Living the Ultimate Life Pt.3 – 3 Meaningful Ways to Live

Living the Ultimate Life Pt.3 – 3 Meaningful Ways to Live

Ecclesiastes 11:1-8 NLT 1 Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. 3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

Opportunities Missed 

There once was a very cautious man Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed. And when he one day passed away His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived, They claimed he never died! —–Source Unknown.

Are you one of those people who always plays it safe and never takes any risks? Are you afraid to try something you have never tried before because you might fail? Are you afraid to try something new because you might not like it? Do you sit back and wait on life to come to you or do you go out and meet life head on?

ILLUSTRATION: John Henry Jowett, the nineteenth century British preacher once wrote about how our temptation to self-preservation leads to faithless living. Jowett said……. It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man’s ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man remove his petty selfish purposes and enthrone Christ, and his sufferings will be increased on every side.

In our scripture study today Solomon challenges us to move from a boring, hum drum existence to living life to the fullest, to LIVE THE ULTIMATE LIFE!

I.  Live GENEROUSLY

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 NLT – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

  1. One of our biggest temptations in life is to give up or to quit too soon when we don’t see quick results. But Solomon is telling us there is power in persistence.
  2. In verse 1 Solomon is describing the great risks taken by the merchants of his day. The merchants would put their merchandise on boats to be shipped to foreign ports, hoping for a profitable return after many days.
  3. In I Kings 10:11 we learn that some of the chief exports of Israel in Solomon’s day were gold, precious stones, and rare exotic woods. But the chief export of Israel was “bread” referring to grain.
    When these ships were sent out they would face many dangers.

    1. -If the ship ran into a storm and wrecked, the merchants would suffer a total loss.
    2. -If enemies attacked the ship the merchandise would be stolen.
    3. -If the ship captain was crooked, and many of them were, he would sell the merchandise and keep the profit for himself.
    4. -And there were no insurance policies in those days to cover losses.
    5. So when Solomon says (NKJV),“Cast your bread upon the waters” (notice plural) what he is saying is, “Don’t put all of your grain on one ship. Instead, “cast your bread” or “spread the grain out” to several ships, that way if one ship goes down in a storm or gets attacked by enemies, you won’t suffer a total loss.”
    6. In fact, Solomon goes on to say in verse 2, “spread the grain or bread out seven or eight different ways.” And sure enough, “after many days” the cargo ships would return and according to I Kings 10:15,22 they would be loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes and monkeys from other countries.
    7. So what does this mean to you and me in a practical sense? It means “spread your generosity” “spread your blessings around,” “diversify,” or as grandma used to say, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

THE KEY TO Living the Ultimate LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.

The meaning of life is not about what you get but what you give.

Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV 24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

    1. another translation – “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped.”

Generosity doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!

  • Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work

The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right to even life a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins. A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?”

Alexander responded in royal fashion “Copper would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.”

Very few people these days, have “the Great” added to their names. When we think of Alexander the Great, most people think of the historical figure, who was young, eccentric, a brilliant military strategist with blond hair and bulging muscles and looks like Colin Farrell. However, one of the secrets of all greatness is revealed through generosity. 

He didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But his way of thinking challenged the thinking of not just the courier, but everyone who had the privilege of being in the presence of greatness. He just didn’t subdued kingdoms with superior military strategy, but conquered mediocrity through his generous life.

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Generosity: A courageous disposition full of the Spirit, that is evidenced by:

•A quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness

•A nobleness of soul that is empowered to bestow favor

•A bountiful disposition that is free to give with bold liberality

Galatians 6:10 (NKJV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. 

•”There’s no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can’t do any business from there” Col. Sanders  (he gave $2 million to the AG missions prior to his death)

•”Generosity is a good criterion of a person’s mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people” Dr. Karl Menninger

Love always finds a way: selfishness always finds an excuse! 

God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution.

You weren’t created just to consume resources  – to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. God wants to you to give something back! (If TCT has given to you, GIVE back)

II. Live Boldy 

Ecclesiastes 11:3-6 NLT3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

1. Solomon now shifts from the example of merchants in verses 1,2 to example of farmers in verses 3-6.

2. If ever there was an occupation that requires taking bold risks of faith, it would be a farmer. Notice again in verse 4 Solomon says, “If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”

3. What Solomon is saying is, “If a farmer waits until the conditions are absolutely perfect he will never get anything done.”

