background, most of you have the heard the word “bless” for
years. When somebody sneezes, we hear, ”God bless you”, but how many people
saying that even know what it really means? Most believers have heard Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man who does not walk….” They’ve heard one of the beatitudes of
Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

The word bless, or blessing, appears over 700 times in the scriptures and its’
meaning carries profound importance in our lives today.

Blessed – Happy, Fortunate, to be envied. To endue with power for success,
prosperity, abundant, (profuse, excessive, super, overflowing, extraordinary)
supply, long life, as to live in health, To invoke divine favor and good upon. peace.
To be blessed means to have supernatural power working for you.

MISTAKEN IDEAS OF A BLESSED LIFE

Mistake – to think that your life is not blessed because you’re still in debt, or that
your life is a blessed success because you have lots of stuff and bling-bling to go
w/it. (What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?)

Mistake– to think that you have to give away everything you have, and have
nothing, be nothing, and do nothing. Jesus did not tell all of His followers to give it
all away. He told all of us to live a life of giving, but only told a few to give it all
away.(It’s not what we possess that’s important, but what possesses us)
The best thing you can do for the poor, is to not be one. We need to give people a
hand up, not just a handout.

Margaret Thatcher said, “Nobody would have remembered the good Samaritan if
he only had good intentions, he had money as well.”

Mistake – to think that we all have to think, drink, live, look and dress like
everyone else in order to have a blessed life. Not everyone is going to make the
same amount of money, drive the same kind of car, and live in the same kind of
house. Some are not interested, others are not qualified, some are not ready.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

1) IT IS GOD’S NATURE TO BLESS HIS PEOPLE.

To simply hear this is not important… but to think it and believe it will change what
you experience in your life.

If the blessing of God becomes part of your psyche… your belief system… it will
influence how you live life and what you experience in your life.

Most people live unaware of God’s nature as a God of blessing… they may know
him as a God of judgment or consider him a God of 10 commandments… But few
recognize his extravagant over the top eagerness to bless his people.

Eph. 1:3 NIV “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

1. God is good
a. The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit
with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
b. Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored
up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those
who take refuge in you

c. Psalm 34:8 – Taste and See that the Lord is GOOD…(food exp)
d. God is like 100% Florida Orange Juice – He is 100% Good
God’s very nature is goodness

2. God does good things for His people

a. God’s very nature is goodness.
b. Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

c. Jeremiah (31:14) prophesied that God ‘s people will be “satisfied”
with His goodness. He kept on saying that God will not turn away
from doing them good. (Jer. 32:40-42)
d. Psalm 103:4-5 – 4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires
with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

e. When God gives He always exceeds our expectations
f. God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not
because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.”- C.S.
Lewis

3. His Nature has never changed
g. HE has no need for improvement. He can’t get any better, stronger,
more loving, and kind than He already is.
h. Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and
forever.”

i. Malachi 3:6 tells us that the Lord does not change and that is why we
are not consumed!
j. When He created the world, He saw that everything He made was
“very good” (Genesis 1)
k. God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

> IN THE PLACE OF BLESSING, A PERSON WILL EXPERIENCE
PROTECTION, PEACE, FAVOR, PROMOTIONS, PROSPERITY… A
FRUITFUL AND FLOURISHING LIFE!

> God has something better for us… a life that is rich in every way… focused on
serving him, loving him, walking in his purpose…

Prov. 10:22-The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and he adds no trouble to it!

Ps.1:3 -Blessed is the man… he is like a tree planted by streams of water, which
yields fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers

2) BLESSINGS FOLLOW BLESSED PEOPLE.

When the blessing of the Lord is on a person’s life… the blessing on them extends
into what they do… wherever they go… their house, business, their communities,
their churches… EVEN WHEN THEY ARE IN DIFFICULT
SITUATIONS…..BLESSINGS FOLLOW THEM.

EX: JACOB WHO WORKED FOR A MAN WHO WAS UNFAIR AND SOUGHT
TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIM.

Genesis 30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please
stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.”

Genesis 30:30 (Jacob to Laban)The little you had before I came has increased
greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I
do something for my own household?”

EX: JOSEPH WHO WAS BETRAYED BY HS BROTHERS AND ENDED UP IN
A FOREIGN LAND AS A SLAVE

Genesis 39:5 From the time he (Potiphor) put him (Joseph) in charge of his
household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the
Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything
Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.