4. If the farmer waits to sow his see until there is absolutely no wind blowing, he will never get his crops planted. And if he stays out of the fields every time he sees a dark cloud fearing it might rain, he will never get his crops harvested.

5. You see, a farmer has to take some BOLD RISKS! A farmer knows he cannot wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before he takes action.

6. This same principle applies to all of us as well. If you wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before you ever do anything, you will never do anything. You will spend your whole life in your little “comfort zone” and before you know it your life will be over and you will have little or nothing to show for your time here on earth.

7. How many opportunities have we let slip right through our fingers because we were to afraid to make a decision or take action?

8. Have you been waiting on the “perfect time”…..? The perfect time will never come! Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Life doesn’t offer any of us any guarantees. As Solomon reminds us in verse 5 , only the good LORD HIMSELF knows everything that will happen. So we have a choice: We can either go through life living in fear, making excuses, scared to make decisions, and afraid to take action………or we can go through life LIVING BOLDLY BY FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

III. Live Gratefully

Ecclesiastes 11:7-7 NLT 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

1. Solomon is reminding us in these verses that none of us knows how long we have to live, so we should be grateful for each and every day the LORD gives us.

2. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, I have become more and more grateful to open my eyes each morning to see the first light of day. I often begin my morning prayer with these words: “Good morning God. This is the day that You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

3. Solomon reminds us in verse 8 that over the course of our lifetime all of us will experience many days of darkness, so don’t ruin the good days whining and complaining, and wallowing in regret over what you could have done or should have done with your life.

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

•Our Grandma June’s response when being told she has brain cancer – “Hey, well It is what it is” “I’ve lived a long good life and remember I shall Arise again”

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

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

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

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

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

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

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

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED? I’m not asking you how many birthdays have you had or how long have you existed as a living, breathing human being.

I’m asking you “How long have you lived?” When was the last time you felt passionate about something? When was the last time you felt vibrant and alive? When was the last time you felt a sense of purpose? Jesus said John 10:10, “…I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

The truth is there is so much more to life than many of us have experienced. Many of us have settled for a mundane, hum drum, day-to-day existence when we should SEIZE EACH AND EVERY DAY as a precious gift from GOD and live life to the fullest! Live the Ultimate Life!

Let us LIVE GENEROUSLY! Let us LIVE BOLDLY!
Let us LIVE GRATEFULLY! 

The Gospel

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The Gospel

(Jesus Christ and GraceTown is about New beginnings, It’s about messes & mistakes turning into miracles & messages, it’s about having more chances, it’s about seeing potential in everyone.)

I’m not preaching to the perfect today! But to those of us who don’t have it all together. The hurting, hopeless, and helpless. The stressed out, the successful, the prosperous & the poor. The messed up, misfits, frustrated , those of us with flaws, the imperfect, people who have had moments of indiscretion, weakness’s & failures. I’m talking about Noah who got drunk, David who murdered & commit adultery, Abraham who lied, Thomas who doubted, & Simon Peter who denied & cursed Christ.

Romans 1:16 ESV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Gospel – Good News. It’s the message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which the believer is saved from sin and into life. Our broken relationship with God is restored. Salvation through grace.

The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

Enemies of the Gospel

1. Religion

Religion – Salvation through moral effort

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.

a. Religion says that if we obey God He will love us – The Gospel says that it is because God loves us we can obey

b. Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people – The gospel says the world is filled with people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

c. Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person – The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because he alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.

d. Religion is about what I have to do – The Gospel is about what I get to do.

e. Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God – The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

f. Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (Because I continually fall short of God’s commands) – The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.

John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

•The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

• Dr. Jekyll comes to realize that he is an incongruous compound of good and evil.

•He comes up with a potion that can separate his two natures

•He describes his evil self using classic christian terminology

“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, 10fold more wicked,, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine…Edward Hyde’s every act and thought centered on self.”

•his name is Hyde not just because he is hideous by because he hidden. He is selfish, egotistic, self centered, and is self absorbed

•Once Jekyll realizes his capacity for evil he decides to clamp down  on this terrible self centeredness and he gets religion. He devotes himself to charity and good works for atonement for what Hyde has done.

•While siting on the bench in Regents Park, he begins to gloat and take pride in all the good he had done. He said, “as I compared myself with other men and comparing my goodwill…at that very moment of vain glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down….I was once more Edward Hyde.”

•Involuntarily, without the potion – this was the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations – Jekyll kills himself.

•Stevenson’s insight here is profound. Like so many people, Jekyll knows he’s a sinner, so he tries to desperately cover his sin with great piles of good works. Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The Gospel of Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self righteous.

2. Sin

Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.

James 4:17 ESV So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Romans 3:23 NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

Isaiah 59:2 NIV – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Romans 6:23 NIV  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

JI Packer said, “Men are opposed to God in their sin, and God is opposed to men in His holiness”

God cannot simply overlook sin. Our debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.  God’s holiness demands punishment for human stain.

Explain: (OT sacrifices,  In NT John the Baptist – Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world)

The Gospel gives us other Chances

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

The reference to Peter, on this first Easter morning, was intentional. Peter in previous hours had denied knowing and following Jesus… and now he was being included in with the close group of followers Jesus wanted to hang out with the most. (VIP list) By singling him out and calling Peters name,) Heaven was sending him a message that even though I don’t approve of what you have done….I do approve of you.” 

Heaven wants to get that message to all of us today 

Verse 7 – What a line!  It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall – and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again!  Peter your not left out! One failure doesn’t make a flop!

Jesus wanted Peter to know he was looking forward to seeing him – Aren’t you glad that God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, & loves us all without condition or exception.

(Micah 7:8 NIV) – Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

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

•The fact that you failed is proof that you are not finished!

•Failures & Mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade!

•The difference between average people & successful people is their perception and response to failure.

•Just ask Peter: You can have a another chance! 

•One minute Peter felt lower than a snakes belly and the next he was the high hog at the trough.

•Even the Angels wanted this discouraged, distraught, depressed fisherman to know it wasn’t over!

Heaven said, “Be sure to tell Peter ( the one who Sinned, failed, denied Christ, blew it, lost it, messed up BIG TIME!) that he gets to bat again.

What you were is not what you will be! 

The Gospel sets us up for more chances, not failures. Even though we fail, sin, and make plenty of mistakes:

Peter’s Painful Regret

John 13:36-38 (NIV) 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-3 (NIV)“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 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.

1. Stop beating yourself up

•The good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you.” – Martin Luther

Psalms 38:4-8 NIV  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;   I groan in anguish of heart.

I John 3:18-21 NIV – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

c. Your heart registers right and wrong

•You do good, your heart says nice

•You do bad, your heart says Yuk, u suck, sinner, liar, hypocrite, fake, bad, dirty, Quit. Don’t run from God when we fall, but rather run to Him. The Gospel cleaned up what we messed up! 

Hebrews 4:16 NIV – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

d. Your accuser says, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY but JESUS says FORGIVEN FORGIVEN FORGIVEN (If we confess our sin…)

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

There is hope! The Gospel has the hope. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for our sins.

Romans 5:8 NIV – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

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

I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  (God’s wrath has been satisfied)

2. We can begin again a Fresh Start  

Romans 8:1-2 NIV-  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending! 

Phillippians 3:13-14 NIV –  13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

The Gospel gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.

3. God invites us to receive Salvation.

Definition: Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Harm, ruin, or loss.

Revelation 3:20 NIV “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.”

I John 1:9  NIV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Eternal life isn’t a reward for good people; it’s God’s gift for-given people

Romans 10:9-10 NIV “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Will You Receive the Gospel Today?

“Dear God, You know every pain Ive had in my life. you know the confusion and the doubts. You know I’ve spent a lot of my time in guilt, shame, and condemnation. I’m ready for a change. I don’t want to stay the same. I need a fresh start with You. I want to live in joy, freedom, and victory. Jesus, I will learn to trust you and love you. Come into my life lead me and guide me everyday. I will rely on your power and not my own.  Thank you for giving me a brand new fresh start and saving my life. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

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.

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.

Christmas at the Movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas_Movies

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Luke 2:8-10 NIV –  “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

I think one of the missing things in Christmas today – joy. For many – Christmas isn’t so holly jolly

Every Who down in Who-ville liked a Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath

Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer

“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming

“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas coming!”