THE BLESSING OF GOD FLOWS IN OUR LIFE THROUGH OUR
“POSITIONING”. IT’S THE POSITIONING OF OUR HEARTS, MINDS,
ATTITUDES AND ACTION THAT PUTS US IN A PLACE OF CONTINUED
BLESSING.

POSITIONING YOURSELF FOR GOD BLESSINGS
1) THE POSITION OF DOMINION.

Gen. 1:28- And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of
the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon
the earth.

THE POSITION OF BLESSING IS NOT THE SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING
POSITION!! GOD’S BLESSING IS NOT TO REPLACE MAN’S INITIATIVE
TO WORK BUT TO EMPOWER HIM TO WORK.

A) God’s blessing is not a heavenly handout program. This is why when the work
ethic is replaced by charity… individuals experience poverty… nations
experience poverty…

Ex: the welfare programs in America have not worked. The welfare programs
which began in 1964 actually increased social need and the amount of people who
are poor and dependent has increased rather than decreased. After billions has been
spent, poverty has grown in America. God never intended welfare to be a way of
life…..when we feed and clothe the poor without requiring and empowering them
to work we enable them to remain poor… and miss out on God’s blessings. God’s
blessing is not found where people are visionless, idle…indifferent to
work…lazy….God’s blessing is not a heavenly handout—-God’s blessing is on
the place of vision, usefullness, ambition, initiative… God’s blessings is not
intended to replace mans initiative to work and take dominion in the earth

B) The earth is and always has been a place of abundance. There is no shortage on
natural resources. There is no good reason for poverty, homelessness and
deprivation to exist on a planet that has an abundance of everything we need.
When you see poverty it’s because of man’s ideology… corrupt government… A
violation of God’s principles…

•Random House Dictionary defines “WORK” as – “Exertion or effort
directed to produce or accomplish something.” It can be Physical,
mental, or both. The purpose of work is to produce an item or
accomplish a goal.

The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”-
Robert Frost

C. Work is God’s Gift (Blessing), not punishment (Curse) –

Eccl. 5:19 NIV – Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and
possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in
his toil—this is the gift of God.

1. Our work is to give us a sense of purpose to create the
wealth that God intended us to have.
2. Many people see WORK as an inconvenience, drudgery,
or unimportant. Some say it is a part of the fall therefore it is a curse.
3. Folks the Marketplace (your place of employment) is
more than a job, it is a place to serve and glorify God.

Deuteronomy 28:8 NIV – The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on
everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is
giving you.

“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes
by it.”- John Ruskin

Ephesians 2:10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do
good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God’s growing grace(in me), gives purpose/meaning to my present life. (we build
on our foundation of Christ w/good works/actions that will be rewarded.) !
Our salvation is a product of God’s love and the work of Christ on our behalf,
but God’s blessings are a product of our growth and obedience.

Nobody will argue the fact that the greatest blessing is our salvation, but God’s
design for His people includes growth and becoming fully obedient, to experience
all the blessings He has for them.

2. The Position of Obedience

God offers rewards and blessings as incentives for obedience

Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 13 ESV – And if you faithfully obey the voice of the
Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command
you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the
earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you
obey the voice of the Lord your God.

13 – And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only
go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God,
which I command you today, being careful to do them,

A) When you live your life submitted to God… careful to know and obey his plan,
you can expect him to be with you and bless you in what you do…

**Once you experience God’s blessing on your life you don’t want to settle for a
life without it… Its there for you in city, field, house, work… visions, oppositions,
challenges, adversity

The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and
going in that way too.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but
obedience.” – Oswald Chambers

God wants us to Obey Him in order to produce good seasons of blessings
and reward in our lives

•Isa. 1:19 NIV – If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good
things of the land;

When the seeds of disobedience are planted, The blessings of God begin to
shut down.

Obedience is the only thing God will ever require of you. When you ask God
for blessings He will always give you an instruction. Your obedience is the
only proof that you truly believed His instructions to you.

3. The Position of Right Words – GOD INSTRUCTED HIS PRIEST/PASTORS
TO DECLARE BLESSINGS OVER HIS PEOPL
E

Proverbs 11:11 NIV – Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroy
ed.