Hmmm… it seems like a Christmas has always had that kind of effect on some people

The Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do, Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

  • Past Experiences
  • Present burdens that are heavy
  • Future hope is distant

Which causes…

1. Confusion.  distraction. turmoil, jumble, mess, disarray. perplexity; bewilderment:

•A university student was seen with a large “K” printed on his T- shirt. When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.” “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell “confused” with a “K.” The student answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.

Romans 7:15, 18 LB “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t.”

 2. Frustration. a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

Romans 7:21 LB “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”

3. Discouragement. depression, dejection, hopelessness. despair.  deterrent, damper, impediment, obstacle, obstruction.

Romans 7:24 The Message –   I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Joy intense, ecstatic, exultant happiness, expression of that feeling, to enjoy, fill with pleasure and satisfaction.

Words that describe Joy – amusement, animation, bliss, cheer, comfort, delight, gladness, good humor, jewel, luxury, rapture, refreshment, wonder, sport, treasure

1. Joy will change my approach to life.                                                                                                               

Think about all the different aspects of your life – Emotions will affect it more than anything else.

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV – Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

You are stronger when your attitude is strong – emotions are solid. It will give you an uncommonly positive perspective on life.

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

It has the ability to turn bad things into good things

Psalm 126:5 NIV  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. “ 

Psalms 30:5 ESV – For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.[a] Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

3. Joy will affect those around You

It is contagious and can totally change the dynamic of your Christmas

Psalms 126:1-2 NIV – When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion, we were like those who dreamed.[b]2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

How to Get Your Christmas JOY back

1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

So easy to blame others – but it’s up to you. Choosing the way you’re going to view life – people

For most of us – our attitude will not take care of itself. Remember – it’s not a feeling – it’s a choice. If you don’t like the situation that faces you – change it

Hebrews 12:1 NIV  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

You cannot determine what happens to you. But you can determine what happens in you

The best way is to start off each day – decide – get rid of stuff

Dear Lord,

So far today, I am doing all right.  I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent.  I have not whined, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.  Amen.

Psalm 19:14 NIV–  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Remember: The walls we build around us to keep our the hurt and sadness, also keeps out the joy

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

John Wooden—“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV –   “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.”

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

Too often – we try to choose and control things we cannot

Too seldom – we choose to control what we can – our attitude

3. Say something positive in every conversation.

This is hard – but can change the dynamic of every situation

Proverbs 16:24 NIV –   “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

You ever notice some people have no filter?

Best way is to pray daily…

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

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes. Look for the best in them – bring out their positive qualities

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV-  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…Know that God is going to work it out for the good

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.”

How do we change the size of their hearts?

(CLIP FROM MOVIE from the top of Mt. Crumpit to the end which reads as follows):

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,

He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!

“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” he was ginch-ish-ly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “That I simply MUST hear!”

So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It stared in low. Then it started to grow…

But the sound wasn’t sad~ Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “Doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?

Well… in Who-ville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew 3 sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

And he… HE HIMSELF…!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

———————————————-

Did you realize what a beautifully theological story this is?

What changed the heart of the Grinch?

It wasn’t the ribbons, it wasn’t the tags

It wasn’t the packages, boxes or bags

It was the witness of the people down in Who-ville…the witness of people that the Grinch had always hated because of the Christmas they celebrated.

It was their singing and their joy that changed the Grinch

God wants you to have your JOY back! 

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

2. They attempted to cover up his source of refreshing and strength.

3. The devil would like to do the same to you.

4. He wants to stop up your JOY WELL and cover it up.

B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

2. You need to uncover the well which the devil has sought to

hide from you.

3. Isa 12:3  “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells 

        of  salvation.” 

4. The devil may try to stop your JOY-WELL up, but you’re going to

unstop those wells.

Psalms 43:4 NIV – “I will go to your altar and you my exceeding joy in PRAISE”!

Christmas at The Movies: A Christmas Carol

Christmas_Movies

A Christmas Carol

What’s your favorite thing about Christmas? The gifts? Decorations? Candy Canes? holiday parties? Christmas music? How about the movies? No other time of year has had as many movies dedicated to it as Christmas. We are exploring behind the scenes from Christmas Classic Movies to discover a story that connects with something deeper within all of us!

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We are exploring Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Published in 1843, it’s one of the best-loved stories to be set at this time of year. Its frankly one of my favorites. We probably think we know the story back to front. After all, it’s been adapted into over 200 films, and is such a powerful tale that it’s credited with helping to define our contemporary understanding of Christmas. But a fresh look at this all-time classic, reminds us that it’s far more than just a feel-good festive tale featuring a miserly old humbug with one of the oldest catchphrases in the world. The book’s main character, of course, is the mean and intimidating Ebenezer Scrooge, who lives to make money and very little else. He certainly has no use for religion or sentimentality.

Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge had NO PEACE, He was a troubled man:

You may remember from the story how one Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives a terrifying wake-up call. The spirit of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who died seven Christmas Eves previous and was a miser like Scrooge, comes to visit, bound and wrapped in terrible chains. Marley has been condemned to roam the face of the earth, tormented in death by the things he neglected to value in life.

Marley is desperate to give his old colleague a final chance to avoid the same fate. ‘My spirit never walked beyond our counting house,’ he warns Scrooge. A great length of chain traps Jacob Marley’s spirit and weighs it down. Marley tells Scrooge that he alone forged it in life: ‘I made it, link by link and yard by yard.’ Chains that were forged with regrets and sins of his own making which he could not release, and hurts he would not forgive. And as he stands before Scrooge, he can see the even greater chains that bind his old colleague: ‘Would you know the weight and length of the coil you bear yourself?’ asks Marley. ‘It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since. It is a ponderous chain.’

This, he makes clear, is Scrooge’s last opportunity to turn from selfish ways.

Listen to the way Dickens describes Ebenezer Scrooge:

“No warmth could warm him, no wintry weather could chill him. No wind that blew was more bitter than he. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often came down handsomely, and Scrooge never did.”

ILL> At one point in the story, his nephew Fred stops by to wish him a merry Christmas. That’s where those famous words were spoken, “Bah, humbug.”

ILL> In another scene two gentlemen stop by to ask for a donation to help the poor during the holidays. They even offer to keep Scrooge’s gift anonymous if he wishes. “What I wish is to be left alone. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.” They reply, “Then many will die.”

“If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  • Not many in the world cared for Ebenezer Scrooge, but worse yet, he cared for no one but himself. He was a man who had NO Peace.

• On Christmas Eve he is visited by 3 spirits

1. The spirit of Christmas past showed a happier time when Ebenezer fell in love, but chose to invest himself in making riches instead of relationships

2. The spirit of Christmas present showed him the down and out in the world and how Bob Crachit’s family struggled to make ends meet–and there were others who were unable to do so altogether

3. The spirit of Christmas yet to come. Tiny Tim had passed because there were no funds to cure his ailing body •Ebenezer died, but no one seemed to care •Finally, he is faced with his own grave.

•Even though The Christmas Carol is a fictional story set in London in 1843. It remains amazingly relevant today.

Not Much Peace today

 John 16:33I 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.”

•Unavoidable circumstances.

Jeremiah 4:20 “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.”

•Unbearable people.
Psalms 109:3
“With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.”

Never Forget the 3 Types of People in Your Life: 1. Those who helped in your difficult time, 2. Those who left you in your difficult time, 3. Those who put you in your difficult time

•Unexplainable problems.

Matthew 27:46 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3 Reasons for Life’s Problems: 1. Sin – We are in an imperfect world, 2. Satan – common enemy, 3. Self – We make mistakes

(Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault)

John 9:1-3 MSG1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”3- Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do

How to Receive Peace this Christmas

Luke 2:10-14 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Peace- Shalom, fullness, freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.

Fredrick Buechner said, “Peace is not the absence of struggle but the presence of Love.”

John 14:27 LB “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isnʼt fragile like the peace the world gives. So donʼt be troubled or afraid.”

1. Receive Godʼs pardon.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives…You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

2. Run to Godʼs presence.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Psalm 46:1, 10 “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”

3. Respect Godʼs principles.

Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

Peace comes through Obedience

4. Rely on Godʼs provision.

Philippians 4:6-7 LB “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and donʼt forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience Godʼs peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

Trust God to take care of things beyond our control

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

There is no need to dwell on the “What if’s” of life – Our response is either panic or pray, worry or worship!

Be Transformed! When you put your care in His Hands, He puts His Peace in your Heart

Fortunately for Scrooge, this is the life-changing moment while he is at his own grave, when he understands that it’s now or never. He asks whether it’s possible to mend his ways and so alter his life and destiny. Surely the Spirits wouldn’t be visiting him if not? As Christmas morning dawns and he wakes, once more, to the world, Scrooge realizes that he has been given a reprieve- a second chance. Just as Dickens believed we have all been given another chance, only because of the birth of the hero of the greatest Christmas story, Jesus.

The good news is that if we will learn from the past, we can change now so that we can create a better future. Just as the spirits of Christmas wanted Scrooge to change for good. Christmas is the time and place where God draws back the curtain, so we can see his face. Because we are bound by chains that bound old Jacob Marley, Jesus has come to give us peace, But we must look to the Christ The good news is that we, like Scrooge, are still alive. It’s not too late: we can choose to change. Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. Whatever our past has been, we can have a better future.

At the heart of ‘A Christmas Carol’ lies Scrooge’s transformation. Transformation means change. Change from a selfish, greedy, Troubled, and bitter old man, we see him become a grateful, generous, Peaceful, and compassionate figure. A man that was filled with deep regret sees his life transformed, to the point where Dickens concludes he became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew.’ We assume that Scrooge learns his lesson, and experiences what amounts to a ‘conversion’. He responds by changing his ways and living out the lessons that he learnt on that Christmas Eve.

 

SuperNatural – Satan and his demons

Supernatural web

SuperNatural – Satan and His Demons

Mark 5:2-8 NIV – When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

Researcher George Barna posed that question to a survey group and found that only 40% of Americans (2 out of 5) believe that Satan is a living being.

In his book, “What Americans Believe,” he revealed that 69% of Catholics, and 65% of mainline Protestant church-goers believe the notion of Satan is only symbolic of evil.

Satan’s best defense is the successful delusion of man into thinking he does not really exist.

2 Questions

  1. Is there good and evil? (morally excellent vs immorally bad)
  2. If so, then what is the source?

Every type of religion has its concept of good and evil, except Satanism & humanism

Satanism – innate wickedness; obsession with or affinity for evil; specifically :  worship of Satan marked by the travesty of Christian rites

Humanism – a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion. a philosophy that rejects supernaturalism. It’s godless. Its the foundation of atheism. man is the center of all things. No absolute truth.

Main source of evil today comes from Satan and his fall

Isaiah 14:12-14  NIV – How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly… I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

•Lucifer (daystar, son of the morning) He is one of three archangels mentioned in Scripture. He was created by God just as all angels were, but his role was different from the other angelic hosts. Lucifer was referred to as the ‘covering angel.’ Just as the cherubim covered the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, Lucifer was established by God to be the angel of worship, one whose ministry surrounded the heart of heaven. Lucifer was created to dwell eternally in the throne room of heaven, in the very presence of God

•Lucifer became Satan when he tried to make himself not only equal with God but as one above God

•Pride, greed, selfish ambition was his downfall – 5 times he said “I will” – Main problem today when people fall.

His names and titles – Prince and power of the air, Angel of light, Accuser of the brethren, Prince of Darkness, god of this world, thief, wicked one, roaring lion, serpent, murderer, dragon, corrupter, beelzebub, deceiver

(Quote) Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty attitude before a fall”

Revelation 12:7-9  NIV – And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

(See also Ezek 28:12-17)

What are Demons? 

Demons are evil/fallen angels who follow Satan instead of God. When Satan fell out of heaven, the demons fell with him instead of staying in their place as God’s ministers of good. Somehow, evil was found in them. The term demon comes from the Greek “daimon.”  Demons are found in the New Testament as being able to possess people (Matt.  8:28-34; Mark 5:1-4) and animals (Matt. 8:32).  They are very strong (Mark 5:4).  They are also called unclean spirits (Luke 8:29), seem to have a heirarchy of rulership in their demonic realm (Matt. 12:24-27), and can have sacrifices offered to them (1 Cor. 10:20).  Also, they will be judged in the future (Matt. 8:29).  They cannot be redeemed

WHAT DO DEMONS DO?

• DEMONS INFLUENCE THE LEADERS OF NATIONS.

Daniel 10:13 NIV – But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

  • DEMONS DESIRE TO INFLICT SUFFERING ON YOU.