Words are what carry and extend blessings… or hinder and stop blessings…
This is why God told Moses what he wanted the priest to say over the people… Its
not just for the priest… Its for everyone… the congregation, parents… !
Numbers 6:22-27 “The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, this is
how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep
you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord
turn his face toward you and give you peace. So they will put My name on
the Israelites and I will bless them.”

In 40 of the 68 NT uses of the word blessing, the word used is “eulogia”, a word
which means: To speak well of, and to praise. This is where we get our English
word eulogy, which is looking to speak well of another person who has passed
away; like at a funeral.

A) Our words serve as conduits of life’s struggles or Gods goodness &
Blessings…

Proverbs 18:21 NIV – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who
love it will eat its fruit.

You wont experience victory talking defeat… you’ve got to talk victory.
You won’t experience joy talking sadness… singing sadness… you’ve got to talk
joy.

You wont experience peace talking about the chaos… confusion… you’ve got to
talk about peace.

If you want to experience more blessing talk about your blessings, elaborate and
celebrate your blessings… magnify your blessings and minimize your
disappointments…

To live a life of blessing means to not only realize that God has spoken well of us,
but to realize that we should speak well of others also.

I Peter 3:9 NIV “Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with
blessing, because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.”

WRAP UP
I want to encourage you to position yourself for God’s blessings to flow
unhindered in your life… Don’t leave openings for the enemy to enter your life.
Live in the protection and favor of God.

I Am the Church Part 2

iamthechurch3
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

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

GraceTown Church purpose statement

“Connecting Seekers to God and to a Community of Christ Followers”

PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD!

People who matter the most:

1. The un-churched (spiritually disconnected)

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

2. The hurting and wounded

Luke 10: 25-37 (Story of the Good Samaritan)

3. The Children

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14

4. Those who cannot help themselves

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 35-40

The poor, the stranger, the sick and elderly, and the condemned

FOUR KEYS TO WINNING WITH PEOPLE

1. Caring for people should always precede confronting people.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Matthew 5:13

Salt adds something rather than take away something!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Light doesn’t attack darkness; it replaces it!

2. Do for others what they can’t do for themselves.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:17

3. Be the first to help.

Give with no strings attached!

Giving tests the sincerity of my love for God.

Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real. 2 Cor. 8:7-8 NLT

4. Common Ground is the best “platform” to preach from.

(Paul) “I have been all things to all sorts of people that by every possible means I might win some to God.
I do all of this for the sake of the Good News.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (Ph)

“…Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.” (Living Bible)

FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION THIS WEEK:

WHO WE ARE DETERMINES HOW WE SEE OTHERS

FOUR QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK OURSELVES IF WE WANT TO REACH PEOPLE:

1. Readiness: Am I prepared for relationships?

2. Connection: Am I willing to focus on others?

3. Trust: Can I build mutual trust with others?

4. Investment: Am I willing to invest in others?

Home

14841662-shabby-chic-country-style-nostalgic-rendition-of-the-common-word-home
Home

(Jeremiah 6:16 GW) “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which
paths are the old, reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings.
Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves.”

Joshua 24:15 NIV –  “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

• Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only, to worship one God only. A choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us IN OUR HOMES and FAMILIES.

•Is Christ is the head of this house, The unseen guest at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation.

•America’s Number 1 problem is the breakdown of the family.

•Described as “dysfunctional” – if that is the case of society’s top problem then our highest priority must be to build functional families.

•William Bennett calls the family “The fundamental unit of civilization.”

Since the advent of television there has been a wide variety of depictions of the family: Ozzie & Harriet, I love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, Father knows Best, to the Brady Bunch, Sanford & Son, The Huxtables, etc….Now we The Simpsons,

Dysfuction is Dangerous – dys means dangerous

•A dysfunctional family is one functioning dangerously

Dangerous for Whom?
1. For the Children – one study found that children of dysfuctional homes have behavior problems, find it more difficult to adjust, & make lower grades. Have a higher drop out rate from school and a higher rate of pregnacy out of wedlock (The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators- William Bennett)

2. For Husbands and Wives – Domestic Violence between spouses; divorce,etc…

3. For Society as a Whole – half the people arrested this year were under the age of 25. Since 1965, juvenile crime rate has soared at a 175 % rate. As families become dysfunctional there is a threat to a nation’s well being.