Matthew 17:15, 17-18 NIV – “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water… [Jesus said], “Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

• DEMONS SCHEME TO LURE YOU AWAY FROM GOD.

1 Timothy 4:1 NIV – The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

  • DEMONS WANT TO PARALYZE YOU WITH FEAR.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

BATTLING THE DARKNESS

1. Demons are subject to the Name of Jesus.

Luke 10:17-20 NIV –  The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Mark 16:17-18 NIV –  “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Philippians 2:10 NIV – “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

2. WE DON’T FIGHT WITH OUR POWER BUT WITH GOD’S AUTHORITY.

Matthew 10:1 NIV –  (Jesus) called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Authority doesn’t beg; authority doesn’t ask; authority commands! We are not told to ask God to cast out demons, we are told to do it ourselves! We are not told to beg demons to come out, we are told to CAST them out!

James 4:7-8 NIV – Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you…

•resist – (military term) oppose, withstand, actively work against

•The greatest power you have against demons is your humility, patience, and persistent pressure of resistance

Authority is exercised through our spoken word. The power of life and death are in the spoken word: Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Matthew 8:16 NIV, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word…”

3. Have Faith in God

I John 5:4 NIV – for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Faith is the apex of your dominion. Faith is simply knowing God. TL Osborne once said, “When you know who God is, what God has and what God can do, then you find out who you are, what you haven and what you can do.” Then it is exposed what your enemy has and what he can do, who he is, what he has, and what he can do, which is nothing. He is dethroned, disrobed, dismantled, defeated by God!

Mark 11:22-24 NIV “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Summary

Life is inevitable filled with all manner of struggles on a daily basis. It is critical that we understand who the instigators really are. Evil people are usually little more than pawns under the influence of satanic beings. Therefore, its imperative that we do not war according the flesh but rather utilize our spiritual weapons. It guarantees our victory!

Romans 8:37-39 NIV – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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.

Selfie Pt.3 – How to lose friends, alienate people, and accomplish nothing

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Selfie Pt 3 – How to lose Friends, alienate people, and accomplish Nothing

Intro: There was a movie, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days”….Along the same lines as this message…There are things you can do to lose friends (relationships). Andie does all kinds of things to push Ben away – decorates his apartment with girlie things, puts women products in his bathroom, game him a love fern to take care of, bought him a dog, brought matching outfits for them to his work

There are things you can do to lose friends… You just have to find ways to live in disagreement and conflict with as many people as possible

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Central theme – two are better than one. Look what happens when two people get in agreement
•2 creates a better return for their work…the are more productive, 2 creates more strength…stronger, 2 means warmth from the cold, 2 can defend themselves better…withstand adversity.

If people would stay out of agreement/ partnership the world could be a much less productive place!!… Because the whole premise of accomplishment and achievement is based on working/partnering with other people…
Ex: The common pencil=
the wood comes from a tree in the N.W… • The graphite from a mine in S. America…
• The eraser from a malison rubber plant…

Point = If people would stay out of agreement we wouldn’t have so many pencils… or chairs or cars… When people get in agreement, partnerships form and the next thing you know you have pencils, chairs, cars, hospitals…

In circles of faith when people get in agreement you end up with
church buildings • music bands • Big offerings… (like the one where Moses said, don’t bring anymore-you brought more than enough…) • Homes for abandoned children… • Dynamic life-changing youth events and programs… • Assistance for hurricane victims,… • Support for mission causes all around the world…

1. Major in the Minors

A) Concentrate your energy and attention on small, petty things that are happening at home, work and church.
Ex: On screen I want to show you what you don’t normally see. These are dust mites magnified 2000 times… these small, tiny creatures live anywhere humans live… we shed skin constantly and they live in the dead skin.
• They have a maximum life span of 80 days, but the average life span is between 20 and 30 days.
• They are creamy white in color and globed-shaped. They are so small that they can’t be seen without magnification from a microscope.
• There possibly can be millions of dust mites in a square foot of carpet, because each egg-laying dust mite can lay about 25 eggs every three weeks.
• Dust mites feed on organic matter, but mostly dead skin that is found in furniture, house dust, bedcovers, clothes,

If you want to make sure you form no valuable partnerships, keep a dust-mite mentality!
Draw attention to minor issues of concern…
Discuss here-say… what you heard… what she said… or he did…

Don’t talk about important things… big things… needs and opportunities like…
• How can I help more people? • What am I doing to bless others?

Matthew 23:24 NIV – You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

The Pharisees had a tendency to concentrate on and get caught up in the gnats/dust-mites of life. Christianity is filled with people who use important energy on unimportant things.
• Petty disputes… differences of opinion
• The drama of someone else’s offense.

People who ought to know better get focused on the dust mites/gnats.
Don’t be one of those people! Major in Majors… concentrate your time and energy on doing good!

Ephesians 2:10 ESV – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

2. Insist on Always Being right

A) If people don’t agree with you just talk louder!!… They must not be hearing you!… you’re right… so you’ve got to talk louder-project more!
Whatever you do, don’t ask question and don’t be a listener… that’s what leads to friendship, like-mindedness…
Ex: Some loud talking must have been going on that prompted Apostle Paul to write

I Corinthians 1:10 NIV –  I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

*Remember Paul was trying to get them to unite… we’re talking about How to… lose relationships, alienate people…
So you want to do the opposite of this at work, home and church…

Wilson Mizner said-A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.

That’s what happens when you listen… people enjoy your company and you learn.
But if your goal is to be right… Then you want to win at all costs… it’s like a shoot out at OK Corral… it’s quick, brutal and destructive… but that’s gotta be your style!

3. Have a do not disturb sign on your life

A) Send the unspoken message back-off… You don’t have to literally hang out a sign… or even say a word… If you do this right, your body language and facial expressions send a clear message to people… that your content to not greet them or meet them and they may not want to take the risk of approaching you. Whatever you do- Don’t speak to others first…

Proverbs 18:24 KJV – A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

So you definitely don’t want to be friendly or you will end up with friends!

4. Don’t be a yes person

A) Yes people seek places of agreement with their bosses, overseers, leaders…
You don’t want to do that… there’s enough yes people… be proud to be a no person… finding places of disagreement with people in authority. Find it and bring it out… press your point and make your stand

Acts 15:36-39 NIV –  Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,

When Barnabus didn’t agree with Paul’s decision to let Mark go along he let Paul know it… he stood his ground…
Never mind what it cost him…
• Paul was his superior…
• He had been a partner on some of Paul’s most productive mission’s trips…
• After that we don’t hear anymore about his being a part of any significant works…

But he can’t be accused of being a yes man!

Ex: The newspaper pictures which consist of dots… Hedcut is a style of drawing, primarily of people, pioneered and used by The Wall Street Journal. The creator of the picture, strategically place the dots to create the desired outcome. The aligned dots are like each of us strategically placed by our creator alongside others to create his desired outcome.

In the scope of God’s plan, the dots have a will and can resist being a part of a bigger picture…
You have a free will… you can jump out of the picture God puts you in… He will replace it with another dot but you can be your own dot on the canvas of life!

5, Remember that you have been hurt and are easily hurt by people

You must be on the constant watch for people who would say things to hurt you… you’ve been hurt enough!

Ex: It’s the same principle as leaving a splinter in your finger…it swells and becomes sensitive… even someone brushing up against it can really hurt!
*Read into what they are saying to know what they really think about you.

Proverbs 17:9 MSG – Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;  fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!

6. Don’t Change anything for anyone

People should love you just like you are… Annoying habits shouldn’t affect them wanting to be around you! If they are a real friend, then they won’t mind that you have bad breath, body odor, smack your gum! If they try to talk to you about it… just let them know that you don’t think it’s any of their concern and that you don’t have to change anything for true friends!

Haggai 1:5-7 NIV – Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.

7. Always say what’s on your mind

Don’t be one of those people who evaluates what they say!
T-is it true?
H-is it helpful?
I-is it inspiring?
N-is it necessary?
K-is it kind?

Philippians 4:8 NIV – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

People who think before they speak tend to have many friends, alliances and accomplish a lot with other people.

Proverbs 29:11 KJV – A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

•Talk about your troubles, problems with whoever will listen.
-Don’t worry that they can’t do anything to help-just make them listen!

Proverbs 21:23 NIV – Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

•When you feel bad about yourself – say it! It makes people uncomfortable… what are they suppose to do? Agree?…

And Remember Pity has no friends, only sympathizers!
*You won’t have to worry about people being your friend if you focus on getting their sympathy