Condition of the Modern Family

•Distracted.

(Isaiah 53:6 NIV) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of
us has turned to our own way.”

•Divided.

(Mark 3:25 NLT) “A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

•Disrespectful.

(Titus 3:3 CEV) “We used to be stupid, disobedient, and
foolish, as well as slaves of all sorts of desires and pleasures.
We were evil and jealous. Everyone hated us, and we hated
everyone.”

•Dysfunctional.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) “But if you are bitterly jealous and there
is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with
boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s
kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and
demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition,
there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Establishing House Rules

Clearly defined roles and expectations.

(Judges 21:25 NIV) “In those days Israel had no king; everyone
did as they saw fit.”

(Habakkuk 2:2 GW) “Write the vision. Make it clear on
tablets so that anyone can read it quickly.”

•The Parent MUST be the Parent, Husband , Wife, etc…

Strong commitment to one another.

(Philippians 2:3-4 NCV) “When you do things, do not let
selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give
more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested
only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”

(Colossians 3:18-21 NLT) “Wives, submit to your husbands, as
is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your
wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your
parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate
your children, or they will become discouraged.”

•Family is not an important thing , it’s everything!

Consistent and considerate communication.

(Ephesians 4:29 NLT) “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let
everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will
be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

(James 1:19 NIV) “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of
this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and
slow to become angry.”

Authentic relationship with Christ.

(1 John 4:19 NLT) “We love each other because he loved us
first.”

(PSALM 128:1-6 The Message) “All you who fear God, how blessed you are! how happily you walk on his smooth straight road! 2 You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming. Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness! 3 Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes, your household lush as a vineyard, The children around your table as fresh and promising as young olive shoots. 4 Stand in awe of God’s Yes. Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God! 5 Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem every day of your life. 6 And enjoy your grandchildren. Peace to Israel!

Live in such a way that brings blessing to your home

(2 Samuel 6:9-11 NIV) “David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.”

•For 3 months the most awesome symbol of God’s presence was seated in Obed-Edoms home. This box was the most sacred article in all of Israel’s history – the most powerful object on the face of the earth. A box measuring 4’ x 2.5’ x 2.5’ was the focal point of his home. I am certain beyond doubt that this box changed the way they lived in that house.

•Every day for 3 months they were aware that God was living with them, lodging in their lounge. When God’s presence is welcomed and encouraged a home is truly blessed.

•In most of our homes there is a box which is the focal point. The furniture points toward it and too often our attention is too focussed upon it. It has the power to shape our home life, form our children, corrupt our values, disturb our relationships and control our diaries. In many homes the TV Times is read more often than the Bible. (This is not an anti-TV message, because I enjoy TV)

•The box at the centre of Obed-Edoms house brought blessing. It reminded them DAILY of God’s presence and goodness to Israel, His faithfulness, promises, covenant, power and glory.

Inside the ark of the covenant were three items …
1. The two stone tablets of the law given to Moses – God’s Word in our homes
2. A jar of manna from Israel’s wilderness wanderings – God’s provision in our homes
3. Aarons budding staff – God ordained leadership in our homes

Each of these I believe should be represented in our homes, and when they are we too, like Obed-Edom will be blessed.

In his house God was acknowledged, values and treasured.
Jacob (who we read of earlier) valued the worship of God in his family –
GENESIS 35:3 …. ” I will build an altar to God.” Is there an altar in our home ?

Driving Dysfunction Out of Your Home

1. Get God’s input. With so many “experts” running around with all of their ideas and inventions, it can sometimes be confusing to know who to listen to. The Bible specifically outlines God’s original design for the family. As long as we live according to His will, we can avoid the world’s less than perfect lifestyle and live in His perfect peace. (Gen. 2:8-24)

2. Make the Word of God the final authority in your home. Arguments and division need to be squelched with a higher authority than opinions or out of control emotions. To be a functional family in the plan of God, we must live according to Kingdom principles. What is right for this situation according to the Kingdom? How can this problem be solved with a Kingdom mindset? When we seek first the Kingdom of God, we can expect the promise of abundance. (Matthew 6:33)

EXALT God in your home, EXAMPLE Christlikeness in your home, ENCOURAGE Faithfulness in your home, EDUCATE Your children in God’s ways in your home, ESTABLISH Godly values in your home

Random Photos of our new